The Wages of Kindness

Fiction Friday hosted at Laury's
In My Daddy's Arms
For Fiction Friday...
With his baby daughter, Rosie, sleeping in his arms, Micah watched as the big body was lowered into the shallow grave. Lord, is this the answer to my prayer? Big Jake hadn't been a good man. He was mean with his mouth and mean with his hands, and no one mourned his death. His children seemed uncertain, but his widow, Jessica, stood silently, holding them close. She was a woman with a strong spirit and a stronger faith.

Rosie stirred, her mouth puckering to cry. Micah gently bounced her, hoping she would hold out a little longer. When he looked up, Jessica was walking to her wagon. Micah followed her, watching as she reassured her children.

“Jess?” Micah called as he neared her fire.

With a smile she took the baby, “There's beans in the pot, if you'd like some, Micah.” She adjusted her light shawl, murmuring quietly to Rosie.

It's too soon to talk to her, Father.

Jessica held out a leather pouch to Micah. “This belongs to you.”

Micah eyed it, mentally weighing how much was there. “No, it's yours. Your wages for wet nursing Rosie these weeks.”

With a gentle toss, it landed beside him.

“I would never charge anyone to nurse their motherless baby.” Jessica caressed Rosie's head through the shawl. “This little one eased the pain of losing my own. She's brought comfort and joy to me. Jake had no business charging you. I know why the amount was so high, too.”

A steely glint entered Micah's eyes. He lowered his voice, so it wouldn't carry to the children playing nearby. “Did he tell you I was paying to ensure he didn't lift his hand against you or the children? Did he tell you that?”

Jessica's eyes searched his. “No,” she whispered. “He didn't tell me that.” She looked down at Rosie and gently stroked her cheek before looking back up. “Thank you. I wondered why he had stopped.”

“Did you love him?” Lord, I can't believe I asked her that! She just came from burying her husband.

Jessica looked into the dying fire. “No. I never did.”

“Why did you marry him?”

A shudder went through her. “Pa didn't believe that Jake had forced me so he made me marry him. Pa's heart gave out shortly after overhearing Jake brag about it to his friends.”

Micah's hands and jaw clenched convulsively.

Jessica turned to Micah and smiled. “It's been a long six years, but God kept us safe and got us through. I accepted Christ after a Christian lady nursed me when Jake was on a binge, so there has been some good come from it.”

Did any good come from my marriage, Lord?

“Did you love Rhonda?” Jessica asked.

“I loved who she pretended to be but she was spoiled and self-centered. I'd hoped having a baby would help her outgrow all that, but...”

“Don't blame yourself, Micah. You have Rosie, now.”

Good did come from those years; I have Rosie.

Jessica's children stopped playing and leaned against her, silently studying Micah. With a smile he reached into his vest pocket and withdrew candy he had brought for them. He offered it as he would to a skittish animal. With round eyes they looked to Jessica for permission. She nodded then watched as they plucked the candy from his hand and whispered their thanks.

Micah's heart ached. “You don't need to be afraid anymore.” Their shy smiles gave him hope. Lord, I want to take care of them, and Jessica.

A neighbor's voice carried from nearby. “I'm tellin' ya', Micah should jest marry Jess. They're a matched pair.” Harriet being shushed made Micah laugh and Jessica's face glow.

“She's right, you know,” Micah said.

Jessica's startled eyes flew to him.

“Do you think you could trust me not to hurt you or the children?”

“Oh, Micah, even that time you were furious with Rhonda you never raised your hand against her, and you're a kind man; I've seen that. I completely trust you.”

Micah smiled, his hope soaring. “And through all these weeks I've seen your unselfishness and love for others. Would you marry me? I know Jake just died, but...”

Harriet marched up, grinning. “Thet goat's been dead plenty long enough!”

From nearby someone called out, “Harriet, let the girl answer the question!” Micah laughed and looked at Jessica.

She smiled and nodded. “Yes, I'll marry you.”

Harriet let loose a whoop. “Call the preacher; she said yes!”

This is one of my favorites. I love historical fiction--especially the pioneer days. At one point I wished I had been born in those days...but now I'm glad I wasn't. I enjoy all my modern conveniences, like running water and electricity, and I looooove the technology I use. LoL--love it.

Be sure to scroll down to Wednesday's post and check out Colleen Coble's interview and leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway. The winner will be picked late Saturday night and posted on Sunday.

Stop by Laury's blog, In My Daddy's Arms for links to more fun fiction.

Back 2 School Book Bonanza

Book Bonanza Banner

Earlier this week I found myself faced with a problem while scheduling author spotlights for the rest of the year. I had more authors available for author spotlights and interviews than I had dates. It's one of those good problems! So as I prayed while studying my calendar, I had an idea. A Back to School Book Bonanza. You know, get the kids back to school, get back into a normal routine and celebrate with some great fiction to read. It sounds heavenly to me!

I thought two, maybe three weeks for the Book Bonanza. Wrong. When I finished scheduling yesterday, I had EIGHT weeks full of author spotlights and interviews and book giveaways. Eight whole weeks! With 22 authors! Wowzers!

Needless to say, I've been a busy bee and I'm now ready for take-off! If you'd like a button for your blog, please help yourself to it!

Back 2 School Book Bonanza

Here's our line-up of authors and (possibly) their new releases we'll be spotlighting and giving away: (the titles may be adjusted as time goes on *g*)

11 & 12 - Mary Connealy - Montana Rose
13 - Darlene Franklin - 365 Words of Wisdom for Single Moms
14 & 15 - Roxanne Rustand - Save the Last Dance or Final Exposure ?
18 & 19 - Nicole O'Dell - Truth or Dare & All that Glitters
20 - Mary Moss - Women at the Well
21 & 22 - Tammy Barley - Love's Rescue
25 & 26 - Kathleen Fuller - A Daring Return
27 - Judy Gann - The God of All Comfort
28 & 29 - Joyce Magnin - The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow

1 & 2 - Dana Mentink - *Race to Rescue, Flashover, & Trouble Up Finny’s Nose
3 - Shirley Connolly - I See God in the Simple Things
4 & 5 - Kay Marshall Strom - The Call of Zulina
8 & 9 - Michelle Sutton - Danger at the Door or It's Not About Him ?
10 - Candy Arrington - When Your Aging Parent Needs Care
11 & 12 - Terry Brennan - The Sacred Cipher
15 & 16 - Carrie Turansky - A Blue and Gray Christmas
17 - Meet Mary Hake - Creation
18 & 19 - Maureen Lang - Look to the East
22 & 23 - James Pence - Blind Sight
24 - Nikki Arana - Through the Eyes of Christ
25 & 26 - Debbie Thomas - Raising Rain
29 & 30 - Amber Stockton - Hearts and Harvest
October 1 & 2 - Christina Berry - The Familiar Stranger

To be entered in a book giveaway here at Patterings, leave a comment and check back on the following Sunday or Wednesday to see if you've won. Those will be our two winner announcement days. Each book giveaway will be open for those with U.S. addresses, for five days. If you want to guarantee that you're notified if you win, then leave your email address in the comment, otherwise, you can just check back and email me through the button in my sidebar. You can enter twice for each author--once for each post you leave a comment on. Two comments on the same post will only count once, but a comment on the Meet the author post and a comment of the interview with the author post will give you two entries. *grin* Clear as mud?

As I hear back from others who run author interviews and book giveaways on their blogs, I'll be adding their links and possibly their line-up. Stay tuned!

