SpeakUp Conference Recap

Monday July 18 2016 10:31 pm | Comments (0) Tags: , , , ,

Hello friend,

I’m excited to tell you about the SpeakUp Conference I attended in Grand Rapids, MI from July 7-9, 2016. It is difficult to decide what to share because I got so much out of my time invested.  Carol Kent and the staff of SpeakUp did a fabulous job in every way.

Here are a few of my favorite take-aways from the weekend.

S – Sweet Worship led by Kim and Brian Tabor. Their love for Jesus showed through as they escorted us into beautiful worship each day.

P – Professional atmosphere in each devotional, keynote, and breakout session. Every session I attended was taught by highly qualified teachers and speakers including founder, Carol Kent, her sisters Bonnie Emmorey and Jennie Afman Dimkoff , Cindy Bultema, Anne Denmark and Suzanne Kuen (Suzy Q)

E – Equipping sessions for my future as a speaker. There were takeaways to implement right away.

A – Atmosphere of hope for the nearly two-hundred attendees seeking God’s vision for their writing and speaking life.

K – Key elements for a fabulous speaking career shared in every session I attended. Energetic and motivational speaker, Becky Harling challenged us to know our message is to be shared “For Such a Time as This.” Powerful!

U – Unlimited opportunities to meet agents, editors, life coaches, prayer warriors and mentors. I also made some wonderful new friends to encourage along the way.

P – Prayer covering over every participant and every need. The prayer corner was always available for any need presented. I enjoyed a session with HopeLifter, Kathe Wunnenberg who helps spread hope when life hurts.

This conference was truly a blessing at a time when I needed it most. When I arrived I was filled with questions about my future. “Lord, What is next for me? Show me how you can use my gifts and talents through the classes I attend and the people I meet.”

That question was answered in many ways as the weekend unfolded. The Lord confirm the desires of my heart and confirmed that I am a messenger of HOPE.

God is truly good.

As I continue to pray for wisdom and revelation, I know God is doing a work in my life to point me to the place where I can be used to bless others. He is doing the same for you, friend!

Life Coach Anne Denmark

Life Coach Anne Denmark

Kathy Wunnenberg

Kathe Wunnenberg is  a HOPE lifter!

My Wonderful Speaker Critique Group

My Wonderful Speaker Critique Group

I learned so much from Cindy Bultema!

I learned so much from Cindy Bultema!

Wow. SuzyQ was so helpful!

Wow. SuzyQ was so helpful!

I hope to gather a contingent of friends for next year’s conference. I’m already signed up for the July 15-17, 2017 weekend.

We all have a story. Maybe you are feeling that nudge to use writing or speaking to share yours. Please pray about joining me at this conference next year.

Bless you as you write and speak for His glory.

With HOPE,


Speaker and Author and Messenger of HOPE

Journal the Journey

Hello Friend,

I’m very excited to share that the first book in my new Journal Series – Journal the Journey of HOPE is about to hit the press. I spent the summer working on this creative journal~coloring book.

I chose the theme HOPE as the first book in this series because I believe we can all use a little HOPE these days.

Throughout this 160 page journal, you’ll find a few stories about how I’ve maintained a HOPE-filled attitude. I will also share some of my journal writing techniques. Quotes and favorite Scriptures that have pointed me to HOPE are found throughout the journal pages. For relaxation and fun, I’ve added a few coloring pages too.

This journal will leave the hands of Dochas Publications and hit Amazon at the end of November.

BUT I have good news for you. If you pre-order from me, you can get the journal for $10.00 vs the $14.95 price at Amazon. (Tax and $5.00 shipping and handling will be added.)

Hopejournal Front Cover

I’m excited for this whole series of journals. In January we will release Journal the Journey of LOVE and in March Journal the Journey of FAITH.

Hopejournal Back Cover

Also, if you order from Amazon, we would appreciate it if you would use the Amazon Smile account that gives a donation to Gabriel’s Foundation of HOPE.

This journal will make a great Christmas or Birthday gift for the journaler in your life. It will also be a great tool for learning to keep a journal.

Come back to my website for more details as we get closer to the release date.

Bless you in your journey.


God Will Help You Stand Tall Through It All

Sunday September 14 2014 7:04 pm | Comments (0) Tags: , ,

Hey Friend,

I know you’ve had some hard days this summer. We all do.

So today I want to encourage you with a recommendation for a book that will surely help make your days brighter.

I met the author, Holley Gerth, several years ago when she represented DaySprings during a workshop at our Northwest Christian Writer’s Association Conference. I immediately connected with Holley’s grace-filled personality, her precious southern accent and her winning smile.

Over the years I’ve watched her grow into a best-selling author who writes life changing books. I love her writing style. She speaks to the deepest places of my heart.

As a life coach, Holley brings real issues into each book and presents an uplifting strategy to nourish your soul. I’ve given several of her books as gifts to friends who needed a boost.

Holley’s latest book, What Your Heart Needs for the Hard Days – 52 Encouraging Truths to Hold On To, is definitely on my gift idea list for the coming Christmas season.


I was given a copy of this book by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. I couldn’t have been happier to offer to read and review this little jewel.

God knew the exact timing of when I might need some encouragement. One devotional after another became my favorite as it spoke directly to my soul that day.

With 52 devotionals, this book can be used for a once weekly study or you can gobble it up in one quick read. I chose to take my time through each entry and study the recommended chapters in the Book of Psalms.

My word for 2014 is STAND.

So naturally one of my favorite devotions in this book is #7 – God Will Help You Stand Tall through It All. It is based on two different Psalms containing the word STAND.

Psalm 20:7-8 7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm.

So many times over the last several years I focused on the difficulties before me rather than getting on my knees and asking the Lord to help me rise up and stand firm. When my perspective was off, it was easy to have false beliefs that prevented me from acting upon what God was calling me to do. Even when He was showing me to stand up for myself, I didn’t believe I could.

When I finally fell to my knees and cried out for help, He put in place the help that was there all along. There were people ready to reach out and help me stand tall again.

Psalm 40: 1-2 I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.

Last April and May, I spent six weeks of intense counseling during my stay at The Center – A Place of Hope. There I found help for areas where I’d struggled for years. In dealing with my “stuff,” my new friends and counselors were able to point me to a whole body approach to healing.

I had the courage to stand and ask for help when trying to do it on my own didn’t work.

I moved from insecurity and discouragement to stand for the healthy family relationships God has called us to.

The Lord indeed heard my cry. He lifted me out of a dark place. He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.

Holley’s uplifting book has been a great reminder how God has just what we need for those hard days. I hope you’ll order a copy for yourself and another for a friend.

Bless you today with what your heart needs for the hard days.



When you buy Holley’s books from Givingtons, a percentage will go to Saving Grace,  the organization God used to connect her with her 21 year-old adopted daughter.

There’s a link to Givingtons below each book on the link to Holley’s website.

Can I Trust God with My Hurts?

Hello Friend,

Is your heart burdened by loss or disappointment? Do you wonder if you’ll ever be able to restore the joy of your faith when life is challenging? Are you feeling lonely and isolated?

I sometimes feel that way. I am thankful for the love of people who step in to authentically share their story and point me to joy when I can’t seem to find it on my own. I am encouraged when I can learn from someone else who has received spiritual healing.

52 Heart Lifters for Difficult Times is a sweet gift book written by Diana Savage. It gave me this kind of renewed hope. Diana certainly understands the need for encouragement in her own life. She experienced tragedy and disappointment. This book was written as a result of help Diana received from others in her time of need.

52 Heart Lifters for Difficult Times contains 52 promises of hope and encouragement from God. Each entry begins with a Scripture and ends with a prayer. Sandwiched between these two conversations with God, Diana shares a touching, often humorous story.

The book is broken into four sections.

  • Choosing Our Outlook. Here each story challenges the reader to choose life and to focus on the positive.
  • Living Miraculously.  Diana does a fabulous job sharing beautifully crafted stories to help us trust that God will hear and answer our prayers.
  • Participating Joyfully When we realize that God always has our best interests at heart, we can live life with passion.
  • Pursuing Possibilities. We can experience the abundant life God had in mind for us from the beginning by pursuing new possibilities in life.

