Monday, February 29, 2016

I'm in love with you. I have fallen in love with you. I love you. #thebachelor


Before the show even starts tonight, we learn that all three women tell Ben Higgins that they love him. We know that he loves two of them. Who gets really hurt tonight?

Love is in the air in Jamaica. Three overnight dates are in store for the evening. 

According to Ben, Caila has her beauty and smile going for her. He's worried because she is so happy all the time and can't express her true feelings. She wants someone she can cry with. 

For Ben, Lauren is the closest he's ever experienced love at first sight. He feels like he is chasing after his first crush. Is this too good to be true? Why hasn't someone snapped her up already? She doesn't know where she stands.

Then, there's JoJo. He feels more like himself with JoJo than anyone else. He's confident when he's with her. She's fun. However, the hometown date was an emotional roller-coaster, and her brothers almost scared him off.

After we hear what Ben thinks about the women, we get a taste of where the women are in their heads. Caila seems all bubbly. Lauren doesn't know where she stands. JoJo knows her family may have freaked Ben out. 

The first date goes to Caila. 

After a great date in her hometown last week, Ben feels like they are in the best place they have ever been. He says something about the deepest relationship being with her. 

They go on a river rafting date. It kind of screams perfect Disney ride. Sounds of nature. peaceful waters. They are oddly quiet. There isn't much talking. Caila feels anxious knowing there are two other women still there. She wants to profess her love, but she's having a hard time getting out of her head. 

Ben keeps telling her to stop stressing out and to enjoy it. Ben knows something is on her mind because she isn't talkative and describes her as melancholy. They float up to a shack with a grill and are presented with jerk chicken. In the middle of nowhere. He tries to get her talking over their drink in some kind of coconut. 

He tries to get her to open up. She knows this may scare him off, yet she still acts like that. She doesn't want to ruin the rest of the day.

Walking into the evening portion of the date, Ben isn't sure what to think. They greet each other like they haven't spent the whole day together. She doesn't want to be reserved anymore. 

Ben starts off by asking if they can talk about why she wasn't bubbly today. She's much different tonight and does tell him that it's hard because there are two other people there and she had not started thinking so much about that until the last rose ceremony. That scares her because she knows they are all probably feeling the same thing. In the past, she's always had a gut feeling that a relationship wasn't right. Ben is different though. She finally spits it out, "I'm in love with you." He says nothing, but starts sucking face with her. 

That's what he wanted to hear. All is right with the world again. With that, he gives her the fantasy suite card. She promptly accepts. 

With that, they have a make out in the ocean under fireworks moment. Then, he puts his shirt on and she's still in her bikini, and they go off to the bedroom. 

The next morning, she wakes up looking quite put together. Ben asks if she always wakes up like that. Of course, after waking up with him once, she feels like she can wake up with him for the rest of her life. 

Caila loves Ben and though she says that he cannot say it to her, she feels like he loves her. She kind of said it in an Olivia way.

Ben has to go off so that he can have his next date.

Next up is Lauren.

She too wants to wants to profess her love. She shows up in her skank clothes. Her cutoff jean shorts are so short her swimsuit is coming out the back and bottom and wherever. Her shirt comes down to her midriff. 

They too go on a boat to their next location. They are going to release a nest of newborn turtles. They dig up the nest, then wash baby turtles before putting them back in a bucket. 

They pray over the bucket of babies before releasing them to crawl out to the ocean. She feels like the luckiest girl in the world to be a part of this. 

The turtles are cute, I have to admit.

From there they hang out on a blanket on the beach. Ben tells Lauren that he really loved her family. He tells her about crying when her sister asked what made him different than any other guy who would want to be with her sister. He says that he thinks she may be too good for him. She says that she's thought the same way about him. 

That night they have their own special concert with a reggae band. Her clothes that night still scream skank, in my opinion. The sit down over "dinner" (because they never eat) to talk. She echos Caila's conversation of saying that this past week was the first week she really struggled and that she may be a little guarded.

Lauren tells Ben it's all very real for her that he is the man of her dreams. She's freaking out on the inside and having a hard time making her admission of love. She doesn't say it before getting the suite card. She is excited because as she tells him, she needs the time with just him. 

Once they get into the suite, Lauren finally says, "I am completely in love with you. You really are the man of my dreams. You make me feel in a way I didn't even know I could feel. I've been feeling this for a while. This isn't new."

Ben actually uses his words this time in response. He says that she's known he's been in love with her for a while too. He says it more than once to her before the cameras leave for the night. 

The next morning, we hear Ben call out, "honey, I made breakfast."

Last night Ben thinks they got confidence in each other. It was oddly worded. They are all happy. Lauren says that Ben's her person. She's been watching too much Grey's Anatomy

Finally, it's JoJo's turn. 

Ben knows that he's complicated things because he told Lauren that he loves her. He decides if he can't tell JoJo the same thing at the end of the date, he has to let her go. 

What she wants to talk with him about the most is what happened with her brothers. But first, they have to go off on a helicopter and see horses in the ocean (yes, you read that right). 

Once they land, they end up on a trail where they find beautiful waterfalls. They take a giant leap into the water and spend time swimming and sitting on rocks in the water. The jump off into the water makes her want to jump into telling Ben her feelings. 

JoJo has no doubts that she sees a future with him. She has her "I love you" moment with Ben. She has to keep talking since he is silent. He says, "JoJo, I love you too." There's a look of shock on her face when he says it. She's like, "can you say that?"

It's all kissy, kissy, makeout in the water again. 

Ben doesn't know what to do now. He's in love with two women and has even said it. That's a no no. He can't imagine saying "goodbye" to either. (You say goodbye to the one with the insane family.)

They call each other "Beautiful" and "Babe" when they meet back up that night. 

Now Ben is the one in the awkward, confused spot now that he has confessed his love twice. She is on Cloud 9 and feels good about moving forward since they have both said they love one another. He acts nervous though when he says that he had no hesitation saying he loved her. 

Ben's hang-up is that he doesn't think he will have the support of JoJo's family. Cue her asking what happened last week with her brothers. He talks about the tension and how he was put on the spot with one of their smart comments. 

JoJo explains they were nervous and didn't want to see her come home hurt again. Love, love, I love you, love, I've fallen in love with you, I'd be devastated to lose you, love. You didn't run. Forever, kiss, love, kiss. Fantasy suite card. 

They have a private hot tub. A huge one at that. 

The next morning, JoJo feels better than she's ever felt. It's the third very happy, confident woman who has had breakfast in bed.

JoJo has no doubts the two of them are in it together. She has no clue that he's in love with someone else too. 

Now comes the time to figure out what to do. 

He had an amazing time with Caila, but he just wasn't able to say he loved her. It's just been different with her. There's something missing. He knows he's going to have to say goodbye to her. 

Since her date, she's been thinking he felt the same thing for her that she felt for him. She loads up in a car and is taken to where Ben is. She wants to see him because she misses the man she's in love with. 

He is sitting outside thinking deep, not realizing Caila is looking for him. How odd he's just sitting there with the camera on him. Caila comes up behind him, covers his eyes and kisses him. 

Ben is surprised. "What are you doing here?" She wants to remind him that a relationship with her will be fun and exciting. He needs a minute to collect his thoughts. She's all excited, but he knows he has to say goodbye to her now. 

They sit down to talk. She knows something is up with him this time. He has a hard time putting his words together. He admits he's in love with two women here, but he wasn't able to say it back to her. Although it's hard to say goodbye, he has to say it now to her. Caila says she's going to go now. (Uh, yeah.) Ben asks if he can walk her out, and she hesitantly says yes. The limo looks like it's going to have a flat tire. 

He puts her in the car and closes the door. She hops back out and asks if he knew this week. She wants an answer. Did he know this was coming earlier in the week? 

Ben tells her that all three women expressed the same feelings, and he had to decide how to respond each time. He will miss her, or so he says. He puts her in the car again. This time she buckles up and the tears start to fall. It's a big emotional crash. She was so happy to see Ben and wanted to surprise him, but she's the one that got the surprise. 

Ben's a little teary-eyed himself. At least he doesn't have to do that at the rose ceremony in front of the others. However, he's already hoping he didn't make a mistake. 

After coming back from commercial break, JoJo arrives for the rose ceremony. She is greeted by Chris Harrison like it's the final, final, proposal ceremony. Lauren arrives shortly after. Chris also asks her how she is and how the week has been. She tells him about the reciprocated "I love you" which kind of surprises him. She joins JoJo in the most sunlit rose ceremony ever. 

The two women chat a little bit and wonder where Caila is. Ben meets them outside and states the obvious - Caila is not here. Here we stand with two roses and two women. He has to go through the formality. Whose name will he say first?

JoJo.

Lauren gets hers too. So awkward as they walk back to their spot, then he gives them both a hug at once. Group hug! Sister wives!

We have to wait two weeks to see who he picks because next week is "Women Tell All."

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Blue Skies and Rainbows


Blue Skies and Rainbows
By Gary L. Mabry

Blue skies and rainbows,
and sunbeams from heaven,
Are what I can see,
When my Lord is living in me.

Chorus:
I know that Jesus is well and alive today.
He makes His home in my heart.
Never more will I be, all alone since He,
Promised me that we never would part.

Green grass and flowers,
all blooming in springtime,
Are works of My master,
I live for each day.

Chorus

Tall mountains, green valleys,
The beauty that surrounds me,
All make me aware,
Of the One who made it all.

Chorus

I’m not ashamed of
the Gospel of Jesus,
For it is the power,
That saves us today.

Chorus


Saturday, February 27, 2016

This weekend in the crafty studio

I've been intending to get more done this week than I have. I know I've already posted pictures of the blue and pink Mason jars, but I finally finished the light purple one this week.

Although pink wouldn't have been my first choice (it was a special order), I really think it may be the best one.





I feel like I have been trying to finish bunnies forever. I know it hasn't been forever, but I did finish a couple of eggs.




Meanwhile, the crafty uncle has been busy too. Look at the the owl and frog! We're going to have the owl in more colors.


Friday, February 26, 2016

Critical Conversations: A Christian Parents' Guide to Discussing Homosexuality with Teens


A parents’ guide to honest discussions about homosexuality

Tom Gilson encourages Christian moms and dads to speak hard truths with compassion

Parents of teens today may have a tougher job in front of them than parents of any other generation in recent history. While immorality has always existed, the Western world has never seen such a time of moral confusion, especially regarding sexuality, gender and the definition of marriage. To help parents cut through the lies and political correctness and find a way to impart truth to their teens, Tom Gilson has written Critical Conversations: A Christian Parents' Guide to Discussing Homosexuality with Teens (Kregel/February 27, 2016/ISBN: 978-0825443961/$15.99).

This is one of the most complex issues Christians face today, and it’s rife with landmines. In Critical Conversations, Gilson describes the efforts by some to paint Christian beliefs as hateful, making many believers hesitant to speak truth for fear of being seen as homophobic. Even teens growing up in faith-filled homes can be suspicious of how Christians treat LGBT people. Gilson says this can separate them from their church, their parents and most importantly their belief in Christ.

With a foreword by Sean McDowell and endorsements from apologists including Alex McFarland, Critical Conversations is a dependable and highly practical guide that will help parents understand the history of this issue and its far-reaching cultural and spiritual implications. Gilson also uniquely provides clear but compassionate and biblical answers for two dozen anti-Christian objections, enabling parents to counter the questions teens face in the media or even with their classmates at school. Parents will be able to help equip their children with answers to popular arguments such as: “If you disagree with homosexuality, you’re a hater,” “You’re on the wrong side of history,” “The Bible doesn’t even mention gay marriage,” and many others.

Encouraging parents to avoid pat answers or the “Bible brush-off” of “The Bible says it. Believe it,” Gilson calls parents to take their teens seriously and do their homework. “If Mom or Dad will talk with them respectfully about this topic, they’ll know they’re being treated seriously,” Gilson advises. “If there are hard questions the parent can’t answer, that’s actually OK — as long as the parent stays in the process and seeks to uncover the right answer alongside the teen.”

The stakes couldn’t be higher for moms and dads, and despite it being what Gilson calls the “perfect storm” of awkward parent-child conversations, he believes with proper equipping, parents can navigate these crucial discussions, drawing their teens back into closer relationship with themselves and their family and giving them the confidence they need to stay connected with Christ and Christianity.


Advance Praise

“Tom Gilson is a wise and masterful guide through an emotional and theological minefield, full of wisdom and compassion, scripturally sound and eminently practical. Critical Conversations fills a critically important void.”             ~ Dr. Michael L. Brown, author of Can You Be Gay and Christian?

“A veteran apologist and ministry strategist who delivers realistic plans for imparting biblical truth to this generation, Tom Gilson is one writer whose insights I never miss — and this may just be his most significant work ever.”
            ~ Alex McFarland, director for Christian Worldview and Apologetics, North Greenville University


About the author

Tom Gilson is the Senior Editor and Ministry Coordinator for the top conservative daily online news and insight website The Stream, and for years he’s interacted with those of differing viewpoints on his blog, Thinking Christian. A 36-year veteran of ministry leadership with Cru, BreakPoint and Ratio Christi, Gilson holds a Master’s degree in organizational psychology. He’s the author of Critical Conversations: A Christian Parents’ Guide to Discussing Homosexuality with Teens, as well as more than 150 articles found in publications such as Discipleship Journal, Touchstone Magazine and Salvo. He also served as the lead editor for True Reason: Confronting the Irrationality of the New Atheism (Kregel). Gilson speaks regularly on topics relating to faith to national conference audiences.

When not studying or writing, he enjoys canoeing, sailing and long walks in the woods. He lives with wife, Sara, in Lebanon, Ohio. They have two college-aged children.


Keep up with Tom Gilson at www.criticalconversationsbook.com or on Twitter (@ThnkngChristian).

Thursday, February 25, 2016

I would rather have a cookie

There has only been one other time that I have been so ready for March 1.

(That one time I was looking more forward to March 1 was the last leap year. Four years ago. I hated the fact that there was a February 29. You can look back at my blogs from four years ago as to why. On slightly different subject, my memories on Facebook popping up have been interesting the past couple of weeks. Four years ago, I was looking for a job. Three years ago, I was packing up to move from a duplex to a house.)

Anyway, this year, I am so ready for the election primaries to be over and done with. If all of you, all over the country are already tired of all the election talk, you ought to be glad you don't live in District 8 for the Texas House of Representatives.

There are two local Republicans running for this Texas House seat. It's turned into mud slinging, but I haven't even read what all of that is about.

It's a good thing that both men come from the county's most wealthy families or it would be an unfair fight. I doubt more money has ever been spent ever on a primary for a state representative election, even for more populous areas than this district.

The amount of money spent on advertising is RIDICULOUS. The favorite advertising tool between the both of them is mail pieces. I cannot tell you how many pieces of mail I have received over the past month.

I am not kidding you when I say that earlier this week there were 6 pieces of mail for this one race. After a day of no mail yesterday, there were 7 pieces today - 6 promoting one of the two candidates.

One man's wife wrote a letter that was mailed out to all registered voters talking about how the other man lied. Another day, one of the multiple piece days, one of the mailers was a promotion from the man's preacher, complete with the minister's headshot photo.

They've also had the biggest door knob ads I have ever seen. The amount of money spent on multiple full color over-sized postcards daily has to be astronomical. At least the printing companies are making money.

I can't imagine how ready the postal carriers are to be past this particular election.

Might I also point out that all of this is particularly wasted on all the people voting Democrat without a horse in the race.

There have also been door-to-door visits and phone calls. Oh, and one of the guys has bought online ads on phone games. I can't play Words with Friends without his face popping up on a commercial.

Mr. Words with Friends was also making his own phone calls yesterday. Actually doing the calling himself from the company his family owns. I quickly, but kindly, got off the phone with him. However, it wasn't until I hung up that I had a genius thought.

You see, his family owns the big famous bakery in town. I should have told him that he would have had more votes if he would mail us a cookie every day instead of talking smack about his opponent every day with his latest mailer. I wish I had told him he had my vote if he would give me an Italian Cream Cake. (I bought a single slice at the bakery the other day and it was oh, so good.)

If he stops by the house again, I think I will tell him exactly that.




Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Easter Take 1

I will have more Easter items to post by the end of the weekend, but to get you excited for what's coming, these are currently available from The Crafty Dad and Daughter.


If you ask for this one now, I'll do this egg for $20 since I have it left from last year. New ones will be $25. 
Bunnies are $18 and can be done in different colors and
can be personalized (such as initials) instead of "Hoppy Easter."





Tuesday, February 23, 2016

God refines us through pain and suffering

Part 1 of an interview with Sherri Burgess,
Author of Bronner: A Journey to Understand

God teaches and refines us through pain and suffering. Author Sherri Burgess, wife of Rick Burgess of the syndicated The Rick and Bubba Show, knows this to be true. After the earthly death of her youngest son, Bronner, Burgess asked, “Why?” And God answered.

Journey with her through this powerful testimony of healing to understand the purpose behind the pain. With a reader’s guide in the back, this resource makes an empowering tool for book-club discussion or small-group Bible study. Bronner: A Journey to Understand (New Hope Publishers) is much more than a retelling of an inspiring story. It is a call to action!


Q: Your book is named after your youngest son. Tell us a little bit about Bronner and his short life on earth.

Bronner was the baby of the family, the icing on the cake, the cherry on top, and we adored him. He knew it too. Bronner kind of had that air about him like he knew he was a big deal. He was so much fun and super snuggly. He was like a cookie right out of the oven, and every morning was like Christmas morning with him. I couldn’t wait to unwrap each day with him. He was a two-and-a-half-year-old baby boy. You’d be hard-pressed to find much in the world better than that! He was curious, playful, spunky, loving, fun, precious and beautiful, and life with him was amazing. He was sunshine and a cool breeze kissing my face with life, and when I lost him I was utterly crushed and completely devastated. But God picked me up and gave me peace through understanding and hope for the things of the Spirit — things such as eternity, Heaven, God Himself and ultimately a greater understanding of who God is and why He allows such great suffering in the world. 

Q: You write about the inexplicable moment of peace you experienced at the hospital shortly before you learned there was no hope for Bronner. Could you tell us about that experience?

I fell on my face in prayer as soon as we entered the emergency room, begging for Bronner’s life. I had been praying nonstop almost the same thing over and over and over again. “Please, God, don’t take him. Please give him back. Please, God. Please, please give him back to me.” I would look up at the heart monitor to see if they had gotten a pulse, then I would bow my head again to pray. That last time I looked up hoping for anything but that straight line, and then I bowed over a chair. I remember a nurse taking my hand and an instantaneous exchange with our eyes that seemed to contain all the grief and hurt and sympathy one woman could muster for another. As I closed my eyes again, I felt something rising up from deep within me. It was like I was hearing it in my mind, but I consciously said it. “Lord, not my will, but thine, O Lord, be done.” A peace came over me that transcends understanding. I stood up, looked at the doctor in charge and heard him say, “We’re going to have to stop.” I nodded my head and said OK. I’ve known from the beginning this was God’s will because that was what the Holy Spirit had prayed for and through me, but what took me a long time to figure out was why. Why would God will this? That is what my book is about.

Q: How has your marriage been impacted by your loss?

It’s given it weight. Our marriage is ultimately more important than it ever had been before. I needed Rick like I needed water. He was our rock, and he knew it. He had to hold it together so he could hold us all up. There’s a myth that has been debunked that the death of a child causes divorce. That is completely opposite of the truth. Studies show that people who have lost children divorce at significantly lower rates than the average. That’s because shared pain between two people bonds them like nothing else can. I remember that night in the hospital waiting on Rick to arrive. He was speaking at a youth retreat in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, when it happened. We had friends who flew him home as quickly as possible. My pastor, my music minister and his wife, and three other friends waited with me at the hospital, and they were ready with answers for me. I had lots of questions, but what I remember most about that wait was the uneasiness in the room. We were all distraught, but when Rick finally walked through those doors, calmness walked in with him. His presence put everyone at ease, especially me. His eyes went immediately to me, and he walked over and wrapped me up in his arms. I felt safe with him.

Q: How did you walk your other children through the loss of their brother? What advice would you offer to parents going through a similar situation right now?

We walked them through it Biblically. We taught them everything God was teaching us: the truth that even though bad things happen in this world now, it won’t always be like this. Jesus will wipe away every tear from our eyes, and death will be no more.  My children know they’re going to see their brother again. They know an eternity with God is far better than any pain or suffering or hurt they have to endure in this life. They know their pain will end and a reward is coming that surpasses anything they’ve ever experienced before. My children know love never ends and Bronner loves them now just as much as he ever did. He remembers them just like they remember him. They look forward to that time just as Rick and I do.

To parents of children who have lost a sibling I would say, “They’re going to be just fine.” Children are naturally trusting. They trust God. They trust you to take care of them, and they need you. They are worth living for. I know it hurts to lose a child. I believe it must be one of the worst things a person could possibly have to endure in life, but I encourage you to gain strength and understanding from God so you can still be the parent you need to be for those you have left.

Q: When you had the pool installed in your backyard, you prayed God would not allow anyone to drown there and that He would use it for His glory. In what way did God answer that prayer differently?

Early on in this journey, as I was trying to understand God’s purpose behind the pain, I was desperately crying out for Him to tell me, “Why the children?” I said to God, “There is nothing worse than losing a child. I know You lost your Son, but You got Him back after three days! Three days!” I heard that still, small voice answer in my spirit, “But what about the others? They’re all mine. You’re going to get this glorious reunion with your child, but I won’t get that with all of mine.” I understood in that moment that God was using my temporary separation from Bronner to bring some of His wandering children back to Him forever. Maybe for the first time ever, I had compassion for God. God doesn’t delight in death — not real death, the kind that sends souls away from their maker forever. I decided I could do this for Him because I love Him and because I know what it’s like to lose a child. If I can help bring one, just one, back to Him, then I will. I know I’m not the only brokenhearted parent in this equation. My heavenly Father is a brokenhearted parent too, and He longs to bring all of us home. There’s room for us all in our Father’s heart. That’s why He waits. He’s gathering His children and creating for Himself a people who choose the good portion, the bread and living water, the Lord.

Q: How do you answer people when they ask you why God allowed Bronner to drown?

He did it for the lost souls that would found through it. He did it for the church: to provide a message that would ignite a fire within to be about God’s business in this world and in this generation because the time is drawing near. He did it to refine us, to humble us, to make us see our need for God, to make us holy, to create in us fearlessness and boldness for God and the things of God. He did it to bring us into a closer relationship with and an understanding of Himself, to fit us for Heaven and to clothe us in righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. He did it for love.

Q: After all your family has been through, do you still believe God is good?

I know Him to be. He was good before. He was amazing in the midst of it, and He is my constant and closest friend, my desire, my hope, my everything right now, today and forevermore. He changed me for the good by taking my son. I’m no longer in love with the world, and that is freeing. I’m unchained from the world with half my heart already in Heaven, and a person like that doesn’t live any longer for the shiny things the world has to offer. Instead a person like that lives for the will of God, for His delight and approval. I seek His joy, not my own. I live to make Him smile. That’s why I wrote this book: to please Him, to bring Him glory and to help people see His goodness and His purpose behind it all. People look around and see how bleak things can get on earth and wonder, “Where is God in all of this?” I’ll tell you where He is. He’s right in the middle of it. He stands with outstretched hands, waiting and saying, “Come to me, all who are weary, and I will give you rest. I will never leave you nor forsake you. Trust me. It won’t always be like this.”

Learn more about Bronner: A Journey to Understand at http://newhopepublishers.com/2015/09/bronner/,

and visit Sherri Burgess’ online home at burgessministries.com
Burgess can also be found on Facebook (SherriBurgessAuthor) and Twitter (SherriBBurgess).

Monday, February 22, 2016

Family interaction reveals #thebachelor truth

This week's episode of The Bachelor sends Ben to the hometowns of the four remaining women. He's excited about them, and he hopes they are excited about him.

The first hometown is Laguna Beach, CA with Amanda. They meet at the beach, and after a big hug, her ridiculous shirt almost comes off. Dress smart, women, dress smart! It's basically a sleeveless shirt with long sleeves connected between the elbow and shoulder by a string. Very impractical.

Amanda hasn't seen her girls yet since she's gotten back. While she is falling in love with Ben, she can't say she's in love until she sees how Ben is with her girls. When he asks what the girls like to do, she said they like to be chased.

Her sister or some caregiver bring the girls to the beach to meet them. Kinsley (3) says she wants to meet Ben, but Charlie (maybe 2) isn't so sure. I don't suggest that he chase her right away. They work on building sand castles, and the girls do the chasing first.

On the ride home, the struggle is real. Little Charlie is not a happy camper. Toddler cries all the way home. They get into the house and out onto the patio to meet Mom, Dad and sister. Ben brought Mom flowers. Dad asked how it was with the kids (he thinks Ben looked a little deer in the headlights).

Amanda and Ben go put Charlie down for a nap. Amanda leaves her screaming in the crib saying she'll go to sleep if they leave.

When they get downstairs, Mom Michelle asks if Ben is ready to take on an active roll in the life of Amanda's kids. Ben says he wasn't going in thinking about it, but he wasn't scared off by it which kind of surprised him. Mom does think he seems mature.

Mom and Amanda talk next. Amanda asks Mom what she thinks (he's sweet) and if she can see them being together (eventually). Amanda tearfully talks about how having a man around (and wanting one) is what's normal in a family.

Dad gets serious with Ben. Dad asks how the relationship is, and talks to him about having kids in his life - all the time. He informs Ben that kids come first and that he wouldn't be able to do what he wanted to do all the time. Dad does say that if Amanda is happy, he's happy.

Later that evening, Ben reads them a story. "Once upon a time in Los Angeles, a man named Ben met Mommy." After a kiss in the driveway, it's "The End" of the date.

Next up is Lauren in Portland, OR. Lauren is in love with Ben, but she hasn't told him that yet. Maybe after he meets her family.

Portland is the city of roses, but they don't really see any. They take a tour of downtown and have lunch at the food trucks. Lauren has a major love of butter, evidently. It looks like they melt butter on a pizza, but I don't know what it actually was.

Next up is the Multnomah Whiskey Library which is evidently very romantic. Like the country song goes, "whiskey makes me feel a little frisky." As they sit in front of the fireplace, she admits she's a little nervous. For her, tonight is all or nothing. If her family approves, the love confession is coming.

The parents, two brothers and a sister await. There's also an 18 year old dog. This is the longest the family has gone with out seeing and talking with her.

The first person to take Ben off is the sister. Mollie's skeptical knowing that any guy should fall in love with her sister, yet at the same time, she knows he's going to other hometowns too. When talking about Lauren, Ben gets super emotional and starts crying.

Mollie then talks to Lauren. Lauren thinks Ben is her person. She admits that she's in love.

Dad talks to Ben next. He wants to know what stood out about Lauren to him from the rest of the 28. Dad wants to know how he can be so committed in such a short time. He and Lauren's mom dated several years before getting married. The next question is, "how are you coping meeting three other families?" He starts tearing up again.

Dad and Lauren talk next. He reminds her there are three other women still in it. He's not mean about it, just honest.

Lauren chickens out on the "I love you" part as she kisses him goodnight. She knows if she doesn't get a rose, she won't get to tell him how she feels.

The third stop is Caila in Hudson, OH. Caila challenges Ben because she's real (his words, not mine). Ben thinks it's his deepest relationship. Caila is a little nervous because she thinks there was some miscommunication on their last date.


Caila didn't really have a hometown since she moved around a lot growing up. Hudson is where she graduated high school and felt like she had a hometown for the first time. They sit and talk on a bench under a tree where she always saw couples.

They go to her dad's toy company where they design their dream house together. After drawing it out, they get to go to the factory and build it. Their own little dinky plastic backyard playhouse.

At the house, Ben meets the parents and little brother. Caila also wants to profess her love, but only after he meets the family. Mom introduces Ben to Filipino cuisine and how they eat with their hands. Caila's dad is the most blunt thus far. Her dad isn't Filipino, but found out he married into the community. He warns, that Ben wouldn't just marry Caila, but would marry the whole family.

Mom wants to steal Ben away first. Ben tells Mom about their last conversation and keeping it real. Ben asks if Mom knows where Caila's fear comes from. Mom says that Caila doesn't take any time for granted and has been intentional in looking for the right one.

Dad asks Caila how you block out everything else and concentrate just on their relationship. She tells her dad that she KNOWS this is it. Dad's burnt orange pants are distracting, by the way. Dad thinks it's real for Caila because she was emotional all night, yet he fears the letdown.

Caila tells Mom that she's been real the whole time and is in love with him. Caila sees what she wants in a husband and that she knows he's the one. Mom asks if she's told him. She encourages Caila to tell Ben. Mom does think that he's in love wit her. Her advice is, "go downstairs, jump on him, and tell him."

As they kiss goodnight, Caila did plan to tell him, but let's the moment pass. Some kind of fear is still there.

Last up is JoJo in Dallas. Waiting at her house are roses and a letter. A letter that starts off sounding like it could be from Ben but is really from JoJo's ex-boyfriend. She puts it down saying it's not what she wants to read. She calls him up to say, "what the !!!" Her boyfriend wants her back. "I now know what love is. You showed me what love was."

JoJo needs to wrap this up because Ben is knocking on her door. She's crying when she opens the door. He's confused and wants to know what's going on. She explains she walked up to her door and there were roses and a letter. He's very uncomfortable with this. JoJo says that she made a phone call and told her ex how happy she is with him (Ben).

JoJo feels confident that she's in love, and tells Ben so. She says she's not nervous about the night, she's anxious (but it doesn't seem like a good anxious). Not really sure the difference.

She's greeted at her parents house by two very anxious brothers, a sister and parents. The brothers are super protective. Mom jumps into questions first. Ben tells everyone she makes him feel most like himself. They jump from one topic to another. The possibility of moving to a new place. Dealing with the ex-boyfriend's roses when he arrived.

This family is a little mafia like. The brothers take Ben off to talk. Ben admits there are some big conversations coming up, but he has not made his final decision yet. The brothers love everything about her and thinks she deserves more. They were so super eager when she arrived, and all their protective talk strikes me as abnormal.

Meanwhile, Mom wants to know everything. JoJo says it's so hard because there are still three other girls in the picture. Mom acts like this is a shock.

Dad tells Ben that JoJo has been in relationships where trust wasn't there. He wants to know how Ben plans to earn her trust. While he doesn't come on quite as intimidating as the brothers, Dad is quite serious himself.

The brothers want to put things in perspective for JoJo since she has only been on two dates. They want her to keep her heart guarded. She get's upset.

When they all gather back in the kitchen, the brother's call it like they see it. They don't think he's as into her as she is into him. They are extremely skeptical. He's really put on the spot to handle the questions. Dad kind of defends him in the end saying that he's an honest man.

Ben and JoJo awkwardly talk out by the car about the family conversations went. The day did not go the way Ben had hoped. He may be having second thoughts about her now.

Everyone heads back to the Bachelor mansion for the rose ceremony. 

JoJo hopes the conversation with her brothers doesn't scare Ben off.

Amanda knows she's in love.

Caila says tonight means everything and regrets not sharing her feelings.

Lauren is in love and terrified.

Meeting everyone's families meant a lot, and here's how it's going to go from here.

Lauren

Caila

Chris Harrison makes his singular appearance to point out the obvious - it's time for the final rose of the night. It goes to...

JoJo

What a choice. Being instant dad or tortured by the mob brothers. 

He talks Amanda out to talk. She just wished she knew after the visit rather than bringing her all the way back out to Los Angeles to go back home. (She's not from that far away.) He said that was fair, but he couldn't say for sure at that time that he knew it was over. With a hug, he sends Amanda on her way. She takes her emotional ride away in the limo.

Out on the driveway, Ben can't talk because he's emotional again.

Next week, it's overnight dates in a tropical location. Which two women are Ben in love with?

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Jesus Loves Me

My third graders always say that "Jesus Loves Me" is a baby song. Maybe, but they don't know all four verses!

When one of them complained, I asked, "does Jesus only love babies? Does he love you?"

We settled that pretty quick! :)




Jesus Loves Me

Jesus loves me this I know,
For the Bible tells me so;
Little ones to Him belong,
They are weak but he is strong.
Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me! The Bible tells me so!

Jesus love me he who died
Heaven’s gate to open wide;
He will wash away my sin,
Let His little child come in.
Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me! The Bible tells me so!

Jesus loves me he will stay
Close beside me all the way,
He’s prepared a home for me,
And some day His face I’ll see.
Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me! The Bible tells me so!

Jesus take this heart of mine,
Make it pure and wholly thine;
On the cross you died for me,
I will try to live for Thee.
Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me! The Bible tells me so!


Saturday, February 20, 2016

Finally finished the flag letters

I finally finished touching up the flag letters and adding the burlap. I'm TERRIBLE at bows. And knots for that matter.

These are $30 and available in any letter. (They are 18" tall)

We went ahead and made up these and a bunch of Easter items thinking we'd have two shows, one we were really counting on before Easter. Earlier this week, it was cancelled, so I'll have to try twice as hard to get some items sold online.


Friday, February 19, 2016

You may have to be from Texas

You may have to be from Texas (maybe not) to appreciate these armadillos, but I think they're awesome.

The crafty uncle did a good job.

If you have to have something practical to do with them, they do work as letter/mail holders.



Thursday, February 18, 2016

Purr-fect for the cat lover

The crafty uncle has finished more lately than I have. That's what retired people get to do. ;)

Aren't these cats cute? They are $35 each for anyone interested!




Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Colleen Coble talks about Mermaid Moon

An interview with Colleen Coble,
Author of Mermaid Moon

Shame can cause people to make drastic, sometimes life-altering decisions. When they experience the consequences of failure, whether at their own hands or at the hands of others, their instinct can be to retreat to avoid experiencing hurt again. That knee-jerk reaction can strain relationships and lead to isolation. This is one of the themes award-winning author Colleen Coble chose to examine in the second book in her Sunset Cove series, Mermaid Moon (Thomas Nelson/January 12, 2016/ISBN: 978-1401690281/$15.99).


Q: Mermaid Moon is the second book in the Sunset Cove series. How is the series tied together? Is there a specific theme that runs throughout?

I wanted these books to examine the various ways we all come to family. Some are born into the family, some are adopted, and some create their own family with friends. Claire’s story (The Inn at Ocean’s Edge) is continued as a subplot through the story as well, so I think readers will like that!

Q: Did something personal inspire the storyline of Mermaid Moon?

I’ve always wanted to explore the turmoil adopted children feel as they try to decide if they will search for their birth family.

Q: What do you love so much about Down East Maine, where Mermaid Moon is based? Why is going there a little bit like stepping back in time?

I love the wildness of it and the way you won’t find big superstores in all the little towns dotting the coast. The communities exist by being close-knit and supportive of one another. Many still earn their living from the sea the way their ancestors did. It’s a wonderful place to be!

Q: Despite its sleepy setting, Mermaid Mood’s plot is packed with action and intrigue. Why did you choose to juxtapose those two characteristics?

I do that in every book. I love creating a setting that’s homey and somewhat remote so my characters have to learn to be strong and overcome the obstacles in their way. It’s also what I know. I’ve never lived in a big city (and don’t want to!), and I love the way a small town operates.

Q: What are some of the challenges involved with writing a mystery?

You have to keep the reader guessing and engaged. I want the reader to stay up until two in the morning because she couldn’t put the book down. It’s also challenging to keep each book fresh. After writing as many books as I have, I have to think hard about plot and character before starting a new book.

Q: Your main character, Mallory, left behind her small hometown and a string of strained relationships after her mother died. Why does our struggle with personal shame have such a strong impact on our relationships?

When we are hurt and fail, it makes us want to retreat and not take the risk of getting hurt again. Personal shame strikes at our core because we feel we can never make up for that failure. We fear the relationship can never be mended. When the shame and guilt run deep, it takes God to bring the necessary healing too.

Q: Family relationships can be the trickiest relationships of all. Why do you think that is?

Our family relationships have the deepest thread of love running through them. When you are hurt by someone you love that much, a sense of deep betrayal can make us put up our guard. It strikes at the core of who we are because the family relationship helped form us into who we are.

Q: Why do you think women, particularly single mothers, will find a kinship with Mallory?

Mallory had a lot to overcome in Mermaid Moon, but she didn’t let her circumstances keep her from doing what had to be done. Single moms have so much on their shoulders, and I have a lot of empathy for them (though I’ve never had to go through that myself). I want them to know God is there for them, and they can find the strength to do what needs to be done every day.

Q: What is so bad about being a perfectionist? Isn’t striving for your best a good thing?

Too often a perfectionist bases her worth on doing things right. Any failure to perform perfectly leaves her feeling she isn’t good enough. Of course we want to give anything we do our best, but our character isn’t damaged when we fail or when we mess up. People can love us even if we aren’t perfect.

Q: When Mallory finds herself in distress more than a decade after leaving home, her first instinct is to reach out to her first love. Why does our first love often have such a lasting impact on our hearts?

I think we never forget our first love. Everything is new and wonderful, and it seems perfect to our young and impressionable selves. Sometimes first love is the only time we throw ourselves fully into a relationship. It shouldn’t be that way, but if the first love ends badly, it can affect how much of ourselves we are willing to give to a future relationship.

Q: When is it appropriate to give others who have hurt us a second chance, and when should we leave them in the past?

I think you have to look at their character. Did they hurt you because they simply messed up? We all mess up. Or did they hurt you because they didn’t care enough to be faithful and devoted? Is the offense likely to happen again? Did they habitually hurt you? If that’s the case, it’s not really wise to put yourself in that position again. You have to forgive them and not hold onto bitterness, but it’s foolish to think they will change if you just love them enough.

Q: The death of a loved one often leaves us thinking about how to live without regrets. In what ways can we take that sentiment too far?

Some people can take that in a wrong direction and live for themselves only. They give no thought to other people and the future. It’s much wiser to take that loss as a chance to make sure you care for your loved ones as best as you can. The worst regrets are when a loved one dies and you know you could have done better in showing them your love and care.

Q: Without giving away too much, at one point in Mermaid Moon, Mallory cuts her hair off, even though she’d been growing it out for 20 years. What was the symbolism in that act? Have you ever done anything similar to mark a big decision?

I wanted the reader to see Mallory was not being weighed down with the past any longer. Much of her decision to grow it out was rooted in the past, and she was ready to let go of that. I used to have hair as long as Mallory’s, but mine was only cut off to shorten time spent on it so I could use that time with my new son.

Q: What is the main impression you want to make on readers of Mermaid Moon?

It’s usually harder to forgive ourselves than to forgive others. God doesn’t want us to carry around that burden of guilt and shame. We can be free of it if we realize He forgave it long ago. We’re the one still lugging it around.

Q: What do you have planned next for the Sunset Cove series?  

I’m working on Twilight at Blueberry Barrens. This is Kate’s story, and she witnesses two bodies going off a cliff in the first scene. The authorities rule it a murder/suicide, but the brother of one of the victims believes it was murder. Kate gets drawn into the danger when she takes charge of the two girls orphaned by the deaths.

To keep up with Colleen Coble, visit www.colleencoble.com, become a fan on Facebook (colleencoblebooks) or follow her on Twitter (@colleencoble).



Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Terri Blackstock introduces readers to a complex character who breaks the mold


When the lost act lost
New York Times best-selling author Terri Blackstock
introduces readers to a complex character who breaks the mold
  
Fans of Christian fiction will find an unlikely heroine within the pages of New York Times best-selling author Terri Blackstock’s latest release, If I Run (Zondervan/ February 16, 2016/ISBN: 978-0310332435/$15.99). Blackstock chose to feature a heroine who is different from what her readers are used to. If I Run tells the story of protagonist Casey Cox, who isnt a Christian, and when her life becomes complicated, she resorts to lies even crime to survive. While Casey is broken in many ways, Blackstock admits she is one of her favorite characters shes created.

Casey Cox has had her fair share of struggles, but after her best friend is found dead, Casey’s life is turned upside down. When her DNA is found all over the crime scene, she knows talking to the police is useless; they have failed her abysmally before. At the age of 12, Casey found her father dead, and while police ruled it a suicide, she knew it wasn’t. She’s carried that great sense of injustice into adulthood, mistrusting all authority figures. Casey knows she has to flee before she’s arrested . . . or worse. The truth doesn’t matter in her world anymore, and it certainly won’t set her free.

War-weary veteran Dylan Roberts is hired to find Casey, but as experienced as he is at solving crimes, his personal problems can get in the way. PTSD forced Dylan from the Army, and adjusting to his new normal has not been easy. Dylan knows bringing Casey home could redeem both his life and career. Blackstock did extensive research into PTSD in preparation to write If I Run. “I was shocked to learn how many of our veterans are coming home from war with PTSD,” she reveals. “If they don’t get the help they need it can impact their relationships for the rest of their lives. There are treatments that are successful in helping them. It’s a wound that is as deep as a physical wound, and it should be treated just as aggressively so they can live normal lives.”

The police think the crime scene tells the whole story, but the details aren’t adding up for Dylan. Casey doesn’t appear to fit the profile of a killer, but if she isn’t guilty, why did she run? Unraveling her past and the evidence that condemns her will take more time than Dylan has, but as his damaged soul intersects with hers, he is faced with two possibilities: Either the girl who occupies his every thought is a psychopathic killer, or she’s a selfless hero. The truth he uncovers about her could be the deadliest weapon of all.

Blackstock believes there is a lesson for us all in Casey’s journey. “Christians have a tendency to act shocked when the lost act lost. We wish they understood that God’s commandments keep us safe. More often than not though, it’s because we’re judgmental and think people should just behave better. The only reason Christians have any hope of living righteous lives is that the Holy Spirit empowers us to.” Blackstock hopes that as Dylan realizes there is more to Casey’s story than meets the eye, readers will develop more compassion for those without an anchor of faith.


About the Author

Terri Blackstock is a New York Times best-selling author of titles such as Intervention, Vicious Cycle and Downfall. In her 30-year career as a novelist, she has sold seven million copies worldwide. She is the winner of three Carol Awards, a Christian Retailers’ Choice Award and a Romantic Times Book Reviews Career Achievement Award, among others.

In 1994, Blackstock was writing secular romance novels under two pseudonyms when a spiritual awakening prompted her to switch gears. Her newly awakened faith wove its way into the tapestry of her popular suspense novels, offering hope instead of despair. Her goal is to entertain with page-turning plots, while challenging her readers to think and grow. “I wanted to see if I could incorporate a suspenseful plot with faith-based elements that pointed people to Christ rather than giving them stumbling blocks,” Blackstock explains. She has told her personal testimony on a number of national television programs as well as numerous radio programs across the country.

Blackstock has been married to her husband, Ken, for 23 years.


Keep up with Terri Blackstock at www.terriblackstock.com, on Facebook (tblackstock) or on Twitter (@TerriBlackstock).


Monday, February 15, 2016

It's getting real on #thebachelor

Let me just start by saying last night's Bachelor at 20 sure wasn't worth blogging about. The lack of entertaining top moments makes me wonder why I waste my time. There were a bunch of pregnant women. I do know that.

Tonight is sure to be the night everybody cries on The Bachelor.

Tonight's episode finds us in Warsaw, IN, Ben's hometown. Though he now lives in Denver, this is the place he grew up, had his first kiss, went to high school, all that jazz. His parents are waiting for him at the local downtown diner. He needs to catch them up on the past seven weeks. He'll be bringing 6 women to see where he grew up.

Ben tells his parents his quick description of each women.

Becca is here from last season. There's this really good side I can't get enough of, but last week there was a part that got very standoffish.

JoJo. Unbelievably beautiful. I am more myself, I think, around her than anybody else here.

There's a young lady named Emily. Emily is an identical twin. Haley, the other twin, was in this process as well with us. When Haley left, Emily grew into her own, but there's still a lot of questions. 

There's Lauren. There's something about her from the moment I met her that sounds out. It will be interesting to see how this week goes for us because last week wasn't a good week.

Caila is beautiful and like really scared that she won't be able to fall in love. That is her fear.

Amanda is extremely beautiful. She has two little girls from a past marriage. She's really an incredible, incredible woman.

His mom asks if he might be falling in love. He confirms that he is.

Because every date involves a boat and water, Ben pulls up to the dock in a barge. As a first impression, they like the town. The women will be staying at a house in the same neighborhood as Ben's parents. They all hope to get lots of time in this week (of course) and take Ben to their hometown next week.

It's time for the first date. There's no date card, but Ben tells Lauren that she has 30 minutes to get ready.

Pouting ensues. They aren't used to seeing him actually ask someone on a date. JoJo says her guard is coming back up.

Lauren and Ben set off in an old truck to drive around town. Something he would do anytime he was back home. They drive past his high school, his church, the old movie theater where he had his first kiss in 7th grade. The story of the girl laughing at him first gets a laugh out of Lauren as he teases a kiss from her. By the way, there's no rose on this date.

Amanda has a big week this week. She needs to feel 100% confident that she wants to introduce him to her kids. 

Back to Lauren's date. He takes her to the youth club where he worked for four years. Some of the employees are the same, so she gets some meet some acquaintances. They spend the afternoon playing basketball with the kids, jumping rope, and other activities.

One of the coaches challenges a special kid, Ronnie, to a half court shot. If he makes it, Ben has to kiss Lauren. Ronnie makes his shot. What a set-up.

To make the day even more special, Ben brings in a couple of players (Paul George and George Hill), coach and mascot from the Indiana Pacers.

Ben is pretty great with the kids and even pays special attention to a little boy upset in the corner. All the kids are certain that these two are going to get married.

Back at the house, the other women are waiting for the date card. Becca, of course, would prefer the one-on-one. State the obvious much?

JoJo, let's find love in the windy city... Ben. 

But, Emily wants her time too!

So, back to Lauren. She thinks tonight is going to be important. The two sit down to talk, and Ben tells everything that Leah told him last week. Lauren said she didn't know what to say last week that didn't make her come off worse, but none of it was true. Ben looks into her eyes and says, "I trust you." To Lauren, that was like he professed his deepest love to her.

All is well, Ben thinks she's amazing, and they go to his favorite dive bar (his description). After tonight, Lauren knows she's not in love with Ben the Bachelor. She's in love with Ben from Warsaw, IN.

Perhaps I am hard to impress, but I don't see what's so special about Lauren. Of course, I'd say that about most any of them. Amanda's voice gets on my nerves. I hate JoJo's name. Emily is ok except she reminds me of Taylor Swift. Caila is confusing. I like Becca for some reason though.



The next morning, JoJo hops into the van to be taken to Chicago where Ben is already milling around. Today he wants to make sure she knows how much he likes her. JoJo has never been to Chicago, so she's in awe. (I admit it. I was too my first time.)

The come up to Wrigley Field where the marquee speaks to them. The two have the whole stadium to themselves. They put on their Mr. and Mrs. Higgins jerseys. She impresses him with her hitting skills though she's never played or at least that's the story.

Becca and the others continue the pout fest. Becca asks Lauren how she feels watching someone else go off on a date after having her own yesterday. 

The storm clouds start rolling in over Wrigley. However, Ben and JoJo are just laying around in the outfield. She doesn't feel safe enough to give him her full heart. On the flip side, Ben feels more himself with her than anyone. He does know she's holding back since she has some trust issues.

Since it starts raining, they go up in the scoreboard. Have I mentioned that I don't get the attraction to JoJo either?

Confession: I usually think, why can't people just be normal on this show? Why does everyone have to be over the top. Now, I'm glad Olivia and the other drama queens are gone, but man, tonight is boring.

At the house, the next date card arrives. 

Caila, Amanda, Becca... 

Emily will have the last one-on-one. She's crying happy tears.

Back at Wrigley, after the rain, they go back down to the field for a picnic. Ben wants JoJo to open up and not be so nervous. When she gets scared, he gets scared. He wants to know to what extent her feelings are there.

Becca is thinking about this time vs. last time. She feels things she didn't feel last time with Chris, even though she was there until the end.

Right back to JoJo. She tries to explain a little bit more about her issues. She's always felt like she always liked someone more than they liked her back. She always gave 150%, but always didn't get that in return. Of course, by the end of the date, everything is terrific.

This may be the longest date ever.

Finally, it's the next day. The three women from the group date pile into one seat of a very long limo. Caila jumps out first since she is next to the door. Amanda and Becca have to crawl out. 

Today's date is at some kind of farm or something. They go out in rowboats. Becca and Amanda in one, Ben and Caila in the other. Then, they fly kites. It's even more awkward as they head into a barn lit up with Christmas lights. He tells the women there is a rose on this date. It's getting personal from being in his hometown to getting ready to go to theirs. The date will be in two parts. Whoever gets the rose gets to spend the rest of the evening with him while the other two go home. He steals Amanda away for a while first.

They go sit on a hay bale and talk about the fact she'll get to see her kids next week. And she will, one way or the other. They talk a little of the importance of meeting her kids.

When it is Becca's turn, she's not putting her best foot forward. She laments to him about how hard the last two group dates have been, especially since it's so different for her this time. She tells him that she has been stressed out deserves someone that has the same feelings for her. What is it that the other girls have that she doesn't?

As much as I am team Becca, I think she blew it. Either that, or she's trying the "I'll whine like all the others and get my reassurance" move. It's not working for her.

Ben is off on a mental wellness break while the women discuss how this rose is a sign of confidence in whose family he wants to meet.

Caila and Ben start their private time with a kiss. She smiles, saying she's thinking about taking him home. She doesn't have meaningful places with roots to take him because she moved 17 times before college. Her parents are all she has. She's been molded to be adaptable. Ben asks her about settling in one place, and she thinks she can.

When it comes time to hand out a rose, Becca looks like a sour puss. Ben is confident and ready to meet Amanda's family. She accepts the rose. Caila and Becca are left behind as Amanda and Ben go off to finish their date.

Awkward moments follow as the limo leaves with Ben and Amanda.

Becca FINALLY shows some emotion. She doesn't know what else she needs to do. She feels like she's gotten nothing from him. As a number of people on Twitter are pointing out, that's how Chris felt last season with her when she would show no emotion and couldn't say how she felt for him.

When Becca and Caila get back to the house, they let the others know that Amanda got the rose. Becca, very uncharacteristically for her, breaks down in tears.

Because it's such an awesome (sponsored) date, and it's something he would normally do, they go to McDonald's. They work the drive-thru a little bit, then sit down to their egg McMuffins. They talk more about meeting her kids and how it's a really big deal since she's never introduced anyone to her girls before.

Thankfully, something bigger than McDon'ald's is in store for them. The whole town greets them as they exit McDonald's and walk down a couple of blocks to a carnival. They play midway games, he wins her a giant donut (#random). They go on a ride sure to make me sick. He screams like crazy while she says it wasn't as bad as she thought it would be.

I would never go on one of those dinky Ferris wheels that gets toted from town to town. (I go on the big ones that are permanent.) I don't want to know how many screws are loose.

The next day, Lauren and Amanda go out to the lake, and Lauren asks how their date went. She seems to genuinely want to know. 

Back on the barge boat, Emily and Ben start their date. Emily asks if that's swans out on the water. He tells her they are swans and that when they kiss and their noses touch that their necks form a heart.

At the house, Becca thinks that Ben may very well take Emily to meet his family today. JoJo would be like so jealous if that were to happen. 

Caila thinks Emily is a bright eyed puppy and everything is new. She doesn't think Emily's mature enough for a real relationship.

Meanwhile, Ben does take Emily to his parents' house and shows her his childhood room. She gets to meet Mom, Amy, and Dad, David. Talking to people is hard for Emily. Being from Vegas, she doesn't get to see things like ducks, so it's a big deal for her.

Amy takes Emily off to talk. Emily is uber chatty and won't stop talking so that Mom can say anything. She talks about being young, but she's turned into a person she didn't know she could become. Dad and Ben have a conversation with fewer words. They talk about how things grew once her sister left.

So, Emily reveals that she always wanted to get married young, but she's always wanted to be an NFL cheerleader. She's ready to be a young mom too. Oh. My. Mom thinks that Emily is a little young.

Emily tells Dad that her favorite thing in the world is to watch movies all day long and that she hates vegetables.

Mom isn't sure how much Ben wants her to share about her thoughts. Mom questions Emily's maturity and how she has dreams she may need to seek out before settling down.

While I thought Olivia was being horrible last week when talking about being the much more mature one on their date, I don't think Caila is wrong. At least Caila was less mean about it. Emily is so Taylor Swift hyper.

Ben takes her back to the bench out behind the girls' house. Right now they are both smiling, but Ben's camera interview says it's not fair to keep anyone around he knows he doesn't have feelings for. While at first they are smiling, Ben tells Emily that at this point, he doesn't think he can see her as his wife. He doesn't see the next step for them.

ALL of the rest of the women are inside watching and see laughter turning into sadness on her face. As Emily walks back to the house, the women go out to meet her (at least Becca, JoJo and Amanda do). Emily tells them what happens before she packs it up to go home.

When it comes time for the rose ceremony, Ben is conflicted. He doesn't know what to do. Chris Harrison comes out to chat with him. While the women are waiting around, they know something feels off. Caila and Becca aren't confident. 

Harrison asks Ben if he sees potential for all five women to be his wife. He admits there is one person who hasn't gotten to the point that the others have. He finally gathers himself together.

Ben thanks the women for coming, and again states this means he wants to meet their families.

And then the roses...

Lauren

JoJo

We knew those were coming. Who will get the last one? The women are shivering in the cold. It's about to get worse for one of them.

Caila

As expected (at least by me), it's Becca going home alone. As instructed by Chris Harrison, she says her goodbyes. She hugs each woman and tries to walk by Ben without speaking. He grabs her hand to walk her out. She asks, "why did you do that?" She shakes off his hand and puts hers in her pocket. She is mad. Becca tells Ben she begged him to not put her through a rose ceremony. He just couldn't put her and her family through next week at this point.

So, the parental grillings are on next week.