Tender Historical Romance

The Jewel of His Heart, book two in her Heart of the West series, by Maggie Brendan is set in 1890s Montana mining town. The delightful characters she has concocted will have readers cheering them on while the story will make them laugh and cry.

Juliana Brady finds herself without any remaining family after her mother dies and her father’s whereabouts remain unknown. Juliana’s father left years before to find his fortune and has never been heard from again. Juliana is not alone as her dear friend Marion is beside her along life’s journey. In addition, the local doctor and a kindly sheepherder both request the pleasure of spending time in Juliana’s company. This feisty beauty earns a writing job with the local newspaper and the respect of her employer as well.

Josh McBride left his father’s prominent cattle ranch to make his own way in life. Josh is raising sheep on his small parcel of land. When Josh finds valuable blue stones on his property and heads into town to have them assayed, never did he dream that this trip into town would change his life. Along his way, Josh finds a woman along the side of the road. Taking her to the doctor for care and paying for any treatment needed, his heart is torn asunder when he later witnesses the overwhelming grief the woman’s beautiful daughter displays after her obviously beloved mother dies.

Will Josh choose to pursue the earthly treasures he has found on his land? Or, will Josh choose the value of eternal life instead? To find out, pick up a copy of Maggie Brendan’s The Jewel of His Heart.

Title: The Jewel of His Heart

Author: Maggie Brendan

Genre: Fiction – Historical Romance

Publisher: Revell

ISBN-13: 978-0-8007-3350-6

Release Date: October 2009

Price: $13.99

Available at: Amazon, Christianbook.com, Barnes & Noble, and Borders

* This book was provided as a free gift to the reviewer by either the author or the publisher. This does not in any way, however, influence the reviewer’s opinion of the book.

Giving of ourselves

A very sweet young friend of mine recently coomented that she thought volunteering was a great way to give of herself. She got me thinking and here are my thoughts on the subject. I concur; volunteering is a GREAT way to give of yourself. I like the thoughts of random acts of kindness and paying a favor forward. The greatest gift we all have received (if we are believers) is that Christ died for us. How can we just sit idly by when he gave such an amazing sacrifice (his own life for our sins)? He isn’t asking us to die for Him. He is asking us, though, to be open to His leading and to be willing vessels. The world is filled with lost and hurting souls. It is the least we can do to reach out in God’s love to comfort and encourage others! I started praying a long time ago on a daily basis that God would place at least one person in my path on a daily basis with whom I can share His love. When we make ourselves a willing vessel He will use us in a mighty way to reach others. So ask and be prepared to see God work! No worries, He equips those He calls and I know He will guide you! So, get out there and be His light in the darkness…okay, I’m getting off of my soap box now. Blessings! K

Here’s what the Bible has to say: Romans 12 Living Sacrifices 1Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual[a] act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. 3For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. 4Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his[b]faith. 7If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.

Interview with Kathi Macias About Her Book How Can I Run a Tight Ship When I’m Surrounded by Loose Cannons?

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About the Book:

(Homeland, CA) – For all the Christian women in the world who dread reading Proverbs 31 and wonder who on earth could ever live up to that woman – this book is for you. Between dirty diapers, complaining children, housework, husbands and a multitude of other attention-grabbing detours women face, award-winning author and speaker, Kathi Macias finds a way to encourage and biblically instruct women of all ages and phases. Women everywhere are the glue that holds their families together. Keeping everything under control challenges even the most organized household CEO. Kathi uses humor, God’s Word, as well as practical insight and instruction to lovingly encourage women to grow in this progression of grace.

Readers will find How Can I Run a Tight Ship When I’m Surrounded by Loose Cannons?: Proverbs 31 Discoveries for Yielding to the Master of the Seas, filled with scriptural explanations and journaling pages to process and write their personal feelings and prayers. With sections of the book focused on each step of the learning process to guide our ships to safe harbor, readers will be happily surprised to find the funny without the fluff. Kathi’s words are the “spoonful of sugar that makes the medicine go down.” Her vulnerable approach facilitates the teachings of Proverbs 31, making it easier for women to swallow. The truth of the scriptures is very much alive and well throughout the pages, yet the ease and charm of the author’s words entice readers to press forward and embrace the plan for God’s woman today.

About the Author:

Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored 26 books and ghostwritten several others. A former newspaper columnist and string reporter, Kathi has taught creative and business writing in various venues and has been a guest on many radio and television programs. Kathi is a popular speaker at churches, women’s clubs and retreats, and writers’ conferences. She recently won the prestigious 2008 member of the year award from AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) at the annual Golden Scrolls award banquet. Kathi “Easy Writer” Macias lives in Homeland, CA, with her husband, Al, where the two of them spend free time riding their Harley.

Blog Tour Interview:

I understand you sometimes refer to this book as “discipleship with a grin.” What do you mean by that, and why did you choose a humor format for a discipleship book?

Actually, I chose a discipleship theme for a humor title. As much as I hate to admit it, the title came to me one day and I knew I had to do something with it–just too good to pass up! So the more I thought/prayed about it, the more I realized it described my life, both naturally and spiritually. I began to try to lay out my spiritual growth via humorous life stories, and found they produced a natural pattern. From there I developed the five stages of spiritual growth into five sections for the book, and I was off and running! Besides, I learned from a friend/mentor years ago that you can “shove a lot of truth down people’s throat when their mouth is open laughing,” so I figured, why not???

What are some of the funniest “loose cannons” stories included in your book?

One of my favorites is the story of my very first women’s retreat as a brand new Christian back in the “Jesus freak” days of baptisms at the beach and praise-ins at the park. I shared a room with three ladies I had never met, one of whom ended up being my “bunk mate.” She snored, she was quite a bit overweight (taking up much more than her side of the bed!), and she “leaked” because she was still weaning her youngest child. You’ll have to read the story to see how that experience taught me a lot about “spiritual face plants.”

Another favorite story is about the time I took my three sons (two pre-teens and one elementary school age at the time) to the community swimming pool. The older boys decided to use their younger brother as a human beach ball, and when they ignored my cries from the side of the pool to stop, I actually had the nerve to jump into the water and swim right up to them and order them to stop. Their level of humiliation at being seen in the pool with their mother was as close to social suicide as it gets. But we all survived and learned a lot in the process.

Your book is divided into five sections. Can you briefly explain what they are and what they have to do with discipleship and humor?

As I mentioned earlier, the five sections correspond with what I consider the five stages of spiritual growth: crawling (infants or “rugrats”) on our knees; walking (toddlers who are still a bit shaky but exploring and learning); running (stronger, more mature believers who are beginning to make a difference in their world); flying or soaring (eagles with a solid foundation and maturity to share with others); resting (back on our knees and realizing that place of utter dependence on Him is really the best place to be after all). The discipleship correlation is, I believe, evident in these stages; the humor comes in simply because I’m one of those slow learners who needs God to “hit me upside the head” at times, and I haven’t been bashful about explaining those times in the book.

What advice can you give to the young mom out there who is juggling two kids, a fulltime job outside the home, a husband, housework, pets and church?

Life happens in seasons! You CAN’T be all things to all people at all times. It simply doesn’t work. And if you don’t believe it, read about my many crash-and-burn episodes as I tried! The Proverbs 31 woman is a composite picture of many women from different walks and stages of life; when we get a grip on that, it releases us to enjoy the season we’re in right now, even as we prepare for the next one.

How did raising your own children help prepare you for the parenting side of the proverbial woman? Any tips you’d like to share?

Relax and enjoy them! Yes, even the rugrats and teenagers, because “this too shall pass.” There were times I thought I’d go bald from pulling out my own hair over the frustrations and failures of that season of my life, but now it’s my grandchildren who are passing through those rugrat-to-teen stages, and hey, I still have my hair! You’ll make it–and so will your kids–in spite of your frustrations and failures. And yes, I know there are too many of those to mention (or admit to). I’m the queen of mom-failures, and yet my kids never cease to bless me with words of love and praise. Do I deserve it? Probably not. But I love every minute of it!

Do you have a favorite part of the book or a favorite chapter?

Several, in fact, but one in particular: Chapter 26, “Back Home Again,” contains the story of my precious father, a man who lived for 88 years denying God’s existence and then finally turning to him in his last week of life. It’s one of the more serious stories in the book, but even that one ends on a humorous note.

If the Proverbs 31 woman is alive today, what does she look like?

She looks like me–and you–and every woman whose heart longs to please God and to raise her children according to the Scriptures, even though she knows she’s doing well just to make sure they all have their sack lunches before they leave for school in the morning. She’s thin, overweight, short, tall, black, white, brown, red, yellow, and polka dot when she catches her kids’ chicken pox. And she’s absolutely beautiful!!!

Are there some specific lessons you hope readers will learn and apply to their lives after reading your book?

I want them to learn to relax and laugh and enjoy this voyage called “life,” and to trust the Captain of our souls to take us home safely when our trip is over, rather than struggling to “man the oars” ourselves.

What makes your book different than other books similar to yours that are in circulation today?

There are countless books written for “control freak” women who want to do it all and be it all–perfectly and completely at all times. This one, however, is not only written with a humorous tone, but it also takes the reader through what I call the five steps of spiritual growth: crawling, walking, running, flying–and back on our knees, totally dependent once again. I do this by exposing many of the sometimes humorous–and sometimes not so humorous–events in my own life as I progressed through the five stages.

Are there any authors that either influenced you personally or influenced your style of writing? Who are they and how did they influence you?

Brennan Manning, Henri J. M. Nouwen, and Max Lucado have to be right at the top of my favorite nonfiction authors list, simply because they call me back to the heart of worship, to a fresh appreciation of grace and a clarion call to rely totally upon God and not myself. I need those reminders on a regular basis. In addition, I love their writing styles. Their words “sing,” and it is my goal to do the same with the words I write.

When you are not writing, what do you like to do? Do you have any hobbies?

Okay, now I have to ‘fess up to how nearly one-dimensional I am. If I’m not writing, I’m…well, reading someone else’s writing. That’s at the top of my “what I like to do” list. However, I also spend time riding on the back of my husband’s 2003 Harley Davidson Road King motorcycle. He’s been riding HD’s since 1970 and says he will never outgrow that youthful passion. On the road we are known as “Big Al” and Easy Writer…”

Pain the Fibromyalgia Way

Pain the Fibromyalgia Way by Kelly Kiggins-Lund

Think back to the last time you had a very bad case of the flu.  You were extremely exhausted and your body ached so badly in places you did not even know could hurt.  You did not want to get out of bed or move off the couch let alone be responsible for anyone else.  You wanted merely to curl into a ball and sleep until eternity while the world went on around you but did not interrupt.  Now, imagine experincing this type of pain and fatigue on a frequent basis. 

Welcome to the world of fibromyalgia.   You never know when it is going to inflict itself upon you nor do you know how long this flare-up will last.  Fibromyalgia is often referred to as an autoimmune disease and is often classed with arthritic conditions.  The cause is unknown.  How is it treated?  The physicians typically utilize medication to treat the various symptoms of fibromyalgia: severe muscle pain, fatigue, migraines, irritable bowel,  dizziness, etc.  Other techniques that can be helpful include massage therapy, aromatherapy, relaxation techniques, etc.

Those suffering from fibromyalgia need strong support from family and friends in order to survive the difficult days.  Unfortunately, some people do not understand fibromyalgia and will often think the person is faking or exaggerating the pain.  The pain is real and can be excruciating!  Again, think back to the last time you had a bad case of the flu.  Did you want to do much of anything?  How did you feel?  That is exactly how an individual with fibromyalgia will feel on a difficult day.

How do I survive difficult days co-existing with the duties of being a single mom to a rambunctious 7 yr old boy while suffering from fibromyalgia?  My faith is what pulls me through.  Knowing that God is with me always and feels the pain I am enduring. Knowing that He loves me above all measure and will NEVER forsake me.  Knowing that He takes even the worst things that happen in our lives and uses them to help us 1) to help us become more Christlike 2) to help us help others who are going through similar circumstances and 3) to bring Glory and Homor to His name! 

May God’s blessings and peace be upon you all.  May you feel the mighty love of our Saviour!  K