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!”

Saturday, January 31, 2015

I Choose You Today

I Choose You Today: 31 Choices to Make Love Last
About The Book:  A reminder why you chose the one you married and 31 ways to choose to love them every day.  Married for nearly 38 years, author Deborah DeArmond and her husband have made the spoken declaration, “I choose you today” a regular part of their communication. It’s when we least feel like saying it that we need to remind ourselves that love is a choice, not a feeling. I Choose You Today features 31 scriptural principles that support marriage and help couples develop healthy biblically based behavior.  Built on an introductory anecdotal story, each chapter has an inspirational takeaway of not only what to do, but how to begin applying the principles immediately. Thought provoking questions create talking points for couples to explore their own choices and experiences in each area serve to generate open dialogue of discovery. I Choose You Today is not a book of "shoulds," but one of clearly identified choices that each individual can make to grow their marriage and align it with the word of God. Every saying ends with a conventional wisdom quote.
About The Author: Deb DeArmond is a highly-experienced and sought-after executive coach, trainer, and facilitator, having worked in marketplace ministry with audiences at all levels across a broad spectrum of industries and organizations. She is an expert in the fields of leadership, communication, and relationship and conflict resolution. Deborah owns DeArmond and Associates, dedicated to helping others build successful solutions to the challenges they are facing. Deb is the co-founder of, a website for Christian women 50+. She is a staff writer for the online magazine, Destiny in Bloom and her writing is regularly featured at Living Better at 50+, also an online magazine. She has been published in WHOA Magazine and Dallas Family Magazine.
My Thoughts On The Book:  Having just celebrated my twelfth wedding anniversary I found this book to be  a must read for newly and oldy weds too.  This book is a great counseling tool and is full of sound advice that makes you sit up and pay attention to. As a pastor I plan to make this book one of my counseling books.  The book is filled with many scripture references that are helpful and Deb's stories in each chapter are touching and easy to relate to.  If you want a marriage that will endure then this is the book for you.  Loved it!
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Netgalley Publicity Group and Litfuse Publishers as part of their Book Review Blogger Programs. I was not required to write a positive review. 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.”  Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you!  

Friday, January 30, 2015

A Happy Meal - Communion Concept For Children

I'm sure that everyone here this morning knows what that special kid’s meal at McDonalds is called! That's right! It is a McDonald's Happy Meal. Have you ever had a Happy Meal? What's your favorite part of a Happy Meal? For most children, their favorite part of the Happy Meal is the toy. I will have to be honest with you, I'm not too happy about the toys in a Happy Meal. They look pretty cheap to me  and they don’t last very long. Even if it does last, it doesn't do much of anything and I'm sure it won't keep me happy for very long. I will admit that I was pretty happy about the fries, but as good as they were, when they were gone, I wasn't really satisfied. I still wanted more. That's the trouble with a McDonald's Happy Meal -- the happiness just doesn't last.

Did you know that our church has a happy meal? Well, we do -- and we are going to have a happy meal right here in this worship service this morning. This is what our happy meal looks like. It is a small piece of bread and a little glass of juice.

 The bread represents the body of Jesus and the juice represents his blood. When we eat this Happy Meal, we are reminded that Jesus loved us so much that he died on the cross so that you and I could have everlasting life in heaven with him. Now, that is something to be happy about!

 I have a poem that might help you to remember the meaning of our Happy Meal.

The Savior's Happy Meal
 This Happy Meal doesn't look like much,
 And it doesn't come with a toy.
 It may not fill my stomach,
 But it fills my heart with joy!
 The bread and juice remind me of
 The Savior's love for me;
 When he died upon a rugged cross
 On a hill called Calvary.
 There is no way I can describe
 The gratitude I feel
 Each and every time I eat
 The Savior's Happy Meal!

 Thank you, Heavenly Father, for Jesus' death and resurrection. Thank you also for the Happy Meal we will eat today as a reminder of what Jesus has done for us. Amen.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

My Little Life of Jesus

My Little Life of Jesus
About The Book:  My Little Life of Jesus introduces the story of Jesus' life to 3-to 5-year-olds. It follows Jesus from His birth, being baptized by John, meeting the disciples and teaching them how to pray, telling His stories to people in nearby towns and villages, right through to His return to the heavenly Father. Illustrated throughout with adorable artwork from a popular Candle Books artist, there is also a map included to show the land where Jesus lived. This padded hardcover comes complete with a presentation page for gift or award giving.
About The Author: Karen Williamson worked as a London primary school teacher and publisher’s editor before launching a successful career as full-time writer. With three children of her own, she specializes in Bible stories for young readers.|As a child, Marie continually drew characters and illustrated fun books for friends and family. After studying graphic design and illustration at college she has worked on stationery, puzzles, greetings-cards, maps and posters as well as numerous children's books.
About The Illustrator:  Amanda Enright is an illustrator from West Sussex in the UK.    
My Thoughts On The Book:   I do not review children's books often and for the most part I enjoyed this little book. It had great eye appeal.  I actually read it to a Sunday School class of 5 year olds and they were most impressed.  I loved that each event was followed by scripture.  The events were close to accurate, Jesus's getting his own donkey was not correct.  I researched several versions of the Bible and in all versions the disciples got the donkey as Jesus asked.  It was still a very simple telling of the life of Jesus that a small child could comprehend and I loved that.  The illustrations were precious.  The only thing I found fault in was that all the characters were white.  People from that region of the country were darker skinned.  Yet, even with that I could see where children would never notice this.  This book would be a great gift for a little one in your life.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Kregel Publishers as part of their Book Review Blogger Programs. I was not required to write a positive review. 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.”  Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you!  

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Wednesday Hodge Podge For The End of January

Welcome to this week's edition of the Wednesday Hodgepodge.  Here we go...answer the questions on your own blog, then add your link at the end of Joyce's post. Be sure to say hi to the blogger who linked before you, because this is one place where traffic is fun!  Here are my answers-

1. When did someone last suggest you 'chill out'? Or, when did you last tell someone (or want to tell someone) to 'chill out'? Or, when did you last tell yourself to 'chill out'?  I am pretty even keeled and don't get told to chill out.  I did tell a student that last week when she was stressing over something that happened over the weekend.
2. What most recently caused your heart to melt?  The news letter I got from Kat and Brian for December and January.  It made me mushy.  Also a song Amanda played for me this past weekend called, "Alaska or Bust."  I cried like a baby.  The Go-Daddy commercial with the puppy.  I think they have pulled well they should.
3. "An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered." G.K. Chesterton
Your thoughts? When did you last experience either an adventure or an inconvenience? How did you see it at first, as an adventure or an inconvenience?  Does it feel the same in hindsight?
Car duty at school for the next two week.  I was just getting over bronchitis, it is cold, and I did not want to do it. 4. A Wendy's Frosty, root beer in a frosty mug, or a frosted chocolate cupcake...of these three, which one is your favorite 'frosty' treat?  An A&W rootbeer frosty in a frosty mug.
5. Would you say your life so far this year has been more like a circus or a symphony? Explain why.
It has been pretty symphonic.  All is well in Karendom. 
6. Since it's a 'snow day' here, what's your favorite song containing the word 'white' I know that Christmas is over, but White Christmas by Bing Crosby tops my chart. 7. If you had to leave the city you currently live in, what would you find hardest to leave behind?
The Porch People and our church families.
8.  Insert your own random thought here.
For the third year I am  planning to participate in the April A-Z Blog Challenge this year? If you're not familiar with the challenge, here's the 411-you blog every day (except Sundays) during the month of April. Conveniently that works out to 26 posts, and since there are 26 letters in the alphabet, you blog from A-Z. April 1st the letter A, April 2nd the letter B, and so on. 

You can have a theme or just write randomly unrelated posts, whatever you like. Personally I like and need a theme, although I haven't a clue yet what mine will be for this year's challenge. In years past I've written about our European travels, motherhood, a mishmash bag of photographs, my trip to Asia, and last year 'married with children'. You'll find all of these on my sidebar by clicking on the month of April.  I enjoy the discipline of writing every day, and also getting creative with my chosen topic. Plus, I feel like my writing gets a little sluggish this time of year, and the challenge gives it a much needed kick in the pants. If you're new to the challenge I will tell you that it helps me tremendously to get a head start on the posts. I like to work about three or four days ahead of each letter, and set them to auto post. That way, when life get's busy (and it always does!) I don't stress out about missing a letter or falling behind. Yes, missing a letter would stress me out.    Sign ups are open now, so if you want to participate click here to join the party. Joyce I will definitely be playing.  I love it! 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Moldova and Team Jones Update

La multi ani!!
Hello dear friends and family. We hope this letter finds you well and enjoying the New Year and all of the joys and promises it holds. We hope that you all had a wonderful Christmas spent with family and friends. We are well into January, and we apologize that we have not sent you an update sooner. Let’s just say we have been going full speed ahead since we last wrote. During the month of December, we unloaded a large container from Scotland, had multiple Christmas celebrations, took our English class to see The Hobbit in English, visited with friends, celebrated Moldovan Christmas, celebrated New Year’s Eve and then headed wildly into 2015.

The first week of January brought special guests from America, including Philip Cameron (the founder and patriarch of our organization) and Sadie Robertson (from Duck Dynasty and Dancing with the Stars.) We had an amazing week with them. During their time here we had our big Moldovan Christmas (Moldovans are traditionally Russian Orthodox and they actually celebrate Christmas on Epiphany- January 7th). We also unloaded a massive container from the U.S., visited three orphanages where we took Christmas gifts, performed skits, and shared love. It has been a whirlwind start to 2015. We wouldn’t change a minute of it.

We would love to be able to communicate clearly through words and photos how amazing the Christmas season was here in Moldova, but as the saying goes, "you just had to be there". Here’s just a little bit about what we experienced here:

•On Christmas night, we had a huge celebration that included music and skits performed by four different groups of our kids. Brian was even part of one of the teams and had a few lines in his team’s skit. We then swapped "secret angel" gifts which was so much fun because we had the chance to do little gifts for our secret friends leading up to Christmas as well. We enjoyed delicious food and stayed up way too late.
•The second Christmas which is usually celebrated January 7th was actually celebrated a few days later because of scheduling issues. Again, there was music and wonderful food. This time, however, we all opened our gifts from America. The gifts for our guys and girls from Stella’s House and Simon’s House were all organized by two of our wonderful friends at Centerpoint Fellowship Church. We appreciate their amazing effort and sacrifice to make these gifts possible, and we are very thankful for the many individuals, families, and small groups all over the Montgomery/Prattville area who sponsored one of our kids and spent their time and money buying gifts for them. These young people were all so excited and so thankful for their gifts. To see their faces as they opened the boxes was priceless. For the past few years, we have been on the American side of this process. One of our favorite things every year was organizing the Christmas box project, and we never thought we’d have the chance to be here to see the kids open their gifts. Just to see what a blessing these gifts are to them is the best gift we could have received.

•The next day, we celebrated with the kids at Providence (the home for younger children, not an orphanage exactly, that is run by Stella’s Voice). They performed some songs and skits, and our crew from Stella’s House and Simon’s House did as well. Then Santa handed out their gifts. Their reactions were amazing. These were the first gifts that some of these sweet children had ever received. A few of the kids ran up to Galina (who runs Providence) and asked her questions about
their gifts, but we didn’t quite understand. She told us later that they kept asking her if these gifts were actually for them to keep. They couldn’t believe that all of these things were actually theirs.

•On the big containers from both America and the UK, there were gift boxes for kids at other orphanages. These boxes contained some really cool toys, clothes, and candy, but they also included very basic toiletry items. We took these boxes to two different orphanages in the Straseni region. The first was Straseni Orphanage which is where many of our guys and girls lived for many years of their lives. The next stop was a place called Scoreni which is an orphanage for children with behavior issues and emotional disabilities. The kids at these two orphanages loved their gifts, and the team had a great time seeing their excitement over receiving these items. These were great visits, but the third orphanage we visited was by far the most memorable.

