Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Heart of Thanks

We all have things to be thankful for. We'd like to share some of the things we're grateful for, not counting the most important, like our heavenly Father, His Son, the Comforter, our families.

[caption id="attachment_685" align="alignleft" width="150"]Christmas2013 004 My daughter, Stephanie, and her husband, Matt, two of my special encouragers[/caption]

Eileen: Recently, I flew to Washington state to visit my sister with stage three cancer. Our time together was a mix of uncertainty, yet peace and laughter. You see, Lois, doesn't share my faith, and though I've witnessed to her over the years, she's always turned a deaf ear to my attempts. Surrounded by my prayer partners and my daughter, Stephanie, who sent me away with scriptures, I plunged ahead, not knowing what would come of our time together. In her letter to me, Stephanie expressed her prayer that warrior angels would surround me in the airport and during the entire trip. Little did I know how God would fulfill this request through three special people I sat beside at different times on my return trip. One right after the other, they prayed for me, then looked into my eyes and said, "Don't give up! God's not done with your sister." I'm so thankful for the body of Christ doing what the Body does best--encouraging others!

Jennifer:  I'm thankful for grace, for the chance to begin again, no matter how bad I've flubbed it. I'm thankful that nothing in my life--not the most difficult or painful triumphs, the most mundane, or even the most celebrated triumphs--is wasted. I'm thankful for the gift of purpose, knowing that this crazy world truly isn't spinning out of control but rather, that each one of us are part of a greater story. And I'm thankful that I don't have to figure any of this out. Rather, all I have to do is draw near, rest in what Christ has done, and respond with surrendered obedience. Such simplicity!

Carole: I'm thankful for the legacy of faith my mom and grandmother have left to me. My grandfather died when my mother was eight years old, and her sister was ten. My grandmother's faith was simple, but strong. When her life-long friend was dying of cancer, I don't think it ever occurred to her to ask for healing. She asked instead for strength to deal with the pain. When I lost a baby a year before Emma was born, her journal said, "Carole lost her baby. Made soup today." It sounds strange, but I derive great strength and comfort from that. She just knew God would be there for her and life would go on. My mother is the same way. Even when life batters her, her faith never wavers. I want to pass that on to my children.

Tanya hosted a giveaway last week. She asked me to let you know the winner of that contest, so congratulations to Frances Cavallo! Please email me at carole@caroletowriss.com with your address so we can get that prize package out to you!

What are you most thankful for this week, aside from the most obvious things (God, family, friends)? Leave a comment and I will choose a winner and send a copy of either of my books, In the Shadow of Sinai or By the Waters of Kadesh.

Have a wonderful thanksgiving!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Swept Away

Cover of Swept Away
Faith-filled Friends has two special guests with us today, Laura V. Hilton and Cindy Loven. They're here to talk about their new release Swept Away and to give away a special gift that you don't want to miss!

Thank you Cindy and Laura for stopping by and sharing with us today!

Hi, Cindy here! I just wanted to share a bit about the quilt, in Swept Away. When I started researching special quilts in the Appalachians, I started learning about Ballad Quilts. The more I read the more I knew Swept Away had to be about a ballad quilt. A ballad quilt is a quilt that depicts an Appalachian Ballad. Our ballad is The Ballad of Pretty Saro. I won't share the words to it, because of copyrights, but I am including a link to a youtube video of the song.

Most ballad quilts are two varieties, one is individual blocks presenting the scenes, or one big piece of fabric with lots of scenes on it. I chose the individual blocks, there are twelve blocks in the quilt I designed for the book.
These are the blocks: ship on an ocean block, girl block, heart block, book of poems block, letter block, broken heart block, farm scene block, house block, road scene block, dove scene block, mountain block, ocean block. This is the order the blocks appear in the ballad. All of my blocks were applique blocks, when I designed the quilt.

Love it, Cindy! Thank you for sharing about The Ballad of Pretty Saro and the quilt!

Thank you for having us on your blog, we appreciate it. Thanks to all who visited, please leave a comment to win a Swept Away Prize Package.  A copy of the book, with some other special treats (bookmarks, candy and maybe another crafty surprise).

Yes, please leave a comment below to win this great Swept Away Prize Package! To find out more about Swept Away, visit Laura and Cindy's Facebook page.

Swept Away Blurb:

He survived a life-altering event. She is facing one.

Sara Jane Morgan is trying to balance teaching with caring for her grandmother who doesn’t want to be cared for. When school lets out for the summer, the plans are for Grandma to teach Sara Jane to quilt as they finish up the Appalachian Ballad quilt Grandma started as a teenager. But things don’t always go as planned.

Andrew Stevenson is hiding from his past—and his future. He works as a handyman to pay the bills, but also as an artisan, designing homemade brooms. When Sara Jane’s grandmother hires him to renovate her home, sparks fly between him and his new employer’s granddaughter.

It doesn’t take Sara Jane long to see Drew isn’t what he seems. Questions arise, and she starts online researching him. What she discovers could change her life—and her heart—forever.

