Seasons Change – Fall Into Love with Missy Tippens

I’m a southern girl. To the core.

I love southern stuff:

Sweet tea.

Gravy

Grits…

and Missy Tippens 🙂

Yep, that’s right. Love Inspired author, Missy Tippens, is visiting today. This Kentuckian-turned-Georgian likes to add some southern-sweet romance to her novels and a whole lot of second chance-stories too :-). We ALL need second chances, right?

 She couldn’t get approval for a scene from her April 2011 release, A Family for Faith, in time for this post-  so I’ll pull from my archives and give you a glimpse into her writing from a previous post 🙂

But Missy did answer our Seasons Change question. Let’s get to it 🙂

 What are some elements that are present when a hero and heroine first realize they are falling in love with each other? What are some beautiful, interesting, unique ways of showing that realization?
 I love when a hero or heroine is surprised to realize he or she is in love. But you have to lay the groundwork so the reader won’t be left doubting it. You can’t have them fighting and in constant conflict, then suddenly saying, “I love you.” There needs to be a gradual falling in like, a building of respect, a wishing to spend time together. Then a time where they start to see each other for who they really are–faults and all. They need to grow to care for each other through the book. They can deny it all they want–which can be fun! But we, as a reader, know they share true love. Then, finally, once the characters have grown enough in their arc to accept the love of the other person, you can show the declaration of love.

 In my upcoming book, A Family for Faith (Love Inspired April 2011), My heroine starts to realize she cares for her neighbor when she recognizes her desire for a man like him–who’s kind and honest and faithful. Of course, at that point, she fears she’s not good enough for his love, so she can’t allow herself to care.

 The hero’s realization is later in the book because he’s been grieving the death of his wife 5 years before and is scared to love again. All through the book, I have him thinking of his wife, what she would say or do if she were there. Then near the end, he realizes he’s been thinking of the heroine instead. He has finally moved on.

Here’s an excerpt from Missy’s 2009 release, A Forever Christmas. (And a festive reminder of the upcoming holiday too 🙂

Before he could stop himself, he took hold of her hand. At least he hadn’t hugged her like he wanted to do. “I’m sorry.”

She held tight. “I just can’t bear to see any child missing his mom or dad. And Peter’s parents… The regret. Just too painful for anyone to have to bear.”

Well, no wonder she’d been hounding him. At least he understood better now.

He wanted to hold her in his arms. To comfort her like he had so many times before. But he couldn’t. It wasn’t his place now.

Gregory turned off the truck. “Come on. I’ll walk you to the door.”

She seemed disappointed. “Okay.”

When they reached the front door, he couldn’t help glancing in the direction of her upstairs bedroom window. Where years ago, he tossed rocks to get her to sneak out to meet him. Which, of course, reminded him that her parents never approved of him.

Never would, either.

Then why do I want to get closer to her? To breathe in her fragrance? To remember holding her close? To remember kissing her?

To remember all the big dreams I had when I was with her?

Before he knew it, he had moved closer. He took hold of her hand again. “You know, I should thank you for spending time with Hunter and Chase. They seemed to have a good time. Seemed happy.”

“I had fun, too.”

Frustration. Gratitude. Attraction. They all warred, yanking his thoughts all over the place.

But one thought dominated.

He wanted more. More than the touch of her hand. He wanted to look into her eyes and see that she cared. He wanted to know if she felt anything for him now.

His gaze slid from her eyes to her lips…

He took a step back to fight the temptation. He couldn’t look at her right now—too many emotions swirling around. So instead, he let go of her hand and looked up the length of the big white columns, took in the expensive furniture on the porch, to remind himself whose house he stood in front of. Then he nodded. “Good night.”

She started to unlock the door, then turned quickly, nearly running into him. “Oh, wait. The craft stuff.”

He had to get out of there before he did something stupid. “I’ll get it later.”

He hurried to the truck. As he started the engine, he noticed a shadowy figure standing at the side of the house. Just outside Winston’s home office.

Even with the sun setting, and the shadows on that side of the house, he could tell it was him.

How long had he been there? How much had he seen or heard?

His stance—legs spread wide, arms crossed in front of him, his head following Gregory’s truck as he backed out—said everything. Stay away from my daughter.

Apparently, Winston expected that the agreement was still in effect.

No threat was needed. If Gregory wanted to keep his shameful past a secret, he needed to stay away.

 Copyright © 2009 by Melissa L. Tippens

Permission

Thanks so much for the visit, Missy. And I’m so excited about your next release. What a blessing it was to meet you in Indy! You hang with a great crew over at Seekerville.

Inspirational Moment:

Psalm 103:1-3

1-2 O my soul, bless God. From head to toe, I’ll bless his holy name!
   O my soul, bless God,
      don’t forget a single blessing!

 3-5 He forgives your sins—every one.
      He heals your diseases—every one.
      He redeems you from hell—saves your life!
      He crowns you with love and mercy—a paradise crown.
      He wraps you in goodness—beauty eternal.
      He renews your youth—you’re always young in his presence.

All the things our broken lives crave are found in Jesus. Look at the list. Forgiveness, healing, redemption, love, mercy, goodness, and the vibrance & beauty of youth. He takes the embittered, broken, evil, hateful, merciless, heartless, and dead souls within us and breaths His life into us. We are reborn. Renewed.

What was old has passed away – and we are now covered in the glory of Christ. We start over, because He’s made the way.

Seasons Change- Fall Into Love with… your hostess :-)

As you guys know, it’s the last week of Seasons Change – Fall Into Love series. My hope is that the wonderful Missy Tippens will have her excerpt ready for us by Friday – we’re still waiting on a few of the logistics about approval and all that- but in the meantime, I’m going to share an excerpt from my wip.

It’s so much easier to ask other people my questions, instead of having to reflect on them myself. I guess that’s why I always add my excerpts at the ends of my series, so I can glean from all the brilliant writers who answered before me J

As a gift for one lucky commenter today, I’m giving away Sharon Gillenwater’s newest novel, Emily’s Chance. So make sure to leave a comment about your favorite movie that shows the hero/heroine recognizing a growing love between them.

What are some elements that are present when a hero and heroine first realize they are falling in love with each other?

I love the moments when the attraction comes as a surprise to one or both characters. There are so many great ways to watch ‘romance’ happen between two characters. The hostile-attraction – like Darcy/Elizabeth or Just Like Heaven ; the slow-growing attraction – like Anne Shirley and Gilbert; the sweet attraction – like My Big Fat Greek Wedding; the forbidden attraction – Jane Eyre or Romeo & Juliet; and the timid attraction/or fear of falling – Persuasion.

I like to watch all of them unfold – especially if the tension or conflict is high.

