Monday, December 19, 2016

TGIM Reflection -- 12/19/16

Hello & Happy Monday!

I know, I know--the weekend goes fast, while it seems like the week just drags on. But what happens when we spend the week wishing for Friday? In essence, we're wishing our lives away.

This happens to be Sunday, since I prepare TGIM Reflections before Monday morning. This one came today, right before the closing prayer after service from our Pastor Jimmy:

"Make it a point to live life to the fullest in Christ this week."

That covers more than just humble, little Monday! That challenge comes to us and includes Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday...and hopefully beyond that.

Our pastor didn't say, "As soon as things get better, make it a point." Or, "When you clean up whatever you're struggling with, make it a point..." No prerequisite of, "If nobody gives me a hard time this week, Lord, I can make it a point..." Listen, there are no requirements for this challenge, other than asking for the Lord's help to get you through it.

Make it a point to live life to the fullest in Christ this week. That is the key: IN CHRIST.

And let's not wish away the precious days and hours of this week. Instead, let's live our lives to the fullest, remembering that we are not promised tomorrow.

Sometime today, write that challenge down and post it somewhere you can see it, where it can remind and encourage you. If you fall down in meeting that challenge, you can always get back up and keep trying. Remind yourself of the challenge. Also, if you get a chance, listen to listen to the Afters' "Life is Beautiful." It will inspire you.

Ready to take Pastor Jimmy's challenge? I pray we take those words to heart, and that we encourage others to do so, too.

Have a happy, safe and blessed week, brothers & sisters!

Monday, December 12, 2016

TGIM Reflection -- 12/12/16

Hello again, sisters! Take a deep breath, put on the coffee pot, and welcome a totally new Monday. December of 2016 only has four Mondays in total--so, yes, we can do this!

Our TGIM Reflection for today comes from one of my Pinterest boards. (Incidentally, feel free to follow any of my boards that interest you.)

Father, I pray my child thinks about what is true, noble, and right today.

That prayer actually comes from Philippians 4:8, which says, "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." (KJV)

Today, take an extra moment to pray this prayer for your child (or children). It doesn't matter if your son or daughter is 5 or 35; he or she may not want to worry you or has other reasons for not speaking up if they're troubled in some way.

As we all know, the world is a much rougher place than when we were growing up. Say a special prayer for your precious loved ones, that they may focus on all that is right in their lives, all the blessings, and that God will minister to them today and lift them up.

And if you aren't a parent yourself, then a niece, nephew, student, or someone else's child could use your prayer. No prayer is ever wasted! Trust in God's power to move in your special young person's life.

Have a great Monday!

Monday, December 5, 2016

TGIM Reflection -- 12/5/2016

Welcome to a brand-new week!

Our TGIM Reflection for today is brought to us by Jesus, Himself:

"I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." -- John 10:10

Interestingly, I had chosen a different reflection for today, but while studying the gospel of John, this was the scripture that stood out to me.

Not so surprisingly, this is the season of "abundance." This is the season of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and all the other catchy names that stores have to draw us in and pull out the plastic and "plata," as Cubans say, from our wallets. It's the season when the supermarkets are as full as our pantries and fridges. There's lots of abundance out there at this time of year.

But there is plenty of lack, too, as we all know. Besides people who don't have much money for their kids' presents or even a bed to lie in, there are those who are struggling in other ways. Perhaps having lost a loved one or having gone through a painful divorce, or another difficult trial.

Today reflect upon Jesus' promise to us--a promise for the abundant life that only He can give. An abundance that can reach past tears and sadness, that brings peace and comfort. He came specifically to bring us not just life, but a life that if full of hope and promises from the One who never breaks His promises.

There is nothing we can do to deserve that abundance; it is a gift from His hand. All we have to do is accept it, with a grateful heart. It can't be found in the stores. It is paid for not with earthly money but with the shed blood of a Risen Savior.

True abundance that doesn't depend upon our credit score or our status in life or our circumstances. True abundance that is a gift from the Good Shepherd. Jesus has already won it for us.

Have a blessed Monday, sisters!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Blaze of Glory -- INTRODUCTION

Welcome to our study, Blaze of Glory! I'm very happy to be sharing it with you as something the Lord put upon my heart to demonstrate through His Word. Pull up a chair, grab some coffee, tea (or since our theme for this study, partly, is the American cowboy, and there's one cowgirl in that picture to the left, too!), some sasparilla. Root beer is probably easier to find. Anyway, get comfortable, have your Bible ready, and let's start!

First, let's define the idiom "a blaze of glory." Some years ago there was a song by Bon Jovi with that title, which was the theme song for the movie, Young Guns 2. The term is defined as "a spectacular downfall," or, the definition which applies to our study, "to refuse to surrender to the enemy, to die fighting."

The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, puts it much more eloquently with these words:

Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, TO STAND." -- Ephesians 6:13 NIV

That sounds like the same thing as our definition: To put on the whole armor of God without thought of surrendering, but rather to fight until the end.

Before we go on, let's state one Biblical fact, and that is that there is nothing the devil would like more than to see us, as believers, give up. He lives for that, for us to throw down our weapons and stop fighting. The late David Wilkerson of New York's Time Square Church said in his great sermon, A Call to Anguish, "That's all the devil wants to do is get the fight out of you and kill it, so you won't labor in prayer anymore. You won't weep before God anymore."

Further in that same sermon, Pastor Wilkerson spoke about that fight: "It is only what is accomplished by the Holy Spirit when you obey Him and take on His heart. Build the walls around your family. Build the walls around your own heart. Make you strong and impregnable against the Enemy. God, that's what we desire."

What are our weapons? Whether we're well acquainted with this passage from Ephesians 6 or this is new to you, let's review those weapons of warfare...all God-issued to us, as His soldiers.

  • Stand therefore, having your loins girl about with TRUTH, and
  • Having on the breastplate of RIGHTEOUSNESS; and
  • Your feet shod with the preparation of the GOSPEL OF PEACE
  • Above all, taking the shield of FAITH, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked
  • And take the helmet of SALVATION,and
  • The Sword of the SPIRIT, which is THE WORD OF GOD,
Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.

Ephesians 6:14-18, KJV

Is that not awesome? But, wait--that doesn't totally fit the world's picture of the Church,..does it? The Enemy likes the depiction that the world holds onto. That spirit of the world that says, "It's okay to be a Christian, but just keep it to yourself, okay? Sing, have church dinners, love, love, love! But don't mention Jesus around people because you don't want to be offensive. Be mild and quiet, keep the Bible hidden."

That's a spirit that is contrary to all that we're told in scripture, contrary to what the Lord Jesus Christ taught and died for.

If you listen to the world, Christians aren't supposed to be cowboys. We're surely not supposed to be soldiers. You should hardly hear a peep out of us. We're not to make waves. Ever.

Their depiction of Jesus is about the same. If you buy the world's version of Jesus, He was a hippie of 2,000 years ago who did "cool stuff" like turning water into wine, healing the sick, more love, love, love than the Beatles sing about, and oh, so sorry, He was killed and died young.

Over the course of this study, we'll take a look at the Jesus of the Bible. Satan tried to get Him to surrender, too--and the devil lost that fight miserably.

We'll also take a look at the tough guys--and the tough ladies, because they're in there, too--of both the Old and New Testatments. You would've heard more than a peep out of them. Those people made some noise. And, oh, yeah, they made some waves, too.

All of whom risked something. Faith cost them dearly, often their earthly lives. People who were anything but passive and retiring. None who surrendered, who fought "the good fight" with valor and to God's glory until the end.

Still with me? I hope so! If you are, below is the reading for this part of the study. Read it, study it, meditate on it.

Luke 4:1-13

And we will meet again here for Part I of Blaze of Glory!

To read or review Part I of Blaze of Glory, click here.

Monday, November 28, 2016

TGIM Reflection -- 11/28/16

Hello again, sisters in Christ!

For many of us, that was a longer weekend than usual, so I'm hoping you're rested and refreshed and ready to say, "Thank God It's Monday!" (And if not, coffee should help!)

Besides the fact that it's Monday, we might have eaten (and spent more money) than we usually do. That's okay. That's what's Mondays are for: to get back to normal. Make sure to carve out a few minutes for a much-needed walk. Plan light and healthy meals for the week, starting today.

And our TGIM Reflection for today comes from the title of a Toby Mac song: Speak Life.

God is watching. We just got through a holiday dedicated to giving thanks and being grateful. Stay in that same spirit. Speak Life to your loved ones, friends, neighbors and coworkers.

Speak Life to the lady ringing up your order at lunchtime. Don't just say, "thank you," but share a kind word.

Speak Life to everyone you meet today.

Speak Life to the Lord. Tell Him you're not done thanking and praising Him. He'll love it! The Bible says God sings over us. May He break out in song over you!

Speak Life to yourself. Remind yourself that You belong to Him. Remind yourself that, no matter what happens today, Jesus has already won the victory for us.

Speak Life.

And have a blessed Monday!

Always walk with a friend!

Monday, November 21, 2016

TGIM Reflection -- 11/21/16

"Be still and know that I am God." - Psalm 46: 10 KJV

Good morning! And yes, I know--it's Monday and I'm reminding you of your Father's words to be still.

That is our TGIM reflection for today: That sometime today, you take out a few moments to steal away to someplace quiet. Somewhere that you can push aside the worries of this day or week...where you give yourself permission to stop thinking about the trial you are going through, or the hectic day ahead, or the person who said cross words to you today.

Find that place. Quiet your mind. Take a deep breath. Be still. You don't have to say anything, either. Just let your heart rest in knowing that He is God--El Shaddai, the Creator of the Universe, the One who conquered Death and the grave. And yet, this powerful God is also our Good Shepherd. The Father of Lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. His Son, Jesus, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Take time to let Him wrap you in His everlasting love.

Be still and know that He is your God.

Happy Monday!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Heroine of Proverbs 31 -- PART IV

She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and bless her; her husband also, and he praises her, saying: "Many daughters have done nobly, but you excel them all." Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her the product of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates." - Proverbs 31:26-31 NAS

Welcome to the fourth (and final) part of our study! Sorry about the delay and I hope you will find a blessing in this last installment of our study on the Heroine of Proverbs 31.

So grab a coffee or a tea, make yourself comfy, and we'll get right to it!

What I find interesting about these last few verses of our text is that it is like a summary of who this woman is, her identity. Again, you never see in this passage the word perfect. Mrs. Excellent is not perfect, but she takes great care in everything she does.

She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. Notice that it doesn't add only to those of her household. That's something the Lord has been teaching me (among other things--I still need to learn a lot!) this year, how important it is to open our mouth in wisdom and to have "the teaching of kindness on our tongue."

The Bible has a lot to say about the tongue, but here are a few key scriptures to jot down and study:

"If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worseless." -- James 1:26 ESV

"A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." -- Proverbs 15:1 ESV

"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer." -- Psalm 19:14 ESV

"Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouth, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." -- Ephesians 4:29 ESV

That last one, especially, speaks to the Heroine of Proverbs 31, because the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. Our words are for building up, for giving grace to others.

Think back on all the negative things that may have been spoken over you in your life. The way those words left an impact, even scars, that may have been difficult to overcome. Sadly, some people spend years in a painful healing process from having been lashed at with cruel words that have shaped who they are, and wrongfully so.

Now think back on the positive things that have been spoken over you in your life. A teacher who told you you were a budding writer, maybe (someone did that for me the fifth grade, and I never forgot him!). A grandmother who laughed at all your antics and let you know what a delight you were to her. A friend who told you you were beautiful when you felt anything but. A mom or dad who told you that it was okay if you didn't win the game or someone else gained the achievement you wanted, because they were proud of you just for trying and giving it your all. Those are the types of words that also can shape the person that we become.

Words have power. Whether they are spoken or written in social media, words have power. I warn myself as well as you, that we need to be careful. Because every time we speak a word, we represent the Lord. We are His ambassadors. And we always are presented with opportunities to build someone up, to give them grace. That applies to both people in our household and who we come into contact with outside the home.

Moving on...She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and bless her; her husband also, and he praises her saying, "Many daughters have done nobly, but you excel them all."

Wow! How lovely is that, sisters? While Mrs. Excellent is busy, tending diligently and lovingly to her family and home, not "eating the bread of idleness" because she minds her own business and keeps herself focused on what is good, what has to be  done, her children and husband are praising her. Just to note, I once heard that one scripture paraphrased as, "Many women have done well--but, baby, YOU'RE THE BEST!"

Have you ever noticed the kind words spoken about the deceased during funerals? When my mother and aunt died, I wondered if I had told them enough how much I loved them, how much I appreciated everything they'd done for me and my cousin, Pep, and our little family. There is a beautiful Spanish song by the great Puerto Rican salsa band, El Gran Combo, "Que Me Lo Den en Vida" (Translation: "That They Give it to Me in Life"). The song talks about exactly what is being said here. There's a part where the singer says, "Don't wait to go to my grave to give me (this affection); don't wait until I die to say sweet things to me; say them now, while I live, while you have me."

It is my prayer that those who you love, those of your household will praise and brag about you to all who will listen! Speak life to your daughters, too. To your daughters-in-law, to your sons, to your baby while he or she is still in the womb, because the unborn child hears their mother's voice and already builds a connection with her. Because loving words are good for all of us. God knows that, and it is pleasing to Him--truly, it brings Him glory!--when we express our love and appreciation for each other.

And finally, these words: Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her the product of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.

The King of Kings is looking for you. You are the creation of His hands. This is who He meant you to be: a woman who fears the Lord. Though we all have different talents, different careers or life paths, when we know the Lord as our Savior, Redeemer and Friend, this is His will for us, that we will be women who fear Him and walk with Him. He's not looking for youth or a sparkling personality or flawless beauty. All of those things, over time, fade. God doesn't care what label is on your clothes or what college degree you may or may not have. He cares about who you are in Him, that you belong to Him, and that your life is hidden in Him. You are beautiful and you are unique in His eyes.

Closing prayer: Gracious Heavenly Father, thank You for Your Word, which is eternal. Thank you for the picture painted in Proverbs 31. You know that it is difficult sometimes and You know everything I go through, but I stand on Your promise that with You, nothing is impossible. Thank You for my life, exactly as it is. Please protect and guide my loved ones and shine Your light through me in their lives. Help me to be an example for them. Forgive my shortcomings, Lord, and help me to forgive myself for my mistakes and to take one day at a time in Your will for me. Thank You for every opportunity that You present in my life for You to be glorified through everything I do, and that no act of love is small or insignificant. In Jesus' Name I pray, Amen.

To view or review Part III of the Heroine of Proverbs 31, click here.

To view or review Part II of the Heroine of Proverbs 31, click here.

To view or review Part I ofthe Heroine of Proverbs 31, click here.

Monday, November 14, 2016

TGIM Reflection 11/14/16

Good morning & Happy Monday, sister!

Are we ready for today? The Monday that follows a long weekend has an even worse reputation than your average, every-day-Joe Monday. But that's all right: We're facing this day with the Good Shepherd.

And here is our reflection to carry you through this beautiful Monday:

"Each one of them is Jesus in disguise." -- Mother Teresa

That is what Mother Teresa said about the poor and sickly that she spent so much of her life helping. We may not be on "the front lines," as she was, but we all have our own mission field in this world.

Do you look for Jesus every day? You may see Him today...and on MONDAY, of all days! He may be disguised as that coworker who is going through a hard time, who could use an encouraging word and someone to listen. He may be a client, a customer, a patient, a student, anyone who needs to see the Light of this World through your smile and kindness. He may be the stranger that you pass on the street today, who may look distracted or sad, who desperately needs your prayers. It could be anyone who, at this time of year, asks for help in some way, either for food or clothing or a small gift to give their kids.

There's a song that Sidewalk Prophets sing that demonstrates Mother Teresa's words. If you get a chance, you can hear Save My Life here. Here's a little snippet from the lyrics:

Tell me what I need to hear
Tell me that I'm not forgotten
Show me there's a God 
Who can be more than all I've ever wanted
'Cause right now I need a little hope
I need to know that I'm not alone
Maybe God is calling you tonight
To tell me something that might save my life.

We never know what form He might take, so let's look for our King today in everyone we meet. May we make it our prayer that He will bless others through us, that we will love our neighbor, as He has asked of us, all to His glory.

Have a great Monday!

Monday, November 7, 2016

TGIM Reflection 11/7/16

Is it me, or does the weekend just zip by all the time? Before you know it, here comes THAT day again. (Monday!)

For our TGIM reflection today, I wanted to share a scripture from the final chapter of the book of Daniel that I'm sure I've seen before, but when I read it during my devotional on Saturday it jumped right out of me. It doesn't matter how many times we read God's Word, does it? Because we always find some little gem that stands out, something we've read before, but the Lord expressly wants us to see it.

"Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever." -- Daniel 12:3

May the Lord use you for His glory this week in blessing someone else. Happy Monday, sister in Christ!

Monday, October 31, 2016

TGIM Reflection 10/31/2016

Good morning, visitors! And welcome to a new feature on my blog, called the TGIM Reflection.

TGIM, as in THANK GOD IT'S MONDAY. This came about because I began to notice that during my prayers at the start of the week, I'd say something to the Lord like, "Well, I thank You for this day, even if it is a Monday, Jesus." LOL!

You ever do that? I kinda stopped myself (at last!) and prayed, "That's silly of me, because You made this day, too, just like You made the rest of the week."

This is the day that the Lord has made--let us rejoice and be glad in it!

To be honest, rejoicing over Monday didn't happen overnight, and I still have to remind myself. But I now find myself looking at poor, little Monday, the day everybody dreads and even hates, with new eyes, and treating it more gently. Best of all, it is the start of a whole new week, and it brings with it all new adventures, all new memories to be made, all new opportunities.

So for today, our first TGIM reflection, remember that while you're having that first cup of coffee of the day--well, of the week--that no matter what is going on in your little corner of the world, there is nothing that will happen today that you and Jesus can't handle together.

"With God all things are possible." Mark 10:27

Enjoy your Monday! TGIM!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Heroine of Proverbs 31 -- PART III

Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies belts to the tradesmen. Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future. - Proverbs 31:23-25 NAS

Welcome back to our study of the Heroine of Proverbs31! You know, when I first began, I envisioned it being in three parts. However, there's so much to cover, and I'd rather we savor these verses together, reflecting on them and savoring them. Why rush through God's Word? So I've decided there will be a Part IV.

That said...let's begin!

Her husband is known in the gates,when he sits among the elders of the land. Since Proverbs 31 focuses more on Mrs. Excellent, there's not a lot written about Mr. Excellent here, but it is understood that he is known and respected. While he is tending to his business, his wife is tending to hers.

This is a simple passage within the text, but one that says a lot about the Excellent Wife. The husband has his role and the wife has hers, and you can almost put them into a modern context, seeing them at the dinner table, each discussing their day.

She works independently of Mr. Excellent, and yet they have the common goal of caring for each other and the rest of the family. (Of course, some husbands and wives may work together, as in a family business. Even then, they each have their own roles in which they work.)

Mrs. Excellent doesn't only tend the house and care for the children. That's true of the stay-at-home mom, too. She may not have a 9-to-5 job like the working mother, but she may have a little part-time at the mall or freelance work, or even her own small business, that contributes to the finances of the household, or she volunteers at church or within the community. Some Mrs. Excellents are similarly busy with being a caretaker for a special needs child or an elderly parent. In other words, there are a lot of facets to the Heroine of Proverbs 31. She and her husband are one, yes, but she has her own, God-given identity, as well. And she puts into practice Ecclesiastes 9:10, which says, "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might."

The Lord God has given each and every one of us not only a purpose, but also a talent, a gift, or a passion. You may be saying, "Not me! I think God forgot me when it came to handing out talents."

This is a good time to interject that our Father, the One who created us, who knew us even when we were in our mother's womb, never forgets His own. He never forgets, period! His memory is impeccable. The discussion of personal gits and talents is a great topic for another study, but here are a few things that God's Word has to say about work in general:

* "Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men." - Colossians 3:23 NAS

* "So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof; for the people had a mind to work." - Nehemiah 4:6 KJV

* "For the laborer deserves his wages." - Luke 10:7  ESV

* "Morever, that every man that eats and drinks sees good in all his labor--it is the gift of God." - Ecclesiastes 3:13 NAS

She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies belts to the tradesmen.

Mrs. Excellent is certain of her talent because she puts it to use. Besides creating beautiful originals for her husband, children, herself, and the rest of her household, she makes fine garments and belts that she then sells "to the tradesmen." Now that is an enterprising lady! No wonder she burns the midnight oil. You can almost see her sitting and getting lost in her work at night, with her husband asking, "Honey, you comin' to bed?" She replies, "Oh, babe, I've got an order from the tradesmen for these to fill in the morning. Give me ten more minutes!"

The tradesmen rely on her. They give her their business. Notice how this is in direct contrast to the world's claim that the Bible teaches oppression against women. The tradesmen see that the Heroine of Proverbs 31 does good work. That she's reliable, she's honest, she's pleasant and professional in all her dealings. She takes pride in her work.

That describes a lot of women that I know. Maybe they don't know what their talent is yet, or they aren't doing a job connected to whatever true creative passion God has given them. Take heart--maybe the time and the opportunity for that hasn't been presented yet. That doesn't mean it won't.

Nevertheless, a real-life Mrs. Excellent does good work. She is reliable. She is honest. She is pleasant and professional in all her dealings. She takes pride in the work that her hand has found to do. She works as if her boss is the Lord and not man.

Because strength and dignity are her clothing, she is like Mrs. Excellent. She smiles at the future.

First, what a lovely thing to be said about you! "Because strength and dignity are your clothing." My mother came  to the U.S. from Cuba with only a third-grade education. When she and my dad divorced, she went to work as a housekeeper in a hospital. To the human eye, her clothing was a dull, blue uniform, with plain, padded white shoes. In God's eyes, and in mine as someone blessed to have been her daughter, strength and dignity were her clothing.

That is the way God sees us, because unlike man, who looks at the outside, God looks upon the heart.

And she smiles at the future.

Do you smile at the future? A better question is, who holds your future in His hand? And not only yours, but the future of your loved ones?

These are very desperate times in which we live. We don't know what's going to happen from one day to the next. We're not even promised tomorrow.

A woman was on her way to work recently. Expecting that day to be just like any other, she said goodbye to her family that morning and went off to work. Through circumstances that have yet to be explained, a train came barreling into the station at a horrifying speed, coming off of the tracks and onto the platform. That young woman was killed instantly.

That is a heartbreaking tragedy. When we hear stories like that, it has a way of putting things into perspective for us. We all want to come home and get to do, once more, those simple things that we often take for granted: Kiss our husband hello, make dinner, hug our children. When we hear about these things, what is truly important in this life becomes crystal clear.

It is natural and human to worry about the future. Yet we can rest in that, "Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off." (Proverbs 23:17-18) And "For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." (Jeremiah 29:11)

When we walk with our sweet Savior, when our hand is firmly planted in His, we know that we can smile at the future. No matter what happens in our lives, He has promise to never--never, never--leave us nor forsake us.

And His Word is true and faithful.

To read or review Part IV of the Heroine of Proverbs 31, click here.

To view or review Part II of the Heroine of Proverbs 31, click here.

To review or review Part I of the Heroine of Proverbs 31,click here.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Heroine of Proverbs 31 -- PART II

She girds herself with strength, and makes her arms strong. She senses that her gain is good; her lamp does not go out at night. She stretches out her hands to the distaff, and her hands grasp the spindle. She extends her hand to the poor, and she stretches out her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of the snow for her household, for all her household are clothed with scarlet. She makes coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple." - Proverbs 31:17-22 NAS

Welcome to Part II of our study, "The Heroine of Proverbs 31!"

Let's start off with that first verse of our text. From where does our strength come? Make no mistake: running a home is not a job for the faint of heart. Proverbs 31 speaks of all of Mrs. Excellent's works, and she's one busy woman, but her main job--no, her main ministry--is creating a loving and welcoming home for her family. That is a task that requires strength, energy, and much devotion.

I want to also interject here, because though I know this text refers to the Excellent Wife, it must be said that it also takes strength to run a home when you're a single mom. Having been raised by an exceptionally brave and strong single, working mother, I know what trials can come upon that Virtuous Woman, too.

These promises would apply to both ladies:

* "The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him, and I am helped." - Psalm 28:7 KJV

* "I can do all things through Christ which strengthenth me." - Philippians 4:13 KJV

* "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint." - Isaiah 40:31 KJV

That is the sort of strength that is available to us through faith in the Great I AM. He is never further than a prayer away.

Dwell on those promises, Excellent Woman. There are more just like them; these are only the three verses that I chose. Meditate on those promises. Embrace them. Rest in them.

Let your heart remember them when you read Proverbs, the part about girding yourself with strength and making your arms strong. That strength gives our heroine confidence because, "she senses that her gain is good." She knows that her gains is good because she has confidence in God's strength. That's something that we can have--and His guidance is also available to us!

Is that guidance only for church pastors? For music ministers? For missionaries? For all those "on the front lines," as they say? No, that guidance is for us, too, in the every day tasks that we perform in our every day lives. If we are trusting the Lord for His help, then we can have confidence that He works all things out for our good.

This passage goes on to say that her lamp does not go out at night, that she works with her hands. She's very diligent; she's focused; she keeps her eyes on what is important. Not only does she work for her household, but she remembers the poor and the needy, too.

You don't hear about this as much anymore, and thank God for that, but there was a time, years ago, when we women were being told by our fast-paced, consumer-driven society that we could "have it all." Besides chasing our dreams at the workplace, we could simultaneously be "Supermom." By the world's definition, Supermom is a career woman, a fabulous homemaker, and a mega-mom, all rolled into one. Becoming a woman who could "have it all" means doing whatever it takes to compete on the corporate ladder, plus having the perfect home and providing all of the best "things" for your kids. Conversely, about that same time, the classic stay-at-home mom was looked upon (and still often is) as archaic, old-fashioned, and according to those who pushed the life-size Supermom action figure, a woman who was unfulfilled. As if it's even necessary to pit the average working mom against the stay-at-home mom. Both are hardworking, both love and cherish their families, both are to be honored and respected. And both need the Lord's help.

Perhaps because I'm a Christian who has slowly begun to pare down over the years, who has also suffered from anxiety and stress, but I don't believe we are called to be "Supermom." We can "have it all"--but we're not called to strive only for the treasures of this world. (I promise to talk more about that in a future post.)

Maybe I'm stepping on toes here, but neither a man nor a woman should be so busy with the things of this world that there is no time for fellowship with the King of the Universe.That there is no time for compassion and helping someone else. Let's face it, as women, homemaking and raising precious children are full-time jobs in themselves. I'm not saying a woman can't have a career and be a good wife and mother, or that there is anything wrong with chasing your dreams, because I began my career as a writer when my kids were little, too.

But we are not meant to be busy, busy, busy, filling up our schedules with the pursuit of obtaining earthly successes and earthly possessions. You don't find that mindset in Proverbs 31. That way of thinking has only brought women the same ailments that men had back in the 1950s and 60s, like strokes and heart attacks, because of the pressures of careers and climbing the corporate ladder. There should be time for fellowship with our Savior and Best Friend, and for seeking His purpose for us. There should be time for reading a little one a bedtime story. Time for calling a friend just to hear her sweet voice. Time for gazing at the fire pit while sipping coffee and chatting with your husband.

We are meant to do our work, yes, and to do it with love and delight, taking pride in what we do. Yet God expects us to have time to pack up our kids' clothes that have been outgrown and give it to children who are in need. To stretch out our hands to the poor, as Mrs. Excellent does. He expects us to have time for compassion, no matter what shape or form that compassion takes. Whatever God puts upon our heart, whatever need we see that we can fulfill, stretching out our hands to the poor and the needy when it is within our power to do so.

That is the Lord's version of Supermom. A woman who doesn't seek the world's version of success. She doesn't need the world's approval. Her identity is found not in how busy she is or how much money she makes, or who she is in the world's eyes, but rather who she is in Christ. And she even makes time to reach out beyond her own family to "love thy neighbor." Sisters, I know we're all not there (neither am I), but that should inspire and challenge us!

God's success was detailed in Jesus' words, when He told us to, "Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven...for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." (Matthew 6:20-21 KJV)

We conclude this study with these words: "She is not afraid of the snow for her household, for all her household are clothed with scarlet. She makes coverings for herself: her clothing is fine linen and purple."

This is a woman who not only provides for her home as best she can, but she takes pride in her family and all is done with love. Again, our Father in Heaven takes pleasure in these things! The fine linen here is especially interesting. Fine linen is found in other parts of God's Word, and it symbolizes the righteous acts of the saints.

Revelation 19:8 speaks of Christ's Bride, the Church, saying, "She has been given the finest of white linen to wear, for the fine linen represents the good deeds of God's Holy people." (NLT)

"Purple" is said to appear an amazing 48 times in the King James Bible, and it represents royalty. The heroine of Proverbs 31, then, is the righteous--and loving and compassionate AND industrious!--queen of her home.

With that, we conclude this section of our study. Please check back for the next part of the Heroine of Proverbs 31. Until then, may the Lord bless you!

To view (or review) Part I of The Heroine of Proverbs 31, click here.

To view (or review) Part III of The Heroine of Proverbs 31, click here.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Heroine of Proverbs 31 -- PART I

An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She also does him good and not evil all the days of her life. She looks for wool and flax and works with her hands in delight. She is like merchant ships; she brings her food from afar. She rises also while it is still night and gives food to her household and portions to her maidens. She considers a field and buys it; from her earnings she plants a vineyard." Proverbs 31:10-16

Okay, ladies, let's be honest: Taking that first verse, "An excellent wife, who can find?", what picture comes to mind?

First, please allow yourself a sigh of relief. We're not looking for society's--especially not Hollywood's--version of The Excellent Wife. That lady eats a leaf of lettuce for breakfast, one for lunch, and one for dinner. She wears pearls while she vacuums, drives a late-model minivan to take the kids to soccer practice, always looks like she stepped off the set of Desperate Housewives, and is secretly always seeking to "find herself."

Let's forget that picture. Let's go instead for the one painted by the author of Proverbs 31, King Lemuel of Israel. He does a wonderful job of painting a portrait of her for us, the woman who is excellent in God's eyes.

Now, before we even get started, note that she is the excellent wife. Strong's Concordance translates that word to chayil in the original Hebrew, and the word in English translates to strength, ability, efficiency, wealth, force, army.

Nowhere do we find the word perfect in there.

So we can rule out what she's not. She doesn't always have her hair and makeup done. She runs out in jeans and has a Mets (Yankees? Jets? Panthers?) T-shirt to the supermarket because she forgot the cheese for the mac & cheese. She smudges her nail polish, forgets to charge her cell, and has the occasional argument with That Excellent Husband of hers!

Incidentally, Mr Excellent isn't perfect, either. Yet these two share a relationship that is grounded in faith, trust, and mutual respect for each other.

She does him good and not evil all the days of her life. Further on in our text, it speaks of her relationship with her children, her servants, and other people in her life. First and foremost, though, is her relationship with her husband.

I'm now at that age where my kids have kids. Our two lovable little boys, Joey and Brandon, grew up to be wonderful young men. They moved out, married to two lovable young women, and have kids and homes of their own.

That leaves my husband, Bill, and I back to Square One: Just him and me, alone in this house (that eventually will be downsized, we hope, for a little ranch).

That's a dangerous time for some marriages. A husband and wife sometimes spend so much of their time, along the way, pouring themselves into careers and the kids, that they dread the Empty Nest chapter of their lives. Many couples find themselves almost to be strangers once the dreams have been chased and the children have moved out.

Yet Mrs. Excellent "does him good all the days of her life." Listen, I know that marriage isn't always a romance novel. Still, 1 Corinthians 16:14 tells us to, "Let all that you do be done in love." We also have a promise straight from the Lord, who said, "For where two or three are gathered in My name, there am I with them" (Matthew 18:20 NIV)

The woman in Proverbs 31 applies those principles in all that she does. "She looks for wool and flax and works with her hands in delight. She is like merchant ships; she brings her food from afar. She rises also while it is still night and gives food to her household and portions to her maidens."

Before you tell me, "All right, now that's where it gets tough!" Hey--that is the Christian wife and mother. He may be the head of the home, but you are the heart of the home. The heroine of Proverbs 31 knows she is needed. That her home doesn't run quite the same without her, even if she is a working mom and wears even more hats. She also understands that her work, what she does for her husband and family, is of value. That what she does is important to her loved ones.

