Wednesday, July 20, 2011


By Stephen Bly

I was sitting at the dining room table and strained to read the newspaper until I realized a couple bulbs had burned out of the overhead chandelier. Weak eyes. Getting older. Makes it tough to see even in good light. I’m pretty spoiled by 21st Century lighting systems.

Citizens of the Old West survived on a whole lot less light than even our dimmest bulbs. If a prospector’s cabin or a cowboy’s line shack contained an oil lantern, that was pretty great. Most light radiated from a fireplace or maybe a happy jack or two.

A happy jack was nothing more than a candle in a tin can. If you’ve ever tried to read by candlelight or firelight, you can figure out why most cowboys were better at telling stories than reading them.

Sure applies to human knowledge versus spiritual light.

We think we’re so smart. We’ve got life and the universe all figured out. Yet, we stumble in our own dark arrogance. We trip over our own dense pride. Except for those times God beams down his lightning truth (1 Peter 2:9), which he is most willing to do. He proved that by sending Jesus, his appointed light giver (John 1:4,5).

Got confusion? Get close to Jesus. The farther you are from him, the more blurred life on this earth looks. You squint by the dimmest of flickers.

Jesus is no happy jack. He’s the ultimate luminary. Pure radiance. In fact, his presence alone lights up heaven.

To walk by his light is like stepping out of a dimly lit cabin into the brightest noon on a summer day.

Throw The Devil Off The Train is now available in E-Book form.

Friday, July 15, 2011


Forever After
by Deborah Raney


Lucas Vermontez was a proud firefighter like his father. Now, not only has he lost his father and his best friend, Zach, in the fire at the Grove Street Homeless Shelter, but the devoted rookie can no longer do the work he loves after being crippled in the tragic event. 

When friendship with his buddy's beautiful widow turns into more, he wonders what he could possibly offer Jenna. Jenna Morgan is trying to grieve her husband's death like a proper widow, but the truth is, she never really loved Zach. His death feels more like a relief to her. But that relief is short-lived when she loses her home and the financial support of her in-laws. 

Now the secrets of her past threaten to destroy her future.  


Deborah Raney
DEBORAH RANEY's first novel, A Vow to Cherish, inspired the World Wide Pictures film of the same title and launched her writing career after 20 happy years as a stay-at-home mom. Her books have won numerous awards including the RITA, National Readers Choice Award, HOLT Medallion, the Carol Award, and have twice been Christy Award finalists. 

Deb also serves on the Advisory Board of the 2500-member American Christian Fiction Writers. Her 20th novel released this month from Howard/Simon and Schuster. 

She and her husband, Ken Raney, enjoy tending wildflowers and native grasses in the Kansas prairie garden in their large back yard. They also love traveling together to conferences, and to visit four children and three little grandsons who all live much too far away.

Here’s a favorite snack that she and her family enjoy, taken from her website:

Says Deborah, “Credit goes to author Tamara Leigh whose recipe I tweaked to come up with this. (Tamara's recipe has much less coconut, no sunflower seeds, and adds raisins and craisins. And we bake ours longer so it's chewy, with just a little crunch.)” 

4  Cup Old Fashioned Oats
1  Cup Flaked Coconut
½ Cup Chopped Pecans or Walnuts
¼ Cup Sunflower Nuts
½ Cup Brown Sugar
½ Cup Olive Oil
½ Cup Honey
1  Teaspoon Vanilla

In a large cookie sheet with sides (jelly roll pan), bake dry oats at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, mix nuts, coconut, sunflower seeds and brown sugar in large mixing bowl; stir well.

In a small bowl, mix oil, honey, and vanilla. Remove oats from oven and add to nut mixture. Pour oil and honey mixture over all, stirring well. Return to cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes till dark golden brown, stirring every 5-8 minutes. Cool. (Stir again several times while cooling as it tends to clump.)

Store in zip-lock bag or other air-tight container. (We use a gallon-size ice cream tub.)


Now in Stores! FOREVER AFTER a Hanover Falls Novel from Howard/Simon and Schuster

Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, 
and HOLT Medallion Award of Merit

RITA Award winner 
from WaterBrook/
Random House

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


By Janet Chester Bly

Are you a stroke waiting to happen?
Do you need to calm down?

Here’s some good news:

If you know how to worry,
you already know how to meditate.
Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life

The challenge is to replace all the dire news, the dreaded fears, and debilitating remorse with solid positive alternatives. Think about God’s truth over and over. Focus all your attention on freeing promises that apply to you. At a gut-level, believe God.

