Saturday, October 29, 2011

Christian Romance

Christian romance? Is there such a thing as that? Today we get to glance inside the creative process that takes scripture and turns it into life-changing fiction with author Amanda Stephan.

Why do you write Christian romance?
Having been married almost 18 years, I am a recipient of the best kind of romance. The lasting kind. The kind where the spouses accept and love one another even with the many faults and warts that come along with real people. If I became upset after every hardship or every time my husband *didn't* sweep me off my feet, we'd be divorced. True love happens everyday when we make a point to put someone else's needs in front of our own. True love is when you accept that apology, or better yet, offer an apology because of some hasty words that you let slip during your frustration. Or when you don't go to bed angry, because the argument wasn't that important to begin with. But better than this earthly love my husband and I share, is the agape love from my Heavenly Father who loves without condition and never forsakes.

God didn't call me to be a missionary to an exotic land away from my home. He gave me a mission field right here. This is my purpose for my writing. To help spread God's love and message to those who need it. So many times, a book can go where a preacher or teacher cannot. A place where the heart is open but the ears closed. If my books can reach one person for God? I am honored!

What motivated you to write Lonely Hearts?
My greatest motivator would have to be from watching people around me. I noticed that many people take so many things for granted ~ their spouses and their children mostly ~ and it bothered me. I just couldn't fathom how easily they could set aside their most precious possessions (their family) for something so insignificant like cars or cell phones. Instead of focusing on what is really important.

What is the key emotion/issue addressed within Lonely Hearts?
In Lonely Hearts, we run through a gamut of emotions ~ loss, grief, happiness, sadness, anger, and so on, but I'd say the key emotion/issue addressed is the familial bonds and ties that really should be most important in our lives.

What scripture(s) is/are the bases for Lonely Hearts?
I use many different verses in LH, but the unwritten one is 3 John 4 ~ I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. When I read this verse after our children were born, the importance of it floored me. No matter what I become, no matter what dreams I chase, I want my children to grow up and serve and love the Lord. That would be the greatest lesson I could teach them.

What life experiences "qualify" you to write this book?
I've learned over the years that I can never go back to yesterday and fix the things I did wrong. Nor erase the regrets I created because I was too stubborn to say I'm sorry. Or the times I didn't give a hug when I felt the Lord leading me to do so. I can't thank certain people for guiding me or helping me grow as a Christian because they're gone now. I want to have as few regrets as possible and so I try to live as though today were my last. I want my kids and husband to know that if God called me home, I loved them deeply. That is the purpose of this book. Perhaps this sweet romance novel will help someone stop being so busy and cherish the gifts that has already been given them ~ their family.

Lonely Hearts ~ a sweet Christian romance
One lonely mother. Two matchmaking kids. Three eligible bachelors. What could possibly go wrong?

When widow Becky Callis moves to a new town, she thought it would be easier to start over in a place where she's not reminded of her dead husband. Her kids on the other hand, take it as a chance to help their mother start over romantically. The only problem is, there seems to be quite a few eligible bachelors they can choose from! They soon realize it's easier to find someone to like their mother than it is to figure out which man is best for her.

Even though this handsome cowboy is younger than Becky, Scott makes his interest plain and starts courting her almost immediately to the delight of both kids.

Jack and Becky have been friends since childhood. When they're reunited years after their lives have taken very different paths, this lonely preacher begins to wonder if God has brought her back into his life for a reason.

Pearce Morgan is a single parent raising his young daughter. Divorced and disillusioned, an unlikely friendship arises between him and Becky when his shy daughter decides she loves Becky and her kids.

Lonely Hearts, a story of second chances, choices, and yummy apple pie will be released through TreasureLine Publishing.
Read excerpt here:

Purchase Lonely Hearts on Nov 1st and you can enter Amanda's drawing to win either a Nook/Kindle/iPod on her webpage:

Monday, October 24, 2011

Nourishment for the Mind

What I think has a huge effect on how I feel. When I spend most of my day focusing on the daily grind, I find myself feeling empty and unfulfilled. But when I step into the pages of a good book, fiction or non-fiction, it allows me to refocus my thoughts. Reading is a powerful tool for feeding your mind and what you read is important in how it affects you. Non-fiction tends to be heavy reading that requires a commitment from the reader. Fiction is usually lighter reading that allows you to escape for a moment to meet with wonderful characters and if it’s great fiction you may even learn a moral lesson.

What you feed your mind is just as important as what you feed your body. Fill your mind with gory science fiction, mysteries and horror books will leave you anxious and fearful. Nourish your mind with Christian fiction novels and you can still enjoy every genre of books, plus keep a positive uplifting focus. I love reading and have been reading some amazing books over the past year. I have featured some of them already on this blog, but over the next few weeks I hope to feature some of my favorites. These will be Christian books I’ve read and believe would make great gift this holiday season.

At one point my life was so busy I did not make time to feed my mind and my attitude suffered. The one book that I found vital to nourishing the mind is the Bible. Even when reading some of the best literary works around, I always find none of them take the place of His Word. Sometimes I need just a small Psalms scripture to snack on and at other times I need to chew on more meaty subjects like submission or loving those who are hard to love. God is always so kind and patient; no matter how long it is between my Bible reading sessions I always find Him waiting to greet me within the pages. Any mind can be transformed and renewed with the nourishment of His presence. Need an attitude change? Want more joy in your life? The answers can be found in nourishing your mind with good books and the Good Book.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Heaven is for Real for Kids

"What will Heaven look like? Who will be there? Will our dogs be there? What will Jesus be like?" These are the types of question my curious 5 and 7 year olds ask during our time of devotion. I've always struggled to describe the indescribable. As the song says, "I can only imagine", yet Colton Burpo doesn't just imagine he actually experiences Heaven first-hand.

This children’s version of the bestselling book does not go into details about Colton's illness and surgery, but just implies that Colton was very sick. It never says Colton dies only that he closed his eyes during this time of severe illness and when he opened his eyes he could see Jesus and Heaven.

My son's had many questions about how this was possible. Also curious about if they closed their eyes if they too may open them to see Jesus when sick. I found myself having to explain portions of the adult version of the book for them to fully understand the beginning of the story, but once we got going the content within was excellent!

This book brings comforting answers to those questions about what Heaven will look like, sound like and who will be present. It allowed opportunities to discuss family members who have already gone to Heaven that my kids have never met. It also did an excellent job of discussing the Godhead (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) with a child-like innocence of the relationship.

This is a book that would be great for children in the second grade on up. My oldest was able to read this book with minimal assistance and able to grasp the reality of Colton's severe illness better than my 5 year old, however both were fascinated by the beautiful illustrations. I consider this book one for every children’s library.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Do you feel cherished? Do you feel as if God is protecting you, holding you dear and lovingly caring for you? Sometimes life becomes so routine that we lose touch with just how much God love us. In Kim Cash Tate's new book Cherished, I not only was reminded of how precious I am to God but also how much He is willing to forgive.

This book overflows with grace and mercy and it discussed the life choices of two high school students who later reunite years later. The scars from those past choices are still fresh but God is able to bring the healing needed. Topics covered include abortion, unequally yoked marriages, forgiveness, sexual promiscuity, identity in Christ and self-worth.

My favorite characters from Tate's novel Faithful are also in Cherished. These books are not officially part of a series, but I highly recommend you read Faithful first then Cherished. Knowing the core characters before reading this book will make it easier to follow. Tate is an exceptional storyteller and has a way of making her characters feel like they’re your friends.

I enjoyed Cherished. I concluded the book with a sense of peace with God, knowing that my past is not my future and that He loves me 100%. I am cherished by the Creator of all!

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Blessing in Criticism

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, right? But are you obligated to listen? To be honest, most of us only want to hear how right we are not what we are doing wrong. Give me a thumbs up and I'm happy to chat. Give me a list of how I can improve and I will tune you out before you finish your first point.

Knowing how to handle criticism is a skill. Learning and growing from criticism is an added bonus. You will never be able to silence all of your critics, so might as well develop a plan to better handle your next critique.

1. Stay calm.

Criticism hurts. When someone verbally lashes out at you, it feels as if you are under attack. Your breathing speed up, your heart beats faster, and your muscles begin to tight as your body prepares to fight back. Rather than allow these emotions to escalate, regain control. Do not respond immediately but rather take a 10 second pause to take one deep breath to exhale all feeling of insult out. Staying calm puts you in the best position for successfully maneuvering through criticism.

2. Accept that no one is perfect.

It would be great if we were always right and always had the best way of doing everything. Even you and I sometimes miss the mark. It’s ok to not be right all the time. Give yourself permission to have an off day. No one is perfect. Sometimes criticism is justified. Listen to what the criticizing party has to say, and then objectively evaluate its validity. You don’t have to agree with them, just be open enough to accept that we are all perfectly imperfect.

3. Know your own self-worth.

Having someone voice that you did not do something right leaves a taste of failure on all of our tongues. It’s very easy to move from criticism to self-doubt. Avoid the desire to apply this criticism of your work to your personal worth. Know your value as an individual. Do not allow criticism to define your self-worth, but rather focus on your personal strengths and attributes. You are a unique individual and sometimes uniqueness is criticized because it is uncharted territory. Your new and creative way of accomplishing a task may have been met with criticism initially only to become a future success as others grasp your vision.

4. Focus on what you can gain from the experience

Criticism can be beneficial. Whether or not you agree with their assessment, hearing their opinion can give you insight on areas that may benefit from some tweaking. Use the criticism as a way to evaluate the pros and cons of a situation. Focus on what you can learn from the encounter and use it to your benefit.

5. Thank the person giving the criticism.

Yes you heard me right, thank them. Occasionally criticism will come from someone who is being malicious, but more often it’s from those who actually see your potential and want to bring out the best you have to offer. Thank them for taking an interest in your personal growth and development. Despite their intentions, you will ultimately benefit from the experience by becoming more secure in your ability to handle criticism with poise.

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. -1 Thessalonians 5:18

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Feed Your Body - Feed Your Soul

Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food."
-Genesis 1:29

Need a little help getting motivated to eat right and excercise more? Buy Fit for Faith - 7 Weeks to Improved Spiritual & Physical Health by Kimberley Payne at TODAY (Oct 11) and receive tons of free e-gifts from the author and other generous supporters! Let's support Kimberley's heart to help the body of Christ live healthy and whole! Click this link to purchase: Fit For Faith. Then visit to get your free gifts.

Healthy eating nourishes your body. Eating well means eating a selection of foods that supply essential nutrients and energy. Food touches every aspect of your life and affects how you feel. Healthy eating helps you to take care of yourself on the most basic level. God created a variety of foods that you can enjoy to meet the needs of your body. Food is a great source of energy and pleasure.

Benefits of healthy eating
1. Boosts energy level
2. Improves concentration
3. Reduces risk of cancer
4. Reduces risk of obesity and diabetes
5. Decreases risk of heart disease
6. A pure motive delights God

Healthy eating does not need to be complicated. You do not need to cook extravagant meals or shop at specialty stores. Eating well does not mean you have to give up any foods that you love. And it does not mean you have to start eating foods that you do not like. Everything you eat plays a part in keeping you healthy. Healthy eating means changing how much and how often you eat, not only what you eat.

Healthy eating gives you more energy for optimal physical and mental performance. You can reach a healthy weight and stay there without dieting.

-Excerpt from Fit For Faith by Kimberley Payne

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Fit For Faith

God created you as a whole person and so you need to take care of your whole self, not just the individual parts. There is a direct relationship between physical and spiritual health.

A healthy body will give you the energy and enthusiasm to carry out the purposes that God has for your life. Practicing healthy living is a way to glorify God. God created your body to be built for action therefore activity is needed to keep you fit. His law in nature is to exercise, eat right, and serve God. You need to take care of yourself and obey the law of nature.

12 exercise strategies that work!

1. Take it slow and steadyRemember that fitness is not a “quick fix.” This is a lifestyle change and you may experience setbacks and plateaus.

2. Schedule exercise inTake an honest look at how you spend your days. Schedule exercise in your daily planner just as you would with a business meeting or a doctor's appointment.

3. Track your progressKeep a chart of your progress and small improvements will become noticeable.

4. Follow the 10-minute ruleDecide to do only 10 minutes of exercise and then you can stop if you want. Generally, once you have started exercising you will not want to stop.

5. Team up with a friendA partner can make workouts more fun and push you to try harder. You will be more likely to stick to your plan if you have a partner. Join a walking club, a sports team or an aerobics class.

6. Do something else at the same timeYou can read or listen to books on tape while riding a stationary bike. You can also watch TV, listen to music, talk to God or think about a Scripture reading.

7. Create spaceCreate an area to call your own and make exercise so accessible that you have no excuse. Buy some low-priced equipment: an exercise bike, a resistance band, a set of dumbells, a stretching mat, a jump rope and an exercise video.

8. Look the part
Put on workout clothes – do not just change into running shoes. If you look the part, you will feel the part.

9. Time it rightRemember, if you do not have the time for a full workout each day, break down your workouts into three or four smaller chunks of 10 minutes each.

10. Vary your routine
You may be less likely to get bored or injured if you change your routine. Walk one day and bicycle the next.

11. Have fun
Take the “work” out of workouts. Try something new and experiment until you find one that you like doing. The best fitness plan is one that you can easily include in your busy schedule and not just another thing to add to your “to-do” list.

12. Celebrate goals reachedEvery time you reach a goal, celebrate. Reward ideas may include making a long-distance phone call, treating yourself to a bubble bath, getting a pedicure, buying an extravagant bouquet, or subscribing to a magazine.

You need to set aside time every day to exercise, to pray and to bask in God’s love. Having a consistent time will help establish a routine. This may mean rising a little earlier in the morning while the rest of the family sleeps. Or it may mean closing your office door and turning off the phones at lunch. It could mean taking time between when the children return from school and dinner. Or it may mean spending time in the evening instead of watching television. It does not matter when, as long as you find a time to do it consistently.

May God bless your journey towards improved spiritual and physical health.

(Excerpt taken from “Fit for Faith – 7 weeks to improved spiritual & physical health” by Kimberley J. Payne)
On Tuesday October 11, Kimberley is hosting a special promotion for her e-book Fit for Faith - 7 weeks to improved spiritual & physical health. All who buy her book at on Oct 11th will receive special gifts with their purchase. You can learn more about Kimberley at .

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Unlimited Access to My Heart

Hearing God at times can seem so hard, but it shouldn't be. We were chosen before the foundations of the earth to be His Beloved. He wants us to be able to hear His voice. He know the words we need to hear and the frequency in which to speak to get our attention, yet He does not come to shout a word into our ear but to rather whisper a song into our hearts. Often He speaks not in an audible heavenly voice, but through the situations and people in our lives. Sometimes He speaks deep within our hearts during times of solitude and silence.

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. John 1-:27

Listen closely to the sounds in the silence. Hear Him in the silence. Now is the time to move beyond merely listening to the world around you to listening to what is within you. Beneath the gentle hum of life is a tangible energy flowing from His very lips. We have inundated our time with various vehicles of sound which have dampened our ability to notice His still small voice calling out to us. Calling us to open the door and let Him come in so that we can move beyond our current level of relationship into a level of intimacy. He love hearing our songs of praise as we drive to work and the hymns of worship as we move about your day, but we can not become afraid of the silence. As we usher His presence in with praise and worship, it's just as important to allow the serenity of the moment to lead us to a time of silent reflection. It’s in the silent moments that He speak the loudest. Let Him speak and do not hinder the words He has for your ears and yours alone. Feel the closeness of His presence as He whisper His love and devotion to you, as He re-connect to the hidden aspects of your being. Feel the warmth of His touch as He settle in for a time of intimate conversation on the pillow of your worship. Do not be afraid of the newest of the encounter and do not pull away only to return to the prior level of closeness you feel comfortable with. Do not become content with our past level of relationship for there is so much more He desire to reveal to you.

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. Revelation 3:20

He is knocking at the gate of you heart, will you open yourself to a deeper understanding of His love? Ask Him to come in and take the opportunity to reveal to you that which has caused you to lock the door. Reveal to Him what you have closed away behind the doors, what you have hidden in the recesses of your mind that you do not want Him to find? Trust that He has seen all and knows all; and He still desire to come and dine with you. Open the window of your soul and the door of your heart to allow Him to blow into your spirit the wonders of His love. Remove the security features you have erected and share with Him the entry code so that He may have free access to you. He desires an open door policy; unlimited access to come and go as He pleases and to re-arrange any aspect of you that does not reflect His personal taste. Invite Him in with an open invitation to return again and again. Even better, make room for Him to take up residence. Make room for Him to not only visit for a short time but to occupy for eternity.

Lord, unlimited access to my heart has been granted. Enter in.