Monday, November 30, 2015

Stormy Towne - Faith & Fame Series

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Click Book Cover to View on Amazon

When help arrives in the form of a spoiled, rich girl from New York City, cowboy Justin Olsen is afraid his burden just got heavier. He’s been working and caring for his aunt Velma on his own.

Stormy is heiress to the Towne family fortune. Living in posh hotels and partying at the hottest New York City night clubs is part of her glamorous life. That is, until her grandmother banishes her to Apple Bottom, Texas with a mandate to aid an old family friend.

God surely hasn’t wrought these two hearts for each other, opposites to their very core. But what’s a vegetarian and a ranch hand to do when the failing town of Apple Bottom and Aunt Velma may need both of their help to survive?

The second book in the Faith & Fame series.
Short and Sweets - Cozy Afternoon Reads. Christian Romance.

Lainey Sparks - Lead Singer of Christian Band, Depth
Stormy Towne - Heiress to the Towne Fortune
Red Walker - Executive Officer of MacKenzie Oil

EXCERPT 


Willing himself to remain calm, Justin stood, waiting patiently for her to make up her mind. When she made no move, he walked to his side of the truck and slid behind the wheel, starting the engine. To say it purred like a kitten would have been a gross understatement, but it ran and was reliable. A cloud of dark smoke choked from the engine a moment later. He couldn’t help but split a grin when he heard Stormy shriek and rush to get into her side of the truck.
“Men!”
“Yes, ma’am. That’s what we grow here in Texas.” He put the truck in gear and proceeded from the parking spot. In minutes, he was out on route six and headed towards the highway.
“You hungry?” he asked into the silence.
“No,” Stormy said in muffled reply, her chin resting on a delicate hand perched near the window.
“Okay, but dinner might be long in coming, especially if Velma’s lost track of time again. I’m stopping for a burger. You want one?”
“A burger? Um, no. I don’t eat meat.”
Justin’s jaw worked, but no words came out. He glanced at her full on for thirty seconds before the road called his attention back.
“Don’t eat meat? Good Lord, woman. Whatcha goin’ to eat then?”
“Fruit and vegetables.”
“There’s no accounting for taste, I guess.” Justin pulled the truck into the drive through lane. “You want fries?”
Stormy looked at him and wrinkled her nose. “Fried in what kind of oil?”
“Lady, I have no idea. Does it matter?”
“I guess not. I don’t eat fried things. No, thank you.”
Justin placed his order, paid, and collected his food. He swung into an empty parking space and let the truck idle. Rummaging through the bag, he pulled out the double cheeseburger, conscious he was being watched. His eyes slid to Stormy’s. “What’s the matter?”
“I – I just …” she stuttered, “You’re so callous about eating meat. Do you know where that comes from?”
“Yes, ma’am. A cow. We’ll see plenty on the way to Apple Bottom and on the ranch.”
“Ranch?” Her nose wrinkled, which would have been pretty if she wasn’t so full of herself.
Justin looked down at his now unwrapped burger, turning it over in his hand before taking a huge bite. “Double-Y, yes ma’am. Then you’ll really appreciate your meat.”
Stormy shook her head in disgust at him and turned back to the window. Justin finished the burger in two bites and gulped down half of his soda. He jumped from the truck cab and threw the trash away. Within minutes they were back on the road and headed to the highway.
However long this girl was here, it would be too long. How could he cook for someone who didn’t eat meat? He ran the ranch as best he could, and most nights, he was so tired he couldn’t see straight. He didn’t have time to coddle a spoiled brat of a girl who never grew up.
The Good Lord knew how much they’d struggled this year with steer prices down and feed climbing higher and higher. You raised the animals, and they became your food. You didn’t get attached. They had a good life on the farm, in the fields, until it was time to send them for slaughtering. That was the circle of life.
Stormy, she had a strange way of thinking. She must be from a city with so much concrete between her and the dirt, it had affected her brain. 

View the book on Amazon here.
Check out Laura's other books on her website at www.LauraJMarshall.com
 

Saturday, November 7, 2015

I Was Drawing a Heart

I drew a heart in the sand.

Someone came alongside me and pointed to the outline. "A turtle," he exclaimed.

