Saturday, December 21, 2013

Making Peace with Christmas

Christmas confuses me.

From all the songs that consume nearly every radio station from Thanksgiving on, I've concluded that it's supposed to be white. (I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas). And romantic. (All I Want for Christmas is You!) It's the most wonderful time of the year! It's the happiest time of year. We want everyone to be home for Christmas. Have a holly-jolly Christmas!

It's not only the songs that tell us what the season is supposed to entail, but even the commercials for products entice us.

"Get into the holiday spirit with Dunkin Donut lattes!"

What is this holiday spirit? And how is a latte going to help me get there? And do I even want to be "in the spirit"?

The mail arrives and there's a flyer for a craft store that's having a Christmas Blowout.

I imagine tree ornaments, elves, bells and reindeer all exploding into bits.

Christmas in America confuses me.

"I'm not sure I like it," I told a friend and she tried to analyze why I had a bah-humbug attitude. To another friend I admitted that Christmas was overly-commercialized and that if I heard another peppy song about bells and sleighs and a snowman named Frosty, I might just scream something "not in the spirit".

If the spirit is overspending or seeking out the perfect gift, or feeling frantic from a busy calendar, or being envious of somebody's Martha Stewart table setting, do I want it? Why would I embrace this?

But I have. And people do.

People not only embrace it, but get flustered over it all. It's too much. There are articles out there written about reducing your stress during the holiday season. Patricia Schaefer advises us: "Don't let holiday stress spoil this joyful time of the year. Before you find yourself knee deep in turkey and dressing, holiday parties, and shopping, shopping, and even more shopping, heed these tips for reducing holiday stress."

We have to be the only species on earth that create a season that promises joy, cheer, and fun and then need to help ourselves calm down and not get overly stressed.

And through it all, we are supposed to be merry.

I'm not sure why we think that Christmas is this magical time when suddenly all should turn well and be happy. I think we have made too much over the holiday and enlarged it so big that there is no way it can ever fulfill our expectations. Christmas originated as a day chosen to recall and remember the birth of Jesus Christ. That's awesome when you stop and think about God coming down to measly ol' earth as a baby to be among us. Yet we have taken what happened on that silent night and made it into everything from Secret Santas to Mommy kissing Santa to expecting world peace. We can't even get along with our own families.

We place all this pressure on ourselves and scurry around and cram all these parties and activities into this one month.

We then complain that we're too busy. When we have brought it all on ourselves.

We get so bogged down that some of us say we want to go back to simplicity. Then we are looked upon as "evil" for not having a tree or decorating or for not wanting to attend every church choir performance or for not traveling to Bermuda or for not buying our 16 year old that Lexus that is advertised on every TV station.

Christmas is a time of great sorrow and regrets for many. It brings out the loneliness and fear. People compare their lives with others. No one seems to match up to how he or she thinks he or she should be. And when you have had a loved one die, the absence of that loved one seems to be magnified in December.

Christmas is a time when we recognize that we need to be less self-absorbed. So we guilt ourselves into giving to charities. We think of people we never give a thought to the rest of the year--those society calls, the "less fortunate". We scramble our pennies together to toss into the Salvation Army's kettle before rushing into Walmart in hopes that we can find just what our children want.

So perhaps it's not that I don't like Christmas, I don't like what we have done to Christmas in America. I know we can't and won't go back to the 1930s and 1940s, the era of our parents and grandparents. And it's not just because our children want those electronic games and toys and would never be content with the red wagon or puzzle of days gone by, it's also because society has pulled us along and we, as adults can't go back.

There has to be a balance between being exhausted and not caring. And being at peace with what you choose and how you choose to spend this birthday remembrance of the Son of God.

If you find it, please let me know how it's done.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Cooking With Author Carole Brown!

Today we have author Carole Brown joining us to share about her new novel and a recipe!

Carole says, "Besides being a member and active participant of many writing groups, I enjoy mentoring beginning writers. I love to weave suspense and tough topics into my books, along with a touch of romance and whimsy, and I am always on the lookout for outstanding titles and catchy ideas. My husband and I reside in SE Ohio but have ministered and counseled nationally and internationally. Together, we enjoy our grandsons, traveling, gardening, good food, the simple life, and did I mention our grandsons?"

Carole's recipe she shares with us today is Caralynne Hayman’s Cherry Mountain Pie

Melt one stick of butter in round pan (I suppose you could use square, but I can’t see how that could improve the flavor!)

Pour thickened, sweetened cherries (you can use canned cherry pie filling, but really? Who doesn’t want the “real” thing? We’re not talking easy!) into the pan

Stir one cup sugar, 1 ½ cup of self-rising flour and ¾ cup milk together. Pour batter onto top of cherries.

Bake till brown 350 degrees F.

Carol says, "Caralynne received this recipe from my mother (LOL!). We children thought it was divine! The only problem (with me) was: I wasn’t crazy about cherries so I always requested, no cherries (the juice was okay) and my patient mother dipped out nice chewy crust with lots of juice onto my plate and topped it with ice cream. Hmmm. Delicious."

About Carole's book, The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman:

How far would YOU go to avenge a daughter’s cruel death? Cara is considered rebellious and inappropriate to befriend. Dayne is the apple of Elder Simmons’ eye—until he takes a stand against their teachings. Can his prayers and love reach Cara and show her the way to redemption? Will Cara realize God’s love and forgiveness before she goes too far?

The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman is a novel of hope shining through the darkness with strong elements of suspense and romance. This novel was a semifinalist in the Genesis contest and is receiving raving reviews! Release date was October 21, 2013 from the Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. The link for the book which is on SALE NOW:


Connect with Carole here:
Personal blog

She is also am part of several other blogs:
Stitches in Time
Barn Door Book Loft

Thanks for stopping by, Carole!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Cooking With Authors Rose and Alice!

What if two authors who both have devotionals got together on a blog and shared two holiday recipes?

Cool idea, isn't it? We thought so!

Today I have fellow devotional author Rose Chandler Johnson to talk about cooking! She has a recipe for pecan pie. I'll be sharing my bread in a can recipe from my fifth novel, Still Life in Shadows.

But first, Rose's new devotional is God, Me and Sweet Iced Tea (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas). I had her as a guest here shortly after her book was released. This devotional meets women in their daily lives and invites them to draw closer to God.

My devotional, Getting Out of Bed in the Morning (Leafwood Publishers), is a companion through grief and loss, and for those who seek comfort from God in the midst of great sorrow.

Both devotionals offer tips on writing as a way of discovering more about yourself and more about God.

So without further ado, here's Rose to tell us about pecan pie.

Rose’s Southern Pecan Pie
Pecan pie was one of the first holiday desserts I learned to bake when I first got married in the 70’s. It quickly became a family favorite as everyone declared mine to be the best Southern pecan pie they’d ever eaten. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter feasts would not be complete without my pecan pie. If you follow my directions, your pie will turn out perfectly and it might become a family favorite.

2/3 cup of light brown sugar lightly packed in the measuring cup
1/3 cup salted butter, melted
1 cup light corn syrup (I use Karo.)
3 large eggs well-beaten
1 to 1 ½ cups pecan halves
One 9-inch pie crust homemade or a frozen deep dish pie shell (thawed with the edges fluted)
1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Mix sugar with melted butter, then beat in eggs (which are already beaten), next add corn syrup and beat some more until well-blended. You can beat by hand or use your electric mixer. The color will be caramel.
3. Stir in the pecan halves until all are nicely coated. Pour into the pastry shell.
4. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Bake the pie for 40 minutes. At this point the center will still be shaky, but the pecans will be brown. Make a tent of aluminum foil over the pie. This will allow the custard to bake completely without burning the pecans. Bake 10 to 15 more minutes until the pie is puffed up under the aluminum foil. The center should not be shaky. Be careful not to let the pecans burn.
5. Allow to cool completely before slicing. Some people do serve it warm, but the custard is liable to be runny if it’s warm.
6. Hats off to the chef! Your Southern Pecan Pie will be delicious.

Ashlyn’s Bread in a Can

I like modern technology and that includes the oven and range, but when it comes to making bread, I don’t mind being old fashioned. Neither does Ashlyn. She’s the sheriff’s daughter in my Southern novel, Still Life in Shadows. Ashlyn makes bread.

Not just any bread, but bread steamed inside a can. Generations ago when there were no stoves and only fires to cook over, bread was made this way. A coffee can was used to pour flour, milk, and other ingredients into and then the can was sealed and steamed in a kettle of water. As the water boiled, the bread inside the coffee can, baked. After two hours, the can was removed from the pan and if greased well, out slid a round bundle of bread. Often known as Boston brown bread due to the color of the flour and the molasses, some cooks also added raisins as an ingredient.

½ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup corn meal
½ cup rye flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup molasses
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup raisins

Stir flours and cornmeal together in a large bowl. Add baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Stir. Pour in buttermilk. Add molasses and mix well. Stir in raisins. Pour mixture into one greased 1-lb. coffee can and attach lid securely. Fill large cooking pot with boiling water so that it covers the can halfway when placed in pot. Put lid on pan. Steam bread for two hours (I keep it on simmer). Remove can from water. Carefully run a knife around the inside of the can to loosen the bread from the sides and then invert the bread onto a cooling rack. Serve hot in rounds with butter.

Read the reviews for God, Me, and Sweet Iced Tea at Amazon.
Read the reviews for Getting Out of Bed in the Morning at Amazon.

Monday, December 16, 2013

How is it Done? Making a Carved Clock!

Many of you are asking. So we wanted to answer. Just how do we make our clocks at Carved By Heart?

Good question.

We decided to bring you into the process by showing you some photos and descriptions from a recent clock we had commissioned by El Rodeo Mexican Restaurant in Durham, NC.

Of course, it all starts with wood. Pine is a popular choice. Whenever we can, we like to get reclaimed wood to repurpose it. We want to do our part for the environment.

The process starts at the computer with serveral hours of design work. This is followed by loading the wood into a CNC machine.

Here is what it looks like when it comes out of the machine.

After this, there are more hours of detailing.

Then comes the painting.

This is where it looks like a two-year-old has been playing with paints around the shop.

Next it is sanded and that's the step where you go from two-year-old's play to this nice look (below).

Finishing is also a step that gives the product that extra shine. And then the clock parts are added to make the clock tell time (very important step). For this clock, a frame and glass were also added.

And then, there it is, the finished product!

Be sure to get a view of all of our finished clocks and other handcrafted items at our Carved By Heart shop on Etsy. No two products are ever exactly alike because each piece of wood we work with is unique due to its color, grain and the way it handles paint. You can be assured that no one will have a plaque or clock just like yours.

We'd love for you to stop by and let us craft something special for you.

Cooking with Author Katy Lee! Leave a comment for a lobster cookie cutter!

Welcome to the Patchwork Quilt blog, Katy Lee!

Thank you, Alice, for having me as your guest during the Christian Book Launch! I’m excited to share a cookie recipe with your readers. I decided to make it cookies because of the holiday season, but also because my heroine in WARNING SIGNS loves to bake cookies. Miriam Hunter is deaf and uses American Sign Language to speak. In the book, she signs the word cookie like this:

For my cookies, I baked Lobster Sour Cream Sugar Cookies. Cut-out cookies are festive, but I chose the lobster to go along with the cover of my book WARNING SIGNS. It has lobster traps strewn on the rocks. One commenter on this blog will get a cookie cutter of a lobster as well, so you can make them, too!

Miriam doesn’t make these lobster cookies in the book. She does make others, but she’s got too much going on and needs to get out of the way of danger.

Here’s a bit more about WARNING SIGNS:
When a drug-smuggling ring rocks a small coastal town, the DEA sends Agent Owen Matthews to shut it down. A single father with a deaf son, Owen senses that the town's number one suspect—the high school's new principal—doesn't fit the profile. Miriam Hunter hoped to shrug off the stigma of her hearing impairment when she returned to Stepping Stones, Maine. But her recurring nightmares dredge up old memories that could prove her innocence—and uncover the truth behind a decades-old murder. Yet Owen's help may not be enough when someone decides to keep Miriam silenced—permanently.

To purchase the WARNING SIGNS Kindle version, you can go to this link.

B.O.G.O. Sale:
If you purchase WARNING SIGNS between 12/1/13 -12/16/13 from any retailer, contact Katy at her website for directions to claim your FREE ecopy of REAL VIRTUE. Visit this site if you would like to see the details on REAL VIRTUE. But remember to contact Katy directly at her website to claim your e-copy!

Bonus Amazon Giveaway: For a chance to win a $200 Amazon gift card, between December 1 and December 16, 2013, enter the John 3:16 Marketing Network Rafflecopter drawing. You get a free entry just for stopping by!

Now for the recipe:
The one I use is found online (and to get full instructions and pictures), visit this website for the Sugar Cookies Recipe. It really is the best sugar cookie. So soft and crumbly. (Don’t cook too long or it will become crunchy.)

More about Katy Lee:
As an Inspirational Romantic Suspense author, Katy Lee writes higher-purpose stories in high-speed worlds. Through her writing, ministries, and teaching, she dedicates her life to sharing tales of love, from the “greatest love story ever told” to those sweet romantic stories of falling in love. Katy and her husband are born New Englanders and love to travel with their three adventuresome homeschooled children. You can connect with Katy anytime at her website. There you will find links to her Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Thanks for stopping by, Katy Lee, and thanks for reading, readers! Be sure to leave a comment so that you have a chance to win a lobster cookie cutter. There is one rule: You must follow this blog in order to be entered in the drawing.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Cooking with Author Martin Roth

Today our guest author is Martin Roth, who is participating in a John 3:16 Book Launch along with other authors. His new book, Brother Half Angel is being featured there.

Here's a bit about Martin:

Martin Roth is a veteran journalist and foreign correspondent whose reports from Asia have appeared in leading publications around the world, including the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun and The Guardian. He is the author of many books.

His Brother Half Angel international thrillers focus on the persecuted church. They feature Brother Half Angel, an abrasive former military man who heads a clandestine new military order that is dedicated to fighting for the rights of persecuted Christians around the world.

The five books in the series are The Coptic Martyr of Cairo, Brother Half Angel, The Maria Kannon, Military Orders and Festival in the Desert.

He is also the author of the Johnny Ravine private eye series, with Prophets and Loss, Hot Rock Dreaming (Australian Christian Book of the Year finalist) and Burning at the Boss, and the Feisty Ferreira series of financial thrillers - Tokyo Bossa Nova and The Kalgoorlie Skimpy.

He lives in Australia with his Korean wife and three sons.

Martin says: You asked about favourite food. I lived in Tokyo for 17 years – first as a journalist, and then as an analyst with an investment bank – and I am still crazy about Japanese food. However, the best dishes are a little fiddly and/or require ingredients that may not be in most Western kitchens. So here is an old favourite, Chicken Teriyaki, that is adapted for Western kitchens, and is extremely quick and easy.

Ingredients for Chicken Teriyaki:

About one pound of chicken breast, skin on or off, cut into bite-sized chunks

2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon sherry
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 mashed garlic clove
1/2 teaspoon minced ginger

Mix sauce ingredients and marinade chicken for 20 minutes. Broil chicken for five minutes and at the same time boil the marinade, reducing it by half. Then continue cooking the chicken until done, while turning it and brushing it with the marinade. Serve with rice and/or salad.

About the book . . .
A military operation gone tragically wrong. An elite commando loses his forearm. The angel tattooed onto his arm is sliced in half. And the man acquires a new nickname.

Brother Half Angel is the leader of a secret new church military order, dedicated to helping Christians under attack around the world.

In this book, the first in the Brother Half Angel series, he is dispatched urgently to China, where an underground seminary is under siege from fanatical sword-wielding members of a local cult who still pay homage to the bloodthirsty extremists who tried to expel all foreigners from China in the nineteenth century.

But at the same time the seminary has its own internal divisions. The director, Uncle Ling, a hero of the underground Chinese church, holds secrets that he cannot reveal.

And now the tensions are threatening the marriage of idealistic young American missionary Daniel Westloke and his wife Jenny.

Relentless suspense is the hallmark of this gripping thriller.

But it is also a book that raises serious questions – how far can Christians go to defend themselves? When should they turn the other cheek? What happens when a Christian kills in self-defense? And should those who live by the sword really expect to die by the sword?

View Brother Half Angel on Amazon

View the John 3:16 Book Launch Site for a chance to win a $200 Amazon gift card

Visit Martin's website

Friday, December 6, 2013

Cooking with Author Michelle Evans

Today we welcome Australian author Michelle Evans to the Patchwork Quilt blog. Her new release, Spiralling Out of Control, is Michelle's debut novel. Well, in a way. Acutally, her first book was written when she was eleven and called "The Googles and The Manelopes". "Hand written and (dismally) self illustrated," says Michelle, "it proudly sits on my bookshelf today."

What was noticed as talent in her tween years was crushed by teachers in her teens. It took Michelle fifteen years to find the courage to dream about becoming a writer again and enroll in a writing course.

Michelle not only writes to nourish her soul but also to inspire, take people on a journey and escape their world. She believes you can find healing or hope when you read about someone else’s story – fiction or truth.

Michelle is married to an awesome man who works crazy unpredictable hours yet still finds time to be her best friend and a hands-on dad. With four growing children, Michelle spends most of her days educating, socialising and supporting them, and her nights writing.

What does she have to say about food and favorite things to eat?

Michelle says, "I love food! I would have to say cheese... Or cheeses are possibly my favourite. If I'm out and about my favourite take away is sushi. And right now, we've just hit summer... And I'm enjoying making salads for dinner. Beet root and carrot, grated/shredded with a little red onion, mayo and dijon mustard.

Here's a bit about Michelle's new book ...

Temptation, depression, seduction, betrayal ... Not what Stephanie was expecting at fifteen years of age. Uprooted from her happy, all-girl high school life with a dream filled future and thrown into an unfriendly co-ed school, Stephanie spirals into depression.

When charismatic high school senior, Jason notices her, Stephanie jumps in feet first and willingly puts all her faith and trust in him, a boy she barely knows.

Every choice she makes and turn she takes leads her towards a dangerous path.

Her best friend is never far away and ready to catch her … but will she push Tabbie too far away when she needs her most?

This novel contains adult themes.

Spiralling Out of Control is available at Amazon

Connect with Michelle!

Michelle's website::

Michelle tweets at: @michelledevans

Facebook Page:

And her blog is:

Thanks for being our guest here today, Michelle!

The Hole in the Heart Club

There are too many of us. We extend all around the globe. Each of us has lost a child. Whether it be from a car accident or cancer, a gun shot or by suicide, these children are gone from us, having taken a part of our hearts. A hole is left. We miss them like crazy.

Some days we think we are going crazy. Crazy from missing them, from wishing, from wondering. Crazy from wanting to hear their laughter, their voices. A little mad from the yearning, from the questioning---why?

We are the Hole in the Heart Club. We didn't ask to become members. We loved our children.

We still love them.

But for whatever reason, that wasn't enough. Our love couldn't save them.

So we remember. Laughter, gestures, funny sayings, food stories, vacation tales.

Sunday is National Children's Memorial Day. On this day every year we light our candles in a worldwide celebration of those young lives who once graced our days with love and laughter. We join as one voice to let the world know that a child gone much too soon is always remembered.


"Who will remember those who no longer sing on earth?
We, who hear their songs from Heaven."

I will be lighting my candle in memory of the love and life of my four-year-old son, Daniel.

I love you, Wild Boy.

* Songs From Heaven * red oak plaques can be ordered from Carved By Heart.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Cooking With Author Jill Richardson!

Author Jill Richardson has a new release, Hobbits, You, and the Spiritual World (published by Lighthouse of the Carolinas Publishing).

Of course everyone wants to learn more about this book (the title alone makes you curious) and so we have some questions for Jill. But before we dive into the book, let's ask Jill about cooking since this blog segment is called Cooking With Jill.

Jill, welcome to this blog. Tell us, if we were to cook with you, what would you want to prepare? What is your favorite meal?

Jill: Cooking with Jill? That title alone puts fear in my heart. Because you see, cooking is not my spiritual gift. Witness the other night when I was distracted by a phone call from my agent and, rather than follow the recipe's instructions for adding evaporated milk to the crock pot mac and cheese, I added a can of sweetened condensed milk. Believe me--that is a taste treat that is NOT getting a write up in Martha Stewart anytime soon! We had to toss it and go use gift cards at the Italian restaurant.

I blame it on a Scandinavian mother whose cooking usually tasted like, well, something out of the frozen tundra. I just don't like it. The big exception is soup--I love to chop vegetables and throw a whole bunch of things into a pot to see what happens. I have no idea why. Maybe it's the catharsis of chopping? Maybe the creativity of putting all manner of things together and figuring out the outcome? I think a lot has to do with memories of cooking with my mom, where cleaning, peeling, and chopping vegetables we grew ourselves next to her has great meaning to me. I didn't cook much with her, but the two things we did together were chop vegetables and bake Christmas cookies. I still love both of those things.

Alice, since you asked for my favorite meal, here it is: a plate and sea scallops and angel hair with a great garlic pesto followed by creme brûlée. Given that it's seafood and creme brûlée, it would best be eaten either somewhere in Nova Scotia or France. If I had the choice.

So, I can share our favorite family pasta sauce recipe, which is not pesto, but it is good! Especially with garlic we grow ourselves, just like with mom.

Spaghetti with Green Sauce

8 oz cream cheese

1/2 cup butter

2 T each basil, parsley, and oil

2/3 cup water

2 cloves garlic, crushed

salt and parmesan cheese to taste

Soften the cheese and butter in microwave, then whip with with a mixer. Heat the water to boiling (I put it in the microwave for a minute and that does fine) and stir in. Add remaining ingredients; mix well. Heat and put over angel hair pasta.

Jill, that sounds great! Now, let's find out more about your book. Why The Hobbit? What sparked your interest in Tolkien?

Jill: Hah. Years ago,my brother tried to get me to read the books. He said they were the greatest things ever. I said, “Yeah, right. Don't think so.” Fast forward to years later when my husband started to read them to our girls when they were elementary school aged. I listened, saw the first movie, then picked the books up myself and devoured them. There is something magic about Tolkien's skill mixed with real, unforgettable, and deep characters, and a story of epic good and evil fought by everyday heroes. Who else would get away with such unlikely heroes? He manages to show both the greatness and depth of evil in humankind in this small world of his.

Tell us why teenagers would want to read this book.

Jill: It might seem that fictional fantasy characters don't have much in common with real teenagers.

But that is so not true. They feel inadequate, afraid, angry, proud, exhausted, hopeful—all the things we all feel. Teens are looking for their adventure in life—how do they fit in this world and what is their task? In Tolkien's world. It's all about tasks and unique callings; it's about normal, average people finding their place and doing great things. How do they do it? How does that matter to God? How do we learn from both of those things?

How could this book help youth leaders disciple kids?

Jill: The book takes twenty character traits everyone can relate to. It pulls that trait out of a Tolkien character and then relates it to the Bible. Can a teen learn about dealing with pride, frustration, or fear from Thorin, Eowyn, or Aragorn? Can she learn to find hope in hopelessness from Arwen? Can he understand how to channel his crazy whims from Pippin? Absolutely—and I have a few national youth leaders, college professors, and authors backing me on that claim!

What's here they won't get in the book or the movie?

Jill: A relationship between the fandom and the Bible. What is the unique Christian perspective Tolkien wrote with that may not have translated into film? Also, teens can see themselves in these characters when they study them individually. They have take home value.

Describe the process of writing each chapter.

Jill: Fun? A lot of fun. But other than that . . . I figured out what really stood out as far as a character trait or lesson for each person. Some were easy—some difficult. Then, where do you see that in the book? It was tough using only one quote! Where do you see that in Scripture? How can a person apply that Scripture to daily life? I tried to be very, very practical and fun while working with serious stuff. I think it worked.

Who is your favorite character in the book? Why?

Sooo hard to answer. I have to say I love Eowyn. I didn't at first; I thought she was too cold and discontent. But her loyalty and fierce need to do something important—I can so relate to that. Plus, she's a princess who isn't afraid to pick up a sword and fight for what matters to her. How cool is that? I love strong female models, since I have three girls.

How do you see teens, parents, and churches using this book?

Jill: Of course, it's a devotional, so I see teens using it for their daily (or sort of daily, I know what it's like) reading and praying time. Parents and grandparents play a huge role in finding resources for their kids and giving them to them. Parents, youth leaders, grandparents, any caring adults in a kid's life (and let's face it, some have so few)--should be seeking out resources to help kids build character. That's really the point. That it entertains as well—bonus! I can easily see youth leaders using it in a group setting, and I actually have lesson plans for that. Best of all—give it to your friends, kids. The ones who love these movies/books but may not necessarily think about God too much.

Here are the links for ordering Hobbits, You, and the Spiritual World.

Amazon Paperback

Amazon Kindle

About Jill:

Jill's love for hobbits and elves comes from her time as a literature teacher and as a lifelong reader of great stories. She also loves an epic challenge and a chance for grace wherever they exist. Jill has a BA in English and Education and an MDiv in theology and is an ordained minister who has served as a worship, preaching, and discipleship pastor. She has published four books previously, as well as articles in national magazines such as FamilyFun, Discipleship Journal, and Today's Christian Woman.

Jill enjoys speaking on a variety of topics and has been very active on the MOPS circuit, as well as in junior high and high school classes. She enjoys speaking for retreats for all ages.

With three daughters, three cats, and (thankfully!) only one husband, she keeps busy otherwise with community theater, gardening, reading, scrapbooking, and traveling. Jill loves oceans, cats, chocolate, teenagers, her family, the Cubs, and God, not necessarily in that order.

You can email Jill at:

Visit her webpage

Friday, November 29, 2013

When a mother wishes her child was here

It's something about life that's just right.

It's that hole in the heart.

That jab to the lungs that makes it hard to breathe.

The knowledge that there will never be a family picture with him in it. Ever again.

It's that longing and wondering . . .

What would he look like?

What would he like to do?

How would his voice sound like?

What would he joke about with his three siblings?

What would it be like?

To hug him . . .
at five,
at ten,
at sixteen,
at twenty-one?

What if . . . . ?

What if he had not died?

What if the infection that crept in had not killed his compromised cancer body?

What would my life be like with him still alive and in it?

I'd never have to cry when I heard the song, "Daniel". Or sing it in his memory one cold February night.

What would it be like to never know what it feels like to light a candle in his memory?

When others hear of other children who have died and say, "I can't imagine," what would it be like to be able to say the same thing?

What would it be like to not know what it feels like to look at a grave and think, "I miss him."

To not have to write about him, but to be able to make a plate of pancakes for him?

To not know what it means to have a "Daniel Moment"?

But this is not the case.

So I join lots of moms and dads and know that I am not alone. We are the Hole in the Heart Club. And we hope no one else ever has to join us again.

Because this loss is so sad, so devastating, so unexplainable, so life-changing . . .

We never wanted to join and we certainly don't need any more members.

"I can't imagine."

We don't want you to have to know what we know.

Because it's just not right.

Monday, November 25, 2013

A shop of memories

My grandfather Hall had a hardware and lumber shop. As a child, when my family made the trek from Osaka, Japan to Richmond Virginia, we visited his store. The memories I have of it include the loud buzz of a table saw, the fresh scent of red oak, and sawdust everywhere.

Fast forward many, many years to North Carolina. Step into our garage. While not a brick and mortar store with a bell that rings when you open the front door, Carved By Heart is in business. Inside the garage, wooden creations are made---signs, plaques, clocks, bird feeders, pet remembrances, and more.

Plaques in memory of loved ones, custom-made signs, memory pieces. And yes, the aroma of red oak and pine permeates throughout the garage as the saw buzzes to cut the wood.

We love providing handcrated wooden items for our customers.

My son Daniel never met my grandfather Hall. My grandfather died when I was a senior in high school. But the inspiration I hold from the life of my son, who died at at the age of four in 1997, coupled with my grandfathers's love of wood, makes for a lovely tribute.

It is those memories that give our shop the desire and inspiration to create and make items that bring solace and smiles to others.

Find our shop online at Etsy and spend some time there. Let us hear from you! If you can think it, we can carve it! We can be serious, funny, silly or sentimental.

Let us carve some memories for you.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Special Deal for a Special Christmas!

Getting Out of Bed in the Morning (Leafwood Publishers) is a companion through grief and makes a lovely gift for someone going through the heartache of loss. Losses come in all shapes----the loss of a loved one, a financial loss, a career loss, loss of health and loss of relationships-----but they all carry a sizable wound to the heart. This devotional is written by a mother inspired by the life and death of her son, Daniel. I am that mother and my heart goes out to all in grief and loss.

These forty devotionals address the painful hardships realistically, as well as the doubt, worry, and fear that come with them. The pages are packed with tips on how readers should take care of themselves and draw near to God so that healing is possible. Each devotional includes reflection, prayer, and suggestions for those who want to integrate walks into their daily routine.

Memories Around the Table is a cookbook of favorite recipes and remembrances of those (both old and young) who are no longer around to share a meal with us. Many contributed to this special book and because of this, this cookbook is a tribute to sons, daughters, mothers, fathers and grandparents. Remembering them in this way brings comfort.

[Pictured: Peanut Butter Cookies from the cookbook]

Purchase a copy of Getting Out of Bed in the Morning, and get a $14.99 Memories Around the Table cookbook for free! Both will be signed by the author, me!

Hurry, this deal only lasts till December 12, 2013!

Here's how:
Send a check for $13.99 plus $4.00 S/H ----a total of $17.99 to the address below:
Alice J. Wisler
201 Monticello Avenue
Durham, NC 27707

Or purchase via PayPal by using the button below:

Read the reviews for Gettng Out of Bed in the Morning at Amazon.