Dobsons 411

Hanging on for the ultimate ride--God's great adventure.
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Location: Oregon

The author of fourteen contemporary and historical novels, Melanie Dobson lives with her family in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Her latest novels are Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor and Chateau of Secrets. More info at

Monday, July 23, 2007

Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture

Mary DeMuth’s latest book, Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture, is an honest look at raising children in a world where truth is relevant and black and white morality has blurred gray. She looks at how to live out truth today and demonstrates how to use the strengths of postmodern thinking to prepare our kids to live out their faith outside of home.

Communication is one of the best places to understand and help guard our children's hearts, and below is a great excerpt from Mary's book (supplied by Harvest House Publishers) about conversational parenting that is both spontaneous and purposeful.

“The word purposeful has many synonyms: resolved, determined, deliberate, intentional, committed, decided, resolute, fixed, persistent, tenacious. Antonyms include unintentional and purposeless. Look back over the ten synonyms and ask yourself the following questions.
  • Resolved. How have I resolved to connect with my children this year? Have I changed the way I approach my children since last year? Why or why not?
  • Determined. How have I been determined to really know my children’s hearts in the last two weeks?
  • Deliberate. What deliberate steps have I taken to reveal my heart to my children?
  • Intentional. How have I been intentional with each of my children? How have I tailored my words to each child this week?
  • Committed. Have I committed myself to knowing my children? How?
  • Decided. What have I decided about each child that prevents me from connecting with him or her? What barriers have I erected? What obstacles have my children put between us?
  • Resolute. How have I resolved this year to pursue the soul of each child? What prevents me from doing that?
  • Fixed. Have I become so busy that I have not fixed my schedule to meet the needs of my children? Am I interruptible? Is my schedule too fixed? Do I fully fix my attention on my children when they are in the room?
  • Persistent. When my children don’t engage with me, am I persistent? Do I relate more to the woman or the judge in this story: In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man. There was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, 'Give me legal protection from my opponent.” For a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, “Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out' (Luke 18:2-5 NASB).This is an amazing parable for parents. May we be persistent, pestering our children with our knocking at the door of their hearts. But so often we are like the reluctant judge, bothered by the interruptions of our children.
  • Tenacious. Are you a tenacious receiver and sender in the communication game? If a child blows you off, do you gather yourself and try again? How easily do you quit?
Purposeful communication happens when we dare to be tenacious parents who passionately pursue the soul of each child. The old adage applies to our communication with our children: They won’t care how much we know until they know how much we care. Within the context of a loving, safe home where parents pursue their children in a variety of ways, communication flourishes.”

For more information or to order Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture, visit Mary's blog.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Power of Fiction

I just finished reading Marlo Schalesky’s latest novel Veil of Fire, and it was one of the most intriguing historical novels I’ve ever read. The story is based on a real event—a fire that swept destroyed six towns and killed more than 400 people in Minnesota in 1894. After the fire, the people of Hinckley rebuilt their town, but a rumor began of a hermit who survived and lived in the hills—a person severely burned, disfigured beyond recognition. It could have been anyone’s mother or father or child, but the identity of the “ghost” remains a mystery.

Marlo decided to revive this almost forgotten legend and ask the question: “Who was the monster in the hills?” The answer is a beautifully written novel filled with mystery and truth.

Why does Marlo write fiction? In her own words…

Power of Fiction
by Marlo Schalesky

I love a powerfully told story. There’s nothing better than a good movie, or a great book. I love characters who show what truth looks like through lives lived and struggles fought. I love to see through another’s eyes, feel what they feel, experience life in a new and different way. I think we all do. That’s why movies and TV dramas are so popular. Fiction is great entertainment.

But it’s also more. It has the power to change lives, make a difference. By seeing through the eyes of another, by living vicariously through the lives of characters, by encountering the true God even in a made-up plot, I am touched, challenged, changed. I see God in new ways. My vision is broadened, deepened. And I discover truth with new clarity. Fiction lays bare the imperfections of my soul, stirs my doubts and questions, and drives me into the throne room of God. And that’s why I love writing fiction.

Through writing my latest novel, Veil of Fire, I have come to understand more fully that God’s love can’t be measured by my successes and failures. I’ve learned that my life, too, is a story that God is writing. And since the best stories have conflict, disappointments, and plenty of action, I shouldn’t be surprised when my life takes a turn and my faith is challenged once again.

And so I hope that my readers, too, will be changed and challenged through the power of story. I hope they will be encouraged to persevere through difficulties, to press closer to God, to not settle for the easy answers but wrestle with the tough questions of life and faith, to dig deeper with God. And that’s why I write fiction.

To find out more about Marlo and her books, visit her website at or order on Amazon.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Writers and Fish

If you haven’t been to the Atlanta aquarium, it’s breathtaking. Fish swim overhead above tangled vines and tanks with electric eels, glimmering piranha, and the creepy gray and pink arapaima. There are beluga whales, leafy seahorses, moon jellies, African penguins, and every kind and color of tropical fish in their amazing ocean display.

What was I doing in Atlanta last week (sans kids!)? I was at the annual Christian booksellers convention—catching up with friends, meeting with business contacts, and signing a few books. While I love the energy at ICRS, I was ready to escape for a few hours on Sunday afternoon so I joined the lines of tourists crowding into the new aquarium at Centennial Park.

As I rested on the floor in front of a 63-foot window, I marveled at the schools of cownose stingrays (fifty or more) gliding like eagles below the giant whale sharks. And I was at peace as I was reminded of the amazing details and differences in God’s creation.

In a convention filled with awards and well-known writers and bestselling products, it’s easy to sink into the trap of feeling lost and unimportant. But as I wandered around and looked at hundreds of different kinds of fish, God reminded me that not only did he design a spectacular underwater world, He created every person unique with distinct personalities and interests and stories to tell. Even if my talents seem small or insignificant compared to other writers, it doesn’t matter. I am who God made me, and I pray that I’m doing exactly what He wants me to do.