You’re Invited: Praise & Coffee Online Study of Lysa TerKeurst’s Uninvited

The biggest battle I’ve faced in any role I’ve taken on is rejection and isolation. I’ve joked that I’m the misfit toy, the one left in the corner while everyone has fun. I’ve watched even as an adult that I’ve been forgotten, passed over, added on when others said no, and all the other things that crush.

In the encouragement I give to others, I know I’m not alone. That’s why I am stepping out in faith to start a group on Facebook where we can meet weekly to discuss Lysa TerKeurst’s latest release, UNINVITED.

I am doing this under the umbrella of Praise and Coffee, a ministry that simply loves to have women connect so they can encourage and inspire. Groups can be as few as two people and can meet anywhere. Kitchens. Church rooms. Living rooms. Cafes.

Even online.

And that’s what I’m doing. You purchase the book and read the assigned chapters for the week, and once a week for an hour we’ll discuss it. No membership, no commitment, just know that you are invited.

Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst

Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst

All discussions will be through this closed group page. The group can be found by anyone, but only members can read the posts. Our discussions will be confidential.

To request the group, click HERE.

To purchase UNINVITED: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out and Lonely, click HERE.

Book Review: The Summoned King by Dave Neuendorf

Book Review: The Summoned King by Dave Neuendorf

Book Review: The Summoned King by Dave Neuendorf

Book Description:

Indiana high school senior James Madison Young might best be described as a Renaissance man: intelligent, of good character, well educated, and full of passionate interests in everything from Krav Maga to robotics. One evening he falls asleep while studying at the library. He wakes to find himself in another world, filled with magic, danger, and romance. He has been summoned by court wizard Maynard to be the king of Kalymbria. Forced into marriage with the beautiful and magically powerful yet untrained Julia Roper for his queen, he must restore the lapsed Constitution in the face of opposition from a hostile Council of Advisors, and defend his new country from the evil machinations of the wizard Ruinga and her allied kingdom of Venicka. Rediscovering the lost art of enchantment may provide him with a powerful edge in his quest, if he can survive the assassins and conspiracies arrayed against him.

James is a sweet, kind of nerdy teen who finds himself in a new world after he falls asleep in the library. Suddenly he is in charge of decisions and preparing his own wedding. He has to work with different people from the Kalymbrian kingdom and defend the country against a bad wizard.

I liked James a lot, he’s a likeable teen that I think any boy could relate to. This isn’t a genre I’m well versed in, but I felt like there wasn’t enough conflict. I felt like scenes and chapters needed a push/pull/action/reaction, and it wasn’t quite there to keep the momentum. My guess is a tween or young teen might be engaged enough to keep reading, but I’m not sure if an older teen would.

To purchase The Summoned King, click here.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Gail Goolsby: Will You Accept September’s One-on-One Challenge?

Will You Accept September’s One-on-One Challenge?

by Gail Goolsby


Everyone wants to know and be known intimately by someone. We want to have relationships where connections can be quick and meaningful. September is One-on-One Month. Consider what you can do to ramp up your relationship investment.

The most important people in our lives should not have to wonder if we care about current challenges they are facing or achievements they have completed. They should be able to answer affirmatively that when they talk—we truly listen.

How can we experience the most from our meetings and conversations?

How can we communicate our presence, our full attention to the other person?

In Your Face and Off Your Phone

In today’s culture, being physically present and not looking at a phone are keys to quality conversations.

In a 2014 study conducted by Shalini Misra from Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, people were observed from a distance conversing in a coffee shop. More than factors of age, gender, ethnicity, mood, topic, or relationship closeness, the presence of mobile devices impacted the overall satisfaction of interaction between participants. The absence of mobile devices resulted in higher level reports of empathy and superior communication.

With the present technology overload, device-free gatherings are unusual, whether in a restaurant, home, or conference room. The challenge is daunting but vital. Put aside beeping, blinking, tweeting equipment when engaging a person or a group.

Presence is Proximity and Purpose

When we do have the opportunity to connect one-on-one with a friend, family member, co-worker, or employee, we show our desire to be present with:

  • Curiosity (find out something new)
  • Good questions (go for deeper than surface reports on work and activities)
  • Engagement (make eye contact, maintain positive body language)
  • Appreciation (share something valuable about person)
  • Active, responsive listening (don’t interrupt, occasionally check for understanding)
  • Focus (avoid looking around, letting thoughts wander)
  • Humor (tell a funny anecdote to release endorphins for everyone)

Satisfaction for All

Maybe the exchange happens while walking through the neighborhood or during a car ride. Perhaps in a kitchen, park, coffee shop, break room, or child’s room before bedtime.

Wherever, whenever the chat takes place, plan to be present and phone-free and make it a quality time that both of you will enjoy.

Accept the September One-On-One challenge and purpose to have satisfying conversations with the important people in your life. Who will be first on your list?


GailGoolsbyGail Goolsby, MA, MEd is a lifelong educator, including past leadership at an international school in Afghanistan. Gail and her pastor husband of 38 years live where the wind blows over the prairie in south Kansas. She counsels and coaches using God’s Word to help others learn to live well.







Susan K. Stewart: Writer, Do You Want to Break into the Homeschool Market?


At a Christian trade show recently I asked representatives of several publishers about tween novels to review for my homeschool audience. Generally the reaction was “We have this curriculum or this journal.” I was looking for novels, not curriculum.

This reinforced that many in the publishing world think homeschoolers only want “teaching” material. They have trouble breaking into the market because they don’t know it.

My sons loved Lee Roddy’s books. Hank the Cowdog by John R. Erickson is another favorite of homeschoolers. Neither series is written specifically for homeschoolers, but are enjoyed because the stories are fun and well written.

Like Roddy and Erickson, you can break into the homeschool market. Here’s how:

Step 1 – Know the market.

You can read all the statistics about an average homeschooler. It’s far better, though, if you get to them yourself. Read the homeschool websites, attend homeschool events open to the public, and, with permission, follow homeschool social media groups.

Step 2 – Write well.

Just like anyone else, homeschoolers want well-written books. The story is the key.

Step 3 – Don’t make assumptions.

Don’t assume only homeschoolers can write for homeschoolers. Lee Roddy and John R. Erickson aren’t homeschool dads.

Don’t assume that homeschooling is school at home. Often it is vastly different from traditional schools.

Don’t assume you need to have a specific type of character or specific message. Just write a good story.

Three questions are commonly asked when I teach at conferences.

  • Do you market to parents or kids?


Max Elliot Anderson markets his books to parents for boys who are reluctant readers. Lee Roddy talks with boys at conferences to share his stories. Use the same marketing techniques you use for the general market.

  • Is there more of a need for non-fiction or fiction?


In an informal survey, I found homeschool parents are looking for everything from fantasy to finances. It doesn’t matter whether it’s fiction or nonfiction.

  • Should I include a study guide?


If you want to. Some authors offer a study guide, lesson plans, or coloring pages as a free bonus for purchase.

You too can break into the homeschool market with standard marketing techniques: Know the market, write well, and don’t make assumptions. The next time I ask publishers for Christian tween novels to share with my homeschool readers, maybe it will be yours.


SusanKStewartSusan K. Stewart – When she’s not tending chickens and peacocks, Susan K. Stewart teaches, writes, and edits non-fiction. Susan’s passion is to inspire readers with practical, real-world solutions. Her books include Science in the Kitchen and Preschool: At What Cost? and the award-winning Formatting e-Books for Writers. You can learn more at her website



Facebook’s Love Your Spouse Challenge, Day 7

This is it! All week I’ve been sharing my posts from the Facebook Love Your Spouse Challenge. I hope you’ve been encouraged and wanting to apply oneness to your marriage. It’s worth it. Not easy. Worth it.


Image may contain: 4 people , people smiling , tree, outdoor and nature

Facebook’s Love Your Spouse Challenge, Day 7

Here we are. In a couple weeks we celebrate our 20th. There were people who questioned the age difference or the fact I was entering in a ready-made family. We went through infertility, miscarriage, parent deaths, job changes, near death of child and then the day-to-day.

We are not a perfect couple. In all honesty, this has been a tough year. We both changed our work situations. We had a child marry and a child graduate. We lost a beloved parent. Just one is what specialists suggest a couple go through in a year. Not all of them. We are both all or nothing personalities and we are both introverts. Affection is not natural for me, and he can be technical. We have different perspectives as parents, especially with medical issues. These truths are challenges.

