Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Worship With Abandon ... Do you?

A couple weeks ago I had the privilege of snapping this photograph of my Peter Pan holding his Daddy's hand as they stood in the back of church worshipping.

I find myself more involved during worship now that I have kids. Peter Pan loves to sing at the top of his lungs ... even when the song is over.  Yesterday, for example, he was so thrilled with worship that when silence pervaded the auditorium, Peter Pan's mischevious awe hollered out: "Woooah-hohohoho!" 

To me it was the perfect ending to worship.

Can I challenge you? Watch children during worship on Sunday morning. I think they've got it right. I have a golden rule ... never shush your child during worship. Ok fine. If Peter Pan is jumping off the chair and yelling "KAMIKAZE!" I'd shush him... but his high-pitched, off-key rendition of "Thrive" is going to go through. And CoComo-Jo's out-of-place hand clapping during a slow version of Amazing Grace ... yep ... that's gonna go through too. 

You see, I think as adults, we sometimes let the worship air fizzle from our balloons. Stand straight. Hands down, or cautiously lifted. Sing in tune or lower thy voice. Clap when appropriate. "Amen" in response to the pastor. 

I don't think worship should be a free-for-all willy nilly either. I mean, let's face it, the woman racing up and down the aisles swinging her sweater over her head and yelling PRAISE JESUS might get a tad distracting. But the women in front of me with arms outstretched and head raised.... or the man behind me who's voice sounds like a bull belching into a megaphone? Beauty. 

I was raised NORTHERN Baptist. There is a difference between Southern and Northern. As a Northern Baptist, you stand still, hold your breath, and at the most, close your eyes. Now, my church has grown leaps and bounds, but what's ingrained in me from childhood is still ingrained. This is why I love to watch my kids. Worship with respect is what I hope to teach them. That abandonment in worship, while being respectful in awe to Who we come before.

Yesterday, I had a moment of deja vu. Only this time it was with my daughter. She stood, clasping her Daddy's hand while partaking in worship. And it struck me. While these young ones come into worship with abandonment, they're also taking their cues from us adults. And not just the parents, but the adults around us. So when the man a row over gives them a stern look for clapping in the wrong spot, or mommy shushes them when their song raises volume over the proper level, it kills that spirit of worship. 

So yesterday, I encouraged my children to sing. And they did. Boy did they sing. And they respected their surroundings. CoCo stood on her chair, yes, but so she could see. It made a huge difference. Her little mouth didn't stop moving in song. Peter Pan stood on his chair too and stunned his mother when his little hand rose in the air. Cause being a Northern Baptist I'm still not comfortable doing that myself...neither is Daddy ... so you're darn tootin' he learned that from watching ... YOU. That "other person" in the worshipping throng.

You are being watched by children. They learn to worship from you. Thank you for being an example, for bearing with the off-key warbles of a little boy, the shoe indents on the chair pad, and the "wooah-hohohoho!" at the end of the song. Thank you for raising your hand, when Mommy hasn't figured it out yet. Thank you for singing before the throne of God and setting an example for the future generations.

What's your favorite part of worship? Are you a quiet worshipper (like me), or a hand-raiser, or a ceiling raiser :)?


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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"The Cowgirl's Lasso", Coming 2016, Barbour Publishing

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day Monday

To wish you all a "Happy Memorial Day" seems somehow irreverent for the loss of so much life over the centuries...

I wish you simply to remember. 

Joshua 4 reminds of memorials and why we do them....

4 When all the people had crossed the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, 2 “Now choose twelve men, one from each tribe. 3 Tell them, ‘Take twelve stones from the very place where the priests are standing in the middle of the Jordan. Carry them out and pile them up at the place where you will camp tonight.’”

4 So Joshua called together the twelve men he had chosen—one from each of the tribes of Israel. 5 He told them, “Go into the middle of the Jordan, in front of the Ark of the Lord your God. Each of you must pick up one stone and carry it out on your shoulder—twelve stones in all, one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. 6 We will use these stones to build a memorial.

