Thursday, May 31, 2018

Popular mommy blogger helps moms claim true hope and meaning

Part 2 of an interview with Katie Bennett,
Author of Heavenly Minded Mom

In Heavenly Minded Mom A 90 Day Journey to Embrace What Matters Most (Abingdon Press), author and blogger Katie Bennett beckons moms into a new way of viewing their present reality by rising above the ordinary and routine to see a bigger plan and purpose for motherhood.

This uplifting book offers moms the wisdom of Ecclesiastes, wrapped in the hope of the Gospel, and presented in bite-sized portions.  The 90 compelling meditations, scripture readings, and invitations to journal and reflect, will encourage us to reevaluate how we envision our lives and to claim a heavenly mindset towards our mothering tasks.  These inspirational readings will help us discover a new way of looking at our responsibilities as a mom through God’s eyes.

Bennett encourages readers to embrace a simpler life filled with God’s promises and love as you reflect on God’s powerful work as it has woven through their past and present in anticipation of its impact in the future and their spiritual legacy.

Q: What does it mean to be a heavenly minded mom?

The lives of moms are all too often consumed with wearisome, empty striving. We work to keep up appearances, meet worldly standards, and find satisfaction in the offerings of this life such as success, admiration, and ease. However, God has set eternity in a mother’s heart, and deep inside, and it is impossible to not long for more.

To be heavenly minded is to know that the promises of God are true and allow them to anchor our hope completely. It is to find purpose in God’s calling to live in a way that matters beyond this life: to love with His love, to serve as Christ served, to sacrifice for the sake of the Kingdom of God and to prioritize spiritual gain over worldly gain in our daily choices.

Q: You describe your devotional as a journey. What are the destinations along the way to becoming heavenly minded?

Heavenly Minded Mom is comprised of three sequential sections. The first section is designed to open your eyes to the meaninglessness of the things we too often wrongfully align our hearts with and devote our lives to. These are the things that become idols in our lives. The purpose of the first thirty days is to till up the soil of your heart and prepare it for the seeds of eternal perspective God wants to plant. It is intended to crack the thin sheet of colorful glass that is right in front of your nose (the world as you perceive it) and dethrone idols in your life so that you will be able to see past this physical existence and into eternity.

The second section will further cultivate your eternal perspective by demonstrating how to think and interpret life with a mind and heart set on heaven.

The third and final section of the book is about the things that will endure. It is intended to pour meaning back into the stuff of your life. The tasks, pursuits, and endeavors that were stripped of meaning at the onset of this book will be re-enlivened with a different, deepened, Christ-centered sense of possibility and lasting meaning. Together, we will examine the things that will endure—faith, hope, love—and look at how we can store up treasures in heaven during our brief lives on this earth.

Q: Can you share more about the format of Heavenly Minded Mom? How did you intend for the book to be used?

Heavenly Minded Mom is set up as a 90-day devotional. Originally, I envisioned it as a book, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized to shift one’s perspective requires time and multiple opportunities to reflect and reevaluate life. Because the book is scripture-based and scripture-saturated, this was a perfect fit. A devotional format also seems to be helpful for mothers, who tend to be busy!

In my book, I reference the book of Ecclesiastes written by King Solomon who was a man given special wisdom from God. In it, he observes life under the sun and considers how truly meaningless all our striving, accomplishment, pleasures and gain truly are when all of it ends in death and is remembered no more. These truths are the foundation for Heavenly Minded Mom, but it doesn’t stop there! Because of what Christ has done, we have the most stunning of hopes, the hope of eternal life filled with eternal meaning.

Each day’s devotion includes a scripture reference for additional context and reading and journaling prompts to help readers process what they’re reading and apply it to their lives.

Q: On your blog you focus on living simply in light of eternity. How does this concept and Heavenly Minded Mom tie together?

When we truly understand value, we will not run after the things of the world, because we will see there is something far more wonderful for us to devote our lives and hearts to pursing. We will be more interested in making disciples than filling our trophy case, and more interested in spending time pouring into the spiritual lives of our children than with providing them every shining thing and trendy experience.

Hebrews 12:1-2 (NIV) says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Here we see there are things that entangle us in our heavenward race that are not sin. We are exhorted to throw these off, fix our eyes on Jesus alone (not the world), and run. We see that He did this too. He knew the joy that was to come, so He was able to endure throughout His life on earth in order to obey His Father.

Q: If you could share one thing with readers from all you’ve learned from all God has done in your life, what would it be?

Isaiah 40:6-8 “all people are like grass” and Luke 9:23 “whoever wants to be my disciple must deny himself and take up his cross to follow me.” Don’t love the world. Don’t spend your life on the wrong things! That’s a greater tragedy than we can imagine.

Q: What is your hope for Heavenly Minded Mom readers?

My hope is that it will open women’s eyes to the brevity of life so that they will not waste it pursing the wind. This matters urgently because we only have one chance to get this right, then all of eternity to reap what we have sown.

My hope is that mothers would discover real, unshakable hope, the joy of loving and serving others with Christ’s love, and the eternal calling God has placed on their lives for this present moment.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

I need to work on my feathers

After church on Sunday night, Rachel came over after we went to dinner. She brought her cross stitch to work on while I got out a canvas to work on. You ought to see some of the ambitious projects she takes on. They are awesome, but extremely tedious and time-consuming. I wouldn't have the patience, at all.

I got most of my project done before she left, and finished it up shortly after.

On Monday, she worked most of the day on stitching. She sent me a picture of the start of the day verses where she quit for the day and asked me how many signs I got made on my day off. When I told her I had lettered 10, her response was she needed a faster hobby.

Even though I lettered those 10 signs, I didn't make much of a dent in my piles. I need to get those piles done so I can make more piles. The goal is to stockpile the summer in order to be ready for the fall and not have to make as much on the weeks in between events. I'm usually not great with goals, so we'll see how this goes.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Explore 14 of the New Testament’s one-time encounters with Christ

 Part 2 of an interview with Marlo Schalesky,
author of Reaching for Wonder

In Reaching for Wonder (Abingdon Press), Marlo Schalesky explores fourteen of the New Testament’s one-time encounters with Christ to illuminate the surprising character of a God who transforms our pain into wonder. Perhaps you’ve faced a spiritual crisis of disappointment, doubt, or a feeling of distance from God due to unanswered prayers and painful circumstances. But what does it mean to encounter Christ in those times? What does he say to us when we have nothing left to say? How do we see him when pain has silenced our prayers and blinded our souls?

Because sometimes life isn’t at all as we want it to be...

Because we lose the wonder in the hardships of life ...

Because encountering Christ changes everything...

Like those who have gone before, following God’s call isn’t about easy faith, a life of effortlessness, or every prayer answered when and how we want. Instead, it’s about encountering God so deeply, so significantly, that everything about your circumstances, about your life, about you, changes because of God. 

Q: Reaching for Wonder looks at one-time encounters with Christ in the Bible. Many of these stories are very familiar to us, so how should we focus on these stories differently?

A: The things I saw in these stories and share in the book changed the way I encounter Christ in my pain. For example, Jesus meets a Samaritan woman at a well. Usually when we read that story we focus on how Jesus talks about living water or how we are to worship in spirit and in truth. However, that’s not really what that story is about. It’s about how Jesus confronts and completely transforms a woman’s deepest shame into the very thing she uses to get a whole town to come and see Jesus.

I am the woman at the well. You are the woman at the well. God is waiting there to take the very things we most want to hide, the things that cause us the most pain and shame, and make them into the things that bring him glory.

That’s who God is. That’s what Reaching for Wonder is about – seeing God in our deepest pain, in ways that do more than heal, they urge us to reach out for the wonder of what God offers, especially when life hurts the most.

We can find the wonder of God in the place we least expect it to be: in the very places of our deepest pain and shame. We find that wonder not by trying to do an end-around our pain, not by skirting the darkest parts of it, but by encountering Christ in it and through it. In the darkest, most hopeless-seeming times of our pain is precisely when God is offering us his most breath-taking wonder, and he’s calling us to hope one more time and reach for him.

Q: You introduce each story and discussion of the encounter in a unique way. Can you share a little bit more about the format of Reaching for Wonder?

A: Only a personal encounter with Christ can touch those hidden places within us that hurt when life is hard. A solely intellectual experience is not enough, but simply an emotional experience isn’t either. The format of Reaching for Wonder is designed to help the reader encounter Christ in a real way through the biblical stories.

I start with a quick introduction to each chapter that brings out some questions, some unique and perhaps surprising elements of the biblical encounter. I then move to a fictional retelling of the encounter. This is Biblical imagination, which brings in a ton of research to try to capture what it might have been like for that person to encounter Christ at the worst moment of his or her life. I’m hoping the reader will identify with the biblical character and be able to experience the story at a deep level.

Then, I move on to analyzing the story and what it might mean in our own lives. I use modern day examples, stories from my own life, analysis of the Greek, history, everything I can to bring out the richness of the encounter and help us delve its depths.

I follow up with a “Who is This God?” section where we look at the surprising character of God and use other parts of scripture to illuminate who God really is in our lives. Each chapter ends with a prayer to encourage the reader to come to Christ and encounter him in a personal way.

This is the third book where I’ve used this format, and I’m really finding it helps the reader to have a full, whole-person experience that is truly transformational.

Q: In Reaching for Wonder, you talk about how Jesus heals a woman who’s been bleeding for twelve years. What do you see in that story that speaks to hurting people today?

A: I love this story because things have gone from bad to worse for this woman, and now she’s lost everything. She’s lost all hope, and then Jesus comes by in a huge crowd. Somehow, she weaves her way through the crowd with one goal in mind: She’s going to touch the edge of his cloak and be healed. When she does, and she’s healed, that should be the end of the story. Except it’s not.

Instead, Jesus stops the whole crowd so that he can look this hurting woman in the eye and call her daughter. She already had what she came for, but Jesus wanted to give her more. He wanted to give her himself.

That’s how it is for us. We want too little from our God. We come wanting only the very edge of his cloak, but Jesus is not satisfied with that. He’ll stop the world so that we see him face-to-face, so that he can call us daughter and make sure we know we are his own. That’s the true healing, and it’s found in a face-to-face encounter with the living God.

We should settle for nothing less.

Q: What do you mean when you say our focus is wrong when life is at its worst? Doesn’t it make sense to focus on getting things fixed as soon as possible?

A: I was shocked to discover that while my focus is on healing during the hardest times of life, God’s is not. I grapple with the idea that his focus is on relationship, on revealing himself to us and drawing us closer to him at the very time when all we want is relief from the pain. Discovering the reality of this truth has changed the way I approach the hard things in my life. Now, I’m looking for that moment when he stops the clamoring and calls me daughter. I’m listening for the words, “Do you want to be healed?” I know that my doubts in the midst of my pain are something he accepts and doesn’t scorn. Focusing on him instead of my need for a quick fix has opened me receiving and recognizing what he’s doing both in me and in my situation.

Q: How does this focus on relationship make a difference in our worst times?

A: It opens our eyes and allows us to see God where we would have thought he was absent. When life hurts, and we pray for relief, we tend to have in our minds a very specific picture of what our answered prayers should look like. Very rarely do those pictures match up with God’s plans. Opening our vision allows us to recognize where and how he’s actually working around us and in us. That’s where we can connect with the wonder of God even in the worst of circumstances.

Q: Where can people find out more about Reaching for Wonder and your other books?

A: I hope they’ll visit my website at and sign up for my newsletter. I also love to connect with and encourage readers through my Facebook page and through Twitter. That’s where I try to post daily encouragements to reach for the wonder of God in our lives, especially during the toughest times.

Find out more at She can also be found on Facebook (MarloSchalesky) and Twitter (@MarloSchalesky).

Monday, May 28, 2018

Another season of blogging on the insanity that is #thebachelorette

I am actually a night behind in posting this because while this week's episode was on, I was at Peyton's softball game. By the time I got home, I had no desire whatsoever to start blogging about The Bachelorette.

The fact that it is now 9 PM, and I've found numerous excuses such as working late, going to get something to eat, browsing Wikipedia regarding an old TV show and playing games on my phone, I obviously am not that excited tonight. That actually applies to blogging in general lately. The reason I actually need to back post five days on the blog. I may or may not get some of that done later, depending on how long it takes (hoping FWD through commercials helps, but I now I will be pausing a lot while describing the arrival of the men) and if my battery holds out on the laptop since I didn't bring down the power cord.

So Becca... is she over Ari? It was pretty traumatic how he broke up with her, but in how he went about it, I would say, "Good riddance!"

I've already started hearing spoilers about her falling in love with two guys and now being engaged. I guess we'll see if that lasts.

Of course, we have to see a recap of the proposal and the break-up. Let's hate Ari all over again. Becca talks about heading back to Minnesota after being dumped. She talks about wanting what her parents had. She visits with her family who tells her it all happened for a reason. She still wants to find love. That's why she is going through the experience again. Oh, whoops, journey. I read on a BuzzFeed earlier this week about it has to be referred to as a journey. That and a lot of other craziness that makes the show, or the process, so ridiculous. I thought I wasn't going to be able to find the link, but here it is: 18 Behind-the-Scenes Rules that every The Bachelor Contestant is Required to Follow.

We have to see the Bachelorettes of seasons past give their advice. Rachel, JoJo and Katelyn talk about their rejection followed by Bachelorette and engagement .

JoJo then brings out sage and does a cleansing of the house. They may not have gotten rid of the "juju," but they did set off the fire alarm. JoJo points out that all three women that are still engaged had their first kiss on the first night when the man they gave the first impression rose to, then ended up with.

I don't even know if that sentence was coherent.

Before the limos arrive, we will meet some guys. I'll include more info about them as I give the limo arrival rundowns.*

*Colton, 26, Former NFL player, Denver, CO - He was born on Super Bowl Sunday, so figured it was destiny to be a football player. Until he got injured. His little cousin has cystic fibrosis, so he has a foundation that helps other kids. He likes to have fun, so brought poppers so he and Becca could start things with a bang. They pop confetti out.

Grant, 27, Electrician, Danville, CA - He has a tall forehead. That's about all I think of him. Not a big first impression.

*Clay, 30, Pro football player, Chicago, IL -  He shares that his dad is black and his mom is white. We see a big family dinner with both sides. He's played for a lot of teams in the past 9 years. He says he is not the typical football player. He seems soft-spoken, so maybe he is not. When he arrives, he tells her that he has caught a lot of passes in his life, but he if ended up with her, it would be the biggest catch of his life.

*Jean Blanc, 31, Colognoisseur, Pensacola, FL - Jean Blanc is originally from Haiti and neither I nor spell check know what is occupation is unless it means his job is to smell good. He collects watches, ties and has more than 100 bottles of cologne and likes to smell good in the morning. What do you know? I've watched this show long enough to figure out what made up job titles mean. He plans to blow Becca's nose away. He wants to teach her a little bit of French as his sch-tick. As he walks away, she does comment on how good he smells. I wonder if the producers fed her that line.

Connor, 25, Fitness coach, St. Petersburg, FL - He wants to ask her one thing. He tells her to close her eyes as he gets down on one knee and does a mock proposal. Insert eye roll.

*Joe, 31, Grocery store owner, Chicago, IL - He deals in produce and knows his yams. Actually he got his start in selling watermelons to stores. His parents met and married in a short span of time. He has a cocky attitude about how attractive he is that seams typical of Italian men from Chicago. His arrival is rather low key, but he's willing to marry her at first sight he tells the cameras when he goes in.

John, 28, Software engineer, San Francisco, CA - He has distinctive facial features. I can't tell you what exactly it is, but he has a unique appearance. He talks about his grandma's advice on love.

Leo, 31, Stuntman, Studio City, CA - Speaking of unique looks, he has all his long curly hair piled on top of his head. He lets his hair down, and Becca wants to touch it. She says it's like her sisters. Think Fabio, but with dark hair.

*Jordan, 26, Male model, Crystal River, FL - I don't know why they had to add "male" in front of the model description. However, see my note above about pretty boy types. He describes himself as a pensive gentleman. It's taxing to be a model, he says. Lots of upkeep. He's kind of awkward. As he walks away, Becca comments on his shoes. He wanted his shoes to make a noise (tap) as he walked away. Something about the heartbeat of a gentleman. He hopes his fashion sense takes him far.

Rickey, 27, IT Consultant, San Diego, CA - He compliments Becca, but we don't get much else on him because we keep getting cut-ins of Jordan yammering on about his suit and style.

Alex, 31, Construction Manager, Atlanta, GA - Again, not much on him because we keep hearing from Jordan. I think Jordan complements Alex's tie when he gets in. 

Nick, 27, Attorney, Orlando, FL - He arrives dressed like a race car driver or something. Becca and I are both confused. He does take off the jumpsuit and says something about how he usually makes great opening statements. Leo is confused by this race car driver ensemble since it would remind her of her ex, Ari. 

Mike, 27, Sports analyst, Cincinnati, OH - Speaking of questionable choices, he brings a cut out of Ari saying he needed to see Becca happy with other guys. Mike has a man bun which turns me off from the get go.

*Garrett, 29, Medical sales rep, Reno, NV - I don't know what is up with his personal introduction of himself in the video reel. He's into fishing. As long as he doesn't use his fake midwest or Canadian accent or whatever it was he was doing, he's kind of attractive. (Side note: the men are usually pretty boy types, and I don't find many of them particularly attractive.) He arrives in his own mini van, touting how he wants to be a dad. They check out the van before he heads in.

Blake, 28, Sales rep, Bailey, CO -  We have met Blake before. At After the Final Rose, he rose up through the audience on a horse named Bradley. "When you fall off the horse, you have to get back on," he proclaimed. He wanted to help her get back on the horse. She has to get up side saddle because she was in a dress with quite the slit. Keeping his sch-tick alive, he arrives at the mansion this time on some kind of horned animal. She wonders where he is getting these animals. Already his feelings are as strong as an ox. I guess that was an ox.

*Lincoln, 26, Account sales executive, Los Angeles, CA - Lincoln was born in Nigeria. We actually "met" him as one of the five that Becca was introduced to on After the Final Rose. I confess that I only recall this because I went back to an old blog post to pull up details. That night, I wrote, "First up, a man with a bow tie and an accent. It's Lincoln (like the President). A charming black man who says it's his birthday. He says he is blushing, but you can't tell for obvious reasons. He's taking up all the time we might have had to meet other men by nervously chatting." Carrying on the cheesiness of before, he brings along a piece of birthday cake.

Chase, 27, Advertising VP, Sanford, FL - His line is that it's all about the chase. We also met him on ATFR. he was one of the men going on about her deserving better that. At the time I said his big hair on top was going to get on my nerves. It doesn't seem particular high tonight.

Darius, 26, Pharmaceutical Sales Rep, Sherman Oaks, CA - He was also a gusher on ATFR. He  apologized on behalf of all men for what happened to her. Doesn't make a big splash upon arrival tonight.

Ryan, 26, Banjoist, Manhattan Beach, CA - I am amazed Banjoist is a recognized word according to spell check. He's the last of the ATFR men. He didn't bring the banjo tonight. The fact he played it and wore a bow tie was two strikes against him in my book. The bow tie he is wearing tonight only confirms that for me.

Christon, 31, Former Harlem Globetrotter, Los Angeles, CA - I am never going to spell his name right. It's the last limo, so we are rushing through people now.

Wills, 29, Graphic desginer, Los Angeles, CA - Just a quick hello.

Jason, 29, Sr. Corporate Banker,  Seattle, WA - He creates a secret handshake.

Kamil, 30, Social media participant, Monroe, NY - He makes Becca come out and meet him half way because relationships are about compromise. I'm guessing that social media participant means he spends all day on Twitter, not getting paid for it. #loser

Jake, 29, Marketing consultant, Minneapolis, MN - He looks like he is wearing leggings and a pair of Toms when he gets out of the car. Hopefully they were just skinny tux pants. His shoes are terrible though. Becca recognizes him as being from Minneapolis. He is an acquaintance, and she is unimpressed.

Trent, 28, Realtor, Naples, FL - He arrives in a hearse and claims he LITERALLY died when he found out she was going to be the Bachelorette, but she brought him back to life.

Christian, 28, Banker, San Diego, CA - He's also peculiar looking. Jordan thinks he should be wearing socks with his loafers.

David, 25, Venture capitalist/chicken, Denver, CO - He arrives dressed as a chicken and calls out her name as a chicken noise. He makes other chicken related jokes such as not being there to ruffle feathers.

Chris, 30, Sales trainer, Orlando, FL - He plans to win over Uncle Gary's heart. He is/was a preacher, so he brought in a gospel choir. They sing about having a rose.

You can actually watch all of them do a short intro video on the ABC website. I'll add there's a mix of races this time (at least white and black - not sure there's anyone representing the Asian or Latin population), not just what seemed like the "token" exceptions as in some years past.

It has taken me almost two hours to get to this point of the blog, an hour into the show with an hour to go and I am having a very hard time staying awake here in my chair as I type. My eyes are watering tired.

The first guy to pull Becca away after she comes in and does her little speech is Connor. His hair bugs me. It displays his cocky.

So that Becca will remember him, Clay wants to build something of clay. They must talk a while because they did actually make figures.

We see a minute of this guy, a minute of that. One guy teaches her some dance steps, one reads her a poem he wrote.

Christon teaches her some basketball tricks. All the men come out to witness.

She seems to bond with Blake. They are on the same page. This seems odd to me because this is the ox guy. Is she really into Mr. Ox?

The first impression rose arrives, so the men get tense.

Cue some weird massage wand, a bracelet from Haiti, and the chicken dance. Becca evidently enjoys her conversation with the chicken.

Jordan is sitting around waiting his turn. He doesn't ant to talk to the chicken though.

There's some fly fishing in the pool with Garrett (who she thinks her family will like).

Chris takes a couple of guys out and tells them Chase may not be there for the right reasons. Chris knows Chase's ex-girlfriend who thinks he's just trying to revamp his marketing company. The guys say that yes, he should question Chase. Cue the early drama. Chase claims he and this girl only went out for like a couple of weeks.

When Chase talks to Becca, he confesses the drama coming up already from Chris. He wants her to know that the whole thing is nothing. He brings Chris in to talk it out. She says, "This is my first two-on-one." I'm going to guess neither of these guys get the first impression rose. This is a bit much for her not knowing anyone yet. These are two of the most unattractive guys in the house, by the way. She might cut both loose because this is too much too soon.

Becca talks to Jake, the guy she had met before. She wonders why he is here since they have run in the same social circles. Since they have met multiple times in the past, she wonders what's up since there's been no interest in the past. He has one recollection of meeting her before. Only one. Having met him before, she's ready to send him home already. She doesn't want to have someone around that she's actually met before. He thinks he's had a transformative year and isn't the guy she met before. Becca doesn't think he's actually there for her though. Something about him didn't rub her the right way. He's the first one sent home. He doesn't take it well.

Becca comes in and tells the guys she sent him home because there was no interest in the past when they had met before.

From there, we get a few more quick one-on-one conversations.

She comes back for the rose and calls Garrett outside. The mini van made an impression as did the fishing. He also gets the first kiss.

Chris Harrison finally comes in to get Becca ready for the rose ceremony.

I don't think that Jordan ever talked to her, but he says it wouldn't be fair to Becca if he did not get a rose. how does he figure? He has some backwards reasoning.

We started out with 28, but she already sent Jake home. Garrett has a rose.

  1. Lincoln
  2. Blake
  3. Rickey
  4. Jean Blanc
  5. Christon
  6. Clay
  7. Wills (what's {good} unusual is six of the first seven roses were given to darker guys)
  8. Connor
  9. Jason
  10. John
  11. Ryan
  12. Alex
  13. Nick
  14. Trent
  15. Colton
  16. David (the chicken, so this has Leo a bit puzzled)
  17. Jordan (he is a fashion model after all, he would be embarrassed if the chicken stayed and he went)
  18. Leo (he's just glad to say since he's a different looking guy)
  19. Mike
  20. Chris 

That means the six men going home are: Kamil, Joe, Chase, Christian, Darius and Grant.

There are some I'd have cut loose already that she kept. Like Jordan.

So, that's it for this week. The previews for the rest of the season are typical. Travel and tears. Secrets and lies. Drama and childish behavior.

And for some reason, I'll be here blogging it all.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

I've Got the Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy

I have been teaching a lot lately, but I haven't gotten a bunch of videos. So, here's a repeat video from a year and a half ago.

I’ve Got the Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy
By George W. Cooke

I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy
Down in my heart,
Down in my heart, 
Down in my heart,
I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy
Down in my heart, 
Down in my heart to stay.

And I’m so happy, so very happy
I’ve got the love of Jesus in my heart, 
Down in my heart,
And I’m so happy, so very happy,
I’ve got the love of Jesus in my heart.

I’ve got the love of Jesus, love of Jesus 
Down in my heart,
Down in my heart, 
down in my heart,
I’ve got the love of Jesus, love of Jesus 
Down in my heart, 
Down in my heart to stay.


I’ve got the peace that passes understanding 
Down in my heart,
Down in my heart, 
Down in my heart,
I’ve got the peace that passes understanding 
Down in my heart, 
Down in my heart to stay.


I’ve got the wonderful love of my blessed Redeemer
Way down in the depths of my heart.
Way down in the depths of my heart, 
Way down in the depths of my heart,
I’ve got the wonderful love of my blessed Redeemer
Way down in the depths of my heart,
Way down in the depths of my heart to stay.


And if the Devil doesn’t like it,
He can sit on a tack, 
Sit on a tack,
Sit on a tack.
And if the Devil doesn’t like it,
He can sit on a tack, sit on a tack to stay.


Saturday, May 26, 2018

Summer isn't officially here, but I'm over it already

What happened to spring?

It stayed relatively cool for a while, then it got really hot really quick. Two or three weeks ago, there were parts of the country still getting snow. Now everyone is hitting high temperatures.

I went out to Home Depot, then did some replanting in the backyard and almost melted. I hate being hot and sticky, so I'm already over the heat and it's May.

When I came in, I had to cool down the craft studio so I can start making a dent in the piles. Piles and piles of stuff Dad has painted for me, but I haven't finished. I've been coming down from the office too late recently to get anything done at night, so it's mostly just weekend crafting these days. Here's something I just finished off. I really wish I had not started the writing at an angle like I did. It drives me nuts.

Friday, May 25, 2018

All these emotional posts are making me emotional

It has been that time of year when many a mom (some dads and grandparents too) on Facebook has posted pictures talking about how swiftly time passes. Have you noticed all the last day of school pictures compared to the first day of school pictures? 

There have been last kid graduating kindergarten photos. Last day of elementary photos. "She's a freshman now" photos. "I can't believe I have a senior now" photos, and of course, graduation photos a many. 

So many milestones. So many celebrations. So many bittersweet moments. 

There are times where I don't feel like an especially touchy-feely person. I wouldn't necessarily consider myself to be someone that's uber sympathetic. That's not something I am proud to admit. Oh, but in the midst of all these photos and posts, I'm experiencing "all the feels" in a major way.

No, I don't have kids of my own. I do have nieces though. When school starts back in a few months, they will be a freshman and senior in high school. It's so hard to believe. I know it's cliche to say that. However, the reason it's so hard to believe is because I've been on the outside of so many milestones, when I want to be right in middle of them.

If you have followed this blog for more than a few years, you may remember that I used to talk about my nieces a lot here. Then, I didn't talk about them except the occasional post about one of them. It's a topic I skirted, and continue to skirt in this venue. It's something I've wanted to talk about in a therapeutic way, but haven't because there's some things that can't be said or shouldn't be said. I'm tired and weary of it all.

I used to spend lots and lots of time with them from the time they were born. They were my might-as-well-be my children. There were periods of time where one or the other would stay with me practically every other weekend. I was a big part of their lives and they were a huge part of mine. 

Because I don't have a family of my own, a huge part of my identity was tied to being an aunt, and everybody knew it. I think I counted on this too much. That's my fault. 

Those two girls have been through a lot of crap, to be honest. That was part of why we were so close. I knew things would change some as they got older, just part of being teenagers. I was completely unprepared for how much of a change. It wasn't all about just being a teenager though.

Three years ago, a specific situation changed, and when it did, I was pushed completely out of one of their lives. After 13 years, everything changed. It's been quite the ordeal. It's had an affect on the relationship I have with her sister in some ways too. 

At this point, I want to make it clear that what follows is MY REACTION to this change in MY LIFE. It's not pointing fingers or assigning blame to anyone for anything. I'm going to go into a selfish, self-pity rant about me and why I have been emotional.

Oh, how I fought it. I tried to keep it from happening. I tried to keep the lines of communication open. But I failed, and I failed miserably. It seemed the more I tried, the worse it got. I had to back off. I still don't know all of the causes. I may never know. I can't go into the details of what little I do know.

The situation has left me absolutely crushed. I've felt lost. I've felt like I've lost a huge part of my identity. Oh, how I have mourned the situation. I've mourned the relationship. There have been times the mention of her name will bring me to tears. I miss her so much. I have missed so many moments I never thought I would have missed. I miss conversations. I miss laughs. 

I don't think either could possibly know how much I love them and that I would do anything for them. I hope they never feel the pain I have felt the past few years.

I've prayed countless prayers. I've cried buckets upon buckets of tears. I've screamed and punched pillows. I've dreamed about confrontations. I've stuffed down feelings. I've tried to act like everything is normal. I've made my friends weary from hearing about it. That's made me feel extremely guilty, and I try to avoid conversations that might go that direction.

I've been sad. I've been angry. I've been at my wit's end. I've been hurt. I feel helpless. I feel resigned.

I've had conversations with my other niece about how sad it has been, and now, there are signs it's going to happen all over again. That makes me even angrier for a number of reasons.

Sometimes I can push it out of my thoughts. Sometimes I can almost convince myself that they aren't mine so I just have to give it up. 

Then, sometimes Facebook floods with emotional moments, and I just can't take it anymore. 

In a complete too-much-information moment, I'll add that being hormonal just multiplied all of the sadness and anger and every other emotion. It made it all the more worse.

After a particularly hard day, I said something to a friend on Facebook. I just needed to tell someone I was struggling. Meaning well, she sent me a video she thought I would smile at. The trailer to the Christopher Robin movie was not the answer. That was sappy emotional, and the video slid right into "Top 10 Disney Movie Clips that Made Us Ugly Cry," and I could not get the video to stop before a scene from Inside Out started. That was the last movie I took both of my nieces to. We saw many a Disney movie together, and there are strong memories there. 

I started sobbing so hard I could not breathe. 

My biggest fear is nothing will change and that after graduation next year, she'll go off and we'll never have a real conversation again. 

I think of how before she was in kindergarten I had been whining about how I wanted to go to Hawaii, but no one would go with me. She was too little to know Hawaii from Hillsboro, but said, "I'll go to Hawaii with you Baqbaq!" We made a deal then that we would go to Hawaii for her high school graduation. We talked about it so many times. Now I think it doesn't matter that there are travel advisories and the islands are covered with lava because that isn't going to happen anyway. 

So as I sit here and type and wipe tears from my eyes and snort so snot doesn't run down my face, I promise this will be the end of any pity party you see here. 

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Doodle the night away

Sometimes I get wound up about things. Ok, a lot of times I get wound up about a lot of things. Instead of getting out my stress relief coloring book, I got out my markers and a canvas. I'd like to think this was a little more productive. I finished this off while sitting in my chair in the living room watching TV.

This summer, I am determined to make up the canvases that have been sitting in my studio since last January. My craft room is a mess with projects to finish.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Primary Suspect by Laura Scott

On Wednesdays in May I am going to highlight this month's releases from Love Inspired and Love Inspired Suspense.

(There is a blog tour going on right now with the publisher. This is the last tour that was on the Litfuse calendar, so I wanted to share.)

Are you familiar with the Love Inspired line? You believe hearts can heal. Love Inspired stories show that faith, forgiveness and hope have the power to lift spirits and change lives—always.

Love Inspired Books celebrate wholesome, inspirational romances that enrich the lives of each reader. Whether you love heart-pounding suspense, historically rich stories or contemporary heartfelt romances, Love Inspired books have it all! 

Six new Love Inspired titles are available each month!

Learn more and shop the line at 

About the book:

Wrongfully Accused

A Callahan Confidential story

When fire investigator Mitch Callahan is attacked at a crime scene, he’s shocked to uncover the body of a slain ex-girlfriend—and realize someone’s framing him for murder. Widowed ER nurse Dana Petrie believes Mitch is innocent, and not just because he makes her feel alive again after tragedy marred her past. But is she willing to risk everything only to love and lose again?

About the author:

Laura Scott is honored to write for the Love Inspired Suspense line, where a reader can find a heartwarming journey of faith amid the thrilling danger. She lives with her husband of twenty-five years and has two children, a daughter and a son, who are both in college. She works as a critical-care nurse during the day at a large level-one trauma center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and spends her spare time writing romance. 

Visit Laura at

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

In the mailbox

I've gotten so many books recently via e-book or other electronic files, I've missed getting boxes and packages of books, other than big boxes of Readers Digest books from eBay.

These are some of the Abingdon Press titles I'm working on right now. I'm doing publicity for a couple of them and helping with marketing on all of them. I'm able to branch out into some other things which is kind of exciting on one hand and has me a little nervous on another.

Speaking of those aforementioned boxes of books from eBay, someone needs to keep me off of eBay. A week or so ago, I was talking about eBay lots with Dad and popped off thinking I was low-balling someone on an "Or Best Offer" on a big bunch of books only to have my offer accepted about 30 seconds later (or less). It was super quick. For days, Dad joked about my 78 books coming that I didn't necessarily need, at least not right away.

Well, when they arrived in three big boxes, it ended up only being 76 (Dad said that's what I got for knocking $50 off their "Buy It Now" price). I got those put away and finally got all of my books organized and put on the shelf I bought at an Estate Sale on Sunday. All except a couple of boxes I still didn't have room for on said new shelf. I'd also like to point out right here, that I bought the shelf to go in the closet I cleaned out, however, said shelf did not fit. It's 36" wide, and the closet is 37" wide. The door to the closet is not 36" wide and there is no way to get it into the closet and turned. So, I had to move stuff around in the craft studio.

You know what I did today after just getting the shelves organized last night? I was scrolling through eBay because I got tempted by the daily alert for searched items on my phone. I found another OBO lot of books. I put in an offer for $45 less than what they wanted. A few minutes later, my offer was accepted, and I have 58 more books on the way.

I expected a little back and forth action on both of these bids. I got accepted way too quickly meaning I should have started my bid lower.

The good news is, Dad can cut all these other patterns just about to his heart's content, and we'll have a good stock for all of our back-to-back-to-back shows this fall without me being in a panic and willing to pay more for books when I get in a pinch. (We'll ignore the fact we may run out of booth space.)

I'm not freaked out by how many hundreds of books I have in my house. However, I'm going to have to keep myself off of eBay until I at least get some more of them cut.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Stepping out for fresh air

This week has started out a bit more productive for me. I've actually come down from the office earlier though I have ended up on the laptop with various things after a couple of hour break at night. 

It's been nice to step out back and check my plants. I just now realized how bad the pictures are though. Scroll down to check out my lemons. 

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Wonderful, Wonderful Jesus is to Me

Wonderful, Wonderful, Jesus is to Me

Wonderful, wonderful, Jesus is to me.
Counselor, Prince of Peace,
Mighty God is He.
Saving me, keeping me,
From my sin and shame
Wonderful is my Redeemer,
Praise His name.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Now that spring events are over...

This weekend, we had our last event until fall starts. We've come to decision that with the exception Derrick Days in April in Corsicana, we will no longer do any spring events or outside events.

I don't know how I gave into doing the one we did this weekend. Dad says he doesn't think it was him, but I said he kept asking about it, and I probably signed up so that he would not ask about it again.

I'll tell you how bad it got. I left Mom and Dad to tend shop and drove up the road from Mansfield to Arlington with the trailer attached to go shopping for some things I needed for VBS at Mardel's and to Hobby Lobby for ribbon. I didn't find the backdrop I needed for VBS, but loaded up on ribbon since it I finally hit a half off week for ribbon when I needed it.

I even stopped at Lane Bryant to look for some clothes before heading back.

This is some advice I have though: If you need to venture into Arlington around 157 and I-20 to shop, with traffic what it is and parking what it is, don't bring a trailer along. I'm glad I left Mom in Mansfield because she would have been a nervous wreck riding with me.

While I was at Hobby Lobby, they were starting to stock fall stuff. You know that means that Christmas will soon follow. Christmas balls make an appearance at the top of the shelves in the back sometime in June. That's ok though, during the summer, I am going to stock up on all my fall and Christmas crafts because we are going to stack our events as much or more than last year. I'm going to need those Christmas supplies soon.

Hey, I get why everyone groans when the Christmas goes out in June or July at Hobby Lobby. I used to be a groaner myself. However, the hard core hobby people need it then, before it hits 100 degrees!

Friday, May 18, 2018

Do you notice a theme here?

One thing leads to another, you know. After I posted all those pictures from yesterday's post on Facebook, someone asked for an anchor. I really did almost do an anchor when I pulled out those other shapes. 

The morning after the request for an anchor, someone else messaged me about something related to either a college or the Navy. Well, I had this anchor which could be Navy, so I went digging in my boxes of shapes. It's easy to pull of Army.

A couple of weeks ago when we went to Canton, I picked up airplanes for when someone asks for something Air Force, so...

The problem with the Marines is their logo is rather complicated. We're still thinking on that one.

In other news, we got the order for the state of Indiana done. If you want to order your state, let me know!

Thursday, May 17, 2018

One hoard influence another

After cutting a number of paws and musical notes last week, we decided to try a few more things this week.

Actually, "a few" isn't an accurate descriptor.

I had someone ask about a Longhorn after doing a state of Texas on the closest thing to a Texas orange book I had. I'm hoping to get a few more of these books at some point so I can make more. I said I wasn't going to post it on Facebook because I couldn't replicate it right now.

My hoard of books is well documented on this blog. I also have a hoard of small MDF shapes organized in boxes by theme (animals, crosses, hearts, fall, western, even fruit). So, I started pulling out random shapes as patterns to cut.



I have a bunch of brown books I need to use, so I hope people decorate for fall.

Dad was determined to do a goat because he liked the pattern.

We do a lot of baseball items, so this seemed obvious.

We aren't a fan of the golf ball on a tee in grass. It just looks odd. 
Apples for teachers.

I actually didn't have a pattern for this one, but I had my reasons for the pepper.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Bound by Duty by Valerie Hansen

On Wednesdays in May I am going to highlight this month's releases from Love Inspired and Love Inspired Suspense.

(There is a blog tour going on right now with the publisher. This is the last tour that was on the Litfuse calendar, so I wanted to share.)

Are you familiar with the Love Inspired line? You believe hearts can heal. Love Inspired stories show that faith, forgiveness and hope have the power to lift spirits and change lives—always.

Love Inspired Books celebrate wholesome, inspirational romances that enrich the lives of each reader. Whether you love heart-pounding suspense, historically rich stories or contemporary heartfelt romances, Love Inspired books have it all! 

Six new Love Inspired titles are available each month!

Learn more and shop the line at 

About the book:

Assignment: Single Mom Surveillance

The Military K-9 Unit series continues

Her serial killer brother’s escaped—and it’s single mom Zoe Sullivan who’s under suspicion! Sgt. Linc Colson trusts two things: his instincts and his Rottweiler K-9 partner, Star—and certainly not the pretty face he’s assigned to monitor. He’s done everything to keep her from getting under his skin—now he must stop those who want to put her six feet under.

About the author:

Valerie Hansen resides in the rural Ozarks where she writes the books of her heart, primarily for Love Inspired Romance and Suspense. She is married to her childhood sweetheart and has worked as a teacher's-aide, EMT, fire dept. dispatcher, dog breeder, commercial artist, dulcimer builder, Veterinarian's asst., 4-H leader, Sunday School teacher, antique restorer and certified Storm Spotter, etc. 

See for more!