Hearing Range

This week Janet Dean has been with us here at Patterings and she was giving away her new release, Courting the Doctor's Daughter, and Renee is the winner! Congratulations, Renee! And thank you, Janet!!!

Coming up this week is Adding Zest's Grand Opening! It might even be tomorrow. Might.

Also, Lisa Lickel will be in the author spotlight, and she's giving away not just one book, but TWO!! Be sure to join us!

And now...

Hearing Range

I just went out to call my son and as I stood at the edge of the deck I realized it was hopeless. He'd never hear me. He was inside the barn tinkering with the go-cart and it was running, causing a racket in there. Rather than calling him, and hollering for nothing, I simply came back inside. I'll call him later, when the noise stops.

I think God does the same thing with me. He may go to call me and see that I'm in a barn where it makes it harder for me to hear His call, but not impossible—He just has to yell louder. Other times He may find that not only am I in a barn, but that I also have lots of noise around me. I think those are the times He does something like I did. He waits until the noise stops.

Sometimes the noise goes on for too long and I miss what He was calling me for. Other times I turn off the noise in time to hear His call, but the best times of all is when I can easily hear Him. Sure, I can be in the yard or in the barn, but as long as my ear is always listening for Him I'll be able to be like young Samuel and run to Him and say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”

It's more than being within hearing range, it's listening for the call.

Two for One Special

Today the darling Joanne is hosting Fiction Friday for us at An Open Book. Be sure to join us there for links to more fiction!

My family used to take a karate class, and I loved it. It's something I highly recommend--especially for women and teen girls. When a woman knows a few tricks to defend herself should she need to, it makes a huge difference in her confidence level--not to mention her peace of mind.

Two for One Special

Ashley was lying on the ground gasping for breath when a taunting face came into focus right above her. She blinked her eyes, desperately hoping that he would leave her alone, but knowing she was in for it.

“And that’s what you call a ‘Two for One Special.’” Joe glared down at her before hauling her to her feet. “How many times have I told you to do it like you mean it?”

“How can I do it like I mean it when I don’t even know how to do it the right way?” Ashley demanded. “Sir,” she added as an afterthought, so as not to appear disrespectful.

“Ashley, you know how to do this throw. I taught you myself and I’ve seen you do it, so just toss that thought right outta your head,” Joe said. “If that’s how you’re going to defend yourself against some punk boy then that’s where you’re gonna end up. On your back.”

Ashley’s eyes opened wide; he’d never talked to her like that. Joe opened his mouth to say more but snapped it closed as he looked around at the younger children in the karate class who were watching and listening.

Pulling Ashley over to the side he snagged Daniel, another black belt. “Watch closely,” Joe told them.

Joe moved off several paces, bowed and executed a black belt kata.* When he finished he planted himself in front of her.

“Well, what did you think of it?” he asked her.

“It looked great to me,” Ashley hedged.


“Sharp, crisp movements.”

“Huh.” Joe grunted. “Daniel, what did you think of it?”

Daniel laughed. “What in the world was that?”

“That was Nai Hanchi.** Didn’t you recognize it?”

“You mean parts of it were Nai Hanchi,** the rest was Pinan Go Dan.” **

“So, I screwed it up?”

“Majorly,” Daniel replied.

“Why couldn’t Ashley tell?”

“You bluffed so convincingly that she believed you.”

“That’s right. I acted confident and I was able to convince her.” Joe looked meaningfully at Ashley. “That’s what you need to do.”

Ashley looked confused so Joe softened his voice. “Sweetheart, when you act confidently others believe you, even if you don’t feel confident.”

Daniel looked at her seriously. “If you’re on a date and the guy starts to do stuff you don’t want to do and you hesitantly tell him to stop, he won’t listen to you. He might stop for a minute or two, but it won’t be long before he’s back at it. He’ll hear your hesitancy and go off that. But if you confidently tell him to stop he’s more likely to listen to you. If he doesn’t, you have the knowledge and the skill to put a stop to it and to get away from him. You have to act confidently. That’s what Joe’s trying to get through to you.”

“You saw how fast you went down when you were supposed to be throwing me. You weren’t confident in your actions. Even if you didn’t know what you were doing, but had been acting confidently, I wouldn’t have been able to throw you as easily,” Joe explained.

“People are far less likely to attack a person who looks, and acts, confident,” Daniel added.

Act confident, even when you’re not, and eventually you’ll feel confident, too.” Joe smiled at Ashley’s look of surprise. “And others will see you as a confident person, and treat you as one, too.”

“It’s that way in most areas of life.” Daniel chuckled. “You ought to try it. It works.”

A week later Ashley strutted into karate and Daniel nudged Joe. “She’s strutting this week.”

“How’d the date go, Ashley?” Joe asked.

Ashley’s mouth dropped open. “How’d you know about my date?”

“I knew about it last week, before you went on it. How’d it go?” Joe crossed his arms over his chest.

“Well, let’s just say that acting confident sure did help.” She grinned ruefully.

“Are you going out with him again?”

“No way.” She was emphatic.

Daniel chuckled. “So, why are you strutting?” he asked as Joe relaxed and smiled.

Ashley took a playful swipe at him. “Because there’s a huge difference between confidence and arrogance. I can be confident without being arrogant so I’m practicing my confidence by walking confidently.”

“Is it working?”

“Of course it is. That was quite a ‘Two for One Special,’” she smiled. “Thanks.”

*kata—routines martial artists use as practice
**Names of black belt katas

For more links to Fiction Friday, join us us at An Open Book

Janet Dean is still here this week, giving away a copy of her new release Courting the Doctor's Daughter. To be entered, scroll down and leave a comment on one of her posts (there's two! An introduction to Janet on Tuesday and an interview on Wednesday!)

I'd also like to extend an invitation to you to join our discussion about our sexuality as Christian women. Check out yesterday's post for more information.

An Invitation

While chatting with one of my near n dears last night, I realized that I'm at a point in my life where I'm at the end of my wine. In John 2 Mary tells Jesus that the wedding party has run out of wine and then gives the servants in attendance the Best Advice Ever. She says to them, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” This is exactly where I'm at. The only thing I have left is water. Plain old water when my guests are looking for wine. And honestly, it's terrifying.

I'm at the point where I need to be like those servants at the wedding feast in Canaan. I need to bring my water pots to Jesus and allow Him to do His work. I've asked, very specifically, for Jesus to turn my water into wine.

For weeks now I've struggled with a decision and it's this issue of having just water in my pots. In and of myself I am not able to enter this new task He's laid before me. But all I have to do is what those servants did—obey. Jesus will do the rest.

Sometime next week, I'll be starting a new series about Christian women loving their husbands. And yes, I mean loving their husbands. Weeks ago I was clobbered with a need I saw amongst Christian women—the need for us as Christian wives to loosen up and love our husbands--physically. We need to work on this weak area of our sexuality. Many of us desire to learn, grow and change so that our marriages will be loving and strong for the Kingdom of God—but we don't know where to start or where to turn for a safe place. My heartfelt desire is that this series, will encourage women in their spiritual lives (yes, our spiritual lives will be affected) and in their marriages--the physical part of our marriages.

My friend Heidi and I are teaming up and we will be blogging about our sexuality as Christian women and we invite you to join us. We've set up a special place for this, although the first few posts (at least) will be double posted on our individual blogs as well as at Adding Zest. We'd love to have you join us and to bring a friend with you.

Adding Zest Button

Please pray for us as we tackle this need God has laid on our hearts. Please.

And don't forget, Janet Dean is in this week's author spotlight and is giving away a copy of her book Courting the Doctors Daughter. Scroll down for how to to be entered in the drawing.

with Janet Dean

Janet Dean's new release, Courting the Doctor's Daughter is a Steeple Hill Historical romance and she's giving away a copy this week, so be sure to leave a comment and your email addy if it's not on your blog or site to be entered in the drawing!

Janet, thank you so much for being with us this week! What prompted you to start writing? How long have you been writing? And were there any turning points in your writing career?
My father and grandfather were storytellers, relating anecdotes about real-life men and women and the world they lived in. My mother created beautiful quilts, using age-old patterns, piecing and quilting each by hand. Perhaps that heritage fostered my love of history and my desire to create. Whatever the reason, at twelve, I wrote and illustrated little romances. From that point on I knew I’d write a book one day. One day took quite a while. :-) When our daughters were grown, I seriously pursued my dream. It took me nine years to sell my first book, years of rejection and occasional elation. The main turning point came for me when Steeple Hill decided to launch the Love Inspired Historical line. God had opened a door and I was ready. I sold my debut to Melissa Endlich in June of 2006. Courting Miss Adelaide released in September 2008.

Which book (published or upcoming) has been the most fun for you to write and which character is your favorite? Why?
That’s a tough question. I have a strong connection to my books and my characters. But since you want me to pick one, I’ll choose Courting Miss Adelaide and the heroine, Adelaide. Mainly because this book was my debut and its characters will always have a special place in my heart.

Patty here--I had to show you the cover of Janet's debut book, Courting Miss Adelaide. It's probably one of my favorite book covers and I'd give a heap of chocolate for one of Miss Adelaide's hats! Wow! Love it!

