Tuesday, June 30, 2015

What if your worst mistake was really the best choice?

New book by Beth K. Vogt explores how God’s

best often comes disguised as a second chance

Marriage is serious business — both for the couple tying the knot and for wedding vendors, with the average cost of an American wedding topping $25,000. As budgets get stretched, so can fraying nerves and already-taut emotions, as captured in Beth K. Vogt’s new Destination Wedding series.

In the first novel in the series, Crazy Little Thing Called Love (Howard Books/June 30, 2015/ISBN: 978-1476789781/$14.99), paramedic Vanessa Hollister thinks she has moved beyond the pain of her first marriage — a “what-were-you-thinking” teenage elopement — and is planning an elegant destination wedding in Destin, Fla., with her new fiancé. Her dream of an idyllic beach wedding is disrupted, though, with the sudden reappearance of her first husband.

Storm chaser Logan Hollister is used to taking risks, but a reckless decision during the last tornado season has him questioning his career’s future. Coming face-to-face with his ex-wife eight years after their divorce compels him to confront his greatest regret: losing Vanessa.

When a powerful hurricane throws Vanessa and Logan together, the pair battles unexpected renewed feelings for each other, and the two are left with a choice: Should they accept, once and for all, their teenage marital mistake? Or is God offering them a second chance at happily ever after?

Vogt’s Destination Wedding series will explore the power of love and the possible mishaps and missteps that happen on a couple’s journey down the aisle. Vogt says she was ready to write something a little different. “So often in contemporary romance stories, the wedding comes at the end of the novel — often as an epilogue,” Vogt points out. “In this series, the wedding is a main plot point. And travel — who doesn’t love to read about new travel destinations?” Fans of Vogt are in for an extra treat; Vogt is releasing an e-short, Can’t Buy Me Love, on May 5, 2015 in which chic bride-to-be Bellamy plans the Manhattan wedding of her dreams.

Vogt’s writing process always starts with a story question. For Crazy Little Thing Called Love, her question was: Is it possible what you thought was your biggest mistake was actually the right choice? “God’s best often waits behind the doors marked ‘never,’” Vogt muses. “Crazy Little Thing Called Love delves into the choices we make and asks, if we are given a second chance at love, should we take it?” Vogt says she hope readers will close the covers of Crazy Little Thing Called Love understanding that while a second chance in life or love might not be an automatic affirmation from God, it should be approached prayerfully and counted as a treasured opportunity.

Advance Praise

“Take the safe way or risk it all for love? In Crazy Little Thing Called Love, Beth Vogt takes her characters (and readers) on a journey where the choice must be made . . . readers will be reminded that God can turn our old mistakes into a beautiful present."
~ Cara Putman, award-winning author of Shadowed by Grace

“Crazy Little Thing Called Love is another winner! I truly love Beth K. Vogt’s voice, and the characters she has created here are authentically honest. . . . A wonderful story with a heartfelt message of forgiveness and redemption.”
~ Catherine West, award-winning author of Yesterday’s Tomorrow

“Second chances at love, storm-chasing danger, and a destination wedding? I’m in! Beth K. Vogt’s newest book, Crazy Little Thing Called Love, hits all the right notes, touching on more serious subject matter without losing any of Beth’s signature charm. This is sure to be a favorite addition to any fan’s Christian romance library.”
~ Carla Laureano, RITA® award-winning author of Five Days in Skye and London Tides

About the Author

Beth K. Vogt is a non-fiction author who said she’d never write fiction, the wife of an Air Force physician who said she’d never marry anyone in the military and a mom of four who said she’d never have kids. Vogt believes God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “never.”

A 2014 Carol Award finalist, Vogt enjoys writing contemporary romance fiction because she believes there’s more to “happily-ever-after” than the fairy tales tell us.  Her 2014 novel, Somebody Like You, was one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Best Books of 2014. In 2015, Vogt introduces a four-part Destination Wedding series with the eBook, Can’t Buy Me Love, and her new novel, Crazy Little Thing Called Love.

A magazine writer and former editor of the MOPS International magazine, Connections, Vogt is a part of the leadership team for the writing community My Book Therapy. She lives in Colorado with her husband, Rob, and their youngest daughter.

To keep up with Beth K. Vogt, visit www.bethvogt.com, become a fan on Facebook (AuthorBethKVogt) or follow her on Twitter (@bethvogt) and Pinterest (beth_vogt).

Monday, June 29, 2015

Who cries the ugliest on #thebachelorette?

We start off tonight with Shawn in Kaitlyn's room to confront her since his jealousy is raging. And I do mean raging. After all, he spent a whole night with her talking back on his one-on-one date.

So, Shawn wants to know if she is in love with him. She says, "I'm falling in love with you? What happened that made you feel like this?"

He explains that as well as he thought it was going, she of course goes on other dates and it's hard. Kaitlyn tells him he has to decide if he can do this. She's not sure if Shawn knows what went down with her and Nick.

She doesn't feel guilty for being intimate with Nick, her guilt comes from where she is in other relationships and doesn't want to hurt anyone.

Kaitlyn is a total wreck in the interviews with just her in front of the camera. She supposedly doesn't want to hurt anyone who has put so much into this.

After a commercial break, Kaitlyn is still broken up, but tells viewers that the group date went so well, then Shawn came by. She's unsure if Shawn is it if he isn't sure he can be there. Does she realize Nick is the reason why Shawn is unsure.

All the rest of the guys thinks Shawn's too much given his jealousy.

However, she's going to deal with her feelings towards Shawn later. For now, she has to get ready for a two-on-one date. Kaitlyn finds JJ funny and edgy. Joe is unlike any guy she's ever been attracted to. He's sweet, hilarious, romantic, a real treat. Who will stay and who will go? I hope JJ goes.

Off they go on a boat to an island where they will have a "romantic" date for three. JJ toasts to really falling for Kaitlyn, like Joe isn't even there. Kaitlyn seems like she doesn't want to be there. Joe does take Kaitlyn off first.

Joe tells Kaitlyn that the group date in San Antonio was a turning point for him. He could tell something was happening. He's falling for her faster and harder than he has anyone before. He predictably says all the right things, including that he is falling in love with her.

When they come back, off she goes with JJ. He has to tell her the truth... he's going to humble himself and show the worst of himself. Three years ago, he cheated on his wife, a mistake that destroyed his life. Of course, he has to tell her this because she wants honesty. Although a guy cheating on her is her biggest fear, Kaitlyn thinks that means as much as it hurt him that he probably won't make the same mistake again.

After their chit chat, it's time for Kaitlyn to chose between the two. She tells the two of them that she is sick trying to decide. While she hasn't had a chance to really develop a relationship with Joe, she wants to JJ to have a chance to get back to his daughter since she's not really feeling it there later. However, Joe doesn't get the rose yet. She wants some more time to talk. Joe and Kaitlyn sail off into the sunset. Over dinner, Joe admits he's more nervous on the one-on-one date than the two-on-one.

Joe is able to take her mind off the Shawn situation that was weighing heavy on her mind.

Meanwhile back at the hotel, Shawn is off in the shadows going off the deep end. 

Joe tells her he understands it's hard for her. Kaitlyn's glad because some guys don't get that. We go back and forth between shots of Joe kissing Kaitlyn and Shawn wishing she hadn't told him how she felt. Shawn can't handle hearing about Joe's date after he comes back with his rose.

Shawn leaves the hotel room grasping his chest. He goes to her room AGAIN.

Kaitlyn is doing a camera interview when one of the producers tells her that he is on the way over. She doesn't seem to excited to talk to him again like this and breaks down crying again, sure that he knows what happens and is going to leave.

When Shawn gets there, Kaitlyn tells him he came to her on the most emotional day ever. He's freaking her out, and she says so. She is relieved that he just wants to talk about San Antonio, not Nick. He wants to tell her how hard it is to watch now that she's told him what she did and now she is dating these other guys. The more she reassures him, the harder it gets. "I don't think any of the other guys feel like I do." How does he know?

Kaitlyn tells him that it's going to get even harder with hometowns, etc.

The thing is, she's worried about how much he has to be reassured, and he doesn't even know about Nick.

What we learn as everyone is getting ready for the cocktail party is that Kaitlyn may have said something she didn't mean to Shawn when she went down to talk to the guys one night. She was trying to reassure Shawn, may have gone too far.

When she arrives at the cocktail party, she tells the guys it has been a tough week. Kaitlyn tells them that she has made some mistakes, but her heart is still open. Cupcake Chris says they have more questions than answers with her speech. They talk that over as Ben Z takes Kaitlyn off first. The guys are all questioning if it was them that made her nervous. Shawn is so egotistical he thinks it's all about him. It's also about Nick, you idiot.

Ben Z still thinks he has a chance, and tries to make his move on her. She wants to see who else is still all into this because she's reassured Shawn too much.

Ben H gets some time with her. She's still into him too. He wants to talk to her too. Ben H was there with Shawn when Kaitlyn sneaked down to talk to some of the guys in San Antonio. He knows something happened when he left the two together. He knows something happened with Shawn that night, and Ben wants to know he's not just spinning his wheels. Kaitlyn gets all emotional again. All she wanted to do is make a sweet gesture, and it's turned into a big mess.

At least Nick realizes the mistake talk might be about him. He sits down with Kaitlyn and wants to see if she is ok. She admits to being extremely nervous tonight. Kaitlyn tells Nick that their day and night was great. Their chemistry was great. However, she wants to make sure he isn't talking about how "romantic" their date got, that he doesn't get too detailed. He tells her he hasn't told the others how far it went, and if anyone says otherwise... Now, he gets teary eyed. He realizes he was the over-confident guy last time around and hopes that doesn't happen this time.

Shawn apologizes to Kaitlyn for making a hard week harder by getting in his own head. She tells Shawn that she shouldn't have come out and talked to them that night. She never should have reassured him and that it was unfair. Kaitlyn tells Shawn that they may need to step back.

I hate trying to blog on a business trip because I just had to make a business call. Katilyn talks to Chris Harrison before the rose ceremony where only there men will get roses. If you are like me and can't remember my name this week, much less who got roses last week, it was Nick and Jared. Joe just got one too.

Ben H. and Chris take the first two.

Will the last one go to Shawn, Ben Z. or Tanner?

She does give it to Shawn who is about to spazz out.

Ben Z is shaken up, not seeing the departure coming. He thought Kaitlyn was a woman he could have taken home to his mother.

So, this rose ceremony was in middle of the second hour, but still not back to the pattern it should be of end of show ceremony.

Now with six left, the next set of survivors will go on hometown dates. Five of the guys will have to take the bus. Kaitlyn takes Jared along with her in a car. 

While driving on the wrong side of the rode, she hits the curb at least twice. I probably would have too. On the bus, Shawn is SAWING a LOG. So loud. So very loud.

So... when they arrive in Killarny, Ireland, the two climb to the top of the castle to kiss the blarney stone for good luck. Kaitlyn is staying in a castle turned hotel and it's pretty elaborate. They have cocktails in her room. She feels that her relationship with Jared is getting better and better.

When the other guys arrive, Chris claims that this beautiful city is what his soul looks like.

Chris Harrison shows up, and it looks like he is going to shake things up. Chris asks if she is ready to meet four families. She first confesses the conversations that shouldn't have happened with Shawn, then says she regrets time with Nick.

Harrison says she needs some off camera time with the others too. He's going to switch up the schedule. She's going to cut the field to three, have the fantasy suite, exotic dates, then meet the families of the final two. He tells her needs to make things right with the guys.

The next morning, a knock on the door signals the arrival of Chris Harrison. While the guys are contemplating hometown dates, they are not ready for Harrison to tell them about the changes. He explains that there are three men who are going to get roses and get to go on overnights with her before she picks two for hometowns. He leaves a date card.

Chris... let's take our edge to the edge. 

Old Cupcake has been kind of flying under the radar. I'm thinking he doesn't make the cut. Previews show up doing a really ugly cry.

When he picks up Kaitlyn, Cupcake actually thinks he is going to have a chance. They go on a helicopter ride, which should expected, and they go to the Cliff of Moher. It's a much more beautiful and lush scene than last season when they did a helicopter ride over the brown Colorado River at the Grand Canyon.

While there will not be a rose on this date, the pressure is still on. Kaitlyn asks Chris about what their future may be like, and if he is stuck on being in Nashville. It's not long before Kaitlyn starts crying without anything really setting her off. She tells him he checks the boxes on her list, but she said she wouldn't lead anyone on. Kaitlyn doesn't know if she sees this going anywhere though there's nothing wrong with him in her mind. She's trying to not say bye to him, yet say bye to him. It goes south oh so very quickly. Though I saw a goodbye coming, I didn't see it coming that quick and without real warning.

She promptly leaves him and jumps on the helicopter. Chris isn't so sure she's really ready to find someone. He calls it... "she's a mess." Then, he breaks down into some of the worst man tears I've ever seen.

And with that... the show is over for the week. Next week, Kaitlyn is going to tell all the guys what happened with her and Nick. 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Rejoice in the Lord Always

Rejoice in the Lord, Always

Rejoice in the Lord always
And again I say rejoice
Rejoice in the Lord always
And again I say rejoice
Rejoice, rejoice
And again I say rejoice
Rejoice, rejoice
And again I say rejoice


Saturday, June 27, 2015

Greetings from Florida!

I'm in Orlando for the International Christian Retail Show. (There's no Disney going to follow which I just don't want to talk about.)

Yesterday, I flew into Tampa since my co-worker, Christine, lives in the area. We went to a Tampa Bay Rays game so that I could check Tropicana Field off of my stadium list. This morning we drove over to Orlando and started work at the convention center.

I had very stressful prep week, and knew I couldn't sight see more before the convention, but I sure which I could have seen more of the beach.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Woman tells shocking and inspirational story of corresponding with her father’s murderer

Forgiving the unforgiveable

Woman tells shocking and inspirational story
of corresponding with her father’s murderer

If you asked anyone who knew Laurie A. Coombs, they would tell you what an incredibly strong person she was — the kind of person who can make it through anything. As Coombs details in her new memoir, Letters from My Father’s Murderer: A Journey of Forgiveness (Kregel/June 27, 2015/ISBN:  978-0825442292/$14.99), that outward veneer of strength masked a crumbling interior.

People had good reason to believe Coombs was as tough and tenacious as she appeared. When her father was murdered while she was in college, she sought justice — and found it. Her father’s killer now serves two life sentences with no possibility of parole.  “I certainly had been through quite a bit, and it seemed to me I had been the one who had gotten myself through it all,” Coombs admits. “‘I don’t know how you do it, Laurie,’ some would say. And in my heart, I’d think, ‘I know. I am pretty amazing.’ These comments were intended to encourage me, but they only fueled my pride. And as Proverbs says, pride most certainly does come before a fall.”

After the trial ended, Coombs began to rebuild her life; she graduated, got married and began a beautiful family. Yet, Coombs’ life soon became overwhelmed by pain, bitterness and anger she couldn’t control. She went from doctor to doctor, desperately seeking relief for the physical, mental and emotional symptoms of anxiety and depression. Then one day, she accepted a friend’s invitation to church where she found a faith that would transform her heart and start her on the road to healing.

“I felt free for the first time,” Coombs reveals. “The joy and peace I so desperately sought finally took residence in my heart. The void I had been unknowingly trying to fill with worldly things, accomplishment, and accolades was filled with the light and love of Christ. I had been made new. “

Coombs began to realize complete healing would only come when she began to seek something infinitely more difficult than justice: true forgiveness of her father’s murderer. Coombs’ situation took the biblical imperative to “love your enemy” to a whole new level, and as readers will learn in Letters from My Father’s Murderer, she discovers just how far the power of Christ’s redemption can reach when she begins to correspond with the killer.

Filled with the actual correspondence that took place between Coombs and the prisoner, Letters from My Father’s Murderer provides a unique glimpse into the practical process of forgiveness. It is messy, it is painful, but most of all, it is possible. Anyone who has been affected by the sins of others and is desperate to let go of their pain and resentment will find encouragement through Coombs’ story; freedom is within reach, and there is absolutely nothing that is irredeemable through the power of Jesus Christ.

About the Author

In 2010, Laurie Coombs was called to forgive the man who murdered her father. What happened as a result of that journey is now the subject of her new book, Letters from My Father’s Murderer (Kregel, 2015). Her story has also been featured in Billy Graham’s new film, Heaven, a part of the “My Hope with Billy Graham” national broadcast.

Coombs writes on her blog and is a regular writer for iBelieve.com and Crosswalk.com. She is a contributor to the NIV Bible for Women: Fresh Insights for Thriving in Today’s World (Zondervan, 2015), has been published in FullFill magazine and has appeared on the radio program Living Joyfully Free.

With a background in teaching, Coombs is a passionate speaker on the issues of forgiveness, redemption and the blessings associated with following Jesus. She and her husband, Travis, make their home in Nevada along with their two daughters, Ella and Avery. Together, they are in the process of adopting from Ethiopia.

Learn more about Laurie Coombs and Letters from My Father’s Murderer at www.lauriecoombs.org and on Facebook (lauriecoombs), Twitter (lauriecoombs) and Pinterest (laurieacoombs).

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Pamela Havey Lau shares how women can become safe havens for one another

Is it possible to experience close relationships with women who have different thoughts on church, different experiences with family, and different ways of talking about God? Pamela Lau’s new book, A Friend in Me, outlines five patterns women need to internalize and practice for initiating relationships. Most significantly, she reminds you that there doesn’t need to be a divide between generations of women. Together, we can have a global impact—and experience a deeper faith than we’ve ever known.

A Friend in Me-001


(David C. Cook, June 2015)
Young women long for relational connection with women further ahead of them on the journey. Yet, without realizing it, many of us tend to distance ourselves from those in younger generations.
Can we really have close relationships with women who have different thoughts on church, different experiences with family, and different ways of talking about God? Where do we start?
In A Friend in Me, Pam Lau shows you how to be a safe place for the younger women in your life. She offers five patterns women need to internalize and practice for initiating relationships and talking about issues such as faith, forgiveness, sexuality, and vocation. Most significantly, she reminds you that there doesn’t need to be a divide between generations of women. Together, we can have a global impact—and experience a deeper faith than we’ve ever known.

Pamela Havey Lau


Pam Lau is the author of Soul Strength and numerous articles for such publications as Christian Scholar’s Review and Christianity Today. She has taught writing at George Fox University and speaks around the country at conferences and retreats. A graduate of Liberty University and Colorado State University, Lau lives near Portland, Oregon, with her husband and three daughters.
Find out more about Pamela at http://www.pamelalau.com.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Betsy St. Amant's Love Arrives in Pieces

Can Stella discover who she really is and find hope and new love in the process? Don’t miss Betsy St. Amant’s new tale of love lost and love rekindled in Love Arrives in Pieces. A near catastrophe, a fire, and a small-town gossip mill finally force both Stella and Chase to realize that they have a choice—to hold on to the shards of their pasts, or surrender their fragmented pieces to the One who makes a beautiful masterpiece from the broken.
Love Arrives in Pieces


(Zondervan, June 2015)
For so long, Stella was known for her beauty. Now, with her heart stripped bare, she must discover who she really is.
Former pageant queen Stella Varland doesn’t trust beauty anymore after her divorce. Her appearance betrayed her and led to brokenness, so instead of being beautiful, now she tries to make beautiful things, but she always falls short. So she keeps her passion for art to herself and focuses on her interior design work. But if she doesn’t get another job soon, she’ll be stuck living with her parents.
Contractor Chase Taylor is determined to live a life of no regrets after losing his fiancée. Now he lives life at full speed, striving to see how much he can accomplish. He knows if he slows down, he’ll fall apart. So he returns home to Bayou Bend to renovate the town’s old theater and is shocked to discover that the designer for the project is his old flame, Stella.
Forced to work together, Chase and Stella battle their chemistry and past as they struggle to compromise and work together on a vision for the theater. Their wills clash as they attempt to hide their brokenness—and their unresolved feelings for each other—until Chase discovers the hidden parts of Stella, while losing her trust in the process.
A near catastrophe, a fire, and a small-town gossip mill finally force Stella and Chase to realize that they have a choice—to hold on to the shards of their pasts, or surrender their fragmented pieces to the One who makes a beautiful masterpiece from their brokenness.

Betsy St. Amant


Betsy St. Amant lives in Louisiana with her young daughter and has a heart for sharing the amazing news of God’s grace through her novels. A freelance journalist, Betsy is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. When she’s not reading, writing, or singing along to a Disney soundtrack with her daughter, Betsy enjoys inspirational speaking and teaching on the craft of writing.
Find out more about Betsy at http://www.betsystamant.com/.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Add this one from Anita Higman to your Summer Reading List!

Life hadn’t been easy for Summer Snow—and her dying wish is about to alter the course of her life forever in Anita Higman‘s new novel, Summer’s List. A childhood friendship is rekindled, a romance is sparked, and mysteries are solved in one magical Texas summer. Will Summer strike out on love again, or will things finally go her way?

Summer's List PK


(River North, June 2015)
A dying wish alters the course of a young woman’s life.
Life hadn’t been easy for Summer Snow. In acts of selflessness-caring for her ailing parents and running her grandmother’s bookstore-she had forfeited her youth and dreams for the needs of others. And the only tries she had at love… didn’t turn out. She had the bookstore, she had her beloved granny, but she was missing something-or someone.
Opportunity strikes when Granny sends Summer on an unexpected adventure with one Martin Langtree, a kind but gangly young man from Summer’s past. A childhood friendship is rekindled, a romance is sparked, and mysteries are solved in one magical Texas summer. Will Summer strike out on love again, or will things finally go her way?

Anita Higman


Best-selling and award-winning author, Anita Higman, has over thirty books published (several coauthored) for adults and children. She’s been a Barnes & Noble “Author of the Month” for Houston and has a BA degree, combining speech communication, psychology, and art. Anita loves good movies, exotic teas, and brunch with her friends.
Find out more about Anita at http://anitahigman.com.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Tonight is the night it gets really ugly on #thebachelorette

Either all the build-up from the previews has just been leading us on, or this is the night things get really ugly on The Bachelorette. And I don't mean by this stupid sneak peek here. ABC doesn't have better previews available for embedding.

We pick up with Kaitlyn ready to punch Ian in the nose. Actually, we start off with all the guys wishing they had more time with Kaitlyn as Ian takes her off. Then we get to re-watch what Ian said to her on last week's episode. This isn't a vacation for him like it seems to be for the other guys. He's not into the juvenile jokes. He sees her as a surface level person there to make out with all the guys on TV. Ian isn't there to plow her field. He's there to find a wife, and she doesn't seem serious about finding a husband.

Kaitlyn says she's not as deep as he is, but she's not shallow. He has no humor, and humor is a big part of her life though obviously not the main thing. He plays it all off as trying to be honest.

Let's be honest. He looks older than the 28 he claims to be.

Anyway, with that, it's all he has to say and is on his way. He stands up and walks off. After all, he's too deep. He graduated from Princeton, and is not lame like the other guys. His words, not mine. He doesn't impress me. He is being punished for being an intellectual. He's tired of hearing everyone talk about sex. If he were made The Bachelor, he would change the standards! However, after all his talk about the others being sex-crazed, he says he needs some.

I know that I have said it before about other cast members in the past, but I really mean it this time... If Ian is selected as the next bachelor, I WILL. NOT. WATCH. 

The men watch Ian leave wondering what on Earth is going on. They do assume it is Ian's choice that he is leaving, and not Kaitlyn's. Meanwhile, Kaitlyn is processing this scene.

The first guy to go hunting Kaitlyn down is Nick, who shares what just happened with him. Nick relays a conversation he had with Ian that I'm not even sure actually happened. Nick uses this moment to play up everything he likes about her (humor) and plays up the opposite of everything Ian just said.

Nick. You were just the first guy that came along after the scene. That's why she's talking to you. I just want to gag as he keeps pouring on the syrup.

Joshua needs his time to redeem himself. Let's give him a chance!

Shawn decides he needs to go look for her and catch Kaitlyn and Nick sucking face. He does NOT take it well. Explosion #2?

Before we can find out, it's off to commercial, then we're back with Kaitlyn recapping how she was shocked after talking to Ian, but feels so much better after talking to Nick.


At least the phrase, "here for the right reasons," hasn't been coming up over and over.

She justifies the kissing in that she needs to make sure the physical side has to be there.

Kaitlyn finally comes in and tells everyone what happened. She can't even finish before Chris Harrison rolls in clinking his glass.

We're down to 11 now, and Nick, Ben H, and Shawn have roses already.

When are they going to go back to a rose at the end so we can remember who has roses without wrecking our brains?

The rose ceremony will take place out in front of the Alamo. Some people are sure to "Remember the Alamo." Chris Harrison chats with her a little bit first.

Kaitlyn isn't really too hyped up for this one. She is falling in love though...

  1. Jared
  2. Chris who would pull his own tooth for a rose
  3. JJ 
  4. Joe
  5. Ben Z
  6. Tanner
That sends my Joshua who got thrown under the bus home along with Justin who just seemed shady to me anyway. There was just something about him.

From San Antonio, they are headed to Dublin, Ireland. Of course, there's no better place to fall in love!

Dublin has always been on Kaitlyn's bucket list. I think it's the pubs. 

Chris says Kaitlyn is his pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Some guy talks about having wanted to go to Dublin for 10 years -- I didn't recognize the voice. Joe is just glad to use his passport for the first time.

It's time for the first one-on-one date. Instead of a card, Kaitlyn gets to do the inviting. They all get quiet knowing it's about to get serious. It's every guy's worse nightmare when she tells Nick that he has 10 minutes to get ready. 

JJ hopes Shawn has a pillow to scream into and has a good cry.

I may scream alongside him.

Kaitlyn has been told by more than one guy that Nick is one way with the guys and another way with him. Kaitlyn can't trust the guys though. She has to go on her feelings. As they walk through the park, there are a bunch of pigeons around, and she's really afraid of birds. It's really annoying.

They come up on a couple of Riverdance street performers, and they join in. Then, Nick buys Claddagh rings (from a street vendor) for them both to wear... on their left ring fingers. This is not going to be good when the guys find out.

Blah, blah, blah, he mumbles over lunch about having to meet her. I really, truly, seriously, cannot come up with one thing I find appealing, attractive, or interesting about the guy. I didn't get it on Andi's season either. Evidently, no one else does either based on the reaction I just got from my question on Twitter.

Back at the hotel, a knock at the door signals a date card...

"Nine fine men in Dublin she met..." (The poem/riddle goes on, but I don't catch it all to type it out.) Tanner, Ben Z, Shawn, Jared, Ben H, Chris.

JJ and Joe will be going on a two-on-one. Do or die. 

And the date with Nick keeps continuing on and on and on. In a church, they share a candlelight dinner. As they suck face, it's as irreverent as a Madonna video.

All through this date Nick's voice over has been about how they can't keep their hands off of each other. We get it. Ugh. Handsy. Then, she gives him a rose.

Nick makes her "feel like a woman. Like a desired woman." She invites him to go "hang out" at her hotel for a while.

When she's with Nick, she forgets about the cameras and that there are any other men involved. She's just ready to go back to her suite and "whatever happens, happens."

At the hotel, Shawn and Jared carry on about how they wish they were on the one-on-one. If only they knew. Shawn still can't get a read on Nick and questions intentions. Shawn and Jared anticipate Nick coming back with a rose. 

Meanwhile, Nick and Kaitlyn enter her room. Let's just say, there's no question where it's going, especially as she whispers, "come with me," and the door closes. A microphone picks up way too many sucking noises and hushed whispers to put it mildly. WWAAAAAAYYYYYYYYY TOOOOOOOO MUCH! The Twittersphere agrees.

The next morning, a disheveled Nick leaves and Kaitlyn gushes on about how awesome he is.

But, she's feeling guilty because she cares about other guys and wonders what she would have done if Britt and Chris had done the same thing. I don't know who she is talking to out on the balcony.

Nick comes in and recounts his date. When Joe says, "Shawn got to go back to back to Kaitlyn's place for some extra time too," there is a flash of jealousy in his eyes. You just expect him to blurt, "I bet he didn't get the time I did." The men going out on the group date come in all dressed up for their date. This time when he recounts his evening again and brags about how great his date was. He says the date was intimate and personal, but just short of the full story. He uses the word intimate to say what happened without admitting what happened. A tease to see if anyone picks up on it.

Kaitlyn is worried that Nick might "kiss and tell," then some of the guys might leave.

Thankfully we go on a group date, and we're away from Nick for a while. As they come up on the date, Chris Harrison tells the men that Kaitlyn is dead... for today.

Today's date is a traditional Irish wake. Evidently, it's taking place in the back room of a pub. As she lays in her coffin, she can't keep quiet. All of the men are supposed to give a toast to Kaitlyn.

Tanner is up first and does a hilariously appropriate poem about not having gotten a one-on-one date and wondering how he got a rose.

Jared does his little thing and leans in to kiss her. Chris finds it disgusting because who kisses a corpse? He then sings something about her teeth to the tune of "Danny Boy." Dentist cliche.

Ben H's eulogy proclaims himself the final winner and that she died pecked to death by birds

Shawn's speech has her committing suicide, saying he understands and would have done the same thing if he had to spend all day with Nick. Everyone finds this funny, even Kaitlyn. They all toast to that.

Ben Z cleared the room so that he can do his speech in private. She's worried he may take it too seriously since he lost his mom at a young age. He wants to keep it lighthearted, but he struggles.

Then an Irish band comes in and they have a little celebration. The date after party is at the Guinness brewery. All they need is to get more drunk.

When they first start taking Kaitlyn off, Ben Z explains why he wasn't able to be as relaxed in the situation as the others. They have a serious heart-to-heart.

Jared compliments her being a beautiful corpse. They have a good laugh. Share some affection. What else is new?

Ben H and Shawn get deep about the rose and how likely the group rose will seal the deal for a hometown.

Everything has been eating on Shawn for a while. Kaitlyn notices that he's been "off" today. He shares pictures of his Irish family with her.

When it is time to give out the date rose, it goes to Jared. Shawn's angst is sure to get the better of him. How quickly it goes from being "the one," to not being the one.

After getting the rose, Kaitlyn takes Jared off for more alone time rather than giving Sean his validation. They wander off to the church for another Madonna video. This time it's a private concert by The Cranberries. Alright, they've waited a while for a private concert. Jared says something about it being his favorite band, and that just proves that the whole show is scripted. Have they ever had a hit other than "Linger" or whatever song they sang on the show?

The rest of the guys are trying to figure out how Jared got the rose. Everyone is disappointed, but Shawn must have had some Red Bulls in his drinks because he is uber jittery. He says, "I love that girl." That makes Chris uncomfortable to hear. Oh seriously.

Shawn finds some production member (the only person he trusts around here) and freaks out about how they laid on his bed for six or seven hours and told him he was the one. Supposedly they spent a lot of time off camera. All the other guys follow him to over hear. "I can't do this man!"

When they get back to the hotel, he goes to Kaitlyn's room. She anticipates something big... involving what she did with Nick. She too is crying in her interview about, "I can't do this anymore."

Then, we cut to the previews of next week. Lots of drama and tears. Lots of tears. 

I'm annoyed because I'm going to probably not be able to live blog next week from a business trip. 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

I've Been Crucified with Christ

I’ve Been Crucified with Christ

(Galatians 2:20); © Howard Publishing (Howard Assets, LLC)
Used by Permission. CCLI # 1132191

I am crucified with Christ:
Nevertheless I live; yet not I,
But Christ liveth in me:
And the life which I now live in the flesh
I live by the faith of the Son of God,
Who loved me, and gave himself for me.


Saturday, June 20, 2015

What can the Amish teach us about forgiveness?

An interview with Suzanne Woods Fisher,
Author of The Heart of the Amish

Everyone has been hurt. Everyone experiences conflicts, great and small. Everyone has someone to forgive. In The Heart of the Amish: Life Lessons on Peacemaking and the Power of Forgiveness (Revell/May 5, 2015/ISBN: 978-0800722036/$12.99), bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher reveals the lessons that the Amish teach about what to do when we just can't bring ourselves to forgive someone who has wronged us.

The Heart of the Amish invites readers into the world of a people renowned for their ability to forgive. Her in-depth, personal research uncovers the astounding, yet fundamental way the Amish can forgive anyone — from the angry customer at the grocery store to the shooter at the Nickel Mines schoolhouse. Through true stories gathered from a variety of Amish communities, Fisher illustrates how they are able to release their pain and desire for revenge, living at peace with others. Readers will learn how to invite God into their stories, apply lessons from the Amish to their own circumstances, and find the freedom that comes with true forgiveness.

Q: Where did you get the idea to write The Heart of the Amish?

It began years ago as I was working on some non-fiction books about the Amish. The book came into focus for me as I was hosting a radio show called Amish Wisdom. I kept bumping into stories that held such meaning and significance, real-life stories I couldn’t stop thinking about. The people I interviewed had faced some very difficult experiences, and yet they offered grace and forgiveness to their wrongdoers. Some were the recipients of grace and forgiveness. The outcome of the experiences was vastly different than what we’re accustomed to in our modern world. What a difference it makes to invite God into the conversation of conflict! 

Q: What first drew you to the Amish way of life?

My grandfather was raised German Baptist (Dunkard), a cousin to the Amish. He was one of 11 children, so I have quite a few Dunkard relatives. Quite a few! I’ve always been intrigued by the choices of my relatives and their aim to be “in the world but not of it.” Studying the history of the Amish meant I was studying my own family tree. The origin of these churches, both Amish and German Baptist, is rooted in Anabaptist theology.

Q: Can you share your research process for this book? Did you find Amish communities were open to talking to you about their experiences?

It wasn’t easy! This book handles some very personal, gritty topics. Thankfully, the relationships I have built over the years with some Old Order Amish individuals bore fruit. One friend would connect me to another, to another, to another. Not everyone allowed their story to be told in a book, and some (though not all) insisted on changing names and details to protect privacy, but little by little, this book grew and took shape.

Q: The Amish have always held a certain fascination for many. Why do you think they are so interesting to us?

Such a good question! I think there are a lot of reasons people are fascinated by the Amish. Their pastoral lifestyle, their simpler way of living, their clear priorities, their emphasis on family, faith and community.

Q: There has been a recent rash of reality television shows that have awakened a new curiosity in their ways. How has this hurt or helped the Amish?

This is just my opinion, but I think those “reality” shows only perpetuate myths and misunderstandings. 

Q: What is the number-one lesson the Amish can teach us about forgiveness?

To make forgiveness your aim in everyday moments so God has something to work with in you when big events come along (and they do and will come along . . . for all of us). 

Q: Many are familiar with the shooting that took place at the Nickel Mines schoolhouse, which shed a national light on how deeply committed the Amish are to forgiveness. Why was it so intentional for that community to forgive what happened?

The Amish take the need to forgive very seriously. It’s woven into their daily life, modeled to their children, encouraged and valued. They practice forgiveness in the small moments of life, so when the big moments arrive (such as the Nickel Mines tragedy) they are prepared to respond with intentional forgiveness.   

Q: You say forgiveness to the Amish is not an option — it is essential. What do you mean by that?

The Amish believe that to forgive an enemy — so contrary to human nature — is to follow Jesus’s instructions on forgiveness, as well as His example. And they don’t just seek to forgive. They also love and bless those enemies.

The fundamentals of Amish forgiveness rest on a literal interpretation of this verse: “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matt. 6:14–15 KJV).

Most Protestant traditions assert that forgiveness begins with God, that we receive it and then are able to forgive others. The Amish believe they receive forgiveness from God only if they extend forgiveness to others.

Better minds than mine have tried to settle that sticky theological debate. Anglican theologian John Stott might have best captured the intention of Jesus’s words in his book Through the Bible, Through the Year: “This certainly does not mean that our forgiveness of others earns us the right to be forgiven. It is rather that God forgives only the penitent, and that one of the chief evidences of true penitence is a forgiving spirit.” Whether, like the Amish, you accept a literal interpretation of those verses or a more figurative interpretation, it is clear that forgiving others who wrong us is evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit within us.

Q: Why is it important to forgive as early as possible, even when the offense is small, like a little pebble in the shoe?

Practice, practice, practice!

What will spill out of you when you are under great stress is what spills out of you now in the day-to-day friction of living. Our ability to forgive what seems unforgiveable is deeply connected to how we handle the smaller transgressions: when someone cuts in front of us at the grocery store, when our spouse forgets an anniversary, when our family accidentally locks us out of the house.

Q: What are some practical ways the Amish teach their children lessons on forgiveness?

Right from the start, Amish parents model forgiveness to their children, turning negative thoughts into positive ones, being the first to extend the olive branch to others.

Q: What are some tips for making forgiveness a daily habit?

The Amish believe life isn’t fair — the toast burns, the milk spills, the car breaks down. They believe we are part of an imperfect world, far from the Garden. They expect life not to be fair, so when the hard things come into their life — and they do, just like everyone’s life — they’ve had experience with how to manage them. Forgiveness is like a muscle. The more it’s exercised, the stronger it becomes. Each time you forgive, it becomes easier to forgive the next time.

Q: What is your favorite Amish proverb about forgiveness?

“You can stop forgiving others when Christ stops forgiving you.” Think about that. It’s really the essence of humility!

Q: How do you hope The Heart of the Amish affects its readers? How did writing this book impact your own life?

The goal of this book is to help readers make a habit of forgiving. None of us can know for sure where life will take us, but we do know there will be potholes and detours and fender benders along the way. We just don’t have much control over the things that happen to us in life. To think we won’t need to forgive others is just . . . faulty thinking. Why not prepare our hearts and minds to be forgivers? Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who taught and lived forgiveness, said it best: “Forgiveness is not an occasional act. Forgiveness is a permanent attitude.”

I think there’s a pretty good chance readers won’t feel like the same person after reading this book. That is exactly what happened to me.

Learn more about Suzanne Woods Fisher and The Heart of the Amish at www.suzannewoodsfisher.com, on Facebook (SuzanneWoodsFisherAuthor), or by following her on Twitter (@SuzanneWFisher).