Joy in Adversity

We are so happy to have my friend, Edie Melson, share her beautiful story about family…

By Edie Melson

I’ve come to realize that the seeds of faith begin their journey to the light, in the dark. As the mother of a former Marine, I’ve been through the painful process of blooming in adversity.

Neither I nor my husband come from a military family, so our son’s decision to enlist straight after high school caught us off guard. We weren’t ashamed or disappointed in him, although we were worried about where this decision could take him. But we could see his sincere desire to follow God’s leading in his life and knew that where ever this road led, God would see him through.

But the week I said goodbye to him as he got ready to leave for his first deployment in Iraq, all those thoughts of faith and how God would take care of him fled. I found myself engulfed in a terror so deep it colored every corner of my world a murky gray.

Throughout the last couple days I had with him, I was overcome with fear and uncertainty. As we sat down to eat, I couldn’t help but wonder if this was the last time I’d share a meal with him. As he posed for a picture with his brothers, in the back of my mind was the fear that this would be the last picture I’d ever have of him. All through that time, the what-ifs continued to crowd out the faith I thought I had.

Then he was gone—half a world away—fighting an enemy whose main focus was on killing him. It was during those deployments that I learned about darkness of the heart. I wanted to protect him, I ached to shield him from what I knew he was experiencing, but I couldn’t. So I did the one thing I could do. It became my course of last resort because I was at the end of my own strength.

I prayed.

And I prayed.

And I prayed some more.

I learned to take my overwhelming fear to the only One who could protect him. And I left my son in God’s hands. The prayers weren’t pretty. Often times they weren’t even words. They truly were the groanings we read about it in Scripture (Romans 8:26-27).

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was like a seed, planted deep in the ground. I was surrounded by darkness, by rough, rocky soil, pressing in on all sides crushing the life from me. But through that incredible pressure, the shell of my own strength fell away, and I slowly began to push toward the light that I knew lay just beyond the darkness.

And my course of last resort became my strength, It became the first place I turned. Instead of praying in desperation, I began to pray in confidence. When the fears threatened to overwhelm me, I learned to lean into God, instead of turning in on myself.

The final harvest of that time of darkness came to fruition May 12, 2015,  just after Mother’s Day. It’s a book of prayers for those with loved ones in the military, While My Soldier Serves. How I longed for just such a book during that dark time. Now God has taken my time of darkness and is shining it as a light for those who are also facing the incredible stress of having a loved one at war.

I can say with confidence, never doubt that God will bring a harvest of joy, no matter how dark the days you’re facing now.

Click to tweet: Prayer: my course of last resort became my strength.

I’d love to know how you get through the dark times and find a way to bloom. Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments section below.


While My Soldier Serves

Thousands of families send loved ones off to fight on a daily basis. These families spend a lot of time living in a world out of control. This kind of stress can take an incredible toll, but there is hope. When we feel helpless, we can take our fears to the One who loves us more than anything and holds the universe in His hands.

In this book you’ll find the words to usher you into His presence. These prayers are a place to visit again and again as you take your own fears to God. They’re just a starting point, written to help you find your own voice as you call out on behalf of the one you love.

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Find your voice, live your story…is the foundation of Edie Melson’s message, no matter if she’s addressing parents, military families, readers of fiction or other writers. As an author, blogger, and speaker she’s encouraged and challenged audiences across the country and around the world. Her passion to help those who are struggling find the strength they need to triumph is reflected in the characters she creates and the insight she shares. Connect with her on her website, through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Find her books on Amazon.com.

Why Should Truckers Have All the Fun? by Linda Yezak

Linda YezakClimbing high in the saddle. Feeling all that power under you as you ride. Singing at the top of your lungs any song that comes to mind. Eating simple grub and seeing America first. Really. Why should truckers have all the fun? During my teens, we had a choice between biker or trucker heroes. I chose trucker. My favorite movies  were “Convoy” and “Smokey and the Bandit”–outlaws who defied the establishment on eighteen wheels instead of two. Since I never was much of a rebel, I’ll never understand where I got the notion that trucking would be romantic, but the idea of criss-crossing the country and seeing America through the windshield of a big rig attracted me like a trucker to chrome.

