Posted on December 6, 2013 - by Dawn Ford
Any of us who have had children know that it would have taken awhile before Mary was able to travel after having given birth to Jesus. In that period of time, it would seem natural that others in the area would have seen the baby Savior before Joseph and Mary moved on. It is pure conjecture, but if I had to choose to be someone who witnessed Jesus, I would’ve chosen to be a child, possibly the Inn keeper’s child or a neighborhood child whose curiosity got the best of them and they stopped by to catch a glimpse at the new born baby. Children have an amazing ability to see things we, as jaded critical adults, do not. What would a child see when they looked upon the face of glory manifest?
In Matthew 19:14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
And in Matthew 18:10 He says, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.
I don’t think it’s just angels that can see the face of God when looking upon a child. Have you ever witnessed a tender moment of a young child looking at a baby? I’m always amazed at their inherent ability to understand how precious that little babe is, and how gentle that bundle of energy can be toward them.
If I looked through a child’s eyes into the face of my Savior I’m sure I would’ve beheld the face of God. I remember when I looked upon my own children’s face for the first time the infinite joy and love that overcame me. Why is it that babies in general tend to bring out the best in people? Who can deny God in the face of these newly born creations? Not me.
So if I were to behold the face of Jesus, I would want to be as innocent as He. Through a child’s eyes.
Posted on November 22, 2013 - by Dawn Ford
Besides the obvious benefits of getting up and staying in my sweat pants all day to work and the short commute to my coffee pot in the morning, I’d have to say one of the other biggest blessings of being a writer is the fact that I can change lives. The lives I’m talking about are my characters. If I write a scene in and don’t like it, I delete it and start over again. I can add things and take things away according to how I see the story playing out in my head.
Haven’t you ever read a book or watched a movie and said to yourself, no!- that’s not what should have happened, this is what should’ve happened… Since I was a girl playing with my Barbie dolls, I have acted out stories first one way and then another just for fun. When one story line got dull or boring, I changed it up and added new drama. Then off I’d go on another story line until I got tired of that one.
But I never seemed to get tired of playing with stories in my head. I would fall asleep at night telling myself stories. I would daydream on car rides thinking about something that could play out in the stories in my head. When talking to people I’ve mastered the head nod and laugh to cover the fact I spaced off into storyland in my head and haven’t heard a word someone’s said for a few minutes. I try, honest, I do. I just can’t seem to help myself.
So playing around in the lives of my characters comes naturally. I love it! So, if I ever tell you to be careful because you may get written into my next manuscript, I’m probably not joking around. It’s probably just the thing I need to add to my hero (or villain, whichever feels appropriate at the moment) to change things up.
We’re giving away a copy of Rose Ross Zediker’s current release, Wedding on the Rocks to one lucky winner. The contest runs until November 30th. All you need to do it 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 8, 2013 - by Dawn Ford
Twenty-five years ago my husband John and I got married in a little church in his hometown of Modale, Iowa. Since I had found out I was pregnant with my first son, we bypassed the proposal and decided to get married as quick as possible. To make it worse, John had just graduated culinary school and we were broke. I wore a hand-me-down wedding gown given to me by John’s sister Lori (which was getting snugger, and snugger every day), but couldn’t find my shoes. There were no white dress shoes in any of the stores close by and I did not have time to go to the city to find them, so I wore a pair of slippers. I still cringe when I think of it. We honeymooned in the Red Lion in Omaha, and were back at work in two days.
Our parents, bless them, did everything they could to give us a beautiful wedding, and it was. But I always longed for something we could called our own. Something that wasn’t patched together with borrowed pieces and parts.
Last year I started talking to hubs about redoing our wedding vows and having a celebration for our twenty-fifth anniversary. This time, I told him, we would do it the way we wanted to and make it our own. As this year rolled through, John kept telling me there would be no way to afford a celebration and a vacation, I would have to choose which one I wanted the most. I was adamant about having a celebration. He assured me he had something planned, but said not to get my hopes up, it wouldn’t be anything grand.
All I wished for was to celebrate our marriage lasting beyond everyone’s expectations—even our own. It really meant a lot to me to do this. So I kept the faith.
There were a few signs that something was in the works for our anniversary, but hubs continued to tell me not to put too high expectations on the day. So when John bought me a beautiful new dress and said he was going to have family pictures taken as my gift for our anniversary, I was disappointed it wasn’t everything I had planned in my own mind, but knew what I wanted was asking a lot, so I didn’t complain.