So, here are two excerpts from two of my wips:

The first is from my Speculative Fiction (hostile-attraction) 🙂 Heartless:

Sophia stumbled forward, the foliage a tangled barrier of vines and bush, pinching her palms as she pushed through them.  A clearing opened up among the trees, filled with angle high grass, twigs, and three bodies. Two lay splintered with wood and Ethan bent over the third. He spoke with his back to her, hands resting on the head of, what appeared to be, a teenage boy.

“Have trouble finding your way?”

                Maybe she should do herself a favor and kill him now. He kept provoking her.

                He turned then and his gaze locked with hers for a brief moment before he shot to his feet. “What happened?”

His aqua eyes scanned her face, her body, focused concern so intense she lost her train of thought.  Raw emotion, pure and uncovered, exuded from him as evident as the twin trail of blood from the teen’s neck.  She fought the connection, the offering, and looked down at the boy.

Ethan stepped nearer. “You’re bleeding.”

It took a moment for his words to register. She followed his darkening gaze with her hand to her forehead, finger gliding from her wet hair to a sticky substance. Her lips closed around a wince. “You left your partner behind.”

Ethan’s brows shot heavenward, and then, with the ease of a sunrise, his lips tilted slightly. “Partner, is it?”

Sophia pushed past him and knelt beside the boy. “I obey orders.” She tossed a grin over her shoulder, but not the nice kind. “That’s why you’re still alive.”

This second excerpt is from my contemporary romance, A Twist of Faith, set in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mtns

He checked over his shoulder to see if Doc was still following. Nope, she stood stone still at the bottom of the porch steps with Haus sniffing at her heels. Their gazes locked. He offered a smile. She grimaced. Seemed ‘bout right.

“That’s Haus, my grandpa’s hound.”

Reece adjusted the keys in the door and clicked it open.

“Where does he live?”

“Here.” Reece turned to her and leaned against the doorframe. “We ain’t been able to get him to understand that grandpa’s dead. So he hangs around here and someone usually stops by once a day to check on him. There’s no better dog in all of Virginia.”

“Wh…what’s he doing?”

Reece cocked his head and studied the old dog. “Well, he must like you. He’s smilin’ at ya.”

Doc visibly shuddered. “Smiling? Is that what you call it?”

Reece looked from Dee to Haus. How else could he describe it? The dog was smilin’. Hadn’t the woman every seen a smilin’ dog before?

Doc shrugged past Reece, her attention so focused on Haus, she stumbled over Reece’s foot. In one fluid motion, he steadied her in his arms. Her hands gripped his shoulders and momentum pushed her forward until her nose grazed his chin, fanning warm breath down his neck. Explosions erupted in his stomach, and if she hadn’t pushed him away so fast, he’d have beaten her to it. He had to get out of there. Quick.

“I’m not much of a dog person.”

Reece backed out the door, half falling, and hoped for an easy grin. “That’s alright. He don’t mind none.” The threshold of the door stood between them like a visible wall, but it couldn’t hide the faint bloom of color in her face. Ignore it. It didn’t make her look that much more attractive.  He cleared his throat and nodded toward the staircase inside. “There are two bedrooms upstairs and a ladder  to the attic. Not much room for storage up there, cause it’s full of old stuff of my grandparents Mom ain’t gotten around to piddlin’ through yet.”

He had to look passed her to point toward the study, and caught her gaze fastened on him again, for a minute, till she quickly turned away. His words almost got stuck in his throat. She did have pretty eyes.

Hope you enjoyed today. Don’t forget to leave a comment for your chance to win Sharon Gillenwater’s latest release.

Blessings,

Seasons Change – Fall Into Love with Ruth Axtell Morren

So it’s the last week (probably) of the blog series, Seasons Change – Fall Into Love. I’m trying to figure out what to blog about for the next month or two until my next blog series. Any ideas?

I think I’ll have a ‘writing’ post twice a week and a personal post once a week. What do you guys think? Is there anything you’d particularly like to hear about between the series?

Anyway, I’m so happy to welcome author, Ruth Axtell Morren. Her books hold so much beauty for human relationships and redemption. I can’t wait to see what new things Ruth has happening in her writing.

1.       What are some elements that are present when a hero and heroine first realize they are falling in love with each other? What are some beautiful, interesting, unique ways of showing that realization?

First of all, there is a physical awareness. I particularly like it when they haven’t been physically attracted to each other until then. But because of the circumstances that throw them together (and keep throwing them together), there is a gradual getting to know each other beyond the superficial. From this springs a growing respect. Suddenly, one day it blossoms into an awareness of the other physically.

                I did this in my fifth book, The Healing Season, a regency, by using two extreme characters. He is still a virgin in his early thirties, a very devout Christian and a surgeon who treats the poor.  She is someone who rose from the dregs of society to become a successful actress, gaining wealth and notoriety by being very selective with the lovers she took. To the hero, she is little better than a prostitute, and to her he is a prude.

But gradually, each one begins to see beyond the stereotypes of the other’s world, and to begin to understand what has made each one who they are.

2.       Please provide an excerpt of your writing that shows this realization.

From the heroine, Eleanor’s, point of view:

Eleanor heard the shouts of the crowd, the footsteps rushing past, but they were muffled now. She was safe, wrapped in a warm, shadowy cocoon.

Mr. Russell’s body stood squarely in front of her, shielding her from the brunt of the mob. She stood on the step where he had placed her, unable to see what was going on, but feeling strangely exhilarated by the circumstances, at risk yet protected.

She could make out the top edge of Mr. Russell’s waistcoat above his coat. If she lifted her hand, she could trace the outline of the topmost button with her fingertip. Her bonnet touched his chin.

It was a nice feeling. The phrase drifted into her thoughts, to love, honor and cherish… Was this what it felt like to be “cherished”? The last part of the phrase came into her mind unbidden, till death do us part.

At that moment someone slammed against Mr. Russell’s back. Although he braced his arms against the door behind her, he couldn’t completely cushion the impact of the blow. Her face was crushed against his neck and her bonnet fell back. She smelled the fresh laundered scent of his neck cloth.

As soon as he was able, he righted himself and drew away from her while still anchoring her between his arms. “I beg your pardon. Did I hurt you?”

His eyes roamed over her face as he spoke, examining it for injury.

Gingerly she touched the bridge of her nose with her gloved fingertips. “No. I’m quite all right.” Never better, she realized. “Are you?” He had taken the brunt of the impact.

“Yes, I’m fine.” His perusal over, his brown eyes fastened on hers.

She stood spellbound. For the first time in her life she had the sensation of being safeguarded by a man, and not safeguarding herself from one.

