Wednesday, October 31, 2012

LAST DAY to enter-- Plus New Contest!

Books, Books, Books

The winner of the "Just Ten Things Giveaway II" will be chosen after midnight, tonight. Have you left a comment to be entered in the drawing? It's not too late!
Once this contest closes, it's time for a new one! I'm stepping it up a little by giving away not one, but five great books by popular Christian authors this week. Two of the books are hardcovers with dustjackets. One is a brand new release. All are by authors you'll love (especially, ahem, the author of that last title. You'll love her the most. I know it.) 

You'll have until  Thursday, November 8th, to enter so the winner can be announced on Friday's blog.  

This Week's Woman of Faith Contest Winner (Sorry, US only) will get: 
  1. Flight of Fancy- Laurie Alice Eakes
  2. The Red Siren--MaryLu Tyndall
  3. A Simple Winter (Hardcover with dustjacket)--Rosalind Lauer
  4. The Ultimate Guide to Darcy Carter--Teresa Slack
  5. The House in Grosvenor Square (Hardcover with dustjacket)--Linore Burkard  Autographed by moi, of course. 
My iPad camera is on the blink so I couldn't post photos of the books--hopefully I'll be able to do that before the contest closes. I've given links to the Amazon page for these books so you can see what they look like. Just click on the title you want to see, above, if you're interested.

The Contest

I like the focus we've had on counting our blessings; on thankfulness. With Thanksgiving coming up next month, I'd like to keep things focused on the blessings in our lives: family, friends, freedom of worship-- food!
There we have four categories, one of which we'll highlight each week for the next four weeks.

How to Enter

Help me get to know you a little better. 
Leave a comment here at the blog telling me you've entered the giveaway.  

But to enter, click to my facebook Author page and share a photo that shows the blessing of family. Not just any family, but YOUR family!  You could leave a cheery full-family photo, a snapshot of your family doing something it loves, or just a special picture of one member of the bunch, and why this photo is special. That's it! 

When  you leave your comment to tell me you've entered, please leave an email address where I can notify you if you win. I'll also announce the winner on this blog, so be sure to check the posts.Leave your email like this: Linore (at) LinoreBurkard (dot) com.

I'm kicking things off with a few pics of my family, drawn from some I have handy on my pc. (No need to jump through hoops, here!) If you have any Autumn-themed photos, all the better, but not necessary. And, even though I'm sharing a few, you need only submit ONE.
 This Week's Theme:  FAMILY
Here are a few photos of mine: 

As you can see, my focus for Easter that year wasn't on the beauty of the "baskets."  Family is what makes any holiday special, not the accoutrements--though they can be important traditions. Some years, I have had pretty baskets for everyone, but others, if I've been strapped for time I'll  use ANYTHING that works! You can see by the smiles that kids don't really care how fancy the package is: They just love getting whatever's inside it! 

 My three oldest: We all went to visit my daughter at Grace College, in Indiana, one fall. (No, that upside-down guy is not one of the family!)  

O, happy day! My oldest daughter had said (during the pregnancy), "I think our family is big enough. We don't need another baby." I said, "As soon as you see her, you'll fall in love." She was skeptical. After the birth? "Oh, mom, she's soooooo precious! You're right. I love her."  

Two of my guys (I needed to get my hubby on the page) NEXT MONTH we're getting a family portrait done in time for Christmas cards. I look forward to having one of ALL of us. 
 Here's my crew again in Michigan visiting Aunt Alice (on the left.)

Now it's your turn.
I'll choose a winner on November 8th .
Again, here's the list of books in the "Basket" you can win:
(One winner takes all!)
  1. Flight of Fancy- Laurie Alice Eakes
  2. The Red Siren--MaryLu Tyndall
  3. A Simple Winter (Hardcover with dustjacket!)--Rosalind Lauer
  4. The Ultimate Guide to Darcy Carter--Teresa Slack
  5. The House in Grosvenor Square (Hardcover with dustjacket!)--Linore Burkard  Autographed by moi, of course. 
Enter today. I can't wait to "meet" you!

                                       And Now: A word from our sponsor--(Just kidding!)

Speaking of Autumn, in case you're new here, be sure not to miss my FREE pdf: Autumn Print-Outs

This free resource has printable gift-tags, bookmarks, post-it notes, note holders and stationery, and clip-art graphics.

Get your copy HERE. It's free, and all you need is a pair of scissors and some thick paper or card-stock and glue to make some special things.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Why Are Pastors Afraid to Influence Congregations to Vote?

