Thursday, January 15, 2015

Seekerville!

It's Seekerville Day!

My sister Killer Voices and I are being interviewed over at Seekerville

For those of you who might not know, Seekerville is a hugely popular blog written by The Seekers - a group of writers who met several years ago while they were all "seeking" publication. 

They've all achieved their goal, and Seekerville remains a place for writers seeking publication to find ideas, encouragement, and wisdom for the publication journey. 

I would love it if you'd stop by and check it out!


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Killer Voices Cover Reveal

As most of you know, I entered a contest last Spring called The Search for a Killer Voice. When it was all over, six authors earned book contracts, myself included.

My fellow Killer Voices have been a great source of encouragement and support to me during the revision process, and I'm thrilled to participate in the cover reveal for the three books releasing April 1st!

I would love for you to check out these awesome titles and support the authors who have become sweet friends over the past few months!

A PRINCESS IN PERIL 
Hidden away for more than fourteen years, Thea James was presumed dead by most—killed in the fire that burned the royal palace. But Ronin Parrish knows the truth…and so does the person who murdered Thea's father, the king. Ronin takes his new duty as Thea's bodyguard seriously. After all, she's the only one who can clear his father of the king's murder. It doesn't matter that the princess's beauty and strength draw him to her. To a commoner like him, she can never be more than a mission. Now he's in a race to restore the princess to her rightful place on the throne before the unknown killer prematurely ends her reign.

Tammy Johnson




I'm a sucker for stories from unknown kingdoms, especially if you throw in a little romance between a royal and a commoner. And Royal Rescue by Tammy Johnson has it all. You've got a princess, a murder plot, a heroic bodyguard...what's not to love! 







DEADLY REUNION 
CIA agent Shaun Carter is on the trail of an international crime ring, and the sudden appearance of a woman from his past could jeopardize his mission. Missing persons investigator Lexie Reilly's search for a missing teen has put her in the criminals' crosshairs. Joining forces to take down this ring is their only chance of survival. Shaun vows to keep the beautiful investigator out of harm's way and help her find the lost girl. But when their ferry becomes icebound, they are trapped at sea with killers who will stop at nothing to keep them from discovering their secrets.
Michelle Karl




I do love spies. I mean, I don't know any personally. At least I don't think I do. :-) But I do love stories about spies, and the premise of Fatal Freeze by Michelle Karl has intrigued me for months. Trapped at sea with the killers? I'm biting my nails at the thought!





"I'M INNOCENT!" 
After four years in prison for a crime she didn't commit, Melanie Swanson's finally free. Yet starting over brings a heavy load of challenges. Nearly everyone believes she's guilty—including police lieutenant Jace Tucker. Jace's certainty cracks only when Melanie is repeatedly attacked, and when the people around her are picked off one by one. Melanie's clearly innocent—and terrified. Someone wants her dead to keep her shattered memories from recalling the crime she witnessed rather than caused. She lost her friends, her fiancĂ© and her freedom when she was found guilty—but proving her innocence could cost Melanie her life.



Dana R. Lynn

Can you imagine being found guilty of a crime you didn't commit and no one believing in your innocence? What would it take to overcome that? Could you ever fall in love with someone who thought you were guilty? I can't wait to see how Presumed Guilty by Dana R. Lynn answers these questions!







You can click on the titles above to pre-order these books. While you're there, you could go ahead and pre-order two other Killer Voices books. Into Thin Air by Mary Ellen Porter will release May 1. And, of course, Covert Justice will release June 1. Those covers will be revealed soon!

The final Killer Voice book is a Christmas story from Cate Nolan. We won't get to read it until October, but stay tuned for that one!

Don't they all sound wonderful? And all so different! I'd love to hear from you. Which one would you pick up first and why? I'm going to have to just put them in a bag and let my kids pick the order. I'll never be able to choose!



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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Resolved, To Trust Him More

It’s resolution time.

Whether we make them or not, we are all thinking about them.
Because deep down, we know something is missing. We aren’t who we want to be. We aren’t living the life we want to live.

We don’t understand it, this need, this desire, we just know we long for more. 

But more what?

We know what it isn’t more of. It isn’t more food, more money, more sex, more stuff, more wine, or more leisure. 

Oh sure, we want some of that. We joke about what we’d do if we won the lottery. We like to imagine what it would be like to never worry about the price tag, the deadline, the calorie count, or the consequences.

We forget, because we are human and easily distracted, that we are immortal beings. Our bodies will die, but not our souls.

We were made for eternity. 
Made for communion with God. 
Made for so very much more.

We want the “more” and we look for it everywhere.
We eat one more piece of pie, because daggumit it tastes great so we don’t think about the headache, weight gain, or intestinal distress that we know is coming.

We go out with one more person who we know will ask for more that we should give and we don’t think about the way the euphoria of the moment will flee and leave us empty, again.

We take one more drink, buy one more outfit, make one more deal under the table because we are addicted to the rush, the thrill, the chase and the last time we got a hit of fulfillment was too long ago.

We keep trying to make ourselves happy.
We keep failing.

But the Creator of our soul, the One who created us with that hole we cannot fill, He told us where satisfaction can be found. 
The only place it can be found.

In Him.

So why do we turn our back on Him?

I can’t answer that for you, but I’ve been thinking about it, and for me, I think it’s because somehow, I’ve bought into the lie that all that other stuff is better than anything God can offer me. 

Or the lie that says that living a life sold out to Him requires too much sacrifice because I’ll have to give up too much of what I want.

I grow blind to how doing it my way is making me miserable. I can’t see that doing life His way, while not easy, leads to a satisfaction and contentment that nothing else offers. 

It’s just like with food (feel free to insert your own vice here). I know certain foods make me feel gross, but sometimes I eat them anyway. I get tired of being “good”, start feeling deprived and then all I can think about is what I’m missing out on. “Why can’t I eat that? Why can other people eat it when I can’t? What does it really matter if I have another donut/cookie/Coke/bagel/piece of fudge?”

I forget how good I feel when I exercise a little self-control. I ignore the fact that when I feast on good things, I don’t feel hungry or stuffed. I feel amazing.

The Bible tells us, “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.” In another passage it says, “Taste, and see that the LORD is good.” And in another, the Psalmist says, “How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth.” (Clearly the Almighty knew that at least some of us would relate to food 
analogies.)

What if we took Him at His Word? What if we believed that the One who CREATED US, longed for us enough to come to earth and BE WITH US, loved us enough to DIE FOR US, might actually be the key to SATISFYING US?

If you don’t know Jesus, and you’re afraid to get to know Him because you think He’s going to ask you to give up everything awesome, can I beg you to reconsider? To think about how He gave His life so that you could have abundant life? To look at that empty place and dare to imagine what it would be like to finally have it filled?

If you do know Jesus, but you’re afraid to give Him everything because you think He’s going to ask you to do something you don’t want to do, can I ask you to trust Him more? You’ve trusted Him with your eternal destiny. Can you not trust Him with your day-to-day? Can you dare to imagine how amazing you could feel when you wake up each morning—not knowing what the day will bring but knowing it will be an adventure worth taking?

What if we made our 2015 resolution this….just this….
To Trust Him More.
What would that look like?
Let’s find out!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

How I Prepped for a My First Week of Whole30



I just started my 3rd Whole30.

The best part about Whole30, Round 3? 

Less Anxiety, More Anticipation

No kidding. My first Whole30, I was a wreck for at least 2 weeks before we started. Partly because I’m a rule-following people-pleaser who lives in fear of “messing up” or “doing something wrong."

**Yes, I am one of those people who dreamed about cheating on my Whole30. I dreamed I drank a Coke. It was awesome, but I woke up in a panic. I also came close to licking peanut butter off my finger while making sandwiches for the boys…that scare probably took a good six-months off my life.**

But this time around? I’m psyched. I’m so psyched we started earlier than we had to. (Our FFCF family isn’t starting until Monday). What? I know! It’s insane. But I feel gross from way too much holiday indulgence and I didn’t want to wait any longer. If you’d told me last summer I would be excited about doing this—for the third time—I’d have laughed, probably hysterically…maybe with a few tears from the stress of it all.

So, if you’re getting ready to embark on your first Whole30 and you’re about to need anxiety meds…I UNDERSTAND.

Take a few deep breaths. Remember that everyone was brand new to this once. Even if you “mess up” you can view it as a learning opportunity and get right back on track. No worries. While this is a rigid plan, it’s not intended to make you miserable. It’s intended to help you feel better. Just ask as many questions as you need to and Whole30 on!

I've already shared my Top 10 Tips to prepare for your Whole30, but people keep asking me exactly what I'm doing, so I thought I'd give you the run down of what I did to prepare for our first week.

I prepared a little bit differently than I did the first time through, and I'm more efficient in the kitchen than I was six months ago, but I’m not gonna lie….I spent most of Saturday afternoon in the kitchen. (Thank goodness for the Harry Potter weekend on ABCFamily!) 

Here’s what I focused on:

1. Making sauces. I’ve already talked about how important Whole30 compliant mayo is. I made 4 batches. I made some Whole30 compliant Hoisin sauce (from Well Fed 2) because I needed it for a salad dressing and I will need it for a recipe later this week. I also whipped up a huge batch of Cilantro Ranch dressing (take this recipe, use cilantro instead of parsley, leave out the paprika and thin it with some water). This stuff will make your veggie intake so much more enjoyable!

2. Making breakfast a breeze. I prefer to have a nice leisurely breakfast with fried eggs, a few pieces of compliant bacon, half my plate filled with peppers and onions and a half an avocado with a splash of salsa. But most mornings, I don’t have time for that. So I made some egg muffins that will get me by in a pinch. I like these because they are loaded with veggies. I had some this morning with salsa (I like Mateo's salsa that I buy at Costco, but it's really not that hard to find compliant salsa), some avocado, and a cup of bone broth. 

3. Experimenting with a new recipe. I found this recipe for spinach, sausage and potato soup on Pinterest and it was awesome. It’s going in the rotation. Pinterest is a great source of Whole30 recipes, but be careful. Just because Pinterest says it's Whole30 doesn't mean it is. With this recipe, I used compliant sausage and full-fat coconut milk in place of the heavy cream to make it fit within the guidelines. 

4. Grilling lots of meat. We grilled chicken wings, a pork tenderloin, some compliant Italian sausages, and eight chicken breasts. It’s always a great idea to grill multiple foods as longs the big green egg is fired up, and it will help our evenings go more smoothly when the kids and I don’t have to wait for Brian to get home, change clothes, start the grill, wait for it to heat up….you get the idea.

5. Making bone broth. I keep reading about how awesome bone broth is, so I’m adding turkey broth and beef broth to my repertoire. So far, I like it.

6. Stocking up on Whole30 staples. I hit Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Publix. I bought coconut aminos (great sub for soy sauce), sparkling water, compliant pickles (Trader Joe’s brand has some good ones) and mustards (mustard with horseradish will be a great sub for BBQ sauce with that pork tenderloin), plenty of veggies and some fruit.

I also hopped online and ordered jerky, Primal Pacs and Red Boat fish sauce because I already know I can’t find that stuff around here. Check out Whole30.com for their approved sources and affiliate links if you’re worried about getting something that is non-compliant. 

7. Making sure Day 1 goes off without a hitch. We already knew we would be out of town through late Monday evening. So before we left on Sunday, I made sure we had options to get us through Day 1 without any drama. No scrambling for a compliant lunch or having to cook in order to eat. We’ve got all that grilled meat plus we have a few salads in mason jars, so we are set. 

There's nothing magical about my prep. I've done this several times now, so I know where I'm likely to run into trouble (no time for breakfast, starving at lunch, running out of mayo ...) and my preparation is designed to minimize that. Your prep will look different from mine. Just spend a little time thinking about your week and your life and try to minimize the challenges as much as you can.

If you're gearing up for a Whole30, feel free to ask questions in the comments. I'm not an expert, but I'll be happy to help any way I can! 

Click to Tweet: Gearing up for Whole30? Here's how I prepped for Week 1.


Friday, December 19, 2014

Running from a Crazy Man


Lori Roeleveld
One of my favorite writers anywhere ever is Lori Roeleveld. I've had a writer crush on her since 2010, when I heard her share her story in a workshop at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference...and then listened as her name was called several times during the awards ceremony a few days later. 

I discovered her blog, Deeper With Jesus in Rhode Island, and found myself developing a love/hate relationship with her posts. They are beautifully written, funny, and provocative. They are also courageous, disturbing, and convicting. When I read her posts, I am often encouraged. I am also frequently annoyed. Annoyed that I can no longer sit cozy in my comfy chair and ignore the plight of suffering Christians, stay silent on unpopular issues, or pretend that I serve the kind of God I can explain in a tweet.

I'm thrilled to tell you that Lori has just released a new book, Running From A Crazy Man (and other adventures traveling with Jesus)

Running from a Crazy Man
Here's what I had to say about it on Amazon: If you've discovered that following Jesus is more like traveling to Mordor than following the yellow brick road, then the wisdom found in these pages will encourage you when you fear, strengthen you when you falter, whisper peace in the dark, and kick your rear when you start thinking about calling it quits. Lori writes from a unique place. She writes as a poet warrior who rests in the certainty that the One leading us into battle is not only big enough to have already won the war, but is also loving enough to understand how afraid we become when swords start flying at our heads. Running from a Crazy Man is an honest look at what it means to follow Jesus - it's an adventure no one will want to miss.

Here's what I had to say about it on Facebook: Lori is one of my favorite writers and Running from a Crazy Man is the kind of book that will encourage you as you walk with the Lord. Of course, by encourage, I mean the way jumper cables "encourage" a car to start! Running from a Crazy Man isn't the kind of book you read and then close the pages and think, "well, that was nice." Running from a Crazy Man is the kind of book you read and then get out of your comfy chair and live the adventure Jesus is calling you to.

This weekend, you can grab the paperback copy for $8.96. And the Kindle version is only $1.99! I don't know how long these prices will last, but Running from a Crazy Man would make a great gift for anyone on your Christmas shopping list. It belongs on your nightstand as well, so go ahead and pick up two or three. 

I know sometimes we wonder if the people who write books about the Christian life are the real deal. Do they live their faith? Do they mean what they say? You don't need to worry about that with Lori. Since that conference in 2010, it has been my privilege to call Lori my friend. Over the past few years, Lori has prayed for me, encouraged me, listened to me whine, prodded me, celebrated with me, asked me hard questions, and extended lots of grace.

I can recommend Running from a Crazy Man without reservation. Get it. Read it. Just don't expect to walk away unchanged. 


Saturday, December 13, 2014

Hungry for God . . . Starving for Time


Lori Hatcher
Lori Hatcher is the editor of Reach Out, Columbia magazine and she is responsible for my very first print article (and the two articles that followed it). I've had the privilege of working with Lori as an editor and it's a delight to introduce her to you, not as an editor, but as the author of a wonderful devotional. 

I know many of you will find yourself in this description...

You want to connect with God, but in the craziness of life, it’s just not happening. Between the demands of work, relationships, activities, and everything else that crowds your days, you’re hungry for God, but starving for time. 

You want practical, biblical answers to situations you face every day, but you don’t have hours to pore over Scripture. You need a resource that answers the questions you’re afraid to ask out loud. Questions like:
  • ·       Is my situation hopeless?
  • ·       If God already knows what he’s going to do, why bother to pray?
  • ·       Why have you allowed this to happen to me?
  • ·       No one appreciates what I do. Why shouldn’t I quit?
Each devotion begins with a Facetime question and ends with a biblical answer wrapped in a modern day parable. Like a spiritual power bar, Hungry for God … Starving for Time is packed with enough scriptural nutrition to get you through the day.

Wherever you are—in break rooms, carpool lines, or wherever you can snatch five minutes of quiet reflection—Hungry for God … Starving for Time, 5-Minute Devotions for Busy Women is for you.

Hungry for God ... Starving for Time
Here's a sample devotion from the book...Check it out. I know you'll want to pick up a copy of Hungry for God...Starving for Time. It would make a fantastic Christmas gift!


The Day I Missed a Miracle
Facetime: God, this is hopeless. Why should I even bother to pray?

She was a lovely lady with a voice that was sweet, winsome, and compelling. Of all the soloists at our church, she was my favorite. When she sang, the joy of God was so evident on her face that the song on her lips was merely an echo of what was in her heart.

My heart broke for her when our pastor announced she had been diagnosed with a cancer so rare no oncologist on the East Coast would treat her. Her only hope was a clinic in Texas, he explained, and she was leaving immediately. He invited us to join him in praying that God would do a miracle and spare her life.

When I heard his words, my heart sank. I knew she was going to die. The hopeless diagnosis and confirmation from the oncologists who wouldn't treat her sealed the inevitable in my heart.

Two years later she stood before our congregation cancer free and once again singing to the God who had healed her. She thanked everyone who had prayed for her. She was a living miracle.

And I had no part in it.

I missed being a part of her miracle because I had not prayed in faith for her healing. Instead of believing the God who asked Jeremiah, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for me? (Jeremiah 32:27), I believed the doctors when they said there was no hope.

Instead of believing the God who said, If you have the faith of a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, be removed, (Matthew 17:20), I believed statistics that said her cancer was too advanced.

Instead of believing the God who said, Call unto me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things that you do not know, (Jeremiah 33:3), I believed the reports that said she was beyond healing.

Was God able to heal this sister in Christ without my prayers? Obviously. My lack of faith did not hinder him in the least. God was more than able to fulfill his purpose for her without my help. This precious lady was not harmed in any way by my prayerlessness.

Of all the people involved in this scenario, I was the only loser. I had missed the chance to be part of a miracle. While I rejoiced in her healing and praised the God who had brought it about, I had no share in the victory because I had not believed.

I learned several powerful lessons that day.  

I learned that nothing is impossible for God. That he delights in working through the faith-filled prayers of His children. That nothing is sweeter than the victory that comes after doing battle on our knees. That when we unite our hearts in prayer around a common goal, God's incredible power is unleashed. And I learned that every prayer victory makes it easier to believe the next time.

I missed out on the chance to be part of a miracle that day, but I purposed in my heart that it would never happen again. Now, when someone invites me to pray, I say "Yes!" with all my heart. Never again will I miss being part of a miracle.

I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for me? Jeremiah 32:27

Lori Hatcher is an author, blogger, and women’s ministry speaker. She shares an empty nest in Columbia, South Carolina, with her ministry and marriage partner, David, and best dog ever, Winston. Her latest book, Hungry for God . . . Starving for Time, 5-Minute Devotions for Busy Women, helps women connect to God in the craziness of life. You’ll find her pondering the marvelous and the mundane on her blog, Hungry for God. . . Starving for Time  (www.lorihatcher.com).



Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Top 10 Ways to Prep for Whole30

Top 10 Ways to Prep for Whole30.

So, you’re thinking about doing a Whole30 in January? Great! Here are my top 10 things you should be doing now - yes, now! - to get ready. 

(You can read about my health journey and how Whole30 has played a big part in it here).

1. Learn the program. If you can read It Starts With Food before January, great. But if not, get over to Whole30.com and learn what you can and cannot eat. 

2. Try out some recipes. A quick Whole30 search on Google or Pinterest will return thousands of Whole30 compliant recipes. (You can follow my Whole30 Pinterest board to see what I’ve found so far). December is the time to experiment. There’s nothing worse than being in the middle of a Whole30 and trying a new recipe that flops. 

3. Invest in a new cookbook (or three).  Just because it’s “paleo” doesn’t mean it’s Whole30. But paleo cookbooks are a great place to start. My personal favorite Whole30 cookbooks are Well Fed and Well Fed 2


Olives are an awesome source of fat!
4. Prep your pantry. Stock up on Whole30 staples. Whole30 compliant coconut milk, coconut oil, ghee, light olive oil, extra virgin olive oil, diced tomatoes, tuna, olives, nuts and seeds. If you buy all of it on January 1st, your budget is going to feel it. Once you start searching, you may discover that it’s difficult to source some things. Can you even find compliant coconut milk where you live? You might need to order it online. If you have an Amazon prime membership, online shopping might make your life a lot easier (it does mine).

