Secrets of Confidence by Ramona Richards

A 60-Day Devotional for the Inner You

What a treasure! This book is filled with 60 days of devotional thoughts designed to build, restore, or renew a woman’s confidence that lies with God.

Drawing from Biblical examples and from the author’s own experiences, this book contains short devotions that begin with a scripture reference.

Topics covered include encouraging others, inner peace, endurance, courage, reliance on God, risk, and facing difficult times.

Each devotion takes less than five minutes to read yet gives food for thought as you begin your day.

I’ve read novels by Ramona Richards and enjoyed them. Recommend!

-Sandra Merville Hart




At the Foot of the Cross

It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun had stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.   Luke 23:44-45.

I’ve had the pleasure of staying at a beautiful North Carolina Christian conference center built on the Blue Ridge mountainside. It contains a large cross visible from part of the campus.

A dear friend of mine loves to room at the building closest to the cross, where she has a clear view of the impressive symbol of death and life. “I feel like I am sitting at the foot of the cross when I stay here.”

The cross symbolizes peace, made possible by Jesus’ sacrifice. It symbolizes hope of eternal life in Heaven, a place with no tears. It comforts the grieving. It offers forgiveness to all willing to receive it and clears the path to eternal life in Heaven.

However, the cross was also a scene of death, agony, contempt, and derision. Soldiers, the chief priest, elders, and teachers mocked Jesus openly, now that He was dying. Those passing by hurled insults at Him. Even one of the robbers crucified at His side ridiculed Him.

The Son of God bled to save them from their sins even as they scorned His sacrifice.

Then God turned His back on His Son for the first and only time. The sun stopped shining for three hours as Jesus hung suspended between Heaven and Earth. Something momentous was happening.

God turned a cruel method of execution into a symbol of peace, hope, and forgiveness for all of us.

The power of the cross is love—a Son’s obedient love for His Father and God’s sacrificial love for all His children.

He wants us to spend eternity with Him so badly that He paid the price of our admittance.

At the foot of the cross. Sounds like a good place to begin our journey.

-Sandra Merville Hart

Traditional New Mexican Red Chile Enchiladas

Today’s recipe has been written by Norma Gail, fellow author and friend. She shares a recipe from her upcoming release. I can’t wait to try it. Welcome back to Historical Nibbles, Norma!

Bonny Bryant, the main character in my novels, Land of My Dreams and Within Golden Bands, is a New Mexico native transplanted to Scotland. She introduces handsome Scottish sheep farmer, Kieran MacDonell, to New Mexican food and he is soon hooked. Bonny loves to cook, and her friends in the mountains outside Albuquerque keep her supplied with the chile she craves. New Mexican food is a great way to warm up on a dreich and drookit day in Scotland or anywhere else. One of my favorites and Bonny’s are traditional red chile enchiladas.

Enchiladas originated in old Mexico. New Mexico was part of the land ceded to the U.S. by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848 following the Mexican-American War. One of the rich traditions that has endured is the food. New Mexico chilies were first grown by the Pueblo Indians and have a rich, piquant aroma, varying in sweetness and heat. Both red and green varieties were quickly adapted as a sauce for enchiladas by Spanish explorers seeking the fabled Seven Cities of Gold, including Hernán Cortés.

Enchiladas, a combination of corn tortillas, chile sauce, and meat, are either rolled or served flat and filled. They can be topped with cheese, onion, lettuce, and tomatoes.

1 lb. of hamburger

Diced onion

Minced garlic

Corn tortillas (about 3 per person)

2 tbsp. butter, melted

2 tbsp. flour

2 – 8 oz. cans of tomato sauce

Red chile powder

Grated cheddar cheese

Fried eggs

Brown 1 lb. of hamburger or shredded chicken with diced onion and garlic.

Fry tortillas until almost crisp.

Make a sauce by melting 2 tbsp. of butter and whisking in 2 tbsp of flour, 2 – 8 oz. cans of tomato sauce, red chile powder to taste, and enough water to make it the desired consistency. Bring to a boil while stirring.

Stack tortillas, filling between with meat mixture and chile sauce. Top with a fried egg, grated cheese, and serve with a side of lettuce and tomato.

Makes 3-4 servings.

About Norma Gail:

Norma Gail’s debut novel, Land of My Dreams, won the 2016 Bookvana Religious Fiction Award. Within Golden Bands releases May 19th. A women’s Bible study leader for over 21 years, her devotionals have appeared in several publications. She lives in New Mexico with her husband of 44 years.

Book Blurb for Within Golden Bands

Newlyweds Bonny and Kieran MacDonell grieve the loss of her miracle pregnancy while struggling to discover the identity of the man who left Kieran beaten and unconscious. Reeling from the threat to her husband and loss of their child, Bonny fights to hold her marriage together as danger destroys the peace of their sheep farm on the banks of Loch Garry, Scotland. Will they choose to trust God when his ways are impossible to fathom?


Faith and Romance on the Frontier Facebook Party

You’re invited to a Facebook Party for Smitten Frontier books!

Come and join the authors of Smitten Historical Romance to welcome Spring as they discuss their books, have a few games and giveaways, and more! Find a new favorite book, and learn a bit more about the authors behind them.

I am one of the nine authors you can meet on April 10th at an online Facebook party from 3 – 8 pm EDT.

I will be talking about Trail’s End, my novella in The Cowboys, Smitten Historical Romance Collection.

Wade Chadwick has no money until his boss’s cattle sell, so he takes a kitchen job at Abby’s Home Cooking. The beautiful and prickly owner adds spice to his workday. Abby Cox hires the down-and-out cowboy even though the word cowboy leaves a bad taste in her mouth. Just as she’s ready to trust Wade with her heart, money starts to disappear … and so does her brother.

I’ll also discuss A Rebel in My House, my Civil War romance set during the tragic Battle of Gettysburg.

When cannons roar outside Sarah Hubbard’s Gettysburg home, a heart-wrenching decision to help a wounded Tennessee soldier leads to more trouble than she imagines, especially when she falls in love with Jesse. He has promised his sister-in-law he’d bring his brother home from the war. Sarah promises her sister she’d stay clear of Jesse. Can the two keep their promises amid a war bent on tearing their country apart?

Authors attending are Jodie Wolfe, Denise Weimer, Donna Schlachter, Cindy Regnier, Linda Yezak, Sandra Merville Hart, Cindy Ervin Huff, and Naomi Musch. If you’re a writer interested in talking to an editor, there’s even an “Ask the Editor” segment!

My specific slot is 5:30 – 6:00. Here’s the link: (PLEASE NOTE-the link has changed to a Facebook group)

The grand prize is a $50 Amazon gift card! There will be other prizes. Hope you can join us!

-Sandra Merville Hart

Surrounded by Art by Thomas R. Schiff

Panoramic Views of America’s Landmark Museums

Beautifully done book!

If you love history, museums, architecture, or photography, you will love this book. The panoramic views that this photographer has perfected inspire the imagination.

My niece looked at the photographs captured in this book and told me we had to visit these museums.

I looked at the beautiful shots taken at such places as Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Cincinnati Art Museum, Contemporary Arts Center, Chrysler Museum of Art, Des Moines Art Center, Seattle Art Museum, Museum of Modern Art, Museum of Fine Arts, and many others with an appreciation for the beauty captured.

The book includes an interview with Thomas R. Schiff, the photographer.

I would place this book in the category of coffee table book, gift book, and photography book.

A true page-turner!

-Sandra Merville Hart


Written on His Hand

“See I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.”   Isaiah 49:16a

“Mom, do you know what this word says?” my teenaged daughter asked me, revealing a Hebrew word on her upturned palm.

I shook my head.

“It’s God’s name.  He wrote my name on His hand, so I wrote His name on mine.”  She explained that while on a retreat, she and the other girls put Yahweh on their hands using a henna, a kind of temporary tattoo.

My daughter inspired me. I thought about God’s huge hand that measured the waters of the earth (Isaiah 40: 12).  Surely the hand that marked off the Heavens could hold a vast number of names–that includes yours and mine!

Just like my daughter, it gives me a special feeling to know that my Heavenly Father thinks so highly of me that He etched my name on the palm of His hand.  It’s a constant reminder of how greatly God cherishes His children.

If we could grasp how precious we are to God, I think it would alter the way we view ourselves forever.  We are of great worth to God.

My daughter definitely understood that having her name engraved on God’s Hand makes her special in His eyes.  As I watch her faith grow, my own faith deepens.  As precious as she is to me, she is even more precious to God.

The current craze of tattoos has people placing symbols on themselves that are meaningful to them.  It seems God thought of this first.  His loved ones are written on the palm of His hand.

-Sandra Merville Hart

Carolina Reckoning by Lisa Carter

A page-turner!

Alison Monaghan finally has the proof she never wanted—a photograph that proves her husband has been unfaithful to her. She’s ready to confront him when he returns from his latest trip.

She never sees him alive again.

Instead he is found dead on a lonely road near a historic park where he serves on the board.

Mike Barefoot, the homicide detective assigned to the case, immediately suspects Alison even as his heart goes out to her teenaged son and daughter. It isn’t long before Mike trusts in Alison’s innocence, yet protecting her becomes a challenge.

Driven by a need to discover the truth, Alison takes a job at the historic park near the location of her husband’s death—against Mike’s advice.

Her growing feelings for Mike can’t prevent her from seeking the truth. Danger lurks as Alison digs deeper. Is any place safe?

I found myself pulling for the whole family because the author shows their struggles with cruel acquaintances they’d once considered friends. The budding romance between Mike and Alison also shows how they both struggle with past relationships and circumstances. Can they overcome mounting obstacles before someone else dies?

Recommend! I will look for more novels by this author.

-Sandra Merville Hart




Milk Shake Recipe

Spring is in the air—at least, I hope so!—and I’m looking forward to warmer weather, walks in the park, and picnics.

I found this recipe for milk shakes that is easy to vary. If you have a blender, you can make this.

I had chocolate truffle ice cream in my freezer. The recipe calls for 1 – 2 scoops—I used 2 scoops for a single 16-ounce serving.

Pour ¾ cup of milk into the blender. Add ice cream. Next, the recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract (or 2 tablespoons of your choice of syrup.) I love the vanilla flavor so I chose the vanilla extract.

Replace blender lid and blend a few seconds or until desired consistency.

I put a dollop of whipped cream for my husband, which he appreciated.

The shake turned out smooth and creamy. I liked it, yet 2 teaspoons of extract overpowered the flavor. All I tasted was vanilla. I’d cut the amount of extract at least in half. For a single serving, ½ teaspoon extract should be sufficient to flavor the drink without overpowering the ice cream. I’m thinking that orange extract with vanilla ice cream would be delicious!

Also, there are many syrups that you could try instead—chocolate, caramel, coffee, peppermint, strawberry, and raspberry to name a few. Varying the syrups and the ice cream flavor will make this a fun summer treat for your child’s parties, picnics, and family gatherings.


-Sandra Merville Hart


Revised by Cunningham, Marion and Laber, Jeri. The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, Alfred A Knopf Inc., 1983.



10 Family-Friendly Things to do During our Stay-At-Home

Many of us are staying at home right now. We are working from home while our children are off from school.

In thinking of positive things to do during this time, I’ve already washed my curtains and plan to do some spring cleaning as time allows, but let’s have fun with our loved ones while soccer practices and dance lessons are cancelled.

Here are a few ideas:

1) Movie night

Take turns selecting movies so that everyone gets into the fun while making sure that the show is appropriate for each person in the room. Don’t forget the popcorn!

2) Themed dinner nights such as:

Meatloaf Monday or burgers

Taco Tuesday

Wacky Wednesday can be hodge-podge meal of menu items that don’t normally go together like Spaghetti and peanut butter sandwiches. Ask your children for ideas—they’ll be creative!

Thermal Thursday—spicy dishes or soup and sandwiches

Fish Friday

3) Puzzles

Put up your card table, if possible, so that you can leave the puzzle out for a few days depending on how fast you work.

4) If your budget allows, order carryout meals for your family. Pizza, chicken, burgers, wings, and sandwiches will be a treat and will also help our favorite restaurants make it through these challenging times.

5) Board game night

Many of us have a few board games on a shelf. Dust them off and plan a fun game night. Take turns allowing each person—no matter their age—to select the next game. Doing this helps with grumbling because each one knows their turn is coming to select a game.

6) Make dessert together.

Do you have a delicious chocolate cake recipe? Does you banana bread always get compliments? Do your children love your chocolate chip cookies? Invite them to bake a batch with you. It may be messy but messes can be cleaned. The fun your children have creating their favorite dessert is worth biting your tongue and keeping the atmosphere light and happy.

7) Video game night

Remember those video games in your cabinet? Why not use them in that gaming system none of you have thought of for months? Take turns playing each one’s favorites.

8) Silly Saturday—have some silly fun with your family!

a. Wear pajamas all day

b. Eat breakfast food for supper

c, Crazy hair day—on purpose!

d. Ask your children for silly ideas and select one.

9) Stay active!

a. Enjoy some fresh air and sunshine. If possible, play in the yard. Sit on your balcony or porch. Walk in the park if it’s open, maintaining social distance.

b. Create dance steps to your favorite song. Involve as many family members as possible. Consider input from everyone in the home. Practice the steps and then take a video. Share it if you like. Your video will encourage others.

c. Many of us have exercise DVDs tucked away in the cabinet. Pull them out and do one daily.

10) Read a book!

This is the perfect time to curl up with a good book. If you want new selections, it’s very easy to buy print books and eBooks. Authors are small businesses too.


Many churches are live-streaming worship services so this will help us stay connected to others too.

I hope this list sparked ideas for fun activities with your family. I’d love to hear about it if you’d like to share.

I am saying a prayer for the health and safety for all my loved ones. If you’re reading this, you’re included! Stay safe and healthy. Love to all.

-Sandra Merville Hart

Transplanted Tree at the Alamo

My husband and I traveled to San Antonio, Texas, last year. While there, we visited the Alamo. In addition to the historical significance of the battle fought there in 1836, we walked through its beautiful gardens.

One of the trees caught my eye. The oak tree had been transported in 1912. What makes that more significant is that the large tree was already forty-years-old at the time! The tree has been alive since 1872.

In 1912, Walter Whall accomplished a feat by moving a large tree. He carefully dug up the tree and removed dirt from the roots. It was loaded onto a cart. Four mules pulled the heavy tree through the streets. Avoiding knocking against telegraph and power lines were Whall’s greatest challenge with the transport.

The Alamo Live Oak has flourished in the Alamo’s courtyard for 108 years. Sitting beside an abandoned well, heavy limbs rest against the ground at points and then reach toward the sky again.

The tree’s circumference measures 12 feet, 9 inches and it stands at just over 39 feet. An impressive history for a tree that somehow demands notice.

May it thrive another 148 years.

-Sandra Merville Hart


Maeckle, Monika. “Heritage Tree: Live Oak at the Alamo,” Rivard Report, 2020/01/03

Heritage Tree: Live Oak at the Alamo


Rico, Sharon. “Remember the Alamo (and its gardens),” Daily Republic, 2020/01/03