Posted on December 5, 2013 - by Shari Barr
All my life I’ve been fascinated by the stars in the nighttime sky. As a little girl I often searched the heavens for the star that led the Wise Men to the baby Jesus over two thousand years ago, wondering if I could still see it.
I imagined walking over hills and valleys following the bright star that would lead me to Him. I really wanted to go on that journey with the Star of the East as my guide. How cool that would have been to walk into the manger and see the newborn King.
If I could trade places with anyone or anything in the nativity, I would choose the star. It had such an amazing job. Filled with God’s light, the star showed up just when the Magi needed it to lead them to Bethlehem to meet the baby Jesus. It doesn’t get much better than that.
How many times have I wished a “light” would show me the way when I have a tough decision to make. Or, when someone comes to me for advice and I don’t have a clue as how to help? Wouldn’t it make life so much simpler if a bright light could point me in the right direction?
Maybe I don’t have the Star of the East to guide me like the Wise Men did, but I definitely have a different kind of star to light my way. Following our King is the greatest light possible. I shouldn’t need a reminder to do that, but for some reason it’s not that easy for me. Unfortunately I need a smack in the head more times than I care to admit.
If I could remember to follow Him always, maybe I could come a little closer to becoming the light that God wants for all Christians.
Posted on November 26, 2013 - by Shari Barr
Writing has always been sort of a therapy for me, whether it’s writing fiction or non-fiction. Spilling my emotions through words can put me in a whole new frame of mind. It can energize me, let me escape from everyday problems, or just help put life in perspective—depending on the day. In other words it’s just plain healthy.
Some people run marathons as therapy (though I can only view that as inflicting cruel and unusual punishment upon oneself), some become workaholics, and others—like me—write. Writing with the hope that I might help others is rewarding, especially when readers send comments. It makes me realize that God gave purpose to my writing—that it’s not all about me. Even if I don’t share my writing, it helps bring me closer to God, bringing me one step closer to becoming who He wants me to be.
And for that I am thankful.
We’re giving away a copy of Rose Ross Zediker’s current release, Wedding on the Rocks, to one lucky winner. The deadline runs until November 30, 2013. All you need to do is leave a comment.
When she traded small-town life for the bright lights of Chicago, Jennifer Edwards yearned to discover a world beyond Faith, South Dakota. So when her father’s illness calls her home to run their cattle ranch, she tells herself it’s temporary. Then why is she even thinking about a future with archaeology professor Brett Lange-the boy she left behind-whose life’s work is digging up the past?
Twelve years ago, Brett had a crush on Jennifer the size of the T-rex that put his hometown on the map. Now she’s a citified magazine editor who prefers designer duds to dungarees. Except that’s not the real Jennifer. Brett needs to make her see how a little faith can go a long way in uniting two perfectly-in-sync hearts.
Posted on November 7, 2013 - by Shari Barr
I guess I should set the record straight to clear up any confusion. This really isn’t my job but my husband’s. My job when the kids were small was to get the fixin’s ready for the world’s largest wiener roast.
Years ago when my husband came to the door one cold winter brush burning day and asked if I had any hotdogs, I thought he was crazy. A wiener roast in this weather? With two young kids? I was thinking maybe he could roast them and bring them to the house for us to eat in the warmth of the kitchen. But his idea was better.
We hurried into our insulated coveralls, hats, boots, and gloves and crammed into the pickup beside him, a picnic basket wedged between my feet. We bounced across the snowy field in the early dusk, following the orange glow in the distance. After arriving at the bonfire, we clambered out and set up kitchen on the tailgate.
The humongous fire had been burning all day, so by the time we arrived it had burned down enough that my husband and I could find a spot glowing with red coals, perfect for roasting hotdogs. After supper was served, we settled onto our upside down 5-gallon buckets to dine in the warmth of the fire. Of course, we followed up with a dessert of roasted marshmallows.
Soon our faces were hot so we turned our backs to the fire but then our fingers were cold and sticky from marshmallow goo, so we turned back around. As darkness fell we gathered our supplies and crawled back into the pickup, cranking the heat up before heading for home.
For several years our winter wiener roast became tradition, an activity we all looked forward to. But sooner than I wanted, we outgrew our annual trek to the roaring bonfire. Kids and wiener roasts only go together for so long. Burning brush is now simply that and nothing more.
Though our winter wiener roast may be a thing of the past, we’re making many new memories to take its place.
Do you have a favorite memory from way back when (or maybe not so far back) that you’d like to share?
CAITLYN WENTWORTH LOVES BEING A RODEO QUEEN
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 24, 2013 - by Shari Barr
Many authors have impacted my life over the years, but the ones I remember most were the writers of my favorite children’s books. Reading was a huge part of my childhood. I absolutely loved to read. I even read the backs of cereal boxes while eating breakfast. During summer break, Mom took me to our tiny town library to get a two-weeks supply of books to keep me from serenading her everyday with the “I’m bored” chorus. Without fail the pile was depleted two to three days later, or less. So much for Mom’s great plan.
The books I remember most were those from my middle-grade years. I suppose those meatier stories hooked me from the very beginning. So much more fun than easy readers.
One of my all-time favorites was James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl. I really, really wanted a peach tree in our backyard that year. Who knew a kid could have that much fun with a piece of fruit.
I also loved series. In early middle grade Laura Lee Hope (a pseudonym for several different authors) created the Bobbsey Twins series. I couldn’t wait to see what adventures and mysteries the two sets of twins would get into next.
While we’re on the topic of series, Nancy Drew (written by several authors under the pseudonym Carolyn Keene) was my absolute favorite fictitious teenager. I would have given just about anything to trade places with her for just one day. I was jealous of her, extremely so. She had it all. Little parental supervision, mysteries for her to solve appearing out of nowhere, and a boyfriend who only showed up when she wanted him to. Life couldn’t get any better.
Since I absolutely adored mysteries I can’t forget to mention my favorite one from way back when—Mystery of the Red Carnations by Mary C. Jane. The author created the most realistic, exciting book I’d ever read in my pre-teen years. This was a book I simply could not put down. In fact, I still read it once in a while and it’s just as good now. Ms. Jane lured me into her story with normal, everyday characters. I could relate to the fact that nothing exciting ever happened in their boring little town. Except those lucky ducks did have something exciting happen. Every October a bouquet of red carnations mysteriously appeared on the grave of a young man known only as XYZ. Ooh, I can still feel the shivers.
These awesome authors, as well as many others, lured me into the wonderful world of books, showing me how to keep a reader interested and reading until the very last page. Without them—well, I’d still be reading cereal boxes.
Posted on October 10, 2013 - by Shari Barr
Harvest is my favorite time of year. The growing season is over and the crops have changed from green to a golden brown. As my husband drives the combine, I sit beside him watching him bring in the corn and soybeans. Another harvest is well under way.
Just as we prayed for rain and sunshine at all the right times this last spring and summer, we pray for good weather now to complete the harvest. An early snow or late season storm is every farmer’s worst nightmare. With every truckload of soybeans hauled to market and every bin filled with corn, we breathe a sigh of relief.
But the farmer doesn’t quit until every field is harvested. His job is only complete after all his crops are safe.
God feels the same way about His children. He wants to keep them safe and sound. He never gives up on them until they’re safe in His arms. Like a farmer brings in the crops, God expects us to bring others to Christ. Passing up on an opportunity to share God’s love might be too late sometimes. We don’t always have a second chance. Like a storm wreaks havoc on a farmer’s field, God’s heart is broken if His children never come to know Him. As Christians, it is our job to bring non-believers into God’s kingdom.
There is no time to wait.
Posted on September 26, 2013 - by Shari Barr
Social media has its good and bad points, but one site that seems created out of sheer goodness is CaringBridge-a protected personal online journal for people wishing to keep family and friends informed about a health issue, either for themselves or a loved one.
Fortunately I’ve never had to create an account, but I think if a major illness or accident struck my family, I’d want an easy way to keep people informed. I know several people who have CaringBridge accounts, and I’d rather read their journal online and leave a comment, instead of calling them every week or so to see how they’re doing, especially if it’s an extended illness. CaringBridge doesn’t take the place of personal contact but makes it easier to keep up-to-date when you know the patient (or account holder) is probably exhausted and may not always want to take calls.
A couple of years ago I read a blog about a little boy who is very sick. His family started a CaringBridge account and asked people to read the journal and pray for their son. I signed up to get email alerts when a new entry is posted to the journal which reminds me to pray. This little guy is still sick, and I continue to ask God to heal him even though I have never met this family and probably never will.
Do you take part in social media? If so, do you have sites you would recommend to others?
Posted on September 12, 2013 - by Shari Barr
To be totally honest, guilty pleasures really don’t make me feel too guilty—at least not so much that I’m going to quit doing them. Some are everyday essentials and others are just irresistible when the opportunity presents itself.
Here’s a list of a few of my not-so-guilty pleasures:
1. Dirt Roads. Walking down a dirt road never fails to transport me to another time, another place. I can’t help but wonder about the people who used to live in the dilapidated old house or if a building of some kind once stood at the end of the overgrown lane.
2. Walking through autumn leaves strewn across a path. I love the musty smell as my shoes crunch the gorgeous red, gold, and orange leaves.
3. Green tea. Sipping a cup of freshly brewed green tea with a good ole dollop of pure honey every morning. Aah!
4. Cemeteries. Yes, you read that right. I’m always intrigued about the lives of those folks gone before us. Stories, stories, and more stories.
5. Flea markets/consignment furniture stores/antique shops. I have an obsession for all things yesteryear.
7. Lemon bars. My daughter makes the most scrumptious lemon bars you could ever imagine. (Even if you’re not a fan of lemon.)
8. Smoothies. Slushy and homemade with yummy fresh fruit.
9. Petting the dog. I know I’m a pushover for those big brown eyes and sloppy kisses. I just can’t resist.
10. Bonfires. I’m a fire bug, but don’t worry—I haven’t got too carried away–yet. I love sitting around a bonfire on a chilly autumn night watching the sparks fly.
What are some of your guilty, or not-so-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 Frantz’s Love’s Awakening to another reader. Every time you leave a comment over the next two weeks, your name will be entered.
