Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Easter Eating


Just a note about Easter eating.

When you plan your Easter menu, choose a few low-fat items and decide what you will eat. That's the best way to keep holiday eating under control.

Do you plan on eating candy eggs? How many? Put them on a separate plate or basket. Can you leave off a roll and indulge in a small dessert portion? How about including a strawberry salad? Asparagus is a low-fat choice for a side. Does your family love corn on the cob? Enjoy yours with butter spray instead of the real thing.

Hide the eggs for your children or grandchildren then run to and fro searching with them. That can up your activity. Don't let the kids be the only ones who exercise. If the day is nice, take a family walk after dinner.

How can you make this Easter healthier this year?

That allows you to feel good about your holiday when a new week starts after your company is gone.

Most of all, remember what the holiday is all about. Give thanks to God, the Father, and His son, Jesus, for their unspeakable sacrifice for you. Rejoice in the resurrection story once more. Listen to God.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Loving Sammy

This story was first published for the Assembly of God Sunday School take-home paper, Live. It's based on a true story that really happened to my husband and I during the years we taught the junior high class at church..

I hope you enjoy it today.

I stood before them, my kneecaps beating a solid drum rhythm. Once I enjoyed our junior-high Sunday school class. My husband, Charles, and I took turns teaching. He imparted wisdom with a dry humor. I taught with more questions and acrostics.

The first Sunday I taught I was scared, but given time, I gained confidence though I can’t say it was ever easy to stand before thirty gaping mouths and wide eyes waiting to see if anything I could say would interest them for thirty minutes. Visuals and do-it-together puzzles allowed less time for them to get in trouble on their own. After awhile, I believed God called us to that ministry.

We learned an important lesson the first year. A junior-high kid hears nothing you say if he doesn’t believe you care about him, but if he knows you love him, he will break his neck to please you. In this spirit of love, a kid can be reached because he believes what you as a teacher tell him.

Loving those kids made teaching a delight, but didn’t come easy. Several times a year, the kids invaded our house for a party, and we’d visit their homes when they first came to get acquainted. We learned their names, their interests, and something of their home life because you can’t love anyone you don’t know.

I learned to love the tall, thin, quiet boy who was the first to look up Scriptures and give answers to all my questions. Even though they never knew the questions much less the answers, the giggly girls who sat on the back row and passed notes gained my love. Since I fought being overweight myself, my heart went out to the chubby girl in the front at the same time I felt the loneliness of the boy who teased her. We had every race and every personality. I loved them all.

For two years we oversaw these twelve and thirteen year olds’ maturing process and dreaded losing them at promotion time. When that happened, we attained a new bunch, learning their distinct differences, and yes, falling in love anew. The kids entered our class rowdy and childlike, but left more grown-up, ready for high school.

Then came promotion this past year. The new class arrived bouncy and talkative as usual. Among their number sat Sammy, his glare challenging us to make him behave from the first Sunday.

A tall, but husky, lad, Sammy sported a thatch of brown hair and piercing brown eyes which shifted from side to side as if he watched for someone to sneak behind him. His crude remarks caught me unawares. He delighted in popping his pimples, which were numerous, in a girl’s face to hear her “Uck”.

He ignored both me and my husband. He leaned back with feet propped on the seat in front of him, his mind whirling on things to disturb or confuse our class. Other young people might raise their hand and ask to be excused, but not Sammy. He marched out flinging crude descriptions to let us know where he was going.

Our wonderful class became more and more unmanageable. Sammy’s disease spread like the measles to even some of our nicer students. Some more timid kids refused to come to class.

My crisis had arrived, my turn to teach again. My kneecaps could be heard all around the room as I rose to teach, disturbing Sammy’s ridicule of a new student despite repeated efforts on our part to stop him.

My normally calm husband stood toe-to-toe to this burly thirteen-year-old, their shoulders level, their heads tipped, and Charles exploded. “Get out of our class”. His jaw taut, Charles pointed to the door.

Mouths dropped open around the class. Every pair of young eyes stared at my husband.

Sammy remained grounded, at long last stumped for words. After a seemingly endless time, he stepped backward and crossed his arms. “What do you mean?”

“I mean the rest of us have come to study God’s Word. You refuse to cooperate. We do not need you in this class. Please leave for today.” My husband didn’t move an inch, but I watched his fists tighten at his sides.

Sammy’s chin jutted. “You can’t throw me out of Sunday School. What happened to God’s love and all that?’

“Leave.” My husband pointed again.

Stunned, with red-face, Sammy shuffled from the room.

My husband closed the door and whirled back to the class. Peering over his glasses, he began. “We love Sammy.” He cleared his throat. “We love each of you, but I can’t let my love for Sammy suffer God’s service to be trampled underfoot.” He motioned me to have a seat, and he began a lesson on the moneychangers in the church.

As I sat down, my breath released, my knees slowed.

“Did Jesus love those moneychangers?” One of the giggly girls asked Charles. He had their attention.

“Of course.” We both said at the same time.

The chubby girl at the front spoke with a squeaky voice. “And ya’ll really love Sammy?” Her forehead wrinkled.

“Of course.” My husband cleared his throat again. I didn’t answer at all.

When we were driving home, Charles and I examined our true feelings. Did we love Sammy after he had harassed us for six months? Sammy’s effect on our class ruined our progress with those kids. Honesty surfaced. Charles and I disliked Sammy. No love was in us. Sammy represented unlovable to me.

Daily Charles and I prayed for God’s love for Sammy to soak into our hearts. Jesus died for Sammy as well as us. If we believed that to be true, and we did, then we needed to show it in our actions. We needed a new dose of love. Our flesh refused to comply.

The change didn’t happen the first week or even the second, but God answered our prayer. I started by visiting his mother while Sammy was in school, learning his father left them the year before.

The next Sunday after being kicked out of class Sammy peeped around the door to our room. “Am I allowed in today?”

“Sure, Sammy. Come on in.” Charles opened the door wide as Sammy and several others entered and sat down.

I don’t remember the class ever being so quiet. I whispered a prayer. While I taught, uproar arose on one side. Sammy’s side. Sammy guffawed as another boy picked up his Bible and papers off the floor. I suspected what had happened.

We continued praying each week for love for Sammy. We taught, giving each student including Sammy our best. My husband visited him once, the two guys alone. Surprised by Sammy’s timidity when they were alone, Charles tried it again this time taking him for burgers.

Another six months passed with no rush of tender feelings for Sammy, but more true concern. One Sunday as I was teaching, Sammy answered one of my questions. The significance of that slammed me in the face. That boy had never said anything regarding the subject matter in class before then.

After class, I tapped the burly young man on the shoulder. “I was proud of you today.”

His eyes misted, his voice choked.

My arms reached to embrace him. He bent to lay his head on my shoulder like an eight-year-old.

“I love you, Sammy.” I meant it. I glanced at my husband who swatted tears from his eyes and clasped us both in his bear hug.

The meaning of “God is love” revealed itself to a class full of young teens and two hardened teachers that day. God loved the unlovable, and now so did we.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


What's french for "loaded with calories?"

These words are hints that a dish contains plenty of extra calories.

au fromage
au gratin
au lait
cream of
just like mom’s

Is your salad a good choice for weight loss?

Salads are good-for-us choices, but sometimes the wrong dressing can multiply the calories and/or fats. When possible, order salad dressings and sauces on the side. Dip in our fork and dribble dressing instead of pouring from the bottle or bowl. That way, we consume far less without noticing much of a difference in flavor.

Here are some things you need to know about popular salad choices:

Cobb salad: It tastes great because it's loaded with bacon, dressing, egg yolks and blue cheese. At 11 Weight Watcher pointsplusvalues in a 3-cup serving (and that's without the dressing!), we might as well go for the steak.

Caesar salad: Expect to find around 8-10 Weight Watcher PointsPlus values in just a quarter cup of the caesar dressing alone — before the croutons or any other special extras. If the restaurant offers a low-fat caesar dressing on the side, order that with a plain salad, which will likely contain more vegetables.

Chef's salad: There could be 1,000 calories in that festive bowl of cold cuts. Depending on the types and quantity of meats and cheeses the restaurant uses, it could vary from 2 Weight Watcher PointsPlusvalues per cup to five times that with dressing.

Crispy-topped salads: Adding Asian crispy noodles or crunchy croutons to our salad can add 2 Weight Watcher PointsPlus values to our meals — and sometimes more.

Here's a word about portions.

If the restaurant offers a healthy appetizer, go for it and leave off the entree. The portion size will be much more in line with what we should eat. Otherwise, take half of the entree home for another day, or share it with a friend.

If you have other helpful hints, please share. We're all trying to shave off a few calories without sacrificing enjoyment.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Victoria & the Ghost

Thank you, Aidana Willowraven. This poor tech-challenged blogger finally uploaded a trailer of my new inspirational, paranormal YA. Check it out and let me know what you think. Love the music.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

A Visit with Joi Copeland

Today I'm honored to visit with Joi Copeland. I met her online on the ACFW loop. She promises to tell my viewers today about her new release.

Joi, first tell us a little about yourself.

Joi Copeland is married to a wonderful man, Chris, and has three amazing boys, Garrison, Gage, and Gavin. She is living the dream in beautiful Denver, Colorado. Joi loves being a wife and mom! She enjoys spending time with her sister Steffanne, and loves to sit and have a cup of coffee or tea with friends! She's been a Christian for over twenty years. Following Jesus has been the best decision she has ever made. Joi's other books are Hope for Tomorrow, Hope for the Journey, Christmas Rayne, and Sheriff Bride Rob's Story.

I noticed you write books about hope. I do, too. What was your first book?

My first book was Hope for Tomorrow.

Is there a story behind the book?

There's always a story for me. ☺ Every person goes through tough situations. We have a choice to make: Have hope for tomorrow or dwell on our current situation and let it tear us down.

What distracts you most from writing?

The internet or cleaning.

Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote? Why?

Tozier and Lucia because they are modeled after my grandparents. I learned a lot more than I ever thought possible about my grandparents while writing about those two.

How neat. It's fun learning about our ancestors. I love that idea. What kind of music do you prefer?

I love Christian music. Contemporary or alternative. Toby Mac, Rett Walker Band, etc.

Have you ever been tempted to quit writing? Or have you ever quit?

I quit writing in college, but picked it up again four and a half years ago.

Tell us your favorite childhood memory.

My favorite memory is probably when I ran for student council in fifth grade. I ended up losing, but my dad came home with a bouquet of flowers and a box of chocolates to make me feel better.

Besides writing, what else so you like to do?

I love to read, spend time with my family and friends.

What spiritual theme shows up most in your writing?

Hope and forgiveness. In almost every book I write, forgiveness plays a big part of my books.

Tell the readers how to contact you.!/BooksByJoiCopeland

Two men fighting for their country.
Two women dealing with tragedy alone.
Two different stories, two different eras, one common thread.

Sophia Philips, a wife and mom, finds herself missing the two most important people in her life. One ripped from her because of war, the other by death.

Sophia's grandmother, Lucia Snell, gives her an early inheritance; letters written to her by her husband while stationed in China during World War II. Lucia believes these letters will help her granddaughter heal from the heart-wrenching tragedy she faces.

Will Sophia carry the anger, bitterness, and guilt within her or go to the only One who can heal her from the pain? Will she find the strength to carry on and the will to survive through her grandparents' Letters of Love?

Give us the links where your books can be purchased.

That sounds like a must-read. Joi, thank you so much for stopping by to visit today.

Thanks for having me!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

5 to Fitness

Exercise is one of your best wellness tools. Getting active invests in a good energy level, good health, and a positive attitude. A fit lifestyle reduces stress and ups your stamina. To get the best return for your investment, consider these 5 tips to fitness.

1. Discover where you are now and commit to change.

This is a crucial first step. If you don't know what you want, how can you change it?
What is your vision of change? Is it hardening your abs or competing in a marathon? Do you already exercise but want to make it more interesting? Are you a couch potato that would feel successful if you did anything active? Have you recently recovered from surgery and need to work on rehab, or are you dealing with arthritis or some change in your physical structure that requires a new fitness routine?

What and how do you want to change. Decide, then commit.

2. Set realistic, measurable goals.

Take the first step.
Get a buddy to walk with you.
Pre-pack a gym bag to take to work.
Get an MP3 loaded with tunes that move your body.
Buy 1 lb. weights to pump up your arms.

Establish short term targets.
This would differ depending on your beginning level. If you're a couch potato, set your goal for a one block walk the first week, a two block walk the second week building to six blocks by the end of the month.
If you do a lot of aerobic exercise but not strength training, aim for 10 push-ups 5 days a week the first month.
Break your long term goal such as a 5K marathon into mangeable pieces with specific benchmarks along the way.
Many have health concerns. Begin by discussing your goals with your doctor.

Schedule it. Put it on the calendar, or as a app to remind you. Make it a habit.

3. Begin. Stay the course. Turn up the intensity.

Don't stay at one level for long. Always look to increase the intensity or repititions of your exercise accomplishments.

If you master walking a mile so that it becomes easy for you, ramp it up by either aiming to walk the mile faster, or extend the mile by another half mile or even all the way to two miles.
If you do twenty bicep curls with ease every day, try doing thirty.

4.Don't stick with the same old, same old....

If all you do is walk, switch to swimming in the summer.
If you're bored with weight lifting, intersperse it with an aerobic routine every other day.
If you hate exercise, discover what you do like that's active. Do you enjoy dancing, bowling, tennis, biking through the woods? Your exercise routine may not be exercise at all, but merely a fun hobby. Does your church have a baseball team? How long has it been since you played?
Don't forget chores around the house. If you're able, clean under that bed yourself or scrub those windows this spring. Wash your own car, or mow your own yard. You can use lots of activity doing things that need to be done anyway and might save you money.

Make it fun. "For my birthday, I bought myself a pair of inline skates. I find that if I look at exercise as something fun rather than something I have to do, I'm much more likely to do it." This is a quote from a fellow weight controller.

Any couples dance classes, or tennis clinics that you can enjoy together?

5. Reward yourself.

Celebrate every victory whether it's getting out the door on day one to brave a crowded gym that you have avoided, or moving past the pain in your legs to walk that first block.

Reward yourself when you take the next step and increase or change up your routine.

What would fuel your motivation? A bubble bath after exercising? How about a dollar in the can to go toward new shoes? Every block walked, you get another dollar in your can. What about joining a gym or hiring a trainer when you complete a certain goal? Would pampering yourself with a new book and time to read it keep your momentum up for next month? A new DVD? A day to lay out by the pool and do nothing? A trip to a town with antique stores. (Hey, you can even walk while you're there.)

Find feel-good, food-free ways to be kind to yourself every time you reach a level that wasn't easy.

Getting in shape starts with getting off your seat.

Here are two good free links to help your lifestyle:

copy and paste those in your browser and check out what helps they offer.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Interview with Author, Mike Lynch

Today, I welcome author, Mike Lynch.
His latest book, Love's Second Chance releases this month.

Welcome, Mike. Tell us about yourself.

Mike Lynch's first book, Dublin, came out in 2007, followed by When the Sky Fell, American Midnight, The Crystal Portal, and After the Cross. His next novel, Love's Second Chance, published by Ellechor Publishing, is scheduled to be released in March 2013. He has also published short stories and writing articles in numerous magazines. He currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife and two children.

Tell us about your book, Love's Second Chance.

Everyone deserves a second chance in life, no matter how unlikely. Dana Rogers learns this power truth as she serves as the pastor's assistant at New Covenant Church, the center of community life in the town of Fairhaven for the past two hundred years.

