Monday, August 31, 2009


My dear friends, Lynnette Bonner has a book releasing soon titled ROCKY MOUNTAIN OASIS.

I have asked her to blog about it at MY blog. Cool, eh?

So, kick back, enjoy, and even click on the link she provides in order to read a sampling of what's inside this excellent romantic fiction rife with adventure and action, set in the late 1800s, my favorite era!

First, I want to say a heartfelt thank you to Shar for hosting me today. She has a heart of gold and I'm benefitting from it. Thanks so much, Shar!

My son was about 7 years old and every night he would listen to the Bible on tape while lying in bed. One day, as we were driving home together from an appointment, he asked, "Mom? Did Jesus really say he would make Peter a fisher of men instead of a fisher of fish?"

"Yes," I said. And I went on to explain what Jesus meant by that statement. That Peter would tell others about Jesus, how He had come to earth and died for their sins. That Peter would now encourage people to live free from sin instead of being a fisherman.

"Oh." My son was silent for a long beat as he thought over what I'd explained. Finally he asked, "So Peter wasn't hookin' scuba divers or anything like that?"

I laughed, but that story has stuck with me through the years. The Lord keeps bringing it to mind and I ask myself, "Have you hooked any scuba divers, lately? Do you even have a hook in the water?" Let's face it; fishing for people is hard work! But, as writers we have the opportunity to reach people far beyond our normal circle of influence. Jesus often used story to capture the attention of his "fish," because fiction can pack a powerful message.

It is my sincere prayer that the message in my book, Rocky Mountain Oasis, will touch lives for the Kingdom. While I hope the story will engage and be enjoyable, I pray it will go beyond mere entertainment, and I'm looking forward to seeing what God will do with it.

Below is a little taste of what the book is about. You can click on the "excerpt" link to read the first few chapters. And don't forget to leave a comment because I'm going to give away one electronic copy to a lucky winner, ONE WEEK from today, TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 8!


She's been living in a desert all her life.
Suddenly she's come upon an oasis.
But is it just a mirage?

Idaho Territory, 1885

Brooke Marie Baker, eighteen, has been sent west as a mail-order bride. As the stage nears Greer's Ferry, where she is to meet the man she's pledged to marry, she tries to swallow the lump of nervousness in her throat. Can it be any worse than living with Uncle Jackson?or Hank? she wonders. All men are the same, aren't they? But with her parents and sister dead, she has no choice.

Sky Jordan, a rancher, holds a single, yellow daisy in his hand as he watches the ferry cross the river. Ever since he'd found out his surly cousin, Jason, had sent for a mail-order bride, his mind and heart had been ill at ease. No woman deserves to be left with the likes of Jason. But now he questions his own plans to claim the bride for himself. Why am I drawn to this woman I don't even know?

A wounded heart. Desperate choices. Unfathomable love.
Set in the adventure and danger of the Wild West.

To view a picture of Lynnette, hear more about her, and to read an excerpt of her book, click

Saturday, August 29, 2009

From God's Great GOODNESS to Men's, uhhh, URINALS...

First of all, is that how you spell 'urinals'? I don't think I've ever written that word before, and I don't care if I ever do again.

At any rate...second off, (I'll get back to the urinals part later...) we attended a huge family/friend wedding last night, and it was fun, beginning with the 5 PM ceremony of the outdoor version. Let me just say that planning an outdoor summer wedding in West Michigan is iffy at best, but this couple had FAITH! And good thing, too, because it rained and dripped all day with nary a spot of sun! People coming into the wedding said there was rain until they came from within five miles of the location! Now, that's answered prayer. Also, Cecil (dear hubby) said he got on his knees yesterday morning and prayed the rain would hold off, and I'm sure he wasn't the only one who did, 'cause God, in HIS GREAT GOODNESS, shone down His love on the occasion, giving us all the SONshine any of us could possibly have needed. The wedding was sweet, the couple so obviously in love, they couldn't stop smiling and giggling. They even sang to each other--so romantic with the water behind them and a trail of ducks quacking to the music. Oh, oh, and here's the best part - after the wedding, and all 'few hundred' of us got to stand around and chat up a storm (no pun intended) before heading to the banquet hall, we started to feel drips on our shoulders. Yup, the rain came 20-minutes AFTER the ceremony finished. See? God is GOOD indeed.

Okay, urinals, the subject I know you've all been waiting for...

