Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Grown Up Children Doing Grown Up Things


Erica here:

I have two children, both of whom are now adults. And lately they've been doing adult things.

One has:

Gotten her own health insurance (including dental.)
Made an appointment and took herself to the dentist for a check-up sans parents.
Gotten a credit card.
Opened an IRA account.
Applied for a home loan.
Gone house-hunting.
Filled out tax forms.
Began attending a weekly Bible study for post-college age singles.

The other has:

Renewed his driver's license sans parents.
Taken himself to the dentist for a check-up.
Opened an IRA account.
Rolled over a CD at the bank.
Filled out tax forms.
Begun looking for a car.


So many adult things. They are proud of themselves when they accomplish new, grown up things, but there's some trepidation and feelings of being overwhelmed, too. The picture above pretty much describes them both at the end of tough days.


I had a friend who told me once about her young son, who said, "I can't wait to be a dult. When I am a dult, I will do dult things all the time."
 
Thankfully, I'm a writer, so I don't have to grow up or do 'dult' things very often. :)

What milestones are your kids hitting these days?



Erica Vetsch:
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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Do You Give Up When #ChurchHurts?


Someone asked me if the Church has ever hurt me? I wanted to respond that, perhaps, a better way to phrase that question is: when has the Church NOT hurt me? 

I am the product of the Church. Born into its fold, reared by its attendees, married by its pastor, daughter of a pastor, wife of a youth pastor. It is time we stop pretending. Church hurts. Period.

Weekly, I attend church, well, with the exception of being sick two weeks ago and Anne visiting this past Sunday. My absence the last two weeks wasn't met with the aching gap of not attending. In fact, it was met with relief. Finally. A Sunday where I don't have to give.

Selfish? Perhaps. Real? I'm nothing if I'm not honest.

I have witnessed the many dark places in church, and I don't mean the janitor's closet. The lifelong members leaving because a new pastor threatens traditions. The bitter phone calls and name calling, the back biting, the gossip, and the jealousy. I've experienced family vacations interrupted because, well, who else is there to do it, if not us? The activities where the same steadfast souls bear the weight of the entire ministry, while others feed and leave full. I've born the weight of legalistic expectations, down to my barefoot performance during a youth concert in the hot throes of summer, to the "satanic" music of Michael W. Smith. I have seen my brothers let their sisters down. I have seen my sisters sin. I have sinned. I have been guilty of the above and more that shall remain unwritten below.

Church can steal the very breath from your body. Leave you without energy, in a desert, parched and thirsty. The joy unspeakable, love unstoppable theme can be a very, VERY distant reality. Confession: I have even stood on a Sunday morning, in worship, with my mouth closed, Facebooking, because ... church hurts, and I don't want to be there.

I have come to understand why a believer might choose to remain home on Sunday morning. Or to avoid church and its people. I understand why those on the outside look inside and brand us with "hypocrite", or "self-righteous prudes".

And yet, in the midst of humanity, comes the shimmering sparkle of Jesus. It twinkles in the eye of the five-year-old boy who extends his hand to my daughter and leads her into class so she is not alone. It shines in the shaking hand of the gentleman who prepares the vats of morning coffee without fanfare (though well he should receive it). It glows in the fervency of the worship pastor's song, even if I don't like the song, it still there. That supernatural realism that Jesus is... well, that Jesus is...

That Jesus.


I believe that sometimes those outside the Church look in and wait for us to achieve success as redeemed Believers before they venture inside and wipe "Hypocrite" off our front sign.

I believe those inside the Church make the dreadful error that we should portray ourselves so much like Christ that we lose the message of our own humanity. Of the fact of our sinful error and of Jesus' grace. We try to be plastic Jesus's instead of the bandaged, the saved, the real.

I believe we let each other down. We strike out. We hurt each other. We assume all is well, when all is not. We ignore each other's pain. We're oblivious to the agony someone hides in the depths of their soul. We assume the most effervescent is happy and the most martyred is alone. When, sometimes, those who sing and shine and explode into ministry, ache deep in the depths of a soul that has dried into a withered patch of cracked ground.

We place ourselves in the position of Author and expect a fellow Church-ee to fulfill the role of Perfector. When in reality, Jesus, is the Author and the Perfector of our faith (Heb. 12.2) and we? We are broken vessels, patched, sealed, and being used while Jesus makes up the difference.

