Getting Ready for Summer

by Carole Brown

There’s busy and then there’s busy.

If you’re anything like us, you already have your summer pretty well booked. but with a little planning, you can it a little less harassing and a lot more fun and relaxing. Here are a few tips I’ve learned through the years:

  • Plan ahead… 

for the trips and vacations you want to take. Decide on how muccheck-list freeh you will spend and set aside extra for emergencies or special things that crop up. Write down everything that needs to be done and cross these items off as you finish them. (Book flights, list items needed to be taken, schedule activities you want to do and buy tickets ahead of time, buy snacks and drinks when appropriate.) 

Have appropriate clothes planned and ready. Repairs needed? Don’t wait until the last minute, but have it done early. Shoes need to be purchased? Toiletries running low? Get these things off your list.  


  • Plan activities suitable for you, your family, your friends.

Needless to say, you should take into consideration what interests you’re planning for. Children who are totally into sports or activities may find it boring to go to five different museums. Save that trip for when you and your husband or friends can enjoy it. 

parachute free

  • Prepare yourself and your family/friends physically. 

If you’re headed to the beach, condition your skin to the sun; don’t wait till you arrive and end up with damaged skin. If  you’re headed to the mountains to scale the heights, begin early strengthening your body by running/walking. Higher altitudes can cause some problems for certain people so make sure you have a doctor checkup before leaving. You want to be ready for whatever you plan and not be caught unaware and in serious physical condition because you didn’t know.

physical bike free


  • Don’t be too stringent on keeping to the “rules.” 

Allow for unplanned things. See a spot that would be perfect for a picnic, and your child is begging to stretch her legs? Do it, and eat at that fancy restaurant another time. Don’t think you have to be on the move constantly. Take time to read a book, sit on a porch and watch the birds. Stroll, take a walk, talk, don’t talk, cook out, walk barefoot in the sand early in the morning, or stroll the beach at midnight with your friends or companion while the kids (who are old enough) are sleeping. Allow time for side trips. Do something unexpected. Suggest the children (with guidance) plan a day of fun. 

sand feet


  • Be safe. 

Take precautions. Make sure shots are up-to-date, medicines are ready to go, and medical kits are stocked. Don’t be paranoid, but be cautious. Keep your eyes on children. Be friendly but careful around those you don’t know well. Watch for unexpected problems on side trips: slippery, downhill paths, stinging insects, broken items that can cut, unfriendly animals who are doing what they’re wired to do. In traveling, stay alert. Get plenty of rest and never push yourself beyond limits. 

warning free


  • Stay relaxed, have fun, and come home rested. 

Sometimes this is hard to do. I know. But if you can carry through on the above suggestions, you’ll find that it’s much easier to control this last one. If you can pull it off, you’ll find yourself returning home, eager to plan another getaway.

reclining free

It’s time for vacation. Are you ready?

The Irish Tidbits

by Carole Brownireland-castle-free

I love Ireland. Beautiful country, interesting history, and remarkable people. I thought it would be fun to list a few blessings and thoughts from the Irish. Enjoy!

May the strength of three be in your journey.


A toast to your coffin. May it be made of a hundred-year-old oak, and may we plant the tree together, tomorrow. 

May the most you wish for be the least you get. 

May you have walls for the wind, and a roof for the rain, and drinks beside the fire, laughter to cheer you, and those you love near you, and all that ireland-sheep-freeyour heart may desire. 

May you live as long as you want, and never want as long as you live.

May your hand always be stretched out in friendship and not in want. 

And one more…

For the test of the heart is trouble, and it always comes with years. And the smile that is worth the praises of earth, is the smile that shines through the tears. 


Tamera Lynn Kraft at ACFW Conference

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

I loved being at the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) Conference this year. It was the best writer’s conference I’ve ever attended.

Ted Dekker challenged us go deep into the darkness of our heart and shine God’s light in the dark places. That’s what being a Christian writer is all about.

ted dekker

I got the chance to meet Ted in the hallway. He is a lot of fun.

dekker 1 Dekker 2 Dekker 3

I took a workshop with Donald Maas which was fantastic. I learned so much. Another author who I learned a great deal from was James L. Rubart, author of The Five Times I Met Myself. In the class, he encouraged me to go deeper in my writing. I don’t believe I’ll ever be the same writer. Jim also won a Carol Award this year for his new novel. I can’t wait to read it.

acfw rubart2acfw rubart

I met with some of the ladies from Colonial Quills for supper before the conference began.

Colonial Quills 1

Colonial Quills 2

And I went to breakfast with my writer friends from Ohio.

acfw ohio

I met some strange and historical people in the hallways before the genre lunch.


Here I am at the genre lunch. I didn’t really dress up, but I could imagine someone wearing something similar in 1919.

acfw me

Here I am all dressed up for the gala. I was trying to look glamorous, but I couldn’t pull it off because I kept laughing.


I also had some pretty strange and fun roommates. We became close friends in a short time.

roommates selfieRoommates

The best part was the spiritual side of the conference. Every speaker talked about how God was our validation not writing. When it was my turn to work in the prayer room, lives were changed and people were healed. And the worship was so anointed. The presence of God was heavy there.

acfw worship

acfw worship 2

I talked to two editors and one agent who were interested in my work, but what I got out of the conference went beyond what the open doors and opportunities for my writing. Needless to say, I had a great time.



10 Things to Do in Sedona, Arizona

While we were in Sedona, Arizona last week, we explored some great places. Here are 10 things everyone needs to do if they visit Sedona Arizona.

IMG_2214Broken Arrow Pink Jeep Tour: This is a must. It is so exciting going off-road where the red rock mountains overwhelm you with their beauty. They have pink jeep tours for the more timid too.

Red Rock Chapel: The Red Rock Chapel is a church built on the side of the mountain. It is beautiful.

Oak Creek Canyon: Just a few miles from Sedona is Oak Creek Canyon. It is beautiful there.

Airport Mesa: If you want breathtaking views of Sedona, this is the place to be.

IMG_2239Grand Canyon: Grand Canyon is only 2 1/2 hours from Sedona. You can take a Pink Jeep Tour from Sedona to the Grand Canyon or drive. Either way, when you’re close, you have to see the Grand Canyon.

Hike the Trails: There are over 200 miles of hiking trails where you can see spectacular rock formations such as Bell Rock, Thunder Mountain, and Sanctuary Rock. They are well worth putting on your hiking shoes and heading out into nature.

IMG_2111Cowboy Church: If you’ve never been to a Cowboy Church, this will be an experiance. With the cowboy decor, cowboy hats and boots, and old hymns, Sedona’s Cowboy Church will lead you into the presence of God. The people there are friendly too. Every service ends with Happy Trails to You.

Stargaze: The stars in the Sedona clear skies are breathtaking. Be sure to take a jacket with you. Sedona gets cold when the sun goes down.

IMG_2338Palatki Ruins: See the cliff houses and ancient cave drawings the Native Americans of the past made in the Sedona Mountains. You’ll have to travel a dirt road or take a Pink Jeep Tour to get to the ruins, but it is well worth the trip.

Restaurants and Galleries: There are many restaurants and art galleries in Sedona as well as a number of cute shops. Our favorite restaurants while we were there were the Cowboy Club and Grille and Nick’s. If you want to drive an hour to Flagstaff, Black Bart’s Saloon has the best food and entertainment around.

Guest Author Carole Brown – The Living Rock

Carole1Besides being a member and active participant of many writing groups, Carole Brown enjoys mentoring beginning writers. She loves to weave suspense and tough topics into her books, along with a touch of romance and whimsy, and is always on the lookout for outstanding titles and catchy ideas. She and her husband reside in SE Ohio but have ministered and counseled nationally and internationally. Together, they enjoy their grandsons, traveling, gardening, good food, the simple life, and did she mention their grandsons?

Connect with her at:

Check out her books at:

The Living Rock

by Carole Brown

Marble, sandstone, slate, granite, limestone, shell, and some more valuable ones are quartz and diamonds. Take your pick and most of us would choose the valuable ones.

I love rocks–always have. I guess they’ve represented strength and beauty to me. I know I must have driven my family batty because while traveling, I would constantly comment about mountains and rocks. I seriously doubt they thought I was an expert on the subject, but my obsession with the subject kept me talking.

Carole3I collect samples from different states we visit, line my gardens with beautiful stones and rocks and search for unique shapes and colors. Rocks have an enduring quality about them. Most of them are heavy and strong, giving the impression of unbudging power. Large ones, or several stacked together can be used as a shield from danger. They can be used for decorative purposes such as borders or used as focal points in gardens or yards. Cut rocks can be used as creative flooring, to build fireplaces, cover houses and so much more. 

