Where in the World is Bill Today?

20151213_115603
Bill McDonald & Me

On our recent trip to Cuenca, Ecuador, we were hosted by our friend, missionary Bill McDonald. Bill has lived in Cuenca for a number of years. He and his wife, Connie, founded Unsion TV and Unsion Foundation in Cuenca.

While we were there, Bill had a lot of fun introducing me as an old friend from our youth group days. He likes to say, he was in youth, and I was in children’s church. Ha. Ha. Ha. Of course it was stretching the truth a little, but we won’t discuss the direction of the stretch. Suffice it to say, one of us is older than the other. And one tells tall tales.

14520596_300824706968884_5322939432392911630_n
Bill at the head of the trail.

So where is Bill now? He is in Spain, walking the  Way of St. James Hike (Camino de Santiago). He’s been walking for nineteen days and is closing in on the 300-mile marker. The walk is 500 miles. Some of you may have seen the movie, The Way, with Martin Sheen. He plays a father who goes to Spain to recover the body of his estranged son (played by real-life son, Emilio Estevez), who died while making the trek. The dad decides to make the trek himself.

Crazy? Maybe. Walking fifteen-plus miles per day for a month or so doesn’t appeal to me all that much. But my friend, Bill, has a good reason for doing it. He’s raising awareness and funds for Unsion TV. You see, they had a devastating fire a few years ago, and had to rebuild. Bill wants to see that debt cleared out, which would give them more financial freedom. And he’s a representative for his television network to the Latin-speaking nations.

Unsion TV has a great opportunity for ministry. I saw what they do up close and personal. It’s impressive. Check out the beautiful website they’ve created here.

14563558_10208679599565923_5614176568683378347_nIf you’d like to keep up with Bill McDonald’s trek, here’s his Facebook page. Every few days, he posts a video clip with a personal message to his followers.

If you’d like to contribute, please leave me a message or send me an email via the contact tab. I’ll put you in touch with Bill’s team.

If nothing else, Bill, we’ve enjoyed watching you grow a beard. 🙂

Save

Strong and Courageous

I am honored to have a guest post on the Fear Warrior blog this week. Here’s the link if you’d like to check it out: Jerusha Agen’s Fear Warrior Blog. I’m giving away a book over there, too.

Writing that post made me think about some of the things that are most important in this world. There are so many voices out there right now, ready to rip each other apart in order to make room for themselves.

Fear runs rampant.

Sometimes fear is a bully. It tells you when you can sleep, when you can eat or not eat.

Fear paralyzes. Stops you in your tracks. Binds you with chains. It can make you sick, and it can kill you if you don’t find a way to overcome it. I found release in my Faith. I read and study the Word of God. It helps me overcome some of the depths fear dragged me into.

As I mentioned in the article above, one of my go-to scriptures is Joshua 1:9 — “Be strong and courageous…” Here’s the full context of that verse–

sword-790815_1280 “Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”Joshua 1:6-9 NLT

This passage holds plenty of instruction and promise. It’s kind of like a prescription. If you don’t follow all the instructions, you may not reap all the benefits. This prescription comes complete with the “do’s & don’ts”. Do follow, do study, do meditate. Don’t deviate. You’ll follow your doctor’s prescription to the utmost, but not this simple instruction? Sure, it was written for Joshua and the people who followed him, but like many of the teachings, parables, and stories in the Bible, it’s still relevant today.

cat-393294_1280I’ve had a lot of dealings with old man fear this year. I overcame a lot of my anxiety when I made the trip to Ecuador. I learned to trust, step out and do it. And throughout my husband’s health crisis, I was taunted by fear. It tried to get it’s claws in, catch me, hold me, and not let go. But I refused. Again, I learned to trust. And I didn’t have to go it alone. God sent a lot of people alongside us to pray, encourage, visit, and show His love.

Sometimes, there are  no easy answers. But in the volume of the book, let it be written of me…I tried. I stepped out there. I made the effort. I did my best.

Save

Save

Standing Out or Outstanding?

outstandingI love my friends and family. I have an amazing group of people surrounding and supporting me.

They think I’m outstanding. I guess that’s what I love most about them. They believe in me.

lonely-273629_1280Sometimes, we don’t really appreciate the ones that God has placed in our lives. They might be the ones who are encouraging us to try harder–don’t quit–don’t give up. Keep on going, even when things look really bad. Even when you want them to stop encouraging you, because you really don’t want to keep going.

You want to quit. You want to forget you ever tried. But that’s not really an option I can take. No matter how much I might want to. The degree of OCD in me won’t let me quit. If I’ve misplaced something in my house, I WILL NOT QUIT until I find it. I will move everything in my house–clean out every closet and drawer–until I find what I’m looking for. I’m pretty much the same with other things in life.

I can’t let it go–which  can be a positive trait–or not.

You can stand out in any arena.