Cathy Bryant will be spotlighting these authors on her blog Word Vessel:
2nd - MaryLu Tyndall
10th - Susan Page Davis
17th - Marlayne Giron
20th - Lynn Squire
24th - Steve Thompson
26th - Lyn Cote
27th - Stephanie Gallentine

1st - Michelle Sutton
7th - Myra Johnson
8th - Annalisa Daughety
14th - Terri Kraus
21st - Ann Shorey
22nd - Christina Berry

Amber Stockton is running author interviews at her blog.
Here's her line-up:

5 - Nicole O'Dell - Truth or Dare / All that Glitters
12 - MaryLu Tyndall - The Blue Enchantress
17 - Mary Connealy - Montana Rose **CFBA**
19 - Kimberley Woodhouse - Welcome Home: Our Family's Journey to Extreme Joy (debut)
26 - Janice Thompson - Fools Rush In

2 - Christina Berry - The Familiar Stranger (debut)
9 - Tracie Peterson - Dawn's Prelude Interview
11 - Debbie Thomas - Raising Rain
16 - Tracie Peterson - Dawn's Prelude **CFBA**
23 - Lynette Eason - A Silent Fury
30 - Michelle Sutton - It's Not About Him **CFBA**

In the meantime, don't forget to check out Colleen Coble's interview and leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway. The winner will be picked late Saturday night and posted on Sunday.

with Colleen Coble

Colleen, thanks so much for being with us. Tell us about your epiphany moment when you decided you were going to seriously pursue writing and eventually publication.
The phone rang late that night with the news that my younger brother, Randy Rhoads, had been killed by lightning in a freak farm accident. In the coming months, as I emerged from the storm of grief, I realized that if I was ever going to follow the dream I believed God had put in my heart, I needed to get started. I was approaching my fortieth birthday, and time was marching on. I told God I was ready, but still nothing came.

As part of the grieving process, my husband and I made a trip out to Wyoming to see where Randy had lived during a two-year stint. We hadn’t made it to see him while he was there, and he loved Wyoming. As I stood on the parade ground at Fort Laramie, the first idea took root and sprouted. The fire of grief and adversity had finally cracked open the seed that had lain dormant in my heart all those years.

It still wasn’t easy. Getting published is hard and takes work and commitment. But I never gave up on the long road to the first sale because God wouldn’t let me. Every time I was tempted to let the computer go dark, God whispered in my heart that I could do it. That he had given me everything I needed to go on, that I must go on. Seven years later (seven is God’s number so that was perfect!) I finally made the first sale. But God taught me about faith and perseverance through those seven years. Looking back, I’m glad it wasn’t easier. It makes me appreciate so much more the joy and privilege I have to share my novels with my readers and to hopefully make them a little thirsty for the One who holds out a cup of living water.

What a testimony! Which of your books (published or upcoming) has been the most fun for you to write and which character is your favorite?
I love Bree in the Rock Harbor series. That series will probably always be my favorite. I labored over it so long before it was ready that it became part of me. And Bree is probably the character who is most like me. But I love all my books and characters or I wouldn’t be able to spend the time necessary to write the book!

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
I’m at that caregiver stage right now. The past six months were extremely difficult as my dear father-in-law’s Alzheimer’s worsened. He died in April and I had book deadlines that still had to be met all through the past six months. It was hard to find the time to do everything but I just took one day at a time and stayed focused.

Which character in Lonestar Secrets most interested you while you wrote and why?
I loved Shannon. I love children so I so identified with her when she realized the daughter she’d grieved was actually still alive. I loved how she was willing to do anything to raise her daughter.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
I’m 57 and most people would never guess I love the water. Love it! I learned to snorkel in the past few years and I take every opportunity to take my fins and mask and explore the world underwater.

Are there things you put off doing because you dread them?
I usually do the things I dread first so I can get them out of the way. :-)

Oh boy! Do I need to take lessons from you! That's something that I'm continually working at, and thankfully I'm doing much better there! :-)
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.

I’m mostly a suspense reader. I’ll occasionally read other types of books but not often. I love romantic suspense. Which of course is why I write it!

Are there certain foods or snacks keeps the words flowing for you?
Chocolate! Except right now when I’m dieting. Did you HAVE to mention food? :-)

Oops. Sorry about that. Tell ya what. I'll eat the chocolate for you so it's not tormenting you. Will that help? LoL
What is the most important thing to you?

Jesus defines everything about me. Or at least I’d like him to. I fail in that too often. I want my kids and grandkids to look back someday and see him in things I did or told them.

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?
The theme of forgiveness always seems to find its way into my stories. I’ll start out with another them, but that one always creeps in. I’ve seen the damage an unforgiving spirit can cause so often and it’s a theme close to my heart.

What lesson is the Lord teaching you right now or recently taught you?
There is a season for everything. I’ve been under such stress with family illnesses and my father-in-law’s death, and God has shown me that it’s a season and this too shall pass.

Yes, that's a phrase that's near to my heart. Thank you for the reminder.
When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?

The Lightkeeper’s Daughter will be shipping in January 2010. It’s my first historical romantic mystery and is set in the Eureka/Ferndale area of northern California in 1907. It’s been a few years since I’ve written a historical, and it was so fun to go back to my roots. Addie Sullivan discovers her lightkeeper father found her on the sand after a storm and he and his wife were paid to keep her away from her real family for all these years. She has to enter the Eaton manor as a nanny to discover the truth.

Oh wow, Colleen! That one sounds fabulous, too! Thanks so much for being with us this week!

Be sure to visit Colleen at her website at and at Girls Write Out.
You can purchase Lonestar Secrets from Amazon and CBD.

I'm excited about the upcoming months and here's why: While scheduling this fall's author spotlights I had more authors than dates. It's a wonderful problem to have and as I prayed over it and my calendar I had an idea. (Girls, quit rolling your eyes at me! You know me and my ideas! LoL)

In August and September (the start and end dates aren't firm yet) we'll be having a Back to School Book Bonanza! There will be more than twice the authors and books here at Patterings for a few weeks, and I am soooo excited!

So far in the Book Bonanza line-up we have: Nicole O'Dell, Tammy Barley, Kathy Fuller, Joyce Moccero, Dana Mentink, and Shirley Connolly. There are others that haven't confirmed yet, too, so I'll wait on telling you who they are.

And before the Book Bonanza starts? There's our local Fiction Friday friend, Rick Higginson, followed by Mary Connealy. Yanno, I really just need to put together a schedule here on Patterings. I'll work on that. Later. After I finish ironing out some more details.

Don't forget to leave a comment for Colleen to be entered in her book giveaway!

Meet Colleen Coble

This week I have the privilege of introducing you to Collen Coble who is another one of the amazing ladies that I'd like to be like when I grow up. =)

Colleen is giving away a copy of her new release Lonestar Secrets, so leave a comment to be entered in the drawing. The book giveaway will be open until Saturday evening and the winner will be posted on Sunday. You do NOT need to leave your email address, just be sure to check back on Sunday to see if you've won.

Best-selling author Colleen Coble's novels have won or finaled in awards ranging from the ACFW Book of the Year award, RWA’s RITA award, the Holt Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers' Choice, and the Booksellers Best awards. She has over 1 million books in print and writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail.

