Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Abuse survivor leads women on a journey to heal

Part 1 of an interview with Crystal M. Sutherland,
Author of Journey to Heal

A woman who was sexually abused as a child can wrestle her whole adult life with questions such as, Am I worthless? How can I move past the hurt? Do I matter to God? This internal turbulence can carve a deep hole in an already wounded soul. Crystal M. Sutherland’s own experiences as a child led her to write Journey to Heal: Seven Essential Steps of Recovery for Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse (Kregel Publications).

Q: Your book, Journey to Heal, addresses an especially sensitive subject. How prevalent is child sexual abuse in our country?

The prevalence of childhood sexual abuse in our country is one of the best-kept secrets of our culture today. It is a crime perpetuated in silence and secrecy, and often children who may attempt to tell an adult are ignored, dismissed or misunderstood. Based on recorded cases, it is estimated there are more than 42 million adult survivors of sexual abuse today. Current statistics also reveal approximately one in 10 children will be sexually abused before they reach the age of 18. That breaks down to about one in seven girls and one in 25 boys. These statistics are based solely on reported cases; it is very difficult to obtain accurate data because this crime is severely underreported. From the research I have read, this appears to be especially true among boys.

Q: This is a very personal topic for you. Why did you decide to share such a difficult and private story in the form of this book?

Sharing my story is a small part of this book. I share it so my readers know I am a friend who understands what they are going through. The focus of my book is leading readers through the recovery process God brought me through and to be the kind of friend to them I needed at that very dark time in my life.

Q: Could anyone have known what was happening to you? What are some of the warning signs adults should be aware of when abuse is present?

I don’t believe anyone could have known what I was going through. Like most victims of sexual abuse, I was full of fear and very good at keeping secrets and masking my true feelings. On the surface, our family looked as normal as any other, but there were warning signs present, if someone knew what to look for.

It’s important to note here that every child is different and will exhibit a wide range of immediate and long-term reactions to abuse. I encourage families and teachers to learn more on this topic at Darkness to Light (d2L.org), an organization dedicated to raising awareness about CSA.

There several physical and emotions signs to note. Physical signs of sexual abuse might include bruising, bleeding, redness or scabs around the mouth or genitals, urinary tract infections, STDs, abnormal discharges or chronic stomach pain or headaches. Emotional signs may include withdrawal from social activity, fear, depression, unexplained anger or rebellion, nightmares, bedwetting, poor school performance, delinquency, aggressive behavior, promiscuity, cruelty to animals, bullying, being bullied, running away or self-harm of any kind. One of the most telling signs a child is being sexually abused is sexual behavior and language that is not age-appropriate.

Q: Even though you were in church by the time you were a teen, promiscuity and pregnancy became a part of your story. Why do so many victims of childhood sexual abuse find themselves in similar situations?

This is a difficult question to answer because there are many factors involved here. I believe the underlying reason involves shame. Feelings of shame and worthlessness dominated my heart as a teen. I felt unloved and unwanted and jumped at most any opportunity to feel loved and accepted by others. I believe this is true for most victims of CSA; coupled with a damaged sexuality and little sense of personal boundaries or self-respect, victims of sexual abuse are extremely vulnerable and prone to make life choices out of their place of brokenness.

Q: What were some of the unhealthy habits you adopted as an adult in an attempt to cope with your pain?

I indulged in food, shopping and busy-work to avoid dealing with the pain I felt inside. For years I considered most any carbohydrate a close friend and struggled with weight issues for a long time. Shopping was also a means of escape from my reality. With a caramel macchiato in one hand and my pocketbook in the other, I could slip into my own little world for a while. I abused myself with food, and I temporarily avoided my issues through the distraction of retail therapy. If that wasn’t enough, I kept busy with all sorts of activities and was the queen of overachievement. If there was a need for volunteers at church, I was there. I was on every committee I could commit to and nearly wore myself out in the process. I was so unhealthy, and none of those vices brought me any closer to the healing I desperately needed.

Q: What happened that caused you to confront what had happened and begin healing? How did you get started?

Not knowing where to begin, I searched for books on the topic of abuse. Some were helpful, but some left me feeling more angry. I began to journal what I was feeling and process those feelings through Bible study and prayer. God did much of His healing work through my quiet time with him, and it was through that time the foundation of this book was laid.

Q: Was your stepfather ever held accountable for what he did? Is justice important in recovery?

No, at least not from a legal standpoint. I believe he is accountable to God, and God will deal with his sin in the same way he deals with mine. Justice is important, and often a lack of justice or validation can cause even deeper and longer-lasting wounds for a survivor. When justice has swiftly taken place in a case of CSA, a victim is validated in a powerful way, and healing can begin to take place. However, when the opposite is true, it can leave victims with a terrible sense of worthlessness, abandonment and betrayal that greatly hinders and lengthens the recovery process.

Q: What would you say to someone who is holding this secret right now, afraid to reach out for help?

I would tell them they are not alone, they are not to blame, and they are deeply loved. I would add there are well more than 42 million adult survivors of sexual abuse today, many of whom are on their own journey to heal. I would encourage them to read my book and seek out a Christian counselor or pastor whom they can share their story with and begin the healing process.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Tonight's episode of #thebachelorette according to Chad

From The Bachelorette's Facebook page
Tonight I got to watch a few minutes of The Bachelorette before I had to leave for a softball game. I could have stretched it to 30 minutes, but I decided not to try to blog, then stop, and start back when I returned. So, therefore, it's a start at 10:00 kind of blog. I hate when I have to do that. I hate not being able to live tweet too. But, I know Peyton's season won't last forever.