To meditate on spiritual truth slows down your frantic. 

I no longer rush through the Bible to meet some reading quota. I hone in on a passage, a scene, a few vital words.

I think of Jesus in the boat with his disciples in the storm. I imagine myself with them. Feel the wind whip around me, the chill sting of the waves. The anxiety builds. The irritation the disciples felt I take on. . .because Jesus sleeps through it all. 

Then, Jesus wakes up, looks at me with gentle reproach, then turns to the storm to say, “Peace! Be still!” And the storm dies. (Matthew 8:23-27)

Meditation is focused thought. Concentration. Zeroed in one a single theme. One concept at a time. If some duty or problem fritters around the edges, I jot that down to take care of later.

Your mind can only hold one thought at a time. Make it a positive and constructive one.
taken from Life’s Little Instructions from the Bible

Adapted from “31 Ways To Win The Fight For Personal Peace.” Download the whole article at

When is the last time you focused only on a wonderful, heavenly truth that brought you nothing but positive reinforcement?


Find the book Hope Lives Here at


Sunday, July 10, 2011


The Dragons of Chiril
A New Novel 
by Donita K. Paul

What do Wittoom Soup, Moose Stew and dragons have in common?


Ever read a story about dragons?

Before DragonSpell, on a different continent and a different time, a young emerlindian’s desperate decision threatens to disrupt the foundation of the world.

Tipper has been caring for her family’s estate for years now, ever since her father disappeared, making a living by selling off his famous artwork. Then she learns that three statues she sold were carved from an ancient foundation stone, and the fabric of her reality is crumbling. She must find the three statues and reunite them, positioned exactly in the right form.

She must free her father and save the world. But she can’t do it alone.

Her ragtag band of adventurers includes Beccaroon, a giant parrot; Bealomondore, an aristocratic young artist; a handsome dragonkeeper prince; the Wizard Fenworth; and the tumanhofer librarian Librettowit. Together they travel through valleys and kingdoms and consort with purveyors of good and agents of evil to find and reunite the missing statues. Will they learn to rely on Wulder’s grace and guidance along the way?

Dragons of the Watch, the last book in this series, will be released in October.


1. Wittoom Soup

In the bottom of each bowl, place:
1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh baby spinach
1 tsp. lemon juice
Cover with hot chicken broth made with finely chopped yellow onions.

2. Dori Chaconas' Moose Stew

1 lb. moose, venison, or beef stew meat cut into 1-1/2 inch cubes
2 Tbsp. wine vinegar
1/2 c. butter
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 lb. small onions, peeled
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
3 whole cloves
1/3 cup red table wine
2 c. water

Season meat with salt and pepper. Melt butter in heavy kettle with cover. Add meat and coat with butter, but do not brown. Arrange onions over meat. 

Mix tomato paste, wine, vinegar, sugar, garlic and spices with water. Pour slowly over meat and onions. Cover kettle and simmer three hours.
Serve with crusty bread and a good salad.

Donita K. Paul

Donita K. Paul retired early from teaching school, but soon got bored! The result: a determination to start a new career. Now she is an award-winning novelist writing Christian Romance and Fantasy. She says, “I feel blessed to be doing what I like best.” She mentors all ages, teaching teenagers and weekly adult writing workshops.

“God must have imprinted 'teacher' on me clear down to the bone. I taught in public school, then home schooled my children, and worked in private schools. Now my writing week isn’t very productive unless I include some time with kids.”

Her two grown children make her proud, and her two grandsons make her laugh.

Check out her website:


Donita Paul is a charming, very nice lady who happens to write stories about dragons. When's the last time you picked up a book whose central character happened to be a dragon?


Thursday, July 07, 2011


By Janet Chester Bly

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

Jan Grueter and I were on our way to a womens’ retreat in Washington and stopped to get our hair done. The stylist croaked out his greetings as he clipped a wrap around my friend’s neck.

“You don’t sound so good,” Jan said. “Are you sick?”
“I sure am. I think I have the flue.”
“We stole a look at each other, then she offered, “Maybe we should come another time.”
“Oh, that would be great. I just want to go home and collapse.”

Road To Palouse Falls by Brian Forrest
We were glad to get away from his germs. However, we had dippy hairdos and headed to an event where I would speak and my friend would assist me at our book table. We drove on down the highway. . .until we came to the Palouse Falls sign.

“Hey, I’ve always wanted to go there,” Jan remarked.
“So have I, but we never have time.”