Colleen is CEO of American Christian Fiction Writers and is a member of Romance Writers of America. She lives with her husband Dave in Indiana and is a proud new grandma. When she’s not spoiling her granddaughter, she is teaching at a writer’s conference or researching a new book. Visit her website at You'll also find her blogging at Girls Write Out.

Lonestar Secrets
Shannon Astor returns to southwest Texas to serve as the town’s veterinarian, believing she’s finally found the space to get her life back on track.

Then she catches a glimpse of Jack MacGowan, the man who ruined her life years before. But even more shocking is the sight of Jack’s five-year-old daughter Faith, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Shannon’s own daughter Kylie. Is it possible that their similarities could be more than just coincidence? Could Faith be the daughter that Shannon has believed to be dead for all these years?

As the truth emerges, everyone is forced to take sides–in a story with a heart as big as Texas.

Here's an excerpt from Lonestar Secrets...

Shannon’s gaze took in the melee of dust, horses and men. Her adrenaline surged at the thought of the coming days. Rick had been pointing out the merits of the various horses, and she was so engrossed she’d barely heard Allie say she was taking the girls to look at the butterflies.

She understood horses better than people.

“You’re having to hit the ground running,” Rick said. “You sure you’re up to it?”
“I’m thrilled at the opportunity. It was good of Grady to suggest me for the job.” She smiled up at him. “You sure got a darling in Allie. I love her already.”

His grin widened. “Me too. I never dreamed I’d be so lucky. God dropped her right into my lap, and neither of us had a choice about it.”

She couldn’t spot her daughter or Allie in the throng of blue jeans, boots, and cowboy hats. “Where’d she go with the girls?”

“Over by the bunkhouse. There’s a mass of butterflies on the bush, and Kylie was begging to go see.”

“Kylie is nuts about butterflies. I can’t look at them too closely or they give me the creeps.” She fell into step beside Rick to skirt the line of cowboys heading to check into their bunkhouse.

Kylie’s blond head caught her attention and she smiled at the rapt expression on her daughter’s face. Wait a minute, where had Kylie gotten that pink shirt? She’d worn a blue shirt that matched her eyes when they left the house. Shannon had never seen this one before with its ruffled neck and sleeves.

Shannon and a man called out names at the same time.



The child in pink turned toward the man who’d called her Faith. Shannon stopped and stared. The little girl who looked so much like her daughter ran to the man who lifted her in his arms. Her fists clenched at the familiar embrace from a stranger. She’d taught Kylie better.

She started toward him to yank her daughter away. With his back to her, she didn’t recognize him. Then she saw past him to Betsy hand-in-hand—with Kylie? Shannon blinked hard, and her gaze went back to the other child whom she now realized had hair a shade darker than Kylie’s.

Kylie spotted Shannon. “Mommy, I found my sister!” She tugged her hand out of Betsy’s and ran to her mother.

The man turned around with his daughter in his arms. She recognized him immediately. The green of his eyes had always made her think of the desert in the springtime. Jack MacGowan. Her stomach churned, and her nails bit into her palms. She’d hoped he’d moved on. Last she heard, he was following the rodeo circuit, much to his father’s dismay.

The years had been kind to him. At thirty-four, his hair was still thick and curly. His muscular frame didn’t carry an ounce of extra weight. Only the lines around his eyes betrayed the passing of time since he’d been a star quarterback and she’d been the studious sophomore with the handmade clothes. She struggled past her anger to remember the name of his wife. Blair Stickman, captain of the cheerleading squad. They’d dated all through high school.

He came toward her. “Shannon, I just found out you’d be here. Good to see you after all these years.” He glanced down at Kylie who was clinging to Shannon’s hand. “Our girls look so much alike, it’s bizarre.”

Shannon couldn’t take her eyes off Faith long enough for it to sink in that he was acting as though he hadn’t destroyed her life. “I thought she was Kylie at first.”

He put Faith down, the girls linked hands and began to chatter as if they’d been friends forever. “I don’t get this,” he said in a soft voice.

A thought too horrible to contemplate began to form in Shannon’s mind. She couldn’t put her mind around the astounding similarities. It wasn’t possible. That kind of thing didn’t happen except in the papers.

“When was Faith born?” she asked. The girls couldn’t be more than a few months apart in age.

“She’s five. She’ll be six on April 14th.”

“That’s Kylie’s birthday,” she said. Before her mind could replay that day five years ago, she made herself focus on Jack. “Faith was born in the local birthing clinic? I kind of remember that now that you mention it. Your wife is Blair, a redhead?”

He lifted a brow. “Yeah. Was. She died.”

“I’m sorry,” she said mechanically. She hadn’t heard about Blair’s death. The ramifications of her memories caused Shannon’s gut to plunge. Jack had nearly black hair. Blair’s was red. Where had Faith’s pale blond hair come from? It couldn’t be, could it? And the way he studied her—the concentrated frown, the suspicious glint in his eye—made her mind go too dull to think this out.

“I’ve got to go.” She scooped up Kylie and rushed away. Jack called after her but she hurried on. Her blood pounded in her ears, and her breath came in gasps.

But she couldn’t outrun the implications of the girls’ resemblance. No, no, it couldn’t be. She couldn’t let herself even consider the possibility. Kylie struggled in her arms, crying out for her sister, but Shannon had no energy to respond.

There had to be some other explanation. Something that didn’t require a huge effort to get right. She didn’t have the time, money or energy for the mountain looming ahead.

You can purchase Lonestar Secrets from Amazon and CBD.

Don't forget to leave a comment to be entered in the book giveaway and come back tomorrow for an interview with Colleen.


Happy Sunday!
The winner of Lena Nelson Dooley's Cranberry Hearts is LaDonna! Congratulations!

Thank you so much for being with us here at Patterings, Lena! I'm looking forward to hearing about your other books as they come out. :-)

Lava Mama's Stomp Fest

Fiction Friday hosted at Dee's
My Heart's DeeLight.

For Fiction Friday...

Kelli gritted her teeth and started counting. She made it to six before she exploded. “You call this room clean? Only if you’re a pig, and even then, not in my house. Look at this! Dirty underwear stuffed in the corner, your dresser top is in desperate need of attention and this book shelf is a mess, not to mention your closet…Ooooo, that closet had better be taken care of or you won’t like how I take care of it! Get moving!” After a morning of refereeing kids and house cleaning she was on a short fuse.

“Oooh! I hate it!” Ryan stomped his foot as he spun away and threw a book onto his bed, but not before Kelli saw the attitude written there.

She didn’t even try counting, and her jaw still ached from clamping it so tightly just moments before, so she let it fly. “Buddy boy, you just blew it.” Kelli bent down, thrusting her face within inches of Ryan’s. She was sure her hair had turned to molten lava. Ryan’s eyes widened in surprise, but he quickly covered it with more bad attitude.

“Do it again!” Kelli demanded.

“Do what again?” Belligerence laced the question.

“Stomp your feet again, just like you did.” His face said he thought she’d really lost her marbles this time. “Do it!” Kelli’s voice rose in volume.

Ryan stomped his foot.

“Both feet,” she bellowed, not thinking, just following that mom instinct. Ryan jumped and slammed his feet his on the floor, howling his frustration and anger at his mother, but she didn’t let up.

By the fifth stomp Ryan was beginning to cringe when he landed on his sock feet and Kelli was thankful their floors were stout.

“Harder!” Still hollering she didn’t give him a moment’s rest.

