I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The New Life of Jenness Walker

Oh where, oh where, did 2013 go?

Right here, I guess. Readers, meet Kamden Walker. My chunky, happy, hungry, teething, adorable son. :-)

A few weeks ago, I stumbled across my list of goals for 2013. Most of them flew out the window when I found out on Sanctity of Life Sunday that I was pregnant. Last year passed me by with a blur of doctor appointments, passing the torch at my job, doing research on how in the world to take care of a baby, making list after list of possible baby names, twenty-four hours of fruitless labor before we gave up and had a C-section, lots of desperate prayers like "Lord, help the baby to sleep. Just. Sleep." Listening to advice and figuring out exactly how clueless I am. Doing a little bit of writing. A very little bit.

And not blogging. At all. Oops.

So here I am. And my word for 2014 is "Deliberate."

While I don't regret taking it easy writing-wise last year--adding a baby after ten years of just the two of us, very non-baby-literate people? I needed some time to not think about much else--I know this year I need to be deliberate in everything I do. How I raise my child. How I spend my time. How I interact with others.

2014 is going to be another different year. Our house is for sale. We're hoping to move in the next couple months. My long-time best friend and life-saving baby-advisor is moving as well. I'm still not working, and my husband is trying to take his website-building business from side-job to full-time job. And the dog moved back home from my in-laws. So, life in the Walker household is still different, still a bit on the crazy side. But hashing out a routine for writing, spending time with God, taking care of my family, and making memories is worth the effort. One I need to make.

What about you? Is there anything you need to be more deliberate/purposeful about this year?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Meet Staci Stallings newest Heroine, Maggie Montgomery...

Patricia Bradley here, and I want to introduce Staci Stallings' heroine, Maggie Montgomery to our Ponderer readers. But, before we get to Maggie, a little about the author. 

I met Staci when she volunteered her time on an ACFW Course Loop teaching marketing. She is a Contemporary Christian author and the founder of Grace & Faith Author Connection and CrossReads.com, and is regularly a #1 Best Selling Christian Romance author on Amazon. 

Now for Maggie's interview:

We at Christian Ereader News would like to welcome Maggie Montgomery.  Maggie is the new nanny for billionaire Conrad Ayer’s children.

CEN:  Thanks for coming today, Maggie.
Maggie:  Thank you for having me.

CEN:  Tell us a little about your new job.
Maggie:  Oh, well, my new job is great.  It is.  I look after the two children—Peter and Isabella.  And they are the sweetest little kids in the world.  Very well behaved.  Not that they really have much choice.  Everything is run on a pretty tight schedule at the Ayer mansion.  Peter has all kinds of lessons.  Of course Izzy being so young, she doesn’t have lessons yet, but I’m sure that’s just a matter of time.

CEN: So we hear there’s a new relationship in your life?  Tell us about that.
Maggie:  A new…? Oh.  You mean Keith.
 Well, that’s not really a relationship.  I mean, not like you mean anyway.  Not like… we’re together or anything. We’re not. Definitely not.  After all, he’s engaged to Dallas Henderson, you know, the senator’s daughter. Yeah.  And they’re getting married in June… (Maggie trails off, lost in thought).  They’re right for each other. They are. Perfect really.  I mean, Dallas is just who Keith should be with.  She’s really smart.  In fact, she’s going to be lawyer, and she has all the right connections.  She’s a nice person too.  Not that we’ve really been around each other much. I mean, I’m just the help and all.
And Keith… Keith is Mr. Ayer’s son, with his first wife.  Not that I knew that the first time we met. (Laughs)  I thought he was the hired hand, that he just ran the stables.  And he does… he does do that.  (Drifts off again, sighs, and looks up)  But we’re just friends, and I’m sure once he’s married, we won’t even be that.  Not that I blame him.  After all, that’s how it should be.

CEN:  What has been the biggest obstacle in your life?
Maggie: I lost my parents when I was very young—only 8.  They were killed in a car accident.  It’s been really tough since then because I ended up in the foster care system growing up.  Although I finally got to a good home, the first few were pretty rough.  I guess that’s why I’m so passionate about kids, why I went into early childhood education, because I see how important protecting and being there for kids really is.

CEN:  If you could have or do one thing, what would it be?
Maggie: That’s easy.  I would do everything I could to show every child in the world how much God loves them.  Whether that would mean taking in foster kids or going into places where kids are really struggling to just get by.  I think it’s so important for them to know that God really cares about them and that He has a Plan for each one of them, even if they can’t see it right now.
Like this job is for me.  I mean, I don’t plan on staying here forever.  At least I didn’t when I got here, but Pete and Izzy…. Well, we’ll see what God has planned, but trust me, I never saw this coming, so who knows what God has in mind for me.

CEN:  It sounds like your faith is very important to you.  Can you tell us more about that?
Maggie: Bouncing around in the system, I got really lucky that I had God from the start.  He helped me through so many nights of being alone and trying not to be afraid.  I would lay in bed, and I would talk to Him, in my heart, you know.  Just talk.  I’d tell Him about school and about what was going on.  Finally He brought me to Mrs. Malowinski’s house, and she taught me even more how much He loves me, how much He cares and especially how He really does have plans for me—things I can’t see or imagine.  That gives me hope, hope that all this stuff that’s happened to me is for a reason, that He’s got a Plan to use them to help others and maybe even me.

CEN:  What was it like to lose your parents at such a young age?
It was really hard because I didn’t have anyone else.  It was like one minute I had a family, and then all of a sudden, it was just me… well, me and God.  I guess that’s why I got so close to Him.  He was the only thing I had left, the only thing I really had to hold onto.

CEN:  What do you like to do in your spare time?
What spare time? (Laughs.)
I don’t get time off very much at the Ayer mansion.  Not that anyone does.  Even Peter is scheduled to the hilt.  But I have gone out with Greg a couple of times. Oh, Greg is one of Keith’s friends.  Not that that makes any difference, but…
Well, anyway, I’ve kind of learned that taking time off or doing anything outside of what’s written on Patty Ann’s schedule is a good way to get into big trouble although to be honest, I would really like to go out riding with Keith and the kids again.  Not that that will happen, of course, but it would be nice.

CEN:  What is your biggest fear?
That I’m going to be homeless, hungry, and alone if this job doesn’t work out, and right now, that’s looking more and more likely.  In fact, I really need to get back because Patty Ann’s just looking for a reason to fire me, and me being gone so long would be good enough for her.

CEN:  Okay.  Well, thank you for sitting down with us today.
Maggie:  Thanks for having me, and now I really have to get back.  God bless!

Thank you so much for joining us at the MBT Ponderers! 

Comment question: Would you want to be a nanny?

Staci's #1 Best Seller, Deep in the Heart, featuring Maggie Montgomery from the interview, is a free download Saturday, January 25 through Monday, January 27 at Amazon!

Deep in the Heart
 "This is more than a romance.  The author cuts straight to the heart of God–love.  God is love. Even through unexpected tragedies.  And we can overcome evil with good–by His love."
--Betty Anne Bantz
Can Keith defy the most powerful men in Texas to follow his heart? 
Kindle Ebook: http://ow.ly/c1hev  or http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005LVVIIG
Paperback: http://ow.ly/c1uHt

Staci Stallings, the author of this article, is a Contemporary Christian author and the founder of Grace & Faith Author Connection and CrossReads.com

Monday, January 20, 2014

Crazy Things a Writer Researches

Image provided by Freedigitalphotos.net
Writers sometimes research strange topics.  I’ve wondered if the F.B.I. ever decided to check my Google searches, just what conclusion they would draw.

Sometimes my searches involved something so harmless as the Texas bluebonnets. Not much suspect in a wildflower. Even my lengthy research on custody battles might not merit a red flag.

But I’ve also conducted extensive searches on biker gangs. Ok, Mr. Government Agent might raise his eyebrows on that one.

For that same story, I actually got on the back of a motorcycle and researched what it feels like to round the corners on a Harley. Yep…and I can see why folks like their bikes.

But the search that might send a federal investigator to my doorstep is the one on how to sabotage a person’s brakes. (All a person would need is a tool and a bit of know-how, in case you’re wondering.)

 I could see how that bit of research might warrant a closer look!

How about you? What the craziest thing you’ve researched for a story?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Great Exchange

Delores E. Topliff

In recent days, my family has experienced major changes and ends of life. Even when loved ones live full years and their passing is expected, it’s not easy. Lifelong relationships provide more riches than untested beginnings, but whether it’s calendars, or entire worlds, Jesus makes all things new.

In The Great Divorce C. S. Lewis presents plants and animals we know as super-sized, larger than life, with greater glory and beauty than anything  on earth.
Near the end of her life, unsure if she were dreaming or awake, my mother described seeing dazzling tulips the size of umbrellas. “Keep watching,” I said. “Those are the beginnings of God’s garden. He’ll show you much more.”

I hadn’t experienced anything close until two years ago after a night-long trans-Atlantic flight to visit friends in Denmark, my plane angled down to skim into Iceland. After the blue-green sea met black volcanic basalt, fields around the airport were vivid purple carpets. As the plane slowed to drop lower still, millions of brilliant purple Lupine spikes glowed like fire as intense Nordic sunlight blazing through them. Unaware I would see anything so magnificent, they were gone before I could grab my camera, and then our wheels hit the runways. But they glowed so vividly, so brighter-than-life, they burned into my consciousness. All other sensations stopped as I marveled--almost worshipped. Their beauty overloaded my circuits, literally taking my breath away. I dream of flying there again to recapture that experience.

That must be what it's like entering heaven. The Lord’s presence is so wondrous and real, it takes our earthly breath away, giving us His. His breath, new life, in eternal exchange. So that we willingly let go of all we know to enter heaven where He makes all things new.

Last week I spent good days with my 93-year-old dying father. Our best times were laughter, conveying more than conversation. Others had prayed with him. I did, too, asking God his state, and became overwhelmed by strong assurances that God is so much more merciful than I understood. Glimpses of His indescribable beauty built my faith. And took my breath away. Giving me something better.

What about you? What takes your breath away? What does He replace it with?


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

New Year's Resolutions

By Jennie Atkins
Less than a month ago, I had a complete knee replacement along with the rebuilding of each of the ligaments in my knee.  Although it was a much needed procedure, it didn't come without its share of humiliation, struggle, and realization of how fragile our human bodies are.

Mostly it meant pulling from an inner strength I could only credit God for. Each movement, each step needed to be calculated, especially when the rebuilding of my knee meant learning to walk all over again—the right way.

The time of being totally dependent on my hero husband who took care of my every need for days before I became mobile, left me examining the many things that I do that were unnecessary. It also gave me a time to reflect on the year behind me and plan for the year ahead. If anything, it gave me the desire to become a better all-round person, to grow spiritually, physically, and mentally. But mostly to not sit around and settle for the status-quo.
Am I setting a goal? Making the standard “I want to do this” resolution? No, because I don't believe a resolution should be a hard goal, but a decision to move in a positive direction.  I believe sometimes we set unrealistic goals for ourselves and they become more of a burden than an inspiration. (i.e. to miraculously lose a huge amount of weight, quit a bad habit cold turkey, etc.) These types of goals often become history long before January comes to an end.
What do I want my outcome to be at the end of 2014? I want to say that I've grown closer to the woman God wants me to be. To be more positive, less condescending, and hopefully be able to make a difference in someone's life.

Your turn:  How do you feel about resolutions?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Your Challenge, Should You Choose to Accept It...

Okay. It’s 2014. I have my One Word—strength. I have my goals—write book 3 in the Logan Point Series, lose the five pounds I gained over the holidays, read through the Bible for the 8th year. ..

Read through the Bible? Really? And you’ve really done it for 8 years?


Yes, I have really done it for 8 years--yesterday started my 9th. As to why, the first year was because one of the teacher where I presented abstinence programs challenged me to do it. She said it would give me a greater understanding of His word, and it would become ingrained in me. As I thought about her challenge, I felt God’s nudging. Read My word.

I chose the Tyndale Chronological Bible and was amazed at how much more I understood because I was reading it in the order it happened. The Psalms were placed during David’s reign, and I could see what was going on in his life when he wrote them. Then there were the Psalms written by others and seeing when they were written gave me such insight. And Job. I mean, I had no idea he lived about the time Abraham came on the scene.

By the time three years had passed, I realized the teacher was right. Not only did my understanding increase each year, but when my pastor talked about the minor prophets or one of the Israelite kings, I actually knew, not only what he was talking about, but the context of the scripture. I learned about the king who sent his choir out before his army to fight a war. I saw God's great mercy when He forgave his people over and over again. I saw David's repentance and why he was a man after God's own heart. 

You can see and learn all of this too!

So, I want to challenge you to read through the Bible. And not just this year, but for five years. Will there be times when you’ll feel like you’re just checking off boxes? Probably. I did sometimes, but I believe my obedience pleased Him. And even on those days, God spoke to me through His word.

So there you are--your challenge, should you choose to accept it. As always, should any member...Oh wait, this isn't a mission impossible. This blog won't self-destruct in five seconds. 

Leave me a comment and tell  me what you think.

Patricia Bradley

Shadows of the Past from Revell February 2014 
Available for preorder at CBD: http://ow.ly/qIx2k and Amazon: http://ow.ly/qIx90 and B&N: http://ow.ly/qKdSL 

I asked God to teach me patience and He gave me a book to write