Saturday, January 31, 2015

Fiction and Food for Your Heart and Soul



Love Undaunted
by Jennifer Slattery

Mariah’s stomach revolted, sending a rush of bile up her throat. Closing her eyes to the horrific image in front of her, she flushed the toilet and stumbled backward until she hit the counter. Months worth of planning, dreaming, and praying flashed through her mind.

Three pregnancies. Three celebrations. Countless trips to the maternity store.

At least they hadn’t told anyone this time, because she knew. She’d prayed against it, falling to her knees countless nights, fearing this moment would come once again. But choosing to believe this time would be different. That God would hold the baby he’d planted in her womb tight and bring it to full term.

Why, Lord? Why do You keep taking what I long for most?

Trembling as sobs ricocheted through her, she turned to the sink and stared at her hollowed reflection in the mirror. Mascara streaked her face, her eyes red-rimmed and puffy. Her cheeks blotchy.

In less than an hour, Daniel would be home to take her to dinner with both their parents. So they could share the great news.

It wasn’t fair.

photo by arzlsamui taken from freedigitalphotos.net
This sent her into another wave of tears, the kind that initiated shuddering hiccups and swelled the gushing nostrils.  She continued to cry, not just for this child or the two others she’d lost before it, but the dream this child represented. 
The dream of having a family, of raising kids, of one day planning her daughter’s graduation and wedding. Daniel would say to keep trying. Claim this was just a speed bump, tell her they’d figure something out, see another doctor, maybe try invitro.

But she was done. She couldn’t do this anymore. With every miscarriage, a piece of her broke, and now, there was nothing left.

Breathing deep, she turned the faucet on cold and splashed water on her face. Then, she toweled dry, cleaned up her mess, and shuffled, in a daze, toward the nursery. The cheery yellow walls and teddy bear laced curtains mocked her. The crib she and Daniel had found on clearance the weekend before sat in the corner, the colorful mobile dangling above it. When cranked, it played Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.

Along the far wall stood a changing table, animal print onesies folded on the shelf beneath. Two bags of maternity clothes, tags still on them despite Daniel’s protests to tear them off—to have faith, he said—rested against the closet door.

He’d be glad she didn’t listen to him. For once.

She snorted. Some victory—lose a baby, prove  my husband wrong.

With trembling hands, she began to gather all the newly purchased items, fresh tears falling until her throat and eyes felt rubbed raw. Then she stacked everything in the living room and sank into the couch cushions, spine straight, knees pressed together, hands folded in her lap.

She stared at the wall ahead of her as the clock behind her ticked.

Her phone chimed a text. It was from Daniel. I just got booked for an epic four-day trip leading a climb up Mt. Ranier. Tell you more when I get home. Coming to pack my bags. Love you!!!!

Great. So she'd have the entire weekend to grieve. Alone. 

An hour, maybe two, later, Daniel’s car tires crunched in the driveway, a door slammed shut, and booted footsteps ascended the front steps.

The front door creaked open. “Honey, I’m—”

His gaze swept from her to the baby furniture and bagged items all around her, then back to her again. Face ashen, he froze, a deep breath lifting his chest.

“Oh, baby.” His voice turned husky. He rushed to her side, pressing her head against his chest, smoothing her hair. “We’ll get through it.”

She stared at a torn cuticle through tear-blurred eyes. Yes, they would. They always did. But they were not trying again. She'd make that clear after he returned from his climb.

As you probably expect, we faith, friends, and chocolate ladies have been busy writing, chatting, and nibbling on chocolate! We're all working on our next story and can't wait to tell you more about them, when we reach "the end."

Our most exciting news? We've added two amazing bloggers to our team: Edie Melson and Caryl McAdoo!

With sixteen titles released by six publishers, Simon Schuster hybrid author Caryl McAdoo is excited about her first contemporary Red River Romance set in the Texas county of the same name, The Preacher’s Faith. The novelist also edits, paints, and sings new songs the Lord gives her. In 2008, she and her high school sweetheart-husband Ron moved from the DFW area—home for fifty-five years—to the woods of Red River County. 

Caryl counts four children and fourteen grandsugars life’s biggest blessings believing all good things come from God. Praying her story gives God glory, she hopes her books will also minister His love, mercy, and grace to all their readers as well as cause them to examine their own relationship with Him and draw closer. Caryl and Ron live in Clarksville, the county seat, in the far northeast corner of the Lone Star State with two grandsons, four dogs, and a bunch of barn cats. 

Edie Melson from the Write Conversation is a leading professional in the writing industry. She's a sought after writing instructor; and her heart to help others define and reach their dreams has connected her with writers all over the country. She's the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference, as well as a popular faculty member at numerous others. She's a prolific writer, publishing thousands of articles over the years, and has a popular writing blog, The Write Conversation. Edie is the senior editor for Novel Rocket and the social media mentor for My Book Therapy as well as the social media director for Southern Writers Magazine. 

