So Long Supermom

supermomIt’s no secret that I love superhero movies. I’ve become a Marvel fanatic (thanks to my family) and my favorite Disney / Pixar movie is The Incredibles.

But, if you look closely at superheroes, none are great at everything, and they all have their kryptonite. They’re also strongest when they don’t go it alone. Consider The Avengers: Thor, Iron Man, Black Widow, Captain America, Hawkeye, the Hulk. Yes, individually they each have their specialty, but when together, they’re a nearly impenetrable force. As for The Incredibles, they do their best work when teamed up as a family.

Over the last half-century, women have striven to achieve that superhero status as Supermom, and mom’s are told they can do anything and everything. They can hold down full-time jobs and be a full-time mom. They are chauffeur and chef. Scientist and athlete. Musician and author. Housekeeper and nurse. Oh, and I can’t forget loving wife.

All while managing to work out an hour a day and always having perfect hair.

I’ll bet you even know some of these supermoms. You sit next to them at church, PTA, scout meetings, book clubs. And chances are, you sometimes feel inadequate. I know I do. As does Debbie Verhoeven, my heroine in Pieces of Granite.

Debbie is a trained marriage and family therapist-turned full-time mom. Her toddler has asthma, the baby she’s carrying has Down syndrome, and her husband suffers from severe panic attacks. But she handles it all with grace …

Until she can’t handle it on her own anymore.

I often hear people say, “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle.” Honestly, I believe He constantly gives us more than we can handle, and that forces us to rely on Him.

The fact is, no one can do everything well. That perfectly-coiffed, stylishly mother seated next to you? You should see her house! Oh, and then there’s that super-scout leader whose troops are always at the top of cookie sales, plus they’re volunteering everywhere, and they make the most fabulous crafts! But maybe her family life isn’t so super.

Despite what society wants to believe, moms are not and will never be super-human. No matter what they look like on the outside, inside they’re just plain-old human. They are moms who need fellowship. They’re moms who need that firm foundation to hold them up when life gives them more than they can handle. Because it will.

And that’s okay because we all have a true-life superhero to rely on, One who knows us intimately and has no weaknesses. He’s our strength when we’re weak, our friend when we’re lonely, and our teacher when starting something new.

So moms, I give you permission to be imperfect. You don’t have to do everything, be everything. Just be who God created you to be.

No, you’re not Supermom, but you are a mom and that’s special enough.

A Peek at Pieces of Granite

Arguing CoupleIn less than a month, Pieces of Granite will finally release! Woo hoo! I can’t wait! Until then, I thought you’d enjoy a teaser or two, so every week I’ll give you a little taste of a book that’s very dear to me.

Probably the best teaser I can give you is a glimpse inside the book itself. In 2012, Pieces of Granite was a semi-finalist in the ACFW Genesis Awards, the same year another work of mine was a finalist. As the scores from both entries were comparable, I’m guessing that Pieces was not too far away from making finalist.

With that, here’s the first scene …

May
     One more slam should drive away her fears. Debbie Verhoeven raised the hammer, her tongue poking from the corner of her mouth, and eyed the nail’s head. With Handel’s Water Music floating through the background, she swung the hammer down, transferred her strength to the nail, and implanted steel into oak. Her finger skimmed over the small metal head now blended smoothly with the wood’s surface. Perfect.
     Just like this little one. She patted her stomach and imagined the dime-sized heel floating unseen beneath her fingertips, a mere seventeen weeks alive. Absolutely perfect.
     She took off her safety goggles, blew a brown strand of hair from her eyes, and removed a lawn chair from the open-stud garage wall. Time to relax. She unfolded the chair and placed it where her Mommy-van usually sat, where antifreeze had dripped Rorschach-like blotches onto the concrete. She collapsed onto the chair and smiled. Driving nails was great therapy.
     But then, there was always clean up. A warm breeze blew through the garage’s open door and a car puttered down her normally quiet street as she examined the butcher block workbench spanning the back of the garage. Next to her woodworking project, a Minnesota spring bouquet of lilacs and dandelions cuddled together in a Pepsi can, adding a splash of color and refreshing fragrance to the un-Sheetrocked area. The bouquet would stay, but tools needed to be hung on the pegboard and wood scraps awaited recycling. As for the granite stones scattered on the bench, she must have an empty coffee can around somewhere.
     Tomorrow. Friday morning would be soon enough to clean her bench. She massaged her belly. Baby Verhoeven needed rest.
     The door to the house opened, and her husband peeked through the crack.      “About done?”
     “For the afternoon, anyway.” She stood, brushed dusty hands on her jeans, and wiped perspiration from her forehead. Even with the garage door open, the air movement did little to cool her pregnant body. “Kaitlynn still napping?”
     “At the moment.” A rare smile lit Jerry’s face as he stepped into the garage. He wound his way in front of their decade-old Ford Escort wagon, cradling a Hostess cupcake in each hand.
     Her stomach growled and she licked her lips. “Snack time already?”
     “Maybe an hour or so past.”
     “No, it’s not …” Her gaze flew to the saw blade clock mounted on the pegboard above her workbench. Five forty-seven. Jerry had been home two hours already? No way. Maybe one. And a half. Maybe. And Kaitlynn never napped this long.
     It was far past time for snacks. Supper should have been started over an hour ago.
     But if Jerry wasn’t complaining, why should she?
     He set the cupcakes on her bench and ran his palm across her wood project.      “What are you making?”
     She grinned and covered his hand. “Something for my garden.”
     “A secret something?” His other hand blanketed hers.
     “Yep.”
     “I have a secret.” He circled his arms around her waist. “I love you,” he whispered in his luscious tenor. His subtle Halston cologne drew her nearer until his lips briefly met hers, his goatee-mustache tickling her mouth. He drew back and smiled again, with creases accenting his green eyes. The years-old burn scar mapped over his cheek blushed a brighter shade of pink. Shoot, he was gorgeous, even with the fluorescent light reflected off his smooth head.
     “I like your secret.” She drew a finger down the front of his polo shirt. “What’s the occasion?”
     “Two minutes of quiet with my wife now, so you can sleep in tomorrow. Don’t worry about getting up with me. Get in a little rest before Kaitlynn wakes up.”
     Oh, that sounded heavenly. If only it were that simple. “What about Kaitlynn’s party? I’ve got a cake to bake tomorrow. A house to clean—”
     He pressed a finger to her lips. “Party’s two days away. Take it easy tomorrow. I’ll help when I get home. No worries.”
     Girl, stop arguing. She plopped back down in her chair. “Thanks, hon.” No sane pregnant stay-at-home mom would be dumb enough to turn down extra sleep and help.
     “You’re welcome.” He handed her a cupcake.
     She nibbled the devilishly good chocolate treat, skirting the crème center. Always save the best part for last.
     Jerry downed his in two bites. He didn’t need to savor the taste. Calories hated him and never stuck around. Life wasn’t fair.
     Licking his fingers, he leaned against the bench. Familiar worry lines wrinkled his forehead. “Any word from Ricky?”
     The cake suddenly tasted like sawdust. “He’s flying to London tomorrow.” And Granite Creek, Minnesota, wasn’t exactly in the flight path of New York to London.
     “I’m sorry, hon.” Jerry opened a folding chair, faced it opposite hers, and took her hands. “You know it kills him not being here, although I’m sure Marcus is quite happy.”
     Probably. “Those two. I think they’re beyond hope.” Why her older brothers couldn’t get along … She shook her head. “I keep reminding myself how lucky I am to have two older brothers who love me, who love us, and maybe someday …”
     “It’ll happen. They’re good guys; they’ve just got a little growing up to do.” He leaned over, raised her bare feet to his lap, and massaged the ankle that revealed her one foray into rebellion during college. Her poor mother still rolled her eyes whenever she noticed the diminutive lily permanently inked to Debbie’s skin. An act Debbie never regretted.
     Besides, Jerry loved it. Said it was sexy, and his gentle caress affirmed those words.
     With a sly grin, he traced the lily with his thumb. “Where are your shoes?
     “My feet were hot.” She pointed beneath the bench where ankle socks lay tucked inside tennis shoes.
     “Didn’t you teach Kaitlynn to always wear shoes when working in the garage?” His grin expanded.
     With a huff, Debbie crossed her arms. “She’s napping.”
     “Rebel.”
     Hardly. “Yep, that’s me.” Maybe in an alternate universe.
     He chuckled, then concern leveled his lips as he nodded at her stomach. “What do we tell the family this weekend?”
     Debbie caressed her baby. This little one would be loved, no matter what the diagnosis. “We’ll tell them I’m pregnant, but the rest? I don’t think we should, at least until we know for sure.”
     “And you’ve heard nothing from the doctor?”
     “Not yet. Every time the phone rings …” She glanced at the cordless phone lying silent on the workbench. Three weeks had passed since the amniocentesis. It was well past time for the doctor to call with the results. This nervous anticipation was hard on both of them.
     Especially Jerry. The corner of his lip quivered. A sure sign he was holding back his fears. “How do I keep myself from worrying?”
     “Ah, Jerry.”
     “Seriously, Debbie. I’m scared to death.”
     Not a surprise. “I know. I’m scared too.” But for different reasons.
     “I wish I were strong as you.”
     Sometimes, I wish I could be weak. “God’s not asking us to be strong.”
     “What if I can’t handle it?”
     “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.”
     A sarcastic laugh escaped his throat. “Right. Tell that to my dad. To my ex-wife.” He pinched the bridge of his nose and looked down.
     Debbie grabbed his hands. “Look at me.”
     He peered up, his cheeks flexing.
     “Whatever happens, we’re in this together. Do you understand that?”
     He nodded like a guilty child accepting a scolding.
     “Good, because I am not your dad. Nor am I Francine. You’re stuck with me through everything. Got that? You have my word that I will never walk out on you.”
     His arms wrapped her in a trembling hug, clearly unconvinced.
     God, please give him strength.
     The phone rang as if in answer to her supplication.
     She reached for it, but Jerry grabbed it first.
     “Hello.” Jerry massaged the left side of his chest. “Yes.”
     “Doctor Haugman’s office?” She mouthed.
     His head gave one slow nod, and his eyes focused on the ground.
     Please God, for Jerry’s sake, and for me and the baby, let the tests be negative.
     “Monday.” Color leaked from his face.
     No. Debbie laid her hand on Jerry’s arm.
     “I understand. We’ll be there.”
     With a heavy sigh, he lifted his chin, clearly trying to appear brave, but red streaked the whites of his eyes and tension hollowed his cheeks. His lip twitched as he slid his hands between his knees, and cracked his knuckles.
     “Dr. Haugman wants to see us Monday.” An appointment meant one thing: they had information that couldn’t be delivered over the phone.

*~*~*
Excerpt taken from Pieces of Granite by Brenda S. Anderson
© Brenda S. Anderson 2014.

More Blog Hopping!

Canal Park LighthousesToday, I’m visiting a couple of blogs.

Author Narelle Atkins invited me to share my favorite weekend escape, so I got to talk about the North Shore along Lake Superior. God’s presence is so evident up there! Where is your favorite getaway?

http://narelleatkins.wordpress.com/2014/10/24/friday-weekend-escape-to-lake-superior-in-minnesota-usa-with-brenda-s-anderson/

And it’s my scheduled blog day at Inkspirational Messages. We’ve been chatting about what’s going on in our lives, and I talk about a year of changes. I’d love to hear about what’s going on your life!

http://inkspirationalmessages.com/ch-ch-ch-changes/

Chain of Mercy … Six Months Later

Chain of MercyIt’s hard to believe that yesterday was Chain of Mercy‘s six-month birthday. In a way it seems as if it just released yesterday, but then it feels like it’s been out for forever.

For the most part, it’s been a good six months. I’ve received tremendous encouragement from readers and writers alike. I’ve heard from people who’ve experienced similar situations to my characters, and not only said I got it right, but that my characters’ journeys helped them in their faith walk. That’s what this is all about, right?

Chain of Mercy - back coverOne of the biggest compliments I received came after my book launch in May. This reader asked if I’d been to the pier I describe in the third scene. I told him “no”, that I used Google Earth and other web searches to get the feel for the place. This reader was surprised as he grew up by that pier and said I described the area perfectly. How cool is that?!

And, of course, there’s been the down sides. Marketing–never fun for us introverted types. Sales have been very bland, probably due in part to that marketing problem. ;-)

And then, there’s the issue with my struggling publisher.

The important thing to remember through all of this is that God is in Control. Whatever successes I may have, be they worldly or God-defined successes, to God be the glory. And even in failures, God will be glorified.

I’m grateful to you, my readers and friends, who have prayed, encouraged, and supported me on this journey. I am immensely blessed!


How you can help …

Purchase Chain of Mercy: Amazon | B&N | BAM | iTunes
Review Chain of Mercy: Amazon | Goodreads
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Getting to Know Author Mari Keisling

Mari Keisling*** Book Giveaway ***
See contest rules below

~*~*~

One of the great joys of being a writer is the doors it opens to meeting and encouraging other authors. I’ve known Mari Keisling several years through our church, Northgate Church in Ramsey, MN, but it’s our shared writing interests that helped get beyond the “I know who she is” to “I know her” stage.

Mari is a gifted author of devotions and Bible studies who always compels me to think deeper about my faith. Right now, I’m beginning every morning with her Bible study and debut release LIVING IN THE LIGHT OF GOD’S LOVE: WALK THIS WAY, so I’m very excited to welcome Mari today

Hello, Mari. Thanks for joining me on my blog today! Could you tell my readers a little about yourself?

I’ve been married to my husband Craig for 23 years. We have two daughters, Sarah and Melissa, who are both in college. I work for my church, Northgate in Ramsey, MN, as a database administrator. I am also a seamstress although I’m not “working” right now. I blog as time allows and post on Facebook. I’m also doing some freelance writing for a new devotional app called myDevo.

Living in the Light of God's Love: Walk This WayCongratulations on your debut release! How exciting! Can you tell us about Living in the Light of God’s Love: Walk This Way? What inspired this book?

Living in the Light of God’s Love: Walk This Way is a study on the book of 1 John. It’s about abiding in Christ while we walk out our faith in all areas of our lives. The study goes through the disciplines of fellowship, obedience, humility, meditation, and prayer and why they are each essential in our ability to remain grounded in Christ in all we do. And when we do live our faith fully in the light of God’s love in all areas of our lives, our lives are truly an act of worship to our Lord. Too many of us want to separate Jesus and our “church” life from the rest of our life or we don’t know how to bring them together, but because He lives in us, He goes with us whether we understand it or not. Our relationship with Him is of first importance so the best thing we can do is give Him glory and honor everywhere we go.

I truly hope that everyone who goes through this study will feel more prepared, more equipped and more comfortable living out their faith in their everyday life.

Living in the Light was truly a labor of love. I knew in the summer of 2011 that this study would be written, but I had no idea what it would actually be about. I was having a hard time getting my mind around the fullness of God’s love and I thought there was no way I could possibly write a study on the “book of love” as it’s known. But after I had finished a few other projects, I truly felt the need to be obedient no matter how ill-equipped I felt. So I dug into God’s Word and Living in the Light of God’s Love: Walk This Way was the outcome.

Don’t you love how He equips us when we’re obedient to His call?! Could you tell us more about this call, your journey to publication?

Honestly, the publishing world is a step out of my comfort zone. I never dreamed of being a writer and still have a difficult time believing I’m a published author. Because I simply felt writing this study and making it available was my purpose, I chose to self-publish. Literally, I was on a website and a link for WestBow Press, a division of Thomas Nelson & Zondervan, came up asking if I was interested in publishing a book. I had never heard of them, but could tell it was a Christian publisher so I clicked the link and the rest is history. I wouldn’t recommend choosing a publisher that way, but for me, I just needed to take the step. The people at WestBow have been great to work with and very patient with me through the process. The hardest part for me was being exposed and vulnerable and, to some degree, giving up control of my work. I understand this is just part of the learning curve and do feel better equipped for the next project.

As an author, I completely understand about feeling exposed and giving up control of your work. It’s not easy, but it certainly makes us better!

What are you working on right now?

I’m currently creating a short Bible study for an event and writing for the devotional app, but also think there will be another full study coming. I wrote a very basic study on Proverbs 31 in 2011. It was my first project, and I do believe I need to expand it one day. 1 Peter has also been on my heart. It’s another project that I’m not sure where it will go, but I know if God wants me to write it, He’ll show me the way and give me the words.

Which authors do you enjoy reading? Have any influenced your writing?

I’ve been told I write like Henry Blackaby although I’ve never read any of his books so I’m hoping that’s a good thing. I’ve enjoyed studies by Joyce Meyer, Beth Moore, and Stormie Omartian. I would say that I’ve been influenced by each of them and their love of the Scripture. They each have their own style and emphasis in the purpose of their writing. I definitely try to maintain my style and not let myself drift toward how someone else writes. There are times when I can’t even listen to someone else give a talk because I start to pick up on what they are saying.

That seems to be a common author problem. :) Yet, it’s so important to be true to your own voice, the voice God gave you.

What’s on your reading list right now?

Chain of Mercy is on the list, but I’ve loaned it out to my daughter while I work on my projects. I’ve recently finished Letters from a Skeptic (Dr. Gregory A. Boyd) and I’m currently reading Practicing the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence. I’ve been wanting to read this for a number of years now so I grab a few minutes whenever I can. It’s helping me to stay focused in the moment with my currently crazy schedule.

When you’re not writing, what do you enjoy doing?

I enjoy yard work and gardening, scrapbooking, playing board games and puzzles. I love deep conversations with good friends and my husband and I enjoy cooking and eating out. I’m not sure why food has always been something we’ve enjoyed but it seems to give us dedicated time to talk. We are less distracted in the kitchen or a restaurant for some reason.

And the most important question: milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate, or no chocolate?

Milk chocolate for sure! Call me old-fashion, but I love the simplicity of it.

Thanks again, Mari for taking time for the interview!

About Mari~

Mari Keisling, author and speaker, is on staff at Northgate Church. She ministers to women regarding topics such as purpose, relationships and discipleship through her various studies and devotional style blog, LYF Moments. Mari and Craig have been married since 1991 and have two daughters. They currently live in Minnesota.

Where to reach Mari~

Where to purchase LIVING IN THE LIGHT OF GOD’S LOVE: WALK THIS WAY~

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | CBD | Parable | WestBow

Living in the Light of God's Love: Walk This Way>>>Book Giveaway<<<

Mari has graciously offered to give away on e-book copy of Living in the Light of God’s Love: Walk This Way! To enter, in the comments below, please tell us which of Mari’s latest posts on her LYF Moments blog offers you the most encouragement. (You’ll find her recent posts in the right sidebar on her LYF Moments blog.)

This contest ends Sunday, October 26, 201 at 11:59 pm CST. I will post the winner on Monday, October 27, 2014. Winner will be chosen via Random.org.

Traveling the Blogosphere

TravelI’ve been traveling around the blogosphere a bit this week, and I’d love to have you come visit.

For the month of October, author Heidi McCahan has been spotlighting one debut author per day, and on the 14th, I was her guest. I’m also offering a giveaway: one free e-book of Chain of Mercy to one lucky commenter. So, stop by her blog to find out how to enter.

http://heidimccahan.com/2014/10/14/31-days-of-debut-authors-brenda-andersons-coming-home-series-a-giveaway/

On October 15, I wrote a guest post for the ACFW blog: To Fight or Be Still. Sometimes we’re called to pick up our sword and fight the battle right along with God, yet other times, we’re to fight on our knees.

http://www.acfw.com/blog/to-fight-or-be-still/

Have a blessed weekend!

Down Syndrome Awareness Month

DS Awareness MonthOctober is Down Syndrome Awareness Month, a month-long campaign to make people aware of the accomplishments and abilities (not disabilities) of those with Down syndrome.

My next release, PIECES OF GRANITE, is about a couple who learns that the child they’re expecting has Down syndrome. It’s not an easy diagnosis to accept, and the parents are given options. Not all are palatable.

It’s estimated that 9 out of 10 babies who are diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted (see ABC News article, Down Syndrome Births are Down in the US). A chilling statistic. The article states that many of the parents base their decisions on myth rather than fact.

The video below puts reality back into the decision as it demonstrates the beauty and normalcy of parenting a child with DS.

When Publishing Takes Plot Twists

Plot TwistIf you follow my site closely, you might know that today is the day Pieces of Granite (Coming Home series prequel) was supposed to release. As you can tell, that hasn’t happened. You see, within this past month, my publishing journey has been affected by a slight plot twist.

Without boring you with a long story, I’m announcing that I’m going indie with my own press, Vivant Press. This is not something I’d ever planned on, yet circumstances dictate that it’s the best way to go at this time in my career. I won’t be going it alone, though, as I’ll still be partnering with my gracious publisher for the final three books–they’re doing the cover and interior design, for which I am very grateful. Soon I hope to reveal that cover which I know will be beautiful.

So, for those of you who’ve asked about Pieces of Granite, you’ll have to wait another month with my launch date set for Tuesday, November 18. Thank you for your patience!