And in the lonely, busyness of Church, God is alive. He sends refreshment through the Church by sending a sister (Anne) to visit her parched and thirsty youth pastor's wife (me). To come alongside and lift me up and whisper, "all things work together for good to those who love Him". He provides healing in the form a Converse-clad youth who rises on her spring break to help lift the weary spirits of a tired mom and full time career woman and take the children so this hurting one can be refreshed. He vanquishes the dark places with Facebook messages of "you were missed" and pictures of coffee mugs and memes.

I am the product of the Church. Born into its fold, reared by its attendees, married by its pastor, daughter of a pastor, wife of a youth pastor. It is time we stop pretending. Church also heals. Period.

And separating ourselves from the family of Christ is ostracizing ourselves into a room in our house where we can minister only to ourselves and be ministered to only by ourselves. Where the lonely existence becomes all we know until our vision of the Church is bitter, or unnecessary, or simply not a priority.

Family Hurts. Of course it does. Because it is with family you are the safest, and the most real, but also the most vunerable. It is with family that your weaknesses are exposed and your strengths monopolized on. It is with family you are loved fiercely and hurt horribly. Where expectations are placed without reciprocation. Because family is a broken picture of God's future perfection. And yet, underneath all the pain, the betrayal, and the sin, we are tied by blood. We will always be family.

I believe it is time we stop expecting the Church to be the Disneyworld of Christianity. Even Mickey Mouse has a bad day and Cinderella loses her shoe on more than one occasion. The Church is filled with heroes and heroines, with the broken redeemed, and the suffering being healed. We should hold each other, both in understanding and accountability. And, while God's precepts never should be negated, His love should also never be forgotten.

Church isn't a place where we attend just to be filled. It is a place you should attend to give, as you would give to that one family member you're thinking of now who has been THAT PERSON to you. Loved you. Held you. Supported you. Refreshed you. Stop blaming the Church for hurting you. That's crazy. Of course, they hurt you! Name a family member in your life who has never hurt you. Lucky you, if you can. Church is place where you protect, defend, remain fiercely loyal, even when it hurts.]

Because this is what family does.

They love hard.

So, cling to the family God has blessed you with. Peer far past their faults into the glitter of Life in their hearts. The life that comes from Jesus. The Author and Perfector of faith. The One who works all together for good to those who love Him.

Does Church hurt? Of course it does. But we are family. And family Never. Gives. Up. 

Enter to win a copy of Varina Denman's debut novel "Jaded", where Church Hurt is riddled throughout the pages, but also a redemptive story of God's grace and the family we so desperately need! And visit here for a continuing discussion on #StopJading within our family. (And, every great giveaway includes some Starbucks and mug, right?

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__________________________________


Jaime Wright -

Spirited and gritty turn-of-the-century romance stained with suspense. Youth leader. Professional

Coffee Drinker. Works in HR and specializes in sarcasm :) - Represented by: Books & Such Literary Agency

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Monday, March 30, 2015

Monday's Devo: Relax!

When you plan a weekend with a friend months in advance and work so hard to carve out the best time....and hours before it all comes together, it appears to be spontaneously combusting from illness, evaporating babysitting arrangements, missed flights, airport delays, and ice....what else is there to do but RELAX?! Resist the urge to panic!!


And listen for a WORD.

WORD IS:

Romans 8:28 (NIV)
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Jaime and I have had this planned forever! We've waited six months since we've last seen each other. We've reached across miles of distance, taken off work, and arranged and prepped our families.  How can it all crump at the very last second??

We took a collective breath, lifted up a pleading prayer, and readjusted our expectations. Then we held our breath, knowing it may not happen just like we planned. We asked God for a blessing but postured for whatever crumbs might fall from the table. Did someone yell PLOT TWIST??


Could it be that hard for the God of the Universe to align the planets and bring a ray of sunshine to our little itty-bitty woman-made plans?

No, asking for blessings is not a formula. We get that.
It's not a demand. We know God is not a puppet.

But He delights in the joy of His children as a parent delights in giving gifts. And that's how that verse goes. We know God has ALL things in His hands. Nothing is too small for His care. Nothing. Not sick parents. Not crying toddlers. Not icy runways. And we know God is at work. No, He's not busy yanking things into place and working our lives like puppets on His strings. But He is at the business of His Kingdom on earth. And when we align ourselves with His work, things rearrange. Sometimes it's just readjusting our expectations and attitudes. Being grateful for what we do have.

SO, instead of a full day at the coffee shop, Jaime and I planned to spend the day chatting while the kids played. We did our necessary attitude adjustments because He's taught us that's what love does. We trusted it would be enough. We know that as we align ourselves with His purpose, we are filled up to overflowing. That's how the Kingdom works. Perhaps not in our timing, not as we'd hoped it would be, or even how we'd had in mind.

And that's how the adventure hit the ground. Running, adjusting.

BUT THEN...my flights got re-routed to make connections, an amazing youth group young lady jumped to fill in as a sitter. The sun came out. The skies were blue ALL day. The coffeeshop was ON! The movie night fell into place when on a whim, Jaime's husband recorded the movie she'd hoped for. The kids had a great day. The parental illness resolved. We had a great walk in the woods and fun reading with the kids and playing games.

And our cups were filled up. We RELAXED!
And let the joy overflow....

Dear Readers: we hope this little adventure in flexibility and learning how God works all things together blesses you this week.
Look for moments where God is just waiting to show up.
Our chaos is often His opportunity!

-------------
Blog post by Anne Love-
Writer of Historical Romance inspired by her family roots. 
Nurse Practitioner by day. 
Wife, mother, writer by night. 
Coffee drinker--any time.
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Represented by Sarah Freese, WordServe Literary

Friday, March 27, 2015

Book Report & Giveaway: Meek & Mild, by Olivia Newport

If you know me, you know I am absolutely NOT a reader of Amish fiction. I have many Amish author friends who phenomenal writers, so that's not a dig against Amish fiction, it's just not my personal go-to genre. With the exception of Olivia Newport.

Her's are always a unique perspective on Amish through history. This, set in 1917, is no exception. And it is based on actual historical events that affected the Amish church at the time.

As usual, Olivia's characters are rich, layered, and highly relatable. The romance is woven throughout the book, but what I truly enjoyed was the honest struggle of relationships, faith, what is a moral issue vs. faith-tradition, and where does grace fit into the overall equation.

Olivia does a wonderful job of writing high-quality Amish historical fiction, and captivating her readers. So even if you're more reticent to pick up Amish, do so with Olivia's. And if you're an avid Amish reader, you will truly NOT be disappointed!!

Leave a comment below to be entered to win your own copy!!

And here are the winners from the giveaways this week!!!! :)

Varina Denman's Jaded: Marci Hopkins
Laura Frantz's The Colonel's Lady: Deanna
Coffee & Chocolate: Hannah Kooiman
Sarah Ladd's The Headmistress of Rosemere: Bonnie Roof
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Jaime Wright -

Spirited and gritty turn-of-the-century romance stained with suspense. Youth leader. Professional
Coffee Drinker. Works in HR and specializes in sarcasm :) - Represented by: Books & Such Literary Agency

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Let the Celebration Continue!

This week at Coffee Cups & Camisoles, it's all about the celebrating! On Monday we started the week celebrating Jaime's debut contract with Barbour Publishers and on Tuesday we celebrated my arrival as a new contributor to the blog.

In the spirit of celebration, I thought it would be fun to share the three things I'm personally celebrating this week--and then I have a fun giveaway for one lucky winner--because what's a celebration without gifts?!?!

Here are the three things I'm celebrating:

1. Sunday, March 29th marks the second anniversary of the date I signed with my literary agent, Mary Keeley! (Mary is also Jaime's agent.)

I wish I had a bumper stick that said: I My Agent. Mary and I have been a good pair. One of my love languages is Words of Affirmation, and she's wonderful at filling my love tank! Since signing with Mary, I've completed three novels and sold two novellas to Barbour Publishers. I'm excited to see what the coming year will hold for our partnership.

Mary and me at the 2014 Books & Such Literary
Management Retreat in Monterey, California

2. Sunday, March 29th is also special for another reason! My twin boys turn five!!

My husband and I have been blessed with four children. We have two girls (ages 10 & 8) and the two boys. It's hard to believe they'll be five in just a few days! Next fall they'll start school... This Sunday, we'll take them to a waterpark, and then Easter Sunday we'll have both sides of our family over for brunch, an egg hunt, and cake!

Here they are on their first day of preschool last September

3. I completed my fourth full-length novel this week!

This is especially exciting because I wrote the last 32,000 words in six days! My husband owns a landscaping and lawn care company, so I try to write the bulk of my stories in the winter months when he's home full time. A couple weeks ago, the snow began to melt in this part of Minnesota, and I knew he'd be going back to work soon. We agreed to devote this past week to my writing, and I had a good four-five hours a day to get the story on the page, with a final push of eight hours on Saturday. The best part? I love this story. :)

Your Turn: I'd love to know what you're celebrating this week!

Please comment below so we can celebrate with you. Don't forget to enter the Rafflecopter for a $10 Amazon gift card!

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

VLOG: Answer your questions!


HEY!!! A fun day today where I answer a bunch of questions you all left for me on my Facebook and do another giveaway for one of my favorite novels of 2014, Sarah Ladd's The Headmistress of Rosemere. Enjoy!!! There's a question in the video below, so be sure you listen all the way to the end, 'cause I want to hear from you!





As promised: My family pic, albeit a few years old:



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___________________________________



Jaime Wright -

Spirited and gritty turn-of-the-century romance stained with suspense. Youth leader. Professional Coffee Drinker. Works in HR and specializes in sarcasm :) - Represented by: Books & Such Literary Agency

Find me Online

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Find me on Pinterest


___________________________________

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Introducing Our New Blogging Buddy!!! Gabrielle Meyer!!!!!


Erica here: I'm posting here for Jaime, who has been laid low with pneumonia. If you think of Jaime today, please pray. She's got a big day at work, leading training seminars, and she needs strength. Thank you!


Almost a year ago, I was welcomed into the blogging partnership here at Coffee Cups & Camisoles, and now it is my great pleasure to welcome another blogger. Gabrielle Meyer!


Here is a little about Gabrielle:





Gabrielle Meyer lives in central Minnesota on the banks of the Mississippi River with her husband and four young children. As an employee of the Minnesota Historical Society, she fell in love with the rich history of her state and enjoys writing fictional stories inspired by real people and events. Gabrielle can be found on her personal blog or her group blog where she writes about her passion for history, Minnesota, and her faith.





Gabrielle and I are kindred spirits. Fellow Minnesotans, history addicts, romance writers. We each have thick, curly hair. And she is a member of TEAM TEA! YAY! We even have novellas releasing in TWO different collections together later this year. (You'll hear about both of those collections as they release...FYI, be prepared to party. These are Gabrielle's FIRST published works!)




We thought it might be fun to interview Gabrielle to help everyone get to know her, so we each came up with a couple of questions. I love the answers!

Anne’s:


1) Where were you the first moment you realized you'd fallen in love with history?
I grew up with history all around me—quite literally. My father was the grounds and maintenance caretaker for a wealthy heiress named Laura Jane Musser and we lived above the carriage house on the estate. Her father was a lumber baron and he had built a mansion next door to his business partner, Charles Weyerhaeuser. Laura Jane inherited both mansions and the nine acres of land along the Mississippi where they were built (it’s now a retreat center). I loved growing up there, but it wasn’t until I was seventeen that I can honestly say I fell in love with history—like over-the-moon, I’m gone forever kind of love. That was the summer I began working at the Charles A. Lindbergh Historic Site here in my hometown of Little Falls, Minnesota. I was immersed in history every single day, and I was paid to learn all I could and then tell people what I knew! I worked at the Lindbergh Site for ten years, and it shaped my love of history in ways nothing else ever could. I learned how to tell a good story, with historical facts, to entertain an audience.


2) What event, moment, memory, or person first made you believe you might try to write your own book?

There were so many. Some that stand out: my mom telling me I could do anything I set my mind to, a youth pastor asking me for my first autograph on a restaurant napkin, a college professor telling me I had “potential to be a great writer,” transcribing a written history of our community at our local county historical society (and discovering a goldmine of ideas), and my husband’s complete and utter belief in me. The one that pushed me over the edge of my little nest, and forced me to flap my writing wings, was reading The Colonel’s Lady by Laura Frantz. My kindle suggested the title, and I was eager to try a new-to-me author. I devoured that book! And at the end, I thought to myself: “Why am I not writing?” I had dreamed of being an author almost my whole life—but it was that book that made me believe I could do it. I also found Laura on Facebook and she was my first author friend. :) She’s been an amazing encouragement ever since.


3) What author or heroine (living or dead) is most like you?


*Sigh* I relate to so many. :)  But the one who is most like me is an author named Maud Hart Lovelace. Her series, Betsy-Tacy, is set at the turn of the 20th Century in Mankato, Minnesota (called Deep Valley in the books). It’s a fictional auto-biography, much like Little House on the Prairie. She begins the series when Betsy (a.k.a. Maud) is a little girl, and she takes her through childhood, into high school, and on to college, marriage, and the great world. I read the series in high school and I fell in love. Maud captures the heart and soul of her hometown, which is what I long to do with my writing. I’ve read the first half of the series to my girls, and we’ve gone to Maud’s house in Mankato. I highly recommend the series! (Maud and I also share a birthday, April 25th. :) )


4) When was the first time you met Anne, Jaime, and Erica?

I met Erica first at the 2012 ACFW Conference in Dallas. We had formerly “met” online, and we are both from Minnesota, so I was excited to meet her. I’ll never forget that moment, because the very first thing she did was compliment me. :) (Do you remember what you said, Erica?) I also “met” Jaime and Anne online, and then in person for the first time at the 2013 ACFW Conference in Indianapolis. It was like a big reunion! I’ve felt a kindred spirit with all three ladies, and I’m so excited to be a part of this blog.


Erica here...I don't remember! What did I say????


5) Coffee or Tea? And how do you take it?

I’m a tea girl! I love all flavors—hot and cold. If it’s hot, I love to put cream in it—if it’s cold, I want it to be sweet.


Erica here again...Yay for another tea-drinker! :)

Erica’s:


6) Which character from Little House on the Prairie are you most like?
What I love about LHOP is that I relate to a few characters. I’m the oldest of two sisters (I also have two older brothers), so growing up I often felt like Mary. I was the responsible sister, and if you asked my younger sister Andrea, she’d tell you I never got into trouble and was a “perfect” little girl like Mary. :) As I got older, and discovered my love for writing, I began to relate to Laura. I wanted to write about my childhood and my family and all the nuances of my community life. Now, as a mother of four, I totally get Ma! J I remember re-reading the series after having children, and seeing Ma’s point of view for the first time. I can’t even begin to understand how difficult it was to live on the prairie as a pioneer. Go Ma Ingalls!


7) What is your favorite housekeeping chore?
Ugh. Can I say it again? Ugh. I do not enjoy housekeeping—I enjoy a clean, organized house, but with four children, a dog, a cat, two small businesses we run out of the house, and homeschooling, our house gets a workout every day! Last week my eight year old daughter said to me: “I bet our house likes when we all leave so it can take a break.” :) If someone twisted my arm, and I had to say one favorite chore, it would probably be vacuuming. Usually this comes at the end of my cleaning routine and it gives me great satisfaction to see it done. :) Here’s one of my favorite pictures from parenting twins. As they get older, their messes only get bigger. :)


Jaime’s:
8) If you were stranded on an island, what FICTION novel could you not live without?

I have so many favorites! Some recent ones are The Wood’s Edge, by Lori Benton, The Colonel’s Lady, by Laura Frantz, Rebellious Heart, by Jody Hedlund…but the one I have read numerous times and I never tire of is Redeeming Love, by Francine Rivers. I know this may seem like a generic answer, since it’s a favorite of so many people—but there is a good reason for its popularity! Every time I read Redeeming Love, I come away with a new insight, a different perspective, and a deeper understanding. The story is rich in characters, plot, dialogue, setting, and spiritual depth. I’m a huge fan of plot twists and unexpected revelations, and that book is ripe with them! If you’ve read it, you know what I mean.


9) Do you have a writing mentor? If so, what is one of the biggest things they have taught you about your writing journey?


I have a few mentors, but the one who has taught me the most is Susan May Warren. Not only has she been a fantastic teacher, but she’s also become a good friend (we Minnesotans need to stick together). J I think the biggest thing she’s taught me is the importance of a support network. Writing can be a lonely, solitary pursuit—but it doesn’t have to be. There is power in numbers! As I walk this writing journey, I’m so thankful for kindred spirits who travel beside me. They encourage me, pray for me, brainstorm with me, laugh with me, cry with me—but best of all, they love me, and that is a priceless gift.

10) You know I'm going to ask you for a selfie!!!?


Here’s a different take on a selfie. J I took this picture on the beach in Monterey, California during the Books & Such Literary Management Retreat.




To celebrate Gabrielle coming to our blog, we're giving away a copy of one of her favorite books! Enter the giveaway, then come back and ask Gabrielle a 'get to know you' kind of question!


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