Friday, February 29, 2008

God is so good

I just have to post - God is so good!

So very, very, very good.

I'm in awe. In awe.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Lola Eaten by A Pit Bull


Man, it was scary.

Today was a cool day in central Florida, so taking advantage of the weather, Tony and I took Pal and Lola on a late afternoon walk. I needed to stretch and break from rewrites for a few minutes.

Lola is doing great - has a new bed and new leash.

We're strolling along one of our routes and as we near a corner house, a man is trying to corral a dog in his yard. But she would have none of it, maneuvered around him, ran straight for us and JUMPED on Lola. I'm not kidding.

So, I do what I can - scream. Which always helps.

Tony goes for her collar, misses, but it makes the pit bull move enough so I can get Lola free. Poor thing. I'm pulling by the leash and can't get her in my arms fast enough so she's dangling by the neck.

The pit bull started to go for Pal which would've been a fight-fight, but the owner arrived on scene and snatched up the mean dog. The lady-owner hit her with her hand on it's back side a few times which I thought, "Geez, she doesn't even know what she did. How are you helping?"

They apologized to us, but wow, it was scary. That happened to me once before with good ole Jack. A Mastiff jumped him after they sniffed noses and hind parts.

But this pit bull did not even hesitate. She went right for little Lola.

Tony said to me, "You know, screaming makes it worse."

"Yes, but I can't help it."

After the big drama, we trotted on down the road. Lola-Fifi (what I call her) was toodly-doing just fine.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Her name is La-la-la-Lola

Our found dog's owner called today. She described her perfectly and when I repeated her name, "Lola," the little Schnauzer perked up.

So, my Fifi is a Lola.

The owner said she'd be by in the afternoon to pick her up. I said, "No worry, we've loved having her. She's a great dog."

My comment opened the door I'd hoped it would open. "Do you want to keep her?"


Afte five days, I wondered if her "people" were really concerned. The woman seemed super nice and cared for Lola, but not overly attached.

I fell in love with her the moment I saw her.

So, Lola is now our dog.

Smile. I'm very happy.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

I found a dog

Thursday morning while running an errand, I spotted a little dog wandering down the road. I pulled over to see if she was okay, if there was a tag with her collar.

Sadly, there wasn't. She was friendly to me, but kept wandering down the side walk, trotting up each driveway to the front walk to the front door, sniffing.

Then she'd go around to the back of at house. At one point, she sat in between two yards, looking east, then west as if to inquire, "Which way home?"

I knew she was lost, so I called her again and took her with me on my errand. She was too cute peeking between the two front seats from the back.

We've had her a few days now and while working to find her owners, we are making her a part of our family.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Out with friends

My last roommate before marrying hubby, Renee, turned forty this month. I couldn't let the day go by without celebrating, so we went to Carrabbas last night with two other friends.

I met Renee right after she graduated from Clemson. We didn't click right away, but as she worked with the youth, we became friends and decided to share an apartment. My sister and another former youth also lived with us.

We became fast friends. Renee would invite my future hubby over all the time for dinner or ice cream - even though we were trying not to spend so much time together. Our opposing views of our relationship were getting old. ;)

Renee is one of those forever friends. Do you have one of those? After she got married and had kids, our lives drifted apart some. She focused on being a mom, I focused on, well, me.

Ha! Just kidding. I focused on what the Lord called me to do.

But no matter how many days and months went by, even years, we could pick up the phone at any time and talk - open, honest, in love.

We had such a great time at dinner, as we gathered in the parking lot for the final goodbyes, Renee said, "Hey, let's do this on the fourth Friday of all the even months."

Yes! Let's. Even if one can't make it, the others will get together. I'm so excited! A regular girls night. Woo hoo.

I'm not much of a girlfriend addict. But lately, I've felt trapped in a friendless hole and have been praying to get out. As I've become more acquainted with the writing world, most of my friends are writers who live all over the country. I love them dearly, but a Friday night out would be costly!

Yet, I have to confess. Only writers get writers. I'm not sure what it is, but the moment I start talking about writing with non-writing friends, it's like they hear me and or interested, but their gaze is one of "oh, isn't that nice?"

I'd get more excitement out of telling them I bought new shoes. ;)

In other news, working on Love Starts With Elle edits. I love this story, but it needed some tweaking. So it's fun to do the fixing up.

Grace, grace to you all.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Elvis Takes A Back Seat

Welcome my friend and author Leanna Ellis. She's written a fabulous book Elvis Takes A Back Seat.

What's your book about?

Elvis Takes a Back Seat is about a young widow who is determined to fulfill her husband’s last request. She hauls a three foot bust of Elvis strapped in the back seat of a vintage Cadillac from Texas to Memphis to return it to its rightful owner.

The road trip with her eccentric aunt, who knew the King of Rock n' Roll, and a temperamental teen, hits roadblocks and detours as the three women uncover pieces of their own past along with the bust's mysterious history.

The discoveries change the course of their lives forever.
How did you come up with the idea for your book? It's actually a long process for me and very much God activated. God really pulled this whole story together.

With Elvis Takes a Back Seat, I had written chapter one which starts with a garage sale. I had conceived the story of the three women, but I didn't know where these three women were going on their journey. After I'd written the first chapter with the garage sale, where I placed a quirky Elvis bust just for humor, I called a dear friend, D. Anne Love, who writes YA fiction.

We brainstormed the story. I really wanted them to go to Europe. I thought I needed a research trip. She suggested Memphis and Graceland. She didn't know about the Elvis bust because it was such a minor thing.

So when she mentioned Graceland, it all clicked.
How long have you been writing and how did you get published? I quit my teaching job in 1991 and began writing. Three and a half years later, I sold my first book. I was like many newbies and thought I'd sell within a year of starting. LOL! Then I learned how hard it is to write, to submit and how difficult it is to jump that hurdle.

I wrote twelve romances for Harlequin/Silhouette then walked away. The reason is muddled. Basically, I was tired after writing 6 books in 2 years and also having 2 babies fifteen months apart. But I also ran out of ideas for romances.

I had other ideas simmering and wanted to take more time to be with my babies and also pursue these other ideas. During those years I also gave my writing over to the Lord and really began to pursue what He wanted me to do. One thing was homeschooling.

God kept revealing to me that He wanted me to write. So it wasn't until around 2004 when I really kicked myself into gear and began to pursue publishing again.

During the summer of 2006, God steered me toward the CBA. Long story short, I went to my first ACFW conference in September, secured an agent and by March of 2007 had a three book contract. It was all God paving the way, opening the doors.

If you had a whole Saturday to do nothing or anything you want, what would you do?

I'd spend time with my family, my husband and kids. Ideally, we'd play at the beach, swim with the turtles. Of course, that would require us to be in some exotic locale, like Hawaii.

But if I can do anything. . .
What's your favorite color? Red!

What's your favorite animal?

This is tough. Of course, I love my dogs and cats that live with us. But my favorite animals are lions and polar bears.

What's your favorite food?

Usually Tex-Mex. Guacamole, requiring chips, of course. What's your favorite beverage? Diet Cherry Coke. What's your favorite vacation spot? Hawaii, London, Scotland . . . I could name a lot here.

What's your favorite book?

This is too hard to name one. I have many favorites, To Kill A Mockingbird is one of my favorites. I also loved The Secret Lives of Bees, The Other Boleyn Girl, The Kite Runner, A Year of Wonders to name a few.

What's your favorite movie?

This is tough too. It's a Wonderful Life, True Grit, Dances with Wolves, Singing in the Rain, When Harry Met Sally, Apollo 13, etc. . . This year so far I loved August Rush, Enchanted and the Water Horse. Obviously, I had to take my kids to the last two. Getting time away to see PG-13 movies is tougher.

What's your favorite tv show?

I don't watch a lot of tv as I just don't have the time. Right now, we like to watch Dinner Impossible. Which feels a lot like my life. We love to watch old reruns of I Love Lucy, Andy Griffith.

