Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The Biggest Win: Pro Football Players Tackle Faith

Super Bowl Champs Talk About
Faith in New Book, The Biggest Win

The Biggest Win by Joshua Cooley Gives Athletes and Sports Fans
an Insider’s Look Into the Lives and Faith of the
2017 Philadelphia Eagles’ Carson Wentz, Nick Foles,
Zach Ertz, Trey Burton, Jordan Hicks and Chris Maragos

This past February, the Philadelphia Eagles weaved the football-loving world an incredible tale, culminating with an exciting Super Bowl win against the New England Patriots that has left the city with lingering feelings of pride.

But nearly a year earlier, Joshua Cooley, one of the premier Christian sportswriters in the country, was invited to write a freelance story about the faith of a group of NFL players who were playing for more than gridiron glory. Their story, their faith and their desire to glorify God while playing the game they loved turned into a new book that gives sports-minded readers hope and direction for living out their faith while competing.

The Biggest Win, published by New Growth Press (July 30), gives athletes and sports fans of all ages a unique, insider’s look into the lives and faith of six Christian NFL players from the 2017 Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl team—Carson Wentz, Nick Foles, Zach Ertz, Trey Burton, Jordan Hicks and Chris Maragos. Through the ups and downs of their experiences, Cooley shows how these high-profile athletes remain committed to God’s Word, genuine Christian discipleship and sharing their faith.

Cooley said that when he received an invitation to write a freelance story about a group of Philadelphia Eagles players who were uncommonly devoted to seeking God’s Word together, he was intrigued. What he discovered in writing the profiles was that there was much more to be told.

“These guys weren’t perfect, nor did they claim to be,” Cooley said. “But I was immediately struck by their unquenchable hunger for Scripture and their commitment to genuine Christian discipleship, accountability, and obedience to Great Commission living. Rarely, if ever, have I spoken to a group of professional athletes so committed to pursuing biblical truth together. Soon, I realized there was a much larger story to tell. Since creation, God’s marvelous plan of redemption has been moving toward ultimate fulfillment. And amazingly, he allows athletic competition—enjoyed by billions of humans worldwide—to be one of many catalysts for spiritual growth. This book is a humble effort to examine this fascinating topic.”

The Eagles’ amazing 2017 season—culminating in a 41–33 victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII and providing the 85-year-old franchise with its first-ever Super Bowl title—was a wonderful blessing for these Christ-following players. The historic championship afforded them a much bigger platform to do what every great Christian athlete does—deflect glory toward their Creator.

“In The Biggest Win, we draw upon the experiential wisdom of these elite players, but we won’t idolize them,” Cooley added. “They are remarkable athletes with outsized salaries and fame that most of us will never know. But they are no better or worse than anyone else—a fact they happily admit. They are some of the most humble, likable professional athletes I’ve ever encountered. They are sinners saved by grace, just like all believers.”

The joint foreword to The Biggest Win from the six Super Bowl Champion players reinforce Cooley’s hope for the book.

“We love football,” they shared. “We love what we do. But football is just a game. And one day we will retire from football. But becoming a follower of Jesus Christ means our identity doesn’t have to be in our latest performance on the field—our identity is in Christ. Following Jesus means that our purpose is larger than being the best athlete. We have a whole new life of meaning, purpose, and service that will last longer than our football careers and have more impact in the world than anything we could accomplish on the field.”

The Biggest Win combines biblical truths with practical direction on issues that every Christian faces, including dealing with adversity, competition, change, success, failure, and how to thrive by faith in a pressurized world. Encouraging male and female athletes in any sport, The Biggest Win guides them in finding their ultimate identity in Christ, not their athletic achievements, and assures them that their greatest prize is eternal life.

A percentage of the book sales from The Biggest Win will go to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, a nearly 65-year-old international sports ministry with a vision to see the world transformed by Jesus Christ through the influence of coaches and athletes.

Cooley is also the author or co-author of The One Year Devotions with Jesus: 365 Devotions to Help You Know and Love the Savior, Heroes of the Bible Devotional: 90 Devotions to Help You Become a Hero of God! and The One Year Sports Devotions for Kids. He also co-authored Nick Foles’ memoir, Believe It, released earlier this summer.

New Growth Press (NGP) publishes gospel-centered, Bible-based materials that provide churches, families, and individuals with resources for personal and spiritual growth and change. The growing Christian publisher produces a wide variety of gospel-centered resources for individuals, families and churches. NGP also publishes books, minibooks, small group and Gospel Story for Kids resources that provide churches, families and individuals with gospel-driven publications for all ages.

The Biggest Win is available now for preorder at or Amazon.com. View the media page for The Biggest Win here or visit joshuacooleyauthor.com/the-biggest-win or the New Growth Press page at newgrowthpress.com/the-biggest-win.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Why is "The Men Tell" all always such Bachelorette let down?

Here we are at the almost end of the season. Tonight it's the Men Tell All episode of The Bachelorette. Tonight after what is sure to be an epic waste of two hours that could have been covered in 15 minutes, I have to work on back posting on my blog. I'm a week behind because I haven't posted/scheduled since last Monday night when I posted Tuesday nights blog. Such is life as of late!

Oh, and of course, I'm trying to eat dinner as the show starts. I didn't get down as early as I planned. That's nothing new either. There will be a lot of commercials though, so there's that.

Just the teasers at the top of the show make me want to skip. I can't handle Jordan.

Yes, I am cranky today. I'm just in a cranky mood. Now, we have previews of Bachelor in Paradise with Jordan and Krystal. I will probably try to watch, but I am 95% sure I am not going to spend the next several Mondays and Tuesdays trying to blog about it. In fact, I hope to be able to get my act together and get into the craft room after work, so maybe I can watch while crafting. I think that's a better use of my time.

A couple of weeks ago I was complaining about the commercials for the preventative HIV drug on TV. All drug commercials drive me nuts, but I am beyond that about that commercial. As one of my blog reading friends commented on that post, they better pass that out in paradise. That's why I don't want to blog about it.

Alright, now onto the men telling all. There are seriously three guys I don't remember. I don't know why they are there.

Cue the reel of the men ya-ya-ing at each other. Colton, Chris, Jordan, David...

Chris Harrison asks Chris why it all went so emotional for him. Chris admits he went off the rails after Leo sums it up as he lost it and screwed up his (Leo's) one-on-one date because Becca was in such a mind space.

Harrison then asks Jean Blanc about saying he loved Becca then taking it back. Colton starts saying something before JB can answer. I can't tell you what he said though because it was all bleeped out. JB bleeps something back to him. JB calls Colton a child. Connor wants to make sure he is seen and heard and interrupts everyone.

Harrison moves on to Jordan and how he stirred things up. Colton and Jordan go after each other. David and Jordan go after each other. What is Jordan ever talking about? Something about being a hologram of a man?

The men tell David they think he as there for Jordan because he talked more about Jordan than Becca. Then, they start picking on some guy that went home the first night that I don't remember. Christian (I literally had to look him up on the show site because I didn't know who he was) didn't have his time on the show, so he's going to get into it with Jordan. Jordan does have a point about Christian wearing capri pants. Actually, he called them high waters, but me calling them capri pants is funnier.

Kamil and Jordan exchange modeling barbs. I don't remember him either. Jordan's dropping word bombs where my ears hurt from the beeping.

As if we haven't had enough of Jordan in the group talking, after a commercial break, Harrison brings him to the hot seat and shows a reel of all his golden undie moments. Dude went home because Jordan was having fun and not showing any of his serious side. In talking to everyone, it's always about analogies and metaphors and cussing. Egotistical to the nth degree.

It seems the biggest problem the guys had with him is that they were trying to be serious about getting time with Becca and he took everything as a joke. He's even wearing his golden underwear under his suit.

Moving on... finally! Grocery Joe who went home on the first night is brought to the hot seat. Joe took Twitter by storm because a lot of people liked what very little they saw of him. 

Joe is a man of few words. He doesn't have much to say about his experience, as if there's much to say about it. He's going to be on BIP though.

Wells joins Harrison next. They talk about his clothes. I never got why he stayed on as long as he did. Wells gets all emotional watching it back.

Next is Colton's turn. There's the talk of him having dated Tia. The "relationship" was spending time together before Tia was even on her season with Ari. There's a talk about how backlash has been that his lack of experience "in the fantasy suite" made him less of a man and kept him out of the fantasy suite when the time came. He gets pretty emotional because he's actually done some things the right way, and he had to keep it a secret because he was an athlete and that's just the opposite of expectations. Jordan actually apologizes for being an idiot earlier in the show. At least he says something nice.

Finally, the highlights of Jason. There was something there that seemed more authentic, so I give him permission to have some tears watching it back. There were a lot of shared moments. Harrison then turns it lighter and comments on how often Becca said he was the best kisser, so they talk about that a little bit.

With 20 minutes left, Becca comes out. 

They start off talking about Jason. He asks what he should do differently next time. Is it vulnerability? He hopes that down the road they can be friends because she is such a great person.

Harrison brings up the Tia situation. They are friends, Becca thinks she's getting unfair responses.

Then, Wills asks what he can do differently next time. Becca said she had a great group of guys. Harrison says everyone is so nice, does anyone have anything bad to say about Becca. Leo has something on his mind, but Jean Blanc takes this as a chance to come down and clear the air. Since he always gives Becca a gift, he gives her a bottle of perfume. All the guys are shaking their heads. They must have had enough of his obsession with smell and cologne.

A few guys make miscellaneous comments. Chris brings the choir from the first night out to sing about how sorry he was.

The blooper reel was the best part.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

The Ten Plagues

I was looking through old videos to share because though I have taught a lot recently, I've not gotten new videos. I forgot we'd tried this one. I am surprised I tried it with a small group. 

The Plague Song
To the tune of “This Old Man”

Then God sent, plague number one
Turned the Nile into blood. 

All the people in Egypt were feeling pretty low; 
Moses told Pharaoh “let them go!”

Then God sent, plague number two
Jumping frogs all over you. (Chorus)

Then God sent, plague number three
Swarms of gnats from head to knee. (Chorus)

Then God sent, plague number four
Filthy flies, need we say more? (Chorus)

Then God sent, plague number five
All the livestock up and died. (Chorus)

Then God sent, plague number six
Boils and sores to make you feel sick. (Chorus)

Then God sent, plague number seven
Hail and lightening down from heaven. (Chorus)

Then God sent, plague number eight
Locust came and they sure ate. (Chorus)

Then God sent, plague number nine
Total darkness all the time. (Chorus)

Then God sent, plague number ten
Pharaoh’s son died so he gave in.

All the people in Egypt were feeling pretty low; 
Finally Pharaoh let them go.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

If you were missing crafty posts

If you have been missing crafty posts, you're going to have to wait another week or so. I've banned myself from the office for a couple of weekends, but spent my craft time organizing and reorganizing instead of creating. 

However, this weekend is a full office weekend. I'm hoping to have a better grip on things soon because I need to let off some creative steam and work on merchandise for the fall. Hopefully, I'll be posting some creative things soon!

Friday, July 27, 2018

Hope After Betrayal

 There is Hope After Betrayal
Author’s story provides testimony of healing
when sexual addiction invades a marriage

Seventeen years ago when her husband confessed to years of sexual addiction (SA), author Meg Wilson’s world seemed to fall apart around her. Her first response was that she wanted a divorce. In the moment, she wanted the pain to end, but God told her to wait. Because she and her husband were willing to work towards change, God was able to restore what was broken. She knows the devastation SA can bring to a marriage, but has come through the other side stronger, and now ministers to other women, offering hope and helping them to do the same.

“The world uses the word hope as a dream or wish for something to happen. God’s word is far more potent. It is the certainty of things yet unseen. The fuel of faith ignites our hope. I see every day how finding hope takes a women woman weakened by shame and devastation and makes her strong with resolve and trust that the Lord is with her. Hope makes all the difference,” says Wilson.

In Hope After Betrayal: Healing When Sexual Addiction Invades Your Marriage (Revised and Expanded Edition) (Kregel Publications/July 31, 2018/ISBN: 978-0825445675/ $16.99), Wilson provides reassuring counsel, compassionate insight, and wise direction to those who have found themselves in similar circumstances. By sharing her story, talking to other women who’ve walked the same road, and turning to Scripture, Wilson has helped countless readers through the steps to recovery—and shows how they can follow that same path out of the darkness.

“Sexual addiction is not about sex; it’s about escaping and avoiding pain,” Wilson writes. “A wife has zero responsibility for her husband's choices, healing, or recovery. However, she is 100% responsible for her own choices and responses. When both parties are seeking the Lord on their own leaving the other to do the same, healing will happen. When what I'm responsible for gets blurred, the water gets pretty muddy and the healing process is more complicated.”

This newly revised and expanded edition includes new lessons Wilson has learned over the last decade. Wilson begins Hope After Betrayal with her story, then uses the stories of four wives throughout to demonstrate the different ways women go through the healing process. These fictional women represent many of the ways we get stuck as well as good choices made during trials. The fourth character is new, adding another facet and voice to the stories. “As I have walked the path of recovery with women of color, they’ve taught me that there are distinct cultural differences on their journeys. But pain is not a respecter of race, and the feelings and fallout are the same even though some details vary. I pray even more women will feel represented and free to grab hold of the universal healing power of God.”

Each chapter covers one key concept such as the devastation of the initial disclosure, waiting for God’s direction, the importance of a support system, self-blame, and other lies we believe. The compelling final chapter was written by Wilson’s husband, Dave, and sheds further light on the difficult road to healing from sexual addiction. Wilson gives readers permission to read this final chapter first to gain perspective before delving into their own journey. A thoughtful new appendix addresses the effect sexual addiction has on children in the home.

Wilson asserts that what makes her story powerful is not the fact that she and Dave have remained married. What makes their story powerful is the redeeming work of Christ in both of their lives. “Our marriage could only be saved if we both let God change us. Every woman must get to the place where she can lay her husband at the foot of the cross and leave him there until God tells her what to do. I needed to realize Christ was everything I needed and no man could ever add to or change that. Only then could I be a healthy partner in this marriage.”

Wilson also founded a ministry by the same name as the book. Hope After Betrayal Ministries was born out of her experience, writing and years of leading support groups for women. HABM’s mission is to offer healing, support and empowerment through education, mentoring and classes for women betrayed by their partner and raise awareness regarding the impact of sexual betrayal through education, training and resources. For more information, visit hopeafterbetryal.com.

About the Author

Meg Wilson is the author of Hope After Betrayal and a regular speaker to women’s groups, Bible studies, and conferences. Eighteen years ago she began leading Healing Heart groups, then in 2013 she founded the Hope After Betrayal Ministries to bring help and hope to women whose husbands are caught in the web of sexual addiction.

Her mission is to help women find hope and healing from the pain of their partner’s sexual betrayal. In addition, she hopes to increase awareness in the church of how to minister to the brokenhearted.

Wilson and her husband, Dave, have been married for more than 35 years and have two adult daughters. The Wilsons make their home in Vancouver, Washington.

Learn more about Meg Wilson at hopeafterbetrayal.com. You can also find her on Facebook (@habministries) and Twitter (@HopeAfterBetray).

Thursday, July 26, 2018

The Gospel-Centered Life in Exodus for Students

Finding the Gospel in the Old Testament

First in a new series of small group studies for teens and
young adult uncovers the gospel story in Exodus

For many, Sunday school as a child is fondly remembered, with the introduction to the gospel story helped along with large picture books and easy-to-digest stories. Growing older, we made the move to Bibles with fewer pictures and more words and began to find the gospel in the Old Testament as well. However, we may have missed key instruction on how to make that transition. The new Gospel-Centered Life for Students series for teens and young adults will help make the connections clearer.

In the first book of the series, The Gospel-Centered Life in Exodus for Students (New Growth Press/July 23, 2018), author Kristen Hatton leads readers in finding and meeting Jesus in unexpected places as well as seeing the pattern of redemption present even in the Old Testament. As they learn the entire Bible is one unfolding story about Jesus, and the same God who spoke to Moses also sent his son to redeem our sins, study participants will better understand how to read Scripture and view it as the “manna” needed for their daily life.

“Throughout the book of Exodus, we see the Israelites grumble, complain, disobey, worship false gods, and try to be their own redeemer,” says Hatton. “In this way, Exodus lays out the pattern for redemption as it shows us the Israelites needed a Redeemer. It also shows us how much we are like them, have done some of the same things, and are in need of a Redeemer too.”

As students come together to read and discuss, they will not only see their own similarities to the ancient Israelites, they will also see how God comes to the rescue and gives grace to the guilty and over and over again. They will also see scripture pointing to the deliverance of his people which was later fulfilled in Christ and the gospel.

These twelve easy-to-use, self-contained lessons require no outside work and can be completed in one hour. Each lesson also includes a leader’s guide with discussion questions and background materials, making them self-explanatory for both participants and leaders.

John Perritt of Reformed Youth Ministries affirms, “Any youth worker or parent should pick up this helpful resource Kristen has produced. The Gospel-Centered Life in Exodus for Students can be used in one-to-one ministry, small groups, or large group settings. It’s very user-friendly and, most importantly, points students to Jesus Christ. At Reformed Youth Ministries our passion is passing the faith on to the next generation, and this resource will greatly assist us to that end!”


Kristen Hatton is a native Texan now putting roots down in Edmond, OK, with her church-planter/pastor husband and their three teenagers. With a public relations background from Southern Methodist University, Hatton has a wide array of professional experiences, none of which she counts as important as the job of being a “present” mom.
Through leading a small group Bible study of teenagers, she has discovered her passion for teaching and writing about God’s grace. In addition to her own blog, she is a frequent contributor to The Rooted Ministry blog and enCourage women’s blog.
In addition to The Gospel-Centered Life in Exodus for Students, she is the author of Face Time: Your Identity in a Selfie World and Get Your Story Straight: A Teen Guide to Learning and Living the Gospel.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Review copies of The Biggest Win now available

For all of you football loving bloggers, out there, I have a book for you! Now available from New Growth Press, The Biggest Win by Joshua Cooley. It's actually a book for all young people in sports. Learn more below.

Pro Football Players Tackle Faith
by Joshua Cooley

Foreword by Carson Wentz, Trey Burton, Zack Ertz,
Nick Foles, Jordan Hicks, and  Chris Maragos

About the book:

The Biggest Win gives athletes and sports fans of all ages a unique, insider’s look into the lives and faith of six Christian NFL players from the 2017 Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl team—Carson Wentz, Nick Foles, Zach Ertz, Trey Burton, Jordan Hicks, and Chris Maragos. Through the ups and downs of their experiences, author Joshua Cooley shows how these high-profile athletes remain committed to God’s Word, genuine Christian discipleship, and sharing their faith. 

Using their voices and stories, The Biggest Win gives sports-minded readers hope and direction for living out their faith while competing. 
The Biggest Win is ideal for pastors, youth, and college leaders to use as a small group resource with students interested in sports. Questions at the end of every chapter will spark helpful conversations about living by faith as an athlete and fan. It is a MUST for coaches to use with every Christian youth sports and school teams. See your youth athletes’ faith grow as they hear and learn from the amazing stories of these Super Bowl Champions. Also a perfect book for men’s church groups.
The Biggest Win combines biblical truths with practical direction on issues that every Christian faces—including dealing with adversity, competition, change, success, failure, and how to thrive by faith in a pressurized world. Encouraging male and female athletes in any sport, The Biggest Win guides them in finding their ultimate identity in Christ, not their athletic achievements, and assures them that their greatest prize is eternal life.

About the author:

Joshua Cooley is a sportswriting veteran of twenty-plus years for various print and online publications, including Sports Illustrated, FCA MagazineSports SpectrumOrioles MagazineClubhouse, and Highlights. He is also the author of The One Year Devotions with Jesus and the Heroes of the Bible Devotional, among other books. Joshua is the full-time children’s minister at Chapel Hill Bible Church in North Carolina.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Fall schedule for The Crafty Dad and Daughter

Somewhere along with all my book publicizing and my cut book sorting and hoarding, I've been working on getting the fall scheduled for The Crafty Dad and Daughter. This is why I've really needed to be crafting at night, but pretty much failing.

Where can you find us this fall?
Check out our line-up!

Click on the school name for more information on the event. Click on the address for Google Maps.

This year our events spread over 275 miles from North to South and 
October 20 ~ 9 AM - 5 PM
October 21 ~ 11 AM - 5 PM

October 27 ~ 9 AM - 5 PM
Arlington High School
November 3 ~ 9:30 AM - 4 PM

November 10 ~ 9 AM - 4 PM
(1071 Turner Warnell Rd, Arlington, TX 76001)

*new link and graphic coming soon

November 17 ~ 9 AM - 4 PM

*new link and graphic coming soon

November 24 ~ 9 AM - 5 PM
November 25 ~ 10 AM - 4 PM

December 1 ~ 9 AM - 5 PM

Monday, July 23, 2018

The Bachelorette: Men Say the Dumbest Things edition

Tonight from the previews of The Bachelorette, I can tell you that most of this blog will be pointing out the dumbest things the men say.

I didn't order my pizza soon enough, so of course, I am running late even though I planned all day to be ready to go on time. Me and my plans!

We join Becca and her men in Thailand. In Shanghai to be exact. I'm going to put all of the stupid statements in quotes because some are just cliche. THIS IS ONE OF THE MOST ROMANTIC PLACES I HAVE EVER BEEN. #bachelorettebingo

Further proof this show is scripted. She roams the streets smelling food, rides a puttputt, She arrrives at the Shangri-la and muses on how she is in love with two men and falling in love with a third.

She recaps where she is with each man. In love vs. falling in love. Best friend vs. hot attraction. Who has said, "I love you."

The first date of the week is Blake. 

When he arrives at his stop, Becca literally jumps him. I HAVE A GREAT DAY PLANNED. The problem is, after they reach a certain point along the path to the temple there will be no touching and no kissing. This is going to take some discipline. After not seeing him in so long... You know, three days or whatever.

They get a lesson in Buddhist worship from the monk at the temple. They get lessons in relationships. Honesty, compromise, patience and giving. When they leave the temple, they talk about those four things a little bit. Blake talks about how important honesty is on his interview. That's what she was looking for, Ari wasn't honest with her, etc.

Going into dinner, there are a lot of things Blake wants to get into. "Is she kissing, is she touching, is she blushing with the other guys like she is with me?" Oh, Blake. Of course she is. After the first week, there probably wasn't one guy she wasn't kissing on. #mensaythedumbesttings

"I know they don't love her like I do, so that doesn't bother me, it's more like does she love them. That's where the fear comes in."

Blake says it's been two weeks since they have seen each other. Maybe hometowns and getting ready to fly to Thailand took that long. Who knows?

Becca tells Blake it is very special that she never had to guess where he was in their relationship. She's a little scared it's too good to be true, that the rug may be pulled out from him. That leads him to talk more about getting hurt before and how his mommy came out to take care of him.

It's only been in the past two weeks where it's hit him that she may feel strongly about another man. He cannot ignore it anymore. He tells Becca he doesn't think the other guys can feel as strongly about her as he does. She doesn't say, "I love you," back. She explains saying it to Ari and vice versa last time. She won't say exactly what he wants to hear.

Speaking of fears, Becca tells him the fear will grow stronger. They only have a week and a half. Does committing to each other freak him out? "I look for reasons to stay, not reasons to go."

Becca hands over the date card with the fakest key you ever saw. Like, I've seen that key on a charm bracelet.

I hate the stupid things they say the morning after the fantasy suite. I'm kind of checking Facebook during this conversation. They talk about insecurities up to the end. Blake is my least favorite, and I'm so tempted to speed past his parts, especially all the loud smoochie sounds as Becca leaves.

THERE'S NO WAY SHE CAN HAVE THIS WITH ANY OTHER GUY. Oh, Blake, have you not sensed how awkward she was in not saying things?

Next up is Jason. 

Jason has not seen her in a week and a half. Jason is greeted with a make-out session on the sidewalk, but not quite the same excitement as Blake. They make their way along the street vendors and get a leaf woven rose before trying some crickets. Smokey, crunchy... there's a leg.

A visit to some temples. "She has everything I want in someone. There are so many reasons I love her. So many reasons I am in love with her... I have found my best friend, my partner, what I want to be my fiance." (I know the last part is worded strangely. That's what he said.)

As they leave, they talk about having an ornate house like the temple. They were joking. She asks about would he put something outside his condo in Seattle. It wasn't anything committing to the future. She asks to step away a minute. She wanted to take what she said immediately. She felt weird about talking about the future while they were having the best time together. She keeps saying she feels weird. Becca just realized she doesn't see a future with Jason. I guess she doesn't think Jason's her BFF.

They had a great day, and she had a great time with him. Becca thinks she owes it to him to see if they can get back on track. In his interview he says, "For me, I've never been focused on the day to day. The picture is what I'm here for. Now, I see a best friend. A lifelong partner. A fiance. A wife. A mother. That's so much more than a rose."

Over "drinks" or "dinner" they talk about hometowns. She didn't take it lightly. His family gave the stamp of approval. Becca looks cold as Jason talks. She's about to rip that poor guy's heart out.

Make a pouty face for the camera
Jason asks where her head is. She says, "All over the place." She talks about the brief moment where she said something about the future. She said it about herself, then felt she needed to say something about "us," then she felt like something was off. She excuses herself again. She didn't think she'd be saying it this week, but she sees it more with Garrett and Blake.

He knows this isn't a good sign. She comes back in and says it has been hard, the most difficult thing she has done in her entire life. She never once saw his walls up, even though he thinks he does. She can't put them through an overnight if she's not 100% there. Jason thinks it's about pushing boundaries and not closing doors unless she's sure. Is she confident she doesn't see a future? No she's not sure, but sees it more with the other guys. He tells her there's a reason he's still there. "There's still so much time to be had." No there's not.

Jason doesn't talk her into anything. He says he came in wishing for her happiness and will leave wishing the same thing. Becca walks him out saying she doesn't want him to leave confused. He says, "You get how I could be, right?"

#JasonforthenextBachelor I knew he wasn't going to make the cut, and he didn't come on strong until late, but he was growing on me.

Becca is wondering what she did. "He's such a good guy, and I've dated some not good guys in the past."


The next morning, Becca is still crying about it. She feels terrible for hurting him.

Finally, it's Garrett.

Garret is falling in love with Becca, but she wants to make sure doubt doesn't sneak in on him. She has been so excited for this rafting date. She thought it would be relaxing and good conversation. She didn't realize everyone in Thailand would be doing the same thing on a national holiday. Not romantic at all. They have a lot of fun though. Becca says she was taking in him from behind the whole time.

He said last week in his hometown, he was really able to open up with his family. They share a kiss and have many cheering them on as they watch.

She finally feels right with her decision from last night.

Garrett shares a little about being fearful of this not working after what he went through with his ex-wife. She can tell it's not easy for him at times. They both know how serious it is. She talks about what Ari was and wasn't able to say and do. Garrett says he can do his career anywhere, so can make their lives fit together better.

Garrett says he hasn't been this happy his whole life. He has a little bit of a hard time spitting it out, but does profess his love. I HOPE YOUR THE LAST WOMAN I HAVE TO EVER SAY THAT TOO. #uhromanticiguess

That works for Becca though. She pulls out the fantasy suite card. When she kisses him, Garrett is convinced she feels the same way he does. They head up to their tree house aka a tent in a tree for the night. Not near as nice as the other suite. Heck, this doesn't need a key.

The next morning the birds are chirping, the sun is shining. Love is in the air.

Becca is in love with both and wishes she had a moment of clarity. However, Jason wants a moment of clarity too. He goes to Becca's room to talk. 

Becca is surprised, but gives Jason a hug and let's him in. He didn't feel closer because it came so quickly. He wants her to know the love and care was genuine.

He may have been one of the best guys she ever met, but... Jason wanted to make sure the door was closed in the right manner before he left Thailand. He gives her the parting gift of a scrapbook before he leaves. He was going to give it to her on their date.

When he leaves, she goes through the book and cries. Becca didn't quite realize to what depths he loved her.

The men arrive to the last rose ceremony. Blake arrives second guessing everything and throwing a pity party for no reason. Garrett is more confident. In his camera interview, he's in tears. He's serious.

The men seem realize Jason isn't there when they see Becca talking to Chris Harrison when she arrives. They talk about how both men are in love with her. She does not want to say that to either of them based on what happened to her.

Becca starts off by stating the obvious. Jason is not there. Their relationship was not where it is with either of the two of them. She is ready for the two of them to meet her family. There are two of them and two roses. Yet, both still have these looks on their faces. Blake is seething that Garrett gets the rose first.

Blake is pouty as Garrett makes a toast. Again, we hear Blake say we don't think Garrett and Becca have what he and Becca have. If looks could kill, Garrett would be dead, and Blake in prison.

Next week is Men Tell All week. We have to see Jordan again. Ugh. Two weeks until Becca hopefully dumps Blake.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Sing and Be Happy

I love some of the faces they make when they are annoyed with me. The expressions in the preview shot are great.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

This Weekend in Craftiness

This week's edition of "This Weekend in Craftiness" found me still trying to get books organized and put away. All the finished books have been sorted into "take" and "extra" boxes. I crammed 9 bins of full/ into the closet formerly known as "The Christmas Closet." Then I got to work on finishing other things I have started. Now is the time to get to work on everything else!

Stay tuned next week for a post on our fall schedule.

Ready to be personalized - I have a print version and a script version.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Rediscovering Humility

Humility IS a Virtue 
New book calls the church to reclaim humility
as the central value of Christian faith and life. 

Most people think humility is a good thing to have . . . especially in someone else! But in today’s world of constant sharing, attention-seeking, and yes, prideful behavior, humility seems more out of fashion than ever. Even in our churches, where celebrity pastors build large platforms (to reach the unsaved, of course!), humility has fallen farther down the list of Christian virtues.

In his new book, Rediscovering Humility: Why the Way Up Is Down (New Growth Press, 2018), Christopher Hutchinson urges the church to place humility—both individually and corporately—back as the central goal of Christian life and the best way we can grow to be more like Jesus. Through compelling critiques, Hutchinson, a long-time pastor and first-time author, shows what happens when the church doesn’t value humility and offers suggestions for how Christians can better practice and promote humility in our time.

“Humble Christians should make humble—and therefore healthy—churches, but often our churches imitate the pride-inflating methodologies of our culture,” says Hutchinson. “By making humility one of their main goals, churches can make the gospel of God’s grace more plainly seen, and in Rediscovering Humility I offer some suggestions on how to do that.”

Offering a fresh and updated application of humility to our day, Rediscovering Humility calls for a return to the path of humility as the one pilgrimage most necessary for Christian faith. By showing humility in all its truth, beauty, and goodness, it becomes a value worth seeking—if never fully found—on this side of heaven.

While many books on humility offer guidance on personal piety, Hutchinson explicitly addresses what humility ought to look like, not just individually but corporately as a church, providing a path forward for pastors and church leaders to begin becoming “humble together.” A systematic and comprehensive treatment of humility that is structured around the three times Jesus addresses it in the Bible—how it is found, embraced, and applied—Rediscovering Humility should be required reading for all current and future church leaders looking to avoid the pitfalls of leadership. Individuals who have lost their appreciation for humility will discover why it is right on par, if not above, other popular Christian virtues like love and patience.

Stephen Estock, Coordinator, PCA Discipleship Ministries says, “In Rediscovering Humility, Chris Hutchinson serves as a gentle pastor, weaving together biblical truth, personal experience, and insights from poets and philosophers throughout history. This book will bless and challenge your soul. As you read, your love for Christ will grow—your love for his sacrifice to atone for your pride and for his enabling power to display true humility.”


Christopher Hutchinson is Senior Pastor of Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church in Blacksburg, Virginia, and a graduate of Duke University (A.B.), and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (M.Div). Prior to entering the ministry, Chris served in the U.S. Army, including a combat tour during Operation Desert Storm. Chris and his wife, Kirstan, have two grown daughters, one a collaborative pianist studying in Arizona, and the other an artist studying in South Carolina. Chris is the author of Rediscovering Humility: Why the Way Up Is Down.

Rediscovering Humility: Why the Way Up Is Down 
By Christopher Hutchinson 
June 4, 2018
Retail Price: $17.99 Print 
ISBN 978-1-945270-96-3
eBook ISBN 978-1-945270-97-0 
RELIGION/Christian Life/Spiritual Growth

Thursday, July 19, 2018

The emotional and relational toils of miscarriage – and why we don’t talk about them

 Part 2 of an interview with Rachel Linden,
Author of Becoming the Talbot Sisters

In Becoming the Talbot Sisters (Thomas Nelson), author Rachel Linden hopes to bring a greater awareness to issues important to women around the world and encourage them to live what she describes as “every day brave.”

Becoming the Talbot Sisters tells the story of estranged twin sisters who live very different lives on opposite sides of the world but are drawn to rebuild their relationship in support of one another as they face challenges ranging from miscarriages to sexual assault to career woes. The sisters’ stories draw from many aspects of Linden’s own life.

In this second half of her interview, Linden delves deeper into the emotional and relational toils that infertility and miscarriage can have on a marriage.

Q: An author normally works some of herself into her novel. How much of Becoming the Talbot Sisters reflects your own life?

So much of the book reflects my own personal experience! The main themes – women having courage to face infertility and miscarriage as well as sexual exploitation and trafficking – are all very personal for me. I lost my first child to miscarriage, so I identify deeply with that thread of the book. I also worked with a faith-based organization in Europe for seven years, focusing significantly on women who experienced trauma and exploitation, so that theme is one I am very passionate about. The locations in the book are also dear to my heart. I set the book mainly in Budapest where I lived for five years. Parts also take place in Sarajevo and several other fascinating locations around central Europe, all places I enjoy and want to share with readers.

As for the sister-relationship aspect of Becoming the Talbot Sisters, much like Waverly and Charlotte, my sister and I are very different and live geographically far apart. However, we have a harmonious relationship and have grown in friendship more and more as we’ve gotten older unlike the sisters in the book.

Q: Waverly seems to have it all together but can’t have the one thing she desperately wants in the world, a baby, due to struggles with infertility and miscarriages. So many women struggle with the same issues but live in silence. Why is it still so taboo to talk about emotional trauma involved with pregnancy loss?

I think a big part of it is that the grief after pregnancy loss is so deeply personal. It is a unique type of grief, a loss of possibility and potential at the very start of a life. You are mourning the loss of a life and the loss of so many hopes and dreams you had for that child. The loss of a child is a devastating thing, even if it is a baby that had not yet been born.

There can also be a sense of shame associated with losing a baby, a feeling of failure or fault. It is easy to feel you might have done something to cause the loss (although this is highly unlikely) or that there is something wrong with you or your ability to create or carry life. The loss of a pregnancy can elicit a complex and confusing mixture of emotions! That combination makes it hard to talk about and explain to someone who hasn’t had the same experience.

Q: How does infertility impact a marriage, especially when the husband and wife don’t agree on the lengths they want to go through in order to have a child of their own?

Infertility can put incredible strain on a couple’s intimacy. It’s very difficult to not become task-oriented and focus solely on outcomes in the process of trying to become pregnant instead of working on building relationship intimacy. The physical joy and intimacy of the marriage relationship can suffer tremendously over the months and years of waiting, trying, disappointment, and loss.

Infertility can also really drive a wedge between couples emotionally, taking a toll on their ability to enjoy what they have in the present and with each other. Too often couples become fixated on the fact that what they want to happen isn’t happening. It’s even more complicated and difficult if the couple isn’t in agreement about how far they will go to have a child. I greatly admire couples who are able to walk the painful road of infertility with grace and joy, choosing to be thankful for their present lives and keeping their hearts open to alternate ideas of how their family might look in the future. It’s especially inspiring when they are able to do so in unity and use this painful experience to strengthen their bond.

Q: The story addresses the pros and cons of surrogacy. Why is it a subject not often addressed in church circles?

I think surrogacy is just starting to come into our national consciousness as a viable option for couples who cannot have a child by a more traditional method. Only in the last few years have I noticed it starting to get more attention in our society. It’s a concept that goes back to the Old Testament (remember Abraham and Hagar?), but not one that has been present in American or Christian circles in recent history.

Surrogacy is becoming more common, though, and people are starting to consider it more and more as an option if they struggle with infertility. As it becomes more widespread, I think the questions and sticky issues around it will need more attention. It’s a complicated situation with many facets to consider, and I think the story explores some of them in intriguing ways!

Q: How does the fact that the sisters lost their parents at a young age play into Waverly’s desire to be a mom and Charlie’s offer to help her fulfill her dream?

Both sisters want to restore what they lost when their parents died – a sense of home and family. Waverly longs for a baby so she can recreate the warmth of the family she lost at such a tender age. Charlie realizes that she’s built a very lonely, isolated life as an adult and offers to be a surrogate for her sister in the hopes of rebuilding their sisterly bond.

Even though the sisters approach it in different ways, they are both longing for relational connection and intimacy. That’s what they’re trying to regain in their adult lives. Humans are made for connection. We crave it. We need it. However, we are often terrible at knowing how to build and maintain healthy intimacy. The story is really about Waverly and Charlie having the courage to choose relational connection, especially the beautiful connections related to sisterhood and motherhood, and forging those connections in quite unexpected circumstances.

Q: How does faith weave its way into Becoming the Talbot Sisters?

The underlying themes of the book – courage, connection, and hope – are all deeply rooted in my own personal faith. I think the story will appeal to readers of both inspirational and mainstream fiction because the faith elements are subtle but very relevant. The main characters are on a journey toward relational healing, intimacy and joy in every aspect of their lives. The story also really affirms the value of human life, from Charlie’s unborn baby to the central European exploited women, and the historical figure of St. George plays an important part in the overarching theme of women having courage to face life’s big challenges.

Q: The sisters were raised by their Aunt Mae whose motto was, “Whatever the Good Lord puts in your hand you give back to others.” How do characters live out this motto in the story?

The sisters live it out in different ways. Charlie’s offer to be a surrogate for her twin is one example. She says she has two good ovaries she isn’t using, so why shouldn’t she carry a baby for her sister? Later she chooses to stand in solidarity with the trafficked women she rescues, using her position of influence to help those who have been exploited, despite her own past trauma.

Likewise, Waverly uses her clout as TV star to try to help her sister when they become embroiled in a very unexpected and perilous situation. She also opens her mother’s heart in unexpected ways. Both sisters learn as the story progresses what it is they have in their hand and how to give it to others in a positive way. 

Q: Courage is a central theme of the story. What does it mean to be “every day brave”?

I hope women walk away from reading Becoming the Talbot Sisters understanding they can courageously face life’s big challenges, choosing to be “every day brave.”

Every day brave is a simple concept but it’s not easy.  It means standing with courage against life’s fear and challenges, no matter the circumstances. As women we can face tremendous challenges in our lives, our careers, our family relationships, our roles as wives and mothers, sisters and daughters, matters of the heart, so many areas of life! Being every day brave takes guts, grit and a steadfast hope and optimism!

Find Rachel Linden online at www.rachellinden.com, on Facebook (authorrachellinden) and on Instagram (rachellinden_writer).