Category Archives: Author in the Trenches

Knowing God and Doing Exploits: Up For an Adventure, Anyone?

In Defence of the Realm by Bernie CondonDaniel 11:32 “…but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.”

What does it mean to be strong and to do exploits? Is it simply an adventure? Like one of David’s mighty men? These men were crazy awesome, right out of the heroes from The Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit.

I love the idea of adventure, being strong, and doing exploits, but what about the portion that goes before? The part about ‘the people that do know their God’? How do you get to know God? Really KNOW Him? Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart: and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

According to the Mac 101: Dictionary, the word ‘adventure’ is both a noun and a verb. The definitions include, ‘an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity, daring, calling for enterprise and enthusiasm, especially the exploration of unknown territory.’

To be honest, being a Christian is most definitely unusual and exciting, sometimes hazardous, certainly calling for enterprise and enthusiasm (Rejoice in the Lord always!). Choosing to set aside your own will and trust Someone I can’t see or hear or touch is all of the above and then some!

When Jesus came into my life and I gave Him my allegiance, He set up residence in my heart and life. People talk about ‘asking Jesus into your heart’ and that’s a good thing, but the reality, the true meaning of that is surrender, submission, giving up control. It’s not just turning away from my old life, it’s turning and cleaving to a brand new and very different life. 

One of the things I love about The Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit is their sense of duty. These men (and women) are heroes. They have a purpose and they give their lives for it. Another favorite of mine is Baroness Orczy’s The Scarlet Pimpernel series. These take place during the French Revolution with Sir Percy Blakeney, a rich English aristocrat, sneaking in and out of France in various disguises rescuing people condemned to the guillotine. Again, a hero who answered a calling.

Of course, these stories are fun, fiction, but what about reality? What about getting to know this great God of ours and being strong and doing exploits? Is that real? Is that even possible today?

Yes! Sometimes the strongest thing a man or a woman can do is what’s right.

The battles today are for our values, our marriages, our children. You have the ability to change someone’s world. By loving God and seeking His will and way and doing it, you can save a life. You can participate in saving a soul.

What’s an exploit? According to the Mac 101: Dictionary, an ‘exploit’ is a ‘bold or daring feat’.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes the Lord asks me to do what seems totally counter-intuitive. At least, it’s not what I want to do. (Guess that goes back to that Proverbs 3:5-6 verse, the one about trusting in the Lord with ALL your heart and leaning not to your OWN understanding…)

The Lord called my husband to be a musician. How can a man support a family as a musician? (We have five kids.) But, my husband obeyed the Lord and He has provided in incredible ways. The Lord called me to be a writer. What? A writer and a musician and five, FIVE, kids? Yep. We’ve got a great house in a good neighborhood and we’ve never gone hungry.

The Lord called us to pick up and leave a great, big house and move to Chicago, all seven of us. Nine million people terrified me. Yet, when the Lord called us, He took away all my fear and I don’t mind traffic. Miracle anyone?

If you choose to allow Jesus to direct your path, He may take you to some crazy destinations, but He will go with you. If you choose to take the time to get to know Him, to really KNOW Him, He will make you strong and you will do exploits. You will change the world…

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Posted by on March 13, 2015 in Author in the Trenches


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A Gift for You!

M90 PicThis year my children and I are studying the book of Proverbs and other wisdom writings in the Bible. M90 is a challenge to memorize only 90 of those verses (and each is powerful!). In taking the time to study out each proverb in greater detail, I have been so blessed and I wanted to pass the blessing along to you!

Here is the M90 booklet: M90_StudentGuide

You can memorize these in 90 days or take longer or shorter. Each page has an explanation and questions for reflection.

One thing I learned today was from Prov 2:11 “Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee:”

I always thought of discretion as not revealing private information to others, but that is only half the definition. The first half is ‘the quality of behaving or speaking in such a way as to avoid causing offense.’

What’s the one part of our person that gets us into the most trouble? Our mouths and our attitudes (which comes out in our behaviors)!

Another thing I learned in studying Proverbs is from commentator, Daniel Segraves. In his book Ancient Wisdom for Today’s World, A Commentary on the Book of Proverbs, he says, “The English word wisdom is the translation of several Hebrew words in the Book of Proverbs; the most common is ‘hokmah.’ This word speaks of the skill with which craftsmen, sailors, singers, mourners, administrators, and counselors perform their duties. Thus, being wise means ‘being skilled in godly living.’ Having God’s wisdom means having the ability to cope with life in a God-honoring way.” (John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, eds., The Bible Knowledge Commentary (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1985), OT: 902.)

Isn’t it wonderful that God makes wisdom available to us through His Word? As we take the time to daily ‘…receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding.’ Prov 2:1-2, we have the promise that, ‘Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God.’ Proverbs 2:5. We have to purpose in ourselves to receive and to hide or guard God’s words and commandments.

Our Lord wants to give us wisdom. His Word says so, ‘For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.’ Proverbs 2:6.

If you want to grow in wisdom, you can. It’s all there available to you. You simply need to be open ‘to receive the instruction of wisdom,’ Prov 1:3. I especially love Prov 1:6 ‘To understand a proverb and the interpretation; the words of the wise and their dark sayings.’ If you want it, you can have the ability to understand a proverb AND the interpretation. You can ‘get it!’

Pastor LoCascio preached this past Sunday on What Do You Expect?

I expect to believe what God’s Word says and apply it to my life. I expect to receive wisdom and become skilled at living God’s way rather than my own. I don’t need to live a stressed out, frustrated life. I can live God’s way, taking on His burden (which is light) and His yoke (which is easy), instead of trying to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders (of which I do a very poor job!).

I’m excited about what God is doing in my cities (Chicagoland), my church, my family, and my life and I can’t wait to see what He does next.

Download that free booklet above and see what the Lord wants to teach you, show you, and bless you with. 🙂

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Posted by on February 24, 2015 in Author in the Trenches


The Challenge of Christmas

Agatha Christie Miss MarpleRecently, I’ve become acquainted with Agatha Christie’s wonderful mystery stories. So far, my favorite of her detectives is Miss Marple. She is sweet but shrewd, ‘wise as a serpent, innocent as a dove.’ She, like Jane Austen, is perceptive of human nature and sees both virtues and flaws. She notices things and thinks about them, like Sherlock Holmes. She doesn’t put herself forward, but she cares about people and tries to help where she may. Often times, because of her age and the fact that she comes from a small town in England which she frequently references, people underestimate her. Yet, it is she who ends up figuring out ‘who-dun-it’. 

“It has been said that there are only three motives for murder: money, love, and revenge,” says Carolyn Wells in her excellent book, The Technique of the Mystery Story. “The most interesting motives are doubtless money, love and revenge; but the ramifications of these include hate, jealousy, greed, safety, ambition, inheritance and many others—in fact, the whole category of human emotions.”

Indeed, the earliest recorded murder was all about revenge and jealousy. Cain killed his brother Abel because the Lord received Abel’s offering, but rejected Cain’s (Gen. 4:1-10, Heb. 11:4, and 1John 3:12). James 4:1-3 says, “From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.”

I enjoy reading mysteries and trying to ‘play detective’ right along with Miss Marple, but there’s a challenge, if you’re willing to accept it. In reading the stories, I put myself in amongst the characters, of course as the brilliant detective or one of the innocent bystanders, but am I willing to see my own faults? Am I willing to see myself as one of the suspects, with good reason? Am I willing to see myself as the murderer? Scripture says, “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him,” (1John 3:15).

The most important question is: Am I willing to submit myself to God and change?

What causes anyone to want money so badly they’re willing to kill for it, to twist love so much that they would rather the other person die than belong to anyone else, and/or to seek revenge for some perceived wrong? Why do we think so very highly of ourselves? 

This is a strange thing to post right before Christmas, but perhaps not.

When do we become the most greedy? What has Christmas become but a time of getting rather than giving? Oh, we justify it to ourselves, but where is our focus? It’s not on Jesus!

What has this season become? A time of stress instead of worship, a time of taking rather than giving, a time of disappointment rather than thankfulness? We endure the holidays rather than cherish family and friends. We guilt-trip one another rather than simply loving people. Instead of prayer and worship, we fret and complain.

