Monday, July 24, 2017

The Extra Mile

By Cindy Williams


The day is all planned out: get to the gym, grab the groceries, put on the washing and sit down to write. Then the phone rings – a friend needs prayer or my mum wants to chat or the school sends my son home sick. I berate myself for not getting my writing done, or worse still I get irritated that I have to rush off to teach scripture class or that the women’s prayer group is taking too long. I have to write!

This has been my past week – the deadline for this post looming closer while my great idea on what to write flounders like a fish on the mud flats.



In desperation I flick through the photos of my recent ‘research’ trip to Israel and Samaria. One jumps out - a Roman milestone in the garden of the Tel Dor museum. I recall the words of Jesus: ‘If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.’ (Matt 5:41)

Milestones marked out every mile along the first century Roman roads. A Roman soldier could legally force a person to carry his pack for one mile. Imagine if you were on an urgent errand, had a field to plough or… a scroll to write. Suddenly you are forced to drop everything – so inconvenient, so annoying. And what does Jesus say; politely obey and get it over with quickly? No, he says go two miles!

It is not the forced first mile that sets us apart as followers of Jesus; it is the voluntary, purposeful second mile.

When the needs of others disrupt my plans and force me to stop writing it is not an inconvenience or a source of stress that I am not doing what I should be doing. No, it is an opportunity to show the radical, counter-cultural love of Jesus. It is exactly what I should be doing and just as, if not more, of a ministry than my writing. What freedom this change of perspective has brought to me this week.

Can anyone else relate?


About Cindy Williams


With degrees in Nutrition, Public Health and Communication Cindy has worked for many years as a dietitian for sports teams, food industry, media, and as a nutrition writer and speaker.
Her first novel, The Pounamu Prophecy, was short listed for the 2016 Caleb Prize.

She writes a blog - www.nutritionchic.com - stories of health, history, food and faraway places.

Cindy grew up in a culturally rich part of New Zealand, singing the songs and hearing the stories of Maori.

She lives in Sydney with her husband and son, writing stories of flawed women who battle injustice... and sometimes find romance.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

SUNDAY EDITION


Coming Up This Week 

Monday 

Cindy Williams: The Extra Mile

Tuesday 

Marion Ueckermann: Christmas in July

Wednesday 

Jenn Kelly

Thursday 

Angela Couch

Friday Devotion 

Ray Hawkins: Taste Buds of the Spirit

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New Releases

Valerie Comer's contemporary romance set in the US, Memories of Mist, Book 3 in her Urban Farm Fresh Romance series, releases independently in July 2017.

Lisa Harris' romantic suspense set in Italy, Fatal Cover-Up, is a July 2017 release from Love Inspired Suspense.

Sandra Orchard's mystery set in the US, Over Maya Dead Body, Book 3 in the Serena Jones Mysteries series, is a July 2017 release from Revell.


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Upcoming Releases

Valerie Comer's contemporary romance set in the US, Better Than a Crown, Book 3 in her Christmas in Montana Romance series, releases independently in October 2017.

Carolyn Miller's regency romance set in England, The Dishonorable Miss DeLancey, Book 3 in her Regency Brides series, will be an October 2017 release from Kregel.

Lucy Thompson's historical romance set in Australia, Waltzing Matilda, in The Captive Bride Collection: 9 Stories of Great Challenges Overcome Through Great Love, will be an October 2017 release from Barbour.

Sandra Orchard's Amish mystery The Hound and The Fury, Book 17 in Amish Inn Mysteries, will release in October 2017 from Annie’s Attic.

Valerie Comer's contemporary romance set in the US, Rooted in Love, Book 2 in her new Garden Grown Romance series (part of Arcadia Valley Romance multi-author series) releases independently in November 2017.

Lisa Harris' romantic suspense set in USA, Vanishing Point: A Nikki Boyd Novel, will be a November 2017 release from Revell.

To find more International Christian Fiction books, please visit our 2013 - 2016 Book Releases page and Backlist Titles.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Writer Burnout

I'm writing this post on my phone as I've been staring at the screen above for just over half an hour now. Seriously, Windows 10? Your timing is the pits.

But it did get me thinking about us writers and what it takes to avoid burnout. I'm currently about a quarter way into a three book series on deadline. I feel like I've been on deadline forever. Over the last week, I realized I'm tired. (Genius, I know!)

