Hopping John ~ A New Year’s Tradition

For many years our family begins each New Year with Hopping John for lunch or dinner. It’s a family favorite and easy to make. Many people believe black-eyed peas on New Years bring good fortune.

Spicy Hopping John 

2 cups of canned black-eyed peas                                                          ½ lb bacon   (reserve 2 Tablespoon of bacon drippings)               

1 medium chopped onion            2 minced garlic cloves 

½ teasp. of crushed red pepper flakes   ½ teasp. Black pepper

½ teasp. Salt                     1 cup white uncooked white rice

Cook rice according to directions. Fry bacon and set aside. Sauté chopped onion in reserved bacon drippings until soft and clear. Add garlic and pepper flakes to onion and heat for a couple of minutes. When rice is done, add black-eyed peas, cooked bacon, and salt and pepper. Stir together and heat on low heat for 10 minutes to allow flavors to blend. Chill leftovers and reheat when you are ready for more.

There are many variations for this southern dish so feel free to experiment and make it your own.

My sons enjoyed it and wondered why we only had it once a year. While we never ate it because it would bring good luck, we enjoyed Hopping John every New Year and hope that our new year would be blessed.

I hope your New Year will be healthy, safe,

and filled with hope and joy.

SETTING TWO HEARTS FREE ~ Releases October 6th

History has always fascinated me, particularly people and events that change the course of a nation or the world. When interpreting history through a Biblical worldview (Providentially) one sees God’s presence, provision, protection, power, and at times permission to accomplish His will. Our world has been polluted by sin since mankind’s fall, ushering in all manner of evil over time. And while God does not endorse these horrible events, we know that He often works through them or despite them to accomplish His greater purposes.

Discovering God’s direction and intervention in the years leading up to, during, and after the American Revolution inspired me to write a series of stories about the American Revolution. I’m delighted that the final book in the series Setting Two Hearts Free releases October sixth.

Setting Two Hearts Free is dedicated to all who suffer the invisible wounds of war and other trauma. And to their families and loved ones, sometimes struggling to best know how to help and cope.

A HEART SET FREE ~ A story of Forgiveness

1770 ~ Heather Douglas, a woman, disillusioned and desperate to escape her native Scotland, signs a seven-year indenture and flees aboard a British merchant vessel to the Virginia colony.

Matthew Stewart, a widowed farmer with two young children needs someone to help raise them. Is God leading him to take this unknown indentured servant as his wife? How would these two individuals, from opposite sides of the Atlantic, each having experienced tragedies, bridge their differences to make a life together?

A HEART FOR FREEDOM ~ A story of Faithfulness

1775-1776 ~ When hostilities break out between the British and colonials, the antagonism between colonists and the British escalate to confrontation. Throughout Virginia, strife between factions loyal to the crown and those demanding independence pit friends, neighbors, and families against each other.

Like so many others, Heather and Matthew’s world is turning upside down. Loyalties are questioned and odd and unexplainable events create doubt and suspicion. Their journey is filled with challenges but God’s faithfulness will encourage His people.

SETTING TWO HEARTS FREE ~ A story of Forbearance

1781-1783 ~ Donald Duncan joined the Patriot cause for noble reasons, battling the British while enduring deprivation and hardship on every side. The war has changed him, and now the battle is internal. Returning home to Virginia is in sight where a new life and his Mary wait for him.

Mary Stewart spends the war years with her family at Stewarts’ Green, helping them operate their ordinary. Daily, she prays for Donald’s safe return, eagerly waiting for him … until that day the evil side of war touches her.

Two hearts are challenged by a war that dragged on for six years. Two hearts left hurting and struggling to find the love and trust they once knew. Is there a path for them to rekindle what was lost, Setting Two Hearts Free?

Life During COVID During the Spring and Summer of 2020

Sometimes it’s easier to endure and thrive during times of crisis when we know others are sharing our same struggles. So about a week ago, I asked some friends several questions regarding their journey through this challenging period COVID-19 has given us. Here are the questions and their answers.

1. Besides missing contact with family, friends, and usual church activities, what has been the most challenging for you during these past six months?

~ Surprised and sad at how people ‘shut down & shut off’ friends they disagree with. I have missed the ‘freedoms’ experienced before this (just going & doing, & not feeling the ‘heaviness’ of others who are so hurting). 

~ Not being able to just jump in the car and go somewhere, anywhere, without “suiting up”. It discourages me from going out. 

~ I also greatly miss the freedom to go somewhere, anywhere, without consciously remembering to wear a mask.  This action just reminds me that there is an invisible threat to my health.

~ Not feeling I can make normal plans and a sense of uncertainty around others in their homes. Do I wear a mask? Do I not wear one? Political unrest.

~ My husband, who worked part-time from home, was laid off in the beginning of the quarantine. He has required a lot more of the time that I was used to devoting to writing. I almost given up writing because I feel guilty being busy when he is unsettled and lonely. 

~ Being with people, and our biggest challenge is that we’re tired of zoom, though it has had its place. 

~ Managing my diet and making healthy eating choices.

~ Keeping myself busy, I don’t have any more closets or cabinets to straighten or clean out; spring cleaning was accomplished earlier than scheduled.

~ I miss seeing people’s smiles and going places.

2. Are you finding it difficult to concentrate or accomplish what you want to do or maintain a normal routine?

~ To-Do lists have helped but I don’t complete them all.  My day to day routine is Not the routine I had before this… 

~ Yes. Without attending church and no appointments, no lunch with friends, and avoiding shopping as much as possible, it’s hard to stay on a routine. With less socializing, I find it difficult to be creative. 

~ Feeling like this “season” seems endless, it has taken much more intentional discerning what to do each day. 

~ I find it hard to concentrate on reading. I thought, for sure I’d finish all the books I started. On the other hand,)

~ I find myself sleeping later, and not always getting dressed for the day the way I did pre-COVID.  I can’t seem to really structure myself productively some days.

~ It’s been hard to adjust to my husband working from home some days. Not feeling well. It’s harder to make goals as one day flows into another, not having my regular activities going on.

~ Finding motivation to accomplish something as simple as cleaning a closet is difficult; not hard to convince myself to push it off until tomorrow.

~ I set goals when the quarantine started that I haven’t met but wait … it’s not over yet.

~ We’re finding it very difficult to maintain a normal routine, I find being outside working in our yard is a help, except when the temperatures are 90  degrees!!

 

      But Mom, we’ve already been                        on three walks today.

3. What are some of your coping strategies during this unusual season?

~ I started a small exercise routine, which I am motivated to keep. When I take my cat out in the morning, all he does is sits, so I jog in place!

~ I tend to hide in a book, reading to escape. 

~ Our coping strategies are just trusting the Lord.  We know He is sovereign and is doing amazing things during this chaotic time.  Knowing He has this in His hands gives us the freedom to live life with joy and peace. 

~ Counting my blessings as well as more time in devotions, prayer, study & reading of God’s word. I am so grateful for His goodness.

~ Keeping my time in the Word and with God every morning anchors my heart and mind. There’s nothing like the W.O.G to level all playing fields, keeping hope and truth upfront and center!

~ I listen to music, mostly classical and Christian more.  I also have been listening to Prophecy YouTube videos, rereading Christian books, and working on a Bible study that I started in June.  My husband takes me on drives in our beautiful community several times during the week, and a milkshake is always a good idea.

~ Reconnecting with friends and family, staying in God’s Word and prayer, my husband and I working on communication and our relationship.

~ Make a list of what needs to be done and DO IT, and don’t make the list unrealistically demanding; daily time in prayer and the Bible for the correct perspective of circumstances.

~ I enjoy making cards, rubber stamping, and coming up with ideas for birthday cards and Christmas cards. so have been working on ideas for cards.  I’ve also been trying out new recipes for dinner ideas and desserts (which I should not be doing, desserts that is.)

~ Keep to a normal routine … spend time in God’s Word and pray.

4. What positive outcomes have you discovered during this period?

~ More than usual special times with daughter & her family. An affirmation of whose hands hold me and whose plan is perfect. 

~ I’ve enjoyed every day. I have come to appreciate the simplicity of each day. Getting up, getting dressed, exercising, watching, my Korean dramas… sitting on the front porch while my young neighbors climb my front tree and talk to me! Making meals, being so grateful for food, for my husband’s work(it makes him happy) God’s provision… and the grace and opportunity to pray for others and the world. With the pandemic killing so many, I found myself praying for mercy for the world’s people. I pray it’s a sprout of mercy I’ll take the time to nurture and grow. 

~ I have most definitely grown closer to the Lord.  My house is cleaner, and my husband and I enjoy watching old movies and TV shows together.  I also have been writing notes to people.  It is my joy just to sit on my porch and watch the birds, and the squirrels among my favorite plants.  I also love to just sit on the porch when it rains.

~ Having time to face some issues and relinquishing them to God. Praying for our country and leaders.

~We enjoyed taking long walks. However, the recent air quality issues due to forest fires from other states have made that difficult. We have spent a lot of time with my sister and her family. That has been a blessing. 

~The Body of Christ has been out of the building and in their neighborhoods and ministering to those around them. We see more clearly the spiritual battle going on and know our prayers are important.

~ The increased time with my husband has been a blessing; financial savings with no maid service and less eating out!

~ Positive thoughts – Even with all the negative things that are impacting our lives at this time. Regularly able to raise prayer in thanks for so many blessings. We have a wonderful community with loving Christian friends that we keep in touch with. We are fortunate to be retired and even though my husband was laid off of his second job, God continues to provide all we need. Many of us are still able to participate in

 our church services both electronically and in-person for regular reinforcement. We see many things occurring around us that are obvious answers to our prayers.

~ Done more baking, organized closets, and spent more time in prayer … and exercising.

I hope this has been an encouragement as you travel through these challenging times … and stay well.

Setting Two Hearts Free

Two months from today is the release of Setting Two Hearts Free, the third book in my Revolutionary War series. For those who haven’t read A Heart Set Free or A Heart For Freedom, this is a stand-alone story, though you’ll better understand the characters’ background by reading the first two books.

Setting Two Hearts Free picks up in 1781 five years after A Heart For Freedom ends and focuses on the younger generation. The war is winding down but the danger and challenges the characters face haven’t—and some will last long after leaving the battlefield.

Here’s the blurb from Setting Two Hearts Free:

Donald Duncan joined the Patriot cause for noble reasons, battling the British while enduring deprivation and hardship on every side. The war has changed him, and now the battle is internal. Returning home to Virginia is in sight where a new life and his Mary wait for him.

Mary Stewart spends the war years with her family at Stewarts’ Green, helping them operate their ordinary. Daily, she prays for Donald’s safe return, eagerly waiting for him … until that day the evil side of war touches her.

Two hearts changed by a war that dragged on for six years. Two hearts left hurting and struggling to find the love and trust they once knew. Is there a path for them to rekindle what was lost, Setting Two Hearts Free?

A Heart Set Free was a Selah Award winner. A Heart For Freedom was a Christian Indie Award winner.

For more updates here is where you can follow me:

​https://JanetGrunst.com                                                                                                                                              https://www.facebook.com/Janet-Grunst-Author-385405948228216                                                                                                                                                     https://colonialquills.blogspot.com/                                                                                                                                https://www.instagram.com/janetgrunst/                                                                                                                  https://twitter.com/janetgrunst                                     

https://www.pinterest.com/janetgrunst/ 

Meet Talia Sampson in Kathy Rouser’s latest book Flying Into Love

Janet: Hi, Talia. I understand you moved into that lovely Victorian mansion about a year ago.  What brought you to Maple Grove, Michigan?

Talia: When I was growing up, I used to spend much of each summer visiting my Aunt Violet and became very close to her. She became seriously ill almost a year ago. Since she doesn’t have any children of her own and my sister, Ashley, travels so much for work, it was natural that I would come and help take care of Aunt Vi. I couldn’t stand to think of her depending on only a couple of friends or heaven forbid, a stranger.

Janet: We all miss your Aunt Violet. She was such a generous person and a sensitive and perceptive writer. I believe Vi mentioned you also had writing ambitions. What kind of writing do you do?

Talia: My degree is actually in special education, but I minored in creative writing. I’ve dreamed of becoming a novelist for several years now, so sometimes I play around with story ideas. I do have a proposal written up for a novel I’m working on, but it’s coming along very slowly since I’m so busy. Between taking over my aunt’s advice column, which is supposed to be a secret, by the way, and caring for my niece, who has time for writing fiction?

Janet: You must stay busy between your writing and taking care of your niece, Bianca. Raising children can be so challenging. Did her parents pass away?

Talia: No, Bianca’s father is a no-good, you-know-what. It makes me furious to think how he left Ashley and hasn’t been any support since. And Ashley’s high-powered job takes her many places. Honestly, I think it was hard for both of them to accept that Bianca has challenges with her Down Syndrome, but I think she is perfect the way she is.

Janet: When I was in the hardware store, I was introduced to a veteran who is staying with you and helping with odd jobs. How did that come about? Was he a friend of Violet’s?

Talia: Ben Tanner, yes, well, it was quite unexpected… Apparently, at one time, Aunt Vi opened Sampson Mansion to veterans readjusting to civilian life. We have an apartment over the garage for that purpose. I really didn’t feel prepared to have a stranger around. Worrying about Bianca is enough as it is. But he had proof that Violet was part of the Welcome Homes program, and Janine, the housekeeper, kind of guilted me into letting him stay. He offered to help out at least.

Janet: He’s quite attractive and she mentioned he’s single. Are you hoping he’ll stay in town?

Talia: Goodness, my face feels flushed. Hold on, let me open the window here in my office… Okay, I’m back. Much better. Yes, that he is—attractive I mean—but don’t tell him I said that just right now. I’m not sure if I’m ready to start dating again. I must say he has the most piercing hazel eyes and gorgeous black hair. The rest of him doesn’t look so bad either. He is quite dependable, kind, makes me laugh, and Bianca is quite taken with him, so I would really like for him to settle in Maple Grove—I mean—his skill set would be a great addition to our town.

Janet: It’s been a pleasure meeting you, Talia. I hope we can have tea some time.

Talia: Tea sounds lovely. Let me know when you’d like to stop by. I still have some of Aunt Vi’s beautiful china to serve it on. Thanks for inviting me to chat with you, Janet.

Kathy’s Bio:

Kathleen Rouser is the award-winning author of Rumors and Promises, and a multi-published author of historical Christian romance. She is a longtime member in good standing of American Christian Fiction Writers.

Kathleen has loved making up stories since she was a little girl and wanted to be a writer before she could even read. She’s in the grip of God’s grace and is a fan of the three Cs—cats, coffee, and chocolate. The mother of three, who is a former homeschool instructor, mild-mannered dental assistant, and current Community Bible Study kids’ teacher, lives in Michigan with her hero and husband of thirty-some years, and two sweet cats who found a home in their empty nest.

 

Social media and buying links

Website: http://kathleenrouser.com

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/kathleenerouser/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KathleenRouser

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/kerouser/

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/kathleen-rouser

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7427871.Kathleen_Rouser

 

Buy link for Flying Into Love:

https://books2read.com/u/3LDxaD?fbclid=IwAR1yIyEtlq9uvkMQaCBBxL0u5Eaz18XvDtmFSGMrDgOsFjpaeTCkLlvwUik

My Amazon page with links to all my books: https://www.amazon.com/Kathleen-Rouser/e/B00P3BR662?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1587786152&sr=8-1

 

Within Golden Bands the sequel to Land of My Dreams

It’s a pleasure to welcome you back Norma Gail, upon the release Within Golden Bands. Please tell us something about yourself, Norma. 

Thank you for hosting me, Janet! I’m excited to share my books with your readers.

I’m a former RN and homeschool/soccer mom who has made up stories since I was a child. My debut novel, Land of My Dreams, released in 2014. It took longer than I hoped for the sequel to come about for a lot of reasons but I’m excited to finally have a release date of May 19th. I also write weekly devotionals on my own website at www.NormaGail.org, and am a monthly contributor to the inspirational website, Inspire a Fire.

My husband and I live on the side of a mountain, at 7200 feet in elevation, outside Albuquerque, New Mexico. It’s a peaceful place to enjoy the beauty of nature and a perfect setting for writing. We love taking long walks in our quiet neighborhood and enjoying the view from our patio, which stretches about 100 miles and allows us views of three different mountain ranges. Readers of Land of My Dreams will recognize the description of the view from Bonny’s New Mexico house.

My husband was already partially retired and working from home when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. That ended his part-time job, so he graciously stays busy while I write and work on book promotion. We enjoy heading out in our RV with my younger sister and her husband to Northern New Mexico. We took three big trips last year but this year’s travel plans are on hold until we see what direction the world is heading.

I remember that the inspiration for Land of my Dreams came when you and your husband visited Scotland for your thirtieth wedding anniversary. 

Yes, our anniversary trip was the inspiration for my first book. The second we stepped off the plane in Scotland, I felt as if I had come home. I kept dreaming about a man wearing a kilt and playing bagpipes on a misty hillside surrounded by sheep. When I broke my foot and ended up in a wheelchair for 8 weeks, Bonny and Kieran’s story was born.

Please tell us about your new release Within Golden Bands.

Here is the back cover copy for Within Golden Bands:

Newly married Bonny MacDonell finds the transition from American college professor to Scottish sheep farmer’s wife more difficult than she expected. When her miracle pregnancy ends in a devastating miscarriage, she fears her husband’s reaction will hurt more than the loss of their child.

But Kieran never shows up at the hospital. When found, he is beaten and unconscious. The only memory of his attacker is the words, “Get off my land.” Reeling from the threat to her husband and the loss of their child, Bonny struggles to hold her marriage together. Are faith and love enough to hold their fledgling marriage together?

Within Golden Bands is a deeply personal story and one that will touch many readers in a meaningful way. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? 

My husband and I have two grown children, both of whom are adopted. The topic of adoption plays a huge role in the plot of Within Golden Bands. The years of infertility doctors, and surgeries with no answers, left an indelible mark on us. This is a huge struggle for couples, no matter how long they have been married. We learned a lot about the faithfulness of God and the importance of being content as a couple and supportive of one another through that period of our lives. The couples we met chose many different ways of facing the decision of whether to pursue fertility treatments, adoption or remain childless. In our case, even though we discussed adoption before we married, my husband was ready first. The desire to be a mother is a difficult thing for any woman to surrender to God.

Our journey to parenthood took four years. We were married for eight years when we adopted our son. Our daughter came along 21 ½ months later. They have brought so much joy. It’s impossible to imagine life without them.

My favorite quote from the book is: “If we fail to accept what God sends with trusting hearts, we refuse His greatest blessings.”

God often teaches us something through our writing. What did you learn about life, faith, or yourself in the process of writing this story?

As I said earlier, Within Golden Bands was a long time coming. Both our extended and immediate families went through some ups and downs that required attention. God has a perfect time for each book. I received two rejections and went through many rewrites before I heard the story God intended me to write. Part of the problem was listening to what other people thought. You have to write the story God places in your heart for the pieces to come together.

The topic of abortion has come to the forefront in the political arena again, so a story about people who choose life fits our times very well. Most people need to be more educated about adoption. I also discovered that feelings I thought I had dealt with over 35 years ago were still buried deep inside. Though Bonny and Kieran’s story is not ours, her character voices many of the emotions I experienced back then.

Also, like the characters in the book, we went through a major threat to our livelihood at the time began our second adoption. Things were pretty scary for a while and caused us to lean on the Lord because we were faced with a situation that left us powerless.

Where can readers find Land of my Dreams?

Both books are available on Amazon

Land of My Dreamshttps://www.amazon.com/Land-My-Dreams-Norma-Gail-ebook/dp/B01ENKEL02/

Within Golden Bands – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B084TSQ432/

What are your social media sights?

You can follow me at:

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/AuthorNormaGail/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/Norma_Gail

LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/norma-gail-holtman-3b271a42/

Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/normagailth/

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/normagailwrites/

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7874459.Norma_Gail

Amazon Author Page – https://www.amazon.com/Norma-Gail/e/B00ILHXBAK/

Thank you so much, for being my guest, Norma.

It was my pleasure! Thank you for being there as a friend when my book was rejected and for sharing my love of all things Scottish!