They stood several minutes in the alcove of the doorway as the crowds pushed by them, wreaking destruction everywhere. Eleanor stood content, sure nothing could happen to her in the shelter of Mr. Russell’s arms.

She didn’t notice when the shouts eventually diminished, but felt the immediate absence of Mr. Russell’s body when he took a step away from her. Sunshine fell back on her face. He looked away from her. “They’ve moved on down the street. Toward the Thames, I expect.”

From the hero, Ian’s, point of view:

He knew the exact moment she rose and began to descend the steps leading down to the platform.

Against his will, he raised his eyes and watched her.

She walked slowly down the steps, and he marveled at her presence, even now, away from the theater. Was every locale a stage for her? Mr. Digsby puffed behind her.

A subtle, flowery fragrance reached his nostrils as she came to stand before him. “Good morning, Mr. Russell.”

Why was it every time he came so near her, she managed to take his breath away? Her skin was flawless as an egg shell’s, the cheeks with the barest tint of pink, her irises quicksilver.

“What are you doing here?” he finally managed.

Her brow furrowed. “Mr. Russell, do you mean to frighten me with that tone of voice and that ferocious scowl? I might remind you I am not one of these green boys who must cower at the sound of your stern reprimand.”

Not awaiting his answer, she turned to Digsby. “My dear sir, isn’t Mr. Russell simply brilliant?” As the man nodded his head, she held up her arm. “To think I have so many bones in this one small portion of my arm.” She walked over to the skeleton.

“So, this is Octavius. How do you do, Octavius?” she asked with a curtsy. “Wherever did you come up with him?”

“He was a patient at Guy’s across the street.”

She turned her gaze to him and shivered. “How gruesome.”

“Cadaver stealing?” Digsby asked. “I’ve read that’s a problem among you medical men.”

“It has been a problem, but it’s being alleviated somewhat as we are permitted more and more the dissection of patients who expire and leave no instructions for the disposal of their-er—corpses. There are no family members to claim the bodies, and they would end up in a pauper’s grave.” He approached the skeleton, his confidence returning as Mrs. Neville’s attention was fixed on it.

“That’s how I obtained Octavius here. Octavius Skinner was a patient of mine several years ago, an “incurable” which Guy’s took in. He had no family. In gratitude, when he knew he was going to die, he told me I could have his body to dissect.” He shrugged. “After using it, I was left with the skeleton.”

Mrs. Neville listened. He now recognized that expression in her eyes that indicated she was spellbound.

“It sounds more fantastic than one of my melodramas, Mr. Digsby.” She turned to Ian. “I invited Mr. Digsby to come along with me today. I thought he might like to see you at work. Perhaps you could give him a tour, show him the dispensary?”

He weighed her suggestion, remembering Henry’s advice. The banker had made time to come to him; the least he could do was spare a few moments and show him the area.

“Certainly. Allow me to lock Octavius away in his closet.” He turned Digsby. “Authentic skeletons are still at a premium, and I wouldn’t want to lose this one. If you will excuse me, I shall be right with you.”

He nodded and turning to the hanging skeleton, he tipped him on his side and rolled him toward the cupboard door at the end of the theater.

When he returned to them, he said, “I shall give you a short tour of one of the wards, and then we can proceed on foot, or if you have your carriage—” he inquired of Mrs. Neville.

“Mr. Digsby has brought his carriage. We shall be more comfortable in that,” she replied.

“Very well. Shall we go?”

Oh Ruth, I so love your writing. It’s simply beautiful how your characters come together and how you describe their emotional awakening. Thank you for visiting today.

Inspirational Moment:

Psalm 18:30-31

 30 As for God, his way is perfect:
   The LORD’s word is flawless;
   he shields all who take refuge in him.
31 For who is God besides the LORD?
   And who is the Rock except our God?

Seasons Change – Fall Into Love with Jody Hedlund

Well, I just finished reading Jody Hedlund’s debut novel, The Preacher’s Bride, and it was fabulous. Beautiful word pictures, heartwrenching emotions, and a story worth telling over and over again. So for icing on the Friday chocolate cake today, we have Jody visiting to give you all a taste of her wonderful writing skills.

I imagine we’ll be seeing a lot more from this talented new author.

Another thing I REALLY like about Jody is that she’s a mom of 5 – like me J Life takes on whole new meaning with a herd at home. Nothing like the Duggers, I’m sure – but it’s still pretty crazy.

To learn more about Jody and her writing, visit her website at www.jodyhedlund.com

To read my brief review of her novel, The Preacher’s Bride, visit www.pepperbasham.com

Thanks for being part of the Seasons Change blog series, Jody. And welcome to Words Seasoned With Salt. I’m so excited for your success.

1. What are some elements that are present when a hero and heroine first realize they are falling in love with each other? What are some beautiful, interesting, unique ways of showing that realization?

 When I’m shaping the relationship of my hero and heroine, I try to gradually build up the growing love. Each story is different based on the characters and their interests, but here are a few elements I think are important with every romance:

Developing mutual respect and admiration for each other’s talents and abilities

  • Seeing beyond outer characteristics to inner strengths and beauty of character
  • Knowing the hurt and pains of each other’s pasts and genuinely caring for each other regardless of the weaknesses
  • Building a friendship, enjoying each other’s company, being able to laugh together
  • And of course, there’s always some physical attraction too, but I don’t want this to be the primary reason a couple falls in love.

In The Preacher’s Bride, Elizabeth Whitbread works as a housekeeper for John Costin, taking care of his four young children while John devotes himself to his growing preaching ministry. However, John’s enemies want him silenced and attempt to enlist Elizabeth’s help.

 Elizabeth finds herself in more danger than she ever bargained for, all the while falling in love with the bold preacher and his children. When Elizabeth is hurt by one of John’s enemies, he realizes that he is beginning to care for his young housekeeper. He crafts a candlestick for her and goes to visit her.
2. Please provide an excerpt of your writing that shows this realization.

“You must rest now,” he said as they came to the top of the stairs. “Your father has ordered it.”

            He carried her to the bed and lowered her to the sagging mattress. Instead of backing away he hovered over her. His breath fanned warmth over her forehead.

She sucked in a gasp of air and waited—waited for something she couldn’t name.

At the echo of voices in the stairwell, he straightened and bumped his head against the slanted ceiling. He ran his fingers through his hair and then glanced around the room. His gaze came to rest on the candlestick, only a hand’s distance from her head.

“I see you got my gift.”

 She tipped her head and let her gaze caress the dotted pattern once again. “It’s beautiful,” she whispered past the lump in her throat.

 “I made it for you.” His looked from the candle holder to her face then back again.

Her heart constricted with a tremor of delight. “Thank you.”

            He shifted his feet and glanced around the room again. “The children miss you,” he finally said.

            “Tell them I miss them too.”

            His eyes strayed to her bruised cheek.

            She raised a hand and covered it.

            “I despise whoever did this to you.” He hesitated. “I realize working for me will put you in danger. But if you’re willing, I’d like you to resume your duties once you’re able.”

            Had Catherine failed to win John’s heart as she had hoped?

            He tilted his head and raised an eyebrow.

            Relief slipped through her, and she smiled. “Are you actually admitting you need a housekeeper?”

             A grin tugged at his lips. “I know we didn’t get off to a good start—I was proud and naive. But I clearly see now what a help you’ve been. We can’t get along without you. I need you to be my housekeeper.”

            She wanted to throw caution away and shout out that she desired nothing more than to return to her housekeeping position, that she’d been afraid of losing it and couldn’t dream of doing anything else.

            “If you’re willing,” he added.

            She held her emotions in check and nodded. “I’m willing.”

            She was always willing to serve the helpless and needy, and the Costins certainly fit those qualifications. She would serve them as she did anyone else in need.

Her willingness had nothing to do with John.

Nothing at all.

(From Chapter 13 of The Preacher’s Bride ©Jody Hedlund)

Oh Jody, thanks so much for that wonderful peek back into the world of Elizabeth and John. And have I mentioned what a wonderful story this is?!?

 So – the era Jody chose for her story is unique. Have you chosen a unique era for yours? Are there certain historical eras you like to read?

Inspirational Moment:

Psalm 51: 1-2

 1 Have mercy on me, O God,
   according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
   blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash away all my iniquity
   and cleanse me from my sin.

We all fail, but there his grace and mercy. And though we fail, God’s love is unfailing.

Next week?

Ruth Axtell Morren stops by. don’t miss it.

Seasons Change – Fall Into Love with Audra Harders

Sometimes great things happen.

And then there are times when God just sends you for a loop with plans so MUCH better than you could have planned. That’s what meeting the Seekers at ACFW was like for me. I didn’t go with grandiose visions of publication – but I had one primary objective: Meet as many Seekers as possible! Why? Because they have been such an encouragement to me for the past year and half. Ever since Mary Connealy suggested I take a peek at Seekerville.

And the rest is obsess…er…history.

So among the amazing people at ACFW, God provided the wonderful opportunity to spend time with Audra Harders.  And let me just tell you. She. IS. WONDERFUL!!! She didn’t mind my obesess…my interest in the Seekers, or my need to stalk..er…visit with them often. She even encouraged it. Taking me under her wing, so to speak, and giving me advice. She even endured my jigsaw-puzzle-genre-hopping with a longsuffering smile. Oh, I just LOVE her.

Do you see that picture? Doesn’t she look SWEET?!? Lovely and sweet!

And BEST OF ALL- her debut novel, Rocky Mountain Hero, comes out in JANUARY 2011. YIPEE! Check out this cover! And in celebration of this momentous occassion, one lucky commenter will win an IOU for the book as soon as it is released! So leave your email along with your comment. VERY EXCITING!

Okay, okay, time for the juicy stuff. Thanks for being a guest, Audra.

What do you think makes a great experience where the hero & heroine begin to realize one is in love with the other?

When the hero and heroine first realize they’re falling in love with each other, each character questions the reality of their feelings. After all, they come into my books absolutely certain they’ll never find a kindred spirit, much less a soul mate. In the past, love opportunities that looked promising for them have fallen short when weighed on the can-I-grow-old-with-this-person meter. Physical attraction alone makes for a very shaky foundation. They subconsciously know the cornerstones of a good relationship need to be in place — friendship leads to trust leads to support leads to caring. They’re so busy denying their fascination with each other, they are completely blindsided when the truth of love lifts the veil from their eyes.

 And then the fun starts!

And by ‘fun’, of course she means a sneak peek into Rocky Mountain Hero.  (giggle)

Melanie glanced at her watch again. Five minutes. Grace sat across the room, her head bowed in prayer. Gabe stood at the window, his shoulder propped against the mullion and arms crossed over his chest. He just stared out the glass.

Looking lost.

            She folded her hands and bowed her head. Almost before her eyes closed, her mind stilled. Peace washed over her. Lord, comfort these people.

            An elbow poked her in the side. She opened her eyes and saw Jason frowning at her. “Mom, don’t fall asleep.”

            She reached out and smoothed back his blond hair. “Just thinking.”

            His frown lifted and his shoulders relaxed. “You were grinning.”

            “I was looking for a happy place.”

            “The ranch is a pretty happy place.”

            She lifted her eyes and looked across the room at Gabe. “I think it is, honey.”

            Gabe shifted his weight and settled beside the window. Chin tucked into his shirt collar, he stared with a vacant look.

Unable to sit a moment longer, she walked over to him, reached out and touched his arm. “C’mon, let’s walk.”

Stark pain reflected in his beautiful brown eyes. She slid her hand down his sleeve and into his rough palm. As his fingers interlocked with hers, the sharp edge in his gaze softened. Melanie gave a feeble smile, the best she could manage at the moment, and tugged on his hand.

            He followed her out of the waiting room. The late afternoon air cooled her skin and cleared her head. “I love the evenings up here. The day wrapping up and getting ready for bed.”

            They strolled in silence, their shoulders bumped as they followed the path that meandered around the commons area of the medical center-slash-hospital-slash-clinic. The range of medical care available in such a tiny community surprised her as she’d passed it earlier in the week. Now with Martin’s health in question, she thanked the health facility for being well staffed. She pressed her knuckles into his palm, savoring the warmth of his skin. They finished the entire loop and started a second.

            “I like watching the sun come up.” Gabe spoke in a bare whisper beside her.

            So did she. “Best part of the day.”

“You’ve got the whole day to work, and sometimes, you work into the night.” The heels of his boots clicked on the cement walk, his pace easy to keep up with. “It’s all gotta get done.”

            She loved the sound of his soft, strong voice. Even in the midst of a crisis, he maintained an even tone, a gentle calm. “I imagine there’s a lot to do to keep a ranch the size of the Circle D organized.”

            “Cattle, hay, fence, equipment–it all needs attention. Dad knows how to do it all.”

            She stole a peek, the brim of his hat cast a shadow across his cheek making the lines at his eyes appear deep. “You run the place, too.”

            “Right now, I can’t think of a thing to do.”

            “There isn’t anything more important than being here for your family.”

            Gabe shook his head. “Dad wouldn’t have let a little thing like someone getting sick stop him from finishing chores. Zac came down with pneumonia one winter. We all stood around his hospital bed praying for the fever to break. Waiting. Finally, Dad had enough. He told Mom the cattle needed feed. He took Nick with him and told me to stay with Mom so she wouldn’t have to drive home by herself. Dad didn’t shirk responsibility.” He looked straight down as they followed the path, the very bleakness of his words etched on his face. “I can’t think of a single chore that needs to be done.”