5. Organize your fridge. Before we start a Whole30, we read labels and move all the non-compliant food to one side. Think ketchup, maple syrup, and barbecue sauce. Then we put the foods that are Whole30 approved on the other side. Buy some compliant pickles and olives. Get the good bacon (no sugar added). Check your mustards and curries. Some will be okay, some won’t. 

Homemade Mayo - A must have!
6. Learn to make mayo. I know. I know. But trust me. Whole30 approved mayo will make your life so much easier. It’s not that hard. You just need some patience and a food processor or blender. And you need to follow the instructions here. The sauces, salad dressings, chicken salads, and tuna salads you’ll be able to enjoy are totally worth the effort.

7. Find Whole30 compliant restaurants in your area. The best way to stay completely compliant is to make your own food. But do you really want to make all 90 meals? I don’t. So ask questions now. Are the eggs cooked in butter? Can you get the chicken cooked in olive oil? Can you get a salad that will work? Does the steak have a rub or can you get it plain? In our area, Tropical Chicken Grille has a couple of Whole30 compliant options. We eat there at least once a week. The Chicken Fresco chop over lettuce with a side of guacamole keeps me sane. Especially around Day 23 when I start thinking if I have to cook another meal I’ll throw my cast iron skillet out the window.

8. Freeze a few favorites. I have Chocolate Chili, Spaghetti Sauce, and Breakfast Sausage (I double the crushed red pepper, skip the brown sugar) in the freezer. There’s nothing like having your day run off the rails and then being faced with having to cook a meal. When you're exhausted (or you have a recipe fail), you can thaw some chocolate chili, dice up some onion and avocado while it’s reheating, and you’ve got supper in ten minutes flat. 

9. Try some new beverages. Your beverage choices will be somewhat limited on Whole30. Coffee? Sure, as long as it’s black. Tea? Go for it. Unsweetened. Juice? Nope. Smoothies. Nada. Water? As much as you can handle, bro! But flat water can get boring, so this month, give sparkling waters a shot. 

LaCroix in Pamplemousse - Love it!
I HATED LaCroix the first time I tried it. By Day 15 of my first Whole30, I’d decided they weren’t awful. Six months later, I actually crave them. Our favorite LaCroix flavor is pamplemousse (grapefruit). We also like the White Rock brand (which we buy at Whole Foods) in pomegranate blueberry. 

If you’re panicked about the coffee situation, I feel your pain. I was a wreck about it. Chameleon Cold Brew Coffee (black) saved the day. (A huge shout out to our coaches at Five Forks CrossFit for stocking it for us while we searched for a local source!) It’s sold refrigerated and concentrated. You mix it with water and it’s good cold or hot. It’s very smooth and not at all bitter. I drank it iced for the first 10 days. By then, I was able to handle my regular coffee black. 

Another option…try your coffee with coconut oil instead of cream. My husband drinks his this way every day. You can buy a mini-aererator like this one (we picked it up at Bed, Bath and Beyond with a coupon for $15) and get a nice frothy, creamy feel to your coffee.

Pistachios make me happy.
10. Find some compliant emergency foods you actually like. Stash them in your car, purse, desk drawer, etc. No, a lunch comprised of beef jerky and a Lara bar isn’t ideal, but it can keep you in compliance until you can get to a salad bar. My emergency stash includes nuts (check what kind of oils are in there), dried fruit (check for added sugar), Lara bars (watch the ingredients), and beef jerky (choose carefully). 

That’s my Top 10 Ways to Prep for your Whole30 list

If you've completed a Whole30, what would you add? Do you have any questions about Whole30 you'd like me to answer in a post? Tell me about it in the comments!

My next Whole30 post (coming next week) will include my favorite Whole30 foods. I’ll be talking brand names and where to buy/order, so check it out. 


Tweet: Planning a #Whole30 in January? Here's what you can be doing now! Top 10 Ways to Prep for Whole30. http://ctt.ec/6CF2a+ Planning a #Whole30 in January? Here's what you can be doing now! Top 10 Ways to Prep for Whole30.