Jodie
Hi, all. Looking for good reads? These are the March releases written by ACFW members!

1. A Distant Melody, Wings of Glory, Book One by Sarah Sundlin An historical from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Allie is promised to a man she doesn't love, but a B-17 pilot captures her heart--will she honor her family's wishes or take a chance on love?

2. A Woman Called Sage by Diann Mills An historical from Zondervan. A woman bounty hunter fights bitterness and revenge to find the killers of her husband.

3. Beaded Hope by Cathy Liggett Women's fiction from Tyndale. A moving story about women helping women and lives changed across continents, inspired by a non-profit organization of the same name.

4. Beguiled by Deanne Gist and J. Mark Bertrand A suspense/mystery/thriller from Bethany House. A dog-walker and a journalist pursue a thief (and each other) in atmospheric Charleston.

5. Cowboy Protector by Margaret Daley A Suspense/Mystery/Thriller from Love Inspired Suspense. When Hannah Williams comes to help Austin Taylor with his injured daughter, she draws him into an intrigue that threatens their relationship--and their lives.

6. Dead Reckoning by Ronie Kendig Suspense/Mystery/Thriller from Abingdon. Trapped by a terrorist plot in Mumbai!.

7. Disarming Andi by Elizabeth Goddard A Contemporary Romance from Heartsong Presents. Contractor Andi Nielsen has another chance to discover what ís hidden inside the missile base she was hired to remodel. Is she prepared to detonate her feelings for the new owner?

8. Fatal Burn; Big Sky Secrets, Book 2 by Roxanne Rustand A Suspense/Mystery/Thriller from Love Inspired Suspense. In Montana's wide open spaces, danger and love are waiting....

9. Forget Me Not, Crossroads Crisis Center series, Book 1 by Vicki Hinze A Contemporary Romance from Waterbrook-Multnomah. Someone's robbed her of her identity and goes to great lengths to convince her she's someone else; someone who wants her dead.

10. Gold in the Fire/Light in the Storm by Margaret Daley A Romance from Love Inspired. Stories of love and loyalty

11. Groom in Training by Gail Gaymer Martin A Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired. Friends, Four-legged Friends and Love.

12. Kansas Courtship, After The Storm, No. 3 by Victoria Bylin An Historical Romance from Love Inspired. Dr. Nora Mitchell came to heal the town of High Plains. She stayed to heal Zeb Garrison's heart.

13. Katie's Redemption, The Brides of Amish Country by Patricia Davids A Romance from Love Inspired. A young woman returns to her Amish roots but can she find her way back to her faith.

14. Katy's New World, Katy Lambright Series by Kim Vogel Sawyer General Fiction from Zondervan. An Old Order Mennonite girl holds to her convictions while attending public high school.

15. Liberty's Promise by Amber Stockton An Historical Romance from Heartsong Presents. Feel the heartbeat of a chaotic new country through the lives of three Pennsylvania women who seek to know to whom they can entrust their hearts.

16. Love Finds You in Bridal Veil, Oregon by Miralee Ferrell A Romance from Summerside Press. A schoolteacher must choose between a man from her past and one who could be her future, while risking her reputation to rescue two runaway orphaned children.

17. Love Finds You in Homestead, Iowa by Melanie Dobson A Romance from Summerside Press. A widowed father and his young daughter find healing and hope in the communal Amana Colonies.

18. Morning's Refrain, Book 2 in Song of Alaska series by Tracie Peterson An Historical from Bethany House. Adventure and Romance in 1800's Sitka, Alaska.

19. Once in a Blue Moon by Leanna Ellis Women's Fiction from B&H Publishing. Faith is the first step to soaring.

20. Romance by the Book by Myra Johnson A Contemporary Romance from Heartsong Presents. A shy young woman's crush on her favorite romance author leads her to the man who will finally claim her heart.

21. Scattered Petals by Amanda Cabot An Historical from Revell. Tragedy broke her spirit -- will love mend her heart?

22. The Captain's Lady by Louise M. Gouge An Historical from Steeple Hill. Torn between love and duty, American Patriot James Templeton must deny his heart to help win his country's freedom.

23. The Easter Edition by Robin Shope A romance from White Rose. Bridal shop owner Carol Horn feels she will never find a love of her own until a new pastor comes to town, turning up by accident at her mother's funeral.

24. The Family Way by Michelle Levigne A romance from Desert Breeze Publishing. Pregnancy brings their shaky marriage to the breaking point, and Lisa and Todd must rediscover their love, their faith, and what true marriage means.

25. The Mockingbird's Call by Diane Ashby and Aaron McCarver A Romance from Barbour. Amelia Montgomery, torn between her family's traditions and her own convictions against slavery, must also choose between her duty and her heart as she works for the Underground Railroad.

26. The Promise of Morning, Book 2, At Home in Beldon Grove series by Ann Shorey An Historical from Revell. When loss drives them apart, can their faith bring them back together?.
Jodie
Sometimes, it's nice to have a reminder that God really does protect us, even in the everyday things.

I bought my car two years ago, and one of the tires has a slow leak. About once a month (or less), it trips the low pressure sensor on my dash, and I have to add a little bit of air. No big deal. Monday morning it got cold, and the tire tripped the sensor. Tuesday morning, same thing.

Tuesday afternoon I was pumping gas at Sam's when I noticed a sign that said, "We repair member's tires for free." Pretty cool. If I ever needed to fix a tire, I'd know. And hey, that reminded me to fill up my sensor-tripping rear tire. I drove the mile back to our temporary housing and grabbed my pressure gauge, hopped out of the car, and knelt down to see how low the tire was so I could fill it up with my handy portable tire pump. (I am nothing if not prepared, right?)

Except... when I knelt down I heard a weird popping sound. It had been raining all day, my tires were wet and, after a second of looking, I saw bubbles on the tire right by my head. Rats. There was a real, bonafide hole in my tire. Since it wasn't flat yet, I drove the mile back to Sam's where they fixed it for free.

That night, as I drove to a meeting with my daughter after dark in the rain, I realized all of the little "coincidences" God had lined up. If I hadn't seen the sign at Sam's... If I hadn't parked so that my tire was in the exact position to put that leak right by my ear when I knelt... If it hadn't been raining and the tire had been dry... Well, I'd have had a flat in the dark, in the rain, in a not-yet-familiar new town, with a six-year-old.

No, I do not believe in coincidences. But I do believe in a God who protects me in all things, big and small. May I never forget that I can trust Him. Hallelujah and YAY, GOD!

-JB
Jodie
I did a not-good thing on Sunday. When God spoke to me through an amazing worship song at church, I did not jot down the lyrics or song title so I could look them up later. The past two days, I have googled every combination of the words I can remember, and the song has yet to show up.

At any rate, the message is still clear. The one thing I took away from the song... The one thing that made tears pour out of my eyes and had me feeling the need to curl up in the fetal position on the floor and weep...

My home is God. Not with God. My home is God. Right now, when so many things in my life are up-ended and uncertain, being wrapped up in God's love and hearing that home is Him changed everything. I was overwhelmed by His love for me and by His constant presence. No matter how crazy things get, no matter what or who I do or don't have with me, no matter where I am, as long as God is God, I am home. There will never be a time when I am not home.

If things are out of kilter for you, take a few minutes. Sit at His feet. Revel in being home.

-JB
Jodie
Off the bat... if you don't care about my personal life, stop reading now. :-)

Today feels like a good day for an update, so here it is. I think that whole feeling comes from the fact that I just took the NC plate off my car and replaced it with another state. That makes me sad.

Life's been hectic, what with the giant move and only six weeks' notice... the interim stay in a tiny apartment while we wait for our house to be vacant... and everything that goes along with moving. Don't get me wrong, the adventure of a move is great. But at this point, I'm past ready to be settled and done with this one.

My original plan was to blog every day, but now I think that's not such a great idea for a lot of reasons. It shall now be Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Unless I forget what day it is. And yes, that does happen. Frequently.

I have been recently reminded how amazing my agent is. She is. Amazing. I love how she believes in Sam's story and the way she's out there working it. It boggles my mind that someone besides me cares about it, and cares about it enough to spend time working for it. That is so cool. And I am so thankful.

God gave me two cool little postcards yesterday: one was a song in church (you can read about that on Wednesday), and one was a message from a sweet lady who is probably reading this right now. God knew I needed her encouragement and, even though she has never met me, she passed it along. I appreciate that, from God and from her. :-)

Y'all have a great day. Thanks so much for keeping up with me and for indulging in a little bit of a brain dump today. :-)

-JB
Jodie
Right now, ski jumping is on the Olympics. These athletes slide out onto this tenny tiny little seat, skis dangling in the air, and stare down a steep, impossibly high hill. (My stomach would turn inside out.)

I'm not sure that's the worst part.

Once they touch skis to snow, they have passed the point of no return. There's no stopping it. At the bottom, they're going to be airborne: one way or another. It's either going to be pretty, or it's going to be the most spectacular "agony of defeat" known to man.

If I had to guess, I'd say they have to trust their skis, their training, and physics. Without that trust, things won't go well.

