Happy, sunshiny, springy Saturday!

BurchadoptionThe biggest news in my corner is that it appears spring has finally sprung and might even hang around for a while. 🙂 Which is great, because I’m helping with a garage sale tomorrow hosted to help fund the Burch family’s adoption fees. You can read more about them and their adoption here.

If you’re in the Omaha Metro, stop by 5903 Longview in Papillion between 8am-3pm.

As an added bonus, my sweet and hilariously fun friend, editor of Novel Reviews, Kelly Klepfer will be there, too, selling (and giving away!) Arbonne health and beauty supplies! (Donating a healthy portion of the proceeds toward Burch adoption fees.) If you want to help bring these beautiful Columbian girls home and are in need of beauty products but can’t go to the sale, shoot me an email and I’ll get you and her connected.

Saving Grace Study and Daily Reading Guide is Available. For FREE!Scan0010

Cool, huh?

My church created a booklet to help folks understand and grab hold of God’s saving grace. If you’d like a copy (PDF version that easily loads on ereaders like Kindle), shoot me let me know and I’ll get one to you ASAP. 🙂

SweetFreedomCoverRemember Sweet Freedom?

I’m pretty sure I sent most of you a free copy. (If not, shoot me an email and I will.) Well, we received such a great response from this compilation, I decided to create another. The stories (great ones!) are already coming in–more fictional this time, although we’ll still have true life and devos. As an added bonus, we’re inviting YOU to share your freedom stories with us!

Details: Send a story/testimony of a time when you received emotional or spiritual freedom, and we’ll post it on Faith-filled Friends so readers worldwide can be blessed and encouraged. (You can remain anonymous if you’d like.) Then, we’re going to let y’all vote on your favorite, and the top three will receive prizes.

We’ll also be choosing three we’d like to fictionalize (with permission) to go into Sweet Freedom Book Two. Of course, the folks who submitted the testimonies we fictionalize will receive a free print copy of our booklet.

This booklet will also be available for free in PDF form and in ebook form for a time period allowed by Amazon.


My friend Jennifer Hallmark visited Angela Meyer’s blog to chat about A Dozen Apologies.

I haven’t read this one yet, but it sounds awesome! I’ll have to add it to my TBR pile for sure! You can read more about this fun anthology here. You can purchase the book here.

On a personal note, my princess is taking an intensive glass blowing class this weekend. I’m pretty excited. I wonder if I’ll every tire of watching her explore new opportunities. I swear her laugh is one of the most beautiful sounds I’ve heard. Whenever my heart swells as a mom, I’m reminded of Zephaniah 3:17 that says:

“For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs” (NLT). 

I love watching my daughter, whether she’s studying, sleeping, laughing, or doing nothing at all. I have a feeling God feels the same way about us. 🙂

MD-Photo-BlockChristian Romantic suspense writer, Margaret Daley, has a new release as well, titled Deadly Hunt:

All bodyguard Tess Miller wants is a vacation. But when a wounded stranger stumbles into her isolated cabin in the Arizona mountains, Tess becomes his lifeline. When Shane Burkhart opens his eyes, all he can focus on is his guardian angel leaning over him. And in the days to come he will need a guardian angel while being hunted by someone who wants him dead.
Buy it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble 


Congrats to  Mary ConnealyKathleen Y’Barbo Turner,Tracie Peterson, and Cathie Marie Hake for making the ECPA best sellers’ list with their novella collection, Alaska Brides Collection, published by Barbour Publishing! Way to go, ladies!th

About this collection:

Experience five Alaska adventures through the lives of determined women who overcome the many challenges to build their lives in the wilderness. From the gold rush, through a diphtheria epidemic, to the building of the Alcan Highway, readers will enjoy the stubborn fight each woman displays as love comes into her life. Will the women also give up fighting God and let Him lead them through America’s last frontier?

Buy it here.

And if you haven’t read Laughing With Lily by Eileen Rife, now’s a great time!

Laughing with Lily coverOakTara, Eileen’s publisher, has launched an exciting program, “Today’s Great Read/Hot Bargain,” where readers can get fabulous new books in Kindle ebook for a price they won’t want to miss. My book has been chosen for a special promotion, beginning this Sunday 04/27/14.
Day 1 of the promotion: $1.99
Day 2 of the promotion: $2.99
Day 3 of the promotion: $3.99
Day 4 of the promotion returns to the regular ebook price (still a great value for a terrific read!): $4.99
Check facebook.com/OakTara on Day 1, when the book will be at its lowest price and best deal for you, or anytime during the promotion days. Then simply click on the link in FB to find the book on amazon kindle. If you would spread the word to anyone you know, I’d greatly appreciate it!




About two years ago, while listening to a radio program on empty-nesting, it hit me–my husband and I only had five years before our daughter left for college. Five years to ground her in faith, five years to train responsibility, diligence, and all those other necessary traits she’ll need to succeed as an adult.

Five years to sit with her on the couch listening to her retell her day’s events.

And now we have three. It’s frightening and exciting. I dream of who she might become yet cling to the baby-girl she once was. Oy, no wonder we moms struggle with empty nesting! Parenting is a tough, beyond-full-time job. With all we must do on a daily basis from our child’s birth to college launch, it’s easy to lose sight of who we are. How can we find purpose when our primary role–the one that’s occupied the majority of our time for 18 years–changes?

I’m not there yet, so I can’t really speak with authority on this subject, but my friend, Eileen Rife, author of Second Chance, can. Today, she wants to help moms like me embrace each phase of our lives with hope, purpose, and vigor. (And she’s giving away a free copy of her novel! Woo-hoo! Details included at the end of this post.)

Three Ways to Prepare for Empty-nesting by Eileen Rife

Transitions in life require adjustment. Never is that more true than when the last child leaves home. Often parents, especially moms, wonder, Are my best days over? What’s next for me?

These are good questions that can lead to action steps. So, what can you do to prepare for the empty nest?

Foster a healthy, growing relationship with your husband.

This is vital, so that when you enter the empty nest season, you won’t be sitting across the table from your husband, thinking, Who is this guy? Investing in your marriage now will pay off down the road. I encourage couples to pencil in a weekly date night on the calendar, even if it simply means putting the kids to bed early and sitting on the sofa together with a bowl of popcorn.

My new release Second Chance highlights this throughout the story as Mave moves from suspicion about her husband, Jerry, to determination to love him. This tension plays out in often humorous ways, and one of them involves popcorn!

Develop a friendship with two or three trusted women.

Allow these gals to speak into your life as you grow older. In Second Chance, Mave doesn’t always appreciate what her friend, Trish, has to share. In fact, at times she’s downright jealous of the woman. But when all’s said and done, she respects her and values her input.

Know that God has a purpose for you in every season of life.

Begin now to foster your own interests apart from your family. Mine is writing, and the Lord has used this platform in my life to do what He’s put in my heart: Share His love and forgiveness with others. You may have to search for your purpose, but it’s there—some cause or people group that you’re passionate about. Mave discovers her purpose unexpectedly, but she then takes steps to pursue fulfilling that purpose.

Eileen Rife is the author of Second Chance, the poignant story of middle age, surprising friendships, and unexpected places. She and her husband, Chuck, conduct marriage seminars in the States and overseas. http://www.eileenrife.com, www.eileen-rife.blogspot.com, www.guardyourmarriage.com

Eileen’s giving away a copy of her latest release, Second Chance. There are five ways to be entered into the drawing. Leave a comment, join our discussion on Living by Grace, share this post on FB, tweet this link, or subscribe to this blog. Do all five and you’ll be entered five times. 🙂 But remember to let me know if you FB share or tweet this link.

Let’s talk about this!

Join us at Living by Grace as we talk about finding ourselves beneath our many hats.

Second Chances

Mave wants the life back in her marriage. Dareece just wants a life. Could they be the answer to each other’s dream? Mave Robertson, a recent empty nester, wants the fire back in her marriage, but her husband, Jerry, remains aloof. Is he having an affair? A midlife crisis? When a neighbor suggests she “get a life,” Mave accepts the challenge and volunteers at an inner-city teen ministry where she is thrown into a culture of drugs, gangs, and unwed teen moms. She soon discovers someone she can help, but might he also be the cure for both her stale marriage and her crumbling relationship with her father? Dareece Jackson, a teen from the projects, wants something in Mave’s purse…and he’ll stop at nothing to get it. A poignant story of middle age, surprising friendships, and unexpected places. Includes Bonus Feature: The 21-Day Romance Challenge.

“Gently unfolds the truth that sometimes the best is yet to come, from unexpected people, and places, and hearts.”-Sandra Byrd, author of To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn.

“Transcends race and reaches the extremes-from suburbia to the ghetto, from guilt over a loved one’s murder to a marriage gone dull. With a dash of humor for balance, Second Chance will speak to your heart, no matter your station in life.”-April W. Gardner, author of the Creek Country Saga; Sr. Editor of the literary site, Clash of the Titles.

“Transports readers into the worlds of two very diverse characters. With laughter, tears, and sighs, you’ll enjoy every turn of the page.”-Fay Lamb, author of Because of Me, Treble Heart Books.

“Approaches real-life issues with the gritty realism needed in today’s market. Refreshing and thought-provoking.”-Jennifer Slattery of Novel Reviews and Clash of the Titles.

“Lovingly crafted imagery and dialog will carry you into the lives of two families and show you what forgiveness really looks like.”-Lisa Lickel, author of Meander Scar.

More Resources:

Guideposts: Finding Hope in an Empty Nest

Empty Nest: Moms of Faith

It’s almost a new year, and I hope you are one step closer to Christ, one suitcase lighter, with one less wound and one more giggle. Ultimately, I hope after reading my favorite blog posts for 2011, you walked away not merely entertained, but changed. Because honestly, if these posts only “tickle your ears” I’m wasting my time. For myself, I pray each time I write, I write first and foremost to myself, impressing the lessons God is showing me deep into my heart. Because if I am not growing, I am dying.

This has been a year of contrasts for me. I have seen some radical transformation in lives following whole-heartedly after Christ. I have seen extreme comfort brought to those in sorrow. But I have also seen hearts harden, relationships crumble, and darkness enshroud those who have wandered from Christ one slow step at a time. As I close out 2011, I am reminded of Casting Crowns’ song, “It’s a Slow Fade.” How we forget that! In 2012, may we all boast the opposite–not a slow fade into marital or family destruction, sin, or selfishness, but instead, a steady transformation to marital and spiritual intimacy and growth. Each day we have a choice, to draw near to God or drift from Him. There is no middle ground.

I want to thank all the authors who allowed me to repost their grace-filled words. Each one impacted me on a heart and spiritual level. I enjoyed seeing your favorites. (Please note, I did not count comments made by myself or the post’s author.)

And your favorites were:

#3, with 3 tweets, 5 FB shares, and 2 “likes”…. Julie Arduini with How Would You Handle it?

Here’s a snippet of her post: Our daughter is in general good health now but as a baby had chronic multiple issues. Since she’s been 3 months old, weight is one of them. We’ve been to a dietician and work with an endocronologist. We have seven plus years of files, appointments, therapies and oh yes…the comments. (Read the rest here.)








#2, with 1 tweet, 14 FB shares, and 1 “like”Eileen Rife with Heart Murmurs.

I remember hearing the words, “heart murmur,” from our daughter’s pediatrician when she was a young child. An immediate alarm sounded in my head, quickly followed by the doctor’s reassurance. “These types of murmurs are typically benign and something the child grows out of. We’ll keep a watch on it.”

True to his words, my daughter did grow out of it. The physical heart murmur, that is. But there was another type of heart murmur birthed in her by God that continues to grow to this day. (Read more here.)



And your FAVORITE post for 2011…




#1, with 8 tweets, 15 FB shares, and 2 “likes”Jimmy Davis with Between a Rock and a Hard Place.

Yep, here I am again. In one of those “rock and hard place” seasons, wondering how to be refreshed in the desert. And then I was reminded today that God and I have had this discussion before. So here it is, from my old blog over three years ago. Reading this encouraged me to keep my eyes on Jesus, even and especially when I’m feeling “stuck.” A good reminder during Holy Week. (Read the rest here.)

Congrats to all of our top three bloggers! And to my readers, thank you so much for your participation. I know all participating bloggers were encouraged.