Buy Links:



Barnes and Noble


Christian Books.com


Deeper Shopping




Award winning author, Laura Hilton, her husband, Steve, and three of their children make their home in Arkansas. She is a pastor’s wife, a stay-at-home mom and home-schools. Laura is also a breast cancer survivor. Laura also  has two adult children.

Her publishing credits include three books in the Amish of Seymour series from Whitaker House: Patchwork Dreams, A Harvest of Hearts (winner of the 2012 Clash of the Titles Award in two categories), and Promised to Another. The Amish of Webster County series, Healing Love (finalist for the 2013 Christian Retail Awards). Surrendered Love and Awakened Love followed by her first Christmas novel, A White Christmas in Webster County, as well as a three book Amish series with Whitaker House, The Amish of Jamesport series, The Snow Globe, The Postcard in April 2015, and The Bird House in September 2015. Other credits include Swept Away from Abingdon Press. Laura is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and a professional book reviewer.

Laura's Amazon author page

Visit Laura's blogs: Lighthouse-Academy and Laura V. Hilton Twitter: @Laura_V_Hilton

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Laura-V-Hilton/161478847242512 Pinterest:  http://www.pinterest.com/vernetlh/

bio picCindy Loven, an avid reader all her life, is seeing her dreams fulfilled, with the publication of her first novel, Swept Away Quilt of Love.  She co-authored this novel with Laura V. Hilton.  Born and raised in Arkansas, she loves her home state and is happy to live there with her husband of nearly twenty-nine years and her adult son. She and her family are very active in their local church, serving in many volunteer positions. She and her husband are very serious about informing parents about the dangers of the choking, after loosing their youngest son to this dreadful 'game' in 2009.  When not busy with church or her job as a “pr gal” for another author, you can find Cindy in her craft room, ,sewing, crocheting or making cards.

Where to find me on the web:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/authorcindyloven

Twitter handle: @cndloven

Blog: http://cindylovenwrites.blogspot.com


Amazon Page:http://www.amazon.com/Cindy-Loven/e/B00J54NEQY/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Have a wonderful week! ~Tanya

“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness."  ~Jeremiah 31:3

Monday, November 10, 2014

When Life and Fiction Collide

I was in a hurry. Shortly before a meal I'd intentionally planned to be simple, I received new and crucial information that turned my easy preparations into a grease-splattering mess.

ID-100214331The food: Nachos, an easy, widely enjoyed finger food that would allow the youth group kids to nibble on the move. (Because high schoolers don't sit still.  If you thought toddlers were antsy...)

But then, just as I'm beginning to load a baking pan with chips, my daughter comes in, alerting me to new information, such as:

Not everyone likes meat. Can you put it on the side?
Do you have enough sour cream? There could be 50 kids there tonight.

Did you buy green onions? (Those are her personal favorite, and yes, I know, I could've ignored that one, but something in my mommy heart makes it hard for me to say no to food requests. If you have insight into this, do share. haha)

Long story short, with no time to spare, I began zipping around the kitchen, dicing, frying, spicing... I felt fairly productive, like the Don Juan of cooking endeavors, until a strangely sweet aroma wafted from the browning ground beef.

A very distinct, sweet aroma.

ID-10053602Biting my lip, I moved to my spice shelf and inspected the labels nearest the shelf edge. Yep. Cinnamon.

Not cumin.

A dash of one small ingredient changed everything. (I'm sure there's some sort of spiritual analogy there. If you discover it, let me know. ;) )

Short on time or not, I had to laugh. Loud. I was living out a flipped version of a scene in my novel, Intertwined (not yet released).

In the story, Tammy Khun, a single working mother agrees to make home-made cookies for her son's end of school party. But then, she forgets about the endeavor entirely, until the day arrives. Then, in her haste, she buzzes about, grabbing spices here, stirring oats there, completely oblivious to the fact that she'd swapped chili powder for cinnamon. She's not alerted to this until, once at the school, she notices the puckered faces of those who bite into her hurriedly baked cookies.

Oh, poor Tammy! For her, it was too late, as the cookies were already dished out on many plates. Luckily, that wasn't the case for me. Double-luckily, meat browns quickly, and I happened to have another package of ground beef already thawed.

Even so, I found the correlation uncanny and quite hilarious. They say truth is stranger than fiction.

Can you relate to Tammy and my experience? When have you, perhaps in a hurry or maybe while distracted, fumbled up something that should've been easy? Can you share a time when you made a major blunder during food preparation? What happened?

BiblestudyinviteBefore I go, I wanted to invite the fiction-lovers among us to join my month-long, relationally based Bible study. Centered on surrender and discovering our unique, God-given calling, this study will use my debut novel, Beyond I Do, as a springboard. The study starts Nov. 10th and ends Dec. 10th.  You can find out more here! If you don't have the novel yet, you can purchase the ebook version at a huge discount (for only $2.39!) at CBD. Purchase the book here.