Thursday, August 31, 2017

A Priceless Gift ♦ Shelly Roark

The Gift Every Child Needs . . .
By Shelly Roark

Are you a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, neighbor or member of a church family? If so, you can impact a child’s future with a single, priceless gift.

Oh, it won’t cost you a dime. But the benefits cannot be measured.

The gift? Sharing with them the power of prayer.

That’s why I wrote my debut children’s picture book, The Bubble Who Would Not POP! In it, one determined little bubble embarks on an adventure to take a child’s prayer to heaven. He faces surprising challenges along the way but discovers some simple truths about prayer that every child should know.

·       God hears our prayers and knows our needs before we even utter them. (“Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear” Isaiah 65:24 NIV).
·       He loves us and wants what is best for us. Always. (“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” 1 John 3:1 NIV)

Here are some simple ways you can offer the children in your simple but important lessons on the power of prayer:

Pray with your child. Let them hear you pray in faith and then show them how to talk with God. We all love bedtime prayers, but you can teach your precious little one that you can talk with God anytime and anywhere by praying other times and places together—on a walk, on the ride to school, after naptime.

Share Bible stories about prayer. Some of my favorites include:
Hannah Prays for a Child, 1 Samuel 1
Elijah Prays for Fire, 1 Kings 18
Jesus Prays for Lazarus, John 11
Paul and Silas Prayed from Jail, Acts 16

Start a prayer journal together. Give your child a notebook or spiral and decorate it together. Write out a prayer list of needs or people that they want to pray for daily. They can even draw their prayers if they aren’t old enough to write. Include favorite Scripture verses about prayer or stories. Be sure to make a note of answered prayers and give thanks!

Make prayer fun! Take a cue from my book and blow prayers into bubbles, watching them rise to heaven. Write out prayers on slips of paper and attach them to helium balloons. Clap and celebrate as the prayers go up and up!

Surround your child with prayer. Use dry-erase markers to write out prayers or Scriptures on windows or mirrors. Pen a small prayer of blessing on a scrap of paper or napkin and include it in their lunch. Most importantly, pray for your child daily!

Whatever you do to reinforce and share prayer with the little one in your life is an investment in their spirit and future. In fact, I believe a legacy of prayer is one of the greatest gifts you can offer a child.


Here’s a little about Shelly’s debut picture book:
  • Book Title – The Bubble Who Would Not POP!
  • Author – Shelly Roark
  • Illustrator – Simone Krüger
  • Publisher – Little Lamb Books
  • Release Date – September 12, 2017
  • Genre – Children’s Christian Fiction

Book Synopsis -- Billy Bubble is ready to burst! The excitement of finally being out of his bottle on a beautiful, sunny day is everything he’s hoped for. But someone else has bigger plans for Billy. The green-eyed girl with the bubble wand has a special message that needs to get to heaven pronto. Billy’s secret mission through the dangers of the sky – pointy branches, bird beaks, oh my! – will bring him before God, where he’ll learn an important lesson about God’s love and compassion. Join Billy Bubble on his journey of faith, and discover the power of prayer for yourself using the helpful prayer journal in the back of this book! Our Heavenly Father knows every hair on our heads, every bubble in the sky, and every prayer we offer with a sincere heart.

How can I get this book? You can pre-order The Bubble Who Would Not POP! on Amazon today…right now…this instant.

Free giveaway! Find out how you can win prizes, including a grand prize valued at over $150, in the BIG BUBBLETASTIC CONTEST at 

Friday, August 25, 2017



a Devotional post by Heather Davis

"And Jacob said, 'O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O LORD who said to me, ‘Return to your country and to your kindred, that I may do you good,’ I am not worthy of the least of all the deeds of steadfast love and all the faithfulness that you have shown to your servant, for with only my staff I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two camps.'"
Genesis 32:9-10 [ESV]

Reading through the Old Testament as a new Christian, I remember being overwhelmed by sheer frequency of slaughter documented in its pages. I knew then that God is good and that His purposes are just, but in those early years I really struggled with the annihilation of peoples and nations that are recounted in the Book.

In more recent years, God has brought me to an even more acute understanding of my sin and His sovereignty than ever before — and that’s saying quite a lot. I can see, quite painfully, how sin still taints my choices, my thoughts, even my understanding of God’s will and my service to Him.  

Perhaps because of this or for some other reason, now when I read through the Old Testament it isn’t the wrath of God that is overwhelming; it is His mercy.

As I consider the ancient accounts of deceit and trickery, of faithlessness and arrogance, of unabashed defiance against the Creator, of murder, rape, and incest, I find myself wondering why He would choose to have mercy on any nation or on any single person at all. To be honest, it astonishes me that He did not simply scrap the whole business of humanity entirely and move on.

Reading of the spiritual failures and successes of the forefathers of the faith, I see echoes of my own, wandering heart. I, too, have been pompous and full of pride. At one time in my life, I openly defied the very One who breathed life into me, refusing to believe He even existed.  The life I had before I met my Savior was one of immorality that frankly disgusts me now.

If I were my own Creator, I do not think I could have mustered any mercy for one who offered so little to love as I did.

And yet, He did have mercy on me. Though, like Jacob, I did not acknowledge Him in my early years; though, like Abraham, I sometimes act in faith and sometimes in fear; though I try to “help” Him accomplish His promises as Abraham and Sarah did; though I have wrestled with Him until I have nothing left but to cling to Him, He had had mercy and spared me the wrath I deserve. More wondrous yet, He also repaid all my unbelief and stubbornness with grace, bringing me to know His Son, Jesus, whose obedience and sacrifice has paid in full the tremendous debt of my sin and offered me eternal life.

In His grace, as with Joseph, all the pain and hardship I have suffered, God has used for His good purposes. Because of this, I know that present and future suffering will be used for His glory just the same. This sure knowledge gives me comfort and hope when afflictions loom.
Oh, how I love my Lord and His word! I delight in my days with Him –communing in prayer and by reading His word and meditating on it –simply because I am overwhelmed by His steadfast love and faithfulness!

Gracious God, I praise You today that Your steadfast love never ceases and Your mercies truly never come to an end. Thank You for having mercy on me, and guide me into living a life that reflects Your glory to those around me, amen. 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Casting All Your Cares . . .

      God Will Take Care Of You           

a Hymn Story devotion from Lucy Adams

   The title of this song story is heartwarming as many parents go through the experience of saying good-bye to their school children for the day. In their hearts, I am sure many are leaning on their faith with a similar message, "Have a good day at school. I'll be praying that God will take care of you."

  Many years ago there was a little boy who spoke a similar message to his father.   When he heard him speak to his mother in a voice of concern.  "But dear, I must stay here with you, since you are sick."

  Dr. Stillman Martin and his wife, Civilla, were a great evangelistic team that took their ministry throughout the United States in the late 1800's. When he preached, she led the singing. But on this particular Sunday in 1904, it would be different.  When their son overheard the conversation between his parents, he entered the room and said, "Father, don't you think that if God wants you to preach today, He will take care of Mother while you are away"?

  That question gave fresh insight into the promises of God.  Of course, he could trust God to care for this beloved wife while he was gone. So he kept his appointment at the church that day. And when he returned home he had good news about the people who accepted Jesus as their Savior after his sermon.  Civilla also had good news.  She felt much better and had been inspired to write a very special poem on that very special day. The three verses were the result of their son's question that morning.

  Dr. Martin, who was touched by its loving message of God's protective care, sat at their small reed organ and put it to music.  Soon his beautiful melody carried this message of hope:

      Be not dismayed whate'er betide, God will take care of you.  
      Beneath His wings of love abide, God will take care of you.

  The following year, the joyful hymn was published in the hymnal, "Songs of Redemption and Praise."  Their musical gifts and Christian commitment led them to write many more gospel songs together.  One of the most well-known is, "His Eye Is On the Sparrow."

They moved to Atlanta, Ga. in 1919 and continued their ministry throughout the Southeast.  Dr. Martin died in 1935 and she in 1948.

   It is written in I Peter 5:7 , "—casting all your care upon God for He cares for you."

A little boy's innocent question embedded that truth in the hearts of his parents many years ago. 

Praise God that we can continue to sing those comforting words: "God Will Take Care of You." 

Peg here: I have a little surprise for you ... and Lucy. I found a video of the Oak Ridge Boys singing this hymn. Sit back and enjoy.

