When Taking Care of Others Means Taking Care of Yourself

If you can’t tell from reading the title of this post, I’ve been feeling a little burned out. No, actually, let’s make that an extra crispy, black-as-charcoal kind of burned out. Like these poor pieces of toast.

Image courtesy of flickr.

Image courtesy of flickr.

Between getting the munchkins ready to go back to school and the release of 2 books, it’s been one crazy, busy month! And September’s not even over yet. Aiya. :O I’m not complaining though; I am very, very thankful (especially about school starting again, haha). But I have to admit that I’m tired … and when mama’s tired, she can get a bit grouchy. Okay, make that very grouchy.

I found myself getting impatient and frustrated with the kids more often recently and had to ask myself, Is it them or is it me? Sure, there are plenty of situations when they push all the wrong buttons and squeeze out every last drop of long-suffering juice I have left in me, but lately it’s been more a matter of me already feeling dried up with nothing to give. Especially last week when I was overseeing an all-day Facebook party and discovered that due to some technical glitches I couldn’t leave the computer for more than a few minutes at a time. Which meant I even had to bring my laptop with me when I went to pick up the munchkins from school (don’t try that at home, folks!). When we got home, I was running around like a mad woman trying to cook dinner for ourselves and my in-laws (the tables have turned ’cause my mother-in-law had knee replacement surgery) and check Facebook and help the kids with whatever they needed help with. Whew, I’m tired just remembering that day. 😉 Thankfully, the party went well and everyone was fed and in one piece by the end of the night. 🙂 But boy, was I pooped the next day … and the next and the next. And because I was pooped, I was not feeling my best or being my best. So yes, it was definitely me.

Lesson learned: I need to take care of myself in order to take care of those around me.

A friend commented recently that she realized she needs to drop one of the balls she’s been juggling. When I read that, I was like, Wow, I wish I could do that! But the truth is, I can. And I should. For the sake of my family, but also for my own sake. ‘Cause no matter how amazing a juggler I think I am, my arms need to rest once in a while. And most of all, my heart needs to recharge and refuel so I can be the best juggler wife, mama, sister, daughter and friend that I can be.

Here’s a verse I take comfort in when I’m weary.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

And here’s a beautiful, calming song for you when you’re feeling weary: “All is Well” by Voctave.

How do you know when you’re juggling too many balls?

Release Day! (+ The “Woe is Me” Tale Behind this Story)

It’s release day for A Spoonful Of Spice! I may get tired of writing sometimes, but I never get tired of hitting the “publish” button on a story. 😀 So yay, please celebrate this momentous occasion with me! Here’s a pumpkin spice latte for you and one for me, too. Cheers!

coffee-1282683_1280

In case you haven’t figured it out by now, A Spoonful of Spice is the autumn story in my “Seasons of Love” series. When I was brainstorming for this book, the first thing that popped into my head was the word “pumpkin”. Then the words “chai latte” because I love putting those two together when I go to my favorite cafe, Peet’s (sorry, Starbucks lovers!). But since pumpkin spice lattes are more popular drinks, I decided to include them in this story. Oh, and also an IT guy and an IT girl because it’s a love story between the guy and the girl (and possibly, the girl and her pumpkin spice latte). 😉

So that’s how this office romance started … but the finished product is actually a major revision of my original story. Like a total rewrite of half of it (something I’ve never done before!). Yes, that’s when I had a “woe is me” moment as a writer. 😉 Looking back, however, I’m more than grateful that one of my early beta readers (a trusted author friend) gave me some honest and insightful feedback on the story. After picking myself up off the ground, I took a good look at it and tried my hardest to make it better. And to my delight, I like the story a lot more now after rewriting half of it. I think I keep repeating that I rewrote half of it because I still can’t believe I rewrote half of it! Oh, but rewriting half of it was only the first part of my “woe is me” story with this book. I also had to redo the cover after I already did the cover reveal (you can read about that in this post here).

Oh, I almost forgot—there’s a part 3, too. 😉 This was the first book I formatted myself (aka. turning a MS Word file into a .mobi file for Kindle) and that in itself was an adventure. It took 8+ hours to figure it all out, but I did save $80, and hopefully next time it’ll be a lot easier and faster.

So, yes, for a 10,000-word story, there was a lot of work involved. Let me repeat that—A LOT of work. 😉 But it’s all good. All the rewriting and redoing made me appreciate how stubborn I am (haha!) and how any good thing involves perseverance.