He still howled in anger so she kept him stomping. Her throat stung from hollering above Ryan's noise, but she refused to give up before he did. She was at her wit’s end with this child. She’d tried everything she could think of and nothing had worked so far. In fact, he just kept getting worse. Something had to give, and it wasn’t going to be her.

Ryan jumped and once again slammed his feet down, this time crying out in pain.


“But, Mom…”

“Now! Stomp ‘em!” Ryan jumped and stomped them down again, wincing and crying, his bad attitude quickly fading. Two more stomps and Kelli could tell he’d given in.

“Get this room picked up—FAST.” Kelli quietly ordered, her own anger and frustration cooling.

She sighed in relief when Ryan gathered the dirty underwear from the corner and put them in the laundry basket. Only then did she dare a glance in the dresser mirror. She hid a smile beneath a glower and sailed out of the room. Her hair was no longer felt like molten lava so it was safe to venture into the living room where her other children scurried around doing their assigned chores.

That evening Kelli called from the kitchen, “Time to get that stuff picked up and put away.”

She moved so she'd be able to see their reaction and got there just in time to see Ryan wind up for his protest. She knew the exact moment when he saw her standing in the kitchen doorway, watching him. His foot was on the way down and there was no way he could stop it. When his foot touched down his eyes were round and his anger mysteriously gone.

Kelli shook her head and quietly said, “Stomp 'em.”

“Aww, Mom...” Ryan whined. Kelli merely raised an eyebrow and waited. Ryan jumped and stomped his feet down on the carpet, cringing, but without any anger or bad attitude. She was satisfied.

“Supper's ready. Get that mess picked up so we can eat.” Smiling, she returned to the kitchen and fluffed up her hair. She didn't like being a lava queen but she'd kept her head, reigned in her tongue and God had sent her a solution that was already reaping rewards.

This is one of those fiction pieces that has an ounce or two of truth to it. It was a fun write. :-)

Be sure to join us at Dee's My Heart's DeeLight for links to more fiction.

Also, don't forget this week's author spotlight--Lena Nelson Dooley and her new release, Cranberry Hearts. Leave a comment for her (on one of these posts) to be entered in the book giveaway!

with Lena Nelson Dooley

Lena Nelson Dooley is here again today, and she's doing a book giveaway. Be sure to leave a comment to be entered in the book drawing.

Lena, tell us about your epiphany moment when you decided you were going to seriously pursue writing and eventually publication.
Actually, God told me to become a professional author. I tell about it in the testimony at the bottom of the main page of my web site:

I loved Lena's testimony--make sure you go read it!
Which of your books (published or upcoming) has been the most fun for you to write and which character is your favorite? 

When I’m asked that, I always say the one I’m writing right now. I’ve loved all the books and lots of the characters, but the ones, I’m working on right now are the ones I’m connecting to.

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
Getting published. It took me 8 years for the first book, then 10 years for the second, and I tell about that in the testimony.

Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote? Why?
I was intrigued by the heroine Leiann. At the reading of her mother’s will, she found out that most of what she’d believed about her life was a lie. It shook her to her core. How do you recover from that?

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
There are numerous things. Which should I pick? When I was in college, we went to a meeting where we wore our Sunday best. When we came home, the sprinklers were running, and we ran through the sprinklers and got soaking wet, all dressed up.

Are there things you put off doing because you dread them?
I used to be really bad about procrastinating, but I’ve learned I must be disciplined in that area, or I won’t get everything done.

That's something I'm learning about everyday now, Lena. It's a lesson that's taking me awhile to learn.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.

I’m very eclectic in my reading tastes. I love books to have a romantic element, but they don’t have to be a romance. I love romantic suspense, mystery. I don’t read as much chick lit, but I do like romantic comedies. I would never read a horror book.

Are there certain foods or snacks keeps the words flowing for you?
M&Ms. I love the crunch, and I can make them last a long time by eating just one at a time.

Oh yum! I keep a not so secret stash of M&Ms in the freezer for when I need a pick-me-up. Love those things!
What is the most important thing to you?

God first, my husband second, my children third, my career next.

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?
God’s total forgiveness. God’s unbounded love. I also like to help women gain a good self-image and get rid of roots of bitterness.

Those are so important, Lena and they touch every area of a woman's life.
What lesson is the Lord teaching you right now or recently taught you?

I recently walked through a deep valley when my husband almost died. All through the weeks, miracles from God occurred regularly. Knowing that I heard His voice and followed in time to save James’s life was important.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico, will release May 1, 2010. This is a Heroine-in-peril, mail-order-bride gone awry kind of story. I’m really enjoying writing it.

Lena, that sounds like my kind of book! I'm looking forward to reading it! :-) Thank you so much for taking the time to be with us this week and doing a book giveaway!

You can purchase Cranberry Hearts from Amazon and CBD.

Don't forget to leave a comment to be entered in to book drawing!

Meet Lena Nelson Dooley

Last week's author spotlight and interview fell through the cracks of my scheduling...or lack of it, but don't worry, I've rescheduled with Mary Connealy for August 11th and 12th.

This week I have the privilege of having Lena Nelson Dooley, a lady I would count it an honor to meet someday. While I was reading her web site I was greatly encouraged by this: "God places His storehouses of provision along the road of obedience." It's now post-it noted to my computer and it's encouraged me every time I read it. =)

Lena is giving away a copy of her new release Cranberry Hearts, so leave a comment to be entered in the drawing. The book giveaway will be open until Saturday evening and the winner will be posted on Sunday.

Lena Nelson Dooley is a multi-published author, who feels a call to mentor other authors. Besides writing full-time, she has hosted a critique group in her home for over twenty years. She has a large Internet following on Shoutlife, Facebook, Twitter, her web site, and her blogs. She’s a member of ACFW and CAN and serves as president of the local ACFW chapter. In addition, she speaks at women’s groups, writing groups, and writing conferences. She and her husband James live in Texas.

At her blog, A Christian Writer's World, Lena does wonderful author interviews and book giveaways.

Cranberry Hearts
Hearts Are on the Line in Three Suspenseful Romances

Three modern women’s lives have been turned upside down. But going home to the Boston area leads them to encounter both love and danger.

Leiann Hambrick is called home to meet the grandfather she never knew, but Gerome Mays suspects her of stealing from the elderly man. Can Leiann forgive those who lied to her—and about her?

Kayla Marceilo left Boston to heal, only to have her ex-fiancé find her. But Ty Lawrence’s past still makes loving him a risk. With the danger so tangible, can Ty every win her trust?

Riley O’Hare gives up her dreams to run the family’s cranberry farm, and just when she thinks her new life is peaceful, Zane Baldwyn brings danger to her door. Can they work together to solve a mystery and save the farm?

Can these three women learn to trust God and man when uncertainty darkens their lives?

Excerpt from Cranberry Hearts

Leiann Hambrick clutched her upper arms as if to hold herself together while she stared through the sheer curtains that veiled the picture window. Would she have to leave all this behind? She no longer saw the Hurst athletic complex, which had been built a few years earlier. In her mind’s eye she saw the thicket full of wild mustang grapevines that used to grow on that spot. Grapes she had picked so her mother could make her famous jelly. Jelly her father loved on his biscuits in the morning. She longed for that simpler time, when she knew who her father was. When she knew who she was.

Leiann swiped at the tears that streamed down her cheeks, ruining the makeup she had taken such pains to apply a few hours ago as she prepared for the reading of her mother’s will. How different her world had been this morning.

The Hambricks had moved to this house on Cimarron Trail in Hurst, Texas, when Leiann was in the fourth grade. Leiann had been excited when they moved to this ranch-style house on the quiet street. A lot of undeveloped property surrounded them. Besides the thicket across the road—and it had been a country road then, not a four-lane street as it was now—a creek ran along the back of the property. Leiann and her friends played there often, wading and hunting bullfrogs on hot summer evenings.

Leiann yearned to go back to that time when she knew what her life was all about. She wanted to hug her mother and have her daddy tell her that everything was all right because they were together. Of course, that was impossible. She didn’t think anything would ever be all right again.

Squeezing her eyes shut could not erase the pictures that danced through her mind. The lawyer’s office. The reading of the will. . .

“And to my daughter, I leave all my worldly goods.” The lawyer’s voice had droned on, listing the things that had belonged to her mother, which were now Leiann’s. Family heirlooms, bank accounts, furniture and household goods, jewelry. But not the house. Her mother hadn’t owned the house.

You can purchase Cranberry Hearts from Amazon and CBD.

Come back tomorrow for an interview with Lena!

My Sisters

I had some unexpected time with my two sisters this week due to a death in the family. It's been two years since we've been together and it was wonderful being with them! There's just something about being with your sisters when hard times come. Here's a picture of us.

Today I'm at Exemplify posting about those Creepy Crawlies that like to stow away on us.

Tomorrow I'll have an author spotlight and on Thursday is an interview with Lena Nelson Dooley. I'm running a day behind, but that happens sometimes. Just thought I'd show you a picture of me and my sisters since they're few and far between--and because they're such special people to me.

A Tambourine Dance

I spent this last week working on a project that just would not gel. I worked and worked and all but banged my head on the keyboard, and still couldn't get it right. It was frustrating—to the extreme. Finally, with my back pressing the deadline, I poured it all out before God again, and went to help make supper. That night happened to be my hubster's specialty—fried chicken strips and gravy. It's one of our favorite meals and the whole family pitches in to get it on the table. After prepping the milk and flour for the gravy I got to wash dishes, and I was so thankful for the mindless busy-work.

As I washed the dishes I talked with God about the project He'd given to me. I knew that, if left on my own, I was sunk, but I also knew I wasn't on my own in this. With my hands busy in dishwater, I tossed ideas around in my head as I prayed. And God came through. He gave me the idea I needed to provide the framework for my project.

It reminds me of the children of Israel when they left Egypt behind. They were caught between a rock and a hard place. Their back was against the Red Sea and Pharaoh was pressing down on them hard and fast. If left on their own they were sunk, but they weren't on their own. The Lord Almighty was with them and He parted the Red Sea.
As Pharaoh drew near, the sons of Israel looked, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they became very frightened; so the sons of Israel cried out to the Lord... But Moses said to the people, “Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the Lord which He will accomplish for your today...The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent.” ~Exodus 14:10, 13-14

God put Israel in a situation where they could do nothing to help themselves. They were in a spot where they would know beyond all doubt that it was He who delivered them. God used that experience to assure them of His care and presence and to strengthen their faith in Him.

Guess what? This is what He did with me this week. When I was in the spot where there would be absolutely no doubt in my mind concerning just who it was that rescued me and gave me the idea, God came through. He parted my Red Sea and gave me dry land to cross on. Just like it was the Lord who saved Israel, it was the same Lord that saved me. And like Israel, I've been singing to the Lord ever since.

Tambourines Originally uploaded by BCDallas
I will sing to the Lord,
for He is highly exalted...
The Lord is my strength and song,
and He has become my salvation;
This is my God, and I will praise Him;
My father's God, and I will extol Him.

~Exodus 15:1-2

So how about you? Is your back pressing against the Red Sea as an army storms ever closer to you? When you're in a spot where there's no doubt about where your deliverance comes from, get ready to march 'cuz our God is never, ever late. In His time He'll part that Red Sea and when He does, get out your tambourines and dance! This is my God, and I will praise Him!

Always Room for One More

Emma stormed into the house, charged up the stairs to her room, and slammed her door. She never wanted to go back to church after what happened that morning. She grabbed her stuffed bear and rolled into a tight ball on her bed.

A few minutes later Gran knocked gently on the door and stuck her head.

“Emma, what is it, honey?”

“I'm never going back, Gran!” Tears were running over the bridge of her nose, making a big wet spot on her pillow.

Gran sat on the bed and smoothed Emma's hair away from her face. “What happened?”

Emma rolled over, still hugging her bear. “Stacey found a note she said was from me to Derek and she read it to everyone. I didn't write it; I would never write something so sappy. I've never been so embarrassed in my whole life, Gran. Derek was there and heard it.”

“Did you tell them you didn't write it?”

“Yeah, but Stacey waved the note and said it had my name on it. Gran, I can never face them again.” Tears trickled into her ears.

“You can and you will. If you fight this it will just make it worse, but if you go back with a smile and simply remind them that you didn't write it and move on, it will eventually be forgotten.”

Emma blinked fast, clearing her eyes. “You think so?” she asked hopefully.

“Do you think people will believe you or Stacey?

“Well, after her stunt last week, I don't think they trust her too much.” Emma sat up, her bear resting on her lap. “Why would she do that, Gran?”

Gran looked out the window before answering. “Think about her home life, Em. Since her dad left, her mom's had to work two jobs and she's not been around for Stacey. I think Stacey is trying to find attention and love, but she's going about it the wrong way. She doesn't realize she's driving away the people she wants and needs. What she did was wrong, but I think she just trying to get noticed.”

“I keep forgetting about her dad.” Emma hugged her bear tight. “She's not a mean person,” Emma said slowly and quietly, wrestling with her thoughts. “I think you're right. I think she needs friends and lots of love right now.” Taking a deep breath Emma looked at Gran. “She and I used to be friends, maybe we could be again. Do you think it would help her?”

“Can you forgive her for embarrassing you like she did?”

“If I'm gonna try to be her friend, I guess I better try, huh?”

That evening at church her friends were laughing and teasing her as they made her sit in the middle.

“Don't worry, Emma, we know you didn't write the note, you're not that sappy. After you ran out one of the girls grabbed the note and said it was Emma Landon's handwriting, not yours.”

Just then Derek sat down beside her and draped his arm around her. “I never knew you felt that way.” He winked and leaned close to whisper in her ear. “I wish you did, actually.”

Emma's eyes widened as she looked at him, then she quickly looked away as her face turned red.

Derek leaned close again, “Do you? Is that why you're blushing?”

Emma's face turned even redder and she turned away, hoping he wouldn't see it. She was saved by church starting. Later, as soon as the service ended, she jumped up to leave, but found her path blocked.

“Hey, Emma, a bunch of us are going for ice cream, wanna come with me?” Derek invited her.

Behind Derek, Emma saw Stacey duck her head and turn away, but not before Emma saw a sheen of tears in her eyes. Looking back at Derek she took a deep breath, “Sure, but can Stacey come with us?”

When Derek looked at her questioningly Emma smiled and quietly said, “She needs friends and love, Derek. Since her dad left she's been pretty much on her own and really needs us.”

A smile spread across Derek's face. “You're right. She was probably just trying to get attention this morning. C'mon, let's go get her and go out for ice cream. There's always room for one more, besides, without that note I wouldn't know you like me.”

