Recently, I was in New York and found myself on a bus tour for the first time. When we got to Washington Square, I nudged my husband as the tour guide mentioned that this was the setting for Will Smith's movie, I Am Legend. We had just rented it so the scene was fresh in our minds.

Will Smith plays Robert Neville, the last man in NYC – since he’s immune from the disease that has turned humans into rabid monsters. These monsters, Dark Seekers, are after him and he’s done everything he can to protect himself and his dog while he continues working on a way to reverse the disease and heal the infected Dark Seekers.

The movie has many references to God, in word and idea. But the unspoken elements that show God were slipped into surprising places throughout the movie. That part of the movie kept me thinking about the movie long after I’d finished watching it.

Neville prays with his wife and has a conversation about God with another character. Many films have people praying, but when it’s done in respect and not desperation, it adds to the respect I have for the character.

The “Stay in the light” sign was a warning with a spiritual connotation. It obviously was for the people who were no longer there. They’d either been killed or infected and no longer lived a normal human life. To me, it was a reminder that those who are in the light must stay in the light to help those in darkness. Being set apart helps those in the light find help for those in darkness. This was the life Neville lived.

Neville’s life during the story was a sacrifice for the infected people. He could’ve rounded up an enormous amount of ammunition and set out to kill them all, but instead his mission was to find a cure. He methodically went through steps and considered options and didn’t give up. Since he knew he could help them, he kept trying.

The woman at the end encouraged Neville to listen to God. This is one of the themes in my stories. If people listen to God, they find more light for their journey, and they can see where they’re going. And they can follow what God says – and find success. I don’t find this theme in many films, and I was quite surprised (and pleased) to find it in this one.

The scary parts were head-turners for me. I look at shoes, fingernails, furniture, anything but the ugliness of the computer-generated creatures. I loved the dog and the hope in Neville’s attitude, but the Dark Seekers didn’t get much eyeball time from me.

I’ve seen several Will Smith movies and enjoyed them. His acting keeps me interested in the story. I didn’t really want to see this movie because of the scary parts, but the fact that Will Smith was the major part of the movie changed my mind. His heroes are smart, tough, emotional, and believable.

Writing Fiction Right

Gail Gaymer Martin is a wonderful Christian author. I've read her words. They captured me.

She has a blog that presents lessons on how to improve your fiction writing, and you can sign up to be notified whenever she updates her blog.

Last December, Gail's non-fiction book, Writing the Christian Romance, hit the shelves. I haven't read it yet, but the writing community has agreed that there is a lot of wisdom in it.

Last September, I sat in a workshop led by Gail at the ACFW conference. She'll be teaching again this year, so don't miss it. Her continuing education session is called "Deepen Your Story And Grab Readers". I highly recommend her workshops.

If you haven't registered for the conference, go here. It will be in Minneapolis, September 18-21, 2008.

ACFW Conference

In September, Minneapolis will host the ACFW conference, complete with a 100 author booksigning. I've been to three ACFW conferences. They've all been memorable. The workshop leaders teach on important topics, and the keynote speakers are a delight. If you write fiction, this is where you'll want to be.

Registration has begun so if you plan to attend, visit the ACFW site to get all the latest info.

After you register, you can jump around the internet to all the blogs where people who have been to the conference are sharing their memories and conference insights.

You can start at Forensics & Faith, Brandilyn Collins' blog. She's posted pictures of last year's conference. I had an opportunity to sit at a table with her darling mother, Mama Ruth. If you go to the conference, you should visit with this very interesting woman.

Testing God's Patience

When a child is determined to be disobedient, you might hear a parent say, "You're testing my patience."

Whether we admit it or not, we've all tested our parents' patience - and God's patience too. We question why we have to do something or complain about doing something that's not as fun as what we want to do.

What God wants to see is us trusting Him.

We've seen God's people being warned about testing Him in Deuteronomy 6:16 where they are reminded, "Do not test the Lord your God as you did at Massah." Warnings continue in Matthew 4:6-7 where Jesus reminded the devil, "Do not put the Lord your God to the test."

Won't you be my guest at my Seek God With Me blog where I discuss this topic further?

Back From Vacation

Recently, my family went to New York City for our vacation. My husband and I had been there before and wanted to share some fun spots with the kids. As expected, they had a blast.

My son had been on an airplane before, but acted so excited about just the flight that everything else about the vacation seemed like icing on the cake. My easy-to-please daughter was happy with simple things like shopping in the M&M World store in Times Square.

We spent a few hours at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Although a few areas were closed due to renovations, we found almost everything we were looking for. I try to visit the MMA every time I go to NYC. It’s always one of the highlights of my trips.

My husband made reservations for us at a couple of his favorite restaurants and enjoyed watching our kids try new things. My son, not a red meat eater, tried a piece of our yummy steak and said it was “okay”. My daughter decided the lamb, calamari, and baklava at our favorite Greek restaurant was quite tasty.

The fact that so many tourists invade Manhattan every summer did not escape me when we ran into a young lady who went to school with my kids. We almost didn’t get on a ferry to see the Statue of Liberty. We almost didn’t go into the gift shop on the small island. But when we shopped there for a souvenir and found my kids’ friend, I had to laugh. In all those people, we were able to visit with someone we actually knew. God has a sense of humor. You never know when He will surprise you with tiny smiles along your journey.

Challenge Yourself

Do you like a challenge?

I get tired of seeing people play at being a Christian. To be a true Christian, one must love others. I really like talking with people who aren't afraid to speak out of a heart filled with love. And I don't mind being scolded by a true Christian. When a true Christian scolds, in my opinion, it's almost like a kiss on the cheek.

There are moments when a true Christian fears he'll be labeled as a Weirdo. No one wants others to think they're strange. Many Christians fall into their neighborhood's normal "code of conduct". No praying in public unless there's a crisis. But what if you took the risk and prayed in the grocery store for people God led you to? Others might welcome the care and concern of a prayer drenched in love.

The next time you feel God has led you to someone who needs prayer, let them know you're a true Christian. They'll know we are Christians by our love.

For more on challenging yourself, go to my devotional blog, Seek God With Me.

Review of Dee Henderson's The Witness

Amanda Griffin witnessed a gruesome crime, and then disappeared. She had to let her family think she was dead. To see them or let them know she’d survived would endanger their lives.

Luke Granger, deputy chief of police, found her years later after she’d seen what happened to her coworkers who only knew her by her most recent alias. Someone was after her and didn’t mind leaving a trail of death to mark his journey. She went back into hiding but left Luke with the impression that they’d meet again.

Amanda’s sisters found a spotlight thrust upon them when they inherited millions from a surprising source. Luke wanted to tell them that Amanda was alive, but he had to wait for the right moment, the right security.

Getting to know Luke and his officers was a pleasure. I always enjoy the romance more than anything, but there was plenty of suspense to keep me riveted. I’m the kind that tries to figure out who the killer is before he’s revealed in the pages, but Dee Henderson makes that difficult. I’ve been hooked on her books since Danger in the Shadows.

I recommend this romantic suspense with all its dark alley turns and life-threatening twists.


Listening to someone is a part of showing respect. However, many Christians say they respect God, but they don't listen to Him very much.

In my Seek God With Me blog, I've mentioned a Bible verse about listening to God. It's about having confidence that God will answer us.

We ask God questions and then walk away from Him without giving much Him time to answer. God hears us telling Him to listen to us a lot more often than we listen to Him. But this is something we can change. We can set aside time everyday to practice listening to God. The Bible gives us hints as to what we can expect to hear. Many times God tells us how much He loves us.

God is love. It just makes sense that He would speak His love to us through the Bible or through our own hearts.

So listen to Him and seek God with me.

Boating versus SCUBA

I’ve only been SCUBA diving once. It was a blast – so much fun I wanted to live in Mexico or the Cayman Islands and go diving twice each week.

I’ve also been on a whale watching trip. I didn’t get sea-sick, but almost everyone else did. I was busy watching the water for signs of whales, so I really didn’t notice the other people.

The boating trip was a lot of fun, but I really enjoyed diving more. I was delighted to be surrounded by sea life. I saw things at thirty to forty feet underwater that I’ve never seen before.

The boating trip showed me glimpses of something bigger. The surface of the water didn’t display all of its exciting secrets. You had to go deeper to see what the water had to offer.

I think conversations with people can be brief surface encounters that just give us a glimpse of another person, or they can be a deeper encounter that reveal exciting things. I like the deeper conversations better.

The habit of meaningful conversation will help your efforts to better your relationships with your kids or anyone you love. If you want to deepen your relationships with family and friends, try creating some conversation starters. Keep a list on your phone for when you are surprised by a loved one who has time to spend in deep conversation with you. 

Start Something

Name two people whose lives would change if you gave them something of eternal value. What would you give them?

The people you named might be people you already love. Or you could give an eternal gift to an orphanage or a women’s shelter. Building relationships with people who could stand to have a little more love in their life is a great way to share your gifts.

Your heart of compassion for those people is what you start with, but the gift adds to you and to them at the same time. Your effort to come up with an eternal gift is one way of showing love, but it isn’t finished until the gift is given.

What would happen if you put more effort into those relationships?

Maybe your gift would keep on giving through those you’ve given to and through those they’ve given to.

Great Summer Reading

If you've never read one of Brandilyn Collins' books, you're missing out.

I've enjoyed her Kanner Lake books, but I finished that series. Right now, she's working on a new title. I really can't wait to buy a copy of the new one. She keeps her readers glued to the pages until the last story question is answered.

When the Kanner Lake series began I was accepted as a Scenes & Beans blogger. What an honor! Now I check out the S&B site to see if there are any new posts. That blog was used in an interesting way in the last book of the series.

Here's my review of Amber Morn by Brandilyn Collins

I love the whole series. All the way through each of the books in the Kanner Lake series, I became entangled in the lives of people who do not exist. I met the most interesting people in a little café called Java Joint, and they made me care about them. And I didn’t want it to end.

But I was happy to see that the final book of the series rounds up all the characters in one giant mess before saying goodbye. Very suspenseful.

The Scenes and Beans blog crew come together at Bailey Truitt’s café, Java Joint, but they couldn’t have known that the blog would be used in a hostage situation right there in Kanner Lake. Bailey and the rest of the crew gather to celebrate the publishing contract that S-Man will sign at the party. However, the party gets a bit of an interruption. Heart-pounding drama fills every page as Kanner Lake is turned inside out.

This book can be enjoyed as a single book, but is the perfect ending to the very entertaining series.

Read my review of Crimson Eve.

Country at Heart

Congratulations to Deborah Vogts. She's pleased with her new agent, and she's also pretty happy about being offered a publishing contract.

I recently visited her site, Country at Heart, and saw her horse pictures and Grandma's Cole Slaw recipe. There are more recipes if you click the tab at the top of her main page.

She has a quarterly newsletter if you'd like to get updates of her book release news.

But don't forget to browse through the book reviews on her site. She takes a look at new releases of many great Christian authors.

As you read through the words on her site, you'll get the feeling you're in the country. It's such a relaxing, enjoyable site, especially for someone who grew up in the country.

I wasn't that far from town when I was a child, but far enough to chase the crows and dragonflies. Far enough to learn how to give a really loud whistle to call my brother home for dinner when he was down by the creek.

Stick With The Plan

Some people go through life without a clue as to what they were created to do. They try their hand at many things and remain unhappy, still challenged to find their niche.

Other people know exactly why they were put on the earth. They succeed with apparent ease. But we look closer, and we see that they were following a plan.

God has a plan for each one of us. He doesn't expect us to come up with a plan of our own. We were designed to fulfill a specific purpose.

I find that exciting. It makes me feel like I'm necessary to God. I'm important to Him.

If we would all get with His master plan, we'd feel that way every day.

I've posted more on this at my Seek God With Me blog.

What Makes a Hero Likable?

The traits I see in the antiheroes show me how to make my good guys more likable.

The Antihero is not my favorite character. The stories with the protagonist who lacks traditional heroic qualities aren't as much fun for me to write. But it is interesting that there are plenty of antihero stories around. They help me see how it's possible to like a less-than-heroic protagonist.

Heroes are known for personal sacrifice, but often the antihero is found saving the day even though he really doesn't want to. He does it because he can.

The antihero often rescues someone for selfish reasons. He can benefit from it in some way. It's his selfishness that causes him to be the antihero, but I wonder if he longs to be selfless like the hero.

For instance in The Pirates of the Carribean, we see Captain Jack Sparrow saving the heroine more than once. But he's a selfish, morally-limited pirate.

Will Turner displays more heroic attitudes and actions than Sparrow, but Sparrow is still likable. We cheer for Captain Jack when he overcomes obstacles, but he's still a pirate. He's a funny, goal-oriented, adorable, selfish pirate.

You can see why I study the antihero. Doesn't every writer want to create a hero as popular as Jack Sparrow?

I'm An Android

I found a name decoder that made me into an android. I picked out the picture, but was told my new name. I kinda like it. The "lifelike artificial" part went with the "android" part really well. However, the "ultimate repair" part is what I really like.

On my devotional blog, I share weekly topics that help people think about their relationship with God. If we will seek God, we will find "ultimate repair". So here's my invitation to Seek God With Me.