Tag Archive | faith

Spatzle Speaks: Angel of the L Train (Book Review)

Mom has enjoyed the writings of author Penelope Marzec and her latest release, Angel of the L Train was exceptionally well done if you were to ask Mom. But that doesn’t matter because as her dog I rule this part of the blog so only my opinion really counts.

Thea Ahern is recently hired by a New York City gossip rag called LetSlip. She’s eager to work and earn money to support her mother’s nursing home care, but in the process has to hide her heritage. After a tragic incident on the subway, she assists a man who was brutally attacked and saves his life. Now the papers dub her the Angel of the L Train. Suddenly her anonymity is challenged as people see the resemblance between her and her mother who used to be a famous actress.

John is asked to shadow Thea because his boss believes her to be a way to uncover the truth about what happened to Thea’s mother. John understands the desire to hide from the past and he seeks to protect her from media scrutiny. When the CEO of LetSlip is murdered while John is in the building, his own dark past is revealed. How can he protect her and keep his job? Can Thea ever forgive him when she discovers his past–and his true reason for watching over her?

This is an excellent read filled with adventure and obstacles for the characters to overcome, but also heart as Thea and John both care deeply for family and would sacrifice to protect those they love. I give it five bones because I’m a dog and that’s how I roll.

Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that’s how we roll.

God and Me and a Cup of Chai Tea

I’ve been praying and waiting on God for an answer to those specific prayers. Some for me, some for others. The waiting is hard. I was sharing with a friend one of my favorite instances of God answering prayer for me so thought maybe I’d share it here too.

I don’t like coffee. Never have. When I worked in Milwaukee someone introduced me to spiced chai latte and I fell in love with that. This was before Starbucks and the only place I could get it was at Einstein Bros. Bagels. So some mornings I would do that. I discovered that they used Big Train Chai so eventually I found out where I could purchase that myself and started buying it.

When I moved north to live in a tiny mobile home to become a stay-at-home mom to two little boys and eventually add a daughter, I would make my chai early in the morning and sit and have my quiet time. It became part of my routine. God and me and a cup of chai tea.

My hubby at the time would go through phases where he liked chai or would lecture me about enjoying the sugary drink. I took it to my naturopath and asked him: “Is this bad for me?” He tested it and said: “It’s neutral. Enjoy your chai.” I continued to do that.

I only had one cup in the morning. That’s it. Rarely any other time. One day I noticed my supply was low so I ordered some. My hubby found the box after it had been delivered and this was one of those times he chose to lecture me. He brought the box into the kitchen and yelled.

“Why did you buy this? You shouldn’t be having sugar. You can’t have this.” He grabbed the box and put it in the laundry room. Unopened.

He dared deny me my one little enjoyment in the challenges of raising kids. If you’re a coffee drinker insert that in there and how would you feel? I was livid and told him I did not appreciate being yelled at and demands made of me. He ignored me and went about his day.

I really wanted to honor God in submitting to my husband even if he was being a class-A jerk. So I prayed. God, I don’t need chai. I can live without it. I don’t want this to be an idol so I’m going to trust You. If You, Lord want me to have chai You will have my husband bring that box into the kitchen, open it, and empty a bag into the container.

I waited.

Friday came. It had been about a week. I had enjoyed my very last cup of chai and washed the container I stored the powder in. I again let God know I was fine if I couldn’t have chai. I would trust Him.

Later that afternoon, my husband rushed into the house and opened the cupboard, and exclaimed, “Where’s the chai?”

“It’s gone. I just washed out the container,” I responded.

“Didn’t you buy more?”

“Yes.” He didn’t remember this? He’d been pretty angry about the purchase and my desire to enjoy it.

“Where is it?” he demanded.

“On the dryer in the laundry room,” I responded and stood back to watch what might happen next.

Hubby rushed down the hall, grabbed the box, and brought it to the kitchen. He placed it on the counter, and with scissors, broke the tape and pulled out a bag of chai. He cut open the bag at the top and poured it into the container I had washed that morning. He then proceeded to make himself a cup of chai and left the house to return to his office.

I said nothing but inside I praised God. Apparently for me, at this point in my life, I could enjoy chai with the blessing of God. Never again did my husband do anything like that although I have many other stories I could share where I obeyed him even when he was rude, controlling, and unreasonable. Yet God answered my obedience and the prayers I said in those moments to reveal that He loves me, hears me, sees the challenges I face. God not only gives us what I need but delights in giving His children some of the simple things we want.

I need to remind myself of those stories. There were dark years of poverty and verbal abuse, along with a challenging firstborn son who had mental health issues. Being a stay-at-home mom is not for the faint of heart. God was still there in those days giving me moments of joy. First with His presence and then in the unexpected but very much wanted answers to prayers.

Sometimes the answers were no. Sometimes it took years before I could understand the reason for the timing of those prayers. But now I thank Him for those no’s because they were really more of a “not yet, I have something so much better for You. Wait for my perfect timing.”

Life is hard at times and we can’t see the big picture but when I recite to myself the ways God has worked, they become markers, like they used to do in the Old Testament, of an intimate encounter with the Most High God. A way to remind me that God is personally involved in my life for His glory…if I only wait on Him.

God gave me a different man for a partner and you know what? He will get my hot water started if he awakes before me. When we travel, he will go out of his way to buy me a cup of chai in the morning. Maybe I don’t get to enjoy it with God at that moment, but I get to enjoy it with one of His many blessings, a man who treats me well.

Wait on God. His answers to prayer are all the sweeter for the wait.

How have you seen God answer prayers? Take note and remind yourself of His faithfulness to you!

Spatzle Speaks: Flowers for Hattie (Book Review)

My mom really likes the writings of Kimberly Miller, mainly because she likes music. I do as well but prefer soft jazz. Too bad I don’t get to listen to that while she reads. Mom? Hint! Hint! Anyway, Kimberly’s new book, Flowers for Hattie will be a sweet read for those who like romance, flowers, and music. It’s a winning combination.

Hattie Campanelli is an unusual woman. Sacrificial and hard-working, giving up her own dreams to help others in need. Oh, she also has blue hair, tattoos, and prefers t-shirts with snarky sayings. She isn’t the least bit intersted in dating.

Finn Winslow is a pianist for a rock band getting some rest and looking for a muse for his own compositions which are anything but rock. He may look like a bad boy musician but he’s more khakis than blue-jeans and quiet nights on the beach vs the noisy club scene.

When Finn runs into Hattie, or her into him, Finn is thrown for a loop. She doesn’t look anything like his “type” but he can’t get her out of his mind. She becomes the inspiration for him to write the instrumental love song he’s always longed to create. Now if he can just figure out how to get her to like him back. The more he learns about the enigmatic young woman, the more he likes.

Hattie finds Finn cute but a distraction, or maybe a way out of a financial dilemma the pregnancy home she helps run, is desperate for. Conscience collides with pride and desperate need, and is fueled by the persistence of the winsome Finn. But can she let go of her fears and trust a man? Could Finn win her heart?

You need to read this story. Mom gave me lots of snuggles and said it was great. The characters are fun and the story has twists and turns that might surprise you. I give it five bones because I’m a dog and that’s how I roll.

Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that’s how we roll.

Memorial Day

I’m not military but have had family members who were. In spite of that, I have held great admiration for our men and women in uniform. So many have died to protect the freedoms we hold dear and today is our day to pause, reflect, and remember their sacrifice.

And maybe we need to ask ourselves: Are we helping to preserve our freedoms from within? Do you vote? Have you read the constitution? Some have said, and I believe it, that if our nation is to fall, it will be from within, not without. Day by day, and week by week, we see the values our soldiers have fought and died for being trampled.

In honor of them…we too should be willing to fight for our country in our own way, in our own communities.

Have a blessed day of remembrance.

Lessons Learned While Writing: Hero of My Story

After years of verbal abuse, I finally realized I had lapsed into helplessness and hopelessness. A friend once said to me, “Susan, you need hope.” I loved and served and prayed to Jesus and believed He was fully capable of rescuing me from my prison of pain.

During this time, I lead our church’s women’s ministry, and spent time encouraging other women and teaching them.

But I was stuck. I began to realize I was thinking and acting like a victim. A powerless victim. The more I read and understood about verbal abuse (which includes financial abuse and neglect and more), the more I began to seek the help I needed to grow and thrive even in the midst of my difficulty. Oh, I still cried, but I grew in my confidence and my ability to find the good in the midst of the pain.

I still struggled for hope that I would ever one day be released. The wonderful news is by the time I was, I was ready for the new life God had in store for me. The fears from the past had melted away. The belief that I was inadequate and unable to stand on my own, was gone. When God opened that door, freeing me, I was ready to walk into my new life without fear. He provided for me every step along the way and looking back I can only say it was by His grace that I made it, because on paper, I should never have been able to.

By God’s grace, I became a hero, a protagonist in my own story, not a pathetic byline. Now ultimately Jesus is the real hero. It was He who saved me at 15 years of age and has walked me through all of this. What a wonder that He could give me hope – in HIM and blessings beyond what I could have ever wished for.

In what ways do you perhaps feel a victim in your life? Look to Jesus for your hope. Change doesn’t take place overnight but He can move you and use you for HIS glory in the midst of your pain and in the future use that experience to bless others. Hold on, dear friend.

Lessons Learned While Writing: Relationships Are Important

Writing is an isolated task. Even if an author writes in a busy place like an IHop or a coffee shop, we still ultimately do the work alone. As a Christian I believe God is part of that process so “alone” in terms of human interaction is what I’m referring to.

Getting a book published takes a lot of people—beta readers, critiques, editors, marketing, cover art, and eventually readers and reviewers. Writers need people, even if most of us are introverts.

We need relationships. Prayer. Accountability. We need to be reaching out to help others because that’s where we stay engaged in the human race. We need to live life so our characters can be real on the page.

I have found, after coming out of an abusive relationship, that good friendships are a treasure. I can write and it can be cathartic, but I need to do life with others, enjoy a cup of chai or a meal, do something fun, or sit and cry together. This is important to my spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical well-being. I need to keep growing as an individual if I hope to write characters that will also grow through the stories I try to put on the page.

I also need time to play. Whether it’s tug-of-war with my dog, crafting of some kind, a concert, mini-golf with my husband, or a rip-roaring game of Uno. Playing doesn’t need to cost a lot of money. For me playing and decompressing even takes place on my zero-turn lawnmower which my husband has graciously allowed me to do. It’s fun! Sitting and reading a book because I can, not because I need to is a gift as well. Whatever it is, we need to live our own lives fully in this one and only life we have, not just write imaginary stories for others. These experiences give our writing more depth.

It is in one-on-one connection where we grow and are challenged and encouraged. I want my life to count. I pray my words in my stories can encourage and bring hope and maybe even healing to the reader. But if I neglect my husband, kids, and friends, or those I meet at a craft fair, or a writer’s conference, I’m limiting the ways God can use me. Now if I’m unable to go anywhere the writing is great, but it’s still good to have a connection. It keeps me grounded and hopefully helps me avoid some of the sins that can beset creative people.

Lessons Learned While Writing: Two Kinds of Writers

Before I started writing my first novel I had heard about people outlining their books but had no concept of what that could possibly be about. I just started writing…and kept writing…and 21 days later had a book that was way too long!

When I write a non-fiction piece of work, whether a talk I’m going to give or a book, I do outline. But I find an outline restrictive to the creative process for me as a writer when I’m writing fiction. People who outline struggle to believe there’s another acceptable way to write.

So I learned there are two kinds of writers. Actually—there are two extremes. Pantsters who have no idea what there are doing and wing it and planners or plotters who outline their books, do in-depth character interviews, understand the motivations, story arc, and plot points.

The funny things is, I do some of that now, but not as much as a pure plotter would do. I’m co-authoring a series with a plotter. The first book we did together was torture for me trying to make sense of this story arc and the characters and there were timing issues that I needed to fix. That was primarily because it was handed to me to start the rough draft. I did manage it and the story is wonderful, but it was challenging on so many levels.

My plotter friend, DeeDee, and I now do much of that work together. She comes up with the main stuff and we wrestle through plot points and we talk it out quite often. I give her stuff to write as well so I’m not the only one putting original words on the page. For me getting to know the characters well has been huge for this. Plot points are suggestions and sometimes I come up with fun surprises. I figure if she reads it kind of knowing what is going to happen and I can surprise her, then I can surprise the reader too! It’s a balance that so far seems to be working for us.

Either end of the spectrum is fine. Pantsters want some love too and maybe some of that is personality or part of the unique creative soul some of us have, but it’s OK and no way of writing is right or wrong as long as the writer, in the end, produces a great piece of fiction.

If you are a writer, where do you fall on the pantster-plotter spectrum?

Spatzle Speaks: Obedient Unto Death (Book Review)

Mom doesn’t often read Biblical fiction but Liisa Eyerly’s novel, Obedient Unto Death is a suspenseful story of the early church that she at times struggled to read because it was so tense. In spite of that, the novel had moments where she surprised me by laughing out loud.

A young scribe is murdered during a covert Christian worship service. Sabina, a member of this outlawed religion, can’t believe a member of this new faith could be the killer. But when her Roman magistrate father arrests the church bishop for murder, she reluctantly admits all is not brotherly love and harmony among the faithful.

Who would have killed this man? Could it be the church’s bishop? Sabrina can’t believe that would be true. As she strives to prove the man’s innocence she is confronted with the fact that all the followers she’d considered her church family, were not all filled with love and peace.

Sabrina works hard to uncover the truth about who murdered the scribe but the journey is filled with twists and turns and unexpected dangers. Her father can only provide so much protection and will she ever be able to find a husband in the midst of this drama? Will she be able to uncover the truth in time or will she end up in prison as well for being a follower of Jesus?

