Ps 91 (NKJV)

3 Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler, and from the perilous pestilence.4 He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler.5 You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day,6 nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Innovative Irritation by Heather Gray, guest post

Today on A Bed of Roses...Thorns Included, we welcome Heather Gray. Heather's recent release, Mail Order Man, made it to my list of review copies and I enjoyed it so much  that I invited Heather to join us today. (Review to come, you know I seem to ALWAYS be behind on those things.)

Aside from her long-standing love affair with coffee, Heather's greatest joys in life are her relationship with her Savior, her family, and writing.  Years ago, she decided it would be better to laugh than yell.  Heather carries that theme over into her writing where she strives to create characters that experience both the highs and lows of life and, through it all, find a way to love God, embrace each day, and laugh out loud right along with her.

About the book:
Some people get a mail order bride. She got a mail order man.

A well-meaning friend places an ad to find a mail order husband for Sarah, the proprietress of Larkspur’s stage and mail office.  Sarah, who is generally quiet and reserved, doesn't know about the ad and has no idea what to do with all the people that are showing up in her community.  Before long, the town is overrun with men and mail alike.  Sarah is trying to avoid some men who have accosted her on the street when she stumbles into Samuel.  Through long days spent together at the stage office, some very adventurous pots of coffee and a shared faith, the two become friends.  Sarah knows that Samuel is hiding something from her, something important, but that doesn't stop her heart from leaping wildly into love. Lacking the confidence to trust her heart, Sarah wars with herself over the feelings she can no longer deny.  When some of the men who have come to town show their true intentions, a shootout follows.  Sarah finally gets answers to many of the questions circling through her mind.  One question remains, though.  Where will her mail order man go when the dust settles?

Digital copies available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Astraea Press, Smashwords, and Kobo. Print copies  available at Amazon.

Also take a moment to visit Heather's website, Heather Gray Writing, to learn more about her and see what she has coming soon.

Now without further ado here's Heather...

Innovative Irritation
by Heather Gray

We all get frustrated once in a while.  If I never got irritated I'd have to begin to wonder whether or not I was really alive.  It's what we each do with our aggravations, though, that really matters.  I try to live my life creatively.  I do my best to avoid run-of-the-mill solutions and boring same-old-same-old answers to the problems of life.  Why?  Well…I'm just a little quirky like that, I guess.

Here are some creative ways to express your emotions when you feel your temper beginning to reach toward that boiling point.
  1. Sing.  I remember one day when my children were driving me absolutely batty.  They weren't misbehaving, but their overzealous enthusiasm for all things loud and annoying reached epic proportions on that particular day.  So I made up a song.  About gouging out my eyeballs.  With a rusty pitchfork.  The louder I sang it, the better I felt.  By the time the kids figured out my lyrics enough to look at me in puzzlement, I felt like a brand new person.  Eventually they learned the song, too, and when I would have one of those days where I reached the end of my rope, I'd begin belting out the tune, and they'd join in with me.  And then we'd laugh together over how ridiculous we must sound.
  2. Say utterly bizarre things with a straight face.  If I look at you and, without cracking a smile, say, "I am going to pluck every hair out of your nose, dye them orange and then glue them to your belly button," you can assume that I am almost ready to lose my cool and am trying to diffuse the situation before it's too late.  This might not be the best approach in a business meeting or when being introduced to your significant other's parents for the first time.  However, in more casual settings when surrounded by people who love you despite your oddity, I have found this to be both refreshing and effective.
  3. Go ooh and ah.  Visit your nearest pet store and play with the puppies and kittens.  Some pet stores will even allow you to pick the little fur balls up and cuddle them.  No one can hold onto their foul mood when in the presence of so much adorably loving cuteness.  If you don't believe me, give it a try.  I dare you.  Be sure to put the creatures back down before they piddle on you, though, or you might end up right back where you started.
  4. Show kindness.  The surest way to make sure that you feel blessed is to get out there and be a blessing to someone else.  It works every time.  Rather than dwelling on everything that's going wrong in your own life, find someone who needs a helping hand, and then lend it.  Or call up a person you know is lonely and give them the greatest gift of all – your time and listening ear.  You can't help but feel better when you go out of your way to be kind to those around you.
  5. Buy me coffee.  Hm.  Maybe that came out wrong. Treat yourself to something special.  That sounds better!  I am never far from my coffee, but on some days, I go the extra mile and get some deliciously decadent mondo-expensive coffee beverage because, well, I need a little extra cheering up.  It makes me feel better.  I don't splurge on the expensive stuff very often, so when I do, I don't have to feel guilty about it.  Maybe for you it's a mani/pedi, a chair massage or some frozen yogurt.  It doesn't have to be expensive, and it doesn't have to be unhealthy.  Find something you rarely indulge in but always enjoy, and put that aside as your special better-frame-of-mind treat.