Can you imagine what stories a driver could tell? Doesn’t matter if the tales are based on what he sees or what he dreams up during long, boring stints, he’s likely to be an entertaining story teller over a breakfast of grits and java. I love grits and java. Even though the idea didn’t last long, at the time, I decided I would apply for trucking school right after graduation. I’d ride like a sight-seer on a mission. I’d sleep in the rig in a quiet park, make my deliveries on time, then bee-line home with a new delivery and a head full of stories, poems, and song lyrics. Back then, keeping it between the lines was good enough for me. The long stretch of highway could take me places I didn’t even know existed–and I’d get paid for discovering them.

As I’ve gotten older, though, I’ve realized that big rigs don’t always fit down the side roads. There are other places I want to see, other things I want to experience. Besides, traffic is much slower.18 wheeler

These days I find myself navigating the highways of cyberspace more than those etching the face of the country. What I’m driving depends on the day and the reason to be out on the road. On a good day, I’m zooming down the fast lane toward publication. But more often than not, I’m traversing the side roads. Not necessarily a bad thing, if I can keep these jaunts in check.

Research leads to rabbit trails; whether or not they’re useful is a different matter. Networking and promotions takes me from house to house to visit friends, a fun, wonderful, dangerous use of time because time disappears quickly when I take these detours. I don’t get as many story ideas from this kind of driving as I do the other, so a modified dream exists. I keep my car gassed and ready to roll so I can do some “real” traveling. Refresh the soul and mind. Accumulate story ideas. Visit friends in the flesh. Both forms of travel–cyber and physical–are good for a writer’s life. All work and no play dulls the senses and bores the reader. All play and no work offers nothing to reader at all. Keep your tires balanced and your vehicle facing forward. Enjoy the ride.

 

Writing prompt: As I climb into my big rig to carry a load of ___________ to ____________, I expect to find ____________ along the way. Sure enough, I do, and . . .

 


 

GtLaR Front Cover FinalGive the Lady a Ride
Patricia Talbert is a high-class social coordinator from New York. 
Talon Carlson is a rugged bull rider from Texas. 
He thinks she’s too polished. 
She thinks he’s insane. 
Opposites aren’t quick to attract when the lady who enters the cowboy’s world is on a mission to sell the ranch. But a box of letters changes her mission–letters of unshakable faith and a love deeper than anything she’s ever experienced. 
Soon she finds his integrity appealing. Her spunk draws him in. He has the faith she craves; she may be the love he longs for. But faith and love aren’t achieved in a single weekend. 
To buy time to explore the possibilities between them, she issues a challenge: “Teach me to ride bulls.” 
From here on, they’re in for the ride of their lives.

Linda W. Yezak lives with her husband and three cats in a forest in east Texas, where tall tales abound  and exaggeration is an art form. She holds a BA in English and a graduate certificate in Paralegal Studies. Thirty years later, she’s finally putting her degree in English to good use, combining it with her natural inclination toward story-telling to create fun, unique novels, which include Give the Lady a Ride, The Cat Lady’s Secret, and The Simulacrum. Her non-fiction works include Writing in Obedience, co-written with Hartline literary agent, Terry Burns. Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B004QX62BI Twitter: @LindaYezak Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GivetheLadyaRide LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lindawyezak Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/LindaYezak 777 Peppermint Place: http://lindayezak.com AuthorCulture: http://authorculture.blogspot.com Newsletter: Coffee with Linda: http://dld.bz/drt5t

Mythology & Folklore: Giants on the Earth

Osmar_Schindler_David_und_GoliathAs a young reader, I loved mythology. I became interested in the myths in school when we had to read them, but continued on my own. So imagine my surprise when I found the following Bible verse:

There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.–Genesis 6:4 NKJV

Could it be true? Had there really been giants on earth? Pre-flood, pre-Noah? The answer is yes. And they were men of renown. Well-known. Talked about. And why not? These were called the Nephilim, descended of angels. Later, after the flood, giants still existed in the form of the Anakim, the children of Anak, and also the Emim (Deuteronomy 2:11, 9:2 & Numbers 13:33).

