Everyone today’s post is hilarious! They
say first impressions are everything and our lovely Nichole Parks shares hers
today and I laughed so hard, I nearly cried. 
We’re talking all things spies, which as a suspense writer, I happen to
love! Take it away, Nichole.

The time
I accused my brother’s new girlfriend of being a spy was risky. I can see that
now. Back then I only knew two things about Adrian.
She was “nice
and sweet.” Which didn’t comfort me any. Supposedly, KP’s starter girlfriend had been nice and sweet,
and I’d hit her car. Lucky for me, the only thing bent out
of shape was my parents. They decided I bumped What’s-Her-Face’s car on
And maybe
I would have if I had thought of it.
If Adrian
was nice and sweet, she could save it for the rest of the family. I needed to get
to know her beyond two adjectives neighbors use to describe serial killers. This
is my brother’s heart we’re talking about.
After a
stilted Skype introduction thanks to my paranoid bro, I knew I’d have to take
matters into my own hands. I needed something KP couldn’t filter. But what? The
lovebirds study in Missouri and I’m nine hours north in Indiana.
good use of my online stalking skills, I pulled the university’s address. Snail
mail could sneak by KP’s defenses undetected.
The thing was: I didn’t want to scare her off. Not really.
One honest conversation. That’s all I asked. So, ahem, I penned this letter.
Adrian (if that is your real name),
tells me you are “nice” and “sweet.” But I know your secret.
a spy. A spy on a mission to… Well, I haven’t quite figured out what your
mission at Name of University is—yet.
Regardless, I’ve read too many romantic suspense novels to mistake “nice” and
“sweet” for mere adjectives. You’re on a covert op, yes? Flying under the
radar? Eh? Eh?
can tell me. Or don’t. A good spy never reveals her secrets.
would also like to thank you. Thank you for using my brother as part of your
cover. You’re a smart girl, knowing a couple is less likely to be noticed than
a single blonde. While most sisters would worry about their brother’s safety
under such dangerous circumstances, I trust he’s in good hands. You are after
all a spy and probably following in the steps of Cody Banks.
I leave you to your “studies” or whatever stakeout you need to be staking-out,
you should know I too have secrets. Since I know yours, it’s only fair you know
have a taser. And a spikey flashlight. Please don’t take this as a threat. I
simply want to offer my weapons should they be of any assistance to you during
the stint of your mission. 
To you, dear person reading, this letter
may seem drastic, even demented—especially for a first impression… And, yeah,
you have a point, but this is girlfriend #3. Seeing as how I fender bendered What’s-Her-Face’s
car, it’s basically go big or go home at this point.
Less than
a week later, Secret Agent Adrian wrote back. Confident she could trust me to
keep her information classified, she disclosed minor details regarding her
cover, assured me KP’s safety was top priority, and inquired about borrowing a
weapon or two.
tells me this one’s a keeper.
the craziest first impression you’ve made/experienced?
Headshot photo credit: Heidi Abbott
 Nichole Parks
majors in dark humor and dark chocolate at Taylor University. She makes her
headquarters at Zondervan Library where she works remotely as Associate Editor
of Splickety Love, blogs at, and perfects her application for The

Connect with Nichole:

Would You Rather with Carol J. Post and her Characters!

I am so excited to have Carol J. Post with us
today! I just finished her latest Love Inspired Suspense, Out for Justice and I
really enjoyed it. Plenty of danger, mystery, and romantic tension. All of my favorite
things on one book! Carol and her characters from Out for Justice are playing a
few rounds of Would You Rather? and Carol is sharing her inspiration for
writing the novel. Thanks for being, Carol!
you rather…
able to talk with all animals OR be able to speak all foreign languages?

