Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Melody of the Soul by Liz Tolsma Blog Tour, Giveaway, and Facebook Live

Travel back in time to 1943 and meet Anna Zadok, a Jewish Christian and concert violinist whose career is ended because of Nazi occupation in Prague. Don't miss the new historical novel, The Melody of the Soul, by Liz Tolsma. Though musical instruments have been declared illegal, Anna defiantly continues to play the violin. But Officer Horst Engel, quartered in Anna's flat and dissatisfied with German ideology, enjoys her soothing music. When Anna and her grandmother face deportation, Horst risks everything to protect them.

Join Liz Tolsma and other bookworms for a Facebook Live event on February 6, plus enter to win Liz's prize pack giveaway!


One grand prize winner will receive:

Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on February 6. The winner will be announced at Liz's Facebook Live Party. RSVP for a chance to connect with Liz and other readers, as well as for a chance to win other prizes!

RSVP today and spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway and Facebook Live party via social media and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 6th!


(Gilead Publishing, January 2018)
Anna has one chance for survival—and it lies in the hands of her mortal enemy.
It’s 1943 and Anna Zadok, a Jewish Christian living in Prague, has lost nearly everything. Most of her family has been deported, and the Nazi occupation ended her career as a concert violinist. Now Anna is left to care for her grandmother, and she’ll do anything to keep her safe—a job that gets much harder when Nazi officer Horst Engel is quartered in the flat below them.
Though musical instruments have been declared illegal, Anna defiantly continues to play the violin. But Horst, dissatisfied with German ideology, enjoys her soothing music. When Anna and her grandmother face deportation, Horst risks everything to protect them.
Anna finds herself falling in love with the handsome officer and his brave heart. But what he reveals might stop the music forever.
Liz Tolsma


Best-selling novelist Liz Tolsma is the author of several World War II novels and prairie romance novellas. She also works as a freelance editor. She lives in a semirural area of Wisconsin with her husband and two daughters. Her son serves with the US Marines. All of their chidlren came to them through international adoption. Her other passions include walking, gardening, camping, and reading.
Find out more about Liz at

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

‘Gospel Fluency Handbook’ Small-Group Bundle Giveaway

Are you constantly slipping in and out of believing God’s word about you and trusting in His work on your behalf? Do you forget who He is, what’s He’s done, and, in light of that, who you are? Learn how to connect the way gospel truths actually matter to everyday life with Jeff Vanderstelt and Ben Connelly's new book and resource, Gospel Fluency Handbook. The discussions and exercises in this 8-week interactive handbook provide a step-by-step immersion of your mind, heart, soul, and life in the gospel. Each week follows a simple format: three sets of personal readings and reflections, a weekly guide for group discussion and exercises that will lead to becoming a more gospel-fluent people.

Start the new year on the right track with your small group by entering to win a Saturate bundle full of goodies.


One grand prize winner will receive:
  • 10 copies of Gospel Fluency and Glospel Fluency Handbook
  • 8-cup Chemex Coffeemaker
  • Level Pour Over Kettle
  • Big House Beans Coffee Sampler (Big House Beans is to empower individuals through unconditional love and second chances. #morethanjustcoffee)

Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on January 23. The winner will be announced January 24 on the Litfuse blog.


Gospel Fluency Handbook: A Practical Guide To Speaking The Truths of Jesus Into the Everyday Stuff of Life
(Saturate, September 2017)
“I’m an unbeliever. So are you,” Jeff Vanderstelt tells us in his book Gospel Fluency.
We slip in and out of believing God’s word about us and trusting in his work on our behalf. We forget who He is, what’s He’s done and in light of that who we are.
Do these statements resonate with you? Then the Gospel Fluency Handbookwas written for you. For those who’ve realized there are areas of life—your normal, everyday, busy life—where you disbelieve God, His goodness and His gospel. For those who are keenly aware and weighted down by a failure to connect the way gospel truths actually matter to everyday life.
The Gospel Fluency Handbook is designed to help you and your group become fluent in the gospel—in other words, to help you move from unbelief to belief. The discussions and exercises in this 8-week interactive handbook provide a step-by-step immersion of your mind, heart, soul, and life in the gospel. Each week follows a simple format: three sets of personal readings and reflections, a weekly guide for group discussion and exercises that will lead to becoming a more gospel-fluent people. People who are learning to see and then speak the truths of Jesus into the everyday stuff of life. Handbook includes free download code for a companion video series.
About the Authors

Jeff Vanderstelt is the visionary leader of the Soma Family of Churches and Saturate and the lead teaching pastor at Doxa Church in Bellevue, WA. He gets to spend his days doing what he loves: training disciples of Jesus to make more disciples of Jesus and equipping the Church in the gospel and missional living.

Vanderstelt is the author of Gospel FluencySaturate and the Saturate Field Guide. He and his wife, Jayne, have three children and live in the Seattle, WA area.

Learn more at and He is also active on Facebook (SaturateTheWorld) and Twitter (@SaturateWorld).

Ben Connelly started and now co-pastors The City Church, part of the Acts29 network and Soma Family of Churches. He also directs church-planting for Soma churches across North America and has taught university classes. With degrees from Baylor University and Dallas Theological Seminary, he writes for various publications and does training across the country.

Connelly has published a few books, including co-authoring Saturate Field Guide and Gospel Fluency Handbook. He and his wife, Jess, have three children and live in Fort Worth, TX.

Connelly blogs occasionally at and is on Twitter (@connellyben).

Monday, January 15, 2018

Just another traumatic life experience for one woman on #thebachelor

I am not 30 minutes late on starting this blog post because I actually cooked tonight and didn't give myself enough time after work to do that. I knew I should have waited to fix something in the crockpot tomorrow when it is supposed to be icy and gone to Whataburger.

I was getting geared up to start, then my laptop decided it had done it's 8 hours today and wanted to be cranky. At least I am back to my usual laptop after last week when it wanted to be stupid and do updates all day.

So, here we go...

Who are we going to get annoyed with tonight. Everyone may go off on Krystal this week, but I bet she stays around until the final four. I didn't do Bachelor Fantasy League this season though because I did horribly the last time I tried it.

Chris Harrison shows up with the first card. There will be two group dates and one one-on-one.

"Maquel, Jacqueline, Lauren B., Tia, Marikh, Bekah M, Bibiana, Krystal... It's all about the ring."

Some of them are rightfully worried about getting the snot beat out of them today because they figure it's a boxing date. Close, but it's wrestling. GLOB... Gorgeous Ladies of the Bachelor Wrestling. Two of the old school 80s wrestlers from GLOW are there to teach them some moves. The coaches get annoyed with anyone smiling and laughing and tries to get those women riled up. Like mouthing Bibiana's mom for how she spelled her name. Bibiana doesn't get that they weren't being personal, they were just trying to push buttons. Instead she's off in some corner crying. She's not the only one crying. Tia the wienie from Weiner is too.

Meanwhile, someone really does want to beat the crap out of Krystal. Bekah, as much as I don't like her, is at last wise enough to understand it's all an act. Arie has to ask Tia what's going on. She doesn't want to get hurt and admits she's being a crybaby today.

Chris Harrison comes into the practice and tells all the women they have to get their persona and costume backstage before they hit the ring.

Arie the Kissing Bandit has to wrestle one of the women to start the night. Pretty Boy Kenny King from Rachel's season his his opponent. Kenny was/is a professional wrestler and slams Arie up one side of the ring and down the other. Arie finally makes one move and "wins."

Bekah the Sex Kitten vs. Maquel the Lunch Lady. Not going to lie, I help Bekah goes down. Maquel falls victim to the whip at first, but ultimately takes Bekah down with a lunch tray.

Krystal is dressed like a leopard and takes out Jacqueline. That didn't go the way I wanted it to.

Lauren B. and Marikh have something weird going on. The women don't know what's going on either.

Tia, some kind of southern belle, vs. Bibiana the Bridezilla is the last round. Tia wins.

Later that night, they go off to some trailer park or something. They hardly get settled when Krystal makes sure she takes Arie off first. Arie tells her it's hard to be in the room with a room full of other women. After kissing, she asks if she is supposed to settle back or be aggressive on these group dates. He tells her to be herself. Krystal talking about this in her to camera interview makes me nauseous. Thankfully someone ended that whole thing pretty quick.

The other women take some time with Arie. Bibiana tries to tell Arie how respectful she is of everyone's time and making sure everyone has their chance. She complains specifically about Krystal. Arie really doesn't care about that. He just didn't want her to get caught up in the drama.

Bekah tries to explain WWE to the women when Krystal comes back on the scene making sure all the women got their time. You know, so she can go back for seconds.

Tia talks about not wanting to come off as weak. She feels safe with Arie, especially like when he comforted her that day. Kissy, kissy.

Back at the house, the remaining women anticipate the date card. The doorbell rings. The card reads, "Lauren S. - You had me at merlot."

Chelsea stews as she thought as a single mom she would get some special time so they wouldn't be wasting time.

Bekah and Arie talk about her longest relationship was 2 1/2 - 3 years. It must have been around the time she got her driver's license or all of junior high. It's been a long time since she's felt real chemistry. Probably back in chemistry class a few years ago.

When it comes time to hand out the rose, Arie gives it to Bekah. Krystal may have a stroke while trying to smile and keep her airy zen thing going on.

The next day, the women are lying around the pool and Krystal tells Marikh what a great woman she is. She wouldn't go out with this guy in 8th grade because he broke up with her best friend to go with her. She's too nice, she claims. Blah, blah, blah, blah.

Lauren S. packs it up to go on her date. She rides out in a limo to the airport to take a private jet to Napa with Arie. Then, they take a limo to a winery. 

While drinking wine and eating cheese, they talk about how calm and peaceful it is out here at the winery and how they could live out here. They talk about him going to sleep earlier and earlier. They stroll around the rows of grapes.

That night over fake dinner, they have more wine. I don't know if she's tipsy or what, but she's rambling on about all sorts of things in a hard to follow way. It's all her talking while he's eating his dessert. Something about growing apart while on a business trip, a weird eye infection her mom had, something about college...

At the mansion, the women are gathered for the last date card to arrive. "Ashley, Becca K., Brittany, Jenna, Caroline, Chelsea, Annaliese... Love is ruff..."

Some of the women are crazy giddy the date might have something to do with dogs. Annaliese had a tragic experience with a dog as a child. What hasn't she had a traumatic experience with as a child? Wasn't she the one who was freaked out over bumper cars and motorcycles 
last week?

Back on the date, Lauren is still spazzing out. Arie picks up the rose. He tells her that he can't give her the rose tonight. The reason Arie gives is that he doesn't want to take her away from the family she is close to. After all, mom might have another eye infection. As tough as he tries to say it was, it wasn't all that hard. You can tell.

The violin music plays on for Arie alone, and someone comes in to get Lauren's luggage.

Krystal gives everyone a speech about how serious Arie is about this. She loved Lauren S. a lot, but she had opened up to Krystal about how hard it is for her to open up. (Ironic much?) Caroline walks out of the room because she is sad her friend left and wishes Krystal went home instead.

The next day, Arie brings his dog along on the date. Lots of other dogs join them to as they learn how to do tricks with dogs for a show later that night. Jump through this hoop. Jump on people's backs. 

Annaliese had a couple of scary dog experiences. Sunshine, her grandparents' old dog big her, and she almost lost her eye. All this happened while her parents were out of the country. Never before has The Bachelor created dramatizations like this. Only for Annaliese.

Speaking of never befores... Bibiana and Tia are talking about how they feel about missing out on the dog date. Bibiana says they need to pray. She prays that one of the women gets bitten by a puppy.

The women head off to some set up where they do a show in front of a live audience. Chelsea does not excel at getting the dog to do anything it is supposed to. I mean like no dog does what it should.

Neither Ashley nor Jenna has any better luck. For that matter, neither does anyone else.

Later that night, they head to an old bank turned restaurant and bar. As soon as they get settled in, Arie pulls Chelsea away. It was tough for her seeing all the children because she misses her son. To the camera, she says she got the time first because Arie is serious about why he's here and the two of them have a connection. Sigh. She and Krystal just need to go try to one up each other off the show somewhere.

Pardon me while I take a nap while he talks to (who is that?) about past relationships.

Annaliese won't make a move, but talks about being behind in the game. Their conversation starts off very awkwardly. The whole thing is bad, actually. Chelsea comes back for seconds which is a relief for Arie.

Becca K. had a reconnect, I mean make out moment. However, she didn't get the rose. The rose goes to Chelsea. Sigh.

On to the cocktail party before the rose ceremony.

Arie arrives, gives his speech, and the battle is on to spend time with Arie. Arie starts by pulling Seinne outside. After all, she didn't get a date this week.

A few women have their time, then Bibiana decides to make her move. She doesn't want to wait around, after all, she had set up a telescope and was ready to do something special for him. When she goes out, Arie is with Lauren B and he wants five more minutes. Arie keeps taking women out to the area that Bibiana had set up for them. Guess that didn't work out for her.

Arie and Bekah M. have a special moment. He's really becoming more and more into her.

Arie set up some hay bales and got some moonshine for Tia. They have a semi-drunken moment.

Meanwhile, all the women compare what positions they were in when they kissed Arie. Annaliese has not been kissed here or there, she has not been kissed anywhere. Not in the house, not with a mouse. Not in a box, not with a fox. She's seeing where this is going. She's heard that Arie likes the girls to make the first move. She leads him off somewhere and says she wants a kiss. She asks him about the first move. He says he doesn't think they are there yet. That's a big signal because she may be the only one he hasn't kissed.

Kendall starts her fake accent thing and takes him off. At least, I think that is Kendall. He kisses her. Someone is a drunken hot mess (Jenna?). I can't keep track of all the blondes, if I'm honest.

Chelsea tries to comfort Annaliese. She then goes back out to find him again. Everyone wants to watch and listen to what happens this time. Annaliese puts Arie on the spot and asks if there's no hope. He says he now feels like there isn't a future for them. He goes ahead and cuts her loose. I guess we won't see any more re-created moments this season.

Some of the women take this moment to freak out. Get it together, ladies, it's time for roses to be handed out.

To recap... Lauren S. and Annaliese are gone. Bekah M. and Chelsea have roses. Only one more goes home.

  1. Caroline
  2. Kendall
  3. Ashley
  4. Lauren B. (the only Lauren left)
  5. Brittany
  6. Becca K. 
  7. Seinne
  8. Krystal
  9. Tia
  10. Maquel
  11. Jenna
  12. Jacqueline
  13. Marikh
That means we are finished with Bibiana's sass. Will he ever know that he made out with a number of other women on the day bed she set up for the two of them?

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Rise and Shine

Rise and Shine

The Lord said to Noah: there’s gonna be a floody, floody
The Lord said to Noah:  there’s gonna be a floody, floody
Get those children out of the muddy, muddy, 
children of the Lord

So, rise and shine, and give God the glory, glory
Rise and shine, and give God the glory, glory
Rise and shine, and give God the glory, glory
children of the Lord

The Lord told Noah to build him an arky, arky
The Lord told Noah to build him an arky, arky
Build it out of gopher barky, barky, 
children of the Lord


The animals, they came in, they came in by twosie, twosies
The animals, they came in, they came in by twosie, twosies
Elephants and kangaroosie, roosies,
children of the Lord


It rained and poured for forty long daysies, daysies
It rained and poured for forty long daysies, daysies
Almost drove those animals crazies, crazies, 
children of the Lord


Then Noah he sent out, he sent out a dovey, dovey
Noah he sent out, he sent out a dovey, dovey
Dovey said there’s clear skies abovey-bovey, 
children of the Lord


The sun came out and dried up the landy, landy
The sun came out and dried up the landy, landy
Everything was fine and dandy, dandy, 
children of the Lord


Now, this is the end of, the end of my story, story
This is the end of, the end of my story, story
Everything is hunky dory, dory, 
children of the Lord


*In one version, I found another verse about the animals coming out in threesies, but I'm going to stick with the Bible doesn't say that and I don't want to explain about the birds and beezies, beezies.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Hot potato tournament and the new book I started

Today's adventures took us over to Kerens for Peyton's basketball tournament. In reality, it was more like a hot potato tournament.

I don't know what was up with them as her team usually plays better, but it's like they didn't believe in dribbling, just getting the ball out of their hands as soon as they touched it. The results were losing their first game, winning their second and losing the third.

In between the first two games, we came back to town to check out an estate sale. Between the second two games we went to a couple of antique stores in a nearby town, but it was so cold in the buildings that had no eat, we gave up and went to eat Mexican food. We got back to the gym early, so I started a book on my Kindle.

I usually have so much going on that I rarely read for fun, even though I love to read. I'm actually embarrassed at how little I read for fun given my profession. I do read large portions of books for press kits though. However, I got Charles Martin's soon to be released, Send Down the Rain off of NetGalley yesterday. After reading the first chapter, I told Mom it was the strangest start to a book I had read in a while.

Strange may not be the word for it. Maybe. I'm not going to post a review of it until it releases in May!

I'm already about 1/4 of the way through it. I came home around 5:30 PM and had plenty of things I needed to do, including two orders I got this week. However, I plopped on the couch and read. And took a nap. Now, I am finishing off this blog while working on my sales tax for 4th quarter 2017 that is due. I need to hurry it up though so I can go back to reading.

Who is the author that you must read as soon as they have a book out?

Friday, January 12, 2018

What makes a good blog?

I may be a lousy blogger these days, but I do know what makes a good blog! This week the Litfuse video tip of the week is about blogging. Here's what Caitlin and I shared this week.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Marriage is not about making each other happy

author of Avoiding the Greener Grass Syndrome
Extramarital affairs are not the social taboo they once were and might be more prevalent now than ever thanks to the anonymity of the Internet and ease of connection via smartphones. Living in a culture that pushes the belief that “life is short and you deserve to be happy” doesn’t help. All of these provide fertile ground for the temptation to cheat to grow, and Christians are not exempt from these influences.

After straying to the other side of this marital fence and returning to find forgiveness and restoration, Nancy Anderson brings personal experience and an authority about predicting and preventing an extramarital affair in her book Avoiding the Greener Grass Syndrome: How to Grow Affair-Proof Hedges Around Your Marriage  (Kregel Publications). “Many marriage books that are based upon theories, statistics, and clinical studies of infidelity,” she explains. “Avoiding the Greener Grass Syndrome is a book about real life in the real world. I’m an expert on infidelity because I lived it and survived. Thirty-eight years after my affair and reconciliation, Ron and I continue taking what we learned and helping couples prevent, predict, and pardon infidelity.”

Q: When many people get married, they believe their husband or wife’s job is to make them happy. Why is it dangerous to believe this lie?

No one can meet all the needs of another person. If we look only to our mate to fulfill us, we’ll always be disappointed. Ron and I both had unrealistic expectations of what marriage should look like, and we were both waiting to be served by the other. However, it should be the opposite.

A healthy marriage is created when each person is willing to serve the other. Happiness and contentment come from knowing you are doing all you can to “water” your marriage. Trading partners is not a good solution to a troubled marriage because divorce rates go up with each subsequent marriage.

Q: Speaking of lies about happiness, the world discourages working through hard times by saying, “Life is short, and you deserve to be happy.” What does the Bible say about deserving happiness?

The truth is, marriage is both difficult and effortless, magnificent and excruciating, blissful and tedious. Sometimes it’s all those things within the same day—even within the same hour.

I know how hard it is to stay in a less-than-perfect marriage while TV talk shows and well-meaning friends are preaching “you deserve to be happy.” I looked for that verse in the Bible. Trust me—it’s not there. What the Bible does teach about happiness is that it has little to do with our external circumstances (married or single, rich or poor, healthy or ill) and more to do with our choice to be content. Philippians 4:12–13 tells us, “12I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of contentment in every situation, whether it be a full stomach or hunger, plenty or want; 13 for I can do everything God asks me to with the help of Christ who gives me the strength and power” (TLB).

Q: You confess that you complained and criticized your way through your first year of marriage. If you could go back in time, how would you have approached your new role as a wife differently?

On one hand, I wish that were possible, as it would have saved a lot of pain and heartache, but on the other hand, the lessons I learned in that dark valley shaped the rest of my life for the better. In a way, I am getting a do-over when I help another couple avert a disaster in their marriage. By helping them avoid the snare that caught me, I am using what was evil for good purposes.

My role as a wife now is 180 degrees from what it was in 1978. My approach to Ron now is that we are on the same team, working toward the same goals. When we differ on which path to take, I don’t see it as him against me. I also have learned to value our differences instead of resenting them, even though I still don’t understand why he is relentlessly cheerful and chatty before I’ve had my morning coffee.

Q: The man with whom you had an affair was a co-worker of yours. How can we safeguard our relationships when it is inevitable we will encounter members of the opposite sex in the workplace and the course of daily activities?

I recently read about the guidelines Vice President Pence implements in his relationships with coworkers and other women who are not his wife. He is very careful to avoid any appearance of and opportunity for inappropriate behavior, and I agree with his high standards!

If you’re in doubt as to what conduct is inappropriate, ask yourself, Would I do this in front of my spouse? If you’re still not sure, ask yourself, Would I do it in front of the Lord? (You are, you know.) Here is a simple rule to keep you on the straight and narrow: If you’d have to hide it or lie about it, don’t do it!

In the workplace, make sure your emails and other correspondences are not suggestive, inappropriate, or flirtatious. Talk about your spouse positively, making it clear that you’re married and intend to stay that way. Be careful not to have any lingering eye contact or make comments that are suggestive. The book has suggestions for safeguards for business travel, relationships with neighbors, babysitters, and even co-laborers at church.

Q: Once a couple decides to commit to repairing their marriage, what is the first step toward reconciliation?

After we made the decision to reconcile and reform our marriage, we immediately sought advice from many different sources. We went to a Christian marriage counselor who helped us learn to communicate more effectively. We also read several books about “starting over” and attended marriage retreats and workshops. One of the most important things we did was join a wonderful church and faithfully attend worship services and adult Sunday school classes. We received solid biblical teaching from a godly pastor and acted on his instruction.

The new chapter, titled “Affair Repair,” offers seven steps to recovery. The first step is reveal, which means coming clean and admitting the betrayal. Without that first step, the others are not effective.

Q: How long did it take for your marriage to heal after you and Ron decided to remain committed to each other?

The transformation was a slow process. We’d developed many destructive habits, and some of them took years to die. My feelings were still connected to Jake, but I decided to stay with Ron and hoped and prayed that my affection for Ron would come back with time. I worked hard to regain his trust, and we both made a big effort to be polite and kind to each other, hoping to rebuild a friendship before a romance. I would estimate that it took two years before we felt whole again.

Q: You write about Ron forgiving you but also about how you struggled with the sorrow of regret. Why do you think he was able to trust you more than you could trust yourself at that time?

Ron is an amazing man, and one of his best qualities is his optimism. He saw my sincere apology and changed behavior as indicators that our marriage could be healed. He heard me break it off with Jake and quit my job, so he was confident I’d really changed. I knew, however, I still struggled with trusting myself and was distraught I had fallen so far. My healing took longer than his, perhaps because I had prided myself on being the stronger Christian and knowing I’d also betrayed the Lord broke my heart.

Q: What words of encouragement would you offer to someone in a struggling marriage who thinks divorce is the only option following an affair?

Adultery can be grounds for a divorce, especially if there is repeated infidelity and no willingness to change. However, we encourage couples to try all other options first, with divorce as the last resort. We know that God can heal any marriage if both partners are willing to figure out what went wrong and make positive changes in attitude and behavior.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Sacred Rest by Saundra Dalton-Smith

Energy, happiness, creativity, and relationships—how can anyone keep these fresh and thriving in the midst of never-ending family demands, career pressures, and the stress of everyday life? Find out why rest is no longer optional in Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith’s Sacred Rest. By combining scientific research with personal stories, spiritual insight, and practical next steps, Sacred Rest gives the weary permission to embrace rest, set boundaries, and seek sanctuary without any guilt, shame, or fear.


Sacred Rest: Recover Your Life, Renew Your Energy, Restore Your Sanity
(FaithWords, December 2017)
Staying busy is easy. Staying well rested— there’s a challenge.
How can you keep your energy, happiness, creativity, and relationships fresh and thriving in the midst of never-ending family demands, career pressures, and the stress of everyday life? In Sacred Rest, Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith, a board-certified internal medicine doctor, reveals why rest can no longer remain optional.
Dr. Dalton-Smith shares seven types of rest she has found lacking in the lives of those she encounters in her clinical practice and research-physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, sensory, social, creative—and why a deficiency in any one of these types of rest can have unfavorable effects on your health, happiness, relationships, creativity, and productivity. Sacred Rest combines the science of rest, the spirituality of rest, the gifts of rest, and the resulting fruit of rest. It shows rest as something sacred, valuable, and worthy of our respect.
By combining scientific research with personal stories, spiritual insight, and practical next steps, Sacred Rest gives the weary permission to embrace rest, set boundaries, and seek sanctuary without any guilt, shame, or fear.
Saundra Dalton-Smith


Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith is an author, speaker, and board-certified physician. She has an active medical practice in Alabama (near the Birmingham area). She received her B.S. in Biochemistry at the University of Georgia, and graduated with honors from Meharry Medical College in Nashville. She has been an adjunct faculty member at Baker College and Davenport University in Michigan teaching courses on health, nutrition, and disease progression. Dr. Dalton-Smith is a national and international media resource on the mind, body, spirit connection and has been featured in Women’s Day, Redbook, and First For Women magazine. She is the author of “Set Free to Live” and “Come Empty” (winner 2016 Golden Scroll Nonfiction Book of the Year and 2016 Illumination Award Gold medalist). She is a member of the Christian Medical and Dental Association and a repeat keynote speaker at their annual gathering. She has shared her tips on merging faith and medicine with over 16,000 health care professionals to encourage the current and next generation of doctors to treat the whole person.
Find out more about Saundra at

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Banish Fears in 40 Days

New Devotional Encourages Living

a Dream Life by Being Brave

The world can be a scary place, and the fear it produces can spiral us into a sort of paralysis that keeps us from speaking truth, living boldly, and encouraging others. To spur us back into action, life coach Kelly Johnson has written a devotional, Being Brave: A 40-Day Journey to the Life God Dreams for You (Abingdon Press/December 19, 2017/ $14.99), to help fan the flame of bravery that lies in wait within everyone.

The most often repeated command in scripture is “Do not fear.” In fact, the Bible provides hundreds of scriptures about fear and courage, and each is paired with a reminder of God’s presence. It is because of God’s presence that people can defeat the power of fear in their life and live in the fullness of who God made them to be.

“God has made us brave, not fearful beings. Remembering we are brave reminds us of our identity as children of God and sets us free to do the next right thing with confidence,” notes Johnson.

The book takes readers on a voyage of discovering the biblical truth found in 2 Timothy 1:7: “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control (ESV).” It invites them to consider a new way of thinking about what it means to be brave and challenges them to seek a greater intimacy with God and the people God has placed in their life.

Through Scripture, stories, prayers, and thought-provoking questions, readers will recognize the seeds of divinely inspired bravery and learn the strength found in community. Using letters of the word brave as a guide, Being Brave highlights what God’s Word has to say about the six characteristics of bravery: Bold, Resilient, Authentic, Vulnerable, Engaged, and Empowered by the Spirit. “Along the way, we will also find inspiration from Jesus and his brave followers during the final weeks of his ministry, in addition to examples of courage from my own community,” adds Johnson.

“It is important to name one another as brave. When we call out the brave soldier in each other, we speak out loud a message of solidarity and inspiration. It voices that we see their struggle, bravery, and hard work. It also involves letting them know that we believe in them and are there if they need help,” shares Johnson. “When we are reminded of our inherent, God-given courage, we can turn down the volume on the voice of our inner critic and turn up the volume on God’s voice. Remembering we are brave helps us tap into the part of ourselves that is creative and resourceful.”

Johnson continues that “God has named us brave. Being brave is our birthright as a child of God. We already have everything we need to live a life of passion, sacrifice, meaning and purpose. We don’t need anything else to be ready. Many of us have been playing it safe when God wants us to be bold and hiding from one another when God wants us to live in community. Courage is more often experienced in community and naming one another brave is the path back to God and to the bigger, braver life we desire.”

Whether looking to bravely step into the new year, giving up being fearful for Lent as a catalyst to living an emboldened life of faith, or simply looking for everyday encouragement, Being Brave serves as a companion for readers to explore God’s vision for life. It seeks to encourage them to hear his voice more clearly, identify the barriers to fully embracing a braver and fuller life, and banish the fears that may be holding them back.

Advance Praise

“Kelly Johnson leads us through a forty-day journey of living boldly through the power of the Holy Spirit. She offers thought-provoking stories and questions that are sure to get you thinking about bravery in a fresh way. This beautiful devotional journey is inspiring and uplifting.”
~ Micah Maddox, author of Anchored In

“In a world of struggle over prejudice, comparison, anxiety, sentimentality, perfectionism, and injustice of all kinds, this is just the prescription we all need. Pick up this book and stop. Breathe. Rest. Reflect. Pray. By the end of your spiritual journey you will find yourself rolling up your sleeves empowered to join God’s movement again.
Be Bold. Be Brave. Be Church.”
~ Dr. Tobin E. Wilson, pastor, author, and thought leader

About the author

Kelly Johnson is a counselor, coach, writer, speaker, retreat leader, and human rights advocate. She has a Masters degree in Social Work and worked for years as a counselor in the mental health and addictions field. She is passionate about social justice issues and believe Jesus calls us to take care of the vulnerable and fight for the oppressed. Johnson leads a weekly bible study and serves on the Board of Directors at The Lamb Center, a day shelter for homeless individuals in her community.

A blogger since 2005, Kelly maintains a following of readers on her monthly contributions to The Glorious Table and her church blog, Today I Saw God. She is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post, The Mighty, and Today Parenting. Being Brave: A 40-Day Journey to the Life God Dreams for You is her first book.

She has been married for more than 30 years to her high school sweetheart, Steve, and is the proud mom of two daughters in their twenties, Alexandra and Brooke. In her free time, she likes to sing, garden, read and spend time with friends and family. She also loves to travel and is always up for an adventure to a new place!

Monday, January 8, 2018

I'm already really hating some of these personalities on #thebachelor

After a craptastic day, I'm trying to blog tonight from my little junk laptop I haven't turned on in three months, hoping I can get through The Bachelor tonight. My regular laptop decided to go off the deep end this morning. I needed to restart it for something and it has been "Getting ready for Windows. Do not turn off computer," all the live long day. I've turned it off and tried to bypass it, took out the battery, and am going to have to do what I Googled via troubleshooting... let it do it's thing as long as the circle was moving. It could take a couple of days which is ridiculous.

So, since it's the computer I usually work on, and had to deal with that today, I'm in a foul mood. Thankfully, I have another computer, or I would have been losing money by losing work hours today. Add to that trying to track down a business I bought something from in Canton weekend before last to give me a refund on something I actually paid for three times and some other issues (personal and work related), and I'm just plain out grouchy.

Now, after getting home a few minutes late from Family Dollar, answering an email and typing this intro up, I'm now 17 minutes late into the show, and all I wanted to do all day besides get Taco Shop for dinner (which I didn't do) is start The Bachelor on time.

Without further ado, here we go...

Arie is going to ride his motorcycle up to the mansion tonight, or this morning, I guess. The girls are sucking up their mimosas. Chris Harrison calls everyone in to explain the date cards for the week.

The first date card reads, "Becca K. - Hold on tight - Arie."

Chelsea is already pouting since she got the first impression rose last week. All the women follow Becca and Arie out as they put on their helmets and ride off on the motorcycle.

In the house, Chelsea talks about being jealous of the physical proximity while another woman (don't ask me who) talks about her dad being in a motorcycle accident and not wanting to ride. She knows of people who lost body parts and would have asked for Arie to not ride for their date.

When Becca and Arie get to some house, designer Rachel Zoe is there to dress Becca for the rest of their date. She tries on some dresses and models for Arie. After picking the dress, Arie brings out a box with some Louboutins to wear. Then a Neil Lane representative brings some jewelry for her to wear. Arie puts earrings in her ears which is kind of awkward. He leans in for a kiss. Becca confirms he has pillow lips.

At the house, Becca brings all her stash in so she can take it upstairs to get dressed. All the women are drooling and prying their jaws off the floor in awe.

Becca heads back out in her metallic dress for the fake dinner in the room with the candles. He talks about himself and says he is willing to answers questions about his experience. He thought it was good for him even though it didn't work out.

Back where are all the women are sitting around in one group, they are talking about the women who got kisses the first night. The date card arrives...

"Krystal, Home is where the heart is. Arie."

She doesn't want to gloat, but quickly decides it is time for beauty sleep.

Becca shares about her seven year relationship and how her ex got her through the death of her dad (who had brain cancer). He was diagnosed when she was 14. They talk about that a bit and compare families. He reaches for the date rose and hands it to her. She also gets to keep her earrings from the night. Not the necklace, but the earrings.

The next morning, Krystal and a few of the women tried to decide what her card might mean. Is he taking her home already?

Krystal takes a limo to the airport where they fly off on a private jet to his home in Scottsdale. He shows her the Pizza Hut where he worked at 16, some trees where he had a first kiss... They go to his old high school where he pointed out the principal's office where he spent some time.

They go to Arie's home where he shows her around, his bedroom, his closet, his old photo albums. They watch old home movies. Arie evidently didn't know what was on the videos as he is really embarrassed at some of his antics. Then, Arie takes her over to his parents' house. This is a little soon. She meets his parents, little brother and new sister-in-law.

At the mansion, the next date card arrives. The nineteen remaining women who didn't have one-on-ones want to be on the date card. 

"Macquel, Marikh, Tia, Valerie, Annaliese, Lauren G, Kendall, Bekah, Jenny, Sienne, Jenna, Caroline, Brittany, Bibianna, and Chelsea. Let's hit love head-on. - Arie."

That leaves three women, including a couple of Laurens, Jacqueline and Ashley without a date. That's if I am tracking right. (I said last week at the end that Jenna went home because I lost her in the string of roses somehow, but she's there tonight. I guess just eight went home. Eight was not enough.)

At some point, Arie and Krystal flew back to Los Angeles for the evening portion of the night. She had an amazing day seeing what his life is like, but now, she's worried about opening up too much to him. Now, after the day being all about him, he wants to know more about her. Krystal says she grew up in a non-traditional way. Her parents divorced when she was young. Her father wasn't around, and her mother wasn't very present. She helped raise her little brother. She shares an emotional story about her brother calling her from the hospital after being attacked. He had been homeless and went back to the streets following the incident.

He thinks she's amazing and hands over the date rose. Arie tells her the date isn't over yet as they finish up their conversation at the fake dinner table. The first private concert of the season with Collin Dermott. (If I spelled that wrong, I apologize. I am not familiar with him.)

The next morning, Krystal is hesitant to share much about her date even though the women are asking for details. She doesn't want to share the details of "their relationship."

The women don't like her being so vague. Bibiana thinks it seems shady.

On group date day, they are all dressed out in workout clothes, some more inappropriately than others (like Bekah). They go out to an old dirt track and Arie comes out in an old car showing off. They are going to do do a demolition derby. They can spray paint their own cars, then are going to wreck them. Running into each other with cars seems like a bad idea, all things considered. They are supposed to miss barrels, but instead some of the women hit every one.

Annaliese is crying because she had a bad experience with bumper cars as a child. She was so alone and scared and this is her worst nightmare. Arie walks up and asks what's up. He tells her she doesn't have to do anything she's scared of. Arie promises to protect her. Of course, this annoys all the other women. (I think this might have also been who had the traumatic motorcycle stories, but I am not sure.)

After putting on their race suits, the time has come for the derby. They race until the car quits going. You want to hit cars in reverse. Each woman has their own personalized helmet and climb into the cars. Annaliese is freaking out again with Arie and in her interview as they bring fire extinguishers.

Annaliese takes a hit quick. Then, she quickly decides to start taking people out. Bibiana takes out some agressions. However, her car takes too much damage to quick. Brittany starts taking out people. I get whiplash just watching it.

Sienne and Tia were the last women standing. When Tia loses out, Sienne walks away the winner and will get extra time later in the evening.

But first, there's a cocktail party. The fight will be on for time. Bibiana was going to go first, but Chelsea snatches him first. Of course, the women hate her.

Chelsea wants to talk to him about why she came off as mysterious. She starts to talk about her son, Sammy. Even before Emily, who was a mom, he lived with a woman who had two kids. She brings up how she has to be serious about this going in, and Arie says he understands how hard it is for her being away. Kiss time.

When Chelsea comes back, she tells everyone that she revealed the information about her son. The women interrupt saying, yes, she has a kid, but she doesn't need to discount everything else they gave up to be there because everyone gave up something.

Siennne talks about her time at Yale and studying abroad in Italy and Brazil. He's impressed by her, talking to her, then kissy kissy.

Hope the flu isn't going around.

The women discuss their order of time. Claws start coming out. 

Bibiana has an attitude and isn't going to go get her time now at the end of the night. I don't know what her deal is now, but I have been pro-Bibiana up until now because she seems normal.

Bekah gets her time. She gets on my nerves every time I watch her. She's so over dramatic. Her first kiss could be described that way too. Way too much. 

When Arie gets the rose, he speaks about how Chelsea opens up to him, but Sienne impressed him. If looks could kill, Chelsea would be an assassin. 

Moving on to the cocktail party and rose ceremony night. 

Bibiana is hoping to get her time in early tonight. Arie goes and gets Brittany first though. She got hurt at the demolition derby. She didn't get cleared to go back to the date cocktail party. He wants to give her a certificate for "Most Hardcore."

Bekah and Arie sneak away to the front of the house. She says she always has to have a fur. Her coat is a little much. They make out again. 

Even though Krystal has her rose, she's going to make sure she gives her time too. She interrupts Lauren B.'s time. She didn't have a date this week, so Arie asks for a little more time. When Lauren walks in, Krystal latches on and kisses him and calls him pet names. Krystal tells him she won't tell anyone what they did at his house. I can't stand her sugary self and the sound of her voice. She gets all giddy giggly and won't share any details of anything about tonight's conversation either. 

Kendall brings out the taxidermy seal. Someone plays truth or dare. 

Finally, Bibiana gets her time. They talk about his dog that he brought back from Scottsdale. That eases the stress for him. Krystal sneaks back out and wants to interrupt. Bibiana says she does mind. They get a minute more before Krystal comes back out. Bibiana is hoppin' mad! She calls Krystal out when she walks back in. Krystal tries to play sweet, "I only had two minutes." Krystal says she was, "Checking on" Bibiana and did ask first. Bibiana speaks for the crew. No one says anything.

Chris Harrison walks in to clink the glass.

As you know, Becca, Krystal and Sienne already have roses. As the speech goes, some people he has connected with quickly, while he hasn't had much time with others. 
  1. Macquel
  2. Jacqueline
  3. Bekah
  4. Jenna
  5. Chelsea
  6. Lauren S.
  7. Tia
  8. Annaliese
  9. Lauren B.
  10. Kendall
  11. Brittany
  12. Ashley
  13. Marikh
  14. Caroline
  15. Bibiana (Sweating it out until the end!)
That sends Lauren G., Valerie and Jenny home. Jenny walks out without giving him a hug like the others. Arie goes out of the room to speak to her. Jenny says she had friends and was sad to leave already. She's actually pretty ticked.

That's it for the week. There's a wrestling date and supposedly some drama coming up next week.