How to use Mailerlite:

Purpose & Introduction

If you’re confused about how a landing page works and how it integrates with email, this article will show you. From the user’s point of view, the sequence and flow provided here is fairly applicable regardless of specific product implementation.

Basic Mailerlite examples for setup are included for those wishing to accomplish these tasks. Mailerlite integrates landing pages, email subscriptions, email campaigns, reports, and associated tasks. It provides its full suite of functionality even in its free option, which differs from most or all other emailer products. You can use Mailerlite for free if your number of subscribers doesn’t exceed 1,000.

When I began this process, I was a novice. This article is prompted by others I’ve seen who also are confused about the landing page use and setup. It is written at a basic level, with basic functionality, to help other confused souls get started. J

If you want to see the flow first, skip ahead to the How to Test section. This will help you understand what the landing page does, and how it can be used.


Preconditions for Mailerlite setup examples:

  • You have created an account with Mailerlite.
  • You have logged in to your Mailerlite account.
  • You have added subscribers (this one may be optional).
  • You have created at least one group.



A Landing Page integrated with email subscription and giveaway option includes the following, in the order encountered by a subscriber:

  • Landing Page
  • Success Page
  • Confirmation Email
  • Confirmation Thank You Page
  • Optional location for a giveaway

We’ll show you how to create these in Mailerlite, then test by running through the sequence to be used by potential customers.

Select the Forms menu option in the green band at the top.

    Landing Page


Either select one of your forms to edit, or Click on Create Landing Page.

For most of this example, I’ll be Editing FreeDoc1.


If you select Create Landing Page, this is displayed. We’ll run through the first few – unique to the Create page process – screens for a new landing page we’ll name Connections. Then we’ll swing back to the edit screens for FreeDoc1, which don’t significantly differ from those in the rest of the Create process.

As shown in the screen shot, the Landing Page Name is for your internal use, and you may change it later if you choose. In my edit, FreeDoc1 is the Landing Page Name.

We’ll create a new landing page called Connections to show you how the Create Landing Page works in areas where it differs from editing an existing landing page.

Click the “Save and continue” button.

When creating a new landing page, this takes us to Select Subscriber Groups. You can select one of your existing groups, or click the “Add new group” button toward the top right. We’re going to select an existing group. This determines the group or groups to which your landing page subscribers will be automatically added when they sign up. If this is not set, your email sign-up will not work!

Click the “Save and continue” button when finished.


This takes us to the Choose Template section. I’ve been using the Ebook template. Hovering over a template offers “Preview” and “Select” options. I’ll select Ebook.

Here it is in its original form:

At this point, the Create and Edit flows become pretty much the same.


Hover over the area you want to edit, which will display a box around the area you’re selecting. Small circles display the actions to be taken. Click on the circle with the image that looks like a pencil and paper.


To the right, there is a “Blocks” area and a “Design” area. You can add blocks to your form for the items you want to include. To specify the detail within the blocks, click on Design.

Note that the form edit includes both a “Landing page” and a “Success page” in the black bar at the top above the form. It begins by default with the Landing Page, which is what we’ve been creating or editing.

Note the scroll bar to the right of the form display. There may be an additional scroll bar to the right of the Blocks or Design display.


When you’re finished designing your Landing Page, make sure you click above for the Success Page. You may Preview either page, but DON’T click the “Next” button in the upper right until you have completed both pages, or you’ll want to come back and edit them to suit your needs later.


    Success Page

The Success Page is the page that will be displayed to the user immediately upon clicking the Landing Page button after entering their information. This page is NOT where the user will be directed to whatever freebie you may be providing, assuming you’re using a double opt-in with signup verification via confirmation email (which you should do). You don’t need to provide a freebie – that’s an option, and we’ll get to it.


Your Success page should direct the user to check their email for a verification or confirmation message. Again, use the Blocks and Design areas to the right to complete your edit.


In your editing process, when you’ve completed the look and feel design of both the Landing page and Success page, click the “Next” button at the top right. (You’re not done yet.) “Next” will take you to an area where you complete your Page Settings.


Double opt-in should be showing ON in green to the right (if not, then set it).


Then you set the Page Settings.

The landing page URL – and this example does NOT use a Custom URL – initially will be something like<aListOfCharacters>. Since I have not used a custom URL, I have set only the portion to the right of the last slash character.


Set your Page Title, Keywords, and Description.

Below the Page Settings are the Facebook Share settings. Set the Title, Description, and upload an Image. When finished, click the “Save and continue” button at the bottom.

Then, if you haven’t already, select or edit Subscriber group or groups. This is the group (or groups) to which a subscriber will be added automatically when they sign up with their email information. This is a critical setting because if you don’t select a subscriber group, the email signup can’t work. If you set this when you created your Landing Page, you don’t need to edit it here. Just make sure it’s set as desired.