Carol: That’s a tough one, but
I’d probably go with being able to speak all foreign languages. Talking with
animals would be cool—when my dachshund doesn’t feel well, I’d love to look
into those big brown eyes and know what she’s trying to tell me. But living in
central Florida, we have quite a few people who don’t speak English. Many are
trying to learn, but as an adult, it’s hard (I know—I studied French in college.)
I would love to be able to speak with anyone, regardless of language. Once
while flying, I was seated next to a lady from Germany. After trying English,
then French, I had to give up. (No Sprechen Sie Deutsch!)
Lexi: I would rather be able
to talk with all animals. I’m a major animal lover. I can never turn away an
animal that needs a home. That’s how I wound up with three cats. I often wonder
where they were and what they went through before they came to me.
Alan: I would rather be able
to speak all foreign languages (although knowing what Lexi’s cats are thinking
when they’re sizing me up might be nice). As a police officer, I meet a lot of
people, and sometimes language can be a barrier. I have a heart for troubled
youth and always try to steer them onto the right path; fortunately they
usually know English, even if their parents don’t.
…watch a
long film of all the best moments of your life thus far OR watch a short clip
of a pivotal moment in your future?
Carol:  If the
pivotal moment was bad and there was something I could do to prevent it, I
would choose the short clip of a pivotal moment. Other than that, when it comes
to the future, I’m more like, “Surprise me.” Watching a long film of the best
moments of my life would be fun. It’s like pulling out all the photo albums. Or
in my case, the boxes of pictures—I have way too many that never made it into
photo albums. Some day…
Lexi: I don’t want to know the future, whether good
or bad. I’ve had some traumatic experiences in my life, so I want to live in
the present and take each day as it comes. I do have some good memories,
though, so watching a long film of the best moments of my life is very
Alan: I think I would choose a short clip of a pivotal
moment. There have been a couple of times where I’ve made some decisions that I
really came to regret. Knowing what was coming might prepared me and given me a
chance to think things through more clearly. Although since I started asking
God for guidance, I have to say I’ve done a little better in the
decision-making department!
…zoom in
your vision OR zoom in your hearing?
Carol: I’d rather be able to zoom in my hearing, as
long as I could zoom it back out again. I’m a really light sleeper, and if I
had to have amplified hearing all the time, I’d never get any sleep! But I
think it would be fun to be able to pick out conversations in a crowd. Not that
I’m nosy or anything!
Lexi:  I’d like
to be able to zoom in my vision. When I arrive at a crime scene, I know the CSI
guys are going to process everything, but zooming in my vision might help me
spot things that others might miss.
Alan: I’d rather be able to zoom in my hearing. We’ve
got a few teens around town who are always looking for trouble. When they’re
standing with their heads together, voices low, I’d love to be able to
eavesdrop on those conversations. But I am pretty good at sizing them up
and knowing when they’re up to no good, even without hearing what they’re
…have no
privacy OR be completely closed off?
Carol: That’s a hard one. I really need my alone time.
I love people, but being constantly around them is emotionally draining. If it
was for a short period of time, I would choose being completely closed off. If
it was for longer, or indefinitely, I would have to choose having no privacy. I
couldn’t handle being completely closed off for long.
Lexi:  I do
cherish my time alone, especially after I’ve spent several hours with my mom! I
don’t know that I would want to be completely closed off, but NO privacy? Ugh!
So I’ll choose completely closed off. Just don’t close me off from my cats! (Or
the people closest to me.)
Alan: I would have to choose having no privacy. I’m
not a major extrovert, but I am a people person. I’m also pretty open. I don’t
have many secrets.
These were great answers. I had a feeling Lexi
would choose to talk to animals. J Thanks for playing! Now, tell us what
inspired this story.
for Out for Justice
I can’t say there was a particular thing that
“inspired” me, as far as this story. But this book was the turning point as far
as how I plot. It was Christmastime, and I was visiting my sister in North
Carolina. She had some work to do and asked if I wanted to keep her company in
the hobby room. I told her I was starting a new book and asked if she wanted to
help me plot while she worked. All I knew at that point was that I wanted to
have a serial killer in the story. I typed like a madwoman while we bounced
ideas back and forth, and 2½ hours later, we had a great outline with lots of
narrative that eventually became Out for Justice. I haven’t plotted a
book by myself since.
I hear ya! I have friend I text-storm with all
the time and my books are so much better for it! Can’t wait for the next book
to come out, Carol!
Answer one or all of the Would You Rather questions in the comments! 
Here’s a peek at Out for Justice

Buy the book! 
Tracking a serial killer in Harmony Grove turns
personal for Detective Lexi Simmons when her cousin becomes a victim. It turns
nearly impossible when she’s teamed up with Officer Alan White—the
almost-fiancé whose heart she broke six years ago. Alan can’t understand how
two people so right for each other didn’t end up together. But they have more
pressing matters of the past to attend to: a vengeful killer and a decade-old
incident on a college campus. Now Lexi fits the profile of the next name on the
hit list. And Alan finds himself not only engaged in a fight for her love—but
for her life.

