Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Win a copy of Robin Lee Hatcher's Who I Am with You!

For the next couple of weeks my blog tour team
is reviewing Who I Am with You by Robin Lee Hatcher,
her latest release from Thomas Nelson. 

Learn a little bit more about the book below and scroll down
to enter the giveaway to win your own copy!

About the book:

For these two broken hearts, the first step toward love will be a huge leap of faith.

Jessica Mason isn’t looking for love when she meets Ridley Chesterfield. Instead she is still reeling from the tragic, unexpected loss of her husband and daughter—and awaiting the arrival of her unborn child. Harboring the secret of her husband’s betrayal, her pain is deeper than anyone knows.

Ridley Chesterfield is hiding out in Hope Springs, Idaho, avoiding a political scandal and the barrage of false media headlines that have tarnished his good name. The last thing Ridley wants is a relationship—but when fate leads Ridley to form a friendship with his reclusive and pregnant neighbor, he wonders if this small-town hideout might be more of a long-term destination. 

When Jessica begins to read her great-grandfather’s Bible, she finds a connection with a man she never knew. Somehow the verses he marked and the words he wrote in the margins open her heart to healing. And as Ridley and Jessica help each other forgive the people who have broken their hearts, they must decide if the past will define them or if they will choose to love again.

Who I Am with You weaves together a modern-day romance with Jessica’s great-grandfather’s story from the 1930s, reminding us that some truths can cross generations and that faith has the power to transform families forever.

Who I Am with You is the first book in Robin’s new “A Legacy of Faith” series.

Click here to read an excerpt!

About the author:

Robin Lee Hatcher is the author of over 75 novels and novellas with over five million copies of her books in print. She is known for her heartwarming and emotionally charged stories of faith, courage, and love. Robin is an ACFW Carol Award winner and an eight-time finalist and has won two RITA Awards and been a finalist eleven times. Her numerous other awards include the Christy Award, the HOLT Medallion, the National Reader’s Choice Award, and the Faith, Hope & Love Reader’s Choice Award. She is also the recipient of prestigious Lifetime Achievement Awards from both American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America.

When not writing, she enjoys being with her family, spending time in the beautiful Idaho outdoors, Bible art journaling, reading books that make her cry, watching romantic movies, and decorative planning. A mother and grandmother, Robin and her husband make their home on the outskirts of Boise, sharing it with a demanding Papillon dog and a persnickety tuxedo cat.

Monday, January 14, 2019

The youth of today... don't they have parents?

It's time to blog about what's wrong with our nation today, and it has nothing to do with politics. Why am I watching this again?

Yes, it is time to join in and watch The Bachelor. Yes, I sound like the old woman Demi thinks I am.

And this is the expression of all of us old ladies as we watch. Just like Tracy's.

Colton wakes up a little nervous on the day of the first group date. It's not going to take long for the girls to get viscous.

Chris Harrison delivers the first date card. The card is read:

"Demi, Bri, Tracey, Elyse, Hannah G., Nicole, Onyeka, Catherine... You never forget your first date."

So, this group includes the oldest woman, the first impression rose and the woman who brought her dog. They head off to a theater where they are greeted by Megan Mullaly and Nick Offerman. They are going to share some stories about memorable firsts. They were bleeping innuendo. Literally. Lots of bleeps. Lots of suggestive vagueness.

Megan and Nick coach the women on their stories. I think this is a horrible idea. It's going to get crude. It's probably going to be more than the 200 in the audience want to or need to hear.

Colton gets up and shares his story of telling someone for the first time that he was a virgin and finding acceptance.

Elyse gets up and talks about dating a man 13 years older, and this time she is dating a younger man for the first time.

Nicole talks about dating white bread for the first time.

Hannah G. talks about getting the first impression rose.

Onyeka calls out Catherine. Catherine slams Onyeka in her story.

Tracy goes a little trashy.

Demi talks about going after she wants and goes out to the audience to kiss Colton. She declares on stage she will get the first group date rose.

Back at the mansion, the next date card arrives. "Hannah B. ... True love is on the horizon."

And it's her birthday! It's her golden birthday. The best birthday ever. Her caption says she's 23 (turning 24), so I'm not sure how golden or what that means. I guess 24 carat?

That night as they gather for the latter part of the group date, Colton thanks them for being open and vulnerable. Tracy wanted to go first, but Demi scooped him up first. Colton tells her the kiss was a bold move and that he appreciated the boldness. He gives her another kiss.

Tracy says she didn't want to force a kiss, that she wanted him to initiate it. She wonders if their conversation might be over.

Demi comes back from her conversation and claims the rose as her own. This makes Tracy sick at her stomach. Onykea asks what Colton thought of her kiss earlier and if he brought it up. "He loved it, duh!"

Colton and Eylse talk... Colton was impressed. Elyse tells him all the girls 27 and above have a room at the mansion together they call the Cougar Den. He doesn't seem to mind that she's older than he is.

Onyeka and Tracy are hating on Demi over on the side. I have a feeling Onyeka is going to be hating on a lot of people. Not that she was wrong last week or this week, but still.

Tracy confronts Demi on how rude she thought the rose thing earlier. No one thinks it should be touched until Colton hands it to someone. "Tracy had a frowny face on. Haters gonna hate," Demi tells the cameras. She feels there is no advantage for the older women.

Hannah G. talks about the connection they have already. "There's just something about you that reminds me of home," Colton professes. Kissy kissy. Demi is peeking over the booth where she is sitting to spy on them.

Demi thinks that Colton needs a more dominant girl that challenges him and makes him nervous. None of the other girls have the balls according to her.

Catherine has had some bad plastic surgery.

Nicole shares about her twin brother who is autistic. She's ready to marry him now.

Colton is ready to give out the rose now. He gives it to Elyse. Demi is disappointed and in disbelief. Nicole, too, is in disbelief. Tears. Really?

Colton arrives to pick up Hannah B. She's making a thing about it being her birthday. Did he know it was her birthday? "Seriously, you didn't know it was my birthday?"

He drives them out in an old Jeep and go horseback riding.

Back at the house, Caelynn talks about how she and Hannah B. used to be friends and room together, etc. at pageants. However, Hannah flipped when Caelynn got runner-up and Hannah didn't place.

They ride out further into the desert and find a hot tub. The voice over is about Hannah doubting herself when everything is not perfect. They sit down to drink and each have to make a toast. Hannah gets uber nervous. She says she may get really quiet, but she doesn't want to be someone she's not. It's kind of cricket chirpy. It's not going the way Colton thought it was going to. It's not flowing like he thought it would.

Hannah thinks it's probably the most romantic date she's been on. He tries talking to her, and she stops him to dig an eyelash out of his eye. Like dig. Colton talks to her about seeing she's uncomfortable. She looks really sunburned from being out there. Probably should have used some sunscreen.

Before the date, Colton had no question about Hannah getting the rose. Part way through the date, he's not so sure.

They start the evening portion of the date with Colton making a toast about opening up.

Then the conversation dies after she says it's her best birthday ever.

Colton says, "I could tell something was off." All he gets is, "Uh-huh." He tells her she doesn't have to fell as if she needs to be perfect. "Yeah." He tells her she doesn't need to try to be.

So, to break the ice, it's a question about the big V. Can we talk about something else? She talks about how she planned for that, then that changed. She awkwardly thinks she's sharing everything now. Still awkward.

Back at the house, Heather talks to someone about never kissing a guy before. Then, the next date card arrives.

"Alex, Erika, Katie, Caelynn, Sydney, Tayshia, Nina, Kirpa, Caitlin, Courtney, Cassie, Heather... I camp fight this feeling any more."

I think that leaves Annie and Angelique without dates. 

Ultimately, at the end of the night, Hannah B. does get her rose on the date. I would have sent her home because she's annoying. In her interview with the producers, it's all about her best birthday.

The night ends with kisses under the fireworks.

The next day, the girls arrive at Camp Bachelor. There's rousing games of Duck, Duck, Goose and Badminton. Then, Billy Eichner arrives. With a comedian there, it will get crude again. 

The girls are divided into two teams. The losing team will go back to the mansion. The winning team will have an overnight camp out date.

The first competition is a relay race starting with an egg on a spoon race followed by wheelbarrow races, then a three-legged race. (Red wins.) Then, there's a canoe race. (Yellow wins.)

The final competition is a tug of war. Red team wins. The yellow team walks away upset they have to head home.

The red team was Alex, Katie, Heather, Cassie, Caelynn and someone. Not even sure. They are going to run together for a while.

The first person we see him talking to that night is Katie. They talk about both being competitive. She tells him if he ever doesn't see anything with her ... That's when he goes in for a kiss.

Cassie and Heather are talking about Heather not being kissed.

Colton comes and gets Heather to talk. She starts off asking about how he talked to Becca about the whole V thing. She breaks out and shares her news. He knows it's not easy to talk about. She doesn't want him to think she's not ready for a relationship. Normally this would be kissy time. Instead they hold hands. She would have gone for it, I think. He's just not going to take advantage now.

Bach at the mansion the Hannahs are talking. Miss AL is afraid Miss NC might screw things up for her. 

Speaking of Miss NC, Caelynn spills her story about being hospitalized as a child and almost "passing away." They kiss and it wasn't even a moment that seemed all that

Heather gets the rose and a hug when the time comes. He then walks them all to their cabin.

We come back from commercial with another shot of Colton taking a shower. I think we are just shown the same shower over and over.

The girls are all primping for the cocktail party and rose ceremony. Demi thinks the older women are nervous trying to figure out what to do with all the younger threats. Older being 31. At 23, I know that seems old. Wow, though, they aren't old. Those other girls are just young.

Courtney gets her time in first. They talk about her leading the yellow team. She gets her leadership from being the oldest of 5 children. Her youngest sibling is 2.

Sydney admits to cheating during the canoe race in an effort to win. Onyeka comes out with an airhorn and claims to be horny. Sydney didn't like being interrupted, so brings out some pots and pans to bang on to break up Onyeka's time.

It's the night of the eyelashes. Someone else brushes one off rather than digging it. Several women chat with him before Tracy (the oldest one there as she points out) has her turn. Everyone watches as Demi struts around in her robe. He cuts his conversation with Tracy short when Demi arrives. Tracy wants to kill as Demi lead Colton past everyone upstairs to her fantasy closet. Someone asks if she has parents. Guess even they think she wasn't raised right.

Tracy is pissed and locks herself in the bathroom. Meanwhile Demi gives Colton a back massage.

When Demi returns, all the women kind of get after her. For the second time in the episode, one of the women gets the order of "Rock, Paper, Scissors" out of order. Seriously. Paper, Scissors, Rock.

Demi goes to kiss up to Tracy even though she really doesn't care.

Moving on, it's rose ceremony time. Elyse, Hannah B. and Heather already have their roses.
  1. Tayshia
  2. Cassie
  3. Caelynn
  4. Courtney
  5. Demi (insert huge eye roll from Tracy as pictured above)
  6. Nicole
  7. Kirpa
  8. Hannah G.
  9. Catherine
  10. Bri
  11. Sydney
  12. Onyeka
  13. Katie
  14. Caitlin
  15. Nina
  16. Tracy (who was making the most ugly faces the whole time)
That means the women going home are Angelique and Annie who did not go on dates this week along with Alex B. and Erika.

The previews for next week show more jealousy coming out and the season previews have Colton jumping over fences to escape.

We'll see if it's as interesting as the previews "promise" to be.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

What I didn't get done this weekend

I really did enjoy the brief time that the room in the middle of my house was all nice and neat. Nothing was in middle of the floor and both the kitchen table and desk in middle of the room were free from clutter.

It only lasted a brief period of time.

Between last weekend's trip to Canton and Dad clearing out his garage of his book buying binges, this is what I have:

My craft room hoard has overflowed into the area next to do the door. 

I've looked at it all week thinking about cleaning it up, but it's all just there. I worked in the office today to catch up on some things instead of taking care of this downstairs.

I could have done some late night clean-up. The late night hours are when I do my best work. However, I turned on Live PD and Say Yes to the Dress where this woman looks like she has purple cauliflower growing on top of her head.

UPDATE: On Sunday I did put up the four boxes of books. That's because I have a significant order from e-Bay on the way that I really don't need, another smaller order and Dad bought some books this weekend. Oh, and some guy is giving us some.

Friday, January 11, 2019

My tree is down and my office smells like burnt hair

When I didn't get my Christmas tree up until December 11 and said it would have to be up for a month, I didn't really intend for a good 10 days of that to be mostly dismantled in middle of the floor. 

A good two-thirds to three-fourths came down on January 1. And there it sat with piles of branches around the floor--piles I had to walk around in order to get to the bathroom for 10 days.

I finally made myself finish the job last night.

What remains is this:

I truly am amazed my tree doesn't look like Charlie Brown's after it looses all these fake needles every time I put it up. My tree is still more full than any tree you can buy these days.

I have a little room vacuum upstairs that is now protesting after trying to suck all this up. It now smells when you turn it on. I emptied out the canister hoping it would take care of the rest. Now I think I'm going to have to cut hair out. I think it's the hair caught up on the roller I'm smelling. Could be the belt. Even if it was working, I'll still be finding these for all of eternity.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Finding Jesus in the Old Testament

 Part 2 of an interview with Kristen Hatton,
Author of The Gospel Centered Life
in Exodus for Students

For many, Sunday school as a child is fondly remembered, with the introduction to the gospel story helped along with large picture books and easy-to-digest stories. Growing older, we made the move to Bibles with fewer pictures and more words and began to find the gospel in the Old Testament as well. However, we may have missed key instruction on how to make that transition. The new Gospel-Centered Life for Students series for teens and young adults will help make the connections clearer.

In the first book of the series, The Gospel-Centered Life in Exodus for Students, author Kristen Hatton leads readers in finding and meeting Jesus in unexpected places as well as seeing the pattern of redemption present even in the Old Testament. As they learn the entire Bible is one unfolding story about Jesus, and the same God who spoke to Moses also sent his son to redeem our sins, study participants will better understand how to read Scripture and view it as the “manna” needed for their daily life.

Q: Why did you feel it was so important to write a Bible study specifically for teens?

Years ago, after starting a small group Bible study for my daughter and some her friends, I realized quite quickly there was very little in the way of Bible study curriculum for teens. Instead everything at the Christian bookstore appeared to be topical, feel-good messages for navigating a happy, successful teen life. I wanted something more.

Teens need to have their eyes lifted off themselves to see the truth about who Jesus is for them. They need to be deeply rooted in Scripture, to learn who God is beyond Sunday-school sound bites. They need to see his Word as the one unfolding story about his Son. Otherwise, Scripture can just seem like disjointed bits of advice and rules. If that is all it is to them, it’s no wonder their Bibles are read more with the goal of checking quiet time off the to-do list than seeing it as the daily “manna” needed for all of life. Therefore, my hope in writing The Gospel-Centered Life in Exodus for Students is to bring teens into the bigger story of the gospel so that they see Jesus as central in all of God’s Word and to their lives.

Additionally, in bringing teens to the Word of God, I hope they develop a habit of being in God’s Word and a desire for greater biblical literacy. Unfortunately, many of today’s younger generation of Christians have not grown up in the Word and have very little knowledge of the stories and how everything fits together. Instead, they are often spoon-fed moralistic teaching and given single verses pulled out of context. So as the church, youth leaders and parents, we must strive to teach our students how to read and approach the Bible through studies in books of the Bible.

Q: Why did you decide to focus your first study on the book of Exodus?

The reason I proposed to write a study in Exodus came from having used my pastor-husband’s sermon series from Exodus as a springboard for crafting my own Bible study lessons when I was wasn’t able to find the kind of studies I was looking for. What I love about Exodus is how clearly God’s pattern of redemption is laid out.

For most of my group, seeing Jesus in the Old Testament was eye-opening. They didn’t expect him to show up in such places as the tenth plague, the wilderness and the tabernacle. They also didn’t expect to see how we’re just like the Israelites. As I had hoped, Exodus helped me show them how the Old Testament speaks forth the gospel and is still relevant to us today.

Q: In what ways will students be able to relate lessons about the Israelites from the time of Moses to their everyday lives today?

It’s easy to read Exodus and look down on the Israelites for grumbling and so quickly turning away from God when He continues to pursue and bless them. When students see how sin taints their motives and desires and shows up in the false gods they turn to looking for an identity (whether it’s their appearance, performance, perfectionism, the desire for recognition or acceptance), they will be faced with how much they are like the Israelites with their golden calf.

Furthermore, our view of the Ten Commandments tends to be very black and white. For instance, we are told not to commit murder and because we have not killed a man assume we have kept the law. With this perspective we think much more highly of ourselves than we ought. If sin is more than our outward behavior and includes our thoughts and desires, we are faced with the realization our dismissal of someone or lack of love toward a classmate is in effect killing them. The Ten Commandments read in this way exposes to students how they fail to measure up to the law, and therefore, need Christ’s righteousness.

Q: The book was designed for small group study, but could it be used for individual study or for the entire congregation? How does the book target teens specifically, and is it a study all ages could participate in?

The book was designed as a small group resource, but will work just as well for individual use. In fact, one of my teenage sons has already started using it for his daily quiet time. I would also recommend families use it together around the dinner table. In both of these scenarios, an individual or family could break each hour-long lesson into smaller chunks and spend multiple days or a week on each lesson.

For a parent reading it alongside their teen (the same would be true for adult small groups or individual adults using it), I believe they will find the gospel truth and application of the lesson no less relevant for them than it is for students. While the “Bible Conversation” and “Article” in each chapter is written with the high school or college student in mind, the application of the Word is the same for us all because our hearts are all the same. So while the outward manifestation of sin may present itself differently in a teenager versus an adult, the particular scenarios used in the book will still expose the root sin. Ultimately, seeing how Jesus shows up in each passage and the gospel He brings to bear is the truth we all—no matter our age—need to hear.

Q: How do we sometimes fail at teaching children how to study the Bible? How does the Gospel-Centered Life series instruct students how to better study the Bible?

Unfortunately, children are not taught how to study the Bible correctly because so many adults use it primarily as an instruction book or moral guide. By this I mean we see it as a book of laws—do’s and don’ts—for living the Christian life. If that’s all it is, like I said before, I can see why we wouldn’t want to spend time reading and studying it. However, when we see it as the one unfolding story about Christ’s worth and work for us, it changes our approach.

The Gospel-Centered Life series will seek to elevate Christ throughout scripture. It will lead students to make observations and ask questions of the text and encourage them to read a book in context so they gain a fuller picture of who the author is writing to and why. By slowing down to think and read critically, along with the discussion and exercise sections, students should gain a deeper understanding of particular books. Throughout they will be coached to see the gospel centrality, and the relevance of the gospel to all of life.

Q: What is the format for each lesson in the study?

Each lesson focuses on one primary passage or event so that by the end of the twelve lessons a student should have a good grasp of the entire book of Exodus. The lessons are structured so they could be done within an hour, and a suggested amount of time to spend in each section of the lesson is given. They are designed to be interactive with a leader facilitating but can be done solo as well.

At the beginning of each lesson the “Big Idea” or main takeaway is clearly stated. To get started there is a time of “Bible Conversation” that includes a related icebreaker conversation, the reading of the passage and follow-up discussion questions. This time is followed by an “Article” to help unpack what was read in the text and includes more discussion questions. Before “Wrap-Up and Prayer” an “Exercise” is given. Some exercises are group-driven while others call for more introspection and journaling. The point of the exercises is to further personalize and apply the lessons to the individual readers. Except for two lessons that cover more chapters in Exodus than others, there is no take-home reading or work.

Learn more about Kirsten Hatton and The Gospel-Centered Life in Exodus for Students at www.kristenhatton.com. She is also active on Facebook (@kristenbhatton), Twitter (@Hattonkb) and Instagram (@kristen_hatton).

Monday, January 7, 2019

I am getting way too old for this whole The Bachelor thing

I don't think I am ready for this. Especially today.

I got a new iPad yesterday, and turned it to scheduled silence, but not for the right hours. It started dinging an hour earlier than I planned to wake up. I answered the messages through my Facebook page that caused the dinging because I wanted to keep my response time up, but I was half asleep in answering and what the person was asking for isn't something that really works. I did get the notifications turned off. I couldn't go back to sleep there in the bed though because it didn't get really cool last night and the temperature in the house was a little warmer than I like overnight, especially with my weighted blanket. I was sweating.

I should have gotten up and gotten a start on my day, but no. I laid on my couch until the alarm went off. Then, I spent time putting together some stew so I would have something to eat before watching tonight. Oh, and I had to go to to the post office. By the time I got home, I really didn't get to work until 10:30. Then, I didn't get one of the things I wanted to get done today done.

Then, I planned to get off at 6, but it was more like 6:30. Too late to fix cornbread past the "best by" date on the package. All my crackers were past date and stale too.

I just did get a bowl of hot stew eaten before time or the show to start. I hate that it's going to be three hours tonight. That drags too much after a long, hard Monday.

I want to watch live to Tweet and blog, but I'd love to skip through all the watching party mess.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, screen and indoor

Let me go ahead and throw this out here, I'm not a Colton fan. Not that any I think any cast member can necessarily apply to Mensa, but I think he would especially have a challenge.

They just cut to Krystal and Goose in a hot tub holding microphones. Battery packs or not, that just seems like electrocution waiting to happen in my mind.

Cut Ash Kardash and Jared too. Ugh.

Oh, heck. THIRTY WOMEN to have to line out. We meet 8 before seeing/hearing Colton's story. Those are marked with * in the line-up of all the women below. I know I am getting old, but all these women are soooooooo young. How can they know what they want in life? However, I do feel so much better looking up Colton's age. He's only 26. So, it's not like he's 35 and asked for young women.

Colton was the chubby kid without a lot of friends, and got really involved in football in high school, so that became his focus. Chris interviews him, and there's a whole lot of talk about his virginity, even in the videos from the women. I think the fact he has waited is wonderful. I just don't want to hear all about it over and over again. I don't think that is all that defines him. There's more to him than that. Now, I haven't figured out what that is yet, however...

Before we go any further, we have to catch-up with all the Bachelor/Bachelorette babies. Then, out at the hot tub with Krystal and Goose. Oh, my word, I have things to do!

It's 7:52, and the show itself hasn't started yet. There are tons of commercial breaks. I've gotten up and gone to the kitchen, checked email, read all of Twitter, etc., etc., etc. Speaking of Twitter, everyone agrees with me. Why are they talking to Nick Viall? He is as boring as ever.

Finally, at 8:00 Colton is standing outside waiting on the first limo to drive up.

*Demi, 23, Read Oak, TX, Interior Designer - Evidently, it is important for us to know that her mother is in prison for embezzlement. What a fine first impression as the first person out of the limo. She states that she has not dated a virgin since she was 12. He says he's in trouble. He is.

Tayshia, 26, Phlebotomist, Corona Del Mar, CA - Spelling names this season is going to kill me. Just saying it now. He thinks she's gorgeous.

*Heather, 22, Carlsbad, CA, Never Been Kissed - Because she isn't old enough to have a real job yet. She met Colton at a fan event and had her picture made with him. She wouldn't be here if it weren't for him.

*Nicole, 26, Miami, FL, Social Media Coordinator - She's not into the club scene. Her brother has autism, so she talks about him being part of the package. She talks to him in Spanish and he gets none of it.

Caelynn, 23, Charlotte, NC, Miss North Carolina 2018 - Spoiler, from the clips earlier, we know that Miss Alabama is also a contestant. How long until they start pulling out each other's hair? She arrives in her sash and hopes at the end her sash will be "Miss Underwood." What's stupid about that... it would be Mrs. Underwood. Get it right!

Sydney, 26, New York, NY, NBA Dancer - She quit her job to come here.

Elyse, 31, Soldotna, AK, Makeup Artist - As the old woman in the group, I bet she doesn't last long.

Tahzjuan, 25, Castle Pines, CO, Business Development Associate - Everyone is going to have to have a nickname. I don't know what that job title means either. She hopes she's the Tazh-one for him.

*Cassie, 23, Huntington Beach, CA, speech pathologist - All boobs on a surfboard in her clips. She's barely old enough to have a career. She comes bearing dead or fake butterflies in a box because she has butterflies about meeting him. He puts one of them in his coat pocket.

*Kirpa, 26, Whittier, CA, Dental Hygienist - She hopes Colton flosses and wants to clean his teeth. She has a very diverse family, but we don't know more about that right now. I LOVE her dark purple sequin dress, and I never comment on liking anyone's dress.

Caitlin, 25, Toronto, ON Canada, Realtor - She brings a red balloon with a leaf attached that she says is a cherry, and she pops it. He thought it looked more like an apple. Moving on...

Courtney, 29, Atlanta, GA, Caterer - She brings him the biggest peach I've ever seen and asks if he's ever tasted a sweet Georgia peach. He does take a bite.

*Katie, 26, Sherman Oaks, CA, Medical Sales Rep - Because there is a medical sales or pharmacy sales rep in every bunch. She moved to California to be a dancer. We know what date she'll be going on. We have to watch her workout video. She makes her entrance by doing a card trick. Her joke is he took his V card. Moving on. (Some of the women think making a point of it is a bit much at the first meeting. I agree. Makes for some skankiness.)

Alex D., 23, Boston, MA, Sloth - She came out of the limo dressed as a sloth, moving extremely slow and talking just as slow about Colton "taking it slow." It was painful.

*Onyekachukwu Ehie, 24, Dallas, TX, IT Risk Consultant - We are going to have to give her some kind of nickname because I cannot type that out every time. The name is Nigerian. We also see her dancing and working out. Her parents only dated two weeks before getting engaged. She tries to tell him her whole name. She's going by Onyeka.

Erika, 25, Encintas, CA, Recruiter - Her last name is McNutt, so she brings a bag of nuts with her.

*Hannah B., 23, Tuscaloosa, AL, Miss Alabama 2018 - I think her title says it all in her video. She made him guess her accent. He guessed wrong first. Not Arkansas. When she arrives inside a cold welcome is exchanged between the two pageant ladies. Miss NC beat her (she was 1st runner-up) but Miss AL said that's cool. However, you can tell their relationship is not.

Tracy, 31, Los Angeles, CA, Wardrobe Stylist - Arrives in a police car with sirens blaring, so everyone goes to the windows and even outside to look out. She claims to be the fashion police.  

Angelique, 28, Hamilton, NJ, Marketing Sales Person - She's all glittered up.

Devin, 23, Medford, OR, Broadcast Journalist - Colton comments on liking her dress to her.

Revian, 24, Santa Monica, CA, Nurse - She speaks to Colton in Mandarin. She's a blond, so at first that is confusing. Her parents are from China.

Nina, 20, Raleigh, NC, Sales Account Manager - She speaks to him in Croatian, her first language. Her dress must have some good two-sided tape.

Alex B., 29, Vancouver, BC Canada, Dog Rescuer - She has cue cards talking about Tia, but does not speak. Laryngitis? I think her "job" is code for "unemployed."

Bri, 24, Los Angeles, CA, Model - She speaks in an Australian accent, but it's fake. She just wanted to stand out. Colton doesn't know this yet though.

Laura, 26, Accountant, Dallas, TX - She is wearing the same dress as someone else, but that's all we learn about her.

Hannah G., 23, Birmingham, AL, Content Creator - She comes bearing a gift. It's empty. Hannah says it's his favorite brand of underwear since it's said he goes commando. Moving on.

Annie, 23, New York, NY, Financial Associate - He quizzes her on football.

Jane, 26, West Hollywood, CA, Social Worker - Jane brings a picture of her dog and of his dog in frames. Her dog is all, other than Colton, that she is thinking about.

Catherine, 26, Ft. Lauderdale, FL, DJ - She brings her 10 year old dog with her. She hands off Lucy to Colton, and Lucy doesn't seem cool with that. Colton tries to hand her back, but Catherine walks off. Harrison comes out to rescue Colton from the dog.

Erin, 28, Plano, TX, Cinderella - Dressed in a blue dress, she arrives in a horse and carriage Cinderella style. She leaves a shoe behind.


Thirty women arrived in 20 minutes, and that's including commercials. See, this shouldn't take 3 hours.

Who was the first woman to take him off?

Demi. The first to arrive. She lives out in the country, so she's not afraid to get dirty. She sees a twinkle in his eyes and thinks he has a crush on her already.

McNutt takes him off next. He doesn't remember her first name when put on the spot. Her off the top question was about WHY he was a virgin. He's going to have to answer this so many times. He's waiting for the right person/right moment. He values it a lot.

He jumps from one conversation to another. He's having a hard time keeping track of names, so he may have a hard time at the rose ceremony. He's dating 6 times as many women in one night than he did in his entire life.

Some of the women inside wonder if anyone has kissed him yet.

Miss NC is actually from VA, but moved there about a year ago. She says her life experience has aged her. Other than being dumped in Thailand, I have no clue what or why. STINK! He kisses her. I don't like her. I want to rip her "Miss Underwood" banner off of her.

Harrison drops off the first impression rose. The mood in the room gets more intense.

Sydney arranged for a stringed quartet to play out in the driveway so that she can teach Colton how to dance.

Elyse from Alaska teaches Colton how to fish in the pool.

Tayshia sets up signs about a pony ride, then makes him take her for a ride on his back.

Sloth girl is hiding up a tree. Then, finally reveals herself from the costume. He helps her out of it. She talks weird, even when she's not talking like a slot. She actually rambles on quite well with random facts.

Catherine who gets the award for the ugliest dress. It's short and has huge trumpet long sleeves. She does lip injections. You can tell.

The fashion police woman breaks that up. They draw on shows. Catherine comes to interrupt them saying she thinks their conversation is more important than coloring on shoes.

They are interrupted by Onyeka with a snorkel and a lifeguard whistle yelling about drowning in bitches.

Colton is talking to someone else when Catherine interrupts AGAIN. He should have stopped that from happening, but... All the women hate her now. Onyeka takes Catherine outside to tell her it is important for everyone to get a chance and that it's disrespectful. These two are going to be mortal enemies.

Not getting Onyeka's drift... Let me rephrase that, not caring what anyone thinks, Catherine interrupts a conversation AGAIN. Now, everyone is really getting stirred up, or at least how the editing shows it.

Even with all my pausing to get the names, etc. correct during the limo arrivals, with all the commercials and cutting away to parties, I'm caught back up with the live show.

Cassie teaches Colton some sign language during their time together.

Colton is feeling some sparks, but he hasn't given away the first impression rose yet.

Katie also gets kissed on the first night.

Erin is walking around with one shoe and finally takes a turn to talk Colton.

Finally, after some more chats, Colton gets the first impression rose. He "borrows" Hannah, the NOT Miss AL, but she is from Alabama too.

With that, it's time or Colton to prep on some name memorization so he can make his way through the rose ceremony. 

We know Catherine and Onyeka are staying for the drama as are Miss AL and Miss NC.

  1. Caelynn (Miss NC who got the first kiss we saw)
  2. Katie (who got a kiss)
  3. Alex B. 
  4. Hannah B. (Miss AL)
  5. Onyeka (told you - drama factor among his reasons).
  6. Caitlin
  7. Annie
  8. Kirpa
  9. Heather (she's so skinny it's awkard)
  10. Elyse (the oldest woman)
  11. Tayshia 
  12. Courtney
  13. Cassie (she signs rose to him)
  14. Demi (I already don't like her)
  15. Nina
  16. Erika
  17. Sydney
  18. Bri
  19. Angelique
  20. Tracy
  21. Nicole (she's been sweating it)
  22. Catherine (we all knew that was going to be it for the sake of drama)
Going home in the broad daylight are:
  1. Tahzjuan (she is vocal about thinking about how many people should have gone)
  2. Erin (Cinderella)
  3. Devin
  4. Revian (I don't think we saw her except when she walked in)
  5. Laura
  6. Jane
  7. Alex D. (the sloth)
There are some surely amped up previews of the rest of the season. Some hot and heavy making out, all things considered. Who were some of your favorites?

Friday, January 4, 2019

If God loves me, then why isn’t He rescuing me?

Develop enduring faith for the turbulent waters of life.

Following Jesus doesn’t guarantee sunny skies and smooth sailing. In fact, the waters of life are often tumultuous, crashing over us. Sometimes we can feel that we’re drowning in a sea of confusion, division, frustration, complacency, or disillusionment. We need more than a shallow faith to survive these deep waters.

Into the Deep is an invitation to dive headfirst into a life of courageous faith. With endearing warmth and authenticity, Lauren Gaskill shares how she and others have learned to swim with Jesus in the deep waters of life—facing challenges such as anxiety, depression, and chronic illness—only to discover a more authentic, enduring faith that cannot be shaken by circumstances. In addition to examining the character of God and the lives of women and men of the Bible who chose to dive deeper with God, she provides practical examples and tools that help us take our faith to the next level by learning to make decisions by faith alone, control our reactions to overwhelming situations, and live a life rooted in love.

Get ready to exchange fear and frustration for the boldness, courage, and holy confidence that lead to a life of deep faith and joy!

Excerpted from Into the Deep by Lauren Gaskill (C)2018 Abingdon Press. Used with permission.

Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
have swept over me.
—Psalm 42:7

The clock digits rolled to 2:00 a.m., and I groaned, scolding myself as I tossed and turned in bed for the hundredth time.

You have nothing to worry about, and you’re being ridiculous. Just calm down and go to sleep, I whispered to myself as I felt the waves of another anxiety attack creep up inside me. Sleep is a luxury for college students, and at this point I’d be lucky to have a few hours of rest. Every minute counted too, because I had a psychology exam at 8:00 a.m. But knowing this didn’t stop my mind from racing, my throat from closing, my heart from palpitating, and my stomach from churning.

I clutched my comforter tightly and prayed for deliverance, but nothing changed. Instead I sank deeper into anxiety with each word I prayed. I wanted to jump out of my dorm room window and run until my lungs gave out. I wanted to scream until the anxiety drained out of my veins. I wanted to feel anything other than the sheer panic and helplessness overtaking my mind.

Minute after minute rolled by, and with no relief in sight I desperately reached for my phone and texted a friend from my Bible study group.

“Help! Please pray for me,” I typed. “Feeling lost, alone, and overwhelmed amid another anxiety attack. I don’t know what to do. I’m so afraid.”

A few minutes later my phone lit up with a reply.

“My dearest Lauren, trust me when I say everything is going to be OK! God is with you, and He wants to use this for your good. Have faith! Trust Him and hold on to hope! He will see you through, and with His help you will overcome the waves. Always remember you are a daughter of the Most High King. You are priceless and beautiful in His eyes, and in Him you have nothing to fear.”

As true as her text may have been, it didn’t make me feel any better about myself or my situation. At this point in my life, I’d been struggling with anxiety attacks on and off for two years since my junior year of high school when I began having some health issues. To the outside world, I was an accomplished student and swimmer who had it all together, but on the inside I felt like I was drowning—lost in a sea of anxiety, depression, and unexplained chronic pain that was tearing my faith to shreds.

Week after week, I listened to pastors talk about a God who delivers us from our problems, but hearing their words only made me more frustrated and confused. I wondered: If God loves me, then why isn’t He rescuing me? If God is good, then why do I feel like I’m drowning in a sea of despair?

Somehow I had missed the explanation of how a life with Christ doesn’t always mean crystal clear waters or sunny blue skies; how God is not distant but swims with us through the deep waters of life; how God not only sends help in these situations—He is our help, despite what we might feel or think.

When my life didn’t turn around and my health worsened, I began to doubt God’s goodness. But worse than that, I lost faith in God’s ability to save me. I tried to soothe the ache growing inside me by reading and studying the Bible, but none of it felt real. The stories seemed like a distant fairy tale—something only for people who had it all together and not for someone as messed up as me.

It was a slow process, but somewhere along the way anxiety and depression greatly diminished my faith. I stopped believing things would get better. I stopped believing God had a plan or cared about my future. I watched the world change and move on without me, and with each passing month the “water” in my lungs rose a little higher.

I was drowning.


Lauren Gaskill is an author, speaker and host of the She Found Joy podcast and She Found Joy Ladies Night Out events. After being diagnosed with an incurable connective tissue disorder, Lauren made it her life mission to encourage others to fight for faith and find joy — no matter what life’s circumstances might bring.

Gaskill is a storyteller who believes stories are powerful and loves how God uses them for His good. She writes and speaks to motivate and inspire others to experience abundant life in Christ. She is particularly passionate about encouraging women to fight for faith and go deeper in their relationship with Jesus. Gaskill also writes and speaks about what it looks like to walk with Jesus through pain and suffering.

She lives in Raleigh, NC with her husband and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

Find her online at LaurenGaskillInspires.com or on Facebook (lauren.gaskill.inspires), Twitter (lauren_inspires) and Instagram (lauren_inspires).  

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Join the tour for Rachel Hauck's The Memory House

The Memory House
Rachel Hauck

Thomas Nelson

Tour dates: April 2-16


From the New York Times bestselling author of The Wedding Dress comes a new captivating novel of two women whose lives have been destroyed by disaster but find healing in a special house.

About the book:
Embracing the future means remembering the past . . .
When Beck Holiday lost her father in the North Tower on 9/11, she also lost her memories of him. Eighteen years later, she’s a tough New York City cop burdened with a damaging secret, suspended for misconduct, and struggling to get her life in order. Meanwhile a mysterious letter arrives informing her she’s inherited a house along Florida’s northern coast, and what she discovers there will change her life forever. Matters of the heart only become more complicated when she runs into handsome Bruno Endicott, a driven sports agent who fondly recalls the connection they shared as teenagers. But Beck doesn’t remember that, either.
Decades earlier, widow Everleigh Applegate lives a steady, uneventful life with her widowed mother after a tornado ripped through Waco, Texas, and destroyed her new, young married life. When she runs into old high school friend Don Callahan, she begins to yearn for change. Yet no matter how much she longs to love again, she is hindered by a secret she can never share.
Fifty years separate the women but through the power of love and miracle of faith, they each find healing in a beautiful Victorian known affectionately as The Memory House

About the author:

Rachel Hauck is the New York TimesWall Street Journal, and USA TODAY bestselling author of The Wedding Dress, which was also named Inspirational Novel of the Year by Romantic Times and was a RITA finalist. Rachel lives in central Florida with her husband and pet and writes from her ivory tower.

Visit her online at RachelHauck.com; Facebook: RachelHauck; Twitter: @RachelHauck; Instagram: @rachelhauck.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Great deals on Carla Laureano's Supper Club series

Have you read Carla Laureano's
The Saturday Night Supper Club

If not, this is a great time to snatch up the e-book, and the second book in the series, Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe, which releases on February 5! You can get both books for less than $7!

Learn more about the books, published by Tyndale, and find the links to purchase on Carla's website

Click here for:

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

If today is any indication...

If today is any indication, 2019 is going to be annoying.

More on that in a minute. First a recap of 2018:

It was a blur. It wasn't the year I planned, that's for sure. I didn't expect a job shake-up. However, I can say that going freelance and joining a publisher's team has been a positive. I haven't achieved the right balance yet, but I hope to get a better grip on that in 2019.

I found myself over-committed in 2018. Once I did have the job change, I planned to make more time to give myself some breathing room and work on my crafting business throughout the year. Until Thanksgiving (3 days that actually found me out of town at a craft show) and two days at Christmas, I really didn't have any down time. My getting ahead on crafts never happened.

I set out the year with the word "better." Just try to do everything and be a little bit better. I shared that I chose that word with someone lately, and that person said that sucked as a "One Word." I guess it did. I really feel like I was probably "worse" in everything I said I wanted to be better at. I dare not open that journal where I wrote down what I'd like to be better at.

2018 ended with getting this in the mail:

Jury duty is something to look forward to in 2019. That's actually better mail than I could have gotten. I'll get back to that later too.

So 2019. I started the day getting up late. I've noticed I do sleep later with my weighted blanket. I actually think that's because I've just been going to be really late. I woke up at around 2:30 AM with a stomach ache and when I tried going back to sleep, I was hot, so I kicked the blanket off.

I decided not to take down my Christmas tree and instead work on my last quarter sales taxes. Still work, but not PR work on the day I gave myself off. I worked most of the day yesterday to try to catch up in hopes of maybe taking Friday off to go to Canton. That plan has already changed. Anyway...

However, before I could do that, I spent some time troubleshooting a problem with Gmail and Outlook not getting along. I finally, without any help from tech support forums, decided this was a result of a stupid Gmail email about secure accounts from Sunday night. I spent way more time than I wanted on that, but have it fixed so I can start off tomorrow in a productive manner.

When I finally got down to business, I got some miscellaneous sales entered into my Excel and just one of nine of our fall shows. That was when my brother called that my sister-in-law needed to borrow a computer because her iPhone decided to malfunction in the wee hours of the new year.

I haven't used iTunes on my computer in so long, it had to be updated first. Then, we spent hours upstairs trying to get the phone to either update or reset her phone. We did take a break to eat at my parents' while a 54 minute update was going on. After all that time, it still didn't fix the phone. It's still off and won't do anything. I didn't do much of the troubleshooting work, but I felt like I was because I hate dealing with technology problems. I had just troubleshot my own issue. It's all so frustrating.

I wasn't planning to take down my Christmas tree today. I was going to leave that for after work later in the week or the weekend. However, while we were hanging around upstairs, I got all the ornaments off, sorted and boxed. Three of nine strings of lights have been unstrung and the top three layers of branches have been removed and piled up in my floor.

Those are still laying in the floor. I'll finish that project in the next couple of days.

I came into my living room to settle for the evening and heard from a former co-worker (see first of the entry) that she had gotten a letter from the IRS (see, worse than a jury summons) about an issue I may hear from them on too. It's not anything she or I did wrong. We filed our taxes correctly. It's a long story I won't get into. It's just a pain. I need to call my CPA tomorrow.

I also need to get up early to get my car out to the dealership for a recall software repair and oil change.

I need to go to Office Depot and hope that their print department is going to have a better year and not bind my children's book galleys backwards. I hope they have also gotten in some new bubble mailers in the past couple of weeks. When I was out there last, they had not restocked from the last time I had to get mailers in October.

Once those are ready, I have to print out labels, and I can't do a mail merge between Excel and Word to save my life. Literally. I always have issues. Plus, the Mac I use for my publisher job will not communicate with my printers at all, so I have to email myself back and forth to get what I need on a computer that will print.

That means I also get to go to the post office! Yay!

I think I'm going to have to skip Peyton's basketball game I first learned of on Facebook today. I just don't think I can pull it off.

I need to close this post now. Though not a resolution, I was going to try to be in bed by midnight tonight. It's 11:43, and I need to take a shower and wash my hair after I log-off. I don't think that's going to go as planned either.

To heck with all plans! Just go along with whatever happens.