|In this newsletter:
Protecting Our Kids
Spreading the News
Ways to Pray
Can you believe it’s already fall? This year is passing quickly and the holidays are upon us. Thanks for taking the time to spend a few minutes with me!
A special welcome to our newest members and a happy welcome back to those who have been part of the Dark Chocolate Suspense newsletter for a time. I’m so glad you’re here.
For this edition, we’ll be talking about paying it forward, sharing a kid-friendly fall recipe, and talking about an FBI tip for keeping kids safe.
Paying It Forward
I’m a little behind on movie viewing, so I haven’t seen Pay It Forward. But long ago I learned about the concept of doing to others what you’d like them to do to you. A similar concept was passed down from my writing mentor: give back.
Simple. Straightforward. But not always easy.
Sometimes it’s hard to think of something to do. Other times it’s hard to get up the courage to act on our good intentions.
During the month of September, my dear friend, Sharon Hinck, started a blog entitled Penny’s Project to coincide with the release of her latest novel, Stepping Into Sunlight. The main character, Penny, begins a project of doing one kind act each day. For amazing idea starters, please check out Sharon’s blog.
I took part in the project, nervous and wondering if the recipient would think I was weird. They didn’t and it was an incredible experience.
Then after the act of kindness was done, I forgot to keep it going.
But one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves and each other is summed up in one word: Remember. Remember what others have done for you. And then pay it forward with small acts of kindness whenever you have a chance.
Slip a note in a roommate’s or husband’s lunch to say you’re thinking about them. Catch your children doing something good and praise them. Pay for the guy behind you at Starbucks. Send an e-card to a friend just because.
The ideas are numerous and as varied as our personalities. They can be elaborate or simple. Expensive or free.
What matters is doing them. Because there’s a world out there and in our own homes that need a kind word or act. It could change their day. Maybe even the world.
One small powerful act of kindness at a time.
Thank you so much for Your kindnesses to us. Every day Your mercies are new and Your acts of love abundant. Open our eyes to the people around us. Show us how to reach out and share Your love. Fill us to overflowing so that we might be vessels through which Your compassion and grace spill out all over this world. Help us give back to the least of these as You have given to us each and every moment.
Fall is my favorite time of year. The smells of pumpkin pie and crisp morning air. A return to my favorite comfy sweaters and the happy expectations of the holidays ahead. But before all the hustle and bustle of winter rushes you through fall, I hope you’ll take a few minutes to enjoy the brilliant colors of leaves while you savor a simple dinner of pumpkin soup—sweet or spicy, this soup is a favorite taste of fall for my family.
2 cups cooked or canned pumpkin
1 large onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 large can chicken broth
1 tsp. curry powder
1 cup milk or cream
Salt to taste
1 can pumpkin
2 ½ cups chicken broth
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
¼ tsp cloves
In a large saucepan, cook onions and garlic in one cup chicken broth, set aside to cool
Puree pumpkin and chicken broth in blender (1 cup pumpkin to 1 cup broth)
Add onions and garlic to blender and puree
Return pumpkin mixture to saucepan & combine with remaining chicken broth, curry powder, & salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to very low & simmer for 5 to 10 minutes
Stir in milk or cream and remove from heat
Garnish with a sprinkle of nutmeg
Puree pumpkin and chicken broth in blender (1 cup pumpkin to 1 cup broth)
Place pumpkin mixture in a large saucepan & combine with remaining chicken broth, nutmeg, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and cloves. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to very low and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes
Stir in condensed milk and remove from heat
Garnish with a sprinkle of nutmeg
An oftentimes untapped secret for mastering any skill—from novel writing to knitting—is talking to an expert.
My oldest daughters are both knitters. Really good knitters in fact. So much so they couldn’t understand why I couldn’t pick up the skill. They tried to teach me. I tried to read the knitting books my oldest daughter whizzed through as she created beautiful projects.
But I still stunk.
Until my oldest had a birthday party at our local knitting store and a number of expert knitters taught our little group the basics of knitting. They explained and demonstrated. I still didn’t get it. Then one of the teachers sat with me and moved my butterfingers through the motions. She also stayed by my side, verbally reminding me of the basic movements, until I picked it up.
I’m now the proud owner of my very own knit headband. I even wear it out of the house on occasion.
What made the difference was an expert taking the time to teach.
The same principle is at work in the world of writing. I can research and read about places and professions, fine-tune my writing skills, and work on character charts. But it’s not until I make a connection with an expert that the story comes to life.
The researching and fine-tuning are all vital and valuable. But sitting down with an expert—from FBI agents to chocolatiers—is one invaluable ingredient that makes the final project sparkle.
Combining your passion for your project with an expert’s passion for their career provides a synergistic effect that translates into the pages of a book. Plus, experts add hands-on help that can make all the difference between a story with good writing and a story that rings with reality and depth.
So whether you’re learning to knit or working on a novel (or something entirely different), I’d encourage you to find an expert in the field and enjoy the process of discovery.
The final product will be worlds better for the time well spent.
If you haven’t checked out the Heart Chocolate website lately, there are some fun additions to enjoy. We’ve added a handful of change on the chocolate store counter that takes you to a wealth of scripture. And we’ve added an in-depth look at the story behind each of the Defenders of Hope novels.
My favorite addition is the trivia questions link. Please hop over to Heart Chocolate and take a short quiz to test your knowledge of the Defenders of Hope characters. The one answering the most questions correctly will win a special gift pack…and bragging rights as the most knowledgeable fan.
Another new venture for me is being YouTubed. A TV interview I did for Healing Promises is up on YouTube in six parts. Plus, there’s a short and very silly interview I did for ACFW at the Mall of America signing. So if you’re in the mood for a laugh or would like to learn a little more about me, writing, or the story behind Healing Promises, please search for my name on YouTube.
Who's a Stranger?
In researching the Defenders of Hope novels, I talked to many adults about their childhood experiences with “strangers” and how they teach their children about staying safe. It shocked me to learn how many faced “stereotypical” lures such as candy or needing help with a lost puppy when confronted with a stranger. Even more, how those lures are still being used. And yet, the lures have changed too.
Parents now have to deal with a whole new realm of strangers. Those faceless folks on the Internet. Strangers that go by the name “friend” on social networking sites. And even though I’m not a kid anymore, I’m still faced with “strangers” on the Internet and even at the grocery store.
I don’t have a problem with people being friendly. I do have a problem with people being friendly to my children and asking questions that are inappropriate when they think I’m not listening. Or sending strange emails to my family’s email address.
Thankfully, nowadays there are tons of websites and books out there to help us educate ourselves and teach our children about safety.
My favorite place to turn for information will probably always be the FBI’s awesome website. Two very helpful stops on the FBI’s safety tips fieldtrip for grades K-5 are ones that my children and I still talk about occasionally. They are the Internet safety tips page and the good rules to follow to protect yourself page.
Two very good things that grew from our discussion of these pages were deciding what to do if we’re separated in a store and answering the question, “Who is a stranger?”
One of my children said they’d come looking for me if we were separated. But the FBI kid’s site said to find someone who works at the store. My kids weren’t sure how to do that. So we role played and talked about our favorite stores and where the cash registers were located. That helped them feel confident about choosing a safe person to tell they’d been separated from a parent.
We also talked about who a stranger is. That’s a tough one for kids, especially in the electronic world we live in. The answer my husband and I came up with was this: a stranger is someone who hasn’t sat at our table for dinner.
That answer might not work for every family. Which is why I encourage you to sit down as a family and talk over these issues. Come up with an answer that will give your children a good picture of the difference between friends and strangers.
It’s time well spent.
And the winner is…
November’s gift pack is a signed copy of Healing Promises, a Healing Promises puzzle and a fun night out filled with great coffee wrapped up in a cool Starbuck’s gift card.
October's winner is Sheri C! CONGRATS, Sheri!
Ways you can help spread the news
Fiction readers are always looking for great books. And a personal recommendation goes a long way toward helping people find books they’ll enjoy. So if you’ve connected with Ransomed Dreams and Healing Promises, please let the readers in your life know about them.
Also, books make great Christmas gifts. And I’d love to help give your gift an extra touch. If you’d like to have a copy of Ransomed Dreams signed for a special someone, please visit Signed by the Author.com. For Healing Promises, please email and let me know who the book is for. I’ll send a signed bookplate and an extra something special for your gift.
It would also mean a lot to me if you’d continue praying that Ransomed Dreams and Healing Promises connect with readers and that many hearts are touched, encouraged, and drawn closer to the Lord.
The further I walk down this publishing path, the more grateful I am for the prayers of family and friends! It really is a precious gift to know people are praying. Thank you for being one of those wonderful folks.
- Please pray for everything connected to the launch of Enduring Justice. This book delves into some things that are very close to my heart. And I long for this story to be used by God in ways I can’t even imagine to touch hearts and draw people into the healing arms of Jesus.
- Please pray for wisdom, direction and favor with the “what’s next” on my writing journey.
A prayer for you:
What an honor it is to come before You and pray for the people reading here. You know each precious person by name and every concern in their hearts. Please show them how passionately You love them and how present You are through all of life’s moments. Refresh their spirits and breathe Your life through their souls. Lead them deeper into Your abundant life and show them ways to share that hope with those around them. Fill them to overflowing. In Christ.
Abundant Fall blessings,