Monday, April 14, 2014

10 Principles for Guarding Intimacy in Marriage Part 11

Today, draws to a conclusion our look at principles found in the 10 commandments which we can apply to guarding intimacy with our spouse. Not legalistic, binding laws, but principles that can guide us in our decisions.

Catch up: part 1part 2part 3part 4part 5part 6part 7, part 8part 9, and part 10

You should not covet... Exodus 20:

For you and me: Don’t want or try to get what everyone else has.

Wanting what someone else owns and working to get stuff like our neighbors shifts our focus to things of lesser value than intimacy.

Trying to do everything our co-workers, friends and people on television do will fill our lives with a cluttered schedule.  

The grass tends to look greener in someone else’s yard and comparing ourselves to those around us can easily build resentment.  

With resentment in our hearts, a cluttered schedule and our focus on what has little value, it shouldn't surprise us when intimacy with our spouse disappears from our marriage.

Putting into practice the greatest commandment of all, “ the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength...” instead of wanting what others have, will find us closer to God. And as we each draw closer to God, we will find ourselves closer to each other and the intimacy we crave.

What do you think? Can the principles behind the 10 commandments help us to set healthy boundaries to guard intimacy in our marriage? Which principle do you need to work on? 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Highlight: Wild Mint Tea by Valerie Comer

She’s rooted deep. He flies free.

Local-foods chef Claire Halford envisions turning Green Acres Farm into an event destination. Weddings prove trickier than she imagined when the first one comes with a ruggedly handsome brother-of-the-bride, who has everything but a fixed address. Oh, and faith in God. 

Noel Kenzie loves the freedom his reforestation company affords him. Why worry about deep stuff like God and commitment when he’s in his prime? Except there’s a woman who might make it worth giving up his wings…and digging in some roots. If he dares.
Get your copy of Wild Mint Tea at Amazon

My Review
There is something to be said for building something from scratch and working for your dream. When you work as a family – even when your family is those you labor with for your dream, you put down roots. Something most people long for. Maybe because it is so widely missing in our culture.

That is a lot of what you’ll find in Wild Mint Tea. Roots served up alongside a lot of good food- your likely to get hungry reading this book, mixed together with a measure of faith and offered with a serving of romance. Oh, yeah, and plenty of Wild Mint Tea. A tasty combination.

If you enjoy a gentle romance, God’s great outdoors and a bit of danger you are sure to enjoy Wild Mint Tea. 

The Author
Valerie Comer’s life on a small farm in western Canada provides the seed for stories of contemporary inspirational romance. Like many of her characters, Valerie and her family grow much of their own food and are active in the local foods movement as well as their creation-care-centric church. She only hopes her creations enjoy their happily ever afters as much as she does hers, shared with her husband, adult kids, and adorable granddaughters.

Valerie writes Farm Lit where food meets faith, injecting experience laced with humor into her Farm Fresh Romance stories.

Connect with Valerie on her website. Sign up for her newsletter while you're there.  

An Interview with Valerie
Have you always been a writer? If not, what was your previous occupation? How long have you been writing?
I've always dabbled in writing, but didn't know how to learn to craft and finish a story for many years. I didn't have the passion or drive to learn it. Always something shinier to do! But in 2001 I landed a job in a small-town flooring shop and found myself with many empty hours in my day. My bosses were good with me writing at work, so I set myself to learning the craft. I wrote nine novels over the ten years I worked there, gradually learning how to weave story pieces together. (I never said I was a quick learner!) Most of those novels aren't worth rescuing, but two are now published with another coming soon. I'm thinking about self-publishing a few of the others, but they have to wait their turn!

When you're not writing, what do you enjoy doing?  
As a farmer, gardener, foodie, and grandmother, I keep quite busy, especially in the summer and fall. My Farm Fresh Romance novels are set in a life very similar to mine (other than the grandmother part), so it's all research. I love hanging out with my little grandgirls (age four and under). The trampoline is a favorite.