He called his friend over. The woman looked at the stick drawing, the ocean foam lapping closer to the edges.

"No, it's a dog."

More people gathered...pointing and debating. Despite my protestations, few saw the intended design.

The tide came in and washed the traces of it away.

In relief...and frustration, I sat on the hot sand, staring at where my picture had been.

I was alone.

Was it a snowflake or a cloud? 

"It was a heart," I declared, willing it to return beneath the water.

~  ~  ~
  
Our intentions are not changed by people's perception of them.  

In the end, I will stand before God. He'll see the curves to the lines, viewing that snapshot among the many in my life. 

He will see the heart.




Monday, June 8, 2015

Love Your Curves

God has been really great about putting strong amazing women in my life lately.

Recently, one remarked how she needs to lose 5-8 pounds to fit in some clothes that are just a bit too tight. "I love my curves," she said.

Wait. What?

"I love my curves."

How often do we hear that? If you're like me, you've been beating yourself up for the better part of 25 years for what you did or didn't eat...every day.

Another woman I have the pleasure of working with is a confident, determined, no-nonsense, powerful lady. She happens to be big and beautiful. Her presence is inspiring. She told me the other day she is trying to lose weight.

"No! Not you too!"

Not only is her presence inspiring, but her present -s. She is always there in our conversations and immediately takes action on whatever we're discussing.

Why do we as women have such a problem embracing our curves? Even the best and brightest of us?

I challenge you this summer to stop hiding, abusing, mistreating, beating yourself up. Love your curves. Isn't 25 years enough. Be healthy, but also...love you in the present. The rest of us already do.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Excerpt - A Mom's Battle Cry to Overcome Fear

On Amazon

What are worry, anxiety, and fear stealing from your life?

In this little book, set in an easy seven day format, join one Christian Mom in her battle to overcome fear.

"That night who I was changed forever. What the enemy had meant for evil, in that moment, would be turned around…slowly. I couldn't let someone else suffer as I had due to not speaking up. I had to trust that God would protect us, no matter what I had just gone through. I dialed 911. "

Excerpt: 

From Day Three - Sheep Tipping

I have found that anger is not far away when fear is in my life.  As I have relived these moments in this book with you, fear has been my companion many days again and anger has come on its heels; anger not only at what happened, but in the here and now.  Anger over unreasonable things as fear grasped and clung onto my inward soul.  Trust was waning again.  It separated me and called me to a place no one could visit, not even God as He gently knocked and beckoned me closer.

It wasn’t until towards the end of that year that I realized who I was angry with.  Even though He had tried to keep me from it and then got me through the event, I was angry at God for what happened.  When the realization hit me, I floundered.  Who was I to be mad at the Living God?

Fear of God clutched my heart then.  It was a well-placed fear.  It was a healthy fear. 

Psalm 111:10 states:  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding.   To him belongs eternal praise.

Proverbs 14:26-27 says, Whoever fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.  The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, turning a person from the snares of death.

It wasn’t many days after that that I cried out to God, literally aloud as I took a tub one night.  Crying tears over that fateful night, and all that I had lost since, in the course of my living in a place of fear and anger. 

In the Bible, we are described as sheep…the followers of God.  I did some research and found that sheep aren’t particularly intelligent animals.  They also have no sense of direction, so when they wander away from their flock, it’s almost impossible for them to find their way back on their own.  They are helpless; they have no way of defending themselves. 

Luke 15:3-7 reads,  Then Jesus told them this parable:  “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them.  Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?  And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home.  Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

We are never outside God’s grace.  Jesus will come after us, putting us gently on his shoulders to carry us home.  In the year that I walked away from God, ignoring Him, reminders of Him, and His Word, He pursued me.  He never left me.  I left Him.  I refused to acknowledge Him in my life.

It was like someone had tipped my wooly body over and I couldn’t right myself.  I was askew.  The world looked different.  People gathered and pointed at my flailing legs and growing coat of fleece.  People.  People scared me. 

What are your fears?  Are they fears of man, the spiritual realm, public places, the death of a loved one?  Our fears many times sound foolish to someone else. 

In our nursery class at church, I helped the 3- and 4-year-olds make a planter for Easter with live succulents.  After church, we had some extra plants and my pastor’s wife gave them to me to make a planter with my children at home.  

I was excited.  The kids and I filled the planter with soil, rocks, the succulent plants, and sticks glued together to make the three crosses of Calvary. 

I love and cherish this little planter, but I have anxiety when it comes to house plants.  I envy the beautiful plants that people have in their homes; little green treasures with their sprouts reaching towards the sunlight as they line the back of a kitchen sink. I yearn to snip herbs and smell their fragrance as I cook or clean throughout the day.  The problem I have is that I tend to kill them and so this fear has taken root.

A foothold.

When I look at the planter sitting cheerfully in the center of my kitchen table, my hands fairly itch to run and get the spray bottle full of water.  Am I watering it too much?  Am I not watering it enough?  Fear does grip at me somewhat with this houseplant.  I’ve avoided live plants slowly over the years, as I’ve learned that once they enter my home, they leave in a trash bag. 

How am I ever going to grow little pots of scented flowers and herbs that cheer up my workspace if they cause me such anxiety? 

A foothold becomes a stronghold

----

 
Available on Amazon in Ebook and Paperback:  http://amzn.com/B00CHC0FMC
See Laura's Website HERE for other available books.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Lainey Sparks - Faith & Fame Series

http://amzn.com/B00MABC79O

 What do you do when all you've thought important seems like a charade?

Meet Lainey Sparks, worship leader turned Christian recording artist. People look to her to lead them to God but she doesn't know her motives anymore. Then she's introduced to Nick DeAngelo, a man with a secret. Could he ruin her reputation and ultimately her career? Or is he the only one she knows to lean on when tragedy strikes?

The first book in the Faith & Fame series.
Short and Sweets - Cozy Afternoon Reads. Christian Romances.

Lainey Sparks - Lead Singer of Christian Band, Depth
Stormy Towne - Heiress to the Towne Fortune
Red Walker - Executive Officer of MacKenzie Oil

Excerpt: 



A long bank of bricks of a building stood to our left. He saw my glance and led me towards it, out of the crowds of people rushing to get to their evening plans. We stood still, the wind buffeting Nick’s back, pushing him closer. He let go of my hand and hugged me to him.
“You’re precious. I’m so grateful God has kept you all these years. Surely you are the apple of His eye.”
My face pressed against his jacket and tears sprang to my eyes. How can I want to love him so soon? How can I not? Is it because he’s so close to Jesus? Seeing His reflection in Nick’s eyes? And I wanted to crumple, curl up in his arms, and stay with him. Not fly to another nameless city, though the ascent with God was surreal, pure contentment really, but the plummet back to reality after always unnerved me with thoughts of my own unworthiness.
Nick tilted my head up and I looked deep into his eyes. The stubble on his chin now more apparent, he brushed the top of my forehead with his cheek then ducked lower. His lips near mine, he whispered my name.
“Yes,” I answered.
“Can I love you already? My heart is breaking at saying goodbye.”
The words spoken so softly. Did I hear him right? My head reeled. Softly, I answered, “I – I think I’m falling for you too. I’m scared.”
“Me too. But let’s trust God…and thank Him for this gift.” Nick closed his eyes then, murmuring a prayer. My eyes followed suit. I felt his warmth against the elements, against the hard red brick at my back and the noise on the street that accosted my ears, people jostling past Nick and me, two lovers on a busy street.
I put my hands up into his hair, tugging him closer. My fingers found the short strands at the back of his neck and I twirled them. “Kiss me.”
“Should we?”
“We have to. I’m leaving. It’s goodbye…for now.”
“Where’s our rain?” he asked, dipping his head and met my lips with his.
There was no rain, but a gentle fire that lit a fuse in my soul. My head swam at the sweetness of his offering. Doubts fled. He was the one. The one God had made just for me, knitting our hearts together ever tighter. I missed him already.
Nick traced a finger down my cheek. Pulling away, he spoke. “If it’s a foundation we’re building, then let’s make it a substantial one.”
I smiled at his words despite the tears pushing at my eyes.

----

Available on Amazon and as an Audio Book.
Amazon Link: http://amzn.com/B00MABC79O
See This and Other Books by Laura on her Website HERE.