Anyhow, you can buy A Spoonful Of Spice for $0.99 or read it for free with Kindle Unlimited on Amazon.com here. I hope you’ll enjoy it, especially with a cup of pumpkin spice latte! 🙂

ASOSFinal

And here’s my favorite song from the YouTube playlist I made for this book, Voctave’s cover of “Someone Like You”, featuring Jody McBrayer.

Taking the “Chinese” Out Of Parenting

So … don’t you hate it when someone speaks the truth in love to you? 😉 Especially when said truth is kinda true? Yup, well, I had one of these moments recently when hubby said, “You sounded kind of harsh when you were talking to E. Like a Chinese parent.”

Argh. Okay, let me back up and explain the scenario. We were at Lowe’s looking at outdoor patio-type chairs. One of our family’s favorite pastimes is sitting on our front porch together eating snacks while playing Plants vs. Zombies 2, watching the hummingbirds come eat at our feeder, and meowing at stray cats.

Here’s our newest feline friend. 🙂

To do so though requires us to drag 4 of our dining room chairs outside, which then get left in the living room when we’re done, unintentionally creating an obstacle course. That’s why I had the brilliant idea of buying either a bench or foldable chairs for us to use outside. But as any parent knows, most kiddos don’t have the same definition of “brilliant” as their parents. So, there we were at Lowe’s browsing around when 5 minutes in, E started saying he was bored and could we leave, like 5 minutes ago? To which I replied in a frustrated tone, “There are times in life when you have to do things you don’t want to do. How are you going to survive if you’re not patient?”

E’s response? He flopped down in a chair and said, “I won’t! It’s okay if I don’t!”

Dramatic, much? 😉

Okay. So, maybe hubby was right. I did kinda have a “tiger mom” moment there. In hindsight, I realized I was playing the wrong hand or choosing the wrong strategy, however you’d like to call it. Instead, I should’ve said something that appealed to E’s relational nature, such as “I know you don’t want to be here, but it makes me very happy to see you trying to be patient. We’ll be done in ten minutes” and topped it off with a side hug (’cause kissing a 10-year old in public is not allowed!). I’m sure that would have been more effective, don’t you?

Sigh. So, lesson learned. Even though I am Chinese, I’m going to try to take the “Chinese” out of my parenting. That means saying no to being prickly, growly, and mean. And saying yes to being gracious, kind, and long-suffering (emphasis on the long!). 🙂

I’ve been obsessed with the singing group Voctave and their covers of songs. This one, “You Have More Friends Than You Know”, is just beautiful … except that there was one part that confused me until today. It’s the phrase, “Those who love you the most may need more time to grow”. I think that sums up my role as a parent perfectly. I do love my munchkins oh-so much, but I still have so much more growing to do as their mama. I don’t think I’ll ever be done growing this side of heaven, but I’m thankful God is not done with me yet.

What ways do you still need to grow?

Cover Reveal: Take 2!

Sooo … after yesterday’s cover reveal for my story, A Spoonful Of Spice, a kind author friend informed me that my cover was the same one as a book by a well-known author! Cue the facepalm, maybe even a double facepalm!

I was torn when I heard this because I loved the couple on the cover! I had picked out the picture even before I started the story and had them in mind when I was writing it. Aiya. I shared my dilemma with the Facebook author’s group I’m a part of  (by the way, it’s called Clean Indie Reads and they are the most supportive people!) and got mixed responses. Some said there are many books out there with the same cover, so it’s no biggie; others said it could come across like I’m trying to ride on that author’s coattails (which is a funny image, don’t you think?). Anyhow, after some groaning and more facepalming, I decided to look for a new image … and by God’s grace, I found one I like even more! At least it looked good when I was up till 2AM making it. 😉

So, here it is!

ASOSFinal

Josh Pepper has one goal: to become the next manager in the IT department. But his career plans are sidelined when the first woman, bubbly Cin Thomas, joins his team. He now needs to keep everyone from being distracted by her presence, a task that appears easy to accomplish … until her piercing green eyes start invading his dreams.

I had asked hubby at 1:30AM when he got up to use the bathroom what he thought of it and he said, “Isn’t that the same couple?” Then this morning when he had his glasses on, he said, “You showed it to me last night? Oh, wait, I remember now. And no, that is not the same couple!”

