Monthly Archives: February 2015

Please Join Me for An Insightful Interview with Author Jan Watson, Part 1 of 2

God was most gracious to cross my path with author Jan Watson several years ago. He did this in my hometown of Lexington, Kentucky in Rupp Arena, no less. (GO CATS!!!) main-header1 My friend Nancy Aguiar and I had road tripped it over to attend a Book Fair and have lunch with Paula Deen. Yes, the Butter Queen. Lest you be impressed, Nancy and I, and one thousand five hundred and ninety-eight others joined Paula for lunch.

Prior to our going downstairs for lunch, Nancy and I wound our way around countless tables, with countless authors, with countless books at the Book Fair. Heaven comes to mind. Stacks Of Books The very last table we came to beheld the cutest lady named Jan Watson. We were immediately drawn to her. Turns out her book was her first-ever published book! She had won a publishing contract with Tyndale publishers from a contest she’d entered! Troublesome-Creek-cover2-199x300 Oh, this gets better. The contest Jan entered was one the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writer’s Guild First Novel Contest sponsors. Jan’s husband encouraged her to enter. She’s a retired nurse and had been writing away since her retirement, with prodding from her husband.

The best part? Jan turned sixty years old the year her book published! Isn’t that a light to hang your hat on for all of us writers out there???

The worst part? Tragedy quickly struck. When Jan went to Colorado to accept the award, her husband died suddenly back in Lexington. Can you imagine?

The silver lining lesson for us all? She had a little conversation with God on the airplane home that night, rushing back to Lexington.

She told God she was mad and didn’t care if she made it back home or not. He quickly spoke to her spirit, “Jan, remember….YOU are not the only person on this plane.” In other words, “There are plenty of other people also hurting in this world and your mission is to continue to do what you’ve been doing.”

And the Lord’s been with her every step of the way.  We praise you, Lord.

Troublesome Creek is Jan’s first novel. The book I’ll be telling you about next week, Buttermilk Sky, is her eighth novel!!! Whichever one of hers I’m reading becomes my current favorite. Her style is so dear, so encouraging, laugh out loud funny, crazy suspenseful, very visual, and always full of God’s grace and lessons. buttermilk-cover This week, please enjoy the first half of my interview with Jan. You’ll love her candid sense of humor and determination. Go make a cup of coffee or tea and sit with us… a cup of coffee with a heart shape toned with a retro vintage in INTERVIEW: Question #1: What’s in your frig? (This question was Jan’s idea!)

Answer: Red grapes, diet Coca-Cola and Colby cheese. Red Grapes On White Question #2: Are you a dog or a cat person?

Answer: I love both. I have a Jack Russell terrier, Maggie, and a domestic short-haired cat, Willy. (I once closed Willy up in my fridge. He is a cool cat.) Maggie Question #3: What is the toughest season you’ve had to endure?

Answer: I suppose being a widow is one of the most difficult seasons. It is a season of sorrow that doesn’t end.

Question #4: What lesson did God reveal to you on the other side?

Answer: During the summer following my husband’s sudden death, I began to hear strange sounds emanating from the thick hedges under the windows of my ranch-style house. It was a reptilian sound and reminded me of those prehistoric raptor birds in Jurassic park. Errr-errr-errr-errr…

I would hear it whenever I went outside to get the mail or to walk Maggie. After a lady up the street found a large lizard in her swimming pool, I began to imagine that one of those slithery things was nesting in my hedge. brown Lizard, asian lizard or tree lizard I figured when it got hungry enough, Maggie might become a tasty treat. After several days of this, curiosity overcame my fear. My common sense told me to call Critter Control.

Instead, I prayed for protection before I carried a large flashlight and a broom handle into the bedroom at the end of the house where the sounds were the most pronounced. Vector flashlight on dark striped background I closed the door (to protect Maggie), took the screen and the lower storm window out, and sat down on the ledge, keeping my feet well inside the house. I shone the light into the overgrown bushes and poked around with the broom handle. My heart lept to my throat when my efforts were rewarded with an intensified errr-errr-errr-errr!

Then I heard that still small voice, “Look up, daughter. Look up.” From over my head, I saw a long nail sawing back and forth in the metal gutter. Errr-errr-errr-err.

