Monday, March 31, 2014

Happy Opening Day!


It's opening day of the 2014 MLB season, so you know where I was today!

The wind was blowing like crazy, so the balls were flying, much to the Texas Rangers' detriment. The Philadelphia Phillies out swatted us 14-10.

This video of the National Anthem by the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra doesn't do it justice. At the end, I was trying to find the 7 antique planes flying over. We couldn't see for the cover over the top of our section.


Sunday, March 30, 2014

My weekly reminder of why I don't teach school


Don't get me wrong. I love these kids. However, sometimes I cannot wait for the bell to ring.

I really do think it's because some of the lessons are way over their heads. Way. Over. Their. Heads.

Knowing this train of thought was too much, I said that the priests in the Old Testament were from the tribe of Levi. Did anyone know what tribe Jesus was a descendant of?

Let's just say the answers led me to say, "Jesus was not an Indian Outlaw. He was not part Cherokee and Choctaw." Of course, that part of Tim McGraw's career was over their heads too.

I told them the best behaved child - the obvious one, and then one boy and one girl got to pick a song for the video. I didn't care which one, how many parts, or if we had done it for the video before. The boys lost out on their choice. Then, I had to beg the two girls to hurry up and pick a song. We didn't know the second choice too well.

I just can't keep children under control. That's why I only lasted a semester teaching 4th graders in public school.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Who said weekends were for relaxing?

I FINALLY got my front door painted today! The weather was finally nice, I had some time available, and I did it!

Of course, it's hard to see when the glass door is shut. And my camera on my phone doesn't show up right - there's more green to it for a deeper teal vs. blue.




Not being much of a "clean the house" kind of person, at least with a lot of diligence, you'll be impressed to know I also cleaned the top half of the windows across the front of the house after cleaning the door. I wish I could clean under the screen. I don't know how I'm supposed to get that part clean. :/

Then, I went to see the girls animals be sold at auction. The have been the big names in the Corsicana Daily Sun this week!

Check out these links! They are quoted in at least two of them.






Between a track meet Monday night, the Expo and Church, I've barely been home (meaning downstairs) all week. I hope everyone I work with (including and not including my co-workers) survive without me tomorrow, because I am going to the Ranger game! 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Odyssey Adventure Club offers families access to 24/7 entertainment



Focus on the Family responds to parents’

media concerns with the new online membership


As media use continues to explode among children and teens, parents’ concerns about what their children could be uncovering while online increases. On average, children get their first smartphone at age 12, and research suggests kids and teens are spending more than 7.5 hours a day with their electronic devices — and often without a safety net. That’s exactly why Focus on the Family is launching the Odyssey Adventure Club, a safe and fun environment where children can explore, create and imagine, all while developing their faith and learning biblical truth.

For less than the cost of a monthly night out at the movies (membership costs $15 per month for up to six users), families will be able to stream the Adventures in Odyssey library, plus listen to exclusive new monthly episodes.  Busy families will find 24/7 access to the content through the Odyssey Adventure Club mobile iPhone app.

“Kids today have so many media choices, and not all of them are positive,” says Adventures in Odyssey producer Brock Eastman. “We’re providing fans with interactive content that builds on the lessons they’ve received through Odyssey and helps them grow in their walk with Jesus.”

Children can also read daily devotions, interact with hands-on activities and view video documentaries featuring a behind-the-scenes look into the production of the Adventures in Odyssey stories. Parents can feel confident their children are safe on the Odyssey Adventure Club website — Focus on the Family staff will be monitoring all comments before they’re publicly posted.

For more than 25 years, Adventures in Odyssey has delivered innovating and award-winning audio dramas that have sparked imagination in children, while infusing them with character and the biblical values parents love. This radio journey has grown into a treasure trove of nearly 750 Adventures in Odyssey episodes, all of which are now being launched into the digital world.

A portion of each Odyssey Adventure Club membership will benefit Focus on the Family partner relief organizations, including Christian Veterinary Mission, Operation Christmas Child and Compassion International. This provides parents with an opportunity to teach children about the value of giving and serving others.

Odyssey Adventure Club joins hands with parents as they seek to disciple their children spiritually and protect them when they use ever-expanding technology.


To learn more about the Odyssey Adventure Club, visit www.oaclub.org, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest


Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Queen of Rabbits

Today was the meat rabbit show at the Navarro County Youth Expo. Both girls showed, but today was Peyton's day.

She had two pens in the top 3! It was very exciting as the pens were narrowed down. She took 2nd and 3rd place!

Paige was not so interested in the whole rabbit thing, but Peyton was engrossed! We were all so excited for her!
I did have to get one of Paige in... She's getting her rabbits into the cage.
Paige and Brian listening to the judge after winners were announced.

Thank goodness for the Corsicana Daily Sun and Youth Expo photographers, I snagged some pictures from Facebook.
We had to talk Paige into trying for showmanship. Peyton was all about it!


Paige did have to show off her Grand Champion Hog belt buckle to her great grandfather.







Wednesday, March 26, 2014

All women have the opportunity to lead


The majority of Christian women are familiar with the example of the godly woman described in Proverbs 31. Her characteristics are most frequently associated with a woman’s place within the home; however, in their book Real Women Leading: With Proverbs 31 Values (New Hope® Publishers/February 3, 2014/978-1-59669-396-8/$14.99), business executives Lisa Troyer and Dawn Yoder assert the qualities of the woman described apply to leaders in the workplace as well. “Whether we are homeschooling children — which truly is a full-time vocation — or leading the board of directors meeting at a Fortune 500 corporation, the Proverbs 31 woman has something to teach all of us.”

Part 2 of an interview with Lisa Troyer and Dawn Yoder,
Co-authors of Real Women Leading: With Proverbs 31 Values

Q: To what areas of a woman’s life does your book apply — work, church, ministry, home?

DY: It applies to all areas of life because it affects who we are and how we live. Who we are follows us to work, to church, in our homes and with our friends. When we embrace and apply the values of Proverbs 31, it improves the quality of our relationships and just makes our lives work better.

LT: God has given us the opportunity to influence no matter our background or station in life — homemakers as well as CEOs, Queen Esther’s or Samaritan women.

Q: The common perception of a leader is a person in a position of power or authority, whether in the workplace or church. Do you have to hold a title to be a leader, or as Christians do we have the responsibility to be leading by example constantly?

LT: Leadership is really influence — and each and every one of us has been given the opportunity to influence the environment in which God has placed us. We have a responsibility to God to be engaged, seeing where He is at work and joining Him there.

DY: Good leadership is not about power and authority; it is about relationship, service and influence. We are all in relationship with someone. We are all called to serve those around us, and we all have the ability to influence our environment. Matthew 5 talks about how we are here to be salt and light. I love the Message translation of this passage where it talks about bringing out the “God colors” and “God flavors” of this earth. We can all lead in this way from exactly the place God has us.

Q: How does a woman lead differently than a man?

LT: Often, but not always, there is a more nurturing aspect to the female leader’s approach. Whereas men tend to be more black-and-white, it’s been our experience that women will take a broader look at the potential that lies within an individual. Because women traditionally have more of a multi-tasking attitude, this may also attribute to the philosophy of “let’s explore a little deeper to find the best fit.”  Sometimes that’s an incredible growth and building experience, but often it’s a bit tougher to make a break when needed.

DY: I don’t think it is so much about leading like a woman or leading like a man. I think the bigger concern is leading like Jesus. Seeing who others can aspire to become, adding value to them, serving them, setting them up for success, having a heart for them, telling them the truth in absolute love, forgiving them — these are the important things. Male or female, we all have a responsibility to do that well.

Q: How did you narrow down and choose the 10 key principles that are outlined in the book? Of the 10, which do you find the most challenging personally?

DY: In carefully combing through the passage, many values leapt off the page at us, and it was difficult to narrow it down to just 10. We thought about which ones have the biggest effect on our personal development, our spiritual growth, and our relationships with others (in the home, community, church and corporations) and used those to put the book together.

There are times when I struggle with each of the values, to be sure. There are moments I say something I wish hadn’t, situations that are tough to forgive and times when I just don’t want to choose a good attitude. However, for me the most challenging value on a daily basis is planning. We all have our areas of strength, and planning is not mine. However, I know I cannot be successful without planning — it isn’t something I can decide not to do if I want my busy life to work well. So it requires discipline, focus and intentionality for me to do well with it.

Q: If readers only walk away with one thing from Real Women Leading, what do you hope that will be?

LT: God has placed you where you are at in this season to influence those around you for His Kingdom purposes. You have the choice to embrace transformation for yourself and to use what God has already given you to impact those around you.

DY: God has given us all we need to be what He has called us to be, if we do it in and through Him.


Learn more about Lisa Troyer at www.lisatroyer.com or by following her on Facebook and Twitter. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

My Miss Piggies!