So, 10:20 and it's start time.

This week's episode starts with the men awaiting the first date card. Before it even arrives, Chad is toasting himself very crudely saying he will be the one to marry JoJo. He believes most of the men have not dated anyone of her caliber in the past. I'm already ready for him to go. How long until the other men start complaining to JoJo about his motives. My guess is sooner than usual.

The first date card arrives, and Evan grabs it to read it to the guys. "Luke, Grant, Will, Evan, Daniel, Vinnie, Ali, James F., Wells, Robby, Let's heat things up!"

The men hear a loud boom and run outside to see what is going on. A limo is on fire. It's all a show as JoJo arrives in a fire truck. She pulls out the big hose with the help of the real fire fighters and puts out the fire. I thought it was going to turn into a wet t-shirt contest or something for a minute. After all, she has a tight white tank on under her suspenders, just like a trashy calendar or poster girl.

The men load up on the fire truck and leave.

Chad doesn't think these guys will do well. Comparing back to his days as an auto salesman, he says he always wanted people to see the bad cars before seeing his good car. By the time JoJo takes him on a date, she's going to realize how great he is.

After the guys leave on the group date, Chad packs a suitcase full of protein powder, chains it to his waist and does pull-ups. His fellow housemates are unimpressed.

The group date starts off at the fire academy. They are going to compete for some extra time with JoJo. The men are put to the test through various drills. They are all a hot sweaty mess. Wells is about to pass out in his gear. Some speculate that the gear weighs more than him. The trainers have him lie down and get some water. JoJo checks on him and they get a little time together.

Meanwhile at the house, James Taylor leads the rest in a song about JoJo. Chad notices they all seem obsessed already. He questions them, asking if they feel stupid going nuts over a girl they don't even know yet. (Though he thinks he's going to marry her, of course.)

After a while, Luke, Grant and Wells (the pity vote) are the three chosen as the top three to race to the top of the tower to win time with JoJo. Luke is in the lead for a while, but Grant beats him out. Wells drags up the end.

Down on the ground, Robby is way too down on himself for this early as he laments about another men spending time with the woman of his dreams.

What kind of wasn't fair about the whole thing... Grant is actually a fire fighter. JoJo is impressed by him and what he does for a living. He tells her, "I'm never going to leave the house without waking you up and telling you I love you every day." Cue first make out session of the night.

At the house, the doorbell rings. Brandon goes to answer it. "Derek - Love is full of choices, love JoJo."

This time Jordan is the annoyed one.

At the date cocktail party, instead of the guys fighting for the first one to break off from the group, JoJo picks Wells. He makes jokes about himself and how he almost died from the day. She tells him that she was impressed that he never gave up. He did bring pictures to show her, including his bloodhound, possibly from his youth from what I gather.

What follows is a fast string of one guy after another. All I learned from all of this is freaky Evan has children. But, that was glossed right over.

Luke who's kind of been whining since losing out to Grant, finally gets his turn and plays a little pathetic. She asks why he was able to do so well today, so Luke tells her about his military background. JoJo wants to know about his past relationships. He doesn't say much. We do find out from camera interviews he already has feelings for her. Cue make out session two. On a roof, of course.

When it is time to give out the group rose, JoJo gives it to Wells. Luke is hurt. He thought they had a connection. I thought I was going to like the war veteran Texan, but he's too pathetic at the moment.

The next morning, Derek is getting ready for his date, but packing up in case he doesn't get the date rose. 

The other men greet JoJo when he arrives the next morning. She takes Derek out, and they get into a convertible and set out. There is no set plan for the date, but they have to make a series of decisions together. First choice, "Sky or Sea." When they follow the signs and get to the airport, the next choice is "North or South." They pick North and head off in a private jet. In flight, they thumb wrestle.

They soon arrive in San Francisco. "Golden Gate Bridge or Lombard Street." They head off in a limo to the bridge. They have a picnic within sight of the bridge. Cue third make out session of the night.

Derek claims there are fireworks already.

Back at home, they are singing about JoJo again. The Canadian and Chad are out back talking smack about everyone and how they probably aren't being real. Chad thinks JoJo needs a man, and many of these guys are childish. Chad gives some lame comparison about making a protein shake out of the guys there. It really makes no sense. However, the two have a bonding moment. I thought the Canadian came off jerky last week, so they (C and C) make a perfect couple.

Later that night, the date card arrives.

"Jordan, Christian, Nick, James T., Alex, Chad... Prove your love to me and the nation."

The three without dates this week are Brandon the Hipster, the third James and Chase. Of course, those guys are disappointed, and Chad tells them they have gone this far in their lives not seeing JoJo, surely they can last another week. I mean, this guy is a piece of jerk, I mean, a piece of work. Chase is done with him too.

Back to Derek, they continue the evening portion of the date. They have a small table out by some water. What water, I don't know. It isn't the bay right where they are.4

JoJo isn't messing around with her questions. Much like the night before with Luke, she asks Derek about his past relationships. He comes up with a story he hasn't really talked to anyone about. He has closed himself off, so it's hard to talk about. She says she understands because she wanted to do the same after Ben. "But if I hadn't put that in the past, I never would have met you." Or 25 other men...

In Derek's relationship, he was ready to move forward, but there was another person in his girlfriend's life. The conversation bonded them. The easiest "decision" she had to make all day (because there were so many choices) was in giving him the rose.

As the fountains pour out behind them, they share another passionate kiss.

The next day takes us on the second group date. The guys head out to ESPN's studios.

No one is interested in spending the day with Chad. The men walk onto the set of "Sports Nation," where JoJo is doing a mock show with the hosts. The hosts are going to put the guys through challenges and do power rankings.

First challenge... "Strike a Rose" aka a touchdown dance.

Second challenge... "Eyes on the Prize" The men have to twirl around on a bat, then run to JoJo and give her a ring on one knee. The guys all get crazy dizzy. It's corny. Chad thinks it's all a joke. James Taylor said Chad looked like a protein shake in a blender.

Chad jumps to a proposal instead of saying what he liked about her. JoJo wants to know what he like about her. He calls her naggy.

The final drill is a "Press Conference" where each guy has to answer questions such as, "what three qualities are you looking for in a wife?", "Why do you want to get married?", "Who should JoJo not pick?"

The guys quickly say they don't think Chad should be picked. When Chad is supposed to answer questions, he comes off as a jerk for sure. He says he wants to get to know her, but the guys are making up stuff about what they like about her because no one knows her. JoJo does appreciate his honestly, but isn't sure if he is going too far.

Max and Marcellus compare notes on the power rankings. They announce their decision. #3 Alex, #2 Chad (for the honesty), #1 was a clear choice for them - James Taylor.

Back stage, Chad tells all the men that they just lied to her all day since they don't know her. Chad doesn't think he's ever met a group of more sensitive men based on how they took his assessment.

Onto that night's group date cocktail party where they are hanging out a the Houdini Estate. 

JoJo sees some of the qualities in James that gave him the power ranking. She plans to get to know him better that night. He reads a letter to her that he has written with all of his thoughts. It brings her to tears. Cue make out session #4.

When JoJo brings James back, she takes Alex off. Chad thinks Alex is too short for her (and that James was a high school boyfriend type).

Chad thinks something about everyone actually. Christian's too fake, they are all to inexperienced... JoJo talks to him about how all the guys took him. Chad stands his ground, but says he was joking the whole time. JoJo thinks he's over compensating for something.

When she asks him about past relationships, it's been four years since he had a relationship because he's been working. He tells her he has a Yorkie puppy he inherited from his mother when she passed away six months ago. He comes off as sensitive for five seconds, so this honesty earns him points. Cue make out session #5 of the night. Watch out. Now he confesses to starting to develop some feelings.

After a while, it's rose time. JoJo gives her little speech, then gives the rose to James. The dorky Texan actually gets the rose, but it makes no sense to JoJo whatsoever.

Thankfully, because I am getting so sleepy here at 11:37, it is time for the cocktail party prior to the rose ceremony.

As they are awaiting for JoJo to arrive, they are wondering where Chad is. He is out front waiting for her to arrive. She's surprised when she gets out and finds Chad waiting for her. He sneaks in a kiss before she gets to see anyone else. They aren't pleased when they see her walk in with Chad.

The first one to pull JoJo out is Chase, I think.

A group of guys, including Luke and Alex, try to figure out how long Chad had been missing. They want to confront him. Alex asks where he was. Chad said he went out to get air, and yes they spoke for a minute. Alex and his Napoleon complex need to chill out a little bit even though I despise Chad. Later Chad and Daniel the Canadian laugh it all off.

Out by the fire, Chase and JoJo have a fake snow moment. She is wearing what looks like oven mitts. I think that's suck face scene #6 of the night. I've lost track. Actually, that's just an assumption after she sat in his lap.

There is always a lot of online chatter about how no one ever eats on the show. Well, Chad is evidently eating his body weight at the cocktail party. Lots of scenes of him eating ensue. Lots of guys staring at him and commenting.

As the night goes on, JoJo and James T.  TP the mansion, and a few other guys have many fun moments.

Alex is having a moment with JoJo when Chad comes up asking for his time. JoJo is hesitant and asks for a minute to finish up their time together. JoJo starts off kind of annoyed, but is soon laughing, trying to figure him out.

As much as I don't like Chad, Alex may not fall far behind just for trying to stir up something, but he gets a group of guys together to confront Chad. They first of all bring up his crushing the food (there is plenty, so who cares?), then for his crushing the time. Chad is amused which only makes some of the men more angry. It doesn't go very far.

Chad breaks in middle of Evan's conversation too. When Alex finds this out, he gets mad, and goes out to confront Chad again. There's a lot of mouthing. I really think a punch is going to be thrown when we hear Chris Harrison clinking his glass. He tells JoJo it's time to go get ready for the rose ceremony.

It's time for the rose ceremony, and Chad arrives with a snack in hand. He's eating again as the ceremony is set to begin. However, there is no black eye or bloody nose, so someone, obviously, chickened out. 

Tonight we started with 20 men. Three have roses: Wells, Derek and James Taylor. 

...three men that Chad doesn't believe should be there -- they aren't contenders as far as he is concerned.

Here we go:

  1. Alex... practically giddy. Oh wait, he is, knowing he got a rose before Chad. Chad thinks Alex is staying so that JoJo can show America that she doesn't hate short people.
  2. Christian... Chad doesn't know who Christian is... another short guy
  3. Robby
  4. Luke
  5. Chase
  6. Jordan... who Chad already said the best thing about him was his brother and the worst thing about him is that he wasn't his brother (the NFL pro).
  7. Grant
  8. Ali
  9. Daniel (why?)
  10. James F.
  11. Nick
  12. Vinnie
  13. Evan (why?)
  14. Chad (because the producers made her even though she's starting to see what the guys do)
That means James S., Brandon the Hipster, and Will are going home tonight. 

Chad plans on not writing songs and singing about her, but continuing to eat and drink his protein shakes, doing what he's doing.

Next week... two nights of The Bachelorette, including Chad punching and kicking lots of things. That's what I have to look forward to next Monday and Tuesday.

The evening ends with a cut scene of Christian stripping down to his undies and trying to get her into a bubble bath. 

Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Books of the Old Testament version 2

Books of the Old Testament
To the tune of “Ten Little Indians”

Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers
Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth
First and Second Samuel,
First and Second Kings,
First and Second Chronicles.

Oh Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job,
Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes,
Song of Songs, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations.

Oh, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel,
Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah,
Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah,
Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

I got nothin' for ya

In the words of Jeff Probst of Survivor to the team that lost the reward challenge, "I got nothin' for ya."

I have no craft post for this week though I was working a little bit on a flag letter earlier and started doodling on a planter for my back yard.

The three day weekend is much welcomed because I am zapped. I did, however, contemplate a Hobby Lobby run to see if they have any Christmas out.

Don't hate me at the mere mention.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Sister Eve and the Blue Nun

Can Sister Eve prove a dear friend isn’t a cold-blooded killer? Find out in Lynne Hinton’s new book, Sister Eve and the Blue Nun. When all evidence seems to point to the victim’s brother, Sister Eve sets out to expose the killer and learn the explosive truth those missing manuscripts might contain. Chasing a killer is dangerous work, and as her two worlds collide, Sister Eve may need some heavenly help simply to survive.


(Thomas Nelson, May 2016)
After a murder at the monastery, Sister Eve may need a miracle if she is to prove a dear friend isn’t a cold-blooded killer.
Sister Eve, a motorcycle-riding nun with a natural (or is it supernatural?) gift for solving murders returns to the enclave she once called home and quickly finds herself confronting yet another mysterious death.
Someone has poisoned Dr. Kelly Middlesworth—a researcher on the life and ministry of 17th-century’s revered “Blue Nun”—and a set of irreplaceable historic documents have disappeared before they could even be examined.
When all evidence seems to point to the victim’s brother, Sister Eve sets out to expose the killer and learn the explosive truth those missing manuscripts might contain.
Chasing a killer is dangerous work, and as her two worlds collide, Sister Eve may need some heavenly help simply to survive.
Lynne Hinton


Lynne Hinton is the New York Times bestselling author of Friendship Cake and Pie Town. A native of North Carolina, she received her undergraduate degree from the U.N.C. at Greensboro and her Masters of Divinity degree from Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California. She also studied at Wake Forest University and the NC School of the Arts, School of Filmmaking. She has served as a chaplain with hospice and as the pastor of Mount Hope United Church of Christ and First Congregational United Church of Christ, both in North Carolina. Lynne is a regular columnist with The Charlotte Observer. She lives with her husband, Bob Branard, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Find out more about Lynne at http://www.lynnehinton.com.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Shelley Shepard Gray's A Daughter's Dream giveaway

Can Rebecca, a teacher, and Jacob, a single father, find healing from past wounds and love in one another, despite the obstacles they face? Don’t miss book two, A Daughter’s Dream, in Shelley Shepard Gray’s The Charmed Amish Life series. When a fateful accident brings them together, Rebecca and Jacob must choose between duty and desire. Will they follow the path before them? Or set out to find true happiness . . . and true love?
Enter to win a copy of A Daughter’s Dream—five winners will be chosen! Click the image below to enter to win. The winners will be announced June 8th on Shelley’s blog!


(Avon Inspire, May 2016)
A young teacher and farmer discover they have much in common, especially when it comes to healing old wounds from the past . . . and finding love in one another.
Rebecca Kinsinger has always dreamed of being a teacher. But when she’s given the opportunity she’s been waiting for at Charm Amish School, she’s dismayed to discover that teaching is hard work—work she’s afraid she’s not very good at.
That is, until Lilly Yoder joins the class. A thirteen-year old who’s just lost her parents, Lilly is in need of someone like Rebecca. For the first time since starting her new job, Rebecca feels a sense of purpose. But when she meets Lilly’s uncle, Jacob, his good looks and sweet, easy-going temperament are hard to ignore. How can she even entertain romantic thoughts of Jacob when his niece is her student?
Suddenly becoming Lily’s sole caregiver, Jacob Yoder never thought he’d be a single parent—or a farmer. Having been living in Florida as a carpenter, Jacob feels more at home wielding a hammer than a backhoe. The only bright spot in his life is Rebecca Kinsinger. As Lily and Rebecca develop a bond, Jacob’s fondness for the pretty teacher grows, too.
But when a fateful accident brings them together, Rebecca and Jacob must choose between duty and desire. Will they follow the path before them? Or set out to find true happiness . . . and true love?
Shelley Shepard Gray


Shelley Shepard Gray is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time HOLT Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town’s bike trail.
Find out more about Shelley at www.shelleyshepardgray.com.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Hope isn’t always easy to find - sometimes you have to hunt

Part 1 of an interview with Nika Maples,
Author of Hunting Hope

Finding hope in dark times is not an accident. Sometimes it has to be hunted, and that chase takes great strength. Author Nika Maples wants to help others find the fierce bravery required to excavate hope from hardship with her new book, Hunting Hope: Dig Through the Darkness to Find the Light (Worthy Inspired).