Is there a certain food or snack keeps the words flowing for you?
That would be dark chocolate Hershey kisses—the perfect snack for this romance writer.

What would be your dream vacation?
A couple years ago, we took a two-week trip to Italy, truly a dream vacation. My husband and I love to travel and we’ve been blessed to see much of this great country, but there are still many places we want to visit. But I also enjoy staying put somewhere, kicking back and catching up on my reading. For me, every vacation is a dream vacation. :-)

What are some of the spiritual themes you like to write about?

Forgiveness and unconditional love are recurring themes of mine. I want my stories to entertain, but I also hope God will use them to encourage readers dealing with similar issues in their lives.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

To sit down and make up people who then carry on conversations in my head is probably the quirkiest thing I’ve ever done. :-)
LoL, that makes me quirky, too, Janet. Sometimes it's gets pretty noisy in my head--and I bet it's noisy in yours, too! *grin*

What new lessons is the Lord teaching you right now?

To not take rejection or criticism of my writing so personally. Actually this lesson isn’t new. God keeps teaching me because I’m a slow learner.

Your next book is due out in 2010.  Can you tell us about it?
The Substitute Bride will release February 2010.
Debutante Elizabeth Manning will do anything to give her brother a good home, but her mail-order bride switch falls as flat as her rock-hard biscuits. Farmer Ted Logan, her widower groom with two children, carries a secret that prevents him from answering God’s Call. Both Ted and Elizabeth learn love requires honesty, a hearty dose of forgiveness and the courage to accept God’s purpose for their lives.
Wow, that one sounds good, too, Janet! I'm already looking forward to reading it!

To keep up with Janet Dean and her new releases there's her
Janet's website

Her blog: A Cup of Faith

and The Seekers a group blog on the craft of writing--and more. ;)

To purchase Courting the Doctor's Daughter from:
Christian Book

Thanks so much for joining us! Be sure to leave a comment to be entered in a book drawing for Courting the Doctor's Daughter! (and leave your email addy!)

In next week's author spotlight is Lisa Lickel. Be sure to join us!

Meet Janet Dean

Excitement is abounding here at Patterings...you just don't know it yet! LoL I'm working on a blog makeover for this summer and a new series of posts about Adding Zest to your Nest. (yanno, that love nest you share with your husband.) And last week I lined up author spotlights and book giveaways for all of June and July, and on into the fall, including some of my own personal favorite authors. It'll all be coming soon! :)

And now I'd like to introduce you to one of those favorite authors--Janet Dean. Like Julie, I met Janet at one of my favorite blogs, Seekers, where she's a blog contributor. That's where I first heard about her debut novel, Courting Miss Adelaide, and I was privileged enough to win a copy (thank you, Janet!!) I was thoroughly charmed and hooked by Miss Adelaide--not to mention totally envious of her hats! I love that book and I'm anxious to get my hands on Janet's new release, Courting the Doctor's Daughter which she's giving away a copy of this week, so be sure to leave a comment and your email addy if it's not on your blog or site to be entered in the drawing!

Janet Dean believes in love stories that grab people from the first page and carry them along the sometimes rocky journey of maintaining faith in trying circumstances. Fascinated with history and the role of strong women in our nations past, Janet brings both together as she sits at her computer spinning stories for Steeple Hill.

Her debut novel, Courting Miss Adelaide, Love Inspired historical, September 2008, is a Booksellers Best “Inspirational” and “Best First Book” double finalist, a National Reader’s Choice Award “Best First Book” finalist and The Golden Quill’s “Best First Book” finalist. Her second book, Courting the Doctor’s Daughter released May 2009. The Substitute Bride will release February 2010.

Janet is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, and Faith, Hope & Love. When she isn’t writing, Janet enjoys stamping greeting cards, playing golf and is never without a book to read. The Deans love to travel and spend time with family. You can keep up with Janet through her website and her blog A Cup of Faith.

Courting the Doctor’s Daughter
An Unexpected Match
A widow with three boys to raise, Mary Graves has no time for peddlers of phony medicine. She's a dedicated healer working alongside her doctor father. When a handsome stranger blows into town with his "elixir of health" and asks questions about her newly adopted son, Mary's determined to uncover the truth behind his claims.

Once the reckless heir to a Boston fortune, Dr. Luke Jacobs travels the country with his herbal medicine while searching for his long-lost son. After meeting the feisty doctor's daughter and her youngest boy, Luke has found what he's been looking for at last. But can he convince her to let him into her home, her family--and her heart?

And here's an excerpt from Courting the Doctor's Daughter:

