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!”

Monday, June 30, 2014

Painting Juliana

 Painting Juliana by Martha Louise Hunter Best Women's Literary Fiction Magical Realism Alzheimer's Book, Edgy
About the Book:  A young girl’s terrifying nightmare, five mysterious oil paintings, and a red, flaming firebird all have the same message: stop running, stand still, and let the funnel cloud suck you up inside.   Juliana Birdsong is your typical eight-year-old with an obsessive-compulsive mother who’s too paranoid to leave the house. Making double-lined, black-out drapes to protect their home from the outside world, her mother only looks up from her sewing machine when Perry Mason comes on TV—the type of successful lawyer Juliana should marry if she wants to get anywhere in life.  But Juliana has other things to worry about. Night after night, she’s awakened by a terrifying dream where she’s chased down a long, tapering highway on the back of her father’s motorcycle heading for an enormous, twisting funnel cloud that waits on the horizon. Even after locking it away inside her bedside drawer, little Juliana wonders if there are parts of the dream she hasn’t seen yet.
Years later, she finds dynamic trial lawyer, Oliver Morrissey and she marries him for love. Life is going reasonably well for the priviledged socialite—that is, until she’s faced with losing everything, including her children.  Stepping out of her Lexus, Juliana peels off her Chanel sunglasses and glares up at her childhood home that’s now smothered in ivy. Inside, there’s only her estranged father left, who she’s sure caused her mother’s death. Moving in, she discovers a nude portrait of her with a curious set of tiny red footprints on the ankle, and another surprise she wasn’t expecting: Her father has Alzheimer’s and he needs her. Plus, a shipment of mysterious oil paintings arrives, all with his signature. When Juliana puts a brush in his hand, it sets off a surreal time warp and the canvases begin to eerily transform, painting a different picture of the parents she thought she knew. As tragic secrets emerge that mirror her own, Juliana’s old demons come back to haunt her.  Consumed with his care and desperate for her old life back, the dream is still chasing her and it’s catching up fast. Just when she can’t run any faster, the funnel cloud is waiting on the horizon, twisting even faster than before.

About The Author:  Martha Louise Hunter has an English degree from the University of Texas. After writing magazine features, working in politics and owning homebuilding and interior design companies, she now has an estate jewelry collection,  With four children between them, she and her husband, David live in Austin, Texas.  Painting Juliana was awarded finalist in the Writers League of Texas Mainstream Fiction Contest. This is her first novel.  For more information, please visit:
My Thoughts About The Book:  I was late getting started on this book because of some major life events that were happening when I finally sat down I was blown away.  WOW! is all I can say.  I cannot remember when a book has drawn me in with such power.  I could not put the book down. I literally ignored everything I had to do and everyone I knew just to finish this book.  As a child who had a mother with Alzheimers Disease I recognized the emotions a mental health issue can hand you.  This is a book that can relate  to everyone.  This book is a work of art.  Martha Louise Hunter knows how to portray a character in a life-like manner.  I cannot wait for the sequel because I want to know the rest of Juliana's story! This is a definitely must read!  Loved it!

Disclaimer:  I received this book free from TLC Blog Tours  and Goldminds Publishing Company in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have 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.”  Thanks guys for allowing me this opportunity.



Sunday, June 29, 2014

Simple Acts of Kindness

Today I want to talk to you about Showing God’s Love through Simple Acts of Kindness

My scripture text today is from Matthew 10:40-42

I am sure you have heard of the term “servant evangelism.” This term is nothing less that showing the love of God through our own caring and loving actions toward others. Sometimes it’s the simplest acts of kindness that have the most lasting effects. Sometimes ordinary things impact people in extraordinary ways. Today, we’re going to take a closer look at Jesus’ message to us.

Read Matthew 10: 40-42

 In Matthew 10:42, Jesus speaks of sharing a cup of water. He isn’t speaking of just sharing a drink with someone. He’s talking about sharing ourselves; the practicality of living a Christian life; a life full of relationships, both with God and with our fellow men and women. He’s talking about the humble act of giving a piece of ourselves to others. He’s talking about sharing in practical ways and not just in abstract terms. It’s this type of service that I’d like to examine today.  Sometimes thinking outside of the box to help someone else can grant the greatest rewards. Sometimes, caring for others is more important than caring for ourselves. Today’s message is about sharing with and caring for our fellow men and women.  It is about Showing God’s love through the little things.  The simplest of acts can have impacts far beyond our wildest dreams. Take for example this story of a humble hotel clerk.  In the city of Philadelphia there was a little third-class hotel. Into it one night there came two tired elderly people. They went up to the night clerk and the husband pleadingly said, “Mister, please don’t tell us you don’t have a room. My wife and I have been all over the city looking for a place to stay. We didn’t know about the big conventions that are here. The hotels at which we usually stay are all full. We’re dead tired and it’s after midnight. Please, don’t tell us you don’t have a place where we can sleep.”  The clerk looked at them a long moment and then answered, “Well, I don’t have a single room except my own. I work at night and sleep in the daytime. It’s not as nice as the other rooms, but it’s clean, and I’ll be happy for you to be my guests for tonight.”  The wife said, “God bless you, young man.”  The next morning at the breakfast table, the couple sent the waiter to tell the night clerk they wanted to see him on very important business. The night clerk went in, recognized the two people, sat down at the table and said he hoped they had had a good night’s sleep. They thanked him most sincerely. Then the husband astounded the clerk with this statement, “You’re too fine a hotel man to stay in a hotel like this. How would you like for me to build a big, beautiful, luxurious hotel in the city of New York and make you general manager?”  The clerk didn’t know what to say. He thought there might be something wrong with their minds. He finally stammered, “It sounds wonderful.” His guest then introduced himself. “I’m John Jacob Astor.” So, the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel was built.   Four years later, the hotel was the largest in the world and boasted unprecedented standards of service. The night clerk became the best-known hotel man in the world. A humble act of service led to this unforeseen act of grandeur.

The point of this story is not that you will be rewarded for doing good deeds, but that simple deeds can produce larger results than we expect. Simple acts can show the love of God through our actions. One clerk chose to show a simple act of kindness to strangers by sharing his room with this tired couple. He touched them in ways he could not have forseen. His simple act of kindness touched the fabric of this couple and greatly impacted how they looked at this young man.

One thing I have found in life is that Acts of kindness can be contagious.  These extraordinary situations don’t come along everyday. But, everyday there is a situation that a simple act of kindness can help with. Sometimes, a simple act becomes contagious and more people share their own love with their fellow men. Shortly after the first edition of the Miami Herald had gone to press on Sunday night, December 29, 1946, Timothy Sullivan answered the telephone on the city desk. “Please help me,” a woman’s voice pleaded. “My husband is bleeding to death.  Sullivan got the entire story. The man’s name was Rudy Kovarik, from Dearborn, Michigan. They were on a vacation but he was sick and in the Biscayne Hospital. The AB-negative blood he needed was not available at the hospital or other sources. Without a transfusion, the doctors thought he might not live until morning.  What could the city editor do? A man was dying. A woman’s heart was breaking. Then he got an idea—WCBS, fourteen blocks away, where it was almost time for Walter Winchell to go on the air in a nationwide broadcast. The operator at the radio station refused to let him talk to Winchell, but, after some insistence and pleading, she put an assistant of Winchell on the phone. He took a memo of the situation and Sullivan sat back to wait. Soon the telephones began to go mad. The Herald office, the police station, the hospital were all swamped with calls from all over the nation. People as far away as New York City began to board planes for Miami, the corridors of the Biscayne Hospital were crowded, and traffic jammed the nearby streets as would-be donors tried to get to the hospital. The actual donor was a tourist from New York who heard the broadcast on his car radio, checked his Army dog tags for blood type, and drove two blocks to the hospital. In a few minutes his life-giving blood was flowing into the veins of the stricken man. A few weeks later a healthy-looking man walked up to the Herald’s city desk to thank Timothy Sullivan.   Timothy Sulivan would’ve never thought he would be responsible for saving a life that night. He had no idea that someone would call and ask him for help. After all, he had no means to ask for assistance. But, he knew someone who could get the word out. He thought outside the box. This simple call for help spread like wildfire. That’s how God’s love can both be shown in a simple act and spread rapidly across the globe. By starting with one person, a few can be touched, then a community, then a city, then a nation and even a world. Through our simple acts of kindness, we have the capability to show God’s love to a great many people.

Ordinary situations can have extraordinary results

 These situations, where people are looking for help, are upon us nearly everyday. But sometimes, help is part of our everyday routine. Sometimes an act of kindness is also a labor of love. These ordinary events can also produce extraordinary results.  The Rev. Alan Redpath tells of a lady who has a little motto over her kitchen sink that reads as follows: “Divine service is conducted here three times daily.” This is the type of industry Christ honors. Cooking 3 meals a day is also a simple act of kindness. It’s another way to show God’s love, through us.  You see, there are opportunities all around us to show God’s love through us. These acts don’t need to be complex. These acts don’t have to be extraordinary. These acts can be the normal, everyday event just like the look of meals from this kitchen sign. No matter how simple or complex, no matter how ordinary or unique we always have the opportunity to show the love of Christ through simple acts of kindness.

Service based on showing God’s love through me

This simple service is not based on who we are, but who Jesus is through us. God loves us in so many ways. He feeds us, clothes us, provides for our physical needs. He also gives us strength when times are tough and comforts us when we experience loss. He’s there when we succeed and when we fail. He shows this unprecedented love through the sacrifice of his Son for us. His grace, our reward. But sometimes it might be hard to reflect that love that He has for us. Sometimes we might find it difficult to smile, let alone serve. Sometimes, what we do might seem inadequate at times, especially when compared to the sacrifices He made for us. The challenge is that sometimes we try to love under our own power, and the power to share Jesus in practical ways comes from Christ. Paul knew this. Even when imprisoned, he knew and experienced the power of Christ at work. That’s why he tells the Philippians and us in Philippians 4:13, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. We can show God’s love for us through our actions. We can serve by accepting that Jesus served us first. This service and sacrifice led to our salvation. But it is not by my power or any action I perform. It is by the service of Jesus Christ and the sacrifice He made for me. We get into heaven not by what we do, but by what Christ has done for us. The power of the life we live in love toward God and others flows out of God working in our hearts. Jesus the night before he dies prays for this to happen in our lives when he prays in John 17:21, The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind—Just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, So they might be one heart and mind with us. Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me.

So what can we learn about sharing a cup of cold water? Let the love that God has for you and me reflect in our actions. WE are important and God showed just how important we are with this tremendous sacrifice. Jesus was a servant and we can reflect that in our own actions. In the Louvre, in Paris, there is a famous painting by Murillo. It is entitled “The Miracle of San Diego”. A door opens, and two noblemen and a priest enter a kitchen. They are amazed to find that all the kitchen-maids are angels. One is handling a water-pot, another a rack of meat, a third a basket of vegetables, a fourth is tending the fire. The message of the picture is that no labor is common unless we make it so. In fact, Jesus Christ Himself toiled in a workshop. Every act is important because they all reflect that love that is in us.  Jesus was a carpenter. He faced the ordinary trials of life in the market, in the town, on the roads and in the temple. He tackled each of ordinary situations in extraordinary ways because all of his actions showed the love of God. He used the usual situations of daily living to show the unusual caring nature of our heavenly Father.   Just as our heavenly Father first loved us and demonstrated service through His Son Jesus, we too can show that love in simple acts of kindness. Accept freely the act of grace that God has bestowed upon you and freely share it with those around you.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Five Minute Friday - Lost

Writers invited – come one, come all, come free write with us. This is where a brave and beautiful bunch gather every week to find out what comes out when we all spend five minutes writing on the same topic and then sharing ‘em over here. How to Join: Want to know how Five Minute Friday got started and how to participate? All the details are here. Now, set your timer, clear your head, for five minutes of free writing without worrying about getting it right.
Five Minute Friday
The rules are simple:
1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking. (On your own blog or in the comments here).
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments.
Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community.. - See more at:

So with that said are you read?  I know I am.  The word for today is Lost!

There are many lost thoughts I came up with this morning.  My mind was working overtime as this word played there.  I am a receiver of Amazing Grace because "I once was lost, but now I am found." Yet, even with that wonderful thought the one that ran rampant in my heart was the story of a little lost 2 year old girl...who was my daughter.  When Kat was two we went to Boaz, AL to the Vanity Fair outlet to get school clothes for Eric (12) and Jenifer (11).  I carefully put Kat in her little stroller so I could look and she would be contained.  Boy was I wrong.  The Vanity Fair outlet has many long aisles of jeans and other things.  Intent on my clothing mission and checking on my little one from time to time I did not realize that she had mastered the concept of undoing her restraints.  I checked on her......and the stroller was empty.  All that remained of my precious two year old was her doll.  In panic mode I went to the security office and told them my daughter was LOST!  The most dreaded words a mother could hear...much less say out loud.  I described her clothing and the outlet issued a code Adam and locked down.  No one came in and no one went out.  This outlet store is huge and there were many places a little lost child could have been....including dressing rooms.  The store employees all came together and walked through the store side by side.  I was right there with them...along with my 12 and 11 year olds and my mom.  My child was lost and I was heartsick.  Where could she be?  About halfway through the store a lady, who looked a lot like my mom, came up with Kat in her arms.  It appears that Kat had gotten out of her stroller, gotten in the rack of jeans, and walked to the other side of the store.  When she emerged she realized something was wrong, found the grandmother looking lady, told her she was lost, and asked her if she could help her find her granny.  It was about that time the Code Adam went out and the lady picked up my precious child and brought her towards the front of the store.  Lost is an ugly word when you are a mom.  Lost is an ugly word when you have not found Christ.  No matter how you look at it, Lost is a word that can strike terror in your heart.  Needless to say we did away with the stroller we had, and we left Vanity Fair that day and did not go back until I could see her above the racks.  I think I aged 40 years that day.  I aged another 40 years in 2009 when a Silver Alert was issued for my missing/lost parents, but that is a story for another day. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Summertime And The Hodge Podge Is Easy

Welcome to this week's summery edition of the Hodgepodge! Answer the questions on your own blog, then add your link to that post at the end of Joyce's. Here we go-

 1. What summer activity most takes you back to your own childhood?  Swimming at the beach and in the Lido pool. I loved to swim.   I also loved riding my bicycle.  We would go outside at the beginning of the day and come home when the street lights came on.  Summertime and the living was easy.

 2. What's your favorite summer smell?  Suntan lotion(especially if it has coconut in it), people bar-b-queing, and fresh mown grass.  

 3. It's beach season in the US of, how do you feel about sand?  I love the beach.  I love the feel of the sand between my toes. 

 4. Sun tea, SunChips, sunflower seeds, Capri Sun, Sunny Delight, Sun-Maid raisins, sun-dried tomatoes...your favorite food or beverage with sun in its name?  SunChips hands down!  I love to eat them at the beach sitting under my umbrella....I also love Sun-Maid raisins.

 5. What's your favorite way to cool off on a hot summer day?  The beach....a pool....or AC!

 6. Share a favorite song with the word sun or sunshine in it's title.  I have three that touch me.  Sunshine On My Shoulders by John Denver, You Are My Sunshine (my mom used to sing it to me as a child and when she was in the nursing home I sang it to her every day before she died.),  and Sunshine by Jonathan Edwards. was a music question and you know how I am about music.
 7. Tell us about a time when you had an exceedingly good or a truly awful customer service experience. If it was awful, did you report it? Ever go back there again?  Verizon when it was time to renew my contract.  I went to get a new phone and the salesman not only talked me out of a phone, he talked me out of even being there.  He was suffering obviously from ADD and there was a squirrel somewhere in the room.  The guy next to us not only sold his contact a phone but one for her daughter and mother.  Three phones!  All my guy could do was look elsewhere and ignore us!  It will be a while before I go back.  My phone still works....when I need a new one I think I will order it online so I don't have to see him again!
 8.  Insert your own random thought here.  Requesting prayers for my daughter and her husband.  They will be leaving on a jet plane on July 20th for Moldova to be permanent missionaries.  Pray for me too.  I will miss them both. You can keep up with them on their blog.  It is under construction, but it is a cool way to keep up with what they are doing.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Amish Blacksmith

The Amish Blacksmith (The Men of Lancaster County, #2)
Paperback, 352 pages
Expected publication: August 1st 2014 by Harvest House Publishers

About The Book:  New from bestselling authors Mindy Starns Clark and Susan Meissner, The Amish Blacksmith (Book 2 in The Men of Lancaster County series) explores the men of an Amish community in Lancaster County, how their Amish beliefs play out in their unique roles, and the women who change their lives. Apprenticed blacksmith Jake Miller is skeptical of Priscilla Kinsinger's innate ability to soothe troubled horses, especially when he has own ideas on how to calm them. Six years earlier, Priscilla's mother died in an awful accident at home, and Priscilla's grief over losing her mother was so intense that she was sent to live with relatives in Indiana. She has just returned to Lancaster County. Not that her homecoming matters to Jake, who is interested in courting lighthearted Amanda Shetler. But Jake's boss is Priscilla's uncle, and when the man asks Jake to help his niece reconnect with community life, he has no choice but to do just that. Surprisingly, he finds himself slowly drawn to the beautiful but emotionally wounded Priscilla. Jake then determines to prove to her that it's not her fault her mother died, but what he discovers will challenge everything they both believe about the depth of love and the breadth of forgiveness.

About The Authors: 
Mindy Starns Clark is the bestselling author of the inspirational Million Dollar Mysteries, the Smart Chick Mysteries, and three standalone mysteries, as well as the nonfiction books The House That Cleans Itself and A Pocket Guide to Amish Life. Her novels include A Penny for Your Thoughts, Don't Take Any Wooden Nickels , A Dime a Dozen, A Quarter for a Kiss, The Buck Stops Here, The Trouble with Tulip, Blind Dates Can Be Murder, Elementary, My Dear Watkins, Whispers of the Bayou, Shadows of Lancaster County, and Under the Cajun Moon, and other books! Mindy is also the author of numerous plays and musicals which have been performed all over the United States. She has written textbooks, articles, short stories, and more than 75 computer software manuals. Other writings appear in the anthologies What the Wind Picked Up (Inspirational Fiction), Death Knell V (Mystery Fiction), Divine Secrets of the Yahweh Sisterhood (Inspirational Anthology), and A Novel Idea (Inspirational Nonfiction). A former singer and stand-up comedian, Mindy lives with her husband and two teenage daughters near Valley Forge, PA. She enjoys speaking to churches, civic groups, and libraries across the country. Her unique blend of humor and insight make her an audience favorite.
Susan Meissner - In 1995, she was offered a job as a part-time reporter for mher county newspaper. The publisher gave her a weekly column, In 1998, she was named editor of the Mountain Lake/Butterfield Observer Advocate, the town’s weekly paper, after the county newspaper purchased it. She was honored to win several awards over the years, but the best part of her four years as editor was having my paper named the Best Weekly Newspaper in Minnesota by the Minnesota Newspaper Association in 2002.  That year became a rather pivotal one for her as a writer. Her beloved paternal grandfather died in July 2002 — her Papa — and his passing had a profound effect on her.  Suddenly she had an incredible urge to write a book; a novel. She knew she didn’t want to come to the end of her life having only dreamed of writing one. She resigned as editor of the newspaper, which was a very hard decision to make, and set out to write Why the Sky is Blue. It took four months to write and ten months to be accepted by a publisher and she's been writing novels ever since. Her favorite genre is contemporary fiction with a historical thread running through it.
Currently, her husband is an associate pastor at a church in San Diego, and a chaplain in the Air Force Reserves. When she's not working on a new novel, she enjoys teaching workshops on writing and dream-following, as well as spending time with her family, listening to or making music, reading great books, and traveling.

My Thoughts About The Book:   I love Amish fiction and found this novel to be delightful.  I will say it was a bit different from other Amish novels I have read.  If you don't pay close attention to the fact that they don't drive you might miss the fact that this is an Amish family and not just a rural family.  This novel is number two in a series but it stands alone.  I had no trouble reading through it without having read the first installment.  It is the story of an Amish blacksmith(and horse whisperer) who feels he is following God's will, that is until a girl from his past shows up.  While trying to help her he finds out that he could be the one who needs help.  I felt I was part of the story and learned a great deal about the horse world, blacksmithing, and show horses.  The novel was a bit slow at times but it was still a good read.  I loved the ending and seeing God's will being heard and followed.  I recommend this novel and series to anyone fond of Amish and/or Christian romances!

STATEMENT OF DISCLOSURE: I received an ebook copy of this title from Netgalley Publicity and Harvest House as part of their blogger review program . I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 255 'Guides concerning the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising. I was not asked to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Happy Birthday to My Daughter Leaving for Moldova

Thirty-four years ago I was in the hospital preparing to welcome into the world a daughter.  When the doctor laid her in my arms and she wrapped her tiny hand around my pointer finger I knew that I was a goner.  At that moment in time there was not another mother alive who was so captivated by something as beautiful as she was.  She is still captivating me today.  Every year I try to do a time line birthday post telling you about her.  She is amazing, strong, faithful, loving, and every other good adjective I can think of.  So...let me introduce you to my daughter (and for those of you out there with may have many of the same feelings).  Kat was a rocker....when she was little we would rock a lot.  She would hold onto my shirt with her little fist and gaze up into my face.  It does something to me even today to hold a baby and rock.  She slept through the night from the time we got home from the hospital.  The only time she didn't was when she was about six months old and had colic.  I was a blessed woman. 
She walked on her first birthday.  She loved tea parties, dolls, and you could set her down in her playpen (known as pack and plays today) with books and dolls and she would entertain herself for hours.  I remember sitting and watching her for hours.  She was amazing.
When she was two she climbed up on the cabinet....stacked cookbooks and got an oatmeal cookie from the Toms Cookie jar, which was on top of the fridge.  I found her....and was afraid she would fall if I spoke I stood and watched her....when she was on the cabinet again and off the cookbooks I made my presence known.  She was little precious one turned to me and held out her cookie, said, "I got this for you mommy!"  I took the cookie, thanked her, and ate it.  Her little face was crushed.  After I had gotten her down to the floor, moved the cookbooks so she would not do this again....and moved the cookie jar.....I gave her one as well.  My friend Deborah(Kat's second mom) has made all her cakes and Kat always got to have the exact piece of cake she wanted much to Debo's horror and my mom's delight.  Kat would always want the very center piece out of the cake (Holly Hobby or Strawberry Shortcakes face).  I have sung "Happy Birthday" to her every year on her birthday....either in person....or on the phone.  This year was no exception.
Her godparents, Chuck and Sue were a major part of her life and many a trip was spent with them in Knoxville.

Travel with Kat was always an adventure and we have covered nearly all fifty states together.  She has seen the World's Largest Ball of Twine (from the movie Michael), the last existing sod house, where Dances With Wolves was filmed, Old Faithful, Green Gables, New York, Venice, and hundreds more places just like it.  Her friends were going to the beach and Disney World....she was having a life history lesson...and yes...she has been to the beach...and to Disney World....but Oh The Other Places We Have Been. 
NYC was awesome with Deborah, Jill, and Kat.  I wish we could go back and relive that moment in 1998 again.  It was heaven on earth.

There is nothing like seeing Italy with your daughter.  She was the most fun and add my friend Mary in with her and everyday was a party.
 NYC 1998 - Kat and Jill and the Twin Towers.  I would not take a million dollars for this picture.
Pacific Northwest Vacation - at the Columbia River Gorge. 

Memorial Day weekend after she finished the eighth grade she was in a boat explosion and burned on 33% of her body with first, second, and third degree burns.  It was a mother's worst nightmare.  The doctors felt there would be skin grafts, surgery, and scars.  My heart was heavy.  I called on my best Prayer Warriors and the prayers began.  It was a long, painful process for both of us and I don't know what I would have done without her best friend forever, Jill (Debo's daughter).  My heart was ripped into each time we went for therapy.  By the end of the summer....there was no grafting or surgery.....and there is one tiny little place left on her leg...that probably I am the only one who notices it.  She was healed....we serve an awesome God.  Kat and Brian both were in the BRHS Pride band and I rarely missed an event.  I was one of the biggest Band Booster parents there has ever been.  I loved sitting near the band and rocking to their rhythms.
Her senior year she was one of the two drum majors.  In August she left for Montevallo and I missed my traveling, shopping, movie watching buddy.  Empty nesting nearly killed me but after having lived on my own for a few months when she returned home with chicken pox I could not wait for her to go back to college.  I have prayed for her all of her life.  I taught her in Mission Friends, youth....I have always been active in her spiritual upbringing.  When she met her now husband, Brian.....she was in the 9th grade and Brian was a junior.  I knew from the day I met Brian when he was in the 9th grade that he was as special as she was.  I prayed then that Kat would find and marry someone just like Brian....little did I know.  They are two peas in a pod.  Together they have a wonderful relationship with God and each other. 

Kat believes that the only place a necklace is good to wear is on your head as a crown.  She even convinced friends Beth and Mary Rachel that this was true.
Kat became an Early Childhood Special Ed teacher and has her EdS in Special Ed.  She is an amazing teacher and I am so very proud of her.  Several years ago she found a new passion.  Orphans in Moldova through Stella's Voice....and that is where she and Brian will be moving to on July 20th.  They are going to be full time missionaries with Stella's Voice.  The past three summers were training sessions for me letting go.
She does amazing things in Moldova and shares her hugs and big heart with the orphans there.  She is truly called.  I would be lying to you if I told you that I won't miss them, but I am very proud.  When God called....she listened...they listened.  She is amazing....and so today I want her to know Frank and I both love her to pieces, wish her a Happy Birthday by singing to her on the phone, and I hope her day is AWESOME....just like she is.  Am I a proud momma or what?
Kat's 30th birthday cake - made by Debo

Lil country girl

Two brides and both Jones'.  Jan (godsister) and Kat married three weeks apart.
Loving hunting eggs.
Airmen in Seattle

Fountain girl in Assissi, Italy

Grease Sr. Play her senior year with John.

The Grand Canyon - Eric, Kat, Jeni

Christmas many years later with Kat, Eric, Jeni

Kat and Jill - bow girls tradition

Kat and SIL, Laura sporting fur coats

Kat as Abbi(NCIS) for Halloween

Kat and my mom at Eric's wedding

Kat in her office at my mom's house in Kellyton with her Wildcat Tennis shoes on.

Kat and Raegan at the LOVE statue in Philly.   This word statue defines my daughter.  I believe if you looked up the word Love in the dictionary there would be a picture of her.  Please pray for she and Brian as they begin the next chapter in their lives and embark on a mission of a lifetime.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Ain't God Good

Scripture Text:  Romans 8:28, Psalm 100:5, Matthew 19:16-17, et al

God is good … Can I get an AMEN? I don’t know about you….but I learned this from childhood.  1.- When I was just a child, my mother taught me a prayer to say at mealtime: “God is great, God is GOOD, let us thank Him for our food. By His hands we all are fed. Give us Lord, our daily bread. Amen.”  2.- When I was a child in Sunday School we used to sing this chorus: “God is so good, God is so good, God is so good, He’s so good to me.”  As a member of the Praise and Worship team at First Church Alex City….we began each service with a the song leader saying…”God is Good”  and the congregation responding, “All the Time”. And then He would say “And all the time,” and we would counter with “God is Good!”  I loved doing this.  I felt like a cheerleader on God’s team.

In Psalm 100:5 we find the GOODNESS of God as a reoccurring theme in the Scriptures -   “For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.”  God HAS to be good … it’s His very nature to be good.  And…because God is good:  o We receive pardon & forgiveness.  o He hears our prayers.  o We can experience fellowship with Him.  o We can trust in Him that whatever happens in our life is based on His goodness.

The sad thing is that SOMETIMES, we don’t SEE the goodness of God … ESPECIALLY when something BAD happens to us. When we experience a heartache, a tragedy, a disappointment … it SEEMS like God isn’t GOOD. OTHERWISE, why would God allow this to happen to us … if God is GOOD? If God is GOOD, then why the tragedy of 9-11? If God is GOOD, then why did my Dad die of cancer? If God is GOOD, then why all the suffering, not only in the world, but in my life?

STOP for a moment and think about this … I am going to tell you that EVERYTHING that God does … is GOOD! When God created the world, He stopped often and said “It is good.”.  Part of our problem is that we spend too much of our time COMPLAINING about the 10 BAD things … and not enough time REJOICING over the 1000 GOOD things. YES, 9-11 was a tragedy … BUT we could be living in Israel where it happens every day. YES, I lost my Dad to cancer, BUT I enjoyed 55 good years with him. YES, I have had heartaches & tragedies & disappointments in my life, BUT my GOOD GOD was there to see me through every one of them.

Let’s take a look at the GOODNESS OF GOD:

I. GOD SETS THE STANDARD FOR GOODNESS.  So let me ask you….How do you determine what is “good” … and what isn’t “good”? What is the STANDARD for “goodness”?  Let’s look at Matthew 19:16-17

The Rich Young Ruler had everything money could buy … he was living the GOOD life. The Rich Young Ruler didn’t know what “good” was. He thought it consisted of “good things”, “good circumstances”, “good feelings”. He even thought that being “good” would get him to Heaven.  Anything that is GOOD, comes from God. If it’s not from God, it isn’t good. It doesn’t matter how good it looks … how good it feels … how good it tastes … if it doesn’t come from God, it isn’t good. AND … if it isn’t good, it didn’t come from God.  As a child I believed that BEETS didn’t come from God … BUT chocolate did! So…I know that there will be no BEETS in Heaven! Adam & Eve had no BEETS in the Garden of Eden … they came after the fall of man … a result of the CURSE upon the earth! BEETS will be the main course in Hell … Heaven will be full of chocolate.   Just kidding….The truth is beets are good for you…even though I do not like them at all!    We can learn a lesson from beets today…. GOODNESS IS NOT DETERMINED BY EXPERIENCE, BUT BY ITS SOURCE. I’ve had a bad EXPERIENCE with BEETS. But that doesn’t determine whether BEETS are GOOD or BAD. GOODNESS is determined by its SOURCE, not by EXPERIENCE. Chocolate tastes good … it makes me feel good … it makes me happy. BUT … chocolate isn’t good for me. EXPERIENCE is not the STANDARD for GOODNESS.  James 1:17 – “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”   Every GOOD thing has God as its source. God only produces that which is GOOD. We might USE IT for a BAD PURPOSE … BUT … GOODNESS is determined by its SOURCE, not by EXPERIENCE.

II. GOD TURNS BADNESS INTO GOODNESS - Somebody might say: “How can God be good when thousands were killed in 9-11. I can’t believe in a God who would allow that.”…OK and Let’s say you were right … and that God isn’t good … and that He really doesn’t exist. You’ve still got thousands of dead people. Getting rid of God didn’t solve your problem at all!  How do we answer the fact that God is good … yet bad things happen? If it isn’t good, then it didn’t have it’s source in God. YES, God is sovereign … He is in control. God ALLOWS bad things to happen for reasons that we don’t have a clue. BUT … God didn’t participate in their sin in any way, form or fashion. God is good!  Our problem is, we use the wrong STANDARD for “goodness” … we use OUR human standard. OUR human standard is: “Good” is whatever is “good” for me. We say: “I am the standard for GOOD”. GOD says: “I am the standard for GOOD.”  The PROOF of “goodness” isn’t in the EXPERIENCE … it’s in the SOURCE. Nobody likes to get a SHOT … but it’s GOOD for you. Dentist …. Surgery …

God’s GOODNESS doesn’t mean that BAD things won’t happen to you. We live in a bad, evil world. BUT … because God is GOOD, He can take the BAD things, and bring eternal GOOD out of them … IF … we let Him.   We are human and always want to blame somebody for the BAD things that happen to us. God is always handy, so we blame Him a lot. “If there is a good God in Heaven, how could He let this happen?” What are we really saying when we blame God? We are REALLY saying: “Since God didn’t act the way I thought He should … He is either WRONG, BAD, or DOESN’T EXIST.” BUT, you can’t really be mad at a God you don’t believe really exists, can you?

See how foolish this sounds? Are you going to believe in God ONLY if He acts like you want Him to? You would be better off carving a god out of a piece of wood … or chipping one out of a rock. Are you going to form your opinion of God from how He acts IN RELATION TO how YOU would act if YOU were God? You would be better off worshipping YOURSELF … since you’re putting yourself on a higher level than God. You’re determining what is “good”. You’re setting the standard for what is “good”. NO! God sets the standard for “good”.  God is GOOD … ALL THE TIME! AMEN? It doesn’t matter what happens to you, it could have been worse.

Dr. W.T. Watson used to tell this story at Trinity College. “There was a preacher who, no matter what bad thing you said had happened to you, he had the habit of always saying ‘It could have been worse!’ One day a man in his church decided to put a stop to this and attempted to stump his Pastor at the door after the service. He told his Pastor, ‘I had a dream last night’, to which the Pastor replied ‘It could have been worse’. The man went on, ‘I dreamed I died’, to which the Pastor replied, “It could have been worse.’ ‘I dreamed I died and went to Hell’, the man stated. The Pastor replied, ‘It could have been worse.’ He thought he had the Pastor this time. ‘Pastor, what could be worse than dreaming you died and went to hell?’ The Pastor replied, “It could have been true!”  Let us learn something from this story….It doesn’t matter what happens to you … “It could have been worse.” Ain’t God GOOD to have not allowed it to be any worse? AMEN?

In Romans 8:28 -I don’t always know what “good” God has in mind when He allows tragedy, heartache & disappointments to come into our lives. I don’t know … BUT … I don’t have to know. What happens in my life may not BE good … it might be tragic & terrible. Maybe I can’t see any purpose in it at all. BUT … What does this verse say about what I am to “know”? I may not be able to SEE how it is working for good … or FEEL LIKE it is … or UNDERSTAND HOW it is working for good. BUT … I am to “know” that it is! I need to look at it from God’s perspective … not mine.  Don’t ever think that God’s GOODNESS means that bad things won’t ever happen to you. God is GOOD … BECAUSE … HE takes the BAD things that happen to you … and brings eternal GOOD out of them. I may never SEE the “good” that comes out of it … this side of Heaven. OR … I MAY. BUT … I can “know” that God means it for “good” … OR … He would never allow it to happen.

God knows what’s best. God has one up on us … He’s OMNISCIENT! You & I can only see things in the PRESENT tense lens … God sees things with the ETERNAL VIEW lens. God has a lots better view from Heaven than I do in Randolph County, Alabama! What happens to you & me may not BE good … but it IS working together FOR good. AND … I can “know” that … when I put my faith & trust in a “good” God.

God is good … all the time. That’s His nature … He HAS to be good. God has given you & I so much more than we DESERVE … AMEN? If we got what we DESERVE, we wouldn’t have driven to church in our fine automobile (“It could be worse!”). We wouldn’t have such fine clothes (“It could be worse!”). We could be lost and bound for an eternity in the Lake of Fire.  God is good? AMEN?

We’ve gotten into the habit of saying: “THIS is good!” (A promotion, a raise, a gift, a pleasure in life, CHOCOLATE!) We should get into the habit … whenever something GOOD happens to us … instead of saying “This is good!” … saying “GOD is good!” AMEN?   So I know you are dying to know how you can make God’s GOODNESS … REAL in your life?

o Don’t judge God by YOUR STANDARD of “goodness”.

o Don’t judge God by whether He does what YOU want Him to do.

o Don’t judge God by how YOU would run the universe if YOU were God.

God says: “When you start creating universes … and control the tides … and keep the planets in orbit … THEN I’ll come to YOU for advice … THEN I’ll let YOU determine what is “good”. IN THE MEANTIME, we need to trust in the GOODNESS of God.

Let Us Pray



Saturday, June 21, 2014

VBS 2014 Recap

We have had VBS going on this week.  Our theme has been Space and I am impressed with the worker/volunteers and all they have done.  The kitchen crew, the story teller and his media tech, the music, the crafts, everything.  This year was a Murphy's Law VBS because anything that could go wrong did before it ever got off the ground.  Our VBS Director #1 got the ball rolling and then realized that her 50th class reunion in Texas would be during VBS time, so she passed it off to her DIL, who did a bang up job....except her 30th class reunion was on I took over last night.  One of the teachers who volunteered told us the Sunday before VBS that she too might have to beg off because her daughter had a huge softball tournament....but it all worked out.  Sunday night is our VBS closing program.  I think the kids had a great time with storytelling time, music, crafts, and recreation.  I can honestly say I was delighted in how my church members stepped up to the plate and made sure it was a wonderful time.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Seagrass Pier

Seagrass Pier
About The Book:  Seagrass Pier is in a secluded corner of Hope Beach and one woman must decipher a stranger’s memories . . . before they cost her everything.  Elin Summerall was one of the lucky ones. Not only did she get a heart transplant, but the donor was a perfect fit. A miraculously perfect fit.  But when Elin begins having violent flashbacks—and vivid dreams of being strangled—she realizes that she has been the recipient of more than just a new heart . . . Elin is remembering her donor’s murder.  Her strange affliction has attracted some unwanted attention: from the press, from the authorities . . . and from the killer himself. Now, living alone with her young daughter and aging mother, Elin is being stalked—by a man she’s only met in her nightmares.  The police are dubious of her story, but one off-duty FBI agent is eager to help her: Agent Marc Everton, the father of Elin’s daughter. Of course, he doesn’t know about that. Yet.  Now, in a remote cottage on Hope Island, Elin and Marc must probe the secrets buried in her borrowed heart. And there’s no time to waste. One man is desperate to silence her—before she remembers too much.
Learn more and purchase a copy at Colleen’s website.

About The Author:   Colleen Coble has sold over 2 million novels worldwide. “Seagrass Pier,” the third installment in her acclaimed Hope Beach series, marks a new highpoint for emotion and complexity in Coble’s addictive brand of romantic suspense. Find out more about Colleen at  

My Thoughts About The Book:  I am a huge Colleen Coble fan.  Seagrass Pier is an awesome addition to the Hope Beach Series.  Even though there are some familiar faces from the previous books in the series it is definitely a stand alone.   Coble is a wonderful developer of the character and her characters in this book leap off the page.  The book is very fast paced and you are drawn into the story from the start.  There is plenty of action and mystery. The bit of graphic in violence and  mature themes surprised me a bit, so I feel I should give a small warning. Still even with the violence and mature themes this was one fantastic read that had me glued to the chair from the very beginning.  I could not put it down!  If this book were a movie I would be at the premier.  When I finished the last page I realized my heart was pounding and I had lost a whole day held captive in this story.  It is a must read!

Disclaimer:  I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity Groups blogging review program in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have 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.”  Thanks guys for allowing me this opportunity.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Summertime Hodgepodge

Welcome to the Hodgepodge Hodgepodgers! Glad you've joined the party today...don't forget to add your link at the end of Joyce's post by clicking here. Here we go-

1. Since you weren't Hodgepodging last Wednesday, how did you pass the time?  I was using the time to catch up on some book reviews. It seems I had gotten a little behind in my reading.2. What's the first word that comes to mind when I say marriage? Yes, one word.  forever
3. Summer officially arrives in the Northern hemisphere this week. Does it feel like summer where you live? Describe your idea of the perfect summer day.  YES!  Our temperatures have been in the 90's and the humidy is miserable.  The best place to be is inside where it is cool.  My idea of a perfect summer day is a day at the beach with a lovely tropical breeze blowing.  A perfect sunrise and sunset and fresh seafood would be lovely too.  Add some fresh pineapple(in Hawaii) and I would be in heaven.4. "Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability."(Sam Keen) Is laziness ever respectable? Do you have a lazy summer planned or something semi-ambitious?  Summertime laziness is a gimmee for me.  I teach school.  Summertime laziness is when I recharge.  I also spend the time to do projects I did not get to during the school year.   We have already made a beach trip.  I have another one scheduled for Labor Day with the girls.  We have VBS at my church in June and at Frank's church in July.  I still have things like Bible Study on Wednesday night, church on Sunday and Sunday night.  I am taking an online class to get CEU's for school this summer.  It will take 6 weeks.  I plan to enjoy family and friends, spend as much time with Kat and Brian before they leave for Moldova to be missionaries.  
5. Past or present, who's your favorite television dad? Why is he a favorite? Is he anything like your dad?  My favorite dad would be Robert Anderson from Father Knows Best, Andy Taylor from Andy Griffin, and John Walton from the Waltons.  These were fathers who lived lessons for their children to learn.  They were honest, truthful, wonderful men.  They spent time with their children and made sure they knew the definition of right and wrong.  I thought they all reminded me of my own father.
6. June 18 is International Picnic Day...share a favorite picnic memory.  It is not my picnic memory but my daughters.  Her husband Brian, when they were still dating, took her on a picnic to the Shakespeare Festival Park in Montgomery, after the meal he sang, "By My Side" by Ben Harper (playing the guitar for him to sing), and asked her to marry him.  Kyle Wilson played and sang "By My Side" at their wedding. 
7. The travel site Trip Advisor lists the top five islands in the world for 2014 as-Ambergris Caye in Belize Cayes, Providenciales in Turks and Caicos, Bora Bora in French Polynesia, Marco Island Florida, and Lewis and Harris in The Outer Hebrides (Scotland).  Have you been to any of these? Of the ones listed (and if price were not a factor) which would you most like to book for a holiday?  I love island holidays.  Marco Island is wonderful.  Sanibel Island/Captiva would have to be my choice of favorite islands to stay.  They are in Florida too.  I guess as a Florida native I am prone to Florida.  Coronado and Catalina are also wonderful places to go for a holiday if you are on the west coast and in California.  The sunrises and sunsets are amazing.  Scotland's Outer Hebrides are on my bucket list.
8. Insert your own random thought here.
I too am addicted to Pinterest. You can find just about anything there and we found some great craft ideas for Bible School there this year.  We are doing Birthday Parties in a bag for the DHR.  I have also found countless things for my classroom at school and to cook.  One of my congregant has been doing some of the watermelon sculptures he found there.  We had a shark at one of our church dinners.  It was amazing!

Monday, June 16, 2014

A Mother's Secret


About The Book:  Book two in the Hearts of the Lancaster Grand Hotel series.
Carolyn Lapp dreams of marrying for love. But will the errors of her past destroy this dream forever?  Carolyn Lapp longs to have a traditional Amish family. But she lives on her brother’s farm with her parents and her 15-year old son, Benjamin. Carolyn has never revealed the identity of Benjamin’s father and lives daily with the guilt and shame of her youthful indiscretion. Her brother simply will not forgive her.  His answer is to arrange a practical marriage for Carolyn to Saul, a widower with a little girl. But Carolyn isn’t convinced that Saul really loves her and believes he is simply looking for someone to help raise his daughter.  When Benjamin causes trouble at a local horse auction, horse breeder Joshua Glick decides that he must be taught a lesson. Carolyn and Joshua are unmistakably drawn to each other, but Joshua mistakenly assumes that Benjamin is Carolyn’s brother. Carolyn fears that if he discovers the truth, her past will destroy their budding romance.
After years of shame and loneliness, Carolyn suddenly has two men vying for her attention. But which of them will give her the family-and the unconditional love-she’s longed for?  Learn more and purchase a copy at Amy’s site.

About The Author:  Amy Clipston holds a degree in communication from Virginia Wesleyan College and works full-time for the City of Charlotte, NC. Amy lives in North Carolina with her husband, and two sons and four spoiled rotten cats.
Find out more about Amy at Pinterest

My Thoughts On The Book:   This is the second book in a series.  It is a stand alone although it was comforting to have prior knowledge of the characters.  This is not my first Amy Clipston book, it was not the best book I have read of hers, still it won't be my last.  Even though it was not the best it still kept me turning the page!  I found myself drawn in to the characters lives.  My heart broke for Carolyn with her secret and for Saul, the man sort of caught in the middle. Saul is looking for a wife to help rear his daughter and that is all.  Carolyn is searching for love and doesn't want a marriage based on convenience, but he is carrying the burden of a secret.   This is a story about forgiveness and true love!  If you like Amish stories you might want to try this one out.

Disclaimer:  I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity Groups blogging review program and in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have 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.”  Thanks guys for allowing me this opportunity.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

A Father's Love

I know that over the past few days Facebook has been bombarded with father pictures.  Some of the dad's are no longer with us and others are new dads.  All in all it makes for a very emotional day.  Father's Day is bittersweet for me.  I lost my dad in 2009 and miss him very much.  He was an amazing father and the memories are sweet.  One thing I can honestly say about my dad is that I have no regrets.  I am fortunate that I got to spend a great deal of time with this man....good and bad.  Letting him go was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.  So today I want you to see the faces of Doug.  The first man I ever loved.

This is the first man to own my heart.  He was one handsome dude.  I always thought he looked like Tennessee Ernie Ford.  I know he sang like him.  He was the love of my mother's life. 

Dougie and I with Daddy in our back yard.  As you can see this was back before dryers.  Is he not the most handsomest man ever?

Daddy getting a birthday kiss from Elizabeth McLeod. 

Running the Talladega 500 with Ronnie as they put together Eric's Santa Claus in 1976.  I think they wore it out before Eric ever played with it. 

Daddy and Susan Price in Knoxville.  Jan and Scott's high school band was marching in a Veteran's Day parade.

My father was a grillmaster.  Here he is at Claude's annual cookout.

He loved antiques and here he is trying to figure out a post office box I got him for Christmas.  He actually figured out the lock to open it.  He was an amazing Grandfather too!  Christina definitely thought so.  He ruled her world when she was little.

My dad and Debbie Mask(my sister from another set of parents) at Kellyton Baptist Church's Old Fashioned Sunday.   Were they not precious?  The picture below is in 2000.  It is Austen (Jenifer's son), Daddy, Eric and his son Hayden, and Ronnie at my apartment around Christmas time.
Daddy's 80th birthday in 2006.  He is surrounded by my cousins, Gary, Mark, Rob, and Jerry.

Momma, Daddy and Kat after he was diagnosed with cancer the last time.  The last picture of my dad made at my mom's 80th birthday in July of 2009.  He died in October.  I miss this man and yesterday was just a reminder of how much.
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There are other men in my life. 
At my dad's funeral we were all together again.  My cousin Judy and her brother Jeff (father of Bridget and John), my cousin Sherry (mother of Brandy), My cousin Jerry (father of Tony, Tonya, and Jennifer), me, My cousin Mark (father of Matt and Kelly), my cousin Barry (father of Jeremy and Todd), and my cousin Rob (father of Bobbie Lee and Christine).  Gary was not in the picture.  He is the father of Dawn.  These guys are great dads and I am so proud of all of them. 

There are a few more special dads in my life that I want to mention.....
Frank (father of Amy). Frank is doing a beach baby dedication for Magen and Keaton's son Jett. 

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At the beach - 2013.

Niece Kelly, Frank, and daughter, Amy at a wedding in Fort Walton.  Below is the our daughter Amy and her husband Steven with our granddaughter, Amelia. 

Frank and Amy at Hurlbert.

Frank and Kat working the Moldova yard sale.

Son, Eric and his precious family (Taylor Bug, Hayden, granddaughter B, wife Roulain, Hannah and B's mom Jasmine.  Below is a man I always thought of as my second dad, Mr. Harland Geiger (and his beautiful wife, Valerie).    His daughter Carol is one of my dearest and oldest friends.

Kat's Godfather Chuck is one of the best guys I know.  He is one of my dearest friends and when I asked them to be godparents for my daughter they did not hesitate.  He has always been an amazing role model for my daughter and I love him with all my heart.

upper picture - Kat is 1 month old.  lower picture was taken when Frank and I got married.

There are a lot of dads in my life....I may not have mentioned you in my little trip down memory lane but you are important to me.  I hope today is a wonderful day for you.