It’s Launch Day for My New Mountains Devotional Guide + Giveaway!

Pauses for the Vacationing SoulWhen we set out to live closer to the mountains last year, there was no way to know that the launch day for my second book, Pauses for the Vacationing Soul: A Sensory-Based Devotional Guide for the Mountains would land on the anniversary of our closing date. But in retrospect, it seems fitting. Turns out, both are in the habit of making dreams come true.

In July of last year, after reading Mark Batterson’s The Circle Maker ( a game-changer, by the way), I composed doodled my dreams for our next home. No judging, please.

 

 

House Drawing

Some dreams on this page have yet to come to fruition but the house we purchased two months later did have a barn, a built-in fire pit, a spacious yard (almost four acres) and a sprawling oak tree.

The tiny house is on hold, as is the desire for chickens. (In fact, that desire has shifted toward a Goldendoodle/Sheepadoodle.) Our neighbors raise chickens so I meet her at the fence on Friday mornings for fresh eggs. Did I mention snakes are attracted to coops? Yep, I don’t mind walking to the fence.

Publishing books is a dream, no doubt⏤but plans anchor dreams, allowing them to soar to their full potential. This planner keeps me grounded.

Blog planner

Why the Book Launching is a Dream Come True
  • The book is dedicated to my maternal grandparents, Henry and Elsie Knighton. Their love for home, family, and a Sunday drive to the mountains left an indelible mark on my life. It’s one small way to say thank you.
  • The book is foreworded by Edie Melson. I met her back in 2009 when I shoved my introverted self into the closet for a few hours and attended a local writer’s group for the first time. She welcomed me from the get-go and we’ve been friends ever since. We’ve written together, slurped down lavender lattes at the local coffee shop (okay, maybe I was the only one slurping), studied God’s Word together, and joined in prayer numerous times. Thank you again, Edie.
  • It proves that if I can self-publish, anyone can. Don’t you feel encouraged?
How You Can Help Me Today {Thank You!}
  • Pray. For readers to be drawn closer to their magnificent Creator through what they see, smell, hear, taste, and touch. Also, creating the printed version this time around proved to be quite a challenge. I won’t see or hold a copy before you do, so please pray it publishes nicely. Above all, let’s pray that God receives much glory.
  • Share. Please share this post, and any Facebook or Twitter posts you might see today and in the coming weeks. There is also a designated page on my site where you can easily click and share images on Instagram and ready-to-click tweets.
  • Review. Like I said in my guest post on Edie’s site, Write Like You Believe It, Marilyn got it all wrong. Reviews are a girl’s best friend. Thank you!
Mountains MugMountains Mug Giveaway – Just in Time for Fall!

In celebration of today’s book launch, I’m giving away this uber cool mountains mug. It features a quote by John Muir (The Mountains are Calling and I Must Go) that’s included in the new book. Simply leave a comment here on the blog sharing your favorite thing about the mountains to enter. I’ll randomly draw a name using Random Name Picker on miniwebtool and post the winner on Friday via Facebook.

Your support means everything to me. Thank you!

 

Temperaments and Marriage: Guest Post by Andrea Merrell

I’m delighted to welcome Andrea Merrell to the blog today. We met in 2010 when I attended the Blue Ridge Mountains Christians Writers Conference for the first time. Her quick smile and warm demeanor made me feel right at home. Only recently, however, did I realize we live only twenty minutes away from one another.

As you can see from her bio, Andrea is one talented lady. Today, she’s sharing an excerpt from her latest release, Marriage: Make it or Break It, published by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. Enjoy! I hope you’ll show Andrea some love by taking a moment to leave a comment, letting her know which tempermant you suppose yourself to be.

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Make It or Break ItBy Andrea Merrell

One experience that helped save our marriage and enabled us to understand each other was learning about the four basic temperaments: Sanguine, Choleric, Melancholy, and Phlegmatic.

Have you ever wondered why your wife burns whatever she cooks, loses her purse, and can’t remember where she parks? Maybe your husband shows no emotion when plans go haywire and doesn’t care when he has a black sock on one foot and a blue one on the other. Your spouse might be friendly but forgetful, dependable but moody, or confident but a little impatient. Depending on the situation, he or she might exhibit little quirks that make you want to ask, “What planet are you from?

Studying the temperaments, which first originated with the theory of the Greek historian Hippocrates (460-370 BC), gave us insight into the behavior of our children and helped us see others in a whole new light.

If you’re struggling to comprehend your spouse’s thoughts and behavior, let’s look briefly at the temperaments, along with a few of the strengths and weaknesses of each.

Sanguine (Extrovert/Talker/Optimist)
  • Strengths: bubbly, outgoing, sincere, enthusiastic, friendly, talkative
  • Weaknesses: scatterbrained, forgetful, naïve, disorganized, talkative
Melancholy (Introvert/Thinker/Pessimist)
  • Strengths: detailed, loyal, dependable, creative, analytical
  • Weaknesses: perfectionistic, sensitive, critical, negative, moody
Choleric (Extrovert/Doer/Optimist)
  • Strengths: confident, independent, self-sufficient, capable leader
  • Weaknesses: bossy, impatient, indifferent, rash, lacks compassion
Phlegmatic (Introvert/Watcher/Pessimist)
  • Strengths: calm, patient, happy, peaceful, well-balanced
  • Weaknesses: lazy, unmotivated, indecisive, hardheaded, resists change

Do you see yourself—or your spouse—in any of these categories? In the same way most people have a primary love language, they also have a primary temperament, usually with a close second. I like to say that Jesus has a picture-perfect blend of all the temperaments—all the strengths and none of the weaknesses. He has the storytelling gift and sincerity of the Sanguine; the sensitivity, organization, and loyalty of the Melancholy; the confidence and administrative ability of the Choleric; and the calm, peaceful, well-balanced nature of the Phlegmatic. His strengths are the perfect combination. This is why we’re to look to Jesus as our example and standard, refusing to compare ourselves to anyone else.

When we find out what motivates us, we can work to build on our strengths and eliminate our weaknesses. But once you discover what motivates you, refuse to use it as a weapon or an excuse. I’ve heard people say, “That’s just the way I am, and if you don’t like it, tough!” The purpose of the study of temperaments isn’t to put ourselves in a category; it’s to help us understand our strengths and weaknesses so we can become the best version of ourselves we can be.

Don’t ever underestimate your Creator. He knew what He was doing when He lovingly formed and fashioned both you and your spouse. You are His special creation, gifted with unique talents and abilities that no one else possesses. Your spouse is a one-of-a-kind individual with a God-given purpose and destiny, just like you. There’s not another person on earth exactly like you … or your spouse. This is God’s design, His perfect plan. **

** Excerpt taken from Marriage: Make It or Break It by Andrea Merrell published by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. Used by permission.

 

Andrea MerrillAndrea Merrell is an associate editor with Christian Devotions Ministries and Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. She is also a professional freelance editor and was a finalist for the 2016 Editor of the Year Award at BRMCWC. She teaches workshops at writers’ conferences and has been published in numerous anthologies and online venues. Andrea is a graduate of Christian Communicators and a finalist in the 2015 USA Best Book Awards. She is the author of Murder of a Manuscript, Praying for the Prodigal, and Marriage: Make It or Break It. For more information visit www.AndreaMerrell.com or www.TheWriteEditing.com.

 

4 Books on My I-Can’t-Wait-To-Read Radar

4 Books on my Radar

I have a heightened sense of appreciation for brave souls who traipse through the what-if, who-me, and can-I-do-this type questions for the sole purpose of helping another through their story. Like, helping wives who desire to fully embrace their God-given role or mother of brides-to-be who long to cling to God while their daughters are preparing to cling to another. Or, perhaps those in uneasy in-between places who need to re-embrace God’s faithfulness or writers desiring to become super-productive.

Two of the four I-can’t-wait-to-read books are recent releases. And two are now available for pre-order. There’s something for those who enjoy the anticipation of a good read as well as those who prefer immediate gratification.

 

Four Books on My I-Can’t-Wait-To-Read Radar

 

Kaitlyn E. Bouchillon // Even if Not: Living, Loving, and Learning in the In Between

Even if NotI’ve recently had the pleasure of getting to know Kaitlyn as a fellow Hope Writer. She is a young woman brimming with sage advice.