And now whenever I am fearful or dismayed, I remember and LOOK UP. Looking Up Question #5: What’s your current project you’re working on?

Answer: Perhaps a Christmas novella featuring Copper.

THANK YOU, JAN, FOR THE FIRST HALF OF THE INTERVIEW!

We can’t wait for a novella about Copper! She’s one of my favorite characters!!!

Next week, we’ll finish the interview, which includes an only-God-could-pull-this-off-incident as well as pearls Jan shared at a recent book signing I attended. We’ll also touch on Buttermilk Sky . IF you comment, you’ll be entered in a drawing to WIN a copy!!!

Translation: FREE GIVEAWAY NEXT WEEK!!!

Meanwhile, you can find out more about Jan’s other novels (See covers below) on her website: www.janwatson.net Skip-Rock-Shallows-200x300 StillHousePond-200x300 SweetwaterRun-198x300 tattlers-branch-200x300 TorrentFalls-200x300 Willow-Springs-200x300 ‘Til next time!

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A Petite Snaffoo in a Subway… (Another Glimpse of Love in February With Help from Tullian Tchividjian’s Book: One Way Love)

Traveling home isn’t nearly as fun as traveling to a Caribbean island.  Even tho’ John and I were ready to return home, fully rested from our week in Jamaica, somehow going thru’ long lines in Customs in the Atlanta Airport loses its’ luster.  We had high hopes of finding time for dinner–perish the thought we miss a meal… Customs Control Sign. Customs being on the “E” Concourse, we realized our connecting flight, conveniently was on the “A” Concourse.  We wanted to eat at Friday’s, on the “B” Concourse. Riding the long escalators down to the subway, better known as the “plane train”, we noticed the red lights were already blinking, signifying we’d need to wait for the next train. atlantaplanetrainApproaching the doors, a man with a tower of boxes dared to enter, doors closing.  SLAM!  His boxes were pinned in-between the opening.

The plane train’s computer voice didn’t appreciate that very much and repeated over and over, “Error on the plane train”, “Error on the plane train”…

Meanwhile, the red lights continued blinking, doors now open

Several other passengers dared to jump on…Including my husband…

Stunned, I froze.

The doors shut.

Separated by glass,   Suddenly, he holds up four fingers and yells, “BEEEEEEEEEE”.…

And then…POOF!  The plane train evaporated into the bowels of the Atlanta Airport’s Subway System, carrying my beloved better half with it. Motion blur in a moving tramAll I had to do was hop on the next train, hop off at “B” and a romantic dinner to conclude our romantic trip at none other than T. G. I. Friday’s would commence. T.G.I Friday's Restaurant in Kuwait (Bit of a stretch since TGIF is wildly busy and you nearly have to sit on your roller boards.  Oh, but one can pretend.)

Quickly arriving at Concourse B, thankfully there was John, looking a tad sheepish.  He reported an elderly man next to him on the train said rather softly (after witnessing our debacle), “Betcha that won’t buy you many brownie points!!!” Cheesecake brownies with raspberryWe have howled ourselves silly over this little subway snaffoo.  Sometimes travel exhaustion is a good thing for one’s sense of humor.  And, truth be told, the plane train was going one way, in the right direction, to “BEEEEEEE”.  No big deal. Grace was easy on this one.

May I recommend a mind-blowing book on grace by Tullian Tchividjian called One Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World?

onewaylove Anybody else feel like they inhabit an Exhausted World???  Tullian had me from the book cover. In case you don’t know, Tullian happens to be one of Ruth and Billy Graham’s grandchildren.  (His Father, Stephan Tchividjian, passed away in 2010. His Mother is Gigi Graham Tchividjian, one of the Graham’s children and author of many books.) Tullian’s the Senior Pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  www.crpc.org Tullian1 Tullian’s testimony is jaw-dropping wild.  Don’t miss it!  Grab a Kleenex or two because the grace his Father extends to him will melt your heart.

Tullian offers several definitions of grace:

“Grace is love that seeks you out when you have nothing to give in return.  It reflects a decision on the part of the giver, the one who loves, In relation to the receiver, the one who is loved, That negates any qualifications the receiver may personally hold…. Grace is one-way love.

Follow Tullian’s spot-on observation:

“Grace doesn’t make demands.  It just gives. And from our vantage point, it always gives to the wrong person…Jesus is always giving to the wrong people—prostitutes, tax collectors, half-breeds…. It defies logic.  It doesn’t keep score.  Grace is unconditional acceptance given to an undeserving person by an unobligated giver. IT IS ONE-WAY LOVE.” One Way Traffic Sign With Clouds Just take an inventory of your own life.  While you may not be a prostitute or a tax collector, if you’ve received grace from God, you know it’s not only a gift, it’s literally amazing grace.

Tullian recounts how the Lord continued to come after him.  I call this relentless pursuit, also known as amazing grace.

In my own life, I lose it every time I realize how many years, and thru’ how many people the Lord placed in my path, before I recognized it to be from Him…His relentless pursuit.

Look at this:

“One way to summarize God’s message to the worn out and weary is like this:

God’s demand:  ‘be righteous’

God’s diagnosis:  ‘no one is righteous’

God’s deliverance:  ‘Jesus is our righteousness.’

Once this good news grips your heart, it changes EVERYTHING.”

More good news!!!  Grace = Freedom: freedom peaceful free life without restrictions and peace democr “Grace frees you from having to be perfect.

It frees you from having to hold it all together.” How many of us out there are trying to hold it all together???!!!  Doesn’t that spell RELIEF?

Relief is also spelled out in Romans 5:8… Romans 5 8So, the “us”? That would be YOU and ME. Tullian closes one of many favorite chapters with, “What are you going to do now that you don’t have to do anything?  My suspicion is that once you realize that you don’t have to do anything for God, you may find you want to do everything for Him.”  Beautiful…

You may recall from a recent post I wrote about the Graham family (Click on…….Practical Insight for 2015 from Anne Graham Lotz, Inspired by her Dear Mother Ruth), how much I adore Ruth.  Her humorous actions are found in Tullian’s book as well.  Don’t miss the earring story. Do absorb Ruth’s doling out of grace.  Oh my.

“The law says, Do, and life you’ll win;

          But grace says, Live, for all is done;   

                 The former cannot ease my grief,                           

                          The latter yields me full relief.” (Sonnet by Ralph Erskine)

‘Til next time!

This post is dedicated, oh you guessed it, to my sweet, hilarious, handsome husband.  Oh that we can laugh at ourselves now.  Thanks for the fab trip to Jamaica, Mon. Love you.

John and eliz under palm (Next week, look for a fun interview with author Jan Watson! And, another BOOK GIVEAWAY!!!)

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Come With Me to Jamaica, Mon…(Why We Should Rejoice with God Over His Creation) Another Glimpse of Love in February

“Ladies and Gentleman, this is your Captain from the flight deck. We’ve just been cleared for landing in Montego Bay. Current weather reports sunny skies, a light breeze, and a temperature of eighty-three degrees.” Outside window Oohs and aahhs erupted from the airplane. Views of the Caribbean blue sea, in multiple, heavenly hues-of-blue were spectacular.

Dearest Hubster and I ran away recently for a romantic week-long respite from winter. Come with me and I’ll take you there….

This week I pray you’ll be blessed by our Lord’s creation with scenes from the lovely island of Jamaica! Overlooking Montego Bay is one of the finest views of the Caribbean I can remember. View of water Even the view from our room was spectacular: view from room Not only were the flowers, plants, and palm trees lush and beautiful… Water with flowering plants Peacocks were everywhere!!! peacock The guys kept showing off….posing for pictures: Elizabeth's Peacock And when was the last time you could walk behind one? Can you see all the down from his feathers? Fascinating. back of peacock Smart too, as they knew which street they lived on: peacocks on their street Two brightly colored parrots, otherwise known as Bob and Rita, lived in a cage near the restaurant where we had breakfast every day. pair of parrots One of their handlers often let them out and treated any brave soul with a few moments of “parrot perching” on one’s shoulder. (Notice who the brave one was of us…) Bob on Johns shoulder The handler reported that Bob was much friendlier than Rita. Go figure. Bob is munching on an almond seed.

A favorite activity of ours during any vacation is reading. John dove into a novel and quickly couldn’t put it down. He’s a big fan of author Robert Whitlow’s. He read his latest: The Confession and loved it. Confession2.indd I took three books with me and a novel (or two or ten) on my Kindle. (!!!) You can bet I’ll be sharing tidbits from them soon:

Mastering Life Before It’s Too Late: 10 Biblical Strategies for a Lifetime of Purpose by Robert J. Morgan. You will be hearing from Rob in person sometime this year on this blog. I’m currently highlighting and earmarking this book like a crazy person. Mastering Life Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest by Bonnie Gray. I figured where else but a vacation does one have spiritual whitespace? Spiritual whitespace Spiritual Rhythm: Being with Jesus Every Season of Your Soul by Mark Buchanan. I’ll be speaking on “Savoring Your Season” in April–speaking of prayer requests! (Info to follow soon on the event.) Mark is an amazingly insightful writer. Spiritual Rhythm The week flew while we parked in chairs by the pool, or under a tiki hut on the beach, books in tow. Tiki Huts Boasting eight restaurants, our favorites in the hotel were the Italian, French, Mexican and Asian ones. Their cuisine kept us more than full, most nights under a starlit sky–purely paradise. To enhance our meals, we discovered a hidden soft-serve ice cream machine with cones-a-plenty. Hey, we’re on vacation, right??? Vanilla and chocolat ice cream cone While there was a fitness center, I only darkened its’ door once. John was a regular there, while I chose to hoof it outside. There was a one-mile path, largely by the water, which kept me going…My soul must’ve enlarged as the Grinch’s heart did purely from breathing in the salty air and soaking in the view. Water with draping curtains One of five principles about joy, from Rob Morgan’s book Mastering Life suggests “we should pay attention to the JOY God has woven into all His creation.” He continues, “According to Job 38:7, the angels sang together and shouted for JOY as God created the world. Earth planet viewed from space Psalm 19:5 pictures the sun as rising each day like a champion REJOICING to run his course through the sky.” Sunrise over beach in Cancun

Shortly after our arrival, new friends from England snapped this sunset picture. What a way to begin our vacation!!!

Shortly after our arrival, new friends from England snapped this sunset picture. What a way to begin our vacation!!!

While we all cannot hang around a Caribbean island forever, (oh, that we could!!!) we can ask the Lord to open our eyes to His creation that’s all around us, wherever we are. The view from my office today is mostly leafless trees spread out among some really brown grass (!!!), however the sky is blue and the sun is shining. Ahhhh, spring time’s a comin’….

I Chronicles 16:33 says, “Let the trees of the forest sing, let them sing for JOY before the Lord.” May we all savor our surroundings, daily, and praise God for His awesome Creation. This glimpse of love in February honors God’s Creation.

‘Til next time!

(Stay tuned as next week includes a not-so-romantic snaffoo on our return trip.)

Happy Valentine’s Day Weekend!!!

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Four Fabulous Glimpses of Love in February…This week features guest author Debora M. Coty and FREE BOOK GIVEAWAY!!!

Bountiful Blessings to you, dear reader!  I’m excited to share that throughout 2015, I will periodically be introducing you to some STELLAR writing from some STELLAR authors who have graciously agreed to send us guest posts. Plus, I will be giving away one of their books to one of YOU who posts a comment! After a week’s time, I’ll put your names in a hat and ask dear hubster to draw a lucky soul who’ll be sent a free book!!!  So let us hear from you!!!

This month kicks us off with my very fun-n-talented friend in Florida, Debora M. Coty.  You may recall I featured five fun   posts about her book, Fear, Faith and a Fistful of Chocolate in 2013.  (For more information, click on “Move Over Mom, I’m Drivin’”, or “My Mother’s My Travel Agent for a Guilt Trip”, or “Oh Man, I’m Goin’ Down…When You Think You May Faint”, or “Callin’ All Worrywarts”, or “Slaying Dragons at Deals’ Gap—Figuratively and Literally”) 15103243 Without further ado, allow me to present to you a lovely, lively, laugh-out-loud lesson on love (and DON’T FORGET TO LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW!!!) :

Love Your Man Enough to Zip It

By Deborah M. Coty

(Adapted from Debora’s newest Take On Life Series Too Loved to Be Lost)

Too Loved To Be Lost I truly love my man, Chuck. I do. But even after 36 years of marriage, the way he thinks completely befuddles me.

