Faith Readers Group Review: The Chair by James L. Rubart

So what do you think? This is the front/back side to our book marks! Our church is blessed with a web designer, Jeff Redding, who designed this for us. We stuffed them in books to donate to local hospital libraries. If someone needs prayer, wants to join a local inspirational book club, or simply needs a book mark, they have it! 

Last night, we met for our 2nd book club discussion in our Cornerstone Cafe. We had home-made pumpkin dip with gingersnap cookies and a few other assortment of cookies for dipping. And of course, coffee! 

We settled in and over dessert we discussed 
The Chair by James L. Rubart

“So what is your final conclusion? 
Do you believe the chair has the power to heal?”

Each month I choose a genre and select 8-10 books within that genre, then we take a vote. Several women were outvoted in the speculative fiction category, but hey, we won’t always agree and that’s what makes book club interesting. (but those who got out voted ended up liking the book)
The Chair is about two brothers, Corin and Shasta, who haven’t spoken in ten years because of a tragic accident leaving Shasta paralyzed from the neck down. When an old woman brings Corin a chair claiming it was made by the greatest carpenter ever, Corin has his doubts, but when a little boy is healed from sitting in the chair, it takes him on a great journey of faith and hopefully answers to restoring the estrangement between himself and his brother, Shasta.
“Well how did you like the book? Did everyone here like it?” 
“I’ll admit, I really didn’t want to read this book. It’s a chair. Who wants to read a book about a chair? But…I was hooked to the very end. Out of 1-5 I give it a 4.”
“Me too,” another said. “I give it a 5 because it spoke to me personally. I was in the hospital waiting with my husband when I started reading this. They told me my husband may never walk again and for a few days he was paralyzed. And this year has been hard for my family, but God gave me the word ‘restoration.'”

No one scored The Chair below a 3 on the rating scale. 

The theme was restoration but 
not everyone saw that as the main theme. 

“I saw it as a journey of trust and faith. He had to dig to figure out what it was he believed and he was tested every step of the way.”

“I saw restoration.” Many agreed with this statement and the above.

Every one had someone to relate with.
“I could relate with Nicole.”
“I relate to Corin. I had an estrangement with my sister and even though I tried to mend it, she wouldn’t forgive me, but I was healed.”
I think we could even relate with Pastor Mark, hiding our weaknesses from others while desperately trying to find something to heal us inside from our sins. A quick fix when so many times healing and delivering is a process. Sometimes  God heals instantly. Sometimes He makes us walk it out.
“I could relate to Tori–the girlfriend. She was hurt in church and sometimes it’s harder to bounce back from a Christian hurting us than someone who claims no faith. We expect more from Christians.”
The Chair wasn’t what everyone expected. 
It was more.
I kept thinking, “Get in that chair! Put him in it!” And when something happened (I won’t give it away) it hit me that I was rooting for the chair…and not Jesus. Which shows how easy it is to take your eyes off the Healer and on the object. 
Here’s a peek at the chair:
When an elderly lady shows up in Corin Roscoe’s antiques store claiming to have a chair made by Jesus Christ, he laughs her off. But after she delivers an ancient looking chair made of olive wood three days later—with a cryptic message attached to it—he begins to wonder.
Corin’s world shatters as he searches for the truth about the artifact, and the unexplained phenomena that seems to come from it. And he’s not the only one who will do almost anything to possess the power that appears to surround the chair.
*Not every person made it to the discussion and some of them said they found it hard to get into, but liked it once they got going. One said, it simply wasn’t her cup of tea.

Discussion was great and I recommend, along with a lot of other ladies, The Chair as one of your reads, eve if it seems far fetched, hey, it’s fiction but the theme and the hope…well, that’s very real. 

For November we’re reading Amish fiction. I figure Thanksgiving, bonnets…you know. We voted on A Stranger’s Wish by Gayle Roper. 
I’m looking forward to it as it’s my very first Amish book to read. Ever! I’m branching out!

Also a big thanks, to Rhonda Ritenour for awarding me with the Liebster blog award! Yay! Check out her blog, Ritty’s Adventures in Writing!
Happy Halloween! Will you be trick-or-treating tonight, Trunk-or-Treating, Fall festival-ing it? What’s your favorite Halloween candy?

I’m a Lush…

I admit it. I like to drink. Coffee. I wouldn’t say I’m a coffee connoisseurer, but I am a creamer lush. Creamer is my crack.

Right now these are the flavors that beckon me from the fridge.

