A New Direction

If you’ve looked at my blog recently you can see clearly see that I haven’t posted regularly. It’s time to change that.

What’s been on my mind recently is the topic of relationships. Everyone has relationships in one form or another. We have relationships with our spouses, our children, siblings, parents, extended families, co-workers, church friends, school friends, even people we see casually, like the grocery store clerk, the person bagging our groceries, and people at the gym.

We even have a relationship with ourselves and sometimes that’s the trickiest one of all. Lately I’ve been examining my relationships including the one I have with myself. The previous theme of this blog was about cancer and life after cancer. But I don’t want to focus on cancer any longer. There’s much more to my life than cancer. But I have to acknowledge how cancer changed me. I don’t think you can go through an experience like that, especially twice, and not somehow be changed.

What having cancer has done spurred me to take better care of myself and of course live life to the fullest. But that meant changing everything about my life. Since 2012 I’ve lost over 70 pounds, I go to the gym regularly, and have completely changed the way I eat. This was difficult but it’s more than worth it.

I have a whole new attitude that has definitely changed how I feel about myself. Obviously it’s fun to buy clothes, and I find myself choosing more interesting and colorful clothes to wear. Recently I bought tennis shoes and while my inclination would have been to by black or boring, I actually bought silver shoes highlighted with neon pink and green, which is so different for me. (See photo with old tennis shoes in the background).

But I guess I have a new spirit of fun and celebration for this life. Last summer, my daughter gave me a pair of red and cream wingtip shoes. Never would I have bought these on my own, but they are now my favorite shoes! And they go great with the RED jeans I bought. Me… in red jeans… what a difference 74 pounds makes! (When I get really brave, I’ll add a photo of me in red jeans!)

As excited as I am I don’t want to turn into one of these people that has to tell everyone else how I’ve done this. Too many of my friends struggle with weight loss and other issues. While I want to be an encourager, I don’t want to be annoying about it! Everyone has to find their own path.

We all want to have those relationships where we can share and celebrate the good things in our life, and still be compassionate and encouraging to those going through the tough times. The ups and downs of life are something we all have in common.

So as I go forward with confidence and some introspection, I think examining the relationships in my world and in yours will be a good exercise in trying to live life to its fullest and to appreciate life and the people we have in our lives.

I hope you’ll join me and share your own stories about the relationships in your life.

Let’s start with how we treat ourselves. What’s your relationship like with yourself? Do you beat up on yourself? Have you gone through a recent change? Or are you still grappling with “can I do this?”

Maybe if we share with each other, then we can lift each other up and today can be a better day.

ACFW New Releases: March 2013

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Catching Her Heart by Carolyne Aarsen — When they fell in love that summer, Jess Schroder never knew the secret Naomi Deacon carried away with her. Eight years later, she’s back in Hartley Creek – a nurse’s aide devoted to healing others. As she gets to know the good, caring man Jess has become, Naomi realizes they both deserve a second chance. Is Jess ready to let Naomi past his defenses? (Romance from Love Inspired).

Moonlight Masquerade, A Regency by Ruth Axtell — Lady Celine Wexham seems the model British subject. French by birth but enjoying life in 1813 as a widowed English countess, she is in the unique position of being able to help those in need-or to spy for the notorious Napoleon Bonaparte. When Rees Phillips of the British Foreign Office is sent to pose as the countess’s butler and discover where her true loyalties lie, he is confident he will uncover the truth. But the longer he is with her, the more his staunch loyalty to the Crown begins to waver. (Historical Romance from Revell).

Rekindled Romance by Lorraine Beatty — Back home again to regain her health, Shelby Russell finds herself babysitting for Matt Durrant’s adorable kids, but the trouble is, Matt’s the man she jilted for her career years ago. (Romance from Love Inspired).

The Hidden Son by Dianna T. Benson — When U.S. DEA Special Agent Lelisa Desmond refuses to follow an order to bury evidence in a high profile case, her superior inexplicably hires a hit man to kill her. Lelisa barely survives the first attempt on her life, but someone close to her is mistakenly murdered in her place. Lelisa sets off on a daring mission to bring down the man who ordered her execution. A man with powerful friends who will stop at nothing to protect his son. Can she take him down, before he sends someone else to silence her forever? (Suspense/Police Procedural from Ellechor Publishing House).

Strand of Deception by Robin Caroll — Strand of Deception offers romance, suspense, and a lively debate about the impact of DNA testing, for better or worse, on the United States justice system. (Romantic Suspense from B&H Publishing).