Tonight was "meat hog" night at the Navarro County Youth Expo... aka the pig show. 

This is the second year that Peyton has shown and the fourth that Paige has (she took a year off somewhere along the way). Both exceeded their past best showing by leaps and bounds. I'm so proud of both.

Peyton started off in Class 1 (the little piggies). Between being penned and unpenned, we weren't completely sure where she was other than top 7. Dad thought it was a bad sign to be one of two left out showing, while I told him I thought it was good because the judge was choosing between two. The speaker system was terrible where we were, so the judge might as well have been the teacher on Peanuts. (Waawawwaawwaaa.)

What made us most nervous was the judge slapping on her pig. We'd never seen a judge so hands-on. It wasn't an obedient pig, so he just wanted it to walk around. If it hadn't been so ornery... 

She came off with second place in her class and was as excited as can be. As she told me, "I was just happy to get in top 7 because I hadn't done that before and when he said 'reserve' I was all excited."


In the pens!

With her medal!

Paige was up in Class 3 (of 6), and he did the in and out of pens a little different, so we were all the more confused. People were walking all back and forth in front of us as the judge was making his final decision on this round. I was able to see him point two to the other person in the ring and one to Paige and was able to exclaim, "she won!" to may parents next to me.





That put her in the running for Grand Champion after the other rounds finished. Her mom told her she had Reserve Grand Champion. Paige and I wanted to know why she didn't say Grand. Since hers was in class 3 of 6, with bigger pigs in the competition, Joni was afraid hers was too small. 

Peyton got to come back in the championship round too. If first place from her class got Grand Champion, Peyton would have been able to be considered for Reserve Grand Champion of all pigs. 

I almost cried when the judge went to shake Paige's hand to signify she was the winner!



I don't have a picture of her belt buckle, but as tiny as she is, it will knock her forward when she wears it!

Both girls took part in Junior Showmanship. Peyton's pig threw her for a loop, but both were in the final running. If Paige hadn't gotten Grand Champion, I really think she may have gotten one of the top 3 for showmanship. The judge kept watching her.





Who knew I could get so excited over a livestock show?









Monday, March 24, 2014

DANCING WITH FIREFLIES | Enter to win a Kindle HDX from @DeniseAHunter and RSVP for her Facebook party!

Don't miss Denise Hunter's latest Chapel Springs Romance, Dancing with Fireflies. Reviewers have already labeled Dancing with Fireflies "swoon-worthy" and "the perfect love story." 

Join Denise in celebrating the release of her new book by entering her Kindle HDX giveaway and RSVPing for her April 10th Facebook party.

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One winner will receive:
  • A brand new Kindle Fire HDX
  • Dancing with Fireflies and Barefoot Summer by Denise Hunter
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on April 10th. Winner will be announced at the Dancing with Fireflies Facebook Party on April 10th. Connect with Denise for an evening of prizes, book chat, and an exclusive look at the next book in the series.

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP today by clicking JOIN on the event page. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 10th!


DWFCover

{MORE ABOUT DANCING WITH FIREFLIES}


A Chapel Springs Romance
Jade returns home to Chapel Springs after years of protecting her fragile heart. Then along comes Daniel, making her long to dance again.
Creative and complicated, Jade McKinley felt like a weed in a rose garden growing up in Chapel Springs. When she left, she thought she’d never look back. But now, pregnant, alone, and broke, she has no other choice but to return.
The mayor of Chapel Springs, Daniel Dawson, has been an honorary member of the McKinley family for years. While his own home life was almost non-existent, Daniel fit right into the boisterous McKinley family. He’s loved Jade for years, but she always saw him as a big brother. Now that she’s back, his feelings are stronger than ever.
As Jade attempts to settle in, nothing feels right. God seems far away, she’s hiding secrets from her family, and she’s strangely attracted to the man who’s always called her “squirt.” Finding her way home may prove more difficult than she imagined.

Denise Hunter{MORE ABOUT DENISE HUNTER}


Denise Hunter is an internationally published best-selling author. Her books have won The Holt Medallion Award, The Reader’s Choice Award, The Foreword Book of the Year Award, and was a RITA finalist. In 1996, inspired by the death of her grandfather, Denise began her first book, writing while her children napped. Two years later it was published, and she’s been writing ever since. Her husband says he inspires all of her romantic stories, but Denise insists a good imagination helps, too. When Denise isn’t writing, she’s busy raising three heroes-in-the-making with her husband.
Find out more about Denise at www.denisehunterbooks.com.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Don't make me thump you


I have no clue why they are laughing like they are. Unless it's that I was still videoing after they thought they had done such a bad job I would stop recording. Once one started laughing, they all did.

I know they didn't like my song choice though it went along with our lesson from Hebrews 4-5.

You also have to realize this was AFTER I had gotten after Peyton for being goofy and messing with me that I thumped her on the forehead hard enough to leave a mark. She deserved it though. (Nate asked why we always fought. I said she started it, but she argued that I was the adult. She may have had a point.)

Then, I made them scoot from the table and reach out their arms leaving enough space that they could not more than the person next to them's fingertips. They had to hold their Bibles in their laps. Peyton dropped hers twice, and Kailey dropped hers once.

Children! I lost count of how many times I used the word "STOP!"

Saturday, March 22, 2014

When you can feel your hair curl

I feel like the queen of procrastination when it comes to projects. I've been meaning to paint my front door for weeks. However, the weather has not been favorable for paint to dry. Or hair to stay straight for that matter. I don't know why I bothered straightening my hair today to go in public because I could feel it bush and curl upon my head.

It was misty rainy this morning, but my parents and I are not ones to let that distract us from a trip to Home Depot. Roses like these tempt you to buy them, but I'm sure mine would literally wilt in comparison. No, I bought peach trees. Yes, seriously. Peach trees. We'll see if I get peaches in a few years. 


Mom finally decided she wanted a letter, but dad decided it need to be painted two tone like their shutters. For the life of me, I don't know why they chose that hideous brownish green. It's a natural color. Like the natural color that comes after digestion. And the paint was so thick that it was terribly hard to paint the vine that Mom requested. 

I now have a stencil I created for any more welcome signs. I much prefer painting the numbers.


Friday, March 21, 2014

Enter to win a Kindle Fire in Joyce K. Ellis’ “500 Hats” giveaway!

In Joyce K. EllisThe 500 Hats of a Modern-Day Woman you’ll find strength, purpose, and perspective to balance your many roles—and gain insight into the roles of women around you.

Want a helper for your modern-day journey? Enter to win a Kindle Fire in Joyce's "500 Hats" giveaway!

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  One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire
  • The 500 Hats of a Modern-Day Woman by Joyce K. Ellis
  • A Modern-Day woman kit (T-shirt and hat)
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on March 30th. Winner will be announced April 1st on the Litfuse blog.

Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to stop by the Litfuse blog on April 1st to see if you won.


2013HatsCover
{MORE ABOUT THE 500 HATS OF A MODERN-DAY WOMAN}

Strength for Today’s Demanding Roles
In The 500 Hats of a Modern-Day Woman you’ll find strength, purpose, and perspective to balance your many roles—and gain insight into the roles of women around you. With honesty, humor, and practicality, Joyce Ellis helps you see how your roles can fit together to make a difference in your world. Questions for reflection or discussion at the end of each chapter make this book suitable for book clubs and small-group Bible studies as well.
Joyce Ellis

{MORE ABOUT JOYCE ELLIS}


Joyce K. Ellis, award-winning author of more than a dozen books, speaks for women’s groups and retreats across the country and internationally. She and her husband enjoy reading by lakes and rivers and oceans, and spending time with their grown children and delightful, too-quickly-growing grandchildren. They live in suburban Minneapolis, Minnesota
Find out more about Joyce at http://www.joycekellis.com.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Win a Kindle HDX from @BillyCoffey in “The Devil Walks in Mattingly” Giveaway!

Billy Coffey is celebrating his new book, The Devil Walks in Mattingly,
with a Kindle Fire HDX giveaway.

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  One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire HDX
  • The Devil Walks in Mattingly by Billy Coffey
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on April 5th. Winner will be announced April  7th on Billy's blog.

Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to stop by Billy's blog on April 7th to see if you won.