Under the guise of having a catering party for work, hubs left for the day taking our youngest son Colton with him to help, which is not unusual—no flags raised there. My best friend, our dear Lorna Seilstad, took me out shopping for shoes to match the dress and for an outfit to wear out to eat after our photo session. All she said was that John had it all handled and she was sure I would like what was planned. John loves to keep secrets, so that did not seem odd to me. I made it home in time to get my hair done, and waited for my chariot, our niece, to arrive to pick me up and take me to where the photos were going to be done.
But there was a problem. My oldest son had left something out at the farm while he was there the day before and we needed to go pick him up before we could go get pictures done in the city where we were supposed to meet my husband and youngest son. Our middle son was going to join us in the city since he was busy in college and couldn’t get home earlier. Because none of these issues raised any red flags, and my oldest son is prone to losing things, I bought it.
I knew I was ‘had’ the instant I saw the sign that said “Free Proposal” and my niece turned into a dirt road between corn fields and parked the car. There, all dressed up, were my boys, my nieces and John. He got down on one knee, pulled out a ring, and proposed to me. (There was much crying.)
The next surprise was all our friends and family waiting for us in the pasture of our farm on down the road. The kids and a few amazing others had decorated a wonderland of lights and books strung from one tree to the next all across my memory garden. In the center of my memory garden was a book arch over a platform made from books. My middle son Dylan had come up with the idea, and with the help of my brother Rodd, John was able to put it together. I was stunned.
There surrounded by friends and family John and I renewed our vows. I was not wearing a borrowed dress that barely fit, but one my husband had hand-picked for me to wear. My shoes were not slippers, but like Cinderella, they were perfect and the best part was Lorna helped me to pick them out. My oldest son chose my flowers to go with the fall theme, and they were gorgeous. What meant the world to me was that everyone was there together and celebrating a life held together by a tapestry of faith and belief in God. I know without Him, we would not have lasted to have this celebration and for that I am so thankful to God.
Last week John and I flew down to St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands to celebrate in real honeymoon style. The islands were simply amazing and I couldn’t have imagined anything so perfect. I can’t believe how far we’ve come in twenty-five years. I dont’ think I would have believed you if you had told me the day of my wedding back in 1988 that in twenty five years I would be redoing it all, and in such a grand way. John took my wishes and turned them into reality.
Every year for the rest of our lives I will remember with sweet fondness how John made all of my wishes turn into dreams come true. It only took twenty-five years, but boy did he do good!
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 25, 2013 - by Dawn Ford
On a rainy April day back in 2008 I sat beside Lorna Seilstad on our way out to Pella, Iowa. Lorna had learned of a meeting of Iowa writers and although excited about the prospect of meeting other writers, was a little intimidated to go by herself. I, being the great supporting character that I am, offered to go with her. It was just a fun trip to get out of town and have some girl time.
Little did I know that day would change Lorna and my paths forever. The meeting did start out a little rocky, we were waiting in the loft for the women to come—they were waiting below for us to get there—it ended up to be fortuitous since that is where we met Judith Miller.
It never fails to amaze me how God moved us at the right time and the right place to meet the right person for our future.
I was still along for the ride. Judy encouraged Lorna to join the ACFW. Not to be left out, I joined also, even though I really wasn’t seriously writing. But, I had recently been able to quit working which gave me time to work on my writing, even if it was just for fun.
In the meantime Lorna submitted her manuscript to the Genesis contest, received an offer to publish it, and off we went together to the ACFW conference that fall. I can honestly say both our minds exploded just a bit at that experience.
I went to one agent meeting that year, and looking back I had no clue what I was doing. And it didn’t go so well, but I did get bitten by the bug. After that conference, I knew what I wanted to do.
I don’t know that Lorna ever saw any real promise in my writing. Looking back, as most of us do, I realize how much I had to learn. But it was only because Lorna had the courage first, to take that initial step out of her comfort zone, that I got to go along for the ride. It was, after all, in God’s plan all along. I know that now.
So, the author that influenced me the most is none other than our very own Lorna Seilstad. Because she never once laughed at my efforts (although she did chuckle—and still does—at some of my crazy ideas) and she continues to encourage me every time we talk. She’s relentless in her support, always willing to listen, and read, and every once in a while chastise me when I need it.
I’m blessed to have a best friend who has cut the path ahead of me because God knew if I had to do it myself, I never would. He sent me along for the ride, first.
Posted on October 11, 2013 - by Dawn Ford
Matthew 13:23 (ERV) But what is the seed that fell on the good ground? That seed is like the person who hears the teaching and understands it. That person grows and produces fruit, sometimes a hundred times more, sometimes sixty times more, and sometimes thirty times more.
Two years ago my husband and I purchased his grandfather’s three acres outside of Modale, a town fifteen miles to the north of where we live. Being near the Missouri River, this land is sandy ground. Because of this, normally when it rains it doesn’t take long for the sun or wind to dry it out. Weeds thrive in this sandy soil, and critters like ground hogs and moles just love digging through it. And because the farm had become so overgrown before we bought it, we had to work hard just to get the ground cleared before it could be tilled.
This past spring I bought a kit to test the soil. Turns out everything you test soil for—ph levels, acidity, nitrogen, you name it, were low to non-existent. Now that doesn’t mean we couldn’t grow anything. What it means is that we have to work ten times harder for anything to prosper at all. We needed a good fertilizing plan and we knew it was going to take time to build up the soil to where it was rich and fertile once again.
Along with the critters, sandy soil, and low levels in the soil, we have a farmer who sprays his crops in the field behind our farm. It was on one of the windiest days at the beginning of summer when he chose to spray, the chemicals drifting over everything we had worked hard to sow. Our garden had just begun to take off. You can understand our frustration when a couple of plants succumbed to the effects of the chemicals, and burn spots showed up on plants several hundred feet away from the field.
Then there was our sweet corn crop. Last year, during a horribly dry summer, we grew a bountiful sweet corn crop. We were able to water the plants, and although not as good as if it were rain, the plants continued to prosper and we were able to put up several quarts of frozen corn. This past year we had to plant late because of the cool, wet spring. With the abundant rain, our sweet corn seed rotted in the ground. We were able to replant, but it was much too late, and when the summer heat came on the plants were much too young to handle it. Our crop matured little over four feet high and grew stunted ears of corn. It was such a disappointment.
John and I wondered many times in the short period of two years what was the use if all of our time, effort, and money were going to be a wash? Have you known this disappointment in trying to bring someone to Christ? Is this frustration something you’ve felt in your own spiritual walk? Do you let life, like the uncontrollable weather and seasons, dictate your attitude and growth?
Good, fertile soil. Farmers know it’s worth its weight in gold. God’s truth, the fertile soil which we as seeds are planted in, will embrace us giving every good thing we need to prosper and bear good, rich fruit. That is as long as we take the nourishment the soil (Word) has to provide. God promises in Matthew 13:23 that if we continue to labor to understand the Word, His Word, the day will come when the fruitful harvest in our lives is truly abundant.
Posted on September 27, 2013 - by Dawn Ford
Years ago when I was first looking for a critique group, I wasn’t sure how it would work since I would be joining an online group with a bunch of people I had never met before. How would we get our chapters to one another, the critiques sent back to each other, and keep up with everyone’s work in one easy, peasy way?
The answer was Yahoo. Hundreds of people are a part of Yahoo Groups. To begin, you must be a Yahoo member, or sign up to be one, but it is easy as one, two, three.
One: Form a group, or join a group already formed. Go to Yahoo Groups here. Click ‘start a new group’ (or find the name of an established group in the search bar at the top). Follow the onscreen prompts which are fairly self-explanatory when starting a new group. There are three different privacy settings: Public, Restricted, and Private. The only hitch is that you cannot make restricted public later, so if you wish to start something privately with the intent on establishing it later with a public base, do not use Restricted as your privacy setting. (Click on the image to the left-the color was enhanced by me to see it better in this blog post.)
Two: Send out invitations to those with whom you wish to share the group. This is under #2 ‘Connect and Expand’. You will need to have their email address to do this step.
Three: Establish a moderator to approve any members joining your group. You may create rules for the group by sending out an email under the ‘new topics’. You can download photos and/or files with which to share with the group.
In my critique group we each had a folder where we downloaded our chapters to be reviewed, click here to learn how to create folders. These would pop up as a new file and then everyone would critique that submission and download their own changes as a different file under the same folder. (click the image to the right to see it better-the color was enhanced by me for easier viewing.)
You can choose how to receive your emails or whether or not your own email will be made known to the group. There are many options for different kinds of groups. I am a part of several Yahoo! Groups and I have also had to leave groups when necessary. It is all very easy to do as yahoo gives you step by step on how to do it all.
Posted on September 12, 2013 - by Dawn Ford
There’s no count down for me on my guilty pleasures. I’m completely hooked on Pinterest. It’s just that simple. It started so innocently, you see. Just a few pins here and there. Then there were people who actually liked my pins and pinned them to their boards. What a thrill of anonymous approval. Oh, and then people started following my boards. Squee!! They like me, they like me, they really, really like me.
Cue the record scratching sound effect. Okay, they like my pins. But, hey, it’s still a great feeling when someone else loves the same things you do. I’ll be the first to raise my hand and admit I’m Laura Frantz’s number one Pinterest pin stalker. She’s got amazing pins!!
Pin sharing adoration aside, I have found a whole new world through Pinterest. It’s not just a wasted past-time for me. My first big find was for a ‘home-made’ laundry soap to use since I am dye and fragrance sensitive. It really has saved me tons of money on laundry soap, and I can trust the ingredients. Find that wonderful recipe here.
I also found different ways to make stepping stones for the memory garden hubs and I planted this year. It did take me three tries to find the method that worked, but I think they turned out great. The photo on the right was taken in July and I used PicMonkey to doll it up a bit.
My biggest find was a project I’m still working on (and is a total secret!) for Christmas gifts. Not only have I gotten hooked on Pinterest, I’m completely ga-ga over Kathy Orta’s scrapbook creations. Check Kathy’s website Paper Phenomenon out here, or look her up on You Tube where she has numerous step by step tutorials posted.
I must warn you though, it’s an expensive habit, scrapbooking. So, I turned to You Tube for tutorial videos on how to save money and make things like alcohol inks way cheaper than the more expensive professional brands. Thanks to You Tube I found out that Big Lots is one of the best places to find odd little scrapbooking accessories for a fraction of the cost elsewhere. It’s probably a good thing I don’t live in the city or I’d be broke.
Who else is a Pinterest Junkie?
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. The two winners will be chosen after midnight on Friday, Sept. 20 and posted on Saturday!
Posted on August 30, 2013 - by Dawn Ford
My cover loves brought forth images in my mind of warm summer breezes, long walks down a country road, and chasing lightening bugs at night.
In the first book, I love the white dress against the rural backdrop, and the girl holding her shoes as she walks down a rutted out road. I can picture myself as that girl back on the farm where I grew up (probably missing the dress, but hey, I like it on her).
This is the story of Lucy, a girl who needs and attitude adjustment, and Justin, the boy who just might give it to her.
School is out and Lucy is ready for the perfect summer: lazy days at the pool, invitations to the most exclusive parties, and romantic dates with her hot new boyfriend. That is, until she lands in trouble one too many times and her parents issue the ultimate punishment: a summer job. Suddenly, the summer can’t end fast enough.
To make matters worse, the job is painting houses with Justin, the most popular, egotistical guy in school. Spending all summer with Justin might be other girls’ dreams, but definitely not Lucy’s. After all, Justin is cocky, annoying, and a jerk. So what if he’s the most beautiful jerk Lucy’s ever seen? Or that his grin makes her forget she’s mad at the world? Or that maybe, just maybe, there’s more to Justin than everyone thinks. Only one thing is certain: it won’t be the summer she wanted, but it might be exactly the one she needs.
I’m rooting for Lucy already!
In my second cover love, I love the seaside feel with the girl facing out at the ocean, and moonlight reflecting off of the water. I can hear the buzz of dragon flies flitting by, and the crash of the waves. The best part of this selection is that the author won the 2011 Genesis contest in the YA genre. (Insert applause here.)
When high school junior Melissa Keiser returns to her hometown of Anna Maria Island, Florida, she has one goal: hide from the bullies who had convinced her she was the ugliest girl in school. But when she is caught sneaking into a neighbor’s pool at night, everything changes. Something is different now that Melissa is sixteen, and the guys and popular girls who once made her life miserable have taken notice. When Melissa gets the chance to escape life in a house ruled by her mom’s latest boyfriend, she must choose where her loyalties lie between a long-time crush, a new friend, and her surfer brother who makes it impossible to forget her roots. Just as Melissa seems to achieve everything she ever wanted, she loses a loved one to suicide. Melissa must not only grieve for her loss, she must find the truth about the three boys who loved her and discover that joy sometimes comes from the most unexpected place of all.