21 Then Joshua said to the Israelites, “In the future your children will ask, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 Then you can tell them, ‘This is where the Israelites crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the river right before your eyes, and he kept it dry until you were all across, just as he did at the Red Sea[c] when he dried it up until we had all crossed over. 24 He did this so all the nations of the earth might know that the Lord’s hand is powerful, and so you might fear the Lord your God forever.”

We have stones too...

Researching our family history, I've been able to find three ancestors who fought in the Revolutionary War. Above, my husband stands beside his 5x's Great Grandfather's memorial, John O'Gullion, who fought at the Battle of Long Island and was wounded in New Jersey, yet lived to be near 100. 
Yet sadly, none of our family knew his memorial had been in the county they lived in for the next 5 generations, because no one passed the story on to the next generation.

Above, this week I've just located a third patriot: Jacob Hite, my husband's 5x's great grandfather who fought at the Siege at Yorktown and was present when Cornwallis surrendered to the American Continental Army. This battle in 1781, under the command of Gen. George Washington, was the last land battle and brought about the negotiation of the end of the Revolutionary War.

This spring I found another patriot, Col. Henry Haller, my husband's 6x's great grandfather who fought along side Gen. George Washington. I would like to find his stone one day, but it's on his private family farm in Pennsylvania. 
At Find-A-Grave.com, it reports family tradition states that he crossed the Delaware with Washington. I was so happy to learn his family told of his story!

Whether stones of our forefathers, or memorials to God, tell your stories of God's faithfulness to your children. Perhaps then there could be less war and a greater humbleness for life and the sacrifices made on our behalf.

Today, tell your children what these stones mean.
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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Friday, May 22, 2015

Guest Post & #Giveaway with Carla Laureano!

Last week's winner of Pepper Basham's book is Tammy Cordery!
I'm totally stoked to have Carla with us today on the blog! Her book is the first book I ever read on my Kindle. I read it the week my husband was missioning it off in Guatemala. Perfect time for a romance about a hunky International hero. Made me excited to have Nate come home all tan and heroic for serving out of country. It was a relaxing, fun read, Five Days in Skye, and who doesn't like to be transported to Scotland? ME ME ME!!!

So we chatted with Carla this week and here's what she had to share:

1. What inspired your story idea?

The idea to write a celebrity chef came about because of too much time spent watching Food Network and a slight crush on Curtis Stone. I thought how strange it would be to go from being a somewhat anonymous chef who simply loved to cook to a household name (and face). The setting came afterward, once I established that my heroine was an overworked businesswoman who was reevaluating her life choices. I’d gone through much of the same transformation while my husband and I traveled through Scotland, and so it made sense to set her epiphany on the Isle of Skye, the same place I had mine.

2. What is your favorite characteristic about your story’s hero and heroine?
I love how loosely James holds his fame and fortune. He’s very driven and successful, but he possesses humility and a sense of wonder. He’s worked hard, but family is more important to him than success.

As for Andrea, I admire her perseverance. She’s gotten somewhat of a raw deal in her past, but she refuses to be a victim and has made a pretty incredible life for herself.

3. Please tell us about the spiritual theme of your story you hope every reader is challenged by:

No matter what you’ve done or how far you’ve strayed, God is always waiting for you with open arms. There is nowhere far enough to outrun his love.

4. Jaime & Anne are coffee addicts. Erica & Gabrielle are tea lovers. What about you? Coffee or Tea?

Both! I’m a recovering caffeine addict, though, so I have to keep my intake very low. I typically start my morning with a cup of decaf or half-caf, and then I drink herbal tea for the rest of the day. I have an entire cabinet devoted to my mugs, coffee, and tea. I guess that’s how you know you’re a real aficionado—when you keep drinking it, even without the caffeine!

5. Favorite historical movie? Or mini-series?

Oh, that’s so hard. Gone With the Wind, The Quiet Man, Lawrence of Arabia, Chariots of Fire, The Young Victoria… there’s so many, I couldn’t choose. I also have a secret love for not-quite-historical epics like Gladiator and King Arthur. I choose to overlook historical inaccuracies when it’s an engaging story.

6. While Jaime loves to take selfies, and Erica & Gabrielle love museums, Anne loves Pinterest and food pics. Share a food pic, a favorite family recipe, or link us to your latest pin on Pinterest.
I love Pinterest and food pics too! How about my favorite food-related pin? I adore Middle Eastern and North African flavors, and dishes like Moroccan Lentil Stew with Raisins are my go-to for quick and healthy weeknight meals. (This one also happens to be gluten-free.)

7. Always wanted to be an author? Or surprised your path led you to publish?

I’ve wanted to write for as long as I can remember. I wrote my first short story when I was seven, and my first (awful) novel at sixteen. I started writing seriously for publication in college, but it took another fifteen years to get an agent and a book contract. I’m a great example of what can happen if you work hard and stick to it. It’s still hard to believe that I’m about to release my fourth novel.

8. Favorite century to read? To write? To watch on TV or in a movie?

At this very moment, I prefer 20th and 21st century settings, but that hasn’t always been the case and it changes depending on my mood. Medieval and Renaissance Europe, Early America, 18th and 19th century China…I won’t turn down a great story, no matter where or when it’s set.

9. Favorite heroine of all time, and why?

Again with the hard questions! I’d have to say Jane Eyre. She was a revolutionary character for the time: an independent, strong-minded feminist in an age where women had few choices. I like to think she’s one of the templates for our current historical romance heroines who defy convention, and in doing so, earn their happily-ever-afters.

MAN! What a fun interview!! Carla's favorite all-time heroine is mine too: JANE EYRE! Love that woman. And Gladiator??? Carla, we need a weekend getaway. I'm so with you on that movie. 

So readers, here are some other great facts about Carla! She is the author of the RITA® award-winning romance Five Days in Skye as well as the Celtic fantasy series The Song of Seare (as C. E. Laureano). A graduate of Pepperdine University, she worked as a sales and marketing executive for nearly a decade before leaving corporate life behind to write fiction full-time. She currently lives in Denver with her husband and two sons.

Connect with Carla: Web | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Pinterest 


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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, May 21, 2015

Childhood Treasures #TBT

Winner of Last Week's book drawing: Abby Breuklander
My husband recently finished his office space. It was the last frontier of unofficial storage space in our house--all the boxes from our move four years ago have been unpacked and removed.

Well...almost all the boxes. There was one, tucked way into the back, that has been in storage now for almost fifteen years. And it's not an actual box, it's a barrel. A barrel filled with about thirty gowns from my childhood "dress-up" box.

When I was a little girl you couldn't find dress-up clothes at Wal Mart like you do now. My mom worked at growing our collection for many years at garage sales and thrift shops. And these weren't the cheap dresses you find now, these were prom dresses, bridesmaid dresses and wedding dresses. And let me tell you, my sister Andrea and I spent HOURS upon HOURS playing with these gowns.

My sister, Andrea, on the left and me on the right
somewhere around 1985. (Old Ladies??) :)

My cousin, Ryan (now a police officer!), on
the left and me on the right. Hobos??
Somewhere around 1989
Now here's another admission on my part: we played with them well into our teen years. When we had friends over, we'd put on plays. When it was time to dress up for a school activity or Halloween dance, we had a treasure trove to choose from.

The time came for me to move out of my parents' home and my mom wanted to know what to do with the dresses. I told her to store them until I had a house of my own. So when my husband and I bought our first home twelve years ago, the barrel showed up at my front door.

My husband wasn't too excited to store a barrel of dress-up clothes in the house, considering we didn't have any little girls at the time to use them.

But I smiled and batted my eyes, and for twelve years he moved that barrel whenever he needed to reorganize his storage space. Four years ago we moved the barrel with us and it was tucked into the bedroom in the basement that would one day become his office.

Our girls are now ten and eight. I didn't want to pull the gowns out before they were ready, because they're made for teens and adults. But when the office was finished, and the barrel needed to come out, I decided to open it up, clean the gowns and let the girls at them.

It was a blast opening that barrel. A mixture of Christmas mornings and walking down memory lane. There were some in there I had totally forgotten about, but the moment I saw them, I was transported back to summer days with my sister and cousins and friends, and all the wonderful imaginations we had. I was transported back to the basement of my childhood home where my parents constructed a "dress shop" out of sheets hung from the rafters, where my sister and I played one winter, with all our dresses on racks and a "changing room" in one corner.

In those dresses I was a bride, a Southern Belle, a princess, a pioneer on the Oregon Trail, and so much more.

The best moment was watching my own girls discover the wonders of a barrel of make-believe. Already they've spent hours playing in those gowns, and I know they'll enjoy many more years of fun.

What about you? Have you saved something special from your childhood for your children to enjoy? Have you ever stored something, only to rediscover it many years later? What was your favorite toy or activity from your childhood?

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Winston Churchill Quotes

Erica here: I am a huge fan of Winston Churchill. I'm fascinated by his career as a politician and statesman, his fierce loyalty, his quick wit, and his slightly-jaundiced view of the world. I have created a Pinterest Board with my favorite quotes and pictures of Churchill, (You can check out that board HERE.)  and I'm currently reading the 8 part biography of Winston Churchill available through Hillsdale College's Winston Churchill Project. (You can find the biography HERE.)

This past Christmas, I received a stocking-stuffer gift book that I just love from my daughter. (She is well aware of my affection for Winston.) She gave me a copy of "The Quotable Winston Churchill." This little tome is full of Churchill quotes and facts that make me smile, make me shake my head, and most of all, make me think. 

(To learn more about the book, or get your own copy, click HERE.)

Because I love Winston so much, I thought I'd share some of my favorite Churchill quotes with you. 

Which one of these Winston Churchill quotes resonates best with you? Or do you have another of his witticisms that you like best?

Erica Vetsch:
Executive Assistant
Earl Grey Aficionado 
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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Just the Way You Are

Jaime here. I'm super happy to have my friend Jessica Patch guest posting today. She wanted to share a devo to help jump start our week and I think this one is perfecto!

Take it away, Jess ...

Where Do I Fit?

Remember that old Sesame Street Song: “Three of these kids are kinda the same but one of these kids is doin’ his own thing…

It’s catchy, right? I loved watching that as a kid. As I grew up, I realized how much I identified with that “one kid.”

As an adult inside the body of Christ, I really wondered where I fit. Not a total introvert but definitely not a complete extrovert, I had no clue where I meshed. At times, I wondered if I had a fit at all!

Maybe you wonder the same thing. You’re not exactly a social butterfly so it’s easy to slip into the background and watch as those with big personalities flutter through ministry with amazing grace. Maybe you don’t feel like you have any talent.

Let me reassure you: YOU DO.

“Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
    you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
    Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
    I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
    you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
    how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
    all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
    before I’d even lived one day.” Psalm 139: 13-16 MSG

God didn’t take all that time and care with you to forego embedding talent and gifts within you. No. He didn’t. He spread out your days and created “good works beforehand that you should walk in them.” Those good works included you using the gifts and talents He created within you.

A sweet lady in our church loved flowers. She had a way with them. So each week she brought a new and amazing floral arrangement and placed it on the counter in the women’s bathroom. I don’t know how many times the chatter was on the beauty of the arrangement. It was a gift that she did “unto the glory of God” and it brought joy to every woman who walked into that bathroom.

You might love babies and you work at a child care center. Rocking babies might not seem like much to you. But think of that frazzled mom who is at her wits end and needs a word planted into her soul to get her recharged in Christ and up and running again. Those two hours were priceless to her. Your ability to make a child feel at peace, and keep from buzzing her number on the big screen is nothing short of a gift. Use it!

