Thursday, July 28, 2016

Between Us Girls: Walks and Talks for Moms and Daughters

Part 2 of an interview with Trish Donohue,
Author of Between Us Girls:
Walks and Talks for Moms and Daughters

The relationship girls have with their mothers greatly impacts the women they become, and for busy moms in the thick of the parenting years that reality can seem overwhelming. Author Trish Donohue brings guidance for women who want to disciple their daughters but don’t know where to start in Between Us Girls: Walks and Talks for Moms and Daughters (New Growth Press/June 6, 2016).

As a mom to two girls, Donohue knows the kinds of questions women asks themselves when considering their influence on their daughters: Am I being a good example? What are the most critical life lessons and spiritual insights I should be imparting to them? Am I getting through to them? Balancing these concerns with the hectic nature of daily life can feel daunting, which is why Donohue wrote this guide filled with gospel-driven talks, or “walks” designed to be completed one-on-one, and covering a wide variety of topics.

Q: What are some of the topics you cover in Between Us Girls?

There are 26 topics, and just like a real hiker, it’s fun to tackle a difficult climb, then stick to an easier one the next time. That’s why I mixed it up. Readers will hit foundational topics such as the gospel, prayers, church and trials, but there are also lighter topics such as flair, friendships and stuff. There are also culturally relevant topics including technology and clothes. The book also addresses vulnerable areas such as doubts, feelings, changes and weaknesses. There is quite a variety because there is lots to talk about!

Q: How can a mom be sure she’s addressing the right topics with her daughter on a regular basis?

This can be difficult with a busy life and family, and moms ultimately need to trust that the Holy Spirit will guide them as they seek to train up their daughters. If moms find they regularly talk through lots of issues with their daughters and seek out God’s truth in the Bible, they don’t even need a book like this. But if they feel unsure about whether they’re hitting the relevant topics and would like to build a stronger relationship with their daughters, Between Us Girls can help. As a pattern of communication is formed, it’ll be easier to jump into other issues as they come up. Even after finishing this book, I would encourage maintaining a regular time for connecting by putting it on the calendar. I think moms might be surprised what conversations arise. 

Q: As you know, all moms are busy. In what ways did you keep this in mind when writing Between Us Girls?

Most moms know how easy it is to miss these valuable times with their daughters. They also know what it’s like to plan them and then realize they’re absolutely braindead and can’t think of anything worthwhile to say. Consider this book a cheat sheet. No prep is needed. The talks tell moms exactly what to read together from the Bible, lead readers through the topic and provide questions that will make moms and daughters laugh, think and get to know each other better than ever before. The walks even help plan ways to apply what they’ve learned together. 

Q: What advice do you have for mothers who don’t have good relationship with their daughters? Can they use a tool like this?

All moms know the perfect mother/daughter pair who seems to be sharing every moment, laughing together, making great memories and somehow always looking adorable in the process. They are immediately aware of the struggles in their own relationships with their daughters. When those struggles are deep, it can seem scary to pick up a tool like this. What if it doesn’t work? What if she thinks it’s boring? What if she rejects her mom?

Yes, moms struggling with their relationships can absolutely use a tool like this, and I would tell them they don’t have to be best friends to honor God in their relationships with their daughters. Moms have the opportunity to be a picture of God’s steadfast love to their daughters. Their initiative and efforts toward their daughters echo God’s initiative toward us.

If their daughters sit quietly through the walks, that’s fine; they’re still hearing the truth of God’s Word. If they won’t be vulnerable with their moms, moms can lead by example and be vulnerable with them. If they get halfway through a walk and the conversation seems to be leading elsewhere, that’s fine. Who knows where the Lord will lead? But moms shouldn’t let fear keep them from pursuing and discipling their daughters. And moms shouldn’t evaluate their effectiveness by what they see with their eyes. God is the one who does the work.

Q: Why is it important for each walk not just to be about discussing life issues but also about building relationship? How can mothers make sure that happens?

Building relationship is important because moms want these conversations to continue! They don’t just want to download some good information into their daughters’ brains and check off a box that says, “Done. Good parenting accomplished.” They need to build relationships that allow them to walk through life together, laugh at their weaknesses, embrace vulnerability and spur one another on.  

Daughters will be much more likely to share their hearts when their moms go first. The interactive questions in this book allow mothers to share their own struggles and joys, then prompt daughters to do the same. Moms will be sharing things they learned growing up, silly fears, weaknesses and wisdom. Daughters will be sharing too, and that will begin to build a relationship based on God’s Word. Together they can handle new issues as they arise.

Q: Can Between Us Girls be used in situations other than a mother/daughter relationship?

Absolutely. By simply skipping the mother/daughter titles, the book can be used in a variety of ways, and I applaud women who desire to disciple girls in their lives! The book could easily be used in any one-on-one context, and it could also be used in a small group, where a leader is going through it with a number of girls.

Learn more about Between Us Girls and Trish Donohue at

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Tonight's #TheBachelorette #MenTellAll gave me a headache

I need a good laugh. I really hope tonight's Men Tell All is interesting, but I anticipate wanting to snooze while blogging, quite honestly.

I'm going to want to punch Chad in the face. I know that.

I also imagine that there will be a good bit of push for Bachelor in Paradise. Oh snap. Chad and Evan are both going to be there. Shirts are going to be destroyed. Ash Kardash after Jared. Nick is going to be there. The Taylor Swift twins. Jubilee.

Why am I going to watch? I know I will, but...

The men here tonight... James S., Grant, Ali, Brandon, Christian, Nick B., Derek, James F., Daniel, Jonathan, Vinny, Evan, Wells, James Taylor, Alex, Chase, and Luke. They don't let Chad join them yet.

Honestly, I don't remember much about two of the James guys and Brandon. At least Evan cut his hair.

Chris asks them about their first night and expectations. Luke said he was basically smitten from the start. A couple of guys answer, then a season overview video. The battles. The blood. The threats. Temper tantrums. The punks. The battle of Derek vs. Alex is about to start again.

Derek, Alex, what's up with you too? Derek defends his calling Alex out. Nick calls Alex manipulative. Wells explains that Alex lives in conflict as a member of the military so he feels more at home in conflict. Luke explains as a young Marine you tend to be a fighter, but as you grow more mature, you deal with it differently.

Men are worse than women about all this ya ya stuff like this.

Grant thinks Alex focused more on getting rid of Chad than focus on getting JoJo. Then, Daniel the Canadian starts defending Chad.

Evan explains Chad's chemical imbalance after getting off steroids at the mansion. Everyone talks over everyone. Wells said they aren't going to talk about Chad without Chad being there.

This post is just going to be a big fat hot mess. There's too much conflict between all the guys to keep it all straight.

Photo from US Magazine post
Here comes Chad on stage. He's muttering about Alex and Evan on his walk in from the dressing trailer. The Chad highlight reel is played. 

Chad contends the bunch of fake men were always talking about him 24/7, but he couldn't punch anyone on camera. Chris Harrison asks if he wanted to. Chad says you can't do anything else at that point. What do you do?

He smack talks everyone's careers. Someone asks what a luxury real estate agent does in Tulsa. Excellent question.

Chad has dirt on everyone's exes. He's evidently dated both Robby and Grant's exes since the show. Chris asked if they pursued him or if he went looking for them. Kind of stalkerish it seems.

Nick gets really annoyed. He stands up, takes off his jacket, rolls up his sleeves and challenges Chad to a fight right there.

Chad says they shouldn't fight in dress shoes. They might both fall down.

This is giving me a headache as everyone brings up one situation or another where Chad acted like a jerk. During the commercial break, I got up and took some Advil.

When they come back, there's a whole discussion of Chad tearing Evan's shirt. During this time, I read an article I linked to from Twitter about Andi Dorfman revealing the truth about the fantasy suites which are taped over two weeks, not two or three days.

So, during the second hour, we get away from Chad and move on to Luke in the hot seat.

I forgot Luke arrived on a unicorn the first night. The highlights of Luke then play. Man of few words that he is.  Yeah, I think what I found off about him the whole time is that he just didn't talk much.

"What was going through your mind as you were sitting on that bench with JoJo?" Shock. Surprise. He was in love with her. He still loves her. Now, I just want her to be happy. "Verbally, I held back." He wanted to wait to profess his love until after she met his family.

The thing about Luke... A friend of someone I know had him over at her house during the show last night. The person I know sent a picture to me from Instagram. I think he has moved on even though he says he is still single. Who knows when this was recorded though? Or the girl in the picture was more into him than he was into her.

Anyway. That's all for Luke. Now, it's on to Chase.

He was invited to the fantasy suite only to have his heart broken. Chase, it's your turn in the hot seat. Cue highlight reel. 

He didn't see it coming. He doesn't understand going to the fantasy suite if she knew she didn't love her. It felt like a low blow to get sent home in response to saying, "I love you." After a commercial, he gets the chance to ask JoJo.

I am fighting to keep my eyes open right this minute.

With about 30 minutes left, JoJo joins Chris on the couch. 

Blah, blah, blah, for a little bit. JoJo went from never initiating a break up in her life to breaking up with men every week.

Luke asks JoJo if he had been clearer about his feelings sooner if that would have made a difference. JoJo can't say for sure, but wondered if he was saying "love" for the sake of saying it at that point. He reacts very classy.

Chase asks if he can sit up with her to talk. "How it ended hurt. My biggest question to you is... why did you give me the fantasy suite card?"

Going into Thailand, she had no questions. That night during the date, she felt anxious after his profession of love. She thought it was better to end it then than after the date.

After Chase goes back to his seat, the other guys get a chance to speak. Chad gets his chance to address JoJo. He wishes her the best of luck, but says, "we all know Robby broke up with his girlfriend to come on the show and Jordan is a liar whose own brother won't talk to him." JoJo decides he's not worth addressing even though she could go off.

Alex needs to share his feelings and smooth things over. Derek went home in a tough way though I don't really remember it. They chat in vaguely for a minute.

Vinny says it sucked he didn't get to talk to her at a cocktail party and Uruguay. Vinny's mom stands up and tells JoJo she made a mistake by not choosing her son. While they had a good friendship, that was it. They are so Jersey.

The blooper reel is even kind of boring at this point. (It's kind of been a long day. Sort of. It kind of went south late.)

We end with a glimpse of next week. Who will get the final rose? Will it be Robby, or will it be Jordan?

Monday, July 25, 2016

There are good guys out there, but they are all in love with #thebachelorette

Tonight, we pick up with a recap of JoJo being decided to tell Luke bye. At least her camera interview said that. But, Luke asked to talk to her before the roses were given out. He wanted to make sure he understood that not only did his heart belong to her, he "is in love with her." Because saying it exactly like that makes all the difference in the world.

At least to JoJo it does.

She breaks down into tears and wanders the runway in agony over her decision. Will she do the right thing?

Here's the thing. If you don't like the first one you choose, you can actually decide on another one later on because chances are, you won't make it down the aisle.

The whole season, there was just something about Luke. Maybe his intensity. HOWEVER, last week, in Burnet, Texas, he won me over. He just did.

So, what's a girl like JoJo to do? That's where we pick-up tonight.

The rest of the men wonder what is going on and comment on Luke's timing when he walks back in. He's not leaving. Robby thought he might have been leaving.

Luke wonders if it is too little, too late? Is it.

First rose goes to Jordan. (Yuck!)

Second rose goes to Robby. (Double yuck.)

Third and final rose goes to Chase. (He was my pick up until last week.)

Now, Luke has to say his goodbyes. With a courtesy pat on the back from the other men, JoJo cries on his shoulder. The poor guy seems shell shocked. 

JoJo claims it hurts her so much. She thought their relationship got better over time, but she still didn't know where they stood. "And we'll never know how it could have turned out." He stands up to leave with an almost robotic expression and she starts bawling on him.

"I had no clue I was squandering away. I thought when I looked in your eyes and kissed you the magic was real. I thought you knew that."

He can't get free from her grasp. "I can't believe it's over already." His expression reads, "GET ME OUT OF HERE!"

Part of the problem, as through the whole season, he just doesn't articulate well. He doesn't ugly cry in the limo. He's just shocked. He was in love with her, but never got the chance TO love her.

The three remaining guys awkwardly stand around while JoJo is freaking out within sight of where they are standing. "I miss him already."

Well, suck it up, Buttercup, because life goes on, and it's off to Thailand. Land of Buddha statues and monkeys.

At least that's what they show.

JoJo seems to have gotten over that whole Luke thing during the commercial break.

The first overnight date belongs to Robby. He arrives on some sort of tuck-tuck thing. 

That big hair does not go with his flip-flops. They try local delicacies as they walk through the market. Suddenly, they are stuck roaming around in a monsoon. Wonder what that will do to Robby's hair. Nothing. They wait out the thunderstorm by having a pedicure. Actually, it's probably just more of a foot massage.

While getting their feet rubbed on, Robby tells her that he has been honest with her since day one. That old ex-girlfriend that came up back home means nothing. He falls in love with her more each time they are around each other.

JoJo has been falling more and more in love with Robby this whole time, but she has her concerns. "It was this exact day last season..." that JoJo told Ben she loved him only to get squashed like a bug even though he said it back to her at the time.

"So you told your family what you thought about me?" Robby shares a note his dad stuck in his pants pocket which encouraged him to go for it with her. He found it while "changing for bed." Guys say that?

Then, JoJo pulls out the fantasy suite card from Chris Harrison which is really awkward when you think about it. "Hey if you want to do... go ahead, you have my permission to do it officially on show time now."

"I finally don't get dream with JoJo, I get to dream with her."

JoJo is ready for intimate time with him. So that's just basically saying it's "test drive" time, right? Once upon a time, they weren't so blatantly blunt about it.

JoJo can see waking up with Robby every day for the rest of his life. She has decided it is best not to say anything about her love until she is sure at the end whether she means it or not.

So, she leaves Robby to go with Jordan. I bet there's a boat involved.

And, I don't just mean the boat he arrived on. Today they are going to get very hot. Literally, she says. They are going on a challenging, steep hike. He better have brought better shoes than those sandals.

They take a deep breath before starting up the trail. Better them than me because they are huffing and puffing before they even get started. They venture up to a cave, then descend into it. The next cave them brings them to a temple. She wants to respect tradition, so she covers her shoulders and won't kiss in the temple.

She knows there is the physical chemistry, but can she have the long lasting love with him? When they sit to talk, she mentions her family coming soon. Jordan asks about her family. He always imagined being able to look his future father-in-law in the eye, and the dad would just know he would take care of his daughter.

I don't like Jordan, but I don't like JoJo much either. Oh, they can have each other. We're not picking my future husband. 

JoJo wonders if Jordan is ready to commit. Can she trust him? Will he break her heart?

During the evening portion of the date, JoJo has so many questions. Jordan muses over asking her dad. He is so confidently cocky. She whips out her Texas twang and asks what the next year looks like for Jordan since they haven't talked about their future.

Jordan then says something, and JoJo says, "Ben said the same thing." I was too busy tweeting to know exactly what. It was probably just "I love you."

"But how do I know you mean it?"

Jordan scrapes together an answer that's convincing enough for now. The whole "you make me a better person" kind of thing. With that, here comes the next Creepy Chris invite for a test drive. Everyone knows it's coming. Of course, there's no need to discuss. At least it's a different room.

They both love each other, according to JoJo.

Jordan rolled over this morning with a smile on his face. Or so he says. She says waking up to him was perfect. But, it's scary being in love with two people. She doesn't know what to do. She's starting to understand what happened with Ben.

And then there's Chase. Will she decide she's in love with three men? That would be exciting, but scary.

JoJo is looking forward to this date, and he arrives on a motorcycle. She has a fun day plan for them. He just has to follow along. This is the boat date?

They smell something fishy. It's fish. Fish juice drops onto his shirt as he holds one up. It grosses her out.

She loves that he's so into having fun today. It's not a yacht, but they do go out on a boat. They try to get a monkey to wave.

They talk about how the true Chase came out during hometowns and how he wasn't sure what was up with getting the last rose at the rose ceremony.

Chase brings JoJo joy. So much joy, they wade out in the ocean to make out.

The Twittersphere finds Chase to be boring. At least he's not as egotistical as the others. Before their evening date, Chase wants to go tell JoJo that he loves her, but when there is a knock on JoJo's door, it's Robby.

Robby just keeps thinking about her. He just stopped by to suck face.

Back to thinking about Chase. She thinks she won't fall in love with him so she won't be in love with three guys. At dinner, he wants to give a toast, but it takes him a moment to come up with anything. He toasts her trusting him.

JoJo tells him he was the most playful he's ever been today. He's having a hard time stumbling over his words. He wants to be the man she deserves.

Out comes the last invite from Chris. Guess she's going to give Chase a chance after all. "I've been falling in love with you and getting over lots of fears."

JoJo is not as enthusiastic when she hears that. I think she wants to say, "that's nice, but you're my #3."

"Thank you for telling me that," is all she can muster up. She had been wanting to hear that, but she doesn't seem to care now.

JoJo has to have a minute. She leaves the room and leaves him sitting on the couch. He's an incredible person. She wanted to fall in love with him, but needs to let him go.

JoJo pulls herself together and comes back into Chase. "I've been wanting you to say those words to me, but Chase, in my heart and in my gut, I don't think I felt what I thought I was going to feel. I don't know that I am in the same place as you."

He's rightfully angry. He's shattered. It was hard for him to say, and he accuses her of not giving it a try. JoJo says she's trying to keep what happened to her to not happen to him when she couldn't say it back next week. He stabs her with, "you just did." "Why did you give me the card just to send me home?"

Chase gets up and walks out while JoJo cries after him. He accuses her of giving him the fantasy card to break his heart. He doesn't cry as he leaves. He's mad. And embarrassed. He throws in "heartbroken."

The next morning, JoJo reflects on how hard last night was. At this rose ceremony, there really is no decision to make since she sent Chase home. However, she wants the guys to accept her roses.

Chris Harrison talks with Jordan about his week. He sends Jordan on in to get his rose. It's casual though. No tuxes. Daylight. Just awkward man capri pants. Ok. Maybe a little longer than that, but still short. Robby comes up, and Chris sends him in. JoJo walks up and Chris how confident she is in these men.

The men don't know what went down with Chase last night. She starts by telling them how incredible the week was and the steps she made with them. She points out the obvious that she had sent Chase home. She tells them how terrible that was for her, but Chase walks on the scene. He wants to talk to her for a second.

Robby wants to know if you get sent home if you can wander back in. When it's just the two of them, side by side, by themselves, Robby makes Jordan look likeable.

So, Chase. He doesn't want to leave things like they did last night. Chase tells JoJo that he's proud of her, that she did something hard. He basically says, "if it doesn't work out for the others and you want to call me, here's my number. I'm open to it."

He walks off calmly, leaving her in a puddle of her own snot. Again.

She pulls it together enough to go give Jordan and Robby their roses. Jordan always first.

Each are so confident in their relationships, JoJo feels a little sick to her stomach because they have no clue how she feels about the other.

Previews of tomorrow's "Men Tell All" promises a potential fight. I hope it's as interesting as the tease.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

We are One in the Spirit

We are One in the Spirit

By Peter Scholtes
Used by permission. CCLI # 1132191

We are one in the Spirit,
We are one in the Lord,
We are one in the Spirit,
We are one in the Lord,
And we pray that our unity
Will one day be restored,

And they’ll know we are Christians
By our love, by our love,
Yes, they’ll know we are Christians,
By our love.

We will walk with each other,
We will walk hand in hand,
We will walk with each other,
We will walk hand in hand,
And together we’ll spread the news
That God is in our land… 


We will work with each other,
We will work side by side,
We will work with each other,
We will work side by side.
And we’ll guard each man’s dignity
And save each man’s pride… 


All praise to the Father
From whom all things come,
And all praise to Christ Jesus,
His only son, And all praise to the Spirit
Who makes us one… 


Saturday, July 23, 2016

Gotta be prepared

My grandmother called one night this week and asked, "what are you doing?"

"Watching TV and working on some craft stuff."

"What kinds of crafts are you working on now?"


I honestly cannot tell you how many times I have hit Hobby Lobby since Memorial Day trying to get certain supplies. I have to say, they are slower than usual this year, and yes, I do realize it is July.

So, in addition to working on books this week, I finished up some of these light bulbs and worked on giant Christmas balls that can be personalized. I also have one side of four Christmas trees done out in the studio. I have to glue on the decorations for the backs tomorrow.

I'm planning on making a lot. And planning so many events I'll be exhausted to sell them out. I have a trailer to pay for, and hopefully, a vacation in the spring.

I've started our fall schedule. Check it out at

Friday, July 22, 2016

Why I was disgruntled on Monday

I took the day off on Monday. I had to. I had too many hours for the month since I worked over a weekend while I was on a business trip a few weeks ago. 

I saved the day knowing that Peyton would be playing in a softball tournament out of town. However, it was in the middle of nowhere (two hours away), and I didn't know if I would have reliable internet to work during the day if I were to stay down there after the first game. My parents just kept saying, "you shouldn't go." "You don't need to go because you can't go back and forth." They were pretty adamant. I don't know if they would have let me stay in the hotel with them if I had gone, they were so adamant.

Since Angie and I had a shopping afternoon/night last week, I didn't have a plan. 

For some people, just staying home on a day they don't have to work is glorious, especially if they come few and far between. I used to feel the same way. There have been times I have had stay-cations when I had three weeks of vacation every year. There was one week where I even stayed home and had to clear out all the kitchen cabinets so the exterminator could come spray for roaches. It was the same week I had to eradicate head lice from my own head. That may have been the worst vacation EVER.

I work from home. There are days I don't venture further than my front porch to get the mail. The last thing I want to do on a day off during the week (when I know I'm behind on some work) is stay at the house where I have access to email every time I check my phone. 

I'm not going to lie. I was not a happy camper. I was annoyed. In fact, I was angry, just in general. I spent the whole day working on patterns to cut book letters because dad had been talking about needing to cut books. He's always needing me to do something so he can do something.

After making the patterns, I traced out a bunch of letters to cut, and these are some of the results. The rest of the photos are up on The Crafty Dad and Daughter Facebook page.

Further proof, I really need more than a hobby. I need a life.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

If My Husband Would Change, I’d Be Happy... and Other Myths Wives Believe

As the realities of life are settling in post-wedding, are you tempted to think, “It’s my husband’s job to make me happy”? Add Rhonda Stoppe’s new book, If My Husband Would Change, I’d Be Happy, to your must-read list. That myth is but one of many that Rhonda Stoppe dispels in her easy-to-read exploration of what it takes to experience a truly happy marriage. If you desire to rekindle the love and hope you felt on your wedding day, this book will go a long way toward making that dream come true.


If My Husband Would Change, I’d Be Happy: And Other Myths Wives Believe
(Harvest House, August 2015)
Like most brides on their wedding day, you no doubt were filled with love for your husband and the hope of a happy life together.
But perhaps today, as the realities of life together have settled in, those happy expectations are going unfulfilled. And it’s tempting to think, “If only my husband would change, I’d be happy.”
That myth is but one of many that Rhonda Stoppe dispels in her easy-to-read exploration of what it takes to experience a truly happy marriage. In the process, she addresses such important topics as
—understanding your husband’s need for your unconditional respect
—rekindling the love that drew you to your husband in the first place
—refusing to believe the lie that you’d be happier married to someone else
—learning to be content in the midst of financial struggles
—thinking about sex from a biblical worldview
If you desire to rekindle the love and hope you felt on your wedding day, this book will go a long way toward making that dream come true.
Contains discussion questions and personal reflections at the end of each chapter.
Rhonda Stoppe


Rhonda Stoppe is the No Regrets Woman. She is an author and speaker dedicated to helping women live life with no regrets. With more than 20 years’ experience as a mom, mentor, and pastor’s wife, Rhonda’s wisdom and experience helps women discover significance in God and His specific purpose for their lives, connect biblical principles to everyday decisions, develop a loving marriage that others dream about, and influence the next generation by raising children with integrity.
Find out more about Rhonda at

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A practical guide for fighting together for your marriage

Part 1 of an interview with Deb and Ron DeArmond,
Authors of Don’t Go to Bed Angry: Stay Up and Fight

It’s a familiar scenario: He doesn’t understand what she’s really upset about, and she has trouble getting him to see her point of view. In every marriage, there is conflict. In their new book, Don’t Go to Bed Angry: Stay Up and Fight (Abingdon Press), Deb and Ron DeArmond give couples tools to fight fair when conflicts arise.

“Conflict is not the real problem,” note the authors. “It’s how we deal with the conflict that determines where it takes us. Conflict can lead to discovery — greater insight and understanding of our partner’s thoughts, feelings, and perspective — or destruction of the relationship. It’s up to us to choose which direction we will go: discovery or destruction.”

Q: How evenly matched were the two of you when you married to deal with the conflict you experienced? What influences played into that?

During our three-year courtship there weren’t too many areas we hadn’t discussed. But marriage was a whole new ballgame. There were issues like money and sex to deal with that were brand new. And just as often it was the little things that got away from us and created conflict. Big or little issues, we weren’t very prepared to deal with them. So much of that can be attributed to our experiences growing up. We have great families, but we had to “find our way” when it came to understanding ways to disagree without damaging the relationship — or one another.

I (Deb) came from a home where I never heard my parents quarrel and honestly don’t think they ever did. I had no problem expressing myself; times of conflict didn’t scare me, but I was under-skilled to deal with it. I was born late in my parents’ lives; my only sibling was in college by the time I turned two, so it was like being an only (and often spoiled) child. Therefore, I was self-centered enough to think it should always go my way. Marriage poked holes in that myth very quickly.

I (Ron) had come from a blended family with challenges in the mix. Asking questions about situations and speaking up to express your opinion was not always welcome. Sometimes it didn’t feel safe. Staying off the radar was an everyday mission. So I learned to suppress my thoughts, lest it become something I didn’t intend it to be: volatile or hurtful.

Q: How has the conflict changed throughout the years of the marriage? Do you still experience conflict about the same kinds of things?

We disagree over the little things these days and very seldom conflict on major issues. If we were still working on the big things, I don’t think we’d have stayed married for 40 years. We aren’t the kind of people who could have accepted lack of agreement over life issues — faith, love, trust, money, parenting — and just tried to muddle through. There’s nothing so sad as a couple that has lost their connection and lack the intimacy that only comes from agreement. So, yes, we have conflict, but are more skilled and therefore more successful in dealing with it successfully.

Q: Do you ever find you are unable to come to an agreement? And if so how do you handle that?

It’s our absolute failsafe: We let God be the authority — He has the final word in our life together. We submit to His word in all we endeavor to do. And if we can’t find a definitive direction there, we will pray and ask God’s spirit to guide us to a solution that produces peace for both of us. He’s been faithful to do so.

Q: What was it like to collaborate on a book together? Did that create any conflict?

It was a wild ride at times! There were two heads and two hearts involved, but we knew there could only be one set of hands on the keyboards. We didn’t always remember things exactly the same way, and “owning” our own stuff was sometimes a challenge. So, yes! The process created some conflict. And we realized we are exceptionally qualified to co-author this book: We’ve been disagreeing for 40 years!

Truthfully, the conversations of our four decades together reminded us how much mercy, grace and peace God has established in our life. It was very sweet to examine our life together, putting it under the microscope. There are plenty of things we wish we’d have done differently (and I’m sure God does too), but we are still very much in love and best friends after all these years. We serve a good, good Father.

Q: There’s no shortage of books on marriage in the Christian market. What makes this book different?

Our research reinforces a sad but important truth: Christian marriages are not bulletproof. We are not immune to the potential of failure. And the number of dissatisfied couples seems to be on the rise.

Marriage is a complex relationship, and there are many approaches to protect, correct or resurrect it from the potential ravages of conflict. Many provide insight from personal experiences, while just as many identify the scriptural foundation for success. We combined those methods with practical techniques. This gives couples a path, a plan and the promise of God’s word to achieve the marriage they long for: one aligned with God’s word that honors Him and produces life in their union.

For more information, visit or follow Deb on Facebook (AuthorDebDeArmond) or Twitter (@DebDeArmond).

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

‘A Beauty Refined’ Blog Tour, Giveaway, and Facebook Party

Little does Phoebe know that her father's plans—for the sapphires and his daughter—are not what they seem. If you love historical fiction, romance, and adventure, don't miss Tracie Peterson's A Beauty Refined. When Phoebe meets Ian, everything changes. Yet the more he gets to know her, the more he realizes that her family story is based on a lie—a lie she has no knowledge of. And Ian believes he knows the only path that will lead her to freedom.

Join Tracie in celebrating the release of A Beauty Refined by entering to win her Precious Gems giveaway (details below) and by attending her author chat party on August 9!

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One grand prize winner will receive:
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on 8/9. The winner will be announced at A Beauty Refined Facebook party. RSVP for a chance to connect with Tracie and fellow fans of historical fiction, as well as for a chance to win other prizes!

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RSVP today and spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway via FACEBOOK, TWITTER, or PINTEREST and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 9th!


(Bethany House, July 2016)
What does it take to reveal the true beauty of a hidden gem?
Phoebe Von Bergen, the daughter of a German count, is excited to visit America for the first time while her father purchases sapphires in Helena, Montana. Little does she know, however, that her father’s intentions—both for her and the gemstones—are not what she thinks.
Ian Harper, a lapidary working in Helena, finds the dignified young woman staying at the Broadwater Hotel more than a little intriguing. Yet the more he gets to know her, the more he realizes that her family story is based on a lie–a lie she has no knowledge of. And Ian believes he knows the only path that will lead her to freedom.
Meeting Ian has changed everything for Phoebe, and she begins to consider staying in America, regardless of her father’s plans. But she may not be prepared for the unexpected danger that results when her family’s deception begins to unravel.
Tracie Peterson


Tracie Peterson is the bestselling, award-winning author of more than one hundred books. Tracie also teaches writing workshops at a variety of conferences on subjects such as inspirational romance and historical research. She and her family live in Montana.

Find out more about Tracie at

Monday, July 18, 2016

Will JoJo have a new #hometown after #thebachelorette?

Tonight, we will be visiting the final four men's hometowns along with JoJo. What secrets will be revealed by family members? If your family can't embarrass you, no one can.

Highlands Ranch, Colorado is the first stop on tonight's tour. Chase is atop a snow covered hill waiting for JoJo to arrive. JoJo says that while they started off hot, he's been slower to open up than some of the others.

Since Chase's parents went through a very difficult divorce a number of years ago, Chase is going to introduce him to his father separately. This is some of the reason he's been a little guarded. Chase takes JoJo to his large house. I'm impressed. The doorbell rings, and Chase's dad is on the other side. Chase and his dad catch up with each other on what is going on. Chase says that his dad is in a second relationship, but is doing it right this time. Seeing how great he is with his second wife, they talk about what didn't work the first time around. The first time, he was focused on corporate life, and he doesn't want his son to make the same mistakes.

Chase's dad does warn that he keeps a wall up for a while. Chase does want to talk to his dad for a while. Strangely, it's not the parent that wants to take the Bachelorette off first. Dad warns of getting hurt like any dad does.

Later that night, they head over to Chase's moms house where his mom, step-dad, sister, brother-in-law and nephew await. He actually mentions his brother-in-law first. Maybe it's a bromance.

Momma Sandy wastes no time getting her one-on-one time with JoJo. They talk about how Chase expresses his love through actions, not words. JoJo is very comfortable with their conversation.

Chase and his sister talk about how hard it is for them to say, "I love you." She thanks him for the opportunity to share this unique TV experience. Then, Sandy and Chase talk. He wants to get her feelings on the same situation. Sandy keeps talking about her great laugh. She's also found out little things like she likes dogs and hates fish. The big question from her is, "are you ready to engaged at the end of this?" It brings them both to tears, and supposedly, neither are emotional people.

It just may be more serious than we realized between JoJo and Chase. They appear so comfortable this whole day.

Next stop, Chico, California to meet Jordan's family. JoJo had never heard of Chico before, but is super excited about the deer running around their meeting place.

This is where he runs and hikes up "Monkey Face" every morning. He takes her to Pleasant Valley High School where he graduated. One of his coaches is still there. They find some former teachers as well. They decide to go to the upcoming prom. Then, they make out in the library. Their smacking is way too loud for a library.

There are some pictures of him on a bulletin board in a coach's office. He's quick to change the subject when they see a picture of his brother Aaron. This gets her wondering where things went wrong with he and his brother. He won't be here, and it won't come up. Evidently, no one talks about this.

The last girl he brought home was a couple of years ago. He does say his family will be skeptical like he was going in. I suspect this house is going to have some drama. Maybe someone will say why they don't about Aaron.

They come bearing gifts for mom. She's nervous. He laughs it off saying she'll only be nervous for two seconds. They walk in where Mom and Dad are kicked back in recliners. Brother Luke and his girlfriend are there too. The girlfriend's hair is as big and hair-sprayed as Jordan.

Jordan admits he was the "spicy" child in the family. He was the one that threatened to runaway. Mom shares some childhood stories.

JoJo is OBSESSED with finding out about Aaron. She tries to get answers from the other brother. His hair is AWFUL, also long on top, brushed straight back and buzzed on the sides. So bad. Jordan and Luke have a boring conversation.

Dad and JoJo talk next. Though dad doesn't have much hair left, his is combed straight back too. He needs hair to cover his very tall forehead. JoJo asks how he feels about all of this. There's a lot of vague talk. JoJo tries to bring up Jordan following in Aaron's footsteps to try to get more, but still nothing.

Jordan and Mom talk. Mom is so chill. Listening to her talk is sort of like listening to someone high on gas at the dentist's office. Not crazy talk, just light, airy, high-ish voice.

When they leave, they sit out on a bench alone. JoJo is scared because Jordan has told her everything she wants to hear. He is the king of dodging the question and diverting attention. Jordan tells the cameras that he's not getting engaged just to try it out. He's going to be serious about it.

And now, it's off to Robby's hometown, St. Augustine, Florida. JoJo hasn't told him she loves him yet, but he is positive it will happen after she meets his family. 

Since Robby can't whistle, he has JoJo do it. At the call, here comes a horse and carriage to take them on a tour of the town. They pass the oldest church in America. She comments something about it being such a historical little town. Well, yeah, it's considered the oldest country in America after the Spanish landed on its shores.

JoJo tells of how they have been very passionate. There was this hot connection from the start. She admits though that one minutes she might be in love with him, but then she is conflicted because his last relationship lasted four years, and they only broke up a few months ago.

As they sip drinks after their ride, you can tell Robby is digging for a love profession because he talks about how much he has been waiting for this moment... since he told her he loved her. He does tell her tonight will be intense, but awesome. Here JoJo inserts her concern that the last chapter of his life isn't over. She liked that he said, "I love you," so early, but Ben told her "I love you" too. She too has had a long-term relationship and knows it's not as simple as just being done with it. He's very defensive. He asserts he's over and done with the last girl.

They soon head over to Robby's parents' house with an armload of gifts. It's mom, dad (aka Coach Hays), two sisters a brother-in-law, and two brothers. I think Robby is the oldest. Mom wants to know everything, so Robby launches into a recap of watching fireworks on the beach.

The brothers take Robby off to talk. The bros think JoJo fits perfect into the family. Yet, they tell him to be careful.

JoJo and momma Holly talk, and talk about how she and Robby talk about everything. Is there anything that worries you or you want to know? JoJo asks about the ex-girlfriend and if he might regret not taking time after the relationship down the road. JoJo admits to falling in love with Robby though she wasn't sure going in (that's part of the confession too). Mom says Robby means it if he goes for it.

However, when mom and Robby talk, she tells him what has been going on while he has been away. Someone (the ex's roommate?) has been spreading around word that he broke up with his girlfriend to be on the show. Robby gets upset, but mom says she knows it's not true. He doesn't want to get heartbroken again. He doesn't want these lies which correspond with JoJo's fears to be the reason it doesn't work.

Robby's sisters are telling JoJo what a hopeless romantic he is when Robby breaks up the conversation. Robby tells JoJo what his mom just told him... that he "wasn't here for the right reasons." She grills him on why the roommate would do this. She wants Robby to be honest. She's doubting this more and more.

The sisters go off to talk to mom about what happened. Mom hopes Robby reassures JoJo right away. JoJo is getting more and more agitated while he more adamantly denies it. She antes to know sooner rather than later if there is anything going on. "It was over with Hope nine months before it actually ended." They haven't talked since things blew up and she slapped him.

I don't like Robby, but I'm not completely sure JoJo isn't being a little unfair. On the other hand, maybe it's the most logical and sensible thing she's addressed. It's sort of like her obsession with Aaron Rodgers though.

They do kiss and get beyond the argument, at least for a minute. She decides to trust him. He loves her more after she's met his family, but why? I think he is a little too attached too quickly.

Last stop, Burnet, Texas to meet Luke's family. I want to like Luke, but he's so intense. There's something about him that makes me unsure. 

JoJo is seeing glimpses of emotional depth, but she wants to see more. She likes the quiet strength he has.

After walking around the block in her the cowboy boots he gave her on the first night, they get in his big truck and drive on out into the country to the family ranch. There are tons of cars, and apparently it's a family reunion. There's more than just mom, dad, and sister. There's 50 friends. There are all sorts of Texas characters in the crowd. Being a Texan, I can legit say that. I can also say her shorts and boots aren't out of place.

Mom says she seems to love people and him. Dad says she's engaging and beautiful. A great first impression. Luke asks his dad how he knew his mom was the one.

All I have to say is that Luke's people are the most real people. Good Texas people. Grandpa says they need to go fishing. Grandpa is good at picking on Luke.

Luke has a surprise, so he has to leave the smaller, actual family group, behind. They go on a horseback ride to a quiet place where a couch made of hay has been built.

Luke tries to get out his words. He grows on me a little bit. He's just not articulate, especially about his feelings. Tears come to JoJo's eyes. She just wishes she had more time because the thought of leaving makes her sad. But, he has one more surprise. They wander over to an area with a lit path to a heart made of flower petals. "I want you to know that my heart is yours and my heart is out there for you."

They have a soundtrack playing as he walks her to the car. The others didn't have a love song.

So once everyone gets back to Los Angeles, to save some time, the rose ceremony is being held in an airplane hanger. They'll fly off to wherever from here. 

JoJo is emotionally sick. She's become so connect. Everyone, except Jordan, seems pretty sure. She thinks she needs to say goodbye to Luke. Something will go down because we usually aren't told that in advance.

She picks up the first rose, looks over the crowd. Luke looks sick. She shakes her head. Luke asks to talk to JoJo as sec. She eagerly says, "yeah, and takes his hand as they walk off."

"So after you left the other night... I'm the kind of person who has to get things off his chest... I don't know if I said the right thing or not... I needed to tell you that I am in love with you, and I didn't get to tell you that the other night. It's been the only thing on my mind since then."

She gives him a hug and kisses him. He asks how she feels. JoJo says what he said was the one thing she needed to hear. She says, "thank you." Then, she walks one direction, and he goes back to the men. "Of course it changes things, but is it enough."

There will be no rose ceremony tonight because JoJo is having an emotional breakdown on the tarmac.

There will be two nights of The Bachelorette next week. The continuation of tonight's rose ceremony on Monday and the Men Tell All on Tuesday.