Evan Johnson, a successful real estate agent and kindred spirit, takes an immediate interest in Dana when they first meet, but the tragic death of her fiance has left scars he's not sure he can heal.

Can a woman who has vowed never to love a man again find a second chance at love?

Is Love's Second Chance your first novel?

No, I have published four novels before this one.

What else have your written?

When the Sky Fell (science fiction)
American Midnight (political thriller)
The Crystal Portal (fantasy)
After the Cross (Archeology adventure)

I have also published a number of short stories

How did you find your publisher?

When Brandon Barr (the co-author) and I wrote After the Cross, we gave it our agent to pitch it to publishers she felt would be interested in the story. As is common to many writers, they passed on the story. Rather than let a year of our life be for nothing, we decided to look for publishers on our own, which was essentially an Internet search. After several other rejection letters, we came across Ellechor Publishing. They were just getting started at the time, and were looking for stories they hoped would appeal to a wide audience. We sent our proposal to them, and they liked what they read, and offered us a two book deal. Love's Second Chance is the second book I was obligated to write for them. Fortunately for me, Ellechor responded enthusiastically to the story, and agreed to publish it.

Are you working on any other projects that you can tell us about?

Brandon and I recently finished our latest story, Treasures of the Heart. This is an adventure story about a lost treasure of gold allegedly buried in Portsmouth, a small town in Connecticut during the Revolutionary War. A mysterious man arrives into town looking for the gold, and gets more than he bargained for when he meets Bree McKinney, a researcher at the Portsmouth Oceanographic Institute who has little time or tolerance for treasure hunters.

Is there a story behind your new release?

I've always wanted to write a story about what it's like to work at a church. I imagine there are a lot of behind-the-scenes things that take place most of us never hear about. People being people, most of us have our quirks and idiosyncrasies, which is perfect for a novel. And so I created a small town in the New England area in which the main character, Dana Rogers, interacts with a lot of people that live there. As she serves as the pastor's assistant at New Covenant Church, she has also caught the eye of Evan Johnson, a successful real estate agent who thinks rather highly of himself. She's not immediately impressed by him, but over time, they find they have more in common than they first realized. These were characters I enjoyed getting to know, and I hope people who read the book do as well.

What kind of books do you enjoy reading?

Though I primarily write fiction, I much prefer to read non-fiction, usually something historical. I was a history major in college, and love exploring the past. It can be a biography or an important historical event. There's something about seeing the world through other people's eyes, especially when they lived hundreds of years ago.

What has your writing journey been like so far?

I consider myself fortunate for having published anything at all. There are a lot of writers out there who are exceptionally gifted, but for one reason or another, cannot find a publisher that will take a chance on their work. While I generally enjoy the writing process, I would much rather go through a chapter and really make it shine. There's something very satisfying about taking what is and making it better. I guess it's the perfectionist in me.

Do you have another book due to come out?

Though I had written a sequel for When the Sky Fell about five years ago, it needed a lot of work. I had intended to get to it sooner, but other publishing opportunities kept coming my way, and so I was forced to put the sequel on the back burner. When Brandon's wife had their second child last year, he knew he wouldn't have time to write for the foreseeable future, which actually worked in my favor since it gave me the opportunity to finish my sequel. After several months of work, I finally finished it and sent to the publisher who published my first novel. They haven't said when it will come out yet, but my guess is sometime in 2014.

Where is your favorite place to pray or reflect by yourself?

I usually have my prayer times with God during my lunch hour at work. There is a storage room there that is seldom used, which makes it the perfect place to get away and read my Bible and pray.

What do you do for fun besides write?

I'm a movie lover at heart. I always have been. There are few things better than to immerse myself in a good story for a couple of hours and lose myself in the characters.

Where can we buy Love's Second Chance?

Ellechor Publishing:


Barnes & Noble:

Where can readers find you?

The best place to find me is my website:

Thanks, Mike, for visiting us today on my Writing with Hope blog. I will be putting Love's Second Charnce on my to-read list.