Noblesville Indiana, 1898
           Mary Graves couldn’t believe her eyes. And the gall of that man. A stranger stood on the seat of his wagon holding up a bottle and making ridiculous claims for its medicinal value with all the fervor of an itinerant evangelist. His accent grated on her Midwestern ears.
           She slipped through the gathering crowd to sneak a closer look. Gazing up at him, Mary pressed a hand to her bodice. The man didn’t resemble any preacher she’d ever seen. Hatless, the stranger’s dark hair lifted in the morning breeze. He’d rolled his white shirtsleeves to his elbows revealing muscled, tanned forearms. He looked more like a gypsy, one of the marauding bands tramping through the countryside stealing chickens and whatever else wasn’t nailed down—like the Noblesville residents’ hard-earned dollars.
           Well, she had no intention of standing by while this quack bilked the town of its money and worse, kept its citizens from seeking legitimate treatment.
           Not that her father needed more work. Far from it. Since Doc Roberts died this spring, her father often worked from sunup to sundown—and sometimes through the night. With the exception of those folks who’d profited from Noblesville’s natural gas boom, most patients paid him with produce or an occasional exchange of services.
           The peddler raised the container high above his head. “Just two capfuls of this medicine will ease a nervous headache and an upset stomach. It’ll cure your insomnia, but most importantly, this bottle holds the safe solution for a baby’s colic.”
           This charlatan attempted to take money out of her father’s all but empty pockets with a potion no doubt containing nothing more than hard liquor or flavored water. Imagine giving such a thing to a baby. But her neighbors nodded their heads, taken in by his nonsensical spiel.
           "Imagine, folks, getting a good night’s sleep and waking refreshed to tackle the day,” the peddler went on.
           Around her, John Lemming, Roscoe Sullivan and of all people, Pastor Foley reached in their back pockets for their wallets. Even her friend, Martha Cummings, a baby on her hip and two of her youngsters clinging to her skirts, dug into her purse. And everyone knew   Martha could squeeze a penny until it bled.
           Mary clenched her jaw. Such foolishness. Why couldn’t these people recognize a sham when they saw one?
           “Step right up folks, for the sum of--”
“Whatever you’re charging is disgraceful,” Mary called, the words pouring out of her mouth like an unleashed dam. She turned to her neighbors. “Have you forgotten the swindler who came through here last year, promising his tonic would do all that and more? Not one word of his claims proved true.”
The townspeople stilled. Her gaze locked with the frauds. Suddenly cool on this sunny October morning, Mary tugged her shawl tighter around her shoulders. “You’re preying on these good folks’ worries, knowing full well what’s in that bottle can be found for less money over at O’Reilly’s saloon.” Sam had hidden his drinking behind the pretext of using it for medicinal purposes.
The man shot her a lazy grin, revealing a dimple in his left cheek, giving him a deceptive aura of innocence. Then he had the audacity to tip an imaginary hat. “Pardon me, Florence Nightingale, but without testing my product, you’ve no cause to condemn it.”
Florence Nightingale indeed. No one in the crowd chuckled as the man had undoubtedly intended. They all knew her, knew she lent a hand in her father’s practice. Knew what had happened to her mother.
Mary folded her arms across her chest. “No right? I’ve seen your kind before....” A lump the size of a walnut lodged in her throat, stopping her words. She blinked rapidly to hold back tears.
Though his smile still remained, the stranger’s eyes darkened into murky pools and every trace of mirth vanished. Good. Maybe now he’d take her seriously.
He leaned toward her. “And what kind is that?”
She cleared her throat, determined not to be undone by this rogue. “The kind of man who instead of putting in a hard day’s work, earns his living cheating others. That nonsense in your hand isn’t worth the price of an empty bottle.”
His eyes narrowed. “Your assessment of my remedy—or my kind—is hardly scientific.”
He jumped to the street and bystanders stepped back, giving him a clear path, a clear path leading directly to her. He stopped inches away from her skirts, his features chiseled as if from stone, his dimple gone. The starkness of that face put a hitch in Mary’s breathing. Her hand lifted to her throat.
“This isn’t a bottle of spirits as you’ve alleged.” He unscrewed the cap and thrust it under her nose. “It’s good medicine.”
She didn’t smell alcohol, only peppermint and honey, but couldn’t make out the origin of another scent.
“Let’s hear what he has to say,” Roscoe Sullivan said.
Roscoe’s rheumatism had been acting up and he probably had trouble sleeping. The poor man dreaded the onset of winter, and no doubt hoped to find a miracle in that bottle. But miracles came from God, not from a peddler with a jarring accent. 
John Lemming, the owner of the livery, waved a hand toward the remedy. “Our baby cries all evening. I’d give a king’s ransom for something to soothe him.”
“If it worked.” Mary exhaled. How could these people be so easily fooled? “Don’t you see, John, he’s in this to fill his pockets and then move on before you folks discover his claims are meaningless. Just like last year’s peddler.”
The stranger smiled, revealing even white teeth. “Since you’re so sure of yourself, Miss Nightingale, why don’t you pay the price of this bottle and investigate the medicine yourself?”
Lifting her chin, she met his amused gaze. How dare the man poke fun at her? And worse, ask her to pay for the privilege of disproving his claims? “And line your pockets? Never!”
He stepped closer. If he intended to intimidate her, she wouldn’t give ground, though her heart rat-a-tatted in her chest.
“Well then, stand aside for those folks who are open-minded enough to give it a try.” He pushed past her and lifted the bottle. “For the price of three dollars, who wants a bottle of my remedy?”
Mary gasped. “Three dollars. Why, that’s highway robbery!” She grabbed his arm, then watched in horror as the bottle slipped out of his hand and hit the ground, shattering the glass. Her neighbors’ gasps drowned out her own.
The man pivoted on a booted heel. “I believe you owe me three dollars, Miss Nightingale,” he said, his voice low, almost a tease.
The liquid soaked into the hard-packed ground. She lifted her gaze to lock with his. “I’ll pay your price—if you’ll move on to another town.”
His mouth thinned into a stubborn line. “I’m not leaving.”
Perhaps she had a legal way to get rid of this menace. She planted her hands on her hips. “Do you have a permit?”
With that lazy grin and irritating dimple, he reached inside his shirt pocket and retrieved a slip of paper, waving it in front of Mary’s face. Her hands fisted. This rogue had thought of everything.
Nearby, Roscoe and John exchanged a glance, and then both men ran a hand over their mouths, trying to bury a smile and failing. Apparently, her neighbors found the exchange entertaining.
Mary dug into her purse and handed over the money. “You’ve made a handsome profit on this bottle alone, so move on to fleece another town and leave us in peace.”
“I like it here.” He tossed her a smile, as arrogant as the man himself. “I’m staying.”
Though he deserved it, she had no call to give this scoundrel a sharp kick to his shin, but oh, how she’d love to give in to the temptation. Mary closed her eyes and said a quick, silent prayer to conduct herself like a God-fearing woman, not a fishwife. “Well, I don’t want you here.”
John Lemming pulled out three dollars. “If it works, it’ll be worth every cent.”
The peddler gestured to the knot of people crowded around them, opening their purses and wallets. “Looks like you’re in the minority, Miss Nightingale.”
He returned to his wagon and the good citizens of Noblesville started forking over the money, purchasing the worthless stuff the man had undoubtedly concocted out of peppermint and honey. How could they trust him?
Why had her mother befriended such a man? Her stomach knotted and tears stung her eyes. Even five years later, grief caught her unaware, tearing through her like a cyclone. She bit her lip, breathing in and out, in and out, until her gaze once more focused on the hawker.   
Surely he didn’t mean to stay. If he did, everyone would discover the worthlessness of his remedy. No, he’d depart in the middle of the night, having a good laugh at the town’s naiveté.
Handing out bottles of his so-called remedy, the stranger glanced her way, shooting her another grin. Obviously, he took pleasure in swindling her friends and neighbors right under her nose. Like a petulant child, she wanted to stomp her foot—right on his instep. That ought to wipe the grin off his haughty face.
As if he read her thoughts, he turned to her. “Best remember the exhortation in the Good Book, Miss Nightingale, to love thy enemy.”
How dare he mention the Bible while he duped her neighbors? Still, she had let her temper get the best of her. Love thy enemy was a hard pill to swallow.
Then of all things, the man gave her a wink, as bold as brass. A shimmer of attraction whooshed through her. Aghast at her base feelings, Mary turned on her heel and stalked off. Behind her, the man chuckled. 
Cheeks burning, Mary strode down Ninth Street and then turned right on Conner. License or no license, she’d find a way to run that peddler out of Noblesville. He represented the last thing she and this town needed—trouble.
#                                  #                                  #
Opening the side door leading to her father’s office, Mary’s nostrils filled with the smell of disinfectant, a scent she’d grown as accustomed to as the honeysuckle fragrance she wore. The waiting room chairs sat empty. A stack of well-worn Farmers Home Journals and Ladies Journals cluttered the top of a small stand. She took a minute to clear out the old issues before the whole heap tumbled to the floor. 
Finished with the task, she strode through the office and found her father in the surgery, filling a basin with hydrogen peroxide. Henry Lawrence, his hair falling across his forehead, looked tired, as he frequently did of late, even a tad peaked. Her stomach knotted. She believed doctoring weighed him down physically and mentally. Yet he kept working, seeing to the sick, rarely taking time off except to attend church on Sunday. He should take it easy, eat better. His grandsons needed him. Didn’t he know how much they all loved him?
Earlier that day, she’d taken action she hoped would ease her father’s load. Then she’d be free to pursue her dream. She had the money, thanks to an unexpected inheritance from her late father-in-law. If God wanted her to practice medicine, she’d be accepted at the Central College of Physicians and Surgeons. In the meantime, she wouldn’t tell him about her plan. If she got into medical school and had told him, he’d insist she begin classes, even if that left him shorthanded. 
“Hi, Daddy.”
Her father looked up and smiled, the corners of his gentle hazel eyes crinkling in his round face. “Hello, kitten. Got the boys off and now you’re checking on your old man?”
“Exactly.” She gave him a peck on the cheek. “It’s such a pretty day. Want to take your grandsons fishing after school?”
“Wish I could.” He screwed the cap onto the bottle of antiseptic and tucked it into the glass-front cabinet, banging the door closed. “I’ve got office hours all afternoon.”
“Well, at least come to supper tonight.”
“Sounds good. Six okay?”
Nodding, she laid a hand on his arm. “You look tired.”
“I spent the biggest part of the night at the Shiver place, bringing their firstborn into the world. A howling, healthy, eight-pound boy.” He gave a wry grin. “They named him Quincy. Imagine tagging a child with such a name.”
Normally Mary loved to hear about a new baby, sharing her father’s joy of the miracle of birth. But she shook her head, only half listening, thinking about her father’s lack of sleep. “Daddy, don’t you think it’s time to bring someone into the practice?”
Henry’s head snapped up and his gaze met hers. “Now, why would I do that?”
“Well, for one thing, you’re not getting any younger. And for another, you work too hard.”
“I’m fifty-two, not ancient, and I don’t work harder than any small town doctor. Besides, I have your help.”
“Doc Roberts didn’t have any warning before his fatal heart attack.” She sighed at the stubborn set of her father’s jaw, then bustled about the room, emptying the wastepaper can, checking and laying out supplies, doing all she could to ease his burden. “You’re handling his patients and your own. You’re not getting enough rest.”
“Babies come when they decide, not to fit my schedule.”
“True, but your days are so full you have little time for the boys. They need a man’s influence.”
Her father’s brow furrowed. “I know they do, honey,” he said, gathering the instruments out of his bag. “I’ll try to spend more time with them. If no one gets sick, maybe we can go fishing Saturday afternoon.”
How likely would that be in a town this size? Then her heart squeezed. She shouldn’t pressure her father to do more, even if the more involved relaxing with his grandsons. “Let me clean those for you.”
“Thanks.” Her father dropped into a chair.
“Oh, I almost forgot to tell you! I heard from the placement committee about Ben’s guardianship.”
“From the look on your face, daughter, I’d say the news was good.”
Mary gave a wide smile. “After talking to Ben, the committee interviewed his guardians. Judge and Viola explained that the judge’s stroke made it clear they might not live to see Ben grown. They asked to assume the role of grandparents, if Ben could remain in my care.”
“Even before his apoplexy, Judge Willowby told me they could barely keep up with a four-year-old.” He frowned. “What about the Children’s Aid Society’s rule against giving custody to a single woman?”
“The committee took into consideration that I’d been caring for Ben since the judge’s stroke, and as a widow with two sons of my own, I’m qualified to raise another child.” She took in a breath, smiling, hardly believing the good news. “They decided it would be unfair to move Ben again.”
“Thank you, God. With your brother-in-law sitting on the committee, I felt reasonably sure of the outcome. Still, a couple of those members adhere to rules as if Moses himself brought them down from on high.”
Laughing, Mary gave her father a kiss. “I can always count on your support.”
She returned to the counter to wash, soak in hydrogen peroxide, and then dry the equipment her father used to deliver the Shiver baby. Her father kept his surgery and office immaculate, while his quarters lay in shambles. She tried to keep up with the cleaning, but he could destroy her efforts faster than her boys put together.
When she finished, she stowed the instruments in his leather black case, then set the bag in its customary spot on the table near the door, where he could grab it on the way to the next house call.
Mary turned. Her father had nodded off in his chair. As she prepared to tiptoe out of the room, he roused and ran a hand over his chin. “Guess I’d better shave. Don’t want to scare my patients.”
In the backroom, she filled the ironstone bowl on the washstand with hot water from the teakettle, and then sat at the small drop-leaf table to watch her father shave. He lathered the brush and covered his cheeks and chin with soap. Since Sam’s death, she’d missed this masculine routine, a small thing, but the small things often caught her unaware and left her reeling.  
If her father didn’t slow down, she could lose him too. Yet, Henry Lawrence was as stubborn as a weed when it came to helping others. No point in beating a dead horse ... for now.
She’d tell him about the peddler. Surely he’d share her concern. “You won’t believe what’s going on downtown, Daddy. Why, it’s enough to turn my stomach.”
“Let me guess.” He winked at her in the mirror. “Joe Carmichael organized a spitting contest on the square.” He scraped his face clean with his razor and rinsed the blade in the bowl.
Mary planted her hands on her hips. “I’m serious.”
“Your feathers do look a mite ruffled.” He patted his face dry with a towel. “So tell me, what’s wrong?”
“Some fraud is selling patent medicine. He’s making all kinds of claims. Says it’ll cure upset stomachs and headaches, a baby’s colic. People couldn’t buy it fast enough, even after I warned them the bottle probably held 90-proof.”
“My precious girl, you’ve got to stop trying to protect everybody, even from themselves.” 
She lifted her chin. “I don’t know what you mean.”
Her father crossed to her, touched her arm, his hand freckled with age. “Yes, you do. You’ve always been a caring woman, but since you lost Sam, you’re on a mission to save the human race. Trouble is you’re not God. You don’t have the power to control this world, not even our little piece of it.”
Mary covered her father’s hand with her own. “I know that. But I worry about you.”
“Yes, and about the boys getting sick or hurt, about their schoolwork.” He gave her a weak grin. “Why, your worrying worries me. Remember the scripture that says we can’t add a day to our lives by worrying.”
“You’re right. I’m sorry.” 
Forgive me, Lord, for not relying on You. Not trusting You. Give me the strength to change.
These past two years, widowed and raising her sons alone, and now Ben, hadn’t been easy, even with her brother-in-law pitching in with the heavier chores. The money she’d inherited from Sam’s father had made a huge difference, meant she might live her dream, but the added financial security hadn’t eased the constant knot in her shoulders. Hadn’t eased the loneliness. Hadn’t eased the empty space in her heart.
Not that Sam had filled it. 
Trying to alleviate the tension of her thoughts, Mary tapped her father playfully on the arm. “Besides, the topic isn’t about me. It’s that traveling salesman. Don’t you find his claims upsetting?”
Her father sat beside her. “Most of those tonics and remedies are worthless, but until I give his a try, I can’t condemn it.”
 Her father prided himself on being impartial, as if the past meant nothing. “Think about it, Daddy. How could just anyone concoct a remedy with real medicinal value?” She leaned toward him. “Can’t we do something to protect the town from a quack?”
Her father rubbed the back of his neck. “Does he have a license?”
“Yes. He’s too cunning to be tripped up that easily.”
            “Well, then there’s nothing to be done.”
            As if on cue, they both rose. Her father put his arm around her shoulders and they walked into the surgery.            
“Doesn’t it bother you that half the town owes you money and they’re squandering what they have on a worthless tonic? If you could collect, you’d have a nice little nest-egg for retirement."
            His gaze roamed the room, and then returned to her with a smile of satisfaction. “What I do here is important. I have no desire to retire.” Her father snorted. “Besides, I can’t leave this town with one less doctor.”
From the stubborn set of her father’s mouth she could see her argument fell on deaf ears. “There’s got to be doctors from one of the Indianapolis medical schools who’d be interested in entering your practice.” She took his hand, bracing for his reaction. “I’m so sure of it that I put an advertisement in the Indianapolis News Journal. The ad should draw inquiries from graduates seeking an established practice.”
Her father’s mouth tightened, his displeasure at her actions unspoken, but palpable.
Sudden tears stung Mary’s eyes. “I’m sorry you disapprove.”
He walked to the window and rolled up the blind, letting in the morning sun. “You’ve already admitted there’s no money in doctoring here. That’s not going to draw many applicants. Besides, I’m doing exactly what I want to do. I know these people. Know their ailments, their struggles ... their secrets.”
When they had troubles, the folks in this town turned to two people—their doctor and their pastor. She respected and admired her father and the preachers in town who had a knack for listening. Knew how to comfort, and knew how, when necessary, to admonish.
Henry Lawrence not only made a difference in people’s lives, but he’d saved quite a few. He had a purpose she admired more than any other, and wanted to follow. Once she was a doctor, she’d be dependent on no one.
Her father returned to her side and tweaked her cheek. “If you want to help and can find your way around that pigsty I call a kitchen, then please, darling daughter, make me some breakfast.”
Glad to be useful, Mary smiled. “It won’t take but a minute.”
He gave her a hug. “You’re like your mother. Susannah could make a feast fit for a king out of an old shoe.”
Mary laughed, pleased by the comparison. Even five years after her mother’s death, she missed Susannah Lawrence every day, wanted to be like her serene, unflappable mother. But she failed. In her mother’s north-facing kitchen, the walls painted the hue of sunshine, Mary’s spirits lifted. Her mother always claimed she never had a gloomy day working here, but she’d surely be amazed by the condition of her workspace now.
Mary might not know how to fix the problems around her, but she knew what to do here. She donned one of her mother’s bibbed aprons and tackled the mess. 
Once her advertisement brought in the ideal doctor to help in the practice, she could go to medical school, knowing someone young and capable would help her father oversee the health of his patients. That is, assuming she got accepted. No guarantee for anyone, especially a woman. Months had passed without word. At twenty-eight, would her age work against her?
She finished clearing a spot on the counter, washed it down, and then poked around in the icebox, emerging with a slab of bacon and a bowl filled with eggs. Once she’d fed and helped her father with his patients, she’d complain to Sheriff Rogers about the dark-eyed stranger. Maybe he could find a way to retract the permit. Surely he didn’t want that swindler taking advantage of peoples’ worries.
Taking advantage of her.
Her hand stilled and a wave of disquiet lapped at her. Earlier, the dark stranger had disconcerted her ... but only for a moment. She wouldn’t let that happen again.

To purchase Courting the Doctor's Daughter from:
Christian Book

Be sure to leave a comment to be entered in a book drawing for Courting the Doctor's Daughter and join us tomorrow for an interview with Janet!
See ya then!

Empty Words

The WINNER of Julie Lessman's book is Doreen! Thank you so much, Julie, for being with us this week! :) And don't forget, next week is Janet Dean, and I loved Janet's first book. I'm looking forward to Tuesday with her!

Empty Words

I really didn't mean them as empty, but because I failed to back them up with action, they became empty. I said 'Yes, Lord' with mouth, thought 'I need to know for certain this is God's direction' and then did nothing other than lay out a plan. I completely stalled out.

THEN, when one of my near-and-dears asked me about it, I glibly said, 'No, I don't think I'm the one for the job.' And as soon as it was out of my mouth the conviction hit. There wasn't a rooster in sight, but I think I might've heard one crowing. Or maybe it was the birdie on my shoulder squawking. But I knew as soon as I said it that I needed to really rethink that position.

I realized that I had laid out a plan for determining whether it was God's direction or mine, and then promptly allowed everything else to crowd out the very part that would verify that it was God or me. How dumb is that?

The truth of the matter is that this thing that I was dithering about is not an easy task. It's something that could have a far reaching affect on my family and it'd be sooooo much easier for me to just stay happily in my cave than to follow through with my 'test the waters' plan and possibly see that it IS God's direction for me.

When I realized all this, and finally sat still long enough, and started praying through this...again...God gave me an opening to work with. It was like He was waiting for me to approach this His way, not mine. It's made me remember that doing the right thing in the wrong way, isn't good either.

It's about doing God's work God's way.

The One who calls you is faithful, and HE will do it. ~1 Thess. 5:24 (NIV)

An Andes High

It's Fiction Friday! Really, it is, even though I'm once again running late. I had a couple of big things come up last night, and I'm still scrambling as a result. But that's okay! They were blessings and I'm so thankful for them! God is showing me again just how good He is. WoW!

Today Rick, at Pod Tales and Ponderings, is hosting Fiction Friday for us. Be sure to join us there for more links to fun fiction. :-)

This week's story is a special one to me--it's about Ecuador and based on a story told me by my classmate, Pete. Similar stories are told by many of my missionary friends from many different countries, and they never cease to amaze me.

An Andes High

My nose was dripping again from the cold, so I pulled out my bandanna and blew it, then wished I hadn't. I suddenly had an unobstructed whiff of the Quichuas that were packed into the tent to see the Jesus film. Bathing in the icy streams of the Andes Mountains was not something these people did very often, and I didn't blame them—this high in the mountains it was cold, even on sunny days. That whiff was enough to wake me up from the stupor I had fallen into and it was good a thing since the movie was almost over. I wanted to get the reels rewound so I could crawl into my sleeping bag as soon as possible after the meeting ended.