What's your favorite music?

Oh, lots of favorites here. I love musicals, so Les Mis, Phantom of the Opera, Miss Saigon, Wicked all rank at the top of the list. I love Michael Buble and Josh Groban. I also love Newsboys, Selah, Keith Green, Nicole C. Mullins. I'm sure I'm forgetting a ton. I have lots and lots of music on my iPod like U2, Celine Dion, Dan Fogelberg, Michael Ball and of course Elvis.

Who's your favorite actor and actress?

Of course, I love the oldies like Jimmy Stewart and Cary Grant and John Wayne. I also love Mel Gibson, Russell Crowe (what is it with Aussies?), Renee Zellweger, Judi Dench, Meryl Streep.

Besides this interview, what's the strangest thing you've done for publicity for a book?

Having an Elvis impersonator sing to me felt pretty odd.

What is your next project?

Lookin’ Back, Texas comes out September '08.

A devoted wife and mother must return to her Texas hometown to help her mother plan her father's funeral. Trouble is - he isn't dead! And neither are the secrets she buried there years ago.

About Leanna.

Winner of the National Readers' Choice Award and Romance Writers of America's Golden Heart Award, Leanna Ellis has written several novels. She now writes women's fiction for B&H Publishing.

Her book Elvis Takes a Back Seat is the launch title for B&H Publishing and will be released January 2008.

Visit her website at Leanna Ellis.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Debt of Love

The other day while reading through verses for prayer, I came across this one. "Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law."

One translation refers to the "debt of love."

We are indebted for so many material things in this life - cars, houses, "toys," maxed out credit cards - but rarely are we in debt for love.

To be honest, I'm not even sure I know what it means or how to do it. I did some study and searching.

Here's a definition I like. (Rachel's translation)

"Free yourself from all obligations and debts except loving each other. If you have a debt or bill, pay it. If you owe someone money or service, pay and be done with it. Move on. But love is never paid. It is always due. Love should be given daily, never out of obligation, but out of a servant's heart. If you loved yesterday, love more today."

This verse hit me hard and became the final straw to draw me to the down town ministry. I'm not sure I love daily outside of Tony, family and friends, but that's easy love. I want to daily dole out love to the unlovely, the smelly, the poor, people not like me.

I read a great quote about being preoccupied by loving God and being loved by Him! I'm so preoccupied by so many other things, but at the end of this AGE, only one thing will matter. Jesus.

Look at these One Thing verses.

Psalm 27 - "One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek. To dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, gaze on His beauty and seek Him in his temple."

Mark 10:21 - "Looking at him, Jesus felt love for him. 'One thing you lack. Go and sell all your posses and give to the poor. You'll have treasure in heaven; and come follow me."

Wow. Jesus is telling him, "Love!" It's a picture of the life to come. He doesn't want this young rich man to suffer for suffering sake. Nor does He not want him to have pleasure. Jesus is saying, "The pleasures in heaven are a bazillion times better than what you have on earth."

I'm telling you, little ole praying Grandma's are going to make he Bill Gates's of the world look poor.

This is my favorite "one thing" verse.

Luke 10:41, 42 - "Rachel, Rachel (oops, I mean Martha, Martha) you're worried and bothered about so many things, but only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good part, sitting at My feet, and this exchange between us, this intimacy cannot be taken away from her."

I've been a Martha the past few days. Worried. Bothered. Fretting. Anxious. I publicly repent. I am called to be a Mary. I want to be a Mary. We should ALL strive to be Marys.

Jesus never lies. He is telling us "one thing!" is necessary! Love and sit at my feet. Okay, so that's two things, but it's one concept. The rest of our life flows out of this debt of love.

I heard the story of a man I know and respect being caught up into heaven. Standing before the great white throne, Jesus asked him, "Did you learn to love?"

Good thing the man wasn't dead. After that encounter, he was able to adjust his life's priorities. Now I am able to adjust mine, too.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Awaken My Heart by DiAnn Mills

Please welcome my long time friend, DiAnn Mills. She is a prolific author and a mentor to many aspiring and established authors.

