May 30, 2012

Names of God: El Shadday

We seem to sing about “God Almighty” quite a bit.

Like:

Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty
Early in the morning we will sing
Holy, Holy, we bow down before Thee
All Your children love to sing Your name
God Almighty*

OR

You are all I need
You're my everything
God Almighty
God Almighty**

But do we really understand what it means to worship an all-powerful God?

Yeah. All-powerful.

Like as in, He can do anything.

According to Ann Spangler, in her book Praying the Names of God, “When we pray to El Shadday, we invoke the name of the one for whom nothing is impossible.”

It’s a great thought, isn’t it? … To know that the one we worship is capable of doing all things.

So we pray for healing. We pray for peace. We pray for good things to come our way. We pray for our loved ones to find the Lord.

But then why are we often surprised when those prayers are granted?

Do we REALLY believe He has the power to do what He says He will do?

Or are we like Abraham’s wife Sarah, who laughed at the Almighty God when He promised her a son in her old age?

Do we laugh at God’s promises? Do we think they sound good in theory but doubt that He can carry them out?

Maybe His miracles look different today than they did back then, but He’s still the same God, and He’s still got the same power.

Can I get an “amen”?

Your Turn: Do you have trouble doubting that God is El Shadday? How has He revealed Himself as El Shadday in your life?

*Lyrics from Chris Tomlin’s song God Almighty
**Lyrics from David Crowder’s song God Almighty, None Compares

Photo courtesy of Evgeni Dinev

May 25, 2012

Fun Friday: Grillin’ Up a Storm

Our first meal off the grill!
After five years of marriage, my husband and I FINALLY bought a grill.

Happy dance!!

We’ve had a little rinky dink George Forman grill, and that’s served our needs well enough, but there’s nothing like a summer day grilling outside and lazing by the pool. Plus, now we can host BBQs!

There’s something about the smell of burgers or chicken cooking, the taste of grilled corn on the cob…mmm.

Nothing better.

What about you? Do you own a grill? Do you enjoy grilling? What’s your favorite thing to eat off the grill?

*Since Monday is Memorial Day, I’ll be taking the day off from blogging, but I’ll be back Wednesday with another post in my Names of God series! Happy weekend, everyone!

May 23, 2012

Names of God: El Olam


“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things…” (Colossians 3:2)

Alright, I admit it. I tend to be a worrier.

And a lot of the time, I worry about things that don’t really matter in the big scheme of things. Oh sure, they seem important in the moment, but in the end, they are a speck of dust in the whole of my life.

So many things in life are temporary. They are miniscule. They don’t last. They change.

But there is something that never changes, something that lasts—or rather, Someone.

El Olam means the Everlasting God or the Eternal God. According to Ann Spangler, in her book Praying the Names of God, “El Olam is the Hebrew name for the God who has no beginning and no end, the God for whom a day is like a thousand years and a thousands years are like a day. His plans stand firm forever, plans to give you a future full of hope. … He is the God whose love endures forever.”

I don’t know about you, but that gives me chills.

God is the ONE THING in this whole world we can count on being the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He is the ONE THING that doesn’t change or shift.

Because time? It ebbs and flows.

People? As great as they are, they are fickle and they will at some point fail us.

Money? It’s here today and gone tomorrow.

Success? Fleeting.

Why do we spend so much time chasing and worrying about the things that have no permanence? Why not instead focus our energy on pursuing the ONE THING that will always be in the same spot, and who will always meet us there?

With His arms wide open.

He endures forever…and so does His love.

YOUR TURN: Do you find it a challenge to stay focused on El Olam instead of the temporary trappings of this world? Any tips for keeping our eyes on Him?    

*The winner of the Beth Vogt giveaway is Stacy Jensen! Congrats!

May 21, 2012

What My Parents Taught Me About Love

My mom and dad on their wedding day

Today would have been my parents’ 35th wedding anniversary.

Before my mom passed away, my parents had been married for 27 years. In this day and age, that’s simply incredible to me. My parents saw marriage as a gift, something to be celebrated and held as sacred. I’m so blessed to have had their example.

I learned so many things from watching them throughout my growing up years, things I want to apply to my own marriage. I want to reflect on a few today.

Present a unified front.
You know how kids try the whole “divide and conquer” thing when it comes to getting their parents to let them do something? Yeah, didn’t work with my parents. I also don’t remember them ever really disagreeing in front of me and my brother.

I always whined that they were ganging up on me, but now I see that they were simply making decisions together, and standing together in those decisions.

Never let go of the fun.
I’m sure my parents’ marriage had rough spots just like any other, and obviously that included my mom’s illness. But you know what? They never stopped having fun together. Laughing. Spending time together. Being silly. I love those memories. They’re some of my favorite.

That’s the kind of stuff that lasts in our minds years and years later. 

Never take love for granted.
I used to love taking pictures of my parents when I was younger. I’d hold up the camera and instruct them to kiss (yes, I was a bossy child…). And they’d kiss—simple, eyes closed, mouths curved in a smile—longer than it took to take the picture.

Sacrifice your comfort for the other’s well-being.
Nothing showed me what love was more than my dad’s actions toward my mom when she was sick. Nothing.

I remember how he woke up at 3 am every morning to give her more pain medication. Probably more often than even that. And he still went to work the next day and did so much more than I probably even know.

Real love is sacrifice.

Real love is selfless.

Real love is hard to put into action.

But it’s so worth it when we do.

Your Turn: If you’re married, what’s a great lesson you’ve learned about love and marriage? If you’re not married, what’s a great lesson you’ve learned from a married couple you admire?

May 18, 2012

When Life Derails Your Plans

I realize this image may be disturbing after my Friday post on train riding...stick with me here.

This week, I’m taking a short hiatus from my Names of God series. Why?

Because things didn’t go as planned this week.

In fact, things haven’t gone as planned for the last FEW weeks.

And this bothers me to no end. Why? Because I’m a planner. I love lists. I love calendars. I love anything that helps me plot and plan in my neurotic little way. Sometimes, I even plan by the hour. Do I ever get done everything I want to?

No.

But I usually get at least SOME of it done.

But the last few weeks?

Nope.

Writing goals NOT accomplished. Items NOT checked off the list. Marked calendars that lied because I wasn’t where I thought I’d be when I thought I’d be there.

Some of it was out of my control: migraines that incapacitated me, a different work schedule and location thrust upon me for three days, appointments and lunch meetings that meant I couldn’t write on my lunch break…

Some of it was due to a choice I made: hanging out with family instead of writing, for example.

But you know what? In all of the frustration, I’m learning something.

First, that when I’m not in control, it bugs me. And that shouldn’t be the case, because those are the times when I can really lean on God and grow closer to Him, and remember that HE should be in control of my life. Him. Not me.

And second, time spent with PEOPLE is never wasted.

In fact, I had a great time with my family this past week. If I’m always doing and never bonding, then all I’ll have left at the end of my life is a bunch of stories. No depth. No real connections. Only connections with characters who can’t hold me in their arms when tragedy or joy occur.
Wish I was this flexible!

I’m not saying I’m perfect at this. I need to be more flexible. I WANT to be more flexible. I want to rely on God and not my own ability to plan and control situations.

Because God can use flexible people. He molds them into who He wants them to be.

YOUR TURN: Do you struggle when life derails your plans? Or do you find it easy to go with the flow?

May 16, 2012

Getting to Know Author Beth Vogt (and a Book Giveaway)


I’m thrilled to have my friend Beth Vogt on my blog today. Beth was one of the first writers I connected with online, and we instantly bonded for several reasons, one being that we’re both editors!

Beth’s debut novel, Wish You Were Here, just came out earlier this month. It’s a contemporary inspirational romance complete with comedy, love, and deep truths. (See below for a chance to win a copy!)

Beth agreed to answer some questions for me (thanks, Beth!), so here we go:

Tell me about the first story you ever wrote, no matter how old you were! How old were you, what was it about, and what was your inspiration for it?
My first story was a historical romance. I quite happily plagiarized Georgette Heyer, who was my favorite author at the time. She’s still one of my favorite authors. I asked my eighth grade teacher to read it and, bless her heart, she did—and gave me encouraging feedback too.

Plagiarism…the sincerest form of flattery, right? Anyway, I’ve read on your website that you had at one point sworn never to cross from the nonfiction realm into the fiction world. What made you cross over to the—as you put it—“Dark Side”?
I’d succeeded in my goal to be writing, submitting, and getting published regularly as a nonfiction writer. I’d even surprised myself by having a nonfiction book on late-in-life motherhood, Baby Changes Everything, published in 2007. But I was burned out. Writing a novel was my attempt to write just for the fun of it again—not for deadline.

I loved Wish You Were Here! It definitely made me want to travel more. Where’s the best place you’ve ever traveled to and why was it the best?
I’m so happy to hear you loved WYWH. I had fun writing it. Thanks to my husband’s military career, we vacationed in Italy and were able to visit Venice. There is something so, so intriguing about a floating city and traveling everywhere by boat. At the top of my “want to get there” list is Australia.

Ooo, my husband and I are hoping to make it to Venice sometime in the next few years. Moving on…I’m always interested to know: what was the first part of your story that was solid in your mind? Was it something in the plot or a certain character you couldn’t get out of your mind that led to Wish You Were Here?
I started with the scene of Allison standing in the church, all decked out in her never-should-have-said-yes-to-the-dress wedding gown, thinking, “I do. I can’t. I must.” I had so many questions to answer: Who was this woman? How did she get here? What was going to happen next?

Intriguing! So, they say (I’m not sure who “they” are, but regardless…) that we tend to put a little bit of us into our main characters. Is there any part of you in Allison or is she a complete figment of your imagination?
A close friend of mine just told me she caught all sorts of glimpses of me in Allison. (Jasmine tea, anyone?) Allison might not thank me for this, but I did give her my fear. I struggled against fear for too many years of my life. One of my greatest joys in Wish You Were Here was seeing Allison break free of her fears to become the woman God made her to be.

I loved that about the book too. OK, I have to ask. What’s with the llamas? They were awesome! (For those who are wondering, yes, there are llamas in this story!) Where did the inspiration for that one come?
My husband, Rob, suggested the llamas. It was a totally random thought and I ran with it. I should tell you that before the llamas, Rob was always suggesting aliens …

Haha, now THAT would have been interesting! So, there are a few characters from Wish You Were Here that I would love to see have their own love stories worked out…just sayin’. Is your second book a continuation of WYWH or completely unrelated?
My second novel, which is tentatively titled Catch a Falling Star, is a standalone novel, also set in Colorado. However, I am hoping to get back to some of the characters in WYWH.

Since you write romance, I wanna know: What’s the most romantic thing your man has ever done for you?
I think romance is everything from holding my hand when we go for a walk to the “I miss you” cards tucked in my luggage when I travel to shutting down his medical practice for several days and taking care of me when I battled a life-threatening illness. In other words: My husband loves me with his actions. One of my favorite romantic things that Rob does is dancing with me in our kitchen whenever our favorite songs come on the radio.

Beth, that’s so beautiful! Makes me want to cry, seriously. So we’ll end with a fun question: You’re locked in a room for a week and only allowed 3 items (no people allowed!). What are they?
My family’s going to expect me to say my laptop. But I’m going to assume I’m relaxing for this week … so, I’ll say: My Kindle (that way I have my Bible and unlimited reading material!), my Praying in Color notebook & pens (this counts as one item), and my iPod w/ all my favorite music.

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Beth K. Vogt is a non-fiction author and editor who said she’d never write fiction. She’s the wife of an Air Force family physician (now in solo practice) who said she’d never marry a doctor—or anyone in the military. She’s a mom of four who said she’d never have kids. She’s discovered that God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “Never.”

Her contemporary romance novel, Wish You Were Here, debuted this month (Howard Books.) Beth also wrote a book on late-in-life motherhood, Baby Changes Everything: Embracing and Preparing for Motherhood After 35 (Revell 2007), and is an established magazine writer and former editor of Connections, the leadership magazine for MOPS International.

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Kissing the wrong guy days before her scheduled wedding leads Allison to become a runaway bride. But can it also lead to happily ever after? Allison Denman is supposed to get married in five days, but everything is all wrong.

 The huge wedding. The frothy dress. And the groom.

Still, kissing the groom’s brother, Daniel, in an unguarded moment is decidedly not the right thing to do. How could she have made such a mistake? It seems Allison’s life is nothing but mistakes at this point. Daniel’s adventures—chronicled through a collection of postcards—have always appealed to Allison’s well-hidden desire for something more. But how can betraying her fiancĂ©’s trust lead to a true happily ever after?

Can Allison find her way out of this mess? Recognizing she doesn’t have all the answers won’t be easy because she’s used to being in control. To find her way again, she will have to believe that God has a plan for her—one outside her carefully defined comfort zone—and find the strength to let Him lead.

Beth has generously agreed to give away a copy of Wish You Were Here to a random commenter! Only U.S. residents are eligible. Be sure to leave your email address in the comments to be entered. Comments should be posted by Sunday, May 20, at 11:59 pm PST to qualify.

Your Turn: Where’s the best place you’ve ever traveled to and why was it the best?

May 14, 2012

A Grand Weekend


If you read my blog post from Friday, you know that this last weekend I took a train to the Grand Canyon.

I thought it might be fun to share some pictures with you to tell you about our trip. As a writer, I love words, but sometimes, words alone are not enough (gasp, don’t quote me on that!). 

Me in front of the train in Williams, AZ
My husband and me on board the train
At the Grand Canyon!
What a beautiful thing it is to behold. Pictures don't even do it justice.
Me and Daddio
On top of the world
Kids, don't try this at home! (Actually, you COULD try this at home. Don't try this on a real cliff.)
My attempt at an artistic shot
Much-needed sustenance. And btw, the jacket is not because it was cold, but because I was getting sunburned. (Curse you, fair skin!)
Our train got "robbed" on the way home. Those little girls were so cute and loved it!
Your Turn: What did you do this weekend?

May 11, 2012

Fun Friday: Train Ridin'

One of the coolest things I’ve ever experienced was riding a train in England.

There’s something so fun and different about this particular mode of travel. Maybe it’s the fact that you get to see the scenery in a way that you can’t when flying or driving. Let’s face it—when you’re flying, you only see clouds and far away plots of land, and when you’re driving, mostly you see other cars careening past you.

But on a train, there’s just openness. Land. Beauty.

You feel like you’re parting the wilderness and traveling where not many have gone. (Even if it’s not true, it’s how you FEEL.)

This weekend, I get to ride another train. In the northern Arizona town of Williams is a train that heads to the Grand Canyon. Since my aunt and grandma are in town, we’re taking a fun day trip.

I’m so excited to relish the scenery on the train and at our final destination.

And the company will be great, too!

What about you? Have you ever ridden a train? Did you like it? If not, do you think you’d like to take a train sometime? If so, where would you like to take one?

May 9, 2012

Ten Things My Mother Taught Me

Me, my mom, and my little brother on Catalina Island in 2002
Mother’s Day is this weekend.

It can be a difficult day for me, since my mom is no longer here on this earth, but this year I want to reflect on many of the wonderful things she did teach me in the 19 years I had her in my life. Some of these things she told me; others I observed merely by watching her.

1.     Always be kind to others, even if they’re not kind to you. You never know what they’re dealing with in their life and what your kindness will mean to them.

2.     Don’t shove your faith down someone else’s throat. Instead, show others your faith by what you do and by the love you demonstrate.

3.     Be especially nice to those people who aren’t part of the “in crowd.” Jesus befriended the outcasts and so should we.

4.     Don’t complain. Remember that there is always someone else who has it worse than you, and be grateful for what you do have.

5.     Be loyal to your family. Friendships may come and go, but in the end, it’s your family who will always be there.

6.     Even though it’s tempting to take things out on those closest to you just because they’ll “always be there,” don’t.

7.     Life is not about having money. Be satisfied with where you are and with what you have in life.

8.     Follow your husband wherever he feels God leading your family. Even if it’s hard and you feel like kicking and screaming the whole way there.

9.     Be a cheerleader for your friends and family. Don’t let jealousy or petty spite get in the way of love.

10. The fool builds his house on the sand, but the wise person on the rock. Keep God as your foundation and your house will not sink in the hard times.

Your Turn: What important lessons has your mother or a mentor taught you about life?

*The winner of Katie Ganshert's debut novel, Wildflowers from Winter, is Kathy Beal! Congrats, Kathy. I'll contact you with details.

May 7, 2012

Names of God: Jehovah Rophe

I’m blessed—I’ve been fairly healthy most of my life.

I usually catch colds only twice a year and rarely get the flu, even when a lot of those around me are afflicted.

But in the last five or so years, I’ve had a thorn in my flesh.

They’re called migraines.

And they are no fun. Not at all.

For those who suffer from migraines, and any other chronic health condition, you know how frustrating it is. You have just the right plans to get everything done on your to-do list…and then…it hits.

And it’s debilitating. You can’t do anything productive. The pain is too great to focus on anything. The only thing that works for me is to pop some migraine medicine, lie down with an ice pack on my head, and sleep. And sometimes, that doesn’t even work.

The point is, even though I have done all I can to control a situation, I can’t heal my own body.

And that’s where Jehovah Rophe—the God Who Heals—comes in.

I admit it. Oftentimes I go through my day and forget to pray. I get so busy, so wrapped up in life and what I have going on—so busy with that to-do list I mentioned—that I forget to lean on my Lord.

But when I’m afflicted and there’s nothing else for me to do, I pray. I ask for healing. I realize my own weakness and my own humanity. My utter helplessness.

Why does it take me getting to the very end of myself before I remember to turn to Him, as if He’s a last resort?

In her book Praying the Names of God, Ann Spangler says, “Though [Jehovah Rophe] often refers to physical healing, it usually has a larger meaning as well, involving the entire person. Rather than merely healing the body, [He] heals the mind and soul as well.”

So, if I apply the same principle to my whole life, then I shouldn’t be waiting until I have no other options before I turn to Him. When I experience stress or any other adversity, I want my first response to be prayer.

Prayer for wisdom. Prayer for perseverance.

And prayer for healing.

Most of the time, God does heal me of my migraines. But He hasn’t allowed them to be taken away completely. Perhaps that’s just part of living in this sinful world. But perhaps He’s using it to keep me reliant on Him…

And to remind me, time and time again, of the healing power of Jehovah Rophe.

Your Turn: How has God been Jehovah Rophe in your life?

*Photo by Michal Marcol

May 4, 2012

Wildflowers from Winter: My Story


Today’s post is part of a blog hop coordinated by Katie Ganshert, author of Wildflowers from Winter, which releases next Tuesday (check out my interview with Katie and comment there for a chance to win a copy of her book!). WFW is a poignant story about how God can use the hard times in our lives to bring beauty.
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I grew up in the church. Accepted Christ when I was 6. Attended church three times a week. Memorized a bazillion verses (thank you, AWANA!). Participated in numerous camps and outreaches. Didn’t commit the “big sins.” Was an all-around goody-goody who loved life.

And then, when I was 15, my mom got sick. The dreaded word: cancer.

I remember crying a lot. But I kept going to school, kept getting those good grades, kept participating at church. I just knew my mom was going to get better.

Because there was no way God would let her die. No way that could happen to me. To her. To us. We were some of the "good ones." And God loved us. So He’d protect us...wouldn't He?

Fast forward a few years. After surgery and chemotherapy in a pill, my mom was still sick. Her cancer was being held at bay, but she couldn’t work and she was getting thinner by the day. And I went off to college. It was only a 2-hour drive from Phoenix, but I left.

I don’t know why I went away. Maybe I had to get away because I couldn’t stand the sadness. Or maybe because I truly believed there was no way Mom would ever die. Like I said, God didn’t let stuff like that happen to people like us…right?

As my mom got sicker that year, and I was however many miles away, I started to question, to doubt. While people told me how amazingly strong I was to face what I was facing, I doubted…and felt like a big ol’ hypocrite.

I doubted a lot of things: Whether God actually loved me like He said He did. Whether He really had the power to heal. Whether I was following the “right religion” and praying to the right God.

And, most terrifying to my confused teenage heart, whether God even existed.

I remember sitting there on my dorm room bed, staring up at the ceiling, thinking, “What if God doesn’t exist? He HAS to exist. I FEEL it. I KNOW it. Right? But if He exists and doesn’t love me—because how could He let this be happening if He loved me—how is that any better? And if He DOESN’T exist, then what’s the point of life at all?”

I fell into a depression of sorts. I no longer knew what to believe. Everything I’d believed in had been shaken.

But then, God began to move.

No, my mom didn’t get better. In fact, she got worse. And that prompted me to transfer to a different university and live at home. Maybe that helped me to face everything. I don’t know. But slowly, God began speaking to my heart--or maybe I just finally started listening. He spoke to my heart through the rest of my mom’s life and even when she died (I was 19) and through the funeral and the days after.

He planted a seed of truth there in the tender crevices of my hurting heart.

That truth?

First, that it was OK to question. Questioning is part of making our faith our own.

Second, that no matter the circumstances, He is good, and He loves me.

And finally, instead of asking “Why me?”, I should be asking a different question: “Why not me?”

Why SHOULDN’T I suffer in this life? Did I think I was better than those over who have lost their entire families to war, or those who have been raped and beaten, or who have experienced excruciating loss far greater than I’ll ever know? Greater than the people who had died in 9/11? Greater than martyrs who have died for their faith?

And Jesus suffered. Did I think I was better than Him?

My whole life, I’d been thinking that if I only did what was right and followed the “rules,” I’d be protected from any adversity. But God promises that we ALL will face adversity.

Yet, He also says, “Take heart. I have overcome the world.”

In hindsight, I can see it, how God took that seed of truth He planted during the winter of my life—when harsh winds shook me and snow suppressed my joy—and He watered it.

And from it has grown a flower of faith and trust, one that I know would never have been so beautiful, so full, so bright, if I had never experienced the winter that came before it.

Thank you for letting me share my story and my heart with you. I would love to hear yours. Has God ever worked in your winter to bring flowers of faith?

*Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

May 2, 2012

Getting to Know Author Katie Ganshert (and a Book Giveaway)


I’m so excited to have author Katie Ganshert on my blog today! Katie was the first online writing friend I made. I found her blog back in October and thought, “Wow, this girl and I are a lot alike (except she’s way cooler than me)! And look, she’s got a book coming out soon!”

Katie’s debut novel, Wildflowers from Winter, releases Tuesday (May 8) and let me tell you—it is simply amazing. Katie has such a way with words, and the story and truths you’ll find there will make you think and warm your heart.

Katie agreed to answer some questions for me, so here we go:

Tell me about the first story you ever wrote, no matter how old you were! How old were you, what was it about, and what was your inspiration for it?
Oh goodness, I’ve been writing since I could hold a pencil. Let me see. The first story I remember writing was either: Mr. and Mrs. Leaf or Best Friends. Mr. and Mrs. Leaf was a very moving and poignant tale of two leaves who get married and live happily ever after in a leaf pile. My teacher read it out loud to the class.

Best Friends was about me and my best friend, only I kept crossing out the name and writing in a different one. My mom still has it. Apparently, I couldn’t decide who my best friend was.

I also wrote a very popular story in 5th grade titled Maybe, Kind of, No, Not Really. The main character’s name was Peewee. He had a dog named Oodles and the first chapter was called “What’s so Gross about Picking your Nose”?

Ha! That’s amazing. I’d love to read that one! So the title of your debut novel is Wildflowers From Winter. What’s your favorite kind of flower? Any special meaning behind why it’s your favorite?
Any flower that does not require maintenance. Is it horrible that the title of my book involves flowers, but I’m not at all a flower person?

Nah, it can be our secret…um, well, ours and whoever is reading this! Speaking of flowers, are you an indoor or outdoor person? What’s your favorite activity to do inside and favorite to do outside?
Inside, it’s definitely curling up with a good book and a hot cup of tea. Outside, it would have to be running around with bare feet in the backyard with my son. Squirt guns are always a plus.

Oh, I definitely agree. OK, since you write romance, I have to ask you this: What’s your idea of a perfect date?
Oh, this is easy. Because I have one once a month. My husband and I are obsessed with The River House. We go there, order the fried pickles (to die for!), and we sit by the window and we talk and talk and talk about anything and everything. Afterward, we go to Coldstone Creamery to get ice cream and end up at home watching a movie. Preferably a romantic one, if Ryan is feel generous. Sounds pretty clichĂ© – dinner and a movie. But I love it.

That’s so sweet…and now I must try fried pickles! Is it a Midwest thing? 'Cuz I’ve never seen it on the menu here in Arizona! OK, moving on…I saw you did a reader’s voting contest in March to determine the hero’s name for your next book, Wishing on Willows. What a cool idea! What is your normal process for choosing your main characters’ names?
Most of the time, the name comes attached with the character. That’s what happened with Bethany and Evan and Robin in Wildflowers. They were always and forever Bethany and Evan and Robin. But if a name isn’t coming to me, I usually get out my thick Baby Names book on my bookshelf. Or, run a fun contest and let the reader choose!

That’s awesome! What is your hope for WFW, and your books in general? In other words, why do you write?
My specific hope for Wildflowers from Winter would be that readers would see that we worship a God who is in the business of redemption. We worship a God who is able, no matter how barren of a season we might be going through, to bring about beautiful things in our lives.

My general hope for all my books is that they would entertain and bless readers and glorify God. That is always one of my daily prayers.

Amen, girl. You definitely achieved all of that and more in WFW. OK, we’ll end with a fun question: You’re locked in a room for a week and only allowed 3 items (no people allowed!). What are they?
I’m assuming food is not an item and I’m going to forgo the practical stuff like a toothbrush and toothpaste and a pillow. Who needs those, right? Okay….definitely my Bible, my laptop, and my cell phone so I can talk to the people I can’t bring. Or is that cheating? If I couldn’t bring my cell phone, I would bring a camera to catalogue my exciting weeklong stay in a room.


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A young architect at a prestigious Chicago firm, Bethany Quinn has built a life far removed from her trailer park teen years. Until an interruption from her estranged mother reveals that tragedy has struck in her hometown and a reluctant Bethany is called back to rural Iowa. Determined to pay her respects while avoiding any emotional entanglements, she vows not to stay long. But the unexpected inheritance of farmland and a startling turn of events in Chicago forces Bethany to come up with a new plan.

Handsome farmhand Evan Price has taken care of the Quinn farm for years. So when Bethany is left the land, he must fight her decisions to realize his dreams. But even as he disagrees with Bethany’s vision, Evan feels drawn to her and the pain she keeps so carefully locked away.

For Bethany, making peace with her past and the God of her childhood doesn’t seem like the path to freedom. Is letting go the only way to new life, love and a peace she’s not even sure exists?
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Katie Ganshert was born and raised in the Midwest, where she writes stories about finding faith and falling in love. When she’s not busy plotting her next novel, she enjoys going on romantic dates with her husband, playing make-believe with her wild-child of a son, and chatting with her girlfriends over bagels and coffee.
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Katie has generously agreed to give away a copy of Wildflowers from Winter to a random commenter! Only U.S. residents, please. Be sure to leave your email address in the comments to be entered. Comments should be posted by Sunday at 11:59 pm PST to qualify.

Your Turn: What’s your favorite kind of flower? Any special meaning behind why it’s your favorite?

*I'm guest posting and hanging out over at Melissa Tagg's blog today. Come say hi!