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Creativity by Mindy Obenhaus


Mindy ObenhausI’m delighted to host my friend and fellow Love Inspired author Mindy Obenhaus as my guest blogger today. I’ve known of Mindy for a few years, but I met her in person at the 2012 ACFW conference, and we clicked. We have a lot in common, including having the privilege of sharing the same Love Inspired editor.

This year at ACFW, I will be cheering loud and proud for her at our Gala Awards because The Doctor’s Family Reunion, her debut novel, is a Carol finalist…another thing we have in common. Mindy lives in Texas with her husband and two of her five children. Her second book, Rescuing the Texan’s Heart, is a September release. When she’s not writing, Mindy enjoys cooking, reading and spending time with her grandkids.

 ~*~

I love to create. As a writer, I create characters and story lines from a spark of an idea. Writing is hard work, though, and sometimes I have to step away from the computer and allow myself to explore other avenues of creativity.

  • Made to create.

Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:27 tells us that, “God created mankind in His own image.” So if we were created in God’s image and He created everything, then that tells me that we were made to create. So don’t tell me you’re not creative. You might have to dig for it, but you’ve got it in you.

  • Creativity is inspired.

Inspiration is all around us. We see someone sporting a new haircut and decide that’s just the cut we’ve been looking for. Or maybe it’s a picture in a magazine that inspires you to redecorate a room in your house. Perhaps we see a story on the news about suffering animals and are motivated to help out at your local animal shelter. Even the kind act of another can inspire us to be a better person.

In 2006, my mother-in-law introduced me to the tiny town of Ouray, Colorado. Nestled in a bowl among the San Juan Mountain range, Ouray captured my heart and inspired me to write a series of stories set there.

  • Creativity comes in many forms.

Our own Lisa Jordan likes to make cards. Beautiful cards. My friend, Becky, likes to crochet. My oldest daughter enjoys repurposing furniture.

Me?

I like to create in the kitchen.

Baking

Or I might get a wild hair and decide to take something from drab…

Wicker chair

To totally fab.

Red chair

Even shopping can be creative. Ever gone clothes shopping? Paired up slacks and shirts or shoes with an outfit? Did you even realize you were expressing your creativity?

Or what about the teacher who decorates her classroom or assembles a stellar lesson plan? The mechanic who takes a car from DOA to purring like a kitten? Yes, that’s creativity in action.

  • Creativity gives us a sense of fulfillment.

Back to that mechanic… How do you think he felt when he got that car running? Proud? Like he’d accomplished something?

Yep, creativity will do that for you. We just don’t want to take that pride thing too far.

  • So now it’s your turn. How are you creative? What inspires you to be creative? Or, if you’re sitting there thinking you’re not creative, what are you good at? What are some of the things that you enjoy? Creativity is not only a God-given ability, it’s inherent. Life’s too short to let anything squelch your creativity. So go forth and create.

Lisa again: Mindy, thanks so much for being here. To celebrate Mindy’s Carol final and her newest release, I’m giving away 1 of each of Mindy’s novels in ebook form! To be eligible to win, you must leave a comment with your email address.

The Doctor's Family ReunionRescuing the Texan's Heart

 

Lisa Jordan
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Pedaling With Purpose: Fulfilling My Dreams

All Packed upIn a week or so, I’ll leave behind friends and all that is familiar and take to the open road on a mission. I’ll be leaving on a solo self-contained bicycle tour from Appalacia to the west coast in Oregon or Washington. 

I recently published my new e-book, Facing Fear and Finding Freedom. While writing that book, I was reminded about fear and how it can prevent a person from not only living their dreams, but even simple daily tasks.

I’ve always wanted to ride my bicycle cross country so I decided to combine the two. I decided to pedal with purpose. I’ll be departing this week or next (depending on some final logistics), and will set out on a journey of thousands of miles. Alone.

Why I’m Doing This

I could say I don’t need a reason other than wanting to pedal across America but that would not be entirely true. In 1984 I was abducted from a parking lot in broad daylight from a drug crazed criminal. He’d just gotten out of jail the day before.

Though I survived the attack and broken bones healed, I suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Fortunately, I had a great medical/mental health team that helped me overcome.

Unfortunately, there are so many women who suffer in silence. PTSD holds them prisoners in their own homes. If they do venture out, serious anxiety and panic occur. I want them to know they can overcome PTSD. They can live a life free from the torture that comes from endless fear.

So, I will take to the open roads, completely on my own. I will be at the mercy and good graces of complete strangers I meet along the way. I will blog about my experiences and will write a book as I travel.

My hope is that women who survived violent assault but still suffer from PTSD will muster the courage to seek help and will take back the part of their lives that was lost when they were  violently assaulted.

Facing-Fear-Cover-FINAL-6-9-13How You Can Go With Me

Don’t worry, I won’t ask you to load up a bicycle and pedal by my side. But, there are things you can do to take the trip with me:

  • Pray, not only for me, but for all those women who suffer from PTSD.
  • Have me as a guest on your blog. I would be honored and it would really help get the word out.

I know the trip won’t be easy but even pedaling over mountains with forty pounds of gear is easier than summiting the mountain of fear from PTSD. I have the easy job. 

Thank you for your support as I pedal with purpose!

~*~

Reba J. Hoffman is a natural encourager, who has dedicated her life to others and finds no greater fulfillment than to watch those she coaches to succeed. She lives a simple life by design and shows others how to as well. She found her true north and does everything within her power to not only stay there, but to help others discover the way to their own true north. Learn more about her at www.rebajhoffman.com. 

~*~

Your Turn: How are you fulfilling your dreams? 

Lisa Jordan
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Do You Believe in Marital Magic?

laughingBeth1 2012

My friend Beth K. Vogt wears joy and encouragement like a form-fitting silk dress. She embodies passion for Jesus, her family and her career. After reading her sophomore novel, Catch a Falling Star, I thanked God for her talent and praised Him for the way He’s going to be using Beth to minister to others through her words. Catch a Falling Star is a beautiful story that made me laugh, cry and stay up past my bedtime. Even when life doesn’t go the way we plan, God’s plans are always perfect.

Beth K. Vogt believes God’s best is often behind the doors marked “Never.” After being a nonfiction writer and editor who said she’d never write fiction, Beth’s second inspirational contemporary romance novel, Catch a Falling Star, released May 7, 2013 from Howard Books. Beth is also the Skills Coach for My Book Therapy (MBT), best-selling author Susan May Warren’s writing community. Connect with Beth at bethvogt.com.

~*~

I love fairy tales – the classic ones like Rapunzel and Sleeping Beauty, and the modern day ones like Rachel Hauck’s Once Upon a Prince and Sandra Bricker’s If the Shoe Fits.

In my just-released novel, Catch a Falling Star, the heroine grew up listening to her grandmother read fairy tales to her. Those romantic stories shaped her dreams for romance and happily-ever-after.

And yet, one of the reasons I write inspirational contemporary romance is because I believe there is more to romance than the fairy tales tell us. After all, fairy tales have magic … and fairy godmothers … and impossibly beautiful women who sing and talk to forest animals … and incredibly handsome men (usually princes) who fall in love at first sight and drop everything to rescue the fairest of fair maidens …

I don’t know about you, but on my romantic journey, no fairy godmother showed up to re-do my wardrobe. There was no magic wand waving … no musical soundtrack playing in the background and no talking animals. (I admit talking animals would have freaked me out.) And one other thing was missing: The story didn’t end at the “found my true love” kiss.

I fell in love with a real person who – guess what? – also fell in love with a real person. Translate “real person” as “imperfect.” We promised to love one another “for better and for worse,” never imagining how bad “worse” could get. Miscommunication? Not us. Disagreements about finances? Nah. In-law strife? Nope. A season in our marriage where the only thing holding us together was the covenant we made with God and with our children where we promised there would never be a divorce? Never.

Wrong.

Wrong.

Wrong

And wrong.

It was during the times our marriage struggled the worst that I was most thankful that I’m not in a fairy tale marriage. I live in the real world – but even more importantly, I believe in a real God who cares about my husband, my children, and me. I don’t have to wait around for a fairy godmother because God is with me all the time. I don’t have to wait on the wave of a magic wand because I can lean into prayer and the truth of God’s word. I don’t have to hide my imperfections because God offers me grace, not judgment.

