Category: Women’s Issues

FINDING FOCUS: Mentoring

Mentoring is God’s plan for passing along Christianity and the example of Jesus Christ himself.

This month, the blog will take a closer look at this important calling. As in the study book (no longer available for purchase), the study starts with a Portrait.

Mentoring is becoming a lost art. As you’ll see in the Bible study segment, we should be more serious about this focal point of Christianity.

What follows is my attempt to paint a portrait of one of the best examples of mentoring given in scripture. Because the details of the arrangement aren’t spelled out in scripture, plenty of license was taken in the fictionalizing of the account.

Air stagnates in the women’s section at the rear of the Ephesian synagogue. I open my mouth to join the recitation and nearly gag when the body odor of an elderly woman in front of me wafts my way. Lord, help me!
Yes, that is a prayer. I find myself uttering three- and four-word petitions all day long. And the gracious Lord I serve hears and answers.
In this moment, I don’t heave the contents of my stomach onto the women around me. Nor does a retching sound emerge in place of the scripture. God has answered again.
My tongue forms the ancient words from Deuteronomy. Feminine voices embrace me on every side, joining and blending with the deeper tones from our fathers, husbands, brothers and sons.
I tilt my head to the side, searching for my husband Aquila. My father is dead, my brother remains in Rome, uninterested in the Way, and the Lord has never blessed me with sons, only two daughters, both married.
Aquila is more than enough. We serve Jesus Christ together, just as we make tents together.
A male voice begins the first song of degrees. Other voices join in. I twitter out the high part my mother taught me so many decades past. The soprano notes complement the lower voices of both women and men.
A woman behind me joins on the high harmony. My heart leaps as I’m transported back to childhood, learning the part with my younger sister.
I turn my thoughts toward the Lord, voicing each word from my lips to his ears.
“The Lord is thy keeper,” we sing (Ps. 121:5). Praise Him for keeping us safe when Caesar evicted us from Rome.
“The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil” (Ps. 121:7). Yes, Lord, you have preserved Aquila and me too many times to recount.
“I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord” (Ps. 122:1).
Tears clog my throat. King David, author of this psalm, wrote of the tabernacle, but I have never seen the temple in Jerusalem. I squeeze my eyes closed to ease the burning.
When the singing ends, several men pray aloud. Their voices make a tuneful backdrop to my own thanksgiving and supplication.
The rabbi reads from Isaiah. It is one of the three books outside of the Torah that this synagogue has available, along with sacred scrolls.
A stranger, dark skin naming his origin from parts to the south, perhaps even Egypt, stands and speaks. The tone of his voice is cultured, smooth like cream. His words are fine. He expounds on the passage from Isaiah’s prophecy before speaking of other prophecies.
I nearly topple over when the man mentions the teaching of John the Baptist. I straighten against the hard seat, nothing more than a plank of wood set atop cinder blocks.
He speaks of the Messiah. My heart thrums in my throat until his honeyed words are nearly drowned by the pounding. Does this man know of the Way?
Many members of the synagogue are believers, but others claim Jesus of Nazareth was not their Messiah. The topic is dangerous to discuss in this Jewish place of worship.
I couldn’t discern whether the young man knows the Way. His focus seems to be validating John as the forerunner, the prophet to make straight the path before Messiah.
A chorus of murmurs from the men interrupts his fine speech, keeps me from hearing what more he says.
Several other men stand to read or recite scripture. No one else expounds on the passages. After another hymn and prayer, the rabbi dismisses the gathering with the traditional Shalom blessing.
Outside the domed building, I breathe deeply, watching the men file out. Aquila comes, head bent close to Benjamin, one of the members of our house church. Aquila’s leanness makes him appear taller than the stout cobbler. They exchange nods before Aquila extends his hand to me.
I take it, amazed that it can be cool and warm all at once. I press my back against the wall of the synagogue, raise on my toes to speak directly into my husband’s ear.
The crowd leaving the worship service is quiet, but the street around us teems with commerce. It is Ephesus. The trading never ceases.
“Who was that man? The one who spoke of John?”
“Apollos, an Alexandrite Jew.”
“Does he follow the Way?”
Aquila shakes his head, a slight move. I stare into his rich, brown eyes and see the motion wasn’t a denial. He thinks the younger man might be a believer, but it is dangerous to assume this. Apollos hadn’t spoken openly of Jesus, like Paul the Apostle had done when he visited here a few months past.
“We should invite him to break bread with us.”
Aquila nods. He scans the trickle of worshipers still emerging from the synagogue. A royal blue cloak swirls at the doorway, and the dark-skinned man emerges. Behind him, the rabbi shakes his head vociferously. My stomach clenches at the sight of the synagogue leader’s stern visage.
My husband shuffles toward the two men, waiting a respectful distance apart. The rabbi looks at him expectantly, but Aquila nods toward the stranger. Apollos stands half a head taller than my husband. Their lips move, but the bustle of the city and my distance from them makes hearing the conversation impossible.
Soon, Aquila is nodding. Both of them step toward where I’m waiting, hands folded over my queasy stomach. Lord, don’t let this be a mistake.
Trivial conversation follows us through the crowded market and into the quieter trade district. I fall behind the men, trying to listen to snatches of their conversations.
Lord, protect us if this man is not sent from you. Grant us wisdom to teach him Your Perfect Way. Move in his heart. Touch our tongues and lips. You promised your Spirit’s aide.
I could not hear much from the men, but I know the Lord hears every syllable of my fervent prayers.
A faint odor of tanning hides greets us when Aquila swings open the door to our home. It is nearly impossible to keep the stench away when our trade requires us to handle cured hides and skins every day.
The men sit on the couches in the center court of our small shop. My feet glide soundlessly across the mosaic and into the storage room. I fetch a skin of new wine and three cups. I place some bread and olive spread onto a large platter beside the cups, and carry all of it to the men.
I pour wine for both men, meeting Aquila’s eyes when I hand him his drink, ducking my head when I pass a cup to our guest.
Aquila swallows before asking, “What do you know of John’s baptism?”
Apollos sips his beverage, reclines on the pillow-covered arm of his couch. “His immersion of believers in water prepared men and women to become part of something greater.”
They discuss this subject. I swallow a mouthful of drink, but the knot in my stomach won’t allow more than that. I continue to pray until I feel a nudge from the Spirit.
“What of Christ?” I say.
Both men turn to stare at me. My husband’s eyes widen. Apollos holds my gaze, sipping from his cup before setting it on his thigh.
“Has Messiah come?” The dark man’s eyebrows press together, creasing his wide forehead.
I keep my eyes pinned on our guest, but I still see the slight shake of Aquila’s head. The witness of Christ within me prods me to ignore the wordless warning from my spouse.
“Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ. He called an assembly from the body of those baptized by John. We were baptized by Paul the Apostle in Corinth a few years past.”
“I heard rumors about this Jesus. Why do you say he was the Christ?”
Aquila and I take turns quoting prophecies of old which Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled. Prophecies everyone agrees spoke of the coming Messiah.
Aquila asks questions and nods at our explanations. His attendance on my words sends a flush to my cheeks. This man is a powerful orator. If he follows the Way, many people will turn from the path leading to eternal destruction.
Light fades. I bring a lamp from an inner room and light the wicks floating in pots encircling the terrace. A sense of peace envelopes me, a blanket of assurance as real as the curtain of darkness falling around us.
Today I have discovered another way Aquila and I can serve the Lord together. A young man will be saved from destruction. In turn, his persuasive speaking will convert many more to the Way.
Thank you, Lord.

You can still join the LIVE study in my Facebook Group by clicking here. That’s where you can download a FREE copy of the book and interact with others who are interesting in finding their God-given focus for life.

***This excerpt was first published in 2016 in the first edition of FINDING FOCUS THROUGH THE LENS OF GOD’S WORD, copyright belongs to Sharon Hughson

Join the Discussion

Discussion holds the power to enlighten and inform. Of course, it needs to be a two-way conversation where listening happens as often as talking…and from both sides.

In our crazy “You Can Do it All” world, it can be difficult to maintain the focus needed to accomplish any task well. That’s one of the things I mention in my study guide Finding Focus through the Lens of God’s Word.

Eight Bible lessons to help you discover your focus

For the rest of this year, I’ll be offering the content of that book FREE to members of my Friends of Author Facebook group.

This is the table of contents from the book.

Session One:  Your Life in Pictures

Session Two: Where’s the Auto Focus?

Session Three: Choosing what to Focus on

Session Four: Focus-Helping

Session Five: Focus-Mentoring

Session Six: Focus-Teaching

Session Seven: Focus-Mothering

Session Eight: When Life’s out of Focus

To kick things off, we’ll start at the beginning, but I won’t go through every chapter. If you’re interested in joining with this study and discussion, go here to join the group. Then follow this link to fill out the poll where you select the top three topics from the book that you’re interested in reading and discussing. The four topics that receive the most votes will be discussed beginning in September.

Why Am I Doing This?

First of all, I’m trying to see if there is a market for this information.

Secondly, I need to build a platform of active followers if I want to convince an agent to take on the proposal I’ve been working on. More about that later once I decide if I can make a “course” out of the information that people might be interested in paying to obtain.

And finally, I don’t get a lot of traction here on my blog. A few people comment. If Google Analytics are painting the best picture, a few more are reading the blog without leaving any feedback.

But mostly, my writing here goes into the Virtual Ether and that’s the end of it. So why do I keep posting here?

A New Focus

Speaking of focus, I promised earlier this year that the blog articles would take on a new focus. But I haven’t really delivered on that.

Now is the time for that delivery.

Next year, all the content on this blog will be either research related to the REFLECTIONS series, book reviews or opinions that relate to either the genre of Biblical fiction or Christian living. At least once each month, I’ll share an article that relates directly to the topic  of grief and grief recovery.

If you’re a regular reader, I’d love to hear your input on these changes.

As always, thanks for reading.

Take the Stairs! Laurel and Hardy’s Latest Adventure

April has come and gone. Which means so has another girls’ weekend with my high school BFF, Laurel. This year we tackled the “Take the Stairs” adage.

Not sure what I’m talking about? Oh sure, you’ve heard the saying, but you’re still wondering what it means for weekend plans.

Obviously, you need to get this book.

Yes, Portland, Oregon (close to home for me) was our destination of choice this year. My friend adores Portland, and her mother got her this book years ago. Since then, she’s wanted to discover all these hidden stairways.

And you know I’m all about helping people tackle their bucket lists.

I hope you have a BFF like mine

The Plan

It all started on a Friday afternoon. Laurel picked Hardy up and they drove to nearby Beaverton. There they used Hardy’s Hubby’s Hilton Honors points to nab a cheap room at the Embassy Suites. (Yes, I do love my alliteration.)

Once we determined that the author of The Portland Stairs Book was an authority, and picked out our FIRST hike for the next day, we walked to nearby Washington Square. Might as well get the tootsies prepped for the big outing, right?

Here is the first hike we settled on.

Yes, that really does say 3.5 miles. And yes, we really did ascend 169 steps and descend 364. All of that before LUNCH on Saturday.

The Execution

One of the things Laurel does NOT love about Portland, Oregon is the rain.

Joke’s on her. And maybe me because I was walking beside her all day.

It rained.

But that didn’t stop us. We reenacted some photos of stairs from the book. Like this one near a school in our first walk.

We walked up a ton of stairs.

Pictures from the top are more impressive than pictures from the bottom.

We walked down some MORE stairs.

And it rained. But it didn’t pour. And like good Oregonians, we put our hats on and sloshed through it all.

Whats a little frizzy or flat hair among friends?

Laurel got some great photos. I’m barely skimming the surface of them here.

And it wouldn’t be Portland if we didn’t see a weird thing or two.

It’s the goal of folks to “Keep Portland Weird” after all.

We enjoyed a great lunch at a small sandwich shop in NW and still made it back to our car before our four-hour parking limit expired.

We drove a few miles. And set out to conquer another hike. It looked like this.

Although we’d exceeded our 10,000 steps before lunch, we were determined to follow the path of this next hike. Yes, that would mean 5.25 more miles. And we ended the day with more than 24,000 steps.

In fact the 279 steps we climbed? They all were almost from ONE set of very creaky, creepy stairs that required 13 platforms to twist up the hillside in SW Portland near the VA Hospital. Crazy!

No, these are the stairs at the START of hike #2, not the creepy ones

You’d think going DOWN 252 stairs would be relaxing, right? Not when people are camped on them. I only wish I was kidding.

This second hike was SO crazy. We walked up steep inclines to an old cable car platform on top of the Sunset Tunnel. And the guidebook promised our burning legs would be erased by the amazing views.

Maybe for a moment.

There is a mansion here AND an amazing blue spruce.

Still it was an excellent adventure, and if you live near Portland, OR, you should consider checking out this book.

The Results

We ruled the stairs. We climbed the heights. We conquered. We saw amazing sights.

We are woman. Hear us roar!

And our feet were screaming too. Things like, “Get me out of these shoes” and “Are you done yet?”

Needless to say, our feet would have been up for a pedicure after this big adventure. But, who could walk that far? Instead, we had snacks at the hotel, devoured out leftover cheesecake and watched old movies in our room.

We’d tackled two of five “guided stair tours” and our legs wouldn’t let us forget it. So we slept in and lounged at the complimentary breakfast table.

Then it was time to meet with my husband. The perfect way to end an exceptional adventure? Black Bear Diner. Of course, plenty of other people thought so too, and we had to wait.

And then my order was wrong. And it was the worst experience I’d ever had at a place I generally LOVE to eat.

Oh well. Hugs, my friend. Same time next year.

We’ll tackle some hot springs then.

Lolly Loves Lolli and Pops

“We’re going to LollyPop’s house.” Those words are the reasoning behind the selection of the grandparent names around here.

Wouldn’t you know it? Now there’s a “sweet shop” called Lolli and Pops.

By sweet shop, I mean a candy story. But doesn’t the OTHER sound SO much fancier.

Kind of like going to LollyPop’s sounds cooler than going to “Grandma and Grandpa’s house.”

Or so I like to tell myself.

On a recent journey into Lolli and Pops sweet shop, I had my photo taken. And I purchased some refillable candy jars.

Because every kid knows you’re sure to get candy and Grandma’s house.

I filled it with dark chocolate covered nuts and cranberries. Since then, the stock was depleted (again, by me), so I refilled it with gummy bears. Those won’t tempt me to increase my middle-aged med-section. Not even a little.

Eventually, I’ll have multiple jars, all of them filled with whatever Shana and her siblings (and maybe cousins) love to eat. I have a few years before they’ll be ready for candy.

And I’ll be a responsible candy-doled-outer. Only given after a meal or right before I send them home with their parents. I mean, that’s just how it works, right?

What would you fill your candy jars with? What was your favorite candy as a kid?

The Truth About Last Wishes

Truth has taken on vague connotations in recent years, but there is one truth every sane person agrees about: no one wants to think about their death or plan for it. Those are the last wishes this post ruminates and expounds.

It began for us with a simple mailer. Although for me it began five years ago when my mother succumbed to the war lymphoma won over her physical body.

For my husband, things aren’t so cut and dried. His father’s living under an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, but his physical health is strong. Denial is no stranger to me, so I understand the proclivity to push things off until later.

But later always comes.

Easy and Hard

Death comes for everyone. And after that, those of us remaining will grieve.

That’s never easy. Some deaths are harder to face than others.

But sitting at a table with the funeral director doesn’t have to be hard for those we’ve left behind.

In the case of my mother, she had everything planned out and prepaid. It took us maybe thirty minutes to pick out the pamphlet they’d print for her service and decide where and when to hold it.

It still wasn’t “easy” because our hearts were bleeding. But it could have been worse than facing a firing squad, and it wasn’t.

When my husband or sons have to sit at that table, I want them to have the answers. I don’t even want them to have to see the questions.

Nothing will be easy, but a hard time can be lessened with a little cash and forethought.

Money and Planning

Yes, making death easier to swallow comes down to the money. And the forms the final wishes counselor filled out at our dining room table. There are still too many blanks on those forms, but they’ll be filled in.

My kids had fun joking about spilling the ashes or carrying them around in the trunk of their car. I think my youngest son brought up the idea that the etched box I’m envisioning will become the “white elephant gift” passed between their houses each Christmas.

Yeah, but I’m not dead yet. And although my oldest son had no interest in discussing the subject, we did manage to decide that investing money on a niche or plot to keep the ashes was pointless. No one would visit them after they were interned. Why not set them free somewhere?

My soul will be long gone. “Going up to the Spirit in the sky.”

https://video.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?fr=yhs-pty-pty_converter&hsimp=yhs-pty_converter&hspart=pty&p=spirit+in+the+sky#id=1&vid=15ccb6d6ae01be80c27fb08acf9d8ca2&action=click

Two advantages of pre-planning and prepaying:

  1. The meeting at the table is about minor details instead of major decisions
  2. There’s no invoice due to double the grim moment

In the End

Truth: I’ll be dead. Those who survive me can choose to follow my plan or do something different.

My last wishes will be paid for already. If they decide to embellish things, they’ll get a bill. If they would rather skimp out on the flowers, box and pretty bookmarks, the funeral director cuts them a check.

In the end, I’ll still be gone. I doubt I’ll be watching from Heaven to see that my last wishes are fulfilled verbatim. I’ll have more important things to do: like gape at translucent gold streets and catch up with my mother and grandmother and others who’ve been enjoying the endless vacation.

And as much as my kids didn’t want to talk about it now, I hope when the time comes, they’ll appreciate that their dad and I took as much of the sting out of a difficult time as we could.

Because that’s what parents do.

Do you have a plan in place for your final wishes? Are there some things you don’t think parents should discuss about this with their kids? Have you faced a more difficult funeral home discussion?

Three Reasons to Work Out

Spring hauls me out of the winter pit of gray to gray. With Seasonal Affective Disorder, winter looms large in October and casts a gigantic shadow over many months. And it’s more important than ever that I’m working out every day.

Working out? Why would you do that?

Believe me, there are a host of reasons, but in the winter I need only ONE reason to get out of bed. Thank goodness I have cats who won’t let me stay there no matter what.

It’s Good For You

Okay, we’ve all heard some rumor that you should go for a walk or get your heart rate of it’s resting rate for thirty minutes five times per week. Or is it three to five times? I can never remember because the recommendations differ depending on who you listen to.

Exercise gets your sluggish blood pumping. It requires you to breathe deeply so more air fills your lungs.
Did you know that this is essential to BEING ALIVE?
Every cell in your body needs oxygen to perform it’s cellular tasks. The only way these microcosms get this Big O is if your red blood cells deliver it to them. And you guessed it! The blood must pump through your veins (actually, I think the oxygen-rich blood is in your arteries, but I’m not a medical professional) to reach your cells.

In essence, exercise keeps you living for another day.

While that statement might be stretching the truth, there is scientific data that proves people who perform physical activities at a rate that gets them out of breath are more healthy than those who don’t. Overall.

Obviously, a cancer-free couch-potato might be healthier than an athlete with cancer, but it’s not because of their love of inactivity.

Get up and work out. It’s good for you.

It Wakes You Up

Morning person here. Maybe you’re NOT. That’s okay.

But if you rely on caffeine to wake you up in the morning, you’re missing an opportunity to wake up in a way that gives you day-long and even life-long benefits.

Nope. Caffeine can’t do that. (And y’all know I love my coffee.)

It really doesn’t take much to roll out of the bed, pull on some sweats, tie on sneakers and go for a two-mile walk. It doesn’t.

If you live in the Pacific Northwest, it might be a wet prospect nine months out of the year. And this winter has been especially brutal for snowfall in many areas of the United States. I don’t recommend walking in sub-zero temperatures or blizzards. That might put you into a permanent sleep.

I have tons of workout videos. This over-abundance can cause me to stall in working out. That’s why I’ve been doing Beachbody On Demand programs this winter. That way, I just open my browser on my tablet and select the next workout.

Thirty minutes later, I’m a sweaty, smiling mess.

It’s A Happy Drug

No, that wasn’t a misprint. Exercise is a happy drug. Vigorous exercise causes your brain to release endorphins. In fact, being outside in nature stimulates a similar response. That’s why I like to walk, run or bike outside during the three sunny months.

Double-dose of happy pills!

Who needs a doctor’s prescription when the sun is shining and fresh air woos me?

I am addicted to exercise. That’s the number one reason I work out.

Yes, I said it. I’m addicted to exercise. And I won’t apologize or join a 12-step program for my addiction.

This addiction can be beneficial, as long as I exercise in moderation. If I start working out three hours every day, someone call the exercise police and sit me down for an intervention.

But I don’t. If I go on a three-hour bike ride or hike (and I do sometimes), I probably won’t exercise at all the next day. And I’ll be sure to imbibe plenty of water (and chocolate) to replenish all the essential minerals extended exercise can deplete.

Are you a workout junkie like me? Or do you ascribe to the no-thanks exercise camp?

LOVE’S LITTLE SECRETS is FREE Today

I love Sweet Promise Press. And they’re making you a fan too with free books and plenty of tools to get well-written stories into a reader’s eReader.

Yes, Sweet Promise Press is a digital-only publisher.


Maybe you’re one of those people who only read books with paper pages you can turn. I totally respect that because I love the look, feel and smell of paper books.

But eBooks are so convenient for travel, working out and to take everywhere using only YOUR PHONE. You have that with you anyway, right? So why not load a FREE application on it so you’ll always have a book with you, too?

Anyway, you’re reading to find out about the freebie.

BUT FIRST…

My latest release with Sweet Promise Press came out on Friday, March 22.

As luck would have it, I was substitute teaching in a high school language arts classroom that day. But it didn’t keep me from checking Amazon to see if my Advance Review Team was posting reviews.
And to check on how the book was progressing up the charts.

I was overjoyed when it hit #20 in Friendship Fiction.


And then this happened.


I was floating to pass up the first book in the series which is priced at $.99 while the others are $2.99. But when I ranked higher than Susan Wiggs?

My goal was to make it to #5.

These great sales were thanks to my publisher’s advertisements, newsletters and dedication to creating a sales funnel inside the series books so readers can easily purchase the next book in the series.

Speaking of series, I have TWO series within the First Street Church shared series based on Melissa Storm’s series of the same name.

These stories happen in Sweet Grove, Texas. I’ve mentioned that place a time or two on this blog.
And today…only today…you can grab the SECOND book in my Sweet Grove Romance series FREE.

Here’s more about that book:

Love is all about truthfulness, honesty and being authentic. Except when it’s not.

But, surely, if a couple has been married for more than two decades, there are no secrets between them. How could you live with someone for that long and NOT know everything about them?

Well, Norma is about to find out.

This is a rough and emotional story. As much as I fell in love with Norma when I wrote her as Kyanna’s secretary in LOVE’S LATE ARRIVAL, it pained me to put her through the torture of this story.

But the thing is, life isn’t easy. Yes, I promise my readers a happy ending. But what I know about sweet endings is that they’re more satisfying if the struggle that came before them was intense.

Today, Sweet Promise Press is giving this book away. It’s ALWAYS free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers, but today, it’s free for the rest of you.

I hope you’ll give it a chance. Here’s what some readers are saying:

Grab your copy here.

Stop by my Facebook page and let me know if you do pick up a copy. I’d love to know someone’s reading this story.

Happy reading, my friend. Well…happy ending at least 😉

What about the FIRST book you wonder? Well, It’s called Love’s Late Arrival, and the publisher has put it free before. She’ll also be doing it again on April 21st!

Of course, if you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited, the entire series if always free.

If you’ve read these books, PLEASE leave a review. Love’s Little Secrets only have five reviews. Granted, they’re all five-star reviews, but I’d like to have at least twenty reviews on ALL my books (and several of them aren’t there yet).

To grab your FREE book, click here.

To learn more about ALL my books, click here.

If you’ve already READ this book and would LOVE to talk about it, join the fun on my Facebook group. Right now, we’re having a contest for a signed paperback and other swag.

Do you own an eReader? Or do you read on your phone and/or tablet?

A Snippet of What I’m Writing Now

Write. Write some more. Right now I’m writing the first draft of the first two novellas in my new REFLECTIONS series.


This isn’t the smooth and easy writing of fiction.

Because I’m writing a fictionalization.
Fiction? Fictionalization? Sounds the same to the average non-author type.

Except fiction is something completely formed in my muse’s imagination. If set in our real world, I have to be accurate with details, but as far as what characters say and do, I’ve got free license.

Not so with A LABORING HAND and AN ADORING SPIRIT. These novellas are based on the very REAL people Martha and Mary of Bethany. I don’t have much to work with except the Bible’s accounts.

Nothing like taking God’s inspired Word and making a fictionalized story out of it. SO–for those of you still wondering–a fictionalization takes an ACTUAL EVENT and adds fictional elements to flesh it into a complete and compelling story.

Not trying to imply the Bible isn’t compelling on its own because IT IS. But sometimes the things it doesn’t tell keep us from engaging with the characters the way we do in fiction.

You know, get inside their minds and hearts. Feel their fears and pains and indecision. If we can relate to Bible characters in this way, I think it improves our odds at applying their lessons to our lives.

So, here’s a familiar scene from John 11: 1-3 fictionalized and written from Martha’s perspective. (Beware: this is a first draft so there are probably all kinds of errors.)

From A Laboring Hand, chapter six (a rough draft):

His fever raged. Every bad memory from the worst weeks of my life suffocates me. I sweep and cook and bathe his face with water and roll him from side to side so I can put clean linen beneath him.

None of it matters. His shriveled arm clings to his side like a poultry wing. Muscles in his shorter leg twitch, dislodging the sheepskins I’ve heaped over him, hoping to break the fever. He thrashes and moans, and it is the poliomyelitis all over again.

Yahweh, I cannot lose another brother.

Losing two of them to that epidemic nearly broke me, and it did kill my family. The way Abba faded away afterward, losing his will to outlive his heir and the woman he loved.

But Lazarus is the only protector Mary and I have left. I know he really isn’t strong, but he’s a man of legal age and he keeps the meddlers at bay. Everyone knows I’m the one that works to provide for all of us. Lazarus is a good manager, though, and he’s been handling the scheduling and payments for many years. How will I run the business alone? Especially now that Mary is marriageable. And desirable. Unlike me.

Stop feeling pitiful and start being helpful, I hear Mama tell me.

“I’ll sit with him.” Mary’s voice barely pulls me back to the present.

The huge tears hanging on the edge of her thick lashes wrench my heart from my chest. She has lost as much as I have, and she feels everything so much more deeply. If I expect to fold beneath the weight of losing my brother, what will happen to her?

And that’s when I decide. “I am sending a message to Yeshua.”

Her lips tilt into the closest thing to a smile I’ve seen since this fever put Lazarus abed.

“He can heal anyone.” I know there’s more than faith shining in her glowing brown eyes, but I ignore it. That’s a talk for another time.

Instead, I nod my agreement. We aren’t like so many others who follow Yeshua because of his many miracles. He speaks God’s Word with authority, and He is the Messiah. We’ve seen him perform a few feats of divinity, but we’ve heard about even more. Blind men see and lame men walk. The paralyzed can move, a lad’s lunch feeds a multitude and lepers are cleansed.

Whatever afflicts my brother will be a simple matter for the Lord to cure. And we are his friends. He’s done greater things for strangers, surely he won’t begrudge this small favor to his friends?

I scrounge around for a scrap of parchment and scratch a short message. The one you love is ill. I sign it: Martha and Mary.

After tying my coin purse to my sash and covering my head with a shawl, I stride toward the well. Several young boys have been running messages for me, and I think I know where Yeshua and his disciples were planning to next teach.

A group of youths toss bean bags around near the community oven. The scent of baking bread reminds my stomach that I have neglected to eat. There’s been too much to accomplish, or at least I don’t wish to sit still for more than a minute because then the grief crashes in.

I see one of the orphans who sleeps at the synagogue and assists the rabbis.

That’s it for now.

What do you think? What would make it more compelling?

Meet My Quirkiest Shero Ever

Tomorrow is the day. My book baby MOMMY LOVES THE BANKER will be live on Amazon. (Sorry. I wish it was available on other platforms, but that’s a decision my publisher makes.)

Yes, that means this book is only available in ebook.

I hold the print rights. If I cough up the money for the cover, I could release the book in print. But it would cost $9.95, and that seems like a chunk of change for a book you can read in one sitting.

Post on this if you would buy such a book. Maybe if there is enough interest, I will fork out my OWN chunk of change (which will require I sell 15 books just to break even).

Now, on to the book.

Isn’t she lovely?

An excerpt from the beginning to get you primed.

Mommy Loves the Banker
Chapter One

This mommy gig wasn’t going like she remembered. When her daughter was in elementary school, parents sent their kids to school on the bus or their bikes. Or—Heaven forbid—they walked. Every Clara Barton Elementary student needed to be dropped off.

Or so it seemed as Meredith Williams eased her daughter’s Toyota minivan forward in the two-block long line of cars. Finally, she caught a glimpse of the school building.

“Are we late, Mimi?” Poppy nibbled her brown curls and hugged her self-constructed wind chime closer. Wearing her bulging backpack, she couldn’t sit flush against the built-in booster seat.

Meri glanced in the rear-view mirror, checking the line of vehicles behind her before meeting the worried gaze. Brown eyes brimmed with urgency and sent a knife into Meri’s midsection.

“Not unless all these people are late, too.”

Poppy twisted around. Meri pulled forward, three car-lengths this time. The end of a long sidewalk peeped around the tires of the SUV in front of her. Rain sprinkled the windshield until the automatic wipers cleared it away. Kids who’d been playing four-square on the covered playground beside the athletic fields scurried toward the doors. Was school starting?

The clock on the dashboard showed three minutes until eight.

“Come on, come on.” Good mommies—or mimis—didn’t make their kiddos late for school.

Two cars pulled away from the curb near the school entrance. Several kids piled from the minivan in front of her. She checked her side mirror and flipped her blinker down. She’d go around, and Poppy wouldn’t be tardy. Again.

She steered into the street with her foot nudging the accelerator. A honk like a freight train bellowed, and Meri floored it. The Sienna reared forward. Brakes screeched, and more horns blew.

Meri’s heart sprinted as she swerved back to the curb. She ignored the nasty glares from the drivers she passed. Certainly they’d do the same to make sure their kids made it to school on time.

Another truck gunned in front of her and Meri ignored the driver’s one-finger salute, although his blaring honk made sure she saw it. She slammed to a stop beside the door and slapped the shifter into park.

“Cheap Trick.” The name of the band slipped out in a curse as she fumbled with the button to open the side door. “Can you get the buckle?”

Her spine crackled as she swiveled toward the back seat. Poppy held out the conglomeration of wrapping paper, paper towel, and toilet paper tubes they’d spent an hour gluing together the night before. Meri grunted as she contorted to hold the creation without smashing it. The seatbelt cut into her neck.

Strangled by a seatbelt. She’d suffer worse for Poppy and Sunnie.

Poppy released her harness and scrambled out of the seat. Her cool lips pressed into Meri’s forehead. “See you, Mimi.” Her granddaughter balanced the sculpture in gentle hands and hopped out of the minivan.

