Thursday, June 30, 2016

Dispelling the common myths of marriage

Rhonda Stoppe reveals the truth about

marriage and helps wives live with no regrets

Do you know a couple who has been married for a long time and are still deeply in love? You might find yourself wondering what their secret is or how that woman was lucky enough to find such a perfectly wonderful man. However, in If My Husband Would Change, I’d Be Happy & Other Myths Wives Believe (Harvest House, August 1, 2015, ISBN 978-0-7369-6286-5), Rhonda Stoppe shows readers the secret to a happy marriage isn’t related to how “ideal” a spouse is, but rather having a relationship grounded in a love deeper than their own.

“Dating, courtship and planning the wedding are all glorious experiences for most women,” Stoppe writes. “But after the honeymoon, when the wedding gifts are in their proper place and life begins to happen, often the glorious experiences fade into the endless routines of to-do lists, juggling finances and learning to serve one another.”

It’s not long before doubts creep in, and a wife might think, “I’m falling out of love with him,” “Our marriage would be better if bad things would stop happening,” “All he wants is sex,” or “More money equals less stress.” Stoppe dispels these and other common myths about marriage in her easy-to-read exploration of what it takes to experience a truly happy marriage. In fact, the truth is quite simple: The secret to happiness in marriage lies not in how well her husband measures up to her expectations, but in how well she loves God. 

Stoppe wants wives to have the marriage they had dreamed, and a happy, healthy, God-honoring marriage is possible. “A marriage flourishes,” Stoppe says, “when both husband and wife learn to love Christ more than any other person in life — including their spouse.” Written to inspire and uplift, If My Husband Would Change, I’d Be Happy is filled with love stories to encourage readers toward building a marriage that others will want to emulate.

Compiled from Stoppe’s more than 20 years of experience as a marriage mentor, pastor’s wife, and speaker, If My Husband Would Change, I’d Be Happy helps women discover:

• How to build a no-regrets marriage      
• The secret to keeping his attention

• What romance really means to your husband 
• 8 steps to making peace

• How to stay in love
• 10 keys to a happy marriage

If My Husband Would Change, I’d Be Happy is a practical and invaluable resource that helps wives recognize the myths about marriage that are holding them back and equip them to take a proactive approach in their relationships with their husbands. Each chapter concludes with Bible verses for study, discussion questions and a section “From a Husband’s Perspective” written by Stoppe’s husband, Steve, for additional application.

Advance Praise

“Need help with your marriage? In this insightful and solid book Rhonda Stoppe gives wives real help! She puts her finger on problems and attitudes that plague every married woman — and then supplies answers, solutions and counsel from God’s Word.”
~ Elizabeth George, author of A Woman After God’s Own Heart

“This is the book for everyone who wants to be content and happy in her marriage but just may not know how.”
~ Shaunti Feldhahn, social researcher and best-selling author of For Women Only

“Rhonda Stoppe debunks misleading myths with grace, humor and candor and leaves you with hope that your marriage can become more than the stuff of your dreams: it can be the handiwork of God.”
~ Dr. Richard Blackaby, author of The Seasons of God and Customized Parenting in a Trending World

About the author

Rhonda Stoppe is the No Regrets Woman. With more than 20 years of experience as a marriage mentor, pastor’s wife, author and speaker, Stoppe leads women of all ages to live lives of no regrets.

Using sound biblical teaching through humor and honest communication, Stoppe teaches women how to apply God’s word to live boldly through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Stoppe has appeared on radio programs and has spoken at women’s events, MOPs groups and homeschool conventions around the nation.

Stoppe is the author of Moms Raising Sons to be Men, which mentors thousands of moms to guide sons toward a no-regrets life. Her latest book, If My Husband Would Change, I’d Be Happy & Other Myths Wives Believe, is helping countless women build no-regrets marriages.

Stoppe lives in California with her husband, Steve. They have four adult children and five grandchildren.

Keep up with Rhonda Stoppe by visiting her at, on Facebook (Rhonda Stoppe No Regrets Woman) and on Twitter (@RhondaStoppe).

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

You have a hidden agenda and may not realize it

Part 1 of an interview with Steve Brown,
Author of Hidden Agendas:
Dropping the Masks that Keep Us Apart

It’s easy to imagine high-powered executives and egotistical politicians having hidden agendas. What may not be so simple to accept is that deep down, all have a secret plan for getting themselves from where they are to where they want to be. As author and radio host Steve Brown has written in Hidden Agendas: Dropping the Masks that Keep Us Apart (New Growth Press/May 16, 2016), people, especially Christians, wear disguises to make it easier to accomplish these concealed plans. These masks might be religion, appearance or power, and the pressure of keeping it all together can be overwhelming. For most, though, it will be a cold day in a hot place before they are fully honest with anyone else about their fears, struggles and sins.

Q: You open Hidden Agendas by saying you have “lived long enough and sinned big enough” to be able to write this book. Explain what you mean by that.

I’m an old guy (as old as dirt), and there is very little about getting old that’s good. However, one good thing is perspective. Frankly, I don’t want anything from anybody. I’m not looking for a bigger church or a nicer job. I have enough money to pay the bills and take my wife to dinner, and I’m at a place in my life where I don’t have to impress anybody. That means I don’t give a rip about most of the things I cared about when I was younger. That also means I will tell you the truth.

“Sinned big enough” is simply a reflection of biblical doctrine. “The heart (really) is deceitful above all things and desperately corrupt. Who can understand it?” Almost everybody who is a “professional Christian” says they believe that but can’t say it or confess it for fear of losing their jobs. 

So I’ve sinned big enough, and I’m old enough to say it. I have very little to lose.

Q: Do all Christians have an agenda? Are their agendas always hidden? 

Of course they do. One can’t live life without having agendas. Sometimes we call them goals or even religious things, such as making an impact for Jesus or changing the world. An agenda is a plan designed to accomplish, change, fix, destroy, remedy, reward, punish, promote or hinder something we want. Everybody has one — actually a lot of them.

Sometimes an agenda is hidden (when it accomplishes what we want by keeping it hidden) and sometimes it isn’t (when it accomplishes what we want by making it public). In religious circles, our agendas are often hidden because they reflect ambition, pride, manipulation, avarice, etc. — things that are just not “proper” for religious people. Outside of religion, agendas are hidden for the same reason but without the condemnation one would receive from our religious friends if found out.

Q: Is it OK to have an agenda as long as you are open and honest about it?

Maybe and maybe not. It depends on the agenda. If my agenda is to rob a bank, and I’m honest and open about it, that would not be OK in accomplishing the goal of my agenda. When an agenda is for beneficial purposes and to motivate others (manipulation is for “me” and motivation is for “us”), the agenda can be a shared vision. If our agenda is sinful or clearly not a godly agenda, it is OK to be open and honest about it. That’s called “confession,” and it is always good for the soul . . . and for the church.

Until honesty and openness become the mark of a Christian, the soft and safe place designed by God for the church will never happen. It is, in fact, what Paul did in his confession in Romans 7.

Q: What do you mean when you say we wear masks? Why do we wear them?

An agenda and a mask are different. The agenda is what we want to accomplish and a mask is how we hide the agenda for the purpose of achieving it. In other words, a mask is designed to hide, conceal or disguise the reality behind it and is created to further what is usually a selfish agenda. Sometimes the mask is intentional, and at other times those who wear masks aren’t even aware of their masks.

When the masks are intentional it is manipulation to get what one wants. The old sexist comment that men will trade love for sex and women will trade sex for love is illustrative (though not accurate most of the time) of masks for both women and men. The man wears a “love mask” and the woman wears a “sex mask.” In both cases, the masks hide the real agenda.

Q: How does wearing masks to accomplish our hidden agendas hurt us and the people we love?

Love can’t happen until it takes place in the context of the unlovely. Love in response to goodness isn’t love; it’s reward. The removal of the masks (“If I tell you who I really am, will you still love me?”) makes it possible to have profound and intimate relationships. It can be painful, but it’s necessary.

Masks and hidden agendas in our lives create a play on a stage where nobody is real; it is all just playing a part. When the play is over, the actors just go home and become themselves without ever having any real relationships with the other actors. When it’s real and not a play, the result is intimacy, forgiveness and genuine love.

Q: Why do you think Christians, in particular, are masters of developing and maintaining masks?

I have a friend who says Christians are better off because we know the rules and know how to fake it. There is something built into the very nature of religion that creates a moral improvement society. On the other hand, real religion (biblical Christian faith) recognizes the fallen nature of human beings and at the same time offers forgiveness, thereby creating a “safe place” for its adherents. 

The game we play is to look around at other sinners and think we are better than they are. We try to be better and, when we can’t pull that off, fake being like what we think the others are. We do that, of course, to be accepted and approved by other Christians. That creates all sorts of problems. I’ve often said every Christian who comes to church should be required to wear a placard listing their 10 greatest sins. It would be embarrassing, but it would also be surprising to see that we are all alike: seriously flawed and sinful. And after the embarrassment, we would get down and experience revival. 

Q: How do you recommend people “put legs” to what you’ve written in this book?

I recommend that Christians get “plastered” in a public gathering of people they want to impress, confess every shameful sin they have and tell every secret they’ve been hiding. The next morning when the hangover is dissipating and they’re thinking, “I can’t believe I said that,” they will experience the forgiveness and joy of dancing in the presence of a God who loves and forgives. 

Just kidding.

First one starts with oneself. “It’s not my brother or my sister, it’s me, O Lord, standing in the need of prayer.” From that awareness one starts small with, as it were, baby steps. Begin to be more honest than before, to tell fewer lies than before and to be more authentic than before. It is an experiment to see what God does. There is a principle here: You take the first step, God will take the second step and by the time you get to the third step, you’ll know it was God who took the first step. 

Jack Miller used to say the whole Bible could be summed up in two sentences: 1) Cheer up; you’re a lot worse than you think you are and 2) Cheer up; God’s grace is a lot bigger than you think it is. That’s true . . . and it’s catching.

Learn more about Hidden Agendas and Steve Brown at www.keylife.orgBrown can also be found on Facebook (Dr.SteveBrown) and Twitter (drstevewbrown).

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Men tend to suffer in silence, but they need to share their stories

Part 2 of an interview with Andrew J. Schmutzer
Co-Author of Naming Our Abuse:
God's Pathways to Healing for Male Sexual Abuse Survivors

Male sexual abuse is increasingly in the news, from scandals in the Catholic Church to exploitations at Penn State. Yet books and programs about healing are still overwhelmingly oriented toward the female survivor of abuse. As men who experienced childhood abuse, Andrew J. Schmutzer, Daniel A. Gorski and David Carlson, authors of Naming Our Abuse: God's Pathways to Healing for Male Sexual Abuse Survivors (Kregel Publications) are uniquely qualified to address the healing process of male survivors.

In the book, each author shares his story, modeling for men how telling — and writing — their stories can play a significant role in recovery. “Writing helps the brain process the significance of what happened, not just the fact that it happened,” Schmutzer explains. “Dignity is recaptured by remembering rightly, honestly and deeply. Writing honors pain by putting it in black and white.”

Q: Why did you choose the metaphor of a car accident for the book’s outline and format? What are the four stages you walk readers through?

It was our desire to help men to talk about and name their abuse. Male survivors do not tend to meet in carpeted rooms and sit semi-circle in a church basement. Such talking time can feel staged or fabricated for men who do not process in such overtly verbal ways. So it was my idea to focus on a metaphor men can relate to. Men can readily relate to a scenario of a car accident. So we wanted to build the book around this metaphor, thinking of men sitting in their “man cave” — such as a nice garage — comfortable enough to talk honestly, admitting and exploring their stories of abuse.

The four stages of the book are built on the accident metaphor: the Wreck, Accident Report, Rehabilitation and Driving Again. There is a logical progression, a layered story, to this metaphor. The four stages not only acknowledge healing is a process, but the various phases also function as prompts, giving men the permission to think of their abuse story. Regardless of what stage a reader may be in, the story is going somewhere. Every story has a beginning — a “wreck” that must be faced — but also the hope of driving again.

Q: How does a man recapture his dignity through telling his story of childhood sexual abuse?

Stories of abuse are always written in a “minor key.” They are hard to face, hard to write and almost as hard to hear. Telling one’s story translates the trauma by integrating separated parts of the survivor’s life. Stories enable connections to emerge that one didn’t fully see before. So dignity is recaptured by remembering rightly, honestly, communally and deeply. Telling stories helps men feel.

Dignity returns as one remembers the lost pieces and fits them back together again. For example, recounting one’s story helps connect the appropriate emotion with the corresponding event. This can be extremely painful, but what emerges is a process and event akin to military boot camp.

Q: You say writing down your stories “translated your trauma.” What did you mean by that? What are other benefits of writing therapy?

Simply sitting in a circle facing “anger” one week in a 12-step program may have its place, but it often feels too abstract. Using the tool of story naturally helps gather together the pieces of one’s abuse-wreck. John can turn to Mike and ask, “Why did you cut the arms off your army soldiers at age 11?” This, in turn, helps Mike realize why he used to self-harm by pulling his own hair out. The larger story delivers a message that simple sentences can’t. The broad sweep of a man’s story puts into perspective the dysfunctional home that is capable of abusing its own children — the story has translated lost pieces of a life.

Writing therapy helps one enter the moment and face what happened (his wreck). Writing helps the brain process the significance of what happened, not just the fact that it happened. Writing honors pain by inscribing it or putting it in black and white. As patterns emerge, it gives survivors words. This is vital, since traumatic experiences are often word-shattering. So writing about abuse is naming it. This is very therapeutic.

Q: How is Naming Our Abuse designed specifically to address the ways men recover from childhood sexual abuse?

There is a thesis we are operating with, one our own writing proved: We cannot heal from what we will not name. The book helps by giving men permission to be broken and even live in certain forms of pain for the rest of their lives. The idea of recovery is a bit romantic, though it markets well. As men see us name our pains through the various stories in the book, we model what they too can do. We end each of the four stages by giving readers the chance to put the pen to paper and start “scratching out” their stories. Before the reader enters the next stage of the book, we ask them to reflect seriously on key statements we’ve written and write responses to questions. Finally, each section concludes with some coping tips for survivors working through that particular phase of their healing. This is practical work and information men can use and relate to.

Q: What are some things you should NEVER say to a victim of CSA (childhood sexual abuse)?

The key is to listen to their stories, not necessarily offer answers, especially simplistic ones.
  • “Really, you seem OK.”
  • “You know, you have to forgive them.”
  • “Well, I know someone who was abused, and they don’t struggle with that.”
  • “How many times did it happen?”
  • “Why didn’t you say anything?”
  • “You’re going to be just fine.”
  • “Somehow God is going to use it.”
  • “Why did you let it happen?”
  • “Well don’t say anything, because you could really destroy that person.”

Q: How can childhood abuse affect a person’s ability as an adult to assess and process incoming messages and situations properly?

Abuse can seriously affect one’s ability to read social situations. Because survivors are often hypervigilant (“on duty”), they often overact to certain social situations or simply don’t know how to respond appropriately. They are often hypersensitive to comments and often have one or several addictions related to their abuse (from overeating to pornography).

Because the victim’s social/relational filter is broken, victims are known for pushing away the right people and letting in the wrong ones due to an inability to read people well. Their boundaries can be very skewed and in need of reshaping. Abuse victims struggle with many forms of PTSD, much like war veterans can.

Q: At the end of the book, you each wrote a letter to your younger self. What was the purpose behind that?

The letters to our “little boy” is practically a therapeutic technique all its own. The purpose is to reintegrate the abused child (factual memories) with the older man (present experience/self). It is a powerful act to write to that abused boy, because it honors the child’s trauma and reconnects it to the older man’s residual pain and suffering that has lived on through the years. He may have been unable to face that “little boy” due to anger and shame. So even talking about that abused boy humanizes the vulnerable child who men are often conflicted about because the child was sexually “mugged” and now the older man has to accept that terror, weakness and vulnerability. It also acknowledges that core pieces of that boy live on, and this complexity and even brokenness must be accepted, processed, repurposed, and embraced in the older man’s healing journey.

Learn more about Naming Our Abuse at

Monday, June 27, 2016

Sorry my #bachelorette post was delayed

This week, instead of live blogging on The Bachelorette from my hotel room in Cincinnati, I went watch the Cubs beat the Reds.

So, this post for Monday is now actually being written on Thursday night. It's 9 PM, and I'm tired, but hoping I can get through the two hours to make my post. If I can stick it out, I think there will be some significant cuts. I already want a nap, and I just started. It has nothing to do with the show though.

We open up in Buenos Aires, Argentina. JoJo feels that traveling together brings you closer together. JoJo has a sit down conversation with Chris Harrison about how it's going. Robby saying that he loved her was a big deal for her. She is worried about falling in love with two people like Ben did.

There are now 8 guys left, and Luke can't think of a better place to fall in love than Buenos Aires, of course. Harrison breaks the week down for the men as they stand out in a public square, complete with a fountain. There will be three dates: a one-on-one, a group date, and for the first time ever, a second two-on-one.

The guys make it to their suite. It's a little too fancy for these guys, let me tell you. But of course, now that they are in the suite, the first date card arrives. Will Wells get a one-on-one since he hasn't yet?

"Wells, Besame... Besame, Muchacho, < 3 JoJo"

Kiss me. Kiss me boy. Wells fesses up to the group that he thinks he is the one guy there that has not kissed JoJo. The men didn't realize this. They wonder if how well this is going to go off. Robby doesn't see how that's happened. Alex says that JoJo had to write a note demanding a kiss to get him going.

When JoJo arrives, the guys ask if she is going to kiss him. Talk about an awkward moment. Wells, a bundle of nerves, heads off on the date as the guys back in the room wonder how he's going to handle it.

At a market, Wells buys her a piece of locally made jewelry. She gives plenty of opportunity to sneak in a kiss, but it doesn't happen. He does evidently like to shop as he keeps stopping to look as she leads him around.

The go to a theater where they look up and it's like the bottom of a pool evidently. They look up to see women swimming. In the theater, there's the perfect moment for a kiss, but nothing. The swimming was distracting for him. JoJo confirms he's the only one she hasn't kissed.

They do various stunt exercises, then there is an extremely awkward cheek kiss. So bad.

The guys are still talking about Wells and his lack of lip action. They think he's going home. 

On the date, Wells and JoJo play around in the shallow suspended pool. It's dark, it's romantic, they are sliding all over, and JoJo keeps waiting. Finally, Wells makes his move. They have their moment.

Later that night, they go to this old mansion to have "dinner" aka most boring dinner ever. He came into this whole thing skeptical, and it wasn't until today he figured out that this might actually be a "viable" relationship.

JoJo asks him about his previous relationship(s). He gets hot and has to take off his jacket. The last relationship was four years total, but ended when he decided it was like they were just best friends living together.

The next date card arrives..."Luke, Robby, Jordan, James, Alex... Living la vida Boca." That leaves Chase and Derek for the two-on-one. That must mean she has her doubts about both. 

Back to Wells. JoJo asks what he's looking for in a soul mate. He doesn't really answer that, but talks about how the love or a certain attraction always goes away. JoJo thinks he's too skeptical. She isn't so sure she wants to take the time at this point to break through his walls.

JoJo picks up the rose. She tells him she wanted to see if they could get further in the relationship. While she really respects him as a great guy, but she just can't hand over the rose to him. With a hug, he is sent on his way. The kiss changed things for him, but it was just too little too late. She walks him out to his ride so he can shake his head and mumble in shame. And the designated crew member walks in and takes off suitcase.

She has to watch the full performance of the show they were supposed to see together all by herself.

The next day, the men go out to the Boca district to experience all of Buenos Aires. James is trying hard to not be the total outcast of the group. He's the more awkward of the bunch. He's not Mr. Hot and Sexy or athletic. 

The locals encourage the guys to have a kick off to win a kiss. Of all the men to win, it was actually James. Later that night, the fight will be on for the rose. I bet James gets the rose because it's his voice whining the whole time we hear.

The first glimpse of a private conversation we see is her with Luke. She wants to know what is on Luke's mind. He doesn't say much of anything interesting. As JoJo says, they have the physical thing down. Yeah, I was afraid of how far it was going to go on a park bench.

Back at the room, the last date card arrives. "Derek and Chase... It takes two... JoJo" Chase tells Derek he wishes it wasn't him. Derek's reaction, or lack thereof, then rubs Chase the wrong way.

When James gets his time with JoJo, she thinks he's a little off. He uses his prime time opportunity to tell her there's a side of Jordan that rubbing him the wrong way. This then sounds so petty. They were playing cards and whatever game they were playing was dictated by Jordan. Things should go his way because he is Jordan. He is a celebrity. JoJo thanks him for telling her this. He then asks permission to kiss her. JoJo finds James sweet and kind and protective.

After this, she wants to dig deeper in with Jordan to see if there is a side she doesn't know. James watches them walk off with a grimace or maybe it's just best described as disdain. JoJo wants to be open and honest with Jordan. She groans and says it has come to her attention about an altercation between him and James. JoJo tells Jordan that James is sincere and she believes everything he says. She doesn't like to hear that Jordan is snotty and entitled.

Jordan tries to explain that they were playing poker and they had a disagreement over the rule about a kicker card. If I were live tweeting, I'd be making comments about how stupid that is was and cracking the sarcasm. What a dumb thing to argue about, then decide it needs to be brought up.

When Jordan comes back to the group of men, it's super quite until James asks how it went. Then it's more quiet as Jordan swirls his wine around. Robby and Alex asks why Jordan is acting so weird. (The chronology of the night is probably edited out of sequence given that Luke isn't around to comment.) Jordan then asks James how his conversation went and if his name came up. They then argue over the word entitlement.

After more awkward moments, JoJo comes back around to sit with everyone and hand out a rose. She was excited for this day, but knew it was serious to in order to figure out her relationships. It's a hard rose for her to give out. She wants to give the rose to someone who makes her feel good, special and excited about the future. JoJo gives the rose to Luke. The rest of the men don't hide disappointment well.

Jordan wonders if Jams has totally blown it for him.

The next morning, Chase and Derek are more dressed up than usual for a date. Derek thinks this is a no-brainer. For him, it's a one-on-one.

All of sudden, I don't like Derek. But anyway, she takes the men to have a tango lesson. They actually get a demo of a three person tango. This is going to turn ugly. They are both starting to feel more possessive. Both me do, however, make it to dinner time.

JoJo wants to talk to Derek first. Derek thinks tonight he needs to reveal that he loves her. JoJo explains that at first she was really attracted, then he kind of fell back. She's trying to figure out where they stand. He stumbles over it, but tells JoJo that he is falling for her. He's hoping the kiss coupled with saying he was falling for her will keep him there.

JoJo then takes Chase off. She asks what's on his mind. He says it's scary since he's starting to feel things for her. JoJo tells Chase that when she told him that she started feeling all these things for him last week, she didn't feel she was getting anything from him. She wants to know how Chase feels, but he didn't realize there was a problem. JoJo accuses him of being scared. She tells him she made the mistake of not being completely open and honest about how she was feeling burned her last season. They do, however, kiss and make-up.

It's time for a rose. She could see a future with either. She compliments each as she swirls the rose around. She asks Chase to accept the rose. I think I'm shocked. I'm too tired to know for sure.

JoJo walks Derek out to his car which is awaiting. She cries as she watches him drive off. Chase is comes out to find her and the two go back in to dance to a string quartet and Soledad Pastorutti serenading them with "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina." Meanwhile Derek is ugly crying in his car. (He may actually have been the most attractive guy on he show, in my opinion.)

And then there were 6...

Going into the cocktail party, the men know there are three roses and four men left looking for one. This party is important for her.

Jordan takes her off talk and get back in good graces. He says he wants to be engaged at the end of this. He earns points for talking about his feelings.

Chase and Luke ask Alex how he feels. He hasn't gotten a one-on-one. He hasn't gotten a group date rose. (He HAS gotten a two-on-one rose...) He also tells all this to JoJo when she asks him about seeming unhappy after the group date.

When it's time to talk with James, he feels like he gets back in her sights again.

When Chris Harrison comes in, she explains she has some big decisions to make about where to go
from here. Alright. Who is staying alongside Luke and Chase? Three roses, but all the teases are that she doesn't want to give out the last rose.

I think Alex and someone are going to go.

  1. Robby
  2. Jordan
While holding the last rose, she stands there for a while, then turns and walks away. She finds Chris and tells him she is sick to her stomach. She doesn't want to give the rose out. She hands the rose to Chris and goes back in to the men. 

She tells James and Alex she could not hand out the final rose. Instead Chris brings in two roses and she gives one to each, starting with Alex. She apologizes for it being stressful, but she needed to keep everyone another week. Alex is confused. He can't imagine she'd feel the same for James. He thinks the last two roses were pity roses.

And, that's where we end for the week. As sleepy as I am, it's a miracle I forced myself awake to finish this. No telling what typos you will find. 

Sunday, June 26, 2016


Hippopotamus Song

In the beginning, God made the sea
And the forest filled with trees
He made the mountains up so high
And on the top he placed the sky

God’s fingerprints are everywhere
Just to show how much He cares
But in between He had loads of fun
He made a hippo who weighs a ton.

Hip-hip-hooray! God made all of us.
Hip-hip-hooray! God made all of us.

Creation sings of His praise,
The sparrow and the tiny babe.
We can sing and say, “well done.”
But some things He just made for fun!


In the end He had lots of fun.
He made a kangaroo that jumps and runs.
Hip-hip-hurray God made me and you.
Hip-hip-hurray God made me and you.

In the end He had lots of fun.
He made a manatee just for fun.
Hip-hip-hurray God made you and me.

Hip-hip-hurray God made you and me.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Free Clubhouse Magazine Trial


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Friday, June 24, 2016

The Ringmaster's Wife by Kristy Cambron

Jump into the center ring, with its bright lights, exotic animals, and a dazzling performance that can only be described as the greatest show on earth in Kristy Cambron’s new book, The Ringmaster’s Wife. The Jazz Age has arrived, and with it, the golden era of the American circus, whose queen is none other than the enigmatic Mable Ringling. When Rosamund’s path crosses with Mable’s and the Ringlings’ glittering world, she makes the life-altering decision to leave behind a comfortable future of estates and propriety, instead choosing the nomadic life of a trick rider in the Ringling Brothers’ circus.


(Thomas Nelson, June 2016)
An ounce of courage. A split-second leap of faith. Together, they propel two young women to chase a new life—one that’s reimagined from what they might have become.
In turn-of-the-century America, a young girl dreams of a world that stretches beyond the confines of a quiet life on the family farm. With little more than her wit and a cigar box of treasures to call her own, Mable steps away from all she knows, seeking the limitless marvels of the Chicago World’s Fair. There, a chance encounter triggers her destiny—a life with a famed showman by the name of John Ringling.
A quarter of a century later, Lady Rosamund Easling of Yorkshire, England, boards a ship to America as a last adventure before her life is planned out for her. There, the twenties are roaring, and the rich and famous gather at opulent, Gatsby-esque parties in the grandest ballrooms the country has to offer. The Jazz Age has arrived, and with it, the golden era of the American circus, whose queen is none other than the enigmatic Mable Ringling.
When Rosamund’s path crosses with Mable’s and the Ringlings’ glittering world, she makes the life-altering decision to leave behind a comfortable future of estates and propriety, instead choosing the nomadic life of a trick rider in the Ringling Brothers’ circus.
A novel that is at once captivating, deeply poignant, and swirling with exquisite historical details of a bygone world, The Ringmaster’s Wife will escort readers into the center ring, with its bright lights, exotic animals, and a dazzling performance that can only be described as the greatest show on earth!

Kristy Cambron


Kristy Cambron fancies life as a vintage-inspired storyteller. Her second novel, A Sparrow in Terezin, was named Library Journal Reviews’ “Pick of the Month (Christian Fiction)” for February 2015.
Cambron is an art/design manager at storytelling ministry. She holds a degree in art history from Indiana University and has nearly 15 years of experience in instructional design and communications for a Fortune-100 company. She lives in Indiana with her husband and three football-loving sons, where she can probably be bribed with a coconut mocha latte and a good Christian fiction read.
Find out more about Kristy at

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Author shares essential steps to recovery

Part 2 of an interview with Crystal M. Sutherland,
Author of Journey to Heal

Survivors of childhood sexual abuse often feel like the walking wounded. They feel alone and afraid, unsure of where to start in their search for lasting healing. It becomes far too easy to believe lies that say they’re worthless and true recovery is impossible.

Crystal Sutherland—a survivor herself—knows that a simple formula for healing from such a painful past doesn’t exist. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible. For adult female survivors who want to progress from simply coping to living abundantly, Journey to Heal (Kregel Publications) guides readers through essential steps to recovery found in Scripture. Though candid and open about her personal journey, Sutherland avoids triggering descriptions. Instead, she offers stories of hope form other survivors and practical wisdom to lead you down a new path toward discovering the life of wholeness God desires for you.

Q: How can Journey to Heal be a tool for those who want to find emotional and spiritual freedom?

Journey to Heal is a practical and comprehensive guidebook for survivors of sexual abuse.  It’s a road map to recovery — a travel guide for the journey, based on what God has shown me to be true in my own life. It takes readers through a series of essential steps of recovery, founded on Biblical truths and practical wisdom, providing a clear pathway to healing. Readers will be led to process their stories, reject shame and discover God’s love for them.

Q: How did you incorporate other survivors’ experiences into Journey to Heal?

The stories I share from other survivors are ones I came to know through mentoring several women through my Bible study for survivors. These stories are shared with their permission. I selected stories I felt would help my readers most and would illuminate certain concepts in the book.

Q: What role does faith play in recovery?

Sexual abuse leaves a soul wound that only God can heal. There are no quick fixes or one-size-fits-all solutions. Through my own experience I’ve discovered there are essential steps we can take and biblical truths we can apply to our lives to heal fully. Ultimately, I believe complete healing only happens when we place our hope in Christ.

Q: Why do you think it’s so critical to write down specifically what happened during the abuse?

I encourage readers to start a truth journal and to document their journey of recovery: not only their stories of abuse, but also the truths God reveals to their heart and the revelations they experience during our study together. Specifically, writing down their stories helps to capture all the facts and feelings involved with the abuse. It enables the reader to put all the pieces of their story together in a safe place where they can ultimately process and release the painful emotions involved. It is a very healthy way to acknowledge their story of abuse and prepare their hearts for the next steps in their journey to heal.

Q: A child is never responsible for being exploited, but why do survivors often feel so much shame and guilt? Do those feelings ever go away?

It’s complicated. There are layers upon layers of words spoken, lies believed and circumstances that can lead victims to believe they were at fault. Everyone is different too. I have mentored survivors who immediately accept they are not to blame for their abuse, but then there are those I’ve met who find it very difficult to overcome their deep feelings of shame. I think it often depends on the circumstances, the length of time throughout which the abuse took place and if there was justice or validation involved. I do believe, with God’s help and through actively processing their story, survivors can overcome feelings of shame and guilt.

Q: You write in Journey to Heal that you keep a photo of yourself on display that was taken shortly before the abuse began. Why do you do that, and why do you recommend other survivors do it as well?

I display the photo simply to remind myself I am not to blame for the abuse that took place in my life, no matter how I might feel in the moment. As odd as it sounds, adult survivors (myself included) often blame the child they were for not speaking up or taking control of the situation. Doing so leads to feelings of guilt and shame that are often fortified by the lies we believe and the things that have been said (or not said) by friends or family members. It’s important for survivors in recovery to see themselves as the children they were, and not as the adults they are today. It is from that perspective we better process our stories of abuse and reject feelings of guilt and shame. One of the best ways to remember who we were as children is through our childhood photos.

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.

Learn more about Journey to Heal and Crystal M. Sutherland at, Facebook (Crystal.Sutherland) or Twitter (@cryssutherland).

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Lucinda Secrest McDowell’s ‘Dwelling Places’ Blog Tour and Giveaway

Drown out the busyness and noise of everyday life and find a deeper faith with something as simple as a single word in Lucinda Secrest McDowell's new book, Dwelling Places. Through short and inspiring readings, McDowell unpacks a single word—such as mercy, beauty, gratitude, or grace—to reveal a biblical blessing or challenge relevant to where you are. Full of stories and illustrations to empower you to live the word you have just read, each devotional ends with a benediction, written as if God were speaking directly to you.

Join Lucinda in celebrating the release of Dwelling Places by entering to win her Season of Refreshment giveaway.

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One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A copy of Dwelling Places
  • Dwelling Places necklace handmade by Lucinda
  • A kit full of goodies you'll need to make refreshing lemonade this summer
One second place winner will receive:
  • A copy of Dwelling Places
  • Dwelling Places necklace handmade by Lucinda
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Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on July 5th. The winner will be announced July 6th on Lucinda's blog.

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(Abingdon, June 2016)
Do you long for serenity and refuge, peace and hope? Are you seeking a deeper spiritual life through a closer relationship with God?
If you’re tired of dwelling in busyness and noise, then perhaps one word a day can change your life. Award-winning author Lucinda Secrest McDowell knows that if you spend time each day turning to God’s Word for wisdom and guidance, your faith can flourish and grow.
Through short and inspiring readings, McDowell unpacks a single word—such as mercy, beauty, gratitude, or grace—to reveal a biblical blessing or challenge relevant to where you are. Full of stories and illustrations to empower you to live the word you have just read, each devotional ends with a benediction, written as if God were speaking directly to you.
These “dwelling places” that offer the joy of God’s promise and presence cover four seasons: fall, Advent, Lent, and summer. Whether in the midst of busy holiday schedules, holy days, ordinary moments, or changing seasons, a deeper faith can be as simple as a single word.


Lucinda Secrest McDowell is the author of 11 books, including “Live These Words,” “Amazed by Grace,” and “Quilts from Heaven.” She has contributed to an additional 25 books and has been published in more than 50 magazines. A graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Furman University, she speaks internationally through her ministry “Encouraging Words.” An award-winning writer who has earned accolades from prominent writers’ conferences and retreats, McDowell has also worked in radio broadcasting, in retreat planning, and on church pastoral staffs. She writes from “Sunnyside” cottage in Connecticut.
Find out more about Lucinda Secrest at