Swept Away by Mary Connealy — Ruthy MacNeil is rescued from a flood by Luke Stone…who is on his way to fight the man who killed his father…so unfortunately, there are more chances to die in Ruthy’s immediate future. (Historical Romance from Realms – Charisma Media).

Scorned Justice by Margaret Daley — Texas Ranger Brody Calhoun realizes the attack on his high school sweetheart’s brother is more than it seems. Judge Rebecca Morgan is in the midst of a trial involving the Russian Mafia and suddenly her life is in danger. (Romantic Suspense from Abingdon Press).

When Truth Whispers by Dora Hiers — After a humiliating breakup, best-selling romance author Teal Benning flees to Promise Lake to complete her current novel, minus paparazzi and flashing cameras. Suffering from writer’s block and a broken heart, Teal accepts the offer of help from neighbor, Hunter Miciver. Hunter longs to be more than the friend who picks up the shattered pieces of Teal’s heart, but when Teal finds out his secret, will she see him for the man he is? (Contemporary Romance Novella from White Prose Publishing (Pelican).

Journey’s Embrace by Dora Hiers — After an injury forces Deputy U.S. Marshal Sage Michaelson off duty, he heads to his hometown with two things on his mind: recuperating and reevaluating, but Sage can’t refuse his best friend’s plea to keep a protective eye on his little sister after someone ransacks her house. Flight Medic Delaney Hunt has loved Sage forever. But, he’s all about control while she takes risks. She doesn’t need Sage looking over her shoulder. But when things go wrong and she finds herself hanging by her fingertips, who does she call to rescue her? (Contemporary Romance from White Rose Publishing (Pelican).

Angel Falls by Connie Mann — A fiercely protective Brazilian orphanage director and a burned-out Army Ranger are forced together in a deadly race to save one helpless baby. (Romantic Suspense from Abingdon Press).

Love Will Find a Way by Pamela S. Meyers — When April Love opens her new eatery and catering business in an old Victorian in the village of Canoga Lake, Wisconsin, trouble is afoot. During renovations, she discovers evidence that the home had once been the hideout of a famous gangster. When several break-ins and an attempted arson fire threaten the grand opening, April and handsome fiancé Marc Thorne wonder if the gangsters still around? (Cozy Mystery from OakTara Publishers).

The Survivor by DiAnn Mills — Kariss helps a woman involved with a 23 year old cold case and steps into a viper’s pit of danger. (Romantic Suspense from Zondervan).

When Memories Fade (Victory Gospel Series 2) by Tyora Moody — Angel Roberts has embraced her new faith, but past memories remain fresh. After her beloved grandmother suffers a stroke, Angel sets out to investigate a mystery that has lingered since she was five years old. What happened to her mother? She teams up with investigative reporter, Wes Cade, a man obsessed with his Alzheimer stricken grandfather’s remaining memories. As Angel lets her guard down with Wes, his determination to get the story could push her to the edge. Is his interest in her or the story? (Romantic Suspense from Urban Christian).

Love for the Right Reasons by Donna L. Rich — Beverly Lahmeyer falls in love with her new boss, but devastating news brings their relationship to a halt. (Contemporary Romance from Heartsong Presents).

Mountain Homecoming by Sandra Robbins — In the second book in the Smoky Mountain Dreams series, the Martin family realizes their way of life is changing as the lumber companies begin to invade their remote valley deep in the Smoky Mountains. (Romance from Harvest House).

The Tempted Soul by Adina Senft — A childless Amish woman is tempted by medical technology to betray her beliefs. (Contemporary Women’s Fiction from Faith Words (Hachette).

Antique Dreams by Amber Stockton — Fulfilling a deathbed promise, Aaron Stone encourages Lillian Bradenton to bring life back to a boarded-up bookstore, but before he can make good on his promise, he is called away to settle a family emergency, leaving Lillian to wonder if she’s lost him forever. (Historical Romance from Heartsong Presents).

Forsaken Dreams by Mary Lu Tyndall — Forsaken Dreams launches readers on a romantic adventure as Colonel Blake Wallace leaves the war-torn South behind to build a utopian society in Brazil. But will unexpected dangers on the ship and the secret of one captivating lady keep him from beginning anew? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing).

Ring of Secrets by Roseanna M. White — Love has no place in a world of spies. (Historical Romance from Harvest House).

New Books: February 2013

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Angelguard by Ian Acheson — In a war that transcends time … A new offensive is launched … Hidden dark forces are advancing … Heaven’s warriors respond … One man finds himself at the center of the conflict … Can he stop the unthinkable occurring? (Supernatural Thriller from Monarch – Lion Hudson).