When you're reaching that boiling point of irritation, frustration and aggravation, holding it in usually backfires.  Instead, try to find a creative and entertaining way to let it all out.  If you choose how to release your tension, there's much less chance of it spilling over in such a way that those around you get hurt.

Please share your own unusual ideas for handling stress and bad moods!

Ginger here again. Thank you to Heather for these great ideas to diffuse irritating or stressful situations. I sure could use it. :) So, readers, tell do you handle stress and bad moods?


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Peek into My Week

view from my bedroom window while at BRMCWC
As many of you know if you follow me regularly--either by way of this blog or facebook--I went to the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference(BRMCWC)last week.

First I want to publicly thank Edie Melson, Alton Gansky, Eva Marie Everson, and all the behind the scenes personnel, including the volunteers at the Ridgecrest Conference Center, for all the hard work they did to make the conference such a success.

I took a speaking class. On the last day, we had the option of giving a speech. I was scared spit-less (literally), but felt if I couldn't speak for four minutes in front of eight other people, how could I possibly speak to dozens, or even hundreds (should the Lord call me to that) for thirty minutes or more?

So I spoke. Below is my speech, which I felt led to share with you, my loyal readers, with a few modifications. I pray it blesses you as much it blessed me to write it
and then share it with my classmates.


Several years ago, my husband and I visited the Grand Canyon. I stood on the edge, staring down into the valley thousands of feet below. I was glad for the barrier that kept me safe, kept me from falling over the side.

This past Sunday (5/19/13), I had a similar feeling, except the barrier had been removed, and God asked me to step off, to trust Him. The admonition to “fear not” came to me. Then God’s words to Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9 entered my mind, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.”

What has me so scared?

This…what I’m doing right now.(I was giving a speech.)

When I traveled to conference, I had every intention of taking Ramona Richards’ class. Monday morning my roommate and I sat eating breakfast when Dan Case joined us. We got to talking and he shared a story about him doing a “Jonah” impression and running from what God had called him to do.

Nail number one.

After breakfast, I wandered to the rocking chairs and read my devotion for the morning.  The devotion, by Joyce Meyer, said, "He created you for enthusiasm, zeal and passion. He put gifts in you to be used for His glory and to help other people." I thought it was talking about my writing. How wrong I was.

Nail number two.

So I came to this class, albeit reluctantly. I also e-mailed Vonda(Skelton) and asked to be a part of her one-sheet for Christian speakers class. She responded with a request for my one-sheet. I laughed and replied that I didn’t have one and was a clean-slate for her to work with. She graciously told me to come anyway.

Nail number three.

I never knew so much went into preparing a speech. I mean there are RULES to follow. Who knew?

That evening Torry Martin spoke. Wow. I can relate because there are things in my past I’m not proud of. Well, to be honest, I’m ashamed of them. I couldn’t, and still can’t, understand why God would want me, ME, to share some of the most horrible events in my life—sexually abused as a child, promiscuous as a teen, struggling with trust as an adult.

Why me? I keep asking.

Why not you? He continues to answer.

What I took from Torry’s speech was that I have a UNIQUE mix of experiences to fulfill the call that God has placed on my life. It is God’s personal invitation for me to use the talents he gave me to work on his purpose.

Nail number four.

You’d think God would be finished. I’d said yes, what else did he want? He wanted and wants a cheerful giver. He wants me to give of my talents wholeheartedly, not with reluctance.

There were a few more instances when God reiterated his plan for me to have a speaking ministry. A word here, a prayer there. All adding nails.

The final nail in the coffin of my reluctance was when Vonda finished the class yesterday with Isaiah 43. I cried. Six months or more ago, that verse was on a prayer board at my church. I read it and felt God touching me and telling me it was there for ME. Isaiah 43:18-19 is pasted on a virtual sticky-note on my background(of my computer). Every day it reminds me: “But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.” The dry wasteland of my life, of my past. The wilderness of confusion and trust.

I thought it was talking about my writing. My life is a lot about writing because I love writing. I WANTED it to be talking about my writing because God had already been tugging at my heart to share my human-ness with teens and their parents, to share my struggles with homeschooling and raising more than 1.8 children with mothers, to share my issues with trust with wives.

I don’t want to share. I don’t want others to know the stains beneath my snow-white robe. I want others to see the mask I’ve worn my whole life because I don’t trust enough to take it off. The reasons behind that are too many to get into here, and my time is almost finished. At least I hope it is.

What is the point of this speech? I needed to admit to myself that I am afraid, but He gave me a verse for that too. Also on my background as a sticky note is Isaiah 41:13, “For I hold you by your right hand--I, the Lord your God. And I say to you, 'Don't be afraid. I am here to help you.” How awesome is that?

Another reason for this speech is for me to purposefully take a step off the precipice. One step is all he’s asking of me. One step of faith.

What is he asking of you?
So I ask of you this tough question...what IS he asking of you? Feel free to be as general or specific as you want, just know I'll make a list of all who respond and be praying for each of you by name.


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Taking a Break...with a Few Words about the Farm

Wow, it's Wednesday already. This week has just flown by. Unfortunately, life has been super busy and will continue to be so for the next little bit, so I'm going to take a week or so off to get stuff done (see below for my tentative schedule of events).

Spring is a busy time. Grass grows, chicks grow, horses eat too much.

We received our new chicks last week. They are already growing feathers, though they're still yellow. The white will show up soon. No pictures of them today. Maybe when I post next time.

Yesterday, as I was moving said chicks to the barn, I noticed my horse tiptoeing around. Yes, horse's can tiptoe. LOL She's foundered before so I'm extra careful to keep an eye out. That discovery changed my plans for the evening. I had planned on finalizing my synopsis, and as much as I like to write, it won't pay the vet bill if she is indeed sick. So out I went to prepare a  dry lot--putting in poles and stringing electric fence--to keep them contained.

Elsewhere on the farm, we are produce from our strawberry plants, radishes, and kale. Broccoli, and cabbage should be ready soon. Also growing are corn, tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, sweet peas, squash, and probably something else that I'm missing. Outside of the garden, we have an asparagus bed. This is our fourth year harvesting it, and it's doing well.

The front yard is bedecked with fruit trees, many of which are loaded with fruit, though we'll have to wait on most of it for some time. Some of the trees we have out there are: apples, plums, pears, cherries, apricots, and a few hybrids like apriums and pluots. The blackberries and raspberries are also growing well.

Okay, so away from the farm, well, the outside anyway. Last week was our last official week of school, though my children still have some work to finish. To celebrate we will be going to Six Flags over GA on Friday for their homeschool day. My children are excited.

Almost done, I promise.  :)

My coming week at a glance (and why I won't be posting):

Thursday (5/16) - leaving to spend the day in Atlanta; my brother's birthday
Friday - Six Flags; return home
Saturday - Funlympics with my church's worship team; my friend, Tanya is traveling to my house and together on...
Sunday - Driving to Ridgecrest, NC for the Blue Ridge Christian Writer's Conference(BRCWC)
Sunday - Thursday - BRCWC where I get to sit and listen to wonderful instructors, meet talented writers, and worship the Lord with my words
Thursday - travel home
Friday - collapse and renew, and fix whatever broke or fell apart while I was gone. :)

I covet your prayers for this schedule. For those that know me, you'll know this is going to pull every reserve I have to be this busy for the next week. And if you didn't know it before, you do now. :) I'd appreciate your prayers for traveling mercies for my family on Thursday and Friday, for Tanya on Saturday, and for the both of us on Sunday, and then again next Thursday.

You all are such a blessing to me.

May God richly bless you today,

Friday, May 10, 2013

Review: No Way Out by Susan Sleeman

No Way Out by Susan one word, riveting. This is the third book in The Justice Agency Series and lives up to its predecessors: Double Exposure and Dead Wrong (click the titles for my review, scroll down on the second one).

I was hooked from page one. I found it hard to set aside once I started and I expect you'll have the same trouble. Even though it's the third in the series, reading the first two are not necessary to understand the story line. I just love series' like that.

Back cover:
Who can she trust?Alyssa Wells has uncovered evidence that her police officer husband was murdered by his partner—a dangerous claim in a small town. After two tours in Iraq, protecting Alyssa and her children shouldn't be a problem for private investigator Cole Justice. Alyssa feels drawn to him, but how can she trust anyone after everything she's been through? Cole's sure his heart is closed off to love, but Alyssa and her children seem to have found a way in. As the killer draws closer, Alyssa realizes she's trusting Cole with more than her safety.

