Sunday, February 19, 2017

Jesus Loves Me

Rachel, my friend and co-teacher, teaches deaf ed, so she taught the kids to sign the chorus of "Jesus Loves Me" and their names one Wednesday a week or so ago. They did a great job!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

I knew I needed to manage my Saturday better

Next week, I am going to have to get my work hours in during regular hours (unlike last week with that jury duty mess) so that I can spend my evenings out in the crafty studio. I have so much I need to do, but instead of staying home all day to work on projects, I wasted away time at an estate sale auction. 

I knew better. I waited around for an item that went for more than I wanted to spend, and I should have known, but other stuff was going cheap since the crowd was small. 

I did manage to get the black and white on all of these Mason jars though. That was my project of the day. 

Friday, February 17, 2017

Convincing myself it's not procrastination

Today, I really needed to work on two press kits, but writing isn't usually my first choice of tasks. I struggle with it. I thought I would get them in, at least one. I really did. However, I got tied up in new project scheduling. Yes, I need all these different colors to get my calendar straight. I have to plan on paper where I can see what is going on and when things need to be done. If I don't have it in front of me later on, I'll forget something. I do have appointments and all my authors' interviews set in my computer calendar. I should have all that's on my desk calendar in there too, but I don't.

The most ironic thing about all of this is on top of everything else that has made this a long week, last night I set up new phones for both of my parents (and that involved online chats with AT&T). The first time they have had smart phones. Today, the first day they have had them, my mom has put all of her appointments in her phone. My computer calendar syncs with my phone, but I usually don't refer to it. Yet, my mom is all technologically organized.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Jury duty wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for all the waiting

In my book jury duty is a huge waste of time. It wouldn't be so bad if you were able to go in and get it done, but oh the waiting and waiting. And more waiting. 

I really don't think that I would mind so much being on a jury. Well, maybe, maybe not, but that's clouded by the stupidity of the only jury I ever served on. 

Anyway, on Monday morning, I arrived at the courthouse before 8 AM to perform my civic duty. I was almost amazed that our questionnaires were picked up by 8:20 AM. I thought it wasn't going to be so bad when we were pulled in around 9:30, I think it was, to go through qualifications and exemptions. There was a little bit of a wait as one case was settled that morning while we were standing around. 

People were weeded out by age (if you are over 70, you don't have to stay), if they had hearing issues (since the sound system on the newly renovated courthouse are so bad), if you have any kind of felony record, and if you are the sole caregiver of anyone who needs constant care. This was all done before voir dire before seating numbers were assigned for voir dire which hasn't always been the case when I've been summoned for duty. There was a man who was 84 who gave us a laugh because he wanted to hang around to hear what people said. It was his entertainment for the day. The judge wasn't sure if he wanted to be excused or not. Then again, neither were we. Once the crowd was thinned, we were sent out of the courtroom to wait for the name shuffle and seating order.

Even though the courthouse was just renovated, and they knew there were issues with seating for the hours upon hours potential jurors had to wait every time they needed to fill a jury, they still didn't add more benches. People had to stand around, lean on rails (that were being measured to add additional supports and braces to span gaps so children couldn't fall through them while doing things they shouldn't be doing), sit in the floor, and sit on the staircase. 

There were only a couple of people I knew there. My cousin's wife was there as was her dad, so they had some quality bonding time. The other person was a guy that I had to do my best to avoid. It's a socially awkward situation. I've been avoiding this guy so I don't have to talk to him for many, many years. It's been a running joke with friends and family. There wasn't a place to hide to avoid some awkward questions. 

About 10:45 the seating order was called. I was number 47 of around 90-100. Once everyone got into the courtroom after their name was called, we were recessed from 11:00 - 1:30 for lunch. I went home to work for two hours before heading back up there. We waited around until 3:45 when we were called back into the courtroom and told the delay was due to another judge that had to come in and rule on a motion. At that point, if we started selection, we'd be there until 8:00, so we were all sent home and due back at 9:00 AM on Tuesday. So, I was back home again at 4:00 to get more work in, especially since I had to go back the next day. 

I would have rather just stayed and got it over with. 

On Tuesday morning, it was back to the courthouse by 9:00 AM. Thankfully, they were ready to get started, and we were called into the courtroom in the same order we were given the day before. Some people had already been excused for the second day for whatever reason, so there were probably 8 spots ahead of me that were empty. I figured that made me 39 on the list and from past experience, that wasn't a guaranteed off the hook. 

As the district clerk was calling numbers, the judge signaled something and the bailiff told the clerk to hold on. They both commented they knew what that meant. They were calling for a reshuffle. Everyone was sent back out again. Supposedly, the shuffle list was already printed, so it wouldn't take long. "Won't take long," is relative. When we were called back in, I was number 50, with a few missing seats since the list was pulled before crossing out the missing names. I think there were maybe 80 people. 

Then we went through an hour and a half of voir dire. Each side and 45 minutes. The District Attorney's office questioned everyone through seat 60. I was a little surprised they went that deep in their questions. Without giving facts of the case, the defendant was accused of being in possession of a small amount of drugs found in a car that was not his (one question was about if we had ever rented a car, so it was either rented or borrowed). Questions centered around definitions of possession. 

After that, we were sent out again, and they called some people back in for further questioning based on the answers they gave. I lost track of how many people they called in. Then, they called me and the guy that was sitting on my left at 51. As we waited by the door, my cousin's wife told how they grilled her. The bailiff came back to the door and told us we could go back out where we were. They evidently thought they had gone deep enough. So we waited while both sides struck people from the list. 

During this wait, we were told to go ahead and line up to get paid. I found that really unusual because you usually get paid on the way out. What was the biggest surprise is that the first day was $6, but for having to come back for a second day, we got $40 for Tuesday. Nice, but not enough to cover my time away from the office. 

We were called back in and told to sit where we wanted. They called the 12 jurors and 1 alternate. The alternate was the man sitting to my right at number 49. That's how deep they went to get their jury. That's how close I was to getting selected. Then, there was an objection or question of some sort. We were all sent back out. 

Called back in. That's when everyone not on the jury were finally dismissed. By then, it was 1:15 PM and the jury got to take lunch when we all left. 

So, it was two very long days of doing little more than waiting. If it weren't for all the in and out, it wouldn't be so bad. Nothing interesting to share, just a tale of frustration. 

It's also been exhausting because I've been making up work hours late, and I almost have them made up. Hopefully, I won't be summoned again anytime soon. I think it's been about 20 months between summons even though the last time was a different court. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

It's about to be a busy spring

It's about to get real crazy! I have a few Saturdays to work on new projects before we start up on events, and we are also headed to Rangers Spring Training. Other than our hotel and tickets for for the games, I've done zilch planning than a little bit of looking online with Dad. I might want to do that.

Then, it's shaping up to be a busy spring. Here's where you can find The Crafty Dad and Daughter this spring.

March 25
11 AM - 3 PM

April 1
9 AM - 3 PM

April 8
9 AM - 3 PM

April 21 
9 AM - 4 PM
9 AM - 4 PM

It will be the first time we will be in two places at one time. Mom and Dad will be at Derrick Days and I will be in Mansfield with my friend, Rakia, helping me out. It may get REALLY interesting.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

In honor of Valentine's Day

I had jury duty again today. I'll share about it by the end of the week, but I'm so tired from getting up early and waiting around knowing I had other things I needed to do. I'm working late to make it up time and work this week. It's going to be a long week. 

In honor of Valentine's Day, I share this piece from author Rhonda Stoppe.

Ten Keys to a More Fulfilling Marriage

Excerpt adapted from If My Husband Would Change, I’d Be Happy 
– And Other Myths Wives Believe
by Rhonda Stoppe, © Harvest House Publishers, 2015.

The key truth about marriage is that true happiness is not to be found in your relationship with your husband, but in your relationship with Christ. Let’s look at ten key principles to a more fulfilling marriage:

1. Your Husband Was Never Meant to Be Your Happily-Ever-After

Asking your husband to be the source of your happiness is an unfair expectation. You were created to delight in Christ and to be consumed by your love for Him.

When you resolve to pursue loving Christ with all of your being, you will find the secret to happiness lies in your relationship with God alone. Only then can you enjoy fellowship with your husband in a way that honors Christ and blesses your husband.

2. Respecting Your Husband Will Inspire Him to Love You More

God created your husband with a deep longing to be respected by you. Just as deeply as you long to be loved without condition, your husband desires to receive unconditional respect from you. Notice I said unconditional respect. This means you don’t get to hold hostage your respect for your husband when you aren’t happy with him. Ephesians 5:33 says, “Let the wife see that she respects her husband” (ESV). This is not a suggestion; this is the Lord’s command to us as wives.

Your respect can motivate your husband to accomplish great achievements––because a man who is honored by his wife can do great things!

3. Staying in Love Is All About Your Love for God

Any wife who displays godly character by loving her husband will tell you that the key to loving your husband does not lie in how well he measures up to your expectations, but in how well you love God.

Before you were married, when you fell in love with your man, you had positive and loving thoughts about him. In marriage, you must work to continue to think such thoughts about him.

If you have not made a habit of thinking the best about your husband, you will need to determine to take “every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” With God’s help, you can gain victory over negative thoughts about your husband and replace them with thoughts that are honorable, lovely, and commendable.

When your love for God is right, He will help you to love your husband.

4. Parenting as One Brings Unity into Your Marriage and Security to Your Kids

Your children’s security lies in the health of your marriage relationship. When you learn to live with your sights upon God’s calling on your life––to know Christ and make Him known—this will influence how you live at home. God intends for you to live in a manner that draws your kids to Christ.

Your kids will be most secure when they observe their parents united, so don’t disagree with your husband in front of your children about certain rules or disciplines he may impose. Determine to bow together united in prayer, rather than stand in conflict with one another, because “the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16).

5. The Grass Is Not Greener on the Other Side of the Fence

God created you with a longing to feel loved and valued––by Him. Problems in marriage begin when you look to your husband to find your worth. God wants to fill the longings of your heart with Himself. Only through knowing Christ and living in intimacy with Him will you discover fulfillment.

Because of sin, you and I struggle with self-worship. And when you are in a state of self-love, if you’re not satisfied with how your husband treats you, you may fall for the myth that you would be happier with someone other than your husband. When you find yourself toying with that idea, you can know that Satan––who comes to steal, kill, and destroy (see John 10:10)––is seeking to ruin you and your family.

Realizing it is wrong to receive your sense of worth from your husband is the first step to setting him free from the burden of trying to give you what only God can give.

6. The Secret to Keeping Your Husband’s Attention Is Finding Your Worth in Christ

What’s the secret to keeping your husband’s attention? While there are many points I could make to answer this question, I prefer to revisit a statement my husband, Steve, made once:

The secret to capturing your husband’s attention for a lifetime is in learning to find your worth in your relationship with Christ. When you spend your life developing your inner beauty and staying focused on the Lord, your husband’s affection for you will grow as he observes the lovely woman of God you are becoming. The more consistently you pursue Christ, the more beautiful you will become to your husband, to others, and most importantly, to Christ.

7. Pursuing Your Husband Sexually Will Fill Him with a Sense of Well-Being

Don’t make your husband apologize for wanting to have sex with you.

God has given you a ministry of affirming your husband’s deepest emotional needs through sex. In the same way that you long for your husband to romance you with his words and acts of love, he desires to be romanced by you through sexual intimacy.

When you happily take your husband to bed, you not only satisfy his God-given physical need for sex, but you bring healing to his weary soul as well.

8. Grow Rich in Ways You Never Imagined

When Steve and I moved to our little house in the country so we could live debt-free, we had no idea how God was preparing us to serve Him in full-time ministry. The people we have led to Christ, taught and mentored in truth, and fellowshipped with in ministry are greater treasures than any possessions we may have given up. And the hope of one day, for all eternity, worshipping with those people around the throne of Christ is the greatest treasure we could ever have.

In the same way, the more you keep your eyes fixed upon Jesus, the less you will care about possessions or the earthly issues many couples fight over. Once you determine to daily seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33), you will find contentment and peace in your marriage––as well as God’s purpose for your life.

9. Be a Peacemaker in Your Marriage Relationship

The only way to build a marriage free of hurtful discord is through biblical conflict resolution. Here are eight steps to making peace:

• Admit you have a problem. Take an honest look at why you are in the conflict.
• Acknowledge your sinful bent.
• Refuse to be argumentative.
• Make peace a priority. Learn to talk through a disagreement for the purpose of resolution.
• Pray without ceasing.
• Forgive your husband as many times as necessary (Matthew 18:22).
• Seek godly counsel.
• Learn to be a peacemaker.

Make yourself so familiar with these eight steps that the next time you and your husband begin to argue, you can stop yourself from fighting and instead, take time to reflect on how you can show Christ’s character. By working to resolve conflict in a way that honors your husband, you can begin to live in a manner that reflects the Lord’s character to those who are watching how you live––beginning with your children.

10. The Joy of the Lord Is Your Strength

Life is filled with blessings and struggles. Learning to see each experience as an opportunity for the Lord to shine His light through you is the first step to realizing God has a purpose in whatever He allows to come your way––even a difficult marriage.

When you choose joy in each experience you encounter, you can become a vessel for the Lord to reach the lost and encourage others––as well as mold you, your husband, and your children more into the image of Christ. When you live with this perspective, you will discover the secret to living above life’s circumstances––and the joy of the Lord
will indeed be your strength.

Taken from: If My Husband Would Change, I’d Be Happy. Copyright © 2015 by Rhonda Stoppe. Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon. Used with permission.

Monday, February 13, 2017

For once, Nick uses his brain on tonight's episode of #thebachelor

It was a really long day, which I will have to tell you about later this week, so I may have a shorter blog tonight. I'm starting a little late because I was eating my taco salad first.

Here's how the first 15 minutes went down because I watched while eating:

We are reminded that after a week of Nick sending three women home on dates he freaked out and told the remaining 6 women how freaked out he was. He cried, the women cried, he lamented about whether or not he was going to find someone or waste his time again, the women lamented about whether or not he was going to stay or go home.

From @BachelorABC on Twitter
The next morning, Nick talks to Chris Harrison on the beach there in St. Thomas, and Chris point blank asks, "Do you want to call it quits now?" Nick said part of him did. He's been through this before and ended up broken hearted. Nick says something about there's a million ways this can go wrong. You can tell we are only privy to part of that conversation.

Nick then goes up to the suite and tells all the women the week was hard, he's been really thinking about whether or not this... dramatic pause and cut to commercial. Of course, he's going to stay. However, he's scratching the cocktail party and rose ceremony that is supposed to happen that night (because we have to keep the season at the same number of episodes). He tells them all they are leaving and headed for Bimini.

Now, I'm sure they were wondering where in the world Bimini is. I was wondering for a minute too. It's actually in the Bahamas, not far from Miami. This is when I remember reading a book that was partially set there (Charles Martin's Water from My Heart which I highly recommend).

Anyway, there's that. Now I'm still almost 15 minutes behind because I had to pause to finish my last bite, take stuff to the kitchen, type this up and go from there.

They arrive in Bimini to a resort the women say is so great but actually looks like a beach house dump compared to everywhere else they go. The first date card arrives.

"Vanessa - Let's go deeper... Nick."

Kristina reads it and you can hear the disappointment dripping. Corinne calls her a dirty name. She's mad because she has not had a one-on-one at all, so sure not a second one like Vanessa.

Vanessa's date is a sunburn on the top of a yacht. Instead of focusing on them, she talks about being scared herself because of how last week went. She didn't expect him to be so affected. Nick focuses on Danielle as that being his bad week. They were once strong, but he sent her on.

Vanessa is still going on about her fears. They look into each others eyes and talk through sun grins. They are kissy, kissy good before long. Then, they arrive at a shipwreck and go snorkeling.

Back at the house... Corinne asks Rachel what she thinks about Vanessa's date. Corinne thinks Vanessa is supposed to go to open up, but Vanessa doesn't have anything to open up about. She thinks Vanessa has no depth. (Pot... kettle...)

Later in the evening, the next date card arrives. Raven reads it...

"Corinne, Kristina, Raven... let's jump in with both feet first."

Corn is mad again. I have to go back to that again. I can't type her name right twice in a row. She wants a hometown where Nick can meet her nanny, Raquel, who is her best friend. 

At "dinner," Vanessa's toast is to firsts. Her first time on a yacht. First time jumping off a yacht. First time snorkeling. She expects there to be more firsts. Something about the relationship being easy... she's confident. She's falling in love with him... Cue kiss.

He's been in love before. He's fallen in love in this environment before. He's looking for a different love, one greater than he has had before. He likes her, but he's only going to say, "I love you," to one woman this time. He's not going to say it in return is what he's getting at.

This confusing to Vanessa because she thought her relationship was different than all the others. She doesn't want to end up heart-broken at the end of this like Nick was.

Side note: I'm getting further and further behind because I have now had to stop to answer work emails because I am going to be out of the office part of the day tomorrow with jury SELECTION part 2. They're making everyone come back for a second day. We haven't even started voir dire yet. I was at the courthouse 6 hours today. I worked 5 in bits and pieces, and I've been trying to write this blog. If I ever get it finished, I'm going to bed!

Group date time: The last group date. Kristina doesn't know how this is going to go. She has to share her boyfriend with two other girls. The only date rose given out this week is this group date's rose. Raven wants it to know she's going on hometowns. Corn is going to work extra hard. She is, after all, in her own words, the Queen of Group Dates. 

Corn is unimpressed with the yacht. She's in her element, but has been on bigger boats. She is the first to take off her cover up and show off.

Nick breaks out the sunscreen. He really helps Kristina rub it in, especially her inner thigh. Corn isn't digging that.

They see a small island, and Corn really hopes no one is going to get left there. Nick does break the news that they are about to go swimming with sharks. Corn is especially scared. However, when it comes to swimming time, it's Kristina that freaks out and has to go back to the boat. Nick goes back to comfort her. Corn thinks it's all a ploy. Corn can't stand sharing the attention, but knows if she works too hard to get attention it will backfire. That's the smartest thing she's said the whole time. She feels like she's on Kristina's date and just hopes to get through the night.

At the evening portion of the date, Nick says he plans to spend some one-on-one time with each of them. Nick asks Kristina to kick things off. Corn make choke on her olive.

As much as he thinks his relationship is strong with Kristina, he wants to make sure they are ready for a hometown date. They rehash how sending Danielle home was a surprise. Nick doesn't want to force anything or let his emotions get the best of him. He ends up in tears.

Raven and Nick talk next. They talk about her parents and family. Raven lost interest in law school when "Daddy" was diagnosed with lung cancer. Her parents are role models as they are still together after 38 (?) years.

Meanwhile at the hotel, the last date card arrives.

"Danielle - Let's ride off into the sunset together."

She's the one I am surprised is still around. 

Then, it's Corn's time. She says she didn't want to be that girl that carries on about being the only one without a one-on-one. She seems a little bit human as she says she's nervous. Nick tells her it's fine that he brought it up. Her two-on-one ended up with important time together. She tries to seduce her way into the rose.

When it's time to hand out the date rose, Nick gives it to Raven, leaving the others crushed. He tells the other two he will see them at the rose ceremony and takes Raven off for some special time. A semi-private concert.

The next morning, Corn whines to Kristina about not feeling secure. But, "Corinne is going to be Corinne until she gets her fiance."

Onto the date with Danielle. The bike around the island. There's been a long time between their dates. Has their relationship progressed? 

They play some basketball with the local kids. She's falling for him and thinks all is great. They sit down, and he brings up hometowns. He asks where in Wisconsin they would be going. He doesn't seem like he wants to go to his home state. Instead of south to her family, she's thinking north to her cabin.

He's not feeling it. He thinks the conversation is strained and that they need to catapult the relationship before hometowns.

Back at the house, there is another knock at the door. The fourth and final date card. "Rachel - let's get a taste of the local flavor." 

She is so very excited. 

Back to the evening portion of Danielle's date... The boringness of chit chat over "dinner." He seems more into it, at least for a moment. Maybe they are just a couple of Wisconsin kids with some things in common. The last guy she took home to her family was her fiance who died. The date is awkwardly quiet. She finally is able to speak and says her heart is fully open to him. She can't tell where he is.

Nick thinks they have a friendship, but doesn't see a future with her. He decides he needs to let her go then and there. He walks her out so she can go get her things and head home. She is able to tell the other women goodbye before leaving. A distraught Danielle gets in the limo and heads off.

Corinne didn't seem Nick and Danielle together, but is sad to see someone so sweet go home. She decides now she needs to become aggressive. She finishes off another glass or two of wine (she is ALWAYS drinking), decides get clean herself up, puts on her makeup and slutty clothes, and goes off in her way to high heels to see Nick at his hotel room.

This is where I should swear off the show for good.

Nick asks why she is there. She claims she came to see if he was ok. He hesitantly offers her a drink. She is there for one reason and one reason only. He doesn't seem all that pleased with her taking charge.

She leads him into his bedroom. Nick asks what she has in mind like he hasn't done the same thing before. She has him give her a massage behind closed doors, or so it seems. Nick tells her to slow down as this is not a good idea. From past experiences he knows he needs to not do this.

Suddenly, Nick has a conscience. He cares about the other four women there too. He's learned from his mistakes.

Corn has never been in this position before, so doesn't know what to do. She's going to put all day.

It's time for Rachel to go on her date. She tells the others she was nervous before her first one-on-one, but is so excited this time. She knows there's pressure to be THE last date before hometowns. 

Hold that thought because Nick arrives to pick up Rachel. For once, someone appears dressed for a date. 

Nick takes her to a local, non-tourist bar. They talk about what hometowns mean to her. They talk about her dad. She's a Daddy's girl, but she's never brought home a white guy. She says that's not a big deal though.

Rachel feels like this day has just been a date with her boyfriend. This does seem like the best date of this part trip. She comes home early. Instead of their date continuing that night, they are having a rose ceremony.

Corn is freaking out after hearing how chill Rachel's date was.

Before the rose ceremony, there has to be a conversation with Chris Harrison. He asks Nick what he's thinking. Nick knows what he needs to do. Three of the four: Corn, Kristina, Rachel or Vanessa is getting a rose. The other isn't, and Nick isn't going to make her go through a rose ceremony. He wants a conversation as private as possible. 

Nick comes in. Corn is like, "no, no, no." However, he asks to see Kristina. He finds her and asks her to go outside. 

Corn leaves the room, and Rachel follows. 

Nick and Kristina talk. He says other relationships are stronger. She says he hasn't given her a fair chance. He says he's not ready to let her go, but feels like he has to.

The women gather around her as she cries. She pictured her life with Nick.

Corn still thinks she may be going home. What if he only goes on three?

In the tease for next week, Chris Harrison tells us we won't believe what Nick decides to do. Nick is still trying to decide what to do that night. Someone will be coming back too. 

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Oh How I Love Jesus

Oh How I Love Jesus

(girls) Oh, boys, do you love Jesus?
(boys) Oh, yes, we love Jesus?
(girls) Are you sure you love Jesus?
(boys) Yes, we’re sure we love Jesus.
(girls) Tell us why we love Jesus.
(boys) This is why we love Jesus.
(everyone together) Because he first loved me.

Oh, how I love Jesus
Oh, how I love Jesus
Oh, how I love Jesus
Because he first loved me.

Can also alternate between teacher and kids and insert each child's name in.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Upcycling drawers

Dad has been looking for more drawers to make tables like he did for me. He finally found one that he's working on building legs for. In a week or so, I'll probably have a picture of it for you.

In the meantime, he found some smaller drawers to make wall shelves out of. I really like these.

What do you think?

Friday, February 10, 2017

Two by Two

For someone who claims to have no life, I sure do find plenty to keep myself occupied. The past couple of weeks we've been signing up for new events to do this spring. I haven't started working every night out in the studio again, but that will happen soon. My shift lately has gone from crocheting messy bun hats to working on getting my taxes together. I'm still trying to catch up on some inventory work that I got really behind on. There's always something.

I've been trying to find some time to read a book I got for Christmas, but haven't fit that in yet. I did get one finished right after Christmas. That was the first book for fun in quite a while. Although I finished it over a month ago, I'm just getting a chance to blog about it. Even as I type I think of the things I should be doing instead.

So, here it goes:

Two by Two by Nicholas Sparks

The official synopsis:

At 32, Russell Green has it all: a stunning wife, a lovable six year-old daughter, a successful career as an advertising executive and an expansive home in Charlotte. He is living the dream, and his marriage to the bewitching Vivian is the center of that.  But underneath the shiny surface of this perfect existence, fault lines are beginning to appear...and no one is more surprised than Russ when he finds every aspect of the life he took for granted turned upside down. In a matter of months, Russ finds himself without a job or wife, caring for his young daughter while struggling to adapt to a new and baffling reality. Throwing himself into the wilderness of single parenting, Russ embarks on a journey at once terrifying and rewarding—one that will test his abilities and his emotional resources beyond anything he ever imagined.

My take:

If I get around to it tonight, or sometime this week, I'll submit this review to too if only because I know Lori who runs the site absolutely hates Nicholas Sparks books. She probably wonders why with my limited time to read for fun this is what I read. 

I get it. They tend to run together. Same formula. It's kind of a guilty pleasure, I guess. I've learned to stay away from the movies though because the last couple of movies from his books that I have seen have been horrible. 

This one was a little different than the typical formula though. For one thing, it's not one of the typical story revolving around meeting and falling in love, have an extremely tragic incident and go forward with a life of love books. That's good. In that way it's not predictable. I don't have a problem with Sparks switching thing up. He was really trying to examine more of a father/daughter relationship than a romantic relationship. Of course, there's some of that in there, but it's not the focus. In fact, there may be more brother/sister relationship exploration than romance. 

Another difference is that it's significantly longer. My mom read it last week and that's the first thing she said. "It was a long book." (She liked it more than I did, by the way.) I don't mind a long book if things are kept interesting, but I don't think it was needed. There was a lot of repeated overkill and useless details. I felt like it dragged. I didn't need a minute by minute synopsis of one day that was just like the one before. There were times where I was like, "ENOUGH already!" 

There was another reason behind that though. I thought the wife was WAY TOO MUCH like someone I know. On that, my mom and I also agreed. I wanted to slap the character for being such a self-absorbed, mean, stuck-up human being. She treated her husband terribly and put her daughter in the middle, using her as a pawn. It made me angry. I cannot stand the unfairness of children who get stuck in middle of parents acting stupidly. Anyone who knows me understand my peeve. Fiction or not. It hit a really sore spot.

Some readers may have issue with Russ' sister and her partner. I'll just leave it at that. I didn't find it a huge distraction. 

The book did pull some emotional heart strings, for sure. I didn't completely hate it. Mom thought it was really good. I wouldn't have ranked it as highly. The more I type, the more I realize I probably haven't said anything worth sharing on another site. Maybe if I wrote a review right after I read it when I was more passionate. Maybe if I weren't tired, thinking of what else I planned to do before going to bed -- and the fact I need to soon because I have to get up early tomorrow. 

So would I recommend it? If you are a regular Sparks reader, sure. If you aren't, probably not. Even though you can tell he's trying to mix it up, you're not going to love it.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Blog tours you don't want to miss!

My fellow bloggers, this post is for you! Litfuse has more new blog tours open. Check out these books, and sign up NOW to review during the dates listed. Please let your blogging friends know too!

There's still a few openings left on the tours I shared last week. Check those out here!

3/30 – 4/13: 
Getting Jesus Wrong by Matt Johnson
(New Growth Press)

Sign-up here!

Jesus is not a life coach, a movement leader, a cultural visionary, or a blessing dispenser-but you might not know that by listening to many Christians talk about their faith. Feel-good slogans promote a caricatured Jesus made in our own image who cannot save us and leave us feeling guilty for not saving ourselves. Following the wrong Jesus disappoints us and produces anxiety, pride, and despair.

The first half of Getting Jesus Wrong recounts pastor and author Matt Johnson's personal encounters with a string of false saviors-false saviors that many, especially young adults, will recognize. Johnson's humor and transparency in recounting his own painful experiences will appeal to those who have tried a "brand" of Christianity and found it lacking.

The truth is, we all want something from Jesus. Some are just hoping for a little help to get through life-a new direction, a purpose that will get us up in the morning, an exercise plan, a way to get organized. But that approach to Jesus doesn't result in real faith or love.

Whether we've followed a false Jesus or attempted to co-opt the real Jesus, Getting Jesus Wrong ultimately offers us hope because it helps us see Jesus as he is. Getting Jesus Wrong shows that the message of the Bible is about Jesus coming to us as we are---which is good news for exhausted and disillusioned disciples. It shows us that getting Jesus right means a whole new way of thinking (the way up is down) and a whole new way of life (daily dependence on the one who knows the beginning from the end).

Getting Jesus right gives us more than spiritual vitamins or a blueprint for living. 

4/6 – 4/27: 
NKJV Woman's Study Bible
(Thomas Nelson)

Sign-up here!

The Woman's Study Bible poignantly reveals the Word of God to women, inviting them to receive God's truth for balance, hope, and transformation. Special features designed to speak to a woman's heart appear throughout the Bible text, revealing Scripture-based insights about how godly womanhood grows from a woman's identity as a Christ-follower and a child of the Kingdom.

Now with a beautiful full-color redesign, The Woman's Study Bible reflects the contributions of more than 80 women from a wide variety of ethnic, denominational, educational, and occupational backgrounds. Since the publication of the first edition of The Woman's Study Bible under the editorial guidance of Dorothy Kelley Patterson and Rhonda Harrington Kelley, this landmark study Bible has sold more than 1.5 million copies.

Features Include:
  • Beautiful full-color design throughout
  • Detailed biographical portraits of more than 100 biblical women
  • Thousands of extensive verse-by-verse study notes
  • More than 300 in-text topical articles on relevant issues
  • Insightful essays by women who are recognized experts in the fields of theology, biblical studies, archaeology, and philosophy
  • Book introductions and outlines
  • Hundreds of full-color in-text maps, charts, timelines, and family trees
  • Quotes from godly women throughout history
  • Set of full-page maps of the biblical world
  • Topical index
  • Concordance
Experience the renewal, hope, and transformation that only God's Word can bring! 

4/10  4/28: 
Chasing Famous by Lisa Lloyd 
(New Hope Publishers)

Sign-up here!

What were you born to do? What were you created to be? What's the yearning deep within your very soul? What if you could live life intentionally, out of that very purpose?

This kind of living requires us to see ourselves as instruments designed to be used for the glory of God. But most of us don't see ourselves this way. Instead, we resign ourselves to be spectators in the audience, waiting for our names to be called---to be cast in that next big role. Of course, we all want to be selected. However, sometimes in our desire to be chosen, we turn our focus to others---hoping they will pick us. We end up auditioning for life, always striving to make the cut and gain approval. But, what about the role God's already prepared for you to play?

Maybe you look at mistakes you've made and the situation you now find yourself in and feel like you've come up short. Maybe you've believed the lie that there's no way God could use you or would even want to use you. But, what if you believed the truth? What if you embraced the fact that you have already been chosen by God? And, He doesn't shame us for our past, but rather, He wants to use our mistakes, our talents, and our everyday, messy lives for His great glory. God wants to use you and me, no matter how inadequate we may feel, for the fame of His name. Will you surrender your life for His glory and your good?

Written by a professional actress who spent years chasing after her own fame, Chasing Famous, empowers us to be brave and step into the role God has for us---no longer seeking after our own fame, but joyfully making God's name famous---knowing we have been selected to stand center stage and proclaim His renown to all who will listen.

Let Lisa teach you how to point the focus back to God

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Shannon Popkin’s ‘Control Girl’ Blog Tour and Prize Pack Giveaway

Are you trying to stay in control of your quest for peace, joy, and security . . . and you're exhausted? Shannon Popkin's debut book, Control Girl, is a must-read for anyone with a heart that craves control. Join Shannon as she shares what she has discovered about her own control struggles and about God from studying seven Control Girls in the Bible. Whether it was Eve’s desire to know instead of trust, Sarah’s inability to wait for God to move, or Rebekah’s controlling hand on her family’s future, each of these women’s stories contain warnings and lessons for us today.

Learn how to give up control to God and become a Jesus girl! Enter to win a prize pack that will help you give up your Control Girl tendencies.


One grand prize winner will receive:

Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on February 21. The winner will be announced February 22 on Shannon's blog.


Control Girl: Lessons on Surrendering Your Burden of Control from Seven Women in the Bible (January 2017, Kregel)
Tension, anger, fear, anxiety—it all begins with a heart that craves control.
Little fights with your husband and kids. Unhappiness when things don’t match your version of perfect. When your perspective of how life should go replaces God’s, you doom your quest for security, peace, and joy before it even starts.
Thankfully, there is a better way.
Join Shannon as she shares what she has discovered about her own control struggles and
about God from studying seven Control Girls in the Bible. Whether it was Eve’s desire to know instead of trust, Sarah’s inability to wait for God to move, or Rebekah’s controlling hand on her family’s future, each of these women’s stories contain warnings and lessons for us today.

Learn how you too can lay down this burden of trying to control everything and find rest in surrendering to the One who truly is in control.


Shannon Popkin is a wife and mom, a speaker and teacher, and a leader of small group studies. She’s been published by Family Fun, MOMsense, Focus on the Family Magazine, and other outlets. She is a contributing blogger for True and has blogged for several years at Control Girl is her first book.

Find out more about Shannon at

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Making Marriage Beautiful

A wedding joins together two imperfect people, and because of that, all couples experience disappointment, conflict, and pain. Be encouraged in your marriage by Dorothy Greco’s new book, Making Marriage Beautiful. The book reveals how the pursuit of Christ results in profound transformation for both the individual and the marriage. Rather than offering clichés and formulas, Greco relies on candor, humor, and real life stories to bring encouragement and wisdom to all couples, regardless of whether they have been married four weeks or forty years.


(David C Cook, January 2017)
What makes a marriage beautiful? Honesty? Compatibility? Physical and emotional intimacy?
All of these are important, but there’s one component that determines the quality and longevity of a marriage more than anything else: a willingness to grow.
Because a wedding joins together two imperfect people, all couples experience disappointment, conflict, and pain. How husbands and wives respond to these challenges determines the kind of people they will become and the kind of marriage they will have.
Making Marriage Beautiful reveals how the pursuit of Christ results in profound transformation for both the individual and the marriage. Rather than offering clichés and formulas, Greco relies on candor, humor, and real life stories to bring encouragement and wisdom to all couples, regardless of whether they have been married four weeks or forty years.
Dorothy Greco


Dorothy Greco and her husband, Christopher, have spent their entire twenty-five-year marriage helping men and women create and sustain healthy marriages. They have served numerous churches in the Greater Boston area for thirty years. Dorothy’s writing has been featured in “Relevant Magazine,” “Christianity Today,” “Sojourners,” and “Her.meneutics.” She is a regular contributor for “Gifted for Leadership,” “Today’s Christian Woman,” and “Start Marriage Right.” The Grecos have three sons and live near Boston.
Find out more about Dorothy at

Monday, February 6, 2017

Will it be the shortest season of #thebachelor ever?

Peyton had her last basketball game of the season tonight, so by the time I got home, ate and am getting started blogging, it is 9:20 PM. It's time like this I don't know why I bother (more so than others).

I did watch the last 20 or 30 minutes while I was eating. I am disappointed by who he kept around from the first of the show because I saw next week's previews.

The show starts off with the women wondering what happened with the Corinne and Taylor date. Recall, I'll call her Corn so I don't misspell her name later.

The women are surprised that Taylor's suitcase is the one that is picked up by the "bellman" at the hotel.

Back on the date, Taylor goes to interrupt Corn and Nick's date to tell Nick what for. Taylor calls Corn out for lying, then asks Nick to talk. He's hesitant, but goes.

Taylor tells Nick he has been flat out lied to today. Taylor thinks she's gone because he was told she was a mean girl and bullied Corn. Taylor claims she's not the first to warn him of this, so it's not just her. Nick thanks her for coming back to have a discussion and that he's still trying to find some things out.

He tells Corn that he told Taylor his decision was based on where his heart was going, not on what was/wasn't said about her.

Corn calls Taylor ugly names and is her terribly annoying self on her camera interviews and while she is sitting in the room by herself waiting for Nick.

We jump forward to the next night and the rose ceremony. It's down to 12 now. 

Corn, Danielle and Rachel already have roses, so the other women are worried about the time they have or haven't had with Nick.

Chris Harrison comes in to tell them that there will not be a cocktail party. Nick knows what he wants to do, so he is going straight to the rose ceremony.

Nick gives a speech saying he went in with the mindset he would send people home when he knew what he knew it wasn't going anywhere instead of dragging it out, so that's why he's going straight to the roses. With that...

  1. Kristina
  2. Raven
  3. Vanessa
  4. Danielle
  5. Jasmine
  6. Whitney
Three women are leaving now. Alexis (the dolphin/shark girl), Jaimi (and her nose ring that reminds me of one a bull would have - and her purple lipstick) and Josephine (I'm surprised she lasted this long). 

And then there was nine.

Now, they are taking off for St. Thomas!

When they arrive, Nick tells them the first date starts then. This one-on-one is with Kristina. They take off on a small plane. 

Whitney just knew it was going to be her date. Jasmine is in tears because it wasn't her.

Kristina tells Nick about her family. Her parents had four children and adopted four, including herself. She has a sister back in Russia that she only talks to occasionally. She claims her Russian is not so great anymore.

Vanessa gives the ladies a history lesson on St. Thomas up in the hotel room. No one is really impressed. Corn decides all she is going to do is sleep and drink today.

There's a knock at the door. Lorna is there to take care of all of their needs. Corn thinks the woman is her personally nanny like her real one, Raquel. She definitely takes advantage.

Back on their date, Nick asks more about Kristina's family. She doesn't usually tell much about her history because it's personal. However, she decides she has to be open with Nick to advance their relationship. She was born into a really poor family, and her mother had told her not to eat one day though they didn't have much to eat anyway. She ate lipstick (I think that's what she said) which broke her mother's rule of not eating that day. She was like 5 at the time, and it was then she went into an orphanage. She was adopted at 12. She left her sister and all the children who became like family behind. I think I have all that straight. She talked fast and can be hard to understand when she talks like that.

Nick is touched by her story, and gives her the rose for the date.

Back in at the suite, the next date card arrives. "Love's a beach... Rachel, Raven, Vanessa, Corinne, Danielle M., Jasmine"

They assume this means Whitney and Danielle L. will be on a two-on-one. 

The date starts off on a yacht. Then, it's a bean bag toss on the beach.

Jasmine is on a rampage of sorts because she hasn't had any one-on-one time. It's her 6th group date.

Then, it's beach volleyball time. Corn is too drunk to play well. She wanders off to drink more, but said she was leaving to go to sleep.

Vanessa has had a little much too and is coming on too hard.

Raven says if Jasmine was a vegetable, she would be a turnip because she is turned all the way up. Raven is worried for her because she's losing it. Jasmine decides she's done. Vanessa is tired of trying to get time too. She's having a meltdown. Danielle is in tears.

Nick decides this "fun day" might have backfired on him. Everyone wanders off to themselves and is crying. He hopes the night goes better. He asks Rachel to go off for some time to talk first.

Rachel tells him, "as I've told you before... group dates aren't for me." Nick says no one thinks group dates are for them. She starts to lose it. Going off like she is usually doesn't bode well.

Jasmine talks to the women saying she wants to punch Nick in the face and ask him what he's thinking. Wow.

Meanwhile, Danielle L. wonders what happened to send her on a two-on-one date since things had gone so well for them before. Whitney's sad and mellow too.

Raven has evidently taken over the mental health professional role. She's observing Jasmine self-destruct now. Jasmine is ranting and raving and carrying on when Nick comes back on the scene with Corn. He asks to talk to talk to Jasmine.

Jasmine tells Nick she is confused and thinks she's been overlooked. She's talking 90-to-nothing. Nick's like, "are you ok or are you not?" She claims she's not getting attention. When she says she wants to choke him, that doesn't go over well. Imagine that! He's not feeling the future she describes seeing. He decides there on the beach to send her home. He offers to walk her out.

Nick is starting to get discouraged and wonders if this is going to work out. Is he trying too hard to make it work? It's not shown, but Raven gets the rose we find out through a narrative from the women the next morning.

The next day is a new day. Nick hopes it goes better. it's the two-on-one with Danielle L. and Whitney. 

Unlike most two-on-one dates, these women aren't enemies, so it seems odd to at least Whitney. The date starts with a helicopter ride. 

We see Whitney's discussion first. It's kind of boring.

Nick talks with Danielle about how much potential he saw at first with her. Their first date went great.

Nick tells the cameras it didn't take long to see how different his relationships with these two are. He leaves Danielle for a minute to go send Whitney home. He tells Whitney it's hard, but doesn't really think they're at the point of really having a relationship. She's left on the beach as Nick and Danielle leave via helicopter.

The women at the suite are in shock when Whitney's bags are picked up at the hotel. Later Vanessa is all kinds of emotional as she tries  to figure out what all is going on. Vanessa wants to know where it's going with her.

Finishing off the evening, Danielle and Nick have dinner. They reminisce about their previous date. She's chatty. She thinks they are on a great track. He's just ready for a pause in the conversation to tell her she's not on the same page that he is. She says, "I feel like I'm falling in love with you." He says, "I'm not feeling it."

Early on, Nick thought she was in the running to be the one, but now that it's over. He doesn't he's feel like it's going anywhere and walks her out too. She cries in the limo as it drives away.

Nick doesn't know what to do. The women are sitting around the suite and surprised again when Danielle's suitcase are taken away.

Let me just say right now that I am so sleepy, I keep almost dozing off , so I may not be coherent on this blog here. I have no idea what I'm saying. I read back random words.

Nick comes to speak to the women. He questions if this is going to work out for him. With great emotion he says he doesn't know if he can do this anymore, then leaves. 

Will he call the whole thing off?