•To tell you about this third place, we must start by telling you the very short version of Ulizana’s story. Ulizana is an amazing, talented, and brilliant young lady who is currently spending most of her time working with the Stella’s Voice ministry in the states. We felt so blessed to have her visit here during Christmas. When Ulizana was very young, her Mom couldn’t take care of her, but she didn’t want to leave her in an orphanage. With the best of intentions, she decided that Ulizana would have better care at a hospital for kids. So Ulizana spent many of her early years in a hospital for very sick children. She didn’t have tuberculosis, but she was given the medication for years. She recalls that when she was taking the medication, she had a very difficult time learning in school, and it seemed impossible for her to remember anything. On top of that, some of the workers there didn’t treat the children very well. She describes the hospital as being worse than the orphanage, and that’s saying something. Once she moved to the orphanage, she worked really hard and caught up in school. To meet her now, you would guess that she was always the kid who was the best in her class at everything. It’s only by the grace of God that her life has been transformed. Just a few weeks ago, we went with Ulizana to take gifts to the children in the hospital where she spent so many years. This was her first trip back there, and the workers there (many of the same people from years ago) were amazed by her. We were honored that she allowed us to be a part of such a big day for her. Of course, we gave out more gifts to the kids there. These children were the most excited about their gifts. It turns out that no one had brought gifts there at all this Christmas until Stella’s Voice arrived. Theses boxes contained some really great gifts, but they were excited about even the simplest things. It was awesome to just watch their reactions to these things, many of which we would consider stocking stuffers in America. The coolest thing was getting to see Ulizana go back to this place and be part of blessing the children at this hospital.

•In addition to seeing lots of kids open gifts, we were blessed to receive gifts from home. That was such a nice surprise. We received a suitcase full of wonderful goodies from our church family at Frazer. They do so much for us already, these gifts were an amazing and unexpected blessing. Our friends who organized Christmas boxes sent boxes for us as well, and we appreciate those so much. On top of that, we received gifts from family and lots of Christmas cards. We’ve always loved getting Christmas cards in the mail, but this year they seemed extra special. Also, on the container from America, we received furniture for our apartment. For the past 6 months, most of our stuff was still in our suitcases because we only had minimal furniture (a mattress and a kitchen table). The ministry sent us some furniture, and we have plenty of storage and a comfortable bed. So we were very, very spoiled during Christmas.
There is so much more to tell, but we know that no one wants to read a short novel about our past few months. We can’t express how much we appreciate your prayers and your financial support. Without both types of support, we’d never have a chance to serve God, Stella’s Voice ministry, and these amazing kids. Thank you so much for all that you do for us.

Wishing you all the best,

Brian and Kathryn Jones

Team Jones in Moldova
**There were pictures in the newsletter but for the life of me I could not get them to post.  I will try again later. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

"I Am My Beloved's and My Beloved Is Mine"

Solomon 6:3 - I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine; He feedeth his flock among the lilies.  Today is my 12th wedding anniversary.  Frank and I got married 12 years ago at the end of the Arbor Service at First Methodist Alex City.  Robert Gaskins was Frank's best man and Kathryn was my matron of honor.  It was an awesome day celebrated by us and about 500 of our closest friends and family. 

He is an amazing man.  He is funny, loving, and kind.  He loves me, he loves our daughters.  I am looking forward to many more years as his wife. 

Happy Anniversary to a man I love to the moon and back.  You truly are my sunshine.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Fishing Isn't The Same As Catching

My scripture today can be found in Mark 1:14-20

My daddy used to always tell me that “Fishing Isn’t the Same as Catching”

When I was a young girl, after my brother died, my dad and I would often take off on a Saturday to a nearby canal.  Florida is famous for them.  If we did not go to one of the canals off of the Florida Turnpike we would go to Lake Okeechobee or Lake Osborne.  We would stop and buy some crickets as bait and go out fishing for several hours.  Many times we never caught a thing!  But you know…it was not really about catching the fish as it was spending time with life lessons.  I loved the times we would catch some fish and I loved putting them in my dad’s fishing bucket.  We would take them home at the end of the day and my dad would prepare them for eating.

Read Mark 1:14-20 

As we look at our Gospel Lesson for this morning, two really important facts jump right off the page.  The first is how quickly—actually immediately—the disciples responded to Jesus’ call. The second is that He called them not to be catchers of men, but to be fishers; and there is a difference.

Verse 18 tells us about the quick decision on the disciple’s part: “At once they left their nets and followed him.”  Something is really happening here.  People don’t usually drop what they are doing immediately…especially fishermen.  Fishermen think things over.  They’re usually slow to act because they are used to having to use so much patience to get what they want.  But for these four disciples, well, their response was immediate.  They left their nets and followed Jesus.

How many people do you know who are willing to follow or respond so immediately?  How often are people asked to do something for the church and their immediate answer is: “Sure I will. I’ll be glad to.”?  How often do we immediately respond?  Is it only when our boss calls; or our spouses or mom?  Or do we even put off our response in those cases?

“Just a minute honey!”…  …or “Not right now, dear!”…  …or “How about during the next time out?”  …or the next commercial….  Or half time.


And what the disciples were called to do…well…it pales in comparison to the little things I’m talking about.  All the disciples of Jesus left something behind.  These first four left their fishing boats, their livelihood and their homes.  And it wasn’t the kind of situation where they could say: “Well, okay, we’ll try this out for a while, and see how it works out.”  They followed…plain and simple.  There was a finality about it.  Have we left anything to follow Jesus?

And I ask this because in order to follow Jesus we do have to leave something behind…for good!  It may not mean that we have to leave our present jobs, or our homes or families…but it might.  Just like Kathryn and Brian….they left a good teaching job and the security that goes with it and a good engineering job.  They left…and went off to do God’s bidding….trusting in Him to take care of them.

What it means for us is that we might have to leave behind some of the prejudices that we cherish so much…and that are so familiar to who we are.  And maybe there are lifestyle issues we must leave behind in order to follow Christ.  One day when I was an undergrad, on the campus of  Auburn University, I was witnessing to a fellow college student over a cup of coffee.  I asked him if he believed that Jesus Christ is Who He says He is.  His answer was yes.  Then I asked him if he would be willing to pray, repent of his sins, and ask Jesus to become the Lord of his life.  His answer was, “No. Not yet. I believe, but I’m not ready to give my life to Christ. There are too many things I’m not ready to give up.”  So let me ask you all this morning….How many of us ‘believe’, but are not willing to follow?

James, the brother of Jesus, tells us: “Even the demons believe…”  But we are also told that they will be thrown into the Lake of Fire!  “Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. ‘The time has come,’ he said. ‘The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news.”  Let me tell you all….The power of the Gospel changes people’s lives.  Once we meet Jesus on the road of our own individual life, and decide to follow Him, we will be changed!  We will be different people.  But many of us tend to resist change.


So many folks just want to see the Gospel through rose colored glasses—wanting to see only the joy, comfort, and light—and not wanting to see the difficult or disruptive.  “Behold, I make all things new,” says Jesus.  Two very important words in this morning’s Gospel Lesson are repent and believe.  Too many people think repent means to feel sorry for what you’ve done—and then, go do it again.  But that’s not it at all. 

Repent means to change direction.  It means a change in priorities.  It means living with a whole new approach to life.  It calls us to embrace the newness and change which Jesus brings.  And to believe…well…it doesn’t just mean listing our denomination as United Methodist on some application blank.  It means trust and reliance and placing one’s whole life in God’s hands, regardless of what happens in life.  It’s called “the leap of faith.”  That’s the kind of change that the Gospel produces.  That’s what makes us different.  And there’s no turning back, because it’s a difference that won’t go away.  This is what happened to the disciples as soon as they began to follow Jesus…nothing was ever the same.

It was the beginning of a new and exciting journey…the best journey imaginable…where God is not just a Sunday friend but a daily companion. And this is what happens to all of us when we heed the call of Jesus in our lives to: “Come follow me.”  And when we embrace this newness of life that Jesus offers…  …well, we see how good things can be…  …we experience God’s love up close and personal…and we want to ‘Pass it On.”   “Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will make you fishers of men.”

There truly is a difference between being fishers and catchers of men.  Jesus calls us to be fishers.  Think about your life journey.  How many people dropped a hook in front of you…before you finally grabbed a hold of the new life you found in Christ?  An awful lot, I’d imagine. Maybe you were brought up in church.  Maybe you were surrounded by the preaching of the Word, the invitation to accept Christ, and people who were wonderful/grace-filled examples of how magnificently different it is to be a follower of Christ.  But you still didn’t bite.  At the same time, there were hundreds upon hundreds of seeds being planted.  And then one day, well, Praise the Lord!…

…it all clicked…  …the decision was straight ahead of you and you became a Christian!  And you believed…really believed…and things really started to change!  Who was the One Who caught you?  Do you remember?  There had been a lot of fishers after you…  …but Who caught you?  Was it not the love and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ Himself?

Paul writes in Ephesians chapter 2: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not of yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”  Even the ability to believe and make the decision to accept God’s plan of salvation is a gift of God.

Fishing is not the same as catching.  Jesus calls us to be fishers, not catchers, and that is good.  It means that we’re not alone in the project of proclaiming the Gospel to the world.  God is with us, since it is God the Holy Spirit alone Who enables our ‘fish’ to be caught, Who enables people to respond to our message.  And since it is the Holy Spirit Who does the catching, we don’t need to take the rejection of the Gospel personally.

Maybe it wasn’t the right time for that person; maybe the Holy Spirit has some other things to work out with them first; it may be a lot of things…maybe they will never accept Jesus Christ as Lord of their lives…  …We do have free-will.  The main thing we should be concerned with is the fact that we did witness to them.

And whether a catch is made or not, we are called to cast the net again, to proclaim the Good News to another person by words and deeds, and let the Holy Spirit fill the net according to God’s will.  Many of have invited friends and family members to church.  Many of us were at one time invited.  There’s been a lot of fishing going on!!!  And let me tell you….this church is a fishing church.  And we are praising God for it!  But you know…It is not us who do the catching…  …but we do the fishing and rejoice when the Holy Spirit convicts and a positive decision is made!!!  So let’s put ourselves in those boats so long ago, with the knowledge we have of a Savior Who wants to give everyone the gift of salvation.  And let’s remember that this gift can neither be bought nor earned by any human being; that it is, however, God’s free gift to those who call upon Jesus’ name, who trust Jesus for salvation and not themselves.

Let’s hear Jesus call us to be fishers of people…  …and let us respond by fishing and fishing and fishing…  …letting God take care of the rest.


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Alaska or Bust

Today I visited with my cousin, Amanda.  We have not seen much of each other since early December and I have missed spending time with her.  We ran errands, visited with sister, Linda, ate a marvelous lunch with Emily, looked at all her pictures from her Iceland trip NewYears, and then of course the music and guitars came out and we spent an hour singing and learning some new material.  We are looking for a Coffee House gig somewhere nearby.  Just as my time to go drew near she pulled out a song by Andrew Peterson called Alaska or Bust.  As the song began we sat there and thought of Randy and Jimmy who both made it to Alaska before they died of the dreaded big "C".  Both of us was an ugly cry I can tell you.  My heart hurt.  However, the lyrics are amazing and I could not wait to get home and share them with you all. 

Alaska or Bust 
Margie, won't you listen to an old man's wish
They say it's mighty pretty in Alaska
My daddy used to talk about those deep sea fish
So there's something, darling, that I wanna ask you
So don't you turn me down

In the morning we would listen to the cattle calling
Lowing in the land of Okeechobee
Where it's flatter than the cardboard on the carport floor
And the cattails seem to wave just like they know me

Ah, but Enoch in the tackle shop
Goes on about the salmon caught
The time he and his brother sailed to Juneau

So get in, I'll do the driving
The bag's already packed and in the truck
Margie, get in, put down those dishes
The town will see us go if we're in luck
So come on, it's Alaska or bust

I've been holding down this farm that daddy left me, darling
The kids have married off and moved away
And the doctor says I'm healthy for an old man dying
Well enough to seize another day

So get in, I'll do the driving
Your bag's already packed and in the truck
Margie get it, these bones are dry
I've been running, but the cancer's catching up
So come on, it's Alaska or bust

There were days when I imagined that the clouds were mountains
Towering above the rolling ocean
And I was sailing on my tractor, turning hay out in the pasture
Catching salmon of my own while I was mowing

So get in, I'll do the driving
Your bag's already packed and in the truck
Margie get in, there's not much time
I've been running, but the cancer's catching up
The town will see us go if we're in luck

So come on, it's Alaska or bust

Alaska is number one on my bucket list.  Mary and I were planning to do an Alaska trip in 2016...the year we were going to retire.  She died in 2012 of cancer.  One day I will make it to Alaska so I can see it for both of us.  I don't know why today was a day heavy laden with a bunch of sad memories but it was.  When I got ready to leave she played one more song for the road...and I had to leave laughing...."Big Girls Don't Cry"....and I thought to myself...."oh yeah they do."

Follow The Leader

As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea--for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, "Follow me and I will make you fish for people." And immediately they left their nets and followed him. Mark 1:16-18 (NIV)
Recently I was watching the movie, "Peter Pan." Have you ever watched this movie? In the movie, the children sing a song and play a game called "Following the Leader."

Following the leader, the leader, the leader

We're following the leader wherever he may go.

Have any of you ever played "Follow the Leader?" Of course you have! I played the game when I was a child, my father played the game when he was a child, his father played the game when he was a child. Follow the Leader is a game that is played and enjoyed by children all over the world.

The rules are very simple. You choose a leader and you follow him wherever he goes and do whatever he does. You stomp through puddles, climb over fences, swing from a tree—all to stay in the game because nobody wants to be "a quitter."  Follow the Leader is a great game, but in our daily lives we play follow the leader too. In school, in Church, in sports, in any activity we are in, there are always leaders. Every day we are faced with making a choice of which leader we will follow. We must be sure to choose a leader that will lead us in the right direction.

Did you know that Jesus is still calling people to follow him today. He has called you and me to follow him. Now it's up to us to decide if we will follow the leader.

Dear Jesus, you have called us to follow you. May we, like Peter, Andrew, James, and John say "Yes, Lord, I'll follow you—wherever you may lead." Amen.


Friday, January 23, 2015

It Is Well With My Soul

It Is Well With My Soul

About The Book:  Living with chronic illness, growing older, or facing the end of life can be a frightening experience, even for some Christians. Where do you find strength to face the reality of your pain and suffering? Who can you depend on to care for your needs? How do you cope with life each day, knowing it could very well be your last? It Is Well with My Soul is an insightful devotional designed to offer encouragement to those who are receiving care. You’ll explore biblical perspectives on issues associated with some of life’s most difficult stages. With engaging narrative, personal experience stories, and the use of humor, author Shelly Beach helps you find hope and contentment in Jesus. This collection of brief meditations also provides scripturally integrated prayers, reflective questions, and space to journal. Gain a deeper understanding of God’s purposes in situations of suffering. Discover how you can experience His peace and have confidence in knowing it is well with your soul.
About The Author: Shelly Beach was born in Muskegon, Michigan, and grew up along the shoreline of Lake Michigan. She won the Christy Award with her first contemporary Christian novel in 2008 and was nominated for the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association Book of the Year award that same year for her nonfiction. She has written two novels and authored or co-authored nine non-fiction books.  Shelly is the co-founder of the Breathe Writer's Conference in Grand Rapids and the founder of the Cedar Falls Christian Writer's Workshop in Cedar Falls, IA. She is also a co-founder of and provides consultation services on post-traumatic stress disorder in medical, mental health, educational, criminal justice, professional, and faith-based settings across the nation. When Shelly is not writing, consulting, or speaking, she loves to travel. The parents of two adult children, Shelly and her husband Dan live in Western Michigan and love doting on their adorable and brilliant grandchildren and being entertained by their 16 year old dachshund, Beanie.
My Thoughts On The Book:  Where was this book when I was going through the loss of my parents to cancer and Alzheimer's?  This book was so helpful.  Firmly rooted in scripture each story of pain and despair turns into a beautifully thought out devotional.  This book is a must for your  bookshelf and one you will want to refer back to time and time again.  I loved it!  As a pastor and high school teacher I can see this book as a great resource tool and gift for people who are hurting or confused about what it happening in their lives. 
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Netgalley Publishers as part of their Book Review Blogger Programs. I was not required to write a positive review. 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.”  Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you!  

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Grief: My Own Unwanted Journey Part II

Dwight D. Eisenhower was a brilliant man.  He must have had a window into my life when he said, "There's no tragedy in life like the death of a child. Things never get back to the way they were."
Days passed and we began to move forward again.  The phone would ring and my dad and I would answer it.  I got up, got dressed, went to school, and functioned each day.  My dad went to work and my mom....well she sat at the dining room table, smoking, staring out the window, and playing Solitaire.  To this day I hate Solitaire.  It always leaves a bad taste in my mouth.  People at church, school, and in the neighborhood looked as us with pity in their eyes and still told us, "I know how you feel."  I wanted to shout, "DO YOU REALLY?  It was during this time that my dad and I grew closer, my mom and I drifted further and further apart, and God was someone I yelled at on a daily basis in the back yard.  I was really everyone....but most especially at God.  One day in the heat of my anger I shook my hand at heaven and asked God why he took MY only brother....and did not take one of my Aunt Jo's twelve children?  She had an abundance...I only had one brother....and he was gone.  I love my family...and yet...I was hurting...and wanted everyone around me to hurt too.  About six months into the process of dad and I went fishing.  While we sat on the banks of the canal off the Florida turnpike our hearts broke together.  I told my dad what had been bothering me....I knew he would be mad....Dougie's death was my fault because I chose to ride my new bike.  If I had only stayed in the yard and pushed him like he asked...he would still be alive.  I promised my dad that I would do everything I could to make it up to him.  My dad was stunned and sat there with tears building up in his eyes.  When he finally composed himself he held me and told me it was not my fault....if it had been anyone's fault it was his....he tied the knot.  We held each other and sobbed until there was nothing left to cry and then my dad began to pray.  It was soothing being held in my father's arms...while he talked to our Heavenly Father.  It was at that moment...I felt peace.  True peace.  When he finished praying my father gave me this scripture to hold on to....Psalm 30:5 - Weeping last for the night, but joy comes in the morning.  What a feeling of freedom.  Healing of my brokenness began on that canal bank and I knew we would one day be alright.  I will be did not happen overnight...but it did happen.  One day I woke up...and realized it was "The Day" and I was ok.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Hodge Podge Galactica

Welcome to your weekly mid-week happy, also known as The Wednesday Hodgepodge. Newcomers are always welcome to play along. Answer the questions on your own blog (or Facebook page), then add your link at the end of Joyce's post(Hodgepodge answers only please!!).

1. American Idol is back for it's 14th season. Are you watching? Have you ever watched? If you were to audition for the show (or were made to audition), what song would you sing?
I have watched it a time or two.  I am not a fan. If I were to ever audition for the show I would sing Etta James "At Last."  Garrett Miles, who auditioned for this season is a blind young man I have actually sung with before.  He is an amazing singer.  In his audition I think he blew Jennifer Lopez away with a song she sang in the movie Selena.. 
2. Mark Twain is quoted as saying, "If it's your job to eat a frog, it's best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it's your job to eat two frogs, it's best to eat the biggest one first."  So when did you last have to 'eat a frog?' Or two? How'd that work out?
I am like Joyce with this one.  I know myself, so anytime I have an unpleasant task glaring at me from the top of my to-do list I know to tick that off straightaway. 
3. If you were going on safari, what's the number one animal you'd want to see?  My number one would be a giraffe. Especially a baby giraffe, because there are few things cuter than a baby giraffe. 
4. January 21st is National Granola Bar Day. I know. Do you like granola bars? Chewy or crunchy? Your favorite flavor? How about regular granola? Let's exhaust this topic in honor of the 'holiday', okay?  I am not a huge fan, but when I am hungry and need something to take the edge off I like them okay. I like chewy and crunchy both, but my favorite is probably the Nature Maid Oats and Honey-crunchy.  I love granola.  It is a great pick me up snack when I come home from school.  
5. If only__________________________________.
I had a maid.
6. You can add one item to your bedroom. What will it be? Keep it family friendly please.
Custom made darkening curtains.. 
7. What is one thing you've enjoyed about winter thus far? If it's not winter in your corner of the globe, what season is it, and what is something you've enjoyed about whatever season it happens to be?  Without a doubt, it's the sky. It has been so very crisp.  Have you ever seen Van Gogh's painting Starry Night?  Our night skies have been that vibrant.  The sunsets have been awesome too.
8.  Insert your own random thought here.
I have had laryngitis for the past couple of weeks.  As a teacher/preacher/singer that is not good.  Have you had the flu this year?  Did you get the flu shot?  I haven't had the flu and did get the shot.

Monday, January 19, 2015

A Stitch In Crime: Quilts Of Love Series

About The Book: Thea James has accepted an assignment as co-chairperson for Larkindale’s first quilt show extravaganza. Juggling the new assignment with running her antique business, she’s already feeling frayed when things start to unravel. Mary-Alice Wentworth, a much-loved town matriarch, respected quilt judge, and Thea’s dear friend, is covertly conked on the head during the kick-off Quilt Show Soiree, throwing suspicion on her guests. It also appears that a valuable diamond brooch has been stolen during the attack. The family is furious. But is it because of their mugged mother or the missing diamonds? When a renowned textile expert goes MIA and the famous Wentworth heritage quilt disappears, Larkindale’s reputation as a tourist haven is at risk. Thea attempts to piece the mystery together and save the town’s investment in the quilt show before Mary-Alice is attacked again . . . with far worse results.
About The Author: Now retired from her day job as the Library Webmaster at a local community college, Cathy is a picky antique collector, an avid quilter, a musician, and ardent reader. Between activities, she polishes her dote-on-the-grandkids-skills. Crafting cozy mysteries and more, Cathy enjoys all aspects of the writer journey. Especially late in the evenings, when she turns into "Night Writer!" Or is that fly-by-night writer? When not tending to her own projects, she loves to swap chapters for emergency critiques at a local hangout.
My Thoughts On The Book:  All in all it was an okay read. It was not my favorite of all the Quilts of Love series books I have read to date, but it was okay. If you are looking for an Agatha Christie kind of mystery you will be very disappointed. The story line was a bit confusing. It was an attempt at a mystery and that was all it was. I was disappointed that quilting did not appear to be the main plot. This was my first book by Cathy Elliot and I plan to try out another one to see if it will change my mind.
Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Litfuse, Net Galley Publicity, and Abingdon Press in exchange for an honest review. The response is entirely my own.

The Evangelism Study Bible

NKJV Evangelism Study Bible   -     By: Evantell Inc.

About The Book:  The Evangelism Study Bible provides all the tools needed for sharing the gospel in a clear, simple, and guilt-free way.  Using the highly regarded New King James Version®, The Evangelism Study Bible brings together a wide variety of resources, some never before paired with the text of Scripture. Users will benefit from:
• a brief, informative introduction to each Bible book, focusing on its contribution to evangelism
• more than 2,600 study notes pertaining to evangelism
• over 260 tips on practical issues in evangelism
• 125 in-depth articles on crucial issues
• 85 how-to features that provide hands-on advice
• 45 inspirational devotions
• easy-to-follow double-column format with explanatory notes
• helpful cross references
• biblical concordance
• full-color maps

The Evangelism Study Bible not only provides the training to explain and make clear the good news of the gospel, it also will motivate readers to evangelize out of grace rather than guilt. 
About EvanTell, Inc. - For more than forty years, EvanTell, Inc., an evangelism training and outreach ministry in Dallas, Texas, has focused on one mission: the gospel, clear and simple. Founded by Dr. R. Larry Moyer, EvanTell, Inc., touches millions of lives each year with evangelism materials, evangelism training, and outreach events. Now those four decades of experience in training believers to share the good news in a clear and simple fashion has been paired with the one essential tool for evangelism: God's Word.  EvanTell's Mission is to declare the gospel clearly and simply; activate believers around the world; and prepare the upcoming generations to reach the lost.  For more information about EvanTell visit them at:,,
My Thoughts On The Book:  As a pastor I love reading and studying different Bibles.  When I am preparing a sermon I love to jump between the Common English Bible, NRSV, and NKJV.  When I began my reviewing process of this Bible I started with the List of Features in the front of the book.  I found highlights and references for each book of the Bible and loved it.  This would be extremely helpful for someone who is not familiar with the Bible or someone looking for a specific subject.  At the beginning of each chapter the reader could find an introduction and throughout each book there were numerous sidebars.  This book was AWESOME.  I am a rural pastor and my daughter and her husband are missionaries in Moldova.  This book is a Must Have for both of us and for anyone who is looking for a way to share God's love.  It is clear, concise, helpful and a great tool to have in your library.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Kregel Publishers as part of their Book Review Blogger Programs. I was not required to write a positive review. 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.”  Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you!  

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Speak Lord, For Your Servant Is Listening

I need you all to do an activity with me this morning.  I need you to repeat after me.  SPEAK LORD, FOR YOUR SERVANT IS LISTENING….now let’s say it with oomph.  SPEAK LORD,  FOR YOUR SERVANT IS LISTENING.

One activity that human beings really aren’t very good at is listening. It’s surprising, really. There doesn’t seem to be much to the art of listening – you just sit there and nod your head at the appropriate times. But for many people, listening is a problem. We HEAR….but we do not LISTEN!  You can buy videos that help you become better listeners. There is actually a Listening Association that you can join- to help you improve your listening skills. These things exist because people naturally are not good listeners. There might be no better example of poor listening than what happens during a sermon. People shift around. Even though they can go for hours at work without going to the bathroom, they have to get up every two minutes and head off to the bathroom during the sermon. In my college classes to become a teacher one of the things we are taught is to vary our lessons into 15 minute segments so that we can keep a student’s attention.  Well…Many adults become restless school children during the 17 minutes that a sermon takes place.  I am as guilty as the next.  Let’s be honest….People just aren’t good at listening. They’d rather be talking. Or doing things. Or dreaming about things. Or watching things. But listening? That’s a difficult thing to do.  Today we find out how important listening is, when it comes to your relationship with God. Remember, this is the Epiphany season, that time in the church year when Jesus reveals his glory, and lets people see his grace and mercy and love and forgiveness. Today we learn how important it is, and what a blessing it is, when we listen to Christ, when we listen to his Word. May God bless you these next few moments as you listen to God speak to you through his Word.

READ 1 Samuel 3:1-10

Today we meet the prophet Samuel, when he was a little boy who worked in the temple under the supervision of a man named Eli. We are told in verse 1 that in “those days, the word of the Lord was rare; there were no visions.” In other words, God was choosing not to speak to his people. Why would God do that? Why would God keep himself from his people? Well, when you study the history of the nation of Israel at that time, you learn that these people were very wicked. No one was interested in listening to God, hearing his Word. People were too busy with their own lives, too busy breaking God’s commands. The last thing they had time for was listening to a prophet speak the Word of God to them. And so, the Word of the Lord was rare at that time.

So let me ask you this….Is the Word of the Lord rare in your life? How often do you listen to the Word of the God? How often are you able to come to public worship? What about in your own private life? Is the Word of the Lord rare in your private life? Are you too busy to have a private devotional life with God? Are you too proud, too self-reliant – “I’ve just never done that sort of thing before – I don’t read the Word of God on my own.” Or maybe you do, but it’s very quick, not much thought goes into it, because you need to get on with those more important things of life.

It’s interesting to me when I talk to people who are drifting away from God – one of the most common things they say to me is this: “But I pray all the time.” But is praying to God the same as listening to God? The answer is no - it’s the opposite. Don’t get me wrong….Prayer is a good thing, and most people don’t pray enough. But prayer is not how God speaks to you. Prayer is not how Christ reveals his glory to you. Isn’t it interesting, that Eli, in our story, and Samuel - both of them were very busy working in the temple, doing religious types of things. And yet, verse 7 tells us that “Samuel did not yet know the Lord, the Word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.” God was still a stranger to Samuel. And so it is with so many people, so many of us – God is still a stranger. We’re too busy to listen, and we pray at times when we remember, but really, we are failing to make his Word a priority in our lives. God becomes more and more a stranger to us. We make excuses, but in the end, we are sinning, and we know it.

But what happens when we stop, and listen to our God? Three times God called out to Samuel, and Samuel did not know it was the Lord. Finally Eli figured out what was going on – God was finally speaking, and Samuel was the one God had chosen to speak to. And then verse 10: “The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other time, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

From that moment on, God spoke to Samuel on a regular basis, and Samuel listened. He came to know God for who he really was, what he was really all about. He became a prophet that everyone respected in Israel, because everyone knew that God was speaking to Samuel, and Samuel was listening.

Isn’t it amazing, that we can get to know the true God, not by doing something difficult or complicated, but simply by listening? What a blessing it is when we take time out of our busy lives and listen to our God! For example, did you hear the voice of God this morning? Right after the first hymn, you stood up, and you confessed your sins to God. You told him that you had disobeyed him in your thoughts, words, and deeds. You confessed to him that you weren’t listening to him as you ought.

Did you hear what God said to you after you confessed your sins? God told you that his Son, Jesus Christ, has taken all of your sins away. God told you that Jesus, his Son, has died as a sacrifice for you, to pay for all the mistakes you have made in your life. God told you that because of his Son, Jesus, he completely forgives you for all of your mistakes, all of your sins. Were you listening when God spoke to you and said these things to you at the beginning of our service?

On the first Sunday of each month….as we celebrate the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. Do you hear God speak to you then?  Do you hear these words???? “Here is my body, given for you. Here is my blood, shed for you, for the forgiveness of all of your sins.” Do you realize that when you hear these things at the Lord’s Supper, you are hearing the voice of Jesus Christ? Do you listen? Christ is telling you that everything is good and right between you and Him, that there is nothing you have done that stands in the way, between him loving you.

Isn’t it amazing, that we can knows these things, not by doing something complicated, but simply by listening to the Word? And what a blessing it is when we listen! Did you see what happened in our Gospel lesson for this morning? Nathanael was told about Jesus by his brother. “But how could anything good come out of Nazareth?” Nathanael said. Nathanael wasn’t going to give Jesus a chance. Why listen to someone like that, someone from the middle of nowhere? But then he went and met Jesus, and listened to him. And Jesus revealed to Nathanael his power, telling Nathanael that he, Jesus, had already seen him under the fig tree, that Nathanael was a person in whom there was nothing false. The more Nathanael listened to Christ, the more amazed he became. Finally Nathanael said, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”

These wonderful words of faith are words that we would like to feel and speak every day to our Lord, Jesus Christ. What an amazing God we have, that he would give us this kind of faith simply through his Word. What an amazing God we have, that he asks us to do nothing more than listen, to say, as Samuel says, “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.” Jesus told Nathanael, “You shall see greater things than these,” and Nathanael did. He eventually saw Jesus rise from the dead and ascend into heaven. And as we listen to our Lord, and spend time in his Word, we are able to see those same wonderful things.

Let listening to the Word of God be your number one priority this year. The blessings you will receive are endless – a renewed understanding of God’s forgiveness and love for you, a renewed faith, a renewed desire to serve him with your life. May these words we have repeated this morning, “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening” - may these words be your motto, not just this year, but all the days of your life. Amen.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

I Samuel 3:1-10 for Children

At the beginning of the school year, most teachers make a name tag for each student in the class. The teacher does that to help the students in the class learn one another's names. Your name is very important to you, isn't it? I have heard it said that the sweetest sound to anyone is the sound of their own name. Doesn't it make you feel good when someone remembers your name?  Do you think God knows your name? I am sure he does.

One of my favorite stories in the Bible is the story of a boy named Samuel. You may remember that Samuel's mother was a woman named Hannah. She wanted a son more than anything, so she prayed and asked God to give her a son. She promised God that if he would give her a son, she would give him back to the LORD to serve him all the days of his life. God gave Hannah the son she asked for and she kept her promise to God. When the boy was old enough, she took him to the temple and presented him to Eli the priest. So Samuel served in the temple under Eli.

One night Samuel was sleeping when he heard someone call his name. He got up and ran to Eli. "Here I am; you called me," he said to Eli.  "I didn't call you," Eli answered, "go back to bed." So Samuel went back to bed.  Again the LORD called, "Samuel!" Samuel jumped out of bed and and went to Eli. "Here I am; you called me."  "I didn't call you, go back to bed," Eli answered a second time.  A third time God called Samuel and Samuel got up and went to Eli. "Here I am; you called me," he said.  Finally, Eli realized that it was God who was calling Samuel. He told Samuel, "Go and lie down, and if he calls you again, say, 'Speak LORD, for your servant is listening."  Samuel went back to bed and sure enough, again he heard the voice of God calling, "Samuel! Samuel!" This time Samuel answered as Eli had told him, "Speak, for your servant is listening."  Some people think that God only calls grown-ups. That is why I like the story of Samuel. Samuel was just a young boy when God called him. God knows your name just as he knew the name of Samuel and God still calls boys and girls today saying, "Come, follow me." So, listen for God's call and answer just as Samuel did, "Here I am!"


Thursday, January 15, 2015

A Woodland Miracle: The Amish Wonder Series

About The Book:  For a disadvantaged young woman and a displaced young man, a lasting love is going to take more than chance—it’s going to take a miracle.  Muscle weakness has left Grace Wagler with a broken body—and her childhood best friend has left her with a broken heart. She can hold her own in the timber camp (and do everything else the other women in Badger Creek can do), but in an Amish district where women outnumber men three to one, marriage is an unlikely prospect for a girl with bad legs.  Ben Eicher just arrived in Michigan from Pinecraft, Florida. When his most recent shenanigans proved too much for his daed’s patience, Ben was sent to the Upper Peninsula to work in the lumber camp—and he’s neither proud of his behavior nor thrilled about his new home.  But when Ben meets Grace, the struggling young woman quickly piques his curiosity. Of course, the last thing Grace wants is another friendship with a man who pities her. Tired of physical pain and romantic dead ends, Grace is ready to leave Badger Creek for the muscle specialist in Ohio, even if it contradicts her father’s wishes . . . and Ben’s.
Meanwhile, two dangerous men have found their way into the district. It isn’t long before their unsavory plans ensnare Grace and Ben in a chase that will not only endanger their lives . . . but test their love.
About The Author: 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.
My Thoughts On The Book:  I have read several of Ruth Reid's books and loved them all.  This one is no exception.  Once you pick this book up and begin to read you are so caught up in it that you cannot put it down.  The story line and characters are so well-developed that you will find yourself right in the middle of it.  From Florida to Michigan this is a wonderful tale about maturity, love, God, and listening to God.  There is excitement, romance, anger, and sadness all rolled up into a plot.  This is a must read if you love Amish fiction and I hope there will be more to come.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from NetGalley Publicity Group, Book Look, and Thomas Nelson Publishing Company as part of their Book Review Blogger Programs. I was not required to write a positive review. 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.”  Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you!  

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Wordy Wednesday Hodge Podge

Welcome to the first Hodgepodge in this brand new year! So happy to have you play along each week, and newcomers are always welcome. It's hard to visit everyone who links up here on Wednesdays, but do try to at least visit the blogger who linked before you because everybody needs somebody. Want to participate? If so then hope over to Joyce's blog and get the questions, answer them, and go back and link up. It is simple.

Okay, here we go-
1. What's your best piece of advice for a newly married couple? I'm asking for a friend. Keep the lines of communication open. Never go to bed on an argument. Marriage is NOT 50/50, it is 100/100. 2. Before we're too far into the new year I wanted to post a question Teresa submitted during the December giveaway. Teresa blogs over at Being Refined as Silver, so everyone go say hi. Teresa asks, "What were you doing on December 31st, 1999?" and " Did you or your family make preparations for Y2K?" Frank and I celebrated New Years Eve 1999 with friends and were both in bed before midnight.
3. According to Global Language Monitor, the most used word of 2014 isn't a word. It's the heart emoji. Huh? How can something that's not a word be the most used word, but I digress. What do you think was your most used word in 2014? Retirement? 4. Speaking of words, it's that time again. Time for Lake Superior University to present a list of words they'd like to see banished (for over-use, mis-use, and general uselessness) in 2015. You can read more about the decision making process here, but this year's top vote getters are- bae (before anyone else), polar vortex, hack, skill set, swag, foodie, curate/curated, friend-raising, enhanced interrogation, cra-cra (as in crazy), takeaway, and -nation (a suffering sports suffix) Which of these words/phrases would you most like to see banished from everyday speech and why? Is there a word not on the list you'd like to add? I am not fond of any of these words and there are quite a few I would love to twerk.  It even sounds gross. 
 5. January is National Hot Tea Month? Are you a fan? Do you like flavored teas? How do you take your tea? Have a favorite cup or teapot? How many cups of tea do you consume in a given day?  I am a huge tea fan.  I love it cold (unsweetened) and I love it hot with a little honey and lemon.  I love the flavored teas and am a huge supporter of Camomille tea to help me sleep.
6. Whatever happened to__________________________________? Randolph Scott, Gene and Rex, Roy and Tex, the Durango Kid.  Sorry, I was listening to the Statler Brothers CD as I answered this question. 
7. What is one book on your must-read list this winter?  I am reading the Bible through this year and excited about this venture.  I have not done this in a while.  I also review books for several publishing companies and I have several books on my list.  It Is Well With My Soul is my next to read and I am really excited.  I plan to start it tonight.
8. Insert your own random thought here. February 3rd is The Day the Music Died.  Do you know what that is referring to?  Pick me...I know, I know.