One day he got a hankering to do yard work. That in itself was phenomenal. So out he went to mow, trim, weed-whack, and leaf-blow. When he came in, filthy from head to toe, he informed me with a gleam of pride in his eye that he’d tidied up the backyard flowerbed for me and fixed the sprinkler problem.

Sprinkler problem? There was no sprinkler problem. Uh oh.

Now you first have to understand that although the lawn is his job, the flowerbeds are my domain. I plan, plant, and carefully nurture each and every flower, shrub, and ornamental. I often talk to them and sometimes even sing to them. Don’t laugh. They’re my little green babies.

So imagine my absolute horror when I walked out the back door to find my gorgeous six-foot philodendron stretched out like a dead body beside the garbage can. It had been hacked off at the base.

I was so devastated I could barely breathe as I stared at the gaping hole in the row of seven enormous, wondrously healthy philodendrons I had planted and lovingly coaxed to adulthood during the past three years. The one in the middle was missing. The one by the sprinkler head.

Chuck, with his logical see-a-problem-so-fix-it male brain, had decided that the plant had grown so big, it was blocking the sprinkler. What he failed to consider was that the whole point of the sprinkler was to grow the plant big.

The rage fuse lit somewhere in my innards and erupted into an inferno. I was ready to storm inside and scorch the remaining hair off Chuck’s head. But something stopped me. It was Papa God reminding me of Proverbs 18:2 (NIV): “A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions.”

To tell you the truth, I was so livid, I didn’t much care whether I was a fool or not at that moment. But I knew Papa did. So I just stood there praying for a new herspective (my term for a woman’s point of view), sobbing quietly so the neighbors wouldn’t call the men in white jackets to haul me away.

Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed Chuck covertly watching me from the porch. My mind flew back to the funeral I had recently attended of a woman I’d known since childhood. During the heart-melting eulogy, her husband of 58 years praised the way she’d held their marriage together through difficult times and said in a grief-choked voice, “She never looked down on me in all those years – she always looked up at me in respect …even when I didn’t deserve it. ”

Then their 40-something daughter admitted that that during her entire lifetime she’d never heard her mother say one bad word about her father.

Gulp. Those words hit me hard. I was so convicted about criticizing my husband – much of it in my own mind – that I vowed to show him more respect. Even when it seemed undeserved. 

So standing there in my backyard, I prayed. “Lord, help me understand him, not criticize him. I know he meant well and was only trying to please me. Glue my mouth shut, Papa; help me forgive him and really appreciate all he does for me.”

Later that afternoon, I got up enough courage to go back out to the flowerbed to attempt some damage control. To my surprise, there in the gap next to the stark green stump, stood my listing, drooping philodendron. Chuck had dug a hole and tried to replant the poor rootless thing. He’d even watered it.

I burst into tears again, but this time they were warm tears of gratitude. Oh, I knew there was no hope for the philodendron, but the point was that by me not blowing up and instead following Papa God’s loving lead, what could have been a marital Hiroshima … wasn’t.

Dr. Gary Campbell says, “Love is a choice you make every day. And in choosing love, you’re following Christ’s example. Nothing is more Christlike than loving your spouse.”

So girlfriend, the next time you find your Godiva stash missing because your guy is helping you stick to your diet, choose love. And remember the verse I just might have tattooed across my forehead, “Keep your mouth shut, and you will stay out of trouble” (Proverbs 21:23, NLT).   Deborah M Coty Bio: Debora M Coty is a humorist, speaker, and award-winning author of 14 books including Too Loved to be Lost, Fear, Faith, and a Fistful of Chocolate, and Too Blessed to be Stressed. Mother of two and Mimi of one adorable grandbuddy, Deb lives, loves and laughs in central Florida with her horticulturally-challenged husband Chuck and desperately wicked pooch, Fenway. Visit with Deb at www.DeboraCoty.com  

 

GREAT POST, DEBBIE!  THANK YOU SOOOOO MUCH FOR GREAT LESSONS WE ALL NEED TO REMEMBER.  WE HAVE SNOW UP HERE IN LOUISVILLE TODAY….HOPE YOU’RE BASKING ON THE BEACH.  WARM HUGS….Elizabeth =)   

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