Haha. So there you have it, a sneak peek into the oh-so crazy behind-the-scenes life of an author. 😉

Now, time for some caffeine. Happy Friday, everyone! 😀

Confessions of an IT Wife (And a Cover Reveal!)

I’ve shared about my secret life as an IT wife before (here) and now I’m going to share some confessions of an IT wife. 🙂 In case you don’t speak tech, IT stands for Information Technology (not the crazy clown from a movie that a friend told me about, haha). Ever since I met hubby, he’s worked with computers. This explains why we have a surplus of monitors, laptops, and tablets lying around the house, plus wireless routers and cables and other electronic doodads. E mentioned once that his friend had to wait for his dad to come home from work in order to use his laptop to play games, to which I rolled my eyes and thought, You don’t know how good you have it, buddy.

But along with all the perks of a tech job comes the stress. I’m talking about STRESS with a capital S. I like to think of the IT department as a company’s first responders to a technical problem. And in this day and age, especially when you live in the Silicon Valley, a technical problem is more like a technical emergency. Cue the sirens and flashing lights … or emails and texts and phone calls at all hours of the day and night! He used to be the one fixing the issues, but now as the Fire Chief, he’s the one overseeing three dozen different issues at the same time. Hubby’s job is so all-encompassing and critical, that he carries a lot of his stress from the job back home. As a (trying to be) supportive wife, I do my best to listen and share in his load as much as I can. After 18 years of listening to him speak tech, I actually understand most of what he tells me now. 😉 I didn’t realize though just how much I’ve been sucked into his world until I got inspired to write about it.

That’s right. I wrote a story about an IT guy. 😀 And since I write romance, I had to include an IT girl … and I bet you can guess what happens next.

I must confess though that I have had more than enough of the IT world, both the real and fictional ones. I’m sure I’m not the first IT wife/girlfriend who wishes her hubby/boyfriend spent as much time looking at her as he does his phone. 😉 Or that he could spend one weekend—or even a day—without worrying about something going down at work. But I’m thankful he has a good job and our family has the best tech support available 24/7/365 (although sometimes we have to share him)! Most of all, I’m grateful I get to walk side by side with my IT guy through all the crazy ups and downs of his IT career.

Now for the fun stuff … here’s the cover reveal for A Spoonful of Spice, the second short story in my Seasons of Love series!

*Updated Sept. 3, 2016: This cover is no longer the cover for my story! Go HERE to find out why. 😉

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Josh Pepper has one goal: to become the next manager in his IT department. But his career plans are sidelined when the first woman, Cin Thomas, joins the team. He now needs to keep everyone from being distracted by her presence, a task that appears easy to accomplish … until she starts invading his dreams with her piercing green eyes.

And here’s the playlist to give you a taste of the story. 🙂

 

A Cover Reveal + A Sneak Peek

It’s been a month of S’s since the munchkins’ summer school ended: sibling squabbles, slamming doors, swimming every day, and (slightly) sweet boba teas (for my sanity’s sake). When the friendly cashier at Trader Joe’s said to me yesterday with a sympathetic smile, “School’s almost starting, isn’t it?”, I had to try super duper hard to suppress my glee. The truth is, I do enjoy spending time with E and C more now that they’re older and more independent … but I do like my me-time, too. (Any other introverted moms here agree?) 🙂 But I’m doing my best to go with the flow and savor each moment, even moments like right now as C sings into a rolled-up paper tube, “Sad day, sad day, hey, it’s a sad, sad day,” because I asked for a few minutes to write this blog post before we go out and do something fun. 😉

Sad day, indeed. 😀

Speaking of S’s, I thought I’d share a sneak peek at my latest story, Tropical Kiss Or Miss, that’s part of Kisses, Kids and Bundles of Joy, an awesome boxed set of 7 Christian romance novellas. Oh, but before that, here’s the cover! I have to give a shout-out to my dear friend, M, for her artistic eye in helping me choose the perfect colors for a story set in Hawaii. 🙂

TKOM

And here’s an excerpt to introduce you to Olivia and Matt (a flashback from their college days in 2005).

“Well, you could use the time to study like all the other students around here.”

 

Olivia rolled her eyes. “Oh, please. Like you don’t hear the parties going on every night upstairs. I am studying,” she pouted, partly because Matt had put a shirt on. Blue cotton with the word Cal in gold letters covered up the toned abs she’d secretly been eyeing. “Psych majors are supposed to study people. I happen to be studying the ones on TV.”