You know how I hate to cry, but I may need some tissues with this one! I hope you enjoyed these picks as much as I have!
Posted on August 12, 2013 - by Dawn Ford
Notebooks, pencils, and pens line the shelves of stores everywhere. Backpacks are filling fast, and children are either anxious for or despairing the end of summer. (Okay, okay! I’ll add you teachers to the despair list, too.) These next two weeks we will share our prayers for our children for this new school year. Please join us in praying for our young ones and those who are charged with teaching them.
Here is my prayer.
Allow our teachers a great measure of wisdom and truth so the information they impart will enriches the lives of our children for years to come.
Grant each educator a portion of grace and humor to help our kids through the trials they are sure to face within the classrooms and among their peers.
Guide these teachers, aides, and school personnel with a nurturing spirit, Lord, that they may smooth out any edges that could leave marks on our children’s hearts and minds, either from within or from without, so that our children can grow and prosper where you have placed them.
Gift our children with friends who are accepting, kind, and loyal so they may know the value of these traits. Let them see generosity and humility so they may emulate it.
If they must see negativity in the fickle, selfish, rude and the mean, help them to rise above it to become a better person for having known it.
Help our children to learn, and if they have difficulty give them an ally that will see their struggle and help to meet the child where they are. Then help challenge our children until they understand so they will not grow frustrated and so stop trying.
Give us as parents the tools we need to help our children to laugh, to share, to love, to thrive. Help us to show our children discipline so they may understand boundaries, rules, and respect. Allow our home to be a secure place with which to live, where our children have a soft place to land when things get tough.
Above all, Lord, send your angels to guard our sons and daughters whether on the buses, in the schools, or upon school grounds that these places may be safe from danger and harm.
Posted on August 2, 2013 - by Dawn Ford
I have spent my summer watching videos on You Tube for tutorials on how to put a steampunk/mad hatter outfit together and making cheap steampunk accessories and scouring second hand stores for just the right piece to add to my costume for the special dinner we will have this evening at the Realm Maker’s conference in St. Louis. I am quite happy with what I’ve come up with, and I hope it won’t look as contrived as it probably is. Here’s a what I did:
I started with a dress Lorna and I found and I bought on sale at Dillards two years ago. The neckline was a bit low for my taste, though, so when I found something I liked better, I wore it to the ACFW conference instead. I loved the rich chocolate color and the feel of the skirt so with a little help from a good friend of mine who is able to wield a sewing machine (shout out to Cathy B.!!), we got that pesky top removed from the skirt. Cathy hemmed the skirt up and voila! We have an amazing start to an outfit.
The blouse I found at a costume shop in one of the malls in Omaha in the RenFair section. I was amazed to find the blouse compliments the chocolate skirt, which is great because I wanted it to be brown, not white or black like most steampunk chemises are. Add a leather and crochet jacket from the Goodwill, along with a large feather and netting flower which I glued cogs and watch parts on. I’m loving it so far.
My oldest son Austin bought the cutest pair of boots for me at Christmas. They are brown and although they actually zip up, look like they are lace-up. Then, for my birthday this year hubs bought me a “watch” which is actually the inner workings of a pocketwatch set in leather to look like a watch and a spring banded ring which sports a propeller, owl head and matching bead (can you say AWESOME!). This will go nicely with the magnifier necklace of my mother’s which I added a small skeleton key to round it off.
The hat is really the topper of the outfit, though. A few years back our local IN writer’s group got together for the Abraham Lincoln display in Omaha. While there I bought a top hat which mimicked President Lincoln’s. I dusted it off, added a beaded scarf, beaded bobby pins, and a decorative watch pin I found at a second hand store. Lorna’s father was called upon for a special favor and he found a pair of old welding goggles in his basement for me to borrow. They are wire rimmed (!!), have green glass lens (!!!), and the sides flip in (!!!!!!!!!!!!). As Lorna would say: Oh. My. Cow! They are more than amazing. I will add a 10/6 sizer card to complete the steampunked Mad Hatter theme.
Whew! That was a lot of work, but so much fun to put together. I promise to post the end result on Facebook.