Maples warns those who have the opportunity to observe Hope Hunters not to be fooled by the light in their eyes and the smile on their faces. If bystanders look a little closer, they’ll notice the dirt under their fingernails and the sweat on their shirts. These pursuers of light rake through the rubble of unwanted situations and dig into difficult circumstances, because they know enough about God to make them confident adversity can produce good in their lives. This is not the delusion of the eternal optimist. The Hope Hunter acknowledges things are as bad as they seem, but they understand they can still search for — and find — God in the midst of it all.

Join Nika Maples for a live webcast on Thursday, May 26 at 8 PM EDT.

Q: In your book, you call readers to become hope hunters. What is a hope hunter?

The easiest way to describe a hope hunter is to describe what hope hunter is not. A hope hunter is not just an optimist. There is a big difference.

An optimist is someone who might ignore the reality of a situation or might dismiss the negativity in a situation. But a hope hunter acknowledges the reality of a situation and accepts the negativity in a situation.

An optimist says, “It is not as bad as it seems, and tomorrow will be better anyway.” But a hope hunter says, “It is as bad as it seems. It hurts; that’s all there is to it. But we can still search for God today, even in the midst of all of this. And He promises that we will find Him.”

An optimist focuses on keeping his or her chin up. A hope hunter focuses on digging down into the character of God.

Q: Why do we see in the Bible, time after time, a dark time precedes new growth or a new assignment?

Those dark times in our lives feel like a winter season. The climate is uncomfortable and the forecast ranges from bleak to fierce. We’ve all walked through circumstances that left us feeling like we were trying to survive overnight in the snow. But one day it occurred to me that in nature, winter is not an accident. God made and ordained it. Winter is every bit as important as spring or summer. In fact, winter is the stark preparation period that makes new life possible in the spring.

As I looked for this theme in Scripture, I read countless stories of men and women who experienced wintry darkness before they were sent out for their divine mission on earth. Perhaps God does this because He needs people in leadership who will trust Him completely. We learn how to trust Him when we cannot see where we’re going.

Q: It may be tempting for someone to think, “This is easy for you to say. You don’t know what I’ve been through.” However, this book and its message sprang from a very personal place for you. Could you share some of your story?  

My personal experience was definitely the launching place for the book. This book is about finding light in the darkest times, so for me, one significantly dark time was when I suffered a lupus-related stroke at age 20. The injury was in my brainstem, and it left me quadriplegic within a matter of minutes. I couldn’t speak or even open my eyes.

But I could hear. I heard doctors warn my parents that I had as few as 48 hours to live, and if I did, I might remain in a vegetative state for the rest of my life. They suggested a nursing home as an option. Remember, I had just turned 20 years old. It was a very dark time for me. It was a very dark time for all of us.

Q: Why do you think you were sometimes tempted to let your circumstances define who you were?

My disability is at the forefront all the time. When people meet me, sometimes I can tell they are curious to know the story behind it. I am comfortable with explaining the faithfulness God has shown me through disability and chronic illness, but it can be easy to think that is my only story. You and I are so much more than what has happened to us.

You are not the sick person. You are not the divorced person. You are not the unemployed person. You are not the depressed person. You are not the person with anxiety. You may have lived through a season of sickness, divorce, un­employment, depression or anxiety, or you may be there still, but you don’t have to let that label stick forever in front. The label is not your name. Your identity is bigger than the facts of your life. But it is easy to let what we see outmaneuver what we cannot see. What we cannot see is the reality. We are children of the high King of heaven. That is the only label that should stick enough to affect our actions and decisions throughout our lives.

Q: You write hoping for change in front of a watching world can be embarrassing. Why did you feel that way?

Hoping is vulnerable. There is nothing more vulnerable we can do. Hoping is staying open instead of closing off after something has hurt us. It is completely out of the norm to stay open after a great loss. The easier thing to do is to self-protect and isolate, to harden against the elements. But hope stays soft on purpose. And, unfortunately, in our modern society, softness is not an attribute that is highly prized. Most people see self-protection as strength, isolation as independence and hardness as power. In reality, the choice to remain soft is, by far, the greater indicator of personal strength, independence and power. Yet, if we allow the world to dictate our perspective, we will see it as nothing more than foolishness. We are afraid hoping and staying open will make us look like a fool. During a time of intense hope hunting, you may even have to bear some ridicule from people who think what you’re doing is crazy.

We have to be careful not to elevate phrases such as, “Once bitten, twice shy,” and apply them both to people and to God. We are tempted to turn to Him and say, “You let me be hurt once, but you better believe I am not going to let myself be hurt again!” When we say that, we’re saying we are better at protecting ourselves than God is at protecting us. Nothing could be further from the Truth. And the further we get from the Truth, the more we are in dangerous territory. By choosing to hope instead, we are choosing to live out of faith and trust in God. There is no safer place to me.

Q: You live with chronic pain. Are your spirits always up? Have you ever been afraid the Lord would be disappointed in you if you allowed yourself to get down?

Though I am in bodily pain a lot of times, I often consider heart pain to be more difficult to navigate. I have always been able to give myself grace for grief over physical setbacks. Jesus knows quite a lot about physical pain, and I am never afraid that He will be disappointed in me when suffering feels too heavy to bear.

I easily begrudge myself the time to deal with heart pain, however. The Lord encouraged me when I was going through an emotional strain that hurt me deeply. I was crying every day over a period of about five months, and I really condemned myself for it. I was hyper critical. I thought, “This is not a legitimate sorrow. Look how many blessings I’ve received. I have no right to be feeling this way.” The source of this thinking was comparison because I was looking at a friend of mine who had recently been through a traumatic loss. She was in devastating grief. So, for some reason, I thought her deep pain disallowed my pain. The Lord spoke into my heart as I was thinking along these lines. He said, “Pain is pain.” I felt instant permission to validate my own sorrow. Instead of trying to dismiss it, I allowed myself to feel it deeply. And it wasn’t long before the weight of that ache dissipated. A lot of times we linger a long time in pain because we are more sympathetic with others than we are with ourselves.

Q: What advice do you have for the person wrestling with hope deferred during a long period of suffering?

My advice to someone in a long season of suffering is straight from the Word: “Do not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time, you will reap a harvest, if you do not give up” (Galatians 6:9). What could be more encouraging than that?

Learn more about Nika Maples and Hunting Hope by visiting www.nikamaples.com or following her on Facebook (nikamaples) or Twitter (@nikamaples).

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Sarah Sundin’s ‘Anchor in the Storm’ All Hands on Deck Giveaway

In a time of sacrifice, what price can one put on true love? Pharmacist Lillian Avery and Ensign Archer Vandenberg are about to find out in Sarah Sundin's new book, Anchor in the Storm. During the darkest days of the war, Arch's destroyer hunts German U-boats in vain as the submarines sink dozens of merchant ships along the East Coast. Still shaken by battles at sea, Arch notices his men also struggle with their nerves—and with drowsiness. Could there be a link to the large prescriptions Lillian has been filling? As the danger rises on both land and sea, the two must work together to answer that question. But can Arch ever earn Lillian's trust and affection?

Celebrate the release of Sarah's Anchor in the Storm by entering to win her All Hands on Deck Prize Pack!

anchor in the storm - 400 

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A signed copy of Anchor in the Storm
  • Nautical tote bag lined with anchor fabric
  • Anchor necklace made from copper reclaimed from the USS Constitution in Boston during restoration
  • 365 Devotions for Hope by Karen Whiting
  • Shine: Nautical Inspirational Adult Coloring Book
  • "Hope Anchors the Soul" journal
  • Set of two nautical tea towels
LF AIS full group 2 

Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry! The giveaway ends on June 8th. The winner will be announced June 9th on Sarah's blog.

anchor in the storm - banner


(Revell, May 2016)
One plucky female pharmacist + one high-society naval officer = romance—and danger
For plucky Lillian Avery, America’s entry into World War II means a chance to prove herself as a pharmacist in Boston. The challenges of her new job energize her. But society boy Ensign Archer Vandenberg’s attentions only annoy–even if he is her brother’s best friend.
During the darkest days of the war, Arch’s destroyer hunts German U-boats in vain as the submarines sink dozens of merchant ships along the East Coast. Still shaken by battles at sea, Arch notices his men also struggle with their nerves–and with drowsiness. Could there be a link to the large prescriptions for sedatives Lillian has filled? The two work together to answer that question, but can Arch ever earn Lillian’s trust and affection?
Sarah Sundin brings World War II to life, offering readers an intense experience they won’t soon forget.
Sarah Sundin


Sarah Sundin is the author of Anchor in the Storm, as well as Wings of the Nightingale and the Wings of Glory series. A graduate of UC San Francisco School of Pharmacy, she works on call as a hospital pharmacist. During WWII, her grandfather served as a pharmacist’s mate (medic) in the Navy and her great-uncle flew with the US Eighth Air Force. Sarah lives in California.
Find out more about Sarah at www.sarahsundin.com.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Why am I blogging about #thebachelorette again?


I'm already questioning why I am doing this yet again. Unicorn girl JoJo launches her own journey to find love. Wearing the dumb rubber mask almost worked for her. What kind of gimmicks will we all be witness to tonight during the limo unloading?

But first, a recap of JoJo's difficult path to rejection last season.

If she hadn't been dumped last time, she wouldn't have learned so much about herself and she wouldn't be ready to find love.

It's necessary before the men arrive for JoJo to get advice for Ali, Des and Kaitlyn. They convince her that the guys' nerves will calm down her own nerves. Kissing on the first night? Regrets? Hurting feelings?

Perhaps the best advice is to ignore the guys that stand out on the first night for the first week to see if there is anything there.

JoJo does say she will be cautious in throwing out, "I love you," due to the fact she was burned by Ben and their exchanges.

A few videos introduce us to some of the men. I'll roll the intro info into the line-up below.*

*Jordan - 27 - Chico, CA - former NFL quarterback - His older brother was a star football player who was pro before him and made it tough for him to shine. He gave up a relationship for a career. "I want to be JoJo's #1 draft pick." He encourages JoJo by telling a story of how quickly his parents were engaged and how long they have been married. Right off the bat, she thinks he is hot.

Derek - 29 - Ft. Lauderdale, FL - commercial banker - Really nice smile. I think. His shoes don't match his suit. He was impressed by her sense of self. Her first impression was that he was sweet.

*Grant - 28 - San Francisco, CA - Firefighter - "Looking for someone to light his fire." Let me just say, the b-roll of him walking down the street in full gear looks ridiculous. He says he won't do what Ben did - fall in love with other girls because he is going to fall in love with her.

James F. - 34 - Nashville, TN - Boxing club owner - He strikes me as someone who can't box, so he owns a club. I don't think that he will be around in the long run. He didn't come for a rose, he came for a relationship.

Robby - 27 - Jacksonville, FL - former competitive swimmer - He walks funny. He brought a bottom of wine for her. They drink from the bottle. He may be the first slushy drunk. She thinks her mom will like him.

*Alex - 25 - Oceanside, CA - Marine - He's also a tatted up motorcycle rider. It did help him figure out what he wanted to do in life. He has a twin brother who is also a marine. They may have matching tattoos. When he gets out of the limo, his pants look to short. Like he's expecting a flood.

Will - 26 - Jersey City, NJ - Civil engineer - He drops his note cards getting out of the card and messes up his lines as a dump schtick.

Chad - 28 - Tulsa, OK - Luxury real estate - He kind of gets awkwardly in her personal space. She says he smells good. He was hanging around close enough for her to tell. He talks hateful smack about everyone to the camera all night long. Like ALL. NIGHT. LONG.

Daniel - 31 - Vancouver, BC - Canadian - Because Canadian is evidently an occupation like "twin" on this show. He reminds me of some other guy from another season. I can't put my finger on it.

*Ali - 27 - Santa Monica, CA - bartender - First of his siblings born in America instead of Iran. His siblings are dentists and surgeons while he is a surfer with a skateboard. He has the busy caterpillar eye brows down.

James Taylor - 29 - Katy, TX - singer-songwriter - They do actually give his full name since he shares it with James Taylor the famous singer. He comes out playing a guitar. They bond over both being from Texas. She loves country music, so they are golden.

Jonathan - 29 - Vancouver, BC - Technical sales rep - This Canadian has a job. he is also half Chinese/half Scottish. He is wearing a kilt because he is half Scottish below the waist - interpretation left to whoever wants to make it. The men are not impressed. The other Canadian makes fun of him.

Just when the guys think there couldn't be any dumber thing to do to get attention...

Saint Nick - 33 - The North Pole - Father Christmas - Complete in a Santa Claus outfit. Since she has been such a good girl this year, she gets a present. I have no clue what his name really is.

Chase - 27 - Highlands Ranch, CO - Medical sales rep - He steps out in sunglasses and a fake mustache. "I mustache you a question." However, he is going to save it for later.

About this time the introductions start going faster and faster and faster and I have to keep hitting pause more and more to keep up with my typing.

Jake - 27 - Playa Vista, CA - landscape architect - A man of color, and that's all we know because the other men were talking in the background and the intro was rushed.

Sal - 28 - Fort Lauderdale, FL - operations manager - He has two blue stress balls and gives her permission to squeeze his balls if she gets nervous. And these guys think they are clever?

Coley - 27 - Chicago, IL - Real estate consultant - He hopes he is the one to take her off the market. He's kind of awkward though. 

Brandon - 28 - Los Angeles, CA - Hipster - Because that too is an occupation. He didn't watch last season at all. He knows nothing about her. He needs to go already. 

*James S. - 27 - Phoenix, AZ - secret super Bachelor fan - He gets the goober award. He makes brackets. He has watch parties and talks to himself about The Bachelor.

Nick S. - 26 - San Francisco, CA - software salesman - He goes down on one knee and into the splits as he introduces himself. Then they dance.

Vinny - 28 - Delray Beach, FL - barber - He brought a piece of toast so he can give her a toast.

Peter - 26 - Chicago, IL - staffing agency manager - He brings a giant heart and wants to be her Man Crush Monday.

*Evan - 33 - Nashville, TN - former pastor turned EDS medication specialist - At least I think that's what he said he did before he decided to medicate the men of America. "I have my mojo for JoJo." he makes the most unattractive impression in my book.

Wells - 31 - Nashville, TN - radio DJ - He brings a music group with him to sing. All for One sings "I Swear" to her. Remember 1988?

*Christian - 26 - Los Angeles, CA - Telecom consultant - He's at the gym at 4:30 every morning. Super techy geeky, but also strikes me as an MMA guy. His teenage brothers live with him. he is mixed race to throw just a hint of color in. He rolls up on his motorcycle. She wants him to take her for a ride because a motorcycle is hot.

*Luke - 31 - Burnet, TX - war veteran - He's a country boy turned West Point grad turned rancher.  I question his boots. He rides up on his unicorn. Actually, it was a horse (Coconut) with a horn. She likes that he is from Texas.


  • There are a lot of guys from California.
  • There are a lot of guys who used corny lines.
  • There are a lot of guys that don't like the guys who use corny lines.
  • There are several unattractive guys.
  • There are some unemployed guys.
Once all the guys make it in, it's about to turn ugly as the first men make their moves. 

The first one to take her off is Alex, the marine. The guys already don't like him for being the first to take her off. He tries to impress her with push-ups. He has striped socks like the Wicked Witch of the West.

Derek is a self-professed nerd who tells JoJo he looked like Harry Potter as a kid and that he is super nervous. 

Ali is jabbery nervous. 

I can't keep up with who is who, but they are all awkward and nervous.

Jordan seems to make a connection. There's some hand holding and he regrets not kissing her. 

Coley's nephews call him CoCo. Like CoCo and JoJo. 

There's boxing lessons... 

Some weirdo - Will - has a cootie catcher which means they have to kiss because of the last count of the game. It was beyond awkward.

Jordan comes back to interrupt and get his kiss. It was much better than Will's. She's also impressed by his butt.

Here comes Chris Harrison with the rose on the tray. They all start guessing. But JoJo doesnt' know when it arrives. 

All for One hangs out all night long singing evidently. They sing again when Well gets a little personal time.

Unfortunately, Chad come off as "vulnerable" to JoJo. Too bad. He's a jerk. He tells the camera he is much more rugged than Ben.

So, the stupid Canadian, Daniel, is uber awkward... evidently my word of the night. He's been drinking and doesn't make sense when talking to JoJo. When he goes inside, he pokes Evan in the belly button which is evidently very offensive. His tie is super short too. He strips down to his underwear and ends up in the pool. My guess on the first sloshy drunk was wrong.

Also taking a prize for a messy drunk is... It's the first night. Who am I kidding, I don't know who that is. One of the Nick's. He comes in while JoJo is trying to do an interview. Vinny breaks into the room and assures her he'll never do it on a bathroom floor.

There are lots of hammered men. She's already thinking about sending several sloppy drunks home.

Aly plays the piano for her. I think she is impressed.

Saint Nick stays in character for a long time, until JoJo finally gets in his lap, and he finally reveals his true face. It's kind of creepy, if you ask me.

James Taylor's hair reminds me of Lyle Lovett. JoJo is impressed by both him and the other fellow Texan, Luke. Luke brings her cowboy boots.

She finally goes in for the first impression rose, and steps back out past a lot of men and finally tracks Jordan back down. 

The Chinese Scotsman reminds all the men that Olivia got the first rose last season and got left alone on a beach. Just a reminder to all that you never know what might happen. Chris isn't worried though. He knows he will be around tomorrow.

Finally, Chris Harrison comes in to tap his glass. JoJo has to decide who gets roses at the ceremony tonight.

There are 19 roses on the tray. With Jordan already getting a rose, the math says 6 are going home. There are a lot I would send on their merry way already. JoJo says that not getting a rose is nothing personal.

Before the ceremony can get started, we see a limo driving up. I'm about 12 minutes behind, and I saw on Twitter what is about to happen.

Jake Pavelka arrives. Everyone hates Jake except for me. I don't hate Jake Pavelka, actually. I think he's misunderstood. I saw Jake once, on an airplane. One of my bosses actually met him and had talked to him about writing a book. Anyway, I will say he is very attractive in person. My co-worker was convinced he winked at her and kept turning around to look 8 rows back the whole time. At that time, he was still flying for American Airlines. He was riding from Dallas to Atlanta to or from a flight.

Half of the men don't know who Jake is. He's a family friend, evidently. She says in a way, he's like a brother. Jake has known her for a long time, but can't let her go through with this without saying, he wants love for her. He hopes it's in that room. Jake doesn't want JoJo, he just wants to give her advice.

All the men are talking about how old he is. OH, my word! He's not ancient. He's 38. I'm a year older...

So now back to the roses...

  1. Luke - the almost first impression from Texas
  2. Wells - moral of the story... bring A Capella back-up
  3. James Taylor - you need to be from Texas people, I'm telling you
  4. Grant
  5. Derek
  6. Christian
  7. Chad - I HATE HIM! He's so mean talking bad about EVERYONE. So cocky.
  8. Chase
  9. Alex
  10. Robby - Another with an ego
  11. Brandon - Why the hipster?
  12. James F.
  13. Ali
  14. Saint Nick - There are some men fuming over that one.
  15. Will - He WILL accept the rose.
  16. James S. 
  17. Vinny - Really? He seems a little ratty. 
  18. Evan - I'd send him home too. 
  19. Daniel - WHY the sloshy drunk?
That means going home are:
  1. Coley - he was too socially awkward anyway
  2. Jonathan - the kilt didn't work for him
  3. Peter - just didn't stand out
  4. Jake - the black guy, not Pavelka
  5. Sal - and his blue balls?
  6. Nick S. - one of the drunkest guys
The sun is coming up as the men are going home. It's obviously been a long, long night. 

Looking ahead at the season, there are dates on yachts (as usual), something going on in the water (as usual), rooftop kisses (as usual), rumors of girlfriends (as usual), everyone hating the cocky one (as usual). 

Chad evidently gets violent. There's a fight. There's tears. There are beautiful places to fall in love. 

Same old, same old! Please say you're reading my blog to make it worth it.