        Lucy Adams    

Lucy Neeley Adams, author of “52 Hymn Story Devotions,” claims there is nothing original in her recently published book.
“I haven’t written a thing that hasn’t already been said somewhere, except for the personal illustrations about what a hymn meant to me,” she says humbly.
But researching the beginnings of some of the most popular hymns through the ages, condensing the story and then adding a poignant “personal touch” has been a popular concept. It has taken Adams on a journey from a music ministry within the Methodist churches where her husband has pastored to a radio personality, then a newspaper columnist and finally to writing a book.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Connecting the Dots ♦ Dvora Elisheva

Behind the Story: 

Connecting the Dots of a Disconnected Life

Guest post by Dvora Elisheva

I’m always amazed by people’s reactions to my book. I have my book on display in my office at work, and recently I had my book on display for sale. While not everyone buys my book, I have seen everyone do a double-take, stop and really read the title. From there, they read the back cover copy, and then, a few talk to me and a few purchase it.

Connecting the Dots of a Disconnected Life: Hope for a Fractured Soul is the story of my life, but non-typically written in the hope of drawing the reader into the pages of my book quickly with the goal of showing them an amazing God working in the life of a very human being—me.

I had wanted to write a book since I was a child. I recall various attempts in school writing rather improbable stories that graduated into Sylvia Plath-like poetry. The latter so much so that I remember one of my teachers pulling me aside and asking me if there was anything I needed to share about life with her. Was I OK? Was I depressed? But she came on the scene many years too late for me to respond in any way other than, “I’m fine, you asked us to write a poem like Sylvia Plath, and I did.”

Years later, when I was in therapy, I wrote hundreds more poems and a play, Fractures of the Soul, which rather graphically depicted the dissociation and fractured world in my heart. I remember my therapist saying I should publish it. I thought to myself, never.

Years later, with progressing wholeness in my heart, at the age of 52, I met my future husband via the Internet. We married in August of 2010—the wedding of my dreams with all of my Messianic congregation and dozens of people from work, and more, outdoors on Mount Carmel, outside of Haifa, Israel.

The 7-year anniversary of Rich’s death was just a few days ago, on August 16. He died of a brainstem stroke after 3 weeks on a respirator, able to communicate only with his eyes.

I was heartbroken and a year later I returned to Israel.

Sometimes I wrote, but more often I didn’t. But the hunger to write grew and finally I did a NaNoWriMo challenge in November of 2014. I wrote an abbreviated chronicle of my childhood, focusing mostly on a trip to China in 1995 and my work in the Chinese Church in Israel for the past 20 years or so.

I gave the draft to a friend of mine. She read it, returned it, and said, “Nice, but it’s not finished.”

In the background, the Holy Spirit was working on my heart, urging me to write my story—all of it—including a shorter version of Fractures of the Soul. Lay myself bare and open like that? Reveal what had really happened? Tell the real story of my childhood, my parents, the things that happened, my struggles with faith, sexuality, spirituality, and more? Could I really do that?

Over and over I felt the Lord’s urging. But I was terrified. Into that picture, I found a writing coach, Kary Oberbrunner. After much prayer, I joined his program, Author Academy Elite, and made a commitment before God to write my story.

Kary confirmed what the Lord had been ministering to my soul. Just write your story first, don’t worry about what you are writing, just write it and then you’ll know what to do with it.

I still struggled with how much to reveal about myself. I recall one day praying about it, and felt the Lord reminding me of all the people in the Bible. Were their sins hidden? And what encouragement or instructions would I have if Abraham, Moses, Ahab, or David, Nebuchanezzer had just been story-book pictures of perfection or total evil?

I realized that sin could not be hidden, but had to be revealed. Nevertheless, scripture does not go into the gory detail that many of today’s writers give—every look, nuance, physical x-rated detail, blood and guts—although these surely must have been part and parcel of the Biblical battles or David’s adultery.

Encouraged, I continued to write. Truthfully, I had no idea where I was going when I began writing, or how my book would end. However, the more I wrote, the more I began to see a developing pattern. Each account of my life was like a disconnected dot of a picture. It belonged there, but how and when would it connect?

By the time I had finished my story, I had found connections and healing I hadn’t even been aware I needed! And the picture I’d drawn was more of the overriding love of God throughout my life than of the hopeless and desperate mess I had thought I was. A story of overcoming that I hoped and prayed would encourage anyone struggling with a dysfunctional upbringing, messed up theology, abuse, or the deepest of griefs.

Based on the book reviews, I believe I achieved my goals. I continue to pray that God will use my book to encourage others to find the Hope and Overcoming Victory He wants us all to have—one day at a time—in Him.

Connecting the Dots of a Disconnected Life was published by Author Academy Elite in 2016 and is available wherever books are sold, including and, or you can purchase it directly from me—shipped or emailed from Israel!

About Deborah Hemstreet (aka Dvora Elisheva)
Dvora writes under her Hebrew name, Dvora Elisheva. She has spent more than half of her life in Israel. Professionally, Deborah has been a nurse (LPN), holds a BA in Special Education, and an MA in Technical Communication. Currently she is the English Communications Specialist at Rambam Hospital in Haifa, Israel—the largest hospital in northern Israel. She is actively involved in representing the hospital to the Christian community. Dvora blogs regularly and loves to share the Hope of Jesus (Yeshua) with others.

Dvora came to Israel in 1982, and other than for a brief period of time (2007–2011) has lived there ever since. She married for the first time in 2007 and relocated to the USA, she thought forever. However, God had different plans and in 2010 her husband Rich died, and in 2011 she returned to Israel to live. She has five step-children, seven grandchildren, and three Chinese godchildren.

Connect with Dvora:

Friday, August 18, 2017

A Blocked Fuel Tank

A Blocked Fuel Line

By Ray Hawkins

The lawnmower coughed, spluttered, stopped. Outwardly there was no sign of a problem. It had petrol, oil and a new spark plug. No amount of cord pulling could get it going. So, I had to do some investigation. The problem? Pebbles in the fuel tank! Young grandchildren had been at work.

Sometimes our spiritual life experiences pebbles in its fuel tank. Outwardly everything seems okay to the casual observer. Inwardly, there is a realisation that we are at a standstill. What is now required is an investigation of the cause. There is a tendency to say “I’ll pray about it” and go blithely on our way, ‘pebble’ untouched. Then we can fall into the trap of blaming the Devil for our problems. Sure, he’ll take advantage but let’s accept our own accountability.

Some pebbles we may need to recognise and remove are: greed, jealousy, self-righteousness, un-forgiveness, lust, apathy and hurt feelings. Cleaning the spiritual fuel-line requires acknowledging the existence of the pebbles; Admitting their presence before the Lord; Asking the Creator/Redeemer for a cleansing and then get moving.

The spiritual and relational ‘unblocking’ that have to be undertaken usually take time and honesty underpinned by an act of the will. When undertaken, God does a beautiful and complete overhaul. He renews us for the tasks He has chosen and the joy of His service returns.

Praise His Name.

Writer of Biblically themed   31 day devotions.
Latest one is ‘The Warrior Lord’sTriumph.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Christmas in August? Or Victorian England?

Christmas in August

Guest Post 
Michelle Griep

What’s not to love about Christmas? 

The lights. The singing. And of course the food!

But do you really want to think about all that during the heat of summer? Personally, I’d rather slap on some flip flops and fire up the grill.

But last August I got a request from my publisher to come up with a Christmas series that would incorporate Charles Dickens in some way. You better believe I kicked off those flip flops, grabbed a scarf, and settled down with a hot cup of tea to ponder what to do.

I’ve always loved Dickens. His characters are memorable. Scrooge, anyone? And his settings are vivid. Charles Dickens used to walk the streets of London late at night just to get the feel of the city. So, I knew I’d have to come up with some intriguing characters in order to keep the story Dickenesque.

The other thing about Dickens is that he brought Christmas to life by describing festivities such as caroling or Christmas dinners. Victorian holiday traditions needed to be woven in to the tale as well, then.

Last, but not least, a mix of what I like to call “what if” needed to be blended in. Dickens always made his readers wonder, so that important element needed to be a big part of the story.

And so, coming your way on September 1st, I give to you Book I in the Once Upon a Dickens’ Christmas titled 12 Days at Bleakly Manor. Here’s a blurb:

A mysterious invitation to spend Christmas at an English manor home may bring danger...and love?

England, 1851: When Clara Chapman receives an intriguing invitation to spend Christmas at an English manor home, she is hesitant yet feels compelled to attend—for if she remains the duration of the twelve-day celebration, she is promised a sum of five hundred pounds.

But is she walking into danger? It appears so, especially when she comes face to face with one of the other guests—her former fiancé, Benjamin Lane.

Imprisoned unjustly, Ben wants revenge on whoever stole his honor. When he’s given the chance to gain his freedom, he jumps at it—and is faced with the anger of the woman he stood up at the altar. Brought together under mysterious circumstances, Clara and Ben discover that what they’ve been striving for isn’t what ultimately matters.

What matters most is what Christmas is all about . . . love.

Pour a cup of tea and settle in for Book 1 of the Once Upon a Dickens Christmas series--a page-turning Victorian-era holiday tale--by Michelle Griep, a reader and critic favorite. Available for a special pre-order price at Amazon.


Michelle Griep has been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayola® crayons. She is the author of historical romances: The Captured Bride, The Innkeeper’s Daughter, 12 Days at Bleakly Manor, The Captive Heart, Brentwood’s Ward, A Heart Deceived, and Gallimore, but also leaped the historical fence into the realm of contemporary with the zany romantic mystery Out of the Frying Pan
If you’d like to keep up with her escapades, find her at or or stalk her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Glory Revealed

Hidden Corners of Glory
By Michelle De Bruin

Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him. John 2:11

This story of Jesus’ first miracle at the wedding in Cana has always interested me. Mostly because of what the story says, but even more because of what is left unsaid. Each time I read it, I ask another question. My list has become quite long: How did Jesus know when the time was right to start doing miracles? How did the water turn into wine? Did Jesus pronounce a blessing over it, like the pastor at communion, or did he stir it? Maybe his shadow falling over the clear, deep pools of still water reflecting the evening sunlight was enough to change it. Or like the mud paste he used to heal the blind man, did he spit in it? Oh, goodness. If I was in the family hosting this party, trying to impress our friends and relatives, I would certainly hope not.

No one knows how the water actually changed into wine. Neither does anyone seem to know the names of the bridal couple or why Jesus responded to his mother the way he did.

The unspoken message in John 2 is about expectation. The wedding guests expected to drink their fill of wine at their host’s expense. Mary expected Jesus to heed her request to bring peace. Jesus expected to be able to wait a little longer until his glory became known. This clash of motives plays out in the humble home of a local village family. Money probably ran a little short for this middle class Galilean family, as it does for all of us from time to time. The guests kept on enjoying the feast, and the wine supply was starting to dwindle. Running out of wine at a Jewish wedding was the worst insult to both the host and the guests. The host would feel humiliation over his inability to provide adequately for the celebration. The guests would have felt disrespected. This outcome would have branded the wedding couple with a reputation they’d never live down. Lawsuits may even be brought against them.

Mary saw this situation brewing under the surface of the simple surroundings and the merrymaking. Something must be done, but what and by who? Seated across the banquet table from her was the only one she ever needed–her son, Jesus. I like to imagine that over the years, Mary probably witnessed Jesus settling disputes among his siblings, offering a solution, speaking comfort, making peace. She says to him, “They have no wine.”

Jesus puts her off with the statement, “My hour has not yet come.”

Mary seems to ignore him. In full confidence and faith, she turns to the servants and tells them, “Do whatever he tells you.”

If I was Jesus, I would have rolled my eyes at my presumptuous mother. But since he is perfect and I am not, he probably handled the situation much better. Jesus gives instructions to fill the stone jars with water, draw some out, and take it to the master of the party. Somewhere between the words leaving Jesus’ mouth and the liquid reaching the master’s mouth, the water had changed into wine.

Jesus’ glory was revealed. In a common family living in an obscure town, glory shone. During a large, crowded celebration, glory sneaked in. While saving simple people from disaster, glory quietly spread in the form of kindness and understanding.

Like Mary’s life, the lives of this wedding couple, and the lives of the small town guests, our lives are filled with the simple, the common, the crowded, and sometimes, the disastrous. Jesus is present with the soothing word of comfort. He provides when our resources run out He makes peace in situations that seem to have no happy ending. This is when his glory shines. He reveals himself in subtle, miraculous ways that we would miss if it wasn’t for his glory shining on them.

