Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Missing the Presence of a Friend

The last week has been such a blessing to me. Best friend Heather Tipton came and spent Thanksgiving with me and my family. Little did I realize the week would turn into a vacation—a much needed vacation—for me as well. We ate turkey together, bought a Christmas tree, and transformed our home from a cozy fall decor to full blown Christmas red and green. I loved sharing all of it with her. I loved sharing my family with her. I loved sharing details of my life with her. And we laughed—a lot.

Today she went home, and I'm keenly feeling her absence. Amazing how we can be comforted by the presence of another. I read again recently about the disciples after the death of Christ and it suddenly struck me how bereft they must have felt at the loss of their Rabbi and friend. They'd spent three years with Jesus.

Three years.

Three years of sharing a common goal. Three years of learning at his feet. Three years of friendship with the greatest friend of all. Then in one day, He was gone. As far as the disciples could see, they'd lost their best friend, their teacher, their mentor...their hope.

I know the gap I feel at this moment, yet its poignancy is diminised in knowing I can talk to my friend on the phone, that I will see her next year sometime (I better!), that she's alive and well—just not here. I can barely imagine the grief these men experienced. The huge (and I mean HUGE) gap left by Christ's presence.

No wonder they went back to what they knew. Their grief had to be enormous. They did the only thing they could at that moment. Fish. (see John 21:3) The comfort of the known—no matter how miniscule—undoubtedly was the only thing keeping them from overwhelming despair. I can imagine Peter's thoughts as he returned to the familiar. His hands doing what they'd long remembered. The feel of the roping, the flexing of muscle as he tossed the net over the side. The pull of the water, the repetive motion as he sent the empty net back to the deep. Did he notice he caught nothing? Did he care?

I can imagine his thoughts. Had the last three years meant nothing? Had he been deceived? What did he do now? And I can imagine the enemy feeding these desparaging moments with hopeless thoughts of failure and waste. Just as he labored in vain to catch fish, Peter's thoughts could have turned to seeing his life as a labor in vain as well. He'd lost everything.

And in the midst of their pain and despair, Christ appeared to them—real and alive. In his third appearance to the disciples, He proved his presence as He prepared breakfast and dined with them (implied). He'd leave no doubts in the minds of his disciples that He was present just as He'd always been. Yet now the circumstances had changed. After Pentecost, Christ would be with them forever and always. Not as they had come to expect, but indwelt and filled with the presence of the one they'd come to so revere. No matter where they went, Christ would be with them always. Time and distance no longer had any relevance. Nor did death.

I can't imagine my life without my friends. Especially those closest to me. And I especially can't imagine my life without Christ. The thought is almost inconceivable. The more I learn of him, the more I hunger to know and love him better.

Distance may separate us from our friends, but the bond is still there, however tenuous. And just as sin once separated us from God, Jesus became our bond. And He's always, always, right there with us.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Calm, Cool, and Adjusted

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is posting about Calm, Cool, and Adjusted by Kristin Billerbeck

Win a copy of Kristin's latest book!
Leave a comment and tell me your favorite way to relax.
The most creative one wins!


Kristin Billerbeck was born in Redwood City, California. She went to San Jose State University and majored in Advertising, then worked at the Fairmont Hotel in PR, a small ad agency as an account exec, and then,
she was thrust into the exciting world of shopping mall marketing. She got married, had four kids, and started writing romance novels until she found her passion: Chick Lit.


Calm, Cool, and Adjusted is the third book in the Spa Girls Novels.

Billerbeck did a great job with the characterization of Poppy, a quirky Christian chiropractor who is a health nut. I'm talking real NUT. She is so obsessed with health that she forgets about living. When she finally realizes that she is over the edge obsessed, she doesn't know how to stop herself.

Best friends since Johnny Depp wore scissors for hands, "The Spa Girls" live very separate lives, but stay in touch with routine visits to California's Spa Del Mar.

The third novel in the Spa Girls Series focuses on Silicon Valley chiropractor Poppy Clayton, who is as calm, cool and adjusted as they come. Or is she? Known for her bad fashion sense, a love for all things natural and the inability to get a second date, Poppy is beginning to wonder if she might be misaligned herself. Her route to self discovery will be an unnatural one - a plastic surgeon, a dilapidated house in Santa Cruz, a flirtatious client, and a blind date from the dark side.

