Isaiah 6:8

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

Monday, February 29, 2016

Being A Mom For Many

We can rejoice when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us - they help us develop endurance (Romans 5:3, NLT).
From the heart of my precious daughter I was so touched by a post she had that I had to share bits and pieces with you.....and then add my own two cents worth.  Brian and Kathryn (Kat)  live in a house with 16 girls...ok...its 18, now.  Their home is full to the brim of every kind of emotion you can imagine.  "It is a loud and proud house.  (I fit right in).  Anyhow, teenage girls like to eat.  In case you didn't know this-they do.  They like to diet for a day---then, eat everything in the house.  Its real.  Lately, I feel like every time I am outside of the house one of them is calling me and asking for ice cream, or chips, or milk, or cookies, or something sweet.  I haven't thought much of it.  Last night, Brian and I took some guests to the mall.  While we were there, two or three of our girls called and wanted to know where we were, how long we would be gone, when we would be home, AND if we could bring them some food home.  For a split second, I thought-Goodness gracious-I feel like every time I leave the house someone is calling and wanting me to pick up this or get that or find food.  I felt flustered for all of two seconds.  Then, God (in all of His infinite wisdom) whispered to my heart....Kathryn, this is a Mom's life."  (I have to insert a laugh here because this was my life as a mom.  It did not matter where I was or how old the kids were....this happened.)   It broke my child and she shared how she  felt sooooo incredibly full of His grace and Mercy...."I felt so humbled and honored that He would let me have some tiny little role in the lives of 18 or so of the most amazing human beings who ever walked this planet.

 I know I am not their mother....but He is letting me love them and serve them like a mother....and for that....for that and all of its endless tasks and demands....I am so grateful. I may have cried a bit in the Fourchette.  Last night, when Brian and I finally returned home after several hours away, we were met with smiles so big and hugs so massive--That had nothing to do with the goodies we had in our bags.  Last night, I felt like I could not get home quick enough to lay eyes on our dear little family.  I felt like I just needed to see them and be with them....and here their melodious and loud hear about their hear their see their eyes light up.  There is nothing sweeter than stepping out for a moment and then stepping back in to a home where I know love lives."  (Amen my child)  "Our house is not perfect and we have such a long way to go in this role as House Parents.  But, y'all....I love it.  God made us for this.  For however long this part of our journey lasts...I want to savor every feeling God gives me....even if they make me cry in the middle of Moldovan grocery stores.  I love this role He has for me.  Please pray that I can live every moment in full awareness of the goodness of His plan...that I never tire of the joy and struggle that is loving these 18 girls.  Thank you Jesus for picking us!"   Kathryn grew up being one of my dearest friends.  There were struggles and what household does this not exist? We loved shopping trips and traveling together and even now  when we are together seeing teenagers and their moms interacting sends us both into hilarious laughter.   While she was home for her father's funeral we shared a lot of sweet memories and it made my heart so tender.  Kathryn was my emotional balance and my joy.  I am all puffed out with pride as I watch her being someone else's joy.  Does a mom's heart good.


Thursday, February 25, 2016

So Close To Spring.....Yet Still So Far Away

The beginning of 2016 has been one of the rainiest and grayest ones I can ever remember. I hate to complain about the rain because I know we will be praying for rain later on, but goodness!  With all of the rain we have found that we need a new roof on the parsonage, my classroom and several others have leaks at my home school, and I cannot seem to shake the blues. 
Yesterday on my way home in the fierce wind and the rain I looked up and there was a gorgeous seemed to be right over my house....but it disappeared before I could get home and tell Frank about this awesome sight. 
Today is supposed to be a really nice day, cool....heck who am I was 35 when I left for is cold.  Yesterday the wind was blowing like a I guess there is a plus to this is not windy.   I am dreaming of the days when it is warm enough to sit outside.  The sun popped its head out yesterday....briefly....and it not a great day for propping my feet up and getting some rays.   I am so ready for warmer weather and sunny days!  I am so ready for our annual Memorial Day week trip to Panama City Beach.  I am going to cook myself on the white Gulf sands and take a ton of books to read while I am doing this.
Driftwood Resort, Panama City Beach, Florida
School is winding down and my seniors are definitely experiencing Senioritis.  They don't want to do anything. They have 53 school days until graduation. One month until spring break, and then it is a downhill ride after that. I could retire....but I still am loving what I why quit?  I know there will come a day when I will know it is time....but right now, today, is not the day.  I guess that's about it for now. Have a GREAT day!
... happiness among all the smiley face happy face and put on a happy face

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Messed Up Men Of The Bible

Messed Up Men of the Bible: Seeing the Men in Your Life Through God's Eyes  -     By: Tina Samples

About The Book:  "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness."-2 Corinthians 12:9.  From schlubby sitcom heroes to mommy blogs to online articles, there is a broad cultural perception that men constantly mess up and women must fight an uphill battle to fix them. Men are a burden, constant works-in-progress, pushed toward perfection but always falling short. This book asks a revolutionary question: What if these messed-up men are actually a mighty tool for God?  Tina and Dave Samples remind us that the Bible is filled with a cast of messed-up men—men who struggled and fell, and yet were used by God to accomplish His purposes. In fact, God has consistently chosen imperfect "clay pots" in which to place His light.  David was a poor father. Peter had problems with integrity. Moses had anger issues, Gideon struggled with fear, and Elijah suffered from depression--the list goes on. Messed Up Men of the Bible offers encounters with these ancient men who faced the same emotions and questions that contemporary men face, in order to reveal fresh spiritual insights and hope for modern relationships. Through personal stories, practical advice, and useful exercises, Tina and Dave provide encouragement and hope for women dealing with the messed up men in their own lives.
About The Authors:  Dave Samples is a pastor, teacher, author, and church planter. He is a native Texan who resides in Granbury, Texas. He is the Lead Pastor at Tolar Baptist Church in Tolar, Texas. Dave has held numerous denominational leadership positions and has spoken for a variety of organizations including the Gospel Music Association at their annual gathering in Estes Park, Colorado.  Dave has a Master of Divinity Degree with Biblical Languages from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas and a Bachelor's Degree from Union University, Jackson, Tennessee. He is also a proud graduate of Harrison-Chilhowee Baptist Academy, Seymour, Tennessee.  Dave has served as a chaplain in the US Navy, and also in local fire and police departments. In 2008, he was nominated as Windsor, Colorado's Person of the Year in recognition of his efforts to provide disaster relief following a devastating tornado.  Dave and Tina have two sons, Jaren and Zach, and one granddaughter, Abigail.  You can find David online at, or link with him via Facebook or Twitter (@davesamples).
Tina Samples is an Award Winning Author, Speaker, Worship Leader, and Music Therapist. She lives in Tolar Texas with her husband David who is the lead pastor of Tolar Baptist Church. Together, they have two gifted sons, Jaren and Zach - and one grandchild named Abigail.  Tina's new book (along with co-author Dave Samples): Messed Up Men of the Bible: Seeing the Men in Your Life Through God's Eyes will be released January 2016. However, you can pre-order it now on Amazon. Her book Wounded Women of the Bible: Finding Hope When Life Hurts, received the 2014 Golden Scroll Award for nonfiction book of the year. Tina's publishing credits include Wounded Women of the Bible: Finding Hope When Life Hurts, as well as, It's a God Thing: Stories To Help You Experience The Heart of God, Guideposts; Extraordinary Answers to Prayer: In Times of Change and Unexpected Answers; Angels, Miracles, and Heavenly Encounters: Real Life Stories of Supernatural Events; and The One Year Life Verse Devotional. She has also contributed to The Secret Place devotional magazine, as well as Quiet Hour magazine. Tina's passion is to minister to women. She is available for speaking events, conferences, and retreats. Tina will Skype your Bible study introduction or closing session free of charge. She enjoys getting to know women across the United States who are working through her books. Find out more about Tina @
My Thoughts On The Book:  I don't know what I was expecting when I signed up to review this book, but I was delightfully surprised by this book.  This was an uplifting book for women with messed up men in their lives.   The examples they provide for the reader tto learn from are spot on.  I wish I had had this book when I was married the first time.  I see so many elements of my first husband....and my mistakes within the covers of this book. I may not have spent so many years working towards something that was never meant to be.
The book was well-researched, well-written, and thought provoking.  It is a must read for anyone, especially women, who are in relationships with messed up men.  I think they need to write a sequel for the messed up women in the Bible.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this e-book free from Kregel Publications 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!   

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Mystery Mountain Four


About The Book: In the small town of Raincroft, the bonds of love and family are stronger than all outside or dangerous influences and adventures while romance blossoms between two unlikely people. Through determination and strength, Grace’s engaging characters find the courage to overcome adversity.  This  fourth book in Marie Grace's series, MYSTERY MOUNTAIN finds a teen  violently kidnapped and held hostage to locate a family in the Witness Protection Program.  A brutalized family is rescued - from the father.  A painful hidden fracture is discovered on a rape victim, and now mountain justice must prevail. An old printer is discovered; what to do with it?   An apartment dug out of the mountain is finished.  Romance blooms with unlikely characters.  A giant of a man creates a haven for a destitute widow and her sons.
About The Author:  Marie Grace claims that she loves the mountains, adventure, mystery and romance. Her Mystery Mountain series has all of it. From repelling straight down a 300 foot canyon wall to rescue a fallen toddler from coyotes, to a brave mountain man crawling into a burning and collapsing mobile home to save a widow who was struck by lightning. A teen is violently kidnapped as a hostage for a Cartel gang looking for a family in the Witness Protection Plan, and her rescue by a smitten deputy, who had often ran into things on his old Harley as he watched her, is the talk of the town. Tween boys plan their mother's wedding -while she is in a coma, right down to hiring the Judge. People see Big Foot all through the forest - too many reports to ignore.
Some say she has an unusual sense of humor because she can find humor in almost any situation. She loves to people watch. Many people would make good cartoon characters.
She loves animals and has a one year old Chihuahua. She didn't know anything about this breed until she adopted Shep..It's been a real learning experience. This tiny mutt has an aggressive spirit that will challenge a large buzzard. 