As a young girl, I read fairy tales because they promised me something more. The funny thing is, I found the “more” I was looking for in my real-world romance. I stood in the “wide open space of God’s grace” – with all my imperfections, doubts and fears – and discovered unconditional love. Not magic. Acceptance. Not a fairy godmother. A heavenly father who says I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Not a handsome prince. But an oh-so-handsome husband who loves me, day in and day out – happily ever after or not.

~*~

Catch-a-Falling-Star-bookcoverWhat does a girl do when life doesn’t go according to her plan? At thirty-six, Kendall Haynes has seen some of her dreams come true. She’s a family physician helping kids with severe allergies and asthma achieve more fulfilling lives—a childhood struggle she knows all too well. But are Kendall’s dreams of having it all—a career, a husband, children—nothing more than a childhood fantasy? God says He knows the plans He has for her—why can’t Kendall figure them out and be content with her life?

Griffin Walker prefers flying solo—both as an Air Force pilot and in his personal life. But a wrong choice and health problems pulled him out of the cockpit. His attempts to get out of “flying a desk” are complicated by his parents’ death—making Griffin the reluctant guardian of his sixteen-year-old brother, Ian. How did his life get so off course? Can he get his life back on track…or has there been a divine plan all along?

Catch a Falling Star reminds readers that romance isn’t just for twenty-somethings and that sometimes letting go of your “wish I may, wish I might” dreams is the only way to embrace everything God has waiting for you.

Your Turn: What was your favorite fairy tale as a child? How has your perception of fairy tales helped you define romance today? I’m giving away a copy of Beth’s Catch a Falling Star to one commenter (U.S. residents only). 

 

Lisa Jordan
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Meant to Be

Sherry Kyle author photoPlease welcome my friend and fellow Bookie, Sherry Kyle! Her second novel, The Heart Stone, released April 1 from Abingdon Press. 

Sherry graduated from Biola University with a degree in Communications and a minor in Bible. She is the author of three books:The Christian Girl’s Guide to Style, a book for ‘tween’ girls about beauty, fashion, and character; Delivered with Love, contemporary Christian women’s fiction; and her latest contemporary release, The Heart Stone

Sherry and her husband live along the coast of central California. They have four children, three biological and one by adoption. To learn more about her, visit her at www.sherrykyle.com

~*~

I never thought I’d be the type of girl to steal a guy from someone, but that is exactly what I did. Not intentionally, of course.

One week into my freshman year of college, a cute blond surfer asked me out on a date.  I said “yes” before I really thought through what my answer would mean for me—and the girl across the hall, who had pointed him out all week as the guy she really, REALLY liked. Yes, I was in trouble!

What made the situation more awkward was that she was my R.A. (resident assistant) and had the power to turn all the girls on our floor against me.

The night before the date, I lay in bed contemplating my options. I could sneak out and hide the fact that I was spending time with her crush, which would be difficult at a relatively small Christian college, or I could come clean and tell her.

I knocked on her door close to midnight. When she opened it, the truth of what I was going to say hit me. I was a guy stealer. My stomach clenched. It smacked me harder when I saw the small picture frame on her desk with their pictures. UGH! This was going to be tough.

Surprisingly, she took the news well, even saying, “ You can go. He always did like blondes better.” She was a cute redhead. I think what helped her reaction was that I offered to back out of the date, and told her our friendship meant more to me than some guy I didn’t know. It was the truth.

That was September 1984. Doug and I have now been married close to twenty-five years. We were meant to be.

I’m glad my R.A. was so sweet about it, but there was another girl on our floor who didn’t take the news very well. But that’s another story…

Sherry_ Doug Oct. 1984

                Sherry_ Doug Sept 2012

                 

 

 

 

 

 Your Turn: What is your romance story? Did you steal someone’s guy? 

~*~

 

Sherry Kyle The Heart Stone book coverTwo women. Two journeys. A season that may change their lives forever. 

When the alcoholic father of Jessica MacAllister’s son reappears in their lives, Jessica takes Jacob to Santa Cruz to visit her uncle George for advice and refuge.

Following a year of grief, Evelyn Sweeney is finally ready to move on. As she ponders her new path in life, her mind drifts to her first love, George MacAllister.

When the lives of these two women cross, they discover that one heart-shaped ring binds their stories together. But will the results be a rekindled faith and new hope? Or will it lead them both back into the darkness they’ve fought for so long?


Lisa Jordan
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Guest Michelle Lim: Letting Your Spouse Live Their Dream

I’m excited to host Michelle Lim again. She was a guest blogger in June with her post Couches Are For Sitting: Resolving Marital Arguments Before Bed. Michelle blogs today as a published author of the fantastic Idea Sparking: How to Brainstorm Conflict in Your Novel. She and I have been craft partners for a couple of years now, and I simply can’t write without her. She’s the most amazing brainstorming partner I’ve had. 

Michelle is a romantic suspense author whose manuscripts have earned recognition in The Rattler Contest 2012, the Genesis Contest 2011, and the Frasier Contest in 2010. Michelle is the Brainstorm/Huddle Coach at My Book Therapy and serves as Vice President of MN N.I.C.E., a local chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers. Check out her blog at: http://thoughtsonplot.wordpress.com/.

~*~

Lisa, thank you so much for inviting me to visit your blog. For those of you who don’t know, Lisa is my craft buddy and cliff whisperer. Whenever I am on the edge she pulls me back with calm reason and encouragement. We all need that kind of a friend. 

My husband and I met at church more than twelve years ago, little did I know that he would become my greatest fan. When we got married I knew that he loved me and I loved him, but inspiring me to dream is another thing all together.

As most couples starting out, we didn’t have much money and time was a tight commodity. Instead of demanding a Martha Stewart kind of wife, he’d cook and grab take out all the while encouraging me to pursue my dreams.

Back then I didn’t even know that I was a writer. I spent time singing and writing songs, teaching in public school, writing curriculum for school and children’s ministry. I didn’t know I was a writer, but the opportunity to explore the things I loved brought me to writing.

One day as I came home from teaching a story began to form in my mind. What did my husband say?

“Get it written.”

Not, oh isn’t that nice. The challenge that if I wrote it, he would read it became an inspiration for me. So, I started to write having no clue about the writing craft. If I quit, he would tell me to get back to it.

Then came a delightful distraction. Six pounds and nine ounces of distraction, followed by three more miraculous blessings with just a dash of surprise thrown in along the way.

You’d think my writing days were over for a while and they were for a bit. A five year old and three under the age of three depleted most of my brain power, not to mention my sleep. I don’t regret a single minute.

Then the day came when my husband asked me why I hadn’t written in a while. I looked at him…was he serious? Let’s just say that was a bit humorous. Yet, he dug deep and saw an ache in me that I hadn’t recognized.

Once again, I began to write. As money became available, even if we had to scrape it from the bottom of the barrel, he would send me to a writer’s conference with the glib comment, “Its tax deductible isn’t it?”

This September I held my first book in my hands for the very first time. It wasn’t just my sweat and talent that brought me there. The book belonged as much to my husband as it did to me. In encouraging me to chase my dream, he showed me a whole new depth of love. The kind of love that didn’t let me give up. He invested time and money into my dreams and what does he have to say about it now?

“When are you going to become a New York Times Best-Seller?”

My first response is to laugh, but then I realize he isn’t kidding. No matter where this journey leads, I belong to a family of dreamers because I have a husband who believes anything is possible from those he loves.

For those of you who haven’t heard, during my Idea Sparking: How to Brainstorm Conflict in Your Novel Tour I’m having a drawing for a Free Kindle Paperwhite. For each different blog I visit that you comment on during my tour, you get one entry. Each day I will post any new tour locations on my blog. The final day to enter is this Friday, November 9th. The drawing and wrap up party will be on my blog next Tuesday, Nov. 13th.

To purchase Michelle’s book, go here: Idea Sparking: How to Brainstorm Conflict in Your Novel

“Michelle recently helped me brainstorm Silent Night, my new Rock Harbor digital novella coming at the end of next month. Her brainstorming prowess amazed me! I loved her new book, especially the chapter on secrets.” ~Colleen Coble Award Winning Author

Michelle Lim has captured and applied all the powerful My Book Therapy techniques—and more— into this must-have book that guarantees an author the tools to create a riveting and unique story. This resource will be dog-eared, highlighted, and always within reach as I create my stories. ~Susan May Warren, best-selling, award-winning author and founder of My Book Therapy.