Click “Save and continue”. This will take you back to a summary page from which you can edit your work. This screen shot shows only the top third of the Edit options. We aren’t done yet!

    Confirmation Page

When you are finished with those options, note the horizontal list of items below the Form name that you set for your Landing Page: “Landing Page Settings” (which we have just completed), “Stats” (we won’t use that yet), “Confirmation Email” (we’ll do this next), and “Confirmation Thank You page” (we’ll do that, too).


    Confirmation Email

Click on “Confirmation Email”. This is the verification email message that will be sent to the user when they click the button on the Landing page where they have entered their email address.


Fill in the Subject and Sender fields.

Edit the email message using the Blocks and Settings options to the right.


See at the top of the message area where it says: Thank you {$name} for your interest in our newsletter!


This will automatically fill in the contents of the “name” field in the Subscriber record, when the message is sent.


Note: The Subscriber record has both a “name” and a “last name” field. When you first add the Subscriber manually, you see the “name” field displayed but not the “last name”. Click on the option for “more fields” to see where you can add last name, company, phone number, city, state, country. If you stick both first and last names in the “name” field, that’s what will display (in theory) in the email message. I try to remember to put only the first name in the “name” field, and put the last name in the “last name” field.


Similarly, in the text of the message, the {$email} will automatically fill in the user’s email address that they entered when they signed up. You probably won’t want to change much of the text there. (The “Confirm your email” button is integrated in Mailerlite to function as it should. You probably wouldn’t want to edit this, even if it’s possible to do so.)


When finished, click “Next” in the upper right. You’ll go back to a summary of what you’ve just completed, with options to Edit your work again.


    Confirmation Thank You Page

When your work on the Confirmation Email is complete, click on the Confirmation Thank You page option. THIS is the page where you would consider the option to provide a link to a free file of some kind.


Set your message and text using the Blocks and Settings to the right. Continue reading below the screen shot to see how to set your link.



Here’s how you set up your link.

Hover over the area you want to edit, and click on the pencil.

When you click to edit the Button, you get this:

Set the text you want to appear on the button, over to the right under the BUTTON label. Beneath that, where the little chain image indicates a Link, enter the URL to which the user should be directed upon clicking the Button. (If that’s in Dropbox, Dropbox will provide the URL for you to use when you set up the document there. See the Dropbox section at the end of this document for further information.) For TARGET, there is the option to open that link in a new tab.


Click Save at the bottom.

Click Preview if you want.

Click Next.

You’ll go back to an editable summary of what you just completed.



I have not set my own landing page.

Click Save at the bottom left.


Take note of your Landing Page URL that you set. If you’ve forgotten it, click on that Landing page near the top, to find it.

Use your browser to check out and test your landing page.



    How to Test


The process:

  • We go to the Landing Page
  • We enter our subscriber information and click on the subscribe/ signup button.
  • The Success Page is automatically displayed. The message there directs us to check our email at the address we have just provided.
  • We go to our email and check for new messages. We click the confirmation button in the email message.
  • The Confirmation Thank You page is automatically displayed. Optionally, it may contain a button or other link to a “freebie” file.
  • (Optional) Clicking on the link to the free file takes us to the location to view and/or download the file.


Let’s follow through with our example.


First, we go to our Landing Page URL in our browser.

Sign up…

You can keep testing with the same email address, but Mailerlite will add it to your Subscribers list only once. Avoiding duplicates is a nice feature!


We’re automatically shown our Success Page after clicking the button.

We go to our Confirmation Email:

Click on the “Confirm your email” button.

We’re taken automatically to the Confirmation Thank You Page.

    Optional freebie file

Click on the button to receive our Guide.

We’re automatically taken to the URL we entered for the link to our document. In this case, it’s in Dropbox.




    Link to your landing page

If you want to provide a link to the landing page in your book…

Here’s the link in the book:

Clicking the blue link takes you to the Landing Page here,

where you enter your email address, your name, and confirm you are not a robot.

The rest is the same as what we did above to test our process.




    Dropbox documents

You may want to read the “How to use the Public folder.rtf” file in your Dropbox Public folder. This is displayed in the righthand preview section of the screenshot provided below.

You would copy your document to your Public folder in Dropbox.

Right click on the file you want to make accessible to your subscribers, and select the “Copy Dropbox link” option. You won’t see anything different, but you’ll be able to paste that URL into the area for your link in a Mailerlite form. (Note the Dropbox statement that this needs to use an actual file, not a folder.)

In our example, this link is used in the Button settings (link field) of the Confirmation Thank You page form.


Admittedly very basic, but also simple enough to get the concept and get started – I hope this article has been helpful!

12 Days of Christmas in Review

By Ruth L. Snyder

Thanks for joining us for our version of the 12 Days of Christmas! We hope that you have met some new authors and enjoyed or shared some new books that will become treasured additions to your bookshelf.

We have one more book to introduce to you—an anthology from Canadian Christian writers: Want to warm your soul for the holidays? Unwrap the true meaning of gift giving with a treasure trove of festive tales.

 Sometimes, the best gift is a great story. With 62 heartfelt accounts of the true meaning of Christmas, this anthology is sure to fill even the grouchiest Scrooge with holiday spirit.

Christmas with Hot Apple Cider: Stories from the Season of Giving and Receiving is an eclectic collection of true stories, short fiction, and poetry. With 55 featured authors and poets, the anthology provides a diverse and multidimensional look at the traditions, teachings, and values surrounding the birth of Jesus. Be inspired to share your own stories with the world as you discover a fresh appreciation of the holiday season.

In Christmas with Hot Apple Cider, you’ll delight in stories about:

  • An immigrant family puzzling over unfamiliar North American customs
  • Grandparents passing down a family tradition to a young grandchild
  • An octogenarian remembering the day receiving a Christmas gift was nothing short of a miracle
  • A Jewish child longing to celebrate Christmas
  • A teacher witnessing the joy of a simple gift at a Nigerian orphanage
  • A writer struggling to create a meaningful presentation about the innkeeper
  • An Old Order Mennonite teen experiencing Handel’s Messiah live at Massey Hall
  • Two women answering a call for help from a remote First Nations community

This anthology boasts inspirational stories you and your family will want to read again and again. If you like the Chicken Soup for the Soul books, strong Christian themes, and stories that make you laugh and cry, then you’ll love this must-have stocking stuffer.

If you missed any of the days, here is a summary of the authors and books:

December 13

Jennifer Waddle

Worst Christmas Break Ever


December 14

Ruth L. Snyder

Equipped: Ephesians 6 Devotionals to Empower and Make

You Victorious in Everyday Struggles


December 15

Toni Crowe

Bullets and Bosses Don’t Have Friends


December 16

Janis Cox

Tadeo Turtle


December 17

Marcia Laycock

Love in the Room


December 18

Kevin Cunningham

Time With God


December 19

Paula Reinbold

Summer of the Phoenix


December 20

Janis Cox

Kingdom of Thrim


December 21

Marcia Laycock



December 22

Ruth L. Snyder

Twitter Decoded


December 23

Toni Crowe

The Daytime Lives of the Ladies of the Night


December 24

Summary Post/Wrap Up

Christmas with Hot Apple Cider

 Merry Christmas!


What Is Success To You ?

 The Daytime Lives of the Ladies of the Night is the follow-up to the debut memoir by Toni Crowe. The Daytime Lives makes you think about your life and your definition of success.

Have  you ever wondered: “What do the women who sell their bodies and souls at night do in the daytime?  What do these women want out of life?

This follow-up to Never a $7 Wh**e continues to detail the lives of three escorts: Baby, Essence, Irish and their new  trainee, Tee.

As the four ladies struggle with the isolation associated with how they are living, The Daytime Lives of the Ladies of the Night reminds us that peace is within anyone’s reach, if they have the desire and determination to change their destinies.

 Excerpt from Daytime Lives of the Ladies of the Night ***

 Prince turned to me and said, “Hey, I need you to do me a favor.”

I looked at him suspiciously and responded with, “Oh, a favor?”

He said, “Yeah. I left my wallet at home, so I don’t have any money on me. I owe Ed here five hundred dollars. Ed said if I don’t give him his five hundred dollars right now, he’s going to have his two guys take me out in the bush and beat the living shit out of me until they get five hundred dollars’ worth.”

I was stunned. Even though Essence had told me something was coming, I was still stunned by what Prince was trying to do to me. My grandfather had called this one the “You a Sucker” scam. It worked well as long as the sucker thought they were saving a loved one from a horrible fate. The scam took many forms, and Prince was playing his version out pretty well. I guessed he had run this scam a hundred times.

I innocently asked, “What does this have to do with me, Prince?” I knew my mark.

“Well, Ed thinks you are one sexy woman. He said that if you would give him a blowjob, he’ll write off the entire five hundred dollars. There’s a bedroom upstairs. You and he can go up there discreetly. Once you give him a blowjob, he will forgive the entire five hundred dollars.”

I said, “Prince, I want to make sure I understand. You owe him five hundred dollars?”

“Yes, I owe him five hundred dollars,” Prince said.

“You don’t have the five hundred dollars with you?” I asked.

“No,” Prince said.

“But I’m certain we have five hundred dollars back at Tara, back at the house,” I responded sweetly.

Prince didn’t miss a beat and said, “Yes, but Ed is not willing to wait for it. He wants his money right now. So you have to give him a blowjob right now.”

Prince looked deep into my eyes, and he said, “How much do you love me? How deep is your love? Are you willing to see me beat to crap over a single, lousy blowjob?”

I winced, thinking about how ashamed I was to be in this situation. My grandfather would spin in his grave. Prince took my wince to mean he had gotten to me—that he was winning this game.

He pressed on. “How much do you care about me? If you cared for me, you would do this for me.”

I stared at the floor. I could feel any love I had left for him sliding out of my feet and out onto the floor like a living thing. I was a mark, nothing more. I was a sucker for this man. Prince thought he had me.

His voice was soft and sweet. “Tee, you would make sure I don’t get hurt. You would be my girl. You would be my savior. It’s one lousy blowjob.”

I said, “Yes, you’re right. How much money do we owe him again? I want to make sure I understand.”

He confirmed the debt was five hundred dollars, and then he smiled that beautiful hundred-watt smile at me, knowing I was going to acquiesce. I stood up at the same time that Ed did, and he reached for my hand. I did not take his hand. Instead, I reached into my purse. I pulled out the money I had stuffed in with my lipstick earlier. I had six hundred dollars. I counted out five hundred dollars for Ed, and I handed it to him.

I looked at Prince and said, “There is nothing I wouldn’t do for you, baby. I think we have a much better solution.”

At that moment, I knew that I was one blessed woman. I had struggled with telling Essence where her little boy was. I was so worried about the consequences if Prince or Baby had found out. But I was all in. My heart told me that I needed to tell Essence and so I did. Her heads-up regarding this situation had prepared me for something unusual. Her money had helped me escape this time.

End Excerpt

Author Bio

Toni Crowe is an award winning and accomplished executive with 30 years of experience as a CEO/President, Vice-President, Director, Engineer, and Manager across multiple sectors including high tech, consumer and nuclear sensors, Aerospace,  film production and glass.Toni Crowe, BSEE, MSM, CLA, PE is the bestselling author of the $7 Journey series.

Toni has extensive experience in P&L, Manufacturing, Operations Management, and Lean.  She has participated in a number of mergers and acquisitions. 

Toni is currently the CEO of  Just One,  her company which is dedicated to changing lives, one life at a time, by insuring that no one has to make the same mistakes she made.

Buy Daytime Life of the Ladies of the Night to remind someone what success is really about.

Smart Topics for Writers to Tweet About

By Ruth L. Snyder


Use Twitter to easily and effectively reach your readers

Successful writers take responsibility for marketing their own work. Social media, including Twitter, can be amazing tools. But how do you get started and use Twitter productively without wasting valuable writing time?

Ruth L. Snyder explains the benefits of Twitter for writers and leads you step by step through the process of setting up an effective account. Using this manual, you’ll learn the lingo, find your way around the Twitter dashboard, and start building relationships with your worldwide audience. You’ll also discover many tips and tricks to engage your audience and build a solid marketing platform in minutes a day. Finally, you’ll learn how to write great tweets, use hashtags, link shorteners, Twitter tools, schedule your tweets, use tweet templates, and continue building relationships with your worldwide audience.


Here’s a sample chapter from the book:

Are you stumped when it comes to deciding what to tweet about? We’ve already discussed that you need to tweet about things your individual audience is interested in, but there are some general topics any writer can tweet about. Sandi Krakowski (@sandikrakowski) suggests:

  • Pictures of flowers
  • A link to a favorite recipe
  • Fun questions (What’s your favorite flavor of ice-cream? What’s the best book you’ve ever read? If you could be any cartoon character, who would you be? Who’s your hero?)
  • Inspiring quotes
  • Things that make people laugh


Pam Moore (@PamMktgNut) shares 100 ideas to tweet about including:

  • Tips to help people save money
  • Photos of you that show your human side
  • How-to tips
  • Jokes
  • Pictures of nature
  • Thank a favorite writer or blogger
  • Link to a favorite song
  • Ask a thought-provoking question
  • Tweet a whole story
  • Share when you reach a goal
  • Share a daily thought
  • Tweet a positive review you received

Jenn Hanson-dePaula (@Jenndepaula) shares 40 ideas

  • Mention (@[Twitter Handle]) one of your fans, thanking them for supporting you
  • Share an old picture for #TBT (Throw Back Thursday)
  • Write a Haiku
  • Share something that has helped you in your writing
  • Share the title of a book you’re reading and mention the author

Your turn!

Use one new idea each day this week in your Tweets. At the end of the week, use your “Notifications” and your links to track which tweets get the most response and continue to use those ideas.


You can purchase your copy of Twitter Decoded at 

Ruth L. Snyder resides near Glendon, Alberta, along with her husband and five children. Ruth enjoys writing articles, devotionals, short stories, and Christian fiction. Ruth is Past President of InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship.

Christmas by Marcia Lee Laycock is a collection of short stories that will take you from the far reaches of the galaxy to the edge of the Arctic Circle and the streets of the inner city. The miracle of Christmas is transported from one unusual setting to another, and into your heart as you read.


Here’s an excerpt from Missing Christmas:

Missing Christmas

   Sulking and soaking. For me, the two always go together. I know when I’m not fit to be around people, especially the people I’m mad at, so the bathtub is the best place to be. I run the water as hot as I can stand it and stay there until I feel like I can be civil again. That night, the night before Christmas, I thought I might be there till dawn.

   Tim had dropped the bomb when he came home from work two days before we were to go home for the holidays. Somehow he’d managed to mess up making the flight reservations. How could he mess up something so important, so essential to my sanity? Bad enough he’d talked me into coming here, to the end of reason and any sign of civilization, just so he could have a “real northern experience.” Bad enough he didn’t once compliment me on how I’d bravely been enduring the minus fifty degree temperatures. Bad enough we still had five more months to live in this town on the edge of the universe. Now we were stuck here for Christmas. And what was his excuse? He thought he’d told the travel agent to book it, but he had only asked her to give him the details. When she didn’t hear back from him, she assumed we’d changed our minds but didn’t bother to check. There are too many people in this town who definitely aren’t the brightest bulbs on the tree.

   And speaking of trees. To try and pacify me, Tim dragged a tree home the day before Christmas. I caught him going out the door, downed from neck to ankle, a touque on his head and wool scarf wrapped about six times around his face. When I asked him where on earth he was going, he said something unintelligible and walked out the door. Three hours later I heard him stomping around on the porch. I poked my head out, the cold hitting me like a slap, and all I could see were his eyes. They were laughing. He tugged the scarf down long enough to tell me to wrap up and come out for a minute. Curious, I pulled on my parka and went outside.

   He stood there like a little boy who’d just bagged his first bird. Only it was a Christmas tree he held onto. Or rather, it had been a Christmas tree. My mouth fell open and I sputtered through a mouth full of scarf.

   Tim pulled his away from his mouth and grinned. “Just call me Charlie Brown,” he said. The tree was almost bare. Tim described how the needles rained down with every blow of the axe. What else did he expect at fifty below?

   Then we tried getting it inside. The few needles left on the branches showered the linoleum in the kitchen until it looked like a forest path. We stood it in a corner and stepped back. Tim glanced at me sideways just as I did the same and we both burst out laughing.

   “I’ll go buy an artificial one,” I said. Tim didn’t argue.

   I trudged off to the only store in town, but of course they were sold out of Christmas trees, artificial or otherwise. Then I went to the grocery store to buy a turkey. No turkeys left either. No cranberry sauce, no fresh vegetables. They had some Caribou steaks on special. Whoopdeedoo.


About Marcia

Marcia’s work has been published in magazines, newspapers and anthologies in both Canada and the U.S. and appears frequently on the world wide web. She currently writes a regular devotional column, The Spur, which appears in publications across Canada and goes out by e-mail to avid readers. Marcia’s writing has won many prizes, garnering praise from notable Christian writers like Janette Oke, Mark Buchanan, Phil Callaway and Sigmund Brouwer. She has published four devotional books, six novels and many short stories. Marcia won the Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone. The sequel, A Tumbled Stone was short-listed for a Word award along with her fantasy novel, Journey to a Strong Tower. Marcia is also a sought-after speaker for women’s events. To learn more about Marcia’s writing and speaking ministry visit her online at

 To purchase Christmas by Marcia Lee Laycock go to or

Or, if you live in Canada, order directly from the author by emailing

How You Can Find Home When You Have Lost Your Way

By Janis Cox

 Have you had a time where you made a hasty decision?

Have you ever made financial decisions that were not good ones?

Do you listen to God on a daily basis?

We want our children to have a strong purposeful faith. We want them to trust and believe in God. We want to instill in them good values and faith disciplines.


The Kingdom of Thrim is packed full of valuable lessons – from money, to listening to God, to being creative and using your God-given gifts – to being content with what you have.

Created for ages 6 and up, The Kingdom of Thrim brings colour and excitement to a child’s life through vivid watercolour illustrations. The lessons learned are life lessons as one adult reader said:

“I needed this book. If you feel like you’ve lost your gift or wandered too far from home and aren’t sure if you can find your way back, you need it too.” Jeff Goins

Other happy readers have said,

“This is a delightful children’s book with a strong Biblical message. I loved the soft tone of the illustrations. It would make a wonderful story-book for those bedtime moments that are so important for bonding and teaching.” – Marcia Laycock

“Janis Cox is a beautiful storyteller and lovely illustrator and does an excellent job of presenting a story for both kids and adults that speaks to the very heart, no matter what age you may be. Highly recommended.” – Sally Meadows

To get a copy:

 Canadian Amazon

 US Amazon

 Available in paperback or Kindle

 Both of Janis’ books have children’s activities and research ideas in the back.

 Alternately you can contact me and I will send you one.

Email Janis Cox.

Janis Cox author bio

Janis started writing in her journal as a way to learn more about her faith. She is an award-winning author/illustrator of Tadeo Turtle and The Kingdom of Thrim. She podcasts on Hope Stream Radio. Her talk Growing Through God’s Word can be heard each Tuesday. Janis is also an artist and her art is showcased in the Rails End Gallery, Haliburton. She is a creative catalyst who encourages Christians to study God’s word through creativity. Janis lives in Haliburton with her husband and her dog, Snowball.

The Secret Ingredient

PJ Paulson

Savor Your Life

In 2002, “it hit the fan,” as they say. I lost my job while a quirky medical condition progressed. My romance was on its last legs. I lived in town while pioneering my middle-of-nowhere ranchland – there was lots of driving back and forth. Outbuildings were burglarized. There was a severe drought. People in my life were behaving badly.

I couldn’t afford a move to Tuscany. A Spiritual Journey to Tibet was out of the question. Where could I go to awaken my True Soul…find a relief from pain (mental and physical)…make sense of the chaos…find the good in people…and just get by from day-to-day?

I needed to figure out why my life was falling apart, how to heal, and how to eventually get back in the game. I needed a sanctuary in which to look closely at life – both physically and mentally – and to heal.

I made the unconventional choice to forego my city apartment and embrace a simple, stripped-down, country life absent amenities such as plumbing, electricity, and central heat. I drew serenity and strength from Mother Nature to savor life off the grid. During my retreat, I contemplated my life philosophies and direction, eventually transforming a bleak outlook in the face of what appeared to have been a world gone mad.

Living in eastern Colorado is like having your soul lightly sandblasted. In a high wind it may be literal, but life here is just harsh enough to keep your spirit a little raw. While the subtle discomfort may be disregarded, you feel your environment more intensely. It’s inspirational, like nowhere else I’ve lived. The ever-present irritant of sand in the oyster creates the pearl.

My pearl was the inspiration to write. And one day, to understand what I loved so much about that summer here. Then to realize, too, that by practicing the little things that I appreciated so much, other people might learn how to heal in place, too.

Summer of the Phoenix is my story about that summer, how I coped, and how I turned my life around. Come along with me, and we’ll taste a sample….

      The Secret Ingredient

The light changes as sunset approaches; the breeze stills. Shades of green in the field are touched with gold, then with salmon, before becoming dusky. The horizon far to the east turns from blue to blended watercolored bands of violet, salmon, and rose, fading upward to white, and reaching further upward to pale sky blue.

The waving fields of knee-high blue grama going to seed become still.

A Says Phoebe, quiet at this season of year, perches on a young Gravenstein apple tree, or on a leaning Autumn Blaze sapling now dead. Moths flit here and there. The phoebe darts out for a meal, and returns to its perch to dine before moving out of sight to another perch. He (or she) has been roosting, I think, in the little thicket of Rugosa roses outside the family room window.

It’s a soothing view, and I breathe deeply a few times and consciously relax.

As an exercise, I make a mental composite of the best bits of places I’ve lived, to imagine a place I might consider ideal.

The remoteness, the peace and quiet, the acreage of this place.

The love I felt for the home in which I was sheltered for the first thirteen years of my life. Surrounded by fields, woods, and a creek through which to roam and play, and by good friends and family, I had felt secure.

The creek, pond, and woods of the small farm where we lived when I was first married. Its little bird sanctuary along the pond outlet. There, trees overhung the little cliff east of the mound of shale and clay that had been dug and heaped up, many years before, to make the spring-fed pond.

The beauty, lushness, and fecundity of the farm on which we had lived in the hills of Pennsylvania. The dogwoods in spring bloom. The sandy beach at the swimming hole. Fresh trout. Raspberries. Wildlife and singing birds in abundance. Forest through which to wander and explore, and fields in which to grow gardens, crops, and fruit trees.

Put it all together, and set it on the shore of a small lake where I could have a little boat. A little wooden boat with a sail and a set of oars. The little boat would be moored at a wooden dock, patiently awaiting a still dawn, when I would take it out, beyond the majestic sheltering trees of the yard, to fish for breakfast trout.

I looked for a long time at my fields and trees, watching the light and colors change. I thought of times I’d spent among those trees and fields. I thought of that summer of 2002 when I had spent hour after hour, day after day in July watering those young trees. And it came to me that what I was doing now, in this moment, was what I had done all that summer: Savouring.

I was savouring my land and the trees I had planted and nurtured. I savoured the fields and the sky. The birds, the singing insects. I savoured Nature. I savoured Life. And I savoured Myself.

Then it struck me that that – the Savouring of Self, of Soul, of Nature, of Life, and of Spirit – was what made that year of 2002 so special. I had slowed down, taken a deep breath, and Savoured it all.

The sun has gone to bed, and a meadowlark sings to me his song, “Goodnight!


Summer of the Phoenix is available on Amazon in Kindle eBook (, black and white paperback ( ), and color paperback ( ).

PJ Paulson

PJ Paulson lives on a small ranch in rural Colorado with cats, dogs, and cattle. She has been described as a benign non-conformist who lives life on her own terms, and is not overly concerned with how humankind at large may judge that life path. This assessment is certainly borne out as she turns around her life in Summer of the Phoenix!

Grow Closer to God in 2019

The Time with God book by Kevin T. Cunningham, is designed to help us grow closer to God and to build confidence and consistency in our personal prayer lives. As we focus on God and spend time with him, we can bring our joys and needs to him. Then, we will be better able to partner with God in what he is looking to do in and through us.

At the heart of Time with God, is a desire to develop the habit of communing with God in practical, powerful, and personal ways. Practical, because we will balance four different aspects of prayer. Powerful, because we will use God’s Word as the basis for many of our prayers. This book is filled with Scripture verses translated from the original languages and reworded into prayers.  They are chosen to help us nurture and develop our focus on God and our love for him. Personal because you’ll find space each day to write (or draw) your own personal prayers. As you get more comfortable with the concept, it will revolutionize the way you read the Bible on your own.

You can learn more about Time with God: Develop Confidence and Consistency in Your Personal Prayer Life at or on Amazon at

Below are two portions from the Time with God explaining how to use the book and a sample day focusing on the love of God.

                        How to Use This Book

The main section of the book contains sets of daily prayers, each focusing on a different attribute of God. For each day, you will find:

  • A very brief statement about the attribute or characteristic of God for the day.
  • Four sections offering a suggested Scripture Prayer
  • Four sections offering space for your own Personal Prayers.

Each day will include four groups of prayers, as mentioned earlier, organized by the acronym of ACTS, standing for Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication.

Pray the suggested Scripture Prayer from each of the ACTS sections to God. It might help to read the prayer silently first. If you feel led, you can use the spaces for Personal Prayers to write your own prayers in each category.

Lastly, when praying in the Supplication (earnestly bringing our requests to God) sections, note that many of the verses are focused on the needs of the person praying. As you feel led, you can pray for other people by substituting their names in place of words like “me,” “we,” or “us.”

For example, in the Supplication section of the “God Is Love” chapter, we find this prayer:

Lord, since you loved us in this way, surely we should love one another. Please help me to pass on the love that I have received.

—Modified from 1 John 4:11

After praying that God helps you pass on the love you have received from God, you could then pray the same prayer for any of your family members, friends, or even your pastor. You could pray…


Lord, since you loved us in this way, surely we should love one another. Please help ______ to pass on the love that (he/she) has received.

—Modified from 1 John 4:11


This will become second nature after you do it the first few times.


        Day 13: God Is Love

God proactively seeks the best for others even at great cost to himself.

Scripture Prayers


Your unfailing love is better than life itself; my lips will praise you! So, I will bless you while I live. I will lift up my hands in your name.

—Modified from Psalm 63:3



Please forgive me for not allowing your love to flow through me. So often, I am not patient or kind. Forgive me for times when I envy, or brag, or am proud and seek my own way instead of what’s better for others.

—Modified from 1 Corinthians 13:4-5


Lord Jesus, I thank you that you demonstrated your own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, you died for us.

—Modified from Romans 5:8



(Pray this for yourself first. Then, pray it for someone else also.)

Lord, please help us remember that you are our God, and that you are the only God. Help us to love you as we should—with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, and with all our strength. Also, please help us to love others as you would.

—Modified from Mark 12:29-30


Personal Prayer


Lord, I praise you because you are…


Lord, please forgive me for…


Lord, I thank you for…


Lord, please…

About Kevin

Kevin Cunningham

Rock and roll was my life! I was a disc-jockey on radio and in night clubs. I used to entertain people for a night; now I can impact people for eternity.

My background includes Christian radio, church-planting in Milan, Italy and local pastoral ministry in the U.S. Kevin is currently serving as an Intentional Interim Pastor in Gloucester, MA.  I consider myself very blessed to be a Husband to Alesa for over thirty years and a Dad to Cathy, Grace & John

Love in the Room by Marcia Lee Laycock

The symbols and images of Christmas can slip by us because they are so familiar. In Love In The Room, award winning author, Marcia Lee Laycock, brings those images into focus once again as she explores the true meaning of the season. These short devotionals will stir readers to ponder the Christ child with depth and clarity.  

Here’s an excerpt from Love in the Room:

The Promise of Christmas


Chaos reigned supreme. That’s how it seemed as we rehearsed our Christmas play. The first rehearsal didn’t really happen. The second one was only a bit better, and three quarters of the cast didn’t make it to the third. Those of us who were supposedly “in control” wondered if we were going to have a play at all.


That was nothing new. Every year it seems to happen. Kids run helter-skelter, some don’t show up, some can’t find costumes or those made for them don’t fit. The choir director is tearing her hair out. This year seemed a bit more chaotic than usual. But somehow it all came together in the end. The night of the performance seemed to go well. I say seemed, because I was too busy trying to keep my “cast” quiet and focused, to notice if the play was working. One of the magi discovered he could use one of the shepherd’s headbands as a slingshot to wing the beads off his crown clear across the front of the church. That delighted the kids in the front row who dashed out to pick them up. Mary couldn’t stop squirming because her costume was made of wool, and Joseph kept changing his mind about which robe fit best – right up until he walked out onto the ‘stage.’


I wasn’t sure it had really all come together until the audience stood to applaud at the end. When many congratulated us on a job well done, all I could say was, “It’s a miracle!”


And that’s the promise of Christmas – it all comes together in the end. I’m sure the followers of Jesus, watching the drama of His life and death, felt the same way we ‘directors’ did. To those who thought they were in control, it looked like chaos reigned. From the moment of His birth, He and His parents had to run from those who wanted to kill Him. As He performed miracles, religious leaders plotted against Him. Even the disciples themselves didn’t understand His message. They were disappointed that He didn’t chase the Romans out of the country; He never did set up an earthly kingdom. Then, the cross. It looked like everything they tried to accomplish was doomed to fail. But in the end …

In the end, the stone was rolled away. The baby born in a stable and crucified on a cross was raised glorified, to the glory of His Father.

And there is another promise yet to unfold. As the birth of Christ is overshadowed by the cross, which was blasted away by his resurrection, even that will be outdone by His return. One day, God has told us, “Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear. They will say of me, ‘In the Lord alone are righteousness and strength’.” (Isaiah 45:23,24)

It will be a miracle and it really will all come together in the end.


About Marcia Lee Laycock

Marcia’s work has been published in magazines, newspapers and anthologies in both Canada and the U.S. and appears frequently on the world wide web. She currently writes a regular devotional column, The Spur, which appears in publications across Canada and goes out by e-mail to avid readers. Marcia’s writing has won many prizes, garnering praise from notable Christian writers like Janette Oke, Mark Buchanan, Phil Callaway and Sigmund Brouwer. She has published four devotional books, six novels and many short stories. Marcia won the Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone. The sequel, A Tumbled Stone was short-listed for a Word award along with her fantasy novel, Journey to a Strong Tower. Marcia is also a sought-after speaker for women’s events. To learn more about Marcia’s writing and speaking ministry visit her online at


To purchase Love in the Room by Marcia Lee Laycock go to or 

Or, if you live in Canada, order directly from the author by emailing

How to Celebrate Who You Are

By Janis Cox

 Is there a time when you have felt unloved?
Have you felt that you are not good enough?
Or you have wanted to be or act like someone else?

Children have the same struggles. That’s how competition makes for hurt feelings and inadequacy.

Tadeo Turtle is a little colourful turtle who loves life – until he sees Sammy squirrel climbing a tree and starts to envy his way of life. Join Tadeo on his journey of self-discovery. He learns a lesson that we all need to learn – God loves us, just the way He made us.

Acceptance of who you are leads to many positive characteristics. So no matter what age you are this book has a lesson for you.

Created for ages newborn until 6, Tadeo Turtle has become a best-loved book.

There are children’s activities and research ideas in the back of the book.

 Happy readers have said,

 “I bought these [Janis has 2 books] for my grand-nieces a couple of years ago. They’re not book kids, but they loved these. Their mom says they still read them!’ – Bobbi Junior

 “May we accept this beautiful gift as Tadeo learned to do. This short book has a lesson for children and adults alike. How often do we wish we were like someone else or had things that others have? Tadeo Turtle is a simple rhyming story for the young. Janis Cox illustrated the animals and scenes in luscious, colorful watercolors. They are so beautifully painted.” Amazon customer

 To get a copy:

 Canadian Amazon 

US Amazon

 Available in paperback or Kindle

 Alternately you can contact me and I will send you one.

Email Janis Cox. 

Janis started writing in her journal as a way to learn more about her faith. She is an award-winning author/illustrator of Tadeo Turtle and The Kingdom of Thrim. She podcasts on Hope Stream Radio. Her talk Growing Through God’s Word can be heard each Tuesday. Janis is also an artist and her art is showcased in the Rails End Gallery, Haliburton. She is a creative catalyst who encourages Christians to study God’s word through creativity. Janis lives in Haliburton with her husband and her dog, Snowball.