Friday, December 30, 2022

Guest Author, Tamera Lynn Kraft

Thank you, Tamera, for sharing with us.


101 men and 4 boys landed in the New World in 1607. They hoped to establish a colony for the British and get rich in a search for gold. They built a fort and named the colony Jamestown. There was no gold, but they did find the land fertile for growing tobacco. After years of hardship and trouble with the natives, they managed to rake out a living. Only one thing was missing. Women. Now that they had a prosperous colony, they needed women to marry and create families.


The Virginia Company of London made arrangements for a ship full of women to travel to Jamestown Colony. The women had to be considered reputable to take the voyage. When they arrived, they had a choice. They could marry. If they did, their perspective husbands would pay 200 pounds of tobacco for them. If they decided not to marry, they would become indentured servants to whoever would pay the tobacco price. The masters were required to provide for them until they finished their term or until another man paid for them to be released to marry. If a woman completed the indenture, she would be provided land and resources. Most women chose to marry within the first few weeks of landing on shore.


Life in Jamestown was not easy for the women. Whether they decided to become wives or servants, they worked long, hard hours every day. Within the first year, they went through something called the seasoning where they contracted diseases from the climate. Only half of them survived. Of those who did, many died in childbirth or from the Indian Massacre of 1622.


The Seasoning of Elizabella is a novel dedicated to telling the story of these women who suffered hardships, disease, and death to settle a new land.



Elizabella can't imagine anything worse than being a Jamestown bride -- but her sister is determined to do just that. On the way to the ship to stop her sister, she witnesses a brutal murder and must flee for her life. She takes refuge on the ship, pretending to be her sister, intending to leave as soon as she is safe. Before she knows it, she is headed for the New World, trapped by desperation and deception.

Miles fled to Jamestown with his family to escape the shame from their father's actions. Tragedy has tested his faith, including the loss of his wife and newborn son. His grief makes him more determined than ever to keep his one remaining brother from following in their father's footsteps.

Will God heal their pain? How can their love grow when Elizabella desires nothing more than to return to London, and Miles desires nothing more than to remain in Jamestown?




Award winning author and Mt Zion Ridge Publisher Tamera Lynn Kraft has always loved adventures. She loves to write historical fiction set in the United States because there are so many stories in American history. Forks in the Road, Lost in the Storm, and Red Sky Over America, Alice’s Notions, and Resurrection of Hope  are among her published works. In her spare time, she loves to watch classic movies, drink quality teas, and ride on roller coasters, but not while drinking tea. You can purchase her newest novel, The Seasoning of Elizabella: A Jamestown Bride Story at this link

Friday, December 23, 2022

Guest Author Mary Lou Cheatham, Christmas is not a pagan holiday

My friend, author Mary Lou Cheatham,, posted this on her blog this week. I appreciated it and asked if I could share it here.


Whether you're having fruitcake, chitterlings, or tamales, make it a Christmas to remember!


‌Mary Lou Cheatham

Explore the Unforgettable


Have you heard arguments that we shouldn’t celebrate Christmas—or at least avoid secular trappings—because it’s a pagan holiday? I’m not sure whether people who say such things are following the example Scrooge before his reformation or of the Grinch.


Such Christmas naysayers argue that Christmas trees are proof that Christmas is a pagan celebration. This idea makes no sense because many Christians have celebrated Christmas without cutting trees and taking them into their houses.


Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick, an  Orthodox Christian archbishop and author, points out that pagans do not own all the trees. Neither do they own all the mistletoe. If we Christians delight in remembering the birth of our Savior by decorating our homes with whatever greenery we choose, we have no reason to feel guilty.


In a recent blog, <”Christmas is Not Pagan. Just Stop.” December 5, 2018> Fr. Andrew discusses other symbols considered pagan. Some actually believe that burning a log in the fireplace is a pagan custom because early Germanic tribes practiced pagan rituals involving Yule logs and bonfires.


If we use a fire to keep us warm or if our south Louisiana friends build bonfires on the levee, we need not concern ourselves by thinking we are inappropriately celebrating Christ’s birth.


Whatever a person has in his heart is not for the rest of us to judge. It’s okay to give presents—even though as Fr. Andrew points out—exchanging gifts can be considered a heathen practice. Also it is possible to celebrate Christmas without exchanging gifts.


The point is that we worship Jesus, who came to the earth in the form of a man, although he is and always has been God. Enjoy your Christmas celebrations as you wish and let God’s love shine through you.


Merry Christmas, y’all.                                                



Mary Cooke writing as Mary Lou Cheatham 

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Guest Author, Patti Shene Gonzales


I love this story.





All my life, I have been a procrastinator. Lately, I have passed off the flaw with the statement, “why do today what can be done tomorrow? After all, Jesus might return tonight!” Although this thought brings a chuckle, it does not lead to a productive lifestyle.


More than once, I have found myself in situations where I lack some important food ingredient, household product, or whatever, because I failed to write it down on my shopping list.


I can’t count the number of events I have missed in town or online because I put off entering said event in my calendar at the time I read about it. I am always thinking, “I’ll do it later.”


I believe it was way back in April that I was invited to participate in a multi author Christmas novella series. I was so excited, but in my mind, April was a long way away from a November release date. HA!


The months in between flew by faster than an airliner in blue sky, and before I knew it, the summer was drawing to a close. I had not written one word of the  story. Oh, yes, ideas churned in my mind all the time, but I had nothing concrete to show for it.


I am a member of an excellent critique group who have offered me so much valuable advice about my writing over the past couple of years. By the time I settled down to write Cathy’s Christmas Confession, there was not enough time to send all of my chapters to my critique buddies.


In retrospect, this first novella would have been so much better if I had taken the time to write, get critiques, edit, and hone the finished product. As it turned out, I spent a very rushed eight weeks writing this story.


There were many days and nights when I was literally in a panic, fearful I would not fulfill my commitment to God and my fellow authors. I could not face another defeat in my writing career. I had told too many people about this novella. No way was I going to back out on the project.


God intervened at this point and gave me some solid ideas to help me craft a story worth reading. He brought scenes to mind that I had not even thought of. He spoke to me through my main characters and their shared experience of loss. He enabled me to demonstrate the theme that Christmas is not always joyful for the hurting, but there are ways to recognize the true meaning of Christmas through our pain.


Writing is hard. It takes time, patience, perseverance, skill, encouragement, creativity and guidance. I learned a valuable lesson while writing this novella. Procrastination is not a positive trait for an author.


There are hundreds of Christmas stories available to readers every year. Cathy’s Christmas Confession (A Christmas Ridge Romance Book 3) is not a story for all audiences. However, if this story appeals to you, my prayer is that it will bless you and bring joy to your heart.


Happy Jesus’s birthday!


Blurb for Cathy's Christmas Confession


Christmas is not a time of joy for the hurting.


During a snowstorm, widow Cathy Fischer creams a stop sign on her way to work at the Christmas Ridge Community Church. Acquaintance David Martin stops to help. Cathy sees signs of deep grief in David, a recent widower. She reaches out with support in an attempt to help David through this most difficult first Christmas without his beloved wife.


David Martin struggles with grief over the death of his wife. He blames God for her rapid demise after her cancer diagnosis. Cathy reaches out to him with compassion and support and soon enlists him in her mission to bring joy to others at Christmas. Will their joint quest restore David’s faith?


David needs to turn loose of the past and embrace his future. Cathy has a confession to make to the entire community that may give David a different perspective of who she really is. Will her confession set her free?


Does God have plans in mind for the two of them they did not anticipate?


Buy link:


Available now on Amazon Kindle and Kindle Unlimited


Check out our Amazon Christmas Ridge Romance page ( to learn about other books in the series and receive updates!



Patti Shene Gonzales hosts Step Into the Light, a weekly interview style podcast, where guests share their journey out of darkness or ways they lead others back to light. She hosts writers on her two blogs, Patti’s Porch and The Over 50 Writer. Patti is published in two anthologies and local publications and has three novels in progress. She enjoys writing, reading, critiquing, and spending time with family and friends. Patti lives in Colorado with her devoted feline companion, Duncan. Cathy’s Christmas Confession is her first novella.


Visit Patti at her website





Friday, December 9, 2022

Guest Author, Sharon K. Connell

This is such a fun story!

Amethyst Lights is a romantic suspense fantasy about faeries who live their lives in the world of Crystandavair. This story has a little mystery to it as well. When a glowing hamlet appears in front of our hero, Lylan, he can’t imagine where it came from. And that begins the mystery of Amythaseah, a hamlet which only appears for seven days every one hundred years. Like Lylan, you be asking yourself why. What happened to cause a town to disappear and then return for a short time?

Then a beautiful faerylette shows up, seemingly in trouble of some kind, and Lylan is compelled to help her. Is she from the purple glowing hamlet? Why is she running away? And you’ll ask, “What happens to her if she’s not back in the town when it disappears again?”


Then there’s the prince of Amythaseah. And that’s another matter.


Here are the endorsements from the back cover of my novelette.


“In Sharon K. Connell’s, Amethyst Lights, two young fairies discover a village where none had existed before. What’s going on? A young, unknown female crashes into their lives? Who is she? Where did she come from?


“You’ll visit an exciting, exotic world of fairies, missing kings, evil princes, and enduring curses, and encounter a strong dose of romantic suspense, as readers of Connell's previous works have come to expect.”


Gary L. Breezeel, multi-award-winning, short story author


"Imaginative and delightful this story transports the reader into a magical realm you won't soon forget or want to leave. A great read for fantasy lovers everywhere!"


Fantasy author, Fernanda Brady, president/CEO Inklings Publishing & Houston Writers Guild


Book link:

YouTube Book Trailer:


My Links:

WIX Website:

Amazon Author Page:

Facebook Book Page:

Facebook Author’s Page:

Facebook Group Forum:





YouTube URL:

TPS Group Page

KS Group Page

AL Group Page


Sharon is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, Scribes Critique Group, Houston Writers Guild, Christian Women Writers, and CyFair Writers. She is founder of the global Facebook Christian Writers & Readers group forum. Her monthly newsletter, Novel Thoughts, goes out every month to its subscribers in all parts of the world, featuring helpful information for writers and readers. She’s also a contributing writer for Faith on Every Corner, a global online inspirational magazine. 

Friday, December 2, 2022

Grace and Truth, Jesus Calls Us Friends, John 15:9-17

Verses 9-17: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.


Dear Jesus, what a heart-stopping thought that you would call us friends. Help us to bring you joy. Teach us to love each other. Help us to better grasp that you chose to die for us. We love you. 

Friday, November 25, 2022

Travel Mercies


My friend, author eMarie,, shares reasons for thanksgiving to God.



By Erma M. Ullrey


As we buckle into our seats, my hubby Bert prays before even starting the car. After two near collisions in the past two weeks, neither of us will go anywhere without asking the Lord for His divine protection. Here’s why:


We were driving home from our annual family retreat in Sunriver, OR, when our first near collision occurred. We’d spent five wonderful days playing games, sitting in a hot tub, taking long walks, and catching up while stuffing our faces. All of it our idea of a relaxing family time.


On the two-lane road that takes us home to Idaho, we listened to a favorite pastor’s sermon. The beautiful autumn leaves, the crisp air, and two hot coffees to-go always make the six-hour drive enjoyable.


About four hours into it, we began the descent from the steepest point of our drive. There isn’t a guard rail or much shoulder between us and a beautiful valley below.


“Oh, Lord,” we breathed. Coming up the hill from the opposite direction, a sedan decided to pass a semi-truck in front of it. At that moment, it was as though the Lord created a median. Our car passed within inches of that sedan.


Neither of us could ever recall passing so close as to see a driver’s eye color, hair style, or clothing. God performed a miracle that day, and we thank Him that His hand is never short, and always outstretched toward His children!


The next collision occurred one week later. We were on our way to a prayer meeting that began at 8:45 a.m. at our church. In typical fashion, I was running two minutes late. I announced, “We should’ve left the house at 8:30. It’s 8:32.” My long-suffering husband said nothing, dutifully started the car, and we were on our way.


I looked at the dashboard clock. 8:45. We had another two streets and two more 4-way stops before we’d arrive at church. “Lord, I promise to get up five minutes earlier next Sunday.” That was my prayer when I heard Bert say, “Oh, God.” Mind you, he never says, “Oh, God.” Gosh or goodness, yes. But he sincerely meant, Oh, God!


An SUV in front us had turned left at the intersection. A car from the opposite direction broadsided the SUV at full speed. That driver hadn’t seen his stop sign. The SUV hit one of the stop signs, preventing it from going into a ditch, and rolled over onto the other driver’s car.


By God’s grace, both drivers walked away from the accident! Bert helped the woman in the SUV, who had minor cuts and scrapes. The other driver’s airbag had deployed, and other than shock and sincere sorrow, he was fine. I called 9-1-1, and then directed traffic through the 4-way stop.


Yes, that SUV could’ve been us. But the moral of the story isn’t – Don’t be late for prayer meeting/church! It is, however, to pray and praise the Lord. Whether we feel or see it, He is always working for our good and for His glory. 

Friday, November 18, 2022

Books for Christmas Gifts?

If I Were You by Lynn Austin. The most detailed book of World War II I’ve ever read about people in England surviving the German bombings, both in London and in the country and villages. Two young women become volunteers to help with the war effort, then join the army and drive ambulances. Through all the hard times and sorrows, they struggle to find their faith in God and accept his and each other’s forgiveness.


Sworn To Protect by DiAnn Mills. This is a novel of suspense, a story which gives a careful look at border patrol and immigration law.


Gold Rush Prodigal by Brock and Bodie Thoene. From Hawaii to whale boating to prospecting for gold in California, this story introduces us to fascinating characters and adventure.


Hope Harbor by Irene Hannon. A heart-twanging story of a number of people who need God’s grace for themselves and to offer to others.


The Gift: a horse, a boy, and a miracle of love by Lauraine Snelling. A lovely Christmas story, including fun descriptions of training a small boy on care for and riding a horse, and hope for three hurting people.


They can't kill us all: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a new era in America's racial justice movement by Wesley Lowery. A journalist’s honest and heart-felt look at loss of life of Black people at the hands of police. Including the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old in Ferguson, Missouri; the death of a twelve-year-old boy with a toy gun in Cleveland; incidents in Charleston and Baltimore. Also looks at the church massacre in Charleston and vigilante killings of Black people. the protests that follow, fights with police, and how young people started new activist groups. Lowery asks the question, “What does the loss of any one life mean to the rest of the nation?” 

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Guest Author, Angela D. Shelton

 Enjoy this interview with Angela D. Shelton. I want to visit her ranch.


Faith & Fellowship Book Festival announced The Angel Book Awards for 2022 on November 4th and we’re pleased to interview Angela D. Shelton, author of the Collapse series. The first of the three books, Collapse, won second place in the middle grades/young adult category. Angela shares the story behind the series.


What made you want to write in the young adult, post-apocalyptic, Christian genre?

My parents raised me in a church that preached a LOT about end times. That left me with a fascination with post-apocalyptic tales, so writing one came naturally to me. Going through the teenage years was a painful experience for this shy gal and being a young adult has gotten more difficult every year. I can’t imagine how much more challenging teenage life is with social media running our lives. I hope my stories provide an escape and an encouragement when needed.


How does your everyday life show up in the novels?

Three years ago, my husband and I bought a ranch and started raising beef cattle. It’s been an adventure from day one. Working with animals provides plenty of fodder for stories. You’ll see a lot of what has happened to me in my stories. One example in my first book is where the heroine’s mother suffers from heat exhaustion. I’ve come so close to this frequently, especially when I’m determined to get a job done outside in the heat and work too long. 


How does your faith show up in your novels?

My goal has been to write stories with a lot of tension, but with a positive message in the end. Tension, or stress as it’s often called, is part of life. I want my narratives to reflect the realities that none of us are perfect, but that isn’t the end of the tale. The challenge is to share a positive message with lessons learned—without preaching. I think I’ve managed that in this series. That way, they make splendid gifts for young people, without the risk of coming off preachy yourself.


The three-book series is available on Amazon now.

After a global catastrophe wipes out millions and devastates global resources, three teens must navigate a new life.

In book one, Collapse, Jan learns the hard lesson deception serves up. She trusts the wrong person and brings even more hardship to her family. Can she rally behind the right people before the battle for their ranch begins?

In book two, The Death of Honor, Caleb’s haunted past comes back with a vengeance. He hides the truth from those he loves, making him the perfect target for blackmail. Will he confess before his family pays the price?

Book three, The Death of Independence, follows Olivia after her father abandons her. Stuck with incompetent relatives, she struggles to eke out a life for herself and them. When a man makes her an offer she can’t turn down, will he pull her into a life she never wanted?

The Collapse series is a young adult, post apocalyptical alternate reality by Angela D. Shelton. Explore these tales of survival in a shattered world. 

Friday, November 4, 2022

Psalm 11, God Keeps Us in His Sight

Psalm 11

For the director of music. Of David.

In the Lord I take refuge.

    How then can you say to me:

    “Flee like a bird to your mountain.

For look, the wicked bend their bows;

    they set their arrows against the strings

to shoot from the shadows

    at the upright in heart.

When the foundations are being destroyed,

    what can the righteous do?”

The Lord is in his holy temple;

    the Lord is on his heavenly throne.

He observes everyone on earth;

    his eyes examine them.

The Lord examines the righteous,

    but the wicked, those who love violence,

    he hates with a passion.

On the wicked he will rain

    fiery coals and burning sulfur;

    a scorching wind will be their lot.

For the Lord is righteous,

    he loves justice;

    the upright will see his face.


Lord, David shared about times when he was not upright. But he begged for your forgiveness, and he excepted it. I want to be loved by you like David.


Father, we know you are just. You have told us what to do when the foundations of our world are being destroyed. Remember that you are on your throne, in charge, and you keep us, every one of us, in your sight. 

Friday, October 28, 2022

The Cattle Truck Miracle

My friend Author Sharon Connell ( shared a travel miracle story.


Kathy, I have a travel story that involves my move from Des Plaines, IL to Pensacola, FL when I went to Bible school there.

My son and his wife traveled from Pensacola to Des Plaines to help me move. We loaded the cars with my daughter's bicycle mounted on top of Ron's vehicle (fortunately, he was an avid bicyclist at the time and had a rack). 


We took off in the wee hours of the morning, a fourteen to fifteen hour journey to Pensacola. I followed Ron's vehicle from the start. If I wanted to stop somewhere, I'd flash my lights and he'd pull off the road to see what I wanted. All went well as we traveled from Illinois, through Indiana, to Tennessee, until dusk. 


We'd been following a cattle trailer pulled by one of those heavy-duty pickup trucks for many miles. If I remember right, there were about six to eight head of cattle in the trailer. It was as if we were playing leapfrog. He'd pull around us, and a little while later, we'd pull around him. We stopped at the same place for lunch and dinner that the cattle hauling pickup did each time.


After our last stop, my vehicle started to act up. We were in the middle of the Smoky Mountains, up and down the rolling hills, when my engine began to lose power. I also lost the lights. Ron apparently was in a conversation with his wife and hadn't noticed our car falling behind, nor did he hear the weak horn when I blew it. I told my daughter, Heatherlyn, then ten years old, to start praying because we were never going to make it up the next hill.


I'd been watching the reflectors on my daughter's bike spin as Ron traveled ahead of us. Now the reflectors were barely seen as my headlights dimmed to almost nothing. There were no other cars around, and the truck with the cattle trailer had passed us and moved on a little while ago. I prayed that my son would notice we weren't behind him anymore, but I had no idea how he'd find us unless he got off the road, entered the other direction, and then retraced the journey. I also had no idea how long it would be, and it was getting dark.


As my car started up the last hill, I pulled off onto the shoulder, and the engine died. My daughter and I prayed and asked God for His help. I was at the point of tears, but didn't want to cry and scare Heatherlyn. When I lifted my head, I saw Ron's car, driving backward on the shoulder, coming over the rolling hilltop in front of us, bike pedal reflectors spinning like mad. Praise God!


After I told Ron what happened, he tried the starter on my car, and it started right up. Huh? Lights came on, and everything seemed normal. He got out of the car and said he had no idea what was wrong. I said, I didn't either. He suggested we get off the highway at the next exit so he could find some light and check the engine. We did that, but he still couldn't find anything wrong, and the car didn't slow down again or lose the lights.


We decided to proceed with our journey to Pensacola and trust God to get us there. Ron said he'd follow us for the rest of the journey, and we took off. 


