Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Power of Prayer


  The ringing of the phone woke me from a delicious afternoon cat nap.  I hadn't slept well the night before, and after an extremely busy work week, I'd decided on some shut eye to revive. 
      It was a friend from church asking for a favor.  She had an anonymous monetary gift for a struggling family at our church and asked if I would deliver the card it was enclosed in.  This would be a person I'd never met, but she gave me a brief description of the woman and mentioned that her son might be "greeting" with us that night.
     Once a month, my husband and I help out in our church.  Greeters are people who stand at different doorways, either the outside doors or inside the auditorium, and give a smile, word of encouragement or help someone find a seat, welcoming newcomers and making them feel warm and at home.  This was to be our night helping out, and both of us weren't feeling as eager as we usually did since  it had been an unusually rough week at work. Here I was faced with a task not wanting to let my friend down, but a little grumbly at having to find a woman I'd never met before.
     Now, you have to understand one thing.  Our church is huge.  On average, there may be hundreds of people walking through our doors.  This would be like finding a needle in a haystack.  My plan was to inquire to someone in our "greeters" special room, if they knew who the family was and would they be kind enough to send them to the door my husband and I would be standing at.  I had serious doubts that I would be able to really find them.
     My friend delivered the card to me before we left for church.  Her overwhelming goodness and kind heart made me ashamed of how I'd been feeling before she arrived.  The recipient of the gift would be a woman who was going through some extremely rough financial times.  She hadn't been to their bible study in a while unable to even put gas in her car.  It was my friend's desire to give this woman some much needed help, but to not let her know where the gift came from.
     It lay heavy on my heart to pray about this and I asked my friend to pray as well.  Pray that I would really be able to find this woman, to bless her with such goodness.  Even on the ten minute drive to church, I didn't talk much with my husband, continuing to pray for God to intervene.  In the stillness of my heart I heard, "Things that aren't possible with man, are possible with God."
     We arrived at church, entering a side door we didn't use much.  For such a big church, nobody was walking around this particular area but  I saw two people standing a little down the hallway speaking to one another, a woman and teenage boy.  Something inside me said:  "This is the family."  I asked my husband to continue walking ahead of me and let our group leader know we had arrived.  Then I shyly walked up to the people and asked if they knew who this particular family was.  Both of their mouths dropped open and they stared at me as if I was crazy.  "Are you them?"  I asked.  "Yes," they said.  I handed the card to them and said someone wanted to bless them.  After hugging them, I walked away incredulous.  In a church with a congregation as huge as ours, I had not only found the right party and specifically known it was them, but they were the first and only people I'd seen as we walked through the doors.  Two people I'd never met before.
     Never underestimate the power of prayer.  I believe God answers prayers, especially when it blesses someone else.  The fact that my friend and I had both been praying for the same thing, the fact that this would be an enormous blessing to someone, God intervened in such a supernatural way.  There are no coincidences.  Only the true power of prayer.

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Mother and Son

     I'm tickled to share the spotlight with my talented son, Matt.  As an author, I look forward to people telling me they enjoyed my stories.   Nothing brings more of a smile to my face however, than seeing my son becoming popular.  Once a bit of a timid child, Matt now video blogs for hundreds of fans.  His Journey to the Claw Machine videos have gone semi-viral on You Tube causing people to take notice of a young man from a small town.  As a child, Matt became obsessed with playing crane machines.  He was quite good at them, and I rolled my eyes as new stuffed animals marched through the door of our home in droves.
     In later years, Matt would become talented in filming and editing his own videos.  He attended Robert Morris University where he took up video editing, film making, and photography.  It was the skills he learned at college, coupled with his love of crane machines which prompted him to come up with an idea to help others learn tips of these machines and become skilled at them as he was.
     Every mother wants good things for their children.  Through the years I've prayed that my son would be a good person, generous and kind.  God has answered these prayers in the form of what Matt is now doing with his video channel.  He has partnered with The Teddy Bear Brigade an organization which takes donated stuffed animals and gives them to children who have suffered tragedies in their lives.  He has given away his own claw machine wins to victims of Hurricane Sandy.  He donated to children in the wake of the Sandy Hook school tragedy.  When I see his good heart, I am filled with happiness and know God has heard my prayers.

     When asked about what is important for successful video blogging, Matt gives these answers:
     Interaction with your audience is most important.  If you receive positive comments on the You Tube site, comment back to your fans.  Let them know you appreciate them and their support.  
     Keep current with new uploaded videos.  At least once a week if not more frequently, you must keep the content of your video blogs fresh and lively.  Be creative, and give the fans what they want.
     Make it entertaining.  Sometimes Matt is downright crazy as he goes about filming his journeys, screaming when he loses, jumping up and down as he wins, saying some of the craziest phrases which have caught on with his fans such as "goober" and "aroo".  
     Lastly, giving back to the community in the form of giveaways and live interaction with your fans.  As an author has a book signing, Matt plans meet and greet sessions with his more local fans.  Recently he met with a young boy who has Asperger's syndrome at his local mall.  It was one of the greatest days of Matt's life, not to mention the child who emulates all of Matt's tips and sayings.

 You can find Matt at blogtv:

 Facebook at  :

And of course you may subscribe to his videos at:



Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Blog Hop The Next Big Thing

my blog is part of something bigger than usual. Last week, Dana Arcuri invited me to be part of a blog hop called The Next Big Thing. I was not familiar with doing a blog hop, but I decided to try it because it is an opportunity for me to bless other authors.  It has been a prayer of mine to be an encourager to others.  This is a small step, a small help to show you the amazing talent that's out there that God is blessing our amazing readers with.

