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Watching My Heart

April Cassidy at Peaceful Single Girl invited me to guest host today!

Peaceful Single Girl

Watching My Heart

By Mary Elizabeth Hall, Author of Amberly, a thrilling Christian romance

www.maryelizabethhall.com

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I don’t know about you, but my heart’s a wild thing!

 

I’m writing this to piggyback on April’s fabulous Feb 13 post (The Power to Create Attraction – http://peacefulsinglegirl.wordpress.com/2013/02/13/the-power-to-create-attraction/). God has truly gifted women with the power to attract men, but like all gifts from God, we’re to use it with care. Society bombards us with messages hyping women who put great effort into attracting men, but the wise woman who seeks to honor God will consider her ways, wanting instead to serve the men around her by dressing and acting modestly. What does modesty mean? It means not trying to draw attention to oneself. When I choose an outfit or decide how to interact with someone, do I seek to please God or men? Do I aim to help or hinder…

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My 2-Year-Old Judges Books By Their Covers

Check out this viral reblog – hilarious!

101 Books

My son will be 3 years old in June, and I love the fact that he’s into reading. A day usually doesn’t go by without him asking me or his mom to sit down and read a book with him.

During all those reading sessions, I’ve learned that he’s an imaginative little guy.

So I decided to put that imagination to use and see what he thinks about the books I read, not just the books about Elmo and Thomas The Train and Lightning McQueen.

So I grabbed a bunch of classic books, got him to sit in my lap, showed him the cover of each book, and then asked him one question: “What do you think this book is about?”

He took it from there:

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Map Illustrations

Map Illustrations

I love illustrating as much as writing, and have a background in graphic arts and figure drawing. I specialize in maps for novels. If you’d like to inquire about a map for your book, please contact me using the form on  my illustration page. Here’s the map I drew for Amberly:

Amberly 72 DPI for Website

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Simple, Sensational Stir-Fry!

Simple, Sensational Stir-Fry!

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My hubby loves sampling different types of foods while on trips to Japan.  Here’s a delicious, easy, healthy stir-fry recipe my family enjoys a lot.

Ingredients:

– Cut up chicken, beef, or shrimp

– Vegetable assortment – sliced bell peppers, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, snow peas, radicchio, spinach leaves, bean sprouts, water chestnuts, etc. Maybe toss in a few of those tiny little corncobs (do you suppose they’re all grown on tiny little fields by tiny little farmers with tiny little tractors? I’ve always wondered..)

-Peanuts, almonds, or cashews (or all three!)

– Cooked rice – we like either brown or long-grain Jasmine rice cooked in our Aroma rice cooker from Costco.

-Oil: peanut tastes nice with stir-fry, but others are fine too.Blog Post Photos 034

-1 cup beef broth, mixed with 1 tsp flour (wheat or arrowroot)

-1/2 cup soy sauce or coconut aminos.

“A good, well-lived today makes every yesterday a dream of a good future,

and every morning is a vision of hope.”

– Asian proverb

Method:

1. Heat oil over medium heat in a wok or large skillet.

2. Dissolve Better than Bouillon into the hot water. Add last two ingredients and stir with a fork to break lumps. Set aside.

3. Spoon the meat pieces into the skillet and stir until lightly browned (cut a piece to make sure it’s cooked inside), then remove to a bowl. Don’t overcook! You will cook them more later.

2. Add more oil to the skillet, increase heat to medium-high, and toss in the vegetables. Carrots and other tough veggies take a bit longer than the soft ones, so you may wish to add these first. Stir-fry for a few minutes to heat and soften. They should still be a little crisp.

3. Return the meat pieces to the mixture and stir until it reaches desired doneness.

4. Add the nuts.

5. Now add the bouillion mixture and stir briefly. It will thicken quickly. Remove from heat.

6. Spoon over rice and enjoy with some nice plum wine and pretty chopsticks!

“Help thy brother’s boat across, and lo!

Thine own has reached the shore.”

– Another Asian proverb

 

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A Verse for Today – Perseverance

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Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him.” – James 1:12

Remaining steadfast is all about perseverance – through trying situations and especially in relationships. Marriage, it’s been said, is meant to make us holy, not happy. Grrr. This rubs against all my idealistic romance-writer sensibilities. If you’re like me, you carry around lovely little snow-globe images of what relationships should look like, whether they be with our spouses, children, friends, co-workers, or whoever. And if you’re like me, you nurture and polish those images all the time, worshiping and perfecting them.

Right?

But if I’m honest with myself I have to recognize that all of life is meant to make me holy, not happy. All I have to do is peruse a few flannel-board Bible stories to see that. No snow-globes there. Amy Carmichael once wrote this to someone who had prayed for her healing:

“No good thing will He withhold from them that live a godly life.”

Amy wondered whether He’d prefer that the emphasis were on making sure we didn’t miss any good thing that might come from the illness, instead of: ‘Health is a good thing. Lord, give it.’” – Quoted from Candles in the Dark

Father God, let me respond to the stresses of life and relationship in ways that make me more holy.

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A Verse for Today – Trials

 “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

– James 1:2-4

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I read these verses to my five-year-old daughter Megan this morning and asked if she felt joy the last time she scraped her knee and needed a band-aid. “No,” she replied, laughing. But according to my ESV Study Bible, these verses are a call to understand suffering from the vantage point of confidence in God’s sovereignty. Trials can be considered pure joy only when we recognize they’re designed by God for a purpose—tests of faith given in order to develop perseverance, which produces mature Christian character. Do I praise God only when I receive pleasant blessings from His hand? Do I want it to be said of me, like Satan predicted of Job, that I would curse God if He took away all He’s given me?

