With All My … Mind

Blog Header - With All My

In today’s world of technology and accessibility, there is no shortage of ways people are forever trying to claim our time and attention. Whether it is through the ringing of our smartphones, the ping of an app notification, the reminder announced by the artificial intelligence devices we install in our homes, commercials between our favorite television shows, or the pounding of another delivery person at our door, the demand for our attention seems constant.

When I first bought a cell phone it stayed in the living room overnight to charge. Then my husband started traveling more and it made sense to keep the phone next to my bed in case of emergency. It wasn’t long before my nightstand became the usual place my phone charged at night.

Did you know your cell phone screen lights up every time it gets a notification? Mine does, anyway. In a dark room this can seem like a very bright light.

It wasn’t too long before curiosity would have me picking up my phone in the middle of the night to see what had caused the flash. The next thing I knew, I’d be checking my email for that reply I’ve been waiting for, responding to a Facebook post I had missed earlier, and … what in the world? How have I been awake for thirty minutes?

I learned to turn my phone face down on the nightstand.

But it was still on my nightstand.

So when the alarm went off every morning, rather than yank myself from the warm covers into the cold morning air, it became my routine to snag my phone and start my day by scrolling through my various social media feeds and email inboxes. This got me started thinking of my to-do list and everything I needed to accomplish that day.  I’d get out of bed, brush my teeth, dress, and eat breakfast – all with my phone in my hand.

In the back of my mind was this idea that I needed to read God’s Word and spend time in prayer. But that was something I had plenty of time to do. There was no deadline for speaking to God. No one would know or care if I didn’t squeeze in those verses I meant to read today. I could catch up tomorrow. God didn’t have a closing time. He was always there and always would be. But I had things that needed to be accomplished NOW or there would be consequences.

God could wait.

Until one day, I realized I couldn’t remember the last time I’d spent more than five minutes studying God’s Word. For too long, I’d let Him get squeezed into the spare moments left after everything else — everything more urgent — had been taken care of. God was getting those moments when I was so worn down and worn out I couldn’t think well enough to “be productive.” I was giving God the crumbs of my leftovers.

And I was starving.

I was worn out, stretched thin, weak, and breaking. I was overwhelmed and wanting to give up on everything. I couldn’t do it. What was the point?

Well, the point was that I was never meant to do any of this alone. The point was that I had my perception and my priorities completely backward.

If God is my source of strength and I haven’t spent time with Him, where is my energy coming from?

If God is my source of truth and I haven’t spent time with Him, from where am I getting my wisdom?

If God is my source of purpose and I haven’t spent time with Him, on what am I basing my plans?

If God is my source of hope and I haven’t spent time with Him, how do I expect to find peace in life’s trials?

It was like a light bulb suddenly shining bright on all the corners of my mind — one that had once shown brightly but grown dim from dust and neglect.

God can’t wait.

God MUST come first in our lives. He is THE reason we are alive. Without Him it doesn’t matter what else we accomplish or fail to achieve. It will all mean nothing if He isn’t at the heart of it.

Bible on Laptop

So I’m trying something new. I’ve moved my phone across the room — close enough for emergencies, but far enough to discourage temptation —  and I’ve begun the habit of setting my bible ON TOP OF MY LAPTOP every night before I go to bed. That way I am forced to physically move it each and every morning. It has become a tangible reminder that I need to pay attention to God before I pay attention to anyone or anything else.

Let’s chat!

What distractions have kept you from spending time in God’s Word? What methods have you found to help keep you accountable to maintaining your relationship with the Lord?

TWEETABLE:

Pay attention to God before you pay attention to anyone or anything else.

God is more important than my to-do list.

If God is my source of strength and I haven’t spent time with Him, where is my energy coming from?

 

 

 

First Line Friday – 10.19.18

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Hi Everyone! It’s First Line Friday, so grab a book near you and share your first line in the comments below!

Today I’m sharing the first line from Emily Conrad’s debut novel, Justice.

Justice

Here is the first line:

Snow floated onto Main Street, each flake large enough to catch the breeze like a parachute.

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Jake thought he was meant to marry Brooklyn, but now she’s pregnant, and he had nothing to do with it. As Brooklyn wrestles with questions about what her pregnancy means and how it will affect her relationship with Jake, she can’t bring herself to tell him the truth. To make matters worse, if the man who owns the bookstore across from Jake’s coffee shop, has anything to do with it, the baby will ruin them both. Can Jake and Brooklyn overcome the obstacles thrown in their path, and finally find the truth in God’s love and in each other?

AMAZON

Click HERE to follow my blog and make sure you don’t miss out on any of my upcoming reviews and other fun posts!

Are you a Kathleen’s Readers’ Club member? It’s free (of course) and KRC members receive exclusive content, are eligible for exclusive seasonal book giveaways, and more! Join Today!

Now it’s your turn to grab the book nearest you and leave a comment with the first (or your favorite) line!

Then head over to Hoarding Books to see who else is participating:

Books That Stood Out In 2018

Books That Stood Out

If you are looking for a book that is just a bit different from your usual fare, this is the list for you. Today I’m featuring those books which I have read this year that have stood out to me as unique and the reasons I think they are different.

Written in the Stars & Written in the Dust (Books 1 & 2 of the Backroads Series)

by Christina Coryell

 

So I’m starting this list by breaking the rules because these two books really read as one book split into two.  The reason they make the list is two-fold:

Firstly, the style of writing and flow of the story felt completely unique and fresh to me. I can’t quite put my finger on exactly why, but there is just something different about how this story is told that makes it stand out.

Second, there is a raw realism to the backroads, country lifestyle the author portrays in this story and a depth to her characters that makes you feel like you could bump into them at the grocery store … or inside a gas station.

Amazon

A Chance at Forever (Teaville Moral Society #3)

by Melissa Jagears

A Chance at Forever

This book features a heroine born with a congenital anomaly that led to bullying which shaped her childhood and her view of the world as an adult. Furthermore, the hero is her childhood tormentor with a painful story of his own. This incredible story of forgiveness, redemption and Christ’s miraculous ability to use everything for good, is an excellent conclusion to the series (although it can be read as a stand-alone) and is well worth a reader’s time. The characters were relatable and complex. The plot was unique, compelling, and held surprises I didn’t see coming. The conclusion was satisfying and grin-inducing. In short, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more by Melissa Jagears

Amazon

The Reluctant Groom (Brides of Seattle Book 1)

by Kimberly Rose Johnson

The Reluctant Groom

This book took me by surprise in a very good way. I didn’t realize I had certain expectations of the plot until I started reading and had my expectations thrown out the window. I can’t tell you how difficult it is to find a refreshing take on the usual marriage of convenience story, but Kimberly Rose Johnson has done it. The characters in this story and their motivations and choices felt so refreshingly unique and real. It was like they could be my neighbor or my friend.

There was one particular part which I absolutely loved. Without giving too much detail away, I will say that big plans were made, but they didn’t turn out as expected and what made that so fantastic is that they didn’t go melodramatically wrong. Things just sort of played out in a very true-to-life, relationships-are-messy sort of way.

I am delighted by the unique perspective this author has demonstrated in this story and look forward to reading more novels by her.

Amazon

Catching Christmas

by Terri Blackstock

Catching Christmas

This book stands out because of its unique characters, unique premise, and the unique twists the author throws in at every point in the story. There is an element to it that, had I known of it in advance, would have prevented me from reading this book. That would have been a shame because my reasons for avoiding that element would have been based on completely incorrect assumptions. And it is that very element itself which makes it stand out from the crowd of books I have read this year. If you’re not already a follower, make sure to subscribe to this blog so you don’t miss out on my full review of this book, coming December 17th!

Amazon

Sons of Blackbird Mountain

by Joanne Bischof

Sons of Blackbird Mountain

This book stands out not only for its beautiful writing, but for a very easy to state reason: it features a hero who is deaf and an alcoholic. Joanne has shown serious writerly skill in managing to not only bring this character to life on the page but also in making him someone the reader roots for. She makes us see beyond his addiction and doesn’t let his different communication abilities define who he is, but instead takes us deeper into the many layers of what makes him, him. For my full review of Sons of Blackbird Mountain, click HERE.