Heart of a Rancher by Renee Andrews — After having his heart broken in the past by a city girl, John Cutter isn’t quick to fall for the new city girl in town, but when he does, he falls hard…and then he learns her secret. (Romance from Love Inspired).

A Home for Lydia by Vannetta Chapman — A Home for Lydia centers again on the Plain community of Pebble Creek and the kind, caring people there. As they face challenges to their community from the English world, they come together to reach out to their non-Amish neighbors while still preserving their cherished Plain ways. (Contemporary Romance from Harvest House).

The Reluctant Earl by C.J. Chase — Alone in a gentleman’s bedchamber, rummaging through his clothing – governess Leah Vance risks social ruin. Only by selling political information can she pay for her sister’s care. And the letter she found in Julian DeChambelle’s coat could be valuable-if the ex-sea captain himself had not just walked in. As a navy officer, Julian knew his purpose. As a new earl, he’s plagued by trivialities and marriage-obsessed females. Miss Vance’s independence is intriguing-and useful. In return for relaying false information, he will pay her handsomely. But trusting her, even caring for her? That would be pure folly. (Historical Romance from Love Inspired).

Detection Mission by Margaret Daley — K-9 officer, Lee Calloway, finds a woman running for her life, scared, injured, and no idea who she is. Lee vows to protect her until her memory returns, but someone is desperate to make sure that doesn’t happen. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired).

Catherine’s Pursuit by Lena Nelson Dooley — The search for her sisters will become a spiritual journey for the entire family. (Historical Romance from Realms – Charisma Media).

Love Comes to Paradise by Mary Ellis — Nora King follows her heart to a turbulent new land, only to discover one cannot escape the past…or true love if God wills it to be. (Contemporary Romance from Harvest House).

A New Home for Lily by Suzanne Woods Fisher and Mary Ann Kinsinger — Lily Lapp is moving with her family to Pennsylvania to join a new Amish community. In this small town where changes–and newcomers–are greeted with suspicion, Lily must adjust to a new school, new friends, and Aaron Yoder, an annoying boy who teases her relentlessly. Still, there are exciting new developments, including an attic full of adventure and a new baby brother. But why, Lily wonders, can’t God bring her just one sister? (Middle-Grade/Chapter book from Revell).

Beyond the Valley by Rita Gerlach — Will his love be enough to find her again within the wilds of the Maryland frontier? Book 3 in the Daughters of the Potomac series. (Historical Romance from Abingdon).

Groom by Arrangement by Rhonda Gibson — The wrong groom could be the perfect match. (Historical Romance from Love Inspired).

Torn Loyalties by Vicki Hinze — Madison McKay doesn’t trust anyone. When Madison is framed for a security breach at a top secret military facility, she’s forced to put her life in ex-military special investigator Grant Deaver’s hands. But after she discovers that he’s been deceiving her, everything will be torn apart unless Grant can convince her to trust him with her life…and her heart. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired).

Love’s Journey Home by Kelly Irvin — Love’s Journey Home is the story of how the families of Bliss Creek’s Amish community learn to be still and listen for the Lord’s direction and then act on faith that His plan will lead them to a long awaited new life. (Romance from Harvest House).

Shattered by Dani Pettrey — Deputy Landon Grainger loves the McKenna family, but he’s also sworn to find the truth. Piper McKenna is trying to convince him her brother is innocent of murder. The two head deep into Canada’s rugged backcountry–and unexpected complications. Not only does their long friendship seem to be turning into something more, but this dangerous case is becoming deadlier with each step. (Romantic Suspense from Bethany House).

The Magistrate’s Folly by Lisa Karon Richardson — The magistrate didn’t know if his greatest folly was condemning her, or trying to rescue her. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing).

When the Heart Heals by Ann Shorey — A young woman tries to put the past behind her and find her place in a new town and a changing world. (Historical Romance from Revell).

Rebekah by Jill Eileen Smith — Can love heal the rift between two souls? (Historical/Biblical from Revell).

Hide and Seek by H.L. Wegley — He expected security breaches, but the conspiracy she uncovers sends them running for their lives. (Romantic Suspense from Harbourlight Books).

Congo Dawn by Jeanette Windle — When a multinational corporation with unlimited funds hires on a private military company with unbridled power, how far might they be willing to go with the planet’s ultimate “conflict mineral” up for grabs? Especially in a Congolese rainforest where governmental accountability is only too cheaply for sale. (Thriller/Suspense from Tyndale).

Firefly Island by Lisa Wingate — Big city career lady Mallory must decide fast whether to move to an isolated Texas Ranch with a man she recently started dating, well, two males actually, Daniel’s son Nick is part of the package deal. (General Contemporary from Bethany House).

