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A frosted chocolate brownie

May 3, 2015

…that’s what I feel like eating right now. Weird desire because I’ve had a rotten appetite since our last night in California when I came down with a lovely case of food poisoning. Thankfully, it had left me well enough to fly home, but I haven’t felt much like eating since.

IMG_2318So I’m eating vanilla ice cream and one of Randy’s cookies (vanilla) instead while I listen to Randy continue to work on the bathroom tile. (I’d help, but the space is too cramped.) We left the work behind for a wondrous week in California to watch our son marry his lovely bride in Los Olivos, a little vineyard town not far from Solvang. The trip was rather whirlwind with bridal shower, rehearsal, wedding, a visit to see where our son works, and then Randy and I spent a few days touring San Luis Obispo or SLO as the natives call it and area cities. We chased a few sunsets and enjoyed exploring the sites…until we got back to L.A. and I got sick. Six nights later and I still don’t feel great. But thankfully, Randy does and he’s been painting and tiling and we are on track to finish soon, I think.

It’s interesting the things God teaches us while we are struggling with feeling sick or sad even going through happy life changes – they are all adjustments and they put us through a gamut of emotions. And yes, I will admit, sometimes those emotions are crabby ones (when I’m sick). (Poor Randy.) I tend to vent to him, my friends, and yes, to God. (He knows anyway, so I figure it’s better to be honest, even though I end up apologizing for being too snarky sometimes. He does deserve our respect, after all.).

In my crabbiness tonight, it occurred to me that it might help if I actually listened to His response. I mean, if we’re going to tell Him how we feel, it might be wise to hear from Him in return. (No one really likes to just listen to someone talk and never get a word in edgewise.) So since I’m reading in Matthew and was beginning chapter 4, I started reading, “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” Wait. What?

IMG_2414Stop and reread that.

Then Jesus was led up by the Spiritto be tempted by the devil.

From what I know of Scripture (James) God does not tempt any man. But right here it said that the Spirit led Jesus to be tempted. And then I remembered the prayer Jesus taught to His disciples. “And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one.” Hmm…

God does not tempt us. But He allows His Spirit to lead us into it. Perhaps to test us? To see how we will respond to it? To teach us? To strengthen us? To know what is in our hearts? (I’m pretty sure you can find these reasons mentioned in various places in Scripture.) That’s a really sobering thought. And it makes “The Lord’s Prayer” make a LOT more sense in that one spot. “Lead us not into temptation.” Wow.

Wilderness of Judah 5Now I’m not saying that a frosted chocolate brownie is temptation led by the Spirit. But what I did realize is that Jesus taught us to PRAY that the Spirit NOT lead us into temptation but deliver us from evil or the evil one. Jesus knew what it was like to be in that wilderness and face the enemy head on. He knew temptation in the form of hunger and pride and greed and just giving up and take the easy way out. The devil came at Jesus with a LOT during those 40 days. Maybe that’s why it was one of the main things He added to our prayers, right after requesting daily bread and forgiving those who sin against us.

In any case, it got my attention. And I’ve been praying it during my crabbiness this afternoon ever since.

Selah~

 

by jill at 9:17 pm in

CBA Bestseller!

April 14, 2015

Rahab CoverToday was a day that I really needed to hear some good news, and it came from a source I didn’t expect! The Crimson Cord is #4 on the CBA Bestseller List for Historical Fiction! Thank you to all of my influencers, reviewers, and readers for helping get the word out about this book. Just knowing that so many of you have enjoyed my version of Rahab’s story and that it helped you enjoy reading the Old Testament more and see God’s grace there means a lot to me! So again, thank you! I appreciate you!

Writing these days has been slower going but I’m getting pretty good at slopping “thin set” on ceramic tile! (Kind of like frosting a cake.) The bathroom is coming along, but we still have a lot to do. More work than time, but we’ll get it done! Randy and I had a pretty good rhythm going with it yesterday. Today, he is cutting more tile so we can get at it again.

In the meantime, I’m also preparing for our son’s wedding in California – coming soon! I can’t believe how fast the time goes. I long for time with all of my kids together in the same place. That sure doesn’t happen often any more, which makes me cherish every moment we do get. I told Randy the other day that it’s all Michael W. Smith’s fault that our kids love the west. When they were young I played his music in the car all the time and “Go West Young Man” was among our favorites. Hmm…maybe we need to go west too someday. Tiger isn’t quite sure he agrees with that.

Today – this week also brings to mind a lot of happy and sad memories. My mother-in-law would have been 103 this past Sunday and my dad would have been 93 today. Both have been in heaven for quite some time, and the older I get the more I look forward to seeing them again someday. Hard to believe Randy’s mom has been there for 15 years. Don’t blink. Time will slip right past us!

But even as time marches on and we move from one project, one goal to another, I think a better song for me today (rather than “Go West Young Man”!) is Mandisa’s “Where You Begin”. I heard it while driving today and it talked about going if God says go and staying if God says stay. I might want to move to greener/warmer pastures, but I need to be where He wants me to be. Like Abram of old, if God says, “go”, we better go! But if He’s saying “stay” then we must stay. Each person has a different journey and only God has the roadmap.

But my favorite line of Mandisa’s song was this: “Are you telling me to hang onto you for another day?” Sometimes that’s the best thing we can do. Even if we are hanging by a thin thread. God won’t let go. We forget He holds us in the palm of His hand if we are His.

And while He holds us, He also has this really cool tendency to bless us. Even with small glimpses of His kindness. Joy and sadness mingle, but above all, He loves us. Today is a mix of joy and sadness and gratitude for His love. But isn’t that true for most days of our lives?

Selah~

This crazy life

April 9, 2015

IMG_4635If you had told me last Christmas that I would be crazy busy in April, I would not have believed it. But God has a way of changing our direction and life has a way of filling up with more things than we expected. Of course, sometimes we create more work for ourselves by our own choices–like remodeling a bathroom, top to bottom, and fostering a cat that didn’t work out.

The bathroom, like most home projects, has had its moments. Just leveling the bathtub has been a fun challenge. Then we discovered that the people who owned the house before us had damaged the wall in the adjacent bedroom, so Randy had to cut out some drywall and replace it. I see a bedroom painting project in our future.

I got the bright idea at the same time that Randy was working on the tub, to clean closets in one of our son’s old bedrooms. So now, a bedroom that we need to use in a couple of months is piled with donations for the Salvation Army. I just need to load up the van and take them there–when I can get to the bedroom without tripping over the obstacle course in the hallway.IMG_4651

In the meantime, I’ve gotten edits on The Prophetess, Deborah’s Story and The Egyptian Princess (working title) ebook novella. Both stories, I’m relieved to say, were accepted by my editor, so I can get back to working on Ruth’s story (working title).

But instead of writing, I have spent the last few days shopping online for bathroom replacement parts. It took me hours to maneuver through Home Depot’s website and Lowe’s website, both of which could use some better coding because their search engines are not as user friendly as they could be. I finally found a tub handle replacement that I liked, but then ended up finding out (after I ordered it) that it’s no longer available. Hours of shopping and comparing and matching it to the sink faucet wasted. So I went to the local store. Nothing. I came home and in desperation googled what I wanted. Amazon came to my rescue with exactly the right style part. At least I hope so. Time will tell when it gets here.

In the midst of all of this we have a son getting married with several celebrations in the works. Lots of fun and a little bit of stress! But I wouldn’t change a thing. In spite of running around to meet with friends, run errands, keep appointments, and write as much as I can each day, I would rather be busy than bored. Then again, sometimes it’s wonderful to just sit down and read a good book, which is exactly what I’m going to do right now.

Until next time~

April 2015 Christian Fiction Releases

April 8, 2015

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Amish Romance:

The Postcard by Laura V. Hilton — David Lapp moves to Jamesport for a fresh start after surviving a “code blue” when he was in a buggy/semi truck accident. His new call to the ministry is complicated by his lingering mobility problems, the Amish church, and a postcard friendship with Jamesport local Rachel Miller. (Contemporary Romance from Whitaker House)

Contemporary Romance:

Pesto and Potholes by Susan M. Baganz — Renata Blake trades her abusive past for a new home and church family in Milwaukee, not expecting her attraction to handsome chef and Packer fanatic, Antonio DeLuca. Tony has been burned by love and is too busy to let a woman in his life again. With God’s help, and the support of a faith community, will Tony and Renata learn to love again? (Contemporary Romance from Inspired [Prism Book Group])

Together With You by Victoria Bylin — An agnostic, Dr. Ryan Tremaine loses his heart to his children’s god-fearing nanny in this modern twist on The Sound of Music. (Contemporary Romance from Bethany House [Baker Publishing Group])

Coast Guard Courtship by Lisa Carter — Coast Guard Officer Braeden Scott’s wants freedom and adventure, not assignment to a tiny Virginia coastal village-until a feisty redhead puts charm back into small-town life. Amelia Duer is all about home and hearth and caring for her nephew. As Braeden spends more time with her and the boy, his hopes for a family begin to resurface. Could Amelia be the anchor this charming Coastie needs to stop wandering and create a home for good? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Pinky Promise by Valerie Comer — Kelly Bryant’s young daughter wants a daddy and sets her sights on her new best friend’s single father. The man may be charming, sweet, and a believer, but Kelly is embarrassed. She extracts a pinky promise from her six-year-old to stop proposing to men on her behalf. Ian Tomlinson isn’t looking for a wife but does need care for his daughter during spring break the week after his move to Riverbend. He hates to ask Kelly – and plant ideas in the girls’ minds – but he’s rather low on options. How can two single parents fall in love for real with a pair of mini-matchmakers pushing from both sides – pinky promises or not? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Like a Love Song by Camille Eide — Susan Quinn, a social worker turned surrogate mom to foster teens, fights to save the group home she’s worked hard to build. But now, she faces a dwindling staff, foreclosure, and old heartaches that won’t stay buried. Her only hope lies with the last person she’d ever turn to-a brawny handyman with a guitar, a questionable past, and a God he keeps calling Father. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Island Refuge by Kimberly Rose Johnson — A five star chef running from a broken engagement takes a job as a cook and housekeeper at a B&B on a small island off the coast of Washington state. There she meet’s Dr. Nick Jackson, the new owner of the Wildflower B&B. (Contemporary Romance from Mountain Brook, INC.)

Dating the Best Man by Gail Sattler — Cory Bellanger wants to be more than just a friend to his best friend’s sister, Daphne Carruthers, but first he needs to come to terms with her painful past and earn her trust. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

From the Start by Melissa Tagg — Kate Walker’s love life may have left her brokenhearted, but it hasn’t kept her from churning out made-for-TV romance movie screenplays…until a major career slump sends her running back to her hometown of Maple Valley. There she meets recently injured, and permanently sidelined, NFL quarterback Colton Greene, who is hiding out from the media. When an unexpected project gives Kate and Colton a chance to jumpstart their new lives, will they follow through? (Contemporary Romance from Bethany House [Baker Publishing Group])

Reclaiming the Cowboy’s Heart by Rose Ross Zediker — Donna crosses paths with her former fiancé, Jamie Martin, at Cheyenne Frontier Days, unprepared for the feelings that still endure after twenty years. As a former party boy, Jamie’s newfound faith could pave the way for a second chance at his first love…if Donna can find it in her heart to forgive him for almost destroying her family business so long ago. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

General Fiction:

Memory Box Secrets (Coming Home Volume 2) by Brenda S. Anderson — Years after being abandoned by her parents, a successful sales executive receives a call from her father that he wants back in her life. (General Fiction, Independently Published)

Historical Romance:

The Lady and the Mountain Doctor by Misty M. Beller — When a hunting accident dashes a mountain woman’s hopes of ever becoming a genteel lady, can God use the new doctor to heal her wounded heart? (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

The Oregon Trail Romance Collection by Amanda Cabot, Melanie Dobson, Pam Hillman, Myra Johnson, Amy Lillard, DiAnn Mills, Anna Schmidt, Ann Shorey, and Jennifer Uhlarik — Nine romantic adventures take readers along for a ride on the Oregon Trail. Enjoy the trip through a fascinating part of history through the eyes of remarkably strong characters, who stop at famous landmarks along the way. Watch as their faith is strengthened and as love is born despite unique circumstances. Discover where the journey ends for each of nine couples. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

With This Kiss Historical Collection by Mary Connealy, Ruth Logan Herne, Pam Hillman, Cara Lynn James, and Julie Lessman — Five multi-published, award-winning and best-selling Christian authors transport you to yesteryear, when times were tough and love was far more simple…in some ways! (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

The Doctor’s Undoing by Allie Pleiter — During WWI, serious, dedicated doctor Daniel Parker finds his life and his Parker Home for Orphans turned upside down by the vibrant, optimistic nurse Ida Lee Landway. (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

The Creole Princess (Gulf Coast Chronicles) by Beth White — During the American Revolution, Frenchwoman Lyse Lanier is best friends with the daughter of the British officer in command of Mobile, Alabama. Rafael Gonzalez is a charming young Spanish merchant with a secret mission and a shipment of gold to support General Washington. As their destinies become increasingly tangled, Lyse and Rafael must decide where their true loyalties lie–and save Lyse’s family from being executed as traitors to the British Crown. (Historical Romance from Revell [Baker Publishing Group])

Romantic Suspense:

Buried Secrets (A Men of Valor Novel) by Irene Hannon — Former Chicago homicide detective Lisa Grant takes a job as a small-town police chief, wanting a kinder, gentler life. But the discovery of a human skeleton by a construction crew taxes her department’s resources. Enter backup, Detective Mac McGregor, an ex-Navy SEAL. As they work together to solve the mystery behind the unmarked grave, it becomes clear someone will stop at nothing to make certain a life-shattering secret stays buried. (Romantic Suspense from Revell [Baker Publishing Group])

Royal Rescue by Tammy Johnson — Hidden away for fourteen years, Thea James was presumed dead by most-killed in the fire that burned the royal palace. Thea’s new bodyguard, Ronin Parrish, knows she’s the only one who can clear his father of the king’s murder-and so does the killer. To a commoner like Ronin, the strong, beautiful princess can never be more than a mission, a race to restore Thea’s throne…before the murderer ends her reign forever. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Presumed Guilty by Dana R. Lynn — Melanie Swanson lost her friends, her fiancé and her freedom when she was found guilty of a crime she didn’t commit and spent four years in prison. Police lieutenant Jace Tucker still believes Melanie is guilty-until she is repeatedly attacked and the people around her are picked off one by one. Melanie’s memories may help solve the crime she witnessed rather than caused-but proving her innocence could cost her life. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Duty Bound Guardian (Capitol K-9 Unit) by Terri Reed — Art curator Lana Gomez’s life in on the line, and K-9 Officer Adam and his partner, Ace, must stop the assassin. As the danger escalates, Lana and Adam grow closer…but will they survive? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Speculative Fiction:

Heir of Hope (Follower of the Word series, Book 3) by Morgan L. Busse — When the great city of Thyra falls, Rowen Mar, the last Truthsayer, is taken before the Shadonae. But the Shadonae are not who she thought they were, and now they want to claim her as their own. Caleb Tala, former assassin and prince, is now an exiled Guardian of mankind. He wanders the desert in search of his true identity. Rowen and Caleb must find their way through the shadows or the human race will be no more. (Speculative Fiction from Enclave Publishing)

by jill at 8:10 am in

Have we been duped?

April 6, 2015

Empty tomb1Or to put it another way, what if you woke up one day and discovered that everything you believed was a lie? Not your typical Easter message, but this was the way our pastor began his Easter talk. “If there was no resurrection,” he said, “we’re believing a hoax. And we’re misrepresenting God.”

The Christian faith hangs everything on the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. If Jesus did not rise, according to 1 Corinthians 15:12-20, then our faith is in vain – it’s empty, worthless. Our message has no credibility. We are not forgiven anything – every sin we have ever committed is still tacked to our account. We have no hope of a future with Jesus in His home in heaven. And lastly, we are a people to be pitied – felt sorry for – because really, why would we live as we do if we have no future, no hope, and our words hold no value? No one could or should possibly take us seriously. Why should we believe something if it isn’t true?

This brings me to another question. Jesus claimed to be God’s Son — equal with God — which is why He couldn’t stay dead (thus the resurrection). His ability to heal, give sight to the blind, raise the dead, calm raging waters, free those possessed by demons, turn water into wine, etc., etc., proved that He was no ordinary man. (I daresay we still can’t duplicate His miracles in 2000 years of technological advances.)

Sea of Galilee boatSo if Jesus claimed to be God (the reason why they killed Him), why do so many today still want to think He was just a good moral teacher?

C. S. Lewis once said of Him, ““I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

And because He did not intend to leave us that option, then what did He leave us? He left us with two options. Repent and believe in Him or remain in our sins and perish. (He didn’t mince words.) Nor did Joshua of old when told the people of the Old Testament, “Choose this day whom you will serve. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Understanding that Jesus is God and believing that He rose from the dead are absolutely essential truths for anyone who would call himself a Christian. They are also essential for any type of everlasting hope. If this is the only life we will ever know, what room is there for hope? Hope in what? If I live another thirty years and die, what good was my life if it ends there? Perhaps we could come up with some altruistic reasons for living, to make the world better for future generations, but is that really enough?

Empty tomb4If there is no resurrection, then Jesus lived and died for nothing. If He was just a good moral teacher, and not God incarnate, He can offer us no hope. He could not have accomplished the things He promised, and we have nothing to look forward to. Pretty bleak scenario, in my opinion.

But…eyewitness accounts saw the risen Christ. And in 2000 years, no one has ever been able to find his dead body to prove those witnesses wrong. Forty authors over a 1500 year period recorded prophecy after prophecy that Jesus fulfilled in His earthly life, which has never been done by any other man or woman in any other religion throughout history.

So have we been duped? Some may think so. But to those who know Him in an experiential way know differently. Because once He has transformed your thinking and changed your heart, you realize that the healing miracles are nothing compared to the miracle He can do for the hurting human soul.

I believe Jesus is exactly who He claimed to be. I believe He rose from the dead on the third day after He was crucified. And I believe He keeps His promises. What those 40 authors wrote of Him that He didn’t fulfill then, He will return again to complete. And every eye will see Him.

And that is no lie.

Selah~

by jill at 6:01 pm in