We entered the reception hall, twinkling lights, long banquet tables with pretty flowers, LOTS of loud conversation, music, big dance floor, family and friends whom I love scattered hither and yon. OOOOh, I wanted to see EVERYBODY at once, so I quickly left my husband and started making the rounds. This is how it's always been with me: wherever there is laughter and circles of conversation, I'm THERE. The first thing out of my mouth is, "What's so funny?" See, I just hate to miss anything. And usually when I sit at any long table, I fight for the middle chair, so I can be in on everyone's conversation.

Well, I was talking to some old girlfriends, and I do mean old in that, sad to say, we are all in our 60s (ugh). I asked, "Where's the restroom? Anyone know?" One of the ladies pointed waaaay across the room. "There!" she said. This was a big hall. The door to the restroom was wide open, so I walked in. First, I couldn't get the thing to shut. I tugged and tugged. Hmm. Okay, well, at least the stalls had doors, but the thing was I could see out into the banquet hall where people milled about, and I just didn't want to "go" with the main door wide open. So, I worked on the door some more - and that's when I saw it - the URINAL! Oh, those things are odd looking, bolted up to the wall like some kind of miniature white throne. Well, would you believe I went back to work on the stuck door--because, well, I thought this was one of those UNISEX bathrooms?! (I'm slow, okay?) But after a few more seconds of turning and studying the urinal I got to thinking, 'Hmm, wait a minute, is this - am I -?' So, that's when I stepped out and looked up at the the teeny, tiny sign located at the top of the door. GENTLEMEN it read! Well, forevermore! So, I tried to walk away in utter nonchalance, but then the cheering and comments from onlookers started! "Looking for something, Shar?" "'LADIES' is around the corner, Shar." hahahahaha - more giggles and guffaws. I did not know I was putting on a little show!

Of course, everybody at my long banquet table where I'd parked my purse got a good laugh because, well, apparently they enjoyed watching me struggle with the door. What kind of friends and family would do that? Aren't they meanies?

Anyway, weird blog post, I know, but, hey, I'm one of those people who just likes to write about anything and everything, and I do love a good laugh, even, and especially, at my own expense. Hope you were able to picture my minor dilemma and smile with me. As for urinals...UGH! Don't men like privacy?

I love you ALL!!!!!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

HOLY CUTENESS! Look at this!

The following story came to me via email, and I just simply HAD to share it because it gave me so much joy! Not only that, I'm reminded anew of God's fabulous, if not wondrous, creation. Here's the story from photographer, Tom Sears.


Black bears typically have two cubs; rarely, one or three. In 2007, in northern New Hampshire, a black bear sow gave birth to five healthy young. There were two or three reports of sows with as many as 4 cubs, but five was, and is, very extraordinary. I learned of them shortly after they emerged from their den and set myself a goal of photographing all five cubs with their mom - no matter how much time and effort was involved. I knew the trail they followed on a fairly regular basis, usually shortly before dark. After spending nearly four hours a day, seven days a week, for more than six weeks, I had that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and photographed them. I used the equivalent of a very fast film speed on my digital camera. The print is properly focused and well exposed, with all six bears posing as if they were in a studio for a family portrait.

I stayed in touch with other people who saw the bears during the summer and into the fall hunting season. All six bears continued to thrive. As time for hibernation approached, I found still more folks who had seen them, and everything remained OK. I stayed away from the bears, as I was concerned that they might become habituated to me, or to people in general, and treat them as 'approachable friends'. This could easily become dangerous for both man and animal.

After Halloween, I received no further reports and could only hope the bears survived until they hibernated. The next spring (2008), just before the snow disappeared, all six bears came out of their den and wandered all over the same familiar territory they had trekked that spring of 2007.

I saw them before mid-April and dreamed nightly of taking another family portrait, a highly improbable, second once-in-a-lifetime photograph.

On 25 April 2008, I achieved my dream.

When something as magical as this happens between man and animal, Native Americans say, "We have walked together in the shadow of a rainbow". And so it is with humility and great pleasure that I share these exhilarating photos with you. Do pass them on!

Tom Sears, photographer


So there you have it, my friends. Is this not a treasure to behold?

Love you all!

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Over the years, many have asked, “What’s it like to be a writer?” In fact, I get the gamut of comments and questions—everything from, “How does anybody write a one-inch thick book when I can barely write a one-paragraph Email?” to “How long does it take to write a book?” to “Have you always been a writer?” to “How in the world do you come up with all those ideas?”

Great questions! Each one gets a different answer, of course, but my overall response is that God Himself planted in my mind and soul an earnest desire to write, and I truly experienced a “calling on my life” – probably in much the same way a minister or missionary or any church worker might experience. And because of that calling, He is the one who ultimately equips me with the tools I need to complete the task.

Have I always written? Interestingly, no. I am 60-years-old, but I didn’t complete my first full manuscript till the “well-seasoned” age of 52. Why? Well, in short, many things in life impassion me—my spiritual walk with Christ, my darling husband, daughters, grandchildren, music, reading, traveling, and, until retiring from 31 years of teaching in 2003, my career! I did not know I had room for one more passion, but God did! And in the year 2000, He began to plant a seed.

It started with a dream that I’d written a book. I, of course, shoved it aside as silly. A book. Imagine me writing a book. Yes, I’d always been a creative writer in school, my essays and term papers usually earning me ‘A’ grades, and I had dabbled in scribbling off foolish high school romances back in 11th and 12th grades. But then college came, then marriage, and children, a career in education, my involvement in church activities, a vocal music ministry. And the list continues. Plainly put, writing was the very last thing on my mind.

So, why ever would I dream I’d written a book? But then it recurred at least two or three times more, the same dream. – I had written a book. – I recalled having earlier asked God to show me what He would have me do with the second half of my life once I finally did decide to retire from teaching, and pleading that He would lead me into an area in which I could make a difference in the lives of others. I wanted my life to count, to touch hearts for eternity. Was it possible He wanted me to attempt writing an entire novel? And if I did, what would it even be about? Again, I prayed. And this time my prayer was, “Lord, I am willing to travel the path You set out for me. Take me out of the equation and simply work in and through my spirit. I surrender all.”

And that was the key! My surrendered heart. One sunny summer day in the year 2000, I sat down at my computer and began to write, and let me tell you, the ideas literally poured from my brain, down through my arms, and onto that keyboard! And my brand-spankin’ new passion came into existence!

Did I immediately find a publisher? Absolutely not. Timing is everything, namely, God’s timing. I had much to learn in this new realm I found myself – writing seminars and conferences to attend, books to read on the craft itself, not to mention mountains of information to gather about the writing/publishing industry. And then it still took years before I reached a point of readiness and my books found a home in the wonderful place known as Whitaker House.

I think if I have learned anything on this journey, it is this: God is simply NOT done with us until He says so. Oh, how He loves a willing heart, no matter our age or stage in life. If you put yourself out there and say, “God, I would love for You to take my life and use it in a way that can be effective for Your kingdom—and will bring You honor and glory,” well, He doesn’t take that lightly. No, He is right on that prayer!

Whether you are an office assistant, a daycare provider, a banker, a contractor, a stay-at-home mom, a single parent, a factory worker, or a mail carrier—whatever your pursuit in life, God has plans that go beyond your imaginings. He is always looking for “harvest workers”. I challenge you to pray the prayer of surrender—and then watch what He does to fulfill His purpose in your life.

A surrendered life equals one exciting adventure!


Shar MacLaren

Sunday, August 02, 2009

See My Gentle Giant?

Hi, my darling friends. I thought this picture was too cute not to share. This is my 10-year old, 100# "boy" sharing a bed on the floor with my then 10-month-old grandgirl. (She just turned one on July 1.)

Dakota was "my gift" from God when I needed him. (That probably sounds corny to you non-dog-loving people.) I had just passed through a very dark year back in 1999-2000 (clinical depression and chronic panic disorder--anybody ever been there?). I truly wanted a dog that would not create MORE anxiety, but would be a great companion and low-maintenance. God led me straight to this big boy, the laziest, most laid-back of the litter. And I can honestly say he has never done ANYTHING that annoys either hubby or me. No barking, no digging, no messing in the house, no chasing cars, no running off in disobedience, no chewing. We brought him home when he was 8-weeks old, and he had one poopie accident in the house -- and that was IT! Smooth sailing ever since.

As I write this, he is sprawled out on the floor of my office, just five feet away. He follows me everywhere, up the stairs, down the stairs, despite his troublesome arthritis. Yep, he was God's gift to me when I needed a special reminder of just how very much HE loves me!

What has God done for you lately - or at any time for that matter - to remind you of His awesome, faithful, unfailing love?

I love you all, but God loves you more!