Tuesday, May 31, 2011

19th Century Mission Coffee House

by Anita Mae Draper

This is a continuation of my 19th Century Coffee Taverns post which detailed the workings of the British coffee public houses of the later part of the 19th century. In this post, I'd like to open the door of one American coffee house of the same period.

Much like their British counterparts, the coffee houses of North America were started by churches and Bible societies intent on spreading and living the gospel. They physically followed the scripture in Matthew 25:44,45 (NIV) “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’"

One of New York's neediest areas in 1885 was near the pier to Blackwell's Island (now Roosevelt Island) in the East River. The cigar-shaped 120-acre isle beneath the Queensborough Bridge extends 1.75 miles and is 750 feet across at its widest point. The city of New York purchased the island from the Blackwell family in 1828.

In 1832, the main building of the Blackwell's Penitentiary was erected. A few years later in 1839, New York's first publicly funded lunatic asylum opened on Blackwell Island, which happened to be the first mental institution in the United States. In 1854, the Small-pox Hospital was erected to accommodate one hundred patients - the only hospital in New York devoted to small-pox cases. And then during the 1860's before the New York Foundling Hospital opened, New York's foundlings were entrusted in the care of poor women living in the Almshouse on Blackwell's Island.

Blackwell's Island Lunatic Asylum

So what does this all have to do with a coffee house? Well, according to the The Coffee Public-House News and Temperance Hotel Journal, Dec 16, 1885, there were 42 'liquor saloons' within 3 squares of the pier where released convicts, and convalescents landed from Blackwell's Island. A Mar 4, 1884 New York Times article confirms saying "There were 47 rum-holes put where they could be reached by discharged prisoners from Blackwell's Island. They were no sooner landed when they were ensnared in these dens of iniquity.”

In 1879 the New York Bible and Fruit Mission hoped to combat this problem and offer an alternative to those very people coming off the island. Their new building contained a coffee house with meals (restaurant) on the main floor "where meals were served all hours of the day with prices within the reach of the poor". It was reported that people from all classes and in all states of health stopped at the coffee house for a meal or rest.

In one year the Mission Coffee House served 79,925 people which ranged from free meals supported by donations to meals for the hospital patients.

As manageress of the Mission Coffee House, Mrs. E.O. Conger sold refreshment (commutation) cards at a 10% discount. (I'm researching the origin of these cards and hope to have more info soon.)

This refreshment card worked the same as they do now . . . A waitress would hand the customer a check (bill) with his menu items listed. He/she would take it to the cashier who would punch the monetary amount out of the card. The customer would then keep the card for the next meal or until all the numbers were punched. This system served the purpose of giving a discount to return patrons and it relieved the need of carrying cash and perhaps being tempted to go into another establishment for some other liquid refreshment. The Mission Coffee House cards could be used for $3.30 worth of meals. This could keep a customer in meals for a week.

Along with the meals, the building contained a chapel and provided cheap lodging and free access to a reading room and bath. All patrons were invited to the meetings in which there were 196 conversions over the course of one year.

Mission coffee houses like this served a real need in the community. The main opposition seemed to be the people who said the food was good, but keep religion out of the building. If not for that, it would seem to be a success story, except like the coffee-public houses in Britain, the cheap, non-profit meals took their toll and by 1890, the mission was almost $2,000 in debt. My research hasn't uncovered what happened to it after that.

Blackwell's Island/Roosevelt Island fascinates me. Do you have any stories to tell about it, either first or second hand?

The Coffee Public-House News and Temperance Hotel Journal, Dec 16, 1885
View Roosevelt Island on Qwiki
Anita Mae Draper is retired from the Canadian Armed Forces and lives on the prairie of southeast Saskatchewan, Canada with her hubby of 30 plus years and 2 of their 4 kids. In 2005, Anita Mae decided to return to writing and make it a priority in her life. She writes old west stories set on the prairies of Saskatchewan, North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming. Her characters are strong because the land demands it. Anita Mae likes to write characters who sit up and notice when that special person God’s chosen just for them walks by. The story is all about the courtship between the two main characters. But it won’t be an easy path. And if they don’t know about God at the beginning of the book, they will by the end. Anita Mae has semi-finaled in the Historical Romance category of the ACFW's 2011 Genesis contest and finaled in the Inspirational category of the 2011 Daphne du Maurier, the 2011 Fool for Love, the 2011 Duel on the Delta and 2009 Linda Howard Award of Excellence contests. She’s currently waiting to hear the phone ring and have someone say they want to buy Emma’s Outlaw. Meanwhile, she’s working on another story and trying to keep her imagination in check. A pathological picture taker, she usually has a photo or two of her western world on her blog at http://anitamaedraper.blogspot.com/

Monday, May 30, 2011

In Remembrance

by C.J. Chase

Today is Memorial Day in the US. Not just Memorial Day Observed, but the bonafide, May 30th thing, the original day Americans set aside to honor deceased service members. Commemorations for fallen soldiers began in the years immediately following the Civil War when family members decorated the graves of loved ones who had died during the conflict. And then in the way of all governments who can't leave well enough alone, Congress tampered with it. In 1971, Congress moved the observance to the last Monday in May. Though some still observe the day's purpose of solemn remembrance, for many more Memorial Day has become just another three-day weekend, the start of the summer season.

For years, my family observed the holiday with a drive to the Capitol for the annual National Memorial Day Concert, an evening of patriotic music and solemn stories. And then we left the Washington, D.C. area. We still try to catch the concert on TV (8:00 pm Eastern on PBS), but it isn't the same as being there, and over the years, our "observation" has become more of the yard work and picnics type.

"Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it," wrote British statesman Edmund Burke. Given the current state of civics knowledge, we may soon be testing Burke's statement.

Several years ago, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) administered a series of exams to college students and the population at large, testing their knowledge of American history, government, foreign affairs and economics. The results? 71% scored an F. The average score was a 46%. Among seniors at 25 of the most selective colleges (Harvard, Yale, Princeton, et al), the average score was a whopping 59%.

Just thinking of those people in the voting booth is enough to give an informed, concerned citizen nightmares. We are a society losing our collective memory. And, it seems, our collective mind.

For over 20 years, US Senator Daniel Inouye has led a movement to restore the significance of Memorial Day by moving the observance back to May 30. Ten years ago, Congress established the National Moment of Remembrance to be observed at 3:00 pm local time throughout the country on Memorial Day. One can't help wondering, however, in a country where only 21% of ISI's test takers correctly identified "government of the people, by the people, for the people" as a line from the Gettysburg address, how many people even know about the minute of silence?

Sadly, ignorance extends beyond the history of country. Over 80% of Americans may claim to be Christian, but only a fraction of them know much about Christianity. A Pew Research Center study in 2010 reported that fewer than half of American Protestants could identify Martin Luther as the leader of the Protestant Reformation. Worse, the knowledge crisis extends to the Bible itself. The Bible might be the best selling book of all time, but according to a Gallup survey, only 16% of American Christians read it daily. That might explain why half of the incoming freshmen at Wheaton College -- the most prestigious Christian college in America (average SAT scores in the 600-700 range per subject)  -- didn't know the Christmas story is found in the book of Matthew.

The Bible is clear that we are to learn God's Word and teach it to our children. "These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up" (Deuteronomy 6: 6-7, NIV). Over and over the prophets warned of the punishments sure to follow if the people ignored God's commands.

Remembrance is important. "This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord--a lasting ordinance" (Exodus 12:14) God told Moses before the first Passover. Centuries later, Jesus became our Passover Lamb. On the night he was betrayed, he led his disciples in a Passover dinner and told them that henceforth, every time they partook in communion, they were to do it "in remembrance of me."

Fortunately, we have a God who who remembers His promises, even when we forget ours. And even better, we have a God who promises to forget. "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." (Jeremiah 31:34).

This Memorial Day, I challenge you to remember.

How are you observing Memorial Day? Do you attend any nearby observances? 

C.J. Chase writes for Love Inspired Historicals. Her debut novel, the winner of RWA's 2010 Golden Heart award for best inspirational romance, will be available in August under the title Redeeming the Rogue. C.J. lives in the swamps of Southeastern Virginia with her handsome husband, active sons, one kinetic sheltie, and an ever-increasing number of chickens. When she is not writing, you will find her gardening, watching old movies, playing classical piano (badly) or teaching a special needs Sunday School class. You can read an excerpt of her book at: http://www.cjchasebooks.com/

Sunday, May 29, 2011

You Are Worthy


by Jennifer AlLee

I'm not a big follower of Oprah, but since Wednesday was the last episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show, I thought I should watch it. It was an hour with no surprise guests, no gifts under the seats or cars waiting for people in the parking lot. It was just Oprah, talking to the audience, sharing her heart.

One thing she said that really struck me was about addiction. How no matter what kind of addiction a person has - to drugs, alcohol, shopping, food, cigarettes, sex, etc. - it all boils down to one common thing: a feeling of unworthiness.

A lot of us spend our lives feeling less than...less beautiful, less intelligent, less important, less desirable. We think that until we reach the ideal of what we should be, we are not worth being loved. But God has loved us from the very beginning, and then some. Before you were even a gleam in your father's eye, He knew you.
Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying:
      “ Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;
      Before you were born I sanctified you;
      I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”

      (Jeremiah 1:4-5, New King James Version)

The same words He said to the prophet Jeremiah are true about each of us. He knew us before He formed us in the womb. The implications of that are astounding. Not only that He knows who we are, but that He formed each and ever one of us. He decided which sperm needed to meet which egg to create exactly the person you are. He designed your genes, your DNA, every tiny detail of your being.

You are worthy.

Still not convinced? Look at the words of David:
For You formed my inward parts;
         You covered me in my mother’s womb.
  I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
         Marvelous are Your works,
         And that my soul knows very well.
         (Psalm 139:13-14, New King James Version)
Fearfully and wonderfully made. By an all-powerful, all-knowing God. A God who took the time to work out every detail of your creation.

You are wonderful.

You are worthy. Worthy of love. Worthy of blessing. Worthy of salvation.

You are worthy.

 JENNIFER ALLEE believes the most important thing a woman can do is find her identity in God – a theme that carries throughout her novels. A professional writer for over twenty years, she's done extensive freelance work for Concordia Publishing House, including skits, Bible activity pages, and over 100 contributions to their popular My Devotions series. Her first novel, The Love of His Brother, was released by Five Star Publishers in November 2007. Her latest novel, The Pastor’s Wife, was released by Abingdon Press in February 2010. Her upcoming novel, The Mother Road, will be released by Abingdon Press in April 2012. She's a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, Christian Authors Network, and the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance.

http://jenniferalleesite.blogspot.com/ - Jennifer's website
http://thepastorswifespeaks.blogspot.com/ - A safe haven for women living on the front lines of ministry.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Finally a Bride by Vickie McDonough

by Anita Mae Draper

Finally a Bride (Book 3 Texas Boardinghouse Brides) by Vickie McDonough

"He made her want to be a woman for the first time in her life."

Jack’s story in Finally a Bride was worth the wait. It's the tale of grown up Jacqueline (Jack) Davis who now wears dresses and looks like a lady, but still acts like the 10 yr old tomboy we met in the first book of this series. Consider the opening… Jack is after a story and climbs on the mayor’s roof to eavesdrop on his conversation with two strangers. No, I won’t tell you if she accomplishes her mission, but I will say pain is involved. Because she’ll do anything to uproot the truth.

If you remember book 1, you’ll remember Butch Laird who wrote “Jack is a liar” across every paintable surface in town. Bully that he was, he even locked Jack up in jail and left her there. Man, she detested that kid. Never mind that he had a point, he still shouldn’t have done it. And after he left town, the memory of his penetrating, intelligent eyes sent her scrambling to confess to her new pa, the sheriff. It eased her mind some, yet over the years, she’d occasionally wonder what happened to the boy behind those eyes.

Well, guess who Vickie McDonough has brought back to challenge Jack’s equilibrium as a young lady? Yup, Butch Laird himself. Except Butch was his nickname. Using his birth name and the surname he adopted from the man who took him in when he needed a home, Butch now goes by the handle, Noah Jeffers. Along with a new name, he’s a new man according to the gospel. And he’s a preacher.

Preacher Noah Jeffers is intent on hiding his identity because he wants to make restitution for the sins of his childhood without drawing attention to himself. His goal is to glorify God—not distract parishioners from the message. Except once he sees Jack again, she’s the one distracting him.

Jack is drawn to the new preacher’s compelling eyes. They hint at a vague memory, but nothing she can formulate into an image other than making her think of the fat bully, Butch Laird. But Noah Jeffers is nothing like the horror of her childhood. Noah is strong in body and spirit, a peaceful man standing firm in his faith. And somehow she’s going to discover why he won’t talk about his past.

Meanwhile, Carly Payton is back in town after serving 6 yrs in prison for robbery, kidnapping and other crimes. As a new believer, she knows God has forgiven her and only wants to live a normal life. But can the town people forgive her? And can Garret Corbett who was initially responsible for introducing her to Lookout put aside his prejudice for the jailbird and see her as a remorseful woman of faith who only wants a family like everyone else?

Vickie McDonough has taken ordinary people and put them on the carousel of life. She’s added love and faith and sent us along for the ride. Not rushed and hectic like our modern lives, but giving us an emotional journey as we rise and fall with each crest higher and each dip deeper than the one before. The pace quickens, action increases and dialogue cracks with authority and truth. Until finally, the long plunge down as Jack is faced with that monumental decision all adults have to make… what does she really want?

Here are all my posts on the Texas Boardinghouse Brides series:

Book 1 The Anonymous Bride
Book 2 Second Chance Brides
Book 3 Finally a Bride

Anita Mae Draper is retired from the Canadian Armed Forces and lives on the prairie of southeast Saskatchewan, Canada with her hubby of 30 plus years and 2 of their 4 kids. In 2005, Anita Mae decided to return to writing and make it a priority in her life. She writes old west stories set on the prairies of Saskatchewan, North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming. Her characters are strong because the land demands it. Anita Mae likes to write characters who sit up and notice when that special person God’s chosen just for them walks by. The story is all about the courtship between the two main characters. But it won’t be an easy path. And if they don’t know about God at the beginning of the book, they will by the end. Anita Mae has semi-finaled in the Historical Romance category of the ACFW's 2011 Genesis contest and finaled in the Inspirational category of the 2011 Daphne du Maurier, the 2011 Fool for Love, the 2011 Duel on the Delta and 2009 Linda Howard Award of Excellence contests. She’s currently waiting to hear the phone ring and have someone say they want to buy Emma’s Outlaw. Meanwhile, she’s working on another story and trying to keep her imagination in check. A pathological picture taker, she usually has a photo or two of the quirky world she lives in on her blog at http://anitamaedraper.blogspot.com/

Friday, May 27, 2011

App Happy

by Niki Turner

Can you imagine writing an entire novel by hand? Even using a manual typewriter seems ponderous and painful these days. As computers literally shrink to fit in our hands, and new software applications (aka apps) spring onto the market faster than category romances, we rely on those handy-dandy apps for more and more activities. Sesame Street even made a song about it. (Yes, that Muppet in the bike helmet appears to have a goatee.)

I have an app for calorie counting and an app for making to-do lists on my iPhone. My husband keeps track of his construction jobs, supplies and hours to sync with his accounting software.

My son-in-law uses an app to calculate the Ph balance and needed additives for the pool where he works. My daughter has an app on her smart phone to keep track of the quantity and quality of dirty diapers my grandson makes.

Yep, there's even an app for poop.

Diapers aside (thank goodness) apps can be incredibly helpful in our high-speed society. Even if you don't have a smart phone, there are apps for your computer desktop, too. Here are a handful of suggested apps for writers and other creative types. Most of these are for Apple products, but similar apps are likely to be available for other platforms. Hopefully, this will give you an idea of the range of possibilities out there!

Dragon Dictation

Who hasn't had a fabulous snippet of dialogue, or a plot idea, or a great name for a new character, appear in your head while you are driving down the highway? The free Dragon app records your speech using voice recognition software and then texts or emails it to you.


From the folks at How Not To Write, this little app with it's old-fashioned typewriter icon offers writing accountability on your phone. Very helpful for Nanowrimo participants.

For the iPhone and for the web, My Writing Nook offers a convenient way to jot down a few quick paragraphs while you're waiting for a kid to get out of soccer practice, or standing in line at the grocery store. I'm not sure how much writing I could get done on my tiny iPhone screen, but I'd use this in places I didn't want to be heard talking to my Dragon!


Unlike the previous apps, Evernote is available across a number of platforms. This organizational software app has been praised by publishing guru Michael Hyatt, as well as many others. Think of Evernote as your traditional writer's notebook on steroids. Record text, photos, even voice memos, that you can access from your phone, your computer, or the web. Terrific potential for those research trips! If you want more details about using Evernote as a writer, check out Michael Hyatt's post on the subject.

Story Tracker

When the day arrives (or if it has already) that you are sending multiple submissions and queries and proposals to different publishers and agents and critique partners, don't clog up your gray matter with all those pesky details like who and when and where and whether you've heard back or not. Keep track of it all with this handy app.  The "lite" version is free.

Focus Writer

Social networking is both boon and bane to the lonely writer staring at a computer screen. Sure, just a few minutes to check your Facebook status, and you'll get right back to that difficult scene that's giving you fits, right? Focus Writer offers a distraction-free writing environment. (No, it won't make your kids, dog, or husband disappear.) My favorite feature? The typewriter sounds.

Today's question: If you could have an app for anything (one that doesn't already exist) what would it be?

 Niki Turner writes romantic fiction, Christian non-fiction, blog posts, articles in the local newspaper, lengthy grocery lists, and Facebook status updates. Her first completed manuscript won second place in the 2009 Touched By Love contest for contemporary category romance. Colorado natives, Niki and her husband of 20+ years have four children  (three at home) and are new grandparents to a baby boy. In 1998 they planted a church in rural northwestern Colorado. Currently, they share their home with three teenage boys, two black Lab mutts, and Niki’s absurdly spoiled Westie, Archie. Niki can be found at In Truer Ink, her personal blog and website, here at Inkwell Inspirations, and at The Pastor’s Wife Speaks

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Lectio Divina

by Dina Sleiman

As many of you know, I’ve recently become a part-time acquisitions editor for WhiteFire Publishing. Probably the coolest unexpected perk has been the opportunity to peek at amazing books long before the general public will see them. I found one that especially ministered to me on a very personal level and helped me to grow in my faith.

This book is a narrative style non-fiction. The writing is lovely and the stories of women poignant. But more than that, the writer herself knew how to tap into God for healing and strength. I can't promise that WhiteFire will publish it. All I can say is I hope they do. Even if they don't, I'm incredibly grateful that God brought this blessing into my life.

A few weeks ago in my post titled “With Unveiled Faces” I passed along this premise: we are all spiritually wired, but we are also spiritually challenged. We have spiritual eyes, and ears, and feelings, but we don’t know how to use them. We don’t trust them. They often get crowded out by our physical senses. And this is probably most true in the Western culture. Think about it. Why are there more miracles in third world countries? Is it simply because they need them more? Or might it be that without our Western logic and education, they are more open to mystery and wonder?

I find it helpful to go back before our current culture to traditions used by ancient Hebrews and medieval Christians to learn how to tap into our spiritual wiring. To use our spiritual senses. To discover the divine.

The unpublished book I had the pleasure of reading focused on one specific technique called lectio divina. According to Wikipedia, “Lectio Divina is Latin for divine reading, spiritual reading, or 'holy reading,' and represents a traditional Catholic practice of prayer and scriptural reading intended to promote communion with God and to increase in the knowledge of God's Word. It is a way of praying with Scripture that calls one to study, ponder, listen and, finally, pray and even sing and rejoice from God's Word, within the soul.”

In lectio divina, you don’t rush through scripture trying to meet your quota of chapters for the day. You relish it. You dwell on it. You read until you find that one word that really sparks something in you. That word that lights up, full of life. Then you pray about that word throughout the day. Meditate on it. Mull it over. Ask God to speak to you his truth about how this simple word or phrase should impact your life. In Hebrew the term is a rhema word.

Which means, really it’s just another method for finding intimacy with Christ. For awakening those inner senses and hearing from God. Because what good are lifeless words on a page without the Holy Spirit to help us rightly understand and divide the word of God. Without God’s direction and inspiration, we all know, people can read nothing more than their own prejudices and presuppositions into the Bible.

Lectio divina is only one of many techniques for tapping into God’s kingdom that dwells within you. In the coming weeks I hope to cover many more. But maybe, just maybe, this will be the one to spark you and bring your spiritual senses alive in a new way. If you’ve struggled with your quiet time, why not give it a try. Read just a few verses, and allow God to speak his rhema word to your heart.

Let me end with a quick little poem I wrote years ago on this topic.

 I am giddy with the words of God
 that flow like amber wine.
They are honey sweet, delicately spiced,

each one a world to itself,
alive and teeming, sparks flying,
glimmering in multi-faceted rays,

a rainbow of truth to touch each heart
with the idyllic shade of light.
Otherwise, too bright, white hot,

like gazing into the sun.

What scripture or specific word has stood out to you recently? What techniques have you found that enrich your quiet times with God? How do you tap into your spiritual senses?

 Dina Sleiman writes lyrical stories that dance with light. Most of the time you will find this Virginia Beach resident reading, biking, dancing, or hanging out with her husband and three children, preferably at the oceanfront. Since finishing her Professional Writing MA in 1994, she has enjoyed many opportunities to teach literature, writing, and the arts. She was the Overall Winner in the 2009 Touched by Love contest for unpublished authors. Her first novel, Dance of the Dandelion, will release with Whitefire Publishing in 2011. She has recently become an acquisitions editor for WhiteFire as well. Join her as she discovers the unforced rhythms of grace. For more info visit her at http://dinasleiman.com/

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Well-behaved? Not really.

by Niki Turner

"Well-behaved women seldom make history."
~Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, American historian, Harvard professor, Pulitzer Prize winner

 Rarely do we encounter a feminine history-maker, record-breaker, or world-changer who conformed, complied, yielded or acquiesced to the societal norms and cultural expectations of her day. Instead, it's the women who followed their hearts, often enduring hardship and persecution, whose names are written in our history books.

Nellie Bly, Clara Barton, Florence Nightingale, Harriet Tubman, Amelia Earhart ... those were the biographies I read as a girl. As an adult, reading through the Bible for the first time, I met more history-making women: Rahab, Deborah, Ruth, Esther, Zipporah, the daughters of Zelophehad, Achsah, all the Marys, Elizabeth, Anna, Priscilla, and multiplied others. 

I encountered another history-making woman this weekend, quite by surprise, while creating a Colorado history quiz for my homeschooled seventh-grade son. I was surprised I'd never seen her name before, or heard of her accomplishment.

Julia Archibald Holmes and her husband were among the first group of prospective prospectors to set out from Lawrence, Kansas, for Colorado, in hopes of striking it rich in the widely exaggerated gold fields of the 1850's. According to the textbook, Holmes, 20, " had walked rather than ridden from Kansas in order to build up her endurance." If you remember your American history, the vast expanse of western Kansas to the Rockies was (rather aptly) dubbed "The Great American Desert" by early explorers. And here goes Julia... 

Upon reaching Colorado, Julia and her perpetually nameless husband, with two other men, started up Pikes Peak on August 1, 1858, headed for the summit. Pikes Peak, one of Colorado's 54 "fourteeners" (mountains with a summit of more than 14,000 feet above sea level), was something of a landmark for Colorado's gold-seekers. They reached the 14,115-foot summit on August 5, 1858, making Julia the first white woman to climb Pikes Peak, quite an accomplishment, especially for a woman in that era.
By mark gallagher (Flickr) [CC-BY-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

An early snowstorm forced the group to descend, and soon Julia and her hubby (who IS this guy?) were traipsing (yes, on foot) to New Mexico, where Julia eventually became a correspondent for the New York Tribune, a suffragette, reformer, and supporter of abolition.

What surprised me more than her decision to walk 500 miles across eastern Colorado and western Kansas? Every reference mentions her wardrobe. Seriously. And all because she opted to climb Pikes Peak wearing (gasp) bloomers and a short skirt. If that weren't scandalous enough, she added moccasins and a hat and called the get-up her "American outfit."

Holmes met with resistance for everything from her choice of clothing to her decision to climb the peak. Her response should be our response when we're told we can't do something, can't accomplish something, or should just turn back and give up. (Like writing, for example!)

"I have accomplished the task which I marked out for myself . . . Nearly everyone tried to discourage me from attempting it, but I believed that I should succeed." ~Julia Archibald Holmes

Serious question: What have you been discouraged from doing? Are you doing it anyway? Do you believe you can succeed? If not, why?

Non-serious question: Have you ever read about a history-making man whose clothes made the news with his achievement? Except for John the Baptist and his camel hair shirt, and maybe Joseph's coat of many colors, I can't think of any! 

(FYI: Blogger is having some sort of hiccup today with comments. Before you click "submit," copy your comment! If you attempt to comment and get an error message, try right-clicking on the comment button and select "open in new window" from the options. That SHOULD work!)

Sunday, May 22, 2011


 by Susanne Dietze

“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 11:28-29

Bow yokes, courtesy of www.wikipedia.com

Clich├ęs are around for a reason, aren’t they? When it rains, it pours. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. I could go on, but I’m sure you understand where I am right now. One tired, over-committed Mama.

Spring is always like this. It's hectic, frenzied, and far too busy. School ends, and all of the band performances, awards banquets, and school plays pile over each other until the May calendar is covered in ink. Regular life continues, of course. Work. Funerals, weddings, soccer, church activities, and broken appliances. Me supposedly writing a book.

Sure, I could’ve said no to some things—and believe me, for a pastor’s wife, I am quite adept at saying no—but some circumstances take precedence over my carefully-devised schedule. People in need. Desperate pleas from teachers for help. Kids who are growing up way too fast for my taste. The extra things which I discerned God wanted me to say yes to doing.

In a moment of self-absorbed frustration, I recently told God that I felt so overwhelmed and burdened that I didn’t know how He expected me to write a book for His glory when He’d put all this other stuff on my calendar.

Umm, yeah. I said that. Not proud to admit that to the blogosphere.

You can guess what happened next. I received a gentle reminder that perhaps God doesn’t want me to write a novel—at least, perhaps not today. Tomorrow, maybe, but today He has other forms of service in mind for me. And if He gives me a job for a day or a season, it’s my job to obey, not to challenge His priorities.

Unfortunately, being overwhelmed, burdened, or overwrought can sometimes have little to do with the amount of work before me. Sometimes it's a sign that I'm not keeping my eyes fixed on Jesus.  When I focus on myself and my problems, not on God, I'm prevented from walking more fully in His will, delighting in His presence, and discerning the tasks He's given to me. I tend to labor at my own goals, not those He's given me--an exhausting and difficult path, even when my intentions are good. Then I don't want to labor at all, at anything, godly or self-centered.

Many of us all fall into what writer Sarah Young calls “drainout.” In her devotional Jesus Calling, she says it’s a better description of what busy Christians experience than burnout. “Countless interactions with needy people have drained them, without their conscious awareness. You are among these weary ones, who are like wounded soldiers needing R & R.”

Drainout sounds about right to me. So does a yearning for some R & R.

