Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas with Special guest Kathi Macias

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I must admit that Christmas Eve has always been my favorite time of year. When I was a child it seemed “magical,” as we waited for Santa to bring us the gifts we would open the next morning. I know now, that though Jesus most likely wasn’t born on the night of December 24, the real gift of Christmas is what we celebrate on this most loved of holidays. I also know, as a former biblical counselor on a large church staff, that this is the time of year that heightens all our emotions–whether joyous or heart-wrenching. Right now I can’t help but think of the many families who have been impacted by various tragedies throughout this past year, particularly school shootings or other crimes involving our beloved children. Regardless of where they stand on the purpose for Christ’s birth, this has got to be the most difficult time for them that any human can experience.

We’ve all lost loved ones at some point in our lives, but our children? No pain can compare–except perhaps that of the Father, as He watched His only Son suffer and die at the hands of His own creation. And that’s the answer I give when asked, “Where is God when such a horrible event takes place?” He is where He always is, sitting on the throne in complete control and yet weeping with those who weep, hurting with those who hurt, mourning with those who mourn–because He’s been there and He knows better than anyone the tragic outcome of evil, selfish choices. The Scriptures say that God bottles our tears, and that one day in heaven He will wipe them all away. Until then, He stands waiting, His nail-scarred hands extended and ready to carry us through to the other side.

There are practical and creative ways we can offer our own hands and hearts to assist those who are experiencing grief beyond imagining at this time of year, whether it’s donating meals, money, or flowers, and I encourage you all to take advantage of those opportunities whenever possible. But I also encourage you to pray, not just when the pain is fresh but for a long time to come because losing a child isn’t something anyone will get past quickly or easily–possibly not ever on this earth. We may never personally meet any of those who have lost loved ones in such a manner, but we can give them a selfless gift at Christmas–a commitment to pray for them for as long as we have breath to do so. Then one day, when we have “graduated to heaven” and meet all those precious little ones who went on ahead of us, God will wipe away our tears as well.

A very blessed Christmas to you all, beloved, as you give of yourself to those who need an extra touch of Christ’s love.


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Kathi has a host of great Christmas books! Be sure to visit her on her website:
http://kathimacias.com/

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Lots of Decor, But No Context by Susan J. Reinhardt

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We hear a lot about generics these days. Everything from prescription drugs to clothing has a no-name brand. The big draw is the lower price tag.

I've discovered another kind of generic: the generic holiday. Decorations adorn stores without the context of its meaning. In one store, the decorations were linked with the word, "dream." Ah yes, dream of those clothes and household items, and put them in your cart.

I'm sad today. I miss the Christmas Carols playing, the Merry Christmas greetings, the warmth of society celebrating one of the singular events in history - the birth of Jesus. We're left with the trappings of a holy-day, stripped bare of its meaning.

As a believer, I've committed to keep things in context. While I enjoy the decor and the fun, I'm in awe of the greatest gift I've ever received: forgiveness and a relationship with the One who created heaven and earth, Jesus Christ.

Writers and Readers: Has "generic holiday" sprung up among your retailers? What are some of the things you miss from past celebration?

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Saturday, December 14, 2013

Special Guest Murray Pura - The Prayer Tree

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Joining us today is friend and author Murray Pura to bring us an inspiring devotional.
THE PRAYER TREE

A person can pray anywhere or should feel free to pray anywhere. But sometimes it helps to have a special place to go to, a spot that helps you quiet your mind and focus your thoughts. Some people like churches, some like gardens, others like porches, still others prefer a walk along a path or a ride on horseback through a field of tall grass. Jesus liked lonely places away from people and when in Jerusalem preferred the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives. When my children were young they had a prayer tree.

            There were two prayer trees actually. One in the woods only a few hundred feet by the home we lived in when they were five and three. Another up a mountainside when they were twelve and ten. The first one was always arrived at after a long walk in the woods that included visiting horses in a wooden corral and looking for deer antlers and bones in the brush. I should explain this town was right in the Rocky Mountains and elk, deer, coyote and other animals were common sights. So finding antlers and animal bones was common too. Whatever was found was placed at the prayer tree and left there. My son insisted we stay at the tree for five or ten minutes and pray about whatever we wanted. He was quite dogmatic about it. So we stayed and prayed. One prayer was always thanking God for the animals he had created.

            The first tree was strong and flourishing. The second, the one up the mountainside in a wilderness park, also in the Rockies, was wind-blasted and heat-scoured and utterly empty of leaves. In fact it was dead. But, as is sometimes the case, as dramatic and beautiful in death as it was in life, if not moreso. It required a drive into the mountains and a stiff hike onto a ridge to get to it. By that time the tree was a welcome place to sit and relax and drink water – and pray. The view ahead of us was spectacular – mountains and peaks and glaciers and acres of sky. My son was less dogmatic at 12 than he had been at five and we lingered for a long time or short time, whatever suited us. Some prayers were spoken out loud. Some were silent. He didn’t care. There was more grace. My daughter loved this prayer tree the most of all. The location and the silvered beauty of the long dead mountain tree touched something in her soul.

            Now the kids are grown up and at university. I pray for them when I’m in bed, when I’m driving, when I’m walking my dog. And I’m pretty sure they pray for their father and mother. They lead busy lives – school, studies, friends, cooking their own meals at an apartment a hundred miles from the mountains they grew up in. Maybe one of them has found another prayer tree. It’s funny but I remember both the trees we often stopped to pray at whenever I think long and hard about the days gone by. The one up the mountainside I can get to in less than an hour. It’s nice to be able to do that, just like Jesus enjoyed making his way to the familiar gated garden in Jerusalem. When I’m there it’s easy to remember so much of what really matters – the children, family, God, companionship, the dogs we often with walked up those steep slopes, the beauty of a planned world. You never forget what counts the most at such places where those you love have been with you numerous times and where you have met together the One in whose hands you have placed their lives and yours forever and ever, amen.


Murray is doing a giveaway on our Pearl Harbor Post! Click here to enter - only a couple days left!

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Murray Pura was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, just north of the Dakotas and Minnesota. His first novel was released in Toronto in 1988 and was a finalist for the Dartmouth Book Award. Since that time he has published ten more novels, two collections of short stories, and several nonfiction titles including the Zondervan books Rooted and Streams and the Baker devotional Majestic & Wild. He has been a finalist for several awards in the US and Canada and in 2012 won the Word Award of Toronto for Best Historical Novel. Murray lives and writes in southwestern Alberta and is currently published by Barbour, Baker, Harper One, Zondervan, and Harvest House as well as several other publishing houses – he works with publishers in Canada, America, the UK, and Holland. His releases for 2013 include the novels: Ashton Park, The Rose of Lancaster County, A Road Called Love, Seven Oaks, The Painted Sky, Whispers of a New Dawn, Beneath the Dover Sky, The Name of the Hawk, and An Amish Family Christmas. His diverse writing spans many genres including: historical fiction, contemporary fiction, literary fiction, romance, adventure, western, suspense, fantasy, Amish, and inspirational. Most of his work is available in ebook format for Kindle, Kobo, and Nook as well as in paperback.


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Check out Murray's new devotional ROOTED

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Pearl Harbor Anniversary and Giveaways!

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Today marks 72 years since the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th 1941. The surprise attack has been the subject of much disagreement and discussion and was the determining factor that pulled the United States of America into WWII. To commemorate this day, I've asked several Christian historical authors to share what they learned while studying for their WWII novels.

Please welcome special guests, Cara Putnam, Patty Smith Hall,  Sarah Sundin and Murray Pura:

What drew you to write about Pearl Harbor/WWII?

Patty: My daughters. When the movie Pearl Harbor came out, both my girls were fascinated by the history of that era, and as a history buff, I wanted them to know how women played a part in the war effort. It was when I was looking through a book on women’s roles in the war that I found a small paragraph on girl pilots. From that moment on, I was hooked!

Cara: I’ve long been fascinated by WWII. As I began to research, though, I became engrossed with discovering homefront stories. Those events that happened here in the United States. In Canteen Dreams, I retold the story of the North Platte Canteen. That effort started two weeks after Pearl Harbor and lasted through April 1946. So Pearl Harbor was a key element of the story. It truly galvanized the country and shook many out of their complacency. That was my first WWII novel. My eighth, Shadowed by Grace, releases January 1st, and this will be my first foray into Europe, but the goal is the same. To bring the history of WWII to life through the power of story.

Sarah:
The World War II era has always appealed to me—not just the cute clothes and men in uniform, but the unity and purpose that helped the country work together. I’m also drawn to how ordinary people found the courage to do extraordinary things.

Did you have family that fought in WWII?

Patty: I actually had a second or third cousin who was on one of the battleships that was attacked at Pearl Harbor. Unfortunately, he died. My grandmother shared the write-up from the newspaper when I told her I was writing a WWII novel.

Cara: One Grandpa was assigned to the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. for most of the war. Unfortunately, he died before I knew I would be writing books set during that time period. I so wish I could have one more conversation with him about his experiences during the war. My other grandpa was the only son of a farmer. He was drafted four times, but sent home every time so he could help work the farm. He is the basis for my hero in Canteen Dreams, because I wondered what it would be like to want to serve, but not be able to since you were more valuable at home.

Sarah: My great-uncle was a Pearl Harbor survivor. We was a copilot in one of the twelve B-17s that flew into Pearl Harbor during the attack—quite a story! He went on to fly a combat tour out of Australia and then served as a B-17 squadron commander with the US Eighth Air Force in England. Also my grandfather served in the Navy as a pharmacist’s mate (medic) in the Pacific. My other grandfather was unable to serve in the military, but as a professor of German, he helped train American spies.


What was the most interesting fact you discovered during your research for this book?

Patty: While I was researching Hearts in Flight, I met a gentleman who flew bombing missions on D-Day who had been trained by one of the girl pilots. That and the fact that the women served as target practice for the ground to air mission strikes surprised me.
The fact that interested me the most in my research of Hearts in Hiding was the number of Germans in this country who tried to push their children into fighting for Hitler.  There was even a pro-German organization that helped parents convince their children to return to the Fatherland.

Cara: In Shadowed by Grace I researched the Monuments Men and their unique role in saving Western Civilization. Since WWII was the first war with wide-spread aerial bombardment, European and American art experts quickly realized they needed a strategy to try to save the grand cathedrals and other buildings. Then they realized art was disappearing into Nazi Germany and knew they’d need a strategy for reclaiming the lost art, too. I found the work of these soldiers who weren’t really soldiers fascinating. Then the heroine is a war photojournalist, so I researched the women who filled those jobs. Everything from their dress to how they worked in the field had to be explored. It’s a good thing I love history and getting the details right!

Sarah:
So many! On Distant Shores follows a flight nurse and an Army pharmacist in the campaign in Sicily and Italy—professions and settings not explored much in fiction. As a pharmacist myself, I was stunned to learn that pharmacists, who had college degrees, were enlisted men in the Army, while other professionals with college degrees were commissioned officers. Even nurses, who had three years’ training, but not degrees, served as officers. The pharmacy profession battled for an officer corps during the war. Since enlisted men and officers weren’t allowed to fraternize, an Army pharmacist and a nurse wouldn’t be allowed to date…and there was my story inspiration.I think I pick a different person each time I answer this question. Today I’ll choose Ernie Pyle, a columnist who reported from the front in the Mediterranean (and other locations). He wrote eloquently about high-level generals and the privates in the trenches with great respect, humor, and humanity. His genuine admiration for the common man with all his quirks shines in his writing, and he was genuinely liked by all who met him. I’m sure he’d be fascinating company.

If you could spend a day with one person from the WWII era, who would it be? Why?

Patty: I would want to meet the group of nurses who followed the boys onto the beaches of Normandy on D-Day. Not much is known about them--I found out about them when I visited the Florence Nightingale Museum in London this summer--but these brave women followed our troops through the Battle of the Bugle and VE Day to the death camps in Germany.

Cara: This is a great question and one that is hard to answer. So many people played important roles. I think I’d lean toward a conversation with Ernie Pyle or Andy Rooney. Their experiences as reporters covering the war would be intriguing to hear first hand.

Sarah:
I think I pick a different person each time I answer this question. Today I’ll choose Ernie Pyle, a columnist who reported from the front in the Mediterranean (and other locations). He wrote eloquently about high-level generals and the privates in the trenches with great respect, humor, and humanity. His genuine admiration for the common man with all his quirks shines in his writing, and he was genuinely liked by all who met him. I’m sure he’d be fascinating company.

Did you learn any fun 'expressions' or phrases from that era?

Patty: Not really, but I did fall in love with the music and movies from that time!

Cara: I watch a lot of classic movies from the 30s and 40s. You’ll often see me with a notepad jotting down expressions they use. At the moment I can’t think of one in particular, but I’ll watch those movies to get the vernacular of the time in my head.

Sarah:
I’ve been researching WWII for a dozen years now, so sometimes the line blurs for me. I’ve been known to say “swell” in normal conversation. My friends know I’m weird so it’s okay. In On Distant Shores, my hero ends up serving in one of the hospitals at Nettuno on the Anzio beachhead, which were shelled constantly by the Germans. The hospital personnel learned to walk in the “Anzio shuffle”—a low duck walk to avoid losing your head to a shell. And they all half-jokingly talked about developing “Anzio Anxiety” and “Nettuno Neurosis.”

Thank you all so much for sharing about this important time in U.S. History!

Giveaways!

The authors have been so generous as to offer one of each of these books to four blessed commenters! Leave your name and email in a comment below to get your name in the drawing. Giveaway ends on December 14th. Winner to be announced on December 15th, so be sure to check back!
"I'm Here to See My Daughter."

She never thought she'd see John Davenport again. Merrilee Daniels Davenport's former husband has returned to their small Georgia town after fighting in the Pacific. And now the soldier is bearing a letter from the little girl he didn't know he had. Merrilee wishes that she and her daughter could lean on John's able shoulders, but her new assignment as a homeland informant won't allow it.

Twelve years have only made Merrilee more beautiful in John's eyes. Back then, he was the proud fool who walked away. Now all he wants is to prove he can be the husband she deserves, and the daddy his daughter needs.
Lt. Georgiana Taylor has everything she could want. A comfortable boyfriend back home, a loving family, and a challenging job as a flight nurse. But in July 1943, Georgie's cozy life gets decidedly more complicated when she meets pharmacist Sgt. John Hutchinson. Hutch resents the lack of respect he gets as a noncommissioned serviceman and hates how the war keeps him from his fiancée. While Georgie and Hutch share a love of the starry night skies over Sicily, their lives back home are falling apart. Can they weather the hurt and betrayal? Or will the pressures of war destroy the fragile connection they've made?
The year is 1941 and Jude and Lyyndy, with their adult daughter, Rebecca, are summoned to far-off, exotic Honolulu where Rebecca, a flyer like her father, meets a likeable young pilot. The two enjoy a friendship that seems to be turning into something more serious…..until Sunday, December 7, 1941 dawns on the Hawaiian Islands.

Best Selling Author Murray Pura was unable to join us for the interview as he is out of the country at this time, however he has generously offered an autographed copy of his book to one commenter.
  Rachel Justice is desperate to save her dying mother. She doesn’t want to leave her, but she accepts her newspaper’s assignment to travel to Italy and photograph war images. No one knows her photography is a cover and that Rachel is really seeking to find the father she never knew, hopeful to get some help with her failing mother. Dedicated to her mission, Rachel is focused on completing it. Soon, though, she finds her priorities and plans changing when she is assigned to Lt. Scott Lindstrom, on mission as a Monument Man. Their meeting will have far-reaching consequences. Will this derail her plans? Will she ever find her father? Is her faith enough to carry her through?

About the Authors:

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Patty Smith Hal is an award-winning writer and book enthusiast who has a passion to share Christ with others. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her hero of a husband and two daughters who are hopping away from the nest.

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Cara C. Putman graduated high school at 16, college at 20, and completed her law degree at 27. An award-winning author of seventeen books with more on the way, she is active in women's ministry at her church and is a lecturer on business and employment law to graduate students at Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management. Putman also practices law and is a second-generation homeschooling mom. Putman is currently pursuing her Master’s in Business Administration at Krannert. She serves on the executive board of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), an organization she has served in various roles since 2007. She lives with her husband and four children in Indiana. You can connect with her online at:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/caraputman

Twitter: www.twitter.com/cara_putman

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/caraputman

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/CaraPutman


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Sarah Sundin is the author of On Distant Shores and With Every Letter, and also the Wings of Glory series. In 2011, A Memory Between Us was a finalist in the Inspirational Reader's Choice Awards and Sarah received the Writer of the Year Award at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. Sarah lives in northern California with her husband and three children, works on-call as a hospital pharmacist, and teaches Sunday school and women’s Bible studies. Please visit her at www.sarahsundin.com.


Picture Murray Pura was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, just north of the Dakotas and Minnesota. His first novel was released in Toronto in 1988 and was a finalist for the Dartmouth Book Award. Since that time he has published ten more novels, two collections of short stories, and several nonfiction titles including the Zondervan books Rooted and Streams and the Baker devotional Majestic & Wild. He has been a finalist for several awards in the US and Canada and in 2012 won the Word Award of Toronto for Best Historical Novel. Murray lives and writes in southwestern Alberta and is currently published by Barbour, Baker, Harper One, Zondervan, and Harvest House as well as several other publishing houses – he works with publishers in Canada, America, the UK, and Holland. His releases for 2013 include the novels: Ashton Park, The Rose of Lancaster County, A Road Called Love, Seven Oaks, The Painted Sky, Whispers of a New Dawn, Beneath the Dover Sky, The Name of the Hawk, and An Amish Family Christmas. His diverse writing spans many genres including: historical fiction, contemporary fiction, literary fiction, romance, adventure, western, suspense, fantasy, Amish, and inspirational. Most of his work is available in ebook format for Kindle, Kobo, and Nook as well as in paperback.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Special Guest Anne Baxter Campbell Devotional on the Lost Coin


PictureAnne in period costume
Friend and author Anne Baxter Campbell joins us today with a devotional on the Lost Coin. If you enjoy this devotional, check out her blog where she shares sermonettes and devotionals. http://pewperspective.blogspot.com

"Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost.'" Luke 15:8-9

The word used in the Greek for "silver coin" was "drachma," which amounted to a day's wages for a typical worker. When a Jewish maiden married, her husband would pay a bride price, usually several silver drachmas (or the Jewish equivalent, a half-shekel coin). The woman would string them and wear them across her forehead.

These coins were sort of her insurance policy. If her husband divorced her or died, these would have to support her until she could find another means of income. Since women didn't usually work outside the home, a means of support would be hard to come by. The coins were all that stood between her and starvation.

You can understand, then, how precious each coin was. The woman would have been overjoyed at finding that one lost coin. That's just a fraction of how jubilant Jesus is each time one person goes from lost to found. Could that person be you?

Prayer: Lord God, thank You for sending Jesus to search for each lost person, each one who has lost his or her way to You. Thank You, Lord, for that day when You sought for and found me. I didn't know how much I needed You until that day, and I will never forget.

Anne's new book The Roman's Quest has just come out on Amazon! Check it out!
http://www.amazon.com/The-Romans-Quest-Truth-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00G5FESDY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1383165335&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Roman%27s+Quest