 

“In case you have to counsel someone in the future whose plane crashed on a deserted island?”

 

“Totally. And it’s not deserted. There’s a whole group of ‘The Others’ who are trying to kidnap them.” She crossed her arms when he laughed again. “Don’t diss my show. If you don’t like it, you can go find some boring real-life story to write about.”

 

“Guess what? I already turned in my article for Friday, so I’m free to enjoy some fictional entertainment.” He raised his feet onto the glass coffee table in front of them and sank back into the cushions. “Let’s see how good this show really is.”

 

Hmm? As a lead beat reporter for the university paper, Matt was usually busy researching, conducting interviews, and meeting deadlines. Yet this was the fourth time he was joining her this month. Truth be told, she didn’t mind his company. Especially when he was close enough for her to breathe in the fresh, minty scent of his soap. “Fine. But no talking.”

 

A sly smile crossed his lips. “What about chewing?”

 

Olivia’s eyes widened in delight. “You didn’t—”

 

“I did.” Reaching behind the couch, he produced a black bag and tore it open. “I’m surprised to see you empty-handed.”

 

“I ate my last bag yesterday. Care to share yours?”

 

He pretended to ponder her question. “I guess I could.”

 

“Taro chips, my favorite,” she gushed, grabbing a white chip with purplish lines running across it. She shoved it into her mouth and brushed some crumbs off her black leggings before reaching for another one. “Thanks, Matt. You can definitely stay now.”

 

He chuckled. “You know this is my apartment and my TV you’re watching. Not to mention”—he held the bag up—“my chips you’re eating. If anyone should be begging, it’s you.”

 

“But I’m your best friend’s sister. That’s gotta count for something.” Kneeling on the couch, she reached for the bag he kept dangling farther and farther in the opposite direction. “You should know I’ve been playing keepaway with my brother my whole life and I always win.”

 

“We’ll see about that.” He stretched out his arm and held the bag high over his head, jerking it away as Olivia got close. “Not bad.”

 

“Come on, the show’s starting.” She yanked his arm down, surprised at the effort she had to exert. “It’s not fair. You have more muscles than Brian.”

 

“That’s no surpri—stop!”

 

“Huh?” Olivia stared in disbelief as Matt doubled over in pain, his gasps for breath mixed with laughter. “You’re ticklish?”

 

“Here, take it!”

 

She had obviously hit a sensitive spot on his body. Make that several spots. The poor guy had dropped the bag onto her lap like it was on fire, his face contorted in fear as she wiggled her pink fingernails at him. It was too much fun. She gave his side one last poke and sat down. Stuffing a few chips into her mouth, she savored the salty and crispy taste of victory. She couldn’t help but flash a cheeky smile. “I told you I’d win.”

 

He narrowed his eyes and smirked. “I’m just letting you hold the bag”—he cocked his head in her direction—“so I can do this.”

 

She shrieked as droplets of cold water flew onto her face. “Ew! You’re like a wet dog.”

 

“I thought you liked dogs?”

 

“Not slobbery ones.” She fell back onto her elbows and tried backing up toward the other end of the couch. Her oversized gray sweatshirt caught beneath her body, preventing her from making it very far. “No more—stop! You can have my chips!”

 

Playfully shaking his hair in her face, Matt leaned in close until they were nose to nose. “You mean my chips.”

 

Olivia swallowed hard, her throat suddenly dry. Everything around her—the sounds coming from the TV and the glare from the lamp beside the couch—faded away. She could only hear the mesmerizing tone of his voice and focus on the intense look in his eyes. Eyes that made her wonder if he wanted to kiss her.

Yup, if you noticed, I reference one of my and hubby’s favorite shows, Lostin this story. I also pay homage to another show we used to watch together with the female character’s name, Olivia. Anyone know which show I’m talking about? (Pacey Witter starred in it, too.) 🙂 So much of Tropical Kiss Or Miss was inspired by a lot of real-life stuff—my love of taro chips, my counseling background, and my dream of getting a tattoo (which is still a dream thanks to my fear of needles, ha!). There’s lots of happy moments in the book, but also some not-so-fun reflections on marriage. I really wanted to tackle the question of how do two people who were once so in love get to a point where they feel like strangers. So, yes, the excerpt you read is when love was just beginning to bloom for Olivia and Matt … and things do get “real” and hard as they try to find their way back to each other. But I promise you there’s a happy ending with lots of redemption and grace.

To read the rest of this story (and also meet their sweet son, Micah!), you can pre-order Kisses, Kids and Bundles of Joy for only $0.99! I’ve read the 6 other stories in the set and can vouch that they are all creative, heartwarming, and sweet.

Snuggle up with seven Christian winter romances from bestselling and award-winning authors. Kisses and kids abound in this collection of novellas that will warm your heart all winter long.

Amazon: https://kdp.amazon.com/amazon-dp-action/us/bookshelf.marketplacelink/B01JTDE03G

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/kisses-kids-and-bundles-of-joy

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/kisses-kids-and-bundles-of-joy/id1141527848?ls=1&mt=11

Alrighty, it’s time to turn this sad, sad day into a happier one! 😉 And on that note, I’ll leave you with the playlist for Tropical Kiss Or Miss.

What Makes Art Good?

I was watching WordGirl with the munchkins and was surprised to find the program had a lot of depth for a pint-sized animated show. In case you’ve never heard of this literary superhero and her monkey-caped sidekick, here’s the 411: WordGirl is the alias of an alien girl named Becky who uses her superpowers to catch bad guys, such as Chuck the Evil Sandwich-Making Guy. Since she came from the planet Lexicon, she has an extensive vocabulary and can define any word you throw her way. Fun show, huh? 🙂 Well, it’s not only fun and educational, it’s quite inspiring, too.

Image courtesy of pbskids.org

Image courtesy of pbskids.org

In the episode I watched, WordGirl was trying to catch a villain who stole artwork for an interesting reason. He wanted to stick the paintings and sculptures he lifted into a machine that would smash them into tiny bits and pieces so he could analyze them. The purpose? To determine what makes art good. Wow. That’s a pretty big question if you ask me.

WordGirl’s conclusion? Art is good because of the artist behind it.

I found myself nodding and shouting a silent, “You go, girl!” at the screen when I heard her answer. Why? Because she perfectly summed up something I’ve been trying to figure out for the past two years.

Ever since I started writing fiction, I’ve been reading more fiction, too. And what I’ve discovered with each book I’ve come across is that every author has a voice. Some are funny, even sarcastic, while others are warm and sweet. Then there are those who are more artsy and poetic and others that ooze angst and drama. When you can flip through the first few pages of a story and say, so-and-so wrote this!, then you know that author has found his or her voice.

Because who doesn’t want to be recognized for what they’ve done? But as we know, art is quite a subjective thing. What appeals to one person may not appeal to another—but that’s okay! Because as long as you, the artist, are being true to yourself, your voice will come through. The style and swagger that you inject into every chord, brushstroke or word choice, every pinch of this or that or every step and leap will leave your signature throughout the entire masterpiece. When your art is saturated with bits and pieces of you, it will scream YOU. Okay, maybe scream is not the best word to use (hm, what would WordGirl use?), but you get the idea. Whatever kind of art you desire to make, when you put your whole heart into it—your life experiences, your personality, and your quirks—it will showcase who you are. Your art will be good and unique and inspiring because of who you are.

While some may not appreciate it the way you hoped, there will be plenty more who will welcome the beauty your art brings. And if you can help brighten even one person’s day with your handiwork, then that’s art that’s worth making.

Take a listen to Lee Ann Womack’s song, “I Hope You Dance.” I hope you’ll be brave and share your voice today in whatever art form you can because someone needs to hear it. 🙂

How do you share your voice with others?

Cover Reveal!

I’m beyond excited to share with you all a little project that I’ve been working on with six fabulous authors. It’s been a long time in the making (6 months can feel like a long time, haha!), but it’s finally ready to be revealed today. So without further ado, here’s the cover reveal for our upcoming boxed set of Christian winter romances!

Kisses, Kids and Bundles of Joy: 7 Christian Winter Romances
Snuggle up with seven brand new, never before published Christian winter romances from bestselling and award-winning authors. Kids and babies abound in this collection of novellas that will warm your heart all winter long.
KKBJ_3DCover

One Winter Kiss – Lindi Peterson – Deena Ross travels to Ohio to try and sway her grandfather from making a big mistake, a mistake his neighbor Andrew has been encouraging. When a winter storm hits, and Deena is forced to stay with Andrew and his young son, Evan, Deena’s vision of love is tested and she might lose her heart in one winter kiss.