Ooh, wait. There's that trust word again. Sometimes, God puts us on a teeny tiny little seat at the top of a steep, impossibly high hill. And then He says, "Trust me."

There are three choices: sit on the little ledge forever and wonder what might have been, try to do it without trusting Him and tumble down the hill in a flailing mass of body parts, or trust Him...

...and fly.

-JB
Jodie
Occasionally, a song I've forgotten will pop up in my head, seemingly out of nowhere. I've come to learn it's never really "out of nowhere." A lot of times, I think God is behind it.

For the past few days, I've been hearing "The Greatest," by Kenny Rogers. If you have never heard that song before, you need to click on the link and surf on over. It's just about the most precious little boy song ever. And I'm about to give away the ending for you, so you'd better go now if you want to get the "cool factor" from the song when you hear it. I warned you...

So the little boy is in his yard and, three times, he throws up his ball, swings, and misses. The first two times he declares that he is the greatest baseball player ever and tries again. The third time, you're really feeling for the poor kid who is clearly not "the greatest." Until he declares that even he didn't realize he was that great of a pitcher.

Two things about this song: determination and perspective.

As writers (or teachers, soldiers, sanitation workers, whatever your job), it's easy to bog down. We get caught up in our mistakes. We start to look at everybody else's jobs and think they're way cooler (or easier) than ours. We try and fail, try and fail, try and fail. Writers get rejections. No one is immune. The point is to throw the ball in the air and try again. Like the little boy, enjoy the trying. Even when he missed, he was having fun playing with his baseball. Not once did he get frustrated and throw his bat across the yard (something I've threatened to do with my laptop more than once).

As for perspective? Well, this is not a perfect interpretation of the song, but I'll say it anyway. We've got to learn from our failures. What's causing us to keep missing? One of two things: we're doing it wrong and have more to learn, OR we're doing the wrong job and it's time to re-evaluate. (I started out writing Bible studies before God yanked me up and said, "That's not what I told you to write. Chicken." Okay, He didn't call me a chicken, but He could have, because I was.) I'm going to assume we're all in the right job and say this: if you keep failing, is it because your batting skills are off or because your pitching arm is weak? Figure it out, then strengthen it.

That said, I'm off to the batting cage. There are revisions to be done, a story to be strengthened.

-JB
Jodie
(No, I'm not referring to old hair band songs. Thanks, though. Now Warrant is singing in my head.)

If you know me at all, you know my family is in the midst of a pretty big move from one state to another. The gorgeous, beautiful, amazing house we are going to rent is occupied for a few more weeks by it's owners, so the three of us are in a tiny little apartment with the dog and the cat (who do not get along). It's cramped and crowded. The apartment above us is clearly a training ground for professional wrestlers and ultimate fighting champions. For reasons unknown, the heating/air unit is in the den, so we can't hear the TV two-thirds of the time. Cold air pours into the windows, and our closet could double as a refrigerator. Pretty much everything we own is in storage somewhere.

But I'm not miserable.

Why?

Because I know what's waiting for me. There is a beautiful house with a huge yard and my very own office in my near future. My husband will have his "man room" in the bonus room. My daughter will have room to play. The dog and the cat never have to see each other. And we will have our own things again. (I miss my kitchen!)

Tonight, it hit me that this apartment is a lot like life, and the house is a lot like heaven. Oh, don't get me wrong; life is good. I love the life God has given me. But there are times when it's hard. The imperfections are glaringly obvious. It's cold, uncomfortable, frustrating...

Those are the moments when I have to keep my eyes on what awaits me. Heaven is going to be so much more. Heaven is where I get to spend face-to-face time with my Jesus. I'll have a mansion built by Him. Everything I've always dreamed of and more will be right before my eyes. My highest goal, my Jesus, will be met.

And it's a whole lot easier to deal with things down here when I know what's waiting up there.

JB
Jodie
The following was the very first thing I ever posted on this blog. (You can click it to make it bigger.) Today felt like a nice day to re-post it. Since 1996, this cartoon has had a place of honor on my printer, where I can see it from my desk. Why? Because it's me. Have a great President's Day!

Jodie
I think this move is messing with my head. Last week, I didn't get to write/edit/revise at all. This week has been spotty, but at least I've gotten things done. Still, a step back from the keyboard and a dash of stress made me look out at the real world and say, "Maybe I should find something else to do." Satan saw an opening and stuck his foot right in the door with a heap o' doubt and a mound of questions.

And then, there was my Jesus. He's been holding back on me. Not to be mean, but because He knew I'd need a little piece of happiness someday to keep me going. Yesterday, He dropped a sparkling present into my lap. It was a present that said, "Stop doubting, love. You are doing the exact right thing. You didn't miss my call at all. You're smack in the middle of where you're supposed to be." I needed that. Not only did I need it, but I needed it at that EXACT moment. Any other time wouldn't have meant nearly as much as it did yesterday.