Palouse Falls from the top
Since we had several extra hours that day, we turned off for this side trip. Over a high bridge. Past some donkeys in the tiny village of Starbuck. And we didn’t mind a bit when it began to drizzle. Wouldn’t hurt our coiffures as we overlooked the canyon and falls.

Palouse Falls by Cindy Kassab
When we arrived at the conference grounds, we fussed with each other’s hair and pronounced that we looked fine. Just fine. But we’ve never forgotten that serendipity. . .our detour of delight. And we realized we really can ‘make do’ when we have to.

“I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders” (Psalm 9:1).

When has life derailed you and it turned out to be a blessing in disguise?

taken from "31 Ways To Win The Fight For Personal Peace" available as a free download at


Awakening Your Sense of Wonder

by Janet Chester Bly 

Tuesday, July 05, 2011


Dining With Joy
by Rachel Hauck

Thanks for having me today!

I’m no genius in the kitchen, but my heroine, Joy Ballard, finds herself doing a job she can’t do for all the right reasons. She’s a cooking show host who can’t cook!

When I started this book, that premise got a good laugh from those who heard it. Then, I’d ask, “But what’s that story about?”

The person would shrug. “I don’t know.”
“Yeah, me neither.”

I had to ask a lot of questions about what a woman hosts a cooking show when she can’t so much as fry eggs. I didn’t want an insincere, lying heroine. She’s not a manipulator or conniver.

Joy simply found herself filling a job she was asked to do – by her father. She was great in front of the camera. Just not behind the stove.

Not long ago, I stood on stage at church with my worship team praying before the service started. Head back, eyes close, I said in my heart, “Lord, help us. You have to help me. I’m so weak in leading worship. I cannot do it without You.”

While I’m a decent singer, and I can lead the people to worship Jesus, I’m not a musician. I’m not one who can skillfully bring the band and the worship sound together. And until I found myself with a “starting over” band, I never realized how gaping this weakness was for me.

A few days later, I was thinking of all the great worship leaders, singers and musicians. Of great writers. And I just felt weak and inadequate in the two main callings of my life.

Again, I went to the Lord. “Why can’t You find a good worship leader for church? Why can’t you help me be a more successful writer? I see people who are good at what they do, succeeding.”

This is what He said to me. “… most people won’t give me their weaknesses.”

I was stopped cold. I understood that a lot of times God invites us on a journey to participate with Him in some aspect of our lives or others, but because we are not good at that thing, or because we are weak with fear or shame or whatever, we say no.

It’s in our weaknesses His strength is manifest. God is not looking for mighty men and women, He’s looking for weak men and women in which HE can show His might.

Don’t misunderstand, God loves excellence, skill and devotion. While leading worship practices, I have to be excellent as I can be to bring the team and songs together.

I’ll never have a recording or national ministry as a worship leader, but for our little church in Florida, I’m God’s girl. For now.

That, in some ways, is Joy’s journey. She said yes to her father’s desire.
Can we say “Yes?” to our Father’s desire for us? Offer Him all of our strengths AND weaknesses? He’s more than willing to overcome.

In my story, Joy’s secret is revealed and takes a pretty good tumble, but love is waiting to catch her. In the form of cowboy chef and hero, Luke Redmond.

Sigh… Love wins.

One of the things Joy discovers along the way his her father’s banana bread recipe. It’s delish!

Here it is:

Charles Ballard’s Banana Bread 

From Connie Spangler

1 3/4 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1t. baking soda
1/2t. salt
1/2t. cinnamon
2 eggs
3 mashed ripe bananas
1/2 cup oil (I use canola)
1/4 cup plus 1 T. buttermilk
1t. vanilla
1/2 cup choc. chips
1/2 cup p.butter chips

In a large bowl stir together flour, sugars, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. In another bowl, combine eggs, bananas, oil, buttermilk and vanilla. Add to flour mixture, stirring just until moistened. Fold in chips. Pour into a greased 9-in. x 3-in. loaf pan. Bake at 325 for 1 hour and 20 minutes or until it tests done. Cool on a rack 10 minutes before removing from pan.

Tips for baking banana bread:
DON'T over mix the batter, just until moistened. Banana bread is always best if after its cooled to wrap up and serve the next day.



Rachel Hauck


Rachel Hauck lives in central Florida with her husband and writes books from the second floor of what she calls her “turret tower.” A gift from the Lord. Besides “Dining with Joy,” Rachel has written fourteen other novels. Also out is “Softly and Tenderly” which Rachel wrote with country artist, Sara Evans.

Visit her web site:


Are you going to try this banana bread recipe?
What's your favorite banana bread ingredient?