            Melanie squeezed his fingers and rubbed her shoulder against his sleeve. “Your dad hates feeling helpless. He needs to fill time with physical activity; he needs to fix it. Not everyone is like that.” She stepped closer beside him. “Offering comfort with your presence is a gift you have. Gabe, you’re a different man than your dad.”

            A growl rumbled deep within his chest. “You got that right.”

            “It’s not a bad thing. When your dad is out of danger, you’ll collect your thoughts and finish what needs to be done.” She nudged him. “I’m sure whatever chore you think of will still be waiting for you when you’re ready.”

            He leaned closer. “You’re right. No one’s racing to go muck out stalls for me.”

            “No, but people like being around you.”

            He threw her a sideways glance. “Do you?”

            “Sure.”

            “Why?”

            Why? She’d been asking that same question for days now. She walked along the path, careful not to step on the lines, a childhood habit. Why did she look forward to seeing him in the morning, or talking to him through out the day, or wanting him to push her on the swing again just to feel his touch? Why did she trust him with her son?

            Why did she want to trust him with herself? “You make me feel safe.”

            Steps slowed and he came to a stop. His eyes grew round as he tipped back his hat and stared at her. “Safe?”

            Her cheeks burned as she scrambled to call back the truth she’d unwittingly blurted. “Well, you are a stranger after all.”

            “Hard to remember that.” He rubbed his thumb over her knuckles. “Seems like you’ve been here longer than a week.”

            She took a step back. He held firm and tugged her closer. A surge of panic raced through her until she recognized the vulnerability in his rich, dark eyes. “This has turned into the most bizarre vacation I’ve ever experienced.”

            She wanted to bury her face in his shoulder, to feel his arms wrapped around her. She wanted to hug and be hugged in return. To offer comfort more than words. She wanted to know what safe and trust really felt like.

Copyright 2011 by Audra Harders

Permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A.          

Oh dear – how beautiful. Anyone else REALLY want a hug? Like Right NOW!! Thank you for sharing this excerpt, Audra, and I plan to start looking for your book by the third week of December (just in case)

Inspirational Moment

Oh my goodness – check out this wonderful paraphrase of Psalm 119:73-76

With your very own hands you formed me;
      now breathe your wisdom over me so I can understand you.
   When they see me waiting, expecting your Word,
      those who fear you will take heart and be glad.
   I can see now, God, that your decisions are right;
      your testing has taught me what’s true and right. 
   Oh, love me—and right now!—hold me tight!
      just the way you promised.
   Now comfort me so I can live, really live; 
      your revelation is the tune I dance to.

Did you know that God hugs you with his love? Sometimes he uses the hands and arms of his servants on this Earth, but even when there aren’t people with ‘skin on’, He’s still there. Everpresent. Ten times better than the worlds coolest cyberhug.

It’s an internal comfort and knowledge that you are loved.

Accepted

Adored

and Treasured beyond your wildest imaginings.

The hug that squeezes out the doubt and insecurities.

That envelopes the pain and deepset wounds with a ceaseless comfort.

That enfolds you in the truest love you will ever know.

Wow – He made us. He loves us. WHAT A SAVIOR!!

Seasons Change – Fall Into Love with Tammy Barley

Seasons change – and so does the time?!?

Anyone else trying to catch up from the time change? My clock says one thing, my body says another 🙂

Today, I’m so glad to have author Tammy Barley here. Her action-packed Western Romances have garnered rave reviews, from her debut novel, Love’s Rescue to her most recent release, Hope’s Promise. And I”m sure her next novel, Faith’s Reward will be just as good. To learn more about Tammy, check out her website at www.tammybarley.com

Hidee, Tammy –

So GLAD to have you here.

What are some elements that are present when a hero and heroine first realize they are falling in love with each other? What are some beautiful, interesting, unique ways of showing that realization?
I love revealing “falling in love” amid highs and lows–contrasts, imagery, and troubles. It makes love stand out like a golden leaf among all the brown ones.

Here’s the hero’s perspective from Love’s Rescue, book one of The Sierra Chronicles:

Jake knelt to wrap the horse’s leg he’d been inspecting when Jess entered the stable, trying to hit upon the moment that thrumming organ in his chest had taken charge of his will. He loved Jess. He had known that she stirred something inside him, something more than admiration, more than caring, but until now he hadn’t put a name to it. He loved her. Jake stilled, let that settle in.

 It was dangerous to feel so much for Jess, dangerous for him to risk losing someone again.

 Jake continued to wrap the leg, recalling additional reasons he’d been fighting this for months: Jess refused to see him as more than a friend, she was determined to leave the ranch, and demented Unionists wanted her dead.

 Loving her certainly did complicate matters.

 But then, nothing worthwhile ever came easy.

Nice, Tammy.

And guys, this book is such a beautifully written story. I’ve not had the chance to read the second one yet – but the reviews are great.

Thanks for being a guest today, Tammy.

So – everyone, do you have any contrasts which show the growing romantic relationship between your characters?

or

Have you read any books which show a contrast?

Inspirational Moment:

Psalm 23

1 The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
 3 he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
   for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
   through the darkest valley,[a]
I will fear no evil,
   for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
   they comfort me.

 5 You prepare a table before me
   in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
   my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
   all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
   forever.

Did you note the ‘bold’ part of the Psalm. Recently I learned that in the original Hebrew, the verse goes like this:

Only — goodness and kindness pursue me, All the days of my life, And my dwelling [is] in the house of Jehovah, For a length of days!

Didyou notice that little difference? ‘follow me’ versus ‘pursue me’.

Make a difference? Sure it does.

God’s goodness and lovingkindness don’t follow along behind like a wayward puppy – NO, they pursue us like bloodthirsty hounds nipping at our heels. God is ‘out’ to give us his goodness. He’s seeking to lavish us with his lovingkindness.

What a different mental image? We have yet another reasons to praise Him for His love.

Seasons Change – Lineup

Get ready for another week of great authors with wonderful excerpts about ‘falling in love’.

Monday – Tammy Barley

Wednesday – Audra Harders

Friday – Jody Hedlund

Woohooo!!!! Looking forward to another great week. Stop by and enjoy.

Seasons Change- Fall Into Love with Siri Mitchell

Well, as my regular visitors know:

  1. I’m a big fan of taking lots of pictures 🙂 (especially at ACFW)
  2. I’m a big fan of Siri Mitchell.

And today, SHE is my guest!! Not only that, but she’s giving us a sneak peek into her upcoming novel, A Heart Most Worthy. I have a love-hate relationship with sneak peeks. For one thing, they build anticipation for the story, but on the other hand…we have to WAIT for the story to come out in print.

Sigh.

Feels SOOOO much like ‘always winter and never Christmas’ 🙂

But, we’ll get a little bit of ‘Christmas’ today, with Siri’s great answers and wonderful excerpt. If you’ve never had an opportunity to read Siri’s books, let me give you my recommendations.

If you’re looking for a wonderful contemporary novel, Kissing Adrien is her BEST!!! (IMO) My review here.

If you’re looking for her best historical to date – She Walks In Beauty, again IMO. My review here.

Or visit Siri’s website to read about all of her wonderful books.

Well, Siri – you’re gonna get tired of me pretty soon. Didn’t we just have one of these conversations over at The Writers Alley (GREAT interview, btw, and the same pic of you and me)? I NEVER tire of picking your brain, but I bet you’re head is hurting a little bit from all the questions lately 🙂 Thanks for agreeing to get involved with ONE more. And WHAT a fun one too. 

1.      What are some elements that are present when a hero and heroine first realize they are falling in love with each other? What are some beautiful, interesting, unique ways of showing that realization?

I think that falling in love allows the characters to see or realize the world around them in new ways. Even things they’ve always taken for granted.

 The example I’m including is from my spring release, A Heart Most Worthy. It’s written in omniscient which is a change from the first-person I usually use.  

(Setting: the North End of Boston, 1918. Julietta is at a community dance waiting for her date, Mauro Vitali, to show up. He’s her older brother’s best friend and she agreed to go with him only because he asked her when she was feeling generous. She can have her pick of the local boys so a man nearly ten years older than she is doesn’t hold much attraction for her.)

An hour later, Julietta was standing—still!—against the wall of the Hall. The gardenia she’d pushed behind her ear enveloped her in a sweet perfume which completely belied the look of irritation on her face. She’d been standing there for nearly an hour. By herself.

Mauro was late.

Julietta finally saw Mauro enter the room, his form framed in the doorway. He pulled his hat from his head, pressing it to his chest, and stood there for a long moment, eyes searching the dance floor. Then he turned toward the people standing around the refreshment table.

Resisting an urge to wave, she tucked her hands behind her and pressed her back to the wall. Let him look. Let him wonder. Let him worry that she had gone.

It only took a moment more. Relief relaxed his features and a smile lit his face. He stepped around signora Sardo and signora Riccio. Walked around a cluster of giggling young girls. And a knot of young men. Nearly got trapped between two couples as they went Castle Walking across the dance floor.

He halted in front of her. Made a quaint, rather gallant bow. “I’m sorry. I meant to be here before now, but signora Matullo had one of her fits.”

Signora Matullo? The fish-seller’s wife? Julietta came away from the wall, alarm sharpening her features. “Is she alright?”

Mauro sighed. “Who can say? At least she’s sleeping now.” He sighed. Set his bag down with his hat atop it. Flexed his shoulder blades, hoping to drive out some of the tension. He hadn’t been able to stop signora Matullo’s fit. He’d never been able to stop them. In spite of all the new cures and all of modern science, he had nothing with which to combat a simple seizure. Oh, he could try to keep her from hurting herself and send her into sleep afterwards, but he couldn’t prevent them from coming and he couldn’t stop them once they had grabbed hold of her limbs. It vexed a man, especially a man who was a physician as gifted, as competent, as Mauro Vitali. There he was at a Saturday night dance with Julietta Giordano and all he wanted to do was go home and pore through his books; try to find the one bit of information, the one clue that he had missed. That everyone—every doctor—had missed.

He closed his eyes for a moment. Tried to clear himself of the memory of signora Matullo convulsing on the floor. Opened them to find Julietta looking up at him, a gardenia glowing from her hair. He put a trembling hand to the back of his neck mostly because he wanted so badly to press it to hers.

He had meant to be there early. He had meant to return home first. To wash. And change his clothes. He hadn’t wanted to show up at the dance with the smell of his patient still on his hands and the reek of tenements still on his shirt. At least he’d had the foresight to eat a peppermint on the way. “I’m sorry.”

Julietta reached out a hand and touched his arm. “It wasn’t a problem.” And indeed, it hadn’t been. At least not much of one. Being able to tell the other men that she already had an escort seemed to ratchet up her value in their eyes. And now that Mauro had taken up her hand and led her onto the dance floor, she could see the rest of the bachelors sizing him up.

For a moment, as they waited for a mattchiche to begin, she sized him up as well. There, among the greater community of Sheafe Street, he had ceased to be just her brother’s friend. Had taken on an identity of his own: Dr. Mauro Vitali. And Dr. Vitali was more than a little bit handsome. He was rather distinguished in fact. He wore his age well. It made him seem almost…dapper. And really, thirty wasn’t so very old, was it?

Mauro and Julietta swooped together around the dance floor in a quick and graceful two-step. Hands joined together, first pointed toward the ceiling, then pointing toward the floor. As they swung around each other, Julietta quickly became enveloped by Mauro’s scent. A hint of something…unpleasant. But on top of it, the smell of peppermint. Beneath it, bay rum.

And, Madonna mia, he had some rhythm, didn’t he?

She’d never seen him dance before, at least, not that she had noticed. But he was quick and precise in his steps. And very energetic. He twirled her about the room for three dances and by then, she’d had enough. She needed a break.

“Do you think there’s any limonata?”

“What?” He was having trouble understanding what she was saying. A flush rode her cheeks and the effort of dancing had left her chest heaving. All he wanted to do was take her by the hand and lead her out into the alley. But, God help him, he wasn’t a boy any more. He was a grown man. And the girl standing before him was his best friend’s sister. Beside which, there were things that a person—a doctor, a man—just shouldn’t do.

She stood on her toes, put a hand to his head, and pulled it down to speak into his ear. “Do you think there’s any limonata?”

He leaned his forehead against hers for a moment, just a moment, and inhaled the cool, exotic scent of the gardenia. The tickle of her breath against his cheek sent a snaking warmth through his chest. Limonata? There had to be some. And if there wasn’t, he would make it himself.

The back of Mauro’s neck was damp and the curls flopping over his collar tickled the back of Julietta’s hand. She reached up and–what was she thinking? He was Mauro. Mauro Vitali. Old Mauro Vitali. She released him, resisting the urge to run her hand along his cheek. Took a careful step backward.

He smiled a lopsided smile. “Limonata. Right. I’ll go look.”

MAMA MIA, Siri.  That was a wonderful hook for A Heart Most Worthy. Please say it’s coming out in early spring? yes? What do you say, March? It doesn’t get more romantic than Italian…and dancing. Bello!