Diana’s creative and humorous style flows through each story. I had intended to use 52 Heart Lifters for Difficult Times as a weekly devotional for the fifty-two weeks of the year, but I couldn’t help but  read through every story. This is a book I will continue to read when I truly need a heart lifter.

My Valentine package to a few of my loved ones will include this book.  There is nothing like giving hope and encouragement from God to those I love.

I hope you will visit Diana’s website at www.HeartLifters.net to learn more about her ministry. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications, two Chicken Soup for the Soul titles, and other books. She earned her BA from Northwest University and her Master of Theological Studies (MTS) degree from Bakke Graduate University.

May the God of HOPE encourage you and fill you with peace as you trust in Him.


heart and sunset

Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Harvest House Publishers and the author, Diana Savage. However, I liked it so much I purchased several copies to give as gifts to people burdened by loss, sadness or even discouragement. I’d like to encourage you to do the same.

Keeping Thoughts Captive

Wednesday January 29 2014 6:48 am | Comments (0) Tags: , , ,

Captive thought

Hi Friend,

The theme of my week seems to be about keeping my thoughts captive to the mind of Christ.

Too often I find my mind wandering and wondering.

Does that ever happened to you?

I will admit that sometimes my thoughts aren’t very holy.

Sometimes I want to criticize.

Sometimes I want to judge.

Sometimes I want to doubt.

And sometimes I let my mind go to the “what if “scenarios as a way of escaping from my struggles.

Today’s Jesus Calling devotion is right in line with what I’ve been praying about this week.

“Let the goal of this day be to bring every thought captive to Me. Whenever your mind wanders, lasso those thoughts and bring them into My Presence. In My radiant Light, anxious thoughts shrink and shrivel away. Judgmental thoughts are unmasked as you base in My unconditional love. Confused ideas are untangled while you rest in the simplicity of My Peace. I will guard you and keep you in constant Peace as you focus your mind on Me.” Excerpt January 29th Jesus Calling Devotional. Jesus Calling APP

You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You. Isaiah 26:3

Lord, today as I work through some things in my mind and heart, I ask that you help me take every thought captive in order for me to keep in perfect peace. I trust You. Help me fix my mind on You.

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ…2 Corinthians 10:4-5

Every thought captive

How can I pray for you? Leave a comment and I will pray.

Bless your heart with good thoughts and peace,






The Fun Has Begun!

Saturday February 16 2013 5:37 pm | Comments (1) Tags: , , , ,

And they’re off! The first of my Lenten Love Letters were mailed this week!

Have you written yours?

For me, the fun has truly begun.

I’ve already heard from one recipient – reminding me that an encouraging word in due season brings joy to the receiver.

The walk to the post office might be the best part of sending out encouraging notes–because I am out of shape!

I have to admit, the winter was not good for my body.  I need to shed more than a few pounds.

Actually, I need an extreme makeover in more areas than my physical body.

As part of this makeover, I’m also working on being a better communicator. 

I grew up in a family of ten kids. I never learned to speak up for myself. Really, who hears you with that many voices competing to be heard?

For me it was easier to do what I was told and be quiet. That can be a recipe for disaster in relationships.

I’m learning to use my voice. And thanks to Godly wisdom and council, I’m making progress.

Some days it goes over well and other days it feels like an epic fail.

So I search for answers.

This week I dove head first into the extreme makeover manual – The Bible.

I joined Margaret Feinberg in a challenge to read the entire Bible in 40 days.

I decided I could accomplish this goal if I listen on my iPhone with my You Version Bible. I like the man’s voice in the ESV Version. He brings the words to life.

He talks to me while I get ready in the morning, during breakfast, and on my commute to and from work. With 45 minutes of listening per day, I will have the entire Bible “read” by Easter Sunday.

That’s right! The whole enchilada.

If you want to join me, Margaret has created an easy to follow plan. Click HERE for the PDF.

How about you? What areas of your life need a little makeover? Share with me and we’ll pray together, linking arms as we work on areas that need some help.

And maybe I’ll send you some encouraging Scripture or a little note to help you along the way.

God Bless your heart!


Hey – I’d love for you to join me at our Northwest Christian Writer’s Association Writer’s Renewal Conference – May 17-18th. It is packed full of workshops and will be well worth your investment. Check it out at www.NWChristianWriters.org There is also a link to the left of my blog.


Lent – A Season of Preparing Your Heart for Easter

Friday February 8 2013 10:14 pm | Comments (2) Tags: , , ,

Bless you, my friend!

I can’t believe it’s been more than a month since I added a note here.

It’s good to be back. I’ve missed you.

I can’t believe next Wednesday, February 13th, is Ash Wednesday.

This day, on the traditional liturgical calendar begins the forty-day count down to Easter.

The purpose of this season is to reflect on the forty days Jesus fasted in the wilderness before He began His public ministry.

I’ve always viewed it as a time of reflection and preparation as I give my time to others.

A season of examining one’s heart and spending time with the Lord in confession and repentance.

I love this season.

Not only for the focus on Jesus preparation for the cross, but also because it is spring time.

The gray of the winter gives way to bluer skies and greener grass.

The birds come home to build their nests.

The leaves sprout and the early flowers bloom.

This year, I’m especially looking forward to spring, Easter and new beginnings.

It’s been a long hard winter of my soul. How about you? Are you ready for spring too?

I write encouragement to others as a way to lift my spirits when I feel down in the dumps.  I hope you’ll try it!

This week I’m asking God to help me create my Lenten Love Letter List. 

This is a list of people God puts on my heart during the days leading up to Easter. I simply pray and ask God, “Who needs a kind word of encouragement today?”

It has been amazing to see how it all works out.

Will you join me this year in a focused period of writing encouragement to people who cross your path?

Let’s do this together as we prepare our hearts for Easter.

I can see the ripple of encouragement that will send waves across the world.

Are you in?

Leave me a note in the comments and together we will celebrate the power of a kind word.

God bless your heart with encouragement.


PS – I’m praying that God will let me know if its YOU who needs the encouragement. 



Let the Lenten Love Letter Fun Begin!

Saturday February 25 2012 1:00 am | Comments (0) Tags: , , , ,

Happy Saturday my friend.

I hope you are happy today. Even though I am fighting a cold, I’m happy.

I mentioned in my last post that I enjoy taking time to bless and encourage people during the forty days leading up to my favorite day of the year – Easter Sunday.

I wrote this post on Ash Wednesday, the first day of my Lenten Love Letter journey. I realized today that I had not released the post. I guess my head cold got the best of me that night. But here it is!

Photo from the Lancaster Historical Organization - Love Letters

My list of people to bless is growing.

Do you know someone who needs an encouragement? Let me know and I’ll add them to my list.

Today, I bless YOU, my blog friends. Thank you for taking time to read my random thoughts posted here in cyber space. It means a lot to me that you click on that link and take the time to read. I’d love it if you posted a comment to share your own story.

Every Wednesday I spend the evening at Starbucks watching hundreds of people coming and going as they pop in for some java or hang out to write papers, study for tests or chat with friends. This University Village Starbucks is full of college students so I feel like the old gray mare here.

I see a young couple staring into each other’s eyes in between study sessions. I wonder what they are talking about? It makes me remember study nights when I was a young college student.

I see an older, gray haired gentlemen nestled in amongst the twenty-something students, reading and taking notes. Is he a professor? A student? A grandpa?

I love this time every week because I get to pray for all these people. I bless them and ask God to touch their lives in a unique way tonight.

Can I challenge you to start your own Lenten Love Letter List?

Is there someone in your life who needs a phone call, an email or a hand written card – just because?

Remind them they are precious in God’s sight and chosen for such a time as this.

Tell them how much you care about their day.

Show them you care enough to take just a few minutes to write that note.

Come back to my blog and tell me the stories.

I have so many stories of people who have contacted me weeks, months or years after receiving one of my notes. They let me know that the encouragement I sent came at the perfect time.

It’s just so much fun. I want to share the process with you too.

Who will be your first recipient of a love letter? Tell me please!

God bless your heart.