Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Ordinary people who found extraordinary love


Rhonda Stoppe shares inspiring stories

of true love orchestrated by God


Do you believe in true love? In a world of broken relationships and hurting people, it can seem as though heartache is all around us, marriages are doomed from the beginning and relationships aren’t worth the risk. However, in Real-Life Romance: Inspiring Stories to Help You Believe in True Love (Harvest House/February 1, 2018/ISBN: 978-0-7369-7141-6/$14.99), Rhonda Stoppe sets out to show that heart-fluttering, long-lasting love is all around us, if we just take the time to look for it.

Stoppe warns Christians not to let the world define romance but to examine how God is at work in the hearts of His people — knitting together hearts in a love that forever endures. Each chapter tells a real-life account of how God brought together two hearts and intertwined them so completely that their love stands firm regardless of the trials of life. Readers will see how from the highest heights to the depths of sorrow true love shines brightly. They will also discover how God’s plan is for couples to love each other so deeply with His love that their marriage is a light to draw others to know Him.

“Why do love stories draw us in? I think it is because we each long for our own happily-ever-after, and if you’re a mom we pray for our children to find lifelong love as well,” Stoppe writes. “Love stories give us hope and inspire us to believe that true love, forever love, not only exists, but it is alive and well in couples, average couples, whose depth of love for each other makes them anything but average.”

Real-Life Romance is not a marriage self-help book; rather it is a celebration of love stories that honor Christ and are a testament of God’s faithfulness, showing that true love exists and endures. Gathered from years of ministry and from the author’s friends and family, these real-life accounts will bring laughter and tears to readers as they read of ordinary people who found extraordinary love. Stoppe believes audiences will find inspiration to:
  • rekindle the romance in their love story,
  • trust in God’s providence and timing,
  • faithfully hope for their own happily-ever-after,
  • celebrate true romance,
  • and believe in lifelong love.

Stoppe wrote Real-Life Romance with the desire to meet readers, whether the readers are married, divorced, widowed or single, where they are and fill them with hope and inspiration, not only for their own happily-ever-after, but for generations to come. “At first I thought I was writing this book for married people, to inspire them to rekindle the passion in their own relationship as they recall God’s providence in their own love story,” Stoppe explains. “As I wrote, however, it became apparent this book is also for single people (from teens to adults) who not only love a good love story but are also waiting for God to guide them to their own happily-ever-after. If it’s His will for you to marry, He is able to bring two hearts together to fall in love with each other and spend the rest of their lives glorifying Christ together.”

Each chapter ends with a “Ponder This” section to reflect on how God was at work in the story shared, as well as an “Ask Yourself” segment for personal application. Additional special features, including photos of the couples and video clips, will be available on Stoppe’s website, www.NoRegretsWoman.com.

Advance Praise

“Ever wonder if a Christ-centered romance is possible? This book is filled with real-life stories that will rekindle your hope and remind you how good God is at writing the best love stories!”
~ Renee Swope, best-selling author of A Confident Heart

“Everyone loves love. And even more so, we love a great love story! In Real-Life Romance, we hear and see how God weaves hearts and lives together to create something amazing! If you are wondering what's next in life or in love, turn the pages of this book, and let the love God has for you infuse love into your relationship.”
~ Pam Farrel, author of Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti and Red Hot Monogamy 

“How do men and women fall in love? Their stories are as unique as the couples themselves, yet as we see in Real-Life Romance true love not only brings couples together, but also can guide them to true satisfaction in God. If you've been heartbroken by marriages that don't last, be encouraged by this book. True love is possible, even for fallible humans. It's inspiring to read about how God still works in real lives, real marriages!”
~ Tricia Goyer, author of Walk It Out: The Radical Result of Living God's Word One Step at a Time



About the author

Rhonda Stoppe is the No Regrets Woman. With more than 30 years of experience as a marriage mentor, pastor’s wife, author and speaker, Stoppe leads women of all ages to live lives of no regrets.

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

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

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


Visit Rhonda Stoppe’s website www.NoRegretsWoman.com for more resources on love, marriage and parenting. She is also active on Facebook (RhondaStoppeNoRegretsWomanand on Twitter (@RhondaStoppe).






Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Remembering "Christy" with Suzanne Woods Fisher


Learn more about "Christy" by Catherine Marshall and the 50th anniversary at http://www.christybook.com. You can also find out more at http://www.gileadpublishing.com/. Suzanne Woods Fisher (http://suzannewoodsfisher.com/) remembers "Christy" and the impact it and other writings of Catherine Marshall had on her and on the publishing industry.


Litfuse Publicity Group is excited to be partnering with  Gilead Publishing to create and distribute videos featuring some of your favorite authors sharing their memories of reading Catherine Marshall's Christy! The five videos will be released week by week every Monday. One reader who shares the videos on his or her social media platforms or blog will receive a $100 Amazon gift card! To enter, fill out  this form. You can fill it out for as many times as you share the videos. The winner will be announced March 2 and contacted via email.

This week's video features author Suzanne Woods Fisher!  Click here to watch and share the video.
Here are some example social media shares:

What made #Christy so impactful on @SuzanneWFisher? Watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NhoQGL8JsRc @GileadPub @Litfuse

Catherine Marshall, author of #Christy, was "a woman of great influence," says @SuzanneWFisher. Learn more about the best-selling book: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NhoQGL8JsRc @GileadPub @Litfuse

Monday, January 29, 2018

Enough of Krystal the resident drama queen of #thebachelor

For reasons I can't get into, I have had an emotionally and mentally draining day. I was downstairs and ready to blog on The Bachelor when it first came on except for the fact my laptop didn't even want to open an internet browser when it came back on. I've wasted 20 minutes trying to get going. I even tried my junk computer that couldn't get an internet connection. I'm having a similar problem here. 

I will admit saying, forget this stupid Bachelor blog because I just couldn't deal, but now, hopefully, I am on the right track. 

I hope Krystal gets sent packing tonight, and if the teases are a true indicator, it could happen. But when are the teasers ever an accurate indication?

From Lake Tahoe, they move on to Ft. Lauderdale tonight. Arie thinks Ft. Lauderdale can be a beautiful place to fall in love. I know. Big shocker. There have been season were Albuquerque was, so why not Ft. Lauderdale? After all, there are beaches and yachts everywhere as Arie points out. We know where there are yachts, there is love, right?

The women ooh and aww about their room. They all hope to spend time with Arie. Arie arrives to their hotel room to give them a run down of the week. The dates start today.

Instead of handing off a card, he just asks Chelsea if she wants to go on a date.

It’s been four or five weeks since she has seen her son Sammy, but she doesn’t want to talk about that. She wants Arie to get to know her, not just the mother. How has he really known her as a mother anyway?

They go out and board the yacht for the day.

Back in the hotel room, Lauren B. is surprised she isn’t the one getting the one-on-one, especially after last week. Maquel comes back following her grandfather’s funeral. She is so happy to be back. The women fill her in that Arie is out with Chelsea.

Of course, the women can see Arie and Chelsea on the yacht from their hotel balcony using a telescope (yes, a telescope). Then they watch the two of them make out on the jet skis.

For the dinner portion of the date, Arie and Chelsea go to a car museum. He has to see if there is really a connection there or cut her loose so she can go back to her child. Arie asks Chelsea about her ex, Sammy’s father, since he’s still such a part of her life. The ex was older than her (she was 20 at the time) and more successful. He had a lot to offer her when she did not have much growing up. The relationship lasted about 7 years, and he left when her son was 6 months old. Baby Daddy and the woman he left her for are now married with their own son.

At the hotel, a date card arrives. It reads, “Maquel, Krystal, Bekah M., Becca K., Jenna, Sienne, Kendall, Ashley, Marikh, Jacqueline, Lauren B., There’s not a moment to spare. - Arie.”

That will put Tia on the one-on-one date.

At the car museum, the conversation continues. He doesn’t want to waste her time, but today was amazing, so Arie gives Chelsea the rose. They go into another part of the museum for their private concert with Tenille someone. I’m out of the current music loop by a lot. Chelsea feels in tune with the lyrics being sung, and I just can’t deal with the sap right now to be honest with you.

So, the “spare” in the date card clue refers to bowling. I don’t know why Arie is shown licking a bowling ball, but that’s gross. Bowling is evidently what they do when they want to have fun in Arizona.

The fight is on for Arie’s attention. Instead of fighting for Arie’s time, Krystal thinks that Arie needs to come to her. Yeah, that’s going to work.

The women are split into two teams. The winners get extra time with Arie while the losers do not. One team has an obnoxious cheer I cannot even explain. Krystal prays over the team which made for an odd moment. Unfortunately, Krystal’s team does much, much better and wins. Arie is a little bummed that the losing team doesn’t get as much time. They shut themselves up in a locker room to get away from Krystal, but Arie changes his mind and decides everyone can come to the cocktail party anyway. This makes Krystal more than a little miffed.

The women head back to the hotel to change. The women discuss how Krystal lost it on the bus, calling Arie a liar and saying all sorts of things. Krystal says he should have talked to them instead of just deciding and telling them. All the women get ready, but Krystal is strolling around the room in her robe. She tells the women she is not going with everyone. When she is asked what they are supposed to say, Krystal says it’s because he was disrespectful and didn’t include her in his decision.

The rest of the women head out, and leave Krystal on the couch. As much as I dislike Bekah, she does a pretty spot on impersonation of Krystal. The women talk more about how ugly she was being when Arie walks into the club. He says, “We’re all here…” when the women point out someone is missing. They fill him in on the temper tantrum on the bus and her behavior to follow.

Arie doesn’t want to be unfair to the women there, but says he needs to check on the situation. He goes out to see Krystal. The women aren’t pleased, but hope the result is that she packs it up and goes home.

Arie enters and Chelsea and Tia tell him where to find Krystal. She is quite pleased when he arrives, thinking she has won. He gives her a hug, then they sat on the bed to talk. She tells him why she felt disrespected. When Arie tells her that she could have said the same thing downstairs with everyone. Instead of giving more of himself to her like she wants, it makes him pull away. He tells Krystal to stay there because he is going to go talk to the others. He’ll see her in a few days.

Kendall talks about all of her relationships moving fast, but this environment means she gets to take it slow. The opposite of what anyone would normally say about this process. She’s an odd one.

How Bekah and Arie rub each other’s faces and hair, it is a bit much. Arie is still a little worried about the age thing.

Arie talks Becca to his room for some private time. Becca is worried that she still smells like a bowling ball since she didn’t have time to shower with all the drama.

Upstairs, Krystal decides to get dressed and go find Arie. When she comes down (but she has to go up too), Bekah is in middle of making fun of her. No one is happy about her arrival and the room falls silent. Krystal wants to make yet another speech. After some women try to call her on her crap, and Lauren walks off, Bekah asks Krystal if she’s a liar since she changed her mind about coming downstairs.

Krystal leaves again.

Lauren wants to play twenty-one questions with Arie. They ask each other some getting to know you questions. Lauren decides the chemistry is still there.

When it comes rose time, Arie says something to Kendall, to Maquel, then ultimately gives the rose to Lauren.

Let me insert here that I am annoyed that commercials for next week show Krytal, so I am annoyed.

The next day, Arie and Tia set out for a swamp date out on the Everglades in a air boat. The find themselves getting an up-close view of an alligator. She also freaks out seeing a turtle.

They arrive at a cabin on stilts. It took the guy 10 years to build it. He also likes to go froggin’. Tia says they do that in Arkansas too. They eat frog legs and deep fried corn.

Tia has to explain frog giggin’ to Arie. They talk about this and that before having their kissy kissy moment.

Later in the evening, their dinner is surrounded by boats. He’s impressed she earned her doctorate in physical therapy. They move on to talking about faith and if she can marry someone who doesn’t have the same beliefs she does. Tia goes on to tell Arie that she is falling in love with him. With that, he gives her the rose.

While he doesn’t profess his love for her, Arie tells the cameras that he feels more himself with Tia than anyone else. As they make out, Tia says she wants him to push her into something. Alrighty then. He puts her back against a post.

Moving on to the pre-rose ceremony cocktail party…

We learn that Krystal was hiding in her room all the past two days. Krystal says she was not hiding, she was investing in herself. While the women don’t think she should be there anymore, Krystal is going to do what she can do to get a rose.

After another Krystal speech, the women are speechless.

Kendall brought her question book with her. She has written all these questions herself. He picks the number 99. The question reads, “You are visiting a tribe that’s tradition was to eat someone who has passed away. Would you try human meat.”

His eyes about pop out of his head. He said, “No, it would have to be a life and death situation.” Kendall would though. It’s a curiosity thing. Arie tells her she is strange.

Meanwhile, Krystal cannot believe the girls have nothing better to do than talk about her. She gives another speech about what she did yesterday. She is willing to chat with them privately, but does not want to address the group and be attacked. Kendall decides to talk to her one-on-one. After going round in circles for a while, Tia joins in. After that, Bekah takes a turn with her. She asks Krystal why she is still there. More and more about being hurt. She’s like a parrot repeating herself. Bekah has enough and storms off.

Krytal is done (flashes her hands and says it’s glitter) with trying to work it out with the women.

Jacqueline and Arie explore their chemistry…

Krystal has her time with Arie. She explains getting jealous of seeing him with the others. Arie reminds her that she probably knows him better than the others because she went home with him. She claims her response was out of character due to the circumstances. Supposedly, her mom worked at a bowling alley. The men that came in promised her mom things that never happened.

I think she’s making this up. She comments on how this is their first fight. Arie tells Krystal this may be their last fight. She feels like Arie is cold to her for the first time.

It’s rose time. Chelsea, Lauren and Tia have their roses.
  1. Bekah M.
  2. Sienne
  3. Kendall
  4. Becca K.
  5. Jacqueline
  6. Jenna
  7. Krystal (last one again for who knows what reason)

Going home are Ashley, Marikh and Maquel.


Next week: On to Paris. And Krystal getting more obnoxious.  

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Wrapped Up, Tied Up, Tangled Up


Wrapped Up, Tied Up, Tangled Up

I’m all wrapped up,
I’m all tied up,
I’m all tangled up in Jesus.
I’m all wrapped up,
I’m all tied up,
I’m all tangled up in God.

I’m all wrapped up,
All tied up,
All tangled up in Jesus.
I’m all wrapped up,
tied up, tangled up in God.

Repeat, faster each time

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Weekend adventures part 1

Angie and I met up with Rakia in honor of her birthday which was last weekend. At least we got around to acknowledging someone's birthday. Angie and I were so busy in November we didn't get around to taking each other out for lunch. 

We headed up to Fort Worth where Rakia lives. Rakia and I have been talking about going to the Fort Worth Botanical Gardens for years. Even though the gardens are open year round, I don't suggest going just any time of the year. Most of the gardens are plain out brown right now. The Japenese Gardens boasted being beautiful year round, so we decided to give it a shot. As you can see, there is some green, but a good bit of brown and naked trees. 

You can also tell I was looking into the sun for our fourth attempt at a selfie.


Thankfully, bamboo is green year round.


I have been here in the spring, and I can tell you all those naked trees are beautiful red maples. We'll have to go back to see them.


I love taking pictures, so was looking for anything green.


There are tons of koi fish. Tons. Angie got some fish food at the gift shop and they swarmed, flocked, swam up in mass.

Rakia asked the docent about how the fish got their color. We got a full explanation about fish breeding for color. She also told of how they want to get rid of the dark fish because they didn't do anything for the aesthetic of the gardens as they swam around the pond and up to the paths to be fed. 

Poor black koi. It seems terrible to talk about them like that. It's racism towards fish. They are trying to find a place that will take them off their hands. 



The gardens weren't the only thing we did. I'll share more photos of our adventures sometime next week. 



Friday, January 26, 2018

Being Brave: A 40-Day Journey to the Life God Dreams for You

Author of Being Brave: A 40-Day Journey
to the Life God Dreams for You


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


When my youngest daughter was nine years old, she was having a particularly tough day. She had worn me out with her growing list of worries, complaints, aches, pains, and fears, and I told her I didn’t know what else I could do for her. I had depleted my reservoir of mommy tricks in my efforts to help her get to the other side of her increasing angst and finally said to her, “Brooke, I don’t know how to help you.” She looked up at me with tears in her eyes and said, “Mommy, I just need you to tell me that I’m a brave soldier.” Her response to me that day began our family’s journey with the power of naming one another brave.

When Brooke left for college a few years ago, she wrote me a letter inviting me to step out and be brave in this new season of my life. Through my curiosity around the word brave, I started writing, reading, and wondering about what being brave meant for women like me who wanted to live lives of meaning and purpose but were sometimes scared to step out of their comfort zones. In October 2015, I offered my first Being Brave retreat where we explored God’s vision for our life, the barriers to fully embracing that braver life, and the part our connection to one another played in hearing God’s voice more clearly. This book was originally created as a resource and follow-up for my retreat attendees to go more deeply into the concepts we covered at the retreat.


The most often repeated command in scripture is “do not fear.” God knew we would need encouragement to help us deal with our tendency to be sidetracked by our fears, so we find hundreds of scriptures about fear and courage in the Bible. Every exhortation to set aside our fear includes a reminder of God’s presence. Because of God’s presence, we can defeat the power of fear in our life and live in the fullness of who God made us to be. Because of God, we are brave. The theme verse for our journey is found in 2 Timothy 1:7:

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity,
 but a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline.

Remembering we are brave reminds us of our identity as children of God and sets us free to do the next right thing with confidence. Naming one another BRAVE, calling out the brave soldier in each other, is a powerful way of speaking out loud the following message of solidarity and inspiration: “I see your struggle. I see your brave, hard work. I believe in you, and I’m here if you need help.” When we are reminded of our inherent, God-given courage, we can turn down the volume on the voice of our inner critic and turn up the volume on God’s voice. Remembering we are brave helps us tap into the part of ourselves that is creative and resourceful.

Q: You describe part of being brave as being bold, confident, and resilient. What encouragement do you have for the woman who doesn’t feel like she is any of those things?

My experience both personally and in my interactions with friends and clients tells me many of us would have trouble describing ourselves with those words most of the time. While we might be willing to acknowledge confidence, boldness, or resilience in ourselves in some areas, many of us are much quicker to see those qualities in others. We tend to compare our insides with other people’s outsides and reach the conclusion that others possess something we just don’t have. I would encourage the woman who struggles to identify those qualities in herself to ask a trusted friend or family member for help in the discovery process. We are always more connected to our courage in the context of community. Find the people who encourage you to step out and exercise your confidence muscles and offer them the gift of encouragement in return.

I would also encourage her to determine what she thinks being bold, confident, and resilient looks like and act that way until she begins to feel that way. One of my favorite quotes about being brave is from Aristotle. He says, “We become brave by doing brave acts.” I believe scripture tells us that God created us to be brave, bold, confident, and resilient. Until we remember what that feels like, we need to encourage one another and practice doing brave things. Do one thing that scares you every day, no matter how small, and catch your friends being brave.

Q: Who was Being Brave written for?

The Being Brave journey is for women who feel stuck and want to get un-stuck. This book is for the woman who dreams of a life of deeper purpose and passion, even though she isn’t sure she has anything significant to contribute. This book is for the woman who feels lonely, even though she has 750 friends on Facebook, and for the woman who loves Jesus, even though she doesn’t always feel like she fits in at church. This book is for the woman longing for deeper connection to God and to other women like her. This book is for the woman who needs someone to tell her she is brave, her story matters, and the party won’t be complete without her.



The book is formatted as a forty-day devotional journey. Using our theme scripture from 2 Timothy and an acronym of the word BRAVE, we explore six facets of being brave. On this journey, being brave includes being Bold, Resilient, Authentic, Vulnerable, Engaged, and Empowered by the Spirit. Each day explores one of the six facets of bravery with two scripture verses, an illustration, three thought-provoking questions, and a prayer. Along the way, we take inspiration from Jesus and His brave followers during the final weeks of His ministry, in addition to examples of courage from my own community.

My prayer is that readers will find an accessible guide to thinking about being brave in a new way and be willing to consider the idea that our Creator is willing and able to accompany us on the journey. I hope Being Brave is a book that both seasoned devotional enthusiasts and those who have never used a daily devotional before will find meaningful. In less than thirty minutes, most readers will be able to explore the daily offering and consider ways to incorporate the various facets of bravery into their day.


Thursday, January 25, 2018

Swish


Just another Thursday night watching Peyton play basketball. Before Christmas, they were were doing well. Since Christmas, something has happened, and they've been blah. Only one game left this year. Her last game of junior high! I can't believe it.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The Importance of Video in Connecting Readers


I was having internet connections during our video time this week, so I had been joking Caitlin about frozen faces. That's why I'm being weird in the video.

I referred to the Kalen Reacts videos. Here's his YouTube channel. If you haven't watched any of his videos, check out the cornbread one and the one with potato salad cake.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Making stuff for my 2nd least favorite holiday


I've headed out to the craft studio because it's not as cold as it has been. I have to finish a project for mom pretty soon, or she won't have her hearts for her front door by Valentine's. I haven't had a chance to get to in the past few weeks.

No, I'm not making mass decorations for my second least favorite holiday. I don't have time for one thing. For another, I don't have a good outlet for them since we're still a few months from having a couple of events.

In case you were curious, Hallowween ranks as #1 on the list of least favorites. 

Monday, January 22, 2018

It's Krystal clear who needs to go home on #thebachelor

Tonight I am actually starting this blog on time and hope I can finish it in the two hours. I am also hoping by the end of the night Chelsea, Krystal and Bekah are gone. Ok, I hope most that Krystal is gone.

Some of the women are sitting around talking about how they think the age difference between Arie and Bekah - 14 years - is a big deal, and he needs to know. I really don't know that many of these other women are much older than 22. At least a few of them are young. Krystal has decided she is going to be the voice of reason.

Chris Harrison comes in to tell all the women it is time to pack up because the 15 of them are about to head out of the mansion on a world-wide journey. First stop: South Lake Tahoe, Nevada. (You've got to start somewhere on a worldwide journey.) No doubt, Lake Tahoe is a great place to fall in love (insert my own sarcasm). Brittany says Lake Tahoe has been on her bucket list.

Kendall enjoys the cabin where they are staying because there is all sorts of taxidermy.

Soon, Bekah goes to the door to pick up the date card. She reads, "Sienne, let's let our love soar."

She's a little nervous because after the last one-on-one date, Lauren S. went home. 

Arie soon shows up and everyone goes giddy. He takes Sienne off on a boat trip. After they leave, Krystal is convinced Sienne will be going home tonight.

While Arie and Sienne are parasailing, the women are watching from their deck with binoculars.

After they land, Sienne asks Arie about his family. He sees his parents almost daily. They talk about one of his younger twin brothers who just got married. Sienne shares her surprise over getting the one-on-one and how she is nervous about how the last woman on a one-on-one went home. Arie assures her they had a good talk on the first night and their first kiss made him want to take her out on a date. In fact, the date was probably coming late. It was a boring conversation. She is trying to engage with him, but he's not much of a conversationalist.

At the cabin, Maquel gets a call from home. Her grandpa died. She packs up everything, including her dried out dead roses, and leaves without talking to Arie. We don't know at this point in the show if she will be back. 

The next date card arrives. "Chelsea, Krystal, Becca, Marikh, Ashley, Jacqueline, Jenna, Tia, Kendall, Lauren, Brittany, Caroline - Will our love survive? Arie."

Krystal is all shades of jealous that Bekah will get the other one-on-one. After all, Arie wants a woman, not a girl. 

At dinner, Sienne tries to make conversation again while Arie is zoned out. She talks about not seeing many love stories growing up with people that looked like her. Her parents divorced when she was young. Arie was actually paying attention and does give her a rose. From there, they get a concert from Lanco (with an audience). I have no idea who that is.

So, group date time. Krystal thinks it will be interesting because there are some big personalities, but none of them are compatible with Arie. Just her. She's compatible and confident. 

They start off on a hike, then meet up with a former Army Ranger. He and his wife are going to put them through survival training. Their first test is peeing in a bottle. Off they go. Then, when they get back, they have to drink it. Oh, thankfully, they were just kidding. They just have to eat bugs instead.

Krystal is too good for all of this. Kendall isn't though. She "stole" a kiss, making Krystal all the more annoyed.

The women pick up backpacks, then realize, this means they are on teams by color. The three teams have to follow the map to get them to the end of the journey. Some teams seem to be doing better than other. The red team (Marikh, Chelsea, Brittany and someone...) don't know where to go. Arie's team arrives first. (It's rigged.) Under their winter clothes, they are all wearing swimsuits so they can get in the hot tub.

Krystal may go nuts. She can't handle the flirting going on. It all seems so juvenile to her. She's juvenile! Krystal thinks it is exhausting watching all the women go after him. She doesn't know what she's going to do, but whatever it is, "It's going to be perfect."

Arie invites Lauren to go off first. It isn't easy for her to open up, but wants him to know she is trying. She asks him what he is looking for. He wants an independent woman, but wants to be her cheerleader too. They share a kiss before anyone interrupts them.

Kendall has always wanted to eat a bunch of bugs. She likes to try new things and challenge herself. It was beautiful that they kissed after the bugs. That may not have been what she meant. It's what she said. He asks her about the taxidermy. It seems she brought a duckling with her, not to the date, but with her on the trip. Arie tells Kendall to bring it to the rose ceremony.

Krystal isn't getting enough attention, so she speaks up in the group and talks about how hard it is being on this group date. She thinks they are being obnoxiously overbearing. Pot, meet Kettle. Oh my word, she's so full of it. Everyone starts getting annoyed at every word coming out of her mouth.

Women start leaving the group. Tia and Caroline start talking about their hate. Everyone starts faking her voice in their own camera interviews, including Chelsea.

When Krystal has her alone time, she whines about how she feels like there is a target on her back since they had a one-on-one date so early. She feels ostracized. Arie asks for examples. Krystal calls out Tia and Caroline. Someone tries to interrupt them, but Arie sends her away. Krystal is floored by the immaturity going on and all the insecurities. So, she pulls Tia and Caroline off to talk to them to complain about their behavior in the hot tub. Krystal thought they were making fun of her. Tia tells Krystal that's how they feel with her all the time and that she needs to quit playing the victim. Tia calls Krystal out for rubbing it in how she has already had a one on one date and asks if she was whining to Arie. Tia gets up and goes to talk to Arie.

Tia tells Arie she doesn't want to focus on people who talk about everyone else. She wants to talk about them. Then, she cries about her insecurities. It works for her because she gets the rose.

Krystal thought she was clear with Arie about what was going on. She's going to trust him though.

While we don't see the date card read, we learn from Krystal that the last date card to Bekah says something about a stable relationship. She anticipates a horseback riding date.

Sure enough, Arie and Bekah meet up with Cowboy and General. In the voice over, we hear about how he thinks Bekah is mature and is looking forward to the day.

At the cabin, the women wonder if Bekah's age has come up and if Arie knows how old she is. All of them (even in different groups) think it will be a deal breaker. 

Arie and Bekah change into swimsuits once they find a hot tub. She rubs his collarbones to feel his metal plate. He gets talkative on the subject of racing. She likes him as a person, not just their chemistry.

It's dinner time. Arie wants to know if their goals line up and they are in the same place. He loves how easy she is to talk to. He loves how open and honest she is. Is she ready for marriage if the time and situation is right? "In life, are you ready for that step. There were times I thought I was..." Arie talks about how he has grown up and how things are different for him now than when he was in his 20s. She starts talking, then asks if he knows how old she is.

Bekah doesn't want to tell him, then says she's 22. He's shocked. He knew she was young, but not that young. She's casually dated guys in their 30s, but not a serious relationship. His demeanor changes instantly. He's not sure what to do. Is there too big a difference? Has she lived enough life yet?

Bekah says her sister got married at 19, her brother and his wife were 21. She tries to assure him, but she gets kind of rambly weird. Arie just tells her he's worried that he goes through all this, then realizes she isn't ready if it goes that far. He picks up the rose. He's so worried about if she's ready, but feels she has so many of the qualities that he is looking for. He gives her the rose. For this week. He may change his mind next time.

Bekah tells him, "Fine, send me home and find someone you KNOW will..." She tells him there are no guarantees.

It's time for the cocktail party and rose ceremony. Get ready for the catty scramble and for claws to come out. 

Krystal gives a speech and everyone has decided no one wants to hear this. The ladies expect Arie to walk in the room, but are surprised when Chris Harrison shows up. The women are told Arie has made up his mind, so there's no need for a cocktail party.

Sienne, Tia and Bekah have their roses. Who will stay and who will go?

The women line up. Arie walks in. He gives a little speech. Picks up a rose. Krystal interrupts him and takes Arie out for a talk. The women all find this disrespectful because Arie made it clear that he knows what he wants to do. Whatever she says is whispered and breathy, so whatever.

  1. Lauren
  2. Kendall
  3. Ashley
  4. Becca K
  5. Chelsea
  6. Jenna
  7. Jacqueline
  8. Marikh
  9. Krystal
UGH, ugh, ugh, ugh, ugh. That means Caroline is going home. Who is Tia going to team up with now? That also sends Brittany home. I liked her. I thought there was more going on with her than Marikh for sure.

Next week, will Tia be the first one to say she loves him? The women will go to Arie to tattle on Krystal. 

As the show comes to an end, we are shown a conversation between Chelsea and Marikh where Marikh accuses Chelsea of "Glam Shaming" because Marikh was fixing her hair on the group date. It's pretty nutty. These women are crazy. 

Sunday, January 21, 2018

A Common Love - Bind Us Together

This week we have a couple of repeat songs from this group, but they have their favorites. 😊


A Common Love

By Charles F. Brown
Used by permission. CCLI # 1132191

A common love for each other
A common gift to the Savior  
A common bond holding us to the Lord

A common strength when we’re weary
A common hope for tomorrow          
A common joy in the truth of God’s Word


Bind Us Together

By Bob Gillman
Used by permission. CCLI # 1132191

Bind us together Lord;
Bind us together with cords
That cannot be broken.
Bind us together Lord;
Bind us together Lord;
Bind us together with love.

There is only one God.
There is only one King.
There is only one body;
That is why we can sing.


(repeat first part) 


Saturday, January 20, 2018

I had to send Kevin back to the robo pound

My robo vac, Kevin, gave us a couple of days of funny blogs back a few weeks ago, but that's going to be the extent of it. .

Today Kevin went back to the robo pound. Even though he had been well charged, I had unwound the hair ball from the roller and did everything else listed in troubleshooting section of the owner's manual, Kevin would venture out 2 feet and stop. 

He never, ever went out at his scheduled time, even though the base was set up to do so. It's a good thing he didn't. He got into too much trouble unsupervised. I couldn't trust him to not get caught up in my bedroom on electrical cords. 

The whole point of getting a robo vac was because I am a lazy housekeeper. Having to supervise it at all times defeats the purpose. Only once did he ever find his way back to the base on his own. Getting stuck in the same place every time he circled the kitchen must have done him in. I really don't know why he had a malfunction and would only go out two feet.

Without a month of proper function, he sealed his own fate. He went back to Target for a refund.

Now I need to drag out the Dirt Devil and make a good run over the house. I don't think I'm going to give another brand a shot. I'm cheap and not going to invest in a Roomba. I don't know that I'm even all that cheap. I just don't want to invest that much money. Cheap beats lazy, I guess. 

Friday, January 19, 2018

Algorithms: How Important are They?

I swear, Caitlin only wants me on these videos for comic relief. I'm not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing.

 

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Were they “bad girls of the Bible” or just misunderstood?

Part 1 of an interview with Sandra Glahn,
Editor of Vindicating the Vixens
  
Bathsheba, Tamar, Rahab, Hagar, and the Samaritan woman at the well—were they really the “bad girls” of the Bible or simply women whose situations were greatly misunderstood? In Vindicating the Vixens: Revisiting Sexualized, Vilified, and Marginalized Women of the Bible (Kregel Academic), sixteen writers, alongside general editor Sandra Glahn, take a closer look at the stories of these and other prominent women to help readers gain a better understanding of these women’s God-given roles in the biblical narrative.

The church has a long history of viewing notable women of the Bible through a skewed interpretive lens. For example, Eve is best known for causing the fall, Sarah is blamed for tensions in the Middle East, Ruth acted scandalously on the threshing floor, and Mary Magdalene is infamous for a life of prostitution. But do these common representations accurately reflect what Scripture says about these women of the Bible?

Q: Vindicating the Vixens is a collaboration written by an international team of scholars. How did the concept and execution of the book come together?

Vindicating the Vixens has been on my heart and mind for more than a decade. When I served as editor-in-chief of Dallas Theological Seminary’s magazine for seventeen years, I became acquainted with the writing and research of men and women from a cross-section of multiple societies who brought perspectives to some biblical stories that seemed truer to the original than what is typically taught in the West. Then, as I studied history and ancient cultural backgrounds at the doctoral level, I ended up revisiting some of our western-influenced interpretations such as marriage practices in the ancient Near East. The woman Jesus met at the well in Samaria would not have dumped five husbands. More likely, she had been widowed many times.

As I revisited some Bible stories such as this one and as I read the works of others who had done similar work, I wanted to bring all this research together in one place and include a variety of ethnicities and backgrounds.

Q: Some women in the Bible most certainly fall into the category of “bad girls.” How do those women differ from the ones discussed in the book?

Right! Our goal is not to vindicate women who did evil—such as Jezebel who lied and had someone killed over property or Potiphar’s wife who tried to seduce Joseph and left him stuck in jail. We are looking at women wrongly vilified. Take Bathsheba, for example. There is nothing in the text that even suggests she consented to physical contact with David and certainly not that they “had an affair,” as some claim. The text says she was washing herself—and that word “washing” could mean she was washing her hands. What we know about power differentials also suggests that when we consider a king’s authority over the wife of one of his soldiers, we need to stop making Bathsheba responsible. That is not how the author of the story tells it. The text says David saw her washing and sent for her—sent men, plural, for her.

What happens when we blame her instead of placing the responsibility where the author does? We can end up with the idea (prominent in many churches) that women are the temptresses; we can teach that it’s a woman’s job to keep a man from falling, that men are helpless and controlled by their passions so women must cover up, be hidden, and take responsibility for men’s actions. What an insult to men! We women are called to love our brothers, but we are not called to take responsibility for their actions.

Q: When discussing the genealogy of Jesus as outlined in Matthew 1, it’s not uncommon to point out the few women included and refer to their sordid pasts. Why do we have the tendency to focus on the negatives of their history, especially when the men in the bloodline had as many flaws as the women?

Jesus’s genealogy in Matthew is full of both male and female sinners, but the women’s sinfulness is not the point Matthew is making. Not all of the women in Jesus’s line had sordid pasts, and in making their sex lives our focus, we miss what the author is telling his Jewish readers. In the highly stylized genealogy in Matthew’s Gospel, every person is intentional, with Jesus’s ancestors arranged into three groups of fourteen generations. Matthew makes a break from the usual exclusion of women from genealogies, and he’s clearly up to something. In his Gospel, foreign kings worship Jesus at his birth. Later a centurion—a Roman soldier—requests healing for his servant, and the text says this centurion “amazes” Jesus with his faith. Jesus grants the request and tells the disciples, “I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.” Notice “not anyone in Israel.” Matthew salts his narrative with the faith of Gentiles. In the genealogies, Matthew is setting up his readers, the Jewish faithful, to accept cultural and racial outsiders into the community of faith through belief, not blood.

Judah married the Gentile Tamar. Bathsheba is the wife of a Hittite. Rahab is a Caananite. Ruth is a Moabite. These are outsiders who are women of faith in the Messianic line. Judah says of Tamar, “You’re the righteous one, not I.” Rahab says she believes in Yahweh Adonai as Elohim. Ruth says Naomi’s God will be her God. Bathsheba suffers a great injustice but is grafted into the royal line. The idea of Gentiles being included would have blown the minds of Matthew’s readers, but that was the promise God had made to Abraham—that through him all nations would be blessed. 

Q: Throughout the past couple of months, the news has reported story after story of women coming forward, sharing their experiences of sexual harassment and abuse from men in a position of power. What similarities might their stories have with someone such as Bathsheba?

Sarah Bowler, the person who wrote the chapter on Bathsheba, said of her that understanding her tale has ramifications for how Christians respond to a world saturated with sexual misconduct. She wrote, “As I researched, I found current examples in which Christian writers and editors failed to be empathetic toward victims as they reported stories. Even sadder, some spiritual leaders rape or sexually abuse young women, and many of the victims still receive partial blame in situations where a spiritual leader is fully at fault.

“It really hit home for me after a pastor’s kid I had discipled several years ago started reading [my writing] about Bathsheba. She got back in touch to say: ‘Thank you. I was raped two years ago Friday on a date in my home. I had three ministry leaders whom I held on a pedestal put full blame on me. . . . I can never thank you enough for not blaming the victim.’ How we interpret biblical narratives affects how we interpret events around us. When we say phrases such as ‘Bathsheba bathed naked on a roof,’ we overlook the fact that Bathsheba was an innocent victim. We may also forget the modern-day Bathshebas. I long for the day when believers eradicate the line of thinking in which the victim shares partial blame for a perpetrator’s sin. One step toward that end is sharing the true Bathsheba story.”

Q: How does Mary, the mother of Jesus, fit in with the other so-called vixens?

First, the subtitle of the book is Revisiting Sexualized, Vilified, and Marginalized Women of the Bible. Mary certainly falls in that last category, “marginalized,” as she gets pushed to the margins by many Protestants. Because of a belief that other strains of Christianity elevate Mary too highly, many Protestants swing the pendulum to the other extreme and ignore her. She is the fourth most-talked-about person in the New Testament after Jesus, Paul, and Peter. She shows up in six books of the Bible, and she’s one of the most radical disciples; she’s there for nearly every event in Jesus’s life, and she’s passionate about his Messianic identity.

One of the definitions of a vixen is an ill-tempered or quarrelsome woman. Protestants often point to the story of the family intervention when Mary comes to take Jesus because she thinks he’s too distracted and has to get back on track. People use this to establish that Mary is sinful and controlling. That is not the point the author of that story is making. Dr. Tim Ralston, who wrote the chapter on the Virgin Mary, explores what is happening in that story and how we have wrongly vilified Mary in it.

Q: Given that Eve committed the first sin by eating the fruit God told her not to, how can she be vindicated?

Eve sinned. That was wrong. We aren’t seeking to vindicate her for that! However, we do Eve—and all women—a disservice when we extrapolate with her story. The idea that all women are easily deceived come from such extrapolation. Eve becomes everywoman in that way. Some also teach that Eve seduced Adam and thus all women are seductresses, but the text says nothing of the sort. Think of how such thinking affects people talking about #MeToo or #ChurchToo. If we assume women are seductresses, the go-to question when a woman gets sexually assaulted is “What were you wearing?” or “How did you provoke the rape?”

Additionally, some see the commands to the first humans to be fruitful/multiply and subdue the earth in terms of gender categories. They think men rule and women contribute to multiplying—that men work and women have babies. That is a very middle- and upper-class Western way of seeing Eve’s story. Our friends in rural Kenya would never think of work outside the hut as something only men do or that raising children is “women’s work.” Men and women were made to have dominion over the earth in partnership together. It takes man and woman to be fruitful and multiply—together. 


Learn more at www.aspire2.com, and follow Dr. Glahn on Facebook (Aspire2) and Twitter (@sandraglahn).  




Wednesday, January 17, 2018

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



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

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

 

One grand prize winner will receive:
 

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

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



{MORE ABOUT THE MELODY OF THE SOUL}


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

{MORE ABOUT LIZ TOLSMA}


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