Recently, one of our Papua, New Guinea friends visiting here in the states spoke a few words in a church service. His name is Brother Amos–a wonderful, godly man who serves his people in his home country as a true example of Christianity. While he spoke, he said the phrase, The Living Rock, and the words resonated in my heart and mind.  

Of course, I know Jesus is alive and God is real, but for whatever reason, I’ve never pictured him as a living rock, and I’ve sang the song, Rock of Ages, many, many times! 

He’s not dead or immune to our troubles when we lose a job. He’s not deaf to our cries when our hearts break over the death of a friend or loved one. When we make stupid mistakes that we wish a million times we’d never done. He’s our living rock that is steadfast and strong, powerful and trustworthy.

Carole2Our grandson, Jonathan, recently climbed on top of beach rock and held his hands in the air as if he was a victor over the waves that he delighted in running from. He’s too young yet to realize the fullness of a real God, who unlike our earth’s rocks, cares and feels and loves. It’s up to my husband and myself to teach him those things and allow God’s love to woo him to himself.

Unlike the huge and fascinating Pilot Mountain rock, or the Rocky Mountains, Smoky Mountains or any other mountains in our United States, God is bigger and so much more wonderful and enduring. 

Psalm 94: 22 says, My God is the rock of my refuge. Do you claim God as your rock?

Book Cover Centered-smallBat Crazy

Monster Bats with red eyes that attack humans? Denton doesn’t think so and Alex hopes not, but who are they to quibble with the local gossip?

Transmission problems and a blown tire land Denton and Alex Davies right in the middle of a dilapidated, unfriendly town that’s welcoming no strangers, least of all nosy ones with a bent toward solving mysteries.

But with support from the town detective—an admirer of the Davies—and their own tenacious personalities, Denton and Alex aren’t easily scared off. Not when warnings in the form of painted bats show up on the porch of their rented cabin, not when the mayor threatens to run them out of town and not even when Denton finds the cache of bones …

An ancient story, a bit of a map, a lost jewel, and even a bat clan serve to provide the Davies and their sidekick, Taffy, the dog, their hardest case so far.


America’s Historic Triangle

Brick BridgeLast week, I visited Colonial Williamsburg and the surrounding area. Being a lover of American history, I was excited to view the history of the area known as America’s Historic Triangle. I was also excited because I’ve been researching my family tree and found ancestors in all three places during the times portrayed.

Three major historic sites that show the founding days of American history are within ten miles of each other. Colonial Williamsburg, Historic Jamestown, and Yorktown make up America’s Historic Triangle. I only visited Williamsburg and Jamestown. Maybe next time I’ll get to Yorktown.

CostumeMy husband and I bought a three day pass to Colonial Williamsburg. There’s too much to see in one day, so I recommend it. Even though Williamsburg was founded in 1638, Colonial Williamsburg largely concentrates on the time of the American Revolution, basically 1775-1781.

Colonial Williamsburg has a number of rebuilt historic building and shops where people reenact life during the American Revolution. Although some of the historic sites are very accurate and have tours with people in period costumes, many of the buildings are shops where people in period costumes try to sell you things.

My least favorite parts of the trip to Williamsburg was the commercialism, the high cost of tickets, and the lack of any research facilities. Even though my ancestor, Lodowick Farmer, was a part of the last House of Burgess and the first Virginia Continental Congress there, I couldn’t find out anything about him or any other member of that body. If you like general history, you’ll enjoy it, but don’t expect to find out any specifics there. William and Mary College is right off the site. We might have found some information there, but the walk was exhausting and we never got that far.

Here’s Great Hopes Plantation where farm life is shown.

Plantation Barn



Plantation Lady

Govener's PalaceHere’s the Governor’s Palace where the last British governor fled. Both Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson lived here for a short time before the capital was moved to Richmond.


Capital BuildingHere is the Capital Building.




The next place we went was Jamestown. They had a lot more information in their high priced books. I was able to find my ancestor who came to Jamestown in 1616, Thomas Farmer. Jamestown is made up of two sites. You have to pay for tickets to go to both sites.

ChickenJamestown Island is where Jamestown was originally settled. There are archeological digs and an old church there. We decided to go to Historic Jamestown where the town was recreated. We went through a large, well-maintained museum first that showed quite a bit about the history before taking a tour through Jamestown. And yes, the chicken also took the tour.

wigwamHere are the huts of the Powhatan Indians. One thing I found interesting was that the Jamestown settlers were ordered not to fire on the Indians. At first, they had a friendly trade relationship. This broke down when Chief Powhatan died and his son attacked the village in 1622.

fortHere are pictures of Jamestown Fort.Fort building





ShipHere’s one of the ship they sailed on.

By the way, Pocahontas married John Rolfe, not Captain John Smith.

I recommend Historic Jamestown highly. It was well worth the modest price.


My Busy Summer and Blogging News


This was our ship.

This post is to let those who regularly follow my blog some things that have happened over the summer and some great things to come.

When I was a kid (ages ago), my first assignment given by the teacher after I returned to school was to write a paper about what I did this summer. I don’t know if teachers still do that, but I thought I’d let you know about my incredibly busy summer.

Eagles on lighthouse

Eagles on the Lighthouse

My husband and I have always wanted to go to Alaska. We finally were able to manage it this May. We booked the tickets on an Alaskan Cruise and made all our plans to go. We thought things were all set. Then disaster struck.

I tore my rotator cuff about a year ago. Since then, I had been taking anti-inflammatory medication to help it heal so I could try to avoid surgery. Well, three weeks before the trip, I didn’t feel well. By afternoon, I felt better, so I attended Wednesday night church. During church, I started feeling worse, so I left the service and went to the Ladies Room. I was in a lot of pain, and by the time I realized I was in trouble, I couldn’t get up to go back into the service to get my husband. So I sprawled on the bathroom floor until church ended and he found me. To make a long story short, the paramedics came and transported me to the hospital. I was in there for five days with a serious case of pancreatitis. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s very painful and can cause death if not treated. The doctors were wonderful and said I should be good to go on my trip. They decided the cause was all the anti-inflammatories and said my doctor should fix my shoulder. So surgery was set the Wednesday after I got back from Alaska.

Killer Whale Pod

Killer Whale Pod

The Alaskan Cruise was wonderful. My husband and I got to see eagles, whales, sea lions, and porcupines in the wild. No, we didn’t see a bear. The glaciers were breathtaking in the same way Niagara Falls and the Grand Canyon are breathtaking. They were beyond description. I’ve posted a few of the pictures.

After getting back, I had my shoulder surgery. Shoulder surgery doesn’t hurt as much as pancreatitis, but it does hurt. And it takes months to heal. The first month, I was in a sling. Then came the physical therapy which I’ve just finished. I’m doing better, but the doctor says it could take up to a year before I feel completely normal, whatever that is.


Sawyer Glacier

Now’s when it gets fun. I am a children’s evangelist with Revival Fire for Kids, and I booked some kid’s crusades this summer. So, one week after I got out of that horrible sling, I was in Tennessee doing a kid’s crusade and singing Put Your Hands Up. I know. I’m crazy. After that, I did church camp in Zanesville, and another kid’s crusade in London, Ohio. Then I helped my daughter, a children’s pastor in Massillon, Ohio, with her VBS. It was worth it though. Not only did it speed up the healing of my shoulder because I had to use it, 13 children were saved and 13 were baptized in the Holy Spirit. That doesn’t even include my daughter’s church.

Summer is over now, and I can’t say I’m sorry. Even with all the chaos, I did enjoy some of it, and I learned a lot about trusting God. For obvious reasons, I didn’t do much writing, and I didn’t keep up with my blogs. But I’m ready for a new season, Fall, and a new beginning.

I’m getting back into writing. I need to finish editing an Easter themed novella, and a Civil War novel that was a finalist in the TARA Writing Contest. I’ll hear the results in November. I also am researching another novel and writing some children’s church curriculum. I’m not going to any large writing or children’s ministry conferences for a year. I need to get my bearings and get some work done this year.

Changes in my blog: There won’t be many, but I am going to try to faithfully write at least 2-3 times a week. Thank you to those who have faithfully followed me while I let the ball drop this summer. I am going to have a Monday feature called Weekly Word Sharpener starting next week. It’s going to be a hodgepodge of tidbits including This Week In History, Quote of the Week, Verse of the Week, Song of the Week, and Life Sharpening Tip. I also added a few features to my Facebook Author Page.

If you have any ideas of what you would like to see in this weekly post or on my blog, just leave a comment. On second thought, leave a comment anyway, and tell me about your summer.

OAChristmasPromise_medne more thing, I’ll start promoting my Christmas novella, A Christmas Promise, soon. Click on the picture to by it from my publisher. Or type in my name at Amazon or Barnes and Noble to find out how to purchase it.

Thanks for letting me tell you about my summer.

The Mythical Benton Falls

2014-03-10 12.32.55We visited the Cherokee National Forest in Ocoee, Tennessee last week. The views were beautiful. I always love visiting the Smokey Mountains.


2014-03-10 12.56.19
Many of the roads we took were gravel roads. We always find the best places going off the beaten path.


2014-03-10 10.46.04We decided to stop at one place where there were walking trails and a lake. The site also boasted that one of the trails, Trail 131, led to Benton Falls. My husband and I always enjoy looking at waterfalls, so we set out it the direction where a sign said Benton Falls was. The hike was only suppose to be one and a half miles.

This is some of the scenery we saw on the trail.

We walked for what seemed like two miles when we came to a sign saying Benton Falls was back the way we came about a half mile. We went back and found only one trail that we’d missed. It was only maybe one tenth of a mile from the sign, so we knew it couldn’t be it, but it was our only choice. We took the trail that led to a bridge over the water. After crossing the bridge, we saw a sign that said Benton Falls, so we knew we were on the right track. Here’s some of the scenery we saw. The walk was beautiful.

2014-03-10 09.21.58Finally we came to a fork in the road. No signs. We took the path away from the lake and the parking lot, and although we saw some pretty scenery, we didn’t find the mythical Benton Falls. After about three miles, we headed the other way where we ended up at the parking lot. We found a map of the trails there. It had them color coded. Benton Falls was supposed to be Trail 131. It was suppose to be the medium blue colored trail. But there was no medium blue trail on the map. At this point, I’m not even sure they have a trail to Benton Falls, but I do know I was disappointed after trying so hard to find it.

2014-03-10 11.59.03Many times, we search for mythical things that will make our lives better. We think if we only had more money or a better job, we could find that elusive peace we crave. If only our children would behave like we want or we had good health, life would be better. But searching for happiness by traveling those mythical routes are sure to lead to disappointment just as our hike to Benton Falls did. There’s only one path that will satisfy and lead to life and peace, the narrow way the Bible talks about. The great thing about this path is it is clearly marked in the Bible. Here’s a link to help you find that path if you’re searching for something to satisfy. Or you can email me at tkrafty {at} sbcglobal {dot} net if you’d like to talk to me about the path to salvation.

I never did find the mythical Benton Falls, but I did see a lot of beautiful views. Better yet, many years ago, I found the path to life and peace through Jesus Christ, My Lord.

My Scary Journey to Sandia Crest

Gravel road 2I’ve been in New Mexico on vacation this week. One of the sites my husband and I wanted to see was Sandia Crest. There’s a tram that goes to the top of the mountain, but we decided to drive. So we typed Sandia Crest into our GPS. What we didn’t know is that there are two roads to the top of Sandia Mountain. One road is the paved one. The other road is an unmaintained state highway that you travel at your own risk. Our GPS took us up the second path.gravel road

We should have guessed how scary the road would be when the sign said “Unmaintained Roads Ahead. Travel at your own risk.” But we decided it wouldn’t be that bad. After all, we had a four wheel drive SUV, and it wasn’t winter. So when it became a gravel road we weren’t that worried.


We did get a little nervous when the road started having ruts and stones the size of the Grand Canyon.

gravel road with ruts


Then the road narrowed until most of the time, it was one lane.

Gravel road colored leaves


The trees cut off so we could only drive on part of the road were interesting.

tree across road


Then there were the steep drop-offs with no guardrails.

no guardrails

Of course, the “Beware of Bears” signs didn’t make us feel any better. We had to go slow, very slow, so the journey to the top took much longer than we expected. But the view made it all worth it. It was spectacular.

Spectacular view    Spectacular view2

Spectacular view 4

Junction 536Finally we made it to the paved road.



Soon after that, we reached Sandia Crest, elevation 10,689 feet. The view was like nothing I’d ever seen.

Phone towertop Sandia 2 Albequeque







top Sandia 1

 Panaramic view top

We went back down over the paved road. It was a nice drive, but not nearly as fun or as beautiful as the scary road.

Sometimes God takes us on scary paths. We travel those roads alone, because nobody else wants to be on those roads. And they take us out of our comfort zone. Sometimes these paths are dangerous. But God never promised us safety. He did promise to travel these roads with us. And the view is spectacular. When we reach the crest where the air is thin, so thin few travel there, we realize it was worth it all.