A lesson in Trust by Karen Barnett

found the perfect job posting.” My
husband, Steve, smiled—something he hadn’t done in months.
Where is it?” I held my breath. He’d looked for jobs in our hometown. Then in
our region. In our state. Things were scarce. We were now looking nationwide.
stomach sank. Nothing against Iowa. It’s a lovely place. I visited once during
college, so I knew the people were friendly and welcoming, but born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, Iowa seemed far.
searched the advertisement for faults. There must be some reason this wouldn’t
work out. God wouldn’t send me to Iowa, would He? No ocean? No mountains? No
extended family? I cried out to Him, Please,
not Iowa. How about Colorado? California? Washington? Michigan?
husband pledged to trust in God’s direction, and he applied for the job.
went by, and Steve sailed through the application process. Sitting in an
evening service at my church, I fumed at God. You
say to trust you, and then you threaten to uproot me from everything I love.
When my toddler fussed, I scooped her up, relieved for an excuse to sneak out.
We took refuge in a preschool room. She grabbed a book and climbed into my lap.
I opened it.
God sent Jonah to Nineveh. But Jonah didn’t trust God. He didn’t want to go to
heart broke. I stared at the scowling cartoon figure on the page. Was that how
I looked?
I did
a 180-degree turn (Well, maybe about 175). Not
my will, God, but Yours.
weight lifted from my chest. I would go. And what’s more, I would rejoice in
this opportunity. I confessed my bad attitude to my husband (as if he weren’t
already aware of it) and over the next few days, God adjusted my attitude. I
discovered our soon-to-be-hometown had an amazing library, an aquatic center,
outdoor ice rinks, and a city park with a stable of Shetland ponies. Before I
knew it, I was dreaming about raising my family in Iowa.
God wasn’t finished.
glanced up from the computer. “Guess what! There’s a job opening down the
I swallowed hard. “But… what about Iowa?”
laughed and shook his head. “I’ll never figure you out.” The job was a perfect
match to my husband’s skills. Pieces fell into place quickly.
I was
a bit confused. Um, God? I don’t mean to
complain… but what about Iowa? I thought you wanted us to go to Iowa?
I felt
a gentle nudging in my heart. It was never
about Iowa. I wanted your trust.
Trust in the Lord with all your
heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:4-5 (NIV).
For I know
the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,
“plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to
give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and
come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me
and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah
29:11-13 (NIV)

Karen Barnett, author of Mistaken, lives with her husband and two kids
in Oregon (not Iowa). A former park ranger, Karen enjoys playing on the beach
and hiking in the Cascade Mountains. She also drags her family through boring
history museums every chance she gets. She’s been published in Guideposts and other national magazines. Her
next novel, Out of the Ruins, releases
in May of 2014.
Since booze and
prohibition have made criminals out of every man in her world, Laurie Burke
resolves to find at least one honorable man to fill her life. Convinced that
handsome newcomer Daniel Shepherd is connected with her brother’s rum-running
gang, Laurie quickly scratches his name off her list. Daniel has mixed feelings
about returning to the dirty mill town of his youth, but grudgingly agrees to
manage his grandfather’s drug store until a replacement can be found. The
moment he meets Laurie on the windswept bluff overlooking the beach, he knows
that if he can earn her love, he might have a reason to stay. But when Laurie
pushes him away–for none other than Federal Agent Samuel Brown–Daniel wonders
if Laurie really is the upstanding woman he thought her to be. The Strait of
Juan de Fuca, just off the beaches of Port Angeles, Washington, was treacherous
water for reckless rