Loving Well those who reject your love

Feb 5th 2015
Posted by Susan

How to Love Well when you feel rejectedThis post is not aptly titled.  Oh, it would have been – How to love someone who rejects you?  I had planned on pulling in content from my recent book, Always On My Mind.

Always CoverCasper, my hero, can’t seem to stop loving the woman who hurt him.  More, when she keeps making terrible decisions, like becoming involved with a man of questionable reputation, Casper wants to wash his hands of her. 

Except he can’t. Because he loves her.  And it’s tearing him apart.

I was going to write about how we reach out to these kind of people in our lives.  How, when we were unlovable, Jesus believed in us, loved us, died for us.  I was going to use this quote from John Christiansen, Casper’s father,

“And you don’t think Jesus sees our choices, our decisions, and wants to run out in front of us with semaphores? He does, in fact, warn us over and over of the ways we’re destroying ourselves. But we don’t listen. And what does love do? Forgives. Comforts. Protects. Saves. Renews. Loves.”

We’re surrounded constantly by people test our patience, make poor decisions that affect us, who forget us, neglect us and downright fail us.

People we desperately love. 

That’s right, I’m talking about HUSBANDS.

And this is where I get to the point of this post on loving well.

I recently spent time with my friends Kathi Lipp and Erin McPherson – two amazing ladies who love their husbands and have worked at creating great marriages. (and they happen to be amazing speakers and authors, also – if you haven’t picked up Kathi’s book, Clutter Free, do it right now. It’ll change your life.)

They told me about this book they wrote that would release right around Valentine’s Day.  Of course I would read it.  And of course I’d mention it on the blog.

Then I got the book.  10 Ideas to Inspire Red Hot Sex: A Hot Mama Challenge 

I admit some consternation as to how to blog about this. What kind of review would I give?  And, uh…how? 

I read the book.  It has some FANTASTIC ideas.  Most of all it’s a reminder to woman to use the gift God gave us to satisfy our cravings for intimacy – and keep our men happy.

And that’s when I realized that this fun book – and my post title – actually do go together. 

Because it’s Valentine’s Day this weekend, and it’s every wife’s golden opportunity to surprise the socks off her husband. See, we so often depend on our husband to woo us – bring the flowers, make the reservations, take us in his arms. 

But what if, this Valentine’s Day, we loved well?

 I’ve learned after 25 years of marriage that my husband would occasionally like ME to make the reservations.  Buy the chocolates.  And, um, Etcetera.  Because it shows him I’m thinking of him. 

Wise words, again, from John Christiansen:

“If what we call love doesn’t take us beyond ourselves, require more of us than we ever dreamed, then it’s not the unconditional, divine love God intends for us. God’s love is not cautious, not wise, not sensible, and not remotely conservative. In fact, loving another person the way God loves them is the greatest adventure we can have.”

A woman who loves well goes beyond what she’s comfortable with. She meets the needs – and even deepest desires of others.  Surprising them, overwhelming them, delighting in them. 

So, take the Red-Hot Mama Challenge this Valentine’s day.  (The book is only $.99 on KINDLE.  Seriously, right?)  It’s time to learn how to love – your man – well. 

Happy Valentine’s Day!  Go – Love Well!

 By the way, this blog is part of a CONTEST.  


valentines image2

To see the other contest blogs (and get the Key Word phrase), visit:

and, the word for this stop is LIVES.

Feb 5th visit Dani Pettrey by clicking here
Feb 6th visit Rachel Hauck by clicking here
Feb 8th visit Lisa Wingate by clicking here
Feb 9th visit Katie Ganshert by clicking here
Feb 13th visit Becky Wade by clicking here

And don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter Contest!


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Do you need a fresh start this February?

Jan 31st 2015
Posted by Susan

Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. 

(Lamentations 2:23)



A New Perspective on Goal Setting

I don’t know about you, but by today, January 31st, I have usually obliterated all my New Years resolutions.  Raise your hand if that’s you. 


Oh, we mean well, don’t we?  Every year I spend a few days putting together the action plans of My Book Therapy and Susan May Warren Fiction – what do I want to accomplish, how do I hope to touch lives?  I usually pick one word the Lord is leading me toward (this year it is Expectancy!) and a verse that is guiding me. 


But let’s admit that sometimes New Year planning feels a little we’re loading up our year with a pile of to-dos akin to Robert DeNiro’s character hauling around his load of penance weapons in The Mission.  (Do you remember that 1986 movie?  If not, it’s worth seeing again!) 


It’s been ten years since my first book, Happily Ever After came out, and I’ve discovered something that helps me put my projects into perspective…none of it matters unless my books dig deep, touch lives – change lives.


And maybe that should be the point of goal-making.


So, that’s why, with my New Years Resolutions obliterated, I’m diving in with a NEW way to discover my focus for 2015. I’m going to plan from the inside-out, with a different perspective: 

  1. What unexpected thing did I do this year that I loved?  Often, our hidden strengths are found in doing something unexpected.  For me, this year, it was my swimming and yoga classes.  Although I wasn’t a regular, sneaking away for an hour to exercise recharged me.  This year, I’ll make a better effort to invest in my “escape” time and let my mind recharge.  
  2. Where did I find deep contentment?  Life seems to blow by faster every year, and I find I don’t have time to invest in things that leave me empty.  But I’m often surprised at the things that “fill me up.” We had a wedding this year.  It was an extrovert’s happy place!  I loved the focused time spent with friends and family. What does that tell me?  Make sure I am deliberate about scheduling specific time with the people I love.
  3. How did I expand my reach/skills this year, and what did I learn? I finished book #6 – Owen’s story – just recently, and with that book, I realized how much I love writing big family series.  Book #4 just hit the market – Always On My Mind, so as I go forward, I’ll take a look at how I build on that and develop another connected series.
  4. Did I fall deeper in love with Jesus this year?  I know that feels like a personal question, but it’s something, as a Christian, that matters to me.  If not, I need to take a look at why – and is there a way I can pursue God more?  This year, I will pick up a number of books to add to my quiet time reading
  5. How did I measure success last year?  This question has been the most important I consider as I look back onto 2014…and into 2015? What if success is something more intangible, but produced by asking the questions:  Am I a better wife, friend, novelists, teacher…and most importantly lover of Jesus because of my choices this year?  And, will I be with the plans and goals I’ve put together for 2015?


Not your typical planning list, I know, but perhaps, if you’re like me and a little tired of the SMART goals, and the Action Plan lists and feeling like you’ve failed before you begun, I give you February 1- a NEW month to dive in and make 2015 a different year.  


A year where you cut off the baggage and find yourself set free.


If you’re interested in stories about FRESH STARTS, my newest book is on the market, Always On My Mind.   And thank you for reading my books, passing them along and sharing with me how they’ve changed and blessed you. THAT is why I write!


Happy February!

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Dec 30th 2014
Posted by Susan

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Over the Cliff: A final thought from Ingrid

Nov 30th 2014
Posted by Susan



We sit poised on the top of a cliff, a near drop off before us, gullying down to a rushing river.  In the middle of the river, a bridge of snow and ice hints at our destination.  My husband guns the snowmobile engine.  “Ready?”  

Ready?  What? — for a face plant into a tree, maybe reconstructive surgery?  To feel my stomach ripped from my body as we plummet down the mountain?  To let every mitochondria scream and unleash the snow from the low-hanging evergreens?  

Let’s do it!  

We live on five acres of woods in northern Minnesota that butts up to a national forest area.  Hence, our backyard is about a hundred thousand acres.  Aside from harboring deer, lynx, fox, cougar and bear, it also makes excellent snowmobile terrain.  And this year, Mrs. Claus gave her Santa a snowmobile for two.  

I love snowmobiling.  Flying over the snow, catching air over drifts.  I love to drive, to be at the helm of the beast as I weave around trees and over hill and dale, my husband sitting behind me.  I also love riding behind my husband as he drives, feeling those powerful arms as he’s muscling the snowmobile into the wilds.  We follow unknown trails, driven by a Magellan spirit, hoping that we have enough gas to get us back to civilization.  I love hanging on, simply trusting him as we drive deeper into the forest, knowing that wherever he’s taking me, he’s going first.  

But there are times, when I see where he’s taking me, and I just have to bury my head in his back.  Like straight down a cliff.  

However, my heart cheers, despite its terror as we gun it down the hill, over the river, up the opposite side.  And, if we hadn’t let ourselves go, we would have never discovered the beauty of a winter river, a hidden jewel buried deep in the forest.  Nor the exhilaration of facing the challenge together.   

Further on, we find an enchanted forest of towering white pine.  Catch a view of Lake Superior, discover an old cabin in the woods.   

It occurs to me that snowmobiling is much like my spiritual life.  Occasionally, I drive, and it’s me setting our course, weaving through the trees, getting us hopelessly lost.  But when God takes the 

Evergreen coverThanks for spending the month with me!  If you’d like to read more about my family and our life running a resort on the North Shore of MN, read any of Susan May Warren’s Christiansen Family series – and check our Winter Novella: Evergreen!  “wheel”, and I hang on, I see the scenery, and I trust Him for the speed and destination.  I trust him to keep me safe.  I trust him to bring me home, where there is an eternal supply of hot chocolate.

Have a blessed Holiday season!

Ingrid Christiansen


Jer: 29:11:  For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, say the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace, and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome.    

Our children are destined to leave us from the moment they’re born…

Nov 29th 2014
Posted by Susan

Thank you to Jo Jo Byrd Sutiss for this beautiful pin!

 And here’s one of my favorite reviews of Evergreen – thank you Britt!

Parenting pin 2

Thank you for stopping by! 


Ingrid Christiansen

Thursday Tune-up: Surviving Christmas Dinner

Nov 27th 2014
Posted by Susan

Surviing the ChaosThursday Tune-Up: Thoughts on Simplifying and Savoring the Holidays (and Surviving the Chaos!)

Ingrid’s Insights to Christmas Dinner

I’m all about Simplifying and Cherishing this holiday season and over the past month, I’ve taken over Susan May Warren’s blog. I’m nearly to the end of my month, and I thought I’d take on the Sacred Cow this week. . .or rather the Sacred Turkey.

Let’s talk: Christmas dinner

Turkey. Stuffing. Homemade rolls.  Potatoes. Gravy. Cheesy broccoli.  Wild Rice casserole. PIE, (and lots of it!)

And this on top of the Christmas Eve Dinner and Christmas Morning Brunch.

And who prepares it all?


Not that help isn’t offered.  Often Dad will peel potatoes.  Daughters will make PIE, sons will stir gravy.

But chaos ensues with so many hands in the kitchen, even with Christmas music and laughter.  Behold – burned dinner rolls!

This year, we sat down as a family and one of my sons said…Mom, let’s break free of the expectations.  For Christmas dinner let’s have….soup.


Silence descended around the room. 

Then, smiles.  “What kind of soup?”

“We’ll get Susie May’s Borscht Recipe from Russia.  Make it the weekend before and freeze it (it’s really good after it’s sit for a day).  Heat it up on Christmas day.  No stress, no fuss, no burned rolls.” 

I liked it.  No more Christmas Day stress.

It doesn’t have to resemble a turkey to be a Christmas dinner. Think about it.  It could be, well….a casserole.  Pancakes!  Even, leftovers.

Too often we hold on to traditions because, well, they’re traditions. But what if we looked deeper, figured out why we loved the tradition and simplified.  We’ll still eat dinner together.  We’ll just choose an easier menu item.

And maybe there’ll be less stress, more dancing in the kitchen.

Soup. Family. Festivities simplified. Traditions Savored.

How could you simplify the stress of your Christmas Dinner this year? 


Thanks for reading!


Tuesday’s Tasty Treat: Owen and Amelia’s Epic Sugar Cookie Cutouts

Nov 25th 2014
Posted by Susan

Simplify and Savor Cookies  

From Ingrid’s Cookbook   

It’s our youngest two children who seem to be our most headstrong and independent.  Owen started walking (away) at the age of 9 months. Amelia was our dreamer, building forts in the yard, as of on exotic adventures.  And, being our most independent, they were also the two who squabbled the most.

Especially when armed with cut-out Sugar Cookies.  They loved to create snowmen, decorate them, then wage battle.  

As our children grew, we decided instead of allowing them to destroy the cookies with their own private battle, we’d allow each child to cut out their own unique shape, decorate it, then wage a Christmas Cookie Contest. (This was an idea I grabbed from my favorite author, Susan May Warren, who also does this with her family every Christmas.) 

It became, of course, an epic battle, and we’ve upgraded to a travelling trophy for the most creative.  We make up the dough, cut out the cookies, bake, then decorate them on Christmas Eve Day. Then we upload the pictures and email them to family scattered across the world. Each family votes on their favorite design (the designs are anonymous), and emails the results back.  The winner is announced Christmas Morning. 

Then, the cookies are eaten.  

Owen and Amelia's Epic Sugar Cookie Cutouts
Yields 2
A delicious and sturdy sugar cookie recipe
Write a review
Prep Time
20 min
Total Time
45 min
Prep Time
20 min
Total Time
45 min
  1. 1 c. sugar
  2. 1 c. margarine, softened
  3. 1 tsp. vanilla
  4. 1/4 tsp. salt
  5. 1 egg, unbeaten
  6. 1 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  7. 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  8. 2 c. flour
  9. 1/2 tsp soda
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cream margarine and sugar.
  3. Add next 5 ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  4. Add flour and soda.
  5. Roll dough out on floured cutting board and cut out with form (or a sharp knife).
  6. Transfer to greased baking sheet.
  7. Bake 10 mins (not too long if you don't want fragile cookies).
  1. Be careful when transferring to a plate for decorating. We've often cooked these on parchment to aid with the transfer. Frost with buttercream or store-bought icing (I know, cheating, but we're all about simplifying!)
Adapted from Lunds Sugar Cookies
Adapted from Lunds Sugar Cookies
Susan May Warren http://www.susanmaywarren.com/
Simply and Savor Tip:  Start your own Christmas Cookie Decorating Contest!

Thanks for reading, 


Simplify and Savor: Faith!

Nov 24th 2014
Posted by Susan

simplify and savor icon

From Ingrid’s Journal

Proverbs 20:27  “The lamp of the LORD searches the spirit of a man, it searches out his inmost being.”

Living in the north plays games with a gal’s psyche.  Darkness falls around 4pm, the wind howls, the world frigid outside, and I dream of summer as the snow piles against my door.

And it brings me back to that summer the resort burned to the ground (I know my author Susan May Warren used her own experience watching her garage burn, and a summer of homelessness to write my feelings of despair in darkness.)  I wondered how we might survive.

I sit on the front porch steps of our resort, listening to a choir of crickets sing to the sunset.  I cradle a cup of tea in my hands, but it has long ago grown cold.  All I can think about is our starving checking account, smell the creosote of the burned cabins that once provided our livelihood.

The memories, now in ash.  Our home survived, but with our family scattered, perhaps this is the end of Evergreen resort. The end of a legacy.

The sun is gone, and I admit that with it falls my hope.  Grayness settles over the lake.   Suddenly I spy tiny lights flickering here and there.  First dozens, then thousands.   Fireflies!  They dance in the velvet darkness, momentary explosions on a twilight canvass.  I watch with delight, amazed at God’s brilliance and creativity.

Fireflies–bursts of light in the darkness.  They flicker on and off as if tiny flashlights searching the fields.  All at once, I hear the Lord whispering to me.  He says He is searching for my faith.  I realize that faith is like a firefly: a spurt of hope in a nighttime of discouragement.

Of course! Fireflies are always present, but they can be seen best at night, when the darkness surrounds them.  Faith is a part of my every day existence, but it is most vivid, to myself and others, when life looks bleak.  Do I have faith that radiates in the dark hour of worry, sorrow and disappointment?   Will the Lord find in me a firefly faith?

I watch the show until pitch settles upon the fields.  It seems the fireflies have gone to bed, and so must I.  Before I leave the porch for the padding of a pillow, I pray and ask the Lord to make my faith swell and completely expunge the darkness of despair.

I ask the Keeper of the Light to keep me shining, to fill up my spirit with His power, by His grace.

“People are like stained glass windows; they sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light within.”  Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

Simplify and Savor:  Keep a journal this season – write it in your “Firefly moments” – current and past, as a testimony and reminder of God’s faith.  Read it aloud to your family, or just yourself when life feels overwhelming! 

Have you ever been encouraged by the faith you see in others?  Encourage us with your story!

Thanks for reading!

Ingrid Christiansen

'Evergreen' by Susan May Warren


Ingrid Christiansen and her amazing family are featured in Susan May Warren’s award-winning, best-selling series, The Christiansen Family.  Her newest book, Evergreen: A Winter Novella is available now as an ebook or in Hardcover (which would make an excellent Christmas gift!)   

A parenting quote from Evergreen!

Nov 22nd 2014
Posted by Susan

Thank you to my friend Emily Ann Peterson for this beautiful pin! 

parenting quote

Thank you for stopping by! 


Ingrid Christiansen

Thursday Tune Up: Take another look at Gift-Giving

Nov 20th 2014
Posted by Susan

Surviing the ChaosThursday Tune-Up: Thoughts on Simplifying and Savoring the Holidays (and Surviving the Chaos!)

Ingrid’s Insights to Christmas Gifts

No, this is not a list of 100 things you can give for less than $50. 

It’s not a list of cool pinterest craft gifts.

It’s not an encouragement to pick gifts from the Samaritan’s Purse catalogue and give a goat to the needy (although you can if you want).

I want to talk about WHY you give a gift. 

My favorite moment is when one of my children opens their gifts, and sees something unexpected, something amazing.

Something that delights their heart.  Something that gives them peace, or joy.  Comfort and delight.

My children love it too – in fact, their goal at Christmas is to make me cry.  The one who gives me the best gift, apparently, wins.

The best gift?  Something of themselves. Something that shows me how much they love me. Like a photograph of our family, edited and framed.  Or a card with their favorite memories written on it.

We spend so much money every year on stuff…what if gave something more expensive. What if we gave ourselves?

What if I gave an hour of game time every week to my son.  Or a “Girls-Only” weekend to my daughter? What if I game my mother a daily telephone call, and my husband a weekly date night (that I planned?) 

This season, I challenge you to think outside the box with your gift-giving. 

Start with understanding the love language of your giftee – words of affirmation, affection, quality time, acts of service, and gifts.

What “gift” speaks to that love language?

Add in, what sacrifice can you make that enhances that gift? 

How does your gift bring delight, joy, peace…comfort?

This is the substance of the gift of Christmas, the example set by our Savior.

Stop stressing. Start simplifying.

What unique gifts can you give this year?  We welcome ideas!

Thanks for reading!


ACFW Conference

September 17-20, 2015
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