Saturday, October 31, 2009

My Weight Loss Journey

Oh for the days of my youth. I could just think about losing weight. Two days on a diet plan and I was off and running. The weight came off easily and I could tweak the diet plan to suit my needs. Even after the babies came.

In 1975 I was at my goal weight and a lifetime member of Weight Watchers for two years. People thought I was one of husband's daughters.

Then I had a hysterectomy. I had read a book by a woman doctor who said after surgery women will not have the ability to lose weight for a year. So what's a year? But I gained 20 pounds each year after the surgery. I was constantly dieting so it was not always new pounds but a regain after dieting.

Yo-yo dieting has taken its toll on my body and my health. So please don't send me any new diet plans. I have tired them all and I am totally burnt out on them.

One of my daughters has told me for years that I have very forgiving mirrors at my house. And I had learned to always face the camera because I look thinner from the front. but this recent picture let me know I had to take the blinders off. Maybe it was just my friends camera having an off time on this trip, but I don't really believe that. Of course having me in the picture made everyone else look good!

Even though I am at the lowest weight and BMI to be eligible, deteriorating health has helped mer decide to have weight loss surgery. I have not made this decision lightly.

Talking to others who have had the surgery has helped me, so I begin journaling.

First my primary doctor had to recommend a bariatric surgeon and I began the journey.

The first step is to attend an Information Seminar at the hospital. CHECK

Contact my insurance company to see if the surgery is covered. CHECK

Get a complete medical clearance letter from my primary care physician. CHECK

Schedule and complete appointments with the surgeon, the dietitian and a psychologist. CHECK

Attend a support group meeting. CHECK

10-30-09 waiting for surgery scheduling. In the meantime the dietitian gave me a list of seventeen behaviors to begin before surgery and continue for the rest of my life. Choose two she said and when you master them, add others.

I chose to count protein grams and to eat my protein first, vegetables second and starches and grains last.

Second, I chose to eat slowly- making the meal last for 30 min. Take small bites (size of a dime) and chew until the food is the consistency of applesauce. (Counting bites never worked for me as I usually talk to husband at meals) I found the applesauce criteria much easier to tackle.

Third I chose to avoid liquids with meals and for 30 minutes after meals. This is hard for me. But after surgery it will make the difference on getting sick after eating. I may get sick the first few days or months, but drinking with meals or too soon after eating will cause dumping syndrome. I want to lean this eating habit now.

I think I chose too many things on the list and today I had to back off on my 4th choice which was to wean myself off caffeine. I am having enough stress with the first three. So I am back on caffeine until I master other items on the list.

Friday, October 30, 2009

How can I pray for you?

When I read the scriptures, I see many promises literally spoken to men. Many people say we can interchange men with women in these verses, but in my insecurity I did a search of the New Testament for mention of women, to confirm to my own satisfaction that God does care about women.

In an earlier post I mentioned a desire to encourage other women. Today in my devotions these verses in Colossians spoke to me:

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God. Colossians 1:9-10.   (New International Version)

I'd been directed to this verse as an encouragement to me. But when I read it I saw this passage as a message telling me to pray for others. A confirmation that God does want me to encourage other women.

How can I pray for you? 

Heavenly Father, our most awesome faithful God, help all women to know that You care about them, and help them find the special blessing that You reserve for us just because we are women. 

Thank You for the knowledge that we can trust in You and that You will help us become the women that You want us to be. 

We give You all honor, we give You all praise, bow down our lives to You, O God. ~amen.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Book Contest: Look To The East

We are continuing the contest for a free book "Look To The East," by Maureen Lang.

Leave a comment on any post from this week, or last week and you will be added to the selection process.

We use a very systopicated system. No drawing names out of a hat for the contests on this blog. The names are written on a list. And yes if you comment on more than one post your name gets written down twice.

Then very humbly and seriously we begin. "Ennie, Meany, Miny, Moe."

If you can't complete some version of this choosing method you are quite young. But you still have a chance to win the free book.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Put Your Dream To The Test

10 Questions That Will Help You See It and Seize It
By John C. Maxwell

About the author:

John C. Maxwell is an internationally respected leadership expert, speaker, and author who has sold more than 18 million books. Dr. Maxwell is the founder of EQUIP, a non-profit organization that has trained more than 5 million leaders in 126 countries worldwide. Each year he speaks to the leaders of diverse organizations, such as Fortune 500 companies, foreign governments, the National Football League, the United States Military Academy at West Point, and the United Nations. A New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Business Week best-selling author, Maxwell has written three books that have sold more than a million copies: The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, Developing the Leader Within You, and The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader. His blog can be read at

Book Description:

New York Times and Business Week best-selling author John C. Maxwell helps people answer ten powerful questions to reveal a future where their dream is fulfilled.

Most people John Maxwell encounters have a dream. In fact, he’s asked thousands about their greatest aspirations. Some describe their dream with great enthusiasm and detail. Others are reluctant, almost embarrassed, to talk about it. Regardless of their zeal or fear, the same question drives every person with a dream: Can I achieve it?

Sadly, most people have no idea how viable their dream is. They hope to achieve it, yet hope is not a strategy. What people need is a way to test their dream.

In Put Your Dream to the Test, Maxwell brings the subject of a personal dream down to earth. He gives readers practical and powerful direction for their lives by leading them through ten questions that will help them create a clear and compelling pathway to their dream.

What Others Say:

"I met John Maxwell on March 28th, 2009 and he was speaking about this book, at a Success Magazine Symposium where I bought an advanced copy with a DVD/CD training course (my first time doing such a thing.) Dreams, within Maslow's hierarchy of needs, are at the top and tend to cause people to attain "self actualization." Dreams are BIG, important and rarely attained. They are the kinds of concepts that great men realize and so very few of us actually attain.

In this book Maxwell states that a dream is an inspiring picture of the future that energizes your mind, will and emotions, empowering you to do everything you can to achieve it. He evaluates the process of setting a dream and will that dream be enough to propel you to success. Does your dream pass certain tests? In his opinion, the more questions below you can answer yes to the greater your probability of success

The questions, which comprise the ten chapters of this book. Here they are:
1. The Ownership Question: Is my dream really my Dream?
2. The Clarity Question: Do I clearly see my dream?
3. The Reality Question: Am I depending on factors within my control to achieve my dream?
4. The Passion Question: Does my dream compel me to follow it?
5. The Pathway Question: Do I have a strategy to reach my dream?
6. The People Question: Have I included the people I need to realize my dream?
7. The Cost Question: Am I willing to pay the price for my dream?
8. The Tenacity Question: Am I moving closer to my dream?
9. The Fulfillment Question: Does working toward my dream bring satisfaction?
10. The Significance Question: Does my dream benefit others?

As Maxwell states "Leading your life requires making the right decisions and managing those decisions daily. Find the right dream for you then manage it daily."

Without going into more detail I would say that this course (book and CDs) really has helped me shape my goals and dreams. I've listened to the CD set 3 times and read the book once. I've been doing a deep immersion into this topic as I see it being critical to my long-term success in life." ~~Dan E. Ross

My Take:

I'll admit I like to read books that inspire me to be the best person I can be. This book does not preach pie in the sky. It is not part of the name it and claim it gospel.

What I found different about this book was making sure the dream I am following is really mine. Making sure I have the necessary abilities to make this dream a possibility. Making sure I want the dream enough to make the necessary sacrifices that it is going to require. Making sure the dream will benefit others.

It is easy to dream. Not so easy to work toward the dream.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Pursuit of Happiness

The Pursuit of Happiness
By Jennifer Kennedy Dean

Human beings were created with a compelling drive to be happy. God intentionally created that compulsion, embedding it in our nature, as surely as He created everything else about us.

God wants you happy. He created you so that happiness is a need stronger than any other need. People will forfeit anything they have—health, finances, relationships, dignity—whatever it takes, if they are convinced that happiness will follow.

God created you with this need because He intends it to be His opening into your life. Your need and desire for happiness are to be the catalyst that opens your life to Him. It is to be this very need that drives you to His heart.

He alone created that urgent drive to find happiness and He alone is its fulfillment. Apart from Him, the search for happiness leads to emptiness.

When the need that should have turned us toward God, instead is turned toward something outward in the world, then happiness is an elusive quest. Happiness is a mirage. The closer you get to it, the farther away it proves to be. Those things in the world that promise happiness only meet the outside edges of the need. Instead of having the need met and satisfied, the need becomes overpowering, driving, compelling. Instead of being freed from that need by having it eternally satisfied, we instead become enslaved to that need because it is forever unmet.

God wants to free you from that need that compels you to manipulate and manage everything and everyone around you. He wants to bring such happiness to your innermost being that you’ll be free from the fear and the emptiness that keep you focused on externals. God has designed you for happiness. Until you find that happiness for which you were created, you are unsettled.

That desire for happiness is meant to awaken your desire for God and His kingdom. His key to happiness is unexpected and disconcerting. It turns every quest for happiness upside down. The pursuit of happiness, it turns out, is the pursuit of holiness.

Jennifer Kennedy Dean is Executive director of The Praying Life Foundation and a respected author and speaker. She is the author of numerous books, studies, and magazine articles specializing in prayer and spiritual formation. Jennifer’s most recent book release is Set Apart: A 6-Week Study of the Beatitudes. Her book Heart’s Cry has been named National Day of Prayer’s signature book. You’ll find articles and daily quotes from Jennifer at the National Day of Prayer website. Live a Praying Life, has been called a flagship work on prayer. Jennifer was widowed in 2005 after 26 years of marriage to Wayne Dean, her partner both in life and ministry. They are the parents of three grown sons. Jennifer makes her home in Marion, KY. Media can learn more about Jennifer at:

Kathy Carlton Willis Communications 1324 S. 10th Street Raymondville, TX 78580
956-642-6319 or

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Last Week's Winner

Our winner for Janice Thompson's book  FOOLS RUSH IN, is Kathy Cretsinger. As soon as I get her snail mail the book will be on it's way.

Book Contest: Just a reminder that we are featuring Maureen Lang's book Look To The East, this week.

(Book Contest weeks are from Monday through Sunday. A new book review is posted each Monday which may or may not have a contest connected with it. See the Book contest information on the side bar.

Leave a comment on any of my blog my posts this week along with information how to get hold of you if you are the winner.