In my newest novella, Just the Way You Are, my heroine compares herself to other women in the body of Christ. She sees all their gifts and abilities but never sees her own. Maybe that’s you. And maybe you need the truth spoken in to your life as was spoken into hers.

God love you just the way you are.

If you’re interested in Audrey’s story, you can purchase it as an e-book on Amazon as well as the first story, Hope Under Mistletoe (which will be FREE on May 8th!) http://www.amazon.com/Hope-Under-Mistletoe-Seasons-Book-ebook/dp/B00U0IQRO0/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8  Here’s the blurb:

When Pastor Gabe asks Audrey Gilbraith to use her mad florist skills to help him design a prayer garden, she’s all in, especially since it helps take her mind off the fact she’s about to lose her job and her apartment. But working closely with Gabe and not falling for him is complicated. She’s not pastor’s wife material, and she has the past to prove it.

Gabriel Brookson wants out of Audrey’s friend-zone, but when he pursues her romantically, he ruffles more than a few feathers in his congregation. How much is he willing to give up for this wonderful, quirky woman, and will Audrey accept him if he risks it all?

Your turn to share: Let’s be positive. Share one gift or talent God has blessed you with. It’s tough to say good things about ourselves, but go ahead and give it a try!

Sign up for my newsletter  http://www.jessicarpatch.com/p/blog-page.html and receive the 3rd novella in this series for FREE this fall! Connect with Jessica on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/jessicarpatch?ref=aymt_homepage_panel Twitter https://twitter.com/jessicarpatch and take a peek into life in Mistletoe and see who I case as Audrey and Gabe at the Just the Way You Are Pinterest page! https://www.pinterest.com/jessicarpatch/just-the-way-you-are/

Jessica R. Patch lives in the mid-south where she pens inspirational contemporary romance and romantic suspense novels. When she's not hunched over her laptop or going on adventurous trips in the name of research with willing friends, you can find her sneaking off to movies with her husband, watching way too much Netflix with her daughter, dominating her son at board games, and collecting recipes to amazing dishes she'll probably never cook. Her debut novel with Harlequin Love Inspired Suspense will release in early 2016.


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, May 18, 2015

Monday's Devo: Place of Solitude

Life is full for just about everyone I know. There's no lack for events, meetings, and commitments cluttering our calendar. No lack of things cluttering our home, along with the tasks that come attached to things. And the date calendar and mental list of people I should get together with for coffee is ever in my mind.

My iPhone is buzzing in my pocket, reminding me of lunch meetings, birthday's, and notifications.

But it's that Still Small Voice I need more than anything.

Jesus knew his disciples had to be extracted from their lives to find that place of solitude where he taught them to listen to the heart of the Father. To fuel up. To commune.

Potato Creek State Park
Jesus had crowds around him everywhere he went. People pressing in to touch the hem of his garment. People questioning him. Rulers testing him. Others curious about him. I'm thinking that when he went away for solitude, perhaps he had to just walk away. Perhaps sometimes he even left a crowd standing, staring at his retreating back.

But the thing is....he would have had nothing to give them if he didn't fill up with the Father in that place of solitude. He abided in the Father. He was ever-connected.

This is one reason we have taken up camping. My husband and I need to drive away. Just cut out. Bye. Leaving you now.

I need to go be with my Lord. My friends who make me laugh and smile. God's creation, that reminds me my notifications aren't all that important.

Work is good. Giving is good. Ministry is good. Writing is good. But, as I read this weekend in Strengthen Yourself in the Lord by Bill Johnson, unless we find a time and place to remain intimate with God, burnout and compromise are not far away, while "all true fruitfulness flows from that intimacy with Him."

So. Get alone. 
Chuck the date book. 
Pitch the planner. 
Cut out. 
And check in with the Father. 
Schedule it! Jesus did.

Matthew 14:22 Immediately He made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the crowds away. 23After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone.
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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