Lisa’s Hearty Chili Recipe & a Few Writing Tips

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by Lisa Prysock

From My Kitchen to Yours                                        

ChiliOne of my favorite meals to make during this time of year is chili!  My whole family enjoys it!  It is easy to prepare, tastes even better the second day, and it’s economical.  At our house, we like to serve it with plenty of saltines, shredded cheddar cheese, and chopped onion.  It’s also a relatively healthy and hearty meal for these colder days we are just beginning to experience here in Kentucky.

There are a few secret tips to keep in mind that really make this one of the best tasting chili recipes ever–:

Hunts

 

1)  Try to use the Hunt’s Tomato sauce if at all possible.  I’ve tried this recipe over the years with other sauces, but Hunt’s tastes the best by far.  I usually buy 2 or 3 of the medium sized cans (not the 8 oz. cans, but the 13-15 oz. cans).

2)  This chili turns out best if the majority of the beans are the pork and beans Showboat or Van de Kamp’s variety.  I usually buy the extra tall cans.  I like to add about 3 or 4 of the 15 oz. cans for a family of 4-5 (it tastes even better on the second day).

Here are the ingredients for this sweet and spicy, hearty chili:

1.5 to 2 lbs. browned, well cooked, drained ground beef

2-3 (Medium sized) cans of Hunts Tomato Sauce

3-4 (Tall) cans of Showboat or Van de Kamp’s pork and beans

2    Cans of rinsed and drained Light or Dark Red Kidney Beans, 8 oz. variety

3-4 Cans of chili beans, 8 oz. variety

2 packets of chili seasoning or 4-8 teaspoons of chili powder to taste, mild to medium spicy

1 tsp of garlic powder

1.5 tsp of black ground pepper

1 generous tsp of sea salt

Several generous dashes of paprika

2 tsp of hot sauce, mild to medium spicy

¾ to 1 cup of white granulated sugar

Garnish items:

1-2 large onion, chopped and set aside for garnish

1 box of saltine crackers, set aside for garnish

1 bowl of pre-shredded sharp cheddar cheese, set aside for garnish

Directions:  

Brown and drain the ground beef in a large stock pot or soup/sauce pot.  Return drained ground beef to burner and lower heat to medium.  Add the other ingredients to the pan, including the seasonings except for the garnish items.  Mix well and then bring to a boil, stirring frequently.   Turn the temperature on a low heat setting to simmer for 1 to 2 hours, stirring often.  Be sure to add the seasonings and hot sauce according to your preference.  You can add more sauce, fewer beans and/or less or more ground beef if you prefer more of a soup chili.  This recipe is for a hearty, thick chili with loads of protein.  If you don’t add the sugar, it will have a tart flavor.  As always, use caution when adding hot sauce and spicy seasonings.  (Serves 5-10 +)

Lisa’s Writing Tips 

Woman1)  Guard your writing time with proper planning.  Map out the days or evenings in advance when you will be writing.  Be sure your family knows that this will be your writing time.  Choose meals that are easy to prepare or meals which can be made well in advance of your writing time (such as the chili recipe in this post which may last for up to two or three days, giving you extra writing time)!

2)  Ask God for a theme or an idea He would like you to write about.  Then listen for His instruction.

3)  Make a road map or a general OUTLINE of your story.  This is a crucial step.  It involves plotting, but do allow plenty of room for changes along the way.  It’s hard to finish a book if you don’t know where you are going.  It doesn’t have to be a really detailed outline.  It just needs to be an outline sharing a little about what will be contained in each chapter.  If you are having trouble filling in all of the chapters, you should at least be able to start with a beginning, middle, and an end to get you going on your outline.  Then you can add obstacles, enhance the climax and ending, and refine your beginning.

4)  Try not to put too much back story into your first chapter.  Less is more.

5)  Research your story and elements you want to include thoroughly.  Get out there and visit the scene, a location, or detail items that would enhance your story.  For instance, in my book “Protecting Miss Jenna,” I visited numerous historical plantations and enjoyed a riverboat ride as part of my research.  It made a huge difference in the outcome of the story.

6)  Develop and use your own style.  Do what works for you.

7)  Edit your work numerous times and then edit again.  Look for grammar, spelling, and typo errors the first time through.  Then look for content errors the next time through.  Then look at formatting errors.  If possible, hire a professional editor.

8)  Make each sentence as simple as possible.

9)  Have someone else read and critique your work before publication.

10)  Try to obtain reviews.  Often, readers will give a review if you ask for one.

11)  Use a notebook as you write to keep track of each character’s traits and other details that may be difficult to remember.  I keep track of full names, ages, eye and hair color, birthdays, siblings, parents, important dates and events, and many other pertinent details.

12)  When developing characters, one tip I learned from another writer early on is to employ the use of character work sheets.  For example, I ask a long series of questions about each of my main characters and provide the answers.  The answers to the questions will bleed through or come out in the writing later on.  I may ask questions and provide answers such as–:

Q. What is Sally afraid of or what fears does she have and why?

A. Sally is afraid of the water because she nearly drowned when she was eight years old and never learned to swim.

Q. When did Sally decide to follow Jesus?

Q. When the Lord sent an angel to rescue her from the drowning incident she decided to accept the Lord into her heart and life.

Q. What are her favorite foods and least favorite foods?

A. Sally loves strawberries and biscuits, pancakes, and fried chicken.  She does not like cornbread because she grew weary of it as a child.

Q. What are Sally’s favorite activities?

A. Sally likes to read in her treehouse; paint and sketch portraits and pictures; she likes to walk by the river; and she loves to ride her horse named Nehemiah.

Q. What are Sally’s ambitions?

A. Sally wants to become an artist and move to southern France.

13.) Read everything you can about being a writer.  Constantly try to learn and improve your writing craft.

14.) Connect with other writers.  Especially be supportive of other like-minded writers as much as possible.

15.) Cover everything you do with prayer and strive for excellence.  We represent Jesus, so make it the very best you have to give.  Bathe your writing in constant prayer and allow the Holy Spirit to guide what you write.  Several times I have been stuck with regard to a plot or event in a book as I was writing.  In each situation I have asked the Lord to help me and show me what to do next.  He has always found a way to answer and direct my work.  His answers usually surprise me.   I find His ideas are far superior to my own.  Sometimes He has directed me to remove something or re-write something.  He has often given me what I felt to be a brilliant solution to many of my writing dilemmas.

In closing, I realize that we are about to embark on the holiday season as we are now just seven days away from Thanksgiving!  Wow has time flown in 2016!  We have so much to be thankful for!  I hope you have enjoyed these writing tips and my chili recipe.  If you have a writing tip, or if this entry has blessed you in some way, please share with us in the comments below.  May you have great success in all of your writing endeavors and a very blessed Thanksgiving!

Lisa M. Prysock

About the Author:

Lisa PrysockWhen she was thirteen she knew what she wanted to be: a mother and a writer! Lisa says she went on a detour a number of times but the Lord generously allowed both of her dreams to happen.

Lisa M. Prysock is the author of “To Find a Duchess,” a Regency Inspirational Romance and two more Historical Christian Romance books with Kentucky settings in the Victorian Era, “Hannah’s Garden: a Turn of the Century Love Story,” and “Abigail’s Melody,” Volume 1 and 2 in a series titled “The Victorian Christian Heritage Series.”

“I don’t know how it happens but most of my books end up in beautiful England at some point and two start out in gorgeous, rolling Kentucky…”

Kentucky inspires her writing and is home. She is happily married to her husband of seventeen years and homeschools two of their five children. She has a son in college and two stepdaughters, grown. Lisa grew up in the Ohio Valley and also spent her early childhood years in Minnesota on a farm. “Yes, there were chickens, a cow named Daisy and even horses one summer, a huge vegetable garden, fishing and snowmobiles!”

Lisa remembers writing her very first book in kindergarten in Wisconsin, with help from the teacher and a stapler. “It was a book about ‘Curious George.’ I couldn’t spell yet but the teacher wrote words beneath my illustrations for what I wanted to say on each page.” She has been writing ever since. She won a prize for a short story in 8th grade and remembers buying a manual typewriter with her first ever babysitting earnings.

Lisa is a huge fan of the “Little House on the Prairie” series, the “Anne of Green Gables” collection, the Jane Austen collection, C.S. Lewis books, “Heidi,” “Christy,” “Jane Eyre,” and “Little Women.” She loves writing family oriented, classic style literature: a little less conversation and a lot more detail and background. She also loves sharing her faith in Christ with her readers. She believes people just need to know how wonderful He is and attributes her dream of writing coming true entirely to Him.

She gives a portion of the proceeds of her books each month to missionaries and evangelists to further the gospel. She is currently writing her eighth book, and she recently completed “The Lydia Collection.” For more information about Lisa and to find out when her next book will launch, she can be found at: www.LisaPrysock.com

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Being You

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by Staci Stallings

Recently I had the good fortune of going to see my niece in her high school play. Now you kind of have to have lived with this child for the last 18 years to fully understand this, so let me give you some background.

First, it’s important to note that she is older than my own daughter by about three and a half months. That means I’m not just her aunt who watched her grow up in a dispassionate, stand-offish way. It means, I was right in there as she and my daughter “learned to live” together.

The second thing you have to know is that my daughter is an introvert. Oh, she’s the life of the party around people that she knows, but she is more the one who observes than the one who is observed. She is quiet and not overly aggressive or boisterous.  My niece is the absolute opposite.

In a Hollywood review, she would be the one they would say “stole the show.”

And as they were growing up, that was so true. It did not matter what it was, my niece would be right in the middle of it, overtaking all of it. If they were going to do a “show” for the family, she would be the one who would break into a dance for no reason at all.  If they did a play, her character, no matter how benign in its conception would be the one that would be front-and-center by the end.

I remember a few years ago, she got on an “I Love Lucy” kick that would not end. She watched them and watched them until I’m sure she has many of them memorized. She also loved “Dick Van Dyke.” Of course those were balanced out with CSI and Castle.

It was like she was a sponge for characters.

Then a few years ago, she got into Theatre Arts in high school, and she loved it.  The last couple of years she has often been the lead actress in the plays—both fall and spring productions. In fact, over last summer she went to a college theater camp and after auditioning, every director wanted her for the lead in their play.

Now, before you think I’m just bragging in all of this, hang with me because there is a lesson.

This was also the child that pushed my daughter down repeatedly as a toddler. We couldn’t let the two of them play without watching them like a hawk because my daughter would invariably end up on the ground in tears. As they got older, my daughter would repeatedly get “upstaged.”  And I have to admit, sometimes that was not fun for mom or for daughter.

However, somehow it never destroyed their relationship. Somehow we all loved them both just the way they were so that nobody’s self got demolished.  And so, we enter this phase of life, where both are now starting to find their way into grown up life.

My daughter is going the athletic training route, quietly helping others to shine.  My niece… well, we’ll see. She wants to do so many things, and one of them is be on a stage.

So it was that I went to her play. The play itself is quite funny.  It features Shakespearean characters who have somehow transported to 1950’s Hollywood.  Oberon and Puck, the two characters from Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” materialize in the real world, a world that to them seems… rather like a dream.

Think Warner Brothers with Bugs Bunny and starlets, big stars and bigger egos unleashed on the world. And here are these two dropped amidst this cadre of real people playing characters.

My niece played Puck, which was something of a feat, because Puck is not a feminine character. Think mix of Peter Pan and Tinker Bell.  In the play, Puck is Oberon’s sidekick. Robin to his Batman.

Except this sidekick has a knack for being a little outlandish and a lot of trouble!  As the play goes on, Puck gets more and more enamored with all the goings on in Hollywood all the while trying to help Oberon win the love of his life and get even with his adversaries. This character is larger-than-life though at the same time not “large” at all.

By the end Puck’s antics are what drives the entire play. In fact, without Puck, there is no play.

As I watched my niece play this iconic part, not shying away from any of it, I laughed, yes…. Many times. We all said that part was made for her because we have SEEN every face she made in it—cracking the audience up with her over-the-top, boisterous antics.  She was at once Lucile Ball and herself, expertly conveying the craziness while relishing in the laughter and hilarity she was at once causing and trying to repair.

She was, in effect, completely…. herself.

She was who she has always been. The one who steals the show simply by showing up.

The one who whether she is front-and-center or not has you looking at her because you’re wondering what crazy thing she’s going to come up with next.

At one of the showings, she had told one of her cast mates that she thought breaking character the worst thing you could do on stage and that she would never do it.  During the show, as she was running around the stage trying to get away from an angry Oberon, one of the other actors inadvertently doused her with sparkling water from a glass he was holding.

She said later that it stung on her contacts something fierce, but her fellow actor said, “I couldn’t believe it. You literally never so much as cracked. You never broke character. I believe you now.”

I don’t know where her story is going. I don’t know where she will eventually end up. What I do know is I am very glad none of us tried to make her something she was not early on. Through all the frustrations with her, I am glad she got to be who she really is—someone who will embrace the craziness of who they are and just go with it.

I think some of the laughter in that auditorium was that we all wish to just let go and be that crazy once in a while. I’m just glad she got the chance and I got the chance to see it. It was a lesson in learning to let others be who they are… and not try to make them into something they are not.

I’m glad I got that right with her. I’m hoping I’m getting it right with all of them!

Copyright, Staci Stallings, 2016

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About the Author:

Staci StallingsA stay-at-home mom with a husband, three kids and a writing addiction on the side, Staci Stallings has numerous titles for readers to choose from. Not content to stay in one genre and write it to death, Staci’s stories run the gamut from young adult to adult, from motivational and inspirational to full-out Christian and back again. Every title is a new adventure! That’s what keeps Staci writing and you reading.

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Gems From Pastor Jim

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by Jim Hughes

CrossPs. 119:140 Your promises have been thoroughly tested; that is why I love them so much.

One thing that we have in common with all humanity is that everyone goes through times of life that are not easy. Everyone needs help beyond themselves from time to time. For the believer, we find our greatest source of help from God’s Word.

A multitude of saints who have gone before us have had to put God’s Word to the test as they struggled through life. There has never been a time in history in which God’s people have not needed wise counsel and renewed hope from God. For most who have preceded us, life has been very harsh. People have been harassed and killed for centuries because of their faith. There is not one promise of God that has not been put to the test over the years. And, every promise of God has been proven to be trustworthy.

Everyone who stands on the promises of God knows that they shall not fall. God always does what He says He will do. He never fails to see His children through whatever they may face in life. Over and over again, God’s children proclaim His faithfulness. When difficulties arise, we don’t always recognize the workings of God in our crisis. But as we make it through and look back, we can clearly see the hand of God on our lives. We see that God’s promises are trustworthy all the time.

Don’t you just love God’s promises? There are promises of God to see us through every situation of life. They remind us of a God who cares. They speak of God’s ability. They speak of God’s desire to be involved in every part of our lives. They speak to our needs today and the life that is still to come. They are rich in wisdom and they guide us through life. Hold them close. Let them govern your heart. Let them captivate you and thrill your soul. Let them hold you steady in the storms of life.

C Through Marriage

About the Author:

Jim HughesSpending his formative years in Ft. Wayne, IN, Jim followed the love of his life to southeast Iowa where they married and have spent the majority of their lives. Jim has pastored several churches throughout his life and has worked many years in local factories to help support his family. The father of two married adult children and one son still at home, Jim is a first-time author.

C Through Marriage came into being through many years of pastoral and life experiences. The book first took on a life of its own over 20 years ago when I sought to address the much publicized moral failures of prominent leaders in the church. In the chaper on Chasity, I include the guideliness that I developed then to protect one’s self from such failures.

I am a firm believer in order to make sense out of life you have to use much common sense. We need to get back to the basics of what has worked for many, many generations. If is isn’t broke, why try to fix it? I strive to return to the basics of what really works in all my writings.

This site contains Third Party Advertising, using online behavioral tracking technology. Some of the links in the post above are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we believe will add value to our readers.

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Streams in the Desert

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by L. G. Cowman

These were the potters, and those that dwelt among plants and hedges: there they dwelt with the king for his work (1 Chron. 4:23).

Anywhere and everywhere we may dwell “with the king for his work.” We may be in a very unlikely and unfavorable place for this; it may be in a literal country life, with little enough to be seen of the “goings” of the King around us; it may be among the hedges of all sorts, hindrances in all directions; it may be furthermore, with our hands full of all manner of pottery for our daily task.