God Bless your day and thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Lesson Of The Pencil


Just pencils!! Amazing!!
And we just used them to write with!

A special thanks to the friend who shared these pictures!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Meet Christian Author Maureen Lang

Sharon: Thank you for joining us today Maureen. Tell us a little about your new release.

Maureen: Look to the East is the first book in my Great War Series. I’m so excited about these books! The First World War isn’t necessarily a “forgotten” war, but I think most people only know about it because of World War Two. There must have been a World War One, right, in order to have a World War Two? But few people know what the first one was all about.

Well, I’m sorry to say even those who fought in the First World War didn’t know very much about why they were fighting. And while my book isn’t a war book with battles and war history, it does touch on how little communication existed during that era. Look to the East focuses on how things were for French civilians living behind the battle lines.

In particular, the story follows the romance of Julitte Toussaint and Charles Lassone. Charles tries to volunteer to fight against the Germans just as the First World War breaks out, but he’s too late. The war has already begun, and there is so much havoc he can’t make it home to join the Belgian army, where he has at least part-time residency. He’s caught behind the battle lines in France, forced to take shelter in a small village where he meets Julitte, the adoptive daughter of a sailor. They fall in love despite the danger—if the Germans were to find Charles, it would be death for him and perhaps the same for anyone helping him. And when Charles escapes, he comes back for Julitte, proving to himself and to her that he’s not the coward he thought he was at the beginning of the book.

Sharon: What inspired you to write a novel set during the First World War?

Maureen: I’ve always been fascinated by this era. In my family, I’m one of the youngest children of a large family—which I mention only because people are surprised that my grandmother (not a great-grandmother or some other distant ancestor) used to tell me about living in the era where “motorcars” shared the roads with carriages. Where airplanes were something people stared at when they had the chance to view one overhead. Where telephones were common in the city but certainly not in rural areas and not in every home, even homes in the city. She seemed to me to be a link between history and nostalgia to this modern world we shared.

Sharon: How did you choose the exact location for the setting?

Maureen: The location for Look to the East had to be quite specific, since this story was inspired by real life events that took place in a town in France, near the front lines established during World War One. I’ve always been an avid reader of this era, and I came across a book titled The Englishman’s Daughter, about a soldier who was caught behind enemy lines and had to take refuge in a little village in France.

So the backdrop needed to be in the same general area as the town that inspired this idea. I was fortunate enough to take a trip to France during the time I wrote this book, and was able to visit the area. I took pictures of buildings and churches, walked the streets and just generally soaked up the experience. Much of this particular area remains rural even today, so some of the landscape I saw was probably similar to what my characters would have seen.

Sharon: How much research was involved in writing Look to the East?

Maureen: Since research is one of my favorite parts of writing, I probably recall it taking less time than it actually did. I read many books on the subject of the war and what people in the occupied territories experienced, starting with The Englishman’s Daughter (which I read more than once!). Going to Northern France (and Belgium, where Book Two in the series takes place) was incredibly valuable, not only for orienting my characters, but getting into context what went on at the time as it’s commemorated over there. As I write any novel, I usually start out with at least a couple of months of research and then search out more details as I need them—those unexpected little turns plots like to take, which lead to the demand for more knowledge.

One of my favorite parts to research was finding a church to have in mind as I wrote the scenes where my hero, Charles, is hiding. I needed to know if they were similar to churches here, if they had a basement, if they had pews the way churches here do, how ornate they might have been, etc. I’m convinced the authority an author conveys for writing a novel is found in the details.

So as my husband and I drove through Northern France, we often stopped to get a closer look at different churches. It was fun!

Sharon: Do you have a current WIP?

Maureen: The second book in my Great War Series is titled Whisper on the Wind, although each book is entirely independent so can be read alone or in any order. Whisper on the Wind is the story of two people who live in Brussels, Belgium when the German army sweeps in and basically takes over everything. My characters become involved in a secret press—that is, a newssheet printed and distributed without the permission of the German army. Basically both sides, the Germans and the Belgians, believe in the power of the printed word. Which is why my characters help to produce the illegal paper knowing it could cost them their lives—and it very nearly does! Of course there is a romance, too. My heroine has been in love with the hero nearly all her life, but he’s always thought of her as too young, even a nuisance. When he realizes she’s not only grown up to be beautiful but also courageous, he can’t help falling in love too—even though he believes they’re living too dangerously to be distracted by love…

Sharon: What’s after that?

Maureen: The third and final book in my Great War Series is called Springtime of the Spirit. Doesn’t that just sound like the happiest setting, with flowers and happiness and love? Actually this final book is set in Weimar Germany, which isn’t as much a reference to the town (which doesn’t actually show up in this novel) as a time setting. The Weimar period in Germany began just after the Great War ended, in late 1918. It was such a dramatic, tumultuous time. For me, it seemed the perfect choice to end this series. The war is over, the Germans have lost, the government is in shambles. There is unrest and widespread poverty, but as is common with human beings, there is a sense of hope, too. Certainly life can’t get any worse (of course, they had no idea what was to come once Hitler rose to power…). What greater source of conflict could there be than to have a character search for meaning under such challenging circumstances? It’s amazing to me how many things from that time period parallel our own time setting, with discussions about the role of government in people’s lives, socialism, taking care of one another, and other elements so many of us care about. It’s fascinating—but of course the main thrust of the novel will be romantic, even though it’s so easy for me to get caught up in the historical setting. I always find out more than I need for my projects, but that seems to work for me so I’ll keep at it. J

Sharon: How can readers find you on the web?

Maureen: My website is, but if readers would like a peek at the journey Look to the East took—from the sale through the European research trip and on through the editing process—they should visit my blog archive starting from August of 2008: It was great fun to catalogue the process.

Thanks for having me, Sharon!

Sharon: My pleasure!

This week we are featuring Maureen Lang's book Look to the East.

Leave a comment on any of my blog my posts this week along with information how to get hold of you if you are the winner of Maureen's latest book

Monday, October 19, 2009

Look To The East

by Maureen Lang

About the author:

I was raised with the notion that time + work = a paycheck and sitting around having fun thinking up stories surely cannot be considered work. On some days I might actually agree with that statement. Writing really is fun, or I don’t think I’d have a passion for it. But on other days I realize it really is work, and that’s what this website is all about. This is a picture of the work of a novelist — well, of one novelist anyway. Me.

I grew up as one of the youngest in a six-kid, boisterously loud German-Irish family in the suburbs of Chicago. Eight of us in a house with only one bathroom! We didn't really argue, although just to be heard over all the noise it might have seemed that way to an outsider.

So whom did I marry? A quiet, reserved son of a German brick layer. While our family gathering decibels would compare to the lift off of a jet from nearby O'Hare, his family gatherings would register more like the soft rustling of oak leaves.

I grew up loving to tell stories, and God has blessed me immeasurably to be able to tell them to a wider audience these days.

The Blurb:

A village under siege. A love under fire.

France, 1914

At the dawn of the First World War, the small village of Briecourt is isolated from the early battles while a century-old feud between the Toussaints and the de Colvilles still rages in the streets. But when the German army sweeps in to occupy the town, families on both sides of the feud are forced to work together to hide stragglers caught behind enemy lines.

Juliette Toussaint may have been adopted from a faraway island, but she feels the scorn of the de Colvilles as much as anyone born a Toussaint. So when she falls in love with one of the men in hiding—a wealthy and handsome Belgian entrepreneur—she knows she’s flirting with danger.

Charles Lassone has been waiting in the church cellar, safe from the Germans for the moment. But if he’s discovered, it will threaten the entire village—including Julitte—and could cost Charles his life.

Find me on Facebook! I'd love to 'friend' you!

What Others Say:

"Maureen Lang has a great way with words to weave into a story. I enjoyed this book. Historical Fiction is my favorite genre, although I like to stay in the happier romances. This book was filled to the brim of chill-bump romance and true love, but the entire tone of the book was sad and cold because of the war background setting. For me that brought the book down a couple stars, but that is only my book preference. As far as the character likability, the main characters Juliette and Charles were fabulous and extremely amiable. The antagonists both German and French were highly detestable. Emotions really run rampant with this novel and it reads almost like a two person diary. In my opinion, Maureen is an author to be watched. I just personally need to stick to happier time periods, yet even with that said, I will definitely be looking for the sequels to this series. The peace of God highly showed through in the characters thoughts and actions, and those that needed to grow were shown with heightening strength. Even the characters that were to "fall" as a reader you find yourself thinking of prayers for similar people in your life. It was a very powerful read, and besides the devastation of war a fabulous story." ~~Margaret A. Chind

"I chose Look to the East because of the setting: a small, poor French village caught in the middle of the First World War. 

Maureen's story kept me turning the pages to see if the men trapped behind enemy lines would be discovered, if those villagers putting their own lives in danger for the sake of those men would also be caught, if the silly town feud would end in the midst of war, if Juliette and Charles would be together... 

Maureen's descriptions enabled me to picture the small village with its cobbled streets and town square and the neighbor's peeking out of their small cottages in curiosity and fear. I could smell Uncle Guy's bread and hear the thudding of the German's hobnailed boots. I could feel the terror of guns at my back and booming cannons in the distance. 

I empathized with each villager that had to choose: love or hate? Food or betrayal? Trust or suspicion? Work or death? 

As I finished the last chapter, I was wishing that Maureen's next book in her Great War series was already in my hands. Ahh, I will have to wait until its release next summer. 

I really enjoyed Look to the East. And, although I believe it is quite historically correct that a small village such as this would have had a cure (or priest), I did not agree with many of the Biblical positions or applications. 

Charles prays for faith... and then is portrayed as "saved" throughout the rest of the book. Juliette sees "light" every time someone dies. Sometimes the light is brighter for certain people. 

Other than that, the story was wonderful. I've mentioned before that I like the whole would-I-could-I hide people in this kind of situation? That's why I will almost always read a book set in the Civil War and WWII. I'm not sure I've ever read any books in The Great War era, and Look to the East was a great read!" ~~ Stephanie

My Take:

When I read the reviews of others, they often just repeat what is in the blurb. I try to find something different. Often others have already said it better.

I like the thread where Juliette saw a bright light when someone she loved died. It gave her peace that her loved one was now with God.

One year my siblings were in a car wreck on Christmas eve. The driver was killed. At the time of the young man's death his face flashed before his grandmother's eyes. I know that God does sometimes give people "the sight."

When Juliette no longer needed "the sight" God took it away. But He did not leave her. That is my take home value from this book.

Book Contest: 

This week we are featuring Maureen Lang's book Look to the East. Leave a comment on any of my blog my posts this week along with information how to get hold of you if you are the winner

Friday, October 16, 2009

Beauty Secret #1

Do you realize a smile is your best attribute?

And it effects your attitude. I have lived with depression for years. Even as a child I had people asking me to smile. I think my face at rest looks sad. I wish I had learned years ago to smile more.

Husband started commenting a couple of years ago he could tell I was feeling better. I had learned to smile no matter how I feel. And it does make me feel better. Not giddy happy, maybe, but always better.

So my recommendation for the day is:
Smile, It increases your face value. 

(When I hear a good thing I adopt it as my own. If you know where this quote originated please let me know so I can give proper credit.)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Book Contest

Book Contest: Just a reminder that we are featuring Janice Thompson's book Fools Rush In this week.

(Book Contest weeks are from Monday through Sunday. A new book review is posted each Monday which may or may not have a contest connected with it. See the Book contest information on the side bar.

Leave a comment on any of my blog my posts this week along with information how to get hold of you if you are the winner.

God Bless your day and thanks for stopping by.

Why Talk About Modesty?

At one of our past Titus Two days someone mentioned that we needed a session on modesty. I looked around the group of over 100 women in my basement. A mixture of German Baptist, Victory Fellowship, Greenville Fellowship and others. I saw no cleavage, I saw no thighs and I saw no bellies.

What I saw were beautiful women in beautiful dresses.

No way was I willing to touch this subject. No way was I going to criticize these beautiful Godly women.

No way.

So why does God keep pricking my heart about this? Can't you see me God? I am old, I am fat and I dress funny.

What I wear identifies me with the group I choose to fellowship with. Not every one should dress like me.

But every woman should dress like the beautiful woman God wants her to be.

Okay, I will have to say that I like the cooler months because many humans in summer show to many ugly parts. At times I think of summer as the ugly season.

Take knees. There are so few beautiful knees. And I would rather look at your face. I encourage clothing that draws the eyes to the face.

No matter how much weight husband gains, he still has knobby knees. With long pants no one knows but me. Much better that way. No matter how thin I've been in the past my knees are plump. No one needs to see them.

And I'd rather not see yours either. I'd rather see your beauty. And clothes do make the man or woman.

I Corinthians 4:16 "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?"

I encourage women everywhere to dress to please God, who made you to be beautiful.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

My Thoughts On The Book of Jonah

Sunday the minister read the whole (short) book of Jonah instead of the normal one chapter from the Old Testament to open the worship service.

I always thought Jonah was like me. Who would believe him, why waste his time? I thought that was why he ran away. But I was shocked to learn he hated the Assyrian's and Nineveh was the capital of Assyria. Jonah did not want them to have the same blessings as Israel.

And so he ran away. I remembered the story about the ship and the big waves and how the other people didn't want to throw Jonah overboard, but finally had to as it was the only way to save the ship and the others. I didn't remember how the other men in the ship turned to Jonah's God.

Wow! God used Jonah in spite of his bad attitude.

Of course I remember how Jonah pouted after the people of Nineveh repented but somehow I hadn't put it all together. What was with this guy?

So when God wants me to do something, and I think, "Who am I to present this truth? Who would listen to me?" Am I really being humble? This is very troubling to me. What is with this woman?

But who would listen to my passion about modesty? I'm old. I'm fat and I dress funny. And you know, I want people to like me.

God is taking me on a journey. I hope you will travel with me.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Meet Christian Author JANICE THOMPSON

 We are talking with Janice Thompson today. Please welcome her. (Sharon holds hands up to stop the roaring applause and whistles.)

Sharon: Hi Janice. It’s great to have you with us today.  Would you tell us who has been one of your best encouragers on your writing journey?

Janice: I would have to say that my four daughters have been my strongest encouragers. They are such great cheerleaders! They make sure everyone in our little world (Houston, Texas) knows when one of mom’s books has released. A couple of weeks ago I got a text message from one of my girls with a photo attached. She was in our local Wal Mart and spotted one of my newer books (LOVE FINDS YOU IN POETRY, TEXAS, written under my pen name, Janice Hanna). She couldn’t help taking a photo and sending it to me! Two days later my oldest daughter sent me a photo message when she found a copy of my book FOOLS RUSH IN at our local Barnes and Noble. I think they even posted those pictures to their facebook pages. They are proud daughters!

Sharon: It’s wonderful to have the support of your family. But do you still experience self-doubts regarding your work?

Janice: Of course! When FOOLS RUSH IN released, I was particularly nervous about putting my comedic work out there for the masses to read because I wasn’t sure folks would “get” me. I have a pretty slapstick approach to comedy and some readers aren’t really “funny” in the same way that I am. Thankfully, the reactions to the book have been overwhelmingly positive! Turns out, people do get my comedic sense of humor after all!

Sharon: Is there a particularly difficult set back that you’ve gone through in your writing career you are willing to share?

Janice: In 2007, on the heels of what had already been a very difficult year, I fell while coming down some stairs, shattering my ankle. The doctors called it a catastrophic break. The tibia and fibula were broken clean through, along with my heel and two toes. The months leading up to this were horrible (I’d lost my dad, my younger sister and one of my best friends), so when I ended up in the hospital having surgery, my emotions plummeted. God did a deep work on me during that season. He also used my writing to lift my spirits. (Can you imagine trying to write comedy during a year like that? And yet, that’s exactly what I had to do.)

Sharon: You are an inspiration to me Janice. So what is a typical writing day for you?

Janice: When I’m on deadline, I try to work like this: Early morning, I write for a couple of hours. Then I take a break, read my Bible, listen to worship, pray, etc. Mid-day I write for another two hours or so, then I take a break during the evening and watch TV (So You Think You Can Dance, Food Network Challenge, Top Chef, etc.) and then late night I write again. I’m at my best between the hours of 10:00 pm and 2:00 am, so I do a lot of writing during those hours. I also spend as much time as I can with my grandbabies. J

Sharon: Wow! You are one busy lady! Why do you write the kind of books you do?  Why Christian fiction?

Janice: I’ve always loved writing light-hearted inspirational novels with romantic elements, but if I’m going to be completely honest, I’d have to say that I’m best with full-out comedy. In the early days, it was hard to sell a comedy, so I wrote inspirational romance. These days, my publishers are letting me get away with the really funny stuff, so I’m in my element. There will always be a thread of romance in my stories, so readers can expect that, as well as a belly-full of laughs!

Sharon: And the question we always want to know about authors: Are you a "plotter" or a "seat-of-the-pants" writer?

Janice: I’m definitely a plotter. I work off of a twelve-step plotter that I call “Plot Shots.” If your readers are interested in getting a copy of it, they can write to me at I’ve tried to write a few books without plotting, but I feel lost. That’s not to say that I plot out every aspect/nuance of a book. The characters still surprise and delight me along the way, trust me!

Sharon: I enjoyed your book FOOLS RUSH IN. What was your favorite scene to write in the story?

Janice: The opening scene. Here’s the story of how it came about:

In the spring of 2007, I settled into bed with my laptop. . .not an unusual occurrence. I didn’t have a story in mind. In fact, I was on vacation at the time and wasn’t even thinking about writing. However, the moment I saw that empty white screen, I felt like typing. Don’t ask me why, but the words, “If Uncle Lazarro hadn’t left the mob, I probably wouldn’t have a story to tell” shot out of my fingertips. I stared at the screen, more than a little curious. Who was Uncle Lazarro, and why was he in the mob? Worse still, why was he bothering me in the middle of my vacation?

Those who know me know I’m a plotter. I usually plot out an entire story before writing a word. So, for this very “calculating” author to stare at those “inspired” words and not have a clue where she was going with them was unusual, to say the least. Terrifying, even. A normal person would have closed the laptop and rolled over, forgetting about the whole thing. But an inspired person? Well, an inspired person (a.k.a. writer) has no choice but to keep going, even when all of the signs point at impending doom. Or a really funny story.

I stared at the words awhile longer, this time praying for wisdom from on high. Was I really supposed to take these cryptic words and shape them into a story? If so, what would come next? I drew in a deep breath and waited. Moments later, my fingers started flying. Wonder of wonders! I typed blindly, without thinking. A couple of paragraphs later, I had all of my questions about Uncle Lazarro answered and found myself laughing hysterically as I typed. (By the way, this is how a comedy writer knows her words are not her own. Who among us is really that funny?)

About an hour later, I had written the entire prologue to the book that would become FOOLS RUSH IN. I’d not only introduced Uncle Laz, but the entire Rossi family. Best of all, I had a wacky new heroine, Bella, to wrap the story around. When I signed off of the computer that night, I had the strongest sense she would lead me through the rest of the tale.

Thank goodness, I was right. Bella Rossi—a quirky Italian wedding planner from Galveston Island—had quite a story to tell. And thankfully, she chose me to share it with. Through Bella, I learned that cultures can clash, families can squabble, chaos can reign, and weddings can rule the day. . .but in the end, true love always wins out.

Sharon: Janice you inspire me. You really do. What impact do you hope FOOLS RUSH IN has upon the reader? Are there any themes you weren't expecting? Any that developed as the story progressed?

Janice: I hope that people will see that humor is a God-given gift. (A merry heart doeth good, like a medicine.) Reading humor really can lift the spirits! As for unexpected themes, I guess I was more delighted to see the “family” theme that emerged. I’ve had more positive comments about Bella’s quirky/fun family than any other thing in the book!

Sharon: This is probably a dumb question, but are you planning another book? If so, what is the story?

Janice: SWINGING ON A STAR is the sequel to FOOLS RUSH IN. It comes out in January. In this story, Bella (who is a wedding planner) is coordinating a Renaissance themed wedding. Just two weeks before the event, she finds out that the best man is famous Hollywood actor, Brock Benson. The wedding also happens to fall on the same weekend as her Aunt Rosa’s debut on The Food Network, so the paparazzi are out in force. (I truly think this second book is hilarious and hope the readers agree!)

Sharon: I hope so too, Janice. Do you have any parting words?

Janice: If you believe the Lord has called you to write, learn the craft, but don’t let what you’ve learned rob you of your voice. Stay true to yourself and to Him.
I’d love to invite readers to my new “Weddings by Bella” blog, where I’m putting together a Aunt Rosa’s “All Things Italian” cookbook. Bloggers who follow me can contribute recipes, chat about Dean Martin and share laughs with other readers! Here’s the blog address:

Monday, October 12, 2009

Last Week's Winner

I was blessed with two copies of A Slow Burn. So we have two winners of A Slow Burn. As soon as I get the snail mail addresses of Kathleen and Elizabeth.

I hope you both enjoy reading the book as much as I did.

Fools Rush In

About the author:
My name is Janice Thompson. (You will find me published under Janice Hanna as well.)

I'm a Christian freelance author of novels, non-fiction books, magazine articles and musical comedies for the stage. I live in the Houston area, where the heat and humidity tend to reign, regardless of the season.

I'm the mother of four beautiful daughters, (Randi, Courtney Rae, Megan and Courtney Elizabeth. Yes, I really do have two daughters named Courtney! Long story...) I also have the three prettiest granddaughters any Nana could hope for - Madysen Lynae, Avery Rae and Peyton Renae. Grandbaby #4, Ethan Ames, was just born this past winter.

Our family is extremely active in local ministry. My oldest daughter, Randi, leads worship in the Houston area, Courtney Rae leads worship at her church in Montana, Megan works with children at our local church and Courtney Elizabeth sings on the worship team at her church in Michigan. I'm thrilled to have four grown daughters who love the Lord (and several granddaughters who one day will)! ~~Janice

The Blurb:

The following review incorporated the blurb so we will just go with it. Keep Reading:

What Others Say:

"When Bella Rossi was a child, her very Italian, New Jersey-based family relocated to Texas - Galveston to be exact - where her uncle opened an authentic pizzeria and her parents opened a wedding planning facility, named after her. Now she finds herself running the family business and attempting to expand the customer base by offering exclusive, elaborately themed weddings. Only with her first big booking for a "boot-scootin' wedding," Bella may have gotten in way over her head. Coming from a family rich with an appreciation for Italian cuisine and fanatical about the music of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Andrea Bocelli, country music and Texas-style barbeque are outside the realm of her expertise, to say the least. Bella's salvation comes from an unexpected quarter - a gorgeous, blue-eyed, very country cowboy named D.J. who, after a comic misunderstanding involving his name, finds himself knee-deep in Rossi family shenanigans and Bella's attempts to prove she's a capable businesswoman. 

I absolutely love pop standards, so when I heard about a novel named after one of the classics by Johnny Mercer, I was immediately intrigued. Of course in my view, Frank Sinatra's version is the winner - so I found myself STRONGLY identifying with Bella's Aunt Rosa in regards to her fanatical Sinatra appreciation. Bella and her family's love for classic pop singers is just one of the novel's charming points; in fact, each chapter bears the name of a classic song, and seeing how the title ties to the chapter content is quite fun. Fools also features one of the quirkiest, most likable casts of characters you'd care to meet - think My Big Fat Greek Wedding's family dynamics with a healthy dose of Return to Me's Italian flavor. There's one aspect of Bella's life that I'd love to see better drawn in subsequent books. Having read one or two other wedding-themed novels in recent months, I went into this book expecting greater detail about the "nuts and bolts" aspect of Bella's wedding planning business. I had a little trouble buying the fact that Bella was basically planning her first "make it or break it" event in about two weeks time. So professionally speaking she comes across as a little, um, slapdash, though well-meaning. However, given the offbeat, quirky tone of the book I was able to ultimately set aside that qualm relatively quickly. 

With her first "Weddings by Bella" novel, Thompson has delivered a fast-paced, breezy read that's quite simply one of the most enjoyable books I've read in recent memory. I can't remember the last time I've smiled so much when reading a book! After all, it's a rare thing to come across a novel where the characters are as fanatical about Sinatra and pop standards as I am. The spiritual thread is also very well integrated into the storyline. Faith is such a natural extension of these characters' lives that it never comes across as heavy-handed or too preachy. And D.J. - well, he's one of the most adorable, swoon-worthy heroes EVER. Witnessing his Texas-country meets Italian culture shock is hilarious, but he handles it like a pro (I love cowboys...I just felt the need to throw that out there ;-)). I'm definitely looking forward to reading Bella and D.J.'s further adventures...if they ever get around to planning their own wedding, I can only imagine the Texas-Italian hilarity that will ensue! Book #2, Swinging on a Star: A Novel (Weddings by Bella), releases in January 2010. 

Side note: Kudos to the cover design team and publisher for finding the perfect character images for Bella and D.J. D.J. in particular exactly matches my mental image of him from reading the book - they absolutely nailed it!" ~~ Ruth Anderson "Book Reviewer"

My Take:

If you've been reading my reviews for awhile you realize that with every book I read, in any genre, I look for family relationships. Everything we try to do in life revolves around or is complicated by the family dynamics. And every family is dysfunctional in its own way.

I've known Janice for several years. I am amazed to realize this is the first book of hers that I've read. Janice is always smiling and her humor spills over into this book. Funny, lighthearted in the way she handles the blending of two very different families. How can it ever work out? Does love really conquer all? And how does the Parrot help?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The White House Project . . . continued

We reported in our April twenty-third posting about the project the Brethren Charity Fund wanted to do for the White family.

This summer the large tree in the back yard had to come down.

And a drive installed in the back.

The back porch was torn off and a concrete foundation poured to get ready for the workday on 10-10-09

Preparing to frame in the garage.

Plumbing in the handicap accessible bathroom.

Even the little ones help.

Taking a break after the garage is framed in.

The front porch before the project started.

Men and Women worked together yesterday to enclose the front porch.

This is a continuing project. We will report more later. Donations can be made to the
Brethren Charity Fund
P.O. Box 365
Brookville, OH 45309

Designate your donation for The White House Project.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Book Contest

This week we are featuring  Mary DeMuth's novel 
The contest will run all this week.

Leave a comment on any of my blog posts this week 
along with how to get hold of you if you are the winner.

I will send  A Slow Burn to the lucky winner. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ to the World

Guest Blogger:
Alyice Edrich

Spreading the word of Jesus Christ has never come easy for me. I am not an evangelist, so I can’t just strike up a conversation on the topic. I have gone through life spreading the word through my quiet yet, outward expressions and actions of faith. Because of how openly I display my faith, I have been able to have small talks with co-workers as well as relatives on the subject of Christ and how he pertains to our lives today.

When I was younger, I would drag my friend with me to church. She hated it, but would go to humor me. She would sit in the pews and be extremely rude. I would often find myself embarrassed by her actions, yet I would continue to bring her. Fifteen years later, she says that I gave her the start of her journey with Christ. She is saved, and loves God with all her heart. Before moving to New York, she sat on the church committee and took care of their accounting.

Once, while working for a pharmaceutical company, a young man from India began to ask about Christ. In his religion, they have men that they pray to, not Christ. There is a picture in his home, that he kneels down before, lights some candles and chants. During the two years that I was with this company, he would often come up to me asking about Christ. Considering I didn’t openly talk about the subject it was an honor to know that my life was being used as salt to the world. You see, I may not have openly shared, but I used to have Christian sayings on my desk. I would place them there as a reminder to me, how I should act and treat others throughout the day. Sometimes, this man would come up to me and ask if I could get him a copy of such and such and I would hand him mine. I am not sure if he ever switched gears and became a full-fledged Christian, but I do know that when I left, he believed in Christ.

There have also been times in my life when I would be asked to talk about my faith and would be amazed at the knowledge that flowed through my mouth. Usually, I have to sit and think about what I am going to say before anything good comes out. Then, there are times, when the Holy Spirit takes a hold of me and words just flow from my mouth.

This year has been different however, as our church started a new program called the “Alpha Program.” It’s evangelism for the ones who want to get out there and preach the word, but are not too comfortable with the idea of knocking on people’s doors. All we have to do is invite a friend to dinner and let the church do the rest.

The Alpha Program is a sit down dinner, ten to twenty minute speaker, and two-hour table discussion. It’s really interesting how it all works. We are to invite people who are leery about God, religion and Christianity, as well as those who seek to know God but have doubts if He really exists. We invite them to a free meal every Monday night and let the Holy Spirit direct the rest.

For the first hour, we sit around a table of six to ten people and casually start talking about life, while we eat. Then, the speaker casually talks about things in the Christian faith that would interest the newcomer, while feeding them the word. After the speaker is done, we are given five or six questions to discuss. Often, those new to the faith don’t know the answers, but we explore what they do know together. We don’t tell them they are wrong, or cram our beliefs down their throats, we simply listen. After awhile, they will ask what we think, and we will talk about our personal experiences. And sometimes, those at the table are simply not ready to discuss their views, so instead of sitting at a quiet table, we talk about life in general. After they get to know us better, and a few sessions down the line, they begin to open up and share their views.

Then halfway through the session, everyone is invited to attend a Holy Spirit weekend. The Holy Spirit weekend is an overnight trip to a resort, where a more in depth study of the gospel is told, while giving the students time to take a breather from life. The only stress, and the only thing they have to concentrate on is what they feel in their hearts, with respect to who God is and what he wants from them. It also allows people to address their concerns in a more intimate setting.

The last session (which lasts eight weeks) brought sixteen people to the Lord, including my very own sister-in-law. She had all these doubts about whether the bible was true and if Christ was really the Son of God. She also had a lot of personal issues that needed to be worked out. Then she went away for the Holy Spirit weekend with her table leader and gave her life to Christ. She said that the talk about how history can prove Christ existed, as well as many other accounts in the Bible really got her to thinking, but the clincher was when a pastor spoke and told everyone about the doubts that still find their way into his mind. It was like the pastor was admitting that he was human and that know matter where our stand is with Christ, we are still just as human as the next person.

We have already begun preparing for the next session of the “Alpha Program.”

Alyice Edrich is an affordable freelance writer specializing in how-to articles for the web. To hire her for your next writing project or to view her rates, visit: To learn more about running a home business, visit