Faithful Follower?

What always strikes me when I read the resurrection verses in the Bible isn’t necessarily my favorite part of the story. It is a good lesson though about something we all can so easily fall into –not always standing up for our convictions. 

Easter Images 1On Sunday, Jesus rides into town. People gather. They are happy. They are wave palm leaves and shout ‘hosannas’. Jesus, their Savior, has arrived with his disciples by his side. The happy parade turns into a joyous celebration. 

Yet a few days later when the trouble begins, those same people now hurl insults at Jesus and when given the choice, they vote to release a criminal instead of Jesus. A criminal instead of the man they honored with loud ‘hosannas’!  

Even his disciples become scared and confused. His favorite disciple who pledges he’ll stand by Jesus to the end renounces that he knows Jesus.  

Now we all know these events were part of God’s plan, but it makes me take second look at myself. Do I always uphold my Christian beliefs? Am I true to my convictions? Or do I fall prey to popular opinion? 

These are easy questions, but sometimes the answers are tough. I seldom fall prey to popular opinion, but I do sometimes remain quiet about my true convictions. We live in a ‘politically correct’ world and that correctness doesn’t always fall within my Christian value system. My silence on an issue doesn’t mean I agree,Easter images 2 but does the other conversationalist mistake it for being in agreement with them? 

I hope not, but I can’t be certain either. I don’t want to be the Christian who celebrates Christ on Sunday, but by Thursday has ‘sided’ with the world’s opinions like the crowds in the Easter story. So during the Lenten season, I find myself soul searching and making sure I’m not following the crowd, but showing my devotion to Jesus through thick and thin. 

Does this part of the Resurrection story resonate with you?

 

Feeding the Masses

Thinking about a child only eating one meal a day at school or that an elderly person has to chose purchasing their medication over food breaks my heart so supporting food banks or organizations that provide a meal to other is the main social cause that I support.

Most cities have a food bank, many churches sponsor food banks -some larger churches even have food banks, and some counties provide food banks for the public. All of them accept donations and all them will tell you that hunger doesn’t happen just at Christmas time. Yes, sadly, the holidays seem to be the time most people think about giving money or goods to feed hungry people, yet the need is there all year.

Food Bank blog 1Here are five ways you can donate to a food bank throughout the year.

1.) Give a monthly donation. You’d be surprised how much food $10 will buy.

2.) Do you raise a garden? Have you canned pickles or tomatoes until your eyes are crossed and the garden needs picked again? Why not donate your fresh produce to your local food bank.

3.) Organize a “Souper Bowl Sunday” at church. Pass around a soup pot to gather collections for the two Sunday’s proceeding the Super Bowl. This is NOT my original idea. Our pastor started this tradition a couple of years ago.

4.) Celebrating a birthday or anniversary? Donate the number of dollars you are celebrating in years in either the birthday orFood Bank blog 3 anniversary month. This keeps income coming in throughout the year.

5.) Buy extra food while grocery shopping and take a bag to the food bank. Don’t just think canned veggies and soups. Buy canned tuna, ham, chicken, salmon, evaporated or powdered milk, frozen concentrate juices (yes, most food banks have refrigeration/freezers).

No matter how small the donation. It will make a BIG difference in someone’s life. Can you think of others ways to donate?

 

 

Perfect is Subjective

Your manuscript must be perfect when you submit it to agents or editors.
Every aspiring writer has read or heard that piece of advice and there is no truer statement in the writing field. You must polish your manuscript to perfection and format it to industry standards if you want to get the attention of an agent, editor or both. So you do and one happy day you get a call that an editor is interested in your book with a few changes.
What? Changes on a perfect manuscript?
Yep, that’s right. The word perfect is subjective on manuscript submissions. What the advice about submitting a perfect manuscript refers too is clean copy. Correct formatting, check your spelling and grammar, consistent verb tense and hone your story until it is as perfect as you can make it……until another set of experienced eyes reads it and makes suggestions.
I can’t count how many times, I’ve had a writer tell me they submitted a perfect manuscript only to have an editor want changes and they’re not going to do it. Instead they’ll send their work to an editor who appreciates their perfect manuscript.
Writing advice blogScreech….they just put the brakes on their career. Why? Because too many writer’s hold on to the ‘perfect factor’ not realizing the word is subjective.
Let’s face it. Editor’s edit (hence their name!). Editors know what their readers want and expect to see in a book. There are always change when an editor contracts a book. Sometimes they are big changes and sometimes small tweaks. Not every publishing house uses the same style guides, so you’re manuscript will also go through a style edit.
I recently signed a book contract which stated the work should be submitted publication ready except for editing to the publishers style. Hmm…think this publisher has had the ‘perfect’ conversation with a writer(s)?
So my advice to any writer is this: If you are targeting a certain publisher, follow their writing, formatting and style guidelines. Make your work as perfect as you possibly can, but if the editor contracts you, EXPECT edits because everyone’s idea of perfect is different, including agents, editors, and publishers.

Books – The Best Gift Ever!

All of the books on my list were Christmas gifts, except of course my own! I’m so excited to read them and hope a few of you will add them to your ‘to be read’ piles too.

So, what would Mary Ann do? As the sweet, polite, and thoughtful Mary Ann Summers from Kansas in the hit series Gilligan’s Island, Dawn Wells created an Book 1unforgettable and beloved character that still connects with people fifty years from the show’s debut in 1964. As the “good girl” among the group of castaways on a tiny island, she was often positioned against the glamorous and exotic Ginger Grant, played by Tina Louise, prompting many to ask: Are you a Ginger or a Mary Ann? This book not only helps readers answer that question for themselves but also sends the inspirational and heartwarming message that yes, good girls do finish first. Part self-help, part memoir, and part humor—with a little classic TV nostalgia for good measure—What Would Mary Ann Do? contains twelve chapters on everything from how Mary Ann would respond to changes in today’s culture to addressing issues confronting single women and mothers. Wells brings along her fellow characters from Gilligan’s Island to illustrate certain principles, such as incorporating the miserly Thurston Howell III (Jim Backus) in a discussion on money. Anecdotal sidebars also describe fascinating facts and compelling memories from the show, as well as some trivia questions to challenge fans and followers. Illustrated with photographs from Wells’s private collection, this book provides inspiring lessons from TV’s favorite good girl.

 

 

 

Monica Bisbaine loves being a modern girl in the Roaring Twenties. Her job writing a gossip column allows her access to all the local speakeasys in Washington, Book 2D.C., where she can dance the night away—and find fodder for her next article. But when the owner of the Capitol Chatter newspaper passes away, Monica wonders what will happen to her job, and the lifestyle she loves. Max Moore may hold the title of editor-in-chief for evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson’s paper, The Bridal Call, but Aimee calls all the shots. So when Max learns that his great-uncle has passed away, leaving him all his earthly possessions, Max resigns and heads to D.C. Determined to take over the Capitol Chatter, infuse it with his values, and turn it into a respectable paper, Max is soon bumping up against the equally determined Monica Bisbane. Under Max’s direction, Monica embarks on her most challenging assignment yet: infiltrating and reporting on the Anti-Flirt Society. Though reluctant at first, as Monica meets and mingles with the young women of the club, she begins to question the innocence of her flirtatious lifestyle. And when romance begins to blossom between Max and Monica, she must choose where her loyalties lie: with the young women of the society or the alluring pull of the speakeasy and its inhabitants.

 

 

 

Book 3After five hectic years of retirement from Lord’s Chapel, Father Tim Kavanagh returns with his wife, Cynthia, from a so-called pleasure trip to the land of his Irish ancestors. While glad to be at home in Mitford, something is definitely missing: a pulpit. But when he’s offered one, he decides he doesn’t want it. Maybe he’s lost his passion. His adopted son, Dooley, wrestles with his own passion—for the beautiful and gifted Lace Turner, and his vision to become a successful country vet. Dooley’s brother, Sammy, still enraged by his mother’s abandonment, destroys one of Father Tim’s prized possessions. And Hope Murphy, owner of Happy Endings bookstore, struggles with the potential loss of her unborn child and her hard-won business. All this as Wanda’s Feel Good Café opens, a romance catches fire through an Internet word game, their former mayor hatches a reelection campaign to throw the bums out, and the weekly Muse poses a probing inquiry: Does Mitford still take care of its own?

 

 

 

Dakota Love is a repackage of my Heartsong Presents quilting series. I’m excited about its release because two of the books in this series were hard to purchase due to a book line buy-out. You can buy Dakota Love from many major retails shelves or order it from your favorite online store! OR you can leave a comment on any of the Inkspirational Messages blogs for the next to two weeks to be entered for a chance to win a copy! The winner will be announced on January 17th!

Book 4

Here’s the blurb:

Modern South Dakota individuals use quilting to bring them joy and comfort, but suddenly quilting is leading them to romances they didn’t even know they wanted. Caroline and Rodney have each been loaded with many worries, but a tattered quilt could bring them together to share their burdens. Sarah and Mark embrace their independence until a quilting class throws them together and reveals their need for companionship. Lil is outgoing where Walt is private, but as they use quilting for physical therapy, an old secret could be revealed that will expose just how different they really are.

 

Vintage Ornaments

Growing up I loved the Jewel Brite diorama Christmas ornaments that adorned my grandmothers and mothers Christmas tree. As my grandmothers and then my mother passed away I inherited five of these ornaments and a vintage light up Santa. Although I loved the decorations they seemed very out of place on my tree hanging beside a Betty Boop or Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtle, so I tucked them away in a box.

Then one day while shopping in a thrift store, I found an old Christmas tree stand and came up with an idea. I’d purchase an artificial tree (I swore off of real trees after one tipped over and broke expensive collectable ornaments), find a way to anchor it in Jewel britethe stand (florist foam) and decorate a vintage tree using my beloved Jewel Brite ornaments.

The first couple of years there was more tree than ornament, but I am slowly finding Jewel Brite ornaments in antique stores, some in their original boxes, some very well loved, and a couple with melted divots where they rested against a hot Christmas light bulb.

The picture of the tree is one of the first years I put it up. The red ornament with Santa peeking out I found this year in a box of seven at an antique store. The teardrop shaped display of the Nativity belong to my Grandma Ross. She had a set which includes an angel, the shepherds, and the wise men. The ceramic choir boy (not a Jewel Brite) is an ornament my Grandma Hummel gave me that I don’t remember not having. It’s adorned every Christmas tree I’ve ever had and always will!

Do you remember Jewel Brite ornaments? If so did they differ from mine?

The recipe I’m sharing will not surprise anyone who follows this blog. I LOVE Bing Bars and this recipe tastes just like them and Choir boyit’s very easy to make.

Homemade Bing Bars

Ingredients
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ⅔ cup evaporated milk
  • 12 regular sized marshmallows
  • ½ cup margarine
  • 10 to 11 ounces cherry chips (1 package)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 11.5 ounces milk chocolate chips
  • ¾ cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup salted peanuts (chopped)
Christmas Blog 006Instructions
  1. Combine sugar, milk, marshmallows and margarine in a saucepan.
  2. Cook over medium heat and bring to a boil stirring constantly.
  3. Boil for 5 minutes stirring the entire time.
  4. Remove from heat and add cherry chips and vanilla.
  5. Pour into a 9 x 13 inch lightly greased pan and let cool.
  6. Melt chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl and add peanut butter and chopped peanuts.
  7. Mix together well and spread over the cherry mixture and chill in fridge until set.

 

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

 

 

It’s a Celebration!!!

Whoop! Whoop! We are all happy dancing for fellow blogger, Brenda Anderson. Her latest release is available for purchase, Pieces of Granite. And just in time for your holiday shopping!!!

So, to honor Brenda’s heroine, we are talking hobbies. I’m going to combine two of my favorite things to do, sew and embroidery. The pictures I’m sharing today are quilts I’ve made. Now, mind you, I only make the quilt tops. I have a professional quilter with a fancy quilting machine actually put the quilts together. BUT the tops are my own handiwork and patterns.

Hobby blog 2The quilt with the blue background blocks are Western theme handkerchiefs appliqued to the background block.

The snowman quilt was a wall panel I couldn’t resist that I turned into a quilt by sewing blocks and framing the panel.

The embroidered quilt is a state bird and flower pattern that took me….wait for it….thirty-five years to complete! There is a LOT of embroidery on that quilt and to be honest if my mother hadn’t passed away and left many, many, many unfinished quilt projects, I don’t know that I would have ever finished it. But after sorting through her projects, I made a goal to complete that quilt in a year…it stretched into a year and half, but it is done!

Back to Brenda-Here is the back cover blurb of her story.

Debbie Verhoeven is not your typical woman. She sacrificed a counseling career to be a full-time mother. She’d rather pound a nail than round steak. Oprah? No way! Give her ESPN any day. Nothing could be more stressful than scrapbooking. Nothing, except a distressing diagnosis, a husband who is pulling away, and two older brothers who refuse to get along. When the counselor is caught in the middle, when she needs to be strong for those around her, who is left to be strong for her? 

Make’s you want to pick up a book for yourself and friend, right?Hobby blog 1

 

 

 

 

 

Wise Words From Eleanor

There are many quotes from Eleanor Roosevelt that I love. I have chosen three I believe applies to writers and their journey. Writing is a tough and lonely occupation. Many times a writers fears win out over their dreams of publication. When you feel your fear sneaking up on you, remember these inspirational words ER Blog Quote 1from Eleanor Roosevelt. A very fearless lady!

 

 

Apply this quote to your writing. Try a different genre. Submit your work to a contest. Do something out of your writing comfort zone.

 

 

 

 

 

Have you ever read a book then thought you’d never be able to write a quality manuscript? Have you written half a book, decided it wasn’t good enough and stopped? Do you wonder if you only have one book in you? If you answered yes to any of these questions, this quote is for you.ER Blog Quote 3

Don’t let fear or your internal editor hold you back from achieving your writing dreams!

Slow-Cooked Broccoli

Since I work full time, consider my writing career a part-time job, and live in rural South Dakota where there isn’t pizza delivery, I rely heavily on my crockpot to make meals when I’m under deadline. I also use my crockpot recipes for potlucks. Here is a yummy side dish recipe good for potlucks, deadlines or anytime!

Slow-Cooked Broccoli

2 – 10 oz packages of frozen chopped broccoli partially thawed

1 can cream of celery soup

1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Crockpot1/4 cup chopped onion

1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 cup crushed butter-flavored crackers (approx. 25)

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

In a large bowl, combine broccoli, soup, 1 cup of cheese, onion, Worcestershire sauce and pepper. Pour into a greased slow cooker. Sprinkle crackers on top and dot with butter. Cover and cook on high for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and cook 10 minutes longer or until the cheese is melted.

 

Appreciating the Light

I am the very opposite of most people. I enjoy cool (and cold!) weather so when the cicadas start signing and the calendar page turns to September I begin to look forward to the autumnal equinox.

For those unfamiliar with an equinox, it happens twice a year. Once in mid-March (vernal equinox) and once in mid-September, we experience approximately equal length in day and night. Of course, after is happens in the spring the daylight hours last longer and in the fall darkness reigns and the daylight hours grow shorter.

With this shift of light comes an abundance of fall foliage. Leaves change from greens to gold, orange, and vibrant reds. Gardens are dotted with deep green, tan and yellow varieties of squash, not to mention orange pumpkins.

Various 006Autumn’s colorful palate that the autumnal equinox gives us a fair trade for stealing some of our daylight hours, don’t you think? In addition, the autumnal equinox makes us appreciate the precious light of the day that we may have taken for granted during the long dog days of summer.

It’s true the lack of daylight can affect our mood, making us cranky, tired or lazy. When that happens we need to turn to the true light of the world, Jesus. He can fill our darkest hours, whether it’s caused by hurt, grief or confusion. His light restores our spirit and when we let His light shine from our heart, we show our true colors to the world in the same way the lessening light after the autumnal equinox reveals nature’s hues that have been masked in green throughout the summer sunshine.

You can appreciate the seasons of light and darkness in your life when you know Jesus is your beacon!

**This blog has been brought to you by the letter “E”.