The purpose is to help readers discover the next great book or author; i.e., the one they will be compelled to read or the author whose work they simply can't put down.

Check out Dana's book debut and blog:

Dana Arcuri is a Contributing Author for Inspired Women Succeed, published in May 2011.  She is the Director of Prayer and Contributing Writer at Write Where It Hurts.  Currently, she is writing Harvest of Hope: Living Victoriously Through Adversity, which brings an inspirational message of hope, healing and overcoming hardship.

What is awesome about this blog hop is the exciting adventure to learn about authors from various genres and styles.  One may never know the possibilities in our future. Her work might just be the next big thing,
or perhaps mine, too. Whatever the case, we are living out our passion for writing and making a positive difference within our world.

 Another part of this blog hop involves me answering ten questions about my book:

1.         What is the working title of your book?

 My Mother's Kitchen.  Volumes 1-4 are presently published.

2.         Where did you get the idea for your book?

My amazing publisher once saw an old photo of my great-grandfather and said it would make an awesome story someday.   I thought about a woman finding such a photograph for the first time, looking into the haunting eyes, wondering about the life of the man.   Thinking about stories my mother and I talked about through the years, I wanted to share the feeling of a close-knit family and how they build one another up by remembering stories from their past.
3.         What genre does your book fall under?  

Women's inspirational fiction.

4.         Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?  

Diane Lane or Meg Ryan for Kate.  Kathy Bates for Kate's Mom.  

5.         What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Join Kate and her Mom as they share warmth, love and the answers to some of life's issues in the comfort of her mother's kitchen. 

6.         Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?  

I am represented by Helping Hands Press.

7.         How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Probably about a month.  Each volume takes a little over a month. 

8.         What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Books by Karen Kingsbury or Debbie Macomber. 

9.         Who or what inspired you to write this book?  

Having a very close relationship with my dear Mom.  Being like best friends through the years, sharing stories from her youth.  Mom's childhood was quite the roller coaster ride, some good, some bad with an abusive, alcoholic father, but also loving Italian family and vivid imagination to get her through.  Some of the things I write about in this series really happened, such as the strange visitor one Christmas Eve, the creepy, old house with an odd man who was misunderstood.  I take some truths, add in a dash of imagination and hope to spark in my readers the sense of old-fashioned family values missing from today's society.

10.       What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Each volume deals with truth interspersed with fiction.  For example, the first volume deals with an Italian immigrant when he first arrives in America.  The next volume shows a character much like Boo Radley in To Kill a Mockingbird.  Another volume deals with 9-11 and the horrors of that day. 

      Next week, please take the opportunity to hop on over to the blog listed below.  Grace Yee is a very talented, new young author.  Her short story series The Woman in Scarlet is amazing with a fairy tale type flair.

My name is Grace, lover of books, keeper of secrets, and cookie connoisseur. Being the youngest of four children has given me insight and passion for the people and activities which form the pattern of my day-to-day life. Dancing has given me a physical escape while writing allows me to put that passion into words. Being homeschooled, I've had the opportunity to step into a magical wardrobe before breakfast, go on covert missions in Wal-Mart, and chasse' to the Nutcracker. So allow me to share with you the stories and novels which color my dreams, quotes that ricochet in my mind, and characters that I hope you will love just as much as I do.

Thank you all for joining in this fun venture and please check out the blogs of the amazing women I've shared with you today.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Encouraging words

          Just the other day I posted on Facebook how good it feels for someone to "like" what we write about or "like" the pictures we share.  It gives us a sense of purpose, a way to belong and have our voice be heard.
     Think back to when you were a child.  We would tug on our parent's sleeve, pulling at them to come see what we drew, or what creation we were up to.  We would practically hug ourselves with delight when our beloved Mom, Dad, aunt, uncle or grandparent would acknowledge what we showed them.  Their words of encouragement such as "That's the best picture you've ever drawn" or "Wow,  you really did a great job!" really ring in our ears as some of the best things we ever heard.
     Or how about the look on your own precious child's face?  Okay, they might have slopped finger paints all over your kitchen table, but when they feel they've done something good, something worthy of your praise, how can we fail them by not giving our undivided attention to them?
     It's a different world we live in full of electronic devices which can suck the very life from us.   I'm using one of those even now as I write this.  But let's take a step back from the cell phones, i-pads, touch screens, laptops just for a few moments a day and truly reconnect with our children and loved ones.  Let us be the encouragement they seek, the kind word, the approving look, the "atta boy" which is so necessary in today's society.
     While growing up, my son loved being filmed.  He would chant over and over, "Dad, tape me, tape me!"  Then when we'd watch the video later, he would point at the television screen proudly declaring, "That's me!"  The precious moments captured on film will live on forever.  The time it took to create these memories is priceless.
     God is waiting for us with His own encouraging words.  "Do not fear for I am with you.  Do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you.  I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."  He's just waiting for you to talk with Him.  Not with flowery words, but with gritty, from-the-heart words which pour out from your very soul.  He will acknowledge you.  He will make you feel you are special, you are loved, you are approved.
     Let's all get back to basics and be like the little child we once were, waiting for approval from our beloved Daddy.  Let's do it in the quiet and stillness of our hearts. 

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