Saturday, December 08, 2007

"He was born with CP... and came back healed...."

A Verified Miracle:

Years ago, in Orlando, I walked into my friend's church's weekly home group that I occasionally visited and heard wonderful piano music. Usually, we sang unaccompanied, but this night, our guest speaker graced us with soaring chords. The young man's parents had bought him an old upright so he could beat on it in his frustrations during his years of piano therapy for Cerebral Palsy.

When he was fourteen years old, his left side had quit growing, so his arm was drawn up close to his chest, his left leg was deformed, and he limped badly.

One Saturday night, he went to a home group much like this one, and some believers laid hands on him and prayed. And instantaneously, his arm grew out, his leg straightened, and even his teeth lengthened on that side.

The group was so thrilled, and when he went home, he ran up the stairs to rejoice with his parents.

His mother put the pillow over her head and his father said, "We'll see if it's still there in the morning." The healing.

After all those years, hope could be a cruelty joke.

Well, it was there in the morning. He did have the slightest halt to his step, but I took that as evidence of the original problem.

Just so I could tell others I verified this amazing story, I called his high school. He had graduated maybe three years before. I asked the secretary if she remembered him. Her voice perked up. "Oh, yes."

I must stress here: I did not put words in her mouth. "I heard something wonderful about him. Could you tell me what happened?"

She corroborated his story: "He was born with CP and had a bad limp. He went to a revival or something and people prayed for him and when he came back Monday morning, he was healed."

But it wasn't a revival. It was just a living room full of believers.

And he and his home group leader were allowed to give his Christian testimony to the whole school one morning in a weekly assembly program when the scheduled speaker had to cancel. As a result, a Bible club was formed in the school.

He spoke in my home on two occasions so all my friends could hear. I had invited the whole church, and only the pastor and a few others came. But those who did brought others, and my living room was packed out, twice. I had to step over people to get from the kitchen to the front door. Right in my living room, I made some great new friends I kept for years until I moved away.

And they got to hear how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, who went about doing good and healing ALL who were oppressed of the devil, for God was with Him. Acts 10:38.

And we have that same Power Source as the Son of God did on earth!

The Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, and dwells in believers, Romans 8:11 gave new life to this crippled young man in this life.

Now, I urge my friends to join in prayer that that same Holy Spirit heal my precious friend Kristy Dykes who has a stage four brain tumor.

The doctor says without a miracle, she will not live.

Jesus says, With His stripes, we are healed, Isaiah 53.

Kristy's husband, Milton, asks for believers from all over to pray that for Kristy this Monday at 3:30 CST when she has her first radiation.

While she's going through this, Milton has taken over writing her blog and reporting on her progress. He writes today:

Please share her website so caring believers can follow up in prayer.

Kristy has been diagnosed with a Glioblastoma Multiforme stage four tumor. According to all reports, except the Word of the Lord, this is terminal and without a miracle she will not live long even with radiation and chemotherapy.

We believe God works miracles. We are not kooky, foolish people. We just believe God's Word is for today, for our lives, and works to help meet our needs. Is anything too hard for the God of all creation?

No, indeed.

Kristy is so cute and talented and sweet, and needs a miracle just like my friend received in Orlando. God has done it before. He'll do it again.
Click on Kristy's website and read about her through the eyes of her adoring husband.

And please pray for both of them! Thank you!

PS: Later--when she did go in for the first radiation treatment, guess what, the machine had quit working. The tech said it had been working all morning. I pray that is because it isn't the machine that is going to make her well!

Here's a powerful song, Days of Elijah. It talks about the One who was and who is and who is to come. That, of course, would be our Lord and Savior and Healer, "Jesus Christ, the same, yesterday, today and forever."

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Sandi Glahn on _Informed Consent_ and one of St. Paul's teachings on women

I enjoyed Sandi Glahn's first solo medical suspense, Informed Consent. I'll let Sandi describe it:

Jeremy Cramer, the next Einstein of research, is a medical resident specializing in infectious diseases. While working on a way to revive water submersion victims, he makes surprising discoveries, while also living with massive guilt over incidental infections that occur (which he could have prevented). Even as his marriage teeters, his career continues to skyrocket. Then, with a few twists along the way, he finds everything he has fought for threatened by the most personal, most heart-wrenching, choices of all.

I love exploring bioethics, and this book allowed me to consider end-of-life issues, patient rights, a compassionate response to HIV-AIDS…lots of edutainment.

And what I really enjoyed is the way she inserted a lot of interesting technical medical information without letting her research show. Her main character was a doctor who also did research, and patients' symptoms and the doctor's discoveries all were enumerated very naturally in dialogue and exposition. Sometimes by the villain(s?), heh heh.

Plus, the characters were unique, believable and likeable. The reader really cares when anything happens to any of them! I had to email her at one point and say, "NOOOoooooo!" LOL So, it was a page-turner with a happy ending.

On another subject, Sandi, if you could be a fly on any wall at any time, when and where would it be and why?

I would love to rewind and go back to Corinth when Paul’s first letter arrives so I can get some insight into what he was talking about when he brought up the whole woman/head/covering thing in chapter eleven.

Meeee, too! What is that all about? I mean, Philip had four prophesying daughters in Acts, as Paul mentioned when he and Luke and their other companions visited Philip, and he didn't say the women prophesied to the dust bunnies. LOL

And Ephesians 5:21 says to submit to one another. And nowhere does the Bible say the husband is the head of the house. Please share your thoughts with us.

Are you sure you want to get me started?

Go for it! LOL

Interestingly enough Paul never uses the word "headship." Or leadership. Or lead.

In both English and Greek it says head. But in English, we use head as a verb AND a noun. "I head a committee" = head as a verb. It means to take charge. But in Koine Greek "head" is only a noun--a thing--and in Ephesians 5 it means "top body part."

He uses a metaphor of a head attached to a body. We often make "head" a synonym for leadership/authority (in Koine Greek the primary meaning for "head" was "top body part") and in the process we lose that Paul's emphasis is not on power or even responsibility but on oneness. Two become one. What God has joined together. Picture a human head/body.

When Paul thinks of a Christian marriage, he does NOT tell a man to make the final decisions. In fact, in 1 Corinthians 7, he tells couples talking about abstaining for the purpose of prayer to make a mutual decision ("agreement") in a spirit of unity.

He goes on to say that the wife has authority over the husband's body (as does hubby with hers). If that is a hierarchy, it is one weird circular chain of command!

We often hear taught that Paul teaches husbands to lead, but the biblical command is not to lead but to "love"--of the agape variety. We see distortions of this when we find stuff in the popular Christian press about how the Bible suggests women are made mostly for love and men made mostly for respect.

In saying that, the authors mean "phileo" love (warmth, hugs), but when Paul commanded husbands to love, he used the word for the kind of love that means sacrifice (agape)...the hard kind--the kind that looks a lot like submission by another name.

Both a man and a woman need a spouse who sacrifices and who respects. Peter tells husbands to treat their wives with respect. Elsewhere, Paul tells wives to love their husbands of the phileo variety.

I'm not saying he teaches mutual submission in Eph 5:22. That happens a verse earlier in the context of the entire church submitting to one another (putting others' needs above our own).

I'm saying he teaches husbands to sacrifice (of the daily variety and not just taking a bullet) and wives to submit. Two sides of the same coin.

He never warns against husbands being overbearing or abdicating authority--the two extremes of leadership. Rather, he commands husbands to love sacrificially, to nurture their wives because their wives are their own selves, connected at the neck.

The wife submits because the husband is "head." That's a noun, not a verb. Something he is, not something he does or "should" do. A body comes under a head when it's attached. To use horrible grammar: He are her and she are him. They are one. Connected.

Sexual intercourse is another picture of this. I think the Bible teaches that the primary purpose of marriage is oneness.

So Paul's teaching on "headship" is this: Love your wife as yourself because "she are you" below the neck. Nurture and cherish your wife because she "are" your self. You two are one.

The counterpart to head (noun) is not submit (verb) or submission; the counterpart to head is body (noun). The counterpart to submit is not lead. It's agape love.

And I love it!

Sandra Glahn, ThM, teaches in the media arts program at Dallas Theological Seminary, where she edits the award-winning magazine Kindred Spirit. The author of six books and co-author of seven others, she is pursuing a PhD in Aesthetic Studies (Arts and Humanities) at the University of Texas at Dallas . She recently released her first solo medical suspense novel, Informed Consent (Cook). She is the co-author of three other such novels, which include the Christy Award finalist, Lethal Harvest.

Read more about Sandi Glahn at her website, Aspire2.

And Friday, Sandi visits Dineen Miller's blog.

Thank you for being here today, Sandi.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Enter drawing to WIN _Sanctuary_ or _The Winter Pearl_!

Leave a comment at the bottom. I'll draw two names on Tuesday.

Sanctuary by Molly Noble Bull is the first of three long historical novels in the Faith of Our Fathers series about the Huguenots. It was published in trade paperback on September 15, 2007 by Tsaba House, who has contracted Molly to write two more historical novels in this series, a short contemporary novel and two non-fiction books.

Molly, what a gorgeous cover! Tell us about the series.

Sanctuary tells the story of Rachel and Pierre Dupre, who leave France in 1740 in search of a safe place to live and eventually settle in Scotland. Their descendants, called Huguenots, finally immigrate to South Carolina. Along the way, they discover the meaning of faith and the true place of safety.

What made you decide to write Christian fiction?

Years ago, I read secular romance novels by the dozen, and this was after I was saved. To learn to write, I would tell myself. I’d be reading along and all at once I knew the hero and heroine were leading up to a sexy scene.

So I would think, I’ll just skip this part and go on. But I never knew how many pages to skip. Sometimes I didn’t skip enough and started reading again after the characters had hopped into bed. Then I would stop reading and skip a few more pages.

This is my paperback book, I would think, and I declare that the hero and heroine didn’t jump into bed though unmarried. They didn’t curse a few pages back either.
I kept on playing these silly games a while longer. Then one day I realized I was editing too much of the book. I’d had enough of that and wasn’t going to do it anymore. I haven’t read a secular novel in years, but if I read one now, it would probably be a Harlequin romance that was so old the paper was falling apart. The cleaner books were written back in the fifties and sixties where everybody smoked but sex and petting scenes were sometimes taboo.

When did you sell your first story?

I was teaching in a public elementary school when I sold my first short story. I sold my first novel to Zondervan in 1985. Soon after that, I sold a second novel to Zondervan. They also purchased a third novel, but it was never published. I was informed that Zondervan had stopped published romantic fiction, but I got to keep my advance.

In 2004 The Winter Pearl came
out from Steeple Hill in trade paperback. Steeple Hill
published it again in 2007 in mass-market paperback.

What is your non-fiction about? I love research so much, sometimes I think
I should write non-fiction.

One is about marital problems: how to prevent them and how to put the pieces of a broken marriage back together.

I am a dyslexic, and along with four other dyslexic fiction authors, I am writing a non-fiction book titled The Overcomers: Christian Authors Who Conquered Dyslexia. But a publication date won’t come until the book is finished.

What are you reading, now?

Strange, now I read mostly non-fiction. Learning how to write fiction has made me picky, I guess. But if I do go into a Christian bookstore, pickup a novel and the first sentence doesn’t grab me, I put the book back on the shelf and get another one.

Right now, I am reading a non-fiction book by Joel Richardson titled Anti-Christ: Islam’s Awaited Messiah. As a fan of Bible prophecy, I was always told that number 666 would come out of the old Roman Empire. But Richardson has a whole new slant on this topic, and his book has kept me up nights, reading.

I would enjoy that one. I love to read Bible prophecy, and recently enjoyed The Ezekiel Option by Joel C. Rosenberg

Tell us more about yourself and your walk with the Lord.

I was born in Kingsville, Texas, and I met Charlie Bull, my future husband, in college. Though we have had problems—even marital problem, we worked them out, and Charlie is the only man I have ever been married to. I am the only woman he has ever been married to, and we are still very much in love. We have three grown sons and four grandchildren.

We lived in the Texas hill country for years. Now we have moved back to Kingsville where our children and grandchildren live.

What is the most important, interesting, or exciting thing the Lord has done in your life?

The Lord constantly amazes me. Life with him is always exciting and fun. He’s like a really good friend, and sometimes I have to stop and remind myself that He’s not just my best pal, He’s the King of the Universe.

My husband and I were never heavy drinkers, but when we first got married, we went out dancing and drinking maybe once or twice a month. Then we were invited to join a locally prestigious dance club that I’d been hoping to join for several years. Soon after I was saved, we went to a huge dance club party. Everybody was drinking, and some were flirting with people they weren’t married to.

By that time, I knew Jesus lived in me. I remember thinking, what is a nice person like Jesus doing in a place like this. Then I realized He was there because I brought him. Needless to say that was the last time we ever went to one of those parties, and I never regretted that decision a bit.

How would you answer those who would say Jesus went to the sinners?

Are you talking about Jesus eating and drinking with sinner? If so, I didn’t attend those parties in order to save souls. Before I was a Christian, I went to eat, drink adult liquids and have fun. But as a Christian, I didn’t want to take Jesus to a place he might not want me to be.

What would you like to share with other writers to improve their writing or careers?

I visited my area ACFW chapter in San Antonio recently, and they were getting ready to pitch their manuscripts to editors at the conference in Dallas. I reminded them that an editor might request that they tell in one or two words what their books are about and that they should prepare an answer ahead of time.

I explained that The Winter Pearl was about forgiveness. Sanctuary is about forgiving the unforgivable.

Great themes, Molly. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. And for giving away a copy of each book.

Thanks for inviting me, Margo, and I hope you will invite me back soon. But before I go, I wanted you and your readers to know that my next historical in the series isn’t finished yet and probably won’t be published until 2009 or 2010. However, my short contemporary novel will be published next year.

Runaway Romance is actually two short contemporary novels under one cover and will be published by Tsaba House in trade paperback in the summer or fall of 2008.

My novel, Alyson, is a lighthearted romance set on a Texas ranch and has a Cinderella plot with a twist. Author Teresa Slack wrote the other Runaway Romance novel, and I think her title will be Kyla.

The current spin is that successful authors stick to one genre and might wonder why my books are all over the map: historical novels, contemporary romances, and non-fiction books. I have even had a couple of Chicken Soup-type short stories published in the last few years.

So, why all the different types of books?

The only answer I can give is that I write what interests me, and I write what the Lord tells me to write.

Molly's wonderful testimony and excerpts from her books can be found on
her website.

To win a copy of Sanctuary or The Winter Pearl, please leave a comment. I'll draw a name next Tuesday!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Harry Potter Inspired by Christianity? Proof: verses on gravestones? Children's author says she "struggles with" afterlife. So, good, evil are--?

What would be the definitions of "good" and "evil" for someone who is not convinced of afterlife?

What else are they not convinced of?

What are they teaching our little children?

"Pardon me while I scream a little," says the writer of this--click here: Christian parents: Stop trusting Harry Potter.


In another article, J.K. Rowling, author of the wildly popular series, Harry Potter, said recently that she still wrestled with the concept of an afterlife. An article entitled, Christianity inspired Harry Potter reveals that the author is not convinced about Christianity, after all.

The British website, (click on:) Telegraph, quotes her:

The truth is that, like Graham Greene, my faith is sometimes that my faith will return. It's something I struggle with a lot.

On any given moment if you asked me if I believe in life after death, I think if you polled me regularly through the week, I think I would come down on the side of yes - that I do believe in life after death.

But it's something I wrestle with a lot. It preoccupies me a lot, and I think that's very obvious within the books.

How can one who is a Christian and believes that Jesus died for the sins of all, wonder if there is an afterlife? I'm sorry, and God bless J. K. Rowling, I bear her no ill will; but that is not the Biblical definition of Christian.

Even if she does write verses on gravestones.

Yet, there are those who hand the books to little children, saying the HP books are good because they show good triumphing over evil.

Good wizards versus bad wizards?

I have to wonder what are the definitions of good and evil as presented by a dear lady who is not convinced of either heaven or hell.

And if she's not, why should she worry about anyone going into the land God promised? Including wizards!

Because God warns that wizards will not enter that land, according to God in Deuteronomy 18:9....

The article also refers to yet another article and the Pope's concern, that "these are subtle seductions which act unnoticed and by this deeply distort Christianity in the soul before it can grow properly."

This Protestant must agree with the Pope.

And now that Ms. Rowling has sold how many books and made $1B plus and finished the series, she adds to the controversy she has already inspired with her occultism and outs the most important influence in the children characters' lives, the headmaster of the school.

How will this influence our children?

I would hope we would consider God's feelings and warning. That is, the specifics of--ta daa--Deuteronomy 18:9.... Good or evil, wizards do not enter the Promised Land. Period. According to God.

God hates the practice of wizardry.

And if I love God, how can I look for entertainment in what He hates?

And now, a school on witchcraft is opening in Missouri. The headmaster says it is possible because Hollywood has made it more acceptable.

Acceptable? Again, Deuteronomy 18 says no wizards will enter the Promised Land. God hates the practice. Whoa. Pretty strong, but there it is.

Even if I don't *practice* it, do I want to dwell on and be *entertained* by what my Lord *hates,* whether reality or fiction? I think that's the crux of the matter.

Besides hurting God, when we disobey,I have to think about that roaring lion in I Peter 5:8. Nobody talks about him much, anymore.

Everyone must choose for themselves what to do with Deuteronomy 18:9:

When thou art come into the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations.

Deu 18:10 There shall not be found among you [any one] that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, [or] that useth divination, [or] an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch,

Deu 18:11 Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.

Deu 18:12 For all that do these things [are] an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee.

Gee, Lord, why not say what you mean? LOL

And see: God, Harry Potter and the Detestable Nations...

My friends must do as they are led. I just want them to be aware of what God says about it. And not be so open-minded their brains fall out! : )

God bless.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Writing about Psychological Traits

Margo on a windblown hair day

I'm a people person, and curious about us all, I took psychology as an elective in high school and college. Later, I took classes in counseling. So, I did a lot of reading to learn about not only the background for the novel I'm writing, but why people do the things they do.

And yesterday, I shared a lot of information
I had garnered with my writers group, on
writing about psychological traits--

Based on the theme of the book, (click on:)
Shadow Syndromes
, we may all exhibit to some extent, traits of full-blown syndromes. These little traits could add interesting, challenging, even amusing layers to our characters.

Please NOTE: None of this info is meant to diagnose--or make light of--a list of observable traits. I acknowledge that some psychological traits are full-blown disorders that make life very painful for those who have them, and for those who live with the people who suffer them. This is not addressed lightly. If you recognize any in yourself and are troubled by them, please see a health care provider. Thank you.

For those who wish to write about the mild effects of common quirks, or for writing about those full-blown syndromes--and God bless especially those who write from painful experience--these same resources could provide a jumping-off place for ideas and sources of further information:

First, articles and websites about, one would hope, writers! (Okay, doesn't God promise to give some talents to everybody? Yes!)

GT Adults—Gifted and Talented Gifted celebrities

Depression in gifted

Resources for all traits:


Cutting Loose—women and divorce—lots of lying in bed at night, terrified and trembling, but "I made it and I’m glad I did it." (God hates divorce, but doesn't He hate some other things more? Ephesians 5:21—submit to one another….) Ashton Applewhite

Get Out of Your Own Way! Escape from Mind Traps by Tom Rusk, MD

HSPs--highly sensitive persons
Highly Sensitive Person Aron

Highly Sensitive Person in Love Aron

Gifted Grownups, Streznewski*

Gifted Adults
, Jacobsen, Psy.D.*

Psychological Symptoms, Bruno, PhD*

Christian Counseling, Revised Ed., Collins, PhD*

*** Shadow Syndromes—Ratey*

*good to have on hand for understanding self and others.

Double Vision by Randy Ingermanson—Asperger’s Syndrome--and funny

It Had to be You--Linda Windsor-- Depression on a cruise (but funny!)

Moby Dick—Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?

There are many my friend, Jane St. Clair, drolly observed:

Just look at the classics like Moby Dick, Crime and Punishment, MacBeth, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Anna Karenina -- all the main characters would require counseling today! Modern books like Catcher in the Rye, White Oleander, Great Gatsby - all have characters obsessive and even murderous in their intentions.

When my husband and I go to the opera, we like to talk during intermission about what would a counselor do with the main character? Well, if someone smart got to the lead in Madame Butterfly or Romeo and Juliet -- well, there'd be no story!


A Beautiful Mind

Good Will Hunting
(recommended by my instructors for Robin Williams’ realistic portrayal of a professional counselor, esp at end) awful language

Prince of Tides (Not-entirely-recommended counseling procedure, but good story)

The Aviator Howard Hughes would be different w/ today’s drugs for OCD. So sad.

As Good As It Gets
with Jack Nicholson. OCD

-- book and movie—MPD—Multiple Personality Disorder (popularly confused w/ Schizophrenia which is something else entirely)

Three Faces of Eve—book and movie—MPD

About Schmidt

One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest

The Glass Managerie


Silence of the Lambs

What about Bob

Rain Man
—Autistic Savant

Lots more movies
. I can’t vouch for language or content.:

Psychological fiction. Again, I can’t vouch….

OCD in books and film:

Practical help:

Marla Cilley--Flylady at
For housework routines and organization, not of stuff, but of you, giving you more time to write and make life easier. I learned why I was so distractible--I was simply making housework too hard, writing out ambitious, "perfect" schedules, then crashing and burning. You Born-Organizeds out there don't understand that, but a lot of others do! LOL Fascinating. Lots of problems and solutions. ***

More websites--specific disorders--articles discussed, found mostly at States that generic Wellbutrin often does not work as well in depressed people as Wellbutrin brand. The generic may dissolve at wrong rate--too much at first, then gone, bringing back depression. Tested in lab--and on healthy people. Big help, huh?
* would have been a good one but we ran out of time *another good one! Such an attack on women's egos today!

So, to apply these to our writing, let's brainstorm a moment here, take characters we know with extreme traits and turn them upside down, set them in a different world, switch their gender:

For instance, in the movie, As Good as it Gets with Jack Nicholson, who has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: What if he was a woman, instead, and a retired--what? She had to deal with lots of people in her career and made a lot of them angry. (How?) Now, some of them want to find her and?...

Or Moby Dick--Captain Ahab played by Gregory Peck was obsessed about killing Moby Dick, the whale who almost killed him. What if we take Ahab and his obsession off the whaling vessel and put him on Wall Street, and the one who almost killed him was--a woman--a stockbroker? An investor who lied to him about--?

Change the gender of one of your secondary characters and give him/her Narcissistic Personality Disorder--every conversation has to turn around to be all about him/her, she has illusions of grandeur and can do no wrong, she will pursue what she wants because she is entitled....

Or, use today's news--remember The Prize, starring Paul Newman, whose character won the Nobel Prize for Literature? Let your imagination have a field day--lots and lots of fluorescent light bulbs are sold, and everyone ends up with weird billirubin blood counts, a flattering flush, and extra blood vessels in their eyes, leading to seeing in the dark and no one can sleep or, for some, make love. This leads to decline in population which goes unnoticed because of an increase in same due to varying personal tastes--okay, getting carried away here, I know. : )

On a personal note, I obsess about world events. I know God is in control, but shouldn't we be doing more to make the world better? Here are my favorite sources of distracting news sites , when I need an excuse not to write, LOL. Lots of fodder for stories here:,,,,

(A whole section devoted to--labor pains?

And this is funny--the guy in the back seat:)

But I digress. Hope these resources are helpful to someone out there, writing about these traits or living with them.

God bless.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

"Who was that masked woman?"

New Orleans was wonderful! At long last, I visited dearly loved cousins in my favorite city. (See my longing lament.)

First night, dinner with cousins at Market Cafe' near the old
French Market,

last morning, "Coffee with Jesus at Cafe' du Monde." Mmm, cafe' au lait and powdered sugar beignets. (Deep fried pastries)

Plenty of family and food in between--like at Alpine's Cafe' near
Jackson Square, which serves succulent soft-shelled crab impaled with a knife!

But all is not fun in New Orleans. Please pray for the people and the city and the lethargy in high places.

While the "sliver by the river," that is, the French Quarter, the Central Business District, and St. Charles Avenue to Audubon Park, (the latter with grass growing over the unused street car tracks,) all look fairly normal, it will take a long time for the city to recover.

Even with all the aid money, many missing or wind-bent street signs in the French Quarter and elsewhere have not been replaced. How hard or costly can that be? And how can they have recovery of commerce and tourism without street signs?

And the people have a high rate of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder with fewer doctors and health facilities.

But the restaurants, shops and hotels are busy, and many good Christian people want to stay home and make it work.

It's a charming, challenging, fertile mission field and I love it so much.

Thank you.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Jennifer Griffith's testimony

All, go to the blog of Jennifer Griffitj and read, "How did a Louisiana gal get out West?" What an awesome testimony to the healing power of God!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Conference comin' up! Yaay!

Click here for photos of last year's great time at the American Christian Fiction Writers conference in Dallas, Texas.

September 20-23 is right around the corner on and I can hardly wait. So much to learn, so many people to see and hug, so many opportunities to offer the world our babies. Er, books! And it's fun to see what the Lord is going to do in all our lives.

Next week, I travel down to New Orleans, the site of much of the Book of My Heart, to visit cousins--see blog below--and review my thoughts and memories.

Then, back in time to repack, regroup and head for Dallas! Yeehaw!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans?

Homesick today! Look at these boiled crawfish! Don't they make your mouth water? How about the cafe' au lait and beignets at the top? Mmm, lunch, anyone?

Anyone out there know what it means to miss New Orleans?

My mom and grandmother lived there, I have cousins I miss all over town, and New Orleans itself is always on my mind like a dear friend, one I am finally about to visit again for the first time since Katrina!

I've written a 100,000-plus-word story that takes place there as well as in Israel Paris and--Pensacola. One of these days, an editor will recognize its sterling qualities. LOL

But I digress.

Leave a comment if you like, tell me some of your favorite thoughts about that fascinating historical city by the Mississippi.

Natalie, a dear friend in Arizona, a glorious place in the Sonoran Desert where I used to live, just sent me this joke about a good lawyer in Louisiana and his encounter with the FHA:

Only in Louisiana - you have to love this lawyer -

A New Orleans lawyer sought an FHA loan for a client who lost his house in Hurricane Katrina and wanted to rebuild. He was told the loan could be granted if he could prove satisfactory title to the parcel of property being offered as collateral. The title to the property dated back to 1803, which took the Lawyer three months to track down. After sending the information to the FHA, he received the following reply:

(Actual letter):

"Upon review of your letter adjoining your client's loan application, we note that the request is supported by an Abstract of Title. While we compliment the able manner in which you have prepared and presented the application, we must point out that you have only cleared title to the proposed collateral property back to 1803. Before final approval can be accorded, it will be necessary to clear the title back to its origin."

Annoyed, the lawyer responded as follows:

(Actual Letter):

"Your letter regarding title in Case No. 189156 has been received. I note that you wish to have title extended further than the 194 years covered by the present application. I was unaware that any educated person in this country, particularly those working in the property area, would not know that Louisiana was purchased, by the U.S., from France in 1803, the year of origin identified in our application. For the edification of uninformed FHA bureaucrats, the title to the land prior to U.S. ownership was obtained from France, which had acquired it by Right of Conquest from Spain. The land came into the possession of Spain by Right of Discovery made in the year 1492 by a sea captain named Christopher Columbus, who had been granted the privilege of seeking a new route to Ind ia by the Spanish monarch, Isabella .

The good queen, Isabella, being a pious woman and almost as careful about titles as the FHA, took the precaution of securing the blessing of the Pope before she sold her jewels to finance Columbus' expedition. Now the Pope, as I'm sure you may know, is the emissary of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; and God, it is commonly accepted, created this world.

Therefore, I believe it is safe to presume that God also made that part of the world called Louisiana . God, therefore, would be the owner of origin and His origins date back to before the beginning of time, the world as we know it AND the FHA.

I hope you find God's original claim to be satisfactory. Now, may we have our loan?"

(The loan was approved !)

Love it! And it reflects some of the rich history of New Orleans. And that got me started on this blog.

Yes, God definitely created Louisiana, and my soul will rejoice to be there soon. : ) At the 160th birthday of a precious, historical church, (click here:) Zion Lutheran.

Established in 1847, it has seen the Civil War, and lost two pastors in the Yellow Fever epidemics.... My mother, grandmother and great-grandmother all went there, and my aunts and great-aunts.... My beloved cousins have organized a wonderful celebration and one of my grown daughters is going down there with us. Can't wait.

So, I can definitely answer yes to the question.

I'll just have to sit down and watch Buccaneer starring Yul Brynner with hair, as the pirate Jean Lafitte, and then, maybe Undercover Blues with Dennis Quaid, hilariously silly. And King Creole, Elvis's favorite, a drama by Harold Robbins.

And, oh, here's one of my favorite places, Preservation Hall. Click on their Radio button.

And this is fun, also from Preservation Hall, Complicated Life

When I heard another song, New Orleans Ladies, tears flowed over those street names, I was so grateful that "the sliver by the river," the French Quarter, and the Garden District where my grandmother lived, all the way down to the antique stores along Magazine Street, where I used to walk to the bank and grocery with my grandmother, had escaped Katrina's fury.

And can you help me out and name this song?

Remember Captain Kangaroo? He'd play a song video about a riverboat, whose title I never knew. It has a line like, "River Queen, what have you seen from St. Paul down to New Orleans and all the small towns in between that know the river's song? --- Don't leave me standin' on the shore, but if you've room for just one more, how 'bout takin' me along?"

The producers didn't remember the song and it's not on Google. If anyone out there knows the name of it or where to find it, please, please email me or leave a comment below.

Meanwhile, I'm about to get down my suitcase and get my tires checked because I am NOT "Walkin' to New Orleans"!

God bless, and happy humming!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Please (don't) pass the mushrooms?

Hello! Virginia Smith here, stepping in for Margo Carmichael,
who has graciously agreed to host me on her blog as a part of
my virtual book tour celebrating my latest release,
Murder by Mushroom.

I’ve been given free reign over my topic for today,
so I’ve chosen one of the discussion questions included
at the end of Murder by Mushroom.

The question reads as follows: have you ever been surprised to
discover that the thing you desired was packaged differently
than you imagined?

In Murder by Mushroom, the hero and romantic interest, State Trooper Dennis Walsh, had a very definite idea of the type of woman with whom he wanted to spend the rest of his life. Quirky, socially inept Jackie Hoffner didn’t even begin to fit the bill. And yet by the end of the book, he discovered that she was, indeed, the woman God had picked out for him. (I’ll let you read the book to see how he managed to figure that out!)

I’ve had times when the thing I wanted turned out far differently than I imagined. Writing was one of them. I wrote my first short story in my early twenties while on maternity leave awaiting the birth of my son. That story lit a fire in me, the first flickering flame that quickly became a roaring passion for writing. Almost instantly, a full-fledged longing blossomed – I wanted to be a published author. Wanted it badly. I dreamed of my life as a career author, flitting here and there to booksignings, seeing my name top the New York Times Bestseller list. I would spend my days on sandy beaches under a colorful umbrella, casually typing out my next bestseller on my laptop while tanned waiters brought me fruity drinks with umbrellas – paid for, of course, with all the money the publishers threw at me. (Oh, yes. I dreamed big!)

God had plans for me and for my writing, but they were different than mine. That first story was rejected, and many after it. I spent twenty years struggling to produce a publishable piece of fiction, and watching my dream fade away like a giant bonfire dwindles to embers.

And then, when my dream was no more than a mere whisp of smoke curling from the nearly-dead fire, the Lord stepped in. He showed me a better way – His way. I realized that He had lit that little flame to begin with, but then I fanned it into something that He never intended. Humbled, I surrendered myself and my dream – my writing – to Him.

That’s when the first book contract arrived. And the next. And the next. My dream has been fulfilled, but success doesn’t look a thing like I expected. I have an announcement: I shall not be retiring to the Caribbean to live off my royalties anytime soon.

But that’s okay, because every day I enjoy an overwhelming sense of peace and satisfaction as I sit at my computer and pound away at my next book. No umbrellas. No fruity drinks unless I get them myself. No bestseller list (but I can still hope for that, can’t I?) God has granted me the desire of my heart, and along with it, the joy of knowing that it is His dream for me, too.

Since surrendering her dream to God, Virginia Smith ( has received contracts for seven books. Her latest, Murder by Mushroom (Steeple Hill, August 2007) received a 4-star review by Romantic Times, and has been hailed as “a delightful cozy – great summer reading!” She invites you to pop over to her website and find out about her August contest to give away a 30GB video iPod!

Thank you, Virginia. Murder by Mushroom looks darling and I look forward to jumping into it. And I do love mushrooms!

So, what are you reading now--ABA and CBA?

I am in the middle of a nonfiction book by Anita Renfroe called If It’s Not One Thing, It’s Your Mother. I’m really enjoying it. Next on my night stand is Life, Libby and the Pursuit of Happiness by Hope Lyda. I don’t know if I dare say this, but a recent secular book I’ve really enjoyed is the 7th Harry Potter book. (Do you think I’ll get blackballed for that?!)

Blackballed? No. Debated--definitely! LOL (Scroll down to July 17th entry, then scroll down to Comments there. : )

I’ll totally alienate myself when I admit that I adore Terry Pratchett’s Discworld fantasy novels. They make me laugh until tears roll down my cheeks. I also really enjoyed The Pilot’s Wife by Anita Shreve.

I enjoyed the surprise ending, too.

And I like general market mysteries, such as the Pennsylvania Dutch mysteries by Tamar Myers, and the horsey-set mysteries by Dick Francis.

THANK YOU so much for taking part in my blog tour for Murder by Mushroom.

Our pleasure!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Robin Shope on her latest, The Candidate

It's my pleasure today to welcome my friend,
Robin Shopes.

Hello Robin, welcome back for another interview. Last
year around this time I interviewed you about your last book,
The Replacement. And now this summer you have
a third book just out, The Candidate.

Hi Margo. It’s my pleasure to be here and talk about
The Candidate.

Yes, we spoke a year ago about the second book in the trilogy. And The Chase is the first book. All three of my books are co-authored with Susan Wales.

What is your favorite scripture?

That changes from time to time depending on what the Lord is speaking to me in that particular season of my life.

But the enduring passage that I return to is the root of salvation, John 3:16. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life. That is beautiful. God loves us. That is the driving force behind everything He has done for us. We are not motivated by anger and punishment, but by that great sacrificial love that Jesus came and laid down his life for us.

I agree. Awesome to realize the Creator of the universe knows and loves us personally. That is Good News! Tell us a little bit about yourself.

My husband and I are former missionaries. Although he is in business now, Rick saves his vacation days so he can still go overseas once or twice a year for ministry. This October will be his sixth trip to India. Rick has also spent a great deal of time in Kenya and has been the first white man in many of the villages.

Wow. The Lord bless you for that.

Last semester I taught 8th grade ELA, but this year I have a new job as a high school teacher for the Denton County courts system and will continue my work with at-risk teens.

And for that!

Rick and I have two grown children, Kimberly and Matthew, and a cocker spaniel, Cooper.

What other writing have you done?
Over two hundred magazine articles, a few dozen short stories in popular collections such as the CHICKEN SOUP books, New York Best Seller Joan Wester-Andersen IN THE ARMS OF ANGELS, to name only a few.

I have an article coming out this fall in the Oct. 2007 issue of CHRISTIANITY TODAY and a cozy mystery set on an island in Lake Michigan.

What led you to be an author? A very prolific author, I might add.

In fifth grade, I learned the power of words. Always too shy to speak, I found my voice in written form. I met the Lord in my Sunday school class and knew I wanted to write about people who were lost then found their way to God.

There is nothing more beautiful than a transformed soul.

As a teen I filled one journal after the other, recounting snapshots of my day, my thoughts, and my prayers. Writing stories seemed to be an evolutionary process and I always felt if I weren’t writing about Him, what was the purpose?

Professionally I began writing articles ten years ago, and then started writing short stories. Having a book published was answered prayer -and that first novel developed into a three-book series. I’ve always wanted to be God’s storyteller. Being a CBA author is a lovely bonus.

What are you reading now?

Right now I am reading a cross section of books in the mystery genre from both the CBA and ABA markets.

What is the most exciting thing God has ever done for you?

I can’t name just one because each day has its own special excitement. Of course I think of all the big events like when I met my husband, the day we wed, celebrating our thirtieth wedding anniversary this summer, the birth of our kids and all of their accomplishments, and seeing my books in print; all the fabulous things everyone rejoices in. Its exciting when God answers a prayer, or shows me a truth in His word, each time I can pray with someone, when I teach my at risk kids and tell them about Jesus.

But I’d like to quickly share a little true story about something that was said to me last school semester. An eighth grade boy Tom (not his real name) said, “Mrs. Shope, when I came to school this year I had no hope. I started each day with a shot of whiskey. But you gave me hope when you told me about Jesus and it made me stop drinking. Now I want to live. I thank you from the bottom of my heart."

Wow. Powerful. What a blessing to know your work touched a young life like that!

How did you come up with the concept for your books?

The Candidate is the third book in the trilogy. Since the first book began in my hometown of Delavan, Wisconsin, with The Chase, I wanted to finish the series there. I knew that Barnum & Bailey Circus used to winter there and so we used some of the historical facts from that to incorporate in the book.

Also, several years ago, the lake was drained and many artifacts were found dating back hundreds of years. There are maritime laws that forbid their removal.

That's intriguing!

That gave me a great idea! I thought, how about a buried treasure that may or may not include some of what was actually found? And so the basic concept for the story was formed.

Of course, we had to think of ways to use Jill and John. Since Jill had moved back home to run the towns paper it was natural for her to investigate and report. So how about a drowning that turns out to be murder? And what if the victim turned out to be a congressional aide? And what if a congressman was rowing the spotter boat when the murder took place just feet below the lake’s surface?

Hmm, how could a murder happen underwater without anyone on the surface having a clue while they watched a sailboat race?

The ideas are enticing. Is any part of The Candidate factual?

Yes, the story is based on several true historical events that actually took place in Delavan. But the basic story is quite fictional. I also have real characters from the town in the book. Case in point is Gordon Yadon who is the town’s historian both in real life and in my story.

How closely is this story based on your life?

I can’t say it’s based on my life, but I did bring in people from my past to help tell the story. The setting is my hometown, and most of the characters are drawn on people who live there. But I tweaked them all so they might have a hard time recognizing themselves.

I, for one, want to read it! Thank you, Robin Shope.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

God, Harry Potter and the Detestable Nations...

What do you think about Harry Potter? Leave a comment below, if you like.

Harry Potter is so cute and clever and popular, exercising magic powers and wizardry and casting spells and all. What a phenom.

What a Cinderella story for his author, from poor single mother to multi-millionaire. What author wouldn't love to accomplish that?

Well, I'm afraid I can think of One, who wrote:

Deuteronomy 18:9-14 When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there.

Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire,

who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead.

Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD,

and because of these detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you. You must be blameless before the LORD your God. The nations you will dispossess listen to those who practice sorcery or divination.

But as for you, the LORD your God has not permitted you to do so.

Another version calls these practices abominations.

Well, God, why not just say what you mean? LOL

That makes me think a lot of good-hearted people and sweet little children who enjoy these books and films are depriving themselves of more fun than these, and of even bigger blessings!

On the other hand, there's this precious promise:

John 14:15-23 If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— the Spirit of truth.

The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be[c] in you. ... Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.

He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him."
Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, "But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?"

Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching.

These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me."

Wow. Boy, I know it's hard for me to obey God at times. I know my flaws and weaknesses and some of you know them, too.

But it's easy for me to choose to obey in this. If God hates something so much, I'm not about to turn to it even as merely (?) entertainment.

Or use it to teach my precious children to read! Read about things God hates as if they were fun and clever and maybe even desirable? The end does not justify the means.

His little children in bookstores dressed as the very things he detests? It must break His heart.

What about those who see symbolism of the Gospel in these books? I'm sorry, friends, I just think it's like offering strange fire on the altar.

Or digging through--detestable things--for the Pearl of Great Price.

One columnist suggests the books cause another problem, with its "bait-and switch" storytelling: Click to read Harry Potter and Anti-Christian Bigotry.

Another columinst shows that Harry does not know that an inscription was a Bible verse. The story ends with his parents taking back to the school of detestable things.

Young readers can conclude Harry does not seem to need to know God, the Bible, or Jesus Christ, since he chooses to use other powers not from God.

Meanwhile, even puny obedience leads to the fun of seeing God's hand in one's life.

Like that sculpture of Jonah in that church I visited for the first time last Easter. I had just that week said I needed a break and was running from writing like Jonah from ran Ninevah.

And there in the front of that church stood a six-foot-tall wood carving--of Jonah!

( Scroll down two articles for photos.)

And that wasn't even obedience!

But God is so good, He tracked me down and got my attention and blessed me anyway.

That is so much more entertaining to me than a little boy learning to practice the "detestable ways of the nations" ever could be--in the long run, anyway!

I'm sorry, I know not everyone will agree with me. My friends are certainly free to do as they feel led.

I serve a jealous God.

I also remember this, though, and am encouraged by the heart of our loving Father who just wants to bless us with only the best:

Deuteronomy 5:29 Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!

"These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me."

"As for you, the LORD your God has not permitted you to do so."

Somebody please tell Harry. He seems to worship a different God.


Articles to read:
What is the occult?
The occult, what does the Bible say about it?
Relevant scriptures…
1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.James 1:27 keep oneself from being polluted by the world

3 John 1:11 do not imitate what is evil
Romans 12:9 abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.
Deuteronomy 18:9-14 (do not learn to imitate detestable ways, including spiritists, sorcerers and witchcraft)
Ephesians 5:11-12 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness /live as children of light
1 Timothy 4:1 (don't follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons)
1 Corinthians 10:212 Corinthians 6:14-17 what fellowship can light have with darkness?Philippians 4:8 (think about pure, lovely, noble things)
1 Corinthians 11:1 follow the example of Christ
1 Corinthians 10:31 whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God
James 4:7-8 submit yourselves to God / resist the devil / purify your hearts

Ezekiel 44:23 …teach my people… to distinguish between the unclean and the clean.
Proverbs 22:6 train a child in the way he should go
Matthew 18:6 if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin…
Hosea 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.
John 3:19-20 people love darkness instead of light
Romans 13:12 put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.
Ephesians 6:11-18 take your stand against the devil's schemes.
1 John 5:19 keep yourselves from idols
2 Chronicles 7:14 If MY PEOPLE...will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways...I will forgive their sin and heal their land.

Anybody think our land needs a good healing???

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Memorial Day to 07/07/07--40 Day Fast after 40 Years in wilderness of rebellion--"Summer of Love" to Now

Can the US stand another 40 years like the last 40? From the 1967 "Summer of Love" until now has been 40 years of rebellion.

For some who don't know, forty years ago, school kids took turns reading from the Bible each morning and leading their homeroom in The Lord's Prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance. We actually recognized the existence and authority of God.

Stealing was rare. Pregnancies were rare.

The only weapons were spitballs and the worst crimes were talking in study hall. (I had to go out in the hall and count bricks in the wall for talking!)

There was a dress code and people didn't consider wearing dirty slogans on t-shirts or pants so low you can see the South Pole. They loved dressing nice to school church and believed their efforts showed respect for the Occasion.

Movies were a little suggestive at times, but fairly clean.

The only drug dealers wore dirty trench coats in back alleys.

Congress had their debates and differences, but there wasn't gridlock like we see now. And the press was more respectful of the office of president.

The president was not criticized for calling on his faith in God and prayer!

All was not perfect, but things were very different from now.

And if things continue another forty years in this moral downward spiral, I can't imagine what things will be like.

Our founders were Christians, not Deists, believing God gives us inalienable rights.
Who will give us our rights if we continue to kick God out of our institutions?

Who will enforce them? How???

But something exciting is going on: the most amazing project--a huge rally in Nashville for fasting and praying for forty days to come against the last forty years of rebellion:

In 1967, 100,000 young people, ages 15-25, flocked to San Francisco to experience the hippie movement. This mass convergence was sparked by the hit song in San Francisco called, "Wear a Flower in Your Hair." Once there, they experimented with LSD, pot, immorality, and Eastern mysticism, in what became known as the "Summer of Love."

When these newly recruited, "Flower Children," returned home at the end of summer, they brought with them new styles and ideas, flooding the cities of the U.S. and Europe with a message that opposed authority and scorned conservative morals.

This counterculture rebellion was fueled by music and art, and it rapidly shifted global culture.

A great divorce from God and His ways of kindness occurred in this turbulent time, and the effects of the, "Summer of Love," are still with us today.

The Church is obviously saturated with those effects.

So says this website.

More here.

This group is calling for Forty Days for Forty Years--forty days of fasting for revival against these last forty years of rebellion against God.

On the plus side, the article also states, "I have a 1971 Time Magazine article that states three times, that the Jesus Movement began in 1967, and that Jerusalem was taken back by Israel in 1967."

"After a 40-year judgment, could we be in a season in which a great spiritual awakening could occur in America, and the Jewish people would return to Yeshua?"

I'm not advocating joining this group, although I like what they're doing. That is up to you to read their website and decide for yourself. There will be rallies around the country if you're interested.

And how cool and powerful would it be if we would fast and agree in prayer with them!

Jesus said in Matthew 18:19 "Again* I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.

Who isn't sick over the things taught to our children in public schools? Who isn't disgusted over what passes for entertainment in our theaters and in our own television sets--things God called abominable in Deuteronomy 18:9, like the current popularity of sorcery and witchcraft. ("But Harry Potter makes them read"?!)

And Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, witchcraft, hatred, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told [you] in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.Galatians 5:19...

And that's just the kids' cartoons! Just kidding, sort of. That's *our* nightly entertainment, things God hates.

And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove [them]. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. Ephesians 5:11, 12

Unfortunately, that's also our morning news.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control. Galatians 5:23

Who wouldn't love to see the pendulum take a huge swing back to God's righteousness in the next year? Wouldn't it be wonderful if once again our children could have innocent childhoods?

Whatsoever things are pure, lovely, think on these things--Philippians 4:8 But innocent young children go to websites for school research and are assailed with porn.

God promises, If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and forgive their sin and heal their land. II Chronicles 7:14

Take a look at the website, read their thoughts. Two good books: Shaping History Through Prayer and Fasting, and God's Chosen Fast tell of the effectiveness of fasting. I would add, check with your doctor.

And don't go off caffeine cold turkey, but taper off over a week or so, or you'll get a raging headache. Different kinds of fasts can include from just giving up chocolate (gasp!) to just eating plain vegetables (Daniel fast) but do not go off of all food for forty days and

***never limit fluids.***

This 40 Days for 40 Years campaign will culminate on 7/7/07. May that date go down in history as a great spiritual turning point in the earth.

Let's join our hearts to theirs.

And bow our knees.

And fast. And pray.

Lord, we were once like a city on a hill for You. We were conceived with a desire for freedom to serve you. Lord, show us our sin. Help us to turn away from it. And please, Lord, in the mighty name of Jesus, heal our land and restore our joy in you--and your joy in us! Amen.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

"I've just seen..." Jonah?!

I've just seen Jesus, I tell you, He's alive!
I've just seen Jesus, our precious Lord alive!

So goes the wonderful Easter song.

Just before Easter, I told friends, "I took a break and ran from writing like Jonah from Ninevah."
That was when I got into the play I've described several articles below. It was so much fun and got me out with wonderful people. A real blessing.
The play ended the week before Easter.
And Easter week, I visited a nearby church I've passed a thousand times. My friend had mentioned their Maundy Thursday service and I decided to go.

Two tall wood carvings stand in the lobby, very stylistic and modern.

One is Moses, representing the Law. The Old Testament.

I looked at the other figure, expecting to see Jesus. The New Testament.

Then I noticed a vine.

And a large gourd.

And I saw Jonah!

I stood there amazed. I'm not sure why they have Jonah instead of Jesus.
But there he was.
God had led me there, where I'd never been before.
He reminded me of my comparison.

And told me it was time to get back to my writing!

As I had also told my friends, I see His hand so much, encouraging my writing. He is so faithful.

So, I'm writing, I'm writing! And lookin' out for a big fish....

Friday, April 06, 2007

An Easter visit from author Tricia Goyer

Before we hear about Tricia Goyer's latest book,
here's a clever thought from her about Easter.

Every year I help my husband put on an Easter
program for our children's church. And no matter
what part of the Easter story we share, we always
use the same slogan:
No Bunny Loves Me Like Jesus.

This year as you awaken with joy over the resurrection remember:
No Bunny Loves Me Like Jesus.

As you dress in your Easter finest remember:
No Bunny Loves Me Like Jesus.

As you see the delight in your children's eyes as they open their Easter treasures, tell them:
No Bunny Loves You Like Jesus.

And as we consider Christ's death in order that we might have life, let's celebrate:
No Bunny Loves Us Like Jesus!

Love it!

Now, Tricia tells us about the stories behind A Valley of Betrayal.

A few years ago when I was researching for my fourth World War II novel, Arms of Deliverance, I came across a unique autobiography. One B-17 crewmember I read about claimed to make it out of German-occupied Belgium after a plane crash due, in part, to his skills he picked up as a veteran of The Spanish Civil War. Reading that bit of information, I had to scratch my head. First of all, I had never heard of the war. And second, what was an American doing fighting in Spain in the late 1930s? Before I knew it, I uncovered a fascinating time in history—one that I soon discovered many people know little about. This is what I learned:

Nazi tanks rolled across the hillsides and German bombers roared overhead, dropping bombs on helpless citizens. Italian troops fought alongside the Germans, and their opponents attempted to stand strong—Americans, British, Irishmen, and others—in unison with other volunteers from many countries. And their battleground? The beautiful Spanish countryside.

From July 17, 1936-April 1, 1939, well before America was involved in World War II, another battle was fought on the hillsides of Spain. On one side were the Spanish Republicans, joined by the Soviet Union and The International Brigade—men and women from all over the world who have volunteered to fight Fascism. Opposing them, Franco and his Fascist military leaders, supported with troops, machinery, and weapons from Hitler and Mussolini. The Spanish Civil War, considered the “training ground” for the war to come, boasted of thousands of American volunteers who joined to fight on the Republican side, half of which never returned home.

Unlike World War II, there is no clear line between white and black, good and evil. Both sides committed atrocities. Both sides had deep convictions they felt worth fighting and dying for.

Loyalists—also know as the Republicans were aided by the Soviet Union, the Communist movement, and the International Brigades. If not for the weapons and volunteers from these sources their fight would have ended in weeks rather than years. While many men fought side by side, their political views included that of liberal democracy, communism and socialism. The Catholic Basque Country also sided with the Republic, mainly because it sought independence from the central government and was promised this by Republican leaders in Madrid.

Nationalists—or Francoists were aided mainly by Germany and Italy. The Nationalist opposed an independent Basque state. Their main supporters were those who believed in a monarchist state and fascist interests. The Nationalist wished for Spain to continue on as it had for years, with rich landowners, the military, and the church running the country. Most of the Roman Catholic clergy supported the Nationalists, except those in the Basque region.

During the Spanish Civil war, terror tactics against civilians were common. And while history books discuss the estimated one million people who lost their lives during the conflict, we must not forget that each of those who fought, who died, had their own tales. From visitors to Spain who found themselves caught in the conflict, to the communist supporters, Basque priests, and Nazi airmen . . . each saw this war in a different light.

These are the stories behind A Valley of Betrayal.
Tricia Goyer, October 2006

If you like, you can read the first chapter here.

And remember, No bunny loves you like Jesus!

Titus 3:4-8 But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy statement....

Monday, April 02, 2007

Enchanted April: To those who appreciate wisteria and sonshine

To Those who Appreciate Wistaria and Sunshine.
Small mediaeval Italian Castle on the shores
of the Mediterranean to be Let Furnished for
the month of April. Necessary servants remain.
Z, Box 1000, The Times.

I am happily exhausted.

"Enchanted April" is over, my "play" mates scattered.


But, like the characters who bonded in the lovely ambience at San Salvatore, we're already planning to get together, to see the play when another group performs it in another venue, and one member has invited us all to her lake house later this spring.

This was all an amazing blessing to me:

One of my favorite stories comes along and I get a part just the right size for me at my level of experience, plus, speaking a language I've always loved,and just having fun when I needed a break from nursemaiding dh after his foot surgery.

I see the Lord having made sure I read an article a few years ago about this ten-year-old movie I had missed, "Enchanted April." It sounded delightful.

Some weeks later, Blockbuster had a huge sale of old movies and there it was. I bought it and loved it.

Recently, although I usually read the news online, I picked up a local paper and saw the ad for the audition, and amazingly, got a part. In Italian.

Then, sweet, funny, talented people were chosen to be at San Salvatore with me in cast and crew.

All this falling into place just as when the main character, Lotty, went to London on a different day than usual, and read the ad in the paper at her woman's club--when
Rose, who Lotty wanted as her future traveling companion, happened to be there as well....

In the last scene, the cast crossed the stage slowly in couples or alone as they looked at San Salvatore one last time. I (Costanza, a "necessary servant") stood to the side waving good-bye, and the last time, my tears were real. :' ) I would miss these characters and the awesome people who played them in this imaginary place. And the awesome crew that kept things moving along.

After the closing matinee, we stayed behind to take down the set and clean up the Green Room. Then I went home to meet a daughter and her husband and child, who took us out to dinner.

I also found a surprise from them, a pot with a tall budding wisteria standing in the afternoon sunshine.

My husband planted it for me today.

This was a wonderful experience beyond my comfort zone, but with much more fun than fear. God is so awesome and so good and I look forward to throwing my arms around His neck one day!

If you like, read the online book.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

April in Italy!

When I saw that one of my favorite movies was now also a play nominated for the Tony Award and about to be produced in my area, I auditioned and, amazingly, got a small part

My friend, author Mary DeMuth, has a to-do list for writers and number four is get away from your work and do something else for a while.

Well, I've done just that, for the sake of a change of pace and heightened creativity--and with other people.

Writing is such solitary work and full of long waits. Acting gets you into a different world, working with others face to face, and garners instant feedback: It works or it doesn't and the director is quick to tell you which.

"Enchanted April" is light dramedy in the Merchant Ivory tradition (think Room With a View, Howard's End,) based on the 1922 book by Elizabeth Von Arnim. It also became a lovely movie seventy years later.

It received great reviews although that one left out the wonderful Alfred Molina.

The play has recently become available, so it's now showing or in production in many areas this spring.

Two desperate London housewives in 1922 rent a small castle in Italy for a brief escape from the rain--and their less than stellar marriages. They find two more women--one difficult, one exotic--to share expenses and off they all go--into more rain. But they waken to the enchanted beauty of San Salvatore and some lovely surprises....

The movie shows four servants at the castle, but the play has only one, Costanza. That's me. And my lines are all in Italian, except breakfast and marvelous. I had studied a little Italian, plus French and Spanish in school, plus a little Japanese and a little Hebrew. I love languages. So the translations make sense to me and it was not too hard to learn. Easier than learning the sequence of my seven entrance cues in one scene.

San Salvatore is represented by Castello Brown in Portofino, Italy (now also on my to-do list) and in our lovely theater set surrounded by blue water and terrace furniture to match. So a little corner of London plus San Salvatore make up our alternate reality for now.

The cast and crew are talented and share a sweet chemistry and it's all just so much fun. Just like playing, but all grown-up. (Relatively speaking!) Like, "Hey, watch this, let's pretend," and off we go.

As for writing, one of the character/husbands is an author of novels another character calls "salacious." His own wife, Rose, says, "One shouldn't write novels God wouldn't want to read."

LOL I wouldn't even recommend critiquing and helping others write novels God wouldn't want to read.

Whether or not I ever audition again, time will tell.

And I'll definitely write again.

But right now,
I'm being blessed by this play. God is so good, He does give us the desires of our hearts! It isn't often a part comes along for a woman "of a certain age,"
let alone a clean, uplifting story you could bring older children to, let alone a favorite story in a lovely setting.

"All'Italia--" "Marvelous!"