It's all enough to send a girl - and her gal pals - running for the comfort zone of their spa.

BIG FAT JUICY DETAIL: The winner of Scoop is Connie!

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Gott ist immer treu...

The title is German for "God is ever faithful." Or translated literally, "God is always true."

I learned of God's faithfulness while we were living in Switzerland. Our daughters attended the local school in the small community where we lived. Unfortunately, they weren't readily accepted and our oldest became a target of scorn and ridicule. There, they call it mugging. I find the term quite appropriate for what she endured.

The days of this torment stretched into weeks, then into months. I watched my bright, caring young girl become closed in and depressed. Never had I felt so helpless as a mother. Every avenue I pursued ended in a dead end, until I had no choice but to completely—and I mean completely—trust God with her well being.

That's when I began to learn of God's faithfulness. I knew the word in English, but in my small group, we spoke mostly German. I struggled to find the correct word to express to the dear ladies I prayed with. With a dictionary and comparing Scriptures in German to English, we descovered the German word for faithfulness is "treu."

Looks so similar to our English word "true," doesn't it? And that's its first definition—true. God is true. Our time in Europe wasn't easy, and I wouldn't want to go through it again, but the lesson learned is invaluable and one I've recently appreciated anew. Here are my observations.

  • God keeps his word.
  • He never vascilates.
  • He is incapable of deception.
  • He, above all people, can be depended upon completely.
  • No one can promise me what He does.
  • When I am at my worst, He remains by my side.
  • And when things get bad, He's right there going through the muck with me.

Nothing, nothing, no thing can take his love from us, nor his truth. He is truth so there can be no separation. He is the one and only perfect truth in this world. Even after several years, the German translation is the one that comes to me first. I find that so fitting, because that's when I truly learned of God's faithfulness.

Circumstances recently played a scary hand for my family and me. Amazingly, it was the time in Switzerland that gave me the strength I desperately needed. I knew no matter what, my daughter would be okay. God had her in his hands. And He had me. All I had to do was trust what I knew to be true.

Gott ist immer treu. God is ever faithful.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Imagine This...

Have you ever found yourself in a most unlikely situation? The day started out fairly normal, but then by, say midday, you're suddenly so far away from normal, you have no idea how you got there? What would you think first? Where did I go wrong? What could I have done differently?

What if you left one day to go to work and wound up in a completely different state but don't remember how you got there? What would you do first? Call a loved one to see if he or she even noticed your absence or call your place of employment to save your job?

Pretend you're the best friend you had in elementary school. Now imagine where that person is right now. Based upon what you remember, what would have been the most likely path for him or her to have taken in life? Least unlikely?

Think of your spouse or a close friend. What's the one thing that he or she could do that would surprise you the most? Hurt you the most? Please you the most? What's the one thing you could do that would surprise, hurt, or please this person?

Now imagine you're in a room with a complete stranger and that stranger tells you he knows one thing about you that you don't even know. What would you ask first? What does he know or how does he—someone you've never met—know something about you?

What would happen if you took each of these situations and envisioned them in a completely different way? Imagine the complete opposite of what you first came up with. You might just wind up with a story in the making or the beginnings of a headache.

Welcome to the world of a writer.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Scoop by Rene Gutteridge

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is posting about Scoop by Rene Gutteridge. and looks to be a great read! I'm looking forward to digging into this one myself. BONUS: Be sure to leave a comment. Winner gets a copy!


Rene Gutteridge is the author of several novels, including Ghost Writer (Bethany House Publishers) The Boo Series (WaterBrook Press) and the Storm Series, (Tyndale House Publishers. She will release three novels in 2006: Storm Surge (Tyndale) My Life as a Doormat (WestBow Press, Women of Faith)Occupational Hazards Book #1: Scoop (WaterBrook Press).

She has also been published over thirty times as a playwright, best known for her Christian comedy sketches. She studied screenwriting under a Mass Communications degree, graduating Magna Cum Laude from Oklahoma City University, and earned the "Excellence in Mass Communication" award. She served as the full-time Director of Drama for First United Methodist Church for five years before leaving to stay home and write. She enjoys instructing at writer's conferences and in college classrooms. She lives with her husband, Sean, a musician, and their children in Oklahoma City.


The Occupational Hazards Books are a series of books about seven homeschooled siblings whose last name is Hazard. The parents died in a freak accident leaving the kids ages 16-26 with a lucrative clown business but the kids realize that God has other plans which doesn't include being a family of clowns for the rest of their lives.

Scoop, is the first of the series and centers around Hayden, who was age 20 when her parents died. If you haven't yet guessed by the series title, this book is packed with many laugh out loud moments and great one liners.

Hayden is a strong Christian who, having been homeschooled, lacks some of the politically correct social norms...like not praying in front of everyone during a crisis. She finds herself in an internship at a television news station with a boss that takes stress pills, an aging news anchor that everyone wishes Botox on, a weatherman who wants to predict love for himself and Hayden, and a reporter struggling with his own politically correctness of being a good reporter and being a Christian.

Old School meets New School meets Homeschool. A smart and funny read.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

A Most Interesting Marketing Approach

Stephen and Janet Bly are putting together a rather innovative marketing promotion for Stephen's new book, One Step Over the Border. I'll be very interested to see how well their "Have You Seen My Juanita?" campaign does. The idea looks very promising. Check it out.


Stephen Bly of Winchester, Idaho, award winning author of 100 books, has so gotten into his newest character’s life, that he’s caught up in the search to find Juanita, the girl of rodeo cowboy Hap Bowman’s dreams. “An idiot obsession,” Hap’s roping partner, Laramie, chides. But Hap and Steve keep looking anyway. And so does Bly’s family, friends and fans. He’s listed her description on the home page of www.OneStepOvertheBorder.com: raven dark hair, dark eyes, has a petite birthmark the shape of a horse’s head under her right ear. She lived in sight of the Rio Grande and spent time with 12-year-old Hap Bowman in Central Wyoming, summer of 1988 and is 31 years old now.

Bly’s hoping to see “Have you seen my Juanita?” signs pop up everywhere—on websites and message boards, in waiting rooms and bulletin boards, on car bumpers and t-shirts, at rest stops and stuck to magnetic surfaces. “Maybe we really will find her,” Bly says, “If so, she’ll be featured on our website for sure.”

One Step Over the Border is a romp, a road adventure. It's CowboyLit that has inspired a blog by Hap Bowman, a Juanita Sightings page, and an audio poetry reading. Bly’s three sons are working on a video for the site and they’ve gotten the whole family involved in the production. There’s even a free “Have You Seen My Juanita?” Search Kit ready to send to those who e-mail cowboy Hap at HapBowman@yahoo.com with their snail mail address.

Bly’s no stranger to getting heavily involved into his characters. In Paperback Writer a distracted detective rides along with his author, serving as alter ego and companion in troubles on the road. “Life imitates art, they say,” Bly muses. “I care so much for my characters I find it hard to let them go. But also my desire is for the reader to find their own real life discoveries, to be encouraged in their own struggles, by the vicarious ‘entering into’ the quests of my fictional characters.”

The story of Hap’s search to find his Juanita, in the book One Step Over the Border, releases June 2007, by Center Street/Hachette Book Group, USA. Pre-orders are now available through www.blybooks.com and soon will be via www.amazon.com or your favorite online bookstore.

Saturday, November 04, 2006


Nailing down a teenager isn't easy! I had the artiste look at your wonderful suggestions. Rachel's favorites are:

Blue Monday - suggested by Mir

Confliction - suggested by Robin

Rachel will keep these two in mind as she continues to discern the message within her painting. LOL! Thank you to everyone for the suggestions.

Looks like Mir, Lynn, and Alison get books. (Yes, decided I'd throw one more in there.) Ladies, send me your address info so I can get those out to you.

Hope you all are having a great weekend. I'm in computer transition again. Hubby got this brilliant idea to sell my G5 Powermac and my Titanium Powerbook to condense to a Macbook Pro. The best part will be having one computer and not having to switch back and forth since my larger monitor (which I need for my design work) can plug into the new laptop. So, if you are in the market for a used, computer let me know.

On the more interesting side, Betsy St. Armant has just sold a book to The Wild Rose Press. Isn't that great news? I'm thrilled to death for this cute dynamo of talent.

Congratulations, Betsy!!!

And finally, I'm happy to announce the completion of Manna Reign, my latest manuscript. I can't tell you how good it felt to ship that thing to my agent Friday. That book has taken over a year to write because of research and other detours to add or edit the other two books I've written. I think this new one might have a shot at wearing a book jacket. We'll see...