Emma opened her mouth to protest but Derek laughed. “Don't worry, I've liked you for a long time, but never knew you liked me, too”

Today Sara is hosting Fiction Friday for us at Fiction Fusion. Be sure to join us there for links to more fiction!

Got to vs. Get to

Many times in my life things get twisted about and I end up on the wrong side of things. That's happened just recently and I quickly hit the frazzled stage. I was stuck in the got to camp, and life wasn't happy. Let me tell ya, my attitude didn't smell too sweet. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't good either. My husband was sweet enough to point out a difference between got to and get to and God reminded me of another difference.

I had let a privilege turn into duty simply because of using the wrong vowel. I was saying “I've gOt to do this” instead of “I gEt to do this”. And when it comes to the things that God has called us to do, we get to do them. We get to let God use us to accomplish His purpose. It's a privilege! If we get stuck on got to and never move back to get to, God just might use someone else and we'll be out a huge blessing.

Not only could we miss out on God's blessings because of our got to attitudes, but viewing things as got to's shows a spirit of not being thankful. God has done so much for me, exceedingly more than I could ever imagine or comprehend, that I should do the work He's called me to out of love for Him. I should let my service be an expression of love for God. Just like I do things for my husband and children simply because I love them, I should do things for God simply because I love Him.

Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe;
~Hebrews 12:28

GOt to is serving God out of duty.
GEt to is serving God out of love.
The difference in the written word may be just a vowel,
but the difference it makes in your heart is vital and invigorating.

So, which vowel are you using?

To Run Smooth

These last two weeks I've rediscovered just how essential my daytimer is to my life--at least if I want my life to run smoothly. Without my daytimer open, filled in and close at hand I tend to wander aimlessly and forget more things than I remember. Little things, big things. My brain turns into a sieve and only holds whatever is right in front of me at the moment. It's not a good way to live. It leaves me feeling harried, stressed and scatterbrained. All of which are not things I like feeling!

So today I've pulled out my handy-dandy daytimer and I'll be filling in the things that need writing down and holding on to it, making sure it's close at hand. That's today's goal.

There's something even more important than my daytimer, though. It's my time spent in God's Word. Without that continual refreshment I become dry and dusty enough to rival the Sahara Desert. Without my time spent with God, I fall apart even more.

Summer schedules tend to trick us and make us think we can coast—and we can, for a short time. If we let ourselves coast for too long life goes downhill fast. My short time of coasting has come to an end. I may run a lighter schedule for another week or so, but I'm making sure the framework stays firm and that the essential things get done.

This week's winner of Margaret Daley's book is Linda. In her comment Linda said, “Margaret is the lady who introduced me to the world of this genre of books by contacting me about being at the MOA in 2008. If not for her, I'd never have opened my horizon of books. She is one neat lady inside and out. Thank you, Margaret!” I've heard similar stories from others, also. What a great example and help she is to us! Thanks so much, Margaret. And congratulations, Linda!

Berries for Stars

Welcome to Fiction Friday! Today Cat is hosting for us on her blog A Work in Progress. Join us there for links to more fun fiction!

Berries for Stars
Callie snatched off the towel that was wrapped around her waist like an apron and tossed it onto the plank that served as a table. As far as she was concerned, the cabin could burn to the ground and it would be no great loss. Lem had been so full of dreams of land and a mansion that she’d been caught up in his dreaming when she’d agreed to move West. So far, the only part of his dream to come true was the land; his mansion was barely a tiny cabin.

“Hey, Callie, where ya’ headin'?” Lem called from the lean-to where he dreamed a barn would someday be.

“East!” she hollered as she marched toward the creek.

“Darlin’, I hate to tell ya’ this, but that direction is west.” She could hear the smile in his voice and it made her grind her teeth. She’d had it with his ‘Ain’t this grand’ attitude. All she wanted was to go home. Home was where there were neighbors and friends, towns and stores.

Reaching the creek, she crossed it and quickly continued on, paying little attention to where she was going or how long she’d been walking. As her feet followed the creek she silently ranted at her husband, slapping branches and brush out of her way.

“Lan’ sakes, girl, ya’ better be careful. Ya’ jest ‘bout ripped yer hand on these here brambles.” The voice came from the depths of a berry patch.

“Goodness, you scared me!” Callie peered into the brambles and saw an older lady in a stained dress, berry bucket in hand. “Where did you come from?”

The other lady laughed. “Originally from Maryland, but thet was so long ago I cain’t hardly ‘member it. You must be Lem’s wife. He said you was mighty purdy, with red hair an’ all.”

“Yes, I’m Callie Stanhope, Lem’s wife.”

“Waal, Callie, it’s a pleasure to meet ya’. I’m Ida Mae Hiller an’ I was gatherin’ these here berries fer a pie. Elmer an’ me was gonna stop by fer a visit tomorra’.” Ida Mae carefully picked her way out of the berry patch and sat down on a log. “Why don’t ya’ sit down an’ tell me what’s botherin’ ya.”

Callie didn’t even stop to think, she just opened her mouth and let all the bottled up frustration pour out. She told Ida Mae about Lem’s dreams and the tiny cabin, about having to haul water from the creek and not having a proper privy.

Callie stopped pacing and propped her fists on her hips. “But you know what’s getting me the most?”

Ida Mae, being a wise woman, merely raised an eyebrow.

“Lem thinks everything out here is just grand. ‘Heaven on earth.’ That’s what he calls it. Can you believe it?”

Ida Mae smiled. “Yep, I surely can. My Elmer’s jest like yer Lem.”

“How can you stand it? Doesn’t it drive you crazy?” Callie sat down, her energy spent.

“Waal, it used ta, but it don’t no more.” Ida Mae watched carefully, gauging Callie’s response.

“Once we lived near an old lady named Myra. I remember tellin’ her how bad things were an’ she tol’ me I had mud in my eyes while Elmer had stars in his.” Ida Mae laughed.

Callie surprised herself by snorting. “Lem’s got stars in his eyes, all right.”

“Mmm hmm. Sounds like he does. Myra tol’ me a lil’ story, explainin’ how I got muddy eyes.” Ida Mae looked closely at Callie. “Ya’ wanna hear it?”

Callie smiled weakly, too polite to say ‘no’ since Ida Mae had so patiently listened to her.

“Two men looked out from prison bars, one saw mud, the other saw stars.”

Callie just sat and stared at her, dumbfounded. “That’s it? That’s all there is to the story?”

“Yep. Thet’s it. Two men looked out from prison bars, one saw mud, the other saw stars.”

Callie looked at the creek and her shoulders slumped. Ida Mae could see the battle raging inside her, but turned and sat quietly watching the creek, letting Callie work it out on her own.

“Ok. I get it. If I want to see more than mud I’ve got to look at the stars, too.” Callie pushed to her feet once again. “Those sure are beautiful berries. Back home was so crowded there were no berries. Some berry preserves would be wonderful on biscuits.”

Ida Mae chuckled. “Berries for stars; thet’s good. Keep thet up and you’ll have stars in yer eyes, too.”


This is the first historical piece I wrote for Faithwriters and I found I loved writing it as much as I love reading it.

Also, this week's author spotlight is on Margaret Daley. Be sure to leave a comment to be entered in the book drawing!

with Margaret Daley

This week's author interview is with Margaret Daley, who is an amazing lady.

Margaret is giving away a copy of her book, so be sure to leave a comment on this post or yesterday's, with your email addy so I can track you down if you're the winner. The book drawing is open until Saturday evening and I'll announce the winner on Sunday.

Margaret, which character in Second Chance Family most interested you while you wrote and why?
Whitney Maxwell most interested me because she went through so much personal growth during the book, especially from when she was introduced in the book before, Family Ever After. I love how she discovered the power and love of the Lord.

Which of your books was the most fun for you to write and which character is your favorite?
Heart of the Amazon is the one I had the most fun writing because I love books about the jungle. The story is like African Queen meets Romancing the Stone. It’s a romantic suspense with a strong adventure element. I love reading books like that.

That sounds like my kind of book, Margaret! =)
What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?

Description. I have to go back in and layer it into my story. I like a fast read, and I often don’t read description so therefore I have to force myself to write it.

Are there certain foods or snacks keeps the words flowing for you?
No, usually I don’t eat when I’m writing, but I will have a drink—often tea.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I love to read romantic suspense, adventures, thrillers, mysteries, romance, both contemporary and historical and even fantasy and science fiction. I don’t care for women’s fiction and chick-lit.

What would be your dream vacation?
Going back to Tahiti and lying on a beach on Bora Bora. It’s a gorgeous place and the people are so nice. If not there, I’d love to visit Australia and see all the unusual animals there.

Oh, Tahiti sounds lovely! I hope you get to go back some day!
Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?

I often write about forgiveness and trust. Sometimes I also write about guilt and how people allow it to run their lives.

What lesson is the Lord teaching you right now or has recently taught you?
To follow His will—his plan is the best.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
The fifth book in the Fostered by Love series (Second Chance Family is the fourth one) is Together for the Holidays. It is Lisa’s story and will be out in November 2009.

Back cover blurb for Together for the Holidays:
A single mother with a traumatic past, Lisa Morgan only wants to raise her son with love and values. But lately the boy is struggling. When his basketball coach becomes a reluctant role model, Lisa is relieved. Until she learns that David Russell is also a cop. She’s not ready to share her past—or her heart. And neither is the world-weary detective. Yet as Christmas comes closer, the true meaning of the holiday brings them together in ways they never dared dream.

Second Chance Family can be purchased from your local stores (like Wally World!) or from Amazon, CBD and for your Kindle.

You can keep up with Margaret through her web site and her blog.

Thank you so much for being here this week, Margaret. Not only do you write wonderful books, but you do so much for other writers--you're truly an inspiration. Thank you.

Don't forget to leave a comment to be entered in the book drawing!

Meet Margaret Daley

Today is a triple header--I'm also posting at Exemplify about listening to the corn grow AND I'm At the Well with a devotional about defrosting your life. I'd love to have you stop by over there!

I'd like to introduce you to another incredible lady, Margaret Daley. Last week was a blur for me. Between running kids here, there and yonder and making sure all three of them had everything they needed for World Changers, I completely forgot about getting interview questions to Margaret. Completely forgot. I remembered late Saturday night, and Sunday morning, when my van played its one and only temperamental card leaving me stuck at home instead of going to church, I emailed her, apologizing. She said to send the questions through--and had them back to me that afternoon or evening. On top of everything else she does. Thank you, Margaret!

Margaret is giving away a copy of her novel, so be sure to leave a comment for her, with your email addy so I can track you down if you're the winner. The book drawing is open until Saturday evening and the winner will be posted on Sunday.

Margaret Daley is an award winning, multi-published author in the romance genre. One of her romantic suspense books, Hearts on the Line, won the American Christian Fiction Writers’ Book of the Year Contest. Recently she has won the Holt Medallion, Golden Quill Contest, FHL’s Inspirational Readers’ Choice Contest, Winter Rose Contest, and the Barclay Gold Contest. She wrote for various secular publishers before the Lord led her to the Christian romance market. She currently writes inspirational romance and romantic suspense books for the Steeple Hill Love Inspired lines. She has sold sixty-five books to date.

Margaret is currently the Volunteer Officer for ACFW. She was one of the founding members of the first ACFW local chapter, WIN in Oklahoma. She served as vice-president for two years in WIN-ACFW and is still on its board as an advisor. She has taught numerous classes for online groups, ACFW and RWA chapters. She enjoys mentoring other authors.

Until she retired last year, she was a teacher of students with special needs for twenty-seven years and volunteered with Special Olympics as a coach. She currently is on the Outreach committee at her church, working on several projects in her community.

You can visit her web site at and read excerpts from her books and learn about the ones recently released and soon to be released.

Dedicated teacher Whitney Maxwell gave up her dream of a family years ago. But she's about to get a lesson in faith and family from an unexpected source—a brave little boy named Jason. Jason and his dad are dealing with his autism the best they can, but Dr. Shane McCoy can't put his tragic past behind him. As Whitney and Shane work together to help his son, could these two lost souls open their hearts to love again and become a lasting family?

Second Chance Family Excerpt:

This is not negotiable. My son will attend your school, starting this Thursday." After dealing with a suicidal teenage girl most of the night, Dr. Shane McCoy didn't need this.

"We aren't equipped to deal with him. Jason should go to Eisenhower Elementary where there's a class for children like him," the principal said in a tight, highly controlled voice.

The woman's last sentence shredded what composure he had. Pacing his bedroom, Shane plowed his fingers through his hair and tried to remain calm. He gripped the phone. "You've known he would attend for months."

The rumble of thunder in the distance drew him toward an upstairs window at the front of his house. Jason didn't do well in thunderstorms. Please, Lord, don't let it rain— not today. He drew back the drapes and searched the sky. Dark clouds raced toward the east, away from his house.

"We've tried to find the right staff to handle your son, but…" The woman paused, taking a deep breath.

Jason appeared on the sidewalk leading from his house.

What was he doing out front? Going to get the newspaper for Aunt Louise?

"But there aren't—" the woman continued on the other line.

When his son ignored the paper lying in the grass, concern shot through Shane. He hurried toward his door. "I'll be there for the meeting this afternoon. I've got to go," he said, and clicked off the cell phone.

Am I making a mistake?

As the question intruded into Whitney Maxwell's mind, her long hair whipped across her face, momentarily obstructing her view of the street she drove down.

"Jason! Stop!"

To the right of her someone's frantic tone pierced the early morning air. Whitney fought the wayward strand, finally managing to hook it behind her ear at the same time her gaze riveted to a sudden movement. A child disappeared between two parked vehicles ahead of her, a second later reappearing in the path of her car as he raced across the road.

Clenching the steering wheel of her convertible Volkswagen vehicle, she jerked to full attention and slammed on the brakes. Not soon enough.

Without thought Whitney swerved her VW to the right. Into a big SUV. The sound of crunching metal drowned out the thundering of her heartbeat in her ears. When she was thrown forward, her seat belt halted her progress. The strap cut into her chest, disrupting her shallow breaths.

Almost to the other side of the street near a yellow trash can, the little boy stopped, pivoted and came straight toward her. When he reached the crash, he slid his hand over the smashed hood of her car, his gaze glued to it.

"Jason! Jason!" the woman screamed, her view blocked by the big SUV.

The little boy looked up, cocked his head, then whirled around and ran back the way he came—straight into the arms of the older woman who rushed between the parked vehicles. Whitney stared into the lady's pale face as she quaked and hugged the child to her.

Everything happened so fast—only seconds—that Whitney's head spun. Her hands shaking, she fumbled for the handle. She shoved the door open, swung her legs to the pavement and stood.