Rubbing my gritty eyes, I saw all the people crowded together, sitting on the ground, watching the movie. The Quichua women, with their heavy wool skirts insulating them against the cold, had children tucked in around them, forming a family cluster, with their father nearby, stoic in his sweater or jacket and traditional wool hat. No one was dozing, no one was even yawning or squirming. All eyes were focused on the canvas wall that served as the projector screen, intently watching.

This was the third night of showing a film at the end of busy days of getting a fresh water supply to the village--if you could call this a village. There was a school building, a thatch outhouse, and one sod home, no more. Other homes were tucked within the folds of the mountains, visible only if you knew what to look for and where to look, yet every night the tent was packed with people wanting to see the Jesus movie. While they sang a few songs in their nasal Quechua language I rewound the reels then settled back to pray while Angelo, a young national pastor, preached in Quechua.

Later, as I was putting away the ancient reel-to-reel projector, a man ran in. “Senor Pedro. Please, will you show the film again tonight?” His face was flushed and I wondered if he'd been out back drinking, but he didn't smell of the local brew.

I was exhausted. The Jesus film was a great tool for reaching these mountain people, many of whom had never seen a movie in their lives, but if I showed the movie again, it'd be hours before I could go to bed. There was a rustling at the doorway that drew my attention. A group of people stood there, all with flushed faces.

Looking back at him I finally recognized the man standing before me--he had been saved the first night we showed the movie.

“Please, my family needs Jesus, too.”

Even though I was exhausted I couldn't miss this opportunity. I called them into the tent then turned and threaded the film strip into the projector while they collapsed on the ground, chattering excitedly. When the movie began they quieted, all except for one or two who translated as much as they could into Quechua. Other people drifted back in to watch and soon the tent was full again.

I stepped outside for a few minutes and took a deep breath of the frigid air. It was cold enough to sting my nose, but wonderfully fresh. I looked up and was once again amazed. Lord, it's beautiful up here. The stars are so close I think I could reach out and touch them, and they're so bright. I slowly turned in a circle, looking at the towering mountain peeks that surrounded me, awed by their velvetty black silhouettes against their starry background. Thank You for getting them here in time and for getting my attention. Please touch their hearts, Lord.

When the movie ended Angelo preached again.

Afterwards the man came to me. “Gracias, Senor Pedro. Mi familia,” he had to swallow and try again. “I knew they needed Jesus, so I ran home and brought them back. Now my family knows Jesus, too.”

Angelo joined us then, smiling. “This man lives a full day's journey from here, on the other side of the mountain. To make it there and back so quickly he must have run the whole way, gathered his family and then come running back, carrying the little ones. He was afraid they'd be too late, but praise God, they weren't.”

And to think I was almost too tired to be bothered...

Don't forget to join us at Rick's at Pod Tales and Ponderings for more links to Fiction Friday!

Julie Lessman is giving away a copy of one of her books! To be entered in the drawing, leave a comment on one of her posts below. You can either scroll down to Tuesday and Wednesday's posts or click here.

Next week we have Janet Dean and a copy of Courting the Doctor's Daughter. Be sure to join us!

with Julie Lessman

If you missed it, yesterday was an introduction to Julie Lessman and there was also an excerpt from her new release, A Passion Denied. Today is her interview and I'm so glad you've joined us! Be sure to leave a comment to be entered in the book giveaway Julie is doing for us! :-)

Julie, tell us about The Daughters of Boston series.
Gladly! This series is about a pretty lively Irish-Catholic family in 1916-1923 Boston, where I explore the romantic and spiritual passions of the oldest three daughters, as well as a tender and romantic relationship between the mother and father. All three books in the series have the word “Passion” in them, and with good reason. I have two passions in life (other than my husband and children), and they are God and romance, so I pour my heart into both in these books, presenting a king of “sweet and sour” taste of romance where passions definitely run high—both for God and for romance.

I've heard that you're the Seeker's Queen of Hot and to keep a fire extinguisher handy—why is that? Is there a purpose for that style of writing?
Yes, I suppose that title fits because my style of writing is definitely what I would call “Edgy Inspirational,” but this book is NOT about sensuality. It is about real people with real emotions, desires and temptations, doing their best to deal with them according to God’s precepts. Yes, it is a saga of deep passion—but passion for God as well as romantic passion. This series is a love story on a number of levels—the heroine’s romance with God … her romance with the hero … and an inspiring and deeply romantic relationship between the parents. I refer to it as “edgy Inspirational” because I utilize strong and realistic romantic tension in order to convey the difficulty of living for God in a fallen world, as well as the joys and blessings of applying His precepts.

And the purpose for this style of writing? Well, frankly I got SO sick of the world pushing its amoral agenda in romance novels that I decided to try and write my own where I could push God's agenda instead. My thinking was to promote His precepts with the lure of the same kind of passionate romance that I fell in love with at the age of twelve, when I read Gone With the Wind, which, by the way, is when I started writing A Passion Most Pure. Back then I wrote 150 single-spaced pages of what is today my debut novel, but I didn't finish it till after I turned 50. That is the reason my tagline is “Passion With a Purpose,” so I can reach women like me who crave a great love story without the gratuitous sex.

According to the American Religious Identification Survey conducted by the Barna Group, “nine out of ten women nationwide consider themselves to be Christian.” The majority of these women fall into a category I would define as “Mainstream Christianity"—women who proclaim God, but not always in their sexuality. Many of these women want compelling novels with strong romantic tension and often turn to the secular market to satisfy this need. But wouldn't it be wonderful if they were drawn to a novel of passion and encountered God's ideas on sexuality along the way? :-)

Which book (published or upcoming) has been the most fun for you to write and which character is your favorite? And why.
Oh, without question, book 2, A Passion Redeemed, was the most fun book to write—I actually wrote it (almost 500 pages) in two months, and that was working part-time at my day job! It just seemed to flow from me, I guess because Charity is so much like I used to be before Christ that it felt natural to be writing her story. I had to laugh at my husband while he was reading Redeemed because he couldn’t stand Charity. Poor guy, I didn’t have the heart to tell him he’s been married to her (without the incredible physical beauty) for over 30 years! :-)

Don’t get me wrong, I love Faith O’Connor, but in all honesty, she is more like the woman I am today—heavily dependant on God, emotionally involved with Him and a person who prays at the drop of a hat, so I almost feel one with her. But Charity—goodness, my heart goes out to her and the woman I used to be—selfish, manipulative, lost. I think that’s why she fascinates me so much, because I look at her (and women like her) in the same way I suspect God looked at me back then—with eyes full of love and hope that we all can become new creatures in Christ Jesus. And quite frankly, I think she is just downright funny and quirky and such a hoot that she makes me laugh.

What do you do when you're not writing?

Grin … sleep, eat, and watch an occasional movie with my husband. I’m actually pretty boring right now because I have so many deadlines at the moment and an elderly aunt to care for. But when I do get some free time down the road, I love to read, lay out in the sun and listen to oldies, bike ride on the Katie Trail with my family, watch old movies and musicals and go out to dinner with friends.

What are your challenges in writing and how do you overcome them?
Oh, gosh, tearing myself away from e-mails and other Internet-related activities that literally steal my time away from writing—that’s the first thing that comes to mind.

But I would have to say the toughest challenge has been staying grounded in what God wants for me versus what I want for me. Sure, I would love to be a bestselling author, but what does God want? I am learning (very painfully, I might add) that I must become less so that He can become more. But I will be the first to admit, that as a human being who thrives on the positive feedback of readers, this is a challenge that has taken me by surprise. My love for God has always been deeply passionate, but never have I encountered anything as difficult as this—staying focused on God rather than my books. One of my favorite Scriptures that I try to pray daily is 2nd Corinthians ll:3—“Do not let “my mind be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.” Sigh. Easier said than done.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Mmm … there’s so many things I could say! I guess one of my quirky tendencies is that I lay out in the sun—in as low as 45-degree weather!! You see, I’ve had a skin condition since I have been a little girl, and it needs sunlight. I actually had someone take a picture of me in my twenties because they couldn’t believe I was lying out on a blanket next to a patch of snow! For me, the sun is so therapeutic, both physically and mentally, that I still lay out in my driveway today while listening to oldies. Only now … ahem … since I AM an “oldie,” I make darn sure I park both my car and my husband’s to block me from the street and the neighbors. Oh, and I also wait until the temperature gets a wee bit higher than 45 … say 60 or so. :-)

What lesson is the Lord teaching you right now?

Ouch, Patty, that’s a pretty tough question because the lesson the Lord is teaching me right now has been so painful, that I’m afraid it’s still a bit raw. He’s teaching me that it doesn’t matter if I final in contests or if my numbers on Amazon are high or low or if a reviewer thinks my books are too sensual or not. All that matters right now is that my heart is stayed on Him and His will for my writing. Period. I’m getting there, but I have to admit—it’s slow.

Thanks so much, Patty, for allowing me this time to connect with you and your readers. Anyone who would like to contact me can do so through my website at www.julielessman.com, either by sending an e-mail via my site or by signing up for my newsletter, in which I feature book giveaways. Finally, I invite your readers to visit The Seekers, a group blog of which I am a part that talks about “The road to publication. Writing, contests, publication and everything in between.” You can find us at http://seekerville.blogspot.com/.

