For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
    So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, what is unseen is eternal.
    ~2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Friday, December 19, 2014

Inkwell Inspirations: Masterpiece Marriage

Another book review and a chance to win an autographed copy!

Inkwell Inspirations: Masterpiece Marriage: Is the weather outside perhaps a little too frightful? Has winter arrived a bit early, leaving you with dreams of a warm Christmas inst...

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Book Review of Masterpiece Marriage:

Lane Hill House: Masterpiece Marriage by Gina Welborn ~ a Quilts of...: Being skilled in the Art of Pleasing Others truly did obliterate her individuality. No wonder the average English girl was viewed as decide...

Masterpiece Marriage book review

Book by Book: Masterpiece Marriage by Gina Welborn: About the Book ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ He wants to save his business. She wants to be a professor. But are they asking for more than they can real...

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Fiction Writing Tip

Seriously Write: An Ode to the Senior Class of MacArthur High Schoo...: Gina Welborn Like dirt in the wind wanting... waiting... knowing... knowing that one day they will be sucked in the great vacuu...

Monday, December 15, 2014

Tea and a Good Book ~ Susanne Dietze: Welcome Debbie Lynne Costello...and a Giveaway!

Here's another giveaway for you!

Tea and a Good Book ~ Susanne Dietze: Welcome Debbie Lynne Costello...and a Giveaway!: Thanks to Debbie Lynne for being here today! Debbie Lynne has enjoyed writing stories since she was about eight years old. She raised h...

Inkwell Inspirations: Celebrating Gina Welborn's "Masterpiece Marriage"....

This week over at my team blog, Inkwell Inspirations, we are celebrating my newest release, Masterpiece Marriage. Lots of tomato recipes to check out! Plus I'll share the first three chapters for you to read.

Inkwell Inspirations: Celebrating Gina Welborn's "Masterpiece Marriage"....: It's December outside but inside, it's May, just like in Gina's book! Susanne here. Come in from the cold and join spring...

How to Love Unlovable and Unlikeable People (Part 3)

Repeatedly in the New Testament, Jesus followers are told to love others. No caveat. No astrick. Just . . .  

Love Others.

Not to judge others. Not to discipline others. Not to change others.

But it's easier--no, safer--NOT to associate with the liberal fem-nazi, the girl with the nose ring and tattoos covering her entire left arm, the pious church lady, the gay co-worker who enjoys sharing his weekend exploits, or the mother-in-law who finds fault in everything you do and has no shame in giving daily reminders.

Haven't you been warned at church to stay away from the world? From the sinful people in the world? From the sinful people in the public school system? Protect your children. Evil company corrupts good character. Follow the commandments, tithe your 10%, don't miss Sunday church services, don't drink wine, don't watch anything on rated R, read your Bible every day, do those things that show you're a good Christian.

Somewhere in following all those religious rules and regulations, we lost what really matters to God. Our hearts.

Erwin McManus wrote:

"Two thousand years ago God started a revolt against the religion. He started. So don't ever put it past God to cause a groundswell movement against churches and Christian institutions that bear His name. If He was willing to turn Judaism upside down, don't think for a moment our institutions are safe from a divine revolt. I'm convinced that even now there are multitudes of followers of Jesus Christ who are sick and tired of the church playing games and playing down the call of God. My travels only confirm that the murmurings of a revolution are everywhere. I am convinced that there is an uprising in the works and that no one less than God is behind it."

A vast number of religious leaders in Jesus's time put all their stock in following the rules, rituals, traditions, commandments, programs, and expectations . . . and they often forgot to put love first. I know people in the church who've made judging others an art form. (I've been guilty as well.) Try wearing an Adidas athletic suit to church on Sunday morning and see how many "how inappropriate of her" looks you get. (Of course the test has greater significance if you're married to one of the pastors.)

The gospel of Matthew records Jesus saying:

"This is what our Scriptures come to teach: in everything, in every circumstance, do to others as you would have them do to you."

  • You want to be listened to. listen to others.
  • You want to be accepted unconditionally, accept others unconditionally.
  • You want to be loved, love others.

And by "others" I don't mean only the people who are easy to like. Stop judging others and holding them up to your standards of righteousness. So what if someone wears shorts to church on Sunday morning. So what if someone enjoys a glass of wine on occasion. So what if someone lets loose a profanity or almost profanity. So what if someone doesn't discipline his children to your level of satisfaction. So what if someone decorates her house differently than you, doesn't read the types of books you do, enjoys watching cheesy daytime talk-shows, thinks the King James Version of the Bible is the only God-ordained one, or even insists the movie AVATAR is new-age, environmentalist propaganda.

In his book THE END OF RELIGION, Bruxy Cavey wrote:

"Jesus called His followers to live by a higher standard, the way of love instead of the way of the law. And to drive home His point, He had to break the rules over and over again." 

What "rules" would you break if you loved others without caveat?

Love is patient; love is kind. Love isn’t envious, doesn’t boast, brag, or strut about. There’s no arrogance in love; it’s never rude, crude, or indecent—it’s not self-absorbed. Love isn’t easily upset. Love doesn’t tally wrongs or celebrate injustice; but truth—yes, truth—is love’s delight! Love puts up with anything and everything that comes along; it trusts, hopes, and endures no matter what.

Friday, December 12, 2014

A Cup of Christmas Cheer

 I love reading novellas and short stories during the holiday season. Maybe it's because I can curl up with a good book in front of the fire (aka, floor heater). One I have to rave about is...

Sometimes we get sooooo focused on our worries and obligations, get soooo busy with meeting deadline and fulfilling obligation and reaching goals, that we don't knows people around us. And I'm not just talking about strangers. We miss noticing the hurt our friends are trying to keep hidden. We miss noticing family members with needs yet with too much pride to ask for help.

Anita's delighful story is a good reminder to  LOVE OTHERS.

God brings people into our lives so we have opportunity to show kindness, share job, give hope, encourage to dream, and embolden to fight for dreams, hope, joy, and kindness.

To see a visual poster of Anita's story, and learn more about it, check out her Pinterest page for Here We Come A-Wassailing. Her Pinterest site also contains 12 Christmas-themed boards.

This year's CoCC authors have also banded together to create a website with a blog, and pages with information about the stories, authors, giveaways, and their Pinterest boards.

Buy a copy today!!!

Vols. 1 & 2 still available. Click covers to buy the set.A Cup of Christmas Cheer is a delightful collection of original fiction written just for Guideposts readers and hand-picked by the editors at Guideposts to make your Christmas merry and bright. Each story offers the perfect opportunity to take a short break from your holiday planning and escape into an uplifting adventure. Everything you love in heartwarming Christmas fiction is in A Cup of Christmas Cheer — faith-based plots, captivating writing, lovable characters and hopeful endings that warm you from head to toe. You’ll love the way these stories whisk you away and how each has a heartwarming Christmas message of redemption, forgiveness, hope, and faith.

Here We Come A-WassailingYou’ll meet a young woman whose Christmas drive home in remote North Dakota starts out as a lonely trek through the snow, but turns into quite an adventure. As she picks up a ragtag assortment of strangers who are stranded, she wonders if God has placed her on a Christmas mission. Will her rather reserved mother welcome her new band of friends home for the holidays, or will she turn them all away? You’ll marvel at how God’s detours often lead to greater blessings. It’s a Christmas miracle in the making you don’t want to miss.

Free Gift
Along with this book set, you'll receive a beautiful holiday magnet with a charming quote from Mother Teresa. Leaving this item on display all year long will serve as a thoughtful reminder of the peace and joy Christmas can bring to our lives every day of the year.

... northwoods christmas in guidepost books a cup of christmas cheer iTwinkling lights, the scents of cinnamon and pine, family gatherings, favorite carols from the heart. In the spirit of these cozy Christmas traditions, Guideposts is pleased to present A Cup of Christmas Cheer, a two-book set brimming with heartwarming fiction stories of faith and family set in Christmases past and present. You are invited to enjoy two uplifting Christmas fiction collections that will flood you with the Christmas spirit and bring a smile to your face. As you delve into each well-crafted story, you’ll be swept away on a wave of glad tidings and good cheer as you are reminded of God’s unconditional love and ever-present care at Christmas and all throughout the year.
Affordably priced so you can easily give the set as heartfelt gifts, the messages of hope and faith in these extraordinary works of fiction deliver the truest gifts of the season. They will inspire all who read them as they bring home the joy of God’s presence at Christmastime.

Free Gift Along with this book set, you'll receive a beautiful holiday magnet with a charming quote from Helen Steiner Rice; "Peace on Earth Will Come to Stay, When We Live Christmas Every Day." Leaving this item on display all year long will serve as a thoughtful reminder of the peace and joy Christmas can bring to our lives every day of the year.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Last week to Pre-Order Masterpiece Marriage

"delightful" --Amazon reviewer

"Loved this one!" --Amazon reviewer
5* -- Amazon rating

4.71 Goodreads rating

4* -- Romantic Times 

KINDLE - $9.99

PRINT - $12.48

Monday, December 8, 2014

How to Love Unlovable and Unlikable People (Part 2)

Love . . . Just Do It!

We can't force someone to love us, so why do we think we can force ourselves to love others?

For me it was my mother-in-law (MIL). She passed away a few years ago. Maybe it's not your MIL whom you struggle to love. Maybe it's your sexist boss, liberal wacko fem-nazi neighbor, pious church lady, uber-controlling pastor, bath-avoiding co-worker, unsaved husband, whiney child(ren), Cousin Eddie, stupid parent(s), snide ex-partner, etc etc etc. 

We all have someone in our lives who drives us insane. Loving people we like is easy. Loving people we don't like--who annoy us, who hurt or abuse us--is near impossible.

You don't have to like ___; you just have to love her/him.

We've all heard that. We've probably even said it. But I think it's a platitude that has no foundation in real life. (Ever known a platitude to change an attitude?) 

As long as you despise (dislike . . . can't stand) ______, you'll never be able to truly love him/her.

In his book BLUE LIKE JAZZ, Donald Miller expressed it this way:

"The problem with Christian community was that we had ethics, we had rules and laws and principles to judge each other against. There was love in the Christian community, but it was a conditional love. Sure, we called it unconditional, but it wasn't . . . . 

If [people] were bad and rich, they were called evil. If they were bad and poor, they were charity. Christianity was always right; we were always looking down on everybody else. The problem with Christian community is that we think of love as a commodity . . . . 

The church used love like money. With love, we withheld affirmation from the people who did not agree with us, but we lavishly financed the ones who did."

When I read that, I realized I was withholding love for my MIL in hopes she'd become who I wanted her to be--in other words, to become worthy of my love. My love for her was conditional. If she made me happy, I loved her. If she didn't, I withheld. 

God's love isn't conditional. 

God has never withheld His love from me to teach me a lesson or to make me become who He wanted me to be. I've always considering my flaws--while annoying in others--to be adorable in myself, but at that moment of truth of realizing how conditional my love was, I knew exactly how Job felt when he said, "I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes."

My MIL didn't need to change. I did. Only through repentance did I finally feel free to love and I realized what an amazing woman my MIL was, despite our differences. 

Relationships, as Miller wrote, are pretty simple: 

Nobody will listen to you unless they sense that you like them. 

Key words there are UNLESS THEY SENSE. You can say you like them, but if they don't sense acceptance from you, your words are clanging brass.

Your thoughts?

Monday, December 1, 2014

How to Love Unlovable and Unlikable People (Part 1)

I went to a ladies' fellowship at church recently where the speaker shared about love. Apparently Christians are supposed to "just do it." 

You know, LOVE OTHERS. 

While I agreed with the gist of the talk, too many times I wanted to stand up and say, "Loving others is far harder than just doing it." Seriously.

If that weren't case, then why is hypocrisy the #1 thing Christians are known for instead of love? 

When I was in 8th grade, my Sunday School teacher came back from a conference where she learned about different spiritual gifts. She proceeded to tell us ours based on what she saw in our lives. I looked at her quite unimpressed and said, "Hey , if God wants me to know what my spiritual gift is, He'll tell me not you." She smiled to appease me I'm sure.

Needless to say, I didn't care for the spiritual gift I'd been designated as to having. What the world needs now is love, sweet love, so I decided love (the gift of compassion) was the best one to have. After all, didn't Paul of Tarsas write: 

"What if I speak in the most elegant languages of people or in the exotic languages of the heavenly messengers, but I live without love? Well then, anything I say is like the clanging of brass or crashing cymbal." (The Voice)

In my childish determination to obtain the spiritual gift of compassion (love), I took spiritual gift analysis test after test. Got the same what-I-thought-was boring gift every time. 

Being one not easily dismayed, I decided to rig the test to get the desired results so I could say, "Look at that score, baby! I'm a lover not a fighter." Only problem is I couldn't even rig the gift into prominence. Why? Because . . . 

Loving others, truly loving them, is far harder than rigging a test. 

Do you have someone in your life whom you struggle to love?