Lord, let my worship not be based on what You give me but on Who and What You are.

More later . . .

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Flu Remedy

Flowers 002Here’s a flu remedy combination I’ve come across in several health sources. I haven’t tried this myself (not having had the flu this year, thankfully!), but it seems to be a popular combination:

Astragalus, also known as Chinese milk vetch root, is reported to be highly effective in treating and preventing the flu. Astragalus stimulates the production of interferon, which is particularly helpful in combating flu.

Lecithin is helpful for preventing flu by normalizing the calcium/phosphorus balance in the body. This reduces the type of phosphorus the flu virus requires for replication. One capsule every hour for five hours has been reported to stop the onset of flu.

If you try these, please comment and let me know how well they work! As always, be sure to take sufficient Vitamin C and zinc lozenges (though not at the same time), and get sufficient rest.

The photo, by the way, is not of astragalus, but just some pretty flowers my daughter found on  a tree. 🙂

Note: The content within these pages is for informational purposes
only and is NOT to be considered medical advice.

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Blog Hop Interview

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I’ve been linked in a blog hop and asked about new releases! Here’s my interview:
What is the working title of your book?
Amberly
Where did the idea come from for the book?
I’ve had the story behind Amberly and the rest of the Crestmere Series in my mind for more than 35 years. I realized two years ago I was forgetting parts of it, so I began writing it down! Friends loved chapters I sent them and begged me for more, and the writing / learning / revising process began. The idea came from my dreams of exploring the ideas of romance and relationships in other times and places.
What genre does your book fall under?
Romantic suspense, in a setting similar to eighteenth century England.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Oh, that’s such a great question! I know exactly what (or who) each character looks like, but don’t know whether certain actors would be the best ones to play these roles. Marsten’s face (but not his hair) looks exactly like a Perry Ellis model named Tommy Dunn. I spotted Tommy on a wall over the men’s suits at Dillards two years ago. His face is just like the one I’ve envisioned in my mind for thirty five years (which is rather funny because I doubt that Mr. Dunn’s even thirty five years old). Eleanor looks like a particular photo I saw once of Catherine Zeta Jones, but she acts more like my feisty Irish ancestors. Mayor Williamston in my mind looks like Theoden actor Bernard Hill. Margaret Williamston’s a bit trickier. I have an image in my mind of what she looks like, but don’t know who might portray her best. And as for Hrunfaldr the Norlander chieftain, I picture Thor actor Chris Hemsworth – but he’d have to be about thirty years older!
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Snatched by coldblooded enemies as a declaration of war, Eleanor Williamston finds herself caught in a deadly snare—miles from home and lost in the wilderness, where her heart is drawn to the handsome guardsman who rescues her, but then is torn when he challenges her political ideals—and then reveals something that will make her choices even more difficult.
Where can your book be purchased?
Amberly is available on Amazon and all the usual places.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I pounded out the first draft of what became the first two books over four months during late summer and early fall, 2010. I’ve spent the two years since then revising both manuscripts, while learning from writers’ conferences and working with critique groups.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Amberly has similarities to novels by Jane Austen, Liz Curtis Higgs, MaryLu Tyndall, and even has touches that would appeal to lovers of Tolkien, epic classical literature, and poetry.
Who or What inspired you to write this book?
While I was growing up, I became fascinated with the notion of twin heirs to royalty, born in the forest so no one knew which was the firstborn, coming to trust only in one another and determined to someday reign together. I enjoyed mulling over the unique joys and challenges this might present, and soon their adventures together began in my mind. Other characters joined them, and their stories matured while I did. When I became a believer in Christ, their lives and struggles blossomed like mine with desire to please God while struggling against forces from without and within that seek to oppose Him. Now I see these stories as a means to share with others in an enjoyable way some of the crucial things I’ve learned about life and love, providing a legacy of Biblical truth for generations to come. It’s my hope and prayer that readers will come away loving God more deeply and desiring to serve Him better.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
To me, the setting of a story is as much a character as the hero or heroine of any story. Since I’ve always viewed these stories like a movie playing in my mind, I’ve sought to convey the richness and beauty of the surroundings so the reader is swept away into the world of the characters, and can see and feel what they do. Readers and reviewers have commented enthusiastically on this, so it appears other people enjoy immersing themselves in the world of the stories they read as much as I do!
Check out some other great author blogs too:
Rebecca Davis for gripping missionary biographies
Fay Lamb for romance and family
Selena Fulton – It’s All About the Journey
Susan Tuttle’s Encouraging Small Steps that Lead to Giant Leaps in Christ
and Kathryn J. Bain for clean fiction with an edge!

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eclipse2017_logo_lgWhere will you be during the Total Solar Eclipse on Monday, August 21, 2017? Probably sitting in afternoon car line twiddling your thumbs and wondering who turned the lights off if you live near me and don’t make other plans. But this eclipse is worth making special plans for!

This will be the coolest thing since 1918, the last time a total eclipse swept across the US!
It turns out I live right in the shadow path of totality! How about you? I’m curious to know how many followers of this blog live near the path across the US.
If you’re interested, you can find out more here.

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January 19, 2013 · 10:49 pm

Cheerful Bookmarks

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If your family’s full of bookworms like mine is, cut your old Christmas and greeting cards into strips and make a pile of bookmarks! I like to make wide ones and narrow ones. We use them for all our homeschool books, storybooks, novels, etc – and I usually have about a half dozen skinny ones marking various places in my Bible and my copy of Spurgeon’s Morning & Evening. If you cut them nicely around designs – and perhaps add a pretty ribbon bow – they can make lovely personalized gifts and tags, too!

Anybody have other ideas to share?

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