And, sisters, God takes pleasure and He honors those things that you do every day. God is glorified in those things that you may take for granted, that at times we all may do grudgingly. The Lord is glorified all the little things: in the dusting and the grocery shopping; the picking up of children from daycare; the straightening up of the living room; the tending to pets; the posting of masterpieces drawn with crayon and posted with magnets on a refrigerator; the times that we work late and come home from our jobs, serving take-out pizza to a hungry family for dinner.

He is glorified in the driving of an aging parent to the doctor, since many of us are in "the sandwich generation," where we are taking care of children and elderly parents. He is glorified in the washing and folding of our loved ones' clothes.

He sees everything we do. Not one act of love that we do, however small or mundane, goes unnoticed by our Heavenly Father.

Jesus knows, personally, the Proverbs 31 Woman in your home. You are known and you are noticed and you are appreciated by that Heart.

For Part II of The Heroine of Proverbs 31, please click here.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Letters to the LORD

Got a few minutes? Let's talk about devotional time...and written prayers.

First, I'm not talking about the "Our Father" or any other prayer that has already been written out and recited. I mean you, as a believer, putting pen or pencil to paper and actually writing out, in your own words, a prayer to the Lord. Have you ever thought about incorporating a hand-written letter to the Lord as part of your daily devotional?

Before we go any further, listen: I realize that not everyone likes to write,so this idea wouldn't necessarily be everybody's cup of tea. But just for a little something different, it would be worth a try, no?

I began doing that a few months back when I began volunteering as a counselor at our local crisis pregnancy center. One early evening, before speaking with a client, I saw a stack of thin notebooks that someone had lovingly decorated and asked, "What are those for?" Another counselor replied, "They're prayer journals that we can offer to our clients. Aren't they nice?"

Nice? No, cool idea! From that day forward, I loved offering them and handing them out to our clients. Eventually, I decided that I, too, could use a prayer journal.

Now, I'm sure that's not an original idea, that you'll find a lot of info about prayer journals on Pinterest, blogs, and other places. But have you ever considered writing daily to the Lord? (Or, okay, writing now and then!)

Writing by hand, not on a computer. Actually touching that prayer with your flesh-and-blood hands. Stopping to read from God's Word and writing out scriptures that the Holy Spirit uses to speak to you. Pouring out your heart and soul before Him. Writing Him a love letter.

Personally, I have found it to be a great help in keeping me consistent with my prayer time. Once I decided to gift myself with a prayer journal, I made a trip to the store and found a gold folder. Gold. The color to remind me of God's diety, that I was coming before and writing to the King of the Universe, who is also my personal Savior, my Best Friend.

My Prayer Journal
Along with the folder, I bought looseleaf paper--probably too much for the folder to hold, but that's all right--to write on and a few pens with different colored ink. Because, after all, this is my prayer journal. Just in case I'm out when I have time to grab a cup of coffee, I made sure to keep extra notebooks in my car, the kind with perforated paper, so that I don't miss my time alone with my Heavenly Father. Those pages can then be added to the folder.

In case you're wondering, no...I don't keep those pages and eventually dispose of them. I figure God has the originals! I keep 3 Bible apps (including one in Spanish) and a prayer list on my phone, so all I really need is the coffee and a quiet table. Since I'm writing, that devotional time is private; no one knows what I'm doing, so it's between the Lord and me, the way it should be. Mostly, though, my prayer time is at home.

Of course, writing out your prayers doesn't take the place of corporate prayer with your church or Bible Study group, nor can you not break out in song or meditate or just be quiet and still beforeour beloved Jesus.

Why not give it a try? See if you can squeeze out time for a handwritten love letter now and then to our Savior.

*   First, it's YOUR journal. You decide what it will be! Gift yourself with it. All you need is paper, pens or pencils,and time, maybe a binder of some sort.

*   Decorate it however you wish. Or let it be a simple pad of note paper. God is more interested in your time with Him and the fact that you carved out a portion of your day to be in His presence.

*   You can write one page or fifty. Again, it's YOUR journal.

*    Play some music, if you'd life, preferrably instrumental Christian hymns that won't distract you from what you're writing to your Heavenly Father. There's a bevy of great music you'll find on YouTube just for that purpose.

Above all, enjoy your private time with Jesus. Enjoy Him, being in His presence. Remember that He looks forward to being with each and every one of us. He sees us as His own and always makes time for us. He honors the time that we make for Him.

And if you do give writing out your prayers a try, drop me a note at or leave a message here. I'd love to hear from you!

But when you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." -- Matthew 6:6 NIV

Sunday, May 29, 2016

New Summer Read on the Way

Actually, two--one that is a light, airy summer romance, and one that is an in-the-works Christian drama/thriller. I don't know how else to explain that second one, and I'm holding off before saying anything else at this moment, but the gist of it is that you'll have some exciting reading to do come those hot summer months!

On another note, I apologize for my lack of updates. Writing-wise, sometimes a writer needs to refill her well. That looks like what I've been doing, as I took some time off from story-creating to spend time with family and friends, plus of course, fitting in day hikes here and there. Looks like that was a good plan, because this promises to be a busy year, with our youngest grandson's birthday party sending us back up north to New Jersey and then another trip up to upstate New York for our nephew's wedding. All this well-refilling has sent me back to the laptop (and pen and paper--yes, I still write that old-fashioned way!) with renewed zest.

More updates coming this month. Have a happy and safe Memorial Day!

Sunday, May 15, 2016


He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming quickly." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

-- Revelations 22:20, New American Standard

Today our pastor started his very dynamic Sunday message with this scripture, which also happens to be one of my favorites. As someone who looks forward to the Second Coming of our Lord, I was so inspired by his message that I wanted to share ONE SWEET DAY with readers, having it be FREE for the next three days.

So please, if you haven't read this book, which is about a group of believers from different walks of life right before the Rapture, make sure you get your copy! Available below at different retailers:


Kobo Books


May it read and encourage you and get you excited about that one sweet day!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Movie Review: GOD'S NOT DEAD 2

Rating: 5 DOVES!

He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"  - Matthew 16:15 NASB

This passage from the gospel of Matthew figures very significantly in this film, the sequel to the highly successful and beloved God's Not Dead.

Before I touch upon that, let me say without hesitation that there is no "sophomore slump" here. While film sequels have not always lived up to the original, God's Not Dead 2 may actually be an even better movie than its predecessor. Let's go a step further: Christian movies seem to have come into their own, judging by this latest work. The quality of the actors' performances, writing, the storytelling itself, and direction far exceeds the Christian movies of the past which, speaking of sophomores, (and I apologize for saying this but it's true) were pretty sophomoric.

Let's begin with God's Not Dead 2's cast, which includes the lovely Melissa Joan Hart, who has been in many more roles (but yes, in our house, she's still fondly remembered for Sabrina, the Teenaged Witch!). Here she plays Grace Wesley, who is the sort of high school teacher you won't ever forget for her dedication and kindness, as well as a devoted Christian who innocently responds to a student's question revolving around Ghandi and Jesus Christ. That leads to a political firestorm that threatens her career, her certificate, all that she has.

Grace is a caring teacher who looks after her aging dad (Pat Boone), but her life is turned upside down when the school board (Robin Givens does a fine job as the principal, who not only is so bent on running a tight and politically correct ship that she tramples on the students' freedom of speech, as well) demands an apology from her. When Grace refuses to apologize for simply answering a question, an ACLU attorney is brought in (Ray Wise, brilliant in this role!). Jesse Metcalf also delivers as Grace's lawyer, who initially doesn't want the job of defending her but eventually can't deny that Grace sincerely holds fast to her faith, leading him to defend her passionately.

The late Fred Dalton Thompson and Mike Huckabee have cameos in this, and there are some familiar faces from the first God's Not Dead--Benjamin A. Onyango as the charming and funny Pastor Jude and Paul Kwo, who gives a poignant performance as Martin Yip, a young man seeking the Lord with all of his heart and ready to give up everything to follow Him. Of course, I would be remiss not to mention David A.R. White as Rev. Dave, a local pastor who's dreading jury duty ("I have a better chance of being struck by lightning than being picked" he tells Pastor Jude) until he finds himself on the jury at Grace's trial.

God's Not Dead 2 was inspired by true and recent events here in the United States, of Christians--whether teachers or bakers or bed-and-breakfast owners--who found themselves in a position similar to Grace Wesley. What makes this so compelling is that, for years, Christians were free to worship and speak about the Lord here in the United States. The tide of political correctness and "separation of church and state" (which, as the movie aptly points out, those words never appear in either the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution) have changed all that.

Now, naturally, we should have been expecting that, anyway. In John 16:33, Jesus said, "These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." (KJV) Yet persecution has for a long time been something that happened "somewhere else." Just ask believers in other parts of the world, who have seen their children murdered right in front of them, or who themselves have been tortured or killed. This year, on Good Friday, Pastor Thomas Uzhunnalil was crucified by ISIS, and all because of his faith.

Persecution has also come to the United States, though it has taken on a different form. For now. These are the last days, so expect persecution to become much worse. I loved God's Not Dead 2 because it reminds us that Christianity is not only about going to church on Sundays and practicing with the choir and all our holidays. Being a Christian is not just about believing in Jesus but about walking with Him, about having an intimate relationship with Him, even when it costs us either something or everything. It is about cultivating that relationship and holding on tight to Him even when the rest of the world says that faith is unpopular and outdated, and that it's time to move forward into a future without Christ. For us, as believers, there is no future without Jesus. He IS our future, our now, our yesterday, our tomorrows.

Like Grace Wesley, we have all been asked that question in our hearts: Who do you say that I am? Our answer to that question is what defines who we are, our life, our being. That answer should guide everything we do or say, what sets us apart from a world that needs the same Savior it is denying. This movie will inspire you to keep your eyes fixed on the things that are eternal rather than the things that are temporal. As Grace says in one scene, "I would rather be judged by the world and accepted by God than accepted by the world and judged by God."

Five doves to the memorable, emotion-packed and timely God's Not Dead 2.

Ah, yes--and the Newsboys are in this one, too!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Happy April and...

Yep--I'm still here!

A lot going on, but a real slowdown on writing for the past few weeks. This year has found us eating healthier, more mindfully, everything in moderation, but with a focus on organic food and slowly cutting out GMOs. It's also seen us becoming more active, which could account for the slowdown in books. I'm doing more walking lately than writing! That included the Foam Glow 5K in Charlotte with friends, and what fun that was.

The hubby and I also had a chance for a little getaway to the beach. Just because. That is all the reason you need!

Yesterday I had another cool surprise, finding SEA SIREN, which I wrote under the pen name Consuelo Vazquez, again on an Amazon bestseller list, right there in the Top 100 for Free Romance Fantasy. So if for any reason you haven't read it, you really do need your copy.

I'll be back in a couple days with some news, plus a couple of my new favorite smoothie recipes. Until then, take care!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Yoga--Not Just a Phase

Full disclosure time: I have to admit that last year, when I first decided to start a yoga practice, I wasn't sure if I would stick with it. I'm one of those people who doesn't always have that stick-to-itness (and maybe you're in that club, too?).

Yet here we are, just about a year later, and I'm still engaging in this peaceful and mindful practice. To be honest, some weeks have gone by when I didn't bring out my mat. My home office is a prayer room/writing office/private yoga space, so I go into it often enough, but there were a couple weeks here and there that went by during which I didn't spend any time in my practice.

Interestingly, it mattered that I didn't. There was a difference, especially when it came to my problems with anxiety and stress, and I found myself returning to the mat.

Besides helping me manage stress better, yoga has been very beneficial to me in other areas. It's true what people say--you DO find yourself eating healthier, reaching for fruits more often than sweets or carb-laden chips. There are other benefits, too, other reasons to spend a half hour or more in your yoga space.

Have you flirted with the idea of making yoga part of your life? Or maybe, like me in the past, you went to a few classes, loved it but haven't made time for it again in your busy schedule?

After only one year as a "yogi" (love that!), here is my encouragement and advice to you:

1. Like any other lifestyle change/exercise (even though yoga is more than just exercise), consult with your doctor before starting.

2. Respect your body. When I first started last year, I watched videos and felt daunted by the fact that I wasn't as "bendy" as the instructors. My heels still don't totally touch the ground when I move into downward facing dog, nor do I sit cross-legged with my ankle up on my thigh. That's okay. That's why they call it a practice. Yoga is about more, much more, than just being "bendy."

3. Don't be overwhelmed by the different styles of yoga. Hatha, bikram, ashtanga, vinyasa--it's so easy to be intimidated by all the "arms"! The old adage really does apply here: "Everybody has to start somewhere." Though I have had a wonderful, real LIVE instructor, I've also relied a lot on YouTube videos. There are a plethora of them. Look for the words beginners, gentle, and even for seniors. Here is a good description of some yoga types.

4. You don't have to be skinny or have a 6-pack to do yoga. So if you were thinking about using this as an excuse, please don't! Don't cheat yourself out of this pleasure. On Pinterest somewhere, I came across these words: "This is the body I bring to my yoga mat." Over the course of this year, I've silently said these words as I unroll my mat. If anything, yoga will make you more accepting of your body.

5. All you need is a yoga mat and comfortable clothes. You don't have to buy everything all at once, especially when you're first starting. Little by little, you can decorate your space with plants and candles, and when you're ready, add a yoga strap, blanket, blocks, whatever you'd like. The same applies to clothes: a loose-fitting tank top and comfy leggings will work just fine. When you're ready, treat  yourself to pair of fun & colorful yoga pants!

What about music? You might want to set up your phone or Ipad to softly play yoga/spa music. YellowBrickCinema on YouTube has some beautiful, hours-long music to calm you and help you get centered.

6. Life happens. It also gets in the way. Don't come down on yourself; don't tell yourself you're not dedicated or serious all because some time passes before you return to your practice. No matter how committed you are to something, there'll be times when you don't unroll that mat, be it for reasons of being extra busy at work, family commitments, or health-related problems. Whenever possible, come back to it. Your practice will be waiting for you.

7. Make time for yoga. Make time for you. Yoga is something you do for yourself. Cut out half an hour of TV-watching or start to bed 20 minutes earlier, giving yourself a chance on your mat. If you make time for a vigorous workout, you can make time at least a couple times a week, if not more, for yoga.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

SEA SIREN Rides (Swims?) Again

Not that I can always explain these things (actually, I can NEVER explain them), but SEA SIREN--one of my perma-free titles--has suddenly SURGED onto the Amazon Bestseller List!! On the Top 100 Free List, it's currently at #29.

This book, originally published by a traditional publisher 16 years ago and then re-published by me in 2012, started climbing the charts unexpectedly yesterday. Needless to say, I'm delighted to be giving that news!

If you have never read this romantic tail (yes, that's my feeble attempt at a play on words, ha!), please do take advantage and get your copy here.

"Tino Suarez never believed in mermaids—that is, until he found himself up close and personal with one of those temptingly sexy, fish-tailed ladies of the sea. Even more amazing is that this fateful meeting has taken place on dry land, right there in the little Long Island fishing village the brooding sea captain calls home.

But if she truly is a mermaid, then this beautiful and saucy Latin siren is posing as a flesh-and-blood woman. Kiki Figueroa, co-owner of the new Puerto Rican restaurant in town, still believes in love, though she’s gone through a painful marriage that ended in divorce. She also believes there’s a passionate fire inside that seagoing Spaniard and that he’s the catch of a lifetime for any woman, human or mythical. The problem? Captain Suarez has also been deeply disappointed by love. So it’s going to take a legend as old as the sea to make him believe once again in this old-fashioned and sensuous romantic tale."

Monday, February 15, 2016

2 New Works on the Way

Hopefully, this post finds you like that lovely young lady pictured to the right. Our little Lassie  (yes, I know, the original Lassie was a great, big collie!) is relaxing and taking  it easy.
When it comes to new projects, I was, too...until recently. Now I'm in the process of writing two new books, one of which will be a devotional. For some time, I've had this project on my heart, but there was always another book in front of it. I'm happy to say that it is now in the works.
However, because of its nature, the fact that it's very different from other works I've done, I can't very well give readers a time frame yet as to when it will be published. It's my hope that it will become available sometime later this year. More info to come, including some enlightening thoughts about undertaking the project of writing a devotional, so check back here often.
As for the other book, this will be a Christian novel that is also very different from some of my other books, and that I believe will be available in early April.

In the meantime, thank you always for your kind support and I hope to get these new books in your hands soon! God bless you and yours.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Going Au Naturale

Going, going, and still going!

It's been a few months (or several? Time passes when--well, you know that old saying) since my decision to stop coloring my hair and just let my natural gray come in. By now I think it's safe to say that I have my dad's genes. Papi had a head full of chestnut brown hair for years (which went great with his espresso-brown eyes) and his hair really didn't turn mostly silver until right before he passed away in his late 70s.

And I'm not sure that picture to the right is a good representative, but you can see my gray mixed in with the dark brown, at least with the sun coming into the car and highlighting it.

Keep in mind that I'm one of those women who've experimented with color over the years. Lots of blond frostings, full head of black, blond and auburn, even a strawberry blond that, to put it bluntly, looked absolutely terrible on a naturally brunette Cuban woman. I didn't dye my hair because of age but rather because I liked changing my look from time to time.

There comes a time, though, when Nature really does know best. Just yesterday I was picking up foundation, and the hair color aisle was right next to the makeup aisles. I was tempted to pick up a box of auburn but promptly thought: "Nahhhh! I'm really liking the gray!"

Recently, too, a friend at work, who keeps her hair short, passed a group of us in the hallway and turned everybody's head. Though her new hairstyle would look great in any color, the silver in Barbie's hair totally MADE that gorgeous look. She was wearing more than her natural color; she was wearing confidence. That's the way this beautiful lady carries herself, though--not only with confidence, but with humor, personal style and grace.

She wears her silver with aplomb.

Speaking of short hair, I have flirted with the idea of getting mine cut again. It's just that it's taken so long to grow it to this length, so I'm hesitant to do that, plus I'd really like to see what it looks like as a long, silver bob! I'll check back again in a few months, perhaps with more strands of gray or a new 'do that, like Barbie's, shows off the color Nature has given me.

How about you? You walking past the hair color aisle these days, too? Has your silver also, like me and other women, inspired you to take a look at your wardrobe and make decisions about what you should keep, what you should give to Goodwill, and what you truly love to wear? Because I haven't given up on paring down, either, even when it comes to clothes. That means having only clothes that we honestly love and will wear in that closet.

We're women in our 50s, after all. We don't have to do whatever fashion dictates. WE decide what style is!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Happy January

You'll not hear me say this often, but we North Carolinians just went through a snowstorm yesterday. And believe it or not, THERE'S STILL SNOW OUT THERE!

How about you? If you're up north, it's going on even worse up there with this system that's moving up the coast. My prayers are with you, that you & your family keep safe.

But two days spent indoors can be...well, boring. LOL! There's just so much TV- and movie-watching you can do. So as you can see from the photo on the right, I'm keeping busy doing some cabinet-cleaning and reorganizing. It's been a couple of years, but I'm still trying to pare down. I mean, really, who needs 5 glass Pyrex tops with no containers to go with them?!

In between busywork, I'm also doing some writing. Haven't been doing that in quite a while, ever since the publication of Goodnight, My Love. Instead, I've been refilling my well--something that we as writers need to do sometime.

For now, I'm done with some of our cabinets. Off to get a strenuous walk with the hubby out in that snow! And when I return this week, some news on new books/stories I'll be working on in 2016.

Stay safe!