 5 roses


Monday, May 6, 2013

An unusual story...just for you

I wrote this short story a year or more ago with the plan to send it to an online magazine, but I lost my nerve. So, instead I'm going to post it here for you to enjoy.

The Surprise
By: Ginger Solomon

The dog barked. In the eerie, quiet evening the sound ricocheted off the walls, startling Eileen Mass. Lacy rarely barked. Did that mean he was out there? No, not again.
            Eileen hurried from the kitchen through the living room. The thick oriental carpet silenced her footfalls. She weaved around the obstacles in her way and turned off the lamp. With slow, steady steps, she maneuvered between the couch and the chair to look out the window, careful not to hit the lamp. She pushed the navy blue damask curtain aside far enough to peek out. The light illuminated the street and driveway. No cars.
As she exhaled, her grip on the curtain loosened. A shadow moved. She froze. Her heart pounded against her ribs. She dared not blink. Was he here? She saw nothing more.
The clock in the corner chimed the hour. She jumped. She inhaled and exhaled, forcing herself to relax.
            “False alarm.”
            She returned to the kitchen, flipping on the light as she entered. A few, last minute preparations and all would be ready. She pulled a couple of things from the fridge. These would round out the meal she had prepared. She glanced around. Everything appeared to be in place. She wiped the counters one last time, picking up the knife she’d used to slice the vegetables a few minutes ago.
            Lacy barked again. Eileen froze. It wasn’t a false alarm. He was here. She steadied herself on the kitchen counter. The light. She rushed to turn it off. How could she have been so careless? Hadn’t she learned her lesson the last time? Her body trembled and her hands felt cold. She reached for her sweater on the hook by the door, but realized she still held the knife and wet dishrag in her hands. No wonder her hands were cold, water dripped down her arm. She tossed the rag in the sink.
            Lacy yelped. Eileen’s grip tightened on the knife. With her free hand, she checked the door. Locked. Good. She stood still and listened. Quiet again.
She felt her way to the sink and placed the knife in. She would hurt herself if she continued to hold it in her nervous condition.
            O God, blind his eyes that he might not see. This has to work.
            The kitchen doorknob jiggled. She sucked in her breath and held it.
            “Eileen, I know you’re in there. I saw the light. Open up.” The deep voice demanded. She waited. He would leave; he had to.
Footsteps receded on the porch stairs. Quiet again. She released her breath with a whoosh. Was he leaving?
Eileen moved into the living room. She dared to peek out the curtain again. There he was, walking to the front door. She shimmied over beside it. The doorknob turned. She held her breath. This was it. She would get him this time.
Eileen didn’t move. The door creaked open.  Eileen flipped on the light as everyone yelled, “Surprise!”
Tom jumped backward almost falling down the stairs. “What on earth?”
“Happy Birthday, Darling.” She gave him a quick hug and kiss, and pulled him into the house. She moved to the side as everyone wished her husband a happy birthday.
She’d done it. She’d finally surprised him after so many years of trying and failing. His radiant smile made it worth all the effort.

I hope you enjoyed my story. Reading it again, even if it is mine, made me smile. :)
Blessings, Ginger

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Review: The Good Girl by Christy Barritt

I don't typically care for first person point-of-view novels, but something about The Good Girl by Christy Barritt just kept me engaged and wanting to read more.

This book had a great story line, but what sticks out most is the spiritual theme Ms. Barritt was able to weave into it. Christianity is not about rules and regulations, or dos and don'ts. It's about having a relationship with a loving God, and sharing that love with your neighbor.

Back cover:
Tara Lancaster can sing Amazing Grace in three harmonies, two languages, and interpret it for the hearing impaired. She can list the Bible canon backward, forward, and alphabetized. And the only time she ever missed church was at seventeen because she had pneumonia and her mom made her stay home. 
But when her life shatters around her and her reputation is left in ruins, Tara decides escape is the only option. She flees halfway across the country to dog-sit, but the quiet anonymity she needs isn t waiting in her sister s house. Instead she finds a knife with a threatening message, a fame-hungry friend, a too-hunky neighbor, and evidence of...a ghost? 
Following all the rules has gotten her nowhere. And nothing she learned in Sunday School can tell her where to go from there.

Rating: 4 roses