All posts by Amy C. Blake

Don’t Let the Grinch Steal Your Christmas

grinch-clip-art1Well, Parson Brown, Christmas time is here, that busy season when you feel like you just got run over by a reindeer. Before you get lost in the busyness, stop and consider: many people accuse clergy of sexual improprieties, even during the holidays. Sadly, those claims are often true. But sometimes the accusations are false, forcing innocent ministers and their families to endure wagging tongues at best and lawsuits at worst.

Take these steps to a merry—and allegation-free—Christmas.

  • Don’t stick your head in the snow. False accusations can happen to you. Do what you can to protect yourself.
  • Circle your evergreens. Surround yourself with those you trust—your wife, your staff, your deacons and elders. Maintain your devotional life. God is the biggest hedge of all.
  • Make a list. Keep with you the names and phone numbers of people who can help you when needed: a mature deacon’s wife to counsel a distraught lady. An elder to stick around after cantata practice so you aren’t left alone with the female choir director. A fellow minister to step in when you sense a counselee becoming too dependent.
  • And check it twice. Make clear notes in a journal or daily planner of any incidents that may raise concerns in future.
  • Take down the mistletoe. Maintain appropriate physical boundaries. Don’t kiss, hug, touch, or horseplay in a way that might seem even a little suggestive.
  • Keep the ho-ho-ho’s clean.  Avoid telling jokes or making comments that could be misinterpreted.
  • Share the sleigh ride. When driving ladies, children, or youth home after the Christmas party, find another adult to ride along.
  • Brighten a blue Christmas. The holidays often mean an increase in hurting people who need comfort, but proceed with caution. Women should minister to women whenever possible. If you must go meet with a lady or a minor, bring along a third person. If no one can go with you, do your counseling via telephone.
  • Walk in a winter wonderland. Hold personal sessions out in the open. If it’s too cold to go outside, leave office doors open and/or use a meeting room with windows. Insist that sessions occur during regular hours when others are near.
  • Wrap it up. Keep counseling sessions to 45 minutes or less, and don’t counsel one person more than five times in a year. Too much time together could lead the counselee to a false understanding of your relationship.
  • Jingle those (telephone) bells. Know when to call others for help and when to refer your counselee to an outside professional.
  • God rest ye, merry gentleman. When you’ve taken precautions to prevent unjust finger-pointing, simply watch over your flock as God has called you to do. Trust Him to safeguard you and your family.

Gift Ideas for the Children You Love

Want to give the children in your life something more lasting this Christmas? Here are some gift ideas they’ll love:Christmaspresent1

Spend time, not money. Don’t buy presents; give your time instead. Make coupons for the kids/grandkids to redeem for a day with you doing one of their favorite things. Maybe your grandson will want to spend the day building a snow fort with you. His sister might choose an afternoon of baking Christmas cookies. The teenager could ask for help changing the oil and rotating the tires on his not-so-new car. Or maybe your niece will just want to curl up on the couch with you and watch Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer while eating popcorn and sipping cocoa. What you do doesn’t matter—just so you spend time together building precious memories.

Take a trip. Take a politically-minded grandchild to visit your state capitol building. Accompany an art-lover to a watercolor exhibit at the museum. Take your doll-obsessed daughter to see an antique doll collection. Escort your space-intrigued nephew to an air and space museum. It doesn’t really matter where, just go with your kids/grandkids wherever they enjoy going.

Get tickets. Buy tickets for an event your child would enjoy—and attend with him or her. Take your granddaughter to a minor league soccer game.  Go to a skateboarding competition with your niece. Take the teen to see his favorite Christian band in concert. It may not be your favorite activity (don’t forget the earplugs), but he’ll never forget that you cared enough to go with him. Or find an interest you share. If you and your nephew both love to write, attend a writers’ conference together. Go to a men’s conference with your almost-grown grandson. Take the little one to the circus. Introduce your daughter to something you love and think she may enjoy—like a steam engine show, a ballet performance, or the rodeo.

Give lessons. Find out what lessons your children/grandchildren wish they were taking—piano, guitar, karate, ballet, fencing, singing, gymnastics, drawing, oil painting, swimming, hunter safety, etc. Pay for some lessons and drive them when you can. Better yet, take lessons with them. Take a computer course or sculpture class with your daughter. Assistant coach your grandson’s basketball team. Consider giving lessons yourself. Do you play the flute, work with wood, or quilt? Your children/grandchildren would enjoy learning skills twice as much if you trained them.

Concentrate on hobbies. Think in terms of your kiddo’s interests; then go a step beyond that. Buying your nephew a baseball glove for Christmas is a great idea—just be sure to dust off your old glove and play catch with him in the yard. Buy your niece those violin books she wants; just be sure to attend her recital. If you play an instrument, work up a duet to play together. Get that telescope your budding scientist craves, then set it up in the back yard and study the stars together. Buy two copies of that new book by your bibliophile’s favorite author. Both of you can read it and form your own discussion group. Give your grandson the rifle you’ve been saving for him, then take him deer hunting.

Shop for clothes. Yes, I said shop for clothes. But don’t choose them yourself. Take your kids/grandkids shopping. Set the spending limit and let them pick (parent-approved choices only, please).

Remember ages and stages. Your newly-licensed nephew is more likely to enjoy a prepaid gas card than a visit to the children’s museum. And your teenage granddaughter will likely prefer a salon visit over a zoo visit. Choose according to their ages and maturity levels.

Present a family gift. Consider giving a family membership to the YMCA, theater, science museum, historical society, or zoo—and go with them. (Many of these places allow grandparents to attend as part of the package or offer the option of adding extra adults for a small fee.) Take your family out to their favorite restaurant or go bowling together. Go on vacation as a group (the kids will like someplace with a pool).

Consider the future. When choosing a gift, think of its lasting effects. Give toward the future by presenting the children you love with savings bonds or stocks. Make deposits into their college savings accounts. They’ll appreciate it later—when they aren’t drowning in student loan debts. And maybe you can take them on college visits yourself. Be part of helping them achieve their life goals.

 

Whitewashed Is Only 99 Cents This Week!

Grab a Kindle copy of my Christian suspense novel Whitewashed for only 99 cents this week! Here’s the link to buy your copy.

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Eighteen-year-old Patience McDonough has a plan. Despite her parents’ objections, she will attend Verity College in Hades, Mississippi, and live with her grandparents. She’ll complete her degree in record time and go on to become a doctor. But things at the college are strangely neglected, her class work is unexpectedly hard, Grand gets called out-of-town, and Poppa starts acting weird—so weird she suspects he has Alzheimer’s. On top of that, she has to work extra hours at her student job inputting financial data for the college—boring! But soon her job gets more interesting than she’d like: she finds that millions of dollars are unaccounted for and that something creepy is going on in the Big House basement. She discovers secrets tying her family into the dark beginnings of Verity, founded on a slave plantation, and she is forced to question the characters of people she has always trusted. Finally, confronted with a psychotic killer, Patience has to face facts—her plans are not necessarily God’s plans. Will the truth set her free?

Book Signing at Gospel Book Store

This Saturday, November 12, I’m participating in Gospel Book Store’s Book Signing event in Berlin, Ohio. 40 Christian authors will be there, and all books will be 20% off. It’s a great opportunity to find Christmas gifts. Hope you can make it! http://www.mygospelbookstore.com/home.asp

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The Consequences

The 2010 Denzel Washington action-packed, based-on-true-events thriller Unstoppable* shows the devastating results of disobedience. In the movie, two yard workers need to move a half-mile long train to another siding. What should’ve been a simple job turns deadly when the men don’t follow standard railroad safety regulations. First, they don’t tie up the air brakes because they think doing so will mean unnecessary work. Second, one of the men puts the train in independent–on full throttle–and steps from the cab to pull a switch, thinking he’ll have plenty of time to climb back on. He doesn’t. The resultant chain of events causes major property damage, several injuries, and even death as others attempt to stop the runaway freight train-turned-missile (seven of its cars have toxic contents) barreling toward a string of Pennsylvania towns. All that mayhem is the result of two guys thinking they know better than those in authority over them.

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Pretty senseless, huh?

But how often might you do something similar? Maybe you disregard the speed limit because you’re late for soccer practice. Or you ignore your parents’ instructions to go straight home after school because you’d rather hang out with friends. You dismiss your science teacher’s admonition to read chapter seventeen in your textbook because you’d rather play video games. And the list goes on, with varying consequences for your disobedience–a speeding ticket, getting grounded, failing a quiz, etc.

Often, though, disobedience affects more than just the disobedient person. For instance, let’s say your chore is to care for the family dog. You’re to feed him, clean up after him, and make sure he has a full bowl of clean water at least three times a day. While you do feed him and occasionally scoop poop, the water thing seems a bit much. Sure, you give him water in the morning, but why should you have to go out right after school to give him more? That quarter inch of semi-clean liquid should do him fine until you get around to feeding him in the evening, right?

But then the dog gets sick from days of insufficient clean water, and your parents have to take him to the vet. What are the consequences then? Say the dog dies, costing your family a guardian and friend. What if the money spent on the vet bill was supposed to go elsewhere, like your soccer camp or (worse yet) your little sister’s ballet lessons, and now there’s no money to pay for those activities? Say your dad intended to replace the bald tires on his work truck, but now he can’t. What if one of the tires blows while he’s driving to work, causing him to lose control of the vehicle and hit an oncoming minivan…?

Extreme? Maybe. Or maybe not. The point is, when you choose to disobey clear instructions from your parents and others in authority over you, you create difficulties for yourself and others. Just like the two railroad workers in Unstoppable did for so many people in Pennsylvania that fateful day.

God has placed parents and other authority figures in your life for your good and the good of those around you. When you disrespect them by disobeying their rules, you disrespect God and reap the negative consequences, often bringing others down with you. However, when you honor those in authority by obeying their rules, you honor God and reap the positive consequences, often sharing those blessings with the people around you.

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*Unstoppable is rated PG-13 for language and action peril. Be sure to seek your parents’ permission before watching this movie.

 

Teach Them Diligently Conference

Along with my fellow homeschool moms/authors Carol Kinsey and Colleen Scott, I’ll be teaching a workshop at the Teach Them Diligently Conference this weekend in Sandusky, Ohio. Our workshop on Nurturing the Writer in Yourself and Your Children is scheduled for Friday, May 13th at 4:30. You can also stop by our booth (The Writing Family) to purchase signed copies of our books. Hope to see you there!

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Goodreads Giveaway of Colorblind

I’m giving away a paperback copy of my new Christian suspense novel, Colorblind. Enter to win via Goodreads, now through April 7!

 

https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/177090-colorblind

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Congratulations, Karen, for winning this copy of Colorblind!

Congratulations, Winners!

Congrats to the winners of my drawing for paperback copies of The Trojan Horse Traitor:

Brenda

Amanda

Nancy

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Didn’t win? You can buy a copy of The Trojan Horse Traitor on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Books a Million. Available in both paperback and e-book!

Be sure to check out my On the Brink Christian suspense novels, Whitewashed and Colorblind, both available on Amazon.

Thanks for entering!

Colorblind Is Now Available

Colorblind (Book 2 in my On the Brink suspense series) is now available for purchase in both e-book and paperback formats. Each book in the On the Brink series follows one girl’s story, so they can be read in any order. Here’s the link to buy Colorblind on Amazon.

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Here’s the blurb for Colorblind:

Eighteen-year-old Christy Kane has always been Daddy’s princess. But on the first day of her music internship at his mega-church, reporters shatter her world with terrible news: Daddy’s had an affair with the church preschool director. Christy feels as betrayed by God as the man she’s always considered Prince Charming.

When Mom sends her to Buckeye Lake to help with Aunt Jo’s School of Music and Dance in the restored Pier Ballroom, Christy’s problems only increase. First, the ballroom sits on Buckeye Lake, making her face her greatest fear—water. Second, she must help lead a handful of semi-talented volunteers, who harbor racial tensions and mysterious underlying antagonisms, in a professional quality performance for the Grand Reopening of the ballroom. The stakes are high—Aunt Jo will lose the place if they fail. Third, Christy discovers a diary written by Lillian, who lived near Buckeye Lake in the 1920s, and becomes intrigued by the stories of thousands coming to play at the amusement parks and dance in the ballrooms. But her interest soon turns to concern as tragic events from the diary happen in Christy’s world, ninety years to the date of their first occurrence.

Between her shattered past, her uncertain future, and her dangerous present, Christy doesn’t know where to turn. Does Daddy’s God really exist? If so, does He care enough to rescue her?

4 Days Only: Whitewashed Is 99 Cents

The Kindle version of Whitewashed (On the Brink, book 1), my Christian suspense about 18-year-old homeschooler Patience McDonough, is 99 cents today through February 22. Click here to buy your copy.

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Then, on February 22, Colorblind (On the Brink, book 2) releases! Here’s the blurb about Colorblind:

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Eighteen-year-old Christy Kane has always been Daddy’s princess. But on the first day of her music internship at his mega-church, reporters shatter her world with terrible news: Daddy’s had an affair with the church preschool director. Christy feels as betrayed by God as the man she’s always considered Prince Charming.

When Mom sends her to Buckeye Lake to help with Aunt Jo’s School of Music and Dance in the restored Pier Ballroom, Christy’s problems only increase. First, the ballroom sits on Buckeye Lake, making her face her greatest fear—water. Second, she must help lead a handful of semi-talented volunteers, who harbor racial tensions and mysterious underlying antagonisms, in a professional quality performance for the Grand Reopening of the ballroom. The stakes are high—Aunt Jo will lose the place if they fail. Third, Christy discovers a diary written by Lillian, who lived near Buckeye Lake in the 1920s, and becomes intrigued by the stories of thousands coming to play at the amusement parks and dance in the ballrooms. But her interest soon turns to concern as tragic events from the diary happen in Christy’s world, ninety years to the date of their first occurrence.

Between her shattered past, her uncertain future, and her dangerous present, Christy doesn’t know where to turn. Does Daddy’s God really exist? If so, does He care enough to rescue her?