Remember Goliath? He was nine feet tall. Nine. So it’s not a stretch of the imagination to believe the myths may have been based in reality. And of course, as people do, they told tales about them. Fish stories. With each telling, they became bigger, taller, stronger, more powerful. Israel’s spies in Numbers 13 were shaking in their boots. No way were they going back there. Giants lived in the land.

2013-08-25 03.55.16Folklore is the passing down of stories, myths, sung or recanted. Loveable stories like Pecos Bill and Paul Bunyan. Fun to read, fun to listen to around campfires. But fiction, all the same. Blown out of proportion by the tellers, but good clean fun, most of the time.

So could these stories also be based in truth?

They never seem to lose their fascination. Moviegoers flock to the hero sagas. Thor. Hercules. Can anyone play Zeus better than Liam Neeson?

As a young reader, finding that verse in the Bible (whose words are truth) was like a door opening on a whole new existence. My imagination shifted into overdrive.  I could see how people would think those men were gods. They towered over everyone else.

I hope my ideas have inspired you to look further into the history of mankind. Search the scriptures on your own and see what you think. Are the myths based in reality?

Writing Prompt: As writers, we have a wealth of ideas thrown at us in the stories of old. What can we do with them? Pull one of them out and give it a current setting. Mix in a little romance, if you will, or a good dose of humor. Make it real. Make it your own. Be creative! Leave us a short sample in the comment section.

“Osmar Schindler David und Goliath”. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Osmar_Schindler_David_und_Goliath.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Osmar_Schindler_David_und_Goliath.jpg

Betty Thomason Owens

The Flying Pioneers by Rachel Muller

WWI Air WarIt was said to be the “war to end all wars,” however, World War I only provided the fuel to ignite the world into hostile circumstances. 100 years later, we look back on the world’s history and the horrific slaughter on mankind through trench warfare, tank battalions, and the brand new contraption just taking the world by storm—the aeroplane.

In just 100 years the world has quickly developed and improved in aerodynamics. From the Wright Brothers’ first flight in 1903 to today’s manless flying machines, architects and mechanics have greatly influenced the air and space market. But how did flying evolve into what is has become today? Well, believe it or not, it all started with World War I…

Just prior to the war, England’s air fleet consisted of only 33 planes. Most of these early flying machines were made of paper, bamboo or poplar wood, and bicycle tires. Canvas skins were later used because of its durability over paper. However, Germany advanced in the field of aerodynamics and quickly developed their own effective planes that were more durable, could carry metal bodies instead of paper or canvas, and were faster than the Royal Flying Corps’ own planes.

When reconnaissance flights began, pilots were also instructed to take down Germany’s 170 balloon observation crafts. The pilots found while performing their duties they were also able to drop small bombs from the cockpit onto the enemy’s line with little threat to the pilot and the aircraft. It caused significant damage to the enemy in which they had little to no time to react. In no time at all, guns were mounted to the fuselage and synchronized with the front propeller, thus thrusting the opposing sides into a new kind of war—an air war.Bomb Dropping

Fresh and young pilots entering the RFC (some only 16 or 17 years of age) were thrown into pilot training almost immediately. Most WWI veteran pilots recorded that upon entering their quarters they were handed a pilot’s handbook and the joystick. Before the invention of simulators, a young pilot’s training was on-the-job. Sadly, over 15,000 planes and some 7,000 pilots lost their lives in training alone. By 1917, the life expectancy of a pilot was only 11 days.