Cinnamon bun
French vanilla
Vanilla Caramel
Belgium Chocolate Toffee 

All of these are, of course, from Coffee-mate. 
I don’t slum it with International Delight.

But my favorite time of this fall season, is the holiday line creamers. Oldies I look forward to and new ones that tease me. 
I. Must. Have.

To get the holiday creamers I want, I’ll punch a kid in the nose, bash an elderly lady, trip a pregnant mom, and flirt with the guy that drives the cleaning Zamboni, if he’ll get me what I want. 

I’ve been known to drop the butter, spill the soy, dump the 2%  to create a diversion if the last Pumpkin latte creamer is on the line.

Here are my two favorites so far.  
I actually have 3 of the warm
cinnamon sugar cookies.
The new warm cinnamon sugar cookie is so good, I could snuggle up to it at night, if DH would make a little room in the bed, geez, selfish much? In fact, it’s so good, I might hook an IV line to my arm with it. Or marry it, if I could get away with it.
And of course, since we’re going into November. I’ll cherish my coffee and crack creamer in my holiday mug.
And when the holidays are over, I’ll be singing this song:

What say you, friend? 
What’s your holiday crack creamer of choice?  

*I really don’t trip pregnant women ,punch kids, or hurt the elderly. Flirting with the Zamboni cleaning guy…possible.

The Sweetest Downfall

Who knows this song? “You are my sweetest downfall…I loved you first, I loved you first…and the history books forgot about us and the Bible didn’t even mention us… not even once…”

Any takers? It’s a song called Samson by Regina Spektor. I hear it all the time on my pandora station. It’s probably the corniest song about Samson and Delilah I’ve ever listened to. They didn’t even make wonder bread back then and the Bible does mention them. I don’t get it. Whatever. I still hum along to it. I know, right?
There are lots of songs about Delilah, yet she’s known for one thing. Betrayal. And really, can you trust a hooker from the Valley? Okay, maybe she wasn’t a hooker and the Valley was in Sorek (Phillistine land) but still. Which makes me think, “Never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line!” But that’s  The Princess Bride, and I digress.
Who I want to talk about is Samson. There’s so much to learn from that man. Mostly, what not to do. So let’s do a information dump real quick.
Samson was to be a Nazarite.  Judges 13:5 A Nazarite vow was special and set someone apart specifically for the Lord. (Numbers 6) 
Here’s the rules:
1. He shall abstain from all wine and similar drink; nothing can be drunk or eaten that is produced from the grape vine
2. No razor can touch his head. hair cuts. Period. (Until his time of vow is up)
3. He can NOT go near a dead body; he can’t be unclean even for his father and mother or brother and sister when they die (so hopefully neither of them would die b/c touching them or going near them would be a no no) 

Now that we know the rules, let’s skip back to Judges. 

The Angel of the Lord (Pre-Incarnate Jesus) comes to Samson’s mother and tells her she’s about to conceive and that the baby is to be a Nazarite for his entire life. (It’s hard for me to picture Samson with Crystal Gayle hair, so I won’t.)
Samson grows up. He’s arrogant, a prankster–he was the original riddler, yah know. (Judges 14:13) and he has a hankerin for women. In the early nineties, we would have called Samson a “mac daddy” or a “playa”

God used Samson in spite of himself. He chose him!

Sometimes, God uses me in spite of myself and I’m thankful for His grace. Now let’s get to the roar in our story, pardon the pun. You’ll get it later.

Judges 14. Samson took a trip to Timnah and sure enough he spotted a sweet little thing and decided he wanted to marry her. So he goes home and says , “I have seen a woman in Timnah, of the Phillistines, now therefore, get her for me as a wife.” First of all, the Israelites weren’t supposed to be hookin up with anyone who wasn’t an Israelite. Sheesh! Second of all, who says, “therefore, go get her” ? 

They question him and he says, basically, “I don’t care. She’s right in my eyes. I’m marrying her.” Which is the whole theme of Judges, everyone doing whatever they think is right in their eyes. And pretty much nothing was.

Now here’s an interesting verse. “But his father and mother did not know that it was of the LORD–that He was seeking an occasion to move against the Philistines. For at that time, the Philistines had dominion over Israel.”

That’s right. The Philistines were always enemies of the Israelites and on occasion God would use them to teach His people a lesson in humility. Now it was time to turn it around. 

Let me make a note here about this verse. You might be thinking, “If God said don’t marry anyone other than an Israelite, then how can marrying a Philistine girl be okay with Him? Isn’t that contradicting?”

