Thursday, March 21, 2019

Living Intentionally in an Unstable World

Part 1 of an interview with Melissa Spoelstra,
Author of Dare to Hope

Looking at today’s world, hope usually isn’t the first word that comes to mind. We live in a polarizing world where everyone is taking sides over issues large and small, leaving us to wonder what the future may hold. On a personal front, marriages fail, bank accounts run low, friendships end, and the everyday demands of a fast-paced life get us down. However, what the world is experiencing today isn’t all that different than what the prophet Jeremiah experienced thousands of years ago, and as author Melissa Spoelstra shares in her new book, Dare to Hope: Living Intentionally in an Unstable World (Abingdon Press), God is calling out to His people with a message of hope—a message that intentional living is possible even in an uncertain world.

Q: Several years ago, you wrote a Bible study based on the book of Jeremiah. What persuaded you to revisit Jeremiah and the subject of hope in your new book, Dare to Hope.

The message of hope continues to resonate in our culture. We all have reasons for despair and are looking for an anchor of hope to give some stability to our complicated lives. Jeremiah’s message of hope isn’t a formula, but his writings provide greater insight into God’s pathway to a deeper relationship with Him.

God’s message is counterintuitive to the American way of pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. In the book of Jeremiah, the Lord calls His people to surrender, listen, soften their hearts and take personal responsibility rather than play the blame game. These truths hit home as we muddle through our own circumstances and seek to be daring with hope.

Q: In what ways were days of Jeremiah similar to the tumultuous time we live in today?

God spoke through His prophet Jeremiah with clarity to a culture summarized by political globalization. The Babylonian Empire brought people of different cultures together. Ancient Judah also faced economic crisis because of their indebtedness to other nations. They had to pay tribute to Egypt, and later Babylon, which left the country stripped of its resources. Even with these economic issues, they struggled against social materialism. Jeremiah said that from the least to the greatest, the people’s lives were ruled by greed. On the religious front, people added other gods to the worship of Yahweh leading to religious pluralism.

Hmmm... sound familiar? Political globalization, economic crisis, social materialism and religious pluralism can all echo into our day, albeit in different ways. Jeremiah’s message brings us back to eternal truths about where our hope lies in troubled times.

Q: It’s easy to feel discouraged when observing the looming moral bankruptcy of our culture. Should we get caught up in all that is going on around us or should we divert our attention elsewhere?

I wouldn’t say we should get caught up in it, but we live in this world. We have responsibilities as Christ followers to spread God’s message of hope to others, so this means getting involved with people. People are complicated and relationships can be messy, so we are caught up in it whether we want to be or not. We can’t bury our heads in the sand. But we also can’t become consumed with everything going on around us and neglect our own ability to surrender to God through listening with a soft heart. We need balance and perspective to zoom out a little bit and try to get a glimpse of the God’s bigger picture. Jeremiah did this in his day by listening to God. In the same way, we can focus our eyes on Jesus and ask Him to give us vision as we navigate life in an unstable world.

Q: Remind us of some of the situations Jeremiah had to deal with in his own life. Did he ever lose hope?

Jeremiah was referred to as the weeping prophet because he brought a message that didn’t feel very hopeful. He called the nation of Judah to surrender to Babylon. God used him as a mouthpiece to tell the people how they had gotten off course with counterfeits. His words and illustration were harsh. In response to this, Jeremiah was ostracized from his family. He was imprisoned and beaten. At one point he was lowered into a pit filled with mud. I can’t imagine Jeremiah felt hopeful at the bottom of a pit. He voiced his frustrations and complaints to God even stating that he wished he had died in his mother’s womb. We can relate to Jeremiah’s bouts with depression and discouragement. Yet at the same time, Jeremiah knew where to turn. He poured out his heart to God and rehearsed his attributes. God reassured and encouraged him. Jeremiah chose to dare to hope based on God’s faithfulness rather than the trials he experienced personally as well as those of his nation. He wrote Lamentations and he said this,

 “The thought of my suffering and homelessness
    is bitter beyond words.
I will never forget this awful time,
    as I grieve over my loss.
Yet I still dare to hope
    when I remember this:
The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
    His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness;
    his mercies begin afresh each morning.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;
    therefore, I will hope in him!”  (Lamentations 3:19-24 NLT)

Q: The most quoted verse from Jeremiah comes from chapter 29, verse 11, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’” Why do we need to be careful not to misuse this verse or take it out of context?

In the context of Jeremiah’s message, he says that the people will experience 70 years of exile in Babylon in the verse right before this one. He then tells them that God has good plans that include a future and a hope. So, we can hold onto this verse! The danger comes when we assume it means our circumstances will immediately turn around and be easy. God said that for 70 years life would be disrupted, but then after that, they would be restored. I chuckle when I see this verse plastered everywhere during graduation season. Its like we are saying in 70 years things will turn out okay. God’s hope is assured, but hope isn’t equivalent to easy, comfortable or materially prosperous circumstances. The prosperity gospel doesn’t work in Jeremiah’s economy, so we must understand this verse in its context. God’s good plans and hope for the future aren’t just for material gain but for spiritual blessings. We can bank on a rich relationship with God when we surrender to Him, and that is a hope-filled message. Its worth daring courageously to believe.

Q: You give your readers a little homework after finishing each chapter. Can you tell us about the Dare to Hope Challenges?

Often when I read a book, I can mentally work through the information, but often fail to take the next step of evaluating how it applies in my life. The Dare to Hope challenges give the readers a next step, to put feet to the truths mined from Jeremiah’s book.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

A Christ-Centered Approach to Preparing for Parenting

Part 2 of an interview with
Rob and Stephanie Green,
Authors of Tying Their Shoes

Through a gospel-centered approach to parenting, Tying Their Shoes by Rob and Stephanie Green, lays the foundation for expecting parents to welcome a new addition into their home in light of the gospel. First-time soon-to-be parents and parents expecting an additional child will find Christ-centered hope, practical advice, and encouragement toward parental unity in this invaluable resource.

The Greens know a baby brings many wonderful changes for both biological and adoptive parents. While other parenting resources exist to help expectant parents prepare for what’s around the corner, the Greens know the gospel is the best resource to ground couples in their relationships with the Lord, with each other, and with their children.

Q: There’s a lot of fear-based “preparation” expectant parents can be tempted to cling to. While some advice may be helpful, how do soon-to-be parents keep out some of the noise or voices aren’t helpful?

One of the things we like to remind ourselves is it is always possible to make things more complicated than what they are. Yes, parenting is war. Yes, we have to work at understanding our children. Yes, we want to be knowledgeable. However, I also need to remember that because we all live under the good and sovereign hand of the Lord, basic Christian teachings like identity, grace, obedience, purpose, priorities and dependence make up the core of life.

Our advice is to read books like ours to give you some things to think about. However, more importantly, do not forget to read your Bible, pray without ceasing, and rely on the one who died on the cross for you. Tying Their Shoes should push you to lean into Jesus and to rely on him even more.

When you hear or read a fear-based preparation, remind yourself perfect love casts out fear. Love the Lord Jesus, your spouse and your child. Learn all you can to be wise and thoughtful and trust the Lord for the grace and strength for this road of parenting.

Q: Do you have any advice for parents who are adding another child to the family? How do parents navigate the transition to becoming a big brother or sister well with their kids?

First, parents should be so thankful to the Lord they have the privilege of parenting another child. We have the opportunity to parent three of them. There remain certain foundational principles that apply no matter how many children parents have. For example, not finding your primary identity in your children is still an important matter. Parents should still work to make their marriage a priority. They should seek to raise every child in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Those things are always true. In addition, remember each child is different. What you did with one child may not work as well with a different child. Be careful not to compare. One child may struggle to sleep more than another child. One may have more problems with reflux than another. One may cry more than another. Allow your trust in God’s sovereignty to dominate your thoughts and continually seek him for wisdom for this new child.

As far as big brothers or sisters are concerned, it is important to help them understand their place in the home. Just because we have a new baby does not mean we no longer love them. Thus, remember to include your older child(ren) in the care of the new baby.

Second, help them see this wonderful stewardship opportunity. The big brother/sister has the chance to help protect and care for their little brother/sister. They can help them learn about life. When our two oldest were little, the older was talking to the younger. He explained if you ever wanted something really bad for Christmas – ask Nanny! Here was big brother showing little brother how life really worked.

We always found in the younger years our children followed our lead. If we were excited about something, they were excited. If we were complaining, they were complaining. If you act like having a new baby is hard, then so will the older sibling. But if you act like the new baby is a gift from the Lord, your older siblings just might believe you.

Q: How would you encourage readers who have experienced difficulty on their road to becoming parents (infertility, miscarriages, adoption issues, etc.)?

Issues of infertility, miscarriage, or an adoption that fell through are incredibly hard and often take people by surprise. Few people imagine those kinds of struggles before they have them. Thankfully, the Lord has a lot to say about suffering. Many of his people struggled with the exact same thing. You can take comfort the Lord has a lot of say about your situation. We like to remind people to cry out to the Lord (Psalm 13), look for his grace in all its various forms (my grace is sufficient), and believe the Lord is for you, even when days are really hard.

Enjoy what the Lord has given. You do not know what the future will hold. Maybe issues of infertility will be gone … maybe not. Maybe you will have another miscarriage … maybe not. Maybe you will be able to adopt five more children … maybe not. Jesus encouraged us not to worry about tomorrow for today has enough trouble of its own.

In order to be encouraged, encourage others. There are other couples still waiting. Some have come to grips with the Lord’s plan more than others. 2 Corinthians 1 reminds us we can comfort others with the comfort we have received from the Lord.

Q: Would single parents benefit from reading Tying Their Shoes?

If being a parent is difficult, then being a single parent is especially difficult. Many single parents have very long to-do lists without reading another book. It is possible a single parent would grieve over a chapter addressing both a mom and a dad or to long for a relationship with a spouse like the one described in the book. 

However, single parents can also benefit greatly. It can direct them to be center their thinking on Christ rather than task-oriented. If the laundry is not done or the house is a dump, then that might not be a crisis. Maybe you were able to spend some special time playing with your child(ren).

Single parents can also benefit from seeing what kind of spouse they would look for should the opportunity come. Some single parents settle for a marriage far from what Christ would want, and as a result suffer greatly. 

God’s word doesn’t change. The truths found in God’s word are the same whether you are a single or married parent. All need the encouragement and hope found within the pages as well as to be reminded of the promises and the commands to be obeyed.

Q: How will biblical counselors and pastors benefit from reading this book?

One of our hopes is resources like this will help to prevent some potential counseling! Parenting is a dynamic process. It requires wisdom, prayer and the Lord’s grace every step of the way. As a pastor, I want people to be in the best position to respond to what they face. That involves thinking about a few matters in advance. In addition, since there is a chapter on mentors, it is possible for the church to have a more formal mentoring ministry to those expecting their first child.

Pregnancy does not typically lead people to seek biblical counseling, but as a counselor I am in favor of mentoring and learning in advance as opposed to waiting until preventable hurts and pains require additional guidance. However, maybe it is those who are expecting that do not know how counseling might be a benefit to them. Going through a resource and having a little counseling tune up may put the couple in the best possible position to handle the new changes well.

Q: If new mothers only take one thing away from Tying Their Shoes in relationship to pregnancy and labor, what do you hope that one thing would be?

God has blessed you with a wonderful opportunity to be a mom. While there will be uncomfortable days, there will also be great joy. That means you can trust him during pregnancy and with your labor. You can also trust that if your plans for labor do not work out, there was a purpose. Your great shepherd is with you every step of the way, so there is no need to fear. Rather draw near to him and trust his perfect plan.

If you experience hardship along the way then know he is with you every step giving you grace and strength.

Q: What is the main point you hope new fathers glean about their involvement with their child during infancy?

I was a very different father to my three children during their infancy. The life and family schedule were part of the reason for that difference. However, it was not all of it. I cannot hide behind an additional educational endeavor or a busy life. The fact is there was also a heart issue. I was more intimidated by the infant stage. I had a wife who was and is an amazing mom. I had a path of least resistance and I took it. That does not mean I was absent—far from it.

What I would encourage new fathers to do is engage in all the blessings and challenges. Yes, you may miss a first smile or a first step. In those moments rejoice that God has given you a job that provides food, clothing and shelter. In those moments rejoice that God is growing your baby to do exactly what babies are supposed to do. When you have moments of challenge rejoice that God is using them to make you more like Christ. It is easy to love and care when the other person gives you what you want. It is Christlike to love even when they do not.

Q: How does Tying Their Shoes fit in with Rob’s previous release, Tying the Knot?

The first book, Tying the Knot, attempts to help engaged couples begin their marriage well. It tries to connect how one’s relationship with Jesus impacts everything – how one loves, solves problems, communicates, handles financial resources, invests in community and functions in the bedroom. However, we all know that after two people get married each couple has to learn to apply the truths of Scripture and find comfort in God’s love and presence in the midst of various circumstances. God willing, this allows them to enjoy all the blessings he provides in marriage.

The second book, Tying Their Shoes, attempts to help expecting parents prepare for one of God’s special blessings in marriage—a child. We know not all couples will experience joy, but those who do have a new opportunity before them. Our goal was to offer couples a small scholarship. We know they will face a variety of difficulties and challenges. However, engaging Christ, His Word, and relying on Him in the midst of the changes can allow new parents to truly enjoy this blessing from the Lord.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Deep and Wide... a throwback

Since I've not been able to get new videos this month, I'm throwing back to two and a half years ago at the beginning of a school year when the kids claimed to be camera shy. It's backwards "Deep and Wide."

Deep and Wide

Deep and wide. Deep and wide.
There’s a fountain flowing deep and wide.
Deep and wide. Deep and wide.
There’s a fountain flowing deep and wide.

Hmmm and wide. Hmmm and wide.
There’s a fountain flowing hmmm and wide.
Hmmm and wide. Hmmm and wide.
There’s a fountain flowing hmmm and wide.

Deep and hmmm. Deep and hmmm.
There’s a fountain flowing deep and hmmm.
Deep and hmmm. Deep and hmmm.
There’s a fountain flowing deep and hmmm.

Hmmm and hmmm. Hmmm and hmmm.
There’s a fountain flowing hmmm and hmmm.
Hmmm and hmmm.
Hmmm and hmmm.
There’s a fountain flowing hmmm and hmmm.

Deep and wide. Deep and wide.
There’s a fountain flowing deep and wide.
Deep and wide. Deep and wide.
There’s a fountain flowing deep and wide.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Northern expansion

Back in the fall, we kept getting requests for Oklahoma signs. Hey, if they will actually sell, might as well. 

I finally got some time in the craft room this weekend, so finished off a couple of "Boomer Sooners" for OU, then did a couple of variations of Oklahoma State. 

REALLY want to do a University of Florida because I have a gator in my MDF stash to put on it. Here's a bit of trivia for you: When I was 5-6 years old, we went to Florida to Disney World in consecutive years, and I decided at that point, I wanted to go to the University of Florida. When I was young, that's where I said I wanted to go to college. 

When we went back when I was in junior high, I even bought a couple of Gators t-shirts. True story.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Authors encourage moms to give themselves some grace

Part 1 of an Interview with
Suzanne Hadley Gosselin
and Gretta Kennedy,
Authors of Grit and Grace:
Devotions for Warrior Moms

Being a mom is one of the most rewarding experiences a woman can have, but motherhood also has its share of challenges physically, mentally, emotionally and even spiritually. Even if a woman has read all the parenting books and received sage advice from other moms, until she becomes a mom she won’t truly understand the responsibility and challenges that come with the title. For the overwhelmed mamas who think they’ll never live up to the Supermoms around them, Suzanne Hadley Gosselin and Gretta Kennedy, authors of Grit and Grace: Devotions for Warrior Moms (Harvest House Publishers), want to offer encouragement and assurance they are not alone.

Q: How did the two of you team up to write Grit and Grace?

Suzanne Hadley Gosselin (SHG): I was in the throes of raising three young children who were 5, 3 and 18-months old, and it occurred to me one day that I was depleted in every way, but especially spiritually. I found that ironic, since my husband is a pastor and I’m a Christian writer. I had many spiritual resources easily accessible to me, and yet I was still struggling. I also realized that it wasn’t good because in this season of raising young children I really needed Jesus, arguably more than ever.

Around that same time, I had a conversation with my 3-year-old daughter about how I could no longer fit into my “fanciest dress” (my wedding dress) because I had gotten bigger when I had babies. Her reaction floored me. Her eyes sparkled and she said, “Was I one of the babies in your tummy that made you get bigger?” My daughter could see the beauty in something that I had allowed to make me feel like a failure. I realized, then, that God uses these years to teach mamas so many wonderful truths through their children.

Meanwhile, God was laying it on Gretta’s heart to encourage moms of young children. Gretta studied women’s ministry at Multnomah where we met and were college roommates and had a knack for connecting with women and meeting them where they’re at. We were talking on the phone one day and realized that God had given us the exact same vision to provide digestible devotions for moms of young children to encourage and strengthen them in their role as mothers. That’s when the idea of Grit & Grace was born.

Q: Who did you write Grit and Grace for? What stage of motherhood will get the most encouragement from reading your book?

SHG: We wrote Grit and Grace for moms of young children. We’re looking at the season that encompasses babies, toddlers and early elementary school. Many times, if they have multiple children, mamas are navigating all of these stages at once. While the stories focus on the young children years, the truths from God’s Word apply to mamas (and even grandmas) at all stages. We have had Grandmas comment that they feel encouraged to show greater intentionality toward their grandchildren.

Q: What does it mean to you to have grit and grace?

Gretta Kennedy (GK): Having grit is pushing through the hard stuff of motherhood with determination and laser-focus on the end goal of raising children who love and serve Jesus. Having grace means realizing that God offers you peace, rest and help in this season and as well as being kind to your children and especially yourself!

Q: Can you describe the format of the book? How much time does each devotional take to read?

SHG: Grit and Grace is a 90-Day devotional, and our concept was to provide quick-read nuggets of truth for busy mamas. These devos should take no longer than five minutes to get through, and the Scripture passage is included so you don’t even have to go find your Bible. The idea is that these can be read in the tiny spaces in a mama’s day—while the kids are napping or she’s nursing the baby. Each daily devotion includes a true story of motherhood and delves into a spiritual truth that was learned through the experience. Each devotion also includes a prayer to allow busy moms to respond the devotion in the moment.

Q: When is the best time for you to do your own devotions? Early in the morning, during nap time or after the kids are in bed?

GK: The few times I was able to sit down and actually read my Bible when the kids were little, I found that naptime worked best for me. I was never awake enough in the morning, then I’d be completely exhausted at night. During the time my kids were tiny, I often felt like a failure in this department. That’s when I learned my devotional time needed to be throughout the day. I wrote verses on note cards and put them up in the kitchen cupboards. I played worship music all day long. I wrote messages on my bathroom mirror. Those were the ways I found I could consistently have my quiet time. Mommy brain is pretty mushy, so I took it in little spurts. I recited the same verse over and over and eventually, those were the sweetest messages I got from God.

SHG: I do best when I have devotional time interspersed throughout the day. I like to pray and listen to worship music while I’m loading the dishwasher. When I want to go a little deeper, I usually dig in after the kids have gone to bed. Like Gretta, I have often felt like a failure in this area. I want to be an amazing mommy, but I neglect the One who can help me. One of the reasons I wanted to write a devotional like this was to help exhausted moms like me, who couldn’t seem to find the time and space for daily devotional time.

Q: What are some of the topics you cover in the devotionals?

SHG: We talk about perfectionism, comparison, joy, gratefulness, fear, rejection, weariness, calling, tenacity (grit) and hope (grace). Our subtitle is Devotions for Warrior Moms, and that is how we view mamas. They are on the front lines guiding their children to God’s truth and aiming them at the target—Jesus. Grit and Grace talks about the gamut of emotions mothers of young children face, both good and bad.

Q: If moms only take away one thing from reading Grit and Grace, what do you hope they learn?

SHG: We hope they will feel encouraged and empowered that God has chosen them for their specific children. They are called to this. There are so many sweet moments that come along with the difficult ones. As one pre-reader said, “Grit and Grace is helping me treasure hunt for grace in the challenging moments of motherhood and remember to savor the sweet moments I want to be etched deep into my heart forever.” Yes. That.

Fellow Grit and Grace Warrior Moms can connect on Facebook (gritandgracemoms), Twitter (Gritandgracemom) and Instagram (@gritandgracemoms).

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Separation doesn’t have to mean the end of a marriage

Linda Rooks offers real-life answers for couples
in the trenches seeking to repair their marriages

It is estimated that upwards of 80% of separated couples ultimately seek out a divorce. Despite the sobering statistics, it is possible to reconcile and build a stronger, lasting marriage. In Fighting for Your Marriage While Separated: A Practical Guide for the Brokenhearted (New Growth Press/February 25, 2019), Linda W. Rooks offers practical answers to readers’ questions, guiding them to a positive outcome for their marriage.  

As separation and divorce increasingly become what many feel to be the only solutions in many troubled marriages, Rooks encourages couples to continue to fight for restoration and healing. As a survivor of a broken marriage herself, Rooks understands that readers need specific, biblical, and practical help navigating their new, unwanted journey by faith. She and her husband, Marv, were married for over twenty years when then they faced a marriage crisis and separated. After three years of separation, they have now been reunited for twenty years.

“Gleaning from my experience of those I’ve walked beside during separation and brokenness, I have real-life answers from the trenches—answers that have already helped people find healing and restoration,” says Rooks. For the past eleven years, the Rookses have led a successful ministry to marriages in crisis in Central Florida. The many emails and newsletter responses she received also resulted in a thriving online marriage ministry.

“In the emails I get from readers, I hear the heartache. Each story is very different, but the pain bleeds from each sentence and paragraph. My heart grieves for those who write as they tell about suffering through an agony I know all too well because of my own three-year separation a number of years ago,” Rooks writes. “Because my own marriage was restored and I have been able to work with so many others to reconcile their marriages, I can confidently tell you it is possible to fight for your marriage and win—even when your spouse has turned away from you.

Some of the practical topics Rooks covers in Fighting for Your Marriage While Separated include:
  • Giving your spouse time and space, 
  • Choosing a marriage counselor,
  • Knowing when it’s time to reconcile,
  • Coping with divorce,
  • Learning to live with the same spouse in a new marriage,
  • Surrounding yourself with people who support your goals
  • Communicating with and protecting the children,
  • Deciding on limits,
  • Trusting God for what happens next.

Rooks’s aim for Fighting for Your Marriage is to provide hope in the midst of sorrow and in spite of a broken heart, helping men and women not to give up, but to find real-life, concrete answers. Only then, she states, will married couples find strength for the battle ahead.

“When separation breaks a family apart, a spouse willing to fight for the marriage must step back from the fray and take a look,” she says. “Fighting for your marriage means going deeper to appropriate a whole new set of weapons. Change must take place, and it starts with God.”

Linda W. Rooks, the author of Broken Heart on Hold: Surviving Separation and Fighting for Your Marriage While Separated: A Practical Guide for the Brokenhearted, knows what it’s like to fight for your marriage. After being married for more than 20 years, she and her husband were separated for three years before reuniting. They have now been married over 40 years. Today, not only is their marriage thriving, but together they lead a crisis marriage class in Central Florida. 

As a freelance writer, Rooks’ writings have appeared in many national publications, including editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul, Focus on the Family, Homelife, and Today’s Christian Woman. She has appeared on TV and radio across North America.

The Rooks have two married daughters and five grandchildren.

Learn more about Linda W. Rooks and her ministry at  and follow her on Facebook (Broken Heart on Hold) and Twitter (@linda_rooks)

To order a copy, visit New Growth Press.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

The most boring ending to The Bachelor ever

I swear, if tonight's finale of The Bachelor isn't more interesting than last night's (which could have been boiled down to 15 minutes), I will fall asleep. I almost face-planted at my desk this afternoon.

So, Colton knocks on Cassie's hotel room door and wants to talk to her. They walk downstairs holding hands.

Colton tells Cassie that he knew he wanted to have another conversation with her after the other night, but first he had to end things with Tayshia and Hannah. He is in love with her. He's not asking for an engagement at the end of this. He's asking for a second chance to take things day-by-day.

Cassie has been telling herself there were other women here who were further along than she was who were sure of what they wanted. Women who were ready to get married. She wants him to have what he wants at the end.

Colton not only wants to tell her that he loves her, but show her.

Cassie is still confused and doesn't understand what's happening.

Colton tells her about jumping the fence and running away. He invites her to Spain to meet his family.

She accepts, but doesn't know what she's ready for.

Ok. So personal commentary here. I thought last week that her dad talked her into doubting herself and swaying her opinion too much. Now, I don't think she's all that into Colton and all of this. I don't think she knows what she wants. I think she's too young to know/understand.

Now in Spain, Colton says there is no better place to end this journey. He didn't expect to enter this week with only one woman. However, as hard as last week was, he knows it's worth it.

Colton just hopes Cassie is able to tell him that she loves him at the end of this. But first, Colton has to sit down with everyone and tell him what's happened. His ability to joke about his virginity with his family is kind of awkward. He shares that Cassie broke up with him, but he broke up with the others, and tried to get Cassie back. When asked by his dad, Colton says he knows he is in love with Cassie, but no, doesn't think she's in love with him.

Cassie arrives, but is super nervous and tearful. She has to answer to mom and step-dad, dad and step-mom, brother and sister-in-law.

The family is pretty skeptical it seems, especially listening to her talk about not being ready yet and not sure if she can "get there."

Colton's mom asks if she and Colton can talk, leaving Cassie with EVERYONE else. Mom doesn't want him to get set up for another heartbreak. Mom just doesn't know if this is going to be reciprocated.

Colton's dad talks to Cassie. When Colton loves, he loves all the way. Cassie says she asked Colton if she was sure when he broke the news that he had broken up with the other two. She wants him to have someone who loves him fully.

Mom and Cassie talk about how she wants to be confident in her decision.

Colton tells Dad he isn't second guessing anything. He's already gone all in. Colton would rather risk getting his heart broken than miss out on Cassie.

The next day, it's time for one, final date. 

In order to get to their picnic, they have to repel down a cliff. Dumb idea.

Over the picnic, they talk about her relationship fears... like a relationship in general. A commitment.

In college, she dated a guy who had planned out proposing, but then it got really controlling. She fears having to change everything for one person.

That night, Cassie says she's glad the past week has gone like it has. He pulls out the fantasy suite card from under his place mat.

They head to the suite, kick everyone out, then Cassie realized they still have mics. They call the crew back to take the microphones, then kick everyone out again.

Chris Harrison gathers former cast members around to ponder what's going down in the fantasy suite. Who needs Onyeka, Demi, Sydney, "Goose," Jason and Ben. Ben Higgins is about the only one I start to respect. 

At least Goose says that sometimes the conversations alone are more important than other things that may go on. 

The next morning Colton is in the shower being vague about the night before. What happened was great for their relationship, he claims.

Colton and Cassie come out for the live portion of the show. They aren't engaged right now. They've talked about it, but are currently just dating. He's moving out to LA closer to her. They are going to be together, but not living together. We get clips of their weekends together since getting back from Spain. It's really super cheezy.

Colton gives her the final rose, and the show announces they are sending them back to Thailand.

There's a special performance by Air Supply.

And now the announcement of the new Bachelorette... Hannah B. aka Miss Alabama. 

You guys may have to do this next one without me. I can't handle her. She annoys me. Her many expressions. Her weird, humongous smile. The segment showing Chris telling her over Facetime was even boring.

I seriously don't know what's going to happen the next twenty minutes. 

Oh, what's going to happen is she is going to meet some guys. 

She's speechless making for a really boring bit of TV.

Luke - He says Hannah is the only one that he wanted to be the Bachelorette.

Dustin - He comes bearing champagne and wants to toast the beginning of an amazing journey and loving each other every single day.

Cam - He is from Austin, Texas and starts rapping like he's in Hamilton or something. He's an Aggie. Doesn't bode too well in my book.

Connor - He wants to make sure they are on the same level, so created a step so they could look at each other eye-to-eye.

Luke S. - He reminds me a little bit of Nick. He makes a going down south joke. (Chris makes a joke about him being Nick-like too.)

Hannah is ready to give out a rose right now. She said she was joking, but Chris found her a rose.

She gives it to... Cam. At first, I thought maybe she just didn't remember his name.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Just when you didn't think The Bachelor could drag on any more

So what happened after Colton jumped the fence, tonight we will supposedly find out.

I was talking on the phone, so got to fast forward through the season recap at the top of the show.

After the jump, the crew takes off looking Colton, but can't seem to find him. They take out cars, they look through the brush along the side of the road. They call out for him, but no answer. Finally, one of the cars driving into town finds him walking down the road. It's him, but he will not reply to his name being yelled. He will not talk to the producer who is walking along side him.

Chris Harrison finally gets to him and tries to have a conversation. Colton says he is done. He is done done. Colton finally agrees to get in a car instead of walking to the airport.

So how does Hannah find out she doesn't have a date, a fantasy suite date at that? How does Tayshia find out Colton is done?

The morning after the attempted escape, Chris sits down with Colton to talk. Colton thinks anytime something good happens to him that it is followed by something bad.

Colton could tell something was off when Cassie arrived after talking to her dad. He realized in middle of it last night that it was Cassie he fell in love with, and it's time to eliminate the other two women to clear the confusion Cassie has. Right now, he feels like Cassie completes him.

Chris says, "Are you sure breaking it off with the others will do it? What if she's just not into you?"

Colton thinks he has a good gut instinct though. He's going to fight for the woman he loves.

First up, Colton goes to talk to Tayshia. He's definitely shaken, and Tayshia tries to hug him to help help. Colton tells her that he owes her the respect to be honest and tell her that his heart can't love two people and his heart is with someone else. Tayshia doesn't look overly surprised or upset when he tells her that he loves Cassie.

Tayshia asks to talk to him without the cameras, but they still have microphones. Tayshia is upset and cries in Colton's arms before he leaves her. She packs up to leave.

During the live segment, Tayshia takes the hot seat to talk. She was shocked when Colton arrived that day. 

Colton comes out to talk, and Tayshia asked what was missing. After mumbling on, it just comes down to another relationship was there more. There's a lot of jibber jabber that seems pretty empty. I'm distracted, as usual. Someday, I'm not going to be blowing my nose like crazy. 

Back to Portugal, it's nighttime before Colton arrives to talk to Hannah. He tells her that she has always been one of those people that could pick him up. However, he can't be in love with two people. He loves Cassie.

Hannah didn't expect him to say that. Colton says that he thought it was going to be her. Hannah reminds him of home. She asks him what didn't work, but he doesn't have an answer.

Hannah feels a bit like Colton. She makes everyone feel better, but no one wants to stick around. She didn't think it was possible to have a better connection than what they had.

On set, Hannah is crying just like she was in Portugal. 

Colton is now suddenly conflicted that maybe he is making the wrong decision. Hannah is pouting, quite honestly, about being about to go home without telling him she loved him like she was about to. She didn't get her fantasy suite date *foot stomp*.

I can't handle all the snot and tears. Colton loves Cassie so much he's willing to walk away from someone "as great" as Hannah (his words, not mine.)

Hannah and Chris Harrison sit down to talk. She thought it was going to be her. She says the hardest thing has been going through watching this and people walking up asking to see her engagement ring when she doesn't have one. Watching back just makes her more confused. 

There's a lot of painful second guessing going on. Hannah wants to know if they had a date, and their date first, that week in Portugal if things had been different. Chris Harrison asks if Colton ever thought about having that one last overnight date. Colton says he did not. 

Hannah tells Colton that what Cassie did to him is what he did to her (Hannah). 

So, now Harrison is going on about how for the first time in Bachelor history there are no women left on the show. Yet, we have a few minutes left tonight and two hours tomorrow.

That means, we have to bring Bachelors of the past out. Ben, Garrett, Jason and Blake have to all give their input on where they think Colton goes from here.

Preview of tomorrow night:

Cassie packs up in Portugal and says she cannot commit to Colton. She wants to take herself out of the equation and let someone else have him.

Colton, however, is going after Cassie.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Awesome God

Since I missed my week to teach because I was sick, I'm having to pull out some old videos to re-share this month.

Awesome God

By Rich Mullins
Used by permission. CCLI # 1132191

Our God is an awesome God;
He reigns from Heaven above
With wisdom, pow’r, and love.
Our God is an awesome God!

Our God is an awesome God;
He reigns from Heaven above
With wisdom, pow’r, and love.
Our God is an awesome God!

Our God is an awesome God!
Our God is an awesome God!

Friday, March 8, 2019

We all could use a Jiminy Cricket in our life

I didn't get the crafting done last weekend that I wanted to... more on that recap tomorrow... but I did finish outlining this canvas from Pinocchio. I'm hoping the Disney movie canvases go as well as the Seuss ones. We'll see how they debut in 6 or 7 weeks.