But, God. We get each other’s jokes and laugh. The jokes we have are precious and goofy. We don’t get away a lot, so our hot tub dates are how we catch up on what’s going on, talk finances, schedule, etc…

We might get annoyed by failure to close cupboards or slurping, but if someone comes against one of us, we have each other’s back. If there’s a good action movie at the cheap theater, we’re all over it.

If you’re contemplating marriage or aren’t quite at year 20, realize those day 1 challenge pictures won’t look the same on day 7. You won’t be the same, either. I pray you are better, stronger, and more committed to oneness than you are right now. It is truly worth it.


Goodreads Giveaway…don’t miss out!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Entangled by Julie Arduini


by Julie Arduini

Giveaway ends August 29, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway



COTT: Truth Be Told by Justine Johnston Hemmestad


Justine Johnston Hemmestad

In 1990 my car was broadsided by a speeding city bus as I turned out of
a parking lot – I was in a coma and had sustained a severe brain injury.
I was paralyzed when I woke up from my coma, though I worked hard to
walk again within a few months, and to relearn how to perform the basic
functions of life.

I began to write when I was carrying my first child Megan, less than two
years after my accident, as tool or a way to cope with feeling so alone
in my disability and misunderstood. Writing, throughout the darkest part
of my recovery—when everyone looked down on me and I had no one to talk
to or relate with me—helped me to get my thoughts in focus, to learn new
things, and to remember what was important to me. I felt bullied, my
thoughts and perception were skewed, and I felt emotionally alone,
isolated by my personal lacking (my speech was slurred; my reactions
were slow, etc.).

But writing was my Savior. When I was so afraid and so filled with guilt
for being disabled, writing offered me a safe and comforting place to
go, where I could cry and feel loved. Writing was my confidante and gave
me hope when the world was crushing me. Writing even helped me find out
who I was, since everything about “me” seemed to have melted away with
my TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury). Writing helped me find my words to
speak again. Writing was my purpose, and writing was my healing.

My novella, Truth be Told, is essentially the story of my
recovery wrapped up in fictional characters in a different time and
place. Everything is symbolic in my novella because symbolism itself
taught me how to travel deep inside my thoughts and search until I found
the answers. Symbolism aided my memory by the weight of its meaning.

The old man in my novella is symbolic of God, prayer, love of my
children, and the inner truth I found when I dug deep, the challenges
that stretched my mind and that I knew I had to face when I wanted to
give up on life completely.

The Lady is the aspect of my recovery in which I felt lost, even to
myself—I didn’t know who I was—but in prayer and meditation I learned to
focus my mind, calm my thoughts (which were drowning in the guilt I felt
for being disabled) and listen to God’s answer…what defines me?

The knight is the aspect of my recovery that was assaulted by PTSD. Not
only was I recovering, but I was recovering amidst a torrent of fear,
pain, and false persecution. He represents the survivor’s guilt I had
for living as brain-injured, and the part of myself that felt I deserved
the lies that people told about me simply because it was easy to lie
about me. I illuminated my purpose— the purpose that any recovering
person needs to be able to climb out of the darkness—symbolically as
Jesus. When people lied about me, writing defended me and made the truth
immortal. My purpose, as writing, was the well within me; writing saved
me and gave me direction in life (even when I no longer had any sense of
direction due to my TBI). There were people who tried to point me in the
wrong direction, but my prayer, and written prayer, was always brimming
with truth.

My purpose in writing raised me out of the darkness and set me on a new
path. As my characters in Truth be Told founded one of the first
Universities in Europe, my purpose led me to enter into college, to
study tirelessly, and to set goals and reach them. For a person with a
TBI, these things stretched my mind to the breaking point. And yet my
savior, writing, was always there, so much that my purpose and my goals
became intertwined. Every class I’ve had brought me new challenges;
every professor’s pushing has helped me more than they were ever aware.

My husband and I now have seven children and I’m still writing, for both
have truly been essential to my recovery. I’ve also earned a BLS through
The University of Iowa and am now working toward a Master’s Degree in
Literature through Northern Arizona University. I’m grateful to have
written a book that I felt so strongly, all along, could be of help to
survivors, for them to recognize themselves in the characters and to
know that they’re not alone. I would have recognized myself in this
story and it would have given me hope. My mission now is to give other
survivors hope.

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