Disclaimer: This is my second political rant in a week. As a Christian, I believe we belong in all areas of the culture, including politics.  As Noah Webster said,
 ...if the citizens neglect their Duty and place unprincipled men in office, the government will soon be corrupted.
If you dislike political blog rants, please don't read any further! 
I look forward to this election being over so I can go back to sounding like a mild-mannered romance author! If you're feeling intrepid, by all means read on.

A dear friend and I discussed recently how we'd both come across pastors who were afraid--or just plain unwilling--to influence their congregations to vote this election.

I visited a church recently that I miss. We used to attend regularly, but when Sovereign Grace Ministries began a church plant in the area, my husband, a theology geek, moved our family there. It's a great church. Nevertheless, I love this other church. Love the pastor. Love his wife. Love the worship music.

I enjoyed that worship began with a reminder to pray for our nation. I believe it was mentioned again, how important it is to pray for our country. But there wasn't a word about voting, and especially not a word about which way to vote.  

Being an ex-New Yorker (that's my excuse, anyway) and therefore not afraid of speaking my mind (read: I can be blunt), I took a moment to speak with the pastor after the service.

I told him I was glad his church prayed for our nation. But it troubled me that I could have sat through the service, been an Obama supporter, but never got a clue that perhaps my choice wasn't the best, from a VALUES standpoint only.  (This was a Christian church, so we're talking Christian values here.)

He seemed proud of the fact that in more than 30 years of pastoring, he'd never once influenced a congregation how to vote. He said he left it in God's hands to influence people.

That has the sound of piety, doesn't it? Hey, I like this guy and he's as sincere and wonderful a human being as you'll find behind a pulpit. He's really gifted at speaking, too. His messages are tight and to the point.

I just wish he'd THINK THROUGH that answer closely.  

My dear friend had asked her pastor when he would be giving a sermon about voting. His answer? Never. He wasn't going to do it.

His reasoning was that neither candidate is wonderful and both would probably not keep all their promises. But does this justify silence?
(It rather boggles the mind.) 
This is as lame an excuse as the Christian who doesn't vote because they can't wholeheartedly support either candidate, uses.
You can still choose the one who MOST aligns with your values.
You can encourage your congregation, if you have one, to do the same.

There is a choice to be made this November.

Even the candidates themselves recognize the vast difference in their platforms, encouraging Americans to make a choice for the future.  

So what are these grown men afraid of? Legal action? There are limits, from what I understand, to how much they can say, but we're not talking about naming names, here. The issue is that they have a platform where they can encourage people to get out and vote their VALUES. That isn't endorsing a candidate by name (although anyone with a brain knows there's one candidate who is automatically out of the running if we use a values standard. Heck, use just about any standard, and he's out.).

The venerable Billy Graham ran a full-page ad recently in which he encouraged Americans to vote their values. He said it was the first time he was coming out and saying this. He is 94 and felt it was time. (I'd say: ABOUT time!) But even Mr. Graham felt the stakes are just too high this election to remain silent. 

If Billy Graham can do it, why can't our local pastors and ministers do the same?    

What about you? Has your pastor encouraged the congregation to vote their values? Did you, or would you  appreciate it if he did?

Friday, October 26, 2012

10 reasons to fast from Halloween--Guest Post by Linda Harvey

My blog header promises that this blog will be "practically usable," which is a little play on words. (Is it practical? Is it usable? Is it almost--or practically--usable?) As an author I enjoy word play, of course. But today's post is a link to a definitely practical exploration of why we, as Christ followers, should consider bypassing this increasingly dark celebration we call Halloween.

Before you read it, take advantage of this litte harvest-themed picture frame you can use.

But back to the issue of Halloween: Here's an intro to what Linda has to say. Please click through to the WND site (World Net Daily) to read the full discussion. If you return here and leave a comment, it'll count as an entry to the book drawing I have going on here this week. If you're comment is (randomly) chosen, you'll win a free book!--one from among those I've written and which you can see if you scroll along the right side-bar of this blog. If you win, you choose the book you want.

Anyway, here's what Linda says:

 10 Reasons to Fast from Halloween

 Skip Halloween? Many American Christians cringe at the very idea. Who wants to be labeled a witch-hunting fundamentalist? And no one wants to be the bad parent who deprives a child of the “essential” childhood experience of trick-or-treating.
 But the number of Christians stirred by conviction about Halloween is growing. I believe Christians need to bypass overt celebrations of Halloween, and some of my reasons may surprise you:
Click through to read the rest of this thought-provoking essay. Then, RETURN HERE to read my thoughts and leave a comment.

My thoughts:  When we lived on Long Island, my next-door-neighbor's daughter was a self-proclaimed witch. A "white witch," she said. She had a "spirit guide"--a demon!--giving her counsel. Her life was a shambles, but she was essentially a sweet girl that I tried to reach out to.   HOWEVER, Halloween night was a huge thing for her and her friends. They went into the nature preserve behind both houses and did some sorts of rituals, things, quite honestly, that I didn't want any details of--not that she was offering. Ultimately, I had to choose to put distance between us as my little ones were so young (and vulnerable). I never wanted to give her an opportunity to be alone with any of my children--not for a moment. She admitted to using spells, for example.

While I firmly trust in the power of Christ which is FAR GREATER than any satanic power, I had church elders telling me to avoid contact, especially on account of my newborn. It was a dilemma. Sometimes I wish I hadn't listened, and had continued to try and reach out to this young, lost woman. My withdrawal hurt her feelings, and that is something I will always regret. In any case, the fact that Halloween is the biggest event of the year for such people should tell us something.

Surprisingly, my nine-year-old-daughter has actually ASKED to skip Halloween this year--that says a lot right there.  She's a sensitive soul and, at her young age, has already discerned an uncomfortable amount of not-so-fun stuff in this supposedly kid-friendly day.  She has moments of weakness on account of the candy (of course) which is why I will buy some and hide it for her to find, like an Easter egg hunt.

What about you? Will you be celebrating Halloween this year? How could you switch things up so that you aren't participating with darkness? Some years, I've bought candy for the kids and hidden it all over the house like I'll be doing this month.  Other years, I've trudged along with them as they went from house-to-house, enjoying the social interaction with other parents, as well as the more creative, cuter costumes on kids. (We so WANT this to be an innocent, fun holiday! But it's not.)

Leave your comment below! I hope you win a book!


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Just Ten Things-Book Giveaway II

More Autumn Blessings--Just Ten Things 

(and book giveaway!)

In an earlier post, I discussed the power of gratitude and how creating a simple habit of giving thanks each day for just ten things can dramatically alter our feelings and attitudes for the better. I did a book giveaway for those of you who left a comment to share something you're grateful for, and Kelly Ropson won a book.

Well,  I'm doing another giveaway. To be entered, leave a comment like last time, sharing your top three reasons for gratitude today. In this beautiful Autumn season there is so much to be grateful for. I'm starting us off with my list for today  (the illustrated version--with pictures!).

Here goes: 

1. We recently took a trip from Ohio to New Hampshire and Maine, and were fortunate enough to be visiting  at the height of the "colors"--that is, the fall, when the leaves change. I'm grateful, Lord, for your beautiful Creation!

2. Good friends became better friends as we shared four nights and five days together in their rustic retreat on a pristine Maine lake. Thank You, Lord, for the blessing of godly friends who share their blessings!

3. In New Hampshire, we renewed ties with relatives we hadn't seen in a decade. (And with their dogs, too! Below, meet Lila, Noah and Moses.) Thank You, Lord, for family, both far and near. 

4. We got to "ooh" and "ah" all along the way, both coming and going. Thank You, Lord, for leading us safely there and back. 

                                                 Every turn in the road was postcard-pretty.

5. Our friends were perfect tour guides, taking us from remote mountain views to off-the-beaten-path good eateries. Thank You, Lord, for hidden blessings that You bring forth in their time--and for those still in store for us during life's journey. 
            Here I am, with Pete and Sandi. I found out Sandi is an intrepid hiker who will leap tall boulders for a single photo! Me? Not so much.

6. The picture below was taken only three days after the similar one, above (3rd from top of post). Notice how much the maple on the left changed in so short a time. Thank You, Lord, for the fleeting beauty we glimpse on earth--just a taste of what awaits us in heaven. 

7.  Coming home has blessings all its own, like these marigolds which I never expected to last this far into the fall. Thank You, Lord, for unexpected, small pleasures.

8. In the front, my geraniums are proving hardier than expected, too!

9. We don't have mountains or a lake just steps from our back porch, but I'm grateful for our little woodsy spot in Ohio, anyway. 

10. For all the responsibilities of home and family, which make vacations so very special. Thank You, Lord, for appointed times of refreshment! 

                                          Above: Back at the lake. The view from our room. (Sigh.)

Now it's your turn. Leave a comment with your top three reasons to be grateful today, and I'll draw a winner (to win a free book of mine) from among the commenters. To choose a book, you can see what I've written  along the right side-bar of this blog, or you can click through to my website and see more about my books  here.  

Comments accepted for the drawing through  October 31st.  I look forward to hearing from you!
                                                            Saying goodbye is sad to do!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Why Christians Must Vote

Politics is a touchy issue, and I know I run the risk of alienating readers with this post. But hey, it's my blog,  and I'll rant if I want to.  And here's the reason I want to:

It came to my attention recently that a lovely Christian couple of my acquaintance were not planning on voting this year. I was saddened, to say the least.  It made me think about why we should vote, and how being people of faith only adds incentive to that responsibility.

And make no mistake, voting is a responsibility. These misguided people (and many Americans) evidently think of it as an optional activity, to be exercised only if they wholeheartedly approve of a candidate.This is naive.

First of all, there's this principle which says that every action must have an equal and opposite reaction. Jesus said "He that is not with me, is against me." (Matthew 12:40)
Obama could say, "He that votes not against me, votes for me."

Here's the thing: By abandoning their responsibility to choose the candidate who comes CLOSEST to their values, they are by default casting a vote in favor of the one who doesn't. 

"Well, I can't vote for a Mormon," they say.

 ..If Christians abandon the political playing field, they do not leave it empty. They leave it to the other side to come and fill the dugout.

Puh-lease! Jimmy Carter furthered his platform by claiming to be a "born again" Christian, and yet, until Mr. Obama came along, his was the single most disastrous presidency of this country's history. While it's true that Christian principles are what made this nation great, it doesn't mean that just being Christian will make someone a good leader, no more than being Christian makes someone a good worship leader or preacher. And if  neither candidate running has the track record of being effective at Christian leadership, then you choose the one who at least supports godly values. Romney takes the record for that over Obama OVERWHELMINGLY. (Not to mention that Romney's running mate is a Bible believing Christian, a Catholic.)

Mr. Obama has consistently acted against Christian principles, but that could fill a post in itself. 

(Did you catch Joe Biden saying his life has been shaped by his Catholicism? Right. And I have a bridge to sell you...)

One preacher put it this way: "I'd rather vote for a Mormon than a moron."

 One preacher put it this way: "I'd rather vote for a Mormon than a moron."

The point is that if Christians abandon the political playing field, they do not leave it empty. They leave it to the other side to come and fill the dugout. As we have seen over the course of the history of this country, misguided Christian people feeling they should stay out of politics has done nothing but empty the field of good people. My husband has long held that the (sorry) state of our nation is because of the church not stepping up to the plate--not participating on the field.

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."  We've all heard this before. But are you aware, dear Christian, that by not casting your vote for the better candidate you are effectively doing NOTHING to prevent the triumph of evil in the political arena?

It's more than sad, it's a waste of a privilege. Heck, it's a sin. Voting is a privilege, a right, AND a responsibility.
I will unashamedly cast my vote against the current president who has voted against my Christian principles time and time again. Why? Because I am a woman of God.
That's my rant. 
See you at the polls.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Autumn Blessings

Autumn Blessings

(And a free gift for you!)

One of the simplest ways to stand apart from the world as believers is to acknowledge the God of Creation, and there is certainly no lack of reason to do so during Autumn.
I've been away a lot the past few months, but to inaugurate my "return to the blog" I'd like to give you a gift that is in keeping with this wonderful season. Stay Tuned--the download link is at the bottom of today's post.  

Recently as I walked my little doggie in the early morning it was raining leaves. They wafted around me and wisped about, only to fall to the ground in the end, silent as snowflakes, pretty as butterfly wings.   
Thank You, Lord, for the beauty of leaves! Even in death, they show forth Your Glory.

My neighbor's huge oak stood tall and majestic in the morning light, and that rare phenomenon, when  honey-yellow leaves begin glittering as though edged in actual gold-leaf, happened: I took a deep breath and inhaled the sight. 
Thank You, Lord, for Autumn blessings!


I had a light jacket over my jeans and sneakers, and enjoyed the sweet crisp air as well as the crunch and crackle of leaves underfoot. No mosquitoes, not even a stray spider-web obstructed my path.

Thank You, Lord, for the beauty and wisdom of changing seasons!

God has promised not to allow the change of seasons to cease; not until the end of time. Isn't that good to know? And how easy it is to thank Him for the beauty of the natural order He placed in our world. 

What Autumn blessing are you most thankful for, today? 

Share your thoughts and then go and download a free gift from my website: A collection of printable AUTUMN-themed goodies you'll enjoy! 

All you need is a color printer, scissors and glue, and card-stock--you'll have pretty Autumnal 
gift tags
post-it note holders
and clip-art graphics.

For the stationery, you don't need to do anything but PRINT. 

Pick up the download here:

PS: Are you new to my blog or mailing list? I have other downloadable resources for you, which you'll enjoy if you like historical and PICTORIAL fun. As an author of historical romance, I sometimes create free pdfs just for the sheer joy of it. Check them out (and help yourself!) here. 

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