Oh Lord, change me. Let this season be a time of worship and love, a time of giving and cherishing, a time to be a blessing to someone else. Thank You for robing Yourself in flesh and coming as a helpless infant, Immanuel, God in the flesh, Jesus, Jehovah has become my Salvation!

Merry Christmas!


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Free Book Weekend! :)

Just a quick shout out to let y’all know Rescuing Vanessa and Annie’s Adventures are free this weekend! I wanted to do something fun to celebrate my birthday. 🙂







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Posted by on September 19, 2014 in Author in the Trenches


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Meeting God in the Laundry Room?

Washer_and_dryerI don’t know about you, but laundry has not always been one of my favorite chores. It’s not exactly fun to sit in front of a dryer with a seemingly endless pile of clothes to fold. In a family of seven, we generate quite a bit for our washer and dryer!

However, the Lord has shown me a sweet time of prayer and quiet as I sit in front of my machines folding. I am so thankful for plenty to wear. I am thankful for my husband and each of my children. I am thankful for good health and the ability to run and play and make our clothes dirty! As their clothing grows with them, I am thankful for each stage of life my children pass through. Soon, their little jeans will be tall and their dresses full size. Too soon, they will move out and I will only have my husband’s and my clothes to wash.

I am thankful for warm sheets and blankets that cover each of us at night. Though these items are a bit harder to fold (I can’t sit, too short!), they remind me that my Lord is active on my behalf. He speaks, I must listen. He covers me and cares for me and mine. I can’t give anyone air to breathe, but He does every moment of every day. I can’t watch and protect those I love all the time, but He can and does.

It’s not necessarily fun to do laundry, but it can be a sweet time of prayer and connection and thankfulness to the Lord. As a mom there are many, many chores that must be done to keep a home running smoothly, dishes, meal prep, vacuuming, changing sheets, cleaning mirrors and sinks and toilets, and the list goes on. Yet, in all of this there is so much to be thankful for, plenty of food to cause dirty dishes, a solid home to vacuum, soft beds to sleep in, a bathroom with running (hot!) water.

The bottom line is this is part of my calling as a wife and mother to serve my family. Of course, I need to teach my children to do chores as well. I don’t have to do it all, but I am ultimately responsible for seeing that it all gets done. But there’s more to the lesson than simply to keep our home running smoothly. I must also teach thankfulness and joy in serving others. This is God’s way and it’s good.

Philippians 4:4-7 “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

How have you found joy in what others might consider ‘not fun’?


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Pics to Encourage and Inspire

I have been blessed to find some great sites that have free pics to download. I thought I’d share some of them with you!

Queen Knighting a man Accolade_by_Edmund_Blair_Leighton

Accolade by Edmund Blair Leighton

For you history buffs, I found this pic on wikimedia commons:

It is completely free and is a public domain image. You writers out there could come up with all sorts of ideas with a pic like this, historical romance, mystery, adventure. Have fun!


Pink Rose And Coffee Cup Stock Photo

By samuiblue, published on 04 October 2013
Stock Photo – image ID: 100206020

Most of you know that I LOVE coffee. 

This pic came from one of my favorite free sites, You can pay to get higher quality or to avoid having to attribute credit, but if you just want the pics for yourself, (or don’t mind giving credit!) have fun! (One small word of caution: This site does include pictures of women in swimwear and men without shirts, but you can avoid those fairly easily.)

What sorts of stories could you come up with a pic like this? Hmm. Why are the coffee beans spilt? Where did the roses come from? Has the coffee been drunk at all? Why one cup? Is there more to the pic than we can see? If a picture truly is worth a thousand words, let’s get our ‘words’ worth’!

Regency Couple lovecouplegfairy003b This is a pic of regency couple I found here:

All of these pics are free as well.

If any of you enjoy regency reads as much as I, this is a terrific pic for inspiration! The man is in a uniform, is he going off to war? Are they already married or just pledged to each other? What happens next?! You get to decide!

Rose from Space for Valentine's Day

This pic came from the NASA space site:

Whether you like sci-fi or not, this pic is lovely. You could come up with all kinds of romance with this picture. Do you want to create a space opera? Go for it! Or it could be simply a hero or heroine who likes to study the stars. Maybe a ‘nerd’ romance.

Of course, you don’t have to write a thing, just enjoy the pic and save it on your desk top! It’s free and public domain.

LambThis is a photo from wikimedia that I added an inspirational quote from the Bible.

You might use it to create a parable of your own or a children’s story or a story about a shepherd or whatever you would like.

ID-10026027Here’s a couple of good photos for you mystery writers out there (or those who enjoy coffee as much as I do!). These are also from freedigitalphotos.

I love a good mystery, especially with a little romance and adventure thrown in!


Who or what are these photos of? What does the detective, amateur or professional, write in the journal? What kind of coffee does he or she drink? Does that add to the description of his character? You decide!

Topiary Knot Garden by artur84This is a Topiary Knot garden, also from freedigitalphotos.

What a fun adventure this could become! Who lives in this house? Why the interest in this type of garden? Do some research and learn about these types of gardens. Who ordered the garden? Who tends it? What sort of people visit here? Will this be a mystery, romance, adventure, or all three? Will this be historical or contemporary? You decide!

Guy with Little Red Box Behind His BackI had to include this one! It’s called ‘Guy with a red box behind his back’ and is from freedigitalphotos.

Who is the ring for? How long have they been dating? How will he ask? What is he like? What is she like? Where and when does this take place? You decide!

I love pictures. They provide so much inspiration. We were created visual beings and that’s a wonderful thing. I hope you enjoy these pictures.

God bless you and happy March!

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Posted by on March 3, 2014 in Author in the Trenches


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New Year/New Challenges/New Adventures

ID-10031199Oh my goodness! It’s 2014 already. Where did the time go?

Every January, our pastor issues the church a 21 Day Challenge. It’s slightly different each year according to the leading of the Lord and the needs of the people. This year, we’re spending 21 Days focusing on these things:

  1. 30 min of uninterrupted prayer every day.
  2. Daily Bible reading
  3. Daniel Fast, no meat, no sweets, no entertainment media (including FaceBook, fiction books, movies, etc.)
  4. Fasting as the Spirit leads (a day, a meal, etc.) and spending that time in prayer.
  5. Be faithful to church attendance
  6. Prepare my heart with 30 min of prayer prior to worship
  7. Minister to the needs of others

None of these is too difficult, not even all that much of a sacrifice. (I will miss chocolate, though!) However, my pastor didn’t stop there. He asked us to seek the Lord as to what He wants us to be willing to give up in our lives in order to get closer to Him. There is no sin in eating meat or sugar or decent entertainment, but this is a time to give up some things in order to focus our energies on Him. In thinking about this more deeply, several friends have brought up specific things they will give up during this time, such as shopping just for fun or Internet surfing.

For me, this is a time to search out what lies I have been believing that hold me back from what God wants in my life. This is also a time to prioritize my goals and seek vision for what the Lord wants me to accomplish and/or eliminate in my life.

I love checklists. It is the most wonderful feeling to check off those things that are done! So far, my daily goal/checklist is this:

  1. Decide to Trust Jesus and Husband every day (instead of my crazy feelings!)
  2. See what Jesus Sees, Speak what He Says, Do what He Does.
  3. Purposefully Connect with Hubby and Awesome Ones 🙂
  4. Continue to Study Book of John and Read a Devotional every day.
  5. HomeSchool with Excellence (Sis Latta Poems, BibleQuiz quote/memorize, Math, Teach/Facilitate Effective Communication through Writing, Musical Instrument Practice)
  6. Write Daily (Articles/Fiction/Blog/FB posts)
  7. Read Marketing book
  8. Read Writing Craft/Research book
  9. Cook, Laundry, Regular Home Pick-Up
  10. Exercise

To be honest, I don’t accomplish every one of these things every day, but that’s okay.

My goals for the year, so far, are

  • Help my daughters publish their latest fiction
  • Publish my own new fiction book by June
  • Publish blog posts more consistently
  • Have more of a presence on FB

It is so good to take the time to consider the past year and what you would like the future to be, short-term and long-term. You and I need vision. It’s great to have goals and even better to accomplish them.

What are your goals for 2014? There are sure to be plenty of new challenges and new adventures. What exciting times we live in!

Above photo is: “Cup of Coffee With Red Roses” by domdeen available from:

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Posted by on January 16, 2014 in Author in the Trenches


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