Monday, October 31, 2016

Piles and piles

This is what my house looks like. Piles. Piles of stuff I need to do. I'm ready for a vacation!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Ten Plagues

The Plague Song
To the tune of “This Old Man”

Then God sent, plague number one
Turned the Nile into blood. 

All the people in Egypt were feeling pretty low; 
Moses told Pharaoh “let them go!”

Then God sent, plague number two
Jumping frogs all over you. (Chorus)

Then God sent, plague number three
Swarms of gnats from head to knee. (Chorus)

Then God sent, plague number four
Filthy flies, need we say more? (Chorus)

Then God sent, plague number five
All the livestock up and died. (Chorus)

Then God sent, plague number six
Boils and sores to make you feel sick. (Chorus)

Then God sent, plague number seven
Hail and lightening down from heaven. (Chorus)

Then God sent, plague number eight
Locust came and they sure ate. (Chorus)

Then God sent, plague number nine
Total darkness all the time. (Chorus)

Then God sent, plague number ten
Pharaoh’s son died so he gave in.

All the people in Egypt were feeling pretty low; 
Finally Pharaoh let them go.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Peyton and Boxer

Without a craft event this weekend, I got to watch Peyton barrel race at a youth event. She just got started the past few months since her stepmom and step-sister race (I didn't get her on video this time).

She placed 10th in her age group and told me I needed to watch her when she actually did well. ;)

I'm sure I will get the chance!

Friday, October 28, 2016

Ain't nobody got time to blog!

I do not have time to blog these days! Not that I have a lot of stories or news to share. It's in middle of the crafty season, and I'm actually prepping for more than one thing at a time.

I'll share more in the next week or so about the shop we'll be a part of. I'm trying to get items priced and prepped for that, and then, orders done and stock remade for next weekend. I get exhausted just thinking about it!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Bob Fife shares his story of grace and redemption through Christ


One Christian’s experience leaving the gay community

When molested as a child by an older boy he trusted, Bob Fife had no idea how his life trajectory would be altered drastically by the event. Something happened in his heart that night, launching Fife on a quest for acceptance, security and masculinity. Out: One Christian’s Experience of Leaving the Gay Community (Kregel Publications/October 27, 2016/ISBN 978-0-8254-4440-1/$15.99) is the vivid story of Fife’s descent into homosexual practices — and his courageous fight to climb out again.

Fife takes readers through the turmoil and confusion of his teen years, to his marriage and fatherhood, then his discovery and immersion into the flamboyant Toronto gay scene. Out exposes the gritty process of abandoning his young family to fulfill his same-sex desires. With no responsibilities tying him down, Fife would spend more than a decade traveling around the globe in pursuit of worldly pleasures.

It wasn’t until an unexpected visit from his college-aged son that Fife began to confront the consequences of his indulgences. Faced with the reality of what his reckless abandon had cost him, he realized his lifestyle was not only unsatisfying, but it was slowly killing him — spiritually, if not physically — and he started to seek change.

Fife found help, hope and support when he reconnected with the church. Through his involvement in a local congregation and a program run by a ministry reaching out to those in the gay community, Fife began to learn how to allow the Holy Spirit to make lasting changes in the way he thought, spoke and acted.

“I offer this book not as a blueprint for everyone whose life shares some of the same challenges,
temptations or weaknesses as mine,” says Fife, “but as a bold declaration that when God is welcomed in, anything can happen. I have seen God work in totally unexpected ways in the lives of those who surrender the broken pieces to him.”

For those who want a way to deal with, not celebrate, their same-sex attractions, Out points the way to grace and redemption. Believers who don’t struggle with homosexual tendencies will find within the pages of Out examples of how to reach out to those who do — without judgment, stigma or unrealistic expectations.

Fife has been out of his gay lifestyle for more than twenty years. Today he devotes his time to mentoring other men and women who are seeking ways to confront their homosexual temptations. “I’d like my story to stand as a testimony to God’s unfailing love and grace in the face of sin and rebellion,” Fife shares. “I trust that it will serve to start conversations and open the hearts of all who read it.”

About the Authors

Bob Fife was raised in a small Ontario town by a Christian mother and an unbelieving father. The tensions made for a dysfunctional home and an uneasy life. But nothing prepared Fife for being sexually molested by an older boy he trusted — or what happened in his heart afterward. Fife’s book, Out, is the story of his descent into homosexual practices and out again.

Fife is an Ontario-businessman and has been out of the gay lifestyle for more than twenty years. Now reconnected with the church, he hopes his story points a way to grace and redemption. Today he devotes his time to mentoring men and women who are looking for alternative ways to deal with same-sex attraction.

Ron Hughes’ writing career began with a Canadian radio documentary. Since then, he has written more than two million words in both the business and creative fields. Hughes now serves as president of FBH International.

Learn more about Out and Bob Fife 

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Christian's Hope by Ervin R. Stutzman

After being captured as a child during the French and Indian War, can Christian settle back into Amish farming life? Find out in Christian’s Hope, book three of Ervin R. Stutzman’s Return to Northkill series. Christian feels restless, and he misses his adoptive Native American family—who raised him as their own son. When faced with a life-altering decision, will Christian choose the Amish identity that his father desires for him? Or will he depart from his family and faith community yet again?


Christian’s Hope (Herald Press, October 2016)
When Christian Hochstetler returns to the Amish after seven years in captivity, he finds that many things have shifted.
Captured as a child during the French and Indian War, Christian has spent much of his life among Native Americans, who cared for him and taught him their ways. Now that Christian is home, his father wants him to settle back into their predictable Amish life of farming, and Christian’s budding friendship with Orpha Rupp beckons him to stay as well.
Yet Christian feels restless, and he misses his adoptive Native American family—who raised him as their own son. When faced with a life-altering decision, will Christian choose the Amish identity that his father desires for him? Or will he depart from his family and faith community yet again?
Christian’s Hope tells the story of the younger brother of Joseph and son of Jacob, whom readers have come to love in the first two books in the Return to Northkill series. Based on actual events and written by a descendant of the Hochstetler family, Christian’s Hopebrings the sweeping epic of the Return to Northkill series to a soul-stirring end.
Ervin R. Stutzman


Ervin R. Stutzman is author of Jacob’s Choice, Joseph’s Dilemma, Tobias of the Amish, and Emma, A Widow Among the Amish. Born into an Amish home in Kalona, Iowa, Stutzman based the Return to Northkill series on the life of his ancestor, Jacob Hochstetler. He has been featured on TLC’s Who Do You Think You Are?

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Inspiration for Today’s Renaissance Mom

Part 1 of an interview with Wendy Speake and Kelli Stuart,
authors of Life Creative: Inspiration for Today’s Renaissance Mom

Creative moms often feel as though they must lay their passions down once the kids arrive, if for no other reason than there is no time. But God has something special in mind for creative women during this intense season of mothering. In Life Creative: Inspiration for Today’s Renaissance Mom (Kregel Publications) authors Wendy Speake and Kelli Stuart show that “a mother’s natural bent toward imagination doesn’t just wither and die with thebirth of a child. This core component remains part of her intricate design.”

Q: Life Creative is a book written to encourage moms, but it is not your average parenting book on raising kids. Tell us about your new book and how its message is different.

Kelli Stuart: It’s not a how-to, self-help book about raising children, but rather a love letter to artistic mothers. We begin by calling attention to the unique renaissance of art exploding in the world today, fueled in great part by artistic mothers and social media. In this Pinterest age of handcrafted children's parties, Instagram photos of beautifully decorated homes and blogs filled with poetry and prose, clearly we are in the midst of a brand new artistic renaissance not one born in Italian cathedrals or Harlem jazz clubs, but rather in kitchens, nurseries and living rooms around the world.

We answer the question, “What was God thinking when He created me creative and then gave me children?” Creative moms often feel as though they must lay their passions down. God had something special in mind for the creative woman during this intense season of mothering.

Wendy Speake: This is a book for moms, written by moms and including the stories of other moms. We’re all on a journey to embrace our God-given, creative design in the midst of motherhood! There are, however, some practical pieces of parenting advice tucked in between the stories about setting boundaries around sacred family gatherings, praying for wisdom and discernment and how to include your family in your business of art in the busyness of motherhood.

Q: As a new mom, did you feel like you needed to rein in your own creativity? If so, was it from expectations you put on yourself or was it a pressure you felt from society?

KS: I don’t know that I felt pressure from society so much as I just couldn’t figure out how to fit the art back in. Where once the moments of my day were entirely at my disposal, now I was at the beck and call of a tiny human being. At first I thought I had missed the boat, that I should have built a better career for myself before I had children. But as my children grew, I found I could still indulge in the creative parts of myself. It would just look different. I like the different.

WS: I find it ironic the last acting job I booked before conceiving my first child was playing a pregnant woman going into labor. It was an AT&T commercial. I don’t recall all of the details of the commercial, but looking back it seems like a profound send-off. I haven’t had a traditional acting audition since birthing that baby boy. However, something quite profound happened in the early days of motherhood for me. Just after my son was born I made 100 handcrafted birth announcements and stamped his little feet 100 on the cover of each one. I decorated his nursery with the most beautiful Hawaiian print baby bedding I’d ever seen. What I realized as I nursed my baby in that room, rocking and singing, was I wasn’t an actress as much as I was a creative woman who acted. Therefore, when the acting stopped, the creativity had to find another channel in which to flow out of my life.

Now that my children are a bit older, I am actually acting again. However, it looks different. Some moms I know are able to do more than I am. Some have flourishing creative businesses or creative ministries, but I’m only accountable to be the woman that God made me to be — as a wife, as a mother, and as an artist.  

Q: What encouragement can you offer to the mom in what you describe as “the Dark Ages of motherhood,” or for whom the art and creativity seem to have been lost?

KS: Hold on, sweet mom. It really is true that the days are long, but the years are short. The children need so much of you in the early years, but days are coming when you’ll find yourself with more time in your days, and the inspiration will be there waiting for you. In the meantime, look for ways you can use your artistic gifts right where you are, inside the walls of your home with your children, your most beautiful creations.

WS: One of the earliest messages from the book is that everything begins at home, so start there. Color with your children, make up stories as you tuck them under their covers and bring your guitar out into the family room again. When there are opportunities in your local community that fit your skill set, pray about it, talk through it with your husband and see if you might take a few cautious steps beyond the confines of your home.

Q: What does the Great Commission have to do with women’s creative gifts?

WS: Motherhood often feels like a season of confinement. How in the world could we ever be part of taking God’s message of love and salvation out into the great big world? Home and our people take everything we have, right where we are! But when Jesus sent His disciples “to the end of the earth,” home is where it all began! In Acts 1:8, we read, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Jerusalem was home for the early church, Judea and Samaria her neighboring communities, and that’s where it all began outward from there. So it is for moms at home today. Look for ways to let your light shine right where you are, then into your neighborhood, your cul-de-sac, school, church, and local mercy ministries, and from there out into the end of the earth.

Q: How can today’s busy moms authentically be involved in the “ends of the earth” part of the Great Commission from their homes without a plane ticket and a passport?

KS: Within the pages of Life Creative, we share the stories of many creative mothers who are blessing people around the world without ever leaving home. Women like Myquilin Smith (The Nester) and Melissa Michaels, both of whom are teaching women the art of hospitality through the embracing of home. There are photographers, jewelry makers and painters, all of whom showcase their art from their living rooms or dining room tables. A picture shared online has the power to bless someone half a world away. Mothers around the world are sharing their faith through their artistic talents, all without ever having to leave home. This is the beauty of living in our digital age.

WS: “Missionary” used to be a term reserved for the men, women and children who traveled to the underbelly of the globe to share Christ with others. Today we are all invited to live missional lives right where we are — in our homes and neighborhood. The more we catch the vision, the more passionate about sharing the Gospel we grow and the more we are propelled out into the world! I see it again and again, this outward moving force of the Great Commission call upon our lives. Kelli and I believe art can most definitely be an integral part of a woman’s calling into the world! For example, I have friends who have made and sold scarves, pieces of art to be hung on walls and hosted concerts in their homes to help them fund mission trips to the other side of the world.

Q: You offer wonderful advice in the book for creative moms venturing into the business world both online and in real life. What is the most important thing for these “mompreneurs” to keep in mind?

KS: How do I know if now is the right time? How can I know if this will work? What if I fail — or worse, what if I fail my family? These are common questions women ask themselves as they begin the process of dream chasing. Failure. It’s a fear that plagues us all when we prepare to step beyond the predictable routines of our motherly lives and head into the more uncharted territory of a working mom.

In this chapter of Life Creative, we recognize the creative mother looking to expand her hobby into a business won’t always be given a sign or hear an audible direction about where she should go next. In looking to pursue a business out of her art, she may find herself at a crossroads. Should she step forward and pursue her dreams or wait a little longer? While we can’t give specific answers to those questions, we do encourage these women to evaluate if pursuing a business endeavor is right for them. We offer several examples of how to know if the time is right and questions to help them know when and if to take the steps toward building a business.

Q: It’s a delicate task to balance art, faith and family. How can moms keep a balanced perspective when life seems anything but balanced?

KS: Wendy and I begin by acknowledging balance is fluid concept! What looks like “balance” for one person will look entirely different for the next. And there’s a reason for that — because balance is a myth. Finding balance is a bit like hunting for a unicorn. Maybe it’s out there, but nobody has ever actually seen it; they’ve only heard it exists.

WS: Kelli was a friend long before she was a writing partner, and one of the things she has taught me is balance was never meant to be achieved in the course of one 24-hour day. Some days it’s all house work; other days we spend the majority of it building Legos on the floor. There are days for running errands and having play dates, where we pick up a frozen pizza for dinner, and other days when we pull away to write, edit photos for a client or sell our wares at a local farmers market. In the midst of this very full life, something akin to balance can be found if you are intentional to love well and be gracious to yourself along the way.

Learn more about more about Life Creative at, and join the community on Instagram (@lifecreative). 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Radical spiritual depth, strength and fun for kids


Champ Thornton stimulates kids’ sense of
adventure with gospel-centered new book

What images does the term “radical faith” conjure? The Latin origin of the word “radical” literally means “roots.” Today the word also means extreme or revolutionary — even excellent or cool. With The Radical Book for Kids: Exploring the Roots and Shoots of Faith (New Growth Press/October 24, 2016/ISBN 9781942572718/$24.99), author Champ Thornton takes children deep into the ancient roots and origins of the Christian faith in both exciting and innovative ways.

Brilliantly illustrated and extremely kid-friendly, The Radical Book for Kids is an explorer’s guide to the Bible, church history and life, mixing practical and theological elements with fun activities such as a 3,000-year-old board game and a tutorial on how to make a (kid-safe) David-style slingshot. The hands-on approach will help kids grasp the Bible’s relevance for daily life and leave them with a curiosity driving them to learn more.

Chock-full of charts, design elements and illustrations that captivate and inspire, The Radical Book for Kids will have beginning, advanced and even I-don’t-like-to-read readers engrossed in engaging chapters covering important aspects of Christianity, such as:
  • Biblical history
  • Theology
  • Fun facts
  • Church history
  • Daily Christian living
  • Radical faith in the face of adversity
  • Roots of the faith
  • The lives of historical men and women of faith

The Radical Book for Kids will lead young readers to examine some of the most exciting realities in the universe and grapple with the deepest truths laid out in Scripture. “As parents, we all want what is best for the next generation, that they will love, trust and follow the Lord Jesus Christ,” Thornton shares. “So it’s my prayer that this book will be used by God to grow deep roots of faith in the children who read it.”

The book was designed for children ages 8 and up to explore on their own. However, it can be used in a myriad of ways: An adult can read it to a younger child, parents can incorporate it into family devotions, Sunday school and homeschool teachers can use it as a supplemental resource, and older teens and adults alike will enjoy and benefit from the wealth of information it holds.

“I want to scatter a packet of assorted seeds across the minds and hearts and imaginations of the next generation,” Thornton explains. “If this book makes children and teens (and adults) more curious and thirsty to know God and the good news of His Word, then it will have done its job.”

Advance Praise

The Radical Book for Kids is like an encyclopedia of Truth. Thornton has done something magical here. He’s taken every aspect of the Christian faith, the Word we love, and the character of God and made it accessible to children. It’s everything you’d hope to know and teach in one place, even including stories of historical figures. I’m thankful my kids are still young, so I can use this book to teach them about the roots of our faith. The Radical Book for Kids is radical indeed — radically helpful, radically good.”
~ Trillia Newbell, Author of Fear and Faith and United

The Radical Book for Kids is like packaging that awesome Sunday school teacher you remember in a book. You know, she was the amazing mom who made learning about God a ton of fun but did it with gospel truth that transformed lives. Every family should have a copy of The Radical Book for Kids on their bookshelf — better yet, put it out like a plate of cookies on the coffee table and watch your kids devour it. The most exciting part of all will be seeing your children grow in their passion for God and his Word.”
~ Marty Machowski, Family pastor; author of The Ology and The Gospel Story Bible

About the author

Champ Thornton has been the associate pastor of Ogletown Baptist Church in Newark, Delaware since 2012. Previously, he pastored Grace Bible Church in South Carolina and served as the director for SOMA, a ministry training school in Ohio.

Thornton has a deep passion for stirring curiosity and wonder for Christ and God’s word in the hearts of children, which has lead him to write several children’s Bible curricula, including God’s Love: A Storybook Bible, Dynamic Christian Living, and Exploring God’s Love. His latest book is The Radical Book for Kids.

Thornton lives in Delaware with his wife, Robben, and their three children.

Champ Thornton invites you to connect with him at, on Facebook (Champ.Thornton.7) and via Twitter (champthornton).

Sunday, October 23, 2016

I Want to be like Daniel, I Want to be like Ruth

I think they forgot how to sing this one.

I Want to be Like Daniel,
I Want to be Like Ruth

(Boys) I want to be like Daniel…
(Girls) I want to be like Ruth…
(Boys) I want to be like Daniel…
(Girls) I want to be like Ruth…

(Girls) For Ruth was so, so, sweet and kind
(Boys) And Daniel was a mighty man
(Boys) I want to be like Daniel.

(Girls) I want to be like Ruth.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Good weeks make up for the bad ones

Good events with good locations make up (at least some) for the bad ones. We had an excellent Saturday at Flower Mound Marcus High School.

We left early on Friday afternoon in hopes of missing some of the Friday afternoon horrible traffic through Dallas. I don't think there was a time to make driving through Dallas pulling a trailer an easy endeavor. My friends were kind of impressed last weekend. They should have been with me this one.

We have next weekend off before another three in a row. We will also soon be set up in a vintage market here locally This weekend we may be working on getting it set up. I'll post more details about that when I have an official date.

Friday, October 21, 2016

40 Days to a Joyful Motherhood: Devotions and Coloring Book to Nourish Mom

Do you ever wish mothering came with a concrete set of instructions—an easy recipe to follow? Take a spiritual and creative breather from motherhood and invest ten minutes daily into the devotions found in Sarah Humphrey’s 40 Days to a Joyful Motherhood. In a modern society where moms often have a full and busy plate, these devotions focus on six key topics of motherhood. In addition to the devotions, the beautiful pages are adorned with handmade illustrations to help you refresh from long days or even occasional sleepless nights. So, grab your colors and a little quiet time for yourself while doodling at the kitchen table. You will be grateful you did!


(Abingdon Press, August 2016)

Nourishment for a mother’s soul through 40 days of devotion and . . . doodling!
Wouldn’t it be marvelous if mothering came with a concrete set of instructions—an easy recipe we could follow? Instead, motherhood challenges women to find their faith, their true selves, and their family through daily doses of trial and error. It is a brilliant and healing time of life that is full of joy, pain, and beauty with a small side of crisis (and humor). What mothers do not know, they learn. And through this lifelong process of learning, they nurture and care for the most precious gifts on earth: children. In a modern society where moms often have a full and busy plate, these 10 minute daily devotions focus on six key topics of motherhood:
—Reconciling with grief, hope and expectations
In addition to the devotions, these beautiful pages are adorned with handmade illustrations to help you refresh from long days or even occasional sleepless nights. So, grab your colors and a little quiet time for yourself while doodling at the kitchen table. You will be grateful you did!

Sarah Humphrey


Often considered a dreamer and silly heart, Sarah Humphrey uses inspiration from her most beloved career, motherhood, to fuel her passion for writing, creative movement and teaching. She has and is authoring several books and children’s books. Sarah currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee with her husband and three beautiful, bouncy kids.
Find out more about Sarah at

Thursday, October 20, 2016

How One Abandoned Baby Inspired Linda Znachko to Say Yes to God

Part 1 of an interview with Linda Znachko,
Author of He Knows Your Name

When the evening news reported an abandoned baby had been found dead in a local dumpster, Linda Znachko’s comfortable life changed. She was suddenly convicted, knowing God wanted her to provide a dignified burial for this tiny lost child. She obeyed, having no idea where that first small yes would lead. He Knows Your Name: How One Abandoned Baby Inspired Me to Say Yes to God (Kregel Publications) chronicles Znachko’s journey and challenges the reader to say yes to the Holy Spirit’s leading, no matter how insignificant or strange it may seem.

Q: While anyone who watched the news or read the story of the abandoned would have certainly found it to be a terrible situation, you were struck on a deeper level. What was it about this baby that called you to action?

My mother died four months prior to this child’s abandonment. I was responsible for planning her funeral, which meant I ordered her headstone, helped choose her burial clothes, delivered them to the funeral home and planned her funeral service. I felt compelled to honor this child in the same way I had honored my mother. I wanted to be family for this child who was orphaned in death.

Q: Were your family and friends supportive of your mission to provide a funeral and burial for the baby? How did your husband react?

My husband was supportive right away. When I told him about the child in the news and about the conversations I had with the coroner’s office, he understood my need to advocate for the baby. We talked a lot about the uncharted waters I was entering into, and he encouraged me to press into the unknowns. My friends were a bit speechless about my relentless pursuit of justice. They wondered about my qualifications to meet with government officials and talk with the detectives about the case. When I said I wasn’t technically qualified but was finding many open doors to my quest, they were very supportive.

Q: How did the painful experience of losing your mother while dealing with your daughter’s life-threatening illness prepare you for what God was asking you to do?

I was on my face daily in prayer with a deep desperation that allowed me to hear the voice of God very clearly. Walking with God when life and death were hanging in the balance meant my priorities were uncluttered. I was an advocate for my mother throughout her battle with cancer, and I was an advocate for my daughter during her illness. God had prepared me to be an advocate in hard places, so it really wasn’t a big leap to advocate for the baby. The awkward part was the how.

Q: Why was it so important to give the child a name? Can you explain how the ministry and book name came to be?

Names give legitimacy to life. A name gives purpose, identify and meaning to a child who otherwise would be hidden. God Himself has named us. We are written on the palms of His hands. God’s character attributes are named because it brings fullness to who He is. A child’s name gives definition to his or her existence.

When Alfie first asked me about my organization, I asked God about this in my heart of hearts, and He clearly directed me to see He was birthing a ministry. I knew then I needed to have a name. He Knows Your Name came to me like a song, and it felt like a covering over me. It has been confirmed so many times that anointing is on the name of my ministry. People respond to it all the time without knowing anything about it. I have had several people stop me in the airport when they see it on my phone case, and they say, "I love that!” or, “I know He does!” It opens many opportunities for conversations with strangers about what it means to them to be known by God.

From the beginning I thought it made sense to have the title of this book be He Knows Your Name. It captures the heart of God for His children and reminds us we are all His precious ones.

Q: How did you involve your husband and children in what God was leading you to do?

Sharing these amazing families and their stories with my husband and family has captured all of their hearts. Our kingdom value for sharing the gospel of Jesus by bringing light to the darkness of injustice has been a part of the fabric of our lives for a long time. My husband’s ministry to Mission to Ukraine, our family’s commitment to Safe Families of Indiana and many other opportunities have allowed us to serve together by engaging in the world around us. I have enjoyed watching each one use their unique gifts to love their neighbor by being available relationally. Their presence at my events show how much they care. My son recently moved back to be the senior pastor with Antioch Indy, and he has jumped in to the many opportunities to come alongside me, offering prayer, leadership and community to hurting families.

Q: How were you able to teach your children to engage in honoring these precious lives and providing dignity in their death, while protecting them from details they weren’t ready to handle?

My youngest daughter, Caroline, was a sophomore in high school when I adopted Zachary (the first child we actually buried). I didn’t feel she was too young to attend the funeral or understand the need I was acting upon. Many of her friends’ moms supported us at the funeral and took the group of girlfriends out of school to attend. They provided the balloons with scripture verses on cards attached to the end of the strings. They handed out the balloons, and their participation was a gift to all of us. There is no better way to have honest conversations about hard things than at a grave. Talking with the girls about the value of every life was memorable and priceless!

Q: What advice can you offer those who have friends or family walking through the devastating loss of a child? Are some things more helpful or hurtful than others?

I have found the fewer words, the better. Sit, listen and provide for basic needs. At the time of a tragic loss it is best not to share your own personal story. The depth of crisis is also not the time to say, “Something good will come from this loss” or “God needs another angel in heaven.” It is helpful to field phone calls and help manage the media if it is necessary. Generally, families need to assign close friends with tasks so the family doesn’t have to make too many decisions or talk with too many people. Helping make travel and other arrangements for out-of-town family is a big relief. Encouraging family to rely on hospital personnel for bereavement resources can be a terrific emotional support.

Q: What are a few ways believers can fulfill God’s command to care for the widows and orphans in their community?

A wonderful way to support widows and orphans is simply with your time. You can also do so by spending time with the families of widows and adoptive families. Time is of so much more value than just sending a check, and it is a great way to make a difference in the life of a lonely person. Asking questions about their needs, such as, “What do you need from me?” is a good first step. Find out if Safe Families operates in your state. If not, start a local chapter!

Orphans need spiritual families as well, not just “forever families.” Be a mother or father, or a sister or brother to a lost child who needs transportation, tutoring or a fan at their athletic games!

Q: How can people find out more about He Knows Your Name Ministry, especially families suffering the loss of a child and are in need of assistance?

My website is the best way to connect with me. I have connections in many parts of the country I would love to share with under-resourced families. Facebook messenger is also an effective way to send me a story and need. There are great resources for bereavement in most hospitals, and I recommend families reach out to their local hospital for support and counseling. Sadly, grief counseling is not always a strength of the local church.

Learn more about more about He Knows Your Name and Linda Znachko at, on Facebook (HeKnowsYourNameMinistry) and via Twitter (@LindaZnachko).

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

A Sister's Wish and An Amish Family Christmas

Don’t miss books three (A Sister’s Wish) and four (An Amish Family Christmas) in Shelley Shepard Gray’s Charmed Amish Life series. In A Sister’s Wish, when Amelia gets hurt, it sets off a chain of events that forces Amelia and Simon to consider their future together—and face their past mistakes. There’s a chance for love . . . but only if Simon dares to trust Amelia with the secrets of his past. In An Amish Family Christmas, Christmas is a time for family, and as the holiday draws closer, Julia and Levi will have to face their pasts together . . . in order to find the healing, support and love they so desperately desire.
Enter to win a book pack (a copy of A Sister’s Wish and a copy of An Amish Family Christmas) from Shelley. Five winners will be chosen! Click the image below to enter to win. The winners will be announced November 7th on Shelley’s blog!


(Avon Inspire, September 2016)
In Shelley Shepard Gray’s third book in her Charmed Amish Life series, a respectable young woman finds herself falling for an Amish man from the wrong side of the tracks.
Amelia Kinsinger is the perfect Amish woman—at least according to her neighbors. And while Amelia takes pride in her role as homemaker, she’s also harboring a secret: She’s been in love with bad boy Simon Hochstetler for as long as she can remember. Too bad he’s about as far from “perfect” as an Amish man could get… but that’s exactly why she’s so drawn to him.
Life hasn’t been kind to Simon. He ran away from an abusive home at fifteen and things went downhill from there. Eventually, Simon landed in prison. But the experience changed him. Now back in Charm as a grown man, he’s determined to make a new life for himself and not think too much about his wild past…unless it pertains to Amelia.
He’s loved Amelia for years. To him, she represents everything good and kind in the world. When he realizes that she returns his affections, he starts calling on her in secret, even though her older brother Lukas—who just happens to be Simon’s best friend—has made it perfectly clear that Amelia deserves better. Simon disagrees and believes he’s the only one who can truly make her happy.
But when Amelia gets hurt, it sets off a chain of events that forces them to consider their future together—and face their past mistakes. There’s a chance for love… but only if Simon dares to trust Amelia with the secrets of his past.


(Avon Inspire, October 2016)
In Shelley Shepard Gray’s fourth book in her Charmed Amish Life series, an unlikely Amish romance reveals that Christmas is a time for family, miracles—and love.
Ever since his father died in a tragic fire, Levi Kinsinger has felt adrift. Newly returned to Charm, Ohio, Levi is trying to fit into his old life, only to discover he seems to have outgrown it.
But when Julia, his young widowed neighbor, asks for his help with a Christmas project, Levi finds a sense of purpose for the first time in months. She and her daughter are new to Charm and could use a friend, a job Levi takes personally. Soon enough, friendship grows into attraction, but Levi can’t help having doubts. There’s something about Julia that doesn’t ring quite true…
Like Levi, Julia Kemps has survived her fair share of hardships—but only by hiding the truth of her past. Being an unmarried mother in an Amish community was unthinkable. Feeling hopeless, Julia did the only thing she could do: she moved to a new town and pretended to be a widow. But meeting Levi, she’s hopeful for the first time. Little by little, she begins to imagine telling him her darkest secret, and eventually…perhaps even sharing her life with him.
Christmas is a time for family, and as the holiday draws closer, Julia and Levi will have to face their pasts together…in order to find the healing, support and love they so desperately desire.
Shelley Shepard Gray


Shelley Shepard Gray is a “New York Times” and “USA Today” bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time HOLT Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town’s bike trail.
Find out more about Shelley at