Friday, October 17, 2014

Mindy Obenhaus: Wonderful Things Happen Outside One's Comfort Zone

Everyone's Story welcomes author Mindy Obenhaus. Perhaps Mindy is an expert at poking more than a toe out of her comfort zone--she dared to believe in her dream of writing and publishing and with God's grace, certainly has succeeded. Congratulations, Mindy! This week Mindy shares with us her journey outside this boundary. She also is offering her current release as a Giveaway. Please take a spin down Mindy's tracks and see if you can relate. Both Mindy and I look forward to hearing from you.

Mindy is offering 1 copy of RESCUING THE TEXAN'S HEART
within the US only. The winner will be announced here on Friday, October 24th, between 5-6 PM EST. To be entered in the Giveaway, please leave your contact information within your comment. Thanks!

Bye, Bye Comfort Zone By Mindy Obenhaus

We all have our comfort zones, parameters we establish in our lives that make us feel safe. And, let’s face it, we love them. Why? Because they’re so…comfortable. I have a nice, comfy recliner and, if I had my choice, I would stay there all day, every day. However, I find that if I sit there for too long, I get stiff and the backs of my thighs start to ache. So, eventually, I get up and walk around and my legs start to feel better.

Our little dog, Maddie, loves to play ball. But if that ball should come to rest too close to the pool, she will not retrieve it because the pool out of her comfort zone. We refuse to pick it up for her, though, and because her desire to play ball is so great, eventually she steps out of her zone and retrieves the ball so the game can go on.

Sometimes we choose to leave our comfort zones. Like when I chose to go ice climbing as part of my research for my September 2014 release, Rescuing the Texan’s Heart. Ice climbing is not something I would normally do. But in the name of research…

Our family visits Ouray, Colorado as often as we can. When we do, we have to do some exploring. After all, Ouray is the Jeeping capital of the world. Normally, I drive, but only until we reach the one-vehicle-width mine roads with the sheer drop-off on one side. Then I typically turn things over to my husband. This year, I kept going. Out of my comfort zone? Yes! But it was also empowering. I did it. I actually did it.

Unfortunately, there are times when we’re forced out of our comfort zones. A wild fire at our ranch in 2011 took our family way out of our comfort zone. Health issues are another zone wrecker. Injury and illness are never planned. And they often set us on a course to someplace we don’t want to go. Luckily, as Christians, we never have to face things alone. God is always with us. He walks with us, and, sometimes, carries us. I can’t think of a better traveling companion.

Over the years I’ve learned that there is a wonderful thing that happens when we leave our comfort zone, whether by choice or by force. Stepping into those new realms stretches and grows us as a person. We come out stronger, if not better for the experience.

How attached are you to your comfort zone? How do you proceed when those unexpected things arise that force you out of your zone?

Mindy's Ah-hahs To Tweet:
Author Mindy Obenhaus asks how attached are you to your comfort zone? (Tweet This)

Readers: Like #LoveInspired romances? Win @MindyObenhaus #BookGiveaway of RESCUING THE TEXAN’S HEART (Tweet This)

Writers: @MindyObenhaus asks will you go beyond comfort zone for research? (Tweet This)

Author's Bio
Mindy Obenhaus lives in Texas with her husband and two of her five children. Her debut novel, The Doctor’s Family Reunion, was a finalist in ACFW’s 2014 Carol Awards and her second book, Rescuing the Texan’s Heart, is a September 2014 release. When she’s not writing, Mindy enjoys cooking, reading and spending time with her grandkids. You can connect with her via her website, or Facebook,

Friday, October 10, 2014

Jennifer Slattery: The One Word That Counts

Everyone's Story welcomes back Jennifer Slattery, who is now appearing as a debut author in full-length fiction. Jennifer, warm congratulations on your novel BEYOND I DO. I know this is just the beginning of many more heartwarming stories from her! I've had the pleasure of talking with Jennifer in a lovely phone chat, learning that Jennifer is a sincere, thoughtful, and most caring woman. It is no surprise that these traits are evident in her reflective blog Jennifer Slattery Lives Out Loud (link below). This week Jennifer shares with us a peek at her novel BEYOND I DO as well as her thoughts about the one single word that matters. Both Jennifer and I are looking forward to hearing from you.

Blurb for BEYOND I DO:

Will seeing beyond the present unite them or tear them apart?

Marriage . . . it’s more than a happily ever after. Eternally more.

Ainsley Meadows, raised by a hedonist mother, who cycles through jobs and relationships like wrapping paper on Christmas morning, falls into a predictable and safe relationship with Richard, a self-absorbed socialite psychiatrist. But as her wedding nears, a battered woman and her child spark a long-forgotten dream and ignite a hidden passion. One that threatens to change everything, including her fiancé. To embrace God’s best and find true love, this security-seeking bride must follow God with reckless abandon and realize that marriage goes Beyond I Do.

For your reading pleasure, a peek at Jennifer's opening:

Used by Permission. Beyond I Do: A Novel, by Jennifer Slattery (New Hope Publishers, Birmingham, AL) 

Ainsley’s stomach churned as she eased into the Whispering Hills Apartments’ parking lot. Broken beer bottles and other trash littered the ground. A few tenants had draped sheets across their windows. Other windows were boarded up. One was busted in, shards of glass held in place by silver duct tape. 
Please tell me this isn’t where Marie Nelson lives.
Ainsley compared the address Deborah had given her to the rusted numbers on the complex in front of her. This was the place. And from the looks of it, the very place Ainsley shouldn’t be, at least, not alone.
Her phone chimed, making her jump. She glanced at the screen. Her fiancé’s number flashed. Cutting her engine, she answered. “Hey, Richard, what’s up?” She shoved her purse and computer case under the passenger seat.
“Where are you?”
 “Doing a favor for Deborah.  Why, you need something?” She grabbed her pepper spray from the glove compartment.
As if she hadn’t talked about the woman countless times over the years. “Deborah. Eldridge, the one who told me about Christ.” And kept her from going completely insane or spiraling into rebellion when Ainsley’s home life fell apart. “Sometimes I wonder if you ever really listen.”
A pack of muscular and hard-faced men gathered around a navy pick-up watched her, causing her already queasy stomach to cramp. There were four of them, two dressed in black with thick chains draped across their neck. The largest was covered, neck and arms, with tattoos. She looked away, suddenly acutely aware of her shiny Honda Accord and department store garb.
Oh, Lord Jesus, please keep me safe.
“That Deborah. Right.” A keyboard clicked on the other end of the line. Richard was probably working on final edits on his book. “Now I remember. So you’re in Smithville?”
“Not exactly. More like…” She scanned her surroundings again, her gaze lingering on a used diaper decaying on the ground ten feet away. “More like… the Admiral Boulevard area.”
 Richard made a choking noise, as if spewing coffee. “You’re where?  Please tell me you are not in the crime center of Kansas City.”

**BEYOND I DO is currently available on Amazon Kindle for $2.99.

One Word That Changes Everything by Jennifer Slattery

Have you ever wondered why some people seem to rise to new challenges while others appear to do all they can to avoid them? And why is it some press on after failure, even sustained failure, while others bounce back like little boys on pogo sticks?

These are the questions my father asked me during a conversation one day. And now that I’m grown, now that I’ve seen some of my dreams come to pass, I’ve begun asking these same questions. Because like my dad, I want my child to succeed and to find the fulfillment that comes from reaching her full potential. And as I contemplate this, I’ve come to realize “success”, in whatever field, is made up of many necessary ingredients: perseverance, diligence, pursuit of excellence, resilience, dedication . . . confidence.

And a healthy amount of risk taking. 

Courtesy Google Images
I suppose we all have areas of weakness that keep us from living up to our full potential. Insecurities that hold us back. Bad habits that steal our productivity. But I can’t help but wonder if at the root, our greatest hindrance comes from fear.

When the recession hit and 1.2 million Americans lost their homes, my daughter began asking about recession proof jobs. She was only twelve, an age when you or I were still dreaming of being baseball players, actresses, or rock stars.

Luckily, my husband and I helped her get past this, not by assuring her of tomorrow, for we all know another recession, or war, or epidemic, could hit at any moment. (Sounds a bit eerily familiar, doesn’t it?) Nor did encourage her to dream bigger. Rather, we reminded her of the power of the Dream Giver.

Because ultimately, God decides who “succeeds” or fails, though His view of success is much different than ours. But when we adopt His view, everything changes.

We change. Or more accurately, we surrender ourselves to His change within us. Understanding and accepting God’s definition of success, in my opinion, encourages the growth of all those character traits I listed above.

For you see, God’s definition of success is quite simple: obedience.

This means, every hurdle and setback is actually a chance to shine. To please our Heavenly Father and to sense Him saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

When an obstacle hits, rather than getting frustrated and longing to quit, we’ll turn our eyes upward as we pray about the best way to overcome.

When “failures” come, and they will, we open wide our hearts to receive the instruction only God can give.

When the journey feels long, arduous, confusing, and uncertain, rather than allowing the uncertainty to paralyze us we can turn it into an opportunity for spiritual stretching.
And this is when something beautiful happens. Once we boil everything down to obedience, we place ourselves squarely in the Father’s—the dream giver’s—hands.

The only One able to equip us for that which He created us to do.

This was what I found, anyway. When I first sensed God calling me to write, I grabbed hold of that dream with both hands, stressing over every rejection and setback. But once I made it about obedience, everything changed. I loosened my grip and focused on being the best writer I could be.

A funny thing happened. Once I relinquished control, the doors I tried to barrel through began to open.

And it stirred my heart to praise, which is the only proper position for a redeemed, transformed heart.

You can read Jennifer's previous Everyone's Story's post, When God Has Other Plans, here.

Jennifer's Ah-hahs To Tweet:
Author Jennifer Slattery: do you rise to new challenges or avoid them? (Tweet This)

Jennifer Slattery on Everyone’s Story: One Word That Challenges Everything. (Tweet This)

Jennifer Slattery asks: Do you and God define success differently? (Tweet This)

Author's Bio:
Jennifer Slattery writes soul-stirring fiction for New Hope Publishers, a publishing house passionate about bringing God’s healing grace and truth to the hopeless. Her debut novel, Beyond I Do, is currently available in print and e-book format for under $10! You can find it on the Amazon link below.
Places to connect with Jennifer:

To read a free 36-page excerpt of Jennifer's BEYOND I DO visit here.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Karla Akins: Be Inspired By Autumn!

Everyone's Story welcomes author Karla Akins. Karla, a dynamic and talented woman, is an author of both fiction and non-fiction, master juggler as a pastor's wife and mom to two autistic twin sons, a grandmother, and an amazing singer! This week Karla offers something a bit different on this blog in appreciation of her favorite season (mine too!): autumn. Check out her lovely BookGiveaway as well. We're both looking forward to hearing from you!

Karla is offering 1 copy of any one of these books--either print or e-version--to one randomly chosen winner who leaves a comment for Karla. The winner will be announced here on Friday, October 10th, between 5-6 PM EST. To be entered in the Giveaway, please leave your contact information within your comment. Thanks!

Fall is delicious! by Karla Akins

I have a huge smile on my face and a spring in my step. And it’s all because of one thing.


It’s time for pumpkins, crunchy leaves, sweaters and steaming cups of spiced cider.

My favorite part of fall is pumpkin everything. Pumpkin pie. Pumpkin lattes. I even have pumpkin earrings. If there’s a recipe that calls for pumpkin, I’m on it. Pumpkin is my favorite flavor and scent. I buy pumpkin spice scented candles year-round. I think there’s nothing that says “home” as much as pumpkin unless it’s apple spice.

My fondest childhood memories are of time at Grandma’s. We spent most Thanksgivings at her house and she spent weeks cooking for the season. I have probably consumed more pumpkin pie than anyone this side of the Mississippi. Seriously, you have no idea how much I love pumpkin. No, trust me, you just don’t.

My favorite colors are fall colors, too: copper, cinnamon, purple and pumpkin gold. I love dressing in these colors as well as decorating with them.

This picture from a few years ago features one of my dogs, Jake, wondering if he can play with the turkey on the table. Uhm, no.

I also love this time of year because kids are cutest, I think, surrounded by pumpkins.

The best time of year to ride 
my motorcycle is in the fall. It can get a little cool, but I prefer being cool to being so hot I can hardly wait to rip off my helmet. Here, my motorcycle is next to an Indiana cornfield in the fall.

Fall is also the time of the 1812 Battle of Mississinewa re-enactment in our area. My twin sons have worked the Special Olympics booth selling roasted corn the past several years.

I love that festival and the weather is always just crisp enough to enjoy hot food cooked over open fires and spicy apple cider.

Other amazing things that happen in the fall: trees blazing in red and gold colors and wild turkeys going for walk-abouts in the ‘hood.

(I didn’t ask them why they crossed the road. Didn’t think it was any of my business…)

Besides enjoying a turkey parade, there’s, er, other types of turkey to enjoy.

I wish I could tell you I made this turkey-bacon beauty but I can’t. I wish I had, though because then I could taste it!

I do make homemade rolls, though. I learned the art from a Norwegian granny in Iowa. Oh. Nom.

If you haven’t figured out by now, fall, for me, means amazing food. All of my favorites are best eaten in autumn: pumpkin pie, turkey dumplings, pumpkin cappuccinos, turkey stuffing, pumpkin pie, sweet potato casserole, homemade rolls, pumpkin pie, turkey club sandwiches, ginger snaps, pumpkin pie, baked apples, warm donuts, pumpkin pie, pumpkin spice muffins, pecan pie, pumpkin bread, and pumpkin pie.

These days I’m eating low-carb and flour- and sugar- free (as much as possible but admittedly, it’s not easy this time of year!). Here’s my favorite pumpkin bar recipe for you foodies watching your carbs! (I usually double this recipe and cook in a 12X8 pan.)

Karla’s Pumpkin Bars
½ cup of pumpkin (or other squash you like)
½ cup agave nectar (or honey if you prefer honey)
2 eggs
1 cup blanched almond flour
½ t salt
½ t baking soda
Dash of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves (your preference)

Combine the pumpkin, agave and eggs. Add the dry ingredients. Pour into a greased 8X8 pan. Bake at 350° for about 30-35 minutes. You can top with whipped cream, but I think they’re delicious naked.

You can also add raisins and nuts if you wish. Make it your own!

For more low-carb ideas, check out my low-carb Pinterest board (link below).
What do you like best about fall? I’d love to know! Do you have any unique pumpkin recipes to share? Please let me know so I can try them! You can contact me through my website.

God has so many gifts to offer us in the fall: leaves that turn vibrant colors, bountiful harvests in shades of gold, crisp weather perfect for burrowing into layers of warm sweaters. I can't help but join King David in joyful song: "O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches" Psalm 104:24.

Karla's Ah-hahs To Tweet:
For fun: See how author @KarlaAkins embraces autumn #BookGiveaway (Tweet This)

Meet author @KarlaAkins: author, pastor’s wife, mom, grandma, wearer of biker boots. (Tweet This)

Everyone has a story: See what encourages author @KarlaAkins #BookGiveaway (Tweet This)

Author's Bio:
Karla Akins is an award-winning, prolific writer of books, short stories, plays, poems, songs, and countless nonfiction articles. Her biography for middle grades, Jacques Cartier, went #1 in its category on Amazon. Her first fiction novel, The Pastor's Wife Wears Biker Boots, was released in 2013. Her short stories have been published in several magazines including Havok and Splickety. Her book on Autism is due out in the spring as well as a book about Marco Polo. When she's not reading she's writing. When she's not writing she is zooming along on her motorcycle looking for treasure.

Places to connect with Karla:

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