Amazon

The Ruby Knot (The Dirty Boat Guys of Coronado Book 1)

by Jane Josephs

The Ruby Knot

If you are a Kathleen’s Readers’ Club Member, you know that I positively gushed about this book in my summer newsletter. Last week, I finally revealed my review to the rest of the world. (You can read it here. To become a KRC Member, click here.)

What qualifies The Ruby Knot for this list of stand-out books is the premise of the book. The story begins with a heroine who, after getting pregnant as a result of a one-night stand, is trying to get her life in line with God’s Word, but as you can imagine, the consequences of her previous choices do anything but simplify her life and the choices she now faces (especially between the two men pursuing her heart) are anything but straightforward. This story shows us how God’s love shines through life’s raw messiness.

Amazon

Let’s chat!

What books have you read this year that stood out as different to you?

TWEETABLES:

Looking for something different to read? Check out this list of Books That Stood Out In 2018!

Discover why these books stood out in 2018.

 

 

First Line Friday – 10.12.18

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Hi Everyone! It’s First Line Friday, so grab a book near you and share your first line in the comments below!

Today I’m sharing the first line from the first story in Out of the Blue Bouqueta unique collection of novellas by Hallee Bridgeman, Alana Terry, Carol Moncado, Chautona Havig, Amanda Tru. What is different about this collection is that, in addition to each book being a new, stand-alone story, the last book in the collection ties all of the novellas together while telling its own story.

Out of the Blue Bouquet

Here is the first line:

Calla Vaughn felt the telltale shudder of the car through her seat just as she started to pull through the gate.

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Five of today’s Best-selling Christian Authors weave five unique yet connected stories together in this collection where misdirected floral deliveries lead to lives changed.

Courting Calla, by Hallee Bridgeman.
Ian knows Calla is the woman God has chosen for him, but Calla is hiding something big. Can Calla trust Ian with her secret, or will she let it destroy any possible hope they may have for a future?

Seoul in Love, by Alana Terry.
Love was lost a long time ago. A chance meeting in Seoul might change all that forever.

A Kærasti for Clari, by Carol Moncado.
Joel Christiansen delivered flowers to the palace and found his life turned upside down.
Clari Sørenson’s job as social media manager for Eyjania’s Queen Mother keeps her busy. An unexpected treasure hunt with a cute guy might be the vacation she needs.
Between clues and a snow storm, they’re drawn to each other. Her grandparents, and even the Queen Mother, have been after her to find a boyfriend, but is Joel the Kærasti for Clari?

Premeditated Serendipity, by Chautona Havig.
When Wayne Farrell hears about his niece’s floral fiasco, it sparks a plan to mix up his own orders in an attempt to play matchmaker. Reid has his reasons for not pursuing Kelsey… yet, and Wayne’s interference only makes an already difficult situation even more awkward. Premeditated Serendipity—because romance sometimes needs a little shove.

Out of the Blue Bouquet, by Amanda Tru.
When Brooke is left in charge of Crossroads Floral, she accidentally sends the flower deliveries to the wrong people. Unfortunately, some of those wrong people include all of the ex-girlfriends of the most eligible bachelor in town. Are Brooke’s mistakes a complete disaster, or can there be something beautiful in an out-of-the-blue bouquet?

AMAZON

Click HERE to follow my blog and make sure you don’t miss out on any of my upcoming reviews and other fun posts!

Are you a Kathleen’s Readers’ Club member? It’s free (of course) and KRC members receive exclusive content, are eligible for exclusive seasonal book giveaways, and more! Join Today!

Now it’s your turn to grab the book nearest you and leave a comment with the first (or your favorite) line!

Then head over to Hoarding Books to see who else is participating:

Did You Know? – Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala

Did You Know Chalk Board w Rustic Wood Frame & Daisy

Mission Model Photo
Part of a model of how the mission once looked which is on display in the Father Serra room at the mission.

According to its website, the Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala was “the first Franciscan mission in the Las Californias Province of the Viceroyalty of New Spain.” I recently had the opportunity to visit this beautiful, if controversial, and historic location.

Inside SD Mission Sanctuary

This is a view from inside the mission’s sanctuary, facing the entry. I chose this angle because the choir balcony helps me visualize a part of its history many people are unaware of.

Following the Mexican-American War, in which the U.S. won control of California and other lands, the mission was occupied by the U.S. Army from 1848 to 1858. The interesting/sad part is how they used the grounds.

The Army converted this beautiful sanctuary into a two-story building. I’ve read that the downstairs was used as a stable and a docent at the mission told me the upstairs was used as an infirmary.

Mission San Diego Bell Tower
The rear view of the bell tower from inside the garden.

Though a cemetery already existed at the mission, the Army created their own military cemetery. It is rumored that they used the original cemetery as a place to conduct their drills, though I’ve been unable to confirm this.

Indian Cemetery Cross at Mission San Diego

The lovely garden picture above is located in a small courtyard just outside the sanctuary. The reddish object in the center of this photograph is the side view of one of the brick crosses symbolizing those buried on the mission grounds.

In 1862 President Lincoln “signed a document returning church buildings and some mission lands to Bishop Joseph E. Alemany, in trust ‘for religious purposes and uses.'”* Today, the mission serves as an active Catholic Church and cultural center. There are several historical displays, including an active archaeological dig and a small museum showcasing the history of the mission and the people who have lived there. If you are able, I highly recommend a visit to this incredible historical location. If time, money, or laziness are an issue for you, you can click on this link and scroll to the bottom for a virtual tour that can be enjoyed from the comforts of your own couch while lounging in your pajama bottoms.

Now you know.

Let’s Chat!

Have you visited Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala? Did you know any of these things about its history? Do you know what the round gray objects are in the last picture? Which California mission is your favorite?

TWEETABLES

Most people don’t know this part of Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala’s history! 

*Winifred Davidson in Carl Heilbron’s History of San Diego, 1936

(NOTE: If you’re a long-time reader and think this post looks familiar, you are correct.  A stomach bug visited my family this week. So I decided that rather than leave y’all hanging, I’d repost one of my oldest and most popular history posts. I hope you enjoyed it! Originally published October 23, 2015. )

First Line Friday – 10.05.18

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Hi Everyone! It’s First Line Friday, so grab a book near you and share your first line in the comments below!

Today I’m sharing the first line from A Perfect Christmas by Erica Vetsch, part of The Victorian Christmas Brides Collection. I read this collection about a week ago and highly recommend it.

The Victorian Christmas Brides Collection

Here is the first line:

London, England
November 7, 1887

“Today of all days, everything must be perfect.”

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1880s London
Melisande Verity might be in over her head trying to create the perfect Christmas window display, but if she succeeds, will she finally attract the attention of her boss, Gray Garamond?

AMAZON

Click HERE to follow my blog and make sure you don’t miss out on any of my upcoming reviews and other fun posts!

Are you a Kathleen’s Readers’ Club member? It’s free (of course) and KRC members receive exclusive content, are eligible for exclusive seasonal book giveaways, and more! Join Today!

Now it’s your turn to grab the book nearest you and leave a comment with the first (or your favorite) line!

Then head over to Hoarding Books to see who else is participating:

8 Fantastic Authors I Met At The 2018 ACFW Conference & What I Didn’t Know About Them

8 Fantastic Authors ACFW 2018

This was my first year attending the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Conference and I can’t tell you how excited I was in the weeks leading up to the event. Over the last few years I have been blessed to connect with a number of authors online, but for many of them, this would be my first chance to meet them in person.  I know that as readers, many of you can share in my excitement over meeting these wonderful women who have crafted some of our favorite stories. So I thought I’d share some of my favorite moments with you. (Presented in alphabetical order because I couldn’t possibly rank by favorite.)

Tamera Alexander

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I actually met Tamera in the one place they tell you not to bother the faculty: the bathroom. LOL To be fair, it’s not like I stalked her in there. I just happened to come out of the stall just as she was finishing washing her hands. While I was washing my hands, I said, “Well, this is an awkward place to meet, but I have to tell you that I think your books are awesome.” Or something very similar to that. She very graciously thanked me for my compliments and that was it. Not much of a conversation since we were both hurrying to the next class, but a little while later I was able to sit in on a class where she was part of the panel discussing “Writing in Community.” It was great to hear her thoughts on the subject along with those of the others on the panel (many of whom I was also silently fan-girling over: Deborah Rainey, Jody Hedlund, Lynette Eason, Lynn Blackburn, Karen Witemeyer).

What I didn’t know about Tamera was that Deborah Rainey is her critique partner. The banter between those two kept the panel discussion fun.

Books by Tamera: A Note Yet Unsung (2018 Carol Award winner & 2017 Christy Award Winner & part of the Belmont Mansion series),  The Inheritance (2010 RITA Award winner), From a Distance (One of my personal favorites & 2009 Christy Award Winner & part of the Timber Ridge Reflections series). Find more of her books here!

Pepper Basham

After reviewing a few of Pepper’s books for the blog, I’ve had the opportunity to begin a friendship with this wonderful woman via email. Getting to finally meet her in person was such a pleasure. She immediately recognized me when we spotted each other in the huge crowd and gave me a hug. She is just as friendly and genuine in person as you could hope for.

What I didn’t know about Pepper was how comfortable she could appear on stage in front of nearly 600 people as part of the conference worship team. Her beautiful voice blended well with worship leader Rachel Hauck’s(!). (Rachel isn’t on my list because I just didn’t get a chance to connect with her – so many people, so little time – but yes, I was totally fangirling over her, too.)

Books by Pepper: The Penned in Time series (the books that made me fall in love with her writing), the Mitchell’s Crossroads series (how can you not love a great reimagining of Pygmalion?), and Jane by the Book (featuring a hero like no other). Find more books by Pepper here!

Mary Connealy

MaryConnealy by Ginger Murray Photography

Mary Connealy is a Carol Award winner and a Rita and Christy and IRCC Award Finalist. I have been a fan of her writing for so long, I can’t remember when I started reading her books. I only know if there’s a book of hers that I haven’t read (and I’m not sure there is), it’s only because I haven’t been able to get my hands on it yet.

It was the first day of the conference when I was speaking to Carrie Schmidt (another online friend I was thrilled to meet in person) when Mary’s name came up and I mentioned what a huge fan I was and that I hadn’t yet had the pleasure of meeting her. Carrie, dear heart that she is, immediately got up and went to pull Mary from the crowd and bring her over to introduce us. I’m not sure I managed a very fascinating conversation considering my brain just kept repeating, “No way. No way. I can’t believe I’m actually meeting her!” LOL But I do recall that she asked what genre I wrote in and I managed to get some intelligible words out . . . I think.

What I didn’t know about Mary was her willingness to help other authors. Later that night there was an event at which nervous authors were invited to come practice their pitches before facing agents and editors in appointments on the days to follow. Carrie Schmidt was one of the hosts so I stopped by to see how it was going and Mary was there, along with other experienced authors who’d volunteered to listen to pitches.

Books by Mary: The Cimarron Legacy series (don’t miss the novella prequel!), the Wild at Heart series, & The Kincaid Brides series, and Garrison’s Law is her fun new contemporary series that I’m loving.  Find more of her books here!

Emily Conrad

Emily Conrad

You know what’s really fun? Having a casual conversation with another author and suddenly realizing you just downloaded their debut novel the night before! That’s what happened when I met Emily Conrad at the conference. If you haven’t heard of her debut novel, Justice, I definitely recommend you take a minute to check it out.

What I didn’t know about Emily was … well I already covered that, didn’t I? 😉 I had no idea the author whose book I’d just purchased would be standing in front of me the very next day.

Find Emily’s debut novel here.

Sarah Sundin

Okay, technically this was my second time meeting Sarah, but she is just too wonderful a person not to mention here. I first met her at the 2018 Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference in the spring. This time we happened to catch the same shuttle from the airport to the resort and were able to reconnect as we rode. It was lovely to get to know her better over the next few days through several conversations and her moderation of the Historical Fiction panel at the conference. (The panel also included: Karen Witemeyer, Carrie Turansky, & Melanie Dobson)

What I didn’t know about Sarah was that she is a serious outliner when it comes to plotting. Some writers start with a basic idea, then just sit down and start writing. Others outline nearly everything that happens in their novels before writing a single word. Sarah falls into the latter category and it can take her about three months to complete an outline, but then her actual writing goes pretty fast.

Books by Sarah: The Sunrise at Normandy series, the Waves of Freedom series, the Wings of the Nightingale series. Find more books by Sarah here!

Carrie Turansky

Carrie Turansky

I just happened to cross paths with Carrie Turansky after checking in at registration for the conference. She was very sweet when I stopped her to tell her how much I loved her writing. We had a couple more opportunities to talk during the conference and I found her to be a very kind person.

What I didn’t know about Carrie was that she is not only a fabulous author but a mentor as well. She was a finalist for this year’s Mentor of the Year Award.

Books by Carrie: Shine Like the Dawn (My favorite!), Waiting for His Return, and Across the Blue. Find more of her books here!

Erica Vestch

Erica Vestch

I met Erica at the Pitch Practice session where she was helping listen to authors practicing their pitch. While I was there, Erica very kindly took the time to look over some of my writing and provide me with invaluable feedback. The fun part is that I knew her name was familiar but couldn’t bring to mind her titles (my brain was mush by then – almost 10pm). So when I returned to my hotel room, I searched her name and discovered that I had actually read many of her books. Better yet, I immediately downloaded her latest novella, A Perfect Christmas, which has only recently released as part of The Victorian Christmas Brides Collection and, despite the anchors weighing my lids, I had a very difficult time putting that book down!

What I didn’t know about Erica was what a kind and helpful spirit she has.

Books by Erica: A Perfect Christmas in The Victorian Christmas Brides Collection (Highly recommended!), Prescription for Love in The First Love Forever Romance Collection, My Heart Belongs in Fort Bliss, Texas: Priscilla’s Reveille Find more books by Erica, here!

Karen Witemeyer

I first spotted Karen seated at a table beside mine, but she was engaged in conversation the entire time and I didn’t get to say hello until later that day when I mentioned to Kristi Ann Hunter (another great author!) how much I loved Karen’s books. Kristi kindly introduced me to Karen the next time we were in the same hallway together. After telling Karen how much I enjoy her writing, the first thing I asked her was if she had an assistant that helped her maintain the seemingly impossible schedule she keeps with her incredibly active Facebook Group (The Posse) and her writing deadlines and her fulltime job and everything else she does. The answer? Her assistant’s name is Karen Witemeyer. 😉 Her words. 😀

What I didn’t know about Karen (besides her not having an assistant) is that her humor is just as witty in person and she is genuinely kind. She really cares about her readers. I also didn’t know that she has a lovely singing voice. Karen and Kristi were both members of the choir that sang for us at the ACFW Gala.

Books by Karen: More than Meets the Eye (Laugh-out-loud-funny!), Heart on the Line (picked as one of my Top 5 Heroes of 2017), and A Tailor-Made Bride (the first book I read by Karen). Find more of Karen’s books, here!

Why only 8?

Well, because it’s 2018 and I had to cut it off somewhere. Honestly, though, I could fill 30 blog posts talking about all the wonderful people I met at the conference. I told my mom that it was like an actress who’s still waiting tables walking into a room filled with all the A-list celebrities you can think of and discovering their all happy to meet you and willing to help you, AND they all love Jesus!!!

Let’s Chat!

Have you had the pleasure of meeting one of your favorite authors?

Which Christian Fiction author would you most like to meet?

TWEETABLES

Ever wondered if Karen Witemeyer has an assistant? #ACFW2018

This author has a kind and helpful spirit AND her Christmas novella just released! #ACFW2018

Do you know which of your favorite Christian Romance authors was a finalist for Mentor of the Year? #ACFW2018

Can you guess which Christian Romance author has research down to a science and thoroughly outlines her novels? #ACFW2018

When your talking to someone and suddenly realize their book is on your kindle! #ACFW2018

Meeting this author caused total fan-girl brain melt. #ACFW2018

Not only does she write incredible Christian Romance, she can sing, too! #ACFW2018

Do you know who @TameraAlexander’s critique partner is? #ACFW2018