Thank YOU, Julie, for being here with us! It was wonderful having you!

Julie has offered to do a signed giveaway for the winner's choice of one of the three books in the series. To be entered into the drawing, leave a comment (and your email addy if I don't have it or it's not on your blog/site) on this intro post or tomorrow's interview with Julie. The drawing will be open until Saturday evening and the winner will be notified and posted on Sunday. (Here's a hint--Julie's been well known to pop in and out and reply to commenters, so on the comment page, click the little box to follow the comments via email.)

To purchase A Passion Denied from:
Christian Book

Next week's author spotlight and interview is with another Seeker, Janet Dean with her new release, Courting the Doctor's Daughter. Hope to see you then! :-)

Meet Julie Lessman

Today I'm posting at Exemplify about Toe Flowers--I'd love for you to stop by!

I am so sorry about the miscommunication about when Julie Lessman's post would be up! I know many of you stopped by yesterday (Monday), only to be greeted by Ginny G. I'm sorry! I've been out of town and I didn't double check that the dates matched the days...But never fear, I'm home now and will muck through the post-travel clean up *grin* and get my life back on track. I hafta admit though--spending the time with my sister was wooooonderful! Even the sunburn I came home with. LoL

And now (drum roll, please!) I'm verrrrry pleased to introduce you to Julie Lessman! I 'met' Julie at one of my favorite blogs, Seekers, where Julie is a blog contributor, and I'm thrilled to have her here with us at Patterings! (and yes, I know I'm over using the ol exclamation points, but lemme tell ya--Julie's that kind of gal! You'll love her!)

Julie has offered to do a signed giveaway for the winner's choice of one of the three books in the series. To be entered into the drawing, leave a comment (and your email addy if I don't have it or it's not on your blog/site) on this intro post or tomorrow's interview with Julie. The drawing will be open until Saturday evening and the winner will be notified and posted on Sunday. (Here's a hint--Julie's been well known to pop in and out and reply to commenters, so on the comment page, click the little box to follow the comments via email.)

Julie Lessman is a new author who has garnered much writing acclaim, including ten Romance Writers of America awards. She resides in Missouri with her husband and their golden retriever, and has two grown children and a daughter-in-law. She is the author of The Daughters of Boston series, which includes A Passion Most Pure, A Passion Redeemed, and A Passion Denied. You can contact Julie through her website.

Book 3,  A Passion Denied,  is the story of Faith and Charity’s little sister, Lizzie, a shy bookworm who dreams of a fairy-tale romance.  It unfolds a man’s dark past and a young girl’s shattered dreams … and the God who redeems it all.

Elizabeth O’Connor is the little sister John always longed for. With a fire for God in his belly, he has been her spiritual mentor since she was thirteen, sharing her love of literature and her thirst for God.  But when his gangly protégé blossoms into a beautiful young woman bent on loving him,  he refuses to act on the attraction he feels.  His past won’t let him go there.  Unfortunately, “Lizzie” won’t let him go anywhere else … until his dark and shocking secrets push her away.

And, as requested, following is an excerpt from A Passion Denied, which depicts the first love scene between Beth (who has changed her name to Lizzie) and Brady, who sees her only as a little sister. She is plotting with her sisters to try and get Brady to kiss her because Charity tells her that “A kiss is the only thing that will haunt him until he admits he’s in love.” (My apologies, I couldn't get Julie's formatting to stick when I copied and pasted, so the spacing is off, but it's a WONDERFUL excerpt!!!)

The porch was dark except for a soft wash of moonlight that cast distorted shadows as he leaned against the railing. He crossed his arms and waited while she settled on the swing with a soft swish of her skirt. She patted the seat beside her. “Why don’t you sit here? This could take a while, and I want you to be comfortable.”
Comfortable? With her scent as clean as lilacs in rain and her burgeoning body obscuring the little girl he once knew? He sucked in a full breath and stood up straight, shoving his hands deep into the pockets of his trousers. Exhaling, he positioned himself on the far right of the swing, determined to ignore the wood of the beveled handle as it sliced into his waist. He shifted to face her and draped an arm along the back of the swing. “So, what’s on your mind, little buddy?”
She bit her lip and scooted close enough that he could feel her body shivering. “Do you mind if we snuggle? It’s colder than I thought.”
He stared straight ahead, lips clamped tight as the heat of her body singed his. It set his nerves on edge, but she seemed nervous too—from the tug of her teeth against her lower lip to the clutch of her hands as they fidgeted in her lap. His arm—which had been resting comfortably on the back of the swing—suddenly felt like hardwood lumber. With almost painful motion, it hovered over her shoulder for eternal seconds before finally drawing her close. For pity’s sake, this is Beth and she’s cold. Settle down, Brady, and just get through this.
“What’s on your mind, Beth?”
She sighed and burrowed into his arms, causing the scent of her hair to invade his senses. It triggered an unwelcome warmth, despite the coolness of the night. But at least she was warm, he reasoned, noting her shivers had stopped. He closed his eyes and ground his jaw. While his were just beginning.
Her voice was soft and low. “I’m sorry for losing my temper the other day, but I … well I guess I’ve been struggling with my feelings for you …”
Tension stiffened his hold. “Beth, these feelings you’re having, they’ve got to stop.”
“I know, Brady, she whispered. “I finally understand.”
He drew in a breath and leaned forward. “You do?”
She looked up with a soulful expression. “Yes, I do. It doesn’t change the attraction I have for you or the love I feel inside …” She blinked several times, as if to clear the gloss of wetness from her eyes. His gut twisted. “But I finally realize I need to move on … I don’t want to lose your friendship.”
The tightness in his chest suddenly released like an audible sigh. Thank you, God, they could still be friends! He exhaled the weight of the world from his shoulders and scooped her into an overwhelming hug of relief. “Oh, Beth, I’m so grateful you understand. I love you too, and I’ll always be there for you, the best friend you’ve ever had.”
She returned a tremulous hug. The sound of her words rumbled against his chest. “That’s good, Brady, because I could use the advice of a friend.”
“Anything, little buddy!” He leaned back against the swing and tucked her safely under his arm. She was his sweet, little Beth once again, flooding his soul with joy. “What kind of advice do you need?”
“About men. Actually, one in particular.”
His joy fizzled faster than warm foam on week-old root beer.
She glanced up with wide, innocent eyes, a stark contrast to the jealous surprise churning in his gut. “There’s this boy—his name is Tom Weston—and he’s asked me out, on and off, for over two years now. And lately, well … it seems he won’t take no for an answer.”
He blinked. Men have been asking her out? For two years? His Beth?
He sat up, desperate to convey a composure he didn’t feel. “Well, Elizabeth, you’re almost eighteen, I suppose it’s time … time to find the man that God has for you. Do you … like him?”
She sighed. “Well, he’s certainly attractive and hard-working. He’s worked two jobs as long as I’ve known him and plans to go to law school after he graduates college next spring.”
The jealousy rose in his throat like bile. “So, you’re … attracted to him, then?”
“Well, I wasn’t initially because I had hoped you and I …” Her voice faded. She took a deep breath. “But I think now … now that I know you and I can only be friends, well, I think maybe I could be attracted to him …”
“Does he go to church?”
Her soft chuckle floated in the air. “Well, if you mean is he as spiritual as you, no, he’s not. But he’s from a good family who go to church regularly, and I think in time—”
“Is he a gentleman?”

Lizzie felt herself blush to the tips of her shingled hair. She bit her lip and turned away, slipping her hand into the pocket of her jacket. With trembling fingers, she pinched the cracker she’d hidden there and swiped crumbs into both of her eyes.
She didn’t answer. She was too busy blinking.
He reached for her chin and gently tugged her gaze to his. He was suddenly the consummate big brother, concern etched in his handsome face. “Answer me. Is he a gentleman?”
The crumbs were masterful as they welled in her eyes. “I’m …n-not sure.”
“What do you mean you’re not sure? Has he given you cause to think otherwise?”
“Well, he … he kissed me once.”
Disapproval darkened Brady’s features. “Did you encourage him?”
Her lips parted in shock. “No! I promise you I didn’t. He c-cornered me …”
“So, he’s not a gentleman?”
Her eyes went wide. “I don’t know … maybe … but probably not.”
She began to shake, not sure if it was her nerves or the drumming of Brady’s fingers hard on the wood. He eyed her through narrowed lids. “Well, he doesn’t sound like the type of young man you need. I suggest you forget about him and look elsewhere.”
She blinked. “What?”
“You wanted my advice as a friend, and I’m giving it. Forget him.”
A rare rush of indignation flared in her cheeks. “I wanted your advice on how to ward off his advances, Brady, not if I should date him. I’ve already decided on that.”
“You can’t date some clown with one thing on his mind.”
Crackers and fury forced hot tears from her eyes. He didn’t want her, but no one else could either? She rose to her feet. “How dare you, John Brady? I have no choice! My heart is breaking because of you, and if it takes Tom Weston to get over you, then so be it.”
He jumped up. “Beth, forgive me, please, and don’t cry. We can pray about this—”
Disbelief paralyzed her for a painful second. “No! You leave me be. I don’t want anymore of your prayers—”
His hand gripped her. “Beth, please, sit with me? Can’t we just talk and work this out?”
She relented, allowing him to tug her back to the swing, where the feel of his powerful arms only enflamed the longing in her soul. He bundled her against his shoulder, and the clean, pure scent of musk soap taunted her senses.
“Beth, you’re so special to me,” he whispered, “I never want to hurt you.” He kissed the top of her head, and she could smell a trace of the peppermint he kept for children at the shop. A sharp ache pierced her heart. He was her Brady … good and strong and kind … but he would never really belong to her. Not the way she yearned in her heart—as a husband, a man, a lover. The thought all but crushed her, and she collapsed against his chest in painful weeping.
“Beth, don’t cry, please. I love you …”
She felt his lips in her hair, and her anguish surged. She jerked away. “No, don’t lie to me, Brady! You don’t love me—”
He groaned and embraced her. “I do love you, little buddy, more than anyone in this world.” With grief in his eyes, he searched her swollen face. He caressed her wet cheeks with gentle hands. “You mean everything to me,” he whispered. He bent to press a light kiss to her forehead.
Shallow breaths rose from her throat at the warmth of his lips against her skin. Her body stilled. “A kiss is the only thing that will haunt him until he admits he’s in love.”
She lifted her gaze, taking great care to impart a slow sweep of lashes.
“Beth, are we okay?” He ducked his head to search her eyes, then brushed her hair back from her face. A smile shadowed his lips. “Still friends?”
Friends. A deadly plague only a kiss could cure. Resolve stiffened her spine. “Sure, Brady … friends.”
He smiled and tucked a finger under her chin. “That’s my girl. Now what do you say we pray about some of these things?” He leaned close with another quick kiss to her brow, and in a desperate beat of her heart, she lunged, uniting her mouth with his. She felt the shock of her action in the jolt of his body, and she gripped him close to deepen the kiss. Waves of warmth shuddered through her at the taste of him, and the essence of peppermint was sweet in her mouth.
“No!” He wrenched back from her hold with disbelief in his eyes.
Too late. She had never felt like this before. Years of seeking romance from flat parchment pages had not prepared her for this. This rush, this desire … her body suddenly alive, and every nerve pulsing with need. All shyness melted away in the heat of her longing, and she pounced again, merging her mouth with his. John Brady, I love you!
A fraction of a second became eons as she awaited his rejection. His body was stiff with shock, but no resistance came. And in a sharp catch of her breath, he drew her to him with such force, she gasped, the sound silenced by the weight of his mouth against hers. He groaned and cupped the back of her head as if to delve in her soul, a man possessed. His lips broke free to wander her throat, and shivers of heat coursed through her veins. In ragged harmony, their shallow breathing billowed into the night while his arms possessed her, molding her body to his.
“Oh, Brady, I’m so in love with you,” she whispered.
Her words severed his hold as neatly as the blade of a guillotine. He staggered to his feet, and icy cold replaced the warmth of his arms. She opened her eyes and saw pain in his. She grabbed his arm. “Brady, can’t you see? You love me too … not as a friend or a sister, but as a woman.”
“God help me, Beth, I can’t love you that way.” He stared like a zombie, chest heaving with jagged breaths that swirled into the cool night air, drifting away.
Just like her dreams.
She reached for his hand, but he pulled it away. She blinked. “You just did, John. Nothing can convince me otherwise. You love me … and you want me … just like I want you. Why can’t you admit it?”
His tone was rough with emotion. “Because it’s wrong, Elizabeth. You’re a little sister to me, nothing more.”
She rose, along with her ire. “I see. And that’s how you kiss a sister?”
Blood gorged his cheeks. His shoulders straightened as he stood stiff and tall. An uncommon show of anger glinted in his dark eyes. “I regret what happened tonight, and I apologize. Please give my thanks to your mother and my good-byes to your family.” He moved toward the stairs.
“Brady, wait!” She latched onto his arm while tears pooled in her eyes. “You can’t leave like this. Not now. I opened my heart to you … and you took it when you gave me that kiss.”
The anger in his eyes faded to pain. “I know, Beth. Forgive me. It won’t happen again.” His back was rigid as he strode down the steps.
She ran after him. “No! Don’t leave—please! Friends don’t leave when you need them the most.”
He stopped, hand poised on the gate, and the coolness of his manner was totally foreign. He turned with a look of agony she had never seen.
“No, Beth, they don’t.”
And without another word, he unlocked the gate and hurried away. Fading quickly—just like her hope—into the darkest of nights.

To purchase A Passion Denied from:
Christian Book

I'm soooo excited about tomorrow! Tomorrow is our interview with Julie and you don't want to miss it! (and I know what I'm talking about because I've read it already!) LoL Be sure to join us tomorrow for the fun!

Ginny G.

I've been enjoying my nephews' kids--a novelty for me! It amazes me that these boys I babysat when they were little now have their own little ones! It's been fun enjoying them! So, to celebrate this new generation I went straight for Ginny G. I hope she makes you smile.

This week Shelley is hosting for us at The Veil Thins --join us there for links to more Fiction Friday.

Ginny G.

Ginny Giraffe awoke one morning to sweet singing in the branches above her. Standing very carefully and quietly, she peered through the leaves. She didn’t even need to stand on tiptoe to see Lark sitting in her nest as she sang.

“Good morning, Lark. Why are you singing?”

“Good morning, Ginny G. Why am I singing?” she chirped. “Well, I sing because I’m happy.”

Ginny G. slowly blinked her big brown eyes. “Why are you happy?”

“It’s a beautiful morning.” Lark happily trilled.

As Ginny G. nibbled her breakfast leaves Butterfly danced nearby. “Good morning, Ginny G.” she called out.

“Good morning, Butterfly.” Ginny G. responded politely. “What are you doing?”

“I’m dancing in the breeze,” Butterfly answered.

She lifted his nose into the breeze, smelling carefully. “Why?”

Butterfly did a double flip as she answered. “Because I’m happy, that’s why.”

Ginny G. slowly blinked her big brown eyes. “Why are you happy?”

Butterfly giggled as she swooped past Ginny’s nose. “Because I can fly!” Then she raced off to join her cousins playing tag.

Looking far across the grassland Ginny spotted her friend Gnu and decided to visit him. Stretching her long legs she ran swiftly, wishing she had wings. “Maybe I could be happy then,” she thought.

Gnu was playing when she arrived. He was having so much fun kicking up his heels that he didn’t notice Ginny right away.

“Oh, hi there, Ginny G. Whatcha’ doing?” Gnu asked when he finally stood still for a moment.

“I’m just watching you,” Ginny replied. “Why are you playing like that, Gnu?” she asked.

“Wahoo, because I’m happy!” Gnu hollered as he spun around again.

Ginny G. slowly blinked her big brown eyes. “Why are you happy?”

That made Gnu stop and stare at her. “Why am I happy?” he asked, surprised. “I don’t know, just because I am.” Gnu kicked up his heels and galloped a circle around her.

Ginny watched him a while longer then wandered over to Zebra who was grazing on the tough grass nearby.

“C'mon, Ginny G. let's race to the water hole,” Zebra said as soon as Ginny G. got close. Without another word Zebra ran a circle around her and took off. Ginny could hear him laughing as he galloped across the grassland so she ran along. With her long legs it didn't take long to catch up to him.

“Zebra, why are you laughing?” Ginny G. called out as they ran together.

“Because I love running, it makes me happy.” Zebra said as they neared the water hole. He circled around it and kept running but Ginny G. laid down in the tall grass under a tree and rested her head on a nearby branch, she didn’t want anyone to see her.

Soon Tortoise trundled along.

“Ginny G. why is your face so long and why aren’t you out playing with the other young grassland animals?” Tortoise asked kindly. He was a wise old tortoise who cared for his friends.

Ginny G. sadly sighed. “Everyone else has something to make them happy, but I don’t. I’ll never be happy.”

Tortoise chuckled. “Ginny G, you have many things to make you happy, you just need to open your eyes and see them.” Ginny G. slowly blinked her big brown eyes. “God didn't give you a voice to sing, or wings to fly, or even short legs like Gnu to spin and jump on. He gave you a long neck and long legs so you could see far into the distance with your beautiful, keen eyes.”

The corners of Ginny G's mouth lifted in a small smile. “I have beautiful eyes?” she asked.

“Ah, yes,” Tortoise replied. “Big beautiful eyes. But even more important than your eyes, Ginny G. is the fact that God loves you. You are so special to Him that He put you here in the perfect place. This is just the right place for a giraffe. And not only that, but He gave you your family and friends. He loves you an awful lot, Ginny G.”

Ginny G. slowly blinked her big brown eyes and smiled at Tortoise. “You're right, Tortoise. I can be happy because God loves me so much.”

Ginny stood up and looked around, seeing all the things God gave her because He loved her so much. She had so many reasons to be happy. Lowering her head down as close to the ground as she could she gave Tortoise a special smile.

“Thank you for being my friend, Tortoise. You are a wonderful gift from God.” She bent her knees and gave him a kiss on his tough, wrinkly cheek, then turned and sailed across the grassland to join her friends in a game of tag.

Thank you for joining us for Fiction Friday, whether you're posting fiction or reading--or both. Don't forget to join us at Shelley's hosting for us at The Veil Thins --join us there for links to more Fiction Friday. And don't forget to tell your friends! Anyone and everyone is welcome!

Next week Julie Lessman will be here with her new release A Passion Denied. I have an excerpt ready to roll that you'll love (!!) AND there will be a signed book giveaway for the winner's choice of one of her three books in the series. So, if you're the winner of next week's giveaway, you get to pick which of Julie's books you receive! Isn't she wonderful?!?! Be sure to come back next week to get to know Julie--you will love her!

Meet Jenny B. Jones

Today I'm posting At the Well about Deep Cleaning more than just our homes and at Exemplify about how to Be Like a Hummer. You're welcome to join me there!! :-)

In today's author spotlight is Jenny B. Jones--someone I stumbled across and totally fell in love with her voice--her writing voice. She's really tight on time right now, so I'm running what I've gathered from here-there-and-yonder because I really want you to meet her! Jen writes for teen girls and in September she has a women's fiction title coming out (Just Between You and Me) and lemme tell ya--I'm dying to read it! LoL

Since she's racing the clock this month, I swiped her bio from her web page which is fun to peruse!

I write Christian fiction with a few giggles, quite a bit of sass, and lots of crazy. My novels include the Katie Parker Production series and the upcoming book So Not Happening. I would also like to take credit for Twilight , but somewhere I think I read you’re not supposed to lie.

When I’m not typing my heart out (or checking email), I teach at a super-sized high school in Arkansas.

My students are constantly telling me how my teaching changes their lives and turned them away from drugs, gangs, and C-SPAN.
Okay, that’s not exactly true.
Some facts that are true include:

A. I got my camera confiscated by big boys with guns at the American   Embassy in Europe this past summer. O la la!
B. I once worked in a seed mill office and cleaned out mice on a regular basis. Ew.
C. I’m a former drama teacher.
D. I didn’t pass my drivers test the first time. Or the second…
E. I attract stray animals like a magnet.
F. I used to assemble and test paint ball guns for a local factory.

Since my current job leaves me with very little free time, I believe in spending my spare hours in meaningful, intellectual pursuits such as:
watching E!
updating my status on Facebook
catching Will Ferrell on YouTube and
writing my name in the dust on my furniture
Check me out on Facebook.

If you want some fun reads, check out Jen's blog--I've thoroughly enjoyed it!!

And here's the book that caught my attention: So Not Happening.

New York's social darling Isabella Kirkwood just woke up in a nightmare: Oklahoma. Problem is, it's right where God wants her.

Bella Kirkwood had it all: A-list friends at her prestigious private school, Broadway in her backyard, and Daddy's MasterCard in her wallet. Then her father, a plastic surgeon to the stars, decided to trade her mother in for a newer model.

When Bella's mom falls in love with a man she met on the Internet--a factory worker with two bratty sons--Bella has to pack up and move in with her new family in Truman, Oklahoma. On a farm no less!

Forced to trade her uber-trendy NYC lifestyle for her down-home charm, Bella feels like a pair of Rock & Republic jeans in a sea of Wranglers.

At least some of the people in her new high school are pretty cool. Especially the hunky football player who invites her to lunch. And maybe even the annoying--but kinda hot--editor of the school newspaper.

But before long, Bella smells something rotten in the town of Truman, and it's not just the cow pasture. With her savvy reporter's instincts, she is determined to find the story behind all the secrets.

How can a girl go on when her charmed life is gone and God appears to be giving her the total smackdown?

Here's an excerpt from chapter 1 of So Not Happening.

One year ago my mom got traded in for a newer model.

And that’s when my life fell apart.

“Do you, Jillian Leigh Kirkwood . . .”

Standing by my mother’s side as she marries the man who is so not my dad, I suppress a sigh and try to wiggle my toes in these hideous shoes. The hideous shoes that match my hideous maid-of honor dress. I like to look at things on the bright side, but the only

positive thing about this frock is that I’ll never have to wear it again.

“. . . take Jacob Ralph Finley . . .”

Ralph? My new stepdad’s middle name is Ralph? Okay, do we need one more red flag here? My mom is marrying this guy, and I didn’t even know his middle name. Did she? I check her face for signs of revulsion, signs of doubt. Signs of “Hey, what am I thinking? I don’t want Jacob Ralph Finley to be my daughter’s new stepdad.”

I see none of these things twinkling in my mom’s crystal blue eyes. Only joy. Disgusting, unstoppable joy.

“Does anyone have an objection?” The pastor smiles and scans the small crowd in the Tulsa Fellowship Church. “Let him speak now or forever hold his peace.”

Oh my gosh. I totally object! I look to my right and lock eyes with Logan, the older of my two soon-to-be stepbrothers. In the six hours that I have been in Oklahoma preparing for this “blessed” event, Logan and I have not said five words to one another. Like we’ve mutually agreed to be enemies.

I stare him down.

His eyes laser into mine.

Do we dare?

He gives a slight nod, and my heart triples in beat.

“Then by the powers vested in me before God and the family and friends of—”


The church gasps.

I throw my hands over my mouth, wishing the floor would swallow me.

I, Bella Kirkwood, just stopped my own mother’s wedding.

And I have no idea where to go from here. It’s not like I do this every day, okay? Can’t say I’ve stopped a lot of weddings in my sixteen years.

My mom swivels around, her big white dress making crunchy noises. She takes a step closer to me, still flashing her pearly veneers at the small crowd.

“What,” she hisses near my ear, “are you doing?”

I glance at Logan, whose red locks hang like a shade over his eyes. He nods again.

“Um . . . um . . . Mom, I haven’t had a chance to talk to you at all this week . . .” My voice is a tiny whisper. Sweat beads on my forehead.

“Honey, now is not exactly the best time to share our feelings and catch up.”

My eyes dart across the sanctuary, where one hundred and fifty people are perched on the edge of their seats. And it’s not because they’re anxious for the chicken platters coming their way after the ceremony.

“Mom, the dude’s middle name is Ralph.”

She leans in, and we’re nose to nose. “You just stopped my wedding and that’s what you wanted to tell me?”

Faint—that’s what I’ll do next time I need to halt a wedding.

“How well do you know Jake? You only met six months ago.”

Some of the heat leaves her expression. “I’ve known him long enough to know that I love him, Bella. I knew it immediately.”

“But what if you’re wrong?” I rush on, “I mean, I’ve only been around him a few times, and I’m not so sure. He could be a serial killer for all we know.” I can count on one hand the times I’ve been around Jake. My mom usually visited him when I was at my dad’s.

Her voice is low and hurried. “I understand this isn’t easy for you. But our lives have changed. It’s going to be an adventure, Bel.”

Adventure? You call meeting a man on the Internet and forcing me to move across the country to live with his family an adventure? An adventure is swimming with dolphins in the Caribbean. An adventure is touring the pyramids in Egypt. Or shopping at the Saks after-Thanksgiving sale with Dad’s credit card. This, I do believe, qualifies as a nightmare!

“You know I’ve prayed about this. Jake and I both have. We know this is God’s will for us. I need you to trust me, because I’ve never been more sure about anything in my life.”

A single tear glides down Mom’s cheek, and I feel my heart constrict. This time last year my life was so normal. So happy. Can I just hit the reverse button and go back?

Slowly I nod. “Okay, Mom.” It’s kind of hard to argue with “God says this is right.” (Though I happen to think He’s wrong.)

The preacher clears his throat and lifts a bushy black brow.

“You can continue,” I say, knowing I’ve lost the battle. “She had something in her teeth.” Yes, that’s the best I've got.

I. Am. An. Idiot.

“And now, by the powers vested in me, I now pronounce you Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Finley. You may kiss your bride.”

Nope. Can’t watch.

I turn my head as the “Wedding March” starts. Logan walks to my side, and I link my arm in his. Though we’re both going to be juniors, he’s a head taller than me. It’s like we’re steptwins. He grabs his six-year-old brother, Robbie, with his other hand, and off we go

in time to the music. Robbie throws rose petals all around us, giggling with glee, oblivious to the fact that we just witnessed a ceremony marking the end of life as we know it.

“Good job stopping the wedding.” Logan smirks. “Very successful.”

I jab my elbow into his side. “At least I tried! You did nothing!”

“I just wanted to see if you had it in you. And you don’t.”

I snarl in his direction as the camera flashes, capturing this day for all eternity.

Last week I was living in Manhattan in a two-story apartment between Sarah Jessica Parker and Katie Couric. I could hop a train to Macy’s and Bloomie’s. My friends and I could eat dinner at Tao and see who could count the most celebs. I had Broadway in my backyard

and Daddy’s MasterCard in my wallet.

Then my mom got married.

And I got a new life.

I should’ve paid that six-year-old to pull the fire alarm.

Find So Not Happening at:



Due to time constraints, I'm not sure if there will be an interview with Jenny tomorrow or not. If not, I'll try to schedule for September when Just Between You and Me comes out.
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