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How to Listen Like the Best Friend Ever

How to Listen Like the Best Friend Ever www.monahodgson.com

Nothing like a lesson in listening during lunch on a Thursday with me, myself, and I.

I ordered my Chili’s menu favorite—Caribbean Salad with Grilled Chicken. Next, I pulled a file folder from my tote, ready to edit a book chapter while waiting for the greens adorned with pineapple, mandarin oranges, dried cranberries, green onions, cilantro, chicken, and more.

Before I got my head into marking up the manuscript, my 30-something waitress greeted her customer and friend seated in the booth in front of mine. A couple minutes later, she slid onto the bench across from her older friend and began recounting a personal saga that involved her troubled teenage son.

I perused the pile of papers in my folder while employing a few techniques I learned as a writer studying people for character research.

Here’s what I observed:

The listening friend’s chin drooped.

Her eyes narrowed in empathy.

A sad sigh lifted her shoulders and dropped them.

Her hand reached across the table to lock fingers with her friend.

Her mouth seldom moved as she listened. What?!

That’s what compassion and sisterhood look like. That’s what we want in a best friend, right? (more…)

5 Easy Ways to Stay Focused While You Pray

5 Easy Ways to Stay Focused While You Pray www.monahodgson.com

Let me introduce you to my friend, Sarah.

Motivated by her own serious and chronic health struggles, Sarah Forgrave became a wellness coach who loves encouraging others in their health and faith journeys. Then she wrote a book, Prayers for Hope and Healing: Seeking God’s Strength as You Face Health Challenges. When Sarah isn’t writing or teaching, she loves to shop at Trader Joe’s or spend time with her husband and two children in their Midwest home. You can connect with Sarah on Facebook and Pinterest.

Prayers for Hope and Healing www.monahodgson.com

by Sarah Forgrave

If you’re anything like me, sometimes when you attempt to pray the next thing you know your mind is wandering to the grocery list, the kids’ schedule for the day, or what you’re going to make for breakfast.

Distraction happens. Especially when our intention is to pray. Click To Tweet

I’m not saying I have this thing mastered by any means, but I recently realized my prayer life has been much more focused lately.

Taking a closer look, I discovered some patterns that have helped me stay connected during prayer. So I thought I’d share them today, along with a couple other suggestions that friends have found helpful. (more…)

How Messes Can Help You Master Perspective

How Messes Can Help You Master Perspective www.monahodgson.com

For at least a dozen years, I daydreamed of gliding past awe-inspiring scenery in a posh passenger train.

A ride on Amtrak seemed a fitting party favor for celebrating forty-three years of marriage. Bound for Seattle on the final leg of our anniversary trip, my hubby and I boarded a non-stop rail ride in Vancouver, British Columbia.

I pressed my nose to the glass, centered on the surroundings as the behemoth shuddered from its perch in the station and rumbled through the train yard. Anticipation fluttered my insides as we rocked and swayed through the industrial area of Vancouver, where thick trees shrouded the suburban backdrop.

True to my daydreams, we glided past fairy tale villages. Baskets full of blooming pink and purple petunias adorned the homes and business on one side of the track. On the other, sailboats dotted the sea. Peninsulas draped in pine trees framed the water.

All too soon, the rails carried us beyond the baskets and the azure ripples along the peaceful shore. (more…)

7 Liberating Facts for Testing Your To-Do List

7 Liberating Facts for Testing Your To-Do List www.monahodgson.com

Celebrated images of strength and hotness, Wonder Woman and Superwoman, both products of DC Comics, are boot clad, cape waving testaments to woman power.

From their perfectly-proportioned physique to their super hero prowess, Wonder Woman and Superwoman influence the female race, generation after generation. As does the notion that we can do everything and anything with aplomb and precision. Women of all ages—women like me—attempt to fill the boots of the imaginary Everything Woman, our cape looking more like a tunic. (more…)

How Humbling Yourself in Your Time of Need Changes Everything

Let me introduce you to my friend, Tricia.

When I faced a tight deadline for writing my debut novel eight years ago, I sought counsel from Tricia Goyer. An award-winning storyteller, Tricia is also the author of the book Walk It Out: The Radical Result of Living God’s Word One Step at a Time.

Motivated by her own experience of being a teen mom and the women who supported her, Tricia has a heart for mentoring teen moms and their families. Before moving to Arkansas, Tricia co-founded Hope Pregnancy Ministries in Northwestern Montana. She currently leads a Teen MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) Group in inner-city Little Rock. Tricia and the love of her life, husband John, are the parents of ten and grandparents of two. Follow Tricia Twitter or Facebook.

Humbling Yourself in Your TIme of Need Changes Everything www.monahodgson.com

by Tricia Goyer

The other day I was cooking dinner when my six-year-old son rushed into the kitchen. Beads of sweat slid down his red face. “I’m so hot. You never get me anything to drink.”

I stirred my spaghetti sauce with one hand as I turned to him. “Excuse me?”

His voice rose in a full, high-pitched whine. “You never give me anything to drink!” He waved his hands and dropped to the floor. (more…)

When Your Plans Go Sideways: 3 Secrets to Finding Your Feet Again

When Your Plans Go Sideways: 3 Secrets to Finding Your Feet Again. www.monahodgson.com

Plans change.

I hear your deep sigh, and raise you one.

If you sighed with me, you’re likely a planner too. Or maybe your groan results from you having faced so much change this year that you’re over it.

If you’ve been following my blog, you may have noticed I’ve not posted a new post for a year and a half.

I’m back! With new stories to share with you.

You may be a friend who connected with me early on. Might have been my weekly newspaper column in the early 1990s or when my first children’s books were published nearly twenty years ago. Perhaps you found me through my historical novels and novellas these past eight years. Whenever and however you came to connect with me, I’m glad you did.

Let’s talk some about the journey we’ve been on.

(more…)

3 Effective Ways to Overcome Overwhelmed

3 Effective Ways to Overcome Overwhelmed www.monahodgson.com

Frustration and irritation will bubble just beneath the surface of our shuddering emotions, and if left unattended they will build steam and erupt into a full blown geyser. Perhaps today you’re battling the emotional boil that can come with feeling overwhelmed.

That was me. Frustration formed an underground spring out of I don’t even know what.

When we allow something—albeit a seemingly small disappointment or delay—to simmer inside us, it doesn’t take much else to switch the simmer to boil. (more…)

9 Powerful Prayers for the Debut of Your New Day

9 Powerful Prayers for the Debut of Your New Day. www.monahodgson.com

*The baby cries.

A dream startles us.

The dog jumps onto the bed.

Hubby snorts in his sleep.

The alarm sounds off.

Something wakes us up.

We listen for the baby.

Scold the dog.

Nudge the hubby.

Yawn.

Hit the snooze button.

Whatever we do in our not-sure-I’m-ready-to-be-awake moments, we can pack more power into our waking routine. (more…)

7 Truths for Stabilizing Your Steps into the Unknown

7 Truths for Stabilizing Your Steps into the Unknown. www.monahodgson.com

Have you had to step into the unknown lately? Perhaps you’re standing on the edge of change this very minute.

I’m with you on that journey.

Change can sometimes taunt us like a hungry bear, threatening to swallow us whole, along with our resolve to take the necessary steps into something new.

Why is turning away from what we know as our normal—good or bad—to face the unknown so intimidating?

The nature of the unknown is, well, not known to us, which comes with its own kind of scary. Click To Tweet

For dreamers and planners like myself, the unknown can be daunting.  (more…)

Why the Jersey Shore? Why Seaside?

Gayle_Roper

I’m super excited to welcome today’s guest blogger — Gayle Roper! Gayle is one of my really-long-time writing buddies and one of my mentors, both in writing and in directing writers’ conferences.

Gayle has a new book out and we’re celebrating with a story behind the story and a book giveaway. Please welcome Gayle!

 

WHY THE JERSEY SHORE? WHY SEASIDE?

As I drive across the 9th Street Causeway into Ocean City, NJ, I take a great breath of the crisp sea air. I love coming here, and am glad for my high school class reunion lunch being held here. Any excuse to visit one of my favorite places. I will sit on the balcony of my hotel room, enjoy the sun, watch the ocean, walk the boardwalk, and buy some outstanding Johnson’s caramel popcorn.

When I was a kid, my maternal grandparents had a boarding house, the Brookburn, in Ocean City, and for years I spent every July with them. A family who had a daughter my age also spent July at the Brookburn, and I would go to the beach with them every day. I still remember the ditty the daughter made up about me.

Gayle the whale was very pale

Because she drank some ginger ale.

If I had been overweight, I’m sure I’d have been scarred for life, but I was a skinny kid. I could never decide if I should be honored to be the subject of her poetry or offended at the mockery in it.

When I was in college, I worked four summers in Ocean City as a waitress. I loved spending my free time at the beach or with the college age kids who gathered at the Baptist church in town. One Tuesday night a guy named Chuck Roper came to the group. Since I was going with someone at the time, it was a year and a half before he and I went out for the first time, and the rest, as they say, is history.

The wonderful coincidence to my meeting Chuck in Ocean City is that my mom met my father there too. She went on a date to dinner at a restaurant on the boardwalk that had live music. The trumpeter was a handsome guy who took one look at Mom and played his solo directly to her. The name of Mom’s date is unknown, but Mom came back every night to hear Dad as he played to her.

Is it any wonder I have set several of my novels in Seaside, my fictional version of Ocean City? Seaside Gifts, released in August, is a fun romance with a touch of mystery. It takes place in a boardwalk gift shop called Present Perfect. Someone keeps leaving valuable things at the shop, and Nan calls the police because she doesn’t know what to do with these things. Our hero Rog comes to her rescue.

I also visit Seaside in a novella called Special Delivery and found in The Boy Next Door, released in October. A package with the right address but the wrong name is delivered to Kelli who is spending her first Thanksgiving away from family. Dane helps her survive the holiday as well as find the proper recipient for the package.

If you’d like to visit Seaside with me, I would love to give an electronic copy of each book to two lucky people.

Have you ever been to the Jersey Shore? Ocean City? Seaside?

BOOK GIVEAWAY

Include your email address with your comment for easy notification. The drawing takes place Sunday, 11/8/2015, at midnight. Gayle is giving away an electronic copy of both Seaside Gifts and The Boy Next Door to the winner of the drawing. NOTE: Please include your email address with your comment on the post.

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