Thank you, Lord. Thank You for showing up... just when I needed You.

-JB
Jodie
I can't stop thinking about Chris Tomlin's "How Great Is Our God."

I just don't get it. The other night, I was reading Exodus and it smacked me right between the eyes.

I really don't get it.

God is great. Oh, that's easy to say. Even the smallest child can start a dinner blessing that way. But what does it mean? We've grown jaded by those three words. We fail to understand what they really mean. We don't get just how great He is.

He is so great there aren't even words for Him. He is so powerful we can't even fathom His power.

And yet... we treat Him like a nursery rhyme. "God is great."

For a second the other night, I got it. For a flash, as I read about the required sacrifices of the Old Testament and thought about all of the things God demanded of His chosen people, I understood it. He demanded all of that--and could have demanded so much more--because He is that great. With our New Testament relationship with Him, I think we sometimes take Him for granted. He has made it so easy for us to come to Him that we start to think that He Himself is easy and commonplace.

Oh, but He is not. I'm overwhelmed by Him right now, to the point I can barely type this. He is great. Amazing. He is so much more than I can imagine, so much more than I can even adequately praise. He is so much more...
Jodie
I am so glad that God is in charge of this world.

I've been thinking about Bruce Almighty this morning. You know the Jim Carrey movie where they guy rails and rants to God until God lets him have the reigns for a while? And Bruce, well, he totally messes everything up.

That would be me. See, being squarely out of my routine for the past couple of weeks has proven to me that I sort of like structure. (I'm a whacked out sort of personality. My melancholy personality likes routine. My sanguine personality hates it. Yep. God made me opposites. Isn't that fun? Drives my husband crazy.) I like spontaneity, but I like it on my terms.

That's why I'm glad God is God. If I was in the big chair, I'd be fine until somebody went and did something that didn't fit into my plan. When they deviated from the script, I'd either get so flustered that I messed everything up, or I'd be so angry at the person that I'd pepper them with lightning bolts. Neither of those options is a good one.

And that's why I'm glad to let God be God. We've face a lot of decisions lately, and, with each one, I've asked God to have control. Put us where He wants us, even if it's not exactly what we want. I want Him to order our steps.

--JB
Jodie
Today I'd like to introduce you to Jennifer AlLee, author of The Pastor's Wife, which received four stars from Romantic Times.



As a child, Jennifer AlLee lived above a mortuary in the heart of Hollywood, California, which may explain her unique outlook on life. Her publishing credits include The Love of His Brother, a contemporary romance from Five Star Publishing (November 2007) as well as skits, activity pages, and over one hundred contributions to Concordia Publishing House’s popular My Devotions series. Her latest novel, The Pastor’s Wife, released February 1, 2010 from Abingdon Press. She’s an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers and serves as the Nevada Area Coordinator. Jennifer resides in the grace-filled city of Las Vegas, Nevada with her husband and teenage son. Visit her website, JenniferAlLee.com.

A few questions with Jennifer:

Q: You have a unique last name. Why is it spelled with a capital letter in the middle?
A: AlLee is my married name, so it’s really all my husband’s fault. The origin is French, and it’s morphed quite a bit over the years. Part of the family spells it like I do. Another part uses two lowercase “el”s. And a third rebel faction spells it with the capital “el” and an accent mark. I know it can be quite confusing. But it sure looks nice on a book cover when they get it right!

Q: You grew up in Hollywood. How did that happen?
A: My grandparents met on the vaudeville circuit. Grandma was a dancer and my grandfather was a concert violinist from Hungary: Duci deKerekjarto (how’s that for a last name?) Duci immigrated to make his mark in Hollywood, which is how our family ended up there. He remained friends with another Hungarian performer, a Shakespearean actor named Bela Lugosi. (Yes, the original Dracula.) Bela died before I was born, but my mom remembers sitting on his lap and calling him Uncle Bela.

My own minor brush with fame came on the day I was born. Michael Landon Jr. and I were in the same hospital nursery in neighboring basinets. My Aunt Karen nearly passed out when she realized proud father Michael Sr. was standing at the window next to her!



Maura Sullivan thought she knew what she was getting into when she married soon-to-be pastor Nick Shepherd. But when she realized the 'other woman' in her marriage was her husband's congregation, she ran. Six years later, she finds herself back in the small community of Granger, Ohio for the reading of a curious will that names both her and Nick as beneficiaries. Now Maura must face the husband –and the congregation – she left behind.

You can read the first three chapters of The Pastor's Wife right here! Simply click on the cover above.

Want to know more about Jennifer and The Pastor's Wife? Head over to Amber Stockton's blog tomorrow!
Jodie
The other day I was driving on Fort Benning when I saw my favorite sign. (I wish I had taken a picture of it to remember it by...)

MATERIAL RECLAMATION FACILITY
(Recycling Center)


That thing cracks me up every time, because it is so unnecessarily complicated and very much like the military can be sometimes. Take something easy and make it hard. Why not just say "Recycling Center" and save some paint?

It occurred to me the other day that, when I don't trust God, I am just like that sign. When I try to do it all myself instead of trusting him to handle it, I muck it all up and add all sorts of unnecessary work. Only I'm wasting more than paint when I get crazy.

There are times when I should just take a deep breath and trust that God's going to handle it. Moving is one of those times. He's got my back (and my front and my top and every other side), and He's going to take care of this as long as I am obedient. It's going to go His way. I can trust Him.

And I can quit with the unnecessary stress. That's the best news of all.

-JB
Jodie
Today, I am on the road to our new home, so I am actually talking to you from last Friday. (Isn't the "post options" tab awesome?) This quote seemed appropriate for today...

Don't put down too many roots in terms of a domicile. I have lived in four countries and I think my life as a writer and our family's life have been enriched by this. I think a writer has to experience new environments. There is that adage: No man can really succeed if he doesn't move away from where he was born. I believe it is particularly true for the writer.

-Arthur Hailey
Jodie
The list of February new releases written by ACFW members is out. Congratulations to them all! Check out one of these wonderful authors if you need some fresh reads:

1. Abigail: A Novel, The Wives of King David, Book 2, by Jill Eileen Smith from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Turmoil marks her life - what price will she pay for love?

2. A Valentine Wish, by Betsy St. Amant from Steeple Hill Love Inspired. Lori, chocolate-lover extraordinare, is unemployed, single, and out of brownie mix. But when a secret admirer pops up at her new job running a chocolate boutique, she might have the ingredients for a special Valentine's after all!

3. Deliver Us From Evil
, by Robin Caroll from B&H Publishing. When a female helicopter pilot rescues a US Marshal escorting a heart, they must race against time to uncover the largest child trafficking ring in history.

4. Hometown Promise; First in the Kellerville Series, by Merrillee Whren from Steeple Hill Love Insired. Kellerville: Finding family, community and love in one small town

5. Love's Winding Path, by Lauralee Bliss from Heartsong Presents, Barbour Publishing. A prodigal's life is never out of God's reach and His love as two lonely adventurers are about to discover.

6. The Marriage Masquerade, by Erica Vetsch from Heartsong Presents, Barbour Publishing. Sometimes running away brings you right back where you started.

7. Meander Scar, by Lisa Lickel from Black Lion. When Ann is ready to jump back into life with a new love, she discovers the devastating truth behind her husband's disappearance.

8. My Deadly Valentine, by Lynette Eason and Valerie Hansen from Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense. Two suspense-filled stories about stalkers and the men determined to protect the women they love.

9. On Wings of Love, by Kim Watters from Steeple Hill Love Inspired. A dedicated nurse devotes her life helping others, only to discover the man who steals her heart doesn't want her help..

10. The Pastor's Wife, by Jennifer AlLee from Abingdon Press. A woman must face the husband - and the congregation - she ran from six years earlier.

11. Walking on Broken Glass, by Christa Allen from Abingdon Press. Leah Thornton stops numbing her pain with alcohol, but discovers the road to redemption might still be under construction.
Jodie
I think a lot about my motivation. This is not to say my motives are always pure. It's simply to say I think a lot about them. When I sit down to write every day, I want to be sure that I'm writing for God. If I write for me, that's going to be a wasted day. The ultimate plan is for the words to go God's way, for Him to do with them after they are written what He wants to do.

Some days, that God motivation is hard to find. Some days I am all about me. (Or I sit down and lament that it's a revision day or that I have nothing new under the sun to say.) Some days I forget to take stock of who I'm working for.

Those are the days when I sit down and fire up Chris Sligh's "Empty Me." There's the reminder of Who this is all for and that the only way to let God fill me up and then pour out of me is to be empty of my self.

I was doing today's lesson in Beth Moore's Jesus the One and Only when I came across a quote by Francis Frangipane on page 76:

To inoculate me from the praise of man,
He baptized me in the criticism of man,
until I died to the control of man.


It's not about me. It's not about you. It's not about other people. It's about God. Read that quote again, then ask yourself who is motivating you...

-JB