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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Best Gifts

The best gifts are ones that cannot be opened with your hands. I think that a heart full of love and forgiveness that Terry offers me is just the best gift that one human can give another. Of course the greatest Gift of all is our Lord Jesus.

Now I want to be a little less spiritual for a moment. I remember back when I was 4 yrs old Mother and Daddy gave me a life size "walking doll". She was exactly my size and could wear my clothes. Her official name was Patty Play Pal but I named her Mary. Mama and I didn't change her clothes many times because she wasn't very pliable. It usually turned into a wrestling match between Mama and Mary. Mama liked curly hair and Mary had hair that was as straight as a board. We put curlers in it many times and never made any kind of impact on her hair. I was very jealous of her the first week I had her because Mama and Daddy really seemed to like her a lot. (I felt more than me at times.) I was shy in front of her until it occurred to me that she wasn't real. I put her in bed with me but soon kicked her out because her cold plastic legs and arms never warmed up. They stayed cold. I reminded myself that she was NOT real, again. Would you believe that Mary stands in the corner of my bedroom next to some of the other favorite dolls, Sweetie Pie and Kitty (Yes, I was a Gunsmoke fan...Miss Kitty in particular.) Mary is wearing a little pair of jeans and a red shirt with a beautiful rhinestone crown that my brother bought for me. (That is another story.) I said all of that to say, "Some gifts are for Keeps."

Please read my interview with Emil Kirstein from South Africa.

1. What is your name and the title of your book(s)?
Thank you for this interview. My name is Emil Kirstein and I’m from South Africa. The name of my debut novel is Quest for Freedom, and it’s published by Tate Publishing & Enterprises.

2. What is one thing you think your readers would like to know about you?
Maybe the readers would like to know that I’ve got mileage on my odometer and overtime on my clock. Jokes aside, I write from my experiences and real-life lessons that I’ve learned. Though my stories are fiction, I strive for them to be real.
My experience stems from having been in business, a missionary, a Bible teacher and an English teacher in South Africa’s Western Cape Province, Malawi, and South Korea. Currently my wife, Lorna, and I are semi-retired. We focus on writing books and tutoring English, mostly to Koreans studying here in South Africa.

3. When did you know that you wanted to become a writer?
Since primary school days I’ve been a storyteller, but had never considered sitting down and writing a novel. I felt that I was a missionary and teacher, full stop. I did write a lot of Bible school material and on a few occasions I did consider writing a book on some teachings—but that just never happened. Then about midway into 2006 I was reminded that the greatest teacher, Jesus, was a storyteller. He knew that the vast majority of people are more interested in listening to a story than listening to a teaching—even though a small minority prefers a teaching. Thus my novel was born.

4. What are your strong points in your writing style or methods?
I try to tell a story that’s true to life and has life-lessons embedded in it. I try to tell it simply, but I also try to use good language in the process of telling it. I try to skip the boring parts even though some boring parts are unfortunately necessary to fill in the background and set the scene. The readers will have to judge for themselves whether I’ve been successful in my goals.

5. Are you a reader?
Ironically, no! During my high school days I was an avid reader of Westerns. It took me about two hours to read a cowboy book. Nowadays I like reading study materials like encyclopedias and the like. Rather weird, wouldn’t you say?

6. What are you reading right now?
Please don’t laugh, but I’m busy brushing up on English grammar and South African history. As I said, please don’t laugh.

7. Do you have another book that you are working on and hasn't been submitted for publication? Tell about it.
Quest for Freedom was the first on the drawing board, and has by God’s grace progressed to the bookstore. From the beginning I’d envisaged a trilogy—continuing with Quest for Life and finishing with Quest for Truth.

8. What are your biggest obstacles to writing and how do you overcome them?
I’m one of those creatures who have difficulty in multitasking. So, when I write, I’d like to be marooned on an island, cut off from the world—but with all the benefits of civilization intact of course. However, that’s simply not possible. So, it’s start up, pause, step back, restart, pause… an endless cycle. I’m quite sure that I’m not the only writer on a quest—a quest for peace and quiet! Therefore, the best time for me to start writing is about 2am! You may check with my beloved wife if you don’t believe me.

9. Please put a description of each of your books here. (back matter is ok)
Quest for Freedom is a story about freedom, as the title suggests. It’s a story about relationships— relationships between people and relationship with God. The secondary title expounds on it a bit: Being free amidst life’s ups and downs. The back matter on the book cover reads thus:
Mike and Anne are about to get a divorce. Despite the love between them, the hardships in their lives might be too much for them to take. A fresh start could be the best thing for both of them. Paul and Claire Shaw have a different problem. Paul is a pastor, and Claire is a compassionate wife. After a series of tragedies, however, Paul’s faith in God is severely shaken. What do these couples have in common? They are on a Quest for Freedom from the secrets that have scarred their souls. They are looking for hope despite trauma and turmoil.
Enter Old Charles Young, a man who has a different kind of secret: he has found true freedom from the pain and darkness of his own secrets, trauma, and turmoil. Walk with these couples as they learn that they were made for freedom, regardless of the challenges life hands them.
Author Emil Kirstein’s easy, conversational style allows the reader to become a “fly on the wall” as each character unfolds his or her Quest for Freedom. The real-life lessons they’ve learned provide clues for the characters—and the reader—to find what they are seeking.
In his review, Jim Miller, Marketing Representative of Tate Publishing & Enterprises, said:
Quest for Freedom tells the story of two struggling couples who find hope in the wisdom of an old man they barely know. Emil Kirstein writes with the heart of a pastor and the insight of a counselor. This book is an enjoyable read, but it is also much more than that. It is useful as a companion to pastoral or Christian counseling, a gift for people who are seeking answers for the difficulties in life, and as edification for fellow believers in Christ. The best part about Emil’s writing style is that it is in no way heavy-handed or preachy.

10. How can readers contact you or purchase your books? Please put your website or blog here.
Readers can contact me at my website, There are links to email me, buy the book, read my blog, connect with me on Facebook, and the like. I welcome feedback from readers. It helps me keep my stories real.

This was a great interview. If you missed one of the past interviews of the talented authors I have been interviewing be sure to visit my blog and catch up. These was interesting people!

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Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

100 Ways to Simplify Your Life

Publisher: FaithWords; Lrg edition (November 12, 2008)


JOYCE MEYER is one of the world's leading practical Bible teachers. A #1 New York Times bestselling author, she has written more than seventy inspirational books, including The Confident Woman, Look Great, Feel Great, and the entire Battlefield of the Mindfamily of books. She has also released thousands of audio teachings as well as a complete video library. Joyce's Enjoying Everyday Life® radio and television programs are broadcast around the world, and she travels extensively conducting conferences. Joyce and her husband, Dave, are the parents of four grown children and make their home in St. Louis, Missouri.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $16.99

Paperback: 240 pages

Publisher: FaithWords; Lrg edition (November 12, 2008)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0446509396

ISBN-13: 978-0446509398



Everyone has them: those days where nothing seems to get done, except maybe what you’ve added to your already lengthy to-do list. Are you tired most of the time? Are you spent? Do you find yourself wish- ing for a better day—a simpler day? Too many things compete for your limited resources of attention, energy, and time. You may be suffocat- ing and not even know it. If you feel like this, you’re not alone.

Most people today live complicated lives that leave them frustrated and confused, weary and worn out. But I have good news: your life does not have to be that way. You can choose a life of simplicity, fruitfulness, fulfillment, peace, and joy. I want to warn you, however, unless you are determined not to, you will do what everyone else does. You will get sucked up in the system and spend your life wishing things were different, never realizing you are, in fact, the only one who can change things. Unless we are resolute and remain undaunted in our quest for simplicity, we are destined for complication and frustration.

I recall a time when I was complaining to God about my schedule being absolutely insane. How could anyone be expected to do all I had in front of me? Then the realization hit me that I was the one who made my schedule and nobody could change it but me. You can spend your lives wishing things were different, but wishing won’t change anything. Smart decision making and decisive action is what changes things. If you picked up this book looking for change, are you willing to make a decision and follow it up with action?

I wasted many years hoping life would change and things would calm down until I finally realized life itself doesn’t change; in fact, it has the potential to get worse. I understood my only real option was to change my approach to life. I had to say no to another day of rushing around and feeling frustrated. I didn’t want the doctor giving me another pre- scription to mask another symptom of the real problem—stress.

In my search for simplicity, I have come to believe life can never be simple unless I learn to approach all things simply. It is my attitude toward each event in life that determines how easy or complex each situation will be. Perhaps life is complicated because people are compli- cated. Is it possible that life is not complicated, but rather, individuals complicate life in the way they approach it?

I discovered it wasn’t really life or circumstances or other people as much as it was me that needed to change. My problem wasn’t the problem—I was the problem! When you spend your life in frustration trying to change the world and everyone in it, you fail to realize it could be you just need to change your approach to life. It can be very easy for someone to live an entire lifetime and never entertain the notion that the way they do things is the real problem.

Have you ever attempted to have friends over for what you initially intended to be a simple afternoon of food, fellowship, and fun, but somehow, it turned into a complicated nightmare? I remember those days vividly. I’d be at church on Sunday and, without much forethought, invite three couples over for the following Sunday to a barbecue. My initial thought was hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill, baked beans, potato chips, and iced tea. My motive was fellowship and fun, but by the time the guests arrived, I didn’t even want them there. Fun was not going to happen, at least not for me. Why? I turned my simple get- together into a nightmare of preparation, expensive food, and fourteen people instead of the original six. My complicated approach to life and my complicated thought process convinced me hot dogs and hamburg- ers weren’t nice enough so I bought steaks we could not afford. My potato chips turned into a huge bowl of homemade potato salad. The simple baked beans became four side dishes I labored over.

Insecure and wanting to impress everyone, I had to spend the week cleaning and getting everything in the house to the point where I thought it would be impressive. Of course, the lawn chairs were old, so I bought new ones. I got angry at Dave because I thought he wasn’t help- ing me enough, and by the time our friends arrived, I resented them, wished they hadn’t come, and had a miserable day of pretending to be the happy hostess when in reality I was frustrated and miserable.

I could not figure out why I wasn’t able to enjoy much of anything in life until God revealed to me I was killing my joy with complication. For years, I prayed God would change the people and circumstances around me when, in reality, He wanted to change me and my approach to life. He wanted me to simplify so, ultimately, He could be glorified.

Let me share with you 100 ways to approach living that can simplify your life and, in turn, release and increase your joy. I believe they will dramatically improve the quality of your everyday experience if you incorporate them into the way you do things. Jesus said He came so we might have and enjoy our life in abundance (see John 10:10). His prin- ciples are simple. Faith is simple! Trusting God is simple! A childlike approach to Him is simple! The plan of salvation is simple!

Jesus offers us a “new way of living,” and I believe it is a simple, yet powerful way that enables us to enjoy everyday life. Are you ready to simplify your life? Are you ready to say good-bye to the complexities you’ve allowed to take over? Let’s get started.

Do One Thing at a Time

The feeling of being hurried is not usually the result of living a full life and having no time. It is, on the contrary, born of a vague fear that we are wasting our life. When we do not do the one thing we ought to do, we have no time for anything elseówe are the busiest people in the world.


Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection].

—Hebrews 12:2

When we do things without truly focusing our minds on them, we immediately decrease our strength to do the work before us and do it well. By putting our hands to one thing and our mind to another, we divide the muscle behind our abilities and we make the task much more difficult. It’s like removing an egg yolk from the egg white—both can be used separately but the result isn’t as effective (or tasty) as it would be if we leave the egg whole. However, by directing all of our faculties to the one thing we are doing on a particular day, at that hour, at that moment, we find it much easier to do. The ability to concentrate and stay focused can only come from discipline.

The apostle Paul tells us in Philippians 4:6 to be anxious for nothing. Anxious people are always trying to live ahead of where they currently are. They spend today trying to figure out tomorrow and the result is the loss of simplicity. God expects us to trust Him with tomorrow just as He instructed the Israelites to do when they crossed the barren wil- derness, pressing toward the Promised Land.

Practice living one day at a time; give yourself—your thoughts, your conversation, your energies, every part of you—to the day at hand.

100 Ways to Simplify Your Life

1. Develop an ability to give yourself to what you are doing. You will sense an awareness enabling you to enjoy the current activity, instead of going through each day in a blur of activity and confusing thoughts which leave you drained and exhausted.

Do you fear you will not accomplish as much if you try to live this way? It’s true you may not do as much, but you will also enjoy what you do a whole lot more. One key to simplicity is realizing that quality is far superior to quantity.

The Blog Tour for "Nan's Journey" Begins July 23

It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and his/her book:

Nan's Journey

Tate Publishing & Enterprises (January 2, 2008)


Littau is a life-long resident of Perryton, TX. She met husband, Terry at the Apostolic Faith Bible College in Baxter Springs, Kansas in 1974. They married March 1, 1975 and reside on a small acreage near Perryton where they enjoy spending time with their family and friends. They raised three sons and now have three daughters-in-law and four grandchildren added to their family. They also enjoy visiting with their extended family located in Perryton, Clear Lake, Laverne, and Amarillo.

Author Elaine Littau is a busy woman who by profession is the church secretary for Harvest Time First Assembly of God Church in Perryton. Among other things she has led women’s groups and taught preschool, and was a mentor for the M.O.P.S. (Mothers of Preschoolers) group in her community. She has been active in Toastmasters and enjoys painting, crafts, and playing piano and organ. She was recently appointed to the Campus Education Improvement Committee for Wright Elementary in Perryton. She belongs to Christian Storytellers and Faith Writers writing groups.

“Nan’s Journey” was written over the course of several years. “A salvation message is at the core of the book.” Littau says. “If it weren’t for the Lord, I wouldn’t have been able to do this. I truly enjoy meeting new people.”

Littau is currently working on two other books that are continuations of “Nan’s Journey.” Book signings and speaking engagements are currently set up for venues in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, and Oregon.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 188 pages
Publisher: Tate Publishing & Enterprises (January 2, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1602478325
ISBN-13: 978-1602478329


Chapter One

It was late. The moon had risen and the night symphony was in full force. Crickets chirped at their rivals, the frogs, and dominated the night chorus. Only one sound in the forest was foreign—a whimper from under the ferns. At the base of the largest pine in the woods was a small form crying, moaning, and whimpering. Black hair, matted and dirty, hung in long ropes down the front of the tiny girl. She had been in this spot for hours. At least that is what it felt like to her. Stretching, she cried out in pain. The blood-covered welts burst open to bleed again. Her back was wet with blood, and her dress was torn and useless.

Why had she dared to speak to the woman that she was obliged to call mother in that way? She knew that talking was not allowed from children before chores were finished. The accusations being made by “Ma” were totally false and she could not let Elmer take the blame for something she herself had forgotten to do. She shut her eyes tight against the memory, but it intruded anyway.

She had just gotten up to take the water off the stove to make up dishwater for the supper dishes. Ma had stepped outside the room to turn down her bed and prepare for sleep. When she reappeared in the kitchen, she realized that the wood supply next to the stove was low. Elmer was standing next to the table gathering the plates for washing. “Elmer, where is the wood you were supposed to bring up to the house?” Before he could answer, a hand had slapped him across his face. Getting back onto his feet and standing as tall as a five year old can stand, he looked her in the eye and said, “Ma, I was sick today, ‘member?”

“So, Elmer, you’re going to play up that headache trick again. Nan, didn’t your good for nothing Mama teach you people how to work, or are you just lazy?”

“Our Mama was good! Don’t you say mean things about her!” Nan yelled as her heart raced at the assault against her real Mama’s character.

“What about it, Elmer, are you like your weakling Mama or what?” Elmer’s eyes became very large and filled with tears. He could barely remember his real Mama, but when he did, he remembered soft kisses and sweet singing and a beautiful face. “I’m sorry; I’ll get the wood now.”

“No, Elmer, don’t. I promised you I’d do it today when your head was hurting, but I forgot. I’ll get it after I do these dishes.”

“Listen here, Nan, I’m the boss around here and Elmer will do what I say, when I say, and you will respect me.”

Nan’s eyes widened.

“Don’t look at me like that, little girl.”

Nan held her breath.

“Well, I guess you will be making a trip to the wood shed…with me!” Ma had grabbed her by the arm and jerked her along behind the shed. The strap was hanging there, waiting. Whippings were becoming more and more frequent. After Ma’s husband left, they had taken on a more cruel form. The last whipping was more like a beating. It took days for the marks to scab over and heal. Little Elmer had come in that night and brought some horse medicine from the barn and applied it to the oozing marks.

The next afternoon when the schoolteacher came over, Ma had already formulated a story. “Mrs. Dewey, we missed Nan and Elmer today at school. Are they sick?” Ma lied the first time in her life and said, “Well Miss Sergeant, since Mr. Dewey is going to be gone for another four weeks, I need more help around here to get things done. I’m holding the kids out until he gets back.” Week after week went by, and Mr. Dewey still hadn’t come home. Everyday Ma grew more and more angry. It became more and more impossible to please her. When she began hitting Elmer, it was too much. Nan had to do something— right or wrong; things couldn’t stay the way they were.

The coolness of the earth had settled into Nan’s bones. She stood silently for a minute and carefully crept up to the farmhouse. As she opened the door, she saw that Elmer was in the pallet at the foot of the stove next to her bedroll. Ma was asleep in her room. The door held open with a rock. Slowly she began peeling off the dress and the dried blood stuck to it. She reached for the old shirt she normally wore over her wounds and under her dress. She had washed it today. It had bloodstains on it, but it would keep her from ruining another dress. She retrieved the old work dress that she wore when chores were messier than usual; it was the only one left. She put it on swiftly and shook Elmer awake with her hand over his mouth. “Baby, we must leave. Do you understand? Stay quiet and I will get some stuff to take with us.”

She found large old handkerchief and began looking for food supplies. There was one sourdough biscuit and about a cup of cold brown beans. She located her tin cup and another rag. She would probably need that. Three matches were in the cup on the stove. She would just take two. Suddenly she heard a sound from Ma’s room. A scampering sound… just a rat. Ma turned over. Her breathing became deep and regular. For once Nan wished that Ma snored. She tied the handkerchief in a knot over the meager food supplies, grabbed their bedrolls, and slowly opened the door.

“Come on, Elmer. Can you carry this food? I’ll get your bedding. That’s a good boy. We must hurry!”

The cold air bit at their faces, but they walked bravely on.

“Elmer, we must go tonight so we can get as far away as we can before Ma wakes up and sees that we are gone.”

For the next half hour the pair walked in silence through the familiar woods past the graves on the hill. In one, a mother dearly loved, in another, an infant who had died the same day as his mother, and the third, a father that only Nan had memory of. Elmer was only two years old when Pa died in the logging accident. Nan snapped out of her reverie and urged Elmer on. Molasses, Pa’s good old workhorse, stood in the pasture. He skidded the logs Pa cut with his axe. His legs hadn’t healed quite right, but Mama hadn’t let Mr. Dewey kill him because he was all she had left of the husband of her youth. Molasses was a faithful friend to Nan and Elmer. He stood there and waited for them to mount him.

“Molasses, take us to…” Nan realized then that they had nowhere to go. Mrs. Dewey had said that they were ungrateful little imps who didn’t realize she and Mr. Dewey were taking care of them out of kindness, and they could easily be put into an orphanage. Nan didn’t know anything about orphanages except what Mrs. Dewey…uh, Ma had told her. “Molasses, just take us out of here.”

Cruise Blunder

Barnes & Noble Booksellers in Westminster CO

Barnes & Noble Booksellers in Westminster CO
Great book signing in Colorado!

Mardel Bookstore in Littleton, CO

Mardel Bookstore in Littleton, CO
Booksigning - Elaine

Elk's Resolve Proof is Here