Friday, June 26, 2015

WE HAVE A WINNER!

The winner of Catherine Brakefield's Wilted Dandelions is Melissa McClone! Congratulations! Thank you for your reTweets over the past week. Please contact me through my website by commenting or Twitter with your email address, so I can get your contact information to Cathy

Thanks to all who participated in the drawing. I hope you will visit my blog again. Happy reading and have a blessed weekend!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Catherine Brakefield: Writing with a Passion for America's Christian History

Catherine Brakefield is a published author of two non-fictional history books, and two inspirational historical romances, The Wind of Destiny and Wilted Dandelions. She has free-lanced for numerous newspapers and magazine publications. She has had many short stories published. A few are:  CrossRiver’s The Benefit Package and God’s Promises scheduled for fall 2015 publication. Revell’s The Dog Next Door, and The Horse of my Heart scheduled for early October, 2015.

Catherine lives in Michigan with her husband, Edward, of forty years and her Arabian horses. Her children are grown and married. She and Edward are blessed with three grandchildren.

Cathy, it’s great to have you at my blog today! I am so glad to have gotten to know you through the Great Lakes Chapter of ACFW. I truly appreciate your perseverance. Could you share with us some of the surprises you’ve encountered along the road to publishing? 

First of all, I would like to thank you for inviting me. I feel so very blessed and honored to be here and I pray there is something for everyone in my answers. Not everything I say or write in this blog will be of value to you, but dig out the editable and just throw away the bones and keep the meat, so to speak.

Now back to your question. I think the most surprising part of publishing road is how long it takes to get to the end!  I never knew that so much went into the publishing process.  It took a year from signing the contract and then the process of book covers, endorsements, edits and more edits before the proof is complete. Yet, I must admit, looking back, it seems a blur. I really still cannot believe Wilted Dandelions is out!

Please tell us something about your latest novel, Wilted Dandelions.

Wilted Dandelions begins in April, 1837, during the high peak of America’s Second Great Awakening, when tent revivals sprang up like mushrooms, and preachers would preach sometimes for three days nonstop.

Spinster Rachael Rothburn is stirred by what she feels and believes God wants her to become a missionary in the west. She is determined to share the love she felt when she accepted Jesus as her Savior and after hearing Reverend McCray talk about the Native Americans of the Rocky Mountain region, she sends her letter to the missionary alliance asking to be one of the missionaries going west.

Then she learns that the missionary alliance will only allow married couples. Well, there are no suitors knocking on her door and Rachael’s dreams look impossible to fulfill! When Jonathan Wheaton, another missionary hopeful learns of the restrictions, he is desperate to find a wife. So he offers Rachael a marriage of convenience.

She is forced to agree to a loveless marriage with a man she only just met. She receives Jonathan’s proposal through her father and so Rachael and Jonathan sets off for Oregon to share Jesus with the Native Americans. They battle sickness, raging rivers, hostile Indians and treacherous mountain passes. After Rachael escapes from a Native American, Rachael discovers she’d grown to trust and love Jonathan. But she wasn’t sure exactly how he felt. She comes to realize the deep, deep depth of   God’s love.  That it wasn’t just a coincidence that Jonathan came along when he did. No, an almighty and loving God doesn’t create coincidences—He designs possibilities.

What drew you to set Wilted Dandelions during the second Great Awakening in our country’s history? 

Because the Second Great Awakening was God inspired, you know it started in a little town called Cane Ridge, Kentucky in 1802. Then in 1803, France decides to sell the United States of America all the land they owned west of the Mississippi River. This treaty was known as the Louisiana Purchase and this purchase doubled the size of the United States. Was it just a coincidence that the Second Great Awakening started in America one year before the Louisiana Purchase? I do not believe so; I believe it was Divine Intervention. God was directing this country established “Under God” to becoming the great evangelistic hub for the entire world.

This Great Awakening brought the missionaries willing to sacrifice their wealth and lives to travel through the unknown in order to save the souls of those Native Americans living in darkness. It was here, at one tent revival with the odors of perspiring bodies and moldy canvas, the Bible thumping preacher caused such echoing cries that Spinster Rachael Rothburn found meaning for her quintessential life kneeling in the dirt floor, asking Christ’s forgiveness. You know Rachael was a regular church participant, yet she had never felt the Holy Spirit in her brick and mortar church like she felt the Holy Spirit in that smelly tent.

What or who inspired you to write inspirational fiction?

Gee, that is a good question. Really, I haven’t thought about it. I always liked to read, and I always wanted to write my own novel. But, honestly, I think the whole writing thing grew when I knelt down before the television set one evening after listening to a Billy Graham telecast.  I, like Rachael, had always gone to church. I was a catechism teacher for a couple of years.

Yet, that night, when I knelt before my television set and repeated Billy Graham’s words, I have to admit, something stirred me.  That confession did something inside of me. I know that because I began looking forward to reading the Bible every day. Everything took on a new meaning for me. I even got re-baptized! I loved it. I loved anything that was Christ related. That’s when the idea to write inspirational fiction took hold. 

How does that keep you plodding ahead with your writing each day?

I try to commit my writing and my words as if writing for Jesus. I always start out telling him, especially when I’ve received another rejection letter or e-mail, “Well, Lord, are you sure you want me to write? I really want to know Your will. If you do, please be my guide and don’t let this rejection upset me for long.

If it is Your will that I do write, I don’t want to play god with my characters, I want you to use me as Your instrument. Make my characters real and tell me how, Lord. Show me what you want my readers to learn through my characters. In thy name I pray, that thy will be done. Amen!   

Thank you, Cathy, for joining us at Novel PASTimes. It has been a privilege to interview you. I look forward to reading Wilted Dandelions. Thank you for sharing this beautiful testimony of
your writing. 

Connect with Catherine Brakefield in the following places:


You can e-mail her at catherineulrichbrakefield@yahoo.com
Find out more about Wilted Dandelions at: Facebook.com/CatherineUlrichBrakefield 


Cathy is giving away a copy of her book, Wilted Dandelions here this week. Leave a comment, join this web site or Tweet one of the tweets below, each for a chance to win. Come back next Friday for the announcement.

Tweet this: Heard of the Second Great Awakening? @CUBrakefield Read about it in Wilted Dandelions #ChristianHistory #BookGiveAway

Tweet this: Catherine Brakefield @CUBrakefield prays to write for Christ’s glory #writer #ChristianHistory

Tweet this: Like Christian romance? Catherine Brakefield @CUBrakefield is giving away, Wilted Dandelions. #SweetRomance #BookGiveaway


Monday, June 15, 2015

DIY FUN ON A BUDGET: One Day Patio Re-do!

Finally! After several sticky, dark days of rain, I am able to sit outside, with a cup of coffee, on the patio, enjoying the flowers and newly planted evergreens. Back in April I began plotting how to spruce up our patio on a shoestring budget. We had a table and chairs set out, but without the warmth of a wood deck or surrounding shrubs, it depressed me to sit outside. All I could focus on was the noise from the road behind us, and how barren the six concrete squares looked.

Before pictures:



We typically make do and furnishing the patio has been an afterthought. In the past we’ve dotted it with pots of flowers. We had a gazebo up at one point, but the wind destroyed the canvas, which is more expensive to replace than the gazebo, so the whole thing came down. We talked about building a brick half wall around the perimeter, but hadn’t agreed on the bricks or design yet. What we’d really like is a screened in porch, but we have other priorities, like finishing the basement.

This was going to be my project and I didn’t want to mess with the pipes in the in ground sprinkling system. This meant I needed a shrub, which would grow and winter over outside in a container. Online and book sources kept pointing back to arborvitae, which is a fast growing shrub and excellent for providing privacy.  Emerald arborvitae, in fact, is an especially hardy species for our Midwestern zone.

During:


After checking other stores over the months, for comparison, I went to Home Depot last Thursday morning. The challenge was to find six nice looking pots large enough for the shrubs and to find them at a reasonable size and price. I kept praying the rain would hold off and by God’s grace, it only sprinkled on and off. I looked for flowers in shades of red and pink, hoping to attract hummingbirds and butterflies. We’ll see. After loading up everything, including four large bags of potting soil, totaling five cubic feet of dirt, I headed to our local Meijer for a small table and a colorful outdoor rug to pull everything together.

I won’t bore you with all the details, but after hours of hauling, shoveling dirt into pots, planting, sweeping, and rearranging I was almost finished. To complete cozying up the area, I managed to somehow drag the little used wooden bench from our front porch around to the back of the house. I added the throw pillows I’d purchased with Kohl’s cash a couple of months ago and added chair cushions to our patio set I’d picked up at Home Depot that morning. Ta da!

After pictures:









Honestly, I was too sore to sit outside that evening, but instead opted to relieve my aching lower back with ice and feet up in the recliner. However, I kept looking out at my “new” outdoor living space. My husband had no idea when he left that morning what I was planning, and kept looking outside in great surprise at what I’d accomplished that day. He, too, was encouraged by the spruced up look of the patio.

For this wimpy mom, working outside all day is a testimony to God’s providing strength, which I prayed for all day through. While our lives as believers aren’t about doing, but about being in Him, I enjoyed being able to accomplish this task with the Lord’s help, being a steward of what He’s given us, and displaying His beautiful creation of trees and flowers. After a few months of having to rest quite a bit, it’s been invigorating to work on such a project and I look forward to more this summer.

Close up on bird pillows. I just love the beautiful print and tropical colors!  
What have you done to spruce up your outdoor living space lately on a budget? Please share your suggestions. 

Tweet this: For this wimpy mom, working outside all day is a testimony to God’s providing strength . . .




Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Anesthesia and God's Grace


Cataract surgery round two wasn’t too bad. In fact. I could see better the next day from that eye than I did after the first surgery. I was more aware of the doctor and author people in the operating room, which was kind of strange. They said the second time would be like that. I couldn’t tell you what they talked about, but I remember hearing voices. This was the result of light sedation with a local anesthetic.
Capt. Holly Hess, 2013, {PD} From Wikimedia Commons.

Sedation with local anesthetic and general anesthesia are two separate things. They both are meant to make you forget what you went through and keep you from feeling pain, but general anesthesia adds a loss of consciousness, so that the muscles are completely relaxed and the surgeon can work inside the body. At the end of my eye surgery I remember trying to talk and being wheeled out of the OR.

Sometimes it seems like it would be nice to have anesthesia from emotional pain in life, but the Lord didn’t make us that way. Memories can be suppressed and we can stuff feelings down, trying not to feel them. And I think there’s the suspension of belief we go through when faced with loss of a loved one or being given some terrible news, which allows us to begin processing our grief in a healthy way. But God never promised to put us under some kind of emotional sedation or general anesthesia, so that we’re protected from every bad thing.

For one thing, if we didn’t feel the bitter, hurtful things in life, we couldn’t comfort others the way the Lord would like us to. Our own troubles should help us to build empathy for others. As God’s word says in 2 Corinthians 1:4 “He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” (NLT)

From Imagebase.net
Second, if we didn’t have these difficult, painful situations, I suspect we would forget how much we need the Lord each day. At least, that’s the case in my life. Physical pain is a daily reminder of our humanness, of our mortality. Likewise, emotional pain touches our hearts, our wills, our spirits. We long for peace and love in our lives, much the way it was in the Garden of Eden before the fall of Adam into sin. These trials work patience in us, as it says in James 1:2-4: “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” (NLT)

The pain and burning in my eyes after my two surgeries were temporary and were there for a good reason. It’s taking awhile for the swelling to go down and my vision to be what it’s fully supposed to be. Every morning I open my eyes, impatiently hoping for improvement and sometimes I can literally see a little better. Three days after the surgery on my left eye, where an intra-ocular lens was placed for distance, I drove on the expressway for the first time without glasses or contact lenses! This was pretty amazing! And each day is a little better with my right eye, which contains the near vision lens. I’m thankful the painful part is over.

From Imagebase.net 
This time has reminded me how precious my eyes are, along with God’s gift of sight, and how much I rely on them. How blue, bright, and beautiful the sky appeared to me this morning while out on my walk! My fears of having my vision changed permanently have been replaced by acceptance and thankfulness. I hope that I will be more sensitive to others who haven’t been as fortunate. Between early onset of glaucoma and cataracts, I am blessed to live in an age where my sight has been saved by modern medical technology, at the hand of God’s grace.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Three Steps to Connect with God

1) Have a relationship with Him through His Son, Jesus Christ. People get hung up on religion, but knowing God is all about relationship. Jesus came to earth as a man and died in my place (and yours) on the cross, because I am a sinner. Being a sinner means I’ve missed the mark. If you’ve broken one of the 10 commandments, you’ve probably broken all of them, even in just your thoughts. Jesus said what a man thinks, he does in his heart. "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man." (Mt. 5:19-20)

Tough to hear, but I’m right there with you. Jesus bridged the gap by becoming the ultimate perfect and holy sacrifice to wash away our sins and rising from the dead, He showed He has ultimate power over life and death. 

Recognize you’re a sinner and ask for God’s forgiveness. Receive His gift of grace, that only Jesus can give—forgiveness and salvation, which He paid for. 

That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:7-10)


2) Read the Bible and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you. The Bible is God’s word given to man. This holy book is God’s side of the conversation and how He communicates with us. Do you need comfort? Read Psalms. Psalms 23 and 103 are good places to start. Do you want to understand the historical and spiritual origins of humankind? How religion/relationship began? Read Genesis. Do you want to better understand who Jesus is and the salvation He brings? Read the Gospel of John. Do you want to learn more about humankind’s destiny? Read Revelation.

Any or all of these books are the proverbial tip of the iceberg. There are 66 books in total, filled with His story, covering the full spectrum of life.

3) Spend time in prayer. Talking to the Lord is our half of the conversation. “Why?” do you ask, if God knows my thoughts, do I need to pray? Parents of young children know what they need and often what they want, but there’s nothing sweeter than hearing these things they wish to confide. The Lord, as well, wants us to come to Him, realizing He is what we need. We are strengthened by our prayers. He inhabits our praises!



Deciding to receiving the Lord into your life, by His grace, is inarguably the most important decision you will ever make—it’s a decision for eternity. He’s always there for you. As in any relationship, we must converse: listen and communicate to maintain our closeness. Will you make a move to connect with God? He’s waiting!

If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him. For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:9-13)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Lily's List of Some Little Used Words

Mom and I have been rereading Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and I’ve found a plethora of words nobody uses anymore. I like the sound of that word, plethora. It nearly sounds like there’s a purr in it! Plethora, purrrrr! 

Onto some less used words, in no particular order, and Lilybits’ examples of usage:

panegyric – a public speech or published text in praise of someone or something.
Example: Very seldom will I write a panegyric for Mom’s punctuality in feeding me.

precipitance – a cause of a particular action or event.
Example: Mother’s slowness of anticipating my needs is precipitance of my crabby moods.

celerity – ARCHAIC or POETIC/LITERARY swiftness of movement.
Example: I often attack and claw the great room couch with celerity. I also escape and hide from my mom with much celerity when she chases me. (This is definitely not to be confused with celery, something you eat, or celebrities, those make-up slathered people on the cover of the latest gossip mag.) Okay, Mom says I’m just being obnoxious at this point. Sorry, sort of.

expostulation – express strong disapproval or disagreement.
Example: I whine in expostulation when Mother doesn’t feed me quickly enough.

asperity – harshness or sharpness of tone, temper, or manner; severity; acrimony.
Example: My whining and begging take on a tone of asperity when I’m waiting for my wet food.


Mom has pointed out that I am using these fascinating old-fashioned words to complain too much about my dissatisfaction during my incarceration in this house. However, what are words if they’re not for expressing our innermost thoughts (complaints) and communicating our feelings (anger)?

The above words were from only the first few chapters of Pride and Prejudice. There are many more you can learn to prepare for more lively conversation at teatime. You’re welcome!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Book Review - The Art of Work by Jeff Goins


Life happens, but along the way we can find purpose out of the connections we make and the experiences we have on the journey. This is the essential message of  The Art of Work by Jeff GoinsSimilar to the concept of the hero’s journey in literature, Goins directs the reader to see the possibility of open doors, accidental apprenticeships, and opportunities that may change the direction of your life.

Goins’ goal is to instill in anyone willing to take the chance, a desire to find their life’s calling. To quote from his back cover copy: “A calling is not some special opportunity reserved for an elite class of people. Meaningful work is available to anyone who dares to find it. The path before you is a perilous one, full of difficulty and challenges, but it leads to a legacy the world will not soon forget.” 


This book seeks to motivate you to find and better understand your passion, something that may not be immediately obvious, but with time and guidance can be discovered. He encourages you to learn and grow from your failures and other life experiences. The Art of Work will challenge you to do more than just go through the motions of a job by helping you identify your calling and gain a fresh view of your life. The journey is as individual as each person and that’s what makes it exciting!

Easy to read and inspiring from start to finish, Lilybits and I give The Art of Work four paws up!