Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Tightropes and Teeter-Totters

Moms, do you wonder if you will ever stop falling over every time the unexpected comes along, or you get your feelings hurt, or you mess up? Lisa Pennington’s new book, Tightropes and Teeter-Totters, is tailor-made for you. Lisa Pennington knows how to get up after losing her balance, even with a full house, a not-so-full bank account, and never enough energy. For every woman who wonders if her satisfaction in life will ever match her dreams, Pennington has real-life answers full of hope and humor.


Tightropes and Teeter-Totters: Finding Balance in the Ups and Downs of Life (David C. Cook, February 2017)
Do you wonder if you will ever find balance?
Lisa Pennington knows how to get up after losing her balance, even with a full house, a not-so-full bank account, and never enough energy. In her latest book, she offers readers:
—Strategies for finding balance in marriage, motherhood, and bad moods
—Playful yet biblically based tips for turning hard days around
—Inspiration for shaping obstacles into opportunities
—Ways to respond to irritations with gratitude
—Enthusiastic encouragement for living out God’s purpose.
For every woman who wonders if her satisfaction in life will ever match her dreams, Pennington has real-life answers full of hope and humor.
Lisa Pennington


Lisa Pennington is a homeschooling mom of nine who shares her life—one laundry load at a time—on her blog, The Pennington Point. She is a sought-after speaker at conferences and women’s groups and is the author of Mama Needs a Do-Over. Lisa and her family live near San Antonio.
Find out more about Lisa at http://thepenningtonpoint.com.

Monday, February 27, 2017

#TMI on #thebachelor

If you will recall, last week we didn't get a rose ceremony at the end. We don't know who is going home after the hometown dates. Instead of a decision, we got a teaser of Andi showing up, probably for no good reason at all.

Nick offers Andi a drink... whiskey or wine? She takes whiskey.

Meanwhile, the ladies start arriving for the rose ceremony. First Vanessa whose dress fits oddly and is cut where it looks like the girls are going to pop out through the cutouts on each side. Rachel comes next. Raven, who thinks she's ready to say yes if he got on one knee tonight. Finally, Corinne.

Andi just wants to chat, see what he's thinking, and waste time. Nick tells Andi he is seeing her perspective more. He reminds her that the last time she knocked on his hotel door, he got dumped. Andi says now he is dumping 29 girls. Nick says, "maybe 30. I'm not getting engaged just because I'm the Bachelor."

Yet, when we get back from commercial, he thinks it's going to work out. Andi asks if he's going to sleep with any of them in the fantasy suites. Andi says if he really thinks a girl has potential at the end, then go ahead and get as intimate as the two of them want. Then, Andi asks if Nick regrets when he asked her "why did you sleep with me if..." Nick evidently sees all that differently now. Ugh. Maybe I should have tuned into The Voice now that Miley Cyrus isn't on this season.

The women are standing around freezing. I don't know why they couldn't have been indoors. Nick's spiel is that it was an amazing week and it was great with each of their families. Now, on to business.

  1. Raven
  2. Rachel (she has to go home next, right?)
  3. Vanessa
As much as I despise Corinne, she and Nick probably deserved each other. Corinne bursts into ugly tears and Nick asks to walk her out. Nick tells her she has nothing to regret and that she did nothing wrong. He is "going to miss the hell out of you." With hugs on her way to the limo, Nick sends her off. 

She feels like "literally my heart is never going to be repaired. Why can't I have a normal relationship?" Because A) you aren't normal and B) this wasn't a normal avenue anyway. She's done with trying to impress men. She's never going to kiss up to a man again in her life. Never say never. With that, she decides to go to sleep.

Instead of somewhere tropical, they head off to Finland. Nick couldn't imagine a more magical place for this journey to end.

Vanessa... They have a great relationship and an amazing chemistry together (or so Nick says), but the hometown date reminded him of the questions they have left to figure out.

Rachel... From the moment he met her, he knew there was something there. She's the only one who has not expressed verbal affirmation. He hopes she's getting there.

Raven... Ever since their first date, they have had a strong relationship, but she's not sure where her heart is right now. That's why he picked her for the first date.

@BachelorABC on Twitter
They are out in middle of the snow and take a helicopter to tour the sits of a National Park that I can't spell. She wants to make sure to tell him how she feels. She's also nervous about the fantasy suite because she doesn't take it lightly.

After their helicopter tour, they play some darts in a pub. Then, they talk about hometowns. What did she think? He talks about seeing an emotional side of her since they found out her dad was cancer-free. They talk about how she is a Daddy's girl. She says you are supposed to see how a man treats his mother. He and his mom are close, but he doesn't go for women like her. They then discuss chores. He claims to be the ultimate ironer/steamer.

The topic moves to the fantasy suite, and she tells him that she's nervous for more reasons than one. She asks if he is. Nick just says he's in his head. He tells her not to have expectations as he doesn't have any. She thinks something is going down or supposed to. She tells the camera, then him later on, way too much personal about her past singular relationship. She is wearing an insanely tall toboggan that looks like a dunce hat.

Raven needs to spit out her feelings. It's her first time to say, "I love you." She just knows she needs to express it. She thinks it has been going that direction from their first date. They talk more about their day and their favorite parts. It gets awkward over "dinner." Speaking of awkward, she transitions into talking about her past relationship and how she never said, "I love you," in their whole two years. Nick asks if she felt it. Raven says she never felt for this other guy the way she feels with Nick. Playing Devil's advocate, Nick asks if she could express it without someone saying it first or not knowing what the other person felt. She tells him about the feelings developing since their first date. Finally, after lots of yammering on, she tells him that she does love him.

It's time to give Raven the fantasy suite card. She wants to spend time with him, so yes, she wants to go. Then, a lesson in her history for him to keep in mind. Even Nick though a fact was a bit much. Nick thinks that maybe not sleeping with them will give him clarity.

Imagine that! I hope he doesn't, but I have no expectations.

The suite has a glass ceiling so they can watch the glowing green Northern Lights.

For some reason, we only have one date and one hour tonight. On one hand, I don't know why we drag this out, but on the other, I'm so relieved to be done tonight too. 

Next week will be THREE HOURS though. That includes Women Tell All.

Then, I'm not going to be able to blog about the final episode until like a week later. GASP. 

Sunday, February 26, 2017

A blast from a Sunday past

I try to record the kids singing enough videos to be able to share one each week. However, some Wednesday nights, we only have a couple of kids and one absolutely refuses to sing for a video.

For that reason, I bring you one of the first Sunday videos I recorded from five years ago. My videographer skills left much to be desired.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Saturday's projects

I feel like I have been working on one set of projects forever even though I think I just actually started them last weekend. I finally got all the parts finished today.

I've made these before, but in case you have never seen them before...

I'm not sure how I feel about this yet. It looks like I ran out of room which in a way I did, but if I didn't do it like this, I wouldn't have anything up the eastern seaboard.

Friday, February 24, 2017

To borrow a line from a friend... today was full of notes for the sitcom

My friend Lori's in life, in business, in general is, "It's all just notes for the sitcom." All of the crazy life experiences are going down in the notes to be a part of a sitcom to be developed at a later date.

Over time, I've given her plenty of material by way of stories too. I really need to tell her about my day today in order to give her enough material for another episode or two. Unfortunately, I can't share the stories for your entertainment because, well, I can't. They would have been more entertaining from you than for me.

However, I will share some of my thoughts from the week, in all aspects of my life:

  • I have been a publicist for 15 years. I do know what I'm doing.  
  • Even being older and wiser, there's still no way I could ever hack teaching school.
  • Facebook is used for more than pictures of people's vacations although that would be a welcome break from all the political posts.
  • Rejection hurts. Especially repeated rejection. 
  • I didn't make the instructions, I just have to follow them. 
  • It helps if you read the email.
  • Dad really enjoys having his own smart phone, even though he is getting all sorts of calls intended for the person who had the number before him. 
  • A disconnected phone call can be a sign of God's mercy.
  • People have some crazy excuses for not liking things.
  • Something has to give with my wi-fi..

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Barbara Cameron’s ‘Home to Paradise’ Facebook Party

Home to Paradise, the final book in author Barbara Cameron's The Coming Home series, is not to be missed! Rose Anna Zook always thought she and John, one of Stoltzfus brothers, would marry, make a home together, and have children. But John, enjoying his Rumschpringe in the Englisch world, has other ideas. Rose Anna is determined to bring her man back into the Amish fold. John is equally determined to live his life free and unencumbered. Who will win this battle of wills? Will love prevail?

Join Barbara on Thursday, March 9, for a live author chat party on her Facebook page with fun prizes to be won! Click the graphic below for more details and to RSVP. Hope to see you there—bring a friend or two who loves Amish fiction!


(Abingdon, February 2017)
Highly anticipated final book in The Coming Home Series from best-selling Amish author Barbara Cameron.
Rose Anna Zook has watched her two older sisters marry two Stoltzfus men and has always thought she and John, the third Stoltzfus brother, would marry, make a home together, and have children. But John has other ideas. He’s enjoying his Rumschpringe in the Englisch world a little too much and isn’t interested in returning to the Amish community—especially to marry.
Rose Anna is determined to bring her man back into the Amish fold. John is equally determined to live his life free and unencumbered. Who will win this battle of wills? Will love prevail?


Barbara Cameron has a heart for writing about the spiritual values and simple joys of the Amish. She is the best-selling author of more than 40 fiction and nonfiction books, three nationally televised movies, and the winner of the first Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Award. Her books have been nominated for Carol Awards and the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award from RWA’s Faith, Hope, and Love chapter. Barbara resides in Jacksonville, Florida.
Find out more about Barbara at http://barbaracameron.com.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

More great books available for review!

It's going to be a busy spring for Litfuse reviewers! If you are a blogger, take a look at these blog tours currently open for request. Check out these books, and sign up NOW to review during the dates listed. Please let your blogging friends know too!

4/12 – 5/3: 
A Fragile Hope by Cynthia Ruchti
(Abingdon Press)

Sign-up here!

Hope grows when seeds are planted---even in the muddy middle of life.
Josiah Chamberlain's life's work revolves around repairing other people's marriages. When his own is threatened by his wife's unexplained distance, and then threatened further when she's unexpectedly plunged into an unending fog, Josiah finds his expertise, quick wit and clever quips are no match for a relationship that is clearly broken.
Feeling betrayed, confused, and ill-equipped for a crisis this crippling, he reexamines everything he knows about the fragility of hope and the strength of his faith and love. Love seems to have failed him. Will what's left of his faith fail him, too? Or will it be the one thing that holds him together and sears through the impenetrable wall that separates them?

You are not going to want to miss Cynthia's newest hemmed-in-hope novel.

4/20 – 5/4: 
The Joy of Letting Go by Vicki Caruana
(David C Cook)

Sign-up here!

Letting go is a good thing. Letting go without preparation or awareness is not. 

Your "baby" just passed his driving test. Your little girl is moving into a dorm. Your role as a parent is changing---but your heart toward your kids only grows. The truth is, letting go of your children doesn't just happen at the big milestones. It happens day by day, beginning the moment your child enters your family.

With inspirational readings and quotes, this weekly devotional helps you equip your children for independence at whatever age they are now. You've already loosened your grip more than you realize! Discover new encouragement to continue to let go in life-giving ways.

Find out how to embrace your child's journey of independence day by day. 

4/18  5/2: 
Think Again by Jared Mellinger 
(New Growth Press)

Sign-up here!

Evaluating yourself---being mindful of who you are and what you are doing---is necessary and can lead to positive change. But what about the dark side of introspection? Do you ever feel weighed down and exhausted by your own self-analysis? Perhaps you made a mistake, said a careless word, or even messed up big time. Your self-examination spirals into a full-blown cross-examination. You keep revisiting what happened. Your mind circles around the event, fruitlessly trying to somehow make the outcome different so you don't feel the embarrassment, shame, and regret.

The modern self-esteem movement has left us empty and self-focused. We exhaust our healthy introspection and pervert it into constant self-evaluation, wrong views of ourselves, self-accusation, and false guilt. Introspection was never meant to bear such weight.

Think Again offers real relief from the burden of introspection that so many of us carry each day. Pastor Jared Mellinger, who tends to overdose on self-analysis himself, shows us how the hope of the gospel can rescue us from the bad fruit of unsound introspection. Mellinger's short, story-filled chapters help readers identify and turn away from unhealthy introspection.

There is an outward-focused God who delights to rescue an inward-focused people and lead them into a better way to live. When we truly understand it, we'll see that the gospel actually sets us free from thinking about ourselves too much. 

Find relief from the bad fruit of unsound introspection. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Door to Freedom

Can you imagine the struggles that Christians face when living under Islamic law? Jana Kelley explores modern-day persecution and the life of Muslims in Sudan in her new book, Door to Freedom. In the Islamic country of Sudan, Mia has learned to boldly share her faith. Rania, the daughter of a wealthy Sudanese Arab, seeks to find the reason for her sister’s sudden disappearance. Mia holds some of the answers, but both women quickly discover they must each walk through their own doors to freedom, the freedom that only comes when you trust God’s sovereignty more than manmade security.


(New Hope, February 2017)
It’s rough and it’s smooth. It’s dark and it’s light. It’s a masterpiece. It’s us. Here in Sudan. We are scared of it and drawn to it. There is an open door, and there is much opposition.
In the dusty, Islamic country of Sudan, Mia, who is raising her family in a Muslim country, has learned to boldly share her faith. Rania, the daughter of a wealthy Sudanese Arab, seeks to find the reason for her sister’s sudden disappearance. Mia holds some of the answers, but both women quickly discover they must each walk through their own doors to freedom, the freedom that only comes when you trust God’s sovereignty more than manmade security.
Part of New Hope Publishers’ line of contemporary missional fiction, Door to Freedom, the sequel to Side by Side, opens the reader’s eyes to modern-day persecution and the life of Muslims in Sudan. Based on real-life events, Door to Freedom also reveals some of the struggles that Christians face when living under Islamic law. The reader will be inspired to pray for those who are persecuted for their faith as well as for the salvation of the persecutors.
Jana Kelley


Author of the captivating novels Side by Side and Door to Freedom, Jana Kelley is a Texan who hardly ever lives in Texas. Raised in Southeast Asia, Jana developed a love for cross-cultural living early in life. Her love for writing came soon after. Jana returned to Texas to attend East Texas Baptist University. She and her husband married a month after she graduated, and by their second anniversary, they were living in a remote African town. After 13 years living in Africa and the Middle East, Jana, her husband, and their three boys moved to Southeast Asia where they currently live.
Find out more about Jana at www.janakelley.com.

Learn more about book 1 in the series,
Side by Side by clicking here!

Monday, February 20, 2017

The most boring hometown dates on #thebachelor ever

Via @BachelorABC on Twitter
Just after I finished my post on The Bachelor from last week (late) and turned off my computer, Jimmy Kimmel Live came on and revealed who the next bachelorette will be. It seems as though Nick didn't have as great of a connection with Rachel as it seems. Some kind of spoiler there. Is she the next person Nick sends home before hometowns, or did it go really bad when meeting her family? I guess we are about to find out.

Corinne, Rachel, Raven and Vanessa are wondering if there will only be three hometown dates. Corinne is still shaking in her boots. Nick shows back up from talking to Kristina and sending her home. He tells all the women that the roses are mutual, and he wants them to agree to the dates. Raven has a rose, but he asks again. Next is Vanessa. Corinne? He says he couldn't be more excited to meet Raquel. The ladies get a chuckle out of that. Rachel accepts the last rose.

First stop, Raven's hometown, Hoxie, Arkansas. 

They are going four-wheeling. There's not much to do in the town, so you better like doing what country people do. They find a grain bin because that's where you go to have conversations. They climb to the top only to get caught by the local police. Neither of them have their IDs or permission to be there, it seems. Of course, the cop who is busting them is Raven's big brother.

They go back out to race on their four-wheelers and go mudding. Actually, there's more water than mud. Bogging maybe. What a gross place to make out.

After they bathe, they head to Raven's parents' house. Nick has his flowers and chocolate to butter up Mom. They are greeted by Mom, Dad and the cop brother. Mom and Dad have news... Dad has had a scan and he is cancer free. It's an emotional moment. It's a bigger deal, by far, than Nick being there.

Raven and Dad talk about how he will be able to walk her down the aisle instead of her brother or uncle. After they head in from the porch, Mom and Raven talk on the bed. She tells mom he was not as arrogant as she expected. She confesses she's falling for him. Mom trusts her judgment, but asks Raven if she will be able to tell him. She pushes, "Will you be able to say, 'I love you' to Nick?"

Dad and Nick talk on the back porch. Nick asks if he will have permission to propose if they decide to be together in the end. Dad didn't expect to like Nick and tells him as much.

Raven decides she needs to tell Nick how she feels. She stumbles a little, but says there's no hesitation on her end of what should come of this. She still doesn't say those words her mom asked about. He opened the door, but she didn't walk through.

Next up is Dallas, Texas to see Rachel.

Why they have to show a cow to show they are in Texas, I have no clue. Most people in Dallas aren't typically around cows.

To show Nick her people and what she does, Rachel takes him to church. Literally. He has no rhythm to clap along. He doesn't seem comfortable since it's not like his church back home, but he says he enjoys new experiences. Faith was a big part of his parents' upbringing and their life as a couple. Nick thinks he could make this a part of their life. He's "comfortable in a place of worship."

They talk a little bit about whether or not they will draw attention as an interracial couple. It's not a big deal for them. The biggest connection he has had has been with Rachel.

Nick will not be meeting her dad, the judge, due to work obligations. The family Nick does meet includes Rachel's mom, younger sister, cousin, older sister and her husband. Her nephew is also there. Rachel tells that you don't have to have black skin to be in the family, but you have to have thick skin. Her brother-in-law is white.

When they sit down to dinner, they act like the food is foreign to him. It's brisket, mac and cheese and okra. He knows it's okra, but doesn't know what okra is. The two couples take some time to talk. They talk about interracial relationships. He has gone on dates, but hasn't had a serious relationship with a black woman. Nick talks about how she is smart, funny, beautiful, etc., etc.

Mom asks the same question about if he has dated a black woman before. Mom then moves on to asking if there are any red flags he has seen about Rachel. Nick answers they just connected from the beginning. He doesn't know of anything at this point. So far, so good with Mom.

Rachel and her mom go into the bedroom to talk. Mom asks Rachel how serious she is at this point. Rachel can see falling in love with him. She hones in on his sincerity.

This whole date has been a snooze.

I don't know that I am ready for Miami, Florida with Corinne. 

He likes that she makes her own rules. She's going to take him shopping for their date. They are at one of the most exclusive malls in Miami. The employees of every store know her. This is a day in the life for her.

Nick thought he had expensive taste until he met Corinne. She finds a load of clothes for him to try. The store brings them champaigne. He tries on $800 sweatpants and a $600 sweatshirt. Nick thinks he's going to have to get a couple of jobs if he ends up with Corinne. She has to talk him into a coat he says he doesn't need. She spends over $3000 on his outfit.

From there, they take a break from shopping at a cafe. She tells him the whole family is really relaxed. First though, she tells him how deep her feelings are for him. She spits out, "I love you." Since he won't say it in return, he simply kisses her.

They head to a high rise to meet the family. The family is skeptical. It's her mom, dad, sister, and Nanny Raquel. Corinne knows her dad is going to be unsure about Nick, but her mom and sister will love her. Mom explains Raquel has been with them 17 years and is like a second mom to the girls. They chow down on Dad's Greek olives, but Nick chokes it down. He does it's the best olive he's eaten though. If he hates olives like I do, that's not saying much.

Corinne and Dad talk. He's shaking his head at the fact she has professed her love already. Nick talks to Raquel. She nods her head a lot. Her English is very broken.

Back to Dad. Does Nick make enough money to keep her happy or is she ok being the bread winner? Dad says he hasn't seen Corinne this happy ever though. Dad and Nick talk next. Nick gets a blessing, but it may be because they were both full of scotch.

In order for mother and daughter to talk, the conversation has to happen on the bed. it's an uninteresting conversation.

Last, but not least, it's to Montreal, Quebec, Canada for his date with Vanessa.

First up, meeting her kids at school. They speak both French and English. She's an adult special needs teacher, so all of the students are over 21. They all have missed her and get very emotional. She gets her students to make a scrapbook of hers and Nick's best moments.

Next up, meeting her parents. Her parents are divorced, but civil. However, she wants to show him how she has to split her time, so he's going to meet them separately. First is her mom's house. She hasn't brought anyone home in three years. She brings Nick home to a crew of 15. There's a brother, sister, aunts, cousins, mother, grandmother and friends. They are a large, Italian family who grill them. The family learns they have not talked in depth about the future. Where will they live?

Mom pulls Nick out to talk. "What is about Vanessa that stood out?" He liked her as soon as he saw her come out of the limo. No, doesn't want to hear that part. Vanessa has so much to offer, she wants to har more. The older sister pushes him on conversations about where they will live and such. This is the biggest grilling of the night. The sister makes Nick cry. Brother asks Vanessa what she would do if she had to move? Now he makes Vanessa cry because he cares so much.

Vanessa and her sister talk next about how the relationship has grown over time. Mom then shares her concerns. It scares Vanessa. She has lots of questions she needs answered now.

Her whole family has really strong Italian/French Canadian accents. So much more so than she does. It's strange.

It's late, but they are headed to meet Vanessa's dad. It's very important to get his approval. It's just her dad and stepmom. After a little recap of all the places they have been, Dad quickly pulls Nick aside. First of all, "what makes Vanessa special?" Blah, blah, blah, blah. "There's still three others..." Yes... more blah, blah. He still has some things to figure out, but if they decided to move forward, would Nick have his blessing. Nope. No, he wouldn't. He can't give it just like that. "Did you ask all the other fathers too?" Nick is sweating. Dad explains why he won't give a blessing outright. Finally, after honest answers, he gives in and says ok.

Meanwhile, another mom and daughter moment sitting on the bed.

Dad tells Vanessa that Nick asked for a blessing. She tells her dad she would say yes if he asked. Vanessa asks her dad if Nick had asked all the families. Dad answers yes. Of course, Vanessa thinks it's less meaningful now. Well, woman, of course he did. If he didn't, he would be tipping his hand. It's what you are supposed to do on a hometown date.

None of the women seem overly confident as they head to New York for the rose ceremony. 

Nick admits he has a hard decision to make. He's still really confused. He's been in love before only to have his heart broken. Things can change quickly.

Vanessa needs some answers after hometowns. She now realizes he has feelings for others. She just now figured this out?

We end with a "to be continued" after Andi knocks on Nick's door. What the what?

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Jesus Loves Me

Rachel, my friend and co-teacher, teaches deaf ed, so she taught the kids to sign the chorus of "Jesus Loves Me" and their names one Wednesday a week or so ago. They did a great job!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

I knew I needed to manage my Saturday better

Next week, I am going to have to get my work hours in during regular hours (unlike last week with that jury duty mess) so that I can spend my evenings out in the crafty studio. I have so much I need to do, but instead of staying home all day to work on projects, I wasted away time at an estate sale auction. 

I knew better. I waited around for an item that went for more than I wanted to spend, and I should have known, but other stuff was going cheap since the crowd was small. 

I did manage to get the black and white on all of these Mason jars though. That was my project of the day. 

Friday, February 17, 2017

Convincing myself it's not procrastination

Today, I really needed to work on two press kits, but writing isn't usually my first choice of tasks. I struggle with it. I thought I would get them in, at least one. I really did. However, I got tied up in new project scheduling. Yes, I need all these different colors to get my calendar straight. I have to plan on paper where I can see what is going on and when things need to be done. If I don't have it in front of me later on, I'll forget something. I do have appointments and all my authors' interviews set in my computer calendar. I should have all that's on my desk calendar in there too, but I don't.

The most ironic thing about all of this is on top of everything else that has made this a long week, last night I set up new phones for both of my parents (and that involved online chats with AT&T). The first time they have had smart phones. Today, the first day they have had them, my mom has put all of her appointments in her phone. My computer calendar syncs with my phone, but I usually don't refer to it. Yet, my mom is all technologically organized.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Jury duty wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for all the waiting

In my book jury duty is a huge waste of time. It wouldn't be so bad if you were able to go in and get it done, but oh the waiting and waiting. And more waiting. 

I really don't think that I would mind so much being on a jury. Well, maybe, maybe not, but that's clouded by the stupidity of the only jury I ever served on. 

Anyway, on Monday morning, I arrived at the courthouse before 8 AM to perform my civic duty. I was almost amazed that our questionnaires were picked up by 8:20 AM. I thought it wasn't going to be so bad when we were pulled in around 9:30, I think it was, to go through qualifications and exemptions. There was a little bit of a wait as one case was settled that morning while we were standing around. 

People were weeded out by age (if you are over 70, you don't have to stay), if they had hearing issues (since the sound system on the newly renovated courthouse are so bad), if you have any kind of felony record, and if you are the sole caregiver of anyone who needs constant care. This was all done before voir dire before seating numbers were assigned for voir dire which hasn't always been the case when I've been summoned for duty. There was a man who was 84 who gave us a laugh because he wanted to hang around to hear what people said. It was his entertainment for the day. The judge wasn't sure if he wanted to be excused or not. Then again, neither were we. Once the crowd was thinned, we were sent out of the courtroom to wait for the name shuffle and seating order.

Even though the courthouse was just renovated, and they knew there were issues with seating for the hours upon hours potential jurors had to wait every time they needed to fill a jury, they still didn't add more benches. People had to stand around, lean on rails (that were being measured to add additional supports and braces to span gaps so children couldn't fall through them while doing things they shouldn't be doing), sit in the floor, and sit on the staircase. 

There were only a couple of people I knew there. My cousin's wife was there as was her dad, so they had some quality bonding time. The other person was a guy that I had to do my best to avoid. It's a socially awkward situation. I've been avoiding this guy so I don't have to talk to him for many, many years. It's been a running joke with friends and family. There wasn't a place to hide to avoid some awkward questions. 

About 10:45 the seating order was called. I was number 47 of around 90-100. Once everyone got into the courtroom after their name was called, we were recessed from 11:00 - 1:30 for lunch. I went home to work for two hours before heading back up there. We waited around until 3:45 when we were called back into the courtroom and told the delay was due to another judge that had to come in and rule on a motion. At that point, if we started selection, we'd be there until 8:00, so we were all sent home and due back at 9:00 AM on Tuesday. So, I was back home again at 4:00 to get more work in, especially since I had to go back the next day. 

I would have rather just stayed and got it over with. 

On Tuesday morning, it was back to the courthouse by 9:00 AM. Thankfully, they were ready to get started, and we were called into the courtroom in the same order we were given the day before. Some people had already been excused for the second day for whatever reason, so there were probably 8 spots ahead of me that were empty. I figured that made me 39 on the list and from past experience, that wasn't a guaranteed off the hook. 

As the district clerk was calling numbers, the judge signaled something and the bailiff told the clerk to hold on. They both commented they knew what that meant. They were calling for a reshuffle. Everyone was sent back out again. Supposedly, the shuffle list was already printed, so it wouldn't take long. "Won't take long," is relative. When we were called back in, I was number 50, with a few missing seats since the list was pulled before crossing out the missing names. I think there were maybe 80 people. 

Then we went through an hour and a half of voir dire. Each side and 45 minutes. The District Attorney's office questioned everyone through seat 60. I was a little surprised they went that deep in their questions. Without giving facts of the case, the defendant was accused of being in possession of a small amount of drugs found in a car that was not his (one question was about if we had ever rented a car, so it was either rented or borrowed). Questions centered around definitions of possession. 

After that, we were sent out again, and they called some people back in for further questioning based on the answers they gave. I lost track of how many people they called in. Then, they called me and the guy that was sitting on my left at 51. As we waited by the door, my cousin's wife told how they grilled her. The bailiff came back to the door and told us we could go back out where we were. They evidently thought they had gone deep enough. So we waited while both sides struck people from the list. 

During this wait, we were told to go ahead and line up to get paid. I found that really unusual because you usually get paid on the way out. What was the biggest surprise is that the first day was $6, but for having to come back for a second day, we got $40 for Tuesday. Nice, but not enough to cover my time away from the office. 

We were called back in and told to sit where we wanted. They called the 12 jurors and 1 alternate. The alternate was the man sitting to my right at number 49. That's how deep they went to get their jury. That's how close I was to getting selected. Then, there was an objection or question of some sort. We were all sent back out. 

Called back in. That's when everyone not on the jury were finally dismissed. By then, it was 1:15 PM and the jury got to take lunch when we all left. 

So, it was two very long days of doing little more than waiting. If it weren't for all the in and out, it wouldn't be so bad. Nothing interesting to share, just a tale of frustration. 

It's also been exhausting because I've been making up work hours late, and I almost have them made up. Hopefully, I won't be summoned again anytime soon. I think it's been about 20 months between summons even though the last time was a different court. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

It's about to be a busy spring

It's about to get real crazy! I have a few Saturdays to work on new projects before we start up on events, and we are also headed to Rangers Spring Training. Other than our hotel and tickets for for the games, I've done zilch planning than a little bit of looking online with Dad. I might want to do that.

Then, it's shaping up to be a busy spring. Here's where you can find The Crafty Dad and Daughter this spring.

March 25
11 AM - 3 PM

April 1
9 AM - 3 PM

April 8
9 AM - 3 PM

April 21 
9 AM - 4 PM
9 AM - 4 PM

It will be the first time we will be in two places at one time. Mom and Dad will be at Derrick Days and I will be in Mansfield with my friend, Rakia, helping me out. It may get REALLY interesting.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

In honor of Valentine's Day

I had jury duty again today. I'll share about it by the end of the week, but I'm so tired from getting up early and waiting around knowing I had other things I needed to do. I'm working late to make it up time and work this week. It's going to be a long week. 

In honor of Valentine's Day, I share this piece from author Rhonda Stoppe.

Ten Keys to a More Fulfilling Marriage

Excerpt adapted from If My Husband Would Change, I’d Be Happy 
– And Other Myths Wives Believe
by Rhonda Stoppe, © Harvest House Publishers, 2015.

The key truth about marriage is that true happiness is not to be found in your relationship with your husband, but in your relationship with Christ. Let’s look at ten key principles to a more fulfilling marriage:

1. Your Husband Was Never Meant to Be Your Happily-Ever-After

Asking your husband to be the source of your happiness is an unfair expectation. You were created to delight in Christ and to be consumed by your love for Him.

When you resolve to pursue loving Christ with all of your being, you will find the secret to happiness lies in your relationship with God alone. Only then can you enjoy fellowship with your husband in a way that honors Christ and blesses your husband.

2. Respecting Your Husband Will Inspire Him to Love You More

God created your husband with a deep longing to be respected by you. Just as deeply as you long to be loved without condition, your husband desires to receive unconditional respect from you. Notice I said unconditional respect. This means you don’t get to hold hostage your respect for your husband when you aren’t happy with him. Ephesians 5:33 says, “Let the wife see that she respects her husband” (ESV). This is not a suggestion; this is the Lord’s command to us as wives.

Your respect can motivate your husband to accomplish great achievements––because a man who is honored by his wife can do great things!

3. Staying in Love Is All About Your Love for God

Any wife who displays godly character by loving her husband will tell you that the key to loving your husband does not lie in how well he measures up to your expectations, but in how well you love God.

Before you were married, when you fell in love with your man, you had positive and loving thoughts about him. In marriage, you must work to continue to think such thoughts about him.

If you have not made a habit of thinking the best about your husband, you will need to determine to take “every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” With God’s help, you can gain victory over negative thoughts about your husband and replace them with thoughts that are honorable, lovely, and commendable.

When your love for God is right, He will help you to love your husband.

4. Parenting as One Brings Unity into Your Marriage and Security to Your Kids

Your children’s security lies in the health of your marriage relationship. When you learn to live with your sights upon God’s calling on your life––to know Christ and make Him known—this will influence how you live at home. God intends for you to live in a manner that draws your kids to Christ.

Your kids will be most secure when they observe their parents united, so don’t disagree with your husband in front of your children about certain rules or disciplines he may impose. Determine to bow together united in prayer, rather than stand in conflict with one another, because “the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16).

5. The Grass Is Not Greener on the Other Side of the Fence

God created you with a longing to feel loved and valued––by Him. Problems in marriage begin when you look to your husband to find your worth. God wants to fill the longings of your heart with Himself. Only through knowing Christ and living in intimacy with Him will you discover fulfillment.

Because of sin, you and I struggle with self-worship. And when you are in a state of self-love, if you’re not satisfied with how your husband treats you, you may fall for the myth that you would be happier with someone other than your husband. When you find yourself toying with that idea, you can know that Satan––who comes to steal, kill, and destroy (see John 10:10)––is seeking to ruin you and your family.

Realizing it is wrong to receive your sense of worth from your husband is the first step to setting him free from the burden of trying to give you what only God can give.

6. The Secret to Keeping Your Husband’s Attention Is Finding Your Worth in Christ

What’s the secret to keeping your husband’s attention? While there are many points I could make to answer this question, I prefer to revisit a statement my husband, Steve, made once:

The secret to capturing your husband’s attention for a lifetime is in learning to find your worth in your relationship with Christ. When you spend your life developing your inner beauty and staying focused on the Lord, your husband’s affection for you will grow as he observes the lovely woman of God you are becoming. The more consistently you pursue Christ, the more beautiful you will become to your husband, to others, and most importantly, to Christ.

7. Pursuing Your Husband Sexually Will Fill Him with a Sense of Well-Being

Don’t make your husband apologize for wanting to have sex with you.

God has given you a ministry of affirming your husband’s deepest emotional needs through sex. In the same way that you long for your husband to romance you with his words and acts of love, he desires to be romanced by you through sexual intimacy.

When you happily take your husband to bed, you not only satisfy his God-given physical need for sex, but you bring healing to his weary soul as well.

8. Grow Rich in Ways You Never Imagined

When Steve and I moved to our little house in the country so we could live debt-free, we had no idea how God was preparing us to serve Him in full-time ministry. The people we have led to Christ, taught and mentored in truth, and fellowshipped with in ministry are greater treasures than any possessions we may have given up. And the hope of one day, for all eternity, worshipping with those people around the throne of Christ is the greatest treasure we could ever have.

In the same way, the more you keep your eyes fixed upon Jesus, the less you will care about possessions or the earthly issues many couples fight over. Once you determine to daily seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33), you will find contentment and peace in your marriage––as well as God’s purpose for your life.

9. Be a Peacemaker in Your Marriage Relationship

The only way to build a marriage free of hurtful discord is through biblical conflict resolution. Here are eight steps to making peace:

• Admit you have a problem. Take an honest look at why you are in the conflict.
• Acknowledge your sinful bent.
• Refuse to be argumentative.
• Make peace a priority. Learn to talk through a disagreement for the purpose of resolution.
• Pray without ceasing.
• Forgive your husband as many times as necessary (Matthew 18:22).
• Seek godly counsel.
• Learn to be a peacemaker.

Make yourself so familiar with these eight steps that the next time you and your husband begin to argue, you can stop yourself from fighting and instead, take time to reflect on how you can show Christ’s character. By working to resolve conflict in a way that honors your husband, you can begin to live in a manner that reflects the Lord’s character to those who are watching how you live––beginning with your children.

10. The Joy of the Lord Is Your Strength

Life is filled with blessings and struggles. Learning to see each experience as an opportunity for the Lord to shine His light through you is the first step to realizing God has a purpose in whatever He allows to come your way––even a difficult marriage.

When you choose joy in each experience you encounter, you can become a vessel for the Lord to reach the lost and encourage others––as well as mold you, your husband, and your children more into the image of Christ. When you live with this perspective, you will discover the secret to living above life’s circumstances––and the joy of the Lord
will indeed be your strength.

Taken from: If My Husband Would Change, I’d Be Happy. Copyright © 2015 by Rhonda Stoppe. Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon. www.harvesthousepublishers.com. Used with permission.

Monday, February 13, 2017

For once, Nick uses his brain on tonight's episode of #thebachelor

It was a really long day, which I will have to tell you about later this week, so I may have a shorter blog tonight. I'm starting a little late because I was eating my taco salad first.

Here's how the first 15 minutes went down because I watched while eating:

We are reminded that after a week of Nick sending three women home on dates he freaked out and told the remaining 6 women how freaked out he was. He cried, the women cried, he lamented about whether or not he was going to find someone or waste his time again, the women lamented about whether or not he was going to stay or go home.

From @BachelorABC on Twitter
The next morning, Nick talks to Chris Harrison on the beach there in St. Thomas, and Chris point blank asks, "Do you want to call it quits now?" Nick said part of him did. He's been through this before and ended up broken hearted. Nick says something about there's a million ways this can go wrong. You can tell we are only privy to part of that conversation.

Nick then goes up to the suite and tells all the women the week was hard, he's been really thinking about whether or not this... dramatic pause and cut to commercial. Of course, he's going to stay. However, he's scratching the cocktail party and rose ceremony that is supposed to happen that night (because we have to keep the season at the same number of episodes). He tells them all they are leaving and headed for Bimini.

Now, I'm sure they were wondering where in the world Bimini is. I was wondering for a minute too. It's actually in the Bahamas, not far from Miami. This is when I remember reading a book that was partially set there (Charles Martin's Water from My Heart which I highly recommend).

Anyway, there's that. Now I'm still almost 15 minutes behind because I had to pause to finish my last bite, take stuff to the kitchen, type this up and go from there.

They arrive in Bimini to a resort the women say is so great but actually looks like a beach house dump compared to everywhere else they go. The first date card arrives.

"Vanessa - Let's go deeper... Nick."

Kristina reads it and you can hear the disappointment dripping. Corinne calls her a dirty name. She's mad because she has not had a one-on-one at all, so sure not a second one like Vanessa.

Vanessa's date is a sunburn on the top of a yacht. Instead of focusing on them, she talks about being scared herself because of how last week went. She didn't expect him to be so affected. Nick focuses on Danielle as that being his bad week. They were once strong, but he sent her on.

Vanessa is still going on about her fears. They look into each others eyes and talk through sun grins. They are kissy, kissy good before long. Then, they arrive at a shipwreck and go snorkeling.

Back at the house... Corinne asks Rachel what she thinks about Vanessa's date. Corinne thinks Vanessa is supposed to go to open up, but Vanessa doesn't have anything to open up about. She thinks Vanessa has no depth. (Pot... kettle...)

Later in the evening, the next date card arrives. Raven reads it...

"Corinne, Kristina, Raven... let's jump in with both feet first."

Corn is mad again. I have to go back to that again. I can't type her name right twice in a row. She wants a hometown where Nick can meet her nanny, Raquel, who is her best friend. 

At "dinner," Vanessa's toast is to firsts. Her first time on a yacht. First time jumping off a yacht. First time snorkeling. She expects there to be more firsts. Something about the relationship being easy... she's confident. She's falling in love with him... Cue kiss.

He's been in love before. He's fallen in love in this environment before. He's looking for a different love, one greater than he has had before. He likes her, but he's only going to say, "I love you," to one woman this time. He's not going to say it in return is what he's getting at.

This confusing to Vanessa because she thought her relationship was different than all the others. She doesn't want to end up heart-broken at the end of this like Nick was.

Side note: I'm getting further and further behind because I have now had to stop to answer work emails because I am going to be out of the office part of the day tomorrow with jury SELECTION part 2. They're making everyone come back for a second day. We haven't even started voir dire yet. I was at the courthouse 6 hours today. I worked 5 in bits and pieces, and I've been trying to write this blog. If I ever get it finished, I'm going to bed!

Group date time: The last group date. Kristina doesn't know how this is going to go. She has to share her boyfriend with two other girls. The only date rose given out this week is this group date's rose. Raven wants it to know she's going on hometowns. Corn is going to work extra hard. She is, after all, in her own words, the Queen of Group Dates. 

Corn is unimpressed with the yacht. She's in her element, but has been on bigger boats. She is the first to take off her cover up and show off.

Nick breaks out the sunscreen. He really helps Kristina rub it in, especially her inner thigh. Corn isn't digging that.

They see a small island, and Corn really hopes no one is going to get left there. Nick does break the news that they are about to go swimming with sharks. Corn is especially scared. However, when it comes to swimming time, it's Kristina that freaks out and has to go back to the boat. Nick goes back to comfort her. Corn thinks it's all a ploy. Corn can't stand sharing the attention, but knows if she works too hard to get attention it will backfire. That's the smartest thing she's said the whole time. She feels like she's on Kristina's date and just hopes to get through the night.

At the evening portion of the date, Nick says he plans to spend some one-on-one time with each of them. Nick asks Kristina to kick things off. Corn make choke on her olive.

As much as he thinks his relationship is strong with Kristina, he wants to make sure they are ready for a hometown date. They rehash how sending Danielle home was a surprise. Nick doesn't want to force anything or let his emotions get the best of him. He ends up in tears.

Raven and Nick talk next. They talk about her parents and family. Raven lost interest in law school when "Daddy" was diagnosed with lung cancer. Her parents are role models as they are still together after 38 (?) years.

Meanwhile at the hotel, the last date card arrives.

"Danielle - Let's ride off into the sunset together."

She's the one I am surprised is still around. 

Then, it's Corn's time. She says she didn't want to be that girl that carries on about being the only one without a one-on-one. She seems a little bit human as she says she's nervous. Nick tells her it's fine that he brought it up. Her two-on-one ended up with important time together. She tries to seduce her way into the rose.

When it's time to hand out the date rose, Nick gives it to Raven, leaving the others crushed. He tells the other two he will see them at the rose ceremony and takes Raven off for some special time. A semi-private concert.

The next morning, Corn whines to Kristina about not feeling secure. But, "Corinne is going to be Corinne until she gets her fiance."

Onto the date with Danielle. The bike around the island. There's been a long time between their dates. Has their relationship progressed? 

They play some basketball with the local kids. She's falling for him and thinks all is great. They sit down, and he brings up hometowns. He asks where in Wisconsin they would be going. He doesn't seem like he wants to go to his home state. Instead of south to her family, she's thinking north to her cabin.

He's not feeling it. He thinks the conversation is strained and that they need to catapult the relationship before hometowns.

Back at the house, there is another knock at the door. The fourth and final date card. "Rachel - let's get a taste of the local flavor." 

She is so very excited. 

Back to the evening portion of Danielle's date... The boringness of chit chat over "dinner." He seems more into it, at least for a moment. Maybe they are just a couple of Wisconsin kids with some things in common. The last guy she took home to her family was her fiance who died. The date is awkwardly quiet. She finally is able to speak and says her heart is fully open to him. She can't tell where he is.

Nick thinks they have a friendship, but doesn't see a future with her. He decides he needs to let her go then and there. He walks her out so she can go get her things and head home. She is able to tell the other women goodbye before leaving. A distraught Danielle gets in the limo and heads off.

Corinne didn't seem Nick and Danielle together, but is sad to see someone so sweet go home. She decides now she needs to become aggressive. She finishes off another glass or two of wine (she is ALWAYS drinking), decides get clean herself up, puts on her makeup and slutty clothes, and goes off in her way to high heels to see Nick at his hotel room.

This is where I should swear off the show for good.

Nick asks why she is there. She claims she came to see if he was ok. He hesitantly offers her a drink. She is there for one reason and one reason only. He doesn't seem all that pleased with her taking charge.

She leads him into his bedroom. Nick asks what she has in mind like he hasn't done the same thing before. She has him give her a massage behind closed doors, or so it seems. Nick tells her to slow down as this is not a good idea. From past experiences he knows he needs to not do this.

Suddenly, Nick has a conscience. He cares about the other four women there too. He's learned from his mistakes.

Corn has never been in this position before, so doesn't know what to do. She's going to put all day.

It's time for Rachel to go on her date. She tells the others she was nervous before her first one-on-one, but is so excited this time. She knows there's pressure to be THE last date before hometowns. 

Hold that thought because Nick arrives to pick up Rachel. For once, someone appears dressed for a date. 

Nick takes her to a local, non-tourist bar. They talk about what hometowns mean to her. They talk about her dad. She's a Daddy's girl, but she's never brought home a white guy. She says that's not a big deal though.

Rachel feels like this day has just been a date with her boyfriend. This does seem like the best date of this part trip. She comes home early. Instead of their date continuing that night, they are having a rose ceremony.

Corn is freaking out after hearing how chill Rachel's date was.

Before the rose ceremony, there has to be a conversation with Chris Harrison. He asks Nick what he's thinking. Nick knows what he needs to do. Three of the four: Corn, Kristina, Rachel or Vanessa is getting a rose. The other isn't, and Nick isn't going to make her go through a rose ceremony. He wants a conversation as private as possible. 

Nick comes in. Corn is like, "no, no, no." However, he asks to see Kristina. He finds her and asks her to go outside. 

Corn leaves the room, and Rachel follows. 

Nick and Kristina talk. He says other relationships are stronger. She says he hasn't given her a fair chance. He says he's not ready to let her go, but feels like he has to.

The women gather around her as she cries. She pictured her life with Nick.

Corn still thinks she may be going home. What if he only goes on three?

In the tease for next week, Chris Harrison tells us we won't believe what Nick decides to do. Nick is still trying to decide what to do that night. Someone will be coming back too.