What does it take to make it? Here’s my list–

  1. Work hard.
  2. Study hard.
  3. Stay focused.
  4. Be friendly.
  5. Be kind.
  6. Help others.
  7. Pray hard.

startup-593324_1280These are not necessarily in the right order. I’m still working on them. Number 7 has become very important in my life. I know it helps me stay focused. And probably helps me with all the other ones.

“Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.”–2 Timothy 2:15 NLT

If you do the things described in this scripture, you’ll stand out. Most people will appreciate your efforts.

However… in Ecclesiastes 12:12, we read: “But, my child, let me give you some further advice: Be careful, for writing books is endless, and much study wears you out.”

I had to laugh at that one, especially since it seems to be aimed at writers. 🙂

And then in Acts 26:24 — “Suddenly, Festus shouted, ‘Paul, you are insane. Too much study has made you crazy!'”

He definitely stands out! I think perhaps Paul was talking the civic leader’s ears right off his head. From my research, I believe Paul could’ve done that.

So the end of the matter is this:

If you choose to go for outstanding in life, yours will most likely NOT be an easy life. However, the rewards are great, though you may not receive them until after you’re gone. But if you’re passing knowledge along to those coming after, either through writing, teaching, or spreading the Gospel of Christ, the reward is ongoing.

sisters-781098_1280And don’t forget the ones who are encouraging you in your daily life. Listen. Learn. And as you have opportunity, thank them. Give them a hug, let them know you were listening. Sometimes the encourage-r needs encouraging.

May you stand out in life. May your path be blessed and your life outstanding.

Save

Save

Save

Character Interview: Carlotta Alverá

cup-1359012_1280I first met Carlotta Teresa Dominici Alverá while writing the second book in the Legacy Series. I didn’t know what to expect from the woman behind the black lace widow’s veil. She  seemed hardhearted and judgmental. But as I traveled farther into the story, her personality blossomed. I wanted to get to know her better, so I sat down with her over some very strong coffee and some chocolate chip cookies. She does a sweet tooth.

Senora Alverá, welcome to my blog. Please tell my readers a little about yourself.

Carlotta: “I am so grateful to be here with you, Senora. I hope you will pardon my appearance this morning. I had so little time, you know? Americanos are always in such a hurry.” She gazes about her, taking in her surroundings. “I like this room. The sofa is quite comfortable. Not attractive, but adequate.” She turns her full attention to me. “I am born in Perugia. The Dominicis are well known in Umbria. We are an old family.”

I know you’re widowed, and you have a son…

Carlotta at 18
Carlotta at 18

Carlotta: (A smile lights her dark eyes). “Ah, yes, my Riccardo. He is very handsome. He has his father’s fine features and the Dominici coloring. We have the dark hair and eyes. He is a good son, even though he’s about to marry an Americana.”

Yes, Rebecca–what do you know of her? I believe you have met her before?

“We have met, at our villa by the sea. I was not impressed. She was a…how do you say…socialite? Her parents care not for her. She says they are busy. Yes, I think they are, too.” She covers her lips with her fingertips. “But I am not speaking of it, or I will have to go to confessional.”

But Riccardo loves her, so do you think she may have some quality you can admire?

Carlotta: (Scowling) “My son–he is bewitched by this woman. She is not even of his faith. I don’t think she has any faith at all. This is not how I raised my son.” She bites into her cookie and savors the taste. “And I think maybe her family is Irish, or Scotch, or something. Not a drop of Italian blood, Senora, or at least a little Spanish. You know my husband was Spanish.”

Was he?

“Castilian–from a very good family. I am proud of the name Alverá. And he took the best care of my family’s vineyards at Tres Viti when he was in charge of it.”

Tres Viti Verdi – it’s a beautiful name. I believe it means, three green vines?

tuscany-428037_1280Carlotta: “Yes, my great-grandfather built it. He brought the best vines from three nations to develop a wonderful grape. We are now known, Senora, not for our wine, but for our juice, and our wonderful grapes for eating. Tres Viti also produces much fine olive oil. We have the best around.”

umbria-1523483_1280
Umbria – Olive Grove and vineyards

I’ve heard that. Let’s talk about your son for a moment. I know you are very proud of Riccardo. Does he do anything outside of home? I know he’s busy with the crops.

Carlotta: “Oh, we have a family, the Campis, who work the farm. Benito, or ‘Poppi’, as everyone calls him, is the best. We trust him with all that is ours. And his wife, Nonna…” (she kisses her fingertips) “…is the salt of the earth. She is my best friend–and their family–all of them work at Tres Viti.

Besides overseeing the workers at Tres Viti, Riccardo holds a very important position in our small village of Ginestra. He is a member of the planning committee. He has power…well, some…and the Mayor depends upon him.”

So does he hold political aspirations?

Carlotta: “What you are saying? Aspire? Does he aspire to politics? No, I don’t think so, though he could very well. And maybe Rebecca will want him to be a big man. Maybe she will push him to be so busy he will not have so much time for Tres Viti…and his mamma.”

Now, Carlotta, I think you can trust your son. So what about the legacy…you know, le eredità...what legacy do you hope to leave your family?

pray-1218519_1280Carlotta: “So personal, this question. But I suppose is pertinent.” She looks at her hands, and I realize she’s holding her rosary. “Before I answer, I am wondering–will you be willing to give me the recipe for these wonderful cookies? I think Nonna would do a good job of making them.” She turned the cookie over, examining it. “I am a lover of chocolate.”

We have that in common. I would be happy to give you the recipe. Now, about the legacy–“

Carlotta: She points a finger at me. “You are always in such a hurry, Senora. You must learn to slow down. In Italy, we know how to live well. When we work hard, we take our rest. And such a question as the one you have asked me is so vital, we must give it time.” She spent a few moments, fingering her rosary and gazing about the room. When she brought her attention back to me, she smiled. “I’m thinking the most important thing to pass on to those left behind us is love, do you not think? To love is the greatest legacy.”

I agree with you.

Carlotta: “No matter how much you own, how many possessions, land, or money, or even gold, none of these things compare to love. It is the most important thing. And the love we have for our Savior, God’s love for us, is life itself.”

She’s right. And I think my opinion of Carlotta Teresa Dominici Alverá has changed. Where will her story lead? Will Carlotta come to accept Riccardo’s Americana wife? I hope you’ll want to find out. Carlotta’s Legacy is available at Amazon.com.


Carlotta’s Legacy

Her life is in a downhill plunge. Will marrying an Italian count bring Rebecca the love she’s dreamed of?

Carlottas Legacy Front CoverRebecca Lewis is a reluctant bride-to-be. Marrying Riccardo Alverá, a young Italian count, may seem like a dream come true—an instant answer to her family’s dire straits. But it also means she must leave American soil, possibly forever.

Riccardo is relentless in his pursuit of Rebecca. After her father’s death, she and her mother set sail for Italy. Though Rebecca is still plagued by doubt, Riccardo’s warmth and humor soon melt the icy frost encasing her heart. But as Rebecca settles into his Italian villa, her questions and fears return.

His mother, Carlotta Alverá, is dedicated to strict Roman Catholic beliefs. Will she ever accept Rebecca, who has no real faith? After Rebecca’s mother decides to pursue life on her own terms, peace comes to the villa. But not for long.

Trouble finds Rebecca, even in the tranquil heart of Italy. As political unrest shakes the core of Italian society, a dark shadow falls over Riccardo’s beautiful estate. In her deepest despair, Rebecca confronts her past, finds forgiveness, and finally … the love and acceptance she’s always longed for.

Now Available at Amazon.com $4.99 Kindle $14.99 Print

carlottas-legacy3

Save

Save

Save

Save

A New Thing at Write Integrity Press!

It’s been an exciting (and busy) month at Write Integrity Press and Pix-N-Pens Publishing! I’ve watched and prayed as the ownership changed. That happened today, October 1, 2016. Here’s an excerpt from the official press release:

Write Integrity Press and Pix-N-Pens Publishing announce a change in leadership. Marji Laine Clubine brings a fresh enthusiasm to the publishing companies along with a vision and strategies for growth and maintaining the high quality readers have come to expect. Tracy Ruckman, founder, will remain as Creative Director for WIP and PNP and will continue as publisher of the subsidy press, TMP Books. “It is our expectation and hearts’ desire that God will continue to use these businesses to bring glory to Himself,” says Ruckman.

Why am I so interested? Write Integrity Press is my publisher for the Legacy Series (Amelia’s Legacy & Carlotta’s Legacy), and the Kinsman Redeemer Series (Annabelle’s Ruth). This move is a positive one, though I am sad to lose Tracy Ruckman, the former owner. She took a chance on me, helped me in so many ways, to grow as a writer. Of course, she’ll still be around as Creative Director for WIP and PNP, as a personal friend, and one of the mentors in my life.

As the initial shock of the announcement wore off, excitement crept in…

New logo for Write Integrity Press
New logo for Write Integrity Press

I wait with “breathless anticipation” to see what the future holds for us at Write Integrity and Pix-N-Pens.

Marji Laine Clubine calls this a new chapter in her life. She has some great ideas going forward, and a fresh perspective. I love the work she’s done so far freshening up the website and logo. You can check it out HERE.

While you’re over at the website, check out the books and other excellent writers published by WIP and PNP.

If you’re interested in joining our ranks, you’ll find a submissions tab near the top of the page. Click on it for more information.

Marji Laine Clubine
Marji Laine Clubine

Congratulations and God bless you, Marji Laine Clubine, in your new role. I look forward to working with you!

“Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.” — James 1:17 NLT