“Michelle encapsulated some workable, practical, yet energizing techniques to help spark that all-important conflict and tension in our stories. I especially appreciated the buffet of ideas that showed how a combination of tips could bring about a tailor-made solution to a lack-luster character, scene, or plot.” ~Cynthia Ruchti Multipublished Author, speaker, and writing instructor.

Your Turn: How does your spouse, family or friends support your dream?

Lisa Jordan
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Catherine West: What’s Your Definition of Family?

Today I’m excited to host Cathy West, my friend and agent-mate. I met Cathy for the first time through ACFW and tried not to covet her residence–she lives on the beautiful island of Bermuda. 

Catherine West in an award-winning author who writes stories of hope and healing from her island home in Bermuda. Educated in Bermuda, England and Canada, Catherine holds a degree in English from the University of Toronto. When she’s not at the computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her Border Collie for long walks or tending to her roses and orchids. She and her husband have two college-aged children. Catherine is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America, and is represented by Rachelle Gardner of Books & Such Literary. Catherine loves to connect with her readers and can be reached at Catherine@catherinejwest.com

Hidden in the Heart is Cathy’s second novel and can be purchased on Amazon: Hidden in the Heart

~*~

Once upon A time, because all great stories start out that way, a baby was born. As that baby grew, her Mom and Dad read this book to her.

As the little girl got older, she came to understand that she was adopted. Her Mommy and Daddy weren’t able to have children of their own, but God gave them the little girl, and made them a family.

Sounds like the makings of a happily ever after novel, right?

Well, that little girl was me, and yes, I did have a happily ever after, but it took a while for me to get there.

Growing up adopted was not always easy. Yes, I knew my parents loved me very much, after all, they picked me, how could they not? But deep down, I knew there was someone else, someone with no face and no name, who had given me life. Someone who, perhaps, didn’t love me quite as much as she was supposed to. Didn’t love me at all, really, because she gave me away.

Childhood thoughts are complicated, and often made light of. I never acknowledged those thoughts about my birth mother out loud. Never thought I should. Or could. And then one day, long after I’d married and had my own children, I was hit quite out of the blue by a fierce desire to know. 

For the first time in my life, I really wanted to know where I came from. And I prayed for the courage to find out. Because if I’m honest, it would have been easier to stuff down that feeling, brush it off as fleeting fancy, pretend it didn’t exist, and get on with life. But the longer I pondered, the stronger it became. When dreams are denied, they simply grow bigger.

With the support of my family and prayer partners, I embarked on the search that would change my life. I found my birth family. I found all the answers I needed, and God gave me the grace to accept them, and to know that in all things, He truly works for good.

Family is often too simplified. Mom, Dad, siblings, aunties and uncles and cousins…but family means so much more than that to me.

Family means home. Love. A place you can go any time and know you are wanted. Whilst I had a wonderful family growing up, and still do, I have gained extra family, and I am so grateful for each one of them.

My personal journey of search and reunion was not without heartache, but I have learned much through those times, and truly grown closer to God. I did not intend to write my story, but after a few years, friends encouraged me to do so, and Hidden in the Heart was born. I am so excited to have this book to share with you, and I’m always happy to talk adoption! 

Your Turn: What’s your definition of Family? 

Lisa Jordan
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Guest Author Krista Phillips: Why Can’t My Guy Be More Like a Romance Novel Hero?

I’m thrilled to have my fellow agent-mate Krista Phillips back as a guest author today. She was a guest author back in August with her wonderful post, Until…it is you.

I had the privilege of spending a little time with Krista at the recent ACFW conference and did a happy dance at seeing her book in the ACFW bookstore. 

Krista writes inspirational romantic comedy. She believes a sprinkle of laughter (and a wee bit of chocolate) makes everything a little better! She blogs regularly about life as a wife, mother, follower of Jesus, and mother of a child with a rare congenital heart defect at www.kristaphillips.com. Her debut novel, “Sandwich, With a Side of Romance,” released in September, 2012.

~*~

I love my husband.

That’s a pretty good thing, huh!

I LOVE writing romance, but one of the common things I hear from Christians who do NOT love Christian romance is that it creates an ideal in relationships that is unachievable.

To a point, I agree.

That perfect hero… six-pack abs, swoon-worthy manners, isn’t tempted in the least to look at another woman, and loves our heroine to distraction regardless of her faults. Oh, and he has a fabulous job and can easily support our heroine.

*sigh*

Why can’t MY husband be like that?

While I am madly in love with my husband, I’ll readily admit that he isn’t one that I would write as the hero in a book. He’s super quiet, work his fingers to the bone in a not-so-sexy job to put food on our table, has a little pudge around his middle, and his sweat isn’t quite as appealing as our heroine’s obviously feel like our heroes sweat is.

But he’s mine.

And I’m head over heels in love with him.

To expect him to live up to the standards of a romance novel is pretty insane.

And as a woman who reads romance, even Christian romance, I agree that to lust over fictional characters is just as bad as doing so over a “real” person.

So does this make Christian romance wrong? Lead us to temptation?

Maybe. If it does, then honestly, don’t read my books. I won’t mind.

But my real hope is that my readers won’t want my hero for themselves.

Instead, I hope…

  • For my single readers, that they will realize the importance of waiting for the man GOD wants for you, and how GREAT the romance can be when you do.
  • For my married readers, that just maybe the romance will remind them of the spark with their own spouse that sometimes needs a little kindling from time to time.
  • That we’ll remember that the ultimate romance between the bridegroom (Jesus) and his bride… US! 

Your turn: Do you feel romances (Christian or secular) create an idealistic view of romance? Why or why not?

~*~

She moved to Sandwich, Illinois, in search of a new life, but ended up in a giant pickle. 

Sandwich represents hope for twenty-year-old Maddie Buckner and Kyle, the eleven-year-old brother Maddie wants to spring out of foster care. Then she loses her new job after less than a day. It’s all Reuben-the-Jerk’s fault, and she’s determined to make him right the wrong.

He does so, reluctantly, by giving her a job at his restaurant, The Sandwich Emporium. Then crazy things start happening at the restaurant, and Kyle’s foster parents apply to adopt him. To stop it all, Maddie must learn the art of humbling herself and accepting the help God has arranged, risking her heart to Reuben in the process. And she’d rather eat a million corned-beef on rye sandwiches than do that.

Available for at…

Amazon.com
Christianbooks.com
barnesandnoble.com 
Booksamillion.com

or ask for it at your local bookstore!

Lisa Jordan
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Guest Author Dineen Miller: Loving God Helps Me Love My Husband

Dineen and I are kindred spirits in many ways–we are both new authors, we share the same agent and we understand the challenges of having a spiritually unequal marriage. When I met Dineen and her ministry, I realized I was not alone. I treasure her friendship. I hope her words bless you as much as they’ve blessed me. 

In addition to writing for Spiritually Unequal Marriage, Dineen Miller has won several prestigious awards for her fiction. She’s also a C.L.A.S.S. Communicator and has been featured on the Moody Radio Network, Family Life and Focus on the Family Radio. Married for 24 years to a guy who keeps her young, she lives in the Bay Area with her husband and two adult daughters, who surprise her daily with their own creativity.

Meet Lexie Baltimore, who is in the supernatural battle of her life. In obedience to God’s calling, Lexie uses her art and dreams to help others. But will she have enough courage to help herself when she becomes torn between her atheist husband and a godly man?

A widower and a father, Pastor Nate Winslow is drowning in darkness. Will he resist his treacherous assignment to win Lexie’s heart, or give in to the attraction between them?

As events unfold, Lexie becomes entangled in a twisted plot. Can she overcome the evil assailing her, or will she yield to the dark side? View The Soul Saver trailer, then purchase your copy of The Soul Saver!  

~*~

I will tell you, in all honesty, that I cannot love my husband in my own strength. It’s not possible. I tried to for a many years and would do fine for a while, but inevitably I would run out of steam. Resentment would seep back in and these feelings and thoughts more often had to do with how little I perceived to be getting back in the relationship. That was my own selfishness creeping in. To truly love my husband requires unconditional love that’s centered in Christ, not me.

Especially since he doesn’t share my faith. My husband and I are spiritually mismatched. Marriage in itself is fraught with challenges, but add a spiritual disconnect and you have an additional conflict, which bleeds into everything else.

First, I had to ask God to help me love my husband the way He loves him. To put a love in my heart for my spouse that far exceeds what I am capable of. God answered that prayer and keeps answering it faithfully, but it truly starts in my love for God. The more we love God—the more we live for Him—the more we are able to love others unconditionally.

Take a look at Matthew 22:37-39:

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

First, and foremost, we’re told to love God with everything we’ve got. THEN, we are to love others. Maybe, like me, you thought the part about loving God came first, because God wants to be first in our lives. You would be right, but I also think it’s because that second part isn’t going to happen unless we grasp the first.

Jesus boiled down the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible, to two commands. Love God first, then love others. In that order. God never seems to have only one reason for anything He says and does. He is the most efficient being there is! He doesn’t just tell us to make Him first in our lives, He’s also telling us that in order to be able to love others like this, we have to love Him first.

Loving God first opens the door for God to love others through us. That is how we love sacrificially. This is especially crucial in my own marriage because this is the love that wins a heart to Christ. And that is my calling in my marriage, to love my “prebeliever” with a love that comes from God so that he can get a taste of who God is. In my love for my husband, I can be a sacred influence in his life.

The truth of the matter is, loving your spouse, or anyone for that matter, means loving sacrificially. And the only way to love sacrificially is through Christ. 

Your Turn: If you’re married, how has God helped you love your spouse?  If you’re not married, how has God helped you to love others?

~*~

I have a special gift for anyone who signs up for my occasional newsletter. They will receive a free copy of my ebook, The Making of The Soul Saver. It’s a 38 pages of extras, like the special features DVD that comes with your favorite movie. You can read about the stories behind the story, my on location research, the cast of The Soul Saver if it were a movie, an interview with Lexie Baltimore and three brand new Soul Saver scenes! I’m thrilled to share this with you! And I promise not to abuse your inbox. 🙂

 

Sign up here: http://authordineenmiller.com/news-press/

Lisa Jordan
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Guest Author Keli Gwyn: Shifting into Romance

Keli Gwyn is one of the most encouraging people I know, who is quick to promote others. We became friends through the blogophere, and we share the same agent, Rachelle Gardner.  

Keli writes stories that transport readers to the 1800s, where she brings historic towns to life, peoples them with colorful characters, and adds a hint of humor. A California native, she lives in the Gold Rush-era town of Placerville at the foot of the majestic Sierra Nevada Mountains. Her debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, set in the heart of the Gold Country where she lives is currently available. When Keli’s fingers aren’t hovering over the keyboard of her newfangled laptop, she enjoys strolling past stately Victorian houses in her historic town, burying her nose in reference books as she unearths interesting facts to include in her stories, and interacting with other romance readers. Her favorite places to visit are her fictional worlds, the Coach factory outlet store, and Taco Bell. To learn more about her, visit her website

Widow Elenora Watkins is determined to provide for herself and her daughter without relying on anyone else. Can she run a successful business after falling for the competition? Miles Rutledge finds himself willing to do anything to keep Elenora in town. But can he win her heart while putting her out of business?

*** 

Is your guy into cars? Mine is.

Judging by the malespeak heard during the fellowship time after church on Sundays, many men have a thing about their vehicles. We have fellows who are into British cars, a guy who’s getting his Cobra back on the road, and Jeep owners who are rock crawling enthusiasts.

 

Gwynly owns a ’68 MGB roadster he’s had since 1970. His pale yellow sports car, Midge, brings him a lot of pleasure. He likes working on her engine, polishing her until she gleams, and taking her for a spin.

Because I know how much enjoyment Gwynly’s blonde British beauty brings him, I’ve worked to develop an understanding of his bond. I’ll never be as attached to Midge as Gwynly is, but for his sake, I searched for ways to share his interest and found five.

1. Shift my focus. Rather than thinking about how I’d like him to romance me, I’ve realized that if I put his hobbies and interests first—in this case his car—I can romance him.

2. Learn some car talk. Since Gwynly spends upwards of half an hour each Sunday talking with his male friends about cars, he must be as into them as I am into writing. Thus, it’s important that I expand my vocabulary. For example, over dinner recently he mentioned how much better his gas mileage is since his mechanic adjusted Midge’s SUs. That might not mean anything to you, but to the wife of this MG enthusiast that means Lawrie changed the mixture in the carburetors so the “B” is running leaner and cleaner.

3. Wax eloquent about his set of wheels. After Gwynly’s spent hours applying polish and rubbing it off, I run my hand over the shiny surface and tell him how nice Midge looks. If our guys have been hunched under the hood for half a day replacing a part, we can ask them to show us the results of their hard work and thank them for it.

4. Put the brakes on the complaints. There were days early in our marriage when I was jealous of the time Gwynly spent with Midge. I’ll admit that I wasn’t very understanding or supportive. OK, I was downright grumpy. I griped and complained and whined and wheedled because I wanted his time and attention. These days I park my tongue when I’m tempted to moan and groan.

5. Enjoy the ride! Making the effort to connect with our guys by showing genuine interest in their cars can pay off. We can rev their romance engines with a compliment or a word of gratitude about how well they maintain their fleets, fueling their desire to romance us in return. And we can literally enjoy going on rides with our guys. I’ve found Gwynly relaxes, opens up, and converses freely when he’s behind the wheel. Put him in the driver’s seat of his B with the top down and his gal by his side, and the romance shifts into high gear.

Your Turn: Do you compliment your guy on his car and his car care? Do you enjoy going on rides with your guy? Do you know what your guy’s dream car is?

Keli is giving away a copy of A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California. Leave a comment for a chance to win!

Lisa Jordan
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Guest Author Noelle Marchand: Shine Your Light

Noelle Marchand is a fellow Love Inspired author. She’s an amazing woman who has accomplished a lot for someone her age. She’s a shining example of setting goals and following them. Her love of literature began as a child when she would spend hours reading beneath the covers long after she was supposed to be asleep. Over the years, God began prompting her to write by placing ideas for stories in her head. Eventually, those stories became like “fire shut up in her bones” leading her to complete her first novel by her sixteenth birthday. Now, at the age of twenty-three, that fire of inspiration continues to burn.

Noelle is a Houston-native who graduated from Houston Baptist University  May 2012. She received bachelors degree in Mass Communication with a focus in journalism and Speech Communication.

The Runaway Bride is her latest release. 

The only husband Lorelei Wilkins ever wanted was Sean O’Brien, but she’s wasted too much time waiting for him to love her back. When another man proposes, she accepts—until she stands at the altar…and realizes she can’t marry without love. Bolting out of town toward a fresh start, she never suspected her parents would send Sheriff O’Brien to bring her home!

After an innocent mistake leaves Lorelei and her reluctant rescuer with compromised reputations, marriage is their only option. But first they must triumph over suspicious locals, shady characters, an inconvenient groom and the bride’s own stubborn heart. Will it take putting their lives on the line for Sean and Lorelei to realize that only love can conquer all?

~*~ 

I had no idea when I began writing my first book at fifteen that I was really starting a career that would make me a multi-published author by the age of twenty-three. I just had a simple idea for a simple story that I felt God wanted me to write. So I wrote that book and a couple more.

The more I wrote, the more it became the part of me that I never told anyone about. It seemed too personal and talking about it left me too vulnerable. I saw my talent as a delicate flower that could easily be crushed by well-meaning or careless feet. Perhaps it was that way at first. Then I studied journalism in college where I learned that a story isn’t a silly delicate flower. It’s a culmination of words on a piece of paper that somehow magically makes sense if you put them together right. It may never be perfect but it can be awe inspiring.

The confidence I gained from being wrong in my writing and learning how to be right allowed me to move past the fear of being trampled. At least, it did to an extent. God did the rest.

I slowly began telling a few people once I realized there was a definite possibility that I would become a published author. The strangest thing happened. I realized I wasn’t actually talking about myself. I was talking about God, what He had accomplished in my life, the inspiration He’d given me, the favor He’d poured out on me.

Suddenly I realized why the enemy tried to make me fearful about telling my story. He wanted me to hide the gift God gave me so He won’t get the glory. Well, the gig was up and I shouted God’s praises from the rooftops.

Three contracted books later, I have had the privilege of seeing my life story and my written stories inspire many people to pursue their own God given dreams.

In abstaining from acknowledging my gift, I hid part of my identity. I hid the God part. Are you doing the same thing? If so, then remember this.

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” –Matthew 5:14-16

Your Turn: What are your gifts and are you using them to bring God glory?

Lisa Jordan
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