I used to have a hard time relating to the above passage from Matthew where Jesus tells us to take His yoke upon our shoulders. How can bearing a yoke—an instrument of labor—be easy or restful? It took me a while to understand that rest in the Lord isn’t the same thing as “resting on a beach with a tropical drink,” although He’s in that sort of rest, too. But in taking His yoke upon us, we put ourselves under His law, we stay closer to Him, and we allow Him to lead us through the work He’s given us to do. We’re better equipped for success when we let Him direct us through our crazy schedules and the unexpected missions He gives us along the way. We’re better able to resist drainout.

My calendar’s still just as full. But should God require something new of me today, I pray I’ll feel His gentle nudge, drop what I'm doing, and perform the tasks He sets before me. He’ll be faithful to see me through.

 If you were lounging on a beach, what sort of tropical drink would you want by your side?

Susanne Dietze has written love stories set in the nineteenth century since she was in high school, casting her friends in the starring roles. Today, she writes in the hope that her historical romances will encourage and entertain others to the glory of God. Married to a pastor and the mom of two, Susanne loves fancy-schmancy tea parties, travel, and spending time with family and friends. Her work has finaled in the 2010 Genesis Contest, the 2009 Gotcha! Contest, and the Touched By Love Contest, 2008 and 2009. You can visit her on her personal blog, Tea and a Good Book, http://www.susannedietze.blogspot.com/
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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Gems of Wisdom by Angie Breidenbach

by Gina Welborn
When the idea of starting a team blog germinated in my mind two years ago, I knew one day during the week would have a focus on devotionals. I love devotionals! They remind me of micro-Bible studies. Since Inkwell sauntered on the internet scene, the Inkies have blessed my life with the Sunday glimpses into their faith.

Tell me the testimony of your salvation, of a growth in your faith, of how you endured (or even failed) a trial yet how God was glorified through it all.

Be real.

If today I had to make a list of the things Angie Breidenbach and I have in common, that list would be surprising longer than I’d thought when I first met Angie four years ago at RWA convention in Dallas. She's utterly poised, polished, and prayerful. So when she eventually shared with me snippets from her devotional/Bible Study, I realized Angie lives her life being real.

When you read GEMS OF WISDOM, you won’t find a author hiding behind spiritual platitudes and religious escapism. How can she when she asks such pointed questions as “How skewed is your fairness meter?” and “What is more important, the satisfied feeling of being right or solving the problem?” Ouch.

GEMS OF WISDOM FOR A TREASURE-FILLED LIFE invites readers on a treasure hunt for important concepts represented by the beautiful stones God created as modern-day memory aids to anchor wisdom in both heart and mind. An adventure revealing hidden treasures and how to prevail over the pirates who try to steal them, this unique book is for women who are dealing with buried emotions and the behavior or lifestyle of those closest to them.

The tidbits about the gemstones were fascinating. My  favorite aspect of the book were the Personal Place: Angie's Story segments. As the chapters near an end, Angie writes: "The more recognizable my victimhood, the more I realized that I needed mentoring to sandblast misconceptions."

That reminded me of this week with this Inkwell ladies. We share our prayer requests, and also go that extra step of mentoring one another and speaking truth over another's trials and tribulations. You, me, we can't make it through life with success when we try to do it all on our own. We need one another. Like the Na'vi and their blue interlocking tails.

As I read through GEMS OF WISDOM and sought to apply its principles to my life, God reminded me again and again that this is a journey of togetherness because we need one another.

Or as Angie put it: "I believe that because I am a broken vessel refined by God, I will leave behind a legacy of love that helps others overcome the victim mentality too. Those others, in turn, can discover the adventure and follow the map, polish the gems of wisdom in their treasure chests, and pass on an excellent legacy to someone else on the journey."

I know I am blessed to have a mentor in Angie to help sandblast my misconceptions. And 'twas God timing that this week was the one when I sat down to read GEMS OF WISDOM. Guess He knew the reminders of truth I need to hear.
Well done, Angie!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Hope's Promise Orphan Ministry

by (one paragraph) Gina Welborn and (mostly) Angie Breidenbach

Gina: Of all the weekday themes we have at Inkwell, Self-Help is one of my favorites. So often, though, with Self-Help discussions, we focus on ourselves. When Angie first shared with me about her work with Hope's Promise Orphan Ministry, I thought about how non-self-focused Angie lives her life.

Angie: I get asked often why I attached the line of jewelry to the Gems of Wisdom: For a Treasure-filled Life book and ministry. My answer is simple. It's important to me to reach deeper, live intentionally, and leave a legacy of love as an example for my children and grandchildren.

I am a citizen of the world, not just my little piece of grass in Montana.

By creating the Gems of Wisdom line of jewelry a tangible memory anchor helps cement the concept being taught in each chapter. But it goes deeper as the jewelry helps support the Sanctuary of Hope Homes (SoH) in Nairobi, Kenya. These homes bring in orphans from the Mathare Valley Slums. When people buy the jewelry to enrich their own experience, they're also enriching the lives of orphans.

