Wednesday, July 19, 2017

I don’t want to be a “Midas” woman {A Guest Post}

I am super-excited to have a guest today! My in-real-life friend, Valorie Quesenberry, posted the following thought on Facebook over the weekend. I was so taken by it that I knew I had to share it with you {with her permission, of course}. 

~~~~~

I don't want to be a "Midas" woman . . . but my experience yesterday showed me how vulnerable I am.

In a land far away lived a woman with a very ordinary life. Everything about her life was average. And though she was used to her daily routine, she dreamed of differentness, of glamour, of being and having more.

One day, she was visited by a fairy who promised to grant her any wish of her heart. The woman already knew what she wanted. She asked the fairy to give her a “magic touch” so that everything she touched would be magically enhanced and look better, prettier, richer. The fairy cautioned her to consider her wish carefully, reminding her that simplicity is one of life’s unappreciated treasures. But our heroine’s mind was made up, so the fairy granted her wish.

She could hardly wait to try out her new gift. Walking into her living room, she touched her rather worn plaid couch. Immediately it became supple leather, rich brown and tastefully stitched. 

Delighted, she turned to the coffee table, the piano, the lamps and the picture on the wall. All day she glided from one room to the next, making her commonplace house into a showplace. In the master bedroom, she opened her closet and touched the garments, exchanging each one for something new and trendy. She went next to her dressing table and acquired exotic perfumes and high priced cosmetics. Catching a glance of herself in the mirror, she paused for a moment and then daringly touched her eyes, eyebrows, nose, lips, chin and hair. Zap! Her waist became svelte; her thighs smooth and sleek. The transformation was astonishing. She had traded average looks for supermodel beauty. She was ecstatic.

She was eager for her husband and children to come home, so excited with all the wonderful changes they would see. When the school bus stopped, she waited with a big smile. But when she opened the door, her children weren’t glad, but frightened. She reached out to them, wanting to reassure them that she was still Mommy.

But the instant her fingers touched their little faces, she realized her mistake. Before her eyes, the little ones whose images were imprinted on her soul morphed into beauty-pageant-like tots, their imperfect, lovable little features erased forever. With an agonizing cry, she sprang back, clawing at her own hands, begging the fairy to take back the gift. Too late she realized that happiness is found, not in something different or better, but in full appreciation of the blessings we already possess.

No one escapes the “Midas touch” desire. You and I may never have the opportunity to actually try it out, but it calls to us all the same. Underneath its glittery coat, it bears an ugly name – greed.


I felt the lure of the fairy just yesterday as I walked into a home decor superstore. Everywhere were things that were so beautiful, so trendy, so "Pottery Barn," so "me" or at least the look I want to define my home. I wanted to snatch this and that and the next thing. (and I also wanted to have the money to pay for it, of course!:)

But my past shopping forays tell me that I can never have enough to satisfy the hunger for the new and beautiful. I have been able to accumulate a few things that at the time were "all that" and now they are not enough. I want something different, something else. There is always something beautiful to allure my eyes.

I realized in a new way that I will never have so much that I don't hear the siren call for something new. This desire to embrace beautiful things must not become a curse. I must keep it in its rightful place. To this pull of the present, I must answer with the wisdom of the ages. The wisdom of the God of the ages.

" . . . beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.” Luke 12:15

I can learn to say "Right now, I have enough."


That's a life-changing phrase.

~~~~~

Valorie is a pastor’s wife and writer, and you can find her blogging at The Q Scoop as well as on Facebook. Thank you, Valorie, for allowing me to share your writing here!








Do you struggle with the desire to be a Midas woman? Or have you decided that you have enough?



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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Three Reasons to Homeschool During the Summer

Hi, my name is Meghan, and I’m addicted to homeschooling.

{Hi, Meghan.}

Not really! But judging by the looks we get when we admit that we’ve started school already, I think some people think so. In fact, we started in June.

I’m not advocating never taking a break. We had a three-week break in May when we traveled, and we’ll have another three-week break in August.

But, for our family, we don’t have a two-plus-month summer break. Here’s why ~


Too many skills are lost or forgotten over long breaks. Teachers deal with this reality every fall when students return to their desks. That’s why typically the first month of each new school year is spent in review. In fact, many of our local schools are now offering workbooks for students to take home for the summer. The pupils do a couple of pages each day to keep their skill set sharp.

When temperatures reach the upper 80s and 90s, the children don’t want to go outside. Quite frankly, I don’t blame them, especially with the humidity levels here in the Midwest. Sure, there are excellent indoor activities as well, and my children love to read, do puzzles, and play with Legos, among other activities. But too often, I hear the plaintive wail of “Can I watch a movie?” I absolutely do not want my children to spend a summer in front of a screen. Spending a little bit of time with school work helps make for a screen-free summer and still provides opportunities for making their own creative play. We save our time off for colder weather, our favorite time of year, when we can jump in piles of fall leaves and build snowmen.

It gives a jump start on the new school year and, thus, wiggle room for the future. You never really know what’s coming next in life. You can plan and prepare, but, too many times, we’re thrown a curve ball. When that happens, whether that unexpected event is good or bad, it can be helpful to have a few days of school in already. My 80+ year old mother decided, mid-year, to sell her condo, downsize, and move to an apartment in a retirement community. It was a wise decision, but it also took some time…cleaning out, listing the condo, selling a ton of stuff, deciding who is going to take which items, hauling things hither and thither, finding boxes, packing, unpacking. You know how that can go. But because we had started school earlier in the summer and had a few wiggle days, we were able to make the hour drive (each way) and help out several times.

If you have a lot of activities or commitments over the summer or if you take long family vacations, this may not work for you. I know some families take schoolwork on vacations, but I’d rather just leave it at home. That’s the true beauty of homeschooling, though. It can be arranged around your family’s needs.








Do you school in the summer? Why or why not?



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Monday, July 3, 2017

Winners of Deadly Disclosure!

{Affiliate links ahead.}

I’m a little late in posting the randomly-chosen winners, but I wanted to allow a bit more time for entries. Thanks for entering and thanks for reading!

Will you allow me another shameless plug for my August release, Deadly Disclosure? J




If you didn’t win, you can pre-order.

Or, you can sign up for my newsletter. I’ll be giving away a couple more copies in my next issue as well as listing the blog sites where I’ll be guest posting in August, each with a giveaway. Just fill in your email address in the box below and hit Subscribe.




I might just do another giveaway here as well, at release time....


And now, the three winners of Deadly Disclosure and a little sweet treat ~

Suanna

Cheryl Baranski

Dixie


Congratulations!

Please contact me with your mailing address, and I’ll get the books sent right out.


Have a safe and blessed Independence Day, my fellow Americans!











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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Summer Reading + A Giveaway of my new book, Deadly Disclosure!

{Affiliate links follow.}

How is your summer reading going?



We’ve been traveling and helping extensively with our church’s Vacation Bible School as well as beginning a little summer school (more on that later!), hence, my absence from the blog.

Where I live in the Midwest, temperatures are to the upper eighties and into the nineties already. 

That's too much heat for me. I'm like Marcy from Peanuts. When it becomes difficult to breathe outside because of the heat and humidity, I'll stay inside in the air conditioning, sipping a glass of iced tea, and reading a favorite novel. {Aren't they all favorites?}

While we were away, a lovely box of books was delivered!




My second book with Love Inspired Suspense, Deadly Disclosure, is here in the house! It’ll hit shelves at your local Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Kroger, or wherever else Love Inspired Suspense are sold at the beginning of August!

The writing of this book seemed more arduous than Under Duress (still available on kindle), and I’m not sure why. But I’m glad to be through the labor and delivery to hold this book baby in my arms.