The two winners will be chosen after midnight on Friday, Sept. 20 and posted on Saturday!
Posted on August 29, 2013 - by Shari Barr
Covers play a big part in whether or not I’ll purchase a book. A good cover should give me a feel for the overall essence of the story. The best ones portray a scene and leave me wondering what has happened previously and what is going to happen next. The picture should lure me into the main character’s world, begging me to open the pages and become a part of their journey.
With that said I’ve found a few books whose covers do just that. I’ll admit that the title of the first one caught my attention initially but the cover itself is just as intriguing. Since I love the song by the same name, Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not? A Novel by Thompson Square and Travis Thrasher, I couldn’t help but look twice. Yes, the country duo co-authored a book with Thrasher and the cover makes me want to jump right in and find out what the lyrics of the song are really all about. The silhouettes of two lovers “sittin’ up there on your momma’s roof” immediately pulls me in. I’m dying to know the story of those two. (It also helps that the song runs through my mind as I gaze at the cover.)
The second cover I chose is Sinners and the Sea: The Untold Story of Noah’s Wife by Rebecca Kanner. The expression on Noah’s wife’s face makes me wonder what she’s thinking. Is she perplexed at her husband’s claims of conversations with God? A burning bush? Come now, Noah. The menacing storm clouds and jagged rocks by gray seas definitely make me want to know her story.
Since I also love middle grade fiction, I chose this adorable cover of A Big Year for Lilly (The Adventures of Lily Lapp) by Suzanne Woods Fisher and Mary Ann Kinsinger. I mean, just look at those two sweet little Amish girls. If you ask me they look like they’ve got adventure up their sleeves.
What are some cool covers that have caught your attention? Come over and share. Now that fall is just around the corner, we’re always looking for good books to read.
Posted on August 15, 2013 - by Shari Barr
Thank you for the children you have brought into our lives. Bless the high school graduates, whether they’re heading to college for the first time or entering the work force. As young adults, guide them, protect them, and care for them as they prepare to step into the often scary world of independence. Help them adjust to the new circumstances in their lives and give them confidence to live a godly life when faced with temptations. Guide them in the path of study or career choice you have planned for them, assure them if they’re down or frustrated and point them in the right direction if their original plans don’t work out.
Give them wisdom and patience throughout the year, strength to speak up for those who are mistreated and the knowledge to know when it’s best to keep quiet. Help them to choose their friends wisely and not to give in to peer pressure. For those who already have Christ in their hearts, give them courage to stand tall and show His love, not only with their words but with their actions. If it is your will, Lord, place the faithful in the path of the non-believer, so that they may hear of your love for all people.
Especially bless their teachers, professors, or employers, Lord, giving them courage and endurance to show kindness and encouragement to the students or employees placed in their care. Protect our children, Lord, and wrap your loving arms around them, reminding them of your constant love.
In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.
Posted on August 1, 2013 - by Shari Barr
When he bought his Harley earlier this year, I was anything but enthused. My opinion of motorcycles is they’re okay for everyone else but not for me or my family. Cruising down the road on the back of a skinny little bike with cars and big ole trucks flying by doesn’t exactly make me feel safe and secure. I’ve never been much of a thrill seeker, so biking was excitement I planned to do without. That is, until my husband took me to the Harley dealer and led me over to the helmet display. Minutes later I was the less-than-proud owner of my very own shiny black helmet.
After arriving home with his new toy, my husband decided to go for another spin, so I convinced myself to act the part of the good, dutiful wife. I donned my newly acquired Harley attire and climbed on the back of his bike, holding on for dear life to his belt loops as we headed down the road.
Two hours later we returned home with me walking bow-legged and a body that ached from head to toe. But that was nothing compared to the sight that greeted me when I looked in the bathroom mirror. Helmets should come with a warning label, because my hair will never be the same again. The inside of the helmet had teased my hair so badly it came out in handfuls—literally—when I tried to comb it. I vowed to never, ever ride that bike again—until my husband introduced me to the doo rag to wear beneath the helmet (because I like my head too much to go without a helmet.) Fortunately for him, the doo rag solved the hair falling out problem, so I relented and crawled on the back of the bike again.
Slowly I’m learning to enjoy the bike, except for the bumpy roads that bounce my innards to pieces. Cruising the nice smooth back country highways is actually quite relaxing on a warm summer day, if I remember to shut my mouth so I won’t get bugs in my teeth. (No, it hasn’t happened yet, but I saw it in a movie once. Gross.)
So far my favorite bike ride this summer is scooping the loop—a popular activity from my younger days that some ingenious soul resurrected for the first Saturday night of the summer months. People cruise in their cars—some antique or muscle—old or new pickups, bikes, and even antique fire trucks from one end of our small town to the other. Then we turn around and do it all over again and again, waving at the spectators who’ve lined the streets watching the parade of vehicles. The town square is the unofficial place to park and shoot the breeze with other cruisers. Before the sun goes down, we say our good-byes and head for home.
But we’ll be back soon for the next Scoop the Loop, to be a part of the social scene. Life is good in this small Iowa town, especially when cruising on the back of a bike.