Intrigue, mystery, and a dash of humor at points, makes this a difficult book to put down. I give it five bones because I’m a dog and that’s how I roll.

Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that’s how we roll.

Writer Wednesday: Cathy Krafve

Today I welcome author Cathy Krafve as she shares a little bit about her writing.

When did you decide you would be an author? Was it something you fell into, felt called to…?

I call myself an accidental everything. Podcaster, speaker, comedienne, you name it. But really, from the beginning I knew I wanted three things, to write, to pray, and to be a mom.  Those last two go together well, don’t they?

What’s your pet peeve?

I try to control myself about double standards and hypocrisy. Politicians tend to make me a little crazy, for example. Yep, I have to dial it down. But seriously, hypocrisy is dangerous for the hypocrite, and we’ve all been there. That’s why Jesus called hypocrisy out with so much strength and love.

What was your most embarrassing moment as a writer?

Since my books came out I find myself on stage a lot more. I’m kinda klutzy. Klutziness is a gift; the gift of humility. Recently, I stumbled and my friend jumped up from the pew to catch me. I announced into the mic, “See, God is just like my friend. He knows we’ll stumble and He’s ready to catch us!” Tripping is pretty inevitable, so I just try to roll with it, sometimes literally!

What has been your most difficult challenge as an author?

Not bragging about how great the books turned out. People don’t realize how surprised I am. But I had amazing teams of people helping me on both books. My editors and publishers are super-stars!

How do you process rejections and/or negative reviews?

The reviews have amazed me. If I have negative reviews, I don’t know it. I’m too busy pedaling so my life stays upright. Besides, my books are not for everybody. After the first person told me the first book helped them figure out some stuff, I quit worrying about reviews. One person helped is enough for me. But so many people tell us they’re sharing our books with their friends. We hear their sacred stories and we rejoice!

What do you feel is the best success so far in your writing career?

Beyond success, we feel blessed! My whole family joins me in feeling like God is blessing us all in this process. We see Him in action. Plus, we do so many of our tasks as a family; jumping in and helping each other. For example, Anna, our oldest daughter is a frequent co-host of Fireside Talk Radio and we just finished the manuscript for a book together. Family conversations on Sunday at lunch are energetic and hilarious!

What is your current work in process?

Right now, I’ve been focused on getting the word out about Marriage Conversations: from co-existing to cherished. Mainly because we notice a need for women to feel they have options when it comes to rebooting stagnant marriages. A lot of women feel lonely in their life. We’ve all had those isolated moments. The Well: the art of drawing out authentic conversations focuses on moving from isolation to influence in our communities. So the books are very different, but complementary. I am writing the sequels for both this year. Plus, Anna and I are working on the next book in our series of character/communication building for moms and teachers of elementary-age children.

Bio:

Queen of Fun and Coffee Cup Philosopher Cathy Krafve puts a snappy spin on deeply spiritual truths. Host of Fireside Talk Radio and author of books about communication, Cathy understands life is about companionship and community. Truth with a Texas twang spoken here!

Website: CathyKrafve.com

Newsletter:  Join the Fireside Tribe at CathyKrafve.com

Facebook: Cathy Krafve

Pinterest: Pinterest

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Amazon Page: amazon.com/author/cathykrafve

Latest book release: Marriage Conversations: from co-existing to cherished

Lessons Learned While Writing: God Never Forgets Me

A few years back I was writing the book Whitney’s Vow, which released last summer. I was in the middle of a scene where I had my character, Whitney, hanging off the edge of a cliff. I ran out of time and needed to get to church for a ministry obligation I had.

The entire time I was doing my task at church I kept thinking about poor Whitney! I was worried about what was going to happen next (because unlike God I don’t know what I write until after I’ve written it). I had a concept and a plan but due to my obligations, I couldn’t write it until the next day. So, Whitney, albeit a fictional character, was stranded on the side of a cliff for a long time.

God in greater fashion than me, cannot forget. He is always aware of where I am even if He is waiting for His perfect plan to unfold. While I’ve not been stranded on the side of a cliff like my character, I have waited for years for rescue from a painful situation I was in. All the while my writing has reminded me that God was fully aware of my circumstances and pain during that time. And all the time.

He will never forget me. He created me, called me to be His child, and while He remarkably also never forgets anyone else, He remembers me and my challenges, pains, and yes, joys.

What a blessed gift that even in the process of writing a story that hopefully people will enjoy, I’m reminded that God doesn’t forget me. He won’t forget You either.

What other ways are you reminded that God is present and aware of your circumstances?