Childish Ways – Jenn Faulk – Kevin Peterson, a teacher at a small town elementary school, is unexpectedly reunited with Lisa Walker, a girl who spent most of their childhood tormenting and bullying him, when she comes back to town where she helps organize a winter carnival to benefit her niece’s school. Lisa has no idea who he is, though, and as they work alongside one another and Kevin sees how much she has changed, he begins to question whether or not he can really trust her and let her into his life.

The Baby & the Bachelor – Cindy K. Green – Playboy bachelor, Alec, discovers a baby on his doorstep only days away from being appointed to a political office, prompting him to appeal his assistant, Jane, for help. Misunderstandings and accusations from the press abound, leading Alec to wonder, even if he were prepared for a ready-made family, could sweet, church-going Jane ever find it in her heart to marry a sinner like him?

For Tracy – Trisha Grace – One phone call led to Sarah Carter becoming the guardian of her favorite student, Tracy, while waiting for Tracy’s Uncle Keith to show up. But Sarah has no idea Uncle Keith was Keith Sutton, Hollywood’s most eligible bachelor, and doesn’t realize how much trouble she is heading for.

Tropical Kiss Or Miss – Liwen Y. Ho – Therapist Olivia Chan can’t wait to escape it all—a failed marriage, a struggling practice, and her son’s recent health scare. The Hawaiian getaway she planned, however, gets rained on—quite literally—by a tropical storm and the unexpected arrival of her estranged husband Matthew, who’s determined to win her back.

To Gain a Mommy – Tanya Eavenson – When Hope Michaels decides to face her past, she unknowingly purchases the house across the street from her former fiancé—the man her twin sister married, then widowed. Fire Captain Carl McGuire can put out any flame, except for the one Hope sparks within him—some things never change.

Foolish Heart – Cindy Flores Martinez– Judy and Graham have feelings for each other, but they won’t admit it. After all, she lives in America and he lives in Scotland with his daughter, Mairi, who he could never leave to be with the woman he loves.

Author Bios

Lindi PetersonLindi Peterson, USA Today featured author, lives in north Georgia, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, with her husband and a lively array of cats, dogs and birds. She loves sharing life with her family and friends. Her passion for reading led her to writing, and then God spoke words of love into her heart and changed her life forever. Website | Facebook | Twitter

Jenn FaulkJenn Faulk is a native Texan who enjoys reading and writing chick lit. She’s a pastor’s wife, a stay-at-home mom, and a marathon enthusiast who loves talking about Jesus and what a difference He’s made in her life. She has a BA in Creative Writing from the University of Houston and a MA in Missiology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Website | Facebook | Twitter

Cindy K GreenCindy K. Green has worked as a middle school history & English teacher, a frozen yogurt server and a golf magazine employee. Today she’s a multi-published, award winning author, a mother, a wife, and a homeschooler too. This native Californian now resides in North Carolina with her husband, two sons, and their two cats Chloe & Kassey. Website | Facebook | Twitter

Trisha GraceTrisha Grace graduated from Bradford University with an Accounting and Finance degree. She has always been an avid reader and has a passion for writing. After being a tutor for over six years, she finally sat down and penned her own novels. Website | Facebook | Twitter

Liwen HoLiwen Y. Ho works as a chauffeur and referee by day (AKA being a stay at home mom) and a writer by night. She penned her first children’s picture book, “A Rainbow of Nine Colors” in high school (now available at Meegenius.com) and has since published four romance books for grown-ups (with more on the way!). She also enjoys writing about real-life matters, such as marriage, parenting and faith because truth can be as strange and entertaining as fiction. Her work has appeared in various online publications, including LiteraryMama.com and MomLifeToday.com, and she is a contributor at StartMarriageRight.com. In her pre-author life, she received a Masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Western Seminary, and she loves makeovers of all kinds, especially those of the heart and mind. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her techie husband and their two children, and blogs about her adventures as a recovering perfectionist at www.2square2behip.com. Website | Facebook | Twitter

Tanya EavensonTanya Eavenson is an inspirational romance author of the series Unending Love. She has also written several Bible studies that have been translated and published into different languages with Christ to the World Ministries. Tanya and her husband have been involved in ministry for seventeen years, teaching youth and adults. She enjoys spending time with her husband and their three children. Tanya is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Word Weavers International. Her favorite pastime is grabbing a cup of coffee, eating chocolate, and reading a good book. Website | Facebook| Twitter

Cindy Flores MartinezCindy Flores Martinez is an Amazon bestselling Spanish romance author. She writes sweet romantic comedy and Christian romance. She has an MFA in Creative Writing with an emphasis in Screenwriting. Her debut novel, Mail-Order Groom, started out as a screenplay and movie project, which she shopped around Hollywood, New York, and other parts of the world.
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Superheroes, Snacks & Surprises

What do superheroes, snacks and surprises have in common? Well, they were all a part of the academic camp that our church put on last week for kids in our local community. Superheroes, because what 5th grader doesn’t love people in capes running and flying around to save the day, and snacks, because growing and learning kids need sustenance—and lots of it. And what better snacks to have than these superhero-themed ones? Any guesses as to what each one represents? 😉 (I’ll leave the answers at the bottom of this post!)

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You might be wondering then, where did the surprises come in? Let me tell you a neat story. 🙂

On the first day, another volunteer and I were walking around the middle school campus searching for ice when a woman called out to us. The first thing I noticed about her were the cool metal frames of her glasses, followed by the eager brown eyes peering out from behind them. She told us she had just dropped her daughter off and was surprised to find out that the camp was put on by a church. And not just any church, but the one she had spotted just the weekend before when she was across the street from the high school where we meet buying boba tea! She said she’s been telling her friends that she wants to go to church, saw our church’s signs that Sunday, and then came across us again on Monday. Her exact words were: “It’s meant to be”.

The other volunteer and I exchanged wide-eyed glances as we proceeded to answer her questions about the service times, childcare and dress code (which she was relieved to find out is “come as you are!”). When we finished chatting with her, we exchanged names, shook hands, and parted with smiles all around. 😀

I shared this story with the person in charge of the academic camp and we were just amazed that God had orchestrated everything to happen at the right time and in the right places. It’s not that it’s surprising to see God do amazing things (come on, He created the universe!), but it was super cool to see that He is working in ways we aren’t aware of yet and that He’s working all things together for His purposes. Even though we may not talk about Jesus during the camp, God is still using it to open doors for people to hear about Him. That’s pretty superhero-ific, if you ask me. 🙂

Speaking of superheroes, take a listen to Charlie Puth’s song, “One Call Away”.

Okie, if you haven’t figured out what the snacks up above are, here are the answers:

  1. Cheese on a pretzel stick = Thor’s hammer
  2. Green-colored vanilla yogurt with Oreo pieces = The Hulk
  3. Sandwiches = Bat cutout for Batman & Star cutout for Captain America

How have you seen God work in superhero-ific ways in your life?

Putting Things Into Perspective

Ever have one of those days months where you just feel pooped? Like the kind of pooped where you go to sleep tired and wake up feeling tired, too?

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Poor doggie looks pooped. 😛

That’s the kind of pooped hubby is going through and has been going through. There was a time not long ago when we were able to meet up regularly for breakfast or lunch and totally indulge in these spontaneous mini dates, but lately we barely have time to talk. We’re like two ships passing in the early hours of the morning or late at night … surrounded by two little talkative speedboats. 😉

We know it’s a stage (or we hope it is!) and that his work will settle down again … someday … (soon, please!), but it’s still tiring and stressful going through the every day stuff of this current hurdle we’re facing. I call it a hurdle and not a mountain (even though it feels like one sometimes) because quite honestly, there are so many other people going through much heavier stuff. I remember to hold onto the memories of what we’ve been through, both the happy, easy, smooth times and the tough, frustrating, crazy times because they both remind me that life is good and we’ve gotten through a lot already with the Lord’s help.

I think it’s all about putting things into perspective. Seeing everything through a lens of gratitude and awe as hubby is doing. I got this text from him this morning and it’s just what I needed to hear.

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Life can be hard and crazy and challenging and (fill in the blank). But God is gracious and constant and kind.

Are you facing a hurdle or mountain in your life? Let me know and I’d be happy to pray for you. 🙂

Here’s a fun song by another one of my and the munchkins’ favorite shows, The Fresh Beat Band (on Nick Jr.). It’s called “We’re Unstoppable” and it’s all about overcoming challenges as a team.

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