Thursday, December 7, 2017

Barbara Cameron's Seeds of Hope

Two very different worlds collide, and Miriam and Mark begin to question if love can bring them—and their two worlds—together in Barbara Cameron’s new book, Seeds of HopeMiriam Troyer has had a secret crush on Mark Byler since she was a teenager, but she knows they can never have a relationship: Mark is a big-city attorney and an Englischer. Even though Mark always loved visiting his grandfather’s farm as a boy, he’s convinced the Amish life is not for him. But when he suddenly finds himself out of a job and without direction, Mark heads back to the farm just in time to help with the harvest. Could life in this simple world be right for Mark after all? Has Miriam finally found her happily ever after?
Enter to win a copy of Seeds of Hope. Five winners will be chosen! Click the image below to enter to win. The winners will be announced December 22 on the Litfuse blog!


{MORE ABOUT SEEDS OF HOPE}


(Gilead, November 2017)
A heartwarming tale of discovering love right in front of you
Miriam Troyer has had a secret crush on Mark Byler since she was a teenager, but she knows they can never have a relationship: Mark is a big-city attorney and an Englischer. Her Amish community is too far removed from all he knows–and she loves her quiet way of life.
Mark has always loved his visits to his grandfather’s farm, but he’s convinced the Amish life isn’t for him. There’s so much of the world to see and experience, and the excitement of his successful law practice can’t be matched by the slow pace of life found back home in the country.
But when things go wrong and his firm distances itself from him to try to save themselves, Mark finds himself back at his grandfather’s farm. Could life in this simple world be worth living after all? Especially when the teenager he remembers has grown into a woman that could be his future. Suddenly, these two people whose lives seem so far apart may get a chance to really see each other for the first time.


Barbara Cameron{MORE ABOUT BARBARA CAMERON}


Barbara Cameron has a heart for writing about the spiritual values and simple joys of the Amish. She is the best-selling author of more than 40 fiction and nonfiction books, three nationally televised movies, and the winner of the first Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Award. Her books have been nominated for Carol Awards and the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award from RWA’s Faith, Hope, and Love chapter. Barbara resides in Jacksonville, Florida.
Find out more about Barbara at http://barbaracameron.com.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Cara Putman's Imperfect Justice

Emilie and Reid both thought they knew Kaylene Adams until the police claim she’s her daughter’s murderer. Don’t miss Imperfect Justice, the new legal thriller from Cara Putman called compelling, intelligent, and deeply satisfying. Thrown together in a race to save Kaylene’s surviving daughter, Emily and Reid pursue the constantly evasive truth. If they can hang on to hope together, can they save a young girl—and find a future for themselves in the process?


{MORE ABOUT IMPERFECT JUSTICE}


(Thomas Nelson, December 2017)
The police say the woman was a murderer. Emilie Wesley knows they can’t be talking about her client . . . can they?
To the world it seems obvious: Kaylene Adams killed her daughter and then was shot by police. Attorney Emilie Wesley knows a different story: Kaylene would never hurt anyone and was looking for a way out of a controlling, abusive relationship. Her death shakes Emilie’s belief that she can make a difference for women in violent marriages. Self-doubt plagues her as she struggles to continue her work in the wake of the tragedy.
Reid Billings thought he knew his sister—right up until he learned how she died. He discovers a letter from Kaylene begging him to fight for custody of her daughters if anything should happen to her. No attorney in her right mind would support an uncle instead of the father in a custody case, but Kaylene’s letter claims Emilie Wesley will help him.
Thrown together in a race to save Kaylene’s surviving daughter, Emily and Reid pursue the constantly evasive truth. If they can hang on to hope together, can they save a young girl—and find a future for themselves in the process?
Cara Putman

{MORE ABOUT CARA PUTMAN}


Cara Putman is the author of more than 25 legal thrillers, historical romances, and romantic suspense novels. She has won or been a finalist for honors including the ACFW Book of the Year and the Christian Retailing’s BEST Award. Cara graduated high school at 16, college at 20, completed her law degree at 27, and recently received her MBA. She is a practicing attorney, teaches undergraduate and graduate law courses at a Big Ten business school, and is a homeschooling mom of four. She lives with her husband and children in Indiana.
Find out more about Cara at http://caraputman.com.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Celebrate the Christmas season with purpose


Part 2 of an interview with Melissa Spoelstra,
Author of Total Christmas Makeover



In the bustle of the Christmas season, it can be easy to get swept up in all of the things to do: decorating, cooking, socializing, and shopping. However, it is important to pause and remember the priority should be to spend time celebrating Christ’s birth and not forgetting to invite Jesus to His own party. In Total Christmas Makeover: 31 Devotions to Celebrate with Purpose (Abingdon Press), Melissa Spoelstra provides a practical approach to helping families learn what it means to truly celebrate the Savior.

Q: What is a total Christmas makeover?


While we have no such specifics given for our celebration of Christ’s birth because it comes from church history rather than biblical mandate, we can glean some important principles about celebration from Scripture. In studying the holy days God instructed the Israelites to observe in the Old Testament, we notice three key elements consistent in their practices. Rituals, including special gatherings, particular foods and specific actions, helped God’s people remember His faithfulness. Relationships were a key part of everything. Rest was mandated, and stopping ordinary work helped people savor God’s goodness. As we think about our Christmas rituals, relationships and time for rest, we can make simple Spirit-led changes that will help us celebrate Jesus and bring realignment to His mission. That is a total Christmas makeover.

Q: Some people thrive on the holiday season while others dread it. What factors differentiate the enthusiasts from those who would rather skip the holidays?

It really is our attitude that differentiates us. Those who want to skip it may have significant factors contributing to their posture. Perhaps they lost a loved one this year, and Christmas marks a time of loss flooded with memories of an absent person at their celebrations. Others may have complicated family or friend situations or might be battling cancer or a serious illness. However, many want to skip Christmas because their lists of things to do are overwhelming. The hype of Christmas requires a lot of work and sometimes isn’t very nourishing to the soul. Rediscovering enthusiasm for the season means stripping away the excess and getting back to Christ. Waning enthusiasm can return when we begin to ask good questions about how and why we celebrate. These devotions are designed to do just that. When we redirect our focus, we can celebrate Christ even through rough seasons of life.

Q: For those who feel like Scrooge or the Grinch (most definitely secular characters) around Christmas, what kind of self-examination should they do?

Feelings are fickle at times. They can change from day to day when we take into account our fatigue, workload, relational issues, etc. If we are consistently feeling like Scrooge or Grinch throughout a longer period of time, then we need to do some digging to get to the root of a pattern of feelings that isn’t Christ-like. God is generous. We can never out-give Him. At Christmas, generosity is highlighted and contagious. If we aren’t joining in that Holy Spirit-led desire to give and serve, then we need to do a heart check. These could be symptoms of something we can take action to reverse, such as lack of prayer or study in God’s Word. Maybe we have isolated ourselves from a community of believers and need to re-engage. Sometimes the issues run much deeper to past abuse, grief or secret sin. A good counselor might be needed in those cases to help us walk through our pain in a healthy way.

Q: How do you approach the Christmas season differently now than you did five or ten years ago?

I’m less concerned about doing what I think I “should” do and more focused on spending time with the Savior I celebrate. I still love many of the rituals of Christmas and continue to decorate, attend parties, incorporate family devotions and prepare for special church services. I’m just more OK with saying no to some things. I don’t have to attend every party we are invited to. With teenagers, we now do weekly family devotions in December where they take turns leading. I spend more moments savoring, singing and praying and less time fretting, shopping and trying to make everything “just right.”

Q: So much of the Christmas season is centered around the giving and receiving of gifts. How can we make over our approach to gift-giving to be more Christ-focused and meaningful?


Q: Is Total Christmas Makeover intended to be used as a family devotional or for the adults read and apply to their family time each day?

It could be used either way. For adults whose small groups or Bible studies break for December, it provides a daily reading to keep them in Scripture and reflecting on the reason for the season. It includes Scripture, a devotion, a prayer prompt and practical application ideas. These could be read and discussed as a family or on an individual basis.

Q: The 31 devotionals go beyond Christmas day. How do you transition readers into preparing for the new year ahead?

The last 10 devotions revolve around rest and preparation for a new year. It is during times of rest when we can reflect on what we want to do differently in the future.  These devotions cover topics such as balance, finding new strength and preparing to remember God’s gift of Christ throughout the year ahead. 

For more about Melissa Spoelstra and Total Family Makeover, visit melissaspoelstra.com. You can also follow her on Facebook (AuthorMelissaSpolestra) and Twitter (@MelSpoelstra).



Monday, December 4, 2017

It's a good thing no one lives in my mess but me


For a brief moment, I reconsidered skipping the holiday decorations, then I started unpacking all the Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday shopping I did on eBay. This only shows a portion of my current mess. It's likely to stay messy through the week because I've hit a wall. 

One more craft show for the season, but I'm exhausted from all the work to prep for the two shows last week. I also have to rearrange my stacks of books to get these on the shelves and have the don't-want-tos. 

I know I've complained a whole lot recently. I really do love having a bunch of events and selling lots of stuff though. I really do. I'm just going to have to do a better job next year of stockpiling finished projects over the summer. I've just never been that great with planning ahead. Actually, it's not the planning that's the issue, it's the execution!

I have the same problem during the day. I plan to get all this work done... I really do have all of the best of intentions. 

Do you have that problem? Feel free to comment, and we'll commiserate. 

Sunday, December 3, 2017

The Crayon Box aka The Color Song

Now, I did actually have a new video to post this week. I recorded it Wednesday night. But, you know how I keep complaining about not having time? I didn't get it uploaded to YouTube. I could have taken the time to get it ready to do so. However, I can't do on a week day in the background while working because it always jams up my internet, and I've had other computer issues lately with email going out, so didn't want to hinder myself more.

So, we'll go back a few years to this video.


The Crayon Box Song

Written by William V. Mason

When I was just a little child
No higher than your knee,
My mother bought a box of crayons,
Just for me.
I picked them up and I opened them up
And I looked way down inside,
And the colors there reminded me
Of Jesus when He died.

O… Red is the color of the blood that He shed,
Brown is for the crown of thorns they laid upon His head.
Blue is for royalty! In Heaven He does dwell;
And yellow is for the Christian who's afraid to tell.

I colored and I colored
'Til the crayons were all gone,
And though I am much older now,
The mem'ry lingers on.
And when I see a little child
With crayon box in hand,
I tell them what they mean to me
And hope they'll understand.

O… Red is the color of the blood that He shed,
Brown is for the crown of thorns they laid upon His head.
Blue is for royalty! In Heaven He does dwell;
And yellow is for the Christian who's afraid to tell.

Afraid to tell of a Savior
Who died on Calvary,
He died for lowly sinners
Just like you and me;
And someday soon He's coming back
To be our King,
And the colors of the crayon box
We will sing!

O… Red is the color of the blood that He shed,
Brown is for the crown of thorns they laid upon His head.
Blue is for royalty! In Heaven He does dwell;
And yellow is for the Christian who's afraid to tell.

So, don't you be a Christian, who's afraid to tell!

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Be kind to your friends


There's a chance that Angie may never speak to me again.

She graciously agreed to help me work my craft show this weekend at LD Bell High School while my parents had an event back home.

On the drive up to the hotel for the night, she got to hear me rant about a work issue and obsess over something until I finally got distracted with another subject.

I asked her to turn off the light in the hotel room, skipping the book and stuck with the iPad, because I was cranky and needed to go to bed early.

Then, I had this dramatic coughing fit after laying in bed a couple of hours because I was allergic to the pillow.

I made her get up at 5 AM so we could go do a set up. Then, during set up, I worked myself into a tizzy because we didn't have enough room (we did get to spread out when the people next to us didn't show). I was super frustrated, and I'm sure she was ready to hitchhike home.

After a super busy day, we had to pack everything up which is never fun. Then had a long ride home because first I took the wrong exit, then got in traffic. I then had to go an alternate route because I couldn't get over to another exit.

She may never go anywhere with me again! I'm uber grateful though. More than she knows.

I'm thankful for Rakia who stopped by for a couple of hours too. I barely got to visit with her in the chaos.

Be kind to your friends. If you don't, you may find yourself in a pinch someday.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Time is but a blur

Am I the only one that feels like time is flying by in a blur these days? There's just not enough hours in the day. That's for sure.

Part of me can't wait to sleep through January though. I've seen 2 AM way too much these days. The only nights I go to bed at a decent hour are the nights before I have to get up at 5 AM. I'm all off whack, but those are signs of a really good craft season. I just can't keep up!

This weekend will be interesting. This morning I set up for one event here in Corsicana that Mom and Dad will be working tomorrow while I am in Hurst with Angie at LD Bell High School. That set up can start as early as 5 AM. Don't you get tired just reading about it?

That's why my blog has suffered lately. I can't keep up with it! I'm trying to get caught up with the day job too. This, this is why the Christmas tree isn't and won't be up this year. I can't handle one more thing on my to do list.

Oh, the plans I have for 2018 though. My goal is for everything to be better! Lofty, lofty, lofty goals there! :)

Thursday, November 30, 2017

‘All Things Now Living’ Blog Tour and Kindle Fire Giveaway

While on a scavenging trip with her father, Amy is accidentally trapped in New Lithisle in Rondi Bauer Olson's All Things Now Living. At first her only goal is to escape, but when she meets Daniel, a New Lithisle boy, she begins to question how less-than-human the people of New Lithisle are. Amy’s feelings grow even more conflicted when she learns she didn’t end up in New Lithisle by mistake. Her father is secretly a sympathizer. Time is running short and Amy has to decide if she will bring the computer program her father wrote to his contact or save herself. Installing the program could prevent the dome’s collapse, but if Amy doesn’t find her father’s contact in time, she’ll die, along with everyone else.

Stay up all night reading this thrilling new book from Rondi and enter to win a Kindle Fire!

 

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A copy of All Things Now Living
  • A Kindle Fire
Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on December 14. The winner will be announced December 15 on the Litfuse blog.




{MORE ABOUT ALL THINGS NOW LIVING}


(Written World Communications, May 2017)
Her whole life Amy has been taught the people of New Lithisle deserve to die, but when she falls for Daniel, she determines to save him.
Sixteen-year-old Amy doesn’t like anything to die, she won’t even eat the goats or chickens her mama has butchered every fall, but she can’t let herself pity the inhabitants of New Lithisle. In a few short months the dome they built to isolate themselves from the deadly pandemic is predicted to collapse, but her whole life Amy has been taught it’s God’s will they die. They traded their souls for immunity to the swine flu virus, brought God’s curse upon themselves by adding pig genes to their own.
Then, while on a scavenging trip with her father, Amy is accidentally trapped in New Lithisle. At first her only goal is to escape, but when she meets Daniel, a New Lithisle boy, she begins to question how less-than-human the people of New Lithisle are.
Amy’s feelings grow even more conflicted when she learns she didn’t end up in New Lithisle by mistake. Her father is secretly a sympathizer, and was trying to prevent the coming destruction.
Now time is running short and Amy has to decide if she will bring the computer program her father wrote to his contact or save herself. Installing the program could prevent the dome’s collapse, but if Amy doesn’t find her father’s contact in time, she’ll die, along with everyone else.
Rondi Olson

{MORE ABOUT RONDI OLSON}


Rondi Bauer Olson is a reader and writer from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where she lives on a hobby farm with her husband, Kurt. She has four grown children, works as a nurse, and also owns a gift shop within view of beautiful Lake Superior.
Find out more about Rondi at http://rondibauerolson.weebly.com.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Gospel-Centered Stories for Young Children



New book traces God’s perfect promises
for toddlers and preschoolers

In today’s world where the word promise doesn’t hold the value that it used to, we still encourage our children early on to learn what a promise is, and more importantly, what it means to keep one. While all promises have value, the promises God makes to his people are more valuable than anyone could ever think of or imagine—and our God always keeps his promises.

In The Beginner’s Gospel Story Bible (November 13, 2017/New Growth Press),  Jared Kennedy traces the perfect promises of God through fifty-two Old and New Testament stories, retelling them in simple and compelling ways with toddlers and preschoolers in mind. Each gospel-centered story highlights God’s tale of redemption through Jesus and the unexpected and surprising ways that God’s grace and mercy are revealed throughout the Bible.   

“While there are a number of preschool and children’s story Bibles from a gospel-centered perspective, there has been very little written in recent years for toddlers,” says Kennedy. “My prayer is that our youngest children will come to know that God has spoken his promises for them, that he keeps his promises, and that the way he keeps them is both surprising and life changing.”

Each of the fifty-two stories is accompanied by brightly colored illustrations by Trish Mahoney that both highlight the story and add fun teaching elements of counting, opposites, patterns, and object recognition to keep even the youngest child’s attention. The stories also end with a question that parents and caregivers can use to further reinforce the message. Parents are encouraged to read the story one chapter at a time to their children—or have their children read it to them!—and by choosing to read one story per week, families can create a one-year Bible curriculum.

Kennedy, who leads the children’s ministry creative team as Pastor of Families at Sojourn Community Church – Midtown in Louisville, Kentucky, designed The Beginner’s Gospel Story Bible to hold even a toddler’s attention, so they can come to know God’s promises are especially for them, and God always keeps his promises.

“Jared Kennedy has created a spectacular resource to help us teach the Bible to our youngest children,” says Marty Machowski, a pastor and author of The Ology, The Gospel Story Bible, and other books and curriculum for the church and family. “Though the language is simple enough for toddlers, the gospel truth it carries can and will transform lives. The illustrations compliment the story, creating a colorful journey for children as they discover the promises of God and how they are fulfilled in Jesus Christ. I will be placing a copy of this book in all our children’s ministry classrooms and recommending that every family in our church with small children add it to their bookshelf.”


Jared Kennedy, MDiv, ThM, is the husband to Megan and the father of three girls—Rachael, Lucy, and Elisabeth. He serves as Pastor of Families at Sojourn Community Church–Midtown in Louisville, KY and as children’s ministry strategist for Sojourn Network. He blogs regularly at gospelcenteredfamily.com.

New Growth Press publishes gospel-centered Christian books, small group, and kids Bible resources for discipleship, biblical counseling, and missional ministry. For more information about The Beginner’s Gospel Story Bible and other releases from New Growth Press, visit www.newgrowthpress.com.    

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Christmas at Grey Sage


The holiday season is the perfect time to settle in for a cozy night of reading! Phyllis Clark Nichols’ Christmas at Grey Sage takes place in the snow-covered Sangre de Cristo Mountains near Santa Fe at the Grey Sage Inn. The sprawling inn becomes close quarters as stranded guests discover this Christmas won’t be the relaxed vacation they expected because of an usual snowstorm. Tension and fear mount as the storm worsens, and Silas, a retired doctor, is called away in the middle of the night to care for a neighbor. The snow and stress unlocks tongues–and in the unexpected conversation that follows, secrets and pasts are revealed, and hearts are healed. In the midst of snowdrifts and fireside conversations, of tales of days gone by, the warmth of Christmas brings a renewed hope as these trapped strangers become friends—proof again that the joy, hope, peace, and love of Christmas can be experienced no matter where you are.

{MORE ABOUT CHRISTMAS AT GREY SAGE}


(Gilead Publishing, October 2017)
This Christmas, there’s plenty of room at the inn.
Nestled in the snow-covered Sangre de Cristo Mountains near Santa Fe, the Grey Sage Inn looks like the perfect place for weary travelers to escape the craziness of the Christmas season. There’s plenty to see in historic Santa Fe during the day, and the inn’s owners, Maude and Silas Thornhill, are happy to spend their evenings hosting this year’s guests from across the country.
But an unusual snowstorm throws a wrench in the festive mood. The sprawling inn becomes close quarters as stranded guests discover this Christmas won’t be the relaxed vacation they expected. Tension and fear mount as the storm worsens, and Silas, a retired doctor, is called away in the middle of the night to care for a neighbor. The snow and stress unlocks tongues–and in the unexpected conversation that follows, secrets and pasts are revealed, and hearts are healed.
In the midst of snowdrifts and fireside conversations, of tales of days gone by, the warmth of Christmas brings a renewed hope as these trapped strangers become friends–proof again that the joy, hope, peace, and love of Christmas can be experienced no matter where you are.

Phyllis Clark Nichols

{MORE ABOUT PHYLLIS CLARK NICHOLS}


Phyllis Clark Nichols believes everyone could use a little more hope and light. Her character-driven Southern fiction explores profound human questions from within the simple lives of small town communities you just know you’ve visited before. With a love for nature, art, faith and ordinary people, she tells redemptive tales of loss and recovery, estrangement and connection, longing and fulfillment, often through surprisingly serendipitous events. 
Phyllis grew up in the deep shade of magnolia trees in South Georgia. Now she lives in the Texas Hill Country with her portrait-artist husband, where red birds and axis deer are her ever-ravenous neighbors. She is an English major and classically-trained musician, seminary graduate, concert artist and co-founder of a national cable network for the health and disability-related programming. After retiring as a cable network executive, Phyllis began leading mission teams to orphanages in Guatemala and now serves on three non-profit boards where she works with others who are equally passionate about bringing hope and light to those who need it most.
Find out more about Phyllis at http://www.phyllisclarknichols.com.