No matter! The King who placed us “there” will come and dwell there with us; the hedges are right, or He would soon do away with them. And it does not follow that what seems to hinder our way may not be for its very protection; and as for the pottery, why, that is just exactly what He has seen fit to put into our hands, and therefore it is, for the present, “His work.”
–Frances Ridley Havergal

Go back to thy garden-plot, sweetheart!
Go back till the evening falls,
And bind thy lilies and train thy vines,
Till for thee the Master calls.

Go make thy garden fair as thou canst,
Thou workest never alone;
Perhaps he whose plot is next to thine
Will see it and mend his own.

The colored sunsets and starry heavens, the beautiful mountains and the shining seas, the fragrant woods and painted flowers, are not half so beautiful as a soul that is serving Jesus out of love, in the wear and tear of common, unpoetic life.
–Faber

The most saintly spirits are often existing in those who have never distinguished themselves as authors, or left any memorial of themselves to be the theme of the world’s talk; but who have led an interior angelic life, having borne their sweet blossoms unseen like the young lily in a sequestered vale on the bank of a limpid stream.
–Kenelm Digby

If you would like your own copy of Streams in the Desert click on the image below.

Streams in the Desert

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A Review Revisited: The Cactus Creek Challenge

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by Paula Rose

A Review Revisited by Paula Rose 

This review originally appeared on Books-N-Reviews on Publishers Marketplace by Paula Rose http://www.publishersmarketplace.com/members/booksnreviews/

Publisher: Shiloh Run Press | Published: July 1, 2015 | Formats: eBook (322 pages), Paperback (320 pages), and Audio (October 21, 2016) | ASIN: B00THZX61E, ISBN: 9781630589271, and Audio ISBN: 9781630589288 (October 21, 2016) | Origin: NetGalley

Cover: Courtesy of http://www.barbourbooks.com

The Cactus Creek Challenge

Thoughts:

Inside The Cactus Creek Challenge, author Erica Vetsch takes us back to 1888 and puts us in the middle of a calm Texas town with a son of a legendary lawman as sheriff to keep this town safe.

Well, that’s not the way it remains after March 31, 1888.

The lawman’s office gets upended by the town doctor, the sheriff’s own father, and rest of this town’s committee is leaving his town’s future on the edge and somewhere between hysterical, historical, and dangerous!

Although, a woman sheriff is an unheard of appointment and a lawman schoolteacher becomes a downright scandalous venture, all this happens while a female baker is running from family and working in the livery. The livery man is fixing to service a wedding with sourdough biscuits instead of cake.

Cactus Creek is up to many challenges stemming from just one. From putting kids on the prowl, gold in the eyes of the townsfolk, and lives in danger, these pages keep turning; their problems just multiply drawing you deeper into the story and into love with these characters.

***This opinion is my own.***

Preview:

Erica Vetsch’s The Cactus Creek Challenge is a western tale about a town, its people, and a contest with a twist.

The Cactus Creek Challenge is a yearly escapade lasting one month where contestants switch jobs and the winner whom does the best gets donations for the cause of their choice. However, in this year of 1888, it is also a first.

It is the first year women gained their entrance. And while it is expected that each will change positions with their gender, it comes as a total surprise to the entrants and the townsfolk that men will do the women’s work and the women will do the men’s work.

While these women set out to prove themselves, the men suffer from the “I could do it better syndrome”. Each are becoming sure their opponents will do bad, but each are wondering if the jobs they thought so easy would be their ultimate of failures. Do they have what it takes to let go of their old post and win the challenge in their new positions? Will they lose their limbs, life, or hearts trying?

About the Author:

Paula RoseAuthor Paula Rose brings an “average” family into extraordinary situations, brushes with life-size strokes of reality, adding just a touch of humor, and coats with suspense inside Christian fiction. Paula’s research gives readers a panoramic view from law enforcement and lends to character authenticity. She enjoys writing in the romantic suspense, suspense, and mystery genres, but when she’s not writing, Paula Rose is reading or playing amateur photographer. Member of ACFW. 2015 Genesis Contest judge. NetGalley member. 2014 Grace Awards judge.

Website: http://paularosebooks.com/ Blog: http://www.publishersmarketplace.com/members/booksnreviews/

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Devotion

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by Mark Malcolm

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You are a mirror. You reflect to the world those things you hold in your heart. Where your eye goes, your heart follows. So, what things does your eye follow?

We also have lives. We do things, we go places, we meet people as we do the things we need to do in life. How do they perceive your life? What message does it give? What image do they see you created in as reflected in how you live?

Jesus Christ presents us with Hope daily. He is the Hope of the future self, the New Self we’ve been working to bring about. It is the image of that New Self we want people to see reflected. It is the image of that New Self that will be appealing to get people to accept the invitation to the party that we should be offering. The trouble is the Old Self is still there, even when we throw it off and polish it all away, we still know who we were before.

The Holy Spirit brings us Peace when we seek it from Him. We seek it when we pray. We seek it when we delve into His word to learn more. We seek that Peace when we chose things He reveals to us as good over those things He reveals to us as bad. We seek His Peace as we polish the surface and actively chose to focus the mirror of our heart on the good things instead of the bad things.

Joy springs forth from within us as a flower from the renewing spring rain. The waters of righteousness wash our soul and water our garden making all things good grow within us. The Joy of willingly walking the path God has for us feeds our inner being in ways that are almost unexplainable.

Hope, Peace, and Joy cause Love to spring forth like flowers in the garden. We end up with an abundance of these things we can hand out as though we had an endless bouquet of pretty things to give away. These flowers of Love come from tending the garden of our heart regularly and they are not to be held to ourselves. There are those we meet who desperately require a little color to come into. their life, a little fragrance from the garden in bloom. It has been given to us to provide that small moment of happiness to them.

Plucking the flower and passing it out does remove it from our garden, yes. But it then provides room for the next bloom to blossom bringing with it all new color and fragrance we can enjoy until we are called to give it away also. We should have no fear of this because the Gardener is with us, tending to the soil, fertilizing the flowers, watering the plants. He builds us up so that we might then also build up others and encourage them. It is in His strength that we are able to move through our own garden and help with the weeding. But this can only happen if we open the gate and let Him in.

Bio from my web site :

Smiling Mark IIMark Malcolm is a child of God, husband, father, project manager, technical writer, gamer, fiction writer, Marine (’87-’91), has practiced Shao Lin Kung Fu and Tai Chi, been published in magazines and newspapers (editorial anyway), and seen the Southern Cross.

The goals he has currently are to more accurately identify the path God has for him to walk, continue to provide for his family, establish a solid web presence, build a career writing novels through both traditional and independent publishing, and learn to better relate to the people around him.

http://www.firstchevalier.com/about-the-cavalier/

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Gems From Pastor Jim

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by Jim Hughes

CrossPs. 119:133 Guide my steps by your word, so I will not be overcome by any evil.

Our only protection from evil is to let the Lord take His Word and direct our paths. We are not capable of “winging it” on our own and staying pure before God. If you are not asking the Lord to take His Word and lead you through your journey of life, you are depriving your soul of its very essence for life. You cannot sustain a relationship with God without His Word. You will do nothing but starve yourself to death and give Satan fertile ground upon which to thrive. You will succumb to evil if you neglect God’s Word in your life. Guaranteed.

You cannot be led by the Word unless you know the Word. You cannot know the Word without reading and meditating on it. If you don’t put in the time, you will do the crime; it’s as simple as that. No one has the strength of soul to resist temptation apart from the Word of God. Without the Word to guide us, we will be easily led astray. The Word shows us the pathway to holiness. We learn what not to do and what to do. God does not lead us into confusion. He clearly marks out the path for us to follow. It is imperative for the health of our souls that we equip ourselves with a working knowledge of God’s Word.

We choose daily whether we will be overcomers of evil or victims to it. We choose daily whether or not we will arm ourselves with the Word or not. No one has any excuse. We have time for what we want. There is no activity on earth that is more important for the life of the soul than God’s Word. If there is the will to spend time in the Word, there will be a way. Adjustments may have to be made in daily routines, but there is a way. Does your relationship with God mean enough to you for you to do it?

C Through Marriage

About the Author:

Jim HughesSpending his formative years in Ft. Wayne, IN, Jim followed the love of his life to southeast Iowa where they married and have spent the majority of their lives. Jim has pastored several churches throughout his life and has worked many years in local factories to help support his family. The father of two married adult children and one son still at home, Jim is a first-time author.

C Through Marriage came into being through many years of pastoral and life experiences. The book first took on a life of its own over 20 years ago when I sought to address the much publicized moral failures of prominent leaders in the church. In the chaper on Chasity, I include the guideliness that I developed then to protect one’s self from such failures.

I am a firm believer in order to make sense out of life you have to use much common sense. We need to get back to the basics of what has worked for many, many generations. If is isn’t broke, why try to fix it? I strive to return to the basics of what really works in all my writings.

This site contains Third Party Advertising, using online behavioral tracking technology. Some of the links in the post above are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we believe will add value to our readers.

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True Humility Rewarded

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by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

He that humbleth himself shall be exalted. (Luke 18:14)

It ought not to be difficult for us to humble ourselves, for what have we to be proud of? We ought to take the lowest place without being told to do so. If we are sensible and honest, we shall be little in our own eyes. Especially before the Lord in prayer we shall shrink to nothing. There we cannot speak of merit, for we have none; our one and only appeal must be to mercy: “God be merciful to me a sinner.”

Here is a cheering word from the throne. We shall be exalted by the Lord if we humble ourselves. For us the way upward is downhill. When we are stripped of self we are clothed with humility, and this is the best of wear. The Lord will exalt us in peace and happiness of mind; He will exalt us into knowledge of His Word and fellowship with Himself; He will exalt us in the enjoyment of sure pardon and justification. The Lord puts His honors upon those who can wear them to the honor of the Giver. He gives usefulness, acceptance, and influence to those who will not be puffed up by them but will be abased by a sense of greater responsibility. Neither God nor man will care to lift up a man who lifts up himself; but both God and good men unite to honor modest worth.

O Lord, sink me in self that I may rise in Thee.

If you would like to have your own copy of Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening Devotionals click on the image below.

Spurgeon's Morning and Evening Devotionals

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The Crazy Side

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by Staci Stallings

Some people think that following God is boring. I am learning just how wrong they are.

Take my latest series—The Grace Series.  First of all, this did not start off a series.  It started off as one book, “Mirror Mirror.”  It was a really good story, but as I wrote it, the thing just kept growing and growing.

That book ended up being over 250,000 words (the equivalent of 3 normal-sized Love Inspired books). At the end of that one, I was so excited because I was finally going to get to write on some other books that had been sitting on the back burner waiting.

However, at the very end, with only the epilogue to go, God whispered the plot for the next book in the series.  I can’t say I was excited about it. I really had my heart set on doing the others. But that was the book that stuck in my head and wouldn’t let go. So I started writing it.

It too turned into a much longer story than I had expected it to be, but at least when I got it done, I would get to go on to something else, right?

I wish.

At the end of the second book “When I’m Weak,” I was happily writing along, the end in sight. The main character, Derek, sat down for lunch. Now normally something like this is pretty innocuous to write. They sit down maybe have a little discussion. No. Big. Deal.

Except nothing I wrote worked. I had one person come to talk to him. That wasn’t right, so I erased it. Thought and did other things for a couple days.  Tried again.  Still not right.  That went on for THREE WEEKS!

At the end of three weeks I sat down determined to get going on this story. I said, “Who comes to talk with him?”  That’s when Caleb James came, sat down, and book three was born!

Not what I was expecting, I can assure you.

I finished Book Two and started Book Three, “A Love Like This.” Except I didn’t have a title. So one night my kids were sitting around my living room, and off the wall, I said, “So what is the title for my next book?”

They all started guessing. Then one of them said, “Wait. Do you have a title for the new book?” I said, “No. That’s why I’m asking y’all.”  I think it only took about four more suggestions and “A Love Like This” showed up, which was the perfect title for this story.

So I wrote that one. All well and good until I got to the end, and I knew, once again, this wasn’t the end! Great.  I decided to write a fourth book, “Raising Attabury.”  The problem was, I couldn’t start it with the new couple because there was just too much story that the readers would miss between “A Love Like This” and “Raising Attabury.”

What to do?

I finally decided to write a prologue of what happened between the two. I thought it could be say 10 pages and then we would get going on the next story.

Now in the middle of writing the prologue, I got an idea for a completely separate story, one that had nothing to do with this series. I knew I needed to keep writing this one, after all, I’d already published the first one. But the other story wouldn’t let me go. So I wrote it.

In the middle of writing it, God showed me some things through it that helped me really understand Him and what He’s doing in our lives. Trying to capture that understanding, I started a non-fiction book which is amazing in its ability to explain the craziness of the world that we all get sucked into.

Midway through that one, I finished the separate novel (YAY! Finally something FINISHED!), and I went back to the “Raising Attabury” prologue.  I got all the way to page 218, and suddenly found myself in a confusing mess.

The prologue had turned into 218 pages, much, MUCH longer than I had thought it would be. But now that it was finished, I could really start on the “Raising Attabury” story, except the way the prologue was written didn’t fit with how “R A” needed to be written!  NOW WHAT?

In addition to that, I had come to the conclusion that the non-fiction book I wrote from the understanding I got from the separate book would actually be used and read by one of the characters in “Raising Attabury”!  WHAT?!

If you’re confused, don’t feel bad.  So was I.

I couldn’t figure out how to get “R A” separated so it didn’t feel strange going from one type of writing to another in mid-book.  Then God whispered that maybe the prologue wasn’t supposed to be “Raising Attabury” at all. Maybe it was its own separate book!

The more I thought about this, the more it made sense.

So here I am at the end of this year having written four books I did not plan to write, three of which create interlocking circles in my brain and heart that I couldn’t adequately explain if I tried.

Book Four, “A Moment Like This” will come out two weeks after Book Three “A Love Like This.” And now, with all of this behind me, I can finally write “Raising Attabury.”

If you want to join me on this crazy journey, I invite you to start with “Mirror Mirror.”  It’s only 99cents through the month of November, so it’s a great time to try it out.  Come on, walk on the crazy side with me! I dare you…

Copyright 2016, Staci Stallings

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About the Author:

Staci StallingsA stay-at-home mom with a husband, three kids and a writing addiction on the side, Staci Stallings has numerous titles for readers to choose from. Not content to stay in one genre and write it to death, Staci’s stories run the gamut from young adult to adult, from motivational and inspirational to full-out Christian and back again. Every title is a new adventure! That’s what keeps Staci writing and you reading.

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Continue in Prayer: The Battle is Here

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by Sherry Chamblee

We have such an overload of information in this country right now. News is constantly breaking about all sorts of things. There are satire sites putting up articles that are supposed to be funny. There are fake news sites putting up articles trying to fool people. And there are opinion articles masquerading as real news.

We have reports of wars, and rumors of wars. We have alarms beeping at us, family responsibilities pulling us every which way, and who knows what else demanding our attention.

With all of this, it’s so easy to get overwhelmed, and to forget what’s really important.

Colossians 4:2-5

2 Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving; 

3 Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds: 

4 That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak. 

5 Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. 

Just like we don’t know the full truth of what’s going around out there – even from credible news sources – we also don’t know the depth of the spiritual war waging around us, either.

A spiritual war is happening all around us. And we are an integral part of that war.

Don’t get so distracted that you forget to pray. Keep up the fight, for the fight is on a spiritual level. That fight is done on our knees before the living God, and we must not grow weary in that well doing. I know that often, because that spiritual battle is invisible, we tend to forget it’s there. But it is as real as the nose on my face.

So never forget:

  • Pray for lost souls. 
  • Pray for leadership.
  • Pray for your children.
  • Pray for your neighbors to not be deceived. 
  • Pray for missionaries to have boldness in spreading the Word. 

Keep Praying/

Redeem the time through prayer.

About the Author:

Sherry Chamblee

Sherry grew up in various cities around northern and central California. This gave her all sorts of stories that sat and festered in her brain, waiting to be let loose. She eventually went to college in Wisconsin, where she met her equally frenetic husband, Rich. They have six (yes, count them) children, two dogs and a cat, and currently reside in a madhouse in the southern California area. As a family, they enjoy being active in their local church. Sherry spends her time writing when not caring for Granny, the kids, the dogs, the cat and any number of strays in the neighborhood.

Sherry Chamblee can be found at http://www.sherrychamblee.weebly.com Or check out her books at http://www.amazon.com/Sherry-Chamblee/e/B00BA06RJ2/

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