What can be better than a double blessing!

So what does a Sanctuary of Hope Home really do?

The least of these ... the most unwanted are brought into a loving home with parents. They're taught to eat with utensils, how to use the facilities, and become socially adjusted. Then the children are raised with love and a good education. They learn who Jesus is and how much He loves them. These children are taught where they come from so they'll retain a heart for the people in the Mathare Slums. The goal is to change the situation generationally by changing the situation for each child. Hands and hearts love these children. These children can love and help reach out to others like them.

In Mathare Valley, Nairobi, Kenya’s second largest slum, 600,000 people live within six square miles. Desperately impoverished inhabitants subsist in a hopeless generational cycle of crime, unemployment, disease, abuse, low education, and hunger. At the bottom of this human heap of suffering are orphans. Empowered by partners of Hope’s Promise, Pastor and Mrs. Karau welcomed home eleven of these desperate children in 2006 to Sanctuary of Hope (SoH) #1. In 2008, eleven more orphans came home to SoH #2. The precious children of SoH are discovering the love of indigenous house-parents and a hope and future they never dreamed possible.


An estimated 5000 orphans live in the Mathare Valley, a slum of about 600,000. The estimate for total orphans in Kenya is 2 million, with total Kenyan population at about 30 million. We can't take them all in, but we can begin to help change the future through some. By loving, educating, and raising up the unwanted children from this area, the cycle is broken. Broken children become whole again. Whole children grow into powerful, mission-minded adults who can reach in to make a difference in the Mathare Valley. It's the concept straight from the Bible that we teach them to fish in order to feed them for a lifetime. But in this case, their lifetime affects another's and another's. We'll begin to see generations of people able to overcome the horrible poverty, disease, and distress of the slums by raising up those who will continue the vision. Rather than a cycle of despair, these loved and educated people begin a cycle of delight.

Before opening the first home, Pastor and Mrs. Karau researched many neighborhoods in Nairobi and settled on Kahawa Sakari, an ideal established neighborhood with many suitable homes for large families. It is very secure (by Nairobi standards) and close to amenities like shopping, public transportation routes, good churches, and good schools. However, due to nearby road improvements and therefore increasing desirability of the neighborhood, housing prices are skyrocketing. If we don't purchase another home in the next couple of years, the prices could move beyond our reach. And rents are escalating. Because our vision is family-like homes, we want the SoH homes close together but not right together - which could create more of an orphanage atmosphere, removed from the community. We want our families to be integrated into the community like normal families.

Hope's Promise takes the kids that nobody wants. We don’t want to take kids whose living parents or extended relatives want to take care of them but can’t because of poverty. Almost all of our kids were neglected or abused in their previous settings, or their caregiver loved them but is terminally ill. We want the kids that nobody else wants.

How can you help?
If the Lord has placed this ministry on your heart, you can choose how:
1. Consider buying Gems of Wisdom jewelry for gift giving year round.
2. Consider sending a gift to help support the orphan homes.
3. Consider sharing this information with others through your social media or friendship networks.
4. Go online to the website, learn more, see if you may be led to sponsor a child or donate online.

Should you decide you'd like to send a donation to Hope's Promise for the orphans in Kenya, please note on your check if you'd like your donation to support the Sanctuary of Hope Homes.
Hope’s Promise
309 Jerry St. #202
Castle Rock, CO 80104

Go to www.hopespromise.com and donate on-line. HP  is a 510(c) 3 organization so all gifts are tax-deductible.

Finally, why me. Why did I do this?

My son and daughter-in-law served in missions for these children. They brought back their stories to me and my heart was moved to partner with Hope's Promise. I'm not the biggest, grandest, or best. I'm not the number 1 fund raiser. I'm just steady and consistent. Someday I hope the Lord smiles at me and says, "Well done thou good and faithful servant."

Angela Breidenbach, Speaker/Author
Gems of Wisdom: For A Treasure-filled Life, Journey Press

http://www.AngelaBreidenbach.com website
http://www.GodUsesBrokenVessels.com blog

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We, the ladies of Inkwell Inspirations, would love to give free stuff to everybody. Since we can't, we will often have a giveaway in conjunction with a specific post. Unless otherwise stated, one winner will be drawn from comments left on that post between the date it was published and the end of the giveaway as determined in the post. Entries must be accompanied by a valid email address. This address is used only to contact the commenter in the event that he/she is the winner, and will not be sold, distributed, or used in any other fashion. The odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. NO PURCHASE, PLEDGE, OR DONATION NECESSARY TO ENTER OR TO WIN. ALL FEDERAL, STATE, LOCAL AND MUNICIPAL LAWS AND REGULATIONS APPLY. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED.