Saturday, December 11, 2010

Give a Priceless Gift

Hi, friends,
The best gifts don’t have to cost a cent. It's true!

Want to give someone you love a priceless gift this Christmas? I've received lots of them over the years, but here is the story one of the best.

I was housebound with bronchitis over Christmas not that many years ago, unable to join the family in anything fun. We had a huge snowfall one night, blanketing our yard in at least a foot of perfect new snow. While I rested on the couch, my husband Steve built a fire in the woodstove, lighted the tree and went outside to gather more wood. Suddenly, I heard him knocking on the family room window, beckoning me to look outside, where he’d made me a beautiful angel in the snow. I saw him smiling though the falling snow, and cried with gratefulness for this surprise love gift.

Here's a picture of it. I hope you can see it. That gorgeous angel (It really was!) remained in the snow all through Christmas week reminding our whole family that real love is all about giving yourself to others in little ways and big ways. A snow angel doesn't cost a cent, but it does cost love and thoughtfulness, and a fun spirit of creativity.

Small gestures of thoughtfulness and love, especially the gifts of time and listening, remain as forever gifts in our memory. You are probably thinking of some you can give right now!

I’ve got an idea! Let’s conspire by the fire to give more of those priceless gifts this year – the kind that are pure gold to give and receive.

Enjoy your Christmas! May it be filled with the selfless love of Christ!

John 3:16

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Christmas Shopping for the "Tough One" on Your List

Are there one or two people on your list that are really hard to buy for? They either have everything, or never like what we give them,

That used to be my mother. For many years, my mother was a single parent who did everything in her power to protect my brother and me from some of the problems she suffered. She did her best, but never knew when to stop once we were adults. What resulted was emotional distance, resentments that built over time, and the sacrifice of a true, loving relationship with each other.

Until God intervened. And thankfully, He did. I was reading my Bible one morning and found Prov. 3: vs. 3. “Let Love and faithfulness never leave you. Bind them on the tablet of your heart.”

Was I loving and faithful toward my mother? The answer was NO! I realized that my resentful feelings toward her were against God’s will.

And so I prayed, “Lord, I’m willing, but you’ve got to help me love her.” It wasn’t easy, let me tell you, but He did it in miraculous ways. She’s 97 today and has Alzheimer’s disease, and I’m excited about bringing her a Christmas gift soon. Because God helped me learn to love her, we’ve enjoyed a great relationship for almost 40 years.

This Christmas, is there someone like that on your list? It’s amazing how God who so loved the world that He His only son for us, can also give us the love we need for others.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

What to Do When Evil Threatens

Hello, dear friends,

Today as I watch the news of North Korea's cross hairs aimed at South Korea once again, hear of a foiled terrorist attempt at a Christmas Tree lighting with thousands in attendance in Portland, and hear of more political compromise with terrorist leaders in Afghanistan, and increasing threats against the Free World and Israel, I am stunned by the power of prayer to thwart evil. Since 9/11, like many of you, I've prayed for peace, but specifically that all the weapons and evil intentions trained on Christians and Jews alike would end in confusion. I pray that every weapon formed against us will not prosper. It's not a new prayer. Take a look today at Psalm 140.

"Rescue me, O Lord, from evil men;
protect me from men of violence,
who devise evil plans in their hearts
and stir up war every day.
They make their tongues as sharp as serpent's;
the poison of vipers is on their lips.
Keep me, O Lord, from the hands of the wicked;
protect me from men of violence
who plan to trip my feet.
Proud men have hidden a snare for me;
they have spread out the cords of their net
and have set traps for me
along my path.
O Lord, I say to you, "You are my God."
Hear, O Lord, my cry for mercy.
O Sovereign Lord, my strong deliverer,
who shields my head in the day of battle -
do not grant the wicked their desires, O Lord;
do not let their plans succeed,
or they will become proud."
Ps. 140: 1-8

Please read the rest of the psalm today and join me in this prayer. May God be glorified and evil thrown down.
Praise His Name!

Monday, November 08, 2010

How do you spell fun? NANOWRIMO

What is THAT? National Novel Writing Month, that's what! And I'm up to 10, 465 words tonight. Yee haw! I already have a dead young woman on the beach (very sad), a young journalist named Maddie with a big dream and a HUGE problem, an older buddy and mentor named Lil who is not too old to help her solve a crime, and Jack, her handsome grandson professor ready to move in and take over. The heat turns up fast when Maddie discovers her efforts to rescue the victim now make her a potential suspect. Oh, dear! I'm glued to my computer. Haven't had this big a thrill since I went down a 9 story water slide at Disney Typhoon Lagoon! I'll keep you updated once a week. Can't wait to get into the next few chapters to see what happens next!


Saturday, October 30, 2010

Preparing for November

I had to face a tough job today, one I've put off a year or more. Maybe several years. Today I cleaned out my office closet and file drawers in preparation for the next month's work. I'm preparing to jump into a new writing project on Monday. Getting my office ready was necessary, even exciting, but sad.

Gone are the past twenty years of correspondence with editors, authors, and publicists, old tax receipts, rejection letters, and a few scrawled words of encouragement I've saved forever. Hard to part with them, but in the small space we now call home, file space is pricey realty. In an equal trade, my husband took over an entire file drawer, and I took over the writing desk. I'm deliriously happy! So is he.

What's happening Monday? It's November 1st, the opening day of novel season at NANOWRIMO! Three of us in our critique group are accepting the challenge to complete a full 50,000 word novel in a month. On Nov. 30 I hope to be finished and sending in my completed piece. What's the prize? The completed draft I've been longing to finish for the past four years. When that's done, I'll do a happy dance.

By the way, it's a murder mystery. Stay tuned. I'll give you updates on how it's going. I might even give you a few hints about the characters and the plot. In fact, you can help me title it on the last week. How's that?
Write me a comment now and then just to encourage me.
Why not write your own? Let's get started!
Blessings to you,

Friday, October 22, 2010

Aren't Words Amazing?

My husband and I came home the other day to a blinking message on our phone. A pleasant female voice said, "Mr. Kidder, this is Dr. Van's office reminded you of your appointment tomorrow morning at 10:30. Please come a few minutes early to fill out some paperwork, and we request that you not wear any clothes."

"What did she say?" Steve said. "I don't believe it. She told me not to wear clothes!"

"Play it again," I said. "Has to be a mistake." So we did. Four times. No mistake. By that time we were bending over howling with laughter.

"Think I should go with you this time? You may need me to hold a sheet around you." Maybe back doctors like to get started right away!

When the appointment came, the nurse explained she'd said, "no cologne."

Ah, yes, the power of words. Think of the most embarrassing thing you've ever said. Write it down and get a good laugh at yourself. Hey, share it with me! I always love a chuckle. Maybe my readers will, too, if you say OK.

Words can build, or tear down, can't they? Encourage us or wound our spirits. Today I'm asking God to help me use words that offer love and encouragement. How about you?

Friday, October 01, 2010

Meet Carol Kent, author of, Between a Rock and a Grace Place

Between a Rock and a Grace Place by Carol Kent (Zondervan)

From bestselling author Carol Kent comes a riveting journey of facing the impassible obstacles of life and discovering the last thing ever expected—the sweet spot of grace.

Carol Kent and her husband, Gene, are now living what some would call a heartbreaking life—their son, Jason, a young man who initially had so much promise, is now living out a life sentence for murder in a maximum security prison. All their appeals have been exhausted at both the state and federal levels—humanly speaking, they have run out of options. But despite their hopeless situation, Carol and her husband live a life full of grace. Kent reveals how life’s problems become fruitful affliction where we discover the very best divine surprises, including peace, compassion, freedom, and adventure. Through the Kent’s remarkable ongoing journey, Jason’s riveting letters from behind bars, and true “grace place” stories from the lives of others, Between a Rock and a

Carol Kent

Grace Place reveals that when seemingly insurmountable challenges crash into our lives, we can be transformed as we discover God at work in ways we never imagined. With vulnerable openness, irrepressible hope, restored joy, and a sense of humor, Carol Kent helps readers to find God’s “grace places” in the middle of their worst moments.

About the Author

Carol Kent is the bestselling author of When I Lay My Isaac Down and A New Kind of Normal. Carol is an expert on public speaking, writing, and on encouraging people to hold on to hope when life’s circumstances turn out differently from their dreams. She lives in Florida with her husband Gene.

Carol Kent is a popular international public speaker best known for being dynamic, humorous, encouraging, and biblical. She is a former radio show co-host and has often been a guest on Focus on the Family and a featured speaker at Time Out for Women and Heritage Keepers arena events. She has spoken at The Praise Gathering for Believers and at Vision New England’s Congress. She is also a frequent speaker at Women of Virtue events across the country.

Questions/Answers from Carol Kent

Tell us about the Christmas gift you received. How did it help you to find grace in the middle of a seemingly hopeless situation?

Two weeks before Christmas our doorbell rang at 9:15 p.m. It was dark outside and by the time my husband, Gene, joined me at the front door, we were surprised to find no one there. It was already dark, but my eyes fell on a large, exquisitely wrapped gift. The card on top said, “Mom.” Initially, it felt like a bad joke. Nine years earlier our son, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy had been arrested for murdering his wife’s first husband and he was in prison serving a life-without-the-possibility-of-parole sentence.

However, I am a “Mom” and the package was left on my doorstep, so I opened it. The note appeared to be in my son’s unique handwriting. The note expressed his deep love for me and his gratefulness for what I had done to help him since his arrest. He said a “friend” had helped him deliver the surprise. Opening the box, I discovered a gorgeous russet-colored silk jacket—and it fit me perfectly.

That night I discovered something new about God and something I had forgotten about myself. He loves to interject divine surprises into our lives. His timing is always perfect, but it had been a while since I had been surprised by joy, wonder, and grace in the middle of one of the tight spots of life.

What are “grace places,” and how can hurting people in need find them?

All of us experience tight spots when life turns out differently from our dream. When we face the overwhelming obstacles of life, we can experience the last thing we ever expect—the sweet spot of grace. Grace places have a variety of forms, but some include:

  • Receiving love when we don’t deserve it
  • Finding safety in the middle of a fearful and uncertain experience
  • Being comforted by friends and family (people who are extensions of God’s love)
  • Experiencing the embrace of God when we have run out of strength and courage

“Grace means the free, unmerited, unexpected love of God, and all the benefits, delights, and comforts which flow from it.” (R.P.C. Hanson)


A complimentary copy of this book was provided to me as a blog tour host by Zondervan in exchange for posting this interview on my blog. Please visit Christian Speaker Services for more information about blog tour management services.

Join the ongoing Virtual Book Tour on FACEBOOK for more book drawings


Sunday, September 26, 2010

What Matters Most?

We left for church this morning at least ten minutes late, which normally pushes my buttons big time. But, Steve wasn't the only one running late. I was, too. Rushing to the car, we missed most of the lights on our twelve mile trip. As I coped with anxiety over our lateness, I gazed up at the clouds, brilliant pillows and streaks of white against a vivid blue sky. No rush there today!

Pulling into church, I wanted to duck in the back and sit down unnoticed, but instantly two friends greeting us with hugs. "Were you the one praying for me all week?" Sue said. "I had the best week in such a long time! Thank you!" Her long hug gave me a deep welcome.

The sanctuary was packed. No hiding this late entry as we whispered, "Sorry, but is this seat saved?" We'd missed the entire worship time, until a middle aged man came to the stage and gave a testimony about losing his dad in 1980, and what a strong example he'd been. That alone was a tear-jerker until he began to sing a song about his father, waiting to see Him again in glory. His teenaged daughter accompanied him beautifully on the violin. My husband and I were so moved, having recently said good-bye to his dear mom at 94. In my heart I thanked God for this comforting music.

That would have been enough. But next our Assistant Pastor delivered on terrific message on mentoring, illustrated with fun personal examples and in-depth Bible truth. Wow! At the end, as usual in our church, the altars were opened if anyone needed prayer or wanted to receive Christ. As an altar prayer minister, I walked to the front, waiting to see if anyone needed prayer. Within a minute or two, both altars were filled. People needed prayer for a host of issues, which is always a joy, but best of all four people came up front to receive Christ. There was a little nine year old girl, a man on crutches, and another couple standing weeping. What joy in the Kingdom of Heaven! How important was this day to God's purposes! It's humbling to realize God has use for me even when I feel "out of sorts." Maybe what matters most to God is just showing up and being willing to do His will.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Summer's Tales

Hi, friends,

You can see by the date of my last post that we were away all summer. Those eight weeks held great welcomes, renewed friendships, and sorrows, too.

Here's a quick peek at our news: Our son David and his wife Jose welcomed their third little boy on August 5th. Here are big brothers Jack (4 1/2) and Stephen (3) holding new baby Lucas Alexander Zeilstra Kidder on his first day of life. What a joy!

The same week, my college roommates held a day long celebration in New York City after 44 years of being apart. Well, actually,I was the only one really apart. Thanks to Gail, Gayle, Janet, and Ceil, I'm now "found" and looking forward to seeing them again next year or sooner. What a shame to lose track of those so dear to us. I'm forever grateful to my terrific roommates for finding me and making me feel so welcome. You can't imagine how much talking it took to catch up! None of us, of course, had changed much in that time. Ahem! Take a peek:

Last, on August 28th we said good bye to Steve's dear mom, 94, who entered heaven just hours past her 72nd anniversary. Dad, at 97, was continually at her side. What a love they shared, and such an example of family life to us! I've been so blessed to have such loving in-laws. We'll miss GrandmaLu greatly, as will all our kids.

We limped home after Lucas's birth as my husband severely injured his back on the trip. Now, I'm happy to report, he is feeling much better and receiving treatment here in Florida. I'm about to begin work on two new book proposals and my long delayed novel.

Hugs and blessings to you!

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

An Inspiring Letter from a Reader

Dear friends,
I seldom share letters like this, but this one moved me so much, I asked the writer if I might share it with you. She happily agreed, adding "go ahead and use my name." So here it is, inspiring for sure:
"I just wanted to say thank you for the book (Meet Me at the Well). I have had a copy of it for sometime sitting in my bookcase. A little while ago I was going through a pretty rough time with my husband, to the point that we were talking about separating.

It had to be a God-acident that your book caught my eye. I picked it up and started reading and writing and praying for guidance. Through the chapters I was faithful to write down all my thoughts and pray as you directed and one afternoon through tears I cried out to God, "What do you want me to do?" I heard his voice as if He was there right in the room speaking to me and He said, "Go and ask him if this is really what you want?" To my surprise my husband turned and said no, that he loved me, but it was the only way he knew to do as we could not live this way. Too make a long story short, it started us talking, honestly talking, and not just yelling and saying bad hurtful things, and we were able to work it out, and are turning over a new leaf and forgetting the past. Our marriage is the best it has been since the day we said I do.
The book has helped me so much to see me , but most of all it has helped me to see that God loves me and is there with me always and all I have to do is seek Him and he will take care of my needs and bring me through what ever I am going through.
Blessings and love
Elaine Chesser

ps I have a friend that is starting the book, she saw me reading and asked to take the journey also."
We never know what God will do with our testimony of His power and grace at work in our lives. Meet Me at the Well and The Best Life Ain't Easy simply testimonies of His grace and love. Imagine what God will do with your story? Why not tell someone today?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Self test: How Dry Am I?

My dear friend,
Having a dry season? Ever wonder how dry (translate: dull, distant from God and everybody else including yourself) you've become? It's happened to me, in fact, a friend I just spoke with on the phone sounded like a howling desert wind - full of miserable hot air. Would your friends or family say that's you?

Here's a 60 second SELF TEST:
Mark Yes or No
1. When I get up in the morning, I dread facing the day.
2. I look older than I should.
3. Can't remember the last time I had a good belly laugh.
4. I have more aches and pains than I used to.
5. It takes me forever to fall asleep, and then I'm awake a lot during the night.
6. God never answers my prayers, so why bother?
7. Why make plans for the future? They never work out anyway.
8. I seldom feel strong and vigorous or energetic.
9. I've lost most of my closest friends.
10. I wonder if God cares about me any more?

If you answered Yes to more than three of these questions, you are drying up a bit, my friend, on the inside. It's time to take care of yourself, schedule some regular R & R.

If you answered Yes to five or more, it's time to tell someone else, schedule a full physical, and have an honest conversation with your pastor, a counselor, or close friend.

If you answered Yes to all or most of the above, you are bone dry to the core. Time for serious intervention. Trust me when I say, I've been there. I lost my health and all my joy of living. But here's the GOOD NEWS! You can get it back. I did, and all it took was making time to be alone with God, changing the unhealthy way I looked at my responsibilities, and learning to live for God's pleasure and not simply meeting everyone else's needs. The story of this renewal is written in my book, Meet Me at the Well: Take a Month and Water Your Soul. (Moody Publishers, 2008). Write me back and I'll put your name in a drawing for a free book this week. Sound good? It's worth it to find renewal and real life once again!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Faithful in the Small Stuff

Please note: The amazing four year old pictured here is my grandson Jack Kidder. He is handing out daily dog biscuits to his two huge labs, Bella and Laddie, who obey only when the spirit moves them, or it's raining, or Daddy's home. But today Jack is in charge. He has what they want and makes them sit and wait a moment like two trained seals. It's a beautiful sight.

Jack is learning what every good child needs to learn, including me. Being faithful to do little things well, even when nobody's looking but the dogs, builds a character God and everybody else can trust.

Thanks, Jack. I needed that.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Do Clouds Mean Anything to You?

Have you ever wondered if there is a message in the clouds? I remember as a kid laying in the grass, naming shapes in the clouds. In recent years, I've been doing that again. I'm full of amazement at what I've seen. But nothing equalled what happened this week.
Last Monday, April 5th, at 6:21 AM I stood in the dark at our marina on the Indian River Lagoon in Florida with my husband, sister-in-law and brother-in-law to watch the space shuttle Discovery launch. It was breathtaking to see the fiery glow of the rockets lift into space carrying seven precious lives on board. Along with a number of others there, I breathed a prayer for their safety. Not five minutes later, after the delayed thunderous boom was heard, the winds blew the rocket's long contrail into this astonishing dove formation. As the sun rose, the sky blushed pink and the dove cloud remained for nearly 20 minutes as we watched. As wonderful as the launch was, the dove cloud surpassed it.
God's artwork? You decide. I stood there thinking how "the heavens declare the glory of God."

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Five good things about a rotten day

It's raining in Florida. Big time. We've had tornados carried by the western winds all afternoon and evening, possible water spouts on the ocean, and enough lightning and thunder to turn off the television and drag out heavy duty flash lights. Cancelled plans, no nice walk today, all added up to a potentially rotten day.
Actually, I love days like this. Rain is romantic, perfect for music and cooking, writing letters, and reading novels. But today was a little different. Looking back over the past twelve sodden hours, there were five special things I loved about this rainy, otherwise "rotten" day:
1. The only appointment I kept was a routine doctor's appointment this morning just before the heaven's opened. It was nostalgic running through puddles in and out of the building like I did as a barefoot kid long ago. Puddles can be fun even in your sixties.
2. Changing plans forced me to be creative about how I used my time. What could I do in about an hour that I seldom make time for? Baking? No, then I'll eat it. I decided on some quick mending and ironing to perk up my wardrobe. A job I'd neglected felt wonderful completed.
3. A phone call from a new friend inviting me to see a condo for sale across the street turned into a happy adventure. When it poured on the way home, she drove me fifty yards through the rain, laughing like kids.
4. Scrapping plans to eat out, Steve and I lit candles all around the house, heated up leftovers and watched a taped show of "White Collar." Fun!
5. Heading to bed now early to curl up with my new Kindle and enjoy Melody Carlson's latest novel.
All in all, a great day. But if it rains tomorrow, I'm working on my novel and heading for the movies afterward.
How do you make the best out of a "rotten" day?

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Need a Fresh Start?

Sometimes we all need a new beginning, a fresh start. It seems God knows it, too. He has a way of meeting us on our path and pointing us in a entirely new direction. That's been happening to me lately.

Those who read this blog and my newsletter already know Lisa Troyer and I have teamed up in ministry this year and have begun a new adventure together. Now with two weekend retreats under out belt, and a recent trip to Nashville with meetings with publishers, agents, and music gurus, I'm happy to say it all feels good. Just right, like Little Bear's porridge.

If you'd like, please give a listen to our interview with Wayne Shepherd at his website, Click on "Meet Me at the Well" radio special on the right side. Hopefully, you can hear our story, and Lisa's music. Wow! Her new CD by the same name is available now on iTunes, and on Amazon.

On top of that, I now have some time to myself at home (first time in almost a year) to actually work on my novel. Hurray!

What's going on in your life? Need a new beginning? Fresh starts are good for the soul.

Have a super day!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Great days ahead

Dear friends,
I've just spent the most wonderful weekend with the ladies from Grace Chapel in Lexington, MA speaking at their annual retreat "Winterlude." Just days after the horrible earthquake in Haiti, 550 women gathered at the Hyannis Conference Center on Cape Cod, almost half of them Haitian women. Such a tender spirit of loving compassion moved among us. It was no accident we were together that weekend. Many were awaiting word on the safety and survival of family and friends.
After our evening sessions on Friday, these dear Haitian ladies met for prayer in a conference room, spilling out into the hallway. The sound of their prayer and singing of hymns could be heard throughout the hotel. Everyone who heard it was moved.
A deep personal joy was being joined by Lisa Troyer for the first time in a retreat. Her new CD to accompany Meet Me at the Well had arrived, and she sang after each of my sessions, plus a concert on Saturday evening. Wow! I'd never experienced her in concert previously. What a deep, passionate, rich voice she has. I was blown away. Her music added so much to the retreat, and the new CD is amazing. I hope you will listen to it on iTunes and make her music a part of your day. This photo of us was taken late Saturday night after we'd experienced a powerful moving of God calling women to Himself. We were both humbled and grateful to be part of that.
Lisa and I were also joined by Circle of Friends board member, Jocelyn Hamsher, who co-authored the new 13 week Bible study with me. Actually, Lisa did the lion's share of the writing. Her unflappable spirit and warm smile at the book table were so much fun. Later in February I'll join Lisa and Jocelyn again in Wooster, Ohio for the Circle of Friends conference. Hope you can join us. Please visit for more details. Save the dates, Feb. 26, 27. I hope to meet you there.
For those of you who are writers, I'll be teaching soon at Write for the Soul, the annual conference of the Christian Writers' Guild in Denver, CO at the Grand Hyatt. This is one of the premier writers' conferences in the country, and it's a thrill to teach there on "Writing from Personal Experience." The dates are February 17-21. If you have a story on your heart that needs a shepherd, consider checking it out at
May God's presence be near you today, and His hope fill your heart.