Michelle De Bruin is the Spiritual Services Facilitator for an organization that provides services for people with both mental and physical disabilities. In this role, she plans and leads retreats, teaches Bible studies, offers care during times of grief, and writes devotions. Michelle lives with her husband and two teenage sons in Iowa. She's recently completed the manuscript for a historical romance drawn from her local history and family heritage. The story explores the themes of discerning the call to ministry, growing through grief, and discovering true love. 

Where to find Michelle:


Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Puzzles of Life

Nothing Stays the Same!

Guest blogger post from Lillian Duncan

“I write Christian suspense and mystery.”

That was my answer when people asked me what I wrote, but in life, nothing stays the same. And that’s true with my soon-to-be-released book—Puzzle House (Harbourlight Books, October 2017).

Puzzle House is a different sort of book than I usually write, but that makes sense. I’ve been living a different sort of life for more than five years. My life was turned upside down when I was diagnosed with brain tumors and a genetic condition known as Neurofibromatosis Type 2 (NF2) in 2012.

During these past several years, I’ve come to understand that nothing can be taken for granted. Except for God and his faithfulness. God has been there with me—every step of the way on this journey I didn’t want to take.

In many ways PUZZLE HOUSE is the book I didn’t want to write because had I never been diagnosed with the brain tumors, I would never have written this particular story. Since Puzzle House has a much deeper spiritual theme than most of my books, I decided for the first time to write a companion devotional book to go along with my novel—Devotions from Puzzle House.

Nothing stays the same.

Here’s the blurb for Devotions from Puzzle House:

Life isn’t a box of candy, it’s a puzzle—lots of pieces and lots of confusion, but it doesn’t have to be that way. If we do life with God, we can create a beautiful picture with our life, the one God planned for us. So how do we put that puzzle together out of the chaos?

With God, of course.

This book is called Devotions from Puzzle House, but what exactly is Puzzle House? No, it’s not a place but a novel I’ve written. I call Puzzle House the book I never wanted to write! I would never have written it if I hadn’t developed bilateral brain tumors because of a genetic condition called Neurofibromatosis Type 2 (NF2).

It’s been a difficult journey, but God has been and continues to be my strength and my comfort and so I’ve written these devotions to share some of the pieces that have helped me create my life’s puzzle.

Even though Puzzle House is most definitely fiction, these devotions are biblically based and therefore as real as it gets!

God bless!

SPECIAL NOTE: for the next few days, Devotions from Puzzle House is FREE on Amazon. Yes, you read it right—FREE! But you better hurry because nothing stays the same—and that’s true with the FREE price as well!

HURRY on over to Amazon get your free copy!

 Lillian Duncan…Stories of faith mingled… with murder & mayhem.

Lillian is a multi-published author who lives in the middle of Ohio Amish country with her husband and a menagerie of pets. After more than 30 years working as a speech pathologist for children, she believes in the power of words to transform lives, especially God’s Word.

Lillian writes the types of books she loves to read—fast-paced suspense with a touch of romance that demonstrates God’s love for all of us. To learn more about Lillian, you may visit her at or She also has a devotional blog at

Friday, August 4, 2017

I Cry Out to the Lord

I Cry Out to the Lord

A devotional by Susan Karsten

"You are a shield around me, O Lord, my Glorious One, who lifts up my head. To the Lord I cry aloud and He answers me from His holy hill."    (an excerpt from Psalm 3, ESV)

Don’t be alarmed at me crying out…just in prayer! “Just” — that’s an understatement. As one of God’s children, I have access to my Heavenly Father at all times.

While jogging this morning, thoughts whirling, I started calling God’s name. My mind settled and little things started coming into notice. Little things – is not our God a God of the little and the big?

The inside of my right knee stopped twinging. My meager 1-2 mile run could continue apace.

I saw a charming sight. A small boy, in his shade-dappled yard, throwing a ball to himself, and whacking it. Practicing his hitting. He looked surprised when I gave him a little round of applause as I chugged past.

My bandanna, the one I had folded into a makeshift headband to keep my hair out of my face, slipped down over my left ear. Phffft! A large bug hit the bandanna, right over my ear. Just think of the horror if the bandanna hadn’t fallen over my ear. A large bug would have gone into my ear – a direct hit. Praise God for slipping bandannas. Is anything left to chance? I wonder at that.

I reached home looking forward to one of my favorite household tasks, hanging laundry on a line. Wow! I have a dryer and a clothesline – I am blessed.

Info on my new release: A Match for Melissa

Susan Karsten here, happy to announce that my first novel, “A Match for Melissa”, has been published by Pelican Book Group! It was released to the public on July 7, and is available on Amazon, and Barnes & Noble’s website.

 Here’s an excerpt from a recent review:

The author did her homework. “A Match for Melissa” is chock full of details on life in rural England and upper class London. The characters are delightful. Unless they are bad. (The bad ones are really wonderfully bad.) Melissa is an intelligent woman with an independent bent to her nature who still functions inside the strict rules of protocol for her class. Her father, also independent, but with greater latitude and freedom than a woman, is in charge not only of the family fortune but also the choice of Melissa’s future husband. Much of the tension comes from wondering when Melissa will be able to be matched with the man she really loves."

So, please give my book a look! Thanks, Susan Karsten

Connect with Susan on her website, and Facebook.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Bratwurst and Bridges

Bratwurst & Bridges: A Look at What Goes Into a Story and why it was written
by Susan M. Baganz

I wrote Bratwurst & Bridges two years ago. Before it released I read it again and was surprised at how much of myself was in this book. The story resonates more with me now than ever before.

I’ve been in ministry in paid and unpaid positions for years and it seemed too coincidental that as my book released I would find ministry and life to become overwhelmingly challenging. I’ve shed Dan and Skye’s tears in real life over the burdens I’ve had to carry over choices I’ve made. Even good choices have consequences and not all of them are always pleasant. So was it prophetic or is it a spiritual battle that ensued as this book was about to come out to be read by others? I don’t really need to know the answer to that. I only need to cling to Jesus and to the family I have in the body of Christ, the church.

That’s why this is the Orchard Hill Romance series. Orchard Hill is a fictional church loosely based on the churches I’ve been a part of that have been so instrumental in my spiritual and emotional growth. Every book in the series: Pesto & Potholes, Salsa & Speed Bumps, Feta & Freeways, Root Beer & Roadblocks and now Bratwurst & Bridges, take place with the church
being a touchstone for growth and support through the trials and joys of life. Each story stands on its own but characters from previous novels do appear in later ones.

For many people, the church is not a safe place and I read articles all the time about the reasons people don’t want to go to church or excuses for why the church isn’t all it should be. But the church is more than a worship style or charismatic pastor. The church is the people who attend, who seek to follow and honor God and grow in their faith—not just in spiritual knowledge either, but emotionally. If we grow in one and not the other, we are not going to have the impact on the world that God desires. Not that he can’t use us in our brokenness. All my stories prove that is false. Sometimes God uses us most in our broken places. He never wants us to stay stuck there though but shine a light for others who come along behind us, limping and bleeding from the slings and arrows life on a sinful world throws our way.

My hope and prayer is that those who read these books, no matter where they are in their walk of faith, or even if they don’t believe in God, would see the broken beauty of the church and the power of God at work in and through her members. I pray they would be encouraged, comforted and challenged to persevere in their own journey of growth in becoming more like Christ and find a healthy church to be a part of.

I think Paul summarizes the idea of our collective and individual growth in maturity in Colossians 1:9b-12: “…we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God, strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.” [

My hope and prayer is that my books will have an eternal impact on those who read them—spiritually and emotionally as they grow more to be who God created them to be. It’s what I pray for my children as well. My heart is in all my books, and I hope you find some of your own there too.
            ~Susan M. Baganz

About Susan
Susan M. Baganz chases after three Hobbits and is a native of Wisconsin. She is an Editor with Pelican Book Group’s imprint: Prism Book Group, specializing in bringing great romance novels and novellas to publication. Susan writes adventurous historical and contemporary romances with a biblical world-view.
Susan speaks, teaches and encourages others to follow God in being all He has created them to be. With her seminary degree in counseling psychology, a background in the field of mental health, and years serving in church ministry, she understands the complexities and pain of life as well as its craziness. She serves behind-the-scenes in various capacities at her church. Her favorite pastimes are lazy ones—snuggling with her dog while reading a good book, or sitting with a friend chatting over a cup of spiced chai latte.

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