Starting in January, I’m going to look at intentional living—in our homes, our marriages, at our work place, in our walk with Christ. Although I’m not really one to make New Years’ Resolutions, I do like the reminder to start again. As I’ve already mentioned, I’ve come to realize whenever I quit growing, I start dying. But to grow, I need to live intentionally. With determined focus, forgetting what is behind—my failings and shortcomings, goals I set but never reached—pressing toward what lies ahead. I hope you’ll join me!

And to all my blogging friends, if you’d like to help spur us on with some insight you believe God’s given you, check out my “Join Me” page for themes and details.

And to all, as you surf the web in 2012, if you find a post you think we’d love, shoot me an email. It might end up in my top 20 of 2012. 🙂

Happy Thursday, all, and may your day be saturated by grace and spurred by love.

Today’s post comes from a dear friend and constant encourager, Eileen Rife. Eileen is the author of the Born for India trilogy. She and her husband conduct marriage seminars in the States and overseas. Eileen’s fourth novel, Second Chance, will be released in February, 2012. Today she talks about heart murmurs and moving from the mundane to the momentous.

Heart Murmurs by Eileen Rife

I remember hearing the words, “heart murmur,” from our daughter’s pediatrician when she was a young child. An immediate alarm sounded in my head, quickly followed by the doctor’s reassurance. “These types of murmurs are typically benign and something the child grows out of. We’ll keep a watch on it.”

True to his words, my daughter did grow out of it. The physical heart murmur, that is. But there was another type of heart murmur birthed in her by God that continues to grow to this day.

A spiritual heart murmur.

In my journey through Exodus of late, I learned more about this type of heart murmur in chapter 35. The children of Israel have just witnessed a reflection of God’s glory through their leader. Moses met with God and the people knew it. They saw it in his countenance, his words, his actions. All of which prepared them for the task before them–building the tabernacle.

Over and over again in this chapter, the writer notes that “everyone whose heart stirred him” contributed to the construction project. Fine brooches, earrings, bracelets, articles of gold, and colorful material and animals’ skins. The peoples’ hearts were so stirred to give, to be a part of something greater than themselves, that they brought much more than was needed. Moses finally had to tell them to stop giving. The New American Standard translation says that Moses “restrained” them from bringing any more gifts.

How is it that a people, stiffnecked and stubborn, as we often see on their journey through the wilderness, are in fine form during this massive undertaking?

I would suggest that the heart murmur created when Moses came off Mount Sinai in meeting with God moved them from the mundane to the momentous. They now had the unique opportunity to be a part of fulfilling a piece of God’s great story.

In reality, they were a part of it all along, but due to their grumbling failed to see it.

So I ask myself: When was the last time my heart was stirred to be a part of something great for God? To be so caught up in a piece of His story that I forgot about myself and put my hand to the task He has given?

Could it be possible that the greatness lies not in the project or results, but in my heart attitude?

The front lines of success are not necessarily places of greatness for God. Often, and I suspect more often than not, greatness blossoms by the bedside of a shut-in. At the sink washing dishes. On the floor playing with a toddler. In the words delivered to a grumpy spouse.

In the mundane, quietly putting one foot in front of the other, doing the next thing.

And all the while, with a heart murmur, rejoicing to be a part of God’s great story.

**Remember, if you loved this post and want to see it in my top three of 2011, FB share it, “like” it, tweet it, or leave a comment.

Restored Hearts:

One brother’s dark secret. Another brother’s scorn. Newlyweds Gavin and Maggie Munsfield return to care for the sick and wounded at The Oasis Compound in Chennai, India, which is still suffering from the recent tsunami. Gavin’s brother, Tim, a successful landscape architect, joins them for the clean-up and rebuilding of the Compound. But Tim harbors a dark past that threatens to destroy his relationship with his brother…and a promising new love. Will family ties be strong enough to bind two wounded hearts, once the secret is revealed? Effectively captures the dilemma of a Christian man coming to grips with the conflict between his sexual attraction struggle and his genuine trust and faith in God. -Dr. Bill Consiglio, Homosexual No More. Lovingly and expertly done. Full of hope. I’ll forever see people through different eyes. -Elisabeth Hewitt Bantz, Secrets of the Heart series. Book Two in the Born for India series. Don’t miss Book One: Journey to Judah.