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!”

Thursday, December 31, 2015

What Are You Doing New Years, New Years Eve?

One of my favorite songs is by Dan Fogelburg and called Another Auld Lang Syne.  It reminds me of years one by before I was a wife and mother.  It is a reminiscent song about a past love and it has the most haunting tune.  The term Auld Lang Syne is from a poem written by Robert Burns in 1788.
"Auld Lang Syne" was set to the tune of a traditional folk song. It is well known in many countries, especially in the English-speaking world, its traditional use being to bid farewell to the old year at the stroke of midnight. By extension, it is also sung at funerals, graduations and as a farewell or ending to other occasions. The international Boy Scout youth movement, in many countries, uses it to close jamborees and other functions.The song's Scots title may be translated into standard English as "old long since", or more idiomatically, "long long ago", "days gone by" or "old times". Consequently, "For auld lang syne", as it appears in the first line of the chorus, might be loosely translated as "for (the sake of) old times".  The phrase "Auld Lang Syne" is also used in similar poems by Robert Ayton (1570–1638), Allan Ramsay (1686–1757), and James Watson (1711) as well as older folk songs predating Burns.  Matthew Fitt uses the phrase "In the days of auld lang syne" as the equivalent of "Once upon a time..." in his retelling of fairy tales in the Scots language.  When I was younger New Years Eve was an exciting time of partying and being with friends until late into the night.  Once I was a mother New Years Eve was spent with friends who had children.  We would go to one of the homes and play board games until midnight.  The kids would go to bed and we would move them to their own beds and tuck them away quietly.  After Empty Nest Syndrome arrived New Years Eve was spent having dinner with friends and home by 8, bed by 10.  It is funny how things change with the year.  This year we had dinner with a group of friends at a local restaurant.  We were home by 6:30 and Frank and I spent the rest of the evening watching football and coloring in our new Adult Coloring books.  So....What did you do New Years Eve?

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

End Of The Year Hodge Podge

Happy New Year Hodgepodgers and readers everywhere! So glad you stopped by for this end of the year random! It's never too late to participate...answer the questions on your own blog, then add your link at the end of Joyce's post. Please say hello to the blogger who links before you because that's what good neighbors do. See you in the new year!

Now here we go-

1.  Share a favorite moment/memory from the week of Christmas.  I have two favorite Christmas memories.  The first one happened when I had Christmas on Halloween for Kat and Brian and the orphans of Stella's Voice.  My second was at Eric's on Saturday after Christmas.  There is a lot to this part of the story....but long story short we spent a few wonderful hours celebrating Jesus through Praise and Worship music sitting in his living room.  It was AWESOME
2.  If someone wrote a book about your life based on the past year, what genre would it fall under? What would the title be?  It would love for it to be a historical fiction.  It was a crazy year and one I would not necessarily want to repeat.  We lost several good friends, Kat and Brian moved to Moldova in 2014 and came home for 4 weeks in October.  I would think the title of my book would be Have I Got A Story For You. 
3. What made you feel patriotic this year?  I have to agree with Joyce.  I cry every time I hear the Star Spangled Banner, see the Changing of the Guard at Arlington, and saw the wreath laying ceremonies for Christmas.  When I sing God Bless The USA....these things all make me proud to be an American. 
4.  What experience from this past year would you like to do all over again?  Spending time with Kat and Brian.5. What song lyric sums up or is a reflection of your 2015?  Fight Song by Rachel Platten
6. On a scale of 1-10 how would you rate 2015? (10=stellar) Why?  It would depend on the day and the event.  There were many 10's and many not so 10's.  Life is life and sometimes it does not go as planned.7. What part of the upcoming year are you most excited about?  All of it!  I have 365 pages of a new year to write my life story in.8. Insert your own random thought here. Do any of you do Pocket Letter Pals?  I think I want to try doing one.
 Happy New Year Everyone! 

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Growing Kids The Right Way

My scripture today is from Luke 2: 41-52 and Growing Kids God’s Way is what I am going to be talking about.  Did you know that the most powerful job in the world is not the president of the United States, the Secretary General of the United Nations, or even Pope of the Roman Catholic Church. The most powerful job in the world is that of a parent, any parent.  Rose Kennedy, mother of President John Kennedy and matriarch of one of the world’s most influential families once said, “Whenever I held my newborn babe in my arms, I used to think what I did and what I said to him would have an influence, not only on him, but on everyone he meets, not for a day, or a year, but for all time and for eternity. What a challenge, what a joy!” Writer E.T. Sullivan observed the same truth from the opposite direction. “When God wants a great work done in the world or a great wrong righted, he goes about it in a very unusual way. He doesn’t stir up his earthquakes or send for this thunderbolts. Instead, he has a helpless baby born, perhaps in a simple home and of obscure [parents]. And then God puts the idea into [a mother or father’s heart and they] put it into the baby’s mind. And then God waits. The greatest forces in the world are not the earthquakes and the thunderbolts. The greatest forces in the world are [young children].”  Parents have an awesome task. I am confident that every parent here felt the weight of that responsibility the first time they held their child. Everyone mother and father—and grandmother and grandfather—knows what I am talking about. If we feel overwhelmed by our task, imagine how Joseph and Mary must have felt when given the responsibility of raising the Christ-child. They knew what was happening. They had both heard the angels’ messages. They believed God was doing something unique and special. But they also knew they had an awesome job ahead of them.  The Bible doesn’t tell us many details about the childhood of Jesus. But what the Bible does tell us about those early years is quite revealing. Let’s look at what we do know and the model it provides for parents. The same principles apply to the youth and children’s ministries of the church. Those of us in this church are not just concerned about our own children. We care about all the kids around us that we can influence for Christ. That’s why many of you have dedicated yourself to teaching Sunday School, working with youth, and befriending children and young people who cross your path. That too is an enormous task. Our text tells us something about what we want for our young and part of what it takes to make that happen. Consider those two areas briefly.  First, note how Jesus grew. That little verse in Luke 2:52 summarizes the childhood years of Jesus in a dozen or so words. Luke tells us, “Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” The emphasis seems to be on the balance. The four areas of Jesus’ growth provide a blueprint for what every parent and grandparent wants for their young.   Jesus grew in wisdom. That certainly includes growing in knowledge and understanding of the world around him. Jesus had already demonstrated an unusual grasp of spiritual matters. In part of the text that we skipped over, he confounds the learned teachers with his insight and questions. But our text also seems to suggest part of his development was normal and natural. I am sure that Mary and Joseph, just as all parents in this room, wanted their child to learn and grow. We’re proud when our kids do well in school. But that only happens when we encourage, challenge, and make learning and growing a priority.  Wisdom in the Bible, however, means more than book learning. Wisdom means the ability to make smart decisions and tell right from wrong. When it comes to morality and faith, every child is home schooled.  Jesus not only grew in wisdom, he also grew in stature. Physical health matters to God. Our faith is not just a matter of the mind. We teach our kids that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. We all want our kids to develop healthy habits that will serve them well for the rest of their lives. That takes effort and personal discipline on the part of parents and grandparents. The path of least resistance leads to disaster. If you’ve seen, the TV program “Honey, We’re Killing the Kids” you understand the concept. The show is about families trying to undo poor habits that are developing unhealthly lifestyles in their kids. This area matters.  Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and also in favor with God. This is where I stop preaching and go to meddling. I am forever mystified by Christian parents who show amazing concern about the health and education of their children but seem totally indifferent to their spiritual well-being. I have seen parents who would scream bloody murder if their twelve year talked about dropping out of school, but don’t even blink when they want to drop out of church. They wouldn’t think of letting a child decide for themselves what they are going to eat or when they are going to bed, but when it comes to spiritual matters abdicate any responsibility saying, “I’m going to let Johnny or Suzie make up their own minds when they get old enough.” I’ve seen parents who push and prod to get their son to play baseball or their daughter to learn gymnastics, but act like they could care less whether their child learns spiritual discipline or not. I guarantee, the child notices the differences. There is something wrong with that picture. Our Lord grew mentally, physically, and spiritually. Finally, Jesus grew in favor with men as well. We all want our children to grow up to be kind, compassionate, loving human beings. No right thinking parent wants to raise selfish, hateful, mean-tempered kids. If they turn out that way, we know who will hurt the worst.  I think these four phrases provide a prayer list for every parent and every adult who cares about the young of our church. We need to passionately and persistently seek the Lord’s help in growing wise, healthy, loving, spiritually minded kids. Parenting is not easy. But it’s worth the effort. What a joy to see our kids turn into young adults who are taking up the task of building a better future!  That’s how Jesus grew from a child through his teen years to a young man. That’s what we all want for the young around us. But how does it happen? Obviously, Jesus was a special case. How his deity showed through in those early years, we don’t know. But special or otherwise, we can learn some lessons from the parenting of Mary and Joseph. They made God’s Word the center of their family. One theme runs through these verses about Jesus’ childhood. Over and over again, the text tells how Mary and Joseph acted “according to the law of Moses" (v. 22) ... "just as it is written in the law of the Lord" (v. 23) ... "according to what is stated in the law of the Lord" (v. 24). In verses 25-35 we read about Simeon’s prophetic praise of Jesus. This event occurred because the parents of Jesus had brought Jesus to the temple to perform what was customary under the law (v. 27). Verses 39 and 40 serve as a summary for this entire section. "When they had completed everything according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The boy grew up and became strong, filled with wisdom, and God’s grace was on Him." Did you notice the pattern? Jesus’ earthly parents had followed the dictates of Scripture at every point in their nurture of the son God had given them.
They pointed Jesus in the right direction. When Jesus was twelve, Mary and Joseph took him to Jerusalem for the Passover. This was probably a part of the Jewish rite of Bar Mitzvah, as it is called today. Joseph and Mary did everything within their power to see that the Christ child experienced all of the right things as he was growing up under their care. They obviously set an example. Did you notice the emphasis at the beginning of verse 41? "Every year His parents traveled to Jerusalem for the Passover Festival." This was not an exceptional event, but a customary one. Mary and Joseph had provided a climate in which spiritual development was the norm, not the exception.  Example matters. We all know that. In a study taken in the 1990’s we are shown that if both Mom and Dad attend church regularly, 72% of their children remain faithful. If only Dad, 55% remain faithful. If only Mom, 15%. If neither attended regularly, only 6% remain faithful. The statistics speak for themselves--the example of parents and adults is more important than all the efforts of the church and Sunday School.
I like the story of a little boy who was asked if he believed in God. He answered, “Well, yes I do.” When asked why, he said, “Well, I guess it just runs in the family.” We hope our young have more reason than that for their faith. We want their devotion to God to be personal. But on the other hand, it’s not altogether bad that it runs in the family. I hope it does. I hope you will live long enough to see your kids and grandkids reproduce in their lives the faith, hope, and love that gives your life direction and meaning.  That’s the dream of every parent!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Dear Ellen, Kruze Wants To Dance

For the past two years most of you have kept up with the little life of Kruze McCarley and her family from me.  Back on the 9th of December mom , Magen, asked me to write something and submit it on the Ellen show.  I sat down that night and began writing....and writing.....and writing.  There was so much to tell and Ellen needed to know it all.   When I went to the web page to submit my story I found that only 1500 words were allowed.  Sigh!  I cut the story to 1500 words and left it.  This morning I thought I would share the whole version with you guys.  I want to ask for you to pray for little Kruze.  She wants to dance....and I would love to help her

Dear Ellen,
I know that there are hundreds of deserving families all across the USA, but today I want to tell you about my friends, the McCarleys.  After a series of miscarriages and a diagnosis of never being able to have children, Magen and Keaton discovered that they would be parents the last week in September.  On September 28th, Jett was born.  He was the apple of the whole family’s eye, a true miracle.  But, that is just the beginning of my story.  In the Spring of the next year, Magen found herself pregnant again, with twins.  The family was amazed.  This began going downhill during her 16th week of gestation.  Magen had to quit her job and was put on bed rest.  In the 21st week of gestation, on the day of Jett’s first birthday party, Magen was airlifted to Birmingham and UAB Hospital.  On October 1st, the babies made their appearance into the world.  They would be the earliest surviving babies UAB had ever delivered.  Kash weighed in at 1.2 pounds and Kruze weighed in at 1.1 pounds.  They were tiny fighters and everyone in the NICU loved them.  Kash had so many serious health problems and on December 29th, with all of her loved ones gathered round she left her earthly home.  Kruze remained in the hospital for several more weeks and when it was time for her to come home 50+ Iron Order bikers lead her in.  The whole town turned out because everyone had been praying for this little one for a long time.  Before they left the hospital there the doctor’s prepared this fractured family with what they could expect from this little one.  According to all the tests they had run before letting her go home, Kruze would more than likely never hear, see, or speak.  She would have issues with upper respiratory infections.  She would probably never walk and she would probably have Cerebal Palsy.    It was ok with the family.  She was alive, she was loved, she was so tiny, but she thrived.  When Kruze was almost one her 28 year old daddy suffered a massive stroke.  He was airlifted to Atlanta.  This poor family had spent six months living at UAB and now found themselves at Emory in Atlanta.  They became the poster children for Murphy’s Law.  If anything could go wrong it did.  Magen is one of the most amazing young women I have ever known.  She just takes it all in stride and believes that God is in control….but,  now both parents were jobless and one of them was fighting for his life.  After many months at Shepherds in Atlanta Keaton came home.  He walks with a cane for short distances, he has no use of his right hand, and his speech and thought processes are very diminished.  Between therapists and doctor appointments their lives are an endless supply of medical bills.  Kruze celebrated her second birthday in October.  This little miracle who would never talk, see, or hear….jabbers constantly, sees, and hears well.  She is feisty and independent.  The best thing is that she walks….and well.  She is stiff when she walks, which is contributed to the Cerebal Palsy…but she walks.  She has therapy sessions each week and the therapist has suggested that Kruze take dance lessons to help with the Cerebal Palsy.  Magen took her to see if this would be doable….she was too young from formal classes, but the teacher allowed her to try…..and she loves it.  I would love to ask you for everything they could use….but to be honest Ellen….I would love for Kruze to have dance lessons.   Can you help this happen?  I hope she can.  I know that there are so many other deserving families who need a break in life....but if you cold just see her in her little would melt.  I know I do. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Christmas Time's A Comin' Hodge Podge

Hello Hodgepodgers! One item of business before we move on...Joyce has declared next week Christmas break in the Wednesday Hodgepodge, which means no link party here December 22/23rd.  The Hodgepodge will be back the following week, December 29/30th so we can wrap up the year and roll into 2016 together. Now back to this week...answer on your own blog, then pop back over to Joyce's blog and share answers with all of Santa's elves. See you there!

1. What's your biggest 'first world' problem?  Getting all my mom's things dealt with.  There are so many pictures I need to return to owners and it is just overwhelming.2.  Each year Time Magazine names a 'Person of the Year', someone who has 'for better or worse...done the most to influence the events of the year.' It was recently announced they've named Angela Merkel Person of the Year for 2015. You can read more about this year's selection here. Your thoughts? If you were in charge, who would you declare Person of the Year? As long as Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, or Caitlyn (formerly known as Bruce), or ANY Khardashian....I am fine with this one.3. Do you have a nativity set in your home? If so share it's history and how you display the pieces.  I actually have three.  One was for my children when they were is a Home Interior One.  Over the bazillion years I have had it....the angel is the only casualty we have had.  It was a big deal setting it out when the kids were little.  I also have a Willow Creek set Frank bought for me after we married.  I love it!  My favorite one stays out all year....because it is in a curio cabinet.  It is made of Olive wood, hand carved, and it was my souvenir from Frank's Christmas trip to Israel.  It is AWESOME!
4.  Do you make an extra effort to give back in some way during the holiday season? How do you encourage those who need encouragement this time of year?  I love doing for others year round....but I especially find myself doing it at Christmas time.  Frank and I had taken food and gifts to local families in need, bought gifts for orphans, listened....we both love giving....of things....and ourselves.5. Who is your favorite person to shop for? Why?  I love buying for everyone on my list.  I shop all year for that perfect gift.  If I had to choose just one....I would say Frank....because I like to see if I can actually surprise him with something.6. What's the last delicious thing you ate?  We are both preachers.....and we have been celebrating since Thanksgiving, so picking one thing would be hard.  I did get some cranberry congealed salad on Saturday...and it was amazing.  I had some banana pudding at my church on Sunday....I made homemade hot chocolate mix last night and it was pretty amazing too.7. The best way to spread Christmas cheer is to give of yourself to others.
8. Insert your own random thought here. Mary Did You Know is one of my favorite songs...hands down year round.  BUT....last weekend I was introduced to an amazing new favorite called "The Angels Cried" by Alan Jackson and Allison Kraus.  Listen and enjoy!  Merry Christmas to all!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Advent In Narnia


About The Book:  "Walking into Advent can be like walking through the wardrobe."
With its enchanting themes of snow and cold, light and darkness, meals and gifts, temptation and sin, forgiveness and hope--and even an appearance by Father Christmas--C. S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe fits naturally into the Advent season. As the reader seeks a storied king and anticipates the glorious coming of Christmas, these twenty-eight devotions alternate between Scripture and passages from the novel to prompt meditation on Advent themes. Each devotion also includes questions for reflection. The book also provides several resources for churches, including four sessions for small group discussion and ideas for creating a "Narnia Night" for families. Readers will ultimately come to know God better while journeying through Narnia.
About The Author:  Heidi Haverkamp grew up in Hyde Park, on the South Side of Chicago, and now serves as parish priest of a small Episcopal congregation in the Chicago suburbs. She is a Benedictine oblate (or lay associate) of Holy Wisdom Monastery in Middleton, Wisconsin.  Haverkamp enjoys writing about Christian spirituality, the life of a pastor, the Bible, Benedictine monasticism and spirituality, and the spiritual landscape of suburbia - especially Bolingbrook, where she lives and works. She is  married, with two cats and a beagle.
My Thoughts On The Book:  I introduced my children to The world of Narnia by C.S. Lewis when they were young and they loved it.  I still have the copies of the books I used when I read to them.  I have seen the movies too and that is why I asked to review this particular book.  I love the stories, I love Advent season, I love reading C.S. Lewis.  I felt this was a win-win situation for me and I was not disappointed.  This book I found to be a wonderful  way to celebrate Christ with my church family as their pastor.  I have used it every Sunday so far during the Advent Season.  This is not an easy read.  The questions are tough.  It is an inspiring read, at least it was for me.  This is one of those books you need to have on hand....always.....and especially at Christmas.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this e-book free from Netgalley as part of their Blogging Review program.   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!  

Monday, December 14, 2015

Coal River


About The Book:  In this vibrant new historical novel, the acclaimed author of The Plum Tree and What She Left Behind explores one young woman's determination to put an end to child labor in a Pennsylvania mining town. . .As a child, Emma Malloy left isolated Coal River, Pennsylvania, vowing never to return. Now, orphaned and penniless at nineteen, she accepts a train ticket from her aunt and uncle and travels back to the rough-hewn community. Treated like a servant by her relatives, Emma works for free in the company store. There, miners and their impoverished families must pay inflated prices for food, clothing, and tools, while those who owe money are turned away to starve.   Most heartrending of all are the breaker boys Emma sees around the village--young children who toil all day sorting coal amid treacherous machinery. Their soot-stained faces remind Emma of the little brother she lost long ago, and she begins leaving stolen food on families' doorsteps, and marking the miners' bills as paid.  Though Emma's actions draw ire from the mine owner and police captain, they lead to an alliance with a charismatic miner who offers to help her expose the truth. And as the lines blur between what is legal and what is just, Emma must risk everything to follow her conscience. An emotional, compelling novel that rings with authenticity--Coal River is a deft and honest portrait of resilience in the face of hardship, and of the simple acts of courage that can change everything.
About The Author: Ellen Marie Wiseman discovered her love of reading and writing while attending first grade in one of the last one-room schoolhouses in NYS. Her debut novel The Plum Tree - a WWII story about a young German woman trying to save the love of her life, a Jewish man - was released by Kensington in January 2013. She is the internationally published author of three novels from Kensington, THE PLUM TREE, WHAT SHE LEFT BEHIND, (January 2014) and the forthcoming COAL RIVER (December 2015). She would love to have you join her on Facebook,, Twitter, @EllenMarieWise and on her web site: 
My Thoughts On The Book:  I love historical fiction.  As I began reading the book the fiction seemed to disappear.  The author uses some licenses in her portrayal of how things could have been, but there was a good bit of historical correctness present.  Wiseman did her homework.  I loved this book and am so glad I chose to review it.  I have done summer missionary work through Appalachian Service Project in coal mining areas of Kentucky and was touched by the stories and people.  Thanks to this book challenging me to do a little research, I learned a lot about coal miners and the conditions they worked under.  The breaker boys element in the story broke my heart. Wiseman truly expressed the power of the human spirit in this book.  The characters are so life-like.  You love some, you hate some, and you feel sorry for many.  Emma, was so very young, but you loved her determination and drive.  Her aunt and uncle I wanted to throttle about half-way through the story.  Once I started reading this I could not put it down. 
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this e-book free from Netgalley as part of their Blogging Review program.   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, December 11, 2015

Why God Calls Us To Dangerous Places

Why God Calls Us to Dangerous Places
About The Book:  Why God Calls Us to Dangerous Places is about what is lost and what is gained when we follow God at any cost.
Soon after 9/11, Kate McCord left the corporate world and followed God to Afghanistan—sometimes into the reach of death. Alive but not unscathed, she has suffered the loss of many things: comfort, safety, even dear friends and fellow sojourners.
But Kate realizes that those who go are not the only ones who suffer. Those who love those who go also suffer. This book is for them, too.
Weaving together Scripture, her story, and stories of both those who go and those who send, Kate considers why God calls us to dangerous places and what it means for all involved.
It means dependence. It means loss. It means a firmer hold on hope. It can mean death, trauma, and heavy sorrow. But it can also mean joy unimaginable. Through suffering, we come closer to the heart of God.
Written with the weight of glory in the shadow of loss, Why God Calls Us to Dangerous Places will inspire Christians to count the cost—and pay it.
About The Author:  Kate McCord is an American writer, speaker, workshop facilitator, and spiritual director. She worked in Afghanistan for 9 years as a humanitarian aid worker and often draws on her experiences as she explores themes of faith and practice. Kate can be found on the web at
My Thoughts On The Book:  This book is must read for individuals considering missionary work and for the Church in general. It is a well-written and touching book about people of faith who practice what they preach.  Many times it is hard to answer the call of God, especially when it causes you to step outside of your comfort zone.   As the parent of a missionary who has chosen to follow God's call to dangerous places and as a pastor I am saddened by the fact that the Church, as a whole, today should the most understanding of  a person's calling....but they are not always.  It is hard for many to understand the thought processes of a person who chooses to leave the comfort of home and go where they are sent...especially if that place is dangerous.   As a parent, this book answered and settled many of my own questions.  The book is a MUST READ.  It is comforting and encouraging.  I urge you to get a copy, sit down, and inhale the beauty of this book.  If you ever get a chance to hear Kate McCord speak, take it, I know I will.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this e-book free from Moody Publishers as part of their Blogging Review program.   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, December 9, 2015

It's A Most Wonderful Time Of The Hodgepodge

Welcome to the Wednesday Hodgepodge! So glad you took a break from the wrapping and the shopping and the decorating to join us here today. If you've answered the questions, add your link at the end of Joyce's post. Be sure to spread some holiday cheer by leaving a comment for the blogger who linked before you. Here we go-

1. Many families have a story they love to tell every year around a holiday. Does your family have one? Are you the star of that story, or does another family member take center stage. Share your story if you want.  The year my mom had all the wrapped presents hidden.  I found them and opened all of mine...knew exactly what I had.  Christmas morning I was so excited in anticipation of opening all my presents.  I had everything I had asked Santa for.  When I opened my first present I knew something was wrong.  The gift was nothing I had asked fact....none of them were.  My mom had discovered what I had done and had returned every gift to the store.  I couldn't say anything....because then they would know for sure.  It was not a very happy Christmas for me....but it did stop my plundering before the holidays.2. Are you afraid to speak your own opinion?  It depends on what the topic is.  I tend to shy away from politics and religion.
3. Pantone has announced the color of the year for 2016, and for the first time have chosen two shades-rose quartz and serenity. Hmmm...did you know serenity was a color? You can read the thought behind their selection here, but essentially it's blending the warmth of rose quartz with the tranquility of a very soft shade of blue. So what do you think? Are these colors I'd find in your home or wardrobe? Will you add something in these shades to either place in the new year?  No, not happening.  I am not a soft colored wearing person.  I do best in bold shades.  I might have an accessory with that color. 
4. If you could be in a Christmas carol, which one would you choose? Why?  Mary Did You Know.  I would want to be one of her closest friends and ask her this question.
5. December 9th is National Pastry Day. Will you celebrate? When did you last purchase something from a bakery? What's your favorite treat that falls under the heading of pastry? Do you make it yourself or buy from the professionals?  I did not celebrate this year. I too try to stay out of bakeries. The last treat I had from a bakery was a cake I won. I do most of my own baking.  If I can't do it I get my friend, Deborah, or Betty Jean to do it for me.
 6. When it comes to holiday decorating_____________________________.
I am all about simple and memories.
7. When did you last laugh so much it hurt? Explain.  One of Frank's funny stories a couple of weeks ago.  I laughed until I actually snorted.
8.  Insert your own random thought here.  Shades Valley Baptist Church in Birmingham, practicing......the key word here is practicing.....Mary Did You Know.  Love it!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Reindeer Games


About The Book:  Dashing von Stride has one thing on his mind: winning the window display contest for the Miracle on Main Christmas Contest. His plans are set and ready—and then he walks into his toy store, Reindeer Games, to find a sleigh that shouldn't be there. The mystery sleigh sparks a new plan, however, and now all Dash needs is the perfect Santa to model his display after.  This year, the pranks with his reindeer have gotten out of hand. Instead of preparing for the Big Day, Niklaus Kringle is hunting for his missing sleigh. Locating it should have been easy, but games easily won are seldom worth playing...
About The Author:  Kenzie Cade was born and raised in the South where she spends her days in the sometimes stressful field of private medicine observing interesting people and committing them to memory for later use. When she isn’t reading, experimenting with recipes, or being distracted by social media, Kenzie spends time with her family, friends, and the Pomeranian/Long-haired Chihuahua mix who likes to keep her company while she writes. As a young girl, Kenzie dreamed of princesses and their white knights. As an adult (or sort of adult), she dreams of princes and their proverbial white knights, which she attributes to the fellow Arkansan S.E. Hinton and her novel The Outsiders. Writing to keep the fictional voices at bay, Kenzie enjoys the journeys her characters travel to find their happy endings, and she loves the challenge of writing a great love story.
Contact Kenzie at You can also find her online at her blog:; on Facebook at; and on Twitter at
My Thoughts On The Book: The story was top heavy at the beginning.  It was not my most favorite book ever....but it was different. I did not do my research on the book before requesting it and was shocked by a good bit of the subject matter.  The cover was cute and for some reason I thought it was directed towards Young Adult readers.  Boy, was I surprised.  I can say that I enjoyed the names and the characters and that is about it.  In my is not a must read...but if you have a few minutes you want to shut out the world this might be your book.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this e-book free from Netgalley as part of their Blogging Review program.   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!  

Monday, December 7, 2015

Loving Even When It Is Difficult

A couple of weeks ago I used Matthew 5:22-24 in my sermon.  It has weighed heavy on my heart since then and I finally figured out it was talking to ME!  I just could not get it off my mind so I thought I would write about it and maybe it would touch someone else's life.  "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighborand hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemiesand pray for those who persecute you." (Matthew 5:22-24, NIV)
Most of us have friends that are so easy to be friends with that it is like breathing.  Then there are those people in our lives that make us feel as if we are choking.  I know....this has nothing to do with you...but it does me and maybe writing will help me work it out.  I have friends....and yes....I am using the word "friends" here.....that I have to work at to be friends with.  The deal is....I work at it.  It should be easy to be friends with someone shouldn't it?  I know that it is so much easier to love people who are just like me. In reading this scripture I thought...."why God can you not make this easy for me.  Why can't I just love people I want to....and who are easy to.....but it is not that way.  Being a child of God is not have to put your all in it.  I wish God’s commands lined up with the way I think. They don’t.   I mean...come on...we are not only to love our neighbor – which could get sticky – but we are have to love our enemies and pray for people who are irritating.  We had neighbors once with a big, mean dog....we had a medium sized dog who loved to roam.  There were no leash Brownie would wander through the yards getting from one place to another.  The neighbor actually shot at him and hit him once.  When I asked them about it....they told me I should leash that ferocious beast up.  Ferocious?  Brownie might have been guilty of licking you to death...but nothing else.  One day Brownie was lying in our side yard when I heard a commotion.  The neighbors dog had come over and mauled my dog to death.  When I went to see them about it....their response was ...."dogs will be dogs."  Not easy to love by a long shot. It is a lesson I have to keep learning.  It is so easy to love some people...and not easy to love others....but I keep pressing on. .I have to admit....some of my biggest blessings have come from those moments I pressed on.  Some of my dearest friends turned out to be those people I did not fall in love with at first sight.  When I say my prayers each day I have to ask my heavenly Father to forgive me for not loving with my whole heart, the hard-to-love people in my life. Letting in love for them shine from a conscience choice I make.  My grandfather used to tell me not to judge another person until you had walked a mile in his moccasins.  My goal for the rest of my life is to look at others through God's eyes....not Karen's.  So, there is about 14 days til about we all ask God to show us a need in the life of someone we find abrasive, show us how to meet that need, and follow through.  Let that be a Christmas gift to yourself.....and the other person too.  God Bless You All!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

The Wedding Chapel


About The Book:  The Wedding Chapel (Zondervan, November 2015)
For sixty years, a wedding chapel sat silent, waiting for love. But times have changed and the hour has come when it just might be too late.  Retired hall-of-fame football coach Jimmy "Coach" Westbrook never imagined anything would come of his labor of love---the wedding chapel he built for Collette Greer, the woman he fell for back in '49. But now an offer has come to turn the chapel into what it was meant to be---a place for love---and Jimmy sees no reason to hang onto his dream any longer.  Photographer Taylor Branson is trying to make a life for herself in New York. Leaving her hometown of Heart's Bend, Tennessee, she put a lot of things behind her, including her family's abysmal marriage rate. But love surprises her when she falls head-over-heels for Jack Forester, a top ad man. Their whirlwind romance results in an elopement, and a mountain of doubt. Jack, while genuine in his love for Taylor, can never seem to overcome his own demons to find the words of his heart.  When Taylor takes an assignment in Heart's Bend, the job does more than send her back to her hometown, but into a world of family secrets buried beneath the sands of time.  When Taylor's journey intersects with Coach's, they rediscover the heartbeat of their dreams and that the love they long to hold is right in front of them. And worth every waiting moment.

Purchase a copy:
About The Author:  Rachel Hauck is an award-winning, best selling author of critically acclaimed novels such as The Wedding Dress, Love Starts with Elle, and Once Upon A Prince. She also penned the Songbird Novels with multi-platinum recording artist, Sara Evans. Booklist named their novel, Softly and Tenderly, one of 2011 Top Ten Inspirationals. She serves on the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers and is a mentor and book therapist at My Book Therapy, and conference speaker. Rachel lives in central Florida with her husband and pets.  Connect with Rachel: website, Twitter, Facebook
My Thoughts On The Book:  I cannot tell you when I have loved a book more than this one.   The dual plots were captivating and once I became drawn into the story lines of the characters involved I was hooked.  The story starts during WWII and carries on to the present.  It is a beautifully written story of what lies, deceit, and spite can do to a family.  It is one of those stories that finds you crying one minute and the next moment you are laughing out loud kind of stories.  This is a definite read.  I loved every aspect of the story.  This book was a definite 5 out of 5.  I can't wait for the next Rachel Hauck book to hit the shelves.  I hope it is soon.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this e-book free from Litfuse, Net Galley, and Zondervon as part of their Blogging Review program.   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, December 2, 2015

First of December Hodge Podge

Welcome to December and another edition of the weekly Wednesday Hodgepodge. So glad you've joined in here today! If you've answered the questions in this week's random add your link at the end of Joyce's post. And be sure to spread some Christmas cheer by leaving a comment for the blogger linking before you. Here we go-

1. Did you watch The Charlie Brown Christmas special Monday night? Who's your favorite Peanuts character and why?  "Most psychiatrists agree that sitting in a pumpkin patch is excellent therapy for a troubled mind."~Linus  Would you agree?
We did not watch the special, although I have watched it many times in the past.   I just had too much school work to do.  I agree with Joyce, Charles Schultz was such a talented man and his simple message at Christmas is timeless. I love that the gospel of Luke is read aloud in the middle of a Charlie Brown Christmas. My favorite character is Charlie Brown with Linus running a close second. Would I agree with the wisdom of Linus? Yes. When the mind is troubled or weighed down with worry  seeking out a quiet corner in nature is therapeutic. Sitting somewhere in the great outdoors helps me put life in perspective. As a pastor I love to go and sit in the quiet of the church....when no one is there.  It is very therapeutic.

2. Describe a sound from your childhood. What does this sound bring to mind? 

The sound of a percolator perking reminds me of my dad making coffee in the morning.  I would hear the sound and then the smell of fresh brewed coffee would permeate my senses.  The sound brings back images of my dad.  I would love to find an old percolator coffee pot....just to have.

3. You've won a trip to a winter wonderland...would that excite you? Which one of the following would you most want to experience (or which one would you dislike the least)-see the Aurora Borealis in Norway, stay in
Sweden's Ice Hotel, go dogsledding in Lapland Finland, take a winter wildlife safari in Yellowstone or celebrate Winter Carnival in Quebec.
I would be thrilled just to have won a trip! Excited?  I would be over the moon and would choose the Aurora Borealis in Norway. The Northern Lights are on my bucket list. My cousin, Amanda, went to Norway last year for New Years Eve.  Her pictures were amazing.  It is a must see for me now.  To be honest I would be ecstatic with any of these awesome locations!  

 4. Who or what keeps you humble?  God, Frank, and Kat keep me humble.

 5. What part of preparing for Christmas do you like the most? Explain.
I love it all.  My favorite part is choosing the ornament Frank will make for our church members every year. I also love addressing and sending Christmas cards.  Which reminds me I need to get those in the mail.   I love getting Christmas cards, especially those with pictures or news of the past year.   There's something special about 'real' mail, and I think Christmas is an occasion that calls for real mail. I love putting the cards out for others to see. 

6. Gingerbread-yay or nay? Is making a gingerbread house part of your family holiday tradition?
My cousin Jan makes the most amazing gingerbread houses.  I made one at her house once.  I love eating gingerbread....just not so much into building with it.  Kat's in-laws make them each year as part of a family gathering.  They really enjoy it....and the houses are shared with others. 

 7. What's one thing you want to start, do, or complete before the calendar rolls into a new year?
I am doing a folk art painting and making a wreath for someone.  I hope I get them both done before Christmas.  I have 23 days to git em done.

 8. Insert your own random thought here.  Do you eat Claxton fruit cake?  Nasty? or Yummy?  How say you?  Do you give them away as hostess gifts?  Personally I do not eat them at all, the cakes or the little cookies.  I do not like the consistency of the cake....or the taste for that matter.  I have always thought the fruit used in a fruit cake had a bitter wang to them.  My grandmother used to make them and soak them in bourbon for a few days.  I was not impressed with those either as a child.