Yes, yes it is. Except that’s not what that verse means in context. God knew Samson was stubborn. He was having this girl no matter what. You can hear it in Samson’s words in the above verses, so God uses Samson in spite of himself. 

God works good out of everything. He accomplishes His purposes through other’s mistakes all the time. In spite of us.

On with the story. Samson heads down to Timnah and along the way, a lion jumps out at him and Samson tore the lion apart with his bare hands. Yes, Samson, you’re strong. Actually, the Spirit of the Lord came upon Samson and gave him the strength to defeat the lion. He went on about his business, stayed a few days with the Timnah wife-to-be and on his way back…

“He turned aside to see the carcass of the lion.”

“And behold, a swarm of bees and honey were in the carcass of the lion. He took some of it in his hands and went along, eating. When he came to his father and mother, he gave some to them, and they also ate. But he did not tell them that he had taken the honey out of the carcass of the lion.”

First, let’s just all say it together: “Eeew.” 

Secondly, let’s remember Samson wasn’t to go near a dead body, even a lion’s. He not only made himself unclean, but by deceiving his parents, he made them unclean too.

Number one lesson learned: 

Sometimes in our life, we slay an enemy; we leave it dead on the road, but we come back to it. We can’t seem to help ourselves. 

“But you belong to God, my dear children…the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.” 1 John 4:4 NLT
(the same Spirit who gave you the strength to defeat the “lion” in the first place)

It appears as sweet as honey. We can’t see the rotting corpse of that sin; we only want a taste. 

“Your promises are sweet to me, sweeter than honey in my mouth.” Psalm 119:103 NCV

Sometimes, we drag others into that sin.

“But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone hung around your neck.” Mark 9:42 NLT

You cannot “turn aside to look.” Don’t veer off the path. Keep walking. Leave the lion on the side of the road. 

“Therefore, you shall be careful to do as the LORD your God has commanded you; you shall not turn aside to the right hand or the left.” Deuteronomy 5:32 NKJV

It’s a honey-trap and as you’ll see, it won’t take long before Samson finds himself in a new kind of honey-trap…with Delilah.

Have you ever found yourself going back to something you defeated earlier? 

Must Read Monday: The Shadow of Your Smile by Susan May Warren

“If God would start playing by the rules, it would sure be easier to trust Him.”

I’ve had the opportunity to read Susan May Warren’s The Shadow of Your Smile. If you’re a Susan May Warren fan and stories from Deep Haven, you won’t be disappointed in this novel.

Plot and subplot are rich with drama, romance, and humor.

This novel is about a couple in their mid-forties, who’ve already had a tragedy strike their lives, now–Noelle Hueston is thinking about leaving her husband and starting over. One last kiddo to graduate and she’s making a new life, but an incident leaves her injured and her memory past college is gone. Funny, when she wakes up, she truly thinks she’s twenty-one! Which is sad and hilarious at the same time.

This main plot is about loving, forgiving, and starting over. A beautiful story of two married people who’ve grown apart through time and unfortunate circumstances.  I thought the ending to this plot was well done and I closed the book with satisfaction.

The subplot involved the couple’s oldest son, Kyle, and his love interest, another local from Deep Haven, but the tragedy that wrecked the Hueston family reached into Emma Nelson’s family as well. 

Susan May Warren has a unique way of describing using all the senses and when I read one of her books, including this one, I feel like I’m transported to Deep Haven. I live there as long as it takes me to read the book. I had lots of time yesterday, so I read it in one long stretch. 

This book is set to release in 2012. I recommend you nab it up when it does. You’ll enjoy winter in Deep Haven, the crackling fires, fresh powdered snow blanketing a story of lost love, found. 

I appreciate Tyndale giving me the chance to review it in return for my honest opinion.
Here’s a sneak peek at The Shadow of Your Smile: 

A beautiful blanket of snow may cover the quaint town of Deep Haven each winter, but it can’t quite hide the wreckage of Noelle and Eli Hueston’s marriage. After twenty-five years, they’re contemplating divorce . . . just as soon as their youngest son graduates from high school. But then an accident erases part of Noelle’s memory. 
Though her other injuries are minor, she doesn’t remember Eli, their children, or the tragedy that has ripped their family apart. What’s more, Noelle is shocked that her life has turned out nothing like she dreamed it would. As she tries to regain her memory and slowly steps into her role as a wife and mother, Eli helps her readjust to daily life with sometimes-hilarious, sometimes-heartwarming results. 
But can she fall in love again with a man she can’t remember? Will their secrets destroy them . . . or has erasing the past given them a chance for a future?

When it comes to romance, what season do you think is the most romantic? A hot steamy summer, spring with new blossoms sprouting, fall when nights are cool and the leaves are turning, or in winter when sleigh rides and hot cocoa beckon you to snuggle up with your honey? 

Cheap Toilet Paper: It Has Its Benefits

Where I come from, we call this “TP’ing” (toilet papering). Here in the south it’s called “rolling houses”. Either way, you buy tons of cheap toilet paper and thread it through trees and bushes and anything else you can find to cover.

As a teenager, I lived for October just to TP a house. A friend. Ex boyfriend (we bring out the paraffin for that and Vaseline and feathers), could be a teacher or principal. They have it coming. You know they do.

Point is, I can remember getting together with friends and waiting for that midnight hour when we got our dark spy gear on, grabbed black trash bags and filled them with our weapons, and shoved some rolls down our shirts and pants. Running back and forth to the car took too much time. 

Sometimes, we’d walk the neighborhood, sometimes we’d drive and park down the road, depending on where we needed to go.

The excitement of getting caught and chased was just as much fun as throwing the gleaming white paper into the darkness and watching it loop magically through the trees. In fact, we hoped we’d have to run.

Laughing in a ditch for two hours while our fingers froze was a thrill. Peeling out, leaving a spray of gravel and dust was exhilarating. 

My favorite TP adventure might have been when me and two girlfriends decided to get the guy on the hill. We tortured his yard and then a dog barked. 

We froze in place, tried not to breathe hard, listened. 

The sound of a door opened. 


We booked it across the yard and dove into a pile of wood and brush.  He flew across his yard. We prayed he wouldn’t see us. He scaled that dadgum pile of brush. I heard my friend, Carrie, groan. I covered my mouth not to laugh. He landed on her in his leap to further him along in his capture.

I guess with all that adrenaline racing through him, he didn’t hear her.

When he was long gone down the street, we took off the other way, hopped in the getaway car and showed up to school Monday grinning.

Funny thing about my friend we TP’d. He turned out to be a FBI agent. In fact, he’s my consult for my FBI series. I wonder if he went into that line of work because I, the ultimate villain, got away.

When I expressed that to him on the phone. He just laughed. The kind of laugh that tells me I’m dreaming and nice try, thanks for playing. 

Ah to be a teenager. Who am I kidding? I still go every year. I can’t run as fast or hard and I’m probably more cautious, staying away from windows and doors, taking the outer trees, hoping I don’t get arrested b/c Tim has informed me, “I’m not bailing you out for this, Jess, and try not to wake me up when you get home–which better be before daylight.” 

Yeah, I’ll be sure to consult the Farmer’s Almanac.

You know, it’s kind of like serial killers (not glorifying killers, people) just saying when the deed is done, you have to go back and stare at it. It’s satisfying.  And maybe, just maybe I keep a token, like a water hose nozzle from each victim. Nah, I don’t keep tokens. My junk drawers are full and I don’t have time to carve out hiding spaces. 

Have you ever rolled/TP’ed a house? Do you still? Or am I the only one with Peter Pan syndrome?

7 Steps to Fulfill Your Dream

Proverbs 18:16 “A man’s gifts makes room for him, And brings him before great men.”
Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? Especially for us writers. It’s our prayer that our gifts be used for something great, that the publishing industry will make room for us, bring us to awesome things and there is nothing wrong with those dreams.
The Bible is telling us that it can happen and that it’s okay to dream, to want amazing things. Joseph had a great dream, a God-given dream; it included being powerful, and his brothers bowing at his feet. His gifts made room for him and brought him before great men.
BUT the key to verse 16 lies in the verses before it. It isn’t placed randomly, although sometimes it feels like a chapter in Proverbs is just a string of random sayings tossed together to make it up, but it’s not. Every word, every sentence is strategically placed.
So let’s look at some of verses before it. I want to hit on 7 things.
There are 7 things that we have to be molded into, before we hit verse 16. 
Remember, we’re talking about righteous people, not Hollywood! We want peace when we make it to the place Joseph made it to. And we’re not talking perfection, we’re talking about consistent living. Chances are, we’re gonna slip up from time to time. We are but dust.
The Lord is all about preparing His people to house His fame.

Verse 8: “The words of a talebearer are like tasty trifles, and they go down into the inmost body.”
The KJV says, “The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.” The Hebrew word for “wounds” isn’t hurt. I thought it would be because we all know gossip hurts, but it isn’t. 
The word is “laham” and it means “to gulp, swallow greedily” Oh my!
We gulp gossip down, swallow it greedily, and yet the word is wounds. Ironic, who would ever want to gulp down pain? Yet we do.

1. We cannot be talebearers, and we cannot gulp it down when gossip is presented on shiny plates and served fresh.
Some people have no problems with gossiping or shutting it down, but for others, it’s tough. I think it’s safe to say we’ve all been on both ends at one time or another in our adult life.

Verse 9. “He who is slothful in his work, is a brother to him who is a great destroyer.”

The word in Hebrew for “slothful” “raphah” and it means “to relax, be disheartened, let drop, withdraw, abandon, forsake.”
The KJV says, “He also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster.”
The word for “great” is noun of relationship used to characterize “master of dreams”

2.You cannot let your dreams and your work decay.  Don’t be disheartened or withdraw. Write, write, work! Don’t stop. Don’t give it up, don’t abandon it!

Verse 10-11: “The name of the LORD is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe. The rich man’s wealth is his strong city, and like a high wall in his own esteem.

You must know where your safety lies. 
You cannot run to wealth or any high wall you build as a show-piece, even if it’s just your built up imagination that you can handle things on your own. 

3.When it’s time to run, know Who you are running to.

Verse: 12 Before destruction the heart of a man is haughty, and before honor is humility.
It’s easy to slip into a prideful state. Sometimes, we’re unaware. It takes constant prayer and allowing God to search your heart daily to walk with humility, and expect obstacles to come that will knock you down a peg or two.
Even Paul had a thorn in his side he wished removed, but it kept him humble. Some people are sick with talent. Some of them are prideful and generally fall miserably. A tragedy. And some remember to have their hearts searched!

4. Walk in humility, pride will get you nowhere fast.

Verse: 13: “He who answers a matter before he hears it; It is folly and shame to him.”
The Hebrew word for “hears” is “shama” and it means, “to listen, to obey, to perceive, to understand”

The word “matter” is “dabar” in Hebrew and it does mean, “speech, word, speaking” but it also can mean, “business or occupation”

5.Listen and obey God before jumping in with an answer concerning your words, answers, and business affairs.

God gives you the words to say and they may not always be “yes” even if it sounds good. This can also save you time and energy on some unnecessary steps, had you took time to really understand and then obey.

Verse 14: “The spirit of a man will sustain him in sickness, but who can bear a broken spirit”
Even today, doctors who claim no faith, believe that a positive attitude can go a long way with sick patients, but those who give up, generally die sooner. But I don’t want to talk about physical sickness.
I want to talk about this verse: “Hope deferred makes a heart sick, but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12.  
How many of you are still waiting on your dream to come to pass? It can feel sickening, that hope put on hold, can’t it? But don’t let your spirit be troubled!
The Hebrew word for “spirit” is also “mind” 

6. Don’t let the thoughts of never making it overcrowd what you know in your heart to be true, even when your heart feels sick over deferred hope! 

Romans 5:5 says, “Hope does not disappoint…” God does not deceive or disappoint. (Habakkuk 2:3) He is right on time, and His words do not return void! (Isaiah 55:11)

Verse 15: “The heart of the prudent acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.

7. Be smart. Always study. Always learn.
That brings us to our main verse. Righteous one, if you want to have room made for you and be brought before great men, there is much preparation to be done.
Joseph spent years learning these things. He started out as a arrogant, foolish, brat. Spouting off when he shouldn’t, thinking of himself above his brothers. Remember his story. He learned how to be all of the above things through trials. And guess what?
He ruled Egypt. And his dreams, oh they did come true.
Care to share? Which step are you working through at the moment? 
I’m hosting at Living by Grace today! Come on by and let’s talk. I’d post my LBG picture but it must be on my other computer. Boo!

Some stuff…and my review of The Colonel’s Lady!

This is the sign inside our
favorite place to eat, The Flying Fish.
  I laugh every time I see it!
You can see why this is my
kind of establishment! 
So Saturday night, to end my birthday week, DH took me downtown to eat at our favorite place, but when I got there…SURPRISE! He’d been sneaky and invited our friends who made a fun spectacle of me! We ate lots of seafood and birthday cake.   


I’ve been blogging an entire year since last October! Truth is I wasn’t sure I’d even like blogging. “What would I say?”  “Do people really read blogs?” “What if no one likes me?” Turns out, I find all kinds of stuff to say whether it’s important or not, people do read blogs, and I’ve made some lifelong friends because of it! I love y’all! I appreciate you taking time to stop by and read whatever it is I’m writing about and then taking more time to actually comment! You’ve made it so much fun! And for you lurkers, keep lurking. I hope you laugh at times, are ministered to at others, and keep coming back. If you don’t like leaving comments, send me a private email! I’d love to know you’re hanging around. 🙂  

NOW…. A review of….

THE COLONEL’S LADY by Laura Frantz

In the last six months, I’ve just begun branching out of my normal genres of reading. I’ve only read a handful of historical romances. Most of them I’ve liked, but NOT The Colonel’s Lady.

I LOVED The Colonel’s Lady.

Laura Frantz grabbed me from the first page with a heroine who was fragile, yet strong. Naive, yet intelligent and I fell in love with her instantly.

Her hero, Colonel McLinn, well… sigh, dream, wow! Interesting thing about Colonel McLinn; he’s a red head. You don’t see that often with heroes. An Irish tall drink of water with red hair.

The tension between the two was superbly written, the angst for them to be together at an all time high and the twists, fun and delightful…and surprising!

The soft themes of forgiveness and trust blanketed each page in a way that was far from preachy. 

I sighed, swooned, and at the very end…in the words of Casey Herringshaw at her goodreads review “I couldn’t write this book review right after closing the final page of “The Colonel’s Lady”. Why? My heart was too full.” 

I lived at the Fort in Kentucky and near and in the stone house for days after reading this book. 

A romance to read. A book to keep. An author to follow.

My rating: 5 perfect stars

author, Laura  Frantz

Here’s a peek at The Colonel’s Lady
In 1779, when genteel Virginia spinster Roxanna Rowan arrives at the Kentucky fort commanded by Colonel Cassius McLinn, she finds that her officer father has died. Penniless and destitute, Roxanna is forced to take her father’s place as scrivener. Before long, it’s clear that the colonel himself is attracted to her. But she soon realized the colonel has grave secrets of his own–some of which have to do with her father’s sudden death. Can she ever truly love him? 

Unrelated to the post, what is your favorite fall candle scent? I just bought Yankee Candle scents: Farmer’s Market & Pomegranate Cider!

Thailand: A Birthday I’ll Never Forget

Tim and me at a McDonald’s in Bangkok

So yesterday was my birthday! I love birthdays, even if I’m getting older.
I’ve had a great birthday week. We took the kiddos to Red Robin one night, I got a new laptop, woohoo! And my daughter cheered, because I cleaned hers off and gave it back. 
My son “took” me to Office Depot to buy me a new office chair and my daughter gave me a Dunkin Donuts and an iTunes gift card!
Tomorrow, Tim’s taking me out to one of my favorite places in Downtown Memphis for dinner. So I’m excited!

I’ve had many memorable birthdays, but  I’d have to say my best birthday was in 2008, when my husband and I went on a missions trip to Chiang Rai. 

We flew into Bangkok, a place that has smells I cannot describe, even as a writer. The heat was like a wet blanket, roasted over a fire then draped over you and we were there in their winter season! If you have bouts of frizzy hair, forgeddaboutit. 

A Buddhist temple, one of many we saw
and visited. 

We spent a day seeing the sights of Bangkok. Amazing, frightening, sobering. Overwhelming. 
We spent most of our time at a Children’s home, helping with some building projects and spending time with the children there. You can’t adopt the children,but we wished we could have.

After a day in Bangkok, we flew six hours into hill country, to Chiang Rai. A vast difference from the loud, crowded streets of Bangkok. 

It was full of rice fields, flowers I’d never imagined, roaming anorexic cattle and the Chiang Rai children’s home. A place where children are kept safe when their parents have to go to prison, or an alternative for children who might otherwise be sold into sexual slavery.

One of the hill tribes. There are so many
and one night they dressed in their costumes, that
represent their tribe and sang to us. It was

We fell in love with these children the moment we stepped off the rickety bus. I especially loved the babies and preschool age children. They couldn’t speak a lick of English (some of the older ones could) but a smile goes a long way in any language.

I’ve never seen children as grateful as these. They slept on beds that had ply wood for mattresses, their toys were strings, and their home, compared to what we see over here, made ghettos look good, but they’re safe. And loved. And fed. And taught about Jesus Christ.

Me holding Chom Po!

Our church has been partnering with them and have built some new accommodations. Tim and I fell in love with a little girl who was fairly new at the time; her name was Chom Po. If we could have packed her up and brought her home, we would have. She liked Tim better. Figures. At church he’s called the Baby Whisperer. 

We spent heated days working, painting concrete fences, dining halls, laying groundwork for a tiling project and loving on the children, showing the they are not only loved by Jesus and the children’s home, but clear across the world. 

Tim actually gets a smile out of her.
Baby Whisperer. I don’t know
what this powder is, but they all get it
smeared all over for bed time. She’s
in her P.J’s. 
Tim and I about to go for a ride. No seat belts.
Just a rickety old board with a paper thin cushion
and a rope. See how I’m grabbing at Tim’s
leg? I’m smiling, but I’m scared!

One day, we took a trip into Burma (Myanmar) and did some shopping. It was sad how many young children under the age of 8 tried to sell us pornography and Viagra.  Broke my  heart. Later that afternoon we rode elephants in a small Burmese village. I’m scared of animals, so to get to the platform I had Tim feed them bananas and then I ran. They kept wanting to “trunk” us. Eew, huh?

I mean these are wild elephants! I was glad Tim and I made a will out before our trip. No really. We did.

The elephant we rode. I guess it worked up
a thirst after lugging us around 30 minutes. 

Later, when we got back to the orphanage, Tim bought me a hand made quilt by the girls for my birthday. It’s on my bed! A reminder to pray for them every morning and every night.

My birthday gift on a bed in Thailand
Tim and me with the Governor, yeah
I’m saying that all British. We’re wearing
matching shirts because our pastor made us. It
was not by choice. lol

On my actual birthday, we were invited (which NEVER happens) to meet with the Governor of Chiang Rai and then to her personal home for dinner. It was A-mazing. Tons of food that terrified me, a home that blew me away and a woman who didn’t know Jesus, but her son is studying in America and lives with a pastor! Yes, that’s right. The governor is a woman. 

After lunch, we flew back to  Bangkok and we walked a billion miles through funky smells and crowded streets to eat at The Hard Rock Cafe. Real burgers! I hope.
The servers sang me happy birthday in Thai, gave me a rockin Hard rock shirt, took my picture and framed it and gave me a Bangkok, Hard Rock glass. It was awesome.  Later that night, I got a stomach bug and spent the whole night feeling like I might die. The next day I stayed in bed while they did more touring.  But it was still the most amazing wonderful experience I’ve ever had so far and the best birthday, yet! 

My rockin Tshirt, my picture on my
bed, with the quilt. My glass…I don’t
know where it was! I have it somewhere.

Tim leaves in a couple of weeks to go back to Thailand. I won’t be going this time, but I’ll be praying for him. This chance for him to go back is worth me not getting to go to the ACFW conference. 

This is my new laptop and my
new office chair! It’s brown, but
looks black! I love it!

What’s your best birthday memory?

What I Learned from the Movie Courageous


Yesterday, my hubby took me to see Courageous as part of my birthday week. I loved Facing the Giants, and Fireproof, and this one may be the best yet. I encourage you to support Christian films and go see it. You won’t regret it. 

Being a dad is important and I recommend all daddies go see this flick, but it was also a lesson about integrity.

DH and I teach our children, integrity means acting the same way you would in public in private.  In this story line, when a small group of men decided to be the best fathers they could be and step up as head of the home, opposition came their way.

Isn’t that always the way it goes? “Lord, give me patience.” And your next door neighbors grow corn at their front door. Or your son squirts a Capri Sun all over your laptop and then your daughter steals your nail polish, the metallic silver, and spills it all over her sink.

“Lord, help me to be kind.” And a family member decides to go all redneck on you. A church member decides to take the starring role in Mean Girls and you get to be the target.

“Lord, I am going to trust you with my finances.” And the car breaks down, the roof leaks, your boss cuts your hours, and the school wants $400 bucks for a drum.


  Yes, the minute you decide to take a step toward God, expect opposition.

And that’s what happened to these men. They were put into situations that would question their integrity.

This process called the Christian walk, it’s exactly that: A process. It isn’t easy. It isn’t problem free, but it Christ-Character building. It’s tests of faith to help us grow so that God can continue to move us into areas of more responsibility. 


