August Book Club | Unshakable Hope

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Last October, my world, my life, was shaken to the core.

My son, Zachariah, chose to leave this earth, and all who knew and loved him behind. I  still do not know why he took this drastic action; a permanent solution to a temporary problem. I'll spend the rest of my life asking why, and musing over thousands of 'what if' scenarios.


My faith was shaken too. But here I could not dwell because the only thing that kept a thread of my sanity intact was the knowlege that Zack was in the arms of Our Savior. Pastor and New York Times bestselling author Max Lucado knows this is a fact and in his latest book, Unshakable Hope: Building Our Lives on the Promises of God, he offers encouraging guidance for overcoming sadness and despair, renewing a sense of purpose, and triumphantly facing the fears of the future.

"We’ve never been more educated and entertained. We have technological tools our parents could only dream of, and we are saturated with information, amusement, and recreation. Yet more than ever, we are starving for hope. School shootings are all too familiar. Depression is on the rise. And more people than ever are orchestrating their own deaths. In America alone, the suicide rate has increased 24 percent in fewer than twenty years. If a disease saw such a spike, it would be deemed an epidemic. 

People are dying from a lack of hope."

Have you had an experience or experiences that have left you shaken? Possibly your future, your faith, your family, or finances? After forty years of counseling and ministry, Max Lucado has learned that nothing lifts the desperate, weary heart like the promises of God. In a world full of despair, depression, anxiety, and instability, we do not need more opinions or hunches; we need the definitive declarations of our mighty and loving God. 

Unshakable Hope examines twelve of God’s promises that Max has turned to over the years to encourage himself and others. Each chapter explores one significant promise and reveals how it will equip you to:

o    Overcome challenging circumstances
o    Live through sadness and renew hope
o    Experience lasting security
o    Make wise decisions

Join Max as he takes a closer look at Scripture’s unbreakable promises and shows you how to build your life not on the circumstances you encounter, but on the promises of God, with an unshakable hope. For every problem in life, God has given you a promise.

Buy Unshakable Hope at:
Thomas Nelson Booksellers

Follow Max Lucado at his website: and on,, Instagram, & Twitter @MaxLucado

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A Berry Good Day!


There is a little gravel pathway near my studio that is flanked along one side by the back of the city's stables, where the mounted police keep their horses, and on the other by a woodland; a large patch of green towering trees and low brambling undergrowth.

I often walk this short foot path to stretch my legs and get some fresh air after a long recording session. It's maybe only 50-60 yards long and opens to an expansive park with couple of different play areas, a neighborhood P-patch, fields planted with wildflowers, paved sidewalks, and a large wooded area with trails for exploring nature right in the middle of the city. The city scape can be seen by peering beyond, but it is easy to forget where you are and imagine yourself in a forest primeval once you're under the shade of the large copse of Douglas Fir.

The other day after only a few steps onto the gravel, I noticed a plethora of berries growing along the wooded side.  Forever the forager (thank you Mom) I did less stretching of the legs and more stretching of the arms as I reached for sweet morsel after sweet morsel.


I saw first the little wild blackberries, native to the Pacific Northwest, and favored by my Grandpa Luke. These are smaller and not as abundant as the more ubiquitous Himalayan blackberry that was brought here as a cultivar and now dominates the berry scene. The little dewberry, as it's also called, trails gently along the ground and packs a powerful punch. Oh the memories I have of hunting this little gem down, pail in one hand, picking with the other! It was a chore to get enough for a pie, but boy was it worth it!


Next, I was really surprised and delighted to find a rare wild raspberry cane; I've only come across them once or twice out hiking or camping, and here they were in a city park! They look and taste just like the ones you're used to seeing in the grocery aisles, but perhaps just a bit sweeter on the tongue because the thrill of finding them makes your tastebuds stand up and applaud!


I also happened upon some thimble berries, deep red and velvety. It's not really my favorite because of the texture, I think, but others love it, and I appreciate the bright red color, next to the green, green leaves. Speaking of leaves, the thimble berry grows on a thornless bush with wide soft, velvety smooth leaves. The plant seems to invite you in as an honored guest and serves you up the best portion it has to offer. I gladly accepted it's hospitality!

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A salmon berry hung just above my head; it was a later hanger-on'er,. Like some of the guest at an outdoor bbq on a warm summer night, this one was just having too much fun. It didn't realize that the shin-dig was over quite some time ago. I helped it on it's way by picking and eating it on the spot!


And lastly a single red huckleberry. It was a early arrival, and as welcome as the friend that comes before the cook out to help you clean the grill and set out the paper plates and napkins! I also, uh, embraced, this bright little morsel with a friendly hug. 

It took me as long to reach the park on this day, than it normally does to make a full circuitous route, but I was happy, finger stained, and most definitely re-energized! 

Are you a berry-hound? Where do you pick, what's your favorite? As always, I love it when you write to me at! We all have things we can share with others to spark conversation, warm memories, and new connections!

I hope, as you read this, you too are having a berry good day! With much love and the Lords blessings,

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Balsam Hill | "Christmas in July" benefitting Point Hope!

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I have some wonderful friends at Balsam Hill!

We met in the realm of the business world, and the relationship quickly developed to be so much more than an opportunity to showcase their amazingly realistic faux florals, greenery, and Christmas trees!

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For the last two years, Balsam Hill has made the NGO I founded, Point Hope, a recipient of their charitable giving several times over. They have underwritten my annual Farm to Feast garden party, where people come together to eat fresh, locally sourced, and deliciously prepared foods, and learn about the work of Point Hope. In addition, they've made Point Hope a benefactor of their on-going philanthropy work.

This month, we've teamed up for their Christmas in July campaign. All month long, Balsam Hill has been giving back to different charities, and the week of July 22- July 29, they will be focusing on Point Hope!

Here's how it works. Visitors like you help to drive awareness and raise as much money as possible for Point Hope by engaging on my social media posts about Balsam Hill's charity campaign and by visiting their blog.

  • Each like is worth .50 cents.

  • Each comment and/or share is worth $1.

  • If you mention Point Hope on Balsam Hill's BLOG, it's worth $2!

There is no commitment on your behalf, just your social media involvement. I so appreciate the extra minute or two of your time it will take, and, believe me, the underserved children and communities the funds will go toward supporting, appreciate it even more!,

Want to know more about Point Hope? Visit us HERE.
For more about Balsam Hill's philanthropy, visit them HERE.

Many many, thanks to my dear friends at Balsam Hill, a company that is making a difference in the world, one beautiful bouquet, wreath, and tree at a time!

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Brownie Lovers, Have S'more!


S’more Brownies

Once again our studio's kitchen countertop was covered in Steve Made goodness (badness?) today! A giant platter of S'more Brownies appeared for our snacking pleasure (distress?).

These multi-layer morsels are an ooey-gooey treat, perfect for a summer crowd when a fire pit and roasting sticks are not available!

I had one, but I definitely need S'more!



  • Graham crackers
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 ounce unsweetened baker’s chocolate
  • 1/4 water
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 4.4 ounce Hershey’s milk chocolate bar, broken into 16 small sections
  • 1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper. Lay graham crackers in the bottom of the pan, breaking graham crackers into sections to cover entire bottom of pan.

2. In a medium size sauce pan on medium heat, add butter, baker’s chocolate and water. Whisk until melted, then add unsweetened cocoa, whisk until combined. Remove sauce pan from heat and whisk in vanilla, sugar and salt.

3. Let mixture cool for a about five minutes, then whisk in eggs one at a time. Whisking/beating each time for one to two minutes. Whisk in flour.

4. Pour mixture into the prepared 8-inch baking pan. Bake for 35 minutes. Remove pan from oven and add the Hershey’s chocolate bar sections to the top. Return to oven and bake for 10 more minutes or until a toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean.

5. Remove pan from oven and add the marshmallows to the top. Position oven rack to be about 6 to 8 inches from the broiling element. Set oven to broil, return pan to oven and broil for 20 to 25 seconds. Be careful browning occurs very fast and can     burn the marshmallows.

6. Let brownies cool for 45 minutes to 1 hour. The marshmallows make it very sticky to cut the brownies into squares. I have found that using a sharp knife repeatedly dipped in water makes it much easier. ~Steve


July Book Club | Portrait of a Sister


Portrait of a Sister

I love to draw, I love to paint, I love to express myself creatively, and I am a person of deep faith and conviction. I can't imagine if the two of these parts of me, two of the things about myself that I identify with the strongest, were in conflict with one another.

Perhaps that's why I chose Portrait of a Sister, by Laura Bradford, for my July book club. In it, our protagonist is faced with just that, a conflict between her God-given gift of artistry, and her faith's doctrine against it. I'd never before considered how one might affect the other and I was immediately drawn to Katie's struggle.

This would be a doozie of a Delilah's Dilemma!

When their mother dies, Amish sisters, Katie and Hannah Beiler, are brought together again. Once upon an innocent time, they were inseparable, but Hannah chose to leave the fold and live the "Englisch" life in New York City while Katie, never questioning her future, stayed with the community in which she was born and raised.

After a lifetime of keeping her art hidden, Katie becomes caught up in Hannah’s “Englisch” life and discover that people admire her talent for drawing portraits, which are forbidden in Amish culture. Why would God give her such a gift if He did not want her to use It? It's not only this question, but developing romantic feelings for someone that is NOT the young Amish man, Abram Zook, she thought she would marry soon, that confuses Katie further. Add to it all, an influential art collector who wants to buy her sketches and you have the perfect recipe for a very muddled cocktail of emotional angst. 

Props to author, Laura Bradford, who beautifully portrays how the quiet war between the heart and head, faith and desire, can tear at our souls.

This book, from Kensington Publishing, is fiction at its finest, with heart and humanity prompting me to turn the page, turn the page, turn the page, until the very end. Grab a blanket, a glass of iced tea, find your favorite shade tree and indulge yourself. I know you'll enjoy it as I did!

Buy Portrait of a Sister

Mamma Mia Here We Go Again!

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The music of ABBA takes me back to roller skating with my high waist jeans and crop tops, Farrah Fawcett hair flying behind me...

I'm so ready to sing and dance, laugh and love, all over again!

I was thrilled to find out that an all-new original musical, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, is set to open this summer! Can. Not. Wait. And, are you ready for this? A woman, singer, actress, performer, entertainer I admire very much, Cher, is joining the cast!!!

The Soundtrack is going to be awesome!

You'll definitely want to get it before you see the movie, reprising your own role as the Dancing Queen, even if it's just in your kitchen!  The soundtrack will be available everywhere music is sold on July 13th.

But you don't even have to wait until then to get the single that features Cher; Fernando is available right now! Feel my excitement?

Cher: Fernando

The Album

Back again, for Mamma Mia, Here We Go Again, will be the original cast of characters, Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgård, Julie Walters, Dominic Cooper and Christine Baranski, returning to the magical Greek island of Kalokairi with the songs of ABBA rocking everyone into love and laughter.

I thought it couldn't get any better than this, but yes, yes it did, because this time around Cher is amongst the riotous crew as her character crashes her granddaughters party. And if that wasn't enough, Lily James and Andy Garcia will star as well! 

The fabulous musical comedy, 
Mamma Mia, Here We Go Again, opens July 20, 2018,

I have a goooooood feeling it will do just as well as the original,
massively successful movie of 2008!


It's time to step into your dancing shoes, lace up your skates, and bring out your best satin jacket, 'cuz the soundtrack to Mamma Mia, Here We Go Again, is rockin' and rollin'. 

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