Awaken My Heart is DiAnn's new book from Avon Inspire and tells the unlikely love story between 18-year-old Marianne, a wealthy rancher’s daughter, and the infamous Mexican rebel leader warring against her father.

Click HERE to learn more and to enter sweepstakes for free stay at a Bed & Breakfast of your choice!

1803, The Colony of Texas

Journey back to the early days of southwest history when the Spanish ruled the vast territory of Texas and padres instructed the people in the ways of God. Step into the world of handsome vaqueros and brightly dressed dark-eyed maidens.

The time is 1803. This is the era of Marianne Phillips and Armando Garcia, two people separated by race and culture but destined for love. Marianne is the daughter of a wealthy American rancher, a man who will do anything to please the Spanish and secure his land. Armando is a Mexican peasant, a rebel according to the Spanish. He has committed his life to helping the poor rise from poverty and the oppression of the ruling Spanish. Armando and Marianne . . . Two unlikely people who have little in common. Or do they?

Open this book to a romance that will live in your heart long after the story is told. Curl up in a serape and listen to the strum of a Spanish guitar. I invite you to read with your heart and become a part of a love story that only the hand of God could orchestrate.

What reviewers are saying about Awaken My Heart:

"Awaken My Heart is a terrific early nineteenth century Texas Colonial romance starring two caring protagonists who in many ways seem like a North American Romeo and Juliet. The story line is fast-paced and loaded with action . . . DiAnn Mills provides a delightful historical that brings to vivid life a time and place that rarely if ever has served as the background." - Harriet Klausner

"Awaken My Heart is a colorful inspirational tale of romance and adventure! - Diana Risso, Romance Reviews Today

Q & A with the author - DiAnn Mills

You've been writing historical fiction for a long time. What interested you in the 1803 time period?

I love Texas history, and I have an appreciation for the courageous men and women who built this state. Early Texas is a mixture of Native American, Spanish, black, and various European descents. Each race offered us a rich cultural heritage, a heritage that we should be proud.

What is it the theme of Awaken My Heart?

The theme is courage: courage to stand up to political and social factions that vie against God and what He desires for His people.

Armando Garcia is a rebel type of character. Do you think this type of hero applauds rebellion?

Not at all. Armando had much to learn about the difference between his own desires and what God required of him. Once he realized his stand needed to embrace truth, he was on the right road.

Marianne Phillips has a streak of rebellion in her. How was it channeled?

Marianne kept much of her rebellion inside because she knew God expected her to honor her parents, and in many instances, her father’s wishes. Once she saw that she had to make a choice between obedience to her father and obedience to God, she found strength to do that which was right.

What do you want your readers to understand about Weston Phillips?

Weston Phillips had the potential to be a good and kind man. He had the intelligence to build a large ranch and the ability to accumulate wealth, but selfishness took the reins. Once the reader completes the novel, he/she will understand Phillips much better.

What is your biggest challenge in writing?

Always the characterization. I crave three dimensional characters that will experience growth. Understanding and acting upon their motivation takes time! Sometimes I simply have to "live" with them for awhile.

How do you develop your characters?

Through time, patience, people-watching, viewing them through unusual situations, brainstorming, and consulting many books about the psychology of personalities. And that's just the beginning!

How much of yourself goes into a character?

I attempt to keep myself excluded from the process, but I admit that an opinion or a trait appears now and then.

What is your next project?

I'm currently writing a romantic suspense for Tyndale, the second book in the Behind the Sunglasses Series. I'm also preparing various historical fiction proposals.

How can you encourage fledging writers in their craft?

To read in the genre in which they want to write. To read the books written by those authors they admire. To read books about the craft. To write everyday. To become active in a writer’s group.

How can readers contact you?

My website is Feel free to sign up for my newsletter. Thanks!

Award-winning author, DiAnn Mills, launched her career in 1998 with the publication of her first book. Currently she has over forty books in print and has sold more than a million copies.