To really take a break, my husband and I love to tow our little holiday trailer up beside a mountain stream when we can get away for a few days in the summer. Nothing is more rejuvenating than a babbling brook, fresh trout in the frying pan, and a Kindle full of books to read.

Tell us about your writing process.  
When I'm playing with a new story idea, I'll start with brainstorming. It doesn't take long before I break out my three-by-four foot whiteboard and begin mindmapping. I love scribbling all over it with bright dry erase pens, finding connections and building characters and plot.

Then I'll snap a few photos of the board, erase it, and start over from a different angle. One of the ways I use the whiteboard is to find my characters' GMCs (goals, motivations, and conflicts). That's half the plot right there.

Once I start writing, I'm in Scrivener with all my notes in the sidebar. Love that program.

Do you have a separate space set up in your home or a favorite place to write/be creative? 
I'm a lover of silence. Thankfully, my house usually accommodates that unless the family is visiting. My west-facing office is tucked under the eaves upstairs. My laptop goes under the window where I can look out across the vegetable garden and pastures to neighboring farms and the mountains beyond. A long table forms an L, and above that are my whiteboard and an equally large inspiration board pinned full of character photos, print-outs, floor plans, calendars, maps, and whatever other visuals might keep me inspired and on track.

What advice, if any, do you have for others aspiring to publish a book of their own/follow their dream? 
Take time to learn the craft. You probably won't be as slow a learner as I was, but don't discount a practice novel or two while you figure out the process. If you don't have any idea how to start (as I didn't in 2001), check out the overview writing course I've created at It comes via email, and it's free!

What motivated you to write on this topic?  
I write Farm Fresh Romance because it's my life and my passion. We live on a 40-acre farm and believe in fresh, local, seasonal food, so we grow a large garden and can and freeze plenty for winter eating. I know a thing or two about romance because I've been married to the same guy for nearly 34 years.

Young people today are far more concerned about where their food comes from than my own generation, in general. When my son and his wife were in university and told their friends they were moving back to the farm after graduation, their friends were jealous. I began thinking about what it would look like to turn a few idealistic city kids loose on a farm, and the Farm Fresh Romance series was conceived.

Do you plan on writing a sequel to this story? Are there other books in the works? 
Wild Mint Tea is the second book in the Farm Fresh Romance series, and I'm currently working on the third book, Sweetened with Honey, which will release in March 2015. It completes the original mandate of the three young women who bought the farm to begin with, but my publisher and I are talking about continuing the series. Nothing final, yet!

I also have a release, Snowflake Tiara, in September with co-author Angela Breidenbach. Angela's novella is historical and mine is contemporary. Both are romances set around a Christmas beauty pageant in Helena, Montana. And yes, my themes of farm, food, and faith are strong in this story as well.

In another genre, I'm independently publishing a romantic fantasy, Majai's Fury, in May.

What do you want readers to take away from your book? 
I hope they'll feel at home at Green Acres Farm, laughing and crying with their newfound friends. I want my stories to linger in their minds. And I'm also hoping they'll be challenged to consider the junction in their lives where food meets faith

Thanks so much for inviting me here, Angela!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

New! Video Devotionals from Me to You.

I have something special and NEW to share with you. 
An encouraging moment on video!

Monday, April 7, 2014

10 Principles for Guarding Intimacy in Marriage Part 10

Today, we continue to look at principles found in the 10 commandments which we can apply to guarding intimacy with our spouse. Not legalistic, binding laws, but principles that can guide us in our decisions.

Catch up: part 1part 2part 3part 4part 5part 6part 7, part 8 and part 9.  

You should not bear false witness. Exodus 20:16

For today: Always be truthful in word and deed with, to and about your spouse.

Do not keep secrets. Other than what you’re going to get each other for Christmas, secrets breed mistrust. 

Do not fudge the truth. I think it is human nature to make ourselves look good in the way we tell things. But don’t delete a part of what happened just to feel better. If word gets back to your spouse that you didn't tell things the way they were, it will lower the trust factor.

Don’t make up something to cover the truth with others. When you’re in a group and everyone is swapping spouse stories. Don’t say anything if you have nothing good to say. Don’t even tell a white lie story. Fitting in at the price of trust is too high a cost.

Don’t promise and then fail to deliver. Following through on what you say you will do is integrity in action.

Any time you are not representing the truth, 
trust takes a beating. Without trust, how can we have true deep intimacy between hearts? 

Friday, April 4, 2014

10 Principles for Guarding Intimacy in Marriage Part 9

Today, we continue to look at principles found in the 10 commandments which we can apply to guarding intimacy with our spouse. Not legalistic, binding laws, but principles that can guide us in our decisions.

Catch up: part 1part 2part 3part 4part 5part 6part 7 and part 8

You shall not steal. Exodus 20:15

For the modern couple: Don’t do things which will take away from what belongs in a marriage.

What do we do or not do that steals opportunities for intimacy? There are many things we could choose from, but two important items are:

Clutter. Whether it is a cluttered schedule or a cluttered home or cluttered input(noise level, etc,), clutter overstimulates the nerves and can crash a moment of intimacy in no time. Like a glass that is already full of water, it is hard to add any more. 

Beat the clutter. Simplify your activities. What can you say no to? Can you take a day and declutter your home? Is it possible to be intentional about having some quiet time scheduled into your day? A walk, a nap or a period of reading might do the trick.

Tiredness.  As a parent, there is a certain amount that goes with the territory. But are we doing the best we can to help? When we feel lousy, its hard to even think about intimacy. Whether the physical portion or emotional.

Beat the tired blues. Examine your diet. Replace unhealthy foods with more nutritious choices. Skip the 9:00 show and going to bed early. Be sure and include plenty of activity in your life. This doesn’t have to be an hour at the gym. A walk around the block, chasing your kids at the park or parking your car at the back of the lot and climbing stairs instead of taking the elevator are all ways to add movement into your day.

Are you taking care of yourself so you are prepared for intimacy opportunities? 

photo credit: // David Castillo Dominici 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Spotlight: Imogen's Chance by Paula Vince

Imogen's Chance:

She has given herself a chance to fix her personal history. But will old mistakes bring up new emotions?

Imogen Browne longs to make up for past mistakes before she can move on. She quietly resolves to help the Dorazio family, whose lives she accidentally upset. Her biggest challenge is Asher, the one person who may never forgive her. And he is facing a crisis of his own. Imogen must tread very carefully, as trying to fix things may well make them shatter.

A sensitive story about misplaced loyalty, celebrating life and falling in love. Can family secrets concealed with the best intentions bear the light of day?

To purchase: Amazon

My Review:
Imogen’s Chance brings the hope of healing front and center in this gentle romance and challenges you to think through what you believe. No matter whether you agree with her character’s take on it or not, Paula does a great job keeping you engaged thoughout the character’s discovery on the matter.

Faced with a terminal diagnosis, Asher is forced to face what he believes. Will he make a choice for life or simply give up and let what the doctors consider to be inevitable happen?

Trying to make up for past mistakes, Imogen’s strength shines through as she discovers more to herself than even she knew.

Trials such as sickness will put everything in life to the test. Is it true? Is it real? How will I choose to believe and live? All of these questions are dealt with deftly and with dignity. And at the end, you are left asking yourself, “what do I believe?”

I enjoyed this work of fiction that also made me think. The only issue I found was a technical one that hopefully the publisher will put to rights in the next edition. In the electronic version, the spacing between many scenes was almost non-existent, making a few places confusing, but not enough to interfere with the enjoyment of the story as a whole.  

If you want a story that will both prod you to think about life issues while at the same time entertain you with its love through adversity story, then I highly recommend this book to you.