The thought of the near miss shuddered through her. Her legs weak, she started to sink and clutched the car to steady herself. She needed to check on the little boy and the older woman, but her whole body quaked. Drawing in several stabilizing breaths, she made her way to the pair now on the grass between the sidewalk and the street.

The older woman, tears in her eyes, held the child away from her. "Jason, you cannot run out into the street."

"Like yellow."

Yellow? What's the child talking about?

"Wanted to touch. So pretty."

Whitney glanced toward the trash can then at her yellow Volkswagen car. Her steps faltered at the implication of what could have happened. Thankfully she'd only been going twenty-five miles per hour because the child had been oblivious to the danger involved, and yet he appeared to be at least six or seven years old.

The sounds of a slamming door and pounding footsteps nearby drew Whitney's focus toward the house in front of her. A large man, over six feet tall, jogged across the lawn toward them. His intense gaze first took in the child and woman, then slipped to Whitney hovering a few feet from the pair. It skimmed down her length before moving away. When his appraisal connected with her Volkswagen bug, a frown carved hard lines into his face.

"Aunt Louise, what happened?"

"Jason—" the older woman whimpered the name, tears streaking down her face as she clung to the child. "He— he…"

After patting the woman and whispering, "It's okay. I'll deal with this," the man fixed his gaze on Whitney and strode toward her. "What happened?"

His question frosted the air between them. She straightened, her hands clenched at her sides. "The little boy ran out into the street from between these two parked cars." She gestured toward the vehicles. "I had to swerve to avoid hitting him."

His color drained from his face. He glanced over his shoulder at the boy and the older woman. The child tried to pull from her embrace, his arm outstretched toward Whitney's VW "Aunt Louise, can you take Jason inside? I'll be there in a minute." When the pair was on the porch, the man turned back to Whitney. "I'm so sorry. Are you okay?" His cultured voice held a smooth, calmer tone, meant to put a person at ease. Concern—directed totally toward her— darkened his green eyes.

"Better than my car." She flipped her quivering hand toward her convertible. "I ran into someone's SUV. I—"

"Don't worry about that. It's mine. Cars can be fixed much easier than people." He walked toward the back of his vehicle and examined the damage. When he looked at hers, he whistled. "Yours will be more involved."

"Yeah. It's sorta like a beetle slamming into a wall." Where was she going to get the money to pay for this?

Even if the man could take care of his SUV, her car repairs would cost a lot and with a five-hundred-dollar deductible—money she didn't have—she had no answer. She would not accept any more help from her older brother. She'd always managed to make her way in the world by herself. She wasn't going to let this change that. She would figure out something.

After rounding the back of her vehicle and inspecting the crash from all angles, the man came back to her side. "I see what you mean. I'll take care of your car."

"No, I crashed into your SUV."

"But if you hadn't reacted quickly, my son would have been hit. I owe you. I'll take care of it." He stuck his hand out for her to shake. "Shane McCoy."

"I'm Whitney Maxwell." His warm, firm clasp conveyed a man who took charge of situations and solved problems. Her defenses quickly went up.

"Noah's sister?"

"Yes, you know my brother?"

"I've been working with Stone's Refuge ever since it began. And since he's on its board, we've gotten to know each other these past few years."

Now that she was thinking somewhat rationally, she remembered Noah talking about a Dr. McCoy seeing some of the kids who lived at Stone's Refuge, a place for foster children who needed help. "You're the child psychologist." Then she recalled her brother mentioning how much Dr. McCoy had helped his adopted son. "The one who worked with Rusty."

"Your brother was the best thing that happened to Rusty."

"I think my nephew would agree. Noah's taken to being a dad." Although she had discovered she loved children since returning to Cimarron City, she never saw herself as a mother. She never wanted to disappoint a child like she had been.

"Come in and I'll call a wrecker to take your car to a shop I know that does excellent work for a fair price."

Shane McCoy had everything figured out. She fortified her defenses. "I'll drive my car to school and come up with something."

He shook his head. "That car isn't going anywhere without a wrecker."

Whitney did her own examination of her VW and noticed the front hood was crumpled into her right tire. He was correct. Although the school was about two miles away, maybe she could walk and still make it on time. She glanced down at her watch and winced. That wasn't an option if she wanted to be on time or at least only a few minutes late.

"You mentioned driving to school—the university?"

"No, Will Rogers Elementary School."

"You're a teacher there?"

"A teacher's assistant." If all her plans worked out, she would be a teacher in three years.

"My son starts kindergarten there on Thursday. We've been marking off the days until school starts. So since I was going there this morning anyway to show Jason around before the meeting there this afternoon, I can take you. That's the least I can do."

She looked down at the damaged hood. "Fine, but I need to call a wrecker then the school to let them know I'll be a few minutes late." She hated being late her first day on the job, but there was just so much help she would accept from Shane McCoy.

"Are you sure I can't arrange for a wrecker to take your car to Carl's Body Shop?"

"I'm sure." If she had been paying better attention instead of looking for Zoey Crandell's house, maybe she would have seen the child racing across the lawn toward the street. But ever since she'd made the decision to move out of her brother's guesthouse, her attention had been focused on finding an apartment, and Zoey's sounded perfect for her.

"You can call inside while I prepare Jason to leave now."

"Prepare?" slipped out before Whitney could stop it. Jason didn't act like a normal kindergartner. What was wrong with him?

"It won't take long. I just have to prepare my son for something a little different. He already knew he was going to the school today." Shane started for the large Victorian house, stopped and said, "My aunt makes a great cup of coffee. Would you like some?"

"That sounds good." Whitney reached into her VW and grabbed her purse and the classified section of the newspaper she'd brought with her. Peering at a circled ad, she noted the address she'd been searching for and the reason she was on this particular street. "Do you know Zoey Crandell?" she called out to Shane...

Second Chance Family can be purchased from your local stores (like Wally World!) or from Amazon, CBD and for your Kindle.

You can keep up with Margaret through her web site and her blog.

Tomorrow is the interview Margaret graciously did for us. Don't forget to leave a comment to be entered in the book giveaway!

Free to Be...

Monday Manna

Today is Monday Manna at An Open Book and Joanne gave us another short verse that packs a whallop.

Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. ~1 Peter 2:16

This verse seems to be the culmination of several verses just above it...

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; ...Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation. ~1 Peter 2:9, 12

PhotobucketWe are God's people.
PhotobucketOur lives are to proclaim Christ.
PhotobucketWe are to live above reproach.
PhotobucketOur lives are to glorify God.

Yes, it's true, we no longer live under the law, but rather under grace, but that doesn't mean we can use it as a blanket excuse for doing things we shouldn't. Just because the Bible doesn't say 'thou shalt not' do a certain thing, doesn't mean that it's okay for us to do all things. We have to look and see what the Bible tells us to do and how we're to live our lives. We are not free to do anything we want.

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? ~Romans 6:1-2

In our freedom (provided through Christ's death, burial and resurrection) we are to give our lives totally to God. We are to willingly and joyfully become His bondslaves. Jesus did not die so we could go on our merry way claiming His grace and mercy as an excuse for our selfishness and self-centeredness. He freed us from our sin so that we could live our lives in such a way that God is greatly glorified. Always.

A life lived out of love for God will glorify God.

If a behavior or action will not glorify God, we shouldn't do it.
How do we know what will glorify God? By being in His Word on a regular basis and by living in a state of constant communication with Him.

Use your freedom to live for God and to be a willing and joyful bondslave of God.
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