But here's the thing. There are different ways to handle this. My default is to fall off the rails. By this I mean - all I want to do is NOTHING. N.O.T.H.I.N.G. Don't talk to me about dishes or deadlines or hungry kids or or or. Now unplugging to this extent does have value, but it is also a bit like unplugging your flat cellphone from the electricity so that it can rest.

I'm slowly learning to recognise the start of my edges fraying. What can I say, I'm a slow learner *facepalm*. I'm also shifting the way I do downtime.

Cut back on the busy-busy? Yes. Unplug from my power source? Nope. I'm not talking about working hard to 'push into' His presence. Burnout is not the best time for fasting and flagellation.

I'm suggesting curling up on His lap. Taking time to hear Him whispering love into your stretched soul. Allowing your mind to wander through His field of dreams. Let them take your hand and spin you through some new dance moves. Breathe. Be. Fly.

Working on updates. Do not turn off your PC.

This is a good time to allow the Lover of your Soul to download new updates. Do not turn off your PC!

I don't have burnout nailed, but I have learnt not to unplug.

How do you deal with burnout?

Dianne J. Wilson writes novels from her hometown in East London, South Africa, where she lives with her husband and three daughters. She has just signed a three book contract for a YA series, Spirit Walker, with Pelican / Watershed.

Finding Mia is available from AmazonPelican / Harbourlight, Barnes & Noble and other bookstores.

Shackles is available as a free ebook from Amazon & Smashwords.


Find her on FacebookTwitter and her sporadic blog Doodles.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

On a Winter's Day

by Ruth Ann Dell

It's winter! Crisp sunny winter days on the South African Highveld. Chilly winter evenings snuggled up in a warm bed with a purring cat, hot drink, and a good book. I love this time of the year.

 The brown grasslands have a beauty of their own, lit with aloe flower flames which will still glow even if veld fires char the grass around them to black.

An Aloe in Full Flame

The trees have lost their leaves and branch into dynamic sculptures against a vivid blue backdrop with ever-changing cloud formations.

Tree Sculpture
Winter reveals secrets which are hidden at other times of the year. In the nursery school playground, much to the delight of the children, the trees sport colorful decorations as balls, kites and other toys thrown up and caught in the branches in the summer months, become visible as they are no longer hidden by the leaves. Brooms and ladders are used to return them to the eager children who had given them up for lost.

Birds, like this magnificent young Verreaux Eagle in the nearby Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve, and other wild animals, are also easy to see in winter when they are not hidden by the vegetation.

Young Verreux Eagle. Photo Credit-Amy Berry
And in my garden, the oak tree reveals her secret to me—a sparrow's nest, invisible in summer, but easy to spot now.

I'm at a scary winter-time in my life with a possible move from this land, which I love, to another country. A move which involves so many questions and unknowns. A move which will require big sacrifices. But as I look at the nest, home and dwelling place to a family of birds, a Bible verse springs to mind:
"Lord, You have been our dwelling place throughout all generations."  Psalm 90:1 (NIV)

I realize that whether I stay here or go, it is the Lord who is my dwelling place. The words of Psalm 139 assure me that the Lord is everywhere, and 
"If I rise of the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast."
(NIV Psalm 139:9&10)

What a wonderful winter revelation! 

Nest in My Oak Tree

I would love to hear how God has spoken to you through His creation this winter—or summer if you live in the Northern Hemisphere. Please leave a comment to tell me.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Your Pink Think Seat

A number of years ago (dare I say last century?) my husband, a pastor at that time, met with a church minister of many decades who used to talk about his pink think seat. This seat, a comfy armchair a shade of - you guessed it - pink, was this man's favourite place to sit, to contemplate, to meditate on God, on life, the universe, and everything. He didn't work in this chair, he had no mobile or laptop or iPad to distract him, he just sat. And thought. And thought some more.
      I remember thinking at the time 'how indulgent, to have a chair just for thinking - I hope his wife has one, too!' But now I'm older, and perhaps a shade wiser, I see just how intentional such a thing can be.
      I don't know about you, but I'm pretty addicted to my technology, to checking my phone regularly for emails, or Facebook, or Googling whatever random thought might pop into my head. Even when I try to be quiet my thoughts seem to carousel between story plot lines, to marketing, to upcoming events, to friends, housework (rarely!), oh, and things affecting my husband, children and friends.
      The notion of being still, of intentional pause, is not something I'm terribly comfortable with. I know God is a fan of meditation and quietude, hence His call in Psalm 46.10 to "be still and know that I am God."
      Perhaps a pink think seat might be necessary - for all of us. A place to be still, to still our hearts to seek God, to hear
God, to be intentional, rather than be carried away with the flotsam and jetsam of the worries of our ordinary life. A place where God's truth can be revealed to us afresh, where creativity can recharge in the presence of the Creator, where we can sit at the feet of the Master and hear His words to us, that can help shape our words for others.

      Have you got a 'pink think seat'? If it's not pink, or you don't have a place to be still, where do you do your best thinking - and encountering God?

Carolyn Miller lives in the beautiful Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia, with her husband and four children. Together with her husband she has pastored a church for ten years, and worked part-time as a public high school English and Learning and Support teacher. A longtime lover of romance, especially that of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer’s Regency era, Carolyn holds a BA in English Literature, and loves drawing readers into fictional worlds that show the truth of God’s grace in our lives. Her debut Regency The Elusive Miss Ellison released in February 2017 from Kregel; The Captivating Lady Charlotte released June 27. Both are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, CBD etc.


Connect with her:         www.carolynmillerauthor.com
                                      www.facebook.com/CarolynMillerAuthor/
                                      www.pinterest.com/camillering


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Beauty of Light

Photo by kazuend on Unsplash


I saw fireflies for the first time, dainty sparks if light dipping and dancing across the hillside at dusk. I was waiting for our Canada Day fireworks to start.

Delicate light.

Exploding light.

Both were beautiful.

Each evening at suppertime I watch streams of water shimmer in the sunlight like ribbons of gems, as the neighbours water their garden.

Photo by Michael Podger on Unsplash

On a stormy day, miniscule water droplets reflect light, creating heavenly arches of yellow to violet that stretch across the sky.

Photo by Todd Cravens on Unsplash


Morning sunbeams turn rivers to quicksilver.


Dappled light highlights the face of a loved one.


Slanted rays of late afternoon sunlight guild the world in gold.



The fading remnants of sunshine paint clouds scarlet and mauve as the sun dips below the horizon.


A candle flickers in the dark.

Photo by Mike Labrum on Unsplash


All are beautiful.

The Bible tells us that God, the father of heavenly lights, sent his only son Jesus into the world to be light in the darkness. Just as the sun in the sky sheds beauty wherever it touches, God’s Son sheds infinite beauty into our lives. The beauty of

grace

forgiveness  

peace

Take a moment to pause and reflect on the beauty of His Light in your life.


Tell us, what do you see?



Jayne Self, Canadian mystery author and ameateur photographer.

Monday, July 17, 2017

"Escape to the Country" and Write!

By Morgan Tarpley Smith

These past two weeks have been a little rough for this writer. I woke up one morning with a sore throat, and it quickly progressed into a really bad summer cold complete with runny nose and coughing until my whole head and neck were sore. I usually get hit pretty hard by these type things, but I usually can take some strong meds and knock it out.

Not this time though because I am currently 11 weeks pregnant, and there are not many strong meds you can take. Therefore, I found myself home from work several days and over the whole weekend. All I could do was take the meds I could, drink hot tea, and lie on the couch. By day two, it was taking its toll on me.

I tried to write. I tried to read. I could not focus on anything. I could barely get up off the couch. My head pounded, and I coughed nearly constantly. What was I to do?

Enter Netflix. I don’t watch many movies or television programs. I tend to write and read with my spare time. But scanning through Netflix’s offerings, I spotted a show that ended up saving my sanity and my writer’s mind over the course of nearly two weeks. It’s called “Escape to the Country,” and it truly was the escape I needed at the time.

It’s the neatest show – a combo of house hunting meets rural documentary. The show focuses on helping prospective buyers view three country home options in the U.K. with most of the shows filmed all over England. The buyers view the houses during the episode but also have a local experience with something of interest to them and the show’s host also experiences something that’s locally noted.

There is only one season on Netflix with 22 episodes. Each episode is 43 minutes in length – and I have now watched them all in just under two weeks. It was the escape I needed from my illness, and it also was what I needed to engage my writer’s mind – even if my mind was bit muddled at the time.

All the special little tidbits of British history and that county’s way of life definitely inspired me for future novels and trips to the U.K. You never know where inspiration will come from next.

Do you have a movie or television show that has inspired you recently in your writing or just in general? I’d love to hear about it.



Morgan Tarpley Smith is an award-winning newspaper reporter and photographer in Louisiana. She is also an aspiring inspirational novelist for adults and middle grade students. 

Besides writing and traveling to over a dozen countries, her interests include acting in her local theater, genealogy, photography, and singing. She resides in Louisiana with her husband.