Eileen's been playing house hostess to our missionary children and their families. With seven grandchildren's voices (one a baby) filling the halls, life is never boring at the Rife homestead! In between all that entails, she's managed to keep her foot in the writing/publishing door. Four works (one contracted) have been submitted to her publisher, OakTara. In addition, she was invited to contribute to two devotional compilations: Fear Not by Anne Baxter Campbell and Penned from the Heart by Marilyn Nutter. 
  
Jennifer's second novel, When Dawn Breaks, released in early January, so she's been busy with book signings, blog tours, and speaking engagements, her next being a signing at Olathe, Kansas' Lifeway. As an added treat, Amazon is offering her debut novel, Beyond I Do, at a huge discount! You can get the print version for $2.63! And the kindle version is only $2.50! But she's heard these discounted prices won't last, so if you've been wanting to read this one, now's your chance! 

As for the rest of the Faith, Friends, and Chocolate gals, they're busy writing, reading, chatting on Facebook, and well, shopping for more chocolate, of course. Especially now, with Valentine's Day--also known as massive amounts of chocolate day--is fast approaching. And to get our hearts ready for this love-celebrating holiday, Delia has a special devotion for us"


The Ultimate Valentine

by Delia Latham



John 3:16 (KJV)--For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 

Cutesy red hearts of every size imaginable. Pretty, fragrant red roses. Beautiful red Valentine cards.

A stroll through any department store in the weeks just prior to Valentine’s Day leaves shoppers almost seeing red even with their eyes closed. The shops appear to have had a semi-truckload of red paint dumped over their interior spaces.


Valentine’s Day is fun, and provides a wonderful opportunity to show one’s significant other that they are loved and appreciated. But I have to wonder…why red? 

Why is red the color of love?

My answer to that question won’t be found in any official textbook of history. But I like to think of it as a reflection of the ultimate “I love you.” The greatest of all love letters…the most poignant “Will you be mine?” was sent by our Savior from a rugged cross, by way of a stream of His own precious blood.

Then He presented us—His beloved bride—with the loveliest of all “Valentines” and called it the Holy Bible. And isn’t it interesting that, somewhere along the path of time, man chose to print the words of Jesus Christ in a color different from the rest of the text?

And he chose red.

Coincidence? I don’t think so.

Do you?

Reflection:
This Valentine’s Day, enjoy the loved ones in your life. Tell them how much they mean to you. Buy chocolates and/or roses, if you can. Bake them sweets if you can’t. But in all the busyness of the holiday, don’t forget to spend some time with the Lover of your soul. Be sure He knows that HE is your ultimate Valentine.


Jesus, I want to thank You for the pure, untarnished love that nailed You to the cross, where You purchased my salvation. Thank You for Your redeeming blood. On this day when love is most celebrated, and every other day of the year, You are the Love of my life! Amen



Nutritious Berry Smoothie



by Eileen Rife

The New Year often reminds us to take a fresh look at life. Often that means a fresh start. And one of the best places to begin is with eating habits. The recipe below is one I use at least every other day for its vast nutritional value. Perhaps you'll enjoy it, too!


  • Two cups almond milk (a variety of milks can be substituted)
  • Two cups apple or orange juice
  • One/half cup flax seed (can also use an additional half cup of chia seeds for extra impact)
  • Two tablespoons of raw honey
  • One teaspoon of cinnamon
  • The juice of one fresh lemon (optional, but adds a nice, yet subtle zing)
  • Two frozen bananas
  • One-two cups frozen mixed berries
  • Two handfuls of fresh, baby spinach
This recipe makes a blender full (about 8 cups). You can add yogurt or other ingredients you like. Play around with it until you get the taste you like!


Family Favorite by Tanya Eavenson





What We're Reading

by Carole Towriss
I love Biblical fiction, since that's what I write. Two of my favorite authors and friends have books coming out soon.

Stephanie Landsem has her third in a series. The Tomb, releasing March 17th from Howard Books. I read an advance copy and it's just wonderful.  
The Tomb tells the familiar story of Lazarus from his sister Martha’s point of view. Burdened with a shameful secret, her life is made even more complicated—and dangerous—when she also has to contend with the growing controversy over whether or not the Jesus they have known and loved since childhood is the Messiah.
Martha, Mary and Lazarus are real enough to invite you into their Bethany home, sit you before the fire, and fill your belly with barley stew and warm bread. It's an enthralling tale, impeccably researched, full of delightful characters.
As women, we have always been told to emulate Mary, the sister who chose to worship at Jesus’ feet. But here Martha has much to teach us, about love, loyalty, honor, faith—and the true measure of a family.

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