The pioneers of flying endured harsh flying conditions. Due to little experiment on altitudes and air pressure, pilots made the half hour climb to 20,000 feet to find the altitude a frigid tormentor. Oxygen was sparse to none at all and the oxygen mask had not yet come into existence. Many suffered frostbite from the extreme temperatures, and air sickness due to the lack of oxygen in the blood. It was an excruciating experience for many.

If a pilot was lucky enough to live two weeks and shot down a total of 5 enemy planes, he was deemed a Flying Ace and decorated for his bravery in the skies. But most pilots never received the recognition they deserved. England’s laws prevented an Ace’s name and photo from being published in the newspapers, but when the law was lifted, a pilot, whose name did appear in the papers, became one not so popular with his peers. The English pilots believed they were a team and did not look for self-glory as the German’s had.

After the end of the first world war, people around the globe were ready to dismiss everything associated with war. The price had been too high for many. Soon pilots and their aircraft were demobilized. Many pilots were out of work and rejected from entering the army. But then something promising happened, and it was something that was catching around the globe. In 1918, the first successful airmail trip was made and inaugurated, introducing the world to the possibilities of air travel.

Since then, man’s dream of flying has become a reality and our technology continues to grow at an amazing pace, expanding our world to the limits of our imagination.

Thanks so much, Rachel, for finishing out our month of World War I…

Rachel Muller_HeadshotObsessed with World War II since the tender age of 17, Rachel Muller has been studying The Greatest Generation for 13 years and composing stories of love and war for nearly three years. After taking time to start and raise a family she has now turned her to passion—writing WWII fiction.

Her first book in her Love and War Series, Letters From Grace, won a Top 28 spot in the Harlequin/Mills & Boon So You Think You Can Write Contest (2012) where it finaled as the only historical romance in their Love Inspired line. Since then she has concentrated on re-writes and is now under review by literary agents. You can learn more about Rachel at www.racheldmuller.com or find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

The Significance of Women in WWI

July marks the 100th anniversary of World War I. All month long, we’ll look at different aspects of this war to end all wars. Today we introduce an article by our newest Crew Member, Betty Boyd.

DCF 1.0In doing research for the writing of this post, there were many notable women cited for their various contributions. What I found most significant was how the role of women changed when the United States got involved with the war in 1917.

Women’s roles prior to WWI were for domestic purposes. In previous wars fought by the United States, women served as nurses. When WWI came along, what was even more striking was the fact that women were still not allowed to vote.

For the first time, women were recruited in the Army and Navy Nurse Corps. They were assigned no rank and were able to serve both domestically and overseas. Additionally, women who were not nurses could enlist in the Navy and the Marine Corps.Women also aligned themselves with volunteer organizations such as the Red Cross, Salvation Army, and the YMCA.

The shift had begun.

The military side of things opened up new doors for women. Their roles began to expand and also their acceptance in the US Armed Forces. Almost13,000 women enlisted in the Navy and Marine Corps, were given the same status as men, and wore a uniform blouse with an insignia. Over 30,000 women would serve in the Army and Navy Nurse Corps.

As the men went overseas, women occupied various jobs that were once done by men. Employment by women jumped from just over 3 million to over 4 million by January 1918. Women worked as clerical workers in private offices and conductors on trams and buses. They also worked as engineers and toiled in the highly dangerous munitions industry. Women did heavy labor such as unloading coal, stoking furnaces, and building ships.

This was unprecedented in all of modern time.  Women were needed more than at any other period. It became hard for women to go back to just being homemakers and mothers. WWI changed women’s roles forever.

Some women of note are:

Loretta Perfectus Walsh, who became the first active-duty US Navy women. She held a non-nurse occupation while enlisted in the US Naval Reserve. Additionally, she became the first US Navy petty officer.

Frances Gulick was a welfare worker at the YMCA. She was awarded a US Army citation for valor and courage during an aerial bombardment of Varmaise, France in 1918.