Warmth poured into Meri’s stomach and chest, drowning the honking-induced panic. That simple kiss wiped away the negative sensations. Precious Poppy was the reason Meri’d left everything, drove across four states, and bumbled her way through the new era of motherhood.

Keep Reading Now

Enter the Giveaway

See all the books in the Series

What do you think of Meri’s quirk? Did you catch it? Do you enjoy reading second-chance love stories featuring middle-aged characters?

A Fun Look into Match-Making

No, this is not an episode of HOW IT’S MADE. I’m talking about romantic matchmaking…not the manufacture of match sticks. Although both of them can lead to fire.

A matchmaker is a trouble maker.

Okay, that’s not the dictionary definition. But if you’ve ever been subjected to matchmaking by someone, you know first-hand that it can be a painful experience. Maybe not root canal or tonsillectomy quality agony but close.

A new series from my publisher looks at kids of single parents as the meddlesome matchmakers.

It’s supposed to be a series of romantic comedies. Although I’m the first to agree I’m hysterically humorous, I tend to write books with a serious tone.

I hope my readers won’t be disappointed by my foray into this new genre. Based on the experience, it’s unlikely I’ll continue to write in it. It’s not like I don’t have tons of other things to write (like I talked about here.)

 

THE LINE-UP

Indie authors with huge followings and tons of experience will write in this series. Although I’ve only read ONE of the actual stories, I know you won’t be disappointed in the quality of the writing. (UPDATE: I have actually read THREE of the stories plus my own, and I’m certain you’ll be thrilled to invest in the entire series.)

Here’s the Mommy’s Little Matchmakers line-up:

  1. Mommy Loves the Principal by Shenae Johnson
  2. Mommy Loves the Military Man by Allie Kincaid
  3. Mommy Loves the IT Guy by Joanne Dannon
  4. Mommy Loves the Rockstar by Janae Ronniesha
  5. Mommy Loves the Doggy Doctor by Deb Kastner

And last but not least…
MOMMY LOVES THE BANKER


Okay, first of all. There’s a titling formula for this series. I’m sure you noticed it.

My book is not about the actual mommy. In my book, the grandmother is taking care of the mischievous little matchmaker for a year. A more appropriate title would be MIMI LOVES THE BANKER.

So…you’ve been warned.

The Blurb

Neither was banking on love…but their granddaughters have different plans.

She was abandoned by her husband. He buried his true love. Can they find a second chance at happiness?

In a new town, filling her daughter’s shoes as a stand-in mommy, struggling entrepreneur Meredith Williams longs to prove her ex-husband wrong and make a go of her lotion-making business. But when he constantly defaults on his alimony, she approaches the local bank for a small business loan. She’s about to find something so much better.

Tightened lending policies at Bank of Virginia force Donavan Anders to reject Meri’s loan application, killing any chance he can act on his interest in the enterprising woman, until he realizes their granddaughters play on the same T-ball team. Maybe he can make up for bank policies and score a date at the same time.

When bullies make T-ball difficult for their granddaughters, it’s up to the grandparents to step up their game. While they’re working together on that, their matchmaking granddaughters connive their way into one sleepover and two lunch dates. Lots of girlish giggles might lead to a happily-ever-after…if only those stubborn grandparents will get a clue.

I LOVE THIS STORY

This story was tons of fun to write. Since I’ll be a first-time grandma a few weeks after this book releases into the wild, it was fun to imagine myself in Meredith Williams’s shoes.

We have other things in common too: 1) We’re entrepreneurs; 2) Dads who left; 3) Love of baseball and 4) Disgust for bullies.

While I’m happily married, it’s always great fun to imagine a romance for people near my age. Since Meri hadn’t really experienced all the feels of falling in love before, I wanted her to have lots of tingles and ah-ha moments.

Who better to give them to her than a man who HAD been head over heels before. A man who felt certain he’d spend the rest of his life alone because he’d already had his “one true love.”

Debunking ideas like this are one of the best things about being a fiction writer.

GRAB THE SERIES

If you’re a fan of this genre or you think the premise of kids as matchmakers is intriguing, you can grab the entire six-book set for 35 percent off the price of purchasing the titles individually.

Better yet, you will get ALL SIX STORIES on the day the first story releases. While everyone who doesn’t order the entire set is twiddling their thumbs for a month to read MOMMY LOVES THE BANKER, you’ll have it on your ereader on March 1.

Doesn’t that sound awesome?

Of course it does. Order your set now. Read one and read them all before everyone else.

After hearing about this book, are you excited to read it? Do you like a series written by different authors? Or do you prefer to stay with the same characters for a series?