TDWIM

{MORE ABOUT THE DEVIL WALKS IN MATTINGLY}


For the three people tortured by their secret complicity in a young man’s untimely death, redemption is what they most long for . . . and the last thing they expect to receive.
It has been twenty years since Philip McBride’s body was found along the riverbank in the dark woods known as Happy Hollow. His death was ruled a suicide. But three people have carried the truth ever since—Philip didn’t kill himself that day. He was murdered.
Each of the three have wilted in the shadow of their sins. Jake Barnett is Mattingly’s sheriff, where he spends his days polishing the fragile shell of the man he pretends to be. His wife, Kate, has convinced herself the good she does for the poor will someday wash the blood from her hands. And high in the mountains, Taylor Hathcock lives in seclusion and fear, fueled by madness and hatred.
Yet what cannot be laid to rest is bound to rise again. Philip McBride has haunted Jake’s dreams for weeks, warning that he is coming back for them all. When Taylor finds mysterious footprints leading from the Hollow, he believes his redemption has come. His actions will plunge the quiet town of Mattingly into darkness. These three will be drawn together for a final confrontation between life and death . . . Between truth and lies.
Billy Coffey

{MORE ABOUT BILLY COFFEY}


Billy Coffey’s critically-acclaimed books combine rural Southern charm with a vision far beyond the ordinary. He is a regular contributor to several publications, where he writes about faith and life. Billy lives with his wife and two children in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains.
Find out more about Billy at www.billycoffey.com.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A different view of the Proverbs 31 Woman


Most Christians associate the virtuous woman described in Proverbs 31 as the ideal wife and mother whose place is within the home. However, are we not seeing the full picture?

In her new book written with Dawn Yoder, Real Women Leading: With Proverbs 31 Values (New Hope® Publishers/February 3, 2014/978-1-59669-396-8/$14.99), business executive Lisa Troyer writes, “Often thought of as the ‘most intimidating woman in Christendom,’ perhaps the Proverbs 31 woman — this skillful, conscientious, creative, entrepreneurial, merciful leader — has been saddled with a false persona of perfectionism and unattainable achievement. The Proverbs 31 Woman is one whose success is predicated on living a life based on values — whether she's dealing with domestic issues, marketplace opportunities or relationships. Truth is truth no matter what environment we operate/live in.”

Part 1 of an interview with Lisa Troyer and Dawn Yoder,
Co-authors of Real Women Leading: With Proverbs 31 Values

Q: Most likely, our audience is familiar with the Proverbs 31 woman, but for those who may not be, who is this woman, and why should women strive to be like her?

DY: The Proverbs 31 woman is referred to as “the virtuous woman.” She is the original woman who brought home the bacon and fried it in a pan. She is a role model — someone who uses all she has and does all she can with excellence and for the glory of God. She is honest, trustworthy and generous. She is a good steward, understands people, plans for the future and likes to put together a nice outfit.

LT: She’s a wise woman, using what is “in her hand” to influence and enhance the lives of those in her circle. She realizes she doesn’t have to “do it all” to be effective. She knows how to evaluate, invest, encourage and ultimately bring out the best in those around her.

Q: Most associate the Proverbs 31 woman as a godly wife who tends to her home, but you write about her entrepreneurial spirit. What have we been missing when reading this passage from scripture?

LT: For a vast number of women in the United States, the Bible-belt environment has been one of primary homemaking from our culture’s perspective. The more believers travel internationally, it’s easier to understand the totality of this woman’s influence. Our white picket-fence environments are the exception, not the norm, throughout the world. Women in other countries are often going to the market to sell what they’ve grown or created. There’s also a generational involvement in small enterprise that is not modeled in the same way as often in the US. Industrialization here has influenced the labor structure in such a way that there’s been a distinct separation between working women and staying at home. With the advent of our economic changes in the US, enterprising women have had to look outside their mother’s model to make ends meet. We’re from Amish country, and there are many roadside stands with baked goods and produce. These ladies are using what’s in their hand — resources and talents — to augment the well-being of family

DY: I guess we let our culture define how we read the scripture. Honestly, it amazes me that I missed it the first time I read it and heard teaching on that chapter. I feel as though I related to what I saw and heard in the church and somehow just overlooked the rest of the details. It is so clearly outlined in the chapter that this woman was selling goods, buying fields and managing people along with the other more-traditional homemaking aspects.

Q: Many women aspire to be like the Proverbs 31 woman but feel that achieving every one of her characteristics is a daunting challenge, if not an impossible goal. What encouragement do you have for women aspiring to be like her?

LT: Seek God to understand how He’s designed and gifted you with spiritual gifts and natural talents and learn how to delegate well and embrace responsibility. So often we allow fear to keep us from maximizing what we already possess. Perfectionism will ultimately steal our joy and opportunity. Prepare and pray; often our level of preparedness indicates how much trust we place in God to reveal next steps.

DY: A friend of mine always says, “Better is possible.” That statement is not designed to bring pressure. It is designed to bring hope. I think the Proverbs 31 chapter holds a lot of hope and possibility. It shows women that there are a lot of things we can be and do, and they all fall under the umbrella of what God intended for us.

Q: If readers only walk away with one thing from Real Women Leading, what do you hope that will be?

LT: God has placed you where you are at in this season to influence those around you for His Kingdom purposes. You have the choice to embrace transformation for yourself and to use what God has already given you to impact those around you.


DY: God has given us all we need to be what He has called us to be, if we do it in and through Him.

Learn more about Lisa Troyer at www.lisatroyer.com or by following her on Facebook and Twitter. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Tracy L. Higley’s The Queen’s Handmaid challenges readers to live their calling


The search for identity often leads us astray

Tracy L. Higley’s The Queen’s Handmaid challenges readers to live their calling

Sometimes the loudest voices in our lives are the ones we need to silence the most. In Tracy L. Higley’s latest novel, The Queen’s Handmaid (Thomas Nelson/March 18, 2014/ISBN: 978-1-4016-8684-0/$15.99), the author explores the importance of finding our identity in God and not in the opinions of others — no matter how large of a presence those people are.

“When we make people too ‘large’ in our lives — allowing them to define who we are — we become focused on achieving and performing to please them,” Higley explains. This is the challenge for her heroine, but the truth behind it is universal. “We are all trying to gain the love and admiration of others in our lives, to feel good about ourselves. The only way we can escape this self-oriented life and really live our calling is finding acceptance and love in the God who will never fail us.”

This search for true identity is the foundation for The Queen’s Handmaid, a story that will take readers on an adventure through an ancient world and give them a unique understanding of the culture and setting into which Jesus was born. Set in Alexandria, Egypt, in 39 BC, The Queen’s Handmaid connects the history we learn in school with the Bible stories of childhood, giving readers a peek into a lost world. 

Lydia, a servant in Cleopatra’s palace, works hard to please but keeps everyone at a safe distance. Though she’s young, rejection has left her brokenhearted too many times. When her dying mentor entrusts her with secret writings of the prophet Daniel and charges her to deliver this vital information to those watching for the promised King of Israel, Lydia must leave the nearest thing she’s had to family and flee to Jerusalem. Once in the Holy City, she attaches herself to the newly appointed king, Herod the Great, as handmaid to Queen Mariamme.

Trapped among the scheming women of Herod’s political family — his sister, his wife and their mothers — and forced to serve in the palace to protect her treasure, Lydia must deliver the scrolls before dark forces warring against the truth destroy all hope of the coming Messiah.

The heroine of The Queen’s Handmaid is chosen and marked for a purpose, something Higley feels strongly still applies to each of us today. “I absolutely believe that each of us has a unique calling, a grand adventure planned out for us before the foundation of the world,” she says. “Staying open to our own hearts and the way God both whispers and shouts His plan to us is so important. In my experience, most people have a sense of their own unique calling, but fear keeps us from it.”

To learn more about Tracy L. Higley, visit tracyhigley.com, become a fan on Facebook (tracyhigley) or follow her on Twitter (@tlhigley).



Praise for Tracy L. Higley

“I love Tracy Higley’s novels. Meticulously-researched, spell-bindedly written with luscious prose and compelling and complex characters, each one is a treasure. Higley knows her history, but more importantly, she knows just how to capture the struggles and questions of the human heart — yesterday and today.”
~ Tosca Lee, New York Times best-selling author of Havah: The Story of Eve on So Shines the Night

“Higley proves once again that she has a great talent for historical fiction. It is easy to get lost in the ancient world with Daria during her adventures. The story is so well detailed and the struggles between different faiths and cultures is exceptionally illustrated. Daria characterizes all one would hope for in a strong, brave woman of faith.”
~ Romantic Times, 4 STAR Review of So Shines the Night

“Higley’s Pompeii ignites with riveting and compelling characters. No one unleashes the secrets of history with a masterful hand the way Higley does! Authentic and powerful, [City on Fire] is a fiery tale of a city lost to the power of Vesuvius. I simply could not read fast enough!”
~ Ronie Kendig, author of The Discarded Heroes series

About the Author

Tracy L. Higley started her first novel at the age of eight and has been hooked on writing ever since. After attending Philadelphia Biblical University, she earned a B.A. in English Literature at Rowan University and is currently pursuing a graduate degree in Ancient History. Her lifelong interest in history and mythology have led Tracy to extensive research into ancient lands and shaped her desire to shine the light of the gospel into the cultures of the past.

Higley has authored eleven novels, including Garden of Madness and Isle of Shadows, and has traveled through Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Italy, researching her books. She is thrilled to bring readers adventures set in the ancient past, and it’s her hope that in escaping with her, readers will feel they’ve walked through these deserts, explored ruins, felt the white sand and blue sea under their feet and met with the Redeeming God who is sovereign over the entire drama of human history.


For more information about Tracy L. Higley and her books, visit tracyhigley.com, become a fan on Facebook (tracyhigley) or follow her on Twitter (@tlhigley).

Monday, March 17, 2014

Rachel Hauck's winning combination of faith and fairytales

 An Interview with Rachel Hauck,
Author of Princess Ever After

The best stories show ordinary people doing extraordinary things, and Rachel Hauck has captured that very essence in her new novel, Princess Ever After (Zondervan/February 4, 2013/ISBN 9780310315506/$14.99). The second book in the Royal Wedding series tells the story of an ordinary girl who finds out she’s a princess, a revelation that changes the life she’s created for herself.

Like many of us, Hauck is enamored with the idea of royalty, and while she hopes readers are entertained and drawn to the modern fairytale of Princess Ever After, she has a deeper desire for this book and the entire series. “I pray readers find hope and encouragement,” she says. “Most of us are not going to discover we are long-lost princes or princesses in this life, but we are most sincerely princes and princesses in His kingdom. Right now! Let’s live like it and love as our King loves.”


Q: In Princess Ever After, your heroine, Regina, is happy with the life she’s created for herself. When God intervenes, she feels unprepared, yet He’s provided all she needs. How have you seen God’s direction and provisions in your own life?

I’m the anti-Regina. After I graduated from college, I realized I’d never be happy unless I was sold out to the Lord, so I told Him I was 100% available. It’s a surrender I’ve never, ever regretted. I know me. I like too many things in life to feel confident in committing to any one career. I was terrified I’d marry the wrong man. But like Regina, I had parents and mentors who encouraged me in my teen years and helped me choose a good path.

Q: It’s not uncommon for our past mistakes to alter our life’s course. What would you say to those who feel their past mistakes hinder them from moving on?

Get over it. Can I say that? In love? Seriously, if we don’t allow ourselves to be defined by our success — meaning we give all glory to the Lord — then we can’t allow ourselves to be defined by our failure. Give that to Him, too. If you really believe in God’s forgiveness and love, there’s no point in stagnating in past mistakes. Believe that God can and will heal your heart and move on.

The trick in letting go of past mistakes is Romans 12:1. “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” We have to surrender our emotions and thoughts to the Lord. In doing that, we will approve of His will. Good, acceptable and perfect.

Q: Do you think God views us differently or withholds his blessings because of the mistakes we’ve made?

Truth? No. If that were the case He’d never be able to bless us. We quantify sin. He does not. To Him, a lie or lustful thought is the same as a “bigger sin” like adultery. The consequences vary, but sin is sin. The difference is the condition of our hearts. If we have a “yes” in our heart to Him, repenting of our sin, His grace is sufficient. But if we have a “no” in our heart toward Him and continue in sin without repentance, I think we can move outside His blessing.

In reality, we have no idea of His heart toward the rebellious. Isaiah 55:8 is a familiar verse, “. . . my ways are not your ways, my thoughts are not your thoughts.” But go back a verse. God is talking about the rebellious. “You don’t know my thoughts toward them,” I think God is saying. God is love and mercy. But He’s also judgment and wrath. It’s a divine paradox. We cannot build a “rule” on how He blesses us.

Q: Your leading man must overcome a fear of failure. Is that a fear you have faced yourself, or have you conquered another fear? How were you able to overcome your fear?

I’ve dealt a lot with fear and anxiety. After college I was hit with small panic attacks and anxiety. I had to travel for my job, and boarding an airplane, which I did all the time, kept me awake the night before. The idea of being trapped on a plane made me claustrophobic. But I leaned into the Word, into the Lord, and never ever let my fears win. I got on the plane anyway. And I made it. Even enjoyed the 15 hours from LA to Sydney.

I overcame by believing what God said about me instead of my fears. I devoted my heart and mind to the Word and prayer. I did the Romans 12:1-2 thing. I just didn’t see where the Lord had called me to walk a life of anxiety and fear. He and I had a lot of conversations about it. I’m here to report prayer and the Word work! You just have to stay in the battle. Recently I’ve had “joy attacks” where I felt His presence in a tangible, joyful way. I need more of those!

Q: One important theme in Princess Ever After is obedience. Why is obedience important for healing and restoration, and how can you know you’re actually doing what God has asked you to do?

Obedience is better than sacrifice. We know Him by reading His Word. When Regina found the fairytale her great grandmother had written to her, Tanner said, “This is your gram speaking to you in this book. Hear what she’s saying!” God is speaking to us through His Son, through the Holy Spirit and through His written Word. We have to believe He loves us enough to show us His will.

Obedience is required because our human hearts are too weak to do good on our own. Obedience actually trains us to know Him. In our weakness, we choose to hate people who wrong us. But God says forgive. If we obey, we reap the benefits of His blessing! And I love in John 10:27 where Jesus assures us, “My sheep hear my voice.”

Q: In many ways, becoming too comfortable can be one of our greatest difficulties to truly fulfilling our purpose. How did that familiarity come into play in this story, and why was it important for your characters to be pushed out of their comfort zones?

I’m pushed out of my comfort zone with each book!  Stories are about imperfect people doing extraordinary things. That’s exactly what an author has to do: harness our weakness, overcome and write a good book.

For characters in fiction, there is no story if characters are not challenged and pushed to the limit. I write with the idea that my stories are about people dealing with a wound-lie-fear that must be confronted. In the end, they come to truth. Most of the time people do not willingly confront their wounds and fears. It’s my job to set up a situation that drives them to face those fears — and ultimately find peace and happiness.

Q: Your books usually include some kind of symbolism that relates back to the Gospel message. Will readers find that trademark of your writing in Princess Ever After?

Oh yeah, in a couple of places. First, in the fairytale gifted to the heroine by her great grandmother. It’s symbolic of the message God has given us through His written Word. Hebrews 4:12 tells us His Word is living and active. It speaks. Yesterday, today, tomorrow. Also, Regina sees something in the forest. At first she’s the only one (I can’t say more or I’ll ruin the surprise), but this light is symbolic of the light of the Lord. When we follow the light, we gain insight, revelation and understanding. “In Him we live and move and have our being.”

Once Regina found the Light, she discovered valuable truths that enabled her to accept her divine destiny.

Q: Princess Ever After is the second book in your Royal Weddings series. What is your favorite part about a romance with a royal twist?

Royalty! I found it fun to create the world of a royal. Have a coronation, a ball, servants and protection officers. Also, to make folks bow and curtsey. Ha! Actually, there were a lot of challenges to creating a believable, modern royal world, but I had a great time giving it a go. With Regina, it was fun to sneak up on a common girl and tell her, “You’re a royal princess.”

Q: What’s the most surprising tidbit you’ve learned about English royalty through your research?

How much space do we have here? One of the biggest things I learned was the relationship between the European royals. The cousins George V, Wilhelm II and Nicolas II — all descendants of Queen Victoria — were in power at the beginning of World War I, after which only the UK’s George V remained. The royal houses of Europe fell after the first World War, and it changed the face of Europe.

Q: What do you hope readers take away from Princess Ever After?

As always, I hope readers are entertained and drawn into a modern fairytale. But I also pray they find hope and encouragement. Look, most of us are are not going to discover we are long-lost princes or princesses in this life, but we are most sincerely princes and princesses in His kingdom. Right now! Let’s live like it. Love like our King loves.

Q: Both Once Upon a Prince and Princess Ever After take a look at refocusing on God’s plans rather than our own. Is that a reoccurring theme in all of your writing or an idea specific to the Royal Wedding series?

Good question. I’m not sure if I’m doing it on purpose, but the very idea that two ordinary American women find themselves becoming royalty lends itself to God redirecting our plans. There’s also the underlying theme that when we give our lives to the Lord, we are faced with a royal reality we never knew before. God’s plans were unknown to us before we knew Him. Once we are His, we have the choice to follow His will or our own.

For Regina, once she knew her true identity, she couldn’t go back to her old life.

Q: What can readers look forward to in the third installment of the Royal Wedding series? How are all of the books tied together?

There will be a third book, How To Catch A Prince. It’s Prince Stephen’s story, brother of King Nathaniel, and Corina Del Rey, a Georgia-Florida girl.


Learn more about Rachel Hauck and her books at www.rachelhauck.com or on Facebook (Rachel Hayes Hauck) and Twitter (@RachelHauck).