May I add to your to-be-read pile?




From the back cover:

FATAL FAMILY SECRETS
Getting shot at on her way to work is only the first shock of
law student Hannah McClarnon’s day. The second is when FBI agent
Derek Chambers—her first love—reveals the truth about Hannah’s
family. Though Hannah was raised by a wealthy Indianapolis couple,
her birth father was with the Chicago mafia. And now, convinced she
has information against them, they’re hunting her down. Derek’s first
big assignment is to protect Hannah, and it’s becoming more personal
every minute. He’s never revealed why he left long ago, and he still
believes Hannah deserves someone better. But with the enemy in
relentless pursuit, he’ll risk his life to be the man she needs—
and loves—again.


If you don't want to wait for August to order the book or you'll afraid you'll forget, you can pre-order now. That way the order is in and done, and the book will show up at your house or on your kindle as soon as it's available. Pre-orders also help writers reach the sales numbers our publishers like so that we can continue to see our books published.

If you want a chance to have it sooner, though…I would love to give a couple of books away with this blog post. Oh, why not?.... Let's make it three copies! And I'll throw in a little something sweet to munch on while you read.

Just leave a comment or contact me through my contact page or, if you're reading via email subscription, you can simply reply. Let me know you want to be entered, and I'll announce winners next week.

As always, thanks for reading. Your presence here blesses me!

Oh, before you go, why not sign up for my author newsletter? I'll be giving away a couple more books with the July/August issue.












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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Twenty-One Ways to Grow a Reader {Updated}

{I posted a blog quite similar to this back in 2013, but there have been some changes since then. And since the time for summer reading programs is quickly approaching, I’ve updated the post.}

When I was a child, I would frustrate my mother by reading so much. I still managed my chores, and I earned good grades. But sometimes, when I would go outside “to play,” I would climb a tree and disappear into its branches, book in hand. On summer break, before I was old enough to have a job, I would sit and read an entire book in one day.

Are some of us born readers?

I don’t know.



But I don’t want to leave my children to chance. I began, intentionally, to teach them to love reading at an early age. Some of my children are still relatively young, so whether this will stick for life has yet to be seen for them. But my 17yo and 15yo continue to list reading at the top of their hobby list.


Summer reading programs are quickly approaching, so here are twenty-one tips for growing voracious readers.

  1. Read aloud, copiously, when the children are little. Voices, too.
  2. Continue reading aloud even after the children can read for themselves. Voices, too. J
  3. Play with books – spread them out as roads for cars, build them into forts, wear them as silly hats.
  4. Let your children see you read…a lot.
  5. Let your children see their father read, or talk about how much he reads at work.
  6. Ask them about what they’re reading. What is it about? Who is their favorite character? What is their favorite part?
  7. Talk about books…a lot.
  8. When you talk about books, be excited…a lot.
  9. Give your children books for both birthday and Christmas. Our children know that at least one of their gifts will be a book. We also usually give a book or two to the family at Easter as well.
  10. Praise them when they read a book…a lot.
  11. Quote from books. For example, if my husband or I need to call for the children because we’re leaving someplace, we often call out, “Chidlers!” They know that when they hear that call, they need to gather. But do you know why we call them chidlers? We haven’t mixed up our words. J It’s from The BFG by Roald Dahl. The Big Friendly Giant in that book calls children, chidlers. {An interesting aside: in all the years we’ve been using that term out in public, only one person knew where it was from. She was a librarian at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., and the children lit up to be able to talk to her about books.}
  12. As the oldest children become avid readers, encourage them to encourage the younger children to read.
  13. Reduce or eliminate broadcast television. We don’t have television at all, but we read, play games, play together, and talk.
  14. Reduce or eliminate DVDs. Some days, we don’t watch any DVDs at all. Other days, it might be perhaps just a couple of half-hour movies.
  15. Reduce or eliminate video games. We used to have a Wii, but when the remote controls went on the fritz, we ditched it.
  16. Reduce or eliminate phones. Our children {the oldest is 17} don’t have phones or any handheld devices {except kindles J}.
  17. Reduce your use of your phone. Our children don’t see me constantly fiddling around on a hand-held device. I do check a few things now and then, but it’s not a tumorous growth on my hand. J
  18. Make going to the library or bookstore a big deal. At the library, I put very little limit on how many books they can take home. If we go to a bookstore, we usually go to Half-Price Books where we feel a little more financial freedom to let them buy {almost} whatever they want. Hmm…a book for $1.00 or a Wii game for $20. That’s a no-brainer.
  19. Decorate with books on bookshelves.
  20. Talk about the value of reading and how life and learning are much easier and more enjoyable when there is a love of reading.
  21. Pray. I have prayed since their birth that each of my children would love to read.



Happy reading!








Do your children like to read? How have you encouraged that?


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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Four Lessons Learned from my Mother's Home-made Estate Sale

Mom is downsizing. In many respects, it feels freeing, eliminating items that have been weighing her down for decades. But it's also emotional. She's moved out of the condominium she lived in with Dad for the last two decades of his life. In fact, they've lived there for most of my married life. It’s the only home my children associate with Grandma.

Now, she’s going to be in a two-bedroom apartment in a retirement village. It’s still a good size, and she will maintain a lot of independence. But it won’t hold everything.

It was time to let go of a lot of things.



I researched lots of different options for her including auctions and estate sale companies. Several items she took to specialty consignment shops. A few things sold on Craigslist. We bought her washer and dryer. But in the end, she decided to run her own two-weekend estate sale. I was there two of the four days and came away with a few observations.


People aren't nearly as dangerous as I imagine them to be. She had advertised the sale in several places, places that warn you to be careful in how you deal with potential buyers. And I’ve had my own run-ins with crazies as I’ve sold my own stuff. Maybe it's because I write suspense. Maybe it's because I read too much news. Maybe it's because I'm a mama bear worried about her cubs. Yes, we need to be careful. But I also tend to see danger in situations where it just isn't. The people who shopped Mom's sale, both in the garage and all over her house, were polite and friendly.


A helpful and knowledgeable friend is a must. One of Mom's church friends runs an antique mall/consignment store type of business. Without her management and expertise, who knows how little of Mom's stuff would have sold? Mom is attached to her stuff (understandably so), but that made it difficult for her to let it go, especially when someone wanted her to come down in price. The reality was, though, that it had to go. This friend helped her price things appropriately and stepped in many times to negotiate the final sale when Mom wouldn’t let me.

Reality can be difficult to face. I'm not sure how Mom handled it all. She doesn't share much emotion with me. But for the first couple of hours of each day I was there, I walked around the condo with a lump in my throat, hiding the tears welling in my eyes. Change can be hard, but we still have to deal with it. I hugged my children extra tight that night and thanked the Lord for both the good times and the bad.



We still have too much stuff. Seeing Mom's accumulated goods spread out on several (several!) folding tables, the counter top, the extra bed that was also for sale, the clothes still hanging in the closets, affected my husband and me…and that doesn't even count what she's crammed into her new two-bedroom apartment. I walked out of that sale determined to declutter more. When my time comes, I want it to be as easy as possible for my children. In the meantime, fewer possessions equal fewer burdens.

And through it all, God is with us, holding our hands, guiding us, comforting us.








Life goes on. How do you handle it? What lessons have you learned from the forward march of time?



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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Winner of Under Duress!

Last week, I revealed the cover for my next Love Inspired Suspense, Deadly Disclosure. It's just so exciting that I'll share it again ~~~



It's coming in August, but you can pre-order on Amazon right now.

And the winner of Under Duress is....

~~ Cheryl Baranski ~~

Congratulations, Cheryl! Please email me to let me know if you want a print copy or an e-book, and happy reading!











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