Isaiah 6:8

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Ragamuffin Bible

About The Book:   Furious Love Is Hot on Your Trail! Many believers feel stunted in their Christian growth. We beat ourselves up over our failures and, in the process, pull away from God because we subconsciously believe He tallies our defects and hangs His head in disappointment. In this newly repackaged edition—now with full appendix, study questions, and the author’s own epilogue, “Ragamuffin Ten Years Later,” Brennan Manning reminds us that nothing could be further from the truth. The Father beckons us to Himself with a “furious love” that burns brightly and constantly. Only when we truly embrace God’s grace can we bask in the joy of a gospel that enfolds the most needy of His flock—the “ragamuffins.”  Are you bedraggled, beat-up, burnt-out? Most of us believe in God’s grace—in theory. But somehow we can’t seem to apply it in our daily lives. We continue to see Him as a small-minded bookkeeper, tallying our failures and successes on a score sheet.
Yet God gives us His grace, willingly, no matter what we’ve done. We come to Him as ragamuffins—dirty, bedraggled, and beat-up. And when we sit at His feet, He smiles upon us, the chosen objects of His “furious love.” Brennan Manning’s now-classic meditation on grace and what it takes to access it—simple honesty—has changed thousands of lives. Now with a Ragamuffin’s thirty-day spiritual journey guide, it will change yours, too.  The book includes a 30-Day Spiritual Journey Guide!

Story Behind the Book:  The world assigns value to people using measurable standards. Someone is a successful student if she receives As. Someone is a strong athlete if he runs five miles a day. The Lord, however, knows nothing of standards. The Ragamuffin Gospel was inspired by Brennan Manning after he discovered firsthand what it means to live by grace instead of performance. His words bring new life and sweet refreshment to Christians who are tired of never measuring up.

About The Author:  Brennan Manning is a writer and speaker who leads spiritual retreats for people of all ages and backgrounds. He is the author of more than ten books, including Abba's Child , Ruthless Trust , The Ragamuffin Gospel , and Posers, Fakers, and Wannabes. A resident of New Orleans, he travels extensively in the U.S. and abroad to share the good news of the unconditional love of God.

My Thoughts On The Book:  I read the original version of this book several years ago and it truly touched my life.  I found the message of Manning's book is The Gospel, pure and simple..."God loves you, no strings attached". Once I read through the book I knew without a doubt that not only does God love me but He is pleased with me and His saving grace is always there for me. That I find absolutely amazing.  Even if you think you completely understand what Grace and Love are all about there will be something for you in this book. This book will challenge the very way you look at God.   I used the book to teach a study on Judges and noticed that the language was a bit different, but still understandable. If you have yet to read this book, you need to.  If you are a pastor it is a great book to add to your library.  My question for you now is, what are you waiting for?

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book from Zondervan Publishing Company and B & B Media Group.   I was not required to give a positive review, only my honest opinion - which I've done. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.* Thank you for allowing me to participate in this review.

Goodbye 2013

A good friend of mine, Kristi, posted a letter on her Facebook page today and after reading it I felt I needed to see my own year out with this same kind of thing so here it is:
Dearest 2013,
You are about to end with a lot of people reflecting upon you. You have provided me lmuch laughter, many smiles(both mine and others), a ton of hugs, a river full of tears and enough challenges to make me strong. You were tough at times when I did not want to experience tough, but beautiful at other times when I seemed to need it most.
Early in the year I experienced another bout of ulcerative colitis, but beat it again.
I turned 59 in April.  Frank turned 56 in May.
In May we went to Panama City Beach with some of the Porch People and I fell.  How could I have missed a bright yellow speed bump.  I tore up my knees, palms, and face....and broke my glasses....but survived.  The good thing about the trip was that Frank and I got to see his daughter, Amy, and her daughter/our granddaughter, Amelia.  We were thrilled to see both of them.  I wish it had gone better than it did....but maybe 2014 will see another step.  Frank baptized Jett at the beach.  It was a surprise for the grandparents and a beautiful moment filled with happy tears. 
God called me to be a preacher in May, and in June I talked with the District Superintendent about being available if needed.  All the appointments had been filled, but I figured it was going to be a God Thing and it was.  The last Sunday in June I became the pastor of Midway UMC in Wedowee.  I love my congregation and know I am where God meant for me to be. 
In June Frank's nephew got married and we attended the wedding in Charleston.  It was good seeing old friends again.  I got to see one of my oldest (not agewise) friends, Carol, who now lives there and enjoyed spending time with she and her husband, Jeff.  Carol and I have been friends since we were five.  When we moved to El Prado they lived behind us.  Eventually they moved two doors down.  We started kindergarten together and graduated from high school together.
School brought some changes in August.  I was given a new prep.  I am now teaching a class of English 11.  Something I have not done in years. 
My precious Jett turned one the last of September and on that same day his mom was airlifted to Birmingham in labor with his twin sisters.....way too early.  The girls were born on October 1st.  They became our miracles.  Two tiny ones born at 22 weeks gestation were not given much of chance....yet they were such little tiny fighters.
The first week in October, during fall break, Frank and I went to visit our dear friends, Chuck and Sue in Knoxville.  Susan and I have been friends since we were five.  We started kindergarten together at Vedado Park and graduated from high school together.  We have been friends almost 55 years.  It was a wonderful visit as always.
Frank's aunt Kay passed away and we were unable to attend the funeral because it was on a Sunday and we both preach now. 
My friend and singing partner, Rebecca's husband, Stan died and it was a sad time in Still Magnolia world.
Frank and I went to the Hogansville Hummingbird Festival and to Christmas Village in Birmingham.  We are thinking about doing a few of these to showcase....and sell....Frank's scroll saw work.
We went to Panama City Beach again for Thanksgiving with my family.  Once again I found myself falling.  I actually slipped on ice and blew out a Baker's cyst in my knee, cracked my tailbone, pulled a mastoid muscle in my neck and had a bit of a knot on my head.  I was taking a sunrise picture, moved one more step and that was my downfall....literally.  I love my family! They are always there to love me and to give me a swift kick in the butt when needed! I missed a few days of work because I was flat on my back with my knee elevated.  I returned to work on Weds., worked half a day on Thursday and then went to an AEA Representative Assembly in Birmingham.
 I prepared all year for my daughter's leaving to go to Moldova as a missionary for Phillip Cameron Ministries and Stella's Voice.  I was delighted when I found out she and Brian would not be leaving until summer. 
December was a tough month.  Kash, one of the twins, was not going to make it.  Frank and I were there the day she left us.  It was a blessing, yet bittersweet.  Her funeral was on the 29th of December.  I just could not get in the Christmas spirit because of this.  She was such a part of our lives.  Sister, Kruze is doing wonderful.  She has been moved into a real crib and finally wearing preemie clothes (they were wearing Build a Bear tiny outfits).  I had my first pastor mentor meeting.  I will meet with the District Board of Ministers in January for the big interview.  Can you say nervous?
So here I am on the 31st.  We have lost loved ones, welcomed new babies into the world, traveled, suffered illnesses, had life changing events, spent time with family and friends, enjoyed each other, and I have written. 
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And days o’ lang syne!
For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne,
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet
For auld lang syne!
2014 is around the corner. I'll look back at you 2013 with a smile. I am hoping that 2014 brings the end to my mom's estate, stuff sold, house sold, and no more link to Kellyton except for the people I love who live there.  God has blessed me richly! I have been given a 365 page book to write for 2014.  I hope it will be a best-seller. 
In Him,

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Homecoming of an Angel

Yesterday was yet another day that was hard, long, and emotional.  Yesterday we had the funeral of Ansley Kash McCarley at Rock Mills United Methodist Church.  Her aunt Lyndi posted a few highlights about the day and I thought I would share them with those of you who have been keeping up with the girls.  "I want to share a few significant events from Kash's funeral.  First - as the family went up to say our final goodbye's before they closed the casket , Jett Jett pointed to Kash and said "Sissy" - Second when the church sang Victory in Jesus the sun shined into the front of the church right beside the piano (that was Kash letting us know she was there) - 3rd one of Kash's UAB NICU night nurses came all the way here after working 3rd shift last night - Fourth when Roar by Katy Perry started playing Jett got down in front of everyone and danced and showed out for everyone and at the end of the song , he walked up the casket reached out his hand and closed it back . He was telling his Sissy goodbye! Fifth we've been blessed to have been surrounded by so many friends and family and members of this community. Thank y'all so much for showing support today and I personally want to give a HUGE HUGE HUGE thank you to my "second father" Keith Rollins(a Roanoke police officer) for giving the Princess an escort all the way from Roanoke out of the kindness of his heart. We love each and every one of y'all! thank you so very much! what makes it special is that the whole town showed up for a little girl that they didn't know. That's love."  Now my additional thoughts.  I came out of the bathroom to find my husband standing outside of his office.  Why?  He had just witnessed the most beautiful sight imaginable.  When the body arrived at 12:30, Magen and Keaton were waiting on it and carried their baby in the church.  The rest of the family and friends witnessed it at the end when they also carried her out.  It was one of the hardest, yet sweetest things I have ever seen.  Frank and Rev Jimmy Sprayberry did the funeral.  Rev. Sprayberry was an old family friend of Magens and actually married them right there in Rock Mills Church.  I was the music engineer for the day.  Magen gave me a list of the important songs and then asked me to fill the church with music prior to the service.  I downloaded sweet instrumental music to my ipad.  Songs like Cinderella, Remember Me, Amazing Grace, Wind Beneath My Wings, You Raise Me Up, and many more.  I had over an hours worth of music prepared.  When the family entered the church they came into I Can Only Imagine.  We sang Victory in Jesus as a congregation played by our pianist, Beth Kramer, and then I played Who Am I.  After the sermon and prayer but before the benediction I played Katy Perry's song, Roar as the family sat.  When they rose to leave I played it again.  Who would have ever thought that a rock stars song would be so perfect for this moment.  We then drove to the Rock Mills cemetery where Kash would be laid to rest.  After Rev Sprayberry spoke, Magen spoke too and it was the most beautiful act of love I have ever witnessed.  The family was then served a meal at the church and Marcie(the grandmother) spoke there.  I have to admit that it was one emotionally draining day.....but it was a day filled with wonder, first time witnessed things, and love...lots and lots of love.  People have followed the saga of these babies from as far away as Australia.  Once they settled down for the night, Magen posted this on the babies FB page: " Well, today has come and gone.... she had a beautiful service. the sun broke thru the windows during victory in Jesus, it was such a powerful moment to feel her sweet spirit. jett got up and danced to roar.... That was always their theme song, so we played it at her last song.... I have called to check on baby sister, she is doing amazing... Up to 4 pounds 2 ounces today!"  God is good.  Continue to pray for this little family as they heal.  Hopefully my next post on their saga will be when Kruze comes home.  I promise you that there will be a PARTY in the flats.  If all continues to go as it is ....we are looking at the end of January or the first part of February. God bless you all and I pray that you will have a blessed 2014.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

What Now?

My Scripture today comes from Matthew 2:13-23 and I have a question to pose to you….What now?
Another year is quickly drawing to a close. The holiday season is just about over. The rush of preparation has culminated in a few hours of quality time spent with friends and family, but now that’s done. The gifts have been opened, the food has been devoured. Now what?  The hectic pace of the holiday season can leave us longing for a break. It can also leave us with a sense of melancholy, a sense of sadness. The tinsel and the glitter, the lights and the decorations, the smells and the sounds of Christmas – everything is replaced now, with the mundane sameness of life. Many people struggle with the post-holiday-blahs. Now what?  I wonder if Mary and Joseph felt some of those same things. The excitement of the Son of God being born that night, the visit of the shepherds, some time after that - the visit of the Magi from the east, bringing gifts. But now what? Those things are done - in the past, distant memories for Mary and Joseph. Now they set about the task of raising a family, making a living – the excitement of the moment is gone. Did they struggle with the post-holiday blahs?  God didn’t let them, did he? He didn’t allow the holy family to live a peaceful and quiet life in Bethlehem for very long. Things couldn’t be peaceful and quiet, because the baby they were raising was the very Son of God, the Savior of the world. Satan would try to assassinate the Savior. Mary and Joseph would have to be placed into God’s witness protection program for a little while. Eventually, they would move back to their small hometown up north after things settled down. There was no time for Mary and Joseph to get comfortable in Bethlehem.  For you and I as Christians living in the 21st century, the events we are looking at today have a great deal of significance. As we sit here, at the end of the year, as all the holiday-type things come to a close, and we ask ourselves, now what? God answers that question this morning, through his Word. There is much ahead, much to think about, much to look forward to, and he shows us what those things are today as we focus on these early days in the life of our Savior.  It was the middle of the night, and Joseph was sleeping, when an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Get up, take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” The wise men from the east had just visited Jesus. They had told King Herod that they were on their way to visit the one who was born King of the Jews, and this bothered Herod. He was the King of the Jews, or so he thought. He wondered if this newborn child would be a threat to his throne. The wise men didn’t return like he thought they would, and this upset him. Any threat to his position of power must be eliminated. And so very soon, maybe even the next day, Herod would send his soldiers into Bethlehem to massacre all boys under the age of two. “Get up, Joseph,” the angel said. “Get out of here as fast as you possibly can.” Satan was behind this whole thing – this was his first attempt to assassinate the Messiah. And so Joseph got up in the middle of the night, and he and Jesus and Mary made their way to Egypt, where they stayed until the death of Herod. Do you see the two things that happen here? Satan loses, and a prophecy is fulfilled. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.” When the prophet Hosea wrote that, he was referring to the nation of Israel, God’s Son, being called out of the slavery of Egypt into the promise land. But here, the Holy Spirit teaches us in Matthew that this also applies to Jesus – just as God called the nation of Israel out of Egypt, so also God called his son Jesus out of Egypt.  So, Now what? Joseph, Jesus, and Mary are living with a group of Jews in Egypt, but not for very long. Herod dies, and an angel of the Lord appears in a dream to Joseph again, and tells him that it’s safe for him to go back to the land of Israel. So Joseph and Jesus and Mary return to Israel, but something iss wrong – Herod’s son, Archelaus was in charge now, and he was just as bad as his father. Now what? Once again, Joseph was warned in a dream to leave the area. He moves north, to the town of Nazareth in Galilee, and that’s where he stayed.  Do you see the two things that happen here? Once again, Satan loses - the Messiah is safe, and a prophecy is fulfilled. And so was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: “He will be called a Nazarene.” The prophets of the Old Testament never wrote this prophecy down, but it was understood that the Messiah would be called a Nazarene, a despised person from a small town in the middle of nowhere.  The Devil went to work right after Jesus was born. But his plans didn’t work. Instead, he loses, and prophecies are fulfilled. The Devil is still at work today, and right after Christmas, it seems that he works extra hard, especially on Christians. He wants you to not only put your decorations away, but to put your joy away, and your faith away. “You can stop being religious now,” the Devil says. “You can stop being joyful now. Christmas is over.” It’s time to get back to the regular things of life.” The Devil attacks us with these thoughts, and unfortunately, we sometimes listen. We become melancholy – the birth of Jesus Christ fades into the past. Our desire to worship goes down with the lights. Our joy disappears with the wrapping paper.  Maybe our joy and desire disappear because we have bought into the world’s thinking more than we realize. Perhaps we believe the equation: happiness = material things, more than we think. If lasting happiness could be found in having material things, and in being able to indulge ourselves in whatever we wanted, then most of us in America should be delirious with joy, and happy beyond description, all the time. We should be producing books and poems that describe our state of unparalleled bliss. Our literature and art should rival that of the ancient Greeks and Romans and Renaissance craftsmen.
Instead, we find high rates of suicide, depression, child abuse, and other personal and social problems beyond description, especially during the holidays. We find people, and sometimes ourselves, struggling to stay joyful, because deep down inside we have been let down by the lies of the world - that happiness is found having all we want and being able to get more.  But it doesn’t have to be that way. The Word of God for today teaches us two things – Satan loses, and prophecies are fulfilled – and this goes on even after Christmas is over. Throughout Jesus’ life, Satan lost, and prophecies were fulfilled. Think about what happened about 30 years after these events - really, the opposite of our story for today. Instead of Jesus fleeing from harm, Jesus would walk right into harm’s way. Instead of fleeing from Herod and the Roman government, Jesus would allow himself to be executed by the Roman government. Instead of God the Father protecting Jesus, God the Father would punish Jesus - the opposite of our story for today. But even there, Satan loses, and prophecies are fulfilled. The prophecies that foretold that the Messiah would someday suffer and die to take away the sins of the world. All of our sins - even those moments when we buy into the lies of the Devil – all of our sins have been washed away by Jesus on the cross. Satan loses, and prophecies are fulfilled. That’s why Jesus was born. And that’s what brings us joy, and keeps our joy alive, even after Christmas is over. These two small victories of Jesus, recorded in our verses for today, are just a taste of the big victory that Jesus would someday win for us at the cross, and at the empty tomb.  And so now what? How do I respond to the grace of God? How do I say thank you? How do I glorify the God who has done all this for me? I can live my life like Joseph lived. What was the pattern of Joseph’s life? He listened, and he obeyed. The angel told him to go to Egypt, so he went to Egypt. Go to Israel, so he went to Israel. Watch out for Herod number two, so he moved to Nazareth. Joseph listened, and obeyed. He wasn’t a self-made man, Mr. Independence, I’ll-do-my-own-thing-kind-of-guy. He listened, and he obeyed. That’s how he responded to the grace of God. That’s how he glorified the God who had sent the Savior into his very own family.  You and I can do the same thing. Today, God reveals himself to us not in dreams, but through his written Word. We can listen, and obey. We can be modern-day Joseph’s – people who do not rely on themselves, but listen closely to the Word of God, and obey. Throughout our lives, Satan will continue to lose, and God will continue to keep all the promises he has made to us – that pattern will never change. May God bless you with a joy and love for him that lasts long after the Christmas season is over. 
In your quiet time today please remember the McCarley family.  We will be having one of their twin daughter, Kash's funeral at Frank's church at 2.  This has been a hard time for the community, the friends, but most of all for the family.  How do you say goodbye to your three month old?  I know they are asking themselves...."What now?"

Saturday, December 28, 2013

A December Bride

About The Book:  What started as a whim turned into an accidental---and very public---engagement. Can Layla and Seth keep up the façade in Chapel Springs this holiday season---for the sake of her career . . . and his heart?  Under normal circumstances, Seth Murphy - the best friend of Layla O’Reilly’s ex-fiancé - would be the last person she’d marry. But the news of their upcoming (and phony) nuptials convinces a big client that Layla may be high-society enough to work for his agency - a coup that would put her fledgling home-staging business on the map. Seth has secretly loved Layla for years, even when she was dating his best friend. Maybe she’ll never forgive him for the way he hurt her back then, but he has to try. And Layla is willing to keep up their engagement farce until she’s landed her client.  For Layla, it's the chance to save her career. But for Seth, it's his last chance to win her heart.

About The Author: Denise Hunter is the internationally published bestselling author of "Barefoot Summer" and "The Convenient Groom". She has won The Holt Medallion Award, The Reader's Choice Award, The Foreword Book of the Year Award, and is a RITA finalist.
In 1996, inspired by the death of her grandfather, Denise began her first book, writing while her children napped. Two years later it was published, and she's been writing ever since. Her husband says he inspires all her romantic stories, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too! When Denise isn't writing she's busy raising three heroes-in-the making with her husband. You can learn more about Denise through her website or by visiting her FaceBook page at

My Thoughts On The Book: When I first heard about this series of novellas a couple of months ago, I was so thrilled beyond thrilled! This was a great chance to have a guaranteed read each month for a year.  How could you beat that?  The sad thing was that I got busy and forgot to read the other eleven.  When I saw that A December Bride on the read and review list I thought at least I could read one and then go back and read the others.  Upon finding out that it was set in the same location as Barefoot Summer, I knew I had to read this book. Thank you  Booksneeze for giving me that opportunity. I chose it in ebook form so I could start reading it immediately and since we were having a rainy, cold day I was able to finish it in a couple hours! The story was good.  I liked the fact that the whole story line begins with a lie and develops into a romance between two old acquaintances.  I would definitely recommend it - especially if you enjoy contemporary romances.  I look forward to reading future novellas in the A Year of Weddings series and Denise Hunter's next Chapel Spring novel, Dancing with Fireflies, which is set to release March 2014.  I hope I have the opportunity to review that one as well.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book from, and Zondervan. I was not required to give a positive review, only my honest opinion - which I've done. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.*  Thank you for allowing me to participate in this review.

Friday, December 27, 2013

I Wish You Enough

I have received this in an email several times over the past few years, however yesterday it hit home to me.  We were not sitting in an airport waiting for a plane to arrive, we were sitting in a waiting room at the NICU at UAB hospital in Birmingham waiting for Kash to cross over.  The music therapist came and sang, "You are my sunshine", and "I Hope You Dance."  My heart felt as if it weighed a ton and I know the family felt it too. At 3:20, Kash left this world.  No more more suffering.....and she is in Jesus' arms.  So I thought today I would share this story with my readers.
Recently at an airport, I overheard a father and daughter in their last moments together. They had announced her departure and standing near the security gate, they hugged and he said, “I love you, I wish you enough.”She in turn said, “Daddy, our life together has been more than enough. Your love is all I ever needed, I wish you enough too, Daddy.” They kissed and she left.  He walked over toward the window where I was seated. Standing there, I could see he wanted and needed to cry. I tried not to intrude on his privacy, but he welcomed me in by asking, “Did you ever say good-bye to someone knowing it would be forever?”  “Yes, I have,” I replied, “forgive me for asking, but why is this a forever good-bye?” I asked.   “I am old and she lives much too far away. I have challenges ahead and the reality is, the next trip back would be for my funeral,” he said. “When you were saying good-bye I heard you say, ‘I wish you enough’, may I ask what that means?”  He began to smile. “That’s a wish that has been handed down from other generations. My parents used to say it to everyone.” He paused for a moment and looking up as if trying to remember it in detail, he smiled ever more. “When we said, ‘I wish you enough,’ we were wanting the other person to have a life filled with just enough good things to sustain them,” he continued and then turning toward me he shared the following as if he were reciting it from memory.
I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright.
I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more.
I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive.
I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger.
I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.
I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.
I wish you enough “Hello’s” to get you through the final “Good-bye.”

Tears filled his eyes and he walked away.
And so, I wish you enough.
(author unknown)
I learned a valuable lesson yesterday as I saw Keaton and Magen let go of their little angel, Kash.... without God we don’t have enough, or have eternal secturity.  They showed me a faith that was strong and let me know....that they have enough!  God Bless You All and Hug Someone you love real tight today.

Thursday, December 26, 2013


Today Frank and I planned to stay in all day.....but instead we ended up going to the matinee.  We had a couple of tickets to the movies that were going to expire on December 31st.  There were several movies I wanted to see....we settled on Frozen.  I am so glad we did.  It was amazing.  If you have not seen this must.  The music is spectacular. Demi Lovato sings Elsa's song, "Let It Go." The animation was awesome. Fearless optimist Anna sets off on an epic journey-teaming up with rugged mountain man Kristoff and his loyal reindeer Sven-to find her sister Elsa, whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom of Arendelle in eternal winter. Encountering Everest-like conditions, mystical trolls and a hilarious snowman named Olaf, Anna and Kristoff battle the elements in a race to save the kingdom.  I did not take my eyes off the screen once.  I was hooked by the beauty of the ice and the story line.  Frank did not fair so well.  I heard him breathing deeply and realized that he was sound asleep.  I did have to wake him up once or twice because he was beginning to snore.   I will tell you....if you get a chance and want to go see an amazing movie that is for the whole family.....this is the one.  Don't miss it!  This one is worth seeing more than once.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Times.....

Today is Christmas Day.  I actually slept a little late (I got up at 6).  Kat and Brian surprised me with a spend the night visit.  I was so excited I could hardly wait til they got here.  We talked, listened to music with the Yule Log channel, then watched Friends.  I went to be somewhere around midnight.  Kat and Brian followed around 1.  Before anyone began moving I made the Watergate salad for my dinner.  Linda brought ham, Amanda made dressing, and I cooked green beans, made REAL creamed potatoes.  Brian helped me with the potatoes.  It was fun peeling potatoes with him in the kitchen while Kat napped on the couch thanks to a Benadryl I gave her.  She is so like her pill and she is out like a light.  I had put the green beans on in the crockpot on low last night when we got home from our Communion Services.  Brian and I watched/listened to more of the Yule Log channel and talked about music, life, stuff.  I really enjoyed having time with just Brian.  When Kat, Brian and I used to travel, Kat would always go to sleep in the car and Brian and I would have intense conversations.  I have a wonderful son-in-law.  Amanda breezed in from David and Suzanna's around 11.  She and Kat sat down and poured over Amanda's Family Tree program.  I was so impressed with her information that I ordered one for myself.  Linda and Victor showed up around 12.  We got everything ready and ate around 1ish.  I had invited Eric and Jeni and their families since this would be the last chance for us to celebrate Christmas with Kat and Brian.... but they were busy with their real family plans and could not join us....their loss.  After we finished eating we opened gifts and fellowshipped around the Christmas tree.  I love my family.  Linda's son, Lee and his girlfriend came in just as we were getting ready to open the presents.  The nine of us fit real cozy into my den.  Victor, Linda's husband (and Linda too), gave me a painted feather from Mexico. It is a Mayan/Aztec temple and really amazing.  It is framed and I love it!  Bath and Body hand soap was also in the bag along with a gorgeous cross necklace.  Amanda gave me my Mane Event gift card.  I look forward to this gift.  Mane Event is a spa in Lafayette.  I love the way the place smells, I love the fact that they give you something to drink when you get there, I love their cheese straws, I love feeling special there.  Amanda loves the place too....and so Linda and I love opening that little brown box with the green card in it.  I also got a Spain guitar magnet from Amanda's Med Cruise.  It is proudly displayed on my fridge.  Kat and Brian gave me a picture of a convent in Moldova.  I got a little statue of this when they got home last summer.  I can't wait to redo one of my walls with all this really cool items from the world.  The family all left around 4.  After they were gone the house was too quiet and the sadness began to move in.  Sometime after today we will lose baby Kash.  This is the little baby I have been requesting prayer for.  I cried for a bit....because I felt selfish.  I was a little blue today because this is the last Christmas I will have with my daughter for a while.  She and Brian will be moving to Moldova as full-time missionaries in June.  As I watched my family together I realized how selfish I was daughter is leaving the country,....Magen is losing hers.  I went outside while the kids and Amanda worked on Family Tree and prayed for Magen and Keaton and asked God to forgive me for being such a ninny.  Big lesson for today....when you think you have it bad....someone else has it worse.  Lesson learned God!  I hope all of you had a Merry Christmas.  God Bless you every single one.  Hug someone you love today and thank you for letting me ramble!  :-)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A Heartbreaking Letter From Megan

It has taken me a few days to be able to post this.  Every time I have sat down I could not find the right words to put on the page.  This morning I got up and decided I would write today because I needed to.  My story begins on Saturday morning when Frank and I got a call that pastors dread getting.  We were on our way to UAB in a matter of a few minutes.  One of the babies I have been asking for prayer for was not doing well.  My heart broke during the two hour trip.  When we were almost there this note was posted on Kash and Kruze Facebook page from Megan.  "Good morning.... This might be the hardest thing I've ever had to say/write...... But here we go...... Baby Kash is not doing good. The infection she had from birth attacked her brain, she had an MRI done on Thursday that showed that all she has left from the infection is her brain stem, she will not survive this. We have requested that she be moved back to UAB so that they can be together. they are requesting us to pull her from support when we are ready. we are requesting prayers of peace.... We are not questioning His will, we know our baby girl deserves more than a life with no laughter and fun.... This is hard for all of us as we try to understand, please pray. Thank you all for your love, support, and continuous prayers. we love you all."  Frank talked with Keaton and was so impressed when Keaton said that he was so blessed that they had had three months with Kash.  When the girls were born they were given a zero chance of survival and she had touched their lives for this long.  We visited for a few hours and then when Marcie, Sherry, Jett, and Glenda got there Frank anointed both babies.  The decision was made to wait until after Christmas.  The ride home was relatively quiet.  Frank shared the story of his talk with Keaton and I sat in thought about the impact those girls had had on our community.  I have witnessed first hand the bringing together of a community in support of this sweet family and it has been an amazing thing.  Keaton got to hold Kash for the first time on Saturday, Marcie, Tracy, Aunt Lyndi, Aunt Sherry, all held her on Sunday. 
On Saturday the hospital sent a professional photographer to make pictures of the girls together,
Santa and Mrs. Claus came to visit them, and then Mandy(a friend of the family) came and took family Christmas pictures. 



They have packed a lot of joy and living in just a few days.  Christmas morning was quiet for them.  Santa visited the girls. 

As the new year comes into view I am asking that you continue to pray for this special little family and the days to come.  If you could meet them, you would love them just like we do. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Scent of Fear

About The Book:  After three years of tenuous peace, John and Ellie Zimmerman are shocked when two old friends show up in disguise. Their world is once again sent into turmoil.  Jim Kenneman, Director of National Security, masterminded the break up of a group persecuting Christians in the Lancaster Tourist Zone. Now, they're gunning for him. At first, he relies on his negotiating skills, but his best operative convinces him that won't work.  Monty, a topnotch operative, worked on the Bird-in-Hand assignment and helped bring down the New Patriots. A recurring dream prompts him to rescue his boss from possible murder. The agency might not be sending him on assignment, but he knows God is directing his path - one that could wreck his career, family, and cost him his life.

About The Author:  Susan J. Reinhardt started off as a non-fiction writer. Her publishing credits include: LIVE!, Vista, The RevWriter Resource, The Secret Place, and numerous other periodicals and anthologies. She changed gears and began writing fiction after an experience in Gettysburg. Surrounded by history, she *heard* the voices of the forefathers as fading echoes. Attempts to write a poem or non-fiction piece were unsuccessful, so she put the thoughts aside and prayed. Eight months later, Susan and her late husband were discussing that event when he declared, "That's it! That's your book, and it will be written in 4 months and be called Ghosts of the Past." The first draft was written in 4 months and underwent a name change to Echoes of the Past. Later, it became The Moses Conspiracy. Now, after 2 years of caring for her husband through cancer until his death and 6 years of honing her fiction skills, The Moses Conspiracy has been published.  A widow, stepmom, daughter, and follower of Jesus Christ, Susan enjoys reading, couponing, gardening, family time, and searching for small treasures in antique shops.
Susan blogs at:

My Thoughts About The Book:  I did not read the first book, The Moses Conspiracy, before reading The Scent of Fear and probably should have.  I had some difficulty getting up to speed with the second book.  I have to say that once I got past the initial confusion I was captivated by the story and amazed by the writer.  This wonderful story is filled with action, suspense, and mystery, this story expands characters from The Moses Conspiracy, sharing their lives, trials, and how they come to terms with future events.  The book is a "can't put down" one and I found myself reading when I should have been doing other things.  I plan to go back and read The Moses Conspiracy while I wait for her next book to come out.  Excellent read!  Thanks for letting me have the chance to read and review this.
Statement of Disclosure: I received this book to review from Diane Estrella at  for an honest review.  Thank you so much for this opportunity.  Reviews are published on Goodreads and Amazon too.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

An Amish Miracle

About The Book:  An Amish Miracle is a collection of three novellas, by three different authors, all set in the same Amish community: Always Beautiful, Always His Providence, and Always in My Heart.  The first story, Always in My Heart introduces us to Hope Bowman and her family.  Hope is dealing with grief stemming from giving up her firstborn son.  This grief shadows the young mother's happiness  after she and her husband have their fourth daughter. Hope finds herself questioning God and wondering if God would grant her desire for a son?  In Always His Providence we are introduced to widow Rosa Hostetler who is facing losing everything. As she struggles with the possible loss of her farm and her chickens she learns to rely on God to provide and to wait on his will, yet she almost misses the biggest blessing; the possibility of loving again. Beth Wiseman's contribution, Always Beautiful, is about young Becky Byler and her struggle with her weight and self-image.  Is beauty only skin deep and can only skinny girls experience true love? 

About The Authors:  Award-winning, best-selling author Beth Wiseman is best known for her Amish novels, but her most recent novels, Need You Now and The House that Love Built, are contemporaries set in small Texas towns. Both have received glowing reviews. Beth's highly-anticipated novel, The Promise, is inspired by a true story. Twitter: @bethwiseman Facebook: Fans-of-Beth-Wiseman
Ruth Reid is a CBA and ECPA best-selling author of the Heaven on Earth series. She's a full-time pharmacist who resides in Florida with her husband and three children.
Mary Ellis grew up close to the eastern Ohio Amish community, Geauga County. Before “retiring” to write full-time, Mary taught middle school and worked as a sales rep for Hershey Chocolate. Mary is a CBA and ECPA best-selling author as well as an ACFW Carol Award finalist and runner-up for the 2010 Holt Medallion Award.

My Thoughts About The Book:  I was excited when I realized that the stories were all set in the same town and I would be visiting with the same characters in each of the books. Each novella was well-written, the characters pop off the page and you find yourself wishing for success for each of them. These were not your run of the mill Amish romance stories where boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, boy and girl marry.  There are several twists and turns and you find yourself wondering if things are going to work out for the three key women characters.  I loved everything about these novellas.  I loved the recipes at the end of the story.  I will definitely give them a try.  Especially the pineapple cake of Hopes. If you like Christian romance, or like to read about the Amish culture, you will not regret reading this book.

Statement of Disclosure: I received this book to review from Thomas Nelson Publishing Group's Book Sneeze Blogging Program for an honest review.  Thank you so much for this opportunity.  Reviews are published on Goodreads and Amazon too.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Bound To A Promise

About The Book:  (from a press release) - Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX“Mrs. Floyd, my name is Paul Howard, and I’m calling from the United States embassy in Antigua. I’m sorry, ma’am, but I need to ask, are you Bonnie Clever-Floyd, daughter of William Norman Clever? I regret to inform you that your father has been killed.”
It was a cold, ordinary morning when Bonnie Floyd answered the phone call that would change her life forever. That date—February 1, 1994, would be seared in her heart as the day her parents had been brutally murdered. “They didn’t suffer, Mrs. Floyd; they were shot in their sleep…”Stunned and despairing, Bonnie cried, “They’re dead. They’re gone…”
Bound to a Promise tells the amazing true story of faith in the face of unimaginable loss. Bonnie Floyd’s father and stepmother had been living a dream life—serving as caretakers of a private tropical island and traveling the world in a sailboat. That life was cut short when three young men boarded their yacht as it was anchored off the coast of Antigua. Determined that there should be no witnesses to their theft and brutality, the assailants shot all four people on board.  For several years prior to that terrible day in 1994, Bonnie and her husband, Donnie, had been seizing every opportunity to share their faith with her parents. “I had done all I knew to do to share with them. They had come a long way in their views of God. They acknowledged his hand at work in their lives and in ours, and they were never against a suggestion to pray,” Bonnie recalls. “To this day I can still see the intensity in my father’s blue eyes and the assurance on his face when he said, ‘I promise you, if I ever get into a position where I fear for my life, I will pray, but I have never been, nor will I ever be in a position where I am not in total control.’”  Within six months, Bonnie’s parents were dead.
In the coming months and years, as God began to reveal what really happened that night in Antigua, Bonnie found not just the assurance that she would see her parents again in heaven, but also the power to forgive. Bound to a Promise includes the fascinating account of the Antiguan trial that brought her parents’ killers to justice, featuring some dashing Scotland Yard detectives, a criminal in search of redemption, and many other memorable characters from the island. Bonnie’s colorful descriptions of her parents’ adventures abroad and her time in Antigua lighten the mood and add a touch of travelogue to the true crime drama. In a truly inspirational twist, Bonnie arranges a meeting with one of the confessed attackers, a man who would eventually claim her as family.

About The Author(from the back cover of the book):  Bonnie L. Floyd is "real, reliable, and refreshing.  Perhaps it is because she could easily be a next door neighbor or any of us.  Bound to a Promise is a true story of tragedy and redemption that unexpectedly resulted in the opportunity to share that story with others and, ultimately, the birth of Bonnie Floyd Ministries in 1996.  For several years Bonnie served in various capacities with Women of Faith and is currently an administrator for Barry and Sheila Walsh.  More importantly, she has a deep love and respect for God's Word that is born out of her service as a teacher and small group leader for more than twenty-three years.  Bonnie has been married to "her Donnie" since 1987.  Both California natives, they now make their home in Celina, Texas-a home that provides a perfect setting to share Bonnie's passion for cooking for entertaining family and friends.  They make their church home at Genesis Metro Church in Frisco, Texas, where Bonnie, who was ordained as a minister or the gospel in 2010, is an active member in women's ministries."

My Thoughts On The Book: This story was so powerful. It is filled with drama, intrigue, suspense, redemption, and forgiveness. I am not a huge fan of memoirs but this book had me from the very first page.  As the story unfolded I could not imagine what it would have been like to have lived this horrible story.  I felt as if I were right in the middle of everything that was going on.  I really loved how Floyd included background stories to help the reader truly understand her feelings.  The book was real, frank and honest.  This could happen to anyone.  The question I was left with was would I personally be ready if it did?  When she talks about forgiveness it was raw reading.  How do you forgive someone who did something so brutal to someone you love so much?  Bonnie's forgiveness is given through the God she knows and loves.  His grace is amazing and He always keeps His promises.  Even if you do not like memoirs, this book is a must read.

Statement of Disclosure: I received this book to review from B & B Media Group, Inc. for an honest review. Thank you for allowing me to participate in this one.  It was AWESOME!


Friday, December 20, 2013

A Sasser Family Christmas Album Collection

Christmas at Aunt Laverne's and Uncle Wilson's house were always special.  I loved the two of them with all my heart.  Whenever we would get to Alabama my dad would wait for the light in the kitchen to come on next door and he would head over to have coffee with Uncle Wilson. There are only three girl cousins.  I am on the far left and the youngest by not even a month.  Sherry is in the middle and was always the favorite.  She is the oldest of the three.  Judy is on the far right.  Her birthday is in March, mine in April.  She belonged to Wilson and Laverne. 

Aunt Jeannette and Uncle Drew in front of their tree.  Drew was my father's baby brother by 11 months.  They were the parents of Mark.

Kelly and Matt belong to Mark.  Matt is his dad made over.  They are both grown now and very successful.  This Christmas picture was made at Drew and Jeannette's house in Goodwater.
Stacey belongs to Judy.  She is somewhere around eighteen months old here. She was adorable and I am so very proud of her today. 

My daughter Kat and her first bike at Christmas. 

 My very first guitar for Christmas - I was 3.
Our Christmas card from my very first Christmas.  I was 8 months old.

Aunt Virgina at Christmas at my house

Aunt MaeBelle with Brandy peeking over her shoulder.

Front - Uncle Wilson, l-r - Uncle Drew, Dad, Uncle Roy (Aunt Virginia's husband)

Uncle Roy and Aunt Virginia

Dougie at Christmas on Georgia Avenue.  Back in the day of real trees.
Cowboy Dougie

Dad and Mom at the lake house (top) Ronnie and Dad playing Santa(bottom) - check out that old school television. 
I have hundreds more pictures of Christmases past.  Today was just a few of the Sasser family and the pictures I had on me at school.  I hope you enjoyed my trip down Sasser memory lane.  If I left out a picture of you, please forgive me. My selection was limited.  I am working on a larger post for later with more photos.  Merry Christmas to all!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Visit to a Christmas Past

I was sitting here at my desk today thinking about past Christmases and was overwhelmed with a mighty dose of nostalgia.  I sat here sad because it just does not feel like Christmas is like it used to be.  I laughed at myself because of course it isn't.  I am nearly sixty years old.  I have done the whole Christmas gauntlet from childhood, to parenthood, to grandparent hood.  As I sat at my desk I thought to one special Christmas year.  It was the year of no gifts.  We came to Christmas and somehow my presents all were left in Florida.  My mom explained the situation, told me Santa was leaving my gifts at our house because she forgot to send him our forwarding address,  and I should have put on my big girl panties and dealt with it....but that is easier said than done when you are twelve.  Yeah, I knew who Santa was....but I was not going to have the first present to open and it made me sad.  My parents spent the night with my Aunt Mae Belle and I did not want to.  So, I spent the night at my cousin Gary's house and was really having a blue Christmas.  Gary's wife, Sheila, tried her best to make it a good evening.  We made cookies and decorated them and we decorated a stocking for me to hang with theirs.  I figured I would get the traditional candy canes, nuts, an apple, and an orange.  We went to bed late and that was ok since I knew Santa was not stopping by.  Christmas morning I woke to the smell of breakfast and went to join the rest of the family.  When I passed through the living room on my way to the kitchen I was shocked to see a multitude of presents with my name on them.  I wondered if my mom was playing mind games on me about the presents left in South Florida.  We ate breakfast and gathered in their living room to open gifts.  The first present Gary put in my hands and the card read...."To Karen From Santa."  I opened the box and there was a make-up case, filled with lip glosses and eye shadows.  I was thrilled.  Everyone opened one gift and then we went around again.  This time I got some cute crocheted slippers.  Before the morning was up I had head bands, perfume, a charm bracelet, a necklace, powder, was an awesome array of girly products and I was in seventh heaven.  Later in the morning we packed up all my gifts, got our food together and joined the rest of the family for lunch at my Aunt Virginias.  Sheila and Gary divorced shortly after that Christmas and I did not see her much after that.  I will always remember how special she was and that bleak looking Christmas that she made wonderful.  Sheila will always hold a dear place in my heart and wherever she is today I hope she knows somewhere in the world someone thinks she rocks! 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Sisterchicks Do The Hula

About The Book:  Some dreams take a while before they come true. Best friends Hope and Laurie never made it to Hawaii during their college years. But when they're about to turn forty, the islands still beckon, and off they go - with an unexpected stowaway on board (Hope happens to be seven months pregnant). A little pineapple, a little sunshine, and a surprising little surfing lesson give these two sisterchicks all their crazy hearts could hope for - and more - as they enter the next season of their lives with a splash and with a beautiful vision of what God has dreamed up for them.Wherever there’s chocolate, there’s sure to be a sisterchick celebrating, and this trip to Hawaii is no exception. Best friends Hope and Laurie are on an audacious mission to commemorate their fortieth birthdays in style. Surfing and sailing, sushi and snorkeling—these two macadamia nuts from the mainland sample it all, unhindered by a surprise little stowaway.  
Definition of Sisterchick: Sisterchick n.: a friend who shares the deepest wonders of your heart, loves you like a sister, and provides a reality check when you’re being a brat.  
Story Behind the Book:  We lived in Hawai’i when our son was in elementary school and have returned many times for visits. I have a deep and abiding love for all that is Hawaiian so of course the islands were my location of choice for this second Sisterchick novel. The art of hula is an intricate form of storytelling has gone through many changes over the years. Every woman’s life has a story. Every woman goes through many changes over the years. But not every woman has yet learned to "hula". This book will encourage her to "hula" through life as she learns to live out her story with the unforced rhythm of grace.
About The Author:  Robin Jones Gunn is the best selling Christian author of over 82 books including several series aimed at teen girls as well as Christian fiction for older women and a few non-fiction books. Her books have sold over 4.5 million copies worldwide.
My Thoughts On The Book:  This book could have been about me and my best friend.  I found it to be an easy read that was just a simple feel good story.  I enjoyed their trip to Hawaii and felt as if the perfectness of their trip mimiced my own when I took my best friend/sisterchicks for her fiftieth birthday As an amatuer photographer I was envisioning all the pictures they made and went to find my own album so I could see how I saw the island.  I really enjoyed the interesting historical tidbits the The author added . It made me want to visit Hawaii again.  This is an easy read that allows the reader just enjoy reading a book for the sake of reading.  If you have ever been a part of a sisterchick group, then you will understand what this book is all about. 
Statement of Disclosure: I received this book to review from Waterbrook Multnomah as part of their Blogging for Books review program in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Thanks guys for allowing me to review this book. 

Twas' the Week Before Christmas Hodge Podge.....

Welcome to the Wednesday Hodgepodge! Add your link at the end of Joyce's post by clicking here, then go say hi to your neighbors. Hodgepodge next week (12/25) but do come back to ring in the new year the week after (1/1/14).   In the words of Tiny Tim, "God bless us everyone!"

1. Do you believe in miracles?  Yes I do.  I have seen many of them perfomed and am amazed each time.  My most recent experience of a miracle has to do with the premature birth (22 weeks) of little Kash and Kruze.  They were 2 months old on December 1st.  Their little lives and fight for survival has been nothing short of a miracle.
 Little Kruze
 Little Kash

2. What's a recent fad you admit to trying?  I am drawing a blank here.  I am not one to jump on the fad wagon.

3. Peppermint-are you a fan? If so, what's your favorite food or beverage containing peppermint?
I love peppermint.  My favorite foods would involve chocolate and peppermint.  I love them plain.  I love peppermint schnapps when my throat hurts or I have a cough. 

4. Break the ice, on thin ice, as cold as ice (emotionally, not literally) which phrase have you run into most recently? Explain.  I am notorious for procrasting and therefore find myself on thin ice more often than not.

5. Have you ever broken or spilled something in someone else's home? Still friends?
Red wine on white carpet and white walls.  I stepped on a doggie toy and the wine went all over the waiters coat, the wall and carpet.  I was mortified and actually cried.  The lady of the house brought out some seltzer water and blotted it all up and you would have never known it had been there.  It was amazing.

6. 'Tis the week before Christmas...are you feeling more like Buddy the Elf or the Grinch before his heart grew?  I am neither right now.  I am just trying to stay afloat. 

7. Share a favorite quote relating to Christmas."Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas."  Calvin Coolidge

8. Insert your own random thought here. Here is one of my favorite Christmas songs.  when I lived away from my parents I would put this song on and sit in front of the tree missing them tremendously.  The other night I turned on my tree and this song came on the radio.  I am glad I was alone because I had a good old fashioned ugly cry.  I know with each passing year it will get easier, but for some reason this is not one of those easier years.  One day....we will all be together again....and I"ll Be Home For Christmas....right is only in my dreams.  I hope you enjoy it.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Christmas Candle

About The Book:  Journey back to a simpler time, to a small English village where nothing out of the ordinary ever happens. Except at Christmastime.  When a mysterious angel suddenly appears in a lowly candlemaker's shop, the holy and the human collide in a way that only God could imagine.  Glowing bright with a timeless message, The Christmas Candle will warm your heart with a surprising reminder of God's bountiful love.

About the Author:  More than 100 million readers have found comfort in the writings of Max Lucado. He ministers at the Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas, where he lives with his wife, Denalyn, and a sweet but misbehaving mutt, Andy.

My Thoughts On The Book:  I actually set out to read this short book in small sessions before going to bed each night.  I figured I could read it in a week, but that is not what happened.  Once I began reading the novella I could not put it down and ended up reading it all in one sitting.   I loved it. I am a huge fan of Max Lucado and that is why I chose to review this book! He is one of my favorite Non-fiction christian writers.  This is the very first work of fiction I have ever read and it is as well-written as the rest of his works. I loved the historical aspect of it.   I believe every one should read The Christmas Candle and catch a glimpse of actions about faith, miracles and God's power.  I don't want to spoil it for another reader but you will love the story of the angel who comes every twenty-five years to bless the candle made by the Chandler of Gladstone. I believe this will become a Christmas classic. 

Statement of Disclosure: I received this book to review from Thomas Nelson Publishing Group's Book Sneeze Blogging Program and Zondervan for an honest review.