About the author:

Award-winning author, Paula Vince loves to evoke tears and laughter through her novels. A wife and homeschooling mother of three, she resides in the beautiful Adelaide Hills of South Australia. Her youth was brightened by great fiction and she’s on a mission to pay it forward.

Her novel, Picking up the Pieces, won the religious fiction section of the 2011 International Book Awards.
Her novel, Best Forgotten, was winner of the 2011 CALEB Award in the fiction category and also recognized as the best overall entry for the year, chosen over memoirs, devotionals and general non-fiction.

Paula’s books are a skillful blend of drama and romance tied together with elements of mystery and suspense.

Paula is the author of Picking up the Pieces, The Risky Way Home, A Design of Gold and Best Forgotten. She is one of the four authors of The Greenfield Legacy. Her new novel, Imogen’s Chance, will be published in April, 2014.

Connect with Paula:

An Interview with Paula

How does your faith affect your writing?
I’ve only been a Christian since my teens. When I was about 16 years old, I became fascinated by the question of whether God is really willing to have an input in the lives of individuals. I started my quest to find out in every way I could. This attitude of seeking, hungering and thirsting has swept me along for over twenty-five years.

Once, I stayed at the holiday house of friends whose bookcase was full of the sorts of books I used to read before I got interested in searching for God’s heart. It was a very visual picture of how my mind and heart have been shaped over all those years, to a God-seeking heart, because in addition to the classics and novels I saw there, I have shelves filled with books about seeking God and many different translations of the Bible.

I don’t necessarily set out to insert Christian input into each novel I write. It just turns out that way. It seems honest and natural for at least one character to have thoughts and yearnings similar to my own.

Tell us something about the central theme of the book.
In this book, the main characters, Imogen and Asher, each feel an urgent desire to fathom the heart of God, for their own reasons. She longs to make up for past mistakes and feel truly forgiven, while he is battling a potentially fatal illness, and questions why God would allow this upon him, and whether or not He may be prevailed on to heal him.

Their lives get tangled up together, for reasons which need to be read to be found out.

Tell us something about the story behind the story
I hate it when friends and loved-ones get sick. For a long time, I’ve been interested in researching theories behind divine healing. I’ve listened to people tell their personal healing testimonies. I’ve shared a few of my own. I’ve read several non-fiction books written by healing ministers and evangelists. It’s been a fascinating study.

One the one hand, God remains a mystery and we can never rely on apparent principles or steps to coerce Him to act on our behalf. But on the other hand, healing has been revealed in the pages of the Bible to be a subject very close to His heart. When we search the pages, we may find that it’s tied up with His promises and perhaps even woven into our covenant with Him. I wanted to explore these ‘a-ha’ moments in the experiences and honest questions of the characters in ‘Imogen’s Chance.’

I haven’t seen it done often, but for me, fiction turned out to be a great vehicle for such a theme, as I could pull what I learned out of the realm of dry theory, keep it light enough to retain interest, and make it deeply personal in the lives of these characters I hope you’ll come to love.

Another thing I enjoy is setting my novels around my own environment, which I’m familiar with. One of my favourite coastal retreats in South Australia is a little town called Port Elliot. It’s very picturesque and I love to swim and walk there with my family. Along the shore is a treacherous and slippery stretch of rocks which used to be notorious for shipwrecks. For years, I’d wanted to use it for some of the exciting content of a novel, and some of the events in this one turned out to be perfect for it.

The final result is a novel with some very thought-provoking themes, all wrapped around a story of romance and mystery, as old family secrets which have been hinted at are finally revealed.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

An Author Blog Hop

This week I'm participating in an author blog hop. I'll introduce you to three writers and tell you a bit about my writing. I've not done one of these before, so I thought it would fit nicely on What's New Wednesday. Let me know what you think.

First up, meet Kim Stokely. A friend of mine from my writers group here in Omaha, Kim invited me to the blog hop, so she gets center stage here on my post. Be sure you stop by and see her on her site. She has a book out that looks great. Its sitting in my stack, waiting its turn to be read.

The wife of a submariner, Kim has lived in eight states over the last twenty years. She used her background in Drama (a B.F.A. from the University of Connecticut and a Master’s Degree from Regent University) to stay relatively sane throughout all those moves by performing in various plays and musicals, including a one-person show about women in the Bible.  In 2004, the Navy transferred her family to Omaha, Nebraska, a perfectly logical move that never made sense to her mother.  An avid reader, Kim has written novels in several genres, including Biblical, Contemporary, Inspirational Fiction and Young Adult Fantasy. Her story Winter Trees was a semi-finalist in the Christian Writer’s Guild’s 2010 Operation First Novel contest. Woman of Flames is her first published novel. Her non-fiction Inspirational and humor stories have appeared in several Chicken Soup for the Soul books, Vista and online at She is a regular paid contributor to Thriving Family online magazine. Please visit to read a story, find out about upcoming performances, or just to say “hi.” You can also find her on Facebook

Next up, a bit about my writing.

1) What am I working on?
I'm working on multiple projects at the moment. A short story for my summer newsletter. Lots of blog posts for myself and other blogs as well. Some short stories for contests. I actually have a children's book in the works. I am also editing my second book. 

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
The books I write are not the typical romance you find on the shelf. The romances within the pages of my book are about that between married couples. People get married and stuff, its just not centrally about that. You might see the wedding, but instead of the romance leading up to the wedding, you'll see a story about what it takes to make the marriage work after the wedding. Because of this focus, I am able to include some really life altering tough stuff in the story line. My first novel touched on sexual addiction, abuse and dysfunctional family dynamics. 

3) Why do I write what I do?
Plenty of authors write great romances (I enjoy a lot of them)  but not enough write about the tough stuff. Yes, some of these romances address tough topics, but most of them are not centrally about those issues. They are mostly about the girl and boy falling in love. There is a place for that. A good Christian romance can be a nice break from a busy, crazy life.

I believe there also needs to be a place to address the things I write about. A time to talk about what you do when life hits the fan. Because for most of us, life eventually hits the fan. And a lot of people will pick up a novel and be influenced by a story more than they will sit through a sermon. Its a great starting place to encourage people through the difficult places of life. 

4) How does your writing process work?
Get an idea. Write a rough draft. Let it sit. Later, edit. Let it sit. Edit again. Get more eyes on the piece. Edit again. Polish some more. Polish one last time. Submit.

Kind of simplistic, but it works.

As for my novel writing, it takes a longer time to accomplish each step, than say a short story, article or devotional. I would also insert research and planning somewhere between the idea and the first edit. Otherwise, it works pretty much the same. 

And now, the writers I have invited to join the hop. 

David Williamson, writer of fantasy and sci-fi with a Christian worldview, is a US Air Force aircrew member with 19 years' experience. He is a husband of 15 years and a father of four children. He and his wife wrote an article together about overcoming the stresses of a military marriage which was published in American Virtue, Jan-Feb 2012 issue. He is an avid gamer and coffee addict. Dave blogs devotional messages, cultural and political rants, fantasy and sci-fi short stories and thoughts on gaming. He is currently working on his first full length fantasy novel. 

Jeanie Jacobson has enjoyed a variety of career fields from computer programming to educating students about exotic pets. She's on the leadership team of Wordsowers Christian Writers Group in Omaha, NE. She's published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miracles Happen, and is currently working on a Christian slanted YA fantasy novel. Jeanie is involved in various ministries at her church, including the praise dance team. She loves spending time with family and friends, reading, hiking, and gardening. You can connect with Jeanie on her website or Facebook and of course, she would love to have you sign up for her newsletter.

Did you enjoy meeting my friend? Who did you stop by to visit?