Flora’s Wish by Kathleen Y’Barbo — If you like your historical romance Southern with a dash of steam punk, don’t miss the first novel in the Lives of Will Tucker series: A revenge-bound Pinkerton agent with a pocketful of inventions cannot seem to stop “Fatal Flora” Brimm from reaching the altar with prospective groom number five, but the arrest warrant Agent Lucas McMinn carries in his pocket for Flora and her fiancé just might. (Historical Romance from Harvest House).

ACFW New Releases: January 2013

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Mind of Her Own by Diana Lesire Brandmeyer — Who knew making dinner could change your life? (Contemporary Women’s Fiction from Tyndale House).

Waiting for Morning by Margaret Brownley — If Molly’s purple attire doesn’t blind you, her dazzling smile will. She doesn’t just sing to cattle, she puts on a whole show with dancing and all. If only she wasn’t so stubborn about her brother’s care. Or so suspicious of a certain handsome doctor… (Historical Romance from Thomas Nelson).

Waiting for Spring by Amanda Cabot — In the second of the Westward Winds series, a young widow discovers danger and love in 1886 Cheyenne. (Historical Romance from Revell).

A Daughter’s Redemption by Georgiana Daniels — Inheriting her estranged father’s property isn’t the reason Robyn Warner wanted to come back to Pine Hollow. She thought she’d make amends with her father-but his sudden death made that impossible. And when she learns the identity of the handyman fixing the run-down cabins, Robyn is ready to flee Pine Hollow again. (Romance from Love Inspired).

Where Treasure Hides by Johnnie Alexander Donley — Gifted artist Alison Schuyler and British officer Ian Devlin fall in love on the eve of war. But Alison’s spurned Nazi suitor has his own plans for her future. Will Alison and Ian hold onto their love despite the forces against them, or is it their fate to be separated forever? (Historical Romance from Tyndale House).

Choices of the Heart by Laurie Alice Eakes — In this gripping story of trust, deception, and bittersweet loss, you’ll discover the true meaning of choices of the heart. (Historical Romance from Revell).

Vanished by Irene Hannon — A tenacious reporter… A dubious PI… A secret that will shatter lives…. (Romantic Suspense from Revell).

Claiming Mariah by Pam Hillman — In light of her father’s death, Mariah Malone sends a letter that will forever alter the lives of her family. When Slade Donovan, strong willed and eager for vengeance, shows up on her front porch, Mariah is not ready to hear his truths: her father’s farm, the only home she’s ever known, was bought with stolen gold.. Though Mr. Frederick Cooper, a local landowner, promises to answer her financial woes if she agrees to be his bride, Mariah finds herself drawn instead to the angry young man demanding her home. (Historical Romance from Tyndale House).

A Horseman’s Hope by Myra Johnson — Four years after his girlfriend, Shana, became pregnant, Ryan still can’t believe he’s a father . . . and can’t imagine being anything else. His daughter is the light of his life. Now if only Shana could embrace motherhood and the three become a real family. . . . (Contemporary Romance from Heartsong Presents).

Denali Dreams by Ronie Kendig and Kimberley Woodhouse — Vast and rugged, Denali National Park brings adventure and love into the lives of four courageous women. Will cancer survivor Karon reach Mt. McKinley’s summit? Will heiress Jolie survive against the terrain and an assassin? Will flightseeing tour guide Deline save her stalling business? Will love conquer all for ranger Deanna? (Romantic Suspense from Barbour Publishing).

Lily’s Plight by Sally Laity and Dianna Crawford– Amid threats of impending Indian attacks, two people find themselves facing an entirely different challenge…forbidden love. (General Historical from Barbour Publishing).

A Mother’s Promise by Anna Schmidt — The third and final book in the Women of Pinecraft series. Set in the Amish/Mennonite community of Pinecraft on the Gulf Coast of Florida readers have fallen in love with these strong women who meet life’s challenges with faith and courage. (General Contemporary from Barbour Publishing).

Path of Freedom by Jennifer Hudson Taylor — 1850 – When Quakers Flora Saferight and Bruce Millikan embark on the Underground Railroad, they agree to put their differences aside to save the lives of a pregnant slave couple. With only her mother’s quilt as a secret guide, the foursome follows the stitches through unknown treachery. As they begin their perilous journey, they hope and pray that their path is one of promise where love sustains them, courage builds faith, and forgiveness leads to freedom. (Historical Romance from Abingdon Press).

Doctor to the Rescue by Cheryl Wyatt — A former Air Force combat doctor and single dad returns from deployment to raise his daughter and enters a childcare barter with a neighbor that lends to unexpected blessings. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired).