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Inspiration for Writers

Inspiration in Everyday Things

Most writers find inspiration in things they notice or read about—I’ve certainly read a news article and thought, “Hmm, that would make a good plot for a romantic suspense book.” For two of my romantic suspense stories, the general plotline has its roots in real life.

I based Dangerous Christmas Memories on a short news item about two celebrities who tied the knot in Las Vegas but didn’t realize it was a “real” marriage until years later. In my story, the heroine literally forgot she had said “I do,” in Vegas, then disappeared while the hero spent years looking for her.

And those two celebrities? They only found out they really were married when one was preparing for his own wedding and an attorney uncovered the previous marriage license record.

Illusion of Love-coverFor Illusion of Love, the genesis was the real-life story of a friend, who had experienced a heartbreaking—and rather horrible—online relationship. When I heard her story, I knew I wanted to write about it but with my own twists and turns. In fact, anyone who knows her story wouldn’t find many similarities with mine at all. But the basic idea, the seed that grew into Illusion of Love, was based on a true story.

But what makes using “true” stories as the foundation for a fiction story so much fun is that we can write our own endings—and our own beginnings and middles too. We don’t want fiction to mirror real life too closely!

 

Sarah Hamaker has been spinning stories since she was a child. Her romantic suspense books include Dangerous Christmas Memories (Love Inspired Suspense), Mistletoe & Murder (Seshva Press) and Illusion of Love (Seshva Press). Sarah lives in Virginia with her husband, four children, one foster child and three cats. Connect with her at sarahhamakerfiction.com.

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Devotional

Power for Tough Times

that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death. Phil 3:10

 

This verse has special meaning to me. I met a curly -haired,  tan, fit college student leader  at Campus Crusade for Christ headquarters in the late summer of 1978. His Bible was so used and worn he had to have it rebound in rough tan leather and burned into the front cover was “That I may know Him” I fell in love with Bill Farrel not just for his good looks, but rather, for his God-chasing heart.  Any guy who wants to identify with Christ, not just for His majesty and power but also for his sufferings, is a deep man of faith.

Cultivating habits that allow God’s resurrection power to flow into your life is imperative so that you can stay strong, even in times of suffering . Here are three ways that have helped me find and experience resurrection power:

Partner for Power

Since the day I met that gorgeous guy, I have watched him graciously handle suffering and hardship with a 5-fold P.O.W.E.R process that has become our “Go to” when times get tough:

Pray: God will get us thru this. Let’s pray.

Open up: Let’s both share our needs with each other

Wisdom seek: Let’s find some scripture to hang our heart on to keep our hope, joy and peace.

Endure: Let’s just keep doing the next right thing. Let’s be true to God and God will be true to us.

Reach out: Let’s gather our trusted faith community to pray and believe with us and for us.

Which would help you most right now?

Pam Farrel and her husband, Bill, are relationship specialists, authors of 50+ books, international speakers, and Co-Directors of  Love-Wise.com. They live on a boat docked in Southern California.

 

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Devotional

Joy is Relationship

On my birthday, as my newest book, Discovering Joy in Philippians: A Creative Bible Study Experience released, I pondered “What is joy, really?”  As I look back, seems God had me on a learning trajectory to find then live out joy.

As a child, first born daughter of an alcoholic dad, I was naturally joyful but our home situation was chaotic and unpredictable so when things got volatile due to my dad’s anger or his own depression, I retreated and became a sullen, sometimes, pouty and often emotionally teary-eyed little girl. But God had something greater, something better for me and He also has something better for you, too!: JOY!

Recently, I gave a speech for my Joy Jubilee birthday bash, and I shared a few things I have learned about joy—for the next few weeks, I will share them with you too—in bite-sized nuggets.

Joy is Relationship

The book of Philippians is often tagged the book of JOY, and the first chapter of Philippians is all about RELATIONSHIP:

I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, . . . 7 It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart (Phil 1:3-7)

This thread of relationship continues through out the book, like in this verse from Phil 4:1 where Paul calls the believers at Philippi his JOY!:

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends! (Phil 4:1)

Today, apply these relationship verses by:

Thanking God and praying for those you love—those who bring you joy.

Tell those you love HOW they bring you JOY and thank them.

I want to personally invite you to be a part of my FREE online bible study on Discovering Joy in Philippians:A Creative Bible Study Experience  Using Facebook Live I will teach and you can share and comment on our JOURNEY of JOY. It begins Sept 18 and runs 12 weeks. Register today.

 

Pam Farrel is an international speaker, author of 48 books, and her newest, Discovering Joy in Philippians: A Creative Bible Study Experience is co authored with Bible teacher, JeanE Jones and artist, Karla Dornacher, is available in most Christian bookstores and online stores. (Harvest House) For many “extras”: audios, blogs, video tutorials, a leader’s guide, go to https://www.discoveringthebibleseries.com/the-books/discovering-joy-in-philippians/

Speaking of relationships: More than 30 influential Christian leaders have endorsed Discovering Joy!

There is no joy without Jesus! Only happiness that depends on happenings. Knowing Christ brings Joy. This is what our distraught world needs. Read Discovering Joy in Philippians, a new creative Bible study experience.

Jill Briscoe, author and international speaker
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Devotional

How Do You Spell L.O.V.E.?

With Valentine’s Day season upon us, you might wonder how spell L.O.V.E.  In our  book, The First Five Years, we explain how to create a memorable romantic encounter for your spouse no matter how many years you are married. (And we will adapt this for those who are single and dating).  Keep this acrostic for LOVE in mind as you make plans to wow the one you love:

 

Listen

Observe

Vary

Extract

 

Listen

Your spouse will drop hints about the things he or she loves and you can use these hints to create more romance and sizzle in your relationship. For example, if you listen to Bill and me in a casual lunch conversation, you would  discern  that Bill loves things like: Football, fishing, cooking, joke telling, and the Bible.  If you listen to Pam you’d discover she loves travel, biking, swimming, tennis, laughing, and helping women—and the spa!

It doesn’t take much imagination then to know that if I (Pam) give Bill a day of ocean fishing or if he gave me a day at the spa, we would be more interested in each other at the end of that day. But it doesn’t have to cost a lot. Kayaking is on both our lists, so we have a goal to have a kayak date in every state we travel to for business. Walking and biking are also on both of our lists, so an evening stroll, or a leisurely cycle around a lake near us is apt to also put us in the mood. Bill and I keep a running list of “loves” we discover about one another while listening.

Observe

On the TV show Sherlock (and in the classic books with this character),  Sherlock Holmes wows the audience by his keen detective skills of observation. You can become a detective and easily observe what will bless and ignite your spouse:

  • What raises stress in your partner?—then make a plan to lower it
  • What lifts the spirit?—then make a plan to repeat it
  • What calms the atmosphere?—then recreate it
  • What things are collectible?—then add to it
  • When he or she sighs and relaxes?—then repeat it
  • What draws him/her to you?—then protect it

 Vary

For married couples, when it comes to intimacy, don’t get in a rut.  Vary the romance. In our book, Red Hot Monogamy, inspired by Song of Songs, we give over 200 Red Hot Romance ideas. The King and the Bride in song of Songs model for couples simple romantic inspirations. And they make time together a priority, “My beloved speaks and says to me: “Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away,” {Song of Songs 2:10)

One of the easiest ways to vary the experience is to keep the five senses in mind. Vary the places you date, mix the style from dressy to down to earth. Or try adding new sounds/music, scents, textures, or tastes.  If you go to dinner each Thursday, next week eat it on the rooftop, or on a blanket at the park. If you usually work out as a couple, then make the next date a payoff- get some new athletic wear and try out a new activity.

Extract

To extract love, take an old idea and give it a new spin. Personalize it, shake it up, add to it. For example, because we are relationship communicators, we are usually pretty busy around Valentine’s Day. Often we have to be at the NRB (National Religious Broadcasters) conference. No offense to those in Christian radio, but the NRB isn’t the most romantic place to be around on Valentine’s Day. We have decided, however, to make it romantic the years we need to be there. One year, Bill scanned the covers of all the books we have written and made a series of greeting cards with personal love messages that used the titles as a part of a pun, like “It has been “Pure Pleasure” being married to you”.  Every hour all day, he gave me a card with a new message and tiny gift.Bill & Pam Farrel Valentine

 

L.O.V.E: Listen, observe, vary and extract to create a love to look forward to living. It is possible to keep love as red hot as those candy hearts you munch on each Valentine’s Day—it just takes a little creativity and some L.O.V.E.

 

Pam and Bill Farrel are relationship specialists, international speakers and best selling authors of Men are like Waffles, Women are like Spaghetti, Red Hot Monogamy and The First Five Years: Make the Love Investment (www.Love-Wise.com) When they are not traveling to speak on marriage or family, you will find them at home on their live aboard boat in Southern California.

Categories
Devotional

Out Love One Another

Jesus was a good son.  Bill and I recognize a good son, we enjoy having three good sons.

A good son carries out the will of his father.

A good son represents his family well and moves the family legacy forward. Good daughters would do the same.  We meet people each week and many of them are those

A Couples’ Journey with God
Harvest House

who value the heritage that have been handed to them and they build upon that strong foundation.

While writing our newest devotional book, A Couple’s Journey with God, we had the opportunity to stay on a beautiful farm. Within minutes of meeting John and Barb Schaller, we knew they had an unusual love. Barb found it easy to gush about how blessed and fortunate she found it to be married to John. John found it easy to compliment a wife he was obviously endeared too by the gleam in his eyes. They are our peers in marriage, married about the same amount of time as Bill and I, over three decades! When I asked Barb the secret of their long lasting love, she said, “My husband forgives easily. He is full of grace, mercy and forgiveness.” When we asked John the same question, his reply was similar, “My wife knows how to keep giving love when people are hard to love. She love unconditionally and tenaciously”.

Notice it is really just two sides of the same coin:

He loves without limits and she is limitless in her love.

They are the owners of Morning Star Dairy. They live in the home John was raised in. John is the youngest of  twelve so he had the good fortune to watch his parents have a lifelong love. Love is a rich heritage on Morning Star farm.  John describes his mother as a saint who loved lavishly, never uttered a harsh word, and had a servant’s heart. Her  heart of love was often expressed toward her husband as she darted about the kitchen waiting on him with an affectionately, “On the way Daddy Baby”.  And that legacy of love continues as one will sometimes hear Barb call John, “Daddy” and with a twinkle in his eye and sheepish grin he will tease back, “That’s Daddy BABY to you.”

How does one go about building a legacy of love that passes from generation to generation? Follow John and Barb’s pattern and the example they saw in action, simply out serve one another.

Love is an action verb and it is best expressed with a servant’s attitude. 

What is a servant’s attitude?  Phil 2: captures it best when it simply says:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,  not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant . . .  (Phil 2:3-7)

This year, make the commitment to simply have a “you first” attitude and seek to place your mate’s needs as a priority on your heart. The plus side of having a servant’s attitude is your children are watching, and perhaps…

you will be laying a foundation of a family that all seek to out love the other!

 

Bill and Pam on their boat

Pam and Bill Farrel  are international speakers, relationship specialists and the authors of over 45+ books including best selling Men Are Like, Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti.  Find more information on the Farrels, their books, videos, audio and even free resources to help people be “Love-Wise” at www.love-wise.com

Categories
Devotional

Holiday Relationship Tips

While simplifying your holiday season, take time for relationships to thrive, not just survive the holidays.  Keep those relationships balanced with your holiday planning. People ARE more important than things at this time of year.  Here are some relationship principles using one of the familiar words of the holiday as an easy to apply acrostic:

 

  1. C enter your heart on the true, deeper meaning of the holiday season (Thanksgiving through New Year’s.) This will help everyone become easier to get along with because the heart of the holiday will remain intact.
  2. H ear what your friends and family are voicing as their stress, and listen carefully to them—a gift that will lower their stress.
  3. R each out as a family to help others in order to keep the proper perspective on what is really important in life.
  4. I nvest in memories, not material goods. Make time for family baking, tree decorating, or board games.
  5. S peak your love in words. The best gift you can give is for a person to hear their value and worth from your lips.
  6. T ake time for romance. The greatest gift you can give your spouse, children, and friends is a happy home.
  7. M ake time to reach out to extended family. Visit or call grandparents, aunts, and uncles. If possible, use modern technology like a Webcam to connect.
  8. A ssume nothing; ask those who are celebrating with you what their expectations are, and communicate the plan clearly so people feel informed.
  9. S tay flexible. Don’t be a Christmas Scrooge, ordering family around. Instead slow the pace, gather consensus, and give options so that you create an environment of connecting and sharing.
  10. ! Exclaim your joy with music, memories and by making the most of all your relationships!

 

Pam and Bill Farrel are relationship specialists, international speakers, and authors of more than forty-five books, including best-selling  Men Are like Waffles, Women Are like Spaghetti.

Visit www.Love-wise.com

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Devotional

Sunday Reflection: Spiritual Intimacy

Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving . . . 

(Colossians 4:2 NASB)

We travel, and we really appreciate the hotels that have the small peak holes so that when someone knocks you can look out and see who’s there. That is what prayer is like. People usually aren’t phony when praying because it is a time of vulnerability before God.

Couples that pray together get a window into each other’s hearts.

Prayer is a window to the heart

You might feel irritated at your spouse all day, you might not understand why she did or said something, but during prayer, you get to see what was really going on in their life, their thoughts and in their heart. Prayer gives us a deeper understanding of our mate. Anything that gives a deeper understanding will deepen intimacy. Deeper intimacy creates the safety net for a nakedness of the soul, and if you are in a place where you both feel comfortable when your soul is naked before each other, then the physical nakedness with in marriage is the next logical step in the sharing of your live.

Reading the Bible is intimate:

The Bible is God’s love letter to each of us. If you know your spouse is listening to God, your trust level will grow.  If you notice that your spouse is seeking to follow the commands of God, you will feel more relaxed when you are together. God has a complete love for you and when God has your mate’s attention, God will steer your spouse into making more loving choices toward you.

As a result, the nagging rate naturally diminishes. And less nagging and negative corrective language and more positive affirming language is the cultivated, fertile ground for marital intimacy.

The influence does not stop with your spouse, however. If you are reading the Bible and praying, God will have your attention and make you a better lover. His love will flow through you to a grateful spouse.

The Holy Spirit is intimate.

Pray together
Stay together

When we know Christ personally, the Holy Spirit resides in us and gives us the supernatural power to love. It is a supernatural power so that we can love, not just with our power, but with God’s ability. And since the Holy Spirit indwells anyone who asks Jesus into his life and He knows the way your spouse was designed to be loved, you have the ability to become a great lover for your mate. You will notice that the Holy Spirit gives very specific instructions. He makes it simple enough that your only choice is to obey or disobey. In our life, it may sound something like this:

“Pam, what you said just now to Bill was unkind. He is really good man and he deserves a gentle response.”

“Bill, go home. Pam does really need you right now. Do not do that next task, leave right now.”

By reading the Word and praying, you will develop the ability to listen for God’s Holy Spirit whisper, and those whispers will help you become a better person and a better partner. These spiritual disciplines will also draw you two closer if you make daily use of them as individuals.

 

Lord, help us make time for prayer, Bible reading and listening to Your Spirit as we do these things so we might hear Your voice louder than any other, Amen 

Pam and Bill Farrel have been happily married 38 years and credit praying

A Couple’s Journey
with God
Harvest House
Publishers

together through out each day as the key that unlock’s love. Read more about what makes for lasting love in one of their 45 books, like A Couple’s Journey with God. www.Love-Wise.com

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Devotional

A Valentine’s Gift That Lasts

A Valentine’s Gift That Lasts

By Susan G Mathis

On this Valentine’s Day week, I’d like to remind you of the importance of keeping your marriage strong. It’s the best gift you can give your spouse.

“Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud, it is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails,” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).

Remember what a great adventure your marriage has been and can be, and be careful not to get apathetic about your relationship. As with any journey, there are slow, boring, mundane seasons, but the times of making memories, capturing intimate experiences, and finding quality moments supersedes all the rest.

Choose not to get discouraged or weary in well doing, in working at your marriage, in resolving conflict, or in struggling to make ends meet. Build memories that transcend everyday life. It’s a daily choice…to love unconditionally, to sacrifice substantially, and to enjoy each other eternally.

 

Dear Lord, It’s easy to take our spouse for granted. Help us to lean into the adventure of marriage and keep our marriages strong and vibrant. In Jesus name, Amen

 

About the author: Susan Mathis is the author of of two Tyndale published premarital books Countdown for Couples: Preparing for the Adventure of Marriage and The ReMarriage Adventure: Preparing for a Lifetime of Love & Happiness as well as The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy and four other books. She is the vice president of Christian Authors Network and the Founding Editor of Thriving Family magazine and former Editor of 12 Focus on the Family publications. She has written hundreds of articles and now serves as a writer, writing coach, and consultant. For more, visit www.SusanGMathis.com.

 

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Marketing

To Drama or Not to Drama? That is the Question

When is it appropriate to use your trauma, personal drama, family emergency – or other catastrophe to sell books? Some might say, “Never!” —but then only presenting the rosy, perfect, polished side of life isn’t very authentic.

Recently, my husband’s brush with death in a traffic accident, a ministry friend’s early step into heaven and a leader’s home fire all caused me to ponder, “When is it good or a part of God’s will to post on tragedy and turmoil?”

Here are a few questions to ask before your post (especially if sharing a story will result in a profit of any kind, including books sales, it is best to double -check your heart):

Is this my story to tell?

Post unto others as you would have posted unto you paraphrases the Golden Rule of Christ’s words in Matthew 7:12.  If this is not your life, recount the facts and feelings in a way that you would like someone to do for you. Share your own personal feelings, how God is speaking to you, what you learned while keeping the details of the story private to protect another already going through a challenging time.  If it is your story, as was the case with my side of the story (of the near tragedy of my husband Bill’s truck being hit and hurled into a concrete highway divider by a speeding teen driver), then I was free to share my point of view, my feelings, and I did link to our marriage books. Because the principles in those books would help another couple in a comparable situation, we both wanted to use this pivotal moment to teach and train. (Read the full story )

Have I asked permission?

“…serve one another in love…” (Gal. 15:13 )

Even though I had plenty to share from my point of view, because someone else was also in the story, after our emotions settled and the crisis handled, I felt it necessary to ask Bill, if and when he might be comfortable with me sharing the account.  I penciled out what I thought was appropriate at this juncture and ran the text by him for approval. One never wants to add to another’s pain and drama when they are already experiencing pain and drama!

Is this the right time?

“it is wonderful to say the right thing at the right time… “ (Proverbs 15:23 )

There might be a need or a desire to share an announcement or a statement. In these cases, if the ministry or the person themselves has shared, it is best to directly quote their testimonial.  Ask yourself “Will sharing the information lessen a person’s trauma, help meet his or her need or help reach or inform the audience he or she is trying to reach?”  For example, when a ministry leader was killed overseas and his ministry was wanting to get the word out so people could pray for his wife, family and his ministry, I instantly shared the post because it was clear that was the result wanted. In my post, I did inform my audience a little more of the bio, including a few of his books, so people would recognize and know whom I was talking about.

What is my motive?

“Search me God and know my heart…” (Psalms 139:23 )

Sometimes people rush to be the bearers of shocking news simply because they gain attention because they might have an insider’s view or a seat behind the scenes. Nothing hurts someone already going through a private tragedy in public view more than having friends divulge information he or she might have wanted to keep private. Ask yourself, “Would the person at the center see the sharing of this information as a betrayal?” Also ask yourself if you are the best person to share the news, or if there is someone better suited, better prepared, better equipped or better at handling these emotionally charged events.  Many professions are well trained in handling these kind of raw life moments: pastors, doctors, politicians, law enforcement or military leaders all have as part of their training elements of crisis management.   It might be God will ask you to be the silent servant behind the scenes that helps a family member or leader as he or she interacts with the public.

What is the desired outcome?

“Set your affections on the things above…” (Col. 3:2)

If you sense a green light on all the above questions, then before God ask, “Lord, what do you want to see happen in the lives of others who might read these words or hear this video?”  Is God wanting people to come to know Him personally and be prepared for eternity? Is he asking you to rally help or aid? Does the person or family in crisis have an economic need that they have asked you to share? It there a moral or Biblical truth that needs highlighted?  Before you write, before you speak—pray.

 

Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti by Bill & Pam Farrel
Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti by Bill & Pam Farrel

Pam Farrel is the very grateful to God wife of Bill, who was at the center of this story – and whose tale has a happy ending. (Fortunately, miraculously, my husband survived).  Together the Farrels write, speak and travel the world encouraging, equipping and inspiring people to live “Love-Wise. They are the authors of 45 books including the newly revised, updated and expanded version of their best seller, Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti.

 

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In The News

Along Came A Writer on BlogTalk Radio and iTunes

CAN members Linda Kozar, Lena Nelson Dooley, and Angela Breidenbach host shows on the Along Came A Writer Network.

Along Came A Writer Network 

2017/2016

Chat Noir Mystery and Suspense, with host Linda Kozar on the Along Came A Writer Network

The Lena Nelson Dooley Show, with host Lena Nelson Dooley on the Along Came A Writer Network

Historically Speaking, with host Angela Breidenbach on the Along Came A Writer Network