Saturday, March 31, 2018

Opening Weekend at the Ballpark

We didn't make it to Opening Day this year, but we did catch the Texas Rangers during Opening Weekend. 

With all the construction around the ballpark, and the fact it was the opening weekend, Dad was more than a little antsy about leaving plenty early for a 3:05 PM start time. We needed to find a place to park after all. As in, "Let's leave at 10:00 or 10:30."

Seriously. 

I get it. Usually Opening Day is a mess. However, not everyone is quite that worried.

We made a stop along the way after leaving around 10:30, and he still was stressing about, "Having enough time..."

We got to the stadium before the parking lots opened. The parking lots opened at noon. Yes, there were some people trying to get into parking lots, but not much traffic.

Once we got to the stadium we had to stand around in line for about an hour before we could even get in. 

Mom brought an almost full can of sunscreen that would not spray out, defeating the purpose of bringing the sunscreen, so my arms matched my red Rangers shirt after the game. You know, we got extra sun time sitting out waiting for the game to start. ;)

Sadly, the Rangers lost to the Astros 9-3.






Friday, March 30, 2018

My new boss has no mercy

I told myself if I was going to venture into a life of freelance PR work, I was going to give myself some time off. First day off would be Good Friday. Nope. There was work to be done.

That's a good problem to have though. That holiday I wanted went by the wayside when I went on a three hour lunch out of town with an author friend. Truth is, even if it weren't for that, I still would have been working. I'm a big of a workaholic, it seems.

One of the biggest challenges I've had the past couple of weeks is getting myself back organized and getting everything back in sync. It started off with a couple of months ago I had to make sure to save all of my personal files that I accidentally had saved in the wrong Google Drive account. Up until then, all of my work files and picture files, etc. were saved on the Drive, then both computers. When one computer misbehaves, I can always work from the other. I could access and save everything on both. If I hadn't made that move then, I really could have had big, big issues.

From there I did something, and I don't even remember what it was, exactly. I think I had all my craft photos on my laptop and all my other pictures on my desktop. I think the reason I split part of them is because Google Drive made a change to Back Up and Sync, and I was going to try to spread the upload love or something. The 12 years worth of photos took forever to back-up and sync. Think weeks of hitting pause some during the day so I could function online. I'd leave it going only to have my computer go to sleep. I had to turn off the sleep function.

Then, for work (at that time), I had to upgrade to Drive File Stream. Then that left some files in an old Drive folder while it saved everything else in a new folder. By accident, I was saving things in both places. Then, when the job ended, I had to save some files before they were forever deleted off the File Stream. If I upload all of them again, I'll never be able to access the internet at a decent speed again.

Now I can't find anything where I want it to be.

Other than all of that, I've been setting up my new system and updating my databases before uploading them into a mail distribution system that I still need to set up. That updating takes a good bit of time.

In getting and setting up new projects, I've also spent a lot of time on the phone. Again, a great problem to have. I just haven't been able to settle back into a good rhythm yet. I need to get a rhythm really soon because I'm doing some new things for authors that means I need to be on the ball and fast.

In between all of this, there have been some little things here and there from the "old job" that I've needed to take care of. Maybe "felt the need" would be a more accurate term. I don't know what the official terminology would be if a counselor would diagnose it, but my problem has something to do with having a sense of responsibility.

I am sort of frazzled, but overall, I'm doing really good. Some pieces are starting to fall into place, I just have to get them all to fit together.



Thursday, March 29, 2018

God is the author of true romance

Part 2 of an interview with Rhonda Stoppe,
author of Real-Life Romance



Rhonda 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. In her new book, Real-Life Romance: Inspiring Stories to Help You Believe in True Love (Harvest House), 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.

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.

Visit Rhonda Stoppe’s website (www.NoRegretsWoman.com) for additional special features,
including photos of the couples and video clips of the couples from the book.

Q: It’s important to point out that Real-Life Romance is not a marriage advice book. Who did you write the book for and what was your intent?

Exactly! Real-Life Romance is not a marriage self-help book. Since there are many great marriage advice books on the market, I wanted to write a book that was a breath of fresh air. We are all drawn to a good love story. Look at the movies and romance novel industry. People are riveted as they follow the story of a couple who ends up falling in love and living happily ever after.

However, those love stories don’t always honor Christ. As believers, we tolerate when the couple in the story is involved in intimacy outside of marriage because we really want to see the ending where they fall happily in love. I wrote Real-Life Romance to share love stories that are testimonies of God’s faithfulness of drawing two people together to fall in love in a Christ-honoring way.

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. 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.


Q: How does God fit in with romance and true love between a husband and wife?

God is the author of true romance. He is the one who saw it was “not good for Adam to be alone.” Think about it for a moment. Here was Adam, the perfect man, walking in ideal unison with his Creator, yet God made Adam to need a mate and graciously provided him with Eve.

In the same way, God calls us to live in relationship with Him through Christ. He also recognizes our frailty and provides us with a spouse not only to cherish and adore but to help us run the race He has set before us. Christ-honoring, selfless love in marriage is the beautiful picture of Jesus’ love for the church.

Q: How do you and Steve keep the romance alive after 30-plus years?

Through the years of raising toddlers and teens, Steve and I made it a point to choose each other over any other earthly relationship. Our kids always knew our love for one another was steadfast and that they were not able to come between us, no matter what. In 30 years of ministry we have watched marriages crumble when a parent regularly sides with a child in disagreements against his or her spouse. We’ve observed weary parents of terrible two-year-olds turn on one another by reacting to their spouses in a disrespectful and unloving manner.

One of the perks of ministry is getting a bird’s-eye view of the damage that can be done to a marriage if a couple refuses to love each other with Christ’s selfless love. We’ve also had the honor of watching others love each other deeply the way God intended. Throughout the years we have been mentored by many married couples who showed us how to romance each other through the different seasons of life. These days, we are now learning from those same mentoring couples how to grieve when their spouses go home to Jesus. As they grieve with hope, we too know one day Christ will grant us His strength should He call one of us home before the other.

For Steve and me, real romance says, “I choose you, no matter what, when or where we find ourselves in life. It is you and you alone whom I adore.”  

Q: What encouragement do you offer those who feel they have already lost their chance at love or don’t deserve to find love?

I often meet people who believe they’ve lost their chance or don’t deserve to find love. Maybe they have been loved poorly by a parent or rejected by someone who promised to love them forever. The point of your need is not that you find a person who won’t hurt you; rather, your deepest need is to learn how deeply God loves you and will never forsake you.

I think of the Samaritan woman in the Bible. She had been loved badly. We don’t know the details of her story, but we do know she had a number of husbands and was even living with a man who wasn’t her husband when Jesus went out of His way to find her at the well.

I love teaching the message of the Samaritan woman because many can relate to her story, but the highlight of this account in Scripture is that Jesus found her at the point of her need. Even though He knew the intimate details of her sordid past, Jesus valued her and offered her “Living Water.” The thing that stood out most to her was, “He told me everything I have done!” That is what she proclaimed as she ran back to the village to call others to come and meet Messiah!

Her story offers so much hope because God never gives up on anyone. He is concerned about you and wants you to know His love for you is not based upon your performance but simply upon His own choice to love you with an everlasting love. When you devote yourself to learning from Scripture all you can about how much Jesus loves you and ask God to show you how to love Him with all of your being (see Mark 12), then you won’t be tempted to find your worth in finding a person to fall in love with you. Rather you will be able to rest in knowing God’s love for you is what makes you valuable. When you learn to trust God in this way, you can rest in whatever His plan might be for your love life. This trust will give you courage to wait on His timing and providence for your future.

Q: Could you share a little bit of one of your favorite stories from the book, aside from your own?

There are 25 stories in Real-Life Romance, and in some ways each is my favorite. At the end of the book I got to share the love stories of all four of our adult children. I think these would have to be my absolute favorites. Every parent hopes his or her children will find someone who loves them deeply and for a lifetime.

From the day each of our kids came into our family, Steve and I prayed diligently that God would bring to each one a spouse who would love Jesus more than he or she loved our child. We know that loving God with all of your being is the only way His perfect love can spill out of one’s life onto a spouse. God graciously answered this prayer for each of our children. These days we pray the same prayer for our grandchildren.

Q: You close the book with a shorter story about finding a mate to help you run the race. Could you share that illustration?

When our son Tony was in the ROTC at Texas A&M University, he was the head of his unit. One woman under his command had a hard time keeping up with the men when they ran a great distance. When they arrived at their destination without her, they were chastised and required to do push-ups until she arrived. As commander, Tony needed to be sure she kept up the pace with the rest of the unit, so he ran in back alongside her. With both of their eyes focused on their destination, Tony would place his hand in the small of her back, and she would keep up the pace. When he removed his hand, she lagged behind.

I tell this story to show a wonderful word picture. The Bible says that as Christ followers we’re running a race He has set before us. He calls us to keep our eyes fixed on Him, the author and finisher of our faith, and to shake off whatever easily besets us in our pursuit to finish well.

When looking for a mate, it’s tempting to take your eyes off the prize of Christ and focus on who might be “the one.” Let’s follow the example of the woman in Tony’s unit. If you run this race of life with your focus on the One who calls you to run, and one day you look over and see a man whose eyes are fixed on Jesus and who places his hand on the small of your back to help you run your race — marry him! (If you're a man, and you one day find your hand on the small of a woman’s back, the back of a woman who runs with you, you might want to consider marrying her.)

Learn more about more about Real-Life Romance and Rhonda Stoppe at www.NoRegretsWoman.com, on Facebook (RhondaStoppeNoRegretsWoman) and on Twitter (@RhondaStoppe).

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Red Sky over America by Tamera Lynn Kraft

Today I have a book preview for you!

William and America confront evil, but will it cost them everything?Find out in Red Sky Over America, book one of Tamera Lynn Kraft’s Ladies of Oberlin series. Though the daughter of a slave owner, America is determined to fight for freedom. In her quest to change her father’s mind, America crosses paths with fellow classmate and abolitionist William. Can two young abolitionists make a difference in a divided country . . . and live to tell about it?

{MORE ABOUT RED SKY OVER AMERICA}


(Desert Breeze, February 2018)
In 1857, America, the daughter of a slave owner, is an abolitionist and a student at Oberlin College, a school known for its radical ideas. When America goes home to Kentucky during school break to confront her father about freeing his slaves, America’s classmate, William, tags along to preach abolition to churches that condone slavery. Soon, though, America and William find themselves in the center of the approaching storm sweeping the nation. Will they make it back to Ohio . . . or even live through the struggle?

{MORE ABOUT TAMERA KRAFT}


Tamera Lynn Kraft has always loved adventures. She loves to write historical fiction set in the United States because there are so many stories in American history. There are strong elements of faith, romance, suspense and adventure in her stories. She has received 2nd place in the NOCW contest, 3rd place TARA writer’s contest, and is a finalist in the Frasier Writing Contest and has other novellas in print. She’s been married for 38 years to the love of her life, Rick, and has two married adult children and two grandchildren.
Tamera has been a children’s pastor for more than 20 years. She is the leader of a ministry called Revival Fire For Kids where she mentors other children’s leaders, teaches workshops, and is a children’s ministry consultant and children’s evangelist and has written children’s church curriculum. She is a recipient of the 2007 National Children’s Leaders Association Shepherd’s Cup for lifetime achievement in children’s ministry.
Find out more about Tamera at http://tkrafty.wixsite.com/tameralynnkraft.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Hettie Brittz to Host Facebook Live Chat on Growing Kids with Character

 Are you going?

Hettie Brittz to Host Facebook Live Chat
on Growing Kids with Character

David C Cook author will share tips on

nurturing children’s God-given personalities


Hettie Brittz, author of the newly released Growing Kids with Character (David C Cook/March 1, 2018), will host a Facebook Live chat with readers on Tuesday, April 3, 2018 at 8:00 PM EDT/5:00 PM PDT.

During the live, hour-long conversation, Brittz will be sharing advice on parenting according to the temperament of each child and why it is important to do so to shape his or her character for his or her purpose in Christ. Through Brittz’s famous tree metaphors, parents will discover how to encourage their kids to excel at being who they naturally are as they grow in their unique purpose in the world.

Readers will also be able to ask Brittz questions via the moderated chat section. Copies of Growing Kids with Character will be given away throughout the night, and at the end of the evening, the winner of the Family Fun prize pack will be announced.

The first step to identifying a child’s natural bent and how it affects the parenting journey is to take the online Tall Trees Profiles assessment. Each copy of the Growing Kids with Character includes a code for one free, in-depth child profile report. Supplied with the knowledge of what tree type (or combination of types) best describes the child, Growing Kids with Character provides insights for understanding and embracing each child’s unique journey and outlines how to shape his or her character for his or her purpose in Christ. Parents will learn how to:

  • Recognize their child’s strongest characteristics and apply that knowledge to everyday life.
  • Speak their child’s unique dialect (or “tree language”) to foster effective communication.
  • Cultivate each of their kids’ unique way of encountering, following, and worshipping God.
  • Disciple and discipline based on each child’s blueprint.
  • Help their child celebrate God’s individualized design for others.
For any parents who thought their child should have come with an instruction manual, Brittz provides a resource to understand their child’s natural bents not only to excel in life but also to establish their identity and purpose firmly in Christ better.

Learn more about Hettie Brittz and Growing Kids with Character by visiting www.hettiebrittz.com or following her on Facebook (HettieBrittzAuthor) or Twitter (@hettiebrittz).


Monday, March 26, 2018

I still haven't found what I'm looking for

Now that I have things rolling with new publicity projects and prospects, after my workday, I need to focus my work nights on the craft room. We have four events coming up in a few weeks and I need to work on some things.

Besides, this room is looking like a hoarder workshop.


After finally painting some stems on cotton bolls, I moved on to lettering ampersands. Except I couldn't find two that Dad had recently painted. I called Mom to see if they happened to still be over at their house. She said nothing was in their office and that she remembered bringing them in and setting them on the island. Well, after going through the craft room numerous times, they were not there. I looked through all of the piles.

I thought I had gotten stuff in and out of the back of my car more recently than I had. I was wrong. They were there. My mom was also wrong because I picked them up at her house. She did not bring them over to mine. ;)

I also found two cut books that need to be boxed up with all the others in the trailer. Except each needs to go in a specific box. Whoops.

So, what all of that means is... get ready for more crafty posts!

Sunday, March 25, 2018

I Will Call Upon the Lord


I Will Call Upon the Lord

By Michael O’Shields
Used by permission. CCLI # 1132191

I will call upon the Lord, (women echo)
Who is worthy to be praised (echo)
So shall I be saved from my enemies (echo)

Chorus
The Lord liveth, and blessed be the Rock,
And let the God of our salvation be exalted.
(repeat)

I will call upon the Lord… (end in unison)



We don't usually sing a second verse of the song, but somewhere along the line,
I've sung this verse:

Jesus Christ who died for me, (echo)
And He took away my sins (echo)
I will live with Him for eternity (echo)





Saturday, March 24, 2018

I can't decide if I am unproductive or lofty goal setter

I always have these big plans for how my Saturday is going to go.

I have this pile of wood, MDF and canvases to paint out in the craft studio. I've been meaning to do something with the canvases for a year, and they sit in the same place.

This Saturday was no different. I was going to get all the cardboard boxes of cut books out of the middle of the floor once I combined them with the six bins out in the laundry room and then divided them in two sets for an upcoming event.

You see, this there were 8 or 10 boxes in middle of the room I do not know what to call. I mentioned to Mom and Dad that I didn't know what to call this space, and Mom suggested "the middle of the floor." Accurate. It's the pass-through to all parts of the house, but does not have a specific other purpose.

Mom and I divided all the letters to make sure we had them split evenly and a mix of colors in both groups. Exciting stuff, right? Why are you guys still reading my blog?

After getting all of the books divided, we decided in order to tote them around and box them back up for 2-day event to protect them from the elements and keep bugs out of them in the garage for the next few weeks, we needed to go buy more bins. So, we went on a family outing to Walmart on a Saturday which is against my core values.

Then, upon return, I had to repack bins. I convinced Dad to bring over the trailer to load up 14 boxes of cut books. Yes, 14. We'll take some of those boxes out to send to their event in a few weeks, and the rest will stay for mine.

That's it. That's all I accomplished today. Nothing painted. Nothing lettered.

I did balance my checkbooks. I guess that's something. That's some exciting stuff right there.

It's almost 11 PM now, and I was going to finish something else while I was on my laptop, but I may not get that done either. I need to put sheets on my bed before I go to sleep. See? Exciting stuff going on here in my world.

Seriously though, my goal is next week when I finish with my book publicity work days (I do have work, glory hallelujah!), I want to spend some time in the studio.

I also plan to take Good Friday off from publicity work and will do crafts then. Maybe. I don't know why I say that's how it's going to go. Next Saturday, I'll be sharing pictures from the Texas Rangers game. Though I am not making Opening Day, I am making Opening Weekend. That's a definite plan that will happen!

Friday, March 23, 2018

Exchanging isolation for companionship

If you didn't catch the first part of Tiffany's interview, you can read it here

Part 2 of an interview with Tiffany Bluhm,
Author of Never Alone


Walking through life without experiencing the pain and loneliness of betrayal, shame, guilt, loss, judgment, or rejection is impossible. These wounds can shape our views of ourselves, others, and God and even make us question if we are worthy of love and acceptance. Whether old or new, heartache can convince us no one understands or cares. Yet Jesus tells us a different story. In Never Alone: Exchanging Your Tender Hurts for God’s Healing Grace (Abingdon Press), Tiffany Bluhm offers hope and encouragement that as our plans, hearts, and lives change, God is there. What we might have mistaken for his absence was only our mind questioning his goodness and grace. She reveals the depth and healing power of Jesus’ unconditional love for us and how we will never escape his love.

Bluhm encourages women to:
  • Claim their value, worth, and role in the Kingdom.
  • Recognize they’re dearly loved and unconditionally accepted.
  • Find healing from rejection, disapproval, betrayal, abandonment, and other hurts.
  • See how the past affects our relationship with God and others.
  • Exchange shame and guilt for freedom.
  • Lean into desperate moments.
  • Gain a holy perspective through gratitude.
  • Find belonging through belief and courage.

Q: You write about six women from Biblical history and their stories of hurt. Who were they, and how do their stories affect ours?

The six women from the Gospels are the woman caught in adultery, the woman with the issue of blood, the woman at the well, the woman who anointed Jesus with oil, Mary Magdalene, and Mary, mother of Jesus. Each woman had an encounter with Jesus that radically redefined her value and role in society. Each of those encounters with Jesus pulls back the curtain on how God views women, how he values them in the Kingdom, and their innate worth. Jesus saw fit for women to serve as image bearers, receivers of restoration, speakers of truth, and valiant leaders for the cause of Christ. 

The women of the gospels felt the sting of rejection, shame, and fear. Like them, I’ve fought battles to claim my true identity defined not by the world, but by the death and resurrection of Jesus. In a world of do’s and don’ts, Jesus cut through the noise to speak value, love, and companionship to women. The same is true today. This is a noisy world, but Jesus isn’t white noise to be ignored. He’s the giver of the life we crave.

Q: How do feelings of fear, shame, and inequality steal a woman's role as indispensable in the Kingdom? 

Our fears and shame keep us from believing the truth of who we are and whose we are. We were built to be loved and live from a place of love, value, and power in Christ. Shame has kept far too many women from rising to play the role of peace giver, truth teller, and justice seeker. Our shame, like a veil that blurs our vision, keeps us from seeing the purposed role each woman was born to take.

Q: What are some of the things we do to protect ourselves from shame and rejection that in actuality make things worse?

We isolate to escape rejection, but in turn, we forfeit connection. We pass on the gracious love of Christ that is to be received and shared. Received by Christ himself and his people. Our isolation costs us love from others that could point us to the redeeming hand of Jesus.

We convince ourselves that in isolation, no one can hurt us. In isolation, we can be invincible. In isolation, we can be in control of what happens to us. While our attempt to survive is noble, it leaves us feeling even more rejected than we ever imagined.

At five years old, as soon as I understood the story of my birth and abandonment, it wasn’t long before I began to fantasize about what it would be like to meet my biological mother and visit the orphanage where I was left. I wanted to know every detail of my story, however broken and disjointed it may have been. I wanted what I believed everyone around me had. I wanted answers. I would visit friends and see baby pictures on the wall and baby footprints pressed into plaster. I wanted that. I wanted a story without gaping holes and unanswered questions, so I isolated myself from others because I did not have what they did. Isolation was the result of feeling inadequate, unworthy, and shameful.


Q: How did being adopted contribute to feelings of shame and loneliness throughout the years? Did adopting your son change how you viewed your own experience?

From my earliest memories, I remember feeling different. I knew straight away I was different. My family is white, and I am East Indian. My childhood was spent wishing my skin was brighter and my story didn’t involve a mama giving up her baby. However, that was my story. I’ve wrestled with shame and loneliness for being different, for being abandoned. No matter who you are, when the understanding of your origin story is understood, one that begun with abandonment, it messes with your understanding of worth.

I own just one baby picture of myself, taken at five months. I’m wearing a simple cloth diaper with my moppy black hair piled atop my head. My pursed lips appear to be permanently carved on my face. Every time I look at that picture my heart drops. Even at five months old I was scared and unsure of everything around me. Those overwhelming emotions of fear and uncertainty, my demons, were already there for me to fight, not only as a child, but also as an adolescent, and later still as an adult.

Shame never lets us rest. It reminds us how we feel about ourselves when we’d rather forget. It’s a mark of something deeper.  It evokes emotions that cause us to question why we wallow in them day after day. Yet, every shameful thought in us has a story, a birthplace deep in our core. It grows as we grow. Shame threads itself through our ideas, dreams, and hopes. It convinces us we aren’t good enough, strong enough, or worthy enough for anyone’s love and affection.

Adopting my son gave me an understanding of God’s extravagant love for the brokenness in all of us. It was as though he pulled back the curtain to reveal his deep love and willingness to restore all that has been broken and lost. Yet, at the same time, it’s wild and sometimes heartbreaking to see my son struggle with many of the issues I did as a child. To work through these issues with him has given me, as an adult, a double dose of compassion and a rock-solid belief that God can redeem each and every broken part of us.

Q: In addition to the book itself, what other resources are available to go along with Never Alone for further study?

In addition to the book, the companion Bible study is available for further study, which includes six half-hour video sessions that dive into six encounters Jesus had with women in the gospels, each revealing his beliefs about women and each revealing He, indeed, was the Messiah. Each woman found she was loved by Christ, and once she encountered Jesus, her life would never be the same.

There is a workbook, leader’s guide, leader’s kit, and DVD.

Keep up with Tiffany Bluhm and read her blog at www.TiffanyBluhm.com. She is also active on Facebook (TiffanyABluhm), Twitter (@tiffanybluhm), and Instagram (@tiffanybluhm).






Thursday, March 22, 2018

A Most Noble Heir by Susan Anne Mason

Here's another new release I wanted to let you know about. All information is courtesy of the publisher, Bethany House



About A Most Noble Heir

Will Gaining the World Cost Him Everything He Holds Most Dear?
When stable hand Nolan Price learns from his dying mother that he is actually the son of the Earl of Stainsby, his plans for a future with kitchen maid Hannah Burnham are shattered. Once he is officially acknowledged as the earl's heir, Nolan will be forbidden to marry beneath his station.

Unwilling to give up the girl he loves, he devises a plan to elope--believing once their marriage is sanctioned by God that Lord Stainsby will be forced to accept their union. However, as Nolan struggles to learn the ways of the aristocracy, he finds himself caught between his dreams for tomorrow and his father's demanding expectations.

Forces work to keep the couple apart at every turn, and a solution to remain together seems farther and farther away. With Nolan's new life pulling him irrevocably away from Hannah, it seems only a miracle will bring them back together.


Meet Susan Anne Mason

Susan Anne Mason's debut historical novel, Irish Meadows, won the Fiction from the Heartland contest from the Mid-American Romance Authors Chapter of RWA. Also a member of ACFW, Susan lives outside of Toronto, Ontario, with her husband and two children. 

She can be found online at www.susanannemason.com.






Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The power of suggestion that is the Facebook memory feed

I know I get into ruts and routines. It's really odd  how I get into annual cycles though. Have you noticed how you can look through your Facebook memory feed and some topics will trend around the same time of year? Sometimes they trend because I took lunch to Peyton every year during the book fair (which is the same time every year), and I had a story to share. Other times, it's all coincidence.

For example, I usually get a craving to order a pizza every week around pi day - 3/14. Then, I end up ordering a pizza because it's pie day. I only order a pizza a few times a year, and that happens to be when I want one and comment about it. My life is boring guys, that's why I'm commenting about pizza on Facebook. That is still not a good example.

However, I really do have regular deja vu moments when it comes to the feed, but I can't remember other awesome example because the direction of this post was not entirely planned. I'd be a much better blogger and writer in general if I did. I find it really odd though.

Maybe it's because I say the same things far too regularly. That could be it too.

Over the past few weeks, I've been seeing posts of my ugly blanket crochet project. It started once I had some time free up during my last job transition six years ago. It was a symbolic project that I gave away here on the blog.

The timing was completely ironic and thankfully is not an annual occurrence. I'd be a mental case if it were. Anyway, these crocheting pictures in my feed gave me an itch to pick up a hook and work on a project again. In fact, I started two different projects over the weekend that I actually have no intention of finishing anytime soon. I started them because actually I was worked up over something completely unrelated to work (or lack thereof) the other night when I started it and was in desperate need of unwinding. I didn't want to get out the stress relief coloring books.

I did pick it up a time or two since, but I really need to move on out to the craft room to start back on some other things. I've had a hard time motivating myself to do that, but maybe once I get all the books out of the middle of my floor I will be more eager to move to the next project. (That's what I'm calling that area at my mom's suggestion - it's the big pass-through area of my house, but doesn't have a specific purpose. It's the middle of the house. I've had table there in the past, but it's not a dining room.) I've just been emotionally and mentally tired the past couple of weeks. Things are turning around though. I'm going to start a new routine.

How long does anyone think that is going to stick? ;)




Tuesday, March 20, 2018

High Cotton by Debbie Mayne

I want to continue to feature a few of the books and authors on blog tours that I would have been posting about before all the job-related change. This one sounds like loads of fun, and I need to read it when I get a chance.

Here is the book description and author bio from the publisher.


About High Cotton

Bucklin Family Reunion Book 1
(Gilead Publishing)

Some families are filled with so much love they can’t help but drive each other crazy

Shay Henke has mixed feelings about going to her family’s next reunion. On the one hand, she’ll get to see everyone in her mama's family—folks she loves unconditionally. On the other hand, she knows there’ll be more drama than you can shake a stick at.

The days leading up to the event bring one surprise after another. First Shay must deal with her sister-in-law’s deep, dark secret. Then she has to contend with the childish ways of her business-mogul twin cousins. And when her high school crush wants to be her date to the reunion . . . well, it may have been a dream come true for Shay’s teen self, but the woman she’s become doesn’t know what to make of this.

Shay’s contentment is challenged, and she’s determined to shake things up a bit. But will she find the excitement she’s looking for, or will Shay realize she prefers her quiet and predictable life? One thing is certain: Life in the Bucklin family is never boring.


About Debbie Mayne

Debby Mayne is the author of more than 60 novels and novellas. She writes family and faith-based romances, cozy mysteries, and women’s fiction. She has also written more than 1,000 short stories and articles as well as dozens of devotions for busy women. She has worked as managing editor of a national health publication, product information writer for a TV retailer, creative writing instructor, and copy editor and proofreader for several book publishers. She is currently an etiquette writer for The Spruce, one of the DotDash (formerly About.com) companies.

Debby grew up in a military family, which meant moving every few years throughout her childhood. Debby was born in Alaska, and she has lived in Mississippi, Tennessee, Oregon, Florida, South Carolina, Hawaii, and Japan. Her parents were both from the Deep South, so she enjoys featuring characters with southern drawls, plenty of down-home cooking, and folks with quirky mannerisms. 

She and her husband currently live in the Charleston, South Carolina, area.

Visit her online at https://debbymayne.net/

Monday, March 19, 2018

I just wanted a single day off

After last week and working long, hard hours to pass off all of my projects in the best of shape I could, I really just wanted to enjoy a single day off. If you are going to be unemployed, you might as well take a day to appreciate some down time, right?

I needed to run a crafty check to the bank and sign my taxes so I could be done with that for the year. Angie wanted to take me out to lunch to catch up since we hadn't talked in almost two months, and we had a lot to catch up on. Before I met her, I went in search of some labels at Office Depot that I decided were too expensive and wandered around the garden section of Home Depot.

Then, when I got back from lunch, I started back getting things ready to be productive. I had calls to schedule, and emails to answer. A half a day of goofing off, and it's back to work.

If you need a freelance publicist or virtual assistant, I am your woman!

I am getting everything back in order because I am back to work with some PR projects. I am so very thankful to have work to do.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Hip, Hip, Hip, Hippopotamus

These kids from a couple of years ago spoiled me when it comes for an enthusiastic love of singing.


Hippopotamus Song

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

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

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

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

Chorus

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

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

Saturday, March 17, 2018

No more pickle talk

Dad has lamented the past couple of years that he wanted a booth at the Pickle Festival, an event held in Mansfield around St. Patrick's day every year.

A couple of years ago, I sent in an inquiry to get on the waiting list. Last year, we were in Arizona, not sure when we were getting back in town.

I've been less than enthusiastic, because it's an outside festival. It's a dog and turkey leg event. Anywhere you can bring your dog and buy a turkey leg hasn't been a great choice for us. We've thankfully talked to some other people in the past that have given their bad reviews of the Tomato Festival. Yet, something about festivals have an appeal to Dad even though he knows better.

He's been telling Mom and I how he wanted to go check it out. Alright, alright, fine, we will check it out. Dressed in green because I had this odd feeling strangers may pinch me, we set out.

People seemed to be parking a mile away (literally) from where the action was going on. The parade must be something to behold, or everyone must have been desperate for something to do.

We got downtown, and vendors were only set up on both sides of the street for two blocks. People brought their dogs and were eating on their turkey legs (or pickles or funnel cakes). No one was shopping. There were not many actual vendors and the only thing people were really interested in were the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders doing autographs or where there were balloon animals being made. After making the long trek down there, we spent a very short period of time looking around, then made the long trek back uphill to the car.

I have no idea why there was ever a waiting list to be a vendor. We all confirmed it would be a very long day of sitting there doing nothing.

Hopefully, we shall never speak of this again. 

On the way home, I spent all of $2 and some change on some thread I needed from Hobby Lobby along with some clearance ribbon I hope to incorporate into a new project soon. Even though I am technically unemployed, I still don't know when I am going to get some of this stuff done.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Onto a new chapter


In a sudden cliffhanger of a move, I find myself in a new phase. My job of the last six years has come to an end.

I had known since the end of January that it could be coming down the road. However, we (my co-workers and I) did not realize it would come to such a quick close once a decision was made. I won't go into the details as to why. Many factors played a part. It's been a stressful three days trying to get everything done to wrap up every possible loose end possible.

I'm not sure what all the next chapter will entail. It's part exciting, part scary. It's still sinking in.

I do know something will work out. I'm trying not to worry. It's so much easier said than done.

Right now, I have to remind myself to take it one day at a time. Today's trouble is enough for today.



Thursday, March 15, 2018

Do you believe in true love?



Part 1 of an interview with Rhonda Stoppe,
author of Real-Life Romance


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), 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.

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.

including photos of the couples and video clips of the couples from the book.


Q: Real-Life Romance shares real-life accounts of ordinary people who found extraordinary love. How did you find and collect the stories included in your new book?

Real-life love is all around us; we just have to look for it. That elderly couple sitting in the pew at church — what’s their story? How did they meet, fall in love and stay in love for so many years? Those lifetime lovers are my heroes of the faith because their lifelong love reflects Christ’s love and offers hope to anyone who wants that kind of romance.


My husband and I have been in ministry for 30 years. In that time we have had the privilege of watching many young people fall in love, meeting people with incredible love stories and walking the elderly through the death of their loved one. The love stories we have heard in our years of ministry, along with speaking at women’s events, I have heard story after story of real romance that offers hope. I truly believe the world is ready for a book celebrating that kind of love.                                                                

Q: When people think of romance, candles and roses come to mind. What actually is romance, at least from your point of view?

Romance — real romance — is loving someone for who they are and believing the best about that person. I think of 1 Corinthians 13, which says, “Love bares all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” That’s romance.

Choosing to believe the best about your love when they haven’t measured up to your expectations? That’s romance. Choosing to see their beauty after they’ve been up all night with a sick baby, and they look like a train wreck? That’s true romance. It’s the love we long for and the love we hope to give. This love is possible when our love for Christ is deeper than our love for any other person in life.

Q: When did you first realize you were in love with your husband, Steve?

I met Steve when I was only 14 (almost 15) years old. He had come home from Bible college and was way too old for me. At that age, six years’ difference is a big deal. I remember when I met him for the first time that he took my breath away. After a quick interaction with him, I walked away and literally thought, I’m going to marry him one day. (Immediately, I was embarrassed at the thought because I was young and knew this would be impossible.)

I watched him date all the college women in our church and wished he would look my way, but I knew I was too young. Throughout the years our paths would cross. When our siblings were dating each other, I was often nominated by my parents to be their chaperone. Steve would come along from time to time. As I got older, the time came when. . . . Well, I am not going to tell you the whole story. You can read it in the first chapter of the book! Let’s just say, I knew I loved him almost from the start, and it took God a number of years to work out the timing of our love story.

Q: What lessons did you have to learn about God’s timing after you first met Steve, then later on in your marriage? What advice do you offer to those who may be growing impatient in finding the love of their life?

As a young girl I was naive about how real romance would be found. Because of the age difference between me and Steve, it would be awhile before we would become a couple, but looking back, I see how God orchestrated our steps. He was in control over the timing of our story. I recall how one night Steve called me on the phone while I was on a date with another young man. Just when the young man and I were moving toward a place of inappropriateness, Steve called. He had no idea at the time that his phone call was God’s timing to rescue me from going down a path I wasn’t equipped to steer away from. Since our story began by relying on God’s providence, remembering His sovereignty in our story has helped us to trust God’s timing and providence throughout our marriage and as we look forward to our future.

God’s timing is the common thread that runs through Real-Life Romance. God is sovereign and providential throughout the timing in our lives. The more you keep your eyes on Him, the more you can trust that no matter what circumstances are happening around you, He is in charge of your future. If it’s His will for you to marry, He is able to bring two hearts together to fall in love and spend the rest of their lives glorifying Christ together. Story after love story in Real-Life Romance reveals how waiting on God’s perfect timing brought true romance that lasts forever. I think these stories offer real hope and encouragement to anyone who is waiting for God to write their love story. For moms who are praying for God to bring a spouse to their children, these stories will help them show their kids how God is even more interested in guiding them toward their happily-ever-after than they are.

Q: Even though all of the stories tell of a love that has endured, every couple faced their trials too. Some of the couples faced addiction, such as pornography, alcohol and drugs. What is the common thread between couples, and how did they work through their issues to make their marriages stronger?

Whenever I speak at a women’s event or my husband and I teach at our No Regrets Marriage Conference, we inevitably hear someone’s heartbreaking story of how his or her spouse is addicted to pornography. I share one story in the book. Chuck and Angie met when they were young. Both were Christians, and long before they met one another, both had committed to Christ that they would wait to have sex until marriage. After they fell in love and married, the two settled into married life. You can imagine Angie’s surprise when Chuck seemed less than interested in enjoying her in their marriage bed. One day Angie stumbled across the reason for Chuck’s lack of interest. He had been viewing pornography. When Angie approached Chuck about what she had discovered, he was quick to apologize and promised it would never happen again.

But happen it did, repeatedly. The more Chuck wrestled with his addiction, the more Angie resented him for his sinful behavior. For Angie, forgiving Chuck was hard, but resenting him was even harder. As Angie pressed in to her love for Christ, He gave her His selfless love for Chuck. As Chuck allowed God’s Spirit to strengthen him in his battle against his addiction, he has seen strides of great victory. Angie credits prayer for getting her through. It was humbling when she realized that whatever sin she was addicted to was equal to Chuck’s. They both had to break free of their sinful struggles.

I also share a story of a couple who battled alcohol and drug addiction. As a young woman Jennifer battled with feelings of being used and unwanted while for most of Jeff’s life he wrestled with feelings of inadequacy and loneliness. Both tried to mask their pain through alcohol and partying. That’s where the two one day collided into each other. Eventually, they were wed. Jennifer stopped drinking when she found Jeff and thought her love for him should be enough to make him stop as well. As time went on, Jeff’s drinking turned to drug addiction. After their first baby was born, sadly Jennifer moved out of their home, but she never gave up on Jeff. After she started attending church and found Jesus, daily she asked God to save Jeff too. Through a wonderful set of circumstances Jeff came to Christ and broke free of his addictions, and the two were reunited. That was more than 25 years ago. Their love is stronger than ever, and these days they serve Christ together as worship leaders in their church.

Both couples were able to heal their marriages by bringing Christ into their marriage. They wouldn’t have been able to do it on their own.

Q: Both of your daughters and their husbands have faced challenges of their own challenges many couples face. Can you share a little bit about their struggles with growing their families?

When my youngest daughter, Kayla, and her husband, Estevan, were expecting their first baby, they were saddened when the doctor told them the ultra sound revealed the baby she had been carrying no longer had a heartbeat. They were heartbroken over their loss but drew strength from knowing God was lovingly in control of all aspects of their life, and their trust in Christ drew them closer to one another for comfort.

That Christmas, Kayla and Estevan sent out a beautiful letter to their friends and family sharing just how sweetly God had walked them through their trial with His peace. Their testimony of God’s faithfulness was read by numerous people who did not know Christ. Amidst the storm, their love for one another and trust in Christ shined brightly.

A month after Kayla’s miscarriage our family was overjoyed when our eldest daughter, Meredith, gave birth to her second child, Ivy. Ivy had been born with some unexpected deformities. In a moment everything changed.

Throughout time Meredith and her husband, Jake, came to understand the syndrome God had allowed little Ivy to be born with. Rather than questioning God, the two had come to realize that the Lord’s love for Ivy far exceeded their own and that they could trust Him with their sweet baby girl. This grandmother’s heart was encouraged by Meredith’s wisdom and peace when one day she said to me, “Mom, this is Ivy’s trial, and God has invited us to prepare her to walk through it.”

Great love stories don’t always consist of two people falling in love and living without a care in the world. Rather, true love stories are wrapped around real life where God calls two people together to love Him and to love each other no matter what trials might come in life. When the love of two people is deeply rooted in Christ’s love for them, their response to life’s trials will reflect to a watching world how knowing Jesus really is the way to true love, joy and peace, no matter what challenges may come — and in this God is glorified.

Learn more about more about Real-Life Romance and Rhonda Stoppe at www.NoRegretsWoman.com, on Facebook (RhondaStoppeNoRegretsWoman) and on Twitter (@RhondaStoppe).