Elizabeth S. Friedman worked to document the history of secret communications. She also was a crypto analyst for the Treasury Department, and broke encoded radio messages.

The significance of women in WWI cannot be underestimated. They could no longer sit on the sidelines.

WWI changed forever the landscape of women’s roles both domestically and overseas.

Betty Boyd

Best Treasure Hunting Movies

By+JenniferHallmark

raiders of lost arkI love to watch a good movie full of intrigue, romance and treasure hunting. Who can forget one of my all time favorites, Raiders of the Lost Ark? Harrison Ford became my favorite new hero and the suspense left me breathless.

And how could we talk about treasure without mentioning pirates? Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl combines Jack Sparrow the pirate with treasure and romance.

Another one I’ve watched over and over is Romancing the Stone. A writer living the adventure of a lifetime is my kind of movie.

For an oldie but goodie, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre with Humphrey Bogart combines a hunt for gold with greed in the desert.

And last but not least, The Goonies, a movie about a group of kids hunting for a pirate’s treasure to save their homes from foreclosure. I loved Sean Astin in this movie!TheGooniesPortada-Frikarte

What are some more movies or television series that deal with treasure hunting?

And speaking of treasure, leave a comment to be entered to win a $25 Amazon gift card to be given away on Monday.

A Dozen Apologies with Jennifer Hallmark

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Today we welcome Jennifer Hallmark, another of our Writing Prompts Crew, who also debuts in the group project, A Dozen Apologies, released February 14th.

What drew you to this story? To be honest, the opportunity to be published. Then when I read the storyline and found what was needed from me, the ideas started flowing and I caught the vision of the story itself. Mara is a wonderful character, full of strengths and weaknesses.

What was it like to work on a multi-authored manuscript? A lot of fun and a little confusing. I enjoyed communicating with the other authors, the publisher, and editor through the Facebook group and email. The different experiences and opinions widened my view of writing.

What is the most important thing you have learned through this experience? That writing really isn’t all about me. Deep down, I’d hoped my own novel would be my first publication. I believe, however, this experience will help me gain the knowledge of “being published” and the next time I won’t feel quite as overwhelmed.

Would you recommend this type of writing to others? Why, or why not? Yes! I’ve made new friends, gained more knowledge into being published, and explored a different genre in writing.

A DOZEN APOLOGIES FINAL FRONT med

A Dozen Apologies

In college, Mara and her sorority sisters played an ugly game, and Mara was usually the winner. She’d date men she considered geeks, win their confidence, and then she’d dump them publicly. When Mara begins work for a prestigious clothing designer in New York, she gets her comeuppance. Her boyfriend steals her designs and wins a coveted position. He fires her, and she returns in shame to her home in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where life for others has changed for the better.

Mara’s parents, always seemingly one step from a divorce, have rediscovered their love for each other, but more importantly they have placed Christ in the center of that love. The changes Mara sees in their lives cause her to seek Christ. Mara’s heart is pierced by her actions toward the twelve men she’d wronged in college, and she sets out to apologize to each of them. A girl with that many amends to make, though, needs money for travel, and Mara finds more ways to lose a job that she ever thought possible.

Mara stumbles, bumbles, and humbles her way toward employment and toward possible reconciliation with the twelve men she humiliated to find that God truly does look upon the heart, and that He has chosen the heart of one of the men for her to have and to hold.

Jennifer Hallmark: writer by nature, artist at heart, and daughter of God by His grace. She loves to read detective fiction from the Golden Age, watch movies like LOTR, and play with her two precious granddaughters. At times, she writes.

Her website is Alabama-Inspired Fiction and she shares a writer’s reference blog, Writing Prompts & Thoughts & Ideas…Oh My! with friends, Christina, John, Ginger, Dicky, and Betty. She and Christina Rich share an encouraging blog for readers called The Most Important Thing.

Jennifer and her husband, Danny, have spent their married life in Alabama and have a basset hound, Max.

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