Why I can’t wait to read this book: Kaitlyn is the real deal and frankly, the book description hooked me from the get-go: “In Even If Not, Kaitlyn Bouchillon invites you to let go of trying to figure out the ending of your story and instead lean into the faithfulness of God. With honest and vulnerable storytelling from her own in-betweens, Kaitlyn encourages you to say – no matter what page of the story you find yourself on – that although you believe God could come through how you’re asking, you’ll trust Him… even if not.”

 

C. S. Lakin // Crank it Out! The Surefire Way to Become a Super-Productive Writer

Crank it outCrank it Out! finds itself on my list for both noble and selfish reasons. {Don’t judge} Noble, because I’ve read her work in Writer’s Digest as well as a poetry forum and love it. Selfish, because after working on my e-book {more info coming soon!} Brian said we would need to hire a housekeeper if I wrote another one. Turns out, I actually plan to write several more so it’s a must that I become more super productive. #bringonthehousekeeper

Why I can’t wait to read this book: I savor C. S. Lakin’s voice. It’s unique, succinct, and I’ve yet to read anything she’s written without learning something valuable for my own writing journey. And, I obviously need to crank out future books in a more timely and orderly way. Oh, and did I mention it’s only $.99 on Kindle?

 

Leigh Ann Thomas // Ribbons, Lace, and Moments of Grace…Inspiration for Mothers-of-the-Bride

Ribbons, Lace, and Moments of GraceRibbons, Lace, and Moments of Grace will release on March 28th but you can pre-order now.

Why I can’t wait to read this book: I had the pleasure of getting to know Leigh Ann a little better last year at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. She is lovely and oh so gracious. As a fellow contributor to Almost an Author, I can attest to the fact that she’s quite the cheerleader as well. I’m not Leigh Ann’s target reader for this book as I was a mother-of-the-groom⎯twice. But her Barnabas-like way of encouraging others makes this book a must-read for all mother-of-the-brides.

 

Jen Weaver // A Wife’s Secret to Happiness: Receiving, Honoring, and Celebrating
God’s Role for You in Your Marriage

A Wife's Secret of HappinessOnce again, the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference played matchmaker. Dee Dee Parker and I had the pleasure of meeting Jen back when she was expecting her sweet boy. We had no doubt that God had major plans for her writing.

Why I can’t wait to read this book: Jen is spunky, engaging, and approachable⎯as is her writing. And regardless of how many anniversaries I’ve celebrated with Brian {27 this October!} I want my role as his wife to be one that brings God glory.

Here’s a quick blurb on Jen’s book by Latan Murphy.

 

Do you have a favorite book your reading radar? Or is their one above that sparks your interest? Please take a moment to share in the comment section. I always enjoy hearing from you!

 

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Stop Waiting for Hope at Life’s Drive-Thru Window

Hi, Cathy here.

Today, it’s my honor to introduce you to Karen “Girl” Friday. We met last year at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writer’s Conference and it has been a delight watching God grow her ministry ever since. Karen’s bold declarations of love for the Lord is downright inspiring. I know you’ll enjoy her guest post.

Join me in offering Karen a warm welcome!

Drive Thru

The drive-thru window of life remains understocked with real hope.

Less than a mile from my neighborhood, in opposite directions, the same fast-food restaurant provides drive-thru service. At the end of our road, we must make a decision. Do we turn right or left? To the right stands a newer version of the long-lasting business established in the 1940’s.

But the same problem exists with both locations. My son arrives home and discovers his order is wrong. Like the time he placed his order for lunch, paid and waited. Yet, found his bag filled with breakfast items.

To our dismay, it also happens to me and my husband. Now, to make certain, I check everything. I open each bag, wrapper or container. It assures I leave with what I expected…what I wanted.

The Quest for Authentic Hope

Where do we turn when the unexpected happens? When we come to the end of our road, which way do we go?

As a pastor’s wife, people come to me looking for hope. Real people in tough places. Hearts broken by tragedy or disappointment. Dreams with no pillow to lay their heads.

And I’ve been parked at life’s crossroads. ­­­­­­­­­Not sure whether to go right or left. Tired of waiting. Not certain I’ll leave with what I expected…all the items I went there to get.

So, I went in search of long-lasting hope. It needed to be rooted in something other than this world.

A Certain Hope

Hoping things turn out as we want comes natural to us. Google defines hope as, “A feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.”

Still, here’s the problem. Life is uncertain and continues to let us down. The only choices on the menu offer false promises. High hopes placed in people, programs, possessions, money, goals, careers, and religion.

Even if we examine and double-check each item.

We’ll always leave life’s drive-thru window without real hope.

But God’s Word offers a hope established before the world existed.

“For whatever was written in the former days was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” Romans 15:4 ESV.

“But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” Isaiah 40:31 ESV.

The New International Version translates wait as hope. “…but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.”

Windows of HopeThe Windows of Heaven

God’s story fulfills the promise of hope in a person and a place.

The Messiah, Jesus Christ, came to give us what the world could not offer. His shed blood and broken body on Calvary’s cross triumphed over evil and religion. The empty tomb trumped the enemy’s intention to destroy hope forever. Because Jesus rose from the dead.

So, we wait for real hope from a Holy King. We lay our expectation and desire in His able and sovereign hands.

Prayer ushers in hope from the windows of heaven.

Trusting God with the impossible and unexplainable parts of life.

Set your hope fully on the hope-giver. One day you’ll see.

Hope was always coming and God knew.

 

Karen Friday

Karen Friday is a pastor’s wife and women’s ministry leader. She’s an award-winning writer and avid speaker who loves words and God’s Word. For over a decade, Karen has balanced the busy life of church ministry with working from her home office in marketing and business development roles. Karen earned a communications degree and has experience in a broad spectrum of business services where she is frequently referred to as Girl Friday.

A blogger, Karen “Girl” Friday engages a community every week. Hope is Among Us is an award-winning blog that expresses scriptural truths as life happens. Karen is a regular contributor for the national site, Inspire a Fire, which draws 30,000 monthly visitors. Karen has published a number of articles and devotions in both print and online media. She is currently working on her first book project. An inspirational speaker, she addresses a wide variety of audiences. Karen is passionate about mentoring and discipleship that helps followers of Christ live with authentic faith in real life. Karen and her husband Mike Friday reside in East Tennessee and have two grown children and a grandson. The entire family is fond of the expression, “TGIF: Thank God it’s Friday.” They owe Monday an apology. www.KarenGirlFriday.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/FridayKaren
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/karen.clarkstonfriday
Facebook Writer Page: https://www.facebook.com/karengirlfriday/

Speaking Ministry PDF 

 

 

Why I LOVE the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference // Let Me Count the Ways

Blue Ridge Sky

Five ways to be exact.

Yes, there are more. Many more⎯but I’ll stick with my top five today. Like you, I’m busy preparing for the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writer’s Conference and it would take hours to list the reasons I absolutely love it and look forward to it every year.

 

5 Reasons I Love the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writer’s Conference {And You Will Too}

 

{one}

Clouds Coffee Cafe

Clouds Coffee Shop. Starbucks has nothing on this cafe since their remodel. It’s beautiful⎯but not nearly as beautiful as those who work there. Ladies like Loretta, aka, “the Foaminator” greet us with smiles and show genuine interest in our days… and they’ve seen it all. Everything from mascara-blotted cheeks following a difficult critique to giddy grins when a book proposal is accepted. If you’re searching for a place to escape, or to slurp down a fancy frappe or sip a decent cup of coffee, you’ll want to visit the Clouds.

{two}

Staff. Experts in their realm of the writing community come prepared to equip, encourage and inspire us. They’re approachable and leave a lasting impact on the lives of many. The fact that conferees are able to enjoy lunch and dinner with staffers is a bonus. I’m especially looking forward to sitting with Todd Starnes from FOX news again this year. He’s a staunch supporter of our faith but he’s also a lot of fun, as are many of those on staff. Who are you looking forward to sitting with this year?

{three}

Two Peas in One Strange Little Pod…Productions! Last year, in the wee hours of the night, my cohort in crime fellow pea, Dee Dee Parker, came up with an idea to film our disappointment over the lack of real snack food available in the vending machine on our floor. While those on the upper floors were feasting on Cheetos, candy bars, and peanuts, we were stuck with Daisy razors, plastic combs, Listerine, and hand wipes. Not to say these items weren’t needed when enclosed with hundreds of other people but we had our hygiene under control. Our appetites, not so much. We went on to produce a few more videos that week and heard more than once how our friendship inspired others, and for this, we thank God. {Watch for us again this year!}

{four}

Fellow Attendees  Fellow {Quirky} Writing Friends. You may arrive at the BRMCWC with fellow attendees but chances are, you will leave calling many of them friends. Where else can you spend days surrounded by other believers and writers who totally get you? Quirks and all.

{five}

Tech Savviness. The BRMCWC Facebook group is stellar. Especially for newcomers. There, you can ask any question you have about the BRMCWC experience. Want to know what to wear? What to pack? How to prepare for an appointment? No question is too silly. It’s a closed group and you’re among friends. You will find nothing but encouragement awaiting you. {Bravo, Bethany Jett!}

And let’s not forget the collaborative effort that goes into the BRMCWC Web site. Our exposure to top-notch information is no longer limited to one week at the conference. It’s now available five days a week. It’s obvious this team values our time by the information they share on a consistent basis. Scroll down the home page to find the Ridgecrest app. And finally, if you’re not already following Blue Ridge on Twitter, do so today – @BRMCWC.

Dee Dee Parker and Cathy Baker

The Two Peas in One Strange Little Pod…with Frappes!

So, these are my top five reasons I love Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writer’s Conference. I can’t imagine a better way to close out my month of LOVE posts than highlighting a conference that has changed my life in many ways.

If you are a returning attendee, what’s one thing do you love about the conference? If this is your first year to attend Blue Ridge, what are you most looking forward to?

“Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established.” Proverbs 16:3

 

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Love… One Sip At A Time // A Valentine Tea Party

Valentine Tea Party

Because love isn’t limited to one day on a calendar I decided to share a few pictures from my Valentine Tea Party earlier this week.

I began hosting tea parties in 2002, with the highlight being an annual Christmas Tea — sometimes two. One with long-time friends and another one with new friends I’d made that year. I separated the two due to space issues. Basically, there was none.

In December 2007, I hosted my last tea party. During that Christmas Tea, I received word that my sweet grandmother had been admitted to the hospital. She would die only a few days later. I grieved longer than first realized. There was no desire to host a Christmas Tea the following year…or the next, and on and on.

But this recent move toward the mountains ushered in a fresh desire to host more teas and simple gatherings. And so it begins.

The Valentine Tea earlier this week was small, intimate. I consider my writer/critique group friends first, writers second. We pray for one another, share in both victories and struggles, and support what God has called us to do by giving honest feedback,  grounded in love.

Writers Critique Group

Marcia Moston, Carol Roper, and Beth Saadati

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I hope this is true as I have more pictures than words today.

Valentine Tea Roses

Initially, I’d plucked a neatly wrapped bunch of non-Valentine flowers out of one of the grocery store floral buckets. I knew they would be pretty enough, maybe even save a few pennies. And then I spotted these trio-colored roses. I quickly put the non-Valentine bunch of flowers back (and okay, a few Yasso’s). The roses were worth it.

Valentines Day Yogurt

One favorite treat (I think) was the yogurt, vanilla-almond granola, and fruit in half-pint jars. I ordered these mini (and I do mean mini) red spoons from Target. {I just realized I forgot to tie a bow around the top. Oops!}

Valentine Tea Scrabble

A last minute idea was to add a fun element by spelling out the obvious. After all, I was surrounded by gifted wordsmiths.

I admit to feeling a bit inept in preparing for the tea. The to-do lists began weeks prior but I had to continually remind myself that perfection was not the goal of this gathering (or any, really) but rather, the celebration of friendship…and kinsmanship in spirit and in deed.

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” -C.S. Lewis

Or too many reasons to celebrate with friends. -Cathy Baker

How did you celebrate Valentine’s Day this week? Please share!