DiAnn believes her readers should "Expect an Adventure." Her desire is to show characters solving real problems of today from a Christian perspective through a compelling story.

Six of her anthologies have appeared on the CBA Best Seller List. Three of her books have won the distinction of Best Historical of the Year by Heartsong Presents. Five of her books have won placements through American Christian Fiction Writer's Book of the Year Awards 2003 – 2007. She is the recipient of the Inspirational Reader's Choice award for 2005 and 2007.

DiAnn is a founding board member for American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Inspirational Writers Alive, Romance Writers of America’s Faith, Hope and Love, and Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. DiAnn is also a mentor for Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writer's Guild.

She lives in sunny Houston, Texas, the home of heat, humidity, and Harleys. In fact she'd own a Harley, but her legs are too short. DiAnn and her husband have four adult sons and are active members of Metropolitan Baptist Church.

DiAnn, thanks so much for stopping by! It's always good to see what you're doing! Rachel

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The tongue and the word

Last night, I joined Tony and his crew for the down town ministry. Until now, I've only been going up to the coffee shop at 9:00 for the Dream Team.

I didn't want to participate in the down town ministry. No particular reason other than. . . I didn't want to be bothered.

One day as I prayed, I realized God was not limiting me, I limited myself. I cannot grow in love without extending beyond my comfort zone.

The down town ministry was birthed out of Tony's self-extension, realizing he needed to get out of the four walls of the church. For over a year, he met with a team down at the beach to witness of Christ, cold, to passers-by.

Then, God put on his heart to go door-to-door in one of the worst neighborhoods - an old apartment complex - and ask people if he and our friend Ted could pray for them.

Two years later, a team of people meet in down town house churches and prayer walk the area.

Subtly, God spoke to me about going. You know, one of those ways where I could've said no as easily as saying yes.

I decided to say yes. So, last night, sitting in a hot apartment with interesting smells, I studied the book of James with men and women who were down but not out.

I instantly loved them, felt their pain, and wondered at what point they made the decision that brought them to the life they now led - out of work, fighting drugs or alcohol, apart from their families.

And I learned from James. For over a decade now, I've been on a word diet, watching what I say and how. God seriously impressed on me the power of my words and how I cannot tear down those He wants to build up.

So, look at what James writes in chapter three.

"Now if we put the bits into the horses' mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well. Look at the ships also, though they are great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires. So also the tongue is a small part of the body and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire."

A horse is our individual destinies we set with our tongue - good or evil. A ship represents the destiny of many. Our tongue can hurt others as much as hurting ourselves.

Sticks and stones can break our bones, but words can destroy us and those around us - friends, family, co-workers.

So, with my new friends, I was reminded of the power of my speech and to guard my tongue. Speak life and hope, not death and despair.

I remember when I first signed with Thomas Nelson. I was so excited. Then hit with panic. "I can't write for them," I said. "I'm not good enough."

The Lord gently tapped me on the shoulder. "Hey, keep prophesying that to yourself and don't be surprised when bad happens."

Oops. I repented and began to declare good things. I was the "little writer that could" and I said it over and over.

Besides, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

Don't agree with the negative feelings and circumstances. While they may be real and need confrontation, don't agree with every bad or negative thought and feeling. It will get you nowhere!

Figure out what God says about you and declare it over yourself.

Okay, more later on Sweet Caroline behind the scenes. I know I promised to write it and never did!

Peace, peace!

Monday, February 11, 2008

On the road

Drove over night to Knoxville for a family weekend and mom's 70th birthday. Drove home today.

Am tired. ;)

More later!


Friday, February 08, 2008

Taming Rafe by Susan May Warren

Welcome my friend and fab author Susan May Warren. She's out with another great book, Taming Rafe! The book was recently a Top Pick from Romantic Times Book Club Review

Here's a blurb -
Book 2 in The Noble Legacy series: Two-time world champion bull rider Rafe Noble had no idea how quickly his world could end. In less than eight seconds, he lost his title, his career, and his best friend-all on the dirt floor of a noisy rodeo arena.