“If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.” Luke 16:10 NLT

There is nothing you can do in secret. You might be able to lie to your family, friends, and church pals, but you cannot hide from God. Oh, yeah, He’ll ask you what you’re doing and where you are. Not because He doesn’t know, but to give you a chance (mercy) to fess up. 


“Then the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?””Genesis 3:9
“Afterward, the LORD asked Cain, “Where is your brother? Where is Abel?” Genesis 4:9
Adam and his son, Cain, didn’t fess up. I think if they had, their discipline might have been less. I know when it’s my children, “If you tell me the truth, it will go easier for you.” Trouble? Yes. Less trouble? Always.
My prayer for you today is that you will walk with integrity, expect opposition and trust God to get you through it. If you haven’t been walking with integrity, fess up…to God. Give Him a shot at showing you mercy. It’s Who we serve.
So tell me, have you seen Courageous? What’d you think?
Also: I’m hosting at Living by Grace today. Come by and let’s talk about integrity.



I discovered Dawn’s blog and fell in love instantly! I love her Plot Swap Fridays. How she finds the oddest stories and hilarious texts is beyond me, but it keeps me in angst all week for it. She also does Tell Me Your Story Tuesdays, where she interviews other writers/authors. 

Dawn is super cool and I think you’ll dig her blog.

Dawn is a high school teacher by day and mystery writer by night. She has been married for 13 years to a wonderful, hockey playing, husband. They have two girls, ages 8 and 9,  born just under 13 months apart which she often says is proof that God often has plans that you don’t. 
J:I gotta say, Dawn, I’m a kinda glad those weren’t His plans for me! So dish, when did you get the writer’s bug? Has it always been something in you? Did you pen your first story with a jumbo crayon?

D: I started writing stories in elementary school. I would make “books” using colored folders with brads. Each one had a title page, back of the book blurb and a place for reviewers to write their comments. 
           I stopped sharing my work sometime in high school, but I never stopped     writing. In the past five years or so, I decided it was time to let a few people in on what I had be doing. Much to my surprise, no one laughed. That inspired me to focus on improving my craft and pursuing publication.
J: Very cool. You still have those old “books”? And even more importantly, do you snack while writing? Is so, what do you munch on?

D: I actually rarely snack while writing. If I do, it is baby carrots or mixed nuts and a glass of ice water nearby is an absolute must.

J: Carrots and nuts? Do you write for rabbits? 🙂 Kidding! What do you love most about writing? What do you find most challenging? 

D:I love the process of creating the story. I walk around for days with a little movie playing in my head about my latest plot. Most challenging? Definitely editing and revising.
        J:Honey, you ain’t just whistlin Dixie. Although, editing can be fun if I re-live the story and not just try to fix it.   How do you come up with story ideas?

 D:I get ideas from everywhere, news stories, conversations between the people behind me in line, pictures, songs, everywhere.
 J:Again, y’all have to check out her Friday Plot swap. Great and hilarious fodder there! So tell me this, Dawn, if you could be one hero/heroine from a book who would you choose and why?

D:Stephanie Plum. I love that she is so much like a real person, making mistakes and bumbling her way around. Of course, having two hot guys love me would be a nice bonus.
J:Uh, yeah it would! If you could be one villain from a book who would you choose and why?

D:This one really stumped me. I suddenly can’t remember a single villain from any book I have ever read.
J:Okay, well if you think of one, drop it in the comments. There must be one! What are you currently working on? Tell us a little about it.
D:I have three manuscripts going in various stages of completion/revision right now.  Here is the one I am working on today. 🙂
After the death of her father, Haylie Bradford is facing life alone with her non-existent love life and half of a college education. When the decision to stay one more night in her father’s empty house ends with her witnessing a murder, she finds herself running from a professional killer to the only person she knows can keep her safe, Race Welburn.
Since their father’s were best friends, Race has known Haylie most of his life but he doesn’t believe himself capable of protecting her. After all, the last woman in his care died in front of him, along with his own father. But, Haylie is clearly in danger. Can he put his insecurities aside enough to keep them both out of the crosshairs of a hitman?
J:Okay, I’m all about it. I totally love guys who feel like crap about themselves but really they’re like the greatest thing ever. (That was my inner teenager talking btw!) 

Is there a question you’d like to ask everyone? Because everyone who hangs out here, is the coolest and would love to answer your questions, right, everyone? See, they all cheered!

What is your favorite kind of hero? Strong and confident? Quiet and wounded? Sweet and funny?

You can connect with Dawn, and you so should by hanging out at her blog, find her on personal facebook page, her author facebook page, and twitter