My Thoughts On The Book:  I am not a fan at all of this book.  I had not read the first three and had no idea what was going on, or who was involved.  The book was very hard to follow and I found myself hoping it would end soon.  It was choppy, not well developed, and very juvenile.  I give this book a three out of 5.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this e-book free from West Bow Press and Book Look Bloggers 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.”

Don't Worry.....Be Happy?

My husband, Frank, loves roller coasters.  I mean....he LOVES them.  Me, not so much. I honestly don't even like those IMAX rides where you FEEL like you are riding the ride.....but Frank loves every now and then I will ride one with him.  As we sit in our seat my mind is a buzz as I wonder if I was going to be able to endure the ride, especially knowing my propensity for motion sickness and vertigo. Our last big attempt was the Harry Potter ride in Orlando.  He was thrilled....I was going to ride a ride with him.....he could hardly contain his so much.  Before entering the point of no return I asked the girl at the entrance if it flipped and jerked  you around....."Oh no" she is safe enough for little children......So we began the process of working through the line to the ride.  I was uneasy.....but walking through the school was pretty cool.....we got in our seats....and they strapped us in.....The guide  gave last minute instructions. I need to tell you....I had on flip flops.  When the ride was toes were cramped.  The seats began to lift....and the bottom of them dropped away (hence why I had toe cramps) and the ride began to move....faster....faster....throwing me forward....and then pulling me backward.....I began to worry about my shoes coming off...I began to worry about the cable snapping and me falling....I worried I would never see Frank again....I worried about everything and really had myself worked up.  The other thing I remember doing....was loud, so much, in other languages even.....I closed my eyes and waited for the nightmare to pass.  When we finally reached the end of our journey, I unclenched my toes, found Frank and we left.  Would I ride it again?  Not in a million years.  Was I angry....yes...this one ride was worth a year of chick flick attendance.  It wasn’t real. Yes, I did get a bit queasy from the larger-than-life broom riding movement in a Quidditch game,  dodging a fire breathing dragons, avoiding random shots from a magic want....I was never in real danger....but in my worried mind....danger loomed everywhere.  Rationally I knew it wasn’t true. Rationally I knew it was all a series of effects.  It was like a movie. I would walk out when it was over....none the worse for wear.  That is the peace of walking, or in this case sitting, in the truth. Every day Satan stalks us like a lion and seeks to trip us up by stirring up worry about the future. I bombed this......I fell right in and let the devil have his way with my mind....and my peace.  He robbed me.  I KNEW it was not real. I knew it!  To quote the Temptations song, "It was just my imagination....running away with me.  So what do you do?  I closed my eyes and stopped looking at the screen...the imaginings in your mind.  Yes, I was still jerked around....but I saw nothing....and it you can't see can worry about it!  If you can.....leave the theater...the cinema where the worriers in you heart loop round and round.  Here is the biggie....Trust in God...the only One who knows what the future holds. He’s got this.  One of my dad's favorite hymns was called "I Know Who Holds Tomorrow..."  When I do finally turn it over to God....and quit worrying I find I am so much happier.....I also stay off rides.  That way I am not tempted to worry.  Matthew 6:25-34 tells us:  “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?   “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  Before I leave you all today I want you to think about five things you worried about in 2015.  Now, ask yourself.....What good did the worrying do? What did it change?  Then ask yourself....How much of what you worried about happening actually happened?   My mom used to say, “Worry is a down payment on a problem you may never have.”  So my plan for 2016 is just not to do it.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Randomly Hodge Podging

Welcome to this week's edition of the Wednesday Hodgepodge. Read my answers, answer the questions on your own blog, then add your link at the end of Joyce's post. Thanks for playing along today.  One quick item of blog business...Joyce is declaring next week winter break in the HP, so no Hodgepodge on February 24th. We'll be back the following Wednesday (March 2nd) with brand new questions and a brand new month.  Okay, back to we go-
1.  February 17th is National Random Acts of Kindness Day. It lands on the calendar one day after National Do Something for a Grouch Day (February 16) which somehow feels related. Perhaps the 16th inspired the 17th? 
Tell about a time you performed a random act of kindness or were the recipient of one. Will you make an effort to perform a random act of kindness on the 17th? Share details if you're so inclined, and if you have something specific in mind.  My missionary daughter was here from Moldova for her father's funeral and on Monday we got together for lunch and some retail therapy.  I knew that she did not have a lot of money....she is a missionary.....but she wanted to go to Kohl's.  One of the girls needed a new coat and Kat wanted a few items.  None of which she kept....she walked around the store with them and then put them back....every time she put them back....I picked them up.   I rang out....her items...and the coat for one of her girls.  She was so overwhelmed with my sweet treats.  THEN...the act of kindness went to the next level.  I was talking about the day with my Bible Study group last night and one of the members pulled out some money and gave it to pay for the coat.  I started to tell him "no" but then remembered....this was a blessing for my blessing of buying the coat....turned into a blessing for someone else....who also bought the coat!  I love stuff like this!  Pray for my daughter as she flies back to Moldova. 
2. What's the most uplifting or encouraging thing you see happening in the world right now? You may have to dig deep for this one.  I have to agree with Joyce.  The world still rallies around nations stricken with natural disaster or man-made terror. It amazes me at how suddenly it does not matter what color or nationality a person it.
3.  Black olives, black currants, black grapes, black beans, blackberries, Oreos...your favorite food the color of night? Your least favorite on the list?  I love black beans...especially with rice.  I love black currants and blackberries too.  I am not a huge fan of black olives except on pizza and I do not like black grapes.

4.  A while back I read (here) a list of twelve things  you should do before you turn 50. They were-
travel  when I have a chance. take care of your skin, learn a foreign language, make exercise a habit, leave a toxic situation, stop caring what others think about you, stop worrying, volunteer, spend time with your grandparents, pledge to work less, learn to cook an amazing dish, and seize an opportunity as it arises  What do you think of the list? What would you add or remove and why? If you're over 50, have you done all 12? If you're not yet 50, have you done any at all? What's on the list that you haven't done, but would like to do?  I've passed the mile-marker mentioned by ten + years and have done most everything on the list. Traveling is very important.  On the Food Network show, Chopped the other night the judge told a girl to take the money she had won and go to restaurants in other countries and sample the world.  I like that idea.  I have been to 48 of the 50 US states, the UK a few times, Italy, Canada, most of Central America and Mexico.  I have been on cruises....and there is still so much I want to see.  Did you know that the World's largest ball of twine really exists.  This is what I love to go in search of.  I am still planning to do Route 66.  I even have my music for this awesome road trip set. I have to agree with Joyce on adding that you should tell people who've impacted your life in a positive way what it's meant to you. Let them know they played a part in shaping the person you are today. I did this for Lent a few years ago and it felt both of us.  So often we assume that youth leader, coach, camp counselor, fifth grade teacher, etc. knows they've made a difference, but it's extra special to hear it said aloud or see it in a hand written note.  Don't wait til it is too late to do this one....even if it is not on the list.
5. Besides the classic Christmas flicks, what's your favorite film where winter plays a part in the setting? That is a piece of cake....Dr. Zhivago....hands down!
 6.  When did you last feel helpless, and what did you do about it?  When my ex husband was dying two weeks ago and my children were hurting, my daughter was in Moldova trying to get home before he passed away....and I could not fix it for them. But....then it became a God thing.  A friend of Kat's set up a Go Fund Me account for her and it raised nearly 3000.00 in less than 2 hours.  She made it home and was able to spend about 12 hours of quality time with him.  The kids and I prayed over their dad and I anointed him right before he died.  

7.  Share a favorite proverb.
Proverbs 31:10-31 - This is what I strive to be:
10 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.
11 The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.
12 She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.
13 She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.
14 She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar.
15 She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.
16 She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.
17 She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.
18 She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.
19 She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.
20 She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.
22 She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.
24 She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.
25 Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.
26 She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.
27 She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.
29 Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.
30 Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.
 8. Insert your own random thought here.  I am tired of winter and being cold...I am longing for the beach, a beach chair, some sand, some surf, and flip flops!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Why President's Day

Washington's Birthday, aka Presidents' Day, is a federal holiday held on the third Monday of February. The day honors presidents of the United States, including George Washington, the USA's first president.
Presidents Day Activities-Crafts-Lessons-Unit-Ideas-Facts-Songs
We know how to celebrate the 4th of July, Labor Day, Memorial Day, Veteran's Day....but what do we do to honor President's Day?  I was talking with an elementary teacher at one of the local schools and she shared with me some of the writings of her class and I thought I would share them with you.  The question the kids had to answer was what is President's Day and this is what they said.  Well....Washington's Birthday officially honors the life and work of George Washington, the first president of the United States. The day also commemorates past presidents of the USA. Washington's Birthday is sometimes known as Presidents' Day. This is because while most states have adopted Washington's Birthday, some states officially celebrate Presidents' Day.  Some states pay particular attention to Abraham Lincoln, as his birthday was also in mid-February. In the weeks or days leading up to the holiday, the elementary schools in my county and surrounding ones organized some art events and lessons for students about the presidents of the United States and George Washington in particular. What I did discover is that it is an extremely popular day for stores to start their white sales, mattress sales, and bedding sales.  The US federal holiday is on the third Monday of February each year, but records show that George Washington's birthday was actually on February 22.  Indiana observes the Washington's birthday holiday in December.  George Washington was the first president of the United States of America. His first term as president was from 1789 to 1793 and his second term from 1793 to 1797. Before he became president, he played important roles in the military, leading the American Continental Army to victory over the British in 1783. Washington is often seen as the father of the United States and is probably the best known American politician ever.
The likeness and name of George Washington can still be seen in many places in the United States. There is the portrait of him and three other American presidents carved into Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota. His image is also used on the one-dollar bill and the quarter-dollar coin. The capital of the United States, Washington D.C., Washington State and at least three universities are named after him.  Washington's Birthday was first celebrated as a holiday in the District of Columbia in 1880. It was made a federal holiday in 1885. The holiday was originally held on the anniversary of George Washington's birth, on February 22. In 1971, this holiday was moved to the third Monday in February.  This holiday is legally designated as "Washington’s Birthday". Though other institutions such as state and local governments and private businesses may use other names, it is the federal government’s policy to always refer to holidays by the names designated in the law.  What will you be doing?  Our students will not be in school on that day, but we the teachers will be.  This is one of the gazillion inservices we have to do during the year. 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Valentine's Day Did You Know?

New latest happy valentines day 2016 Pictures and Photos

I am not a huge fan of Valentine's Day.  I don't need a designated day to tell Frank I love him or to show him I love him.  I think it is a rip-off day when candy, flower, and card companies make a killing.  I find it amazing that a dozen roses you can buy on Monday for less than 20.00 on Valentine's Day cost 40.00.  What is the deal.  I was a bit curious about the did it start?  When did all the madness begin?  Well, thanks to the internet I found out most about Valentine's Day than I ever wanted to know.....and thought I would share it with my readers.  Did you know that it is not exactly known why the 14th of February is known as Valentine's Day or if the noble Valentine really had any relation to this day. The history of Valentine's Day is impossible to be obtained from any archive and the veil of centuries gone by has made the origin behind this day more difficult to trace. It is only some legends that are our source for the history of Valentine's Day. The modern St. Valentine's Day celebrations are said to have been derived from both ancient Christian and Roman tradition. As per one legend, the holiday has originated from the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalis/Lupercalia, a fertility celebration that used to observed annually on February 15. But the rise of Christianity in Europe saw many pagan holidays being renamed for and dedicated to the early Christian martyrs. Lupercalia was no exception. In 496 AD, Pope Gelasius turned Lupercalia into a Christian feast day and set its observance a day earlier, on February 14. He proclaimed February 14 to be the feast day in honor of Saint Valentine, a Roman martyr who lived in the 3rd century. It is this St. Valentine whom the modern Valentine's Day honors. 
According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, there were at least three early Christian saints by the name of Valentine. While one was a priest in Rome, another was a bishop in Terni. Nothing is known about the third St. Valentine except that he met his end in Africa. Surprisingly, all three of them were said to have been martyred on 14th February. It is clear that Pope Gelasius intended to honor the first of these three aforementioned men. Most scholars believe that this St. Valentine was a priest who lived around 270 AD in Rome and attracted the disfavor of Roman emperor Claudius II who ruled during this time. The story of St. Valentine has two different versions - the Protestant and the Catholic one. Both versions agree upon Saint Valentine being a bishop who held secret marriage ceremonies of soldiers in opposition to Claudius II who had prohibited marriage for young men and was executed by the latter. During the lifetime of Valentine, the golden era of Roman empire had almost come to an end. Lack of quality administrators led to frequent civil strife. Education declined, taxation increased and trade witnessed a very bad time. The Roman empire faced crisis from all sides, from the Gauls, Slavs, Huns, Turks and Mongolians from Northern Europe and Asia. The empire had grown too large to be shielded from external aggression and internal chaos with existing forces. Naturally, more and more capable men were required to to be recruited as soldiers and officers to protect the nation from takeover. When Claudius became the emperor, he felt that married men were more emotionally attached to their families, and thus, will not make good soldiers. He believed that marriage made the men weak. So he issued an edict forbidding marriage to assure quality soldiers. The ban on marriage was a great shock for the Romans. But they dared not voice their protest against the mighty emperor.  The kindly bishop Valentine also realized the injustice of the decree. He saw the trauma of young lovers who gave up all hopes of being united in marriage. He planned to counter the monarch's orders in secrecy. Whenever lovers thought of marrying, they went to Valentine who met them afterwards in a secret place, and joined them in the sacrament of matrimony. And thus he secretly performed many marriages for young lovers. But such things cannot remain hidden for long. It was only a matter of time before Claudius came to know of this "friend of lovers," and had him arrested. While awaiting his sentence in prison, Valentine was approached by his jailor, Asterius. It was said that Valentine had some saintly abilities and one of them granted him the power to heal people. Asterius had a blind daughter and knowing of the miraculous powers of Valentine he requested the latter to restore the sight of his blind daughter. The Catholic legend has it that Valentine did this through the vehicle of his strong faith, a phenomenon refuted by the Protestant version which agrees otherwise with the Catholic one. Whatever the fact, it appears that Valentine in some way did succeed to help Asterius' blind daughter.

When Claudius II met Valentine, he was said to have been impressed by the dignity and conviction of the latter. However, Valentine refused to agree with the emperor regarding the ban on marriage. It is also said that the emperor tried to convert Valentine to the Roman gods but was unsuccesful in his efforts. Valentine refused to recognize Roman Gods and even attempted to convert the emperor, knowing the consequences fully. This angered Claudius II who gave the order of execution of Valentine.  Meanwhile, a deep friendship had been formed between Valentine and Asterius' daughter. It caused great grief to the young girl to hear of his friend's imminent death. It is said that just before his execution, Valentine asked for a pen and paper from his jailor, and signed a farewell message to her "From Your Valentine," a phrase that lived ever after. As per another legend, Valentine fell in love with the daughter of his jailer during his imprisonment. However, this legend is not given much importance by historians. The most plausible story surrounding St. Valentine is one not centered on Eros (passionate love) but on agape (Christian love): he was martyred for refusing to renounce his religion. Valentine is believed to have been executed on February 14, 270 AD. Thus 14th February became a day for all lovers and Valentine became its Patron Saint. It began to be annually observed by young Romans who offered handwritten greetings of affection, known as Valentines, on this day to the women they admired. With the coming of Christianity, the day came to be known as St. Valentine's Day.  But it was only during the 14th century that St. Valentine's Day became definitively associated with love. UCLA medieval scholar Henry Ansgar Kelly, author of "Chaucer and the Cult of Saint Valentine", credits Chaucer as the one who first linked St. Valentine's Day with romance. In medieval France and England it was believed that birds mated on February 14. Hence, Chaucer used the image of birds as the symbol of lovers in poems dedicated to the day. In Chaucer's "The Parliament of Fowls," the royal engagement, the mating season of birds, and St. Valentine's Day are related:  "For this was on St. Valentine's Day, When every fowl cometh there to choose his mate."  By the Middle Ages, Valentine became as popular as to become one of the most popular saints in England and France. Despite attempts by the Christian church to sanctify the holiday, the association of Valentine’s Day with romance and courtship continued through the Middle Ages. The holiday evolved over the centuries. By the 18th century, gift-giving and exchanging hand-made cards on Valentine's Day had become common in England. Hand-made valentine cards made of lace, ribbons, and featuring cupids and hearts began to be created on this day and handed over to the man or woman one loved. This tradition eventually spread to the American colonies. It was not until the 1840s that Valentine's Day greeting cards began to be commercially produced in the U.S. The first American Valentine's Day greeting cards were created by Esther A. Howlanda Mount Holyoke, a graduate and native of Worcester. Mass. Howland, known as the Mother of the Valentine, made elaborate creations with real lace, ribbons and colorful pictures known as "scrap". It was when Howland began Valentine's cards in a large scale that the tradition really caught on in the United States.  Today, Valentine's Day is one of the major holidays in the U.S. and has become a booming commercial success. According to the Greeting Card Association, 25% of all cards sent each year are "valentine"s. The "valentines", as Valentine's Day cards are better known as, are often designed with hearts to symbolize love. The Valentine's Day card spread with Christianity, and is now celebrated all over the world. One of the earliest valentines was sent in 1415 AD by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife during his imprisonment in the Tower of London. The card is now preserved in the British Museum.  There may be doubts regarding the actual identity of Valentine, but we know that he really existed because archaeologists have recently unearthed a Roman catacomb and an ancient church dedicated to a Saint Valentine.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

An Amish Market

About The Book:  All the color and variety of a quaint Amish shop in a charming collection of novellas by four of your favorite authors. Feel free to come in and browse!
 Love Birds by Amy Clipston - While Ellie Lapp and her mother are still mourning the loss of her brother, Seth, Ellie starts working at one of the gift shops in town. Seth’s friend Lloyd is talented at carving wooden birds, but his father disapproves and expects him to take over the family farm someday. Ellie sees the beauty in Lloyd’s creations and insists Lloyd sell the birds in the gift shop where she works. As Ellie and Lloyd spend more time together, they begin to develop feelings for one another, but she accidentally betrays his trust. Will she lose any hope of a future with him?
 A Bid for Love by Kathleen Fuller - Every week, Hannah Lynne brings her home-churned butter to the local market. And every week Ezra stops by to purchase some. Hannah Lynne knows not to read too much into it—Ezra is a confirmed bachelor and barely even glances her way, despite any hope to the contrary. But when Ezra bids an exorbitant amount to win the quilt she had her heart set on, Hannah Lynne can’t stop her heart from taking over her mind. Could Ezra finally be in the market for love?
 Sweeter Than Honey by Kelly Irvin - Shattering a jar of pickled beets wasn’t the impression Isabella hoped to make on her first trip to the local Combination Store of Bee County, Texas. But as embarrassed as she was by the accident, she didn’t think it warranted the frosty reaction from the handsome manager of the store, Will Glick. As she soon learns, though, Will’s heart has been broken one too many times. And now, for some reason, Isabella finds herself determined to be the one to repair that broken heart and renew his faith in love.
 Love in Store by Vannetta Chapman - Stella Schrock works at the Old Mill in Nappanee, Indiana, with new employee David Stoltzfus, a recent widower. When strange happenings begin occurring around town, it appears as if someone wants to close the mill. Stella and David have to work together to solve the mystery of what is happening at the Old Amish Mill, and in the process they might just find that God has more in store for their future than they would ever have dreamed possible.
About The Authors: 
Amy Clipston is the award-winning and bestselling author of the Kauffman Amish Bakery series. Her novels have hit multiple bestseller lists including CBD, CBA, and ECPA. Amy holds a degree in communication from Virginia Wesleyan College and works full-time for the City of Charlotte, NC. Amy lives in North Carolina with her husband, two sons, and four spoiled rotten cats. Visit her online at Facebook: AmyClipstonBooks Twitter: @AmyClipston
Kathleen Fuller is the author of several bestselling novels, including A Man of His Word and Treasuring Emma, as well as a middle-grade Amish series, the Mysteries of Middlefield. Visit her online at, Twitter: @TheKatJam, and Facebook: Kathleen Fuller.
Kelly Irvin is the author of The Beekeeper’s Son, the critically acclaimed first novel of the Amish of Bee County series. Kelly is also the author of several Amish series including the Bliss Creek Amish series, the New Hope Amish series, and the Amish of Bee County series. The Kansas native is a graduate of the University of Kansas School of Journalism. She has been writing nonfiction professionally for thirty years, including ten years as a newspaper reporter, mostly in Texas-Mexico border towns. She has worked in public relations for the City of San Antonio for twenty years. Kelly has been married to photographer Tim Irvin for twenty-seven years. They have two young adult children, two cats, and a tank full of fish. In her spare time, she likes to write short stories and read books by her favorite authors. Learn more at Twitter: @Kelly_S_Irvin Facebook: Kelly.Irvin.Author Vannetta Chapman is author of the best-selling novel A Simple Amish Christmas. She has published over one hundred articles in Christian family magazines, receiving over two dozen awards from Romance Writers of America chapter groups. In 2012 she was awarded a Carol Award for Falling to Pieces. She discovered her love for the Amish while researching her grandfather’s birthplace of Albion, Pennsylvania.  Visit Vannetta's website:  Twitter: @VannettaChapman  Facebook: VannettaChapmanBooks
My Thoughts On The Book:  I am a huge Amish fiction fan and have read each of these authors many times before.  This collection of stories did not let me down and with several I felt as if I was returning home.  Each story was skillfully developed drawing the reader into the plot.  You felt as if you knew each character.  I loved the discussion at the end of each and the recipes too.  This book would be an awesome book club selection!
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this e-book free from Thomas Nelson and Book Look Bloggers 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, February 10, 2016

Speaking of Ash Wednesday

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 As we gather we come for a time when the church and we, as individuals review ourselves and our actions in a deeper level of self- examination. We are called to an extended time of prayer and preparation. And part of that preparation is to allow the Holy Spirit to lead us to an open acknowledgement of sin in our lives.  Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.  Does anyone know how Lent got started? It’s not in the Bible. There is no specific verse that says "Thou shalt celebrate Lent."  The Reader’s Digest Condensed Version of Lent is this:  Around 230 AD, a group of Christians started fasting for the 40 hours leading up to Easter. To prepare their hearts for Easter. Pretty soon, the idea caught on. Years later, they bumped it up to 7 days of fasting. And they called it Holy Week. And by 325 AD, the church officially made it 40 days. Representing Jesus’ 40 days of testing in the wilderness.  I hope you will Read Psalm 51 along with me:  The opening of the Psalm 51 is a comment.  It was a comment made when the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba. Ouch…. That seems a little direct. Putting that heading as a part of the song used in the temple for worship. Where is God’s grace for David? What can’t this be put in the dust bin and done away with? Why can’t this just be a beautiful prayer that people can recite and say - Yes I feel just like that?  So David’s sin is recorded in 2 Samuel 11 for everybody to read. On top of that it is included in the worship section of the Hebrew bible. A constant reminder for what he had done.  The bible calls King David a man after God’s own heart. Yet we know he committed not just little sins, He broke commandments. He coveted, had an affair and then tried to cover it up and when that went wrong - he murdered.  All of this took a little time. But he thought he had gotten away with it. A man after God’s own heart…..I Don’t Think So!  He planned his sins. He acted on his plans and he was comfortable with where he was.  It would not surprise me if he was going to church on Sunday with his new wife on his arm, smiling and shaking hands with all the folks. It had been months and no one said anything. No one condemned.  Oh, God, I thank you that I am not in any way like David. I have never done anything like that. I have never planned and executed a sin. I have always admitted when I did sin and made everything right.  We live in a culture, a nation, a community and even a church environment that will let our sin slide. Everyone says we have got to be good! We need to repent! God’s grace is sufficient! But no one challenges us to dig deeper, no one will confront us or even mention that they see sin in our lives.  That would be judging. That would make us sinners and a meddler. If I did that they might say something about me. They might challenge the sin in My life.  Psalm 51 contains a public exposure of a great man’s sins, Then it is a documentation of that’s man’s feelings and prayer about that situation.  David poured out his heart to God in this prayer. He knows that he was caught in his sins. Not by Nathan but the moment he allowed the human desires to take hold and plan his sins. In this prayer he admits that his sins are always there and that he can’t fix them. HE can’t hide them!  It took an external source (Nathan) to make him reflect on the fact that just because no one around noticed or said anything about your sin that you’re OK.  He understood that throwing a bull or a hundred bulls on the alter as a sacrifice has no value to God because there was no sign of repentance.  His prayer is his plea to God that he wants to be made right. He knows that the only way it can happen if for God to wipe the slate clean.  Tonight we are beginning a process where we take 40 days, for self-reflection. We commit ourselves to the process of allowing the Holy Spirit to convict us that we are more like David than our pride and arrogance would allow us to admit. Tonight we are committing to a journey that begins in the low light of evening and goes into the blackness of Good Friday, with the knowledge that Light is just down the road. On Easter morning.  Lent is a period of time when we reflect on how we really act and the little sins that we have made no big deal in our lives.  I heard a story when I was in Niagara about how birds around Niagara falls fly up the falling water to get a drink. In the winter, each time they go in for a sip, a little ice builds up on their feathers. People have watched as some of these birds go in for sip after sip and suddenly disappear into the falling water when the Ice on their bodies becomes too heavy.It is like that with us…..The sins in our lives weigh us down, Lent is a time when we allow our focus to see the little stuff that is weighing us down and do something about it.  Lent is not a time to be depressed and wallow in our failures, it is the time to free our soul from the burdens. By admitting that we are sinners and we want to change, really change we become free.  Who do you think wrote the definition at the beginning of Psalm 51? There is a good chance that David made the reference himself. It is a confession, a public confession that was a reminder of what he had done. It was a reminder not to take that side path again.  Tonight I am not asking you to declare your deepest darkest secrets to anyone except God. I am simply suggesting that by receiving the sign of ashes on your forehead or hand that you are praying like king David.  Create in me a clean heart.  Oh God and renew a right spirit within me. For us tonight the sign of the ashes is our admission that we are not perfect. But we really want to try to change our ways and actions.
I would like to have a couple of minutes of silent reflection, open your heart and mind to the
conviction of the Holy Spirit.  When you are ready come forth …I will be waiting....just like God is waiting.

Valentines Wednesday Hodge Podge

Welcome to this week's Wednesday Hodgepodge. Answer on your own blog, then hop back over to Joyce's blog to share answers. Be sure to add a link back to her blog by clicking here so your readers can easily play along too. The badge code is on her sidebar for a simple copy and paste. Here we go-

1. Create an acrostic using the word LOVE. If you're unsure what an acrostic is click here. 
Longing to
Obtain a
Valentine for
2. Does love really conquer all? Why or why not?  Christ's love does, but when you believe that human love will you are wrong and will be so disappointed.  No matter how hard we try not too....we still have wars, we still hurt each other without meaning to, we still do mean things....
3. Tell us about a time recently, where you really put your heart into something.  Typically....when I decide to do something I put my whole heart in it.  Last week I did a travel lesson for my class and I went over and above what I needed.  I had all kinds of hands on realia, everything I was expecting the students to do, I did first. This lesson ended up lasting two days and it was one of my best ever!4. What's your favorite fictional love story?  Romeo and Juliet
5. Do you generally wear your heart on your sleeve, or keep your cards close to the vest?  Yes to both.  I generally do wear my heart on my sleeve.....but lately.....after getting that sucker smashed flat I have found myself keeping my cards close to the vest.  "Hurt me once...shame on you, hurt me twice....shame on me"....but hurt me a third time??????  What am I.....and idiot?
6. What food says love to you? Why?  Spaghetti over candlelight...preferably at Pizzavilla in LaGrange, GA.  It reminds me of Lady and the Tramp.
7. When were you last 'tickled pink' over something? Explain.  I was tickled pink over the travel lesson I told you about in #3.  My boss chose that day to pop in.  Oh yes!  I was rocking that lesson!8.  Insert your own random thought here. If you are a praying person will you lift up my children this week.  Their dad died last Thursday and I know this week is tough for them.  Frank and I picked Kat up at the airport on Thursday morning....around 12:30 and drove her straight to the hospital in Alex City.  She was able to spend some time with him before he passed away.