Katherine Breckenridge just wants to make a difference by running her mother's charity foundation. But the mysterious disappearance of half a million dollars has forced it to the brink of bankruptcy. Her last chance to save it is the annual fund-raiser, an event that's destroyed by an out-of-control Rafe Noble.

Desperate to rescue the foundation, Katherine heads to the Noble family ranch to enlist Rafe's help in raising the money he cost her in lost donations. What she doesn't know is that Rafe is broke-in cash and in spirit-and that helping her could end up costing him his life.

Link to first chapter

From Susie:

"I've been writing as long as I can remember - I won my first book writing contest in first grade! Over the years, writing has become, for me, a way to praise God and see Him at work in my life.
Although I have a degree in Mass Communications from the University of MN, my real writing experience started when I penned the The Warren Report - a bi-monthly newsletter that detailed our ministry highlights. Living in Russia meant I never lacked for great material - and those experiences naturally spilled out first into devotionals and magazine articles and finally into my first published story, "Measure of a Man," in the Tyndale/HeartQuest, Chance Encounters of the Heart anthology. I grew up in Wayzata, a suburb of Minneapolis, and became an avid camper from an early age. My favorite fir-lined spot is the north shore of Minnesota - it's where I met my husband, honeymooned and dreamed of living.

The north woods easily became the foundation for my first series, The Deep Haven series.based on a little tourist town along the shores of Lake Superior. I have to admit - I'm terribly jealous of Mona, the heroine of my first full-length book, Happily Ever After, a Christy Award Finalist published in 2004 with Tyndale/Heartquest."

Get a copy of Taming Rafe today!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Book Winners and More Chances to win

Okay, finally! Love Starts With Elle is turned in for first round editing... more to come... and I picked winners of Amy Grant's Mosaic!

Rob and Rob!

Blue67ccm and Rob Bartlett. Send me your snail mail, gents! Thanks and Congratulations.

Now, a CHANCE to win a copy of Sweet Caroline! Sign up for my newsletter and your name will be entered to win.

I'm giving away three copies!!

Peace out!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Feel like reminiscing

Yesterday was a beautiful day. Tony and I drove over to Kissimmee, FL for The Call. I needed a day of prayer and outstanding worship. 

Mike Bickle and Lou Engel cast such great vision and hope in God coupled with wisdom and knowledge of the days in which we live.

The indoor stadium was cold, so I walked out to the car to get my sweater. The wind felt silky on my skin as the sun started to slip below the horizon. The scent of an open field and the spring-like temperatures reminded me of growing up in Ohio.

For a moment, I was a kid sitting in my grandparents back yard, cool, thick green grass under my toes, good food on a red and white check covered picnic table, the adults talking. It  made me home sick for those good days.

Super Bowl Sunday

This is a special day for Tony and me. It's when we met and talked for the first time. We'd talked on the phone once before, but Super Bowl Sunday was our first long conversation.

It was 1988, and I'd been living in Palm Bay for a year and a half, working and traveling for Harris. Since I was on the road seventy percent of the time, I didn't make it to church much. but in August of '87, I passed New Covenant Fellowship and my spirit said, "Go there."

My first Sunday I stood in the foyer surrounded by strangers but felt such love. I knew I'd found my church home.

In those days, we had Sunday evening services. My roommate and I made Super Bowl party plans with friends from work, but while I was at Sunday morning church, my roommate made alternate super bowl plans. Long story...

So I decided to go shopping. While driving to the mall, the Holy Spirit tugged at me. "Go to church."

I said, "No, I've already been to church. I'm not going back."

But He wouldn't leave me alone. "Go to church, go to church."

"All right, I will."

I went back home, changed and headed back to church. After the service, Tony stopped me on my way out. We talked for an hour and a half. 

The next week, I flew to California, Connecticut and Australia. I didn't see Tony again until March. 

He asked me out for March 20. We were married four years later on March 21.

But it all started by the Great Matchmaker on Super Bowl Sunday.