Thanks for letting us have a look. Whew. Can’t wait.

Inspirational Moment:

Real love…true love causes us to alter our misconceptions. To take a new look at something we ‘thought’ we understood. To see the world from a different point of view and marvel at it.

All the more, the love of God should propel our hearts toward praise. God knows our hearts – and the selfish bent of them, yet he forgives, loves, even rejoices over us. It’s the ultimate defintion of love – and it gives us a new perspective. To see the world from a God’s eye view, that everything works toward His ultimate glory in our lives.

Psalms 103:1-12

 1 Praise the LORD, my soul;
   all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
2 Praise the LORD, my soul,
   and forget not all his benefits—
3 who forgives all your sins
   and heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit
   and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 who satisfies your desires with good things
   so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

 6 The LORD works righteousness
   and justice for all the oppressed.

 7 He made known his ways to Moses,
   his deeds to the people of Israel:
8 The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
   slow to anger, abounding in love.
9 He will not always accuse,
   nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
   or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
   so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
   so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

Seasons Change – Fall Into Love with Erica Vetsch

Well, she started off the year with a bang and it’s only gotten better. Pumping out books at the speed of a locomotive. Seriously.

Erica Vetsch started the journey with Bartered Bride and moved on have her newest book, Maggie and the Maverick out soon. Oh, it sounds SOOOOOO good, too. I think Erica is even going to give us a sneak peek today.

What is it, Erica. 5 or 6 books within a year? Year and a half? It’s some crazy amount – and they’re all through Heartsong Presents. You can find out more about her books at www.ericavetsch.com

Today – she’s giving away a copy of her newest book to some lucky commenter. Maggie and the Maverick. Woohoo!!!

So, Erica,  we got to meet and hang with Seekers in September. I enjoyed meeting you so much. From what I understand, your humor comes out in your books too 🙂

Erica is in the red blouse in the pic above , with me on the far left and Mary Connealy in the center. What a blessing – two fabulous writers and two great senses of humor too. What a night!

Okay, so let’s get to the good stuff here. What are some elements that are present when a hero and heroine first realize they are falling in love with each other? What are some beautiful, interesting, unique ways of showing that realization

I have a quote from Emily Bronte that I love, and I think it answers the first part of the question.

Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.

I think when a man and woman fall in love, that it is a recognition of similarity of soul more than anything. They may be wildly different on the outside, but inside, where it counts, they are the same. This recognition is something they’ve never felt before for another person, and it tends to scare at least one of the pair.

 (Pepper Here) Erica, I am copying and pasting that quote for my desktop. Oh My GOODNESS!! – was that from Wuthering Heights? Okay – sorry- distracted by the beauty in that thought. Whew….  Erica – you have an excerpt for us today?

Here’s an excerpt from my new release, Maggie and the Maverick.

Then Cal stood before her. “May I have the honor?”

She stopped clapping. “You?”

He nodded, the dimple creasing his cheek. “Seb and I were declared the co-winners of the wild horse breaking. He’s decided to sit this one out with Georgia. What do you say?”

It’s not fair, Lord. You know what I have to do. Why do You make it so hard?

“Maggie?” He held out his hand.

A girl could sink deep into those blue eyes and never surface. Her hand went out to his, and she shivered when their fingers touched.

He tugged, and she followed him up onto the platform. Though others moved around them, they were only vague images on the edge of her vision. Cal’s face drew her complete attention, and he fitted her into his arms with ease.

His strong hand spread-eagled on her back, guiding her, and her fingers rested lightly on his broad shoulder. He winked at her and tilted his head as if summing her up and liking what he saw.

She couldn’t look away. The power he had over her frightened her into stiffening.

“Relax.” He leaned in and whispered against her temple, his breath tangling in her hair. “I’m not going to bite you.”

You could do far worse than that, Cal McConnell. You could break my heart.

 And from later in the same book:

“I didn’t come here to talk about that though.”

The direct look in his blue eyes made Maggie’s breath stumble. “You didn’t?”

“Nope. I came to talk about us.”

Her breath didn’t stumble this time. It fell flat and refused to get up. Her heart, in contrast, squeezed hard then raced around her chest. “Us?” She strangled on the word and it came out weaker than she wanted.

“Maggie, I have some powerful feelings for you, and I think you have some for me, too.” He reached out and took her hand, searing her palm by brushing his thumb across her skin. “I can sense that you’re holding something back from me, that you’re afraid. I can understand that. We haven’t known each other long, but I want to know everything about you. I’ve never felt like this about anyone before. I watched my brothers fall in love and get married, and I see how happy they are, how much they love their wives. I promised myself that unless or until I found someone to love like that, I wouldn’t ever get married.”

Her hand spasmed within his, and she jerked.

“I know, it’s a little soon to be talking about marriage, but I want to be honest with you. I love you, Maggie Davis, and I want to marry you, when you’re ready, when you think you know me well enough, and when you’re ready to trust me. I think I fell in love with you the minute I dumped all that girly stuff out of your suitcase. The way you glared up at me, and later you bawled me out for messing with Georgia’s affections. When I held you on the dance floor, well, I just knew I’d never be the same again.” He grinned, and a lightheaded vapor swirled through her head. “I look at you, and I start thinking forever kind of thoughts.”

She didn’t know what to say. Part of her wanted to throw herself into his arms and accept the love he offered her. Part of her wanted to run. Far. And fast. Then he reached out and caressed her cheek. Her heart tumbled. He deserved to know the truth. At least as much of the truth as she could tell him. Because in a blinding flash, she admitted what she had been refusing to acknowledge. She loved him. She was in love with Cal McConnell.

On the heels of this admission came soul-wracking fear. Lord, is this wise? Can I risk handing my heart over to someone again? She’d prayed the prayer a hundred times since the Fourth of July, and each time she felt His nudging her to trust, not only Cal but Him. A verse she’d been holding onto came to her mind. “In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.”

 

Cal has recognized in Maggie the soul-mate he’s been looking for, the kind of love his brothers have found, that he’s not willing to miss out by settling for less. And their growing closeness is scaring Maggie to death!

I know that my husband and I are a mismatched couple to many. On the outside we seem very different. He’s quiet, brainy, kind, and disciplined. I’m a ‘gregarious introvert’ who can talk to just about anyone, loves to be in charge, and tends to leap before she looks, quite often.

But inside, where it counts, we think alike. Our faith is the same, our views on politics, parenting, finances, and more are the same. Our views on marriage and respect line up. That’s so very freeing. Because he can be a computer guru and coin collector, and I can be a novelist and Jayhawks fan, and we’re good. He takes a long time to write an email, and I sing all the time around the house. He likes to sleep in, and I have a hard time staying in bed once my eyes open in the morning. Those differences don’t matter, and we can work with each other and allow each other to be our unique selves, and we can live in harmony, because inside, we recognize that whatever our souls are made of, his and mine, they are the same.

Erica,

That is simply beautiful. And inspiring. I feel ready to go write something with lots of romance in it 😉 Oh, how lovely. Thank you for being here today.

And for those of you visiting – check out her books. They’re the perfect combination of sweet romance, humor, well-written, and inexpensive. You can’t beat that!! (Unless you win a free copy) J 

Inspirational Moment:

Erica’s words inspired my choice of this verse from Song of Solomon 8:6-7

6 Place me like a seal over your heart,
   like a seal on your arm;
for love is as strong as death,
   its jealousy[a] unyielding as the grave.
It burns like blazing fire,
   like a mighty flame.[b]
7 Many waters cannot quench love;
   rivers cannot sweep it away.

If human love can bind us soul-to-soul, how much more can God’s love capture us? How much more can we depend and fully trust in the strength of his self-sacrificial and abundant love.

The God of all eternity, who possessed everything he could ever want, wrapped himself in human flesh and gave his life- for the one thing he didn’t possess.

You

Me

Why?

Because of love.

Oh what a Savior!

 

(Stop back in Friday for a visit from author, Siri Mitchell)

Seasons Change – Fall Into Love with Margaret Daley

Well, I got to see Margaret Daley from the sidelines at ACFW, but didn’t have the opportunity to meet her in person. She’s a busy lady, plus – she was the main coordinator for the volunteers at ACFW. BIIIIIGGGG JOB!! And, of course, she pulled it off beautifully.

And her website??? Oh my goodness! It’s outstanding. You can check it out at www.margaretdaley.com

Another thing you need to know about Margaret. She can shoot out the books! Seriously. Like an automatic weapon. Her FIFTH book since March is coming out this month from Steeple Hill LoveInspired.

Help me welcome her today with a BIG Howdy!!

Hi Margaret, so glad to have you here today.

So, what do you think makes for that special moment when a hero and heroine realize they are in love with each other?

When the hero and heroine first realize they are falling in love with each other, I believe they begin to realize that there is a strong emotional connection to the other person. That person is there as a support for them. Caring and loving another can be shown in large ways and small ones. I like to show both in my stories. A hand on the arm or shoulder when someone is hurting. A hug when they need it. There to listen to the other when she or he needs it. So much of this is what a good friend does and I think long lasting love has to also be a deep friendship.

Oh great, Margaret. And you’ve provided an excerpt from your NEW RELEASE, A Daughter For Christmas,  just to show us how it’s done. Ooh, I can’t wait for my sneak peek.

She tilted her head. “Why are you here?”           

Max panned the area behind her. His eyebrows sliced downward. “You know why,” he said in a low voice.         

“I think it’s more than that.” She covered the distance to the front door, opened it and stepped out onto the porch. “What are you searching for?”

His frown strengthened. “What do you want me to say?”            

“The answer to the question.” Tension poured off of him, blasting her. She treaded in territory he wanted left untouched. But if he was Taylor’s father—she couldn’t deny the similarities she’d seen—she wanted to know the real Max Connors, not the person he showed the world.   

“I want…” He snapped his mouth closed and stared at a spot to her left. His Adam’s apple bobbed several times. “I want to get to know my daughter.”        

“Besides that. There’s something else driving you. What?”         

“I want peace.”                

The ragged thread of Max’s voice held Rachel immobile.              

“I’ve seen so much death. I want to see life. I worked at a hospital that saw a lot of the seedy side—murder, gang fights, humans preying on humans. I thought I could handle it after what I’d done in the army servicing at the front lines. It didn’t prepare me, or rather I couldn’t any longer ignore what it was doing to me.”      

In that moment everything that had happened in the past couple of days between them vanished. She couldn’t stand here and hear the depth of his anguish and not care.               

“When I found out about Taylor, I thought it was my chance to make a change. I actually thought the Lord had sent me a second chance. I’d messed up my marriage. I’d stopped talking to Alicia. I was as much at fault for the marriage failing as she was. When she asked for a divorce, I was relieved because I didn’t know what else to do to make things the way it was when we first dated and married.”         

“People don’t stay the same. The fact you got married changes who you are. You become a team, finding ways to work together.”          

His arms stiff at his sides, he curled and uncurled his hands. “Alicia and I never did. That was the problem. Then I was gone more and more because I was deployed several times. At first she was upset, and even when she could come with me overseas, she refused to. Then later she just didn’t care if I was there or not. I won’t go through that again.”     

His declaration erected a barrier between them as though he had posted a “Do Not Disturb” sign around his heart. And yet Rachel decided she wouldn’t give up. If Taylor were his daughter, no matter what she wanted, they would be connected. Before she wanted to get to know him, possibly beyond friendship, because she’d been attracted to him. Still was. Now though, she needed to know the type of man who’d sired her child. Might be in her life because how could she deny her daughter a dad if Taylor wanted a relationship with Max?            

She’d gotten the impression he was angry with God. Maybe she could change that, give him that second chance he was talking about—at least with the Lord. “You mentioned you thought coming here was a second chance, that the Lord may have had a hand in it. Come with us to church on Sunday. It’ll be Taylor’s first performance with the choir.”        

His eyes brightened, the stress melting from his stance. “I’d like that.”  

“Then in the afternoon we can help you decorate your yard. I wouldn’t want the neighbors to band against you. In case you haven’t noticed, your house is the only one not decorated on the street. Even Doug has some lights out.” 

“I noticed, but I’ve got the decoration problem taken care of. I’m getting it tomorrow and putting it out Saturday.” He turned to leave, stopped in mid-motion and peered back at her.  “Call if the boys get worse. I can be here quickly.”        

“I appreciate you being here for my children.”  

One corner of his mouth tilted upward. “Any time.”

*Do Not Reproduce Without Permission

From A Daughter for Christmas

Love Inspired, November 2010

By Margaret Daley

 

Oh what a great excerpt, Margaret. I can’t wait to get my hands on this book. How SWEET!!

Thanks for being here.

 

Inspirational Moment:

 3 Sing to him a new song;
       play skillfully, and shout for joy.

 4 For the word of the LORD is right and true;
       he is faithful in all he does.

 5 The LORD loves righteousness and justice;
       the earth is full of his unfailing love.

 6 By the word of the LORD were the heavens made,
       their starry host by the breath of his mouth.

 7 He gathers the waters of the sea into jars [a] ;
       he puts the deep into storehouses.

 8 Let all the earth fear the LORD;
       let all the people of the world revere him.

As we think about God’s greatness, his abilities to create the universe with the word of his mouth…

How AMAZING is His love for us.