Civic duty…

Have I mentioned I now have 3 kids of legal age? I do.

Son3 turned 18 the beginning of this month. I was in the post office this week and remembered he needs to register for the selective service. 😦 I know it isn’t a big deal, but to me, mom, it is. I brought home the form, and he immediately filled it out. It is sitting on my desk now. For some reason, it bothers me. It didn’t phase me a bit when the older two did their civic duty and registered, so why is it that Son3 doing it bothers me?

I told Son3 we need to get him registered to vote. He said it wouldn’t do any good, because he isn’t planning on voting.

None of the men in my life are planning on voting this year. GASP….

They all say the same thing… it is useless to vote.

While I may on some level agree with them, I will still be exercising my right to vote. Don’t ask who I will be voting for, I have no idea. I don’t like our choices. Maybe I will write someone in. Trash you still up for it?

A Sweethaven Summer

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing A Sweethaven Summer Guidepost Books (February 7, 2012) by Courtney Walsh


Courtney Walsh is a published author, scrapbooker, theater director, and playwright. Her debut novel, A Sweethaven Summer, will be followed by two additional novels in the series. She’s also written two papercrafting books, Scrapbooking Your Faith and The Busy Scrapper. Courtney has been a contributing editor for Memory Makers Magazine and Children’s Ministry Magazine and is a frequent contributor to Group Publishing curriculum. She works as the PR Manager for Webster’s Pages from her home in Colorado, where she lives with her husband and three kids, who range in age from 4 to 10. Courtney drinks entirely too much coffee.


Suzanne’s daughter, Campbell, journeys there in search of answers to her questions about her mother’s history.Suzanne’s three friends-Lila, Jane, and Meghan-were torn apart by long-buried secrets and heartbreak. Though they haven’t spoken in years, each has pieces of a scrapbook they made together in Sweethaven. Suzanne’s letters have lured them all back to the idyllic lakeside town, where they meet Campbell and begin to remember what was so special about their long Sweethaven summers. As the scrapbook reveals secrets one by one, old wounds are mended, lives are changed,
and friendships are restored-just as Suzanne intended.

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Sweethaven Summer, go HERE.

Sweeter Than Birdsong

Music offers Kate sweet refuge from her troubles . . . but real freedom is sweeter.

In Westerville, Ohio, 1855, Kate Winter’s dreams are almost within reach. As the first woman to graduate from Otterbein College, she’ll be guaranteed her deepest wish: escape from the dark secret haunting her family. But with her mother determined to marry her off to a wealthy man, Kate must face reality. She has to run. Now. And she has the perfect plan. Join the upcoming musical performance—and use it to mask her flight.

Ben Hanby, Otterbein College’s musical genius, sees Kate Winter as an enigmatic creature, notable for her beauty, yet painfully shy. Then he hears her sing—and the glory of her voice moves him as never before. He determines to cast her in his musical and uncover the mystery that is Kate. Still, he must keep his own secret to himself. Not even this intriguing woman can know that his passionate faith is driving him to aid fugitives on the Underground Railroad.

A terrifying accident brings Kate and Ben together, but threatens to shatter both their secrets and their dreams. Kate can no longer deny the need to find her courage—and her voice—if she is to sing a new song for their future.

Rosslyn Elliott is the award-winning author of Fairer than Morning, the first in the Saddler’s Legacy series. She holds a B.A. from Yale University and a Ph.D. in English from Emory University. Her study of American literature and history inspired her to pursue writing fiction. Elliott lives in Albuquerque, where she homeschools her daughter and works in children’s ministry.

Visit for more information.

Guess he’s not ambidextrous

I have a nagging muscle pull in my back that literally aches constantly. I’ve had physical therapy for it, no relief. So I use this rub on stuff called MaxFreeze on it a few times a week. Because of the location of the pull, Stud has to put the junk on me. Tonight when he got home from work, I asked him to come rub me down. He whined like a 10 year old you just called in for dinner.

Me: Come on hon, you know I would do it for you if you were in my shape!

Stud: It’s not that, that junk burns my hands for 2-3 hours after I put it on you!

Me: well wash it off

Stud: but I can’t pee.

Me: huh? Why can’t you pee?

Stud: I’m left handed.

Me: Can’t you use the other hand?

Stud: no, I’m left handed.

Sonoma Rose

Sonoma Rose by Jennifer Chiaverini was the first of her books I have read. I immediately fell in love with Rosa and her children, wanting them to reach true happiness. I was transported back into times of prohibition and everytime I put the book down I found myself shocked I was in the 2000’s instead of back in 1912! It was immersion to the fullest extent! I will definitely be reading more of Jennifer Chiaverini’s books. And best of all, I get to give one of you a chance to read this book for yourself! More on that later!

“Chiaverini has an impressive ability to bring a time and place alive, showcasing the effects of Prohibition on farmers in Sonoma Valley. ” — Romantic Times

As the nation grapples with the strictures of Prohibition, Rosa Diaz Barclay lives on a Southern California rye farm with her volatile husband, John, who has lately found another source of income far outside the Federal purview.

Mother to eight children, Rosa mourns the loss of four who succumbed to the mysterious wasting disease currently afflicting young Ana and Miguel. Two daughters born of another father are in perfect health. When an act of violence shatters Rosa’s resolve to maintain her increasingly dangerous existence, she flees with the children and her precious heirloom quilts to the mesa where she last saw her beloved mother alive.

Jennifer Chiaverini is the author of the New York Times bestselling Elm Creek Quilts series, as well as five collections of quilt patterns inspired by her novels. She has taught writing at Penn State and Edgewood College and designs the Elm Creek Quilts fabric lines from Red Rooster Fabrics. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame and the University of Chicago, she lives with her husband and two sons in Madison, Wisconsin.

Thanks to TLC Tours, I received this book in return for my honest review.

Now for the good stuff!

I have been given the opportunity to give away a copy of Sonoma Rose to one of my readers! I’m going to make this simple, just comment on this post, and let me know if you have ever read any of Jennifer Chiaverini’s books, which is your favorite?

See that’s easy!

The giveaway will end one week from today, that makes it 02/29/2012 at 12 noon est! I will email the winner and let them know, they will then have 48 hours to respond with their mailing info so I can have the book mailed to them! If I get no response, I will pick another winner!

Man/child which is it?

A bit of a miracle happened Friday. Minor, and only those who are parents of older children/adults will understand.

Oldest has had a very bad run of life lately. The car he bought blew up 3 weeks after he bought it, the warranty refuses to cover the repairs, the lot won’t take it back. He told the bank to come pick it up, but they didn’t. They sent a letter stating they were going to pick it up, and still didn’t. So instead, they emptied his bank account, the day after he got paid. Supposedly they can do that if you owe them money and your check is auto deposited… they can take every dime you make. Leaving him with no grocery money, no rent money, no gas money for 2 weeks. Nothing.

Its one of those things that happens in life. You can’t help it, you can’t do anything about it. They are after all the bank, they can do whatever they want. Thing is, Oldest will tell you he knows God is wanting him to change some things. He told me a couple of months ago, there are things God wants him to do, wants him to change and he just hasn’t done it yet. I’m not sure why. But he knows what it is, he knows what God wants, and he knows that things aren’t going to get better until he concedes and does them.

He came to see us and immediately went up to his dad, squatted by his chair, and said “dad, I spent several years being resentful, and just not getting why you made the decisions you did, why you are the way you are, but now, I get it. I understand. I want to let you know, I get it now.”

See, he had his light bulb moment.

My baby boy is growing up.

Smiley one

It amazes me sometimes that Stud and I could have 5 children, all with distinct personalities and physical traits. They look alike, but yet different. They all have mannerisms that favor, but each boy is his each individual person all his own.

When they are in a different room from me, it is getting difficult to tell who is talking. Their voices are all beginning to sound alike. Laughs are blending in together, grunts, even bodily noises.

Son4 I have decided is the happy one. He smiles and laughs all the time. I can hear him chuckling over the most random things ever. He still gets a kick out of cartoons, Tom and Jerry is a fav of his. Even when he is in a bad mood, he still smiles. He wakes up smiling, goes to bed smiling, and spends 99% of his time in between smiling. It is almost impossible to get angry with him, because when you are trying to lecture him he will smile and all that anger just melts away.

I’m glad, that even if he is almost 16 yrs old, he hasn’t yet succumbed to the angsty teen junk. He’s still happy. I love his smiling. When I’m down, he will bug me to death til I smile. Gotta love a kid who makes mom smile!

Sixty Acres and a Bride

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing Sixty Acres and a Bride Bethany House (February 1, 2012) by Regina Jennings


A Word from Regina:

See me laughing. That’s what I do when someone calls me an author. Yes, it’s always been my dream, but I still can’t keep from giggling over it.

Other things I am – a Christ-follower, a wife, a homeschooling mother of four, a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University, and a voracious reader.

Getting reading time isn’t easy. Seems like my family does more than our share of traveling. My husband is an insurance adjuster (I know, save the hate mail) and travels with the catastrophe team often. That’s allowed us to see a lot of the United States. True many times it’s in the middle of a hurricane or blizzard, but after spending three weeks in a hotel room with six people, you’ll brave anything to get out and see the sights – no matter how damaged they might be.

We also serve on the Missions Team at an amazing church, so we break out the passports frequently. Highlights include singing at a leper colony in India, holding church inside a Mexican prison and showing the Jesus film to a tribe in Senegal who’d never heard the gospel.

But I don’t have to go far away for unusual. My family provides plenty of colorful material with their love for practical jokes, pithy observations and strong agricultural roots. Because of the family business, a significant chunk of my life has been spent at sale barns and auctions – often behind the scales where I weigh pigs. I like to think of myself as a “redneck bluestocking” but I brought an entire marketing team’s discussion to a screeching halt when I said those words, so you didn’t hear it from me.

When I have spare time I love to talk books and quirky characters (real and fictional).


With nothing to their names, young widow Rosa Garner and her mother-in-law return to Texas and the family ranch. Only now the county is demanding back taxes and the women have only three months to pay.

Though facing eviction, Rosa can’t keep herself from falling in love with the countryside and the wonderful extended family who want only her best. Learning the American customs is not easy, however, and this beautiful young widow can’t help but catch wandering eyes. Where some offer help with dangerous strings attached, only one man seems honorable. But when Weston Garner, still grieving his own lost love, is unprepared to give his heart, to what lengths will Rosa go to save her future?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Sixty Acres and a Bride, go HERE.

Will the circle be unbroken?

Sunday, on the way to church, I was listening to the radio and heard the song “Will the Circle Be Unbroken”. I remember growing up, I hated that song, after all, it was about a geometric shape. The true meaning of the song was lost on me then. Not so much now.

I remember the first time the meaning struck home for me. My friend and her grand mother were singing it at our church. My friend was a teenager, and her grandmother was about 5 ft tall, skinny as a rail, but oh how that tiny little woman could sing! Genes she passed on to my friend I might add. The two of them standing there, singing that song resonated with me. My friend’s grandmother had kept her in church her entire life, making sure she had the upbringing in God she needed. She taught my friend how to lead a song, how to harmonize, and how to make it her own all while lifting her voice to Heaven and praising God.

Sunday I found myself singing along with the radio, singing Grandmother’s part. I’m sure she was singing too. She passed away last week, so I’m sure she was singing that song in Heaven. Right along with me, and turns out her granddaughter, who was listening to the same radio station as me, at the same time, slipping into her part, hearing her grandmother and all the times they have sung that song together.

That is one circle that will not be unbroken.

A bit of rambling tonight

I’m sitting here, watching the Grammy’s with Stud and totally enjoying the performances… especially Adele’s comeback from vocal surgery. I love Adele. Stud is obsessed with Adele. Even my boys love her. Then this thing with niki minaj comes on…. Stud looks and me and says WHAT THE HECK IS THAT!

I’m too dumbfounded to reply.

They should have just let Adele perform again to purge the disturbing noise from our brains. Seriously.

Anyhow, We’ve had a rather stressful few weeks around our house. Youngest had to go down to Duke U Children’s hospital to visit with a pediatric cardiologist to see if he has Long QT syndrome. If you have read here for any length of time, then you know Son2 was suspected of having it around 7 years ago, they could never confirm it or dismiss it. After looking at Youngest’s ECG’s and my ECG’s and Son2’s ECG’s, the ped. cardio up here felt Youngest needed a specialist in cardio/electric diseases.

We went down on Thurs night and stayed in the Ronald McDonald house, let me tell you, any chance you get, donate to this organization. Please. They need it. They deserve it. While we were there, we were treated like family with our every need met, even anticipated! We met some extraordinary people. One woman has been there for 11 months with her grandson who has never spent a day outside his hospital room. He was premature, and it still there. He is thriving and is now up to 15 lbs. There is another family at that RMH, who has lived there for almost 5 years. FIVE YEARS. There son was born at Duke Children’s and has cannot live away from there. His time away from the hospital is spent basically across the street at RMH. He has a disease that at the age of almost 5 years old, he looks like a newborn.

It makes you stop and think.

Yes our life sucks right now. But not near as bad as the two families I mentioned.

Youngest got an all clear. He has VasoVagal Syncope, and basically he has to drink tons of gatorade and eat a lot of potassium. We need to keep an eye on his blood pressure because it is high, but these are things we can control, watch and tend to from the comfort of our home. We don’t have to go back to Duke Children’s, they gave him the ok to be a kid and enjoy life. We are truly blessed.

Now that I’ve said that, it seems that while Youngest may not have Long QT, I more than likely do. In including my ECG’s for the history and background for Youngest’s file, they doc checked mine out and told me when I got home, I should find a cardiologist. Yay. It isn’t a definite diagnosis, just a strong suggestion.

I know that stress isn’t good for me, so I am looking at ways to cut back. I’m not sure how possible that is at this time in life. Stud has been laid off, job prospects aren’t looking good. My health is giving me fits with multiple issues going on, none of which are related, but each of which on its on is stressful, and put them all together and I am a huge mess. Add on trying to manage Mom and Dad’s issues, both health and financial. I’m trying to fit it all in, with my normal mom/wife/teacher stuff.

I could use some prayers folks.

Beyond Molasses Creek

I will post the actual review part of this post later this weekend, with all the travel and everything this past week, I haven’t had time to get it written!

Having traveled to the ends of the earth as a flight attendant, Ally Green has finally returned to the Lowcountry to bury her father as well as the past. But Vesey Washington is still living across the creek, and theirs is a complicated relationship—he was once her best friend . . . and also part of the reason she’s stayed away so long. When Ally discovers a message her father left behind asking her to quit running, it seems her past isn’t through with her yet.

As Ally’s wandering spirit wrestles with a deep longing to flee again, a young woman on the other side of the world escapes her life of slavery in the rock quarries of Nepal. A mysterious sketchbook leads Sunila Kunari to believe there’s more to her story than she’s ever been told, and she’s determined to follow the truth wherever it leads her.

A deep current intertwines the lives of these three souls, and a destiny of freedom, faith, and friendship awaits them all on the banks of Molasses Creek

Blue Moon Bay

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing Blue Moon Bay Bethany House (February 1, 2012) by Lisa Wingate


Lisa Wingate is an award-winning journalist, magazine columnist, popular inspirational speaker and a national bestselling author of sixteen books. Her first mainstream novel, Tending Roses, is in its eighteenth printing from Penguin Putnam. Tending Roses is a staple on the shelves of national bookstore chains as well as in many independent bookstores.

Recently, Lisa’s Blue Sky Hill Series, set in Dallas, received national attention with back-to-back nominations for American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year Award for A Month of Summer (2009) and The Summer Kitchen (2010). Pithy, emotional, and inspirational, her stories bring to life characters so real that readers often write to ask what is happening to them after the book ends.

Lisa is one of a select group of authors to find success in both the Christian and mainstream markets, writing for both Bethany House, a Christian publisher, and NAL Penguin Putnam, a general market publisher. Her bestselling books have become a hallmark of inspirational fiction. Her works have been featured by the National Reader’s Club of America, AOL Book Picks, Doubleday Book Club, the Literary Guild, Crossings Book Club, American Profiles and have been chosen for numerous awards.

When not busy dreaming up stories, Lisa spends time on the road as a motivational speaker. Via internet, she shares with readers as far away as India, where her book, Tending Roses, has been used to promote women’s literacy, and as close to home as Tulsa, Oklahoma, where the county library system has used Tending Roses to help volunteer mentors teach adults to read. Recently, the group Americans for More Civility, a kindness watchdog organization, selected Lisa along with Bill Ford, Camille Cosby, and six others as recipients of the National Civies Award, which celebrates public figures who work to promote greater kindness and civility in American life.


Heather Hampton returns to Moses Lake, Texas, to help facilitate the sale of a family farm as part of a planned industrial plant that will provide the area with much-needed jobs. Heather’s future fiance has brokered the deal, and Heather is in line to do her first large-scale architectural design–if the deal goes through.

But the currents of Moses Lake have a way of taking visitors on unexpected journeys. What was intended to be a quick trip suddenly morphs into Valentine’s week–with Blaine Underhill, the handsome banker who just happens to be opposing Heather’s project. Spending the holiday in an ex-funeral parlor seems like a nightmare, but Heather slowly finds herself being drawn into the area’s history, hope, and heart.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Blue Moon Bay, go HERE.

Wishful thinking…..

Well tomorrow we take off for the Big city of Durham NC. Youngest has an appointment at Duke Children’s hospital with a pediatric cardiologist specialist. Hopefully this will be our first and last visit.

I don’t relish the thought of my son having a specialist. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad there are specialists in the medical field. I am thankful someone took the time to study extra hard to have the extra knowledge to be able to help those around them. I just wish I wasn’t one of those in need.

I’m treating our trip as a mini vacation. After all, I won’t be cooking or cleaning, it is a road trip to a city I have never actually been, and I am a HUGE Duke fan! Stud will be driving, so I will sit back and enjoy the view, taking in the scenery as it is a very picturesque drive, and do my best not to worry.

On another note, I am about to join Stud as anti-social, anti-the man. He is ready to become a full on hermit. I am about to join him. It has got to where there is so much red tape to do anything in this world. I went today to make a deposit in my dad’s account for him, something I have done for the past 20 years. Today, they wouldn’t make the funds immediately available, because I am not the account holder. HUH? So, that means if the payment I just made online for him for his electric bill, happens to go through before Friday, it will bounce… even though I just deposited almost double the amount. I was angry, am still miffed, and told them for their sakes it better not bounce.

Then I called the pharmacy to see how much mom’s prescription is. They informed me that I would not be allowed to pick up the medication since I am not the patient. Mom will have to call in to give permission for me to pick up her meds. I just picked the same prescription up for her last month.

What are we coming to?

It is getting to where, we won’t be able to help one another with errands and things because we won’t be allowed to, basically making each one of us our own fortress. Our own mini country if you will.

Thanks to privacy laws this and privacy laws that, it is becoming impossible to aid those who are in need. Otherwise you have to fill out a stack of papers a foot high and sign your life away.

Make me wish I was born a couple of decades ago.

The Sound of Red Returning

I had a bit of a hard time getting into The Sound of Red Returning by Sue Duffy. I’m not sure why. In fact, I still haven’t finished it. I plan on finishing it, just now isn’t the time for me and this book. I have found that any time I have difficulty with a book, I just need to lay it down for a while, sometimes even months, and then pick it back up at a later date, and I will always, always get something out of it that fits at that time of my life. So, I have currently set The Sound of Red Returning back on the night stand, and will pick it back up when I am nudged to do so.

After losing everyone she loves, concert pianist Liesl Bower has nowhere to go but to escape into her music. Searching for the peace she usually finds in her concertos and sonatas, Liesl can’t shake the feeling that she is being haunted by her past . . . and by someone following her. When she spots a familiar and eerie face in the audience of a concert she’s giving for the president in Washington, DC, the scariest day of her life comes back to her with a flash. It has been fifteen years since Liesl watched her beloved Harvard music mentor assaulted on a dark night in Moscow and just as long since the CIA disclosed to her that he’d been spying for Russia. She had seen that man–that eerie face–the night Professor Devoe was attacked. And now he’s back–and coming for her.

On the run and struggling to rely on the protection of CIA agent Ava Mullins and handsome newspaper reporter Cade O’Brien, Liesl learns she is the prey of an underground cell of Russian KGB agents determined to restore their country to its former Soviet might. But what she doesn’t know is that she is in possession of something–a piece of sheet music–that Russian intelligence is now frantic to find. Inside that music is a secret code, the hidden transcriptions of her deceased mentor, that clearly identify a Russian mole operating inside Israel’s Department of Defense, a mole with enough power and access to execute a daring assassination that no one would see coming.

Caught in a deadly conflict between American and Russian undercover agents, this innocent young pianist is just trying to survive her own personal trauma. Through it all, Liesl must learn that no matter how dark her world grows or how fiercely her enemies pursue her, God is still in control–if only she can yield herself to His grace. Read an excerpt here

About the author:

Sue Duffy is an award-winning writer whose work has appeared in Moody Magazine, The Presbyterian Journal, Sunday Digest, and The Christian Reader. She is the author of Mortal Wounds (Barbour, 2001) and Fatal Loyalty (Kregel, 2010). Sue has also contributed to Stories for a Woman’s Heart (Multnomah). She and her husband, Mike, have three grown children.

Find out more at Sue’s website.

To buy The Sound of Red Returning, go here.

To read more great reviews of The Sound of Red Returning, check out Litfuse!

As always, I did receive this book in exchange for my honest review!


I have a friend, shocking huh… lol small attempt at humor there…

Anyhow, this friend has decided she no longer wants to be my friend, sounds so high school doesn’t it. She doesn’t want to be my friend because I chose not to support the relationship she is currently in. In the past 2 years, she has went from happily married with children, to single mom with her 2/3 of her kids in her ex’s custody, and 1/3 of her kids with her.

She met a man, and while she was still married, fell in love with the new guy. So, what did she do, she left her husband, now, I will tell you I was happy she left her husband. He was, and still is a Loser. She worked 3 jobs and was taking college courses towards her degree. He basically laid around spending her money. More times then not, her kids wound up feeding themselves, cleaning the house, and basically being the parent when mom was at work.

She left husband, and started seeing new guy. From the outset, new guy told her he was in a relationship for several years with a woman, this woman was also married, and refused to leave her husband. But they were still in a long distance relationship. New guy also told her if this woman called and said she was leaving her husband, then new guy would dump my friend. Nice huh.

She stayed with new guy.

She found out new guy was carrying on different relationships with different women, one was email based, one text based, and then she was his in person relationship. She still stayed. He remodeled his home because first woman said she was coming to be with him permanently. Still My friend stayed. (first woman never showed)

She became obsessed with new guy. Not in a good way. Since they first met, she has left her husband, quit school, her kids are now with their dad, and she has distanced herself from all her friends and family. All to be with new guy.

I never thought I would see her give up her kids to their dad. And I say give up because when asked what happened, she says the dad and kids plotted against her, the kids said mean things to her and were hateful to her. ?????? Last I heard that was adolescence.

She is divorced now, and new guy still hasn’t married her. She says she is happy and all this is God’s will.

I haven’t kept my opinion to myself. She knows I think she’s making a huge mistake. She knows everyone who loves her thinks she’s making a huge mistake. She herself said she has lost many friends and family over this relationship.

My question is, if that many people around her see it is toxic, then why can’t she?

Guest Post by Roxanne Packham!

Showing Love and Hospitality to Others
By Roxanne Packham, author of Inspired Design

Before we are inspired about how to show love to others, we must first ask why?

Quite simply it is because in Romans 12:10 & 13 we are told to be devoted to one another in brotherly love, to honor one another above ourselves. We are also told to share with God’s people who are in need and to Practice Hospitality. Notice the vocabulary: practice, not perfect.

In America, as a culture and as individuals, we are suffering in part because popular media gears everything to perfection. We are bombarded with messages that if we aren’t the very best at something, we just shouldn’t bother. We compare ourselves to others, rather than knowing our worth in God’s eyes.

I suffer from insecurity and wonder if I can be creative enough to inspire. Are my tips original? Are the photographs beautiful enough? Are my suggestions too simple for some, but too fancy for another? The problem: my thoughts revolve completely around me. My creativity, my skills, my ability. This is not about me but about God’s purpose for me. I suddenly realize the bigger picture; I can’t do it, but I can through Christ who strengthens me.

This dance in my mind between my preciousness in His sight and the enemy’s interjections has slowed me down at times, but God showed me this dance is the very reason for us to love others; to encourage each other. Because we are human we suffer from doubt, insecurity, and rejection of one sort or another. We are God’s tool to encourage others. God uses us as His hands to love others, but make no mistake it is His power, His grace and the Holy Spirit that do the real work, not ours.

God’s path of creativity in me began with a family history of silversmithing eight generations back, a degree from USC, design school in Paris, then design school in Los Angeles. Call them spiritual or otherwise, but they were the gifts God saw fit to give to me. Who am I to argue with my Creator? They are unique and I celebrate them. What are your magnificent and unique gifts that you can use to inspire others?

I do not want the gifts received as a blessing from God to “turn into spiritual dry rot,” as Ann Voscamp suggests in her book One Thousand Gifts, as the manna did when it was hoarded in Exodus 16:20. I want to use my blessings.

Inadequacies and all, imperfections and all: I want to inspire others to practice Hospitality and to LOVE others.

Creative Ways to Encourage Others on Valentine’s Day


A handwritten note with quotes, scriptures and words of encouragement is a wonderful thing to find in the mailbox.

Leave a sticky note on your child/husband’s pillow or be bold and write your note on the bathroom mirror or car window in red lipstick saying “I love you”.

Even an email just to say “thank you for your hard work, you bless me” can make a person’s day. A cute poem, scripture or old photograph will remind them they are remembered.

If someone has lost a loved one, kind words of some way that loved one inspired you to do something better will let them know that their loved one’s legacy is living on.


Take some time out of your days to meet someone for coffee, lunch, a long walk, or even just leave a phone message with a sweet sentiment. If you have more time, take a picnic basket to their home. Set up a lunch, tea or coffee, with all your tea cups and a candle. It is a lovely surprise! Just rinse when you finish and pack back up so they don’t even have to do dishes. They will have a lovely memory of a special time.


Hang flowers on the front door handle, leave a pretty tiny package in the mailbox with a beautiful red bow, or cookies delivered to the front door. Create a breakfast plate for your child that says you are special . This is especially significant if your child has struggled with something recently.


Of course this takes more time, but try for a beautiful table setting complete with candles, fresh greens or flowers and a lovely menu either handwritten or printed out on your computer. (Visit Roxanne’s Pinterest account, via the Inspired Design blog, for darling printouts, including gift tags, and much more.) Don’t concentrate on the gourmet or complicated quality of the meal: remember it is about relationship and encouragement!


A beautiful table for Valentine’s simply consists of reds, pinks and perhaps some purple. (Although it could be beautiful in all white too.) Of course, it has to have some hearts and some colorful candles. Leave kind words of some sort on each place setting. Every Valentine’s table should have its share of sparkle, of course!

Visit Roxanne Packham’s blog at
for more pictures and Inspired Design ideas for Valentine’s Day.

Inspired Design


Roxanne and Hannah Packham

Inspired Design Publications
ISBN 978-0-9844563-0-7
152 pages/hardcover/$40.00 ~

In Too Deep

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing In Too Deep Bethany House (February 1, 2012) by Mary Connealy


Mary Connealy writes romantic comedy with cowboys. She is a Christy Award Finalist, a Carol Award Finalist and an IRCC Award finalist.

The Lassoed in Texas Series, Petticoat Ranch, Calico Canyon and Gingham Mountain. Petticoat Ranch was a Carol Award Finalist. Calico Canyon was a Christy Award Finalist and a Carol Award Finalist. These three books are now contained in one large volume called Lassoed in Texas Trilogy.

The Montana Marriages Series, Montana Rose, The Husband Tree and Wildflower Bride. Montana Rose was a Carol Award Finalist.

Cowboy Christmas—the 2010 Carol Award for Best Long Historical Romance, and an Inspirational Readers Choice Contest Finalist.

The Sophie’s Daughters series. Doctor in Petticoats, Wrangler in Petticoats, Sharpshooter in Petticoats.

She is also the author of; Black Hills Blessing a 3-in-1 collection of sweet contemporary romances, Nosy in Nebraska, a 3-in-1 collection of cozy romantic mysteries and she’s one of the three authors contributing to Alaska Brides with her Carol Award Winning historical romance Golden Days.


In 1866 Colorado, Ethan Kincaid agrees to a marriage of convenience with the same casual disregard he gives every decision. Audra Gilliland, young mother of two, accepts his proposal because she wants to stop being a burden to her newly married stepdaughter. And suddenly both of them are in far deeper than they’d planned.

Ethan doesn’t expect Audra to affect him so profoundly, and when she begins to, he’s terrified of the pain he’s felt before when someone he loved was seriously injured on his watch. He’s determined that his new wife will do as he says so he can keep her safe from the dangers that lurk on their ranch. Audra has been cared for all her life by one man or another–and they’ve done a poor job of it. Now she’s planning to stand up for herself. And her new husband had better agree or get out of her way!

What will it take to transform two wayward hearts fearful of getting in too deep into two trusting hearts ready to risk falling deeply in love?

If you would like to read the first chapter of In Too Deep, go HERE.

Watch the book trailer:


When I get invitations for books to review, I always run the YA books by my boys before requesting them. Alienation was one they all three wanted! Youngest was the one who loved it the most. He is a slow reader, just has more to do with his time than sit still and read a book. After all there are video games to be played, soccer balls to be kicked and girls to check out. He sat with this book from beginning to end, giving me the “mooooommmmm” when I would tell him to go do something… you know the one, its usually reserved for when he is knee deep in COD: Modern Warfare and I tell him to walk the dogs or something… well he pulled that “moooommmmm” out while he was reading “Alienation”. that is about the best praise I can give!

About the book:
After his parents were killed in a car accident, Colt McAllister was drawn into a world he thought only existed in comic books-one where mind control, jet packs, and flying motorcycles don’t even scratch the surface.

Along with his best friends Oz and Danielle, Colt is now training at the secret Central Headquarters Against the Occult and Supernatural academy. But strange accidents seem to follow him. . . even with the security of the school grounds. What first seems random soon turns deadly. But who is targeting Colt?

As the alien invasions increase in frequency and force, C.H.A.O.S resources are taxed to the limit and they’re forced to utilize the new recruits. In the midst of battle, Colt will discover some startling revelations . . . about himself, his friendship with Oz, and why he has been chosen to defeat this alien attack against earth.

About Jon:

Jon S. Lewis is the coauthor of the Grey Griffins trilogy (over 500,000 books in print) and the upcoming Grey Griffins Clockwork Chronicles. He also writes for the DC COMICS family of publishers. He resides with his family in Arizona.

For more about Jon and the series, visit