About half an hour later, what little traffic had accumulated on the road since we reentered had stopped. When we neared, we saw the highway patrol blocking everything in both directions, and some of the officers trying to round up cows in the median strip. The truck and trailer we'd been playing leapfrog with earlier was also in the median strip, the trailer on its side. Apparently, the driver had swerved to miss something running across the road, and the trailer toppled over onto the median strip in the process. No one was hurt in the accident, and all the cows were uninjured. Another praise God.


Not only had God kept us from being involved, and possibly injured, in this accident by giving my car a hiccup, but He protected the driver and the animals. 


I'll never forget that night. I used this incident in one of the scenes in my very first published novel. Another blessing. And a miracle. 

Friday, October 21, 2022

Grace and Truth, To Be United with Christ, John 15:1-8

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.


Of course, a branch lying on the ground, not connected to the vine, will bear no fruit. Yet, Jesus says that if we sign on to be in his vineyard, we can bear much fruit and give glory to God.


Some of these words may sound harsh, but Jesus’ deep desire is that we stay with him.


Lord, prune me so that I will be more effective for you. Thank you that you allow me to ask you whatever I want. 

Friday, October 14, 2022

Walking in New York City

After my family trip story last week, my friend Nina shared her and her husband’s recent trip with me.


Dave and I went to New York City for a few days. It had its glitches-


Dave was impatiently waiting in the taxi queue at JFK airport and I was on my phone when he suddenly said, “Quick, I got us an Uber!” And before I could say anything or ask questions, a man was loading my suitcase into the back of an SUV.  It was.... a fake Uber and it was quite the harrowing trip to our hotel.


Traffic was at a standstill so our driver pulled onto the shoulder and raced past everyone on his illegal lane.  Yikes.  I texted Dave- "We are in a FAKE UBER." Texted him NOT to pay by credit card, and that one should always, always use the Uber app.  Now we were in a stranger's car, illegally speeding towards Manhattan. It cost more than a cab, too. But, we survived.


We took a train from Grand Central Station one morning, up to Connecticut just so I could add one more state to my list.  Greenwich, CT is a pretty, tidy town but very, very wealthy.


How wealthy? Oh, we had a laugh later after we stopped into a second hand clothing store.  I wouldn't dare call it a thrift store because I picked up a used designer purse and looked at the little paper sales tag. $1559.  For a little pink purse. Gulp.  The gently used blouses started at $270.... and we said Good Day and walked quickly out of there!


We did get sandwiches for lunch and thankfully, those were not designer sandwiches, but it was a good fresh mozzarella and ripe tomato sandwich on crusty French bread.  Then we walked back to the train. I like that public transportation is so easy there- a train every 20 minutes back to the city.


I like to collect scents and smells and I'm glad my sense of smell is back. The smell of rain, of hot dogs and pretzels and the smell of horses and grass in Central Park. And often, the smell of weed.  It's legal and everywhere, more so than the occasional whiff of cigarette smoke on city streets.  I don't think we could go a block without the smell of pot coming from some corner or next to a shop or alleyway.


We got a lot of walking done, went to a few museums, and went to a musical- Six, about the six wives of Henry the eighth, told by six women in modern, diva pop style. Dave chose it and it was lively and fun and we were able to walk back to our hotel afterwards.


We were walking in the rain, single file, on the crowded sidewalk on the rainiest of Wednesdays when I had something odd happen. A man, coming in the opposite direction, grew frustrated by the slower people in front of him. He crossed to our side of the sidewalk and struck my umbrella as hard as he could, causing me to stumble.  Dave and I were stunned. Why would he do that? I wasn't in the way, wasn't stopped on the sidewalk. We chalked it up to him having personal problems and went on.  Then, on Friday, we were eating take out Cuban sandwiches at a little table on a sidewalk quite close to a city intersection. An older lady was getting ready to step out and across at the signal when a man came flying along on his bicycle in the wrong direction in the bike lane. The lady called out, "Hey, you almost hit me! You are going the wrong way!" And at hearing that, the man dismounted his bike, flung it down into the bike lane and stormed over to the woman. Swore and screamed at her. Spat on her. And then gave her a tremendous shove and stomped back to his bike. Bystanders and the woman and her husband were all stunned.


He rode off. The woman stared at him for a minute and continued on her way. Wow, I said to Dave, things could have been a lot worse for me.  Out of all the pleasant memories, the show, the walking to Grand Central Station, Central Park and the many thousands of perfectly decent people we passed and sometimes talked with, those two guys stick in my mind.  They are now part of the story of the trip, as much as the pilot in uniform who sat between us on the flight to New York, telling us wistfully that he was retiring at the end of the month, having reached the mandatory age limit for pilots.  I asked him what his favorite place to fly into was. “Aruba,” he said with a smile. 

Friday, October 7, 2022

First Family Trip since 2020

The last time we went on a family trip was in early March, 2020, right as things were closing down because of covid.


My mother recently moved into a senior living center, so we decided to go see her a couple weeks ago, and Caleb and Sarah said they wanted to go too.


We got a minivan, so we could be more comfortable. Sarah and Caleb, with his guide dog Hammy, sat in the back, Ping-Hwei in one of the middle seats, and Murray and I in the front.


Hammy is a very good dog, but he did sneak forward a few times, to just sit and watch Murray drive. Sometimes he moved forward with his head and shoulders between Murray and me, until Murray said, “The dog just licked my arm.”


After we’d traveled for a few hours and stopped, Sarah told me indignantly, “Caleb fed Hammy back there, and he slobbered all over me.”


As we got to Mom’s place Ping-Hwei said happily, “There’s the big dummy.” He and my brother Rodney have affectionately called each other that ever since they first met. I think it comes from the old TV show “Sanford and Son.” I was so glad the big dummy came to visit Mom while we were there.


It was often a crazy trip, trouble with the tail lights on the car, so that every time we started up again, Murray had to get out and make sure they were on. Trouble with the heat being on in the very back, even when Murray had the air conditioner on. Crazy hilly curvy country roads, busy city streets, trouble ordering food, no signs to be found on Mom’s building or our hotel.


We got up at two o’clock Saturday morning to leave early, so by the time we went to bed that night, we’d been up for twenty hours, and some of us were getting pretty grouchy. Yes! Me. I’ve got my hand up! But I was better the second night, and we had great hotel rooms with lovely breakfast provided, another thing we’d missed since we hadn’t been on a trip.


When we checked out Monday morning, the manager talked with us, just being polite, and Murray told him that Caleb used to work for another hotel chain. Caleb and the manager spent some time discussing how things had been different for both hotels for a while when covid was severe.


On our second day with Mom, we played two games of Scrabble. Sarah said she’d just watch, and Ping-Hwei did, too, but Caleb, Murray, Mom and I played. Murray kept getting a lot of points for each turn and Sarah said “What!” then, “You’re cheating,” and Ping-Hwei said, “Cheating.”


Another time, Sarah seemed to be trying to help Murray, and she said, “I don’t know why, but this time I’m rooting for Dad.”


Once Mom had to leave and go back to her room for a minute, so she told Sarah to play for her, and Sarah and Murray managed to get a triple word score for Mom. Murray won both games, but Mom was in second place at least once.


On Sunday night we visited Murray’s brother Myles’s and his family Heather and Melissa, and Murray’s brother Aaron came too. We had a lovely visit. Pizza dinner. And, happily, Melissa made a pumpkin cake with cream cheese icing from scratch. We were kind of full, but I said, “Oh, we’re definitely staying for dessert.”


Melissa has two six month old puppies, half poodle and half schnauzer. “Schnoodles,” Myles said. They were very excited, and wanted to play with Hammy. Even when Caleb let Hammy loose, he didn’t spend much time with the puppies, but when one of the puppies put his feet on my leg, Hammy quickly stood up and shoved his head on my lap, reminding me who was the dog I was supposed to be paying attention to.


I brought one of my braille Bible volumes to read along the drive, to help keep Murray up to date with his reading through the Bible in a year. Once when we stopped Caleb asked, “Was that Isaiah you were reading earlier? I thought it sounded like Isaiah.”


It was Isaiah.


It was so good to see Mom and Rodney. And even though we had some craziness on the trip, I love the people I got to share it with. 

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Guest Author, Kathy Cretsinger

 Kathy Cretsinger is a good friend and a wonderful story-maker. I am loving this series.


Thank you, Kathy, for inviting me to be on your blog. I love this book, but I say this about each book I write.

Several years ago, I began writing a series set in Shady Valley, Tennessee. This is my husband’s home community. It is not a town with only around 800 residents, five churches, one caution-light, one general store, one Dollar General Store, and one restaurant. There’s not much there, but the people are wonderful.

I decided to bring people into the valley instead of writing about the people in the valley. The series title is Nothing Shady Ever Happens in Shady Valley. The first book is Bogged Down by Murder. It’s available on Amazon. You can also purchase it from my website,

Bobbed Down by Murder introduces us to some of the crazy characters we’ll see in the remaining series. With that book finished, I decided to bring gold doubloons into the land-locked valley. The title of the book is Death by Doubloons, and the main characters are Liberty Garcia, Matt Sluder, and the cast from the first book. The book releases October 5, 2022, and you can also order it from my website, When you click on the book cover, you will go directly to Amazon. Both the print book and the eBook are on pre order now.

The next book will release in 2023 and the name of it is Dead Ringer. I’m working hard to finish it asap. My plans are to complete the manuscript by the first of the year because there is another one after it, Murder and Goat Yoga. Kathy will know the release date of these later.

My husband and I have been married for almost 60 years. We live in Kentucky, but we were both born and raised in the hills of Tennessee. We’ve lived in Kentucky for several years. We have two grown children, four grandchildren, and maybe we’ll have great-grandchildren soon. Who knows?

For several years, I owned a publishing company. I loved working with writers, but macular degeneration kept me from seeing well enough to do all the computer work. I still enjoy working with promising authors.

Several months ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It is not an aggressive cancer, and it was found early. Ladies, please do a yearly mammogram. That’s how mine was found. I am looking forward to my last radiation treatment. I have a good prognosis. I am so thankful for that.

Enough about me. I love talking to people about my writing. My email is You can also reach me through my website. I do a monthly blog, “Eighty and Loving It.” Life is too short to be sad about your age. Admit it and enjoy it.

Thank you for reading my wanderings. I do that a lot. I hope you will purchase the book and give a nice review on Amazon. Reviews mean a lot to a writer.

Thanks, Kathy for letting me bend the ears of your readers.

Death by Doubloons

Cuban-American Liberty Garcia is a recipe creator for Smart Living Enterprise. Someone wants the gold doubloons she received from her father, a treasure hunter, after his murder.

Liberty escapes to Shady Valley, Tennessee, and meets Matt Sluder, a server at the town’s one and only eatery, the Raceway Restaurant. When the person pursuing her comes too close, Matt is hired to protect Liberty.

How many times can a murderer try to kill Liberty? How badly do they want the gold? Liberty is determined to keep her father’s doubloons. But will she?

After all, nothing shady ever happens in Shady Valley.

Friday, September 23, 2022

Psalm 10, God Cares

The writer of this Psalm knows God hears when his people call out to him, yet he is willing to cry out with doubts in time of trouble.


He talks with the Lord, telling him of the terrible things the wicked are doing to the weak and how the wicked care nothing for God. And, in the end, he knows the Lord will help those who cry out to him.


1: Why, Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?

2: In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak, who are caught in the schemes he devises.

3: He boasts about the cravings of his heart; he blesses the greedy and reviles the Lord.

4: In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.

5: His ways are always prosperous; your laws are rejected by him; he sneers at all his enemies.

6: He says to himself, “Nothing will ever shake me.” He swears, “No one will ever do me harm.”

7: His mouth is full of lies and threats; trouble and evil are under his tongue.

8: He lies in wait near the villages; from ambush he murders the innocent. His eyes watch in secret for his victims;

9: like a lion in cover he lies in wait. He lies in wait to catch the helpless; he catches the helpless and drags them off in his net.

10: His victims are crushed, they collapse; they fall under his strength.

11: He says to himself, “God will never notice; he covers his face and never sees.”

12: Arise, Lord! Lift up your hand, O God. Do not forget the helpless.

13: Why does the wicked man revile God? Why does he say to himself, “He won’t call me to account”?

14: But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to you; you are the helper of the fatherless.

15: Break the arm of the wicked man; call the evildoer to account for his wickedness that would not otherwise be found out.

16: The Lord is King for ever and ever; the nations will perish from his land.

17: You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,

18: defending the fatherless and the oppressed, so that mere earthly mortals will never again strike terror.


Lord, help me to daily commit myself to you. Thank you that you care about what I care about, that you encourage me, that you are my Father. 

Friday, September 16, 2022

Sweet Memories, Made My Lips Twitch

January 19, 1999: Murray told the kids this morning that he has an interview this week, and Rebecca seemed concerned. She said, "Good." Then she said, "Maybe they'd like you better if you didn't tease so much." Then she thought some more and said, "What are you going to wear? I don't like when people wear a tie with a shirt that doesn't button."


January 22, 1999: I was writing on the braille writer the other day, and from upstairs I heard Caleb say excitedly, "Hey, Mom's writing on the braille writer almost as fast as Mrs. H.!" (She is his special teacher for visually impaired kids at school.)


The other night Rhoda got outside. Ping-Hwei told Murray, "Baba, Rhoda is in out."


February 2, 1999: This morning Sarah told Murray, "Every day I try -- I don't always remember -- but I try to have a long talk with Jesus."


Later Sarah was talking about giving prizes to kids in her class, talking in many fast sentences. Murray told her he hoped he got a prize, and in the middle of her explanation she stopped to say, "I'm your prize," then continued.


February 6, 1999: Rebecca was looking at her new spelling list last night, which were mostly with prefixes. "They're all perplexes," she told me.


February 9, 1999: Last week, Angel (the youngest cat) was licking Ping-Hwei, and he said, "That is tickle!"


February 11, 1999: A week or so ago the kids were talking about when Murray had an accident once in Alabama. Caleb told Rebecca that Daddy had accidently pulled out in front of another lady and she'd run into him. Rebecca asked, "Didn't the lady mind?" Caleb said thoughtfully, "Well, I don't think she liked it."


The other night Sarah told me and Caleb that there were some kids in her class at school who knew she had blind people in her family, and she said that they didn't think blind people could do anything. Indignantly Caleb asked, "Well, Sarah, did you tell them?"


Yesterday Sarah was taking a shower in the morning, and suddenly she called for Murray to come up to her. What did she need? "Daddy I hope you're not mad, but we had a wrapped sucker at school yesterday." (We have a rule that if the kids get wrapped candy at school, they're supposed to bring it home and we will dispense it or eat it ourselves, as we see fit.) Sarah went on: "I forgot the rule, and I ate it." "What color was it?" Murray asked. "Red," she answered. "Oooooh, I hope you enjoyed it!" Murray said, closed the door and left.


February 17, 1999: The other night Sarah was waiting in the hall for Murray to carry her to bed. Ping-Hwei went upstairs and said to her, "Sarah, tell me good-night."


The other day Rebecca was getting ready to take a shower. She asked me to get her a new towel. "Get me a big furry one," she said. 

Friday, September 9, 2022

Grace and Truth, Jesus Comforts His Disciples, John 14:15-31

Though Jesus knew his time of suffering was coming, he wanted to leave his disciples with hope. Jesus comforted them about when he would no longer be with them physically. The Holy Spirit would be with them and instruct them. In that way, Jesus would still be with those who loved and obeyed him.


Verses 15-18: “If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”


Jesus extended this promise to us today as well as to his disciples.


Verses 21-27: “Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”


Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.


 “All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”


Father God, I am sure Jesus was afraid then, and he knew his disciples would be going through terrible things. But he offered them peace anyway. Help me to find your peace in my days. 

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Guest Author, Ken Tatum


I found this book insightful and interesting.

Devotions With a Friend

Devotions With a Friend contains 21 devotionals on topics ranging from basic Christian doctrines of grace and love to spiritual growth to seeing God through our tools to how we see those people around us.  Each one is connected to specific verses of scripture.  But, since God inspired ALL the Bible, connections are often made to other verses which provide additional insights.  A prayer emphasis concludes each devotional to guide the reader into personal conversation with God.

Many of the thoughts related in these articles came from specific events I have lived through, or from snippets of sermons, lectures, or readings which God has led me through.  They came to me as I was going about daily life, trying to be a good witness to others of God’s work in my life.  Not necessarily because I was doing that so well and deserved special insights from my Lord, but rather because He loves me and wants me to learn from Him and grow in Him.  I know God has spoken to me, not in audible words, but through hundreds, if not thousands, of little experiences.

Earthly family conversations can be brief snippets as we grab a coffee and Danish dashing out the door.  They can be long discussions over the state of the nation and world that extend through the evening.  But often they are discussions of varied topics while eating dinner.  In healthy, vibrant families, those are the conversations that draw people together.  We find out how another person’s day went, hear what their desires are, and share things we have learned from the day’s events.  For me personally, those are the most meaningful times of inter-relating simply because our relationships grow stronger through them.

This book of devotions is intended to be like those casual “meal-time” conversations among friends and family. My suggestion is to read these brief notes sitting at the breakfast table with a favorite coffee or tea beverage in-hand or in the evening in the easy chair while resting from another busy day. Think of them as having a conversation with a close friend or family member who is going through similar experiences.  I hope readers feel like they are talking with a friend.

However, the greater goal is to have the readers talk with their Lord, their Father who loves them deeply and has adopted them into His family.  The writings included herein reveal times in which God has spoken to me, a lowly sinner redeemed by His grace.  I pray that others will allow their Master (and Friend) to speak to them also through these writings, just as He has to me.

Christians need to realize that God will, and wants to, speak to them.  Again, maybe not through audible words, but more likely through any of the millions of activities that they are involved in daily.  We all need to be listening for our Father’s voice.  God IS trying to speak to us!

I did not write this book to give all the answers that other Christians need.  I am sometimes criticized because I ask a lot of questions in my writings and do not provide enough direct statements of what I want understood.  But I do that on purpose; the real answers to our life’s events must come from God, not me.  And to hear those answers we must spend time with Him.  I want these articles to lead people to spend more time with Him.

I chose the book title to emphasize that all Christians are to be family and friends, and we should be able to share with one another in our Christian walk.  But, long after I chose the title, I realized I had created a double entendre.  When we study His Word we are also talking with another Friend: our heavenly Father and Lord!


Purchase Link:

Friday, August 26, 2022

Psalm 9, the Lord Reigns Forever

During David’s life, he knew much sorrow. Some from his own sin, and some which he did not deserve.


He did not always see God justly punishing his enemies in a hurry. Yet, he knew to praise God and tell of God’s wonder, even as he suffered.


For the director of music. To the tune of “The Death of the Son.” A psalm of David.

1: I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart;

    I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.

2: I will be glad and rejoice in you;

    I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High.

3: My enemies turn back;

    they stumble and perish before you.

4: For you have upheld my right and my cause,

    sitting enthroned as the righteous judge.

5: You have rebuked the nations and destroyed the wicked;

    you have blotted out their name for ever and ever.

6: Endless ruin has overtaken my enemies,

    you have uprooted their cities;

    even the memory of them has perished.

7: The Lord reigns forever;

    he has established his throne for judgment.

8: He rules the world in righteousness

    and judges the peoples with equity.

9: The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed,

    a stronghold in times of trouble.

10: Those who know your name trust in you,

    for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.

11: Sing the praises of the Lord, enthroned in Zion;

    proclaim among the nations what he has done.

12: For he who avenges blood remembers;

    he does not ignore the cries of the afflicted.

13: Lord, see how my enemies persecute me!

    Have mercy and lift me up from the gates of death,

14: that I may declare your praises

    in the gates of Daughter Zion,

    and there rejoice in your salvation.

15: The nations have fallen into the pit they have dug;

    their feet are caught in the net they have hidden.

16: The Lord is known by his acts of justice;

    the wicked are ensnared by the work of their hands.

17: The wicked go down to the realm of the dead,

    all the nations that forget God.

18: But God will never forget the needy;

    the hope of the afflicted will never perish.

19: Arise, Lord, do not let mortals triumph;

    let the nations be judged in your presence.

20: Strike them with terror, Lord;

    let the nations know they are only mortal.


Father God, we see so much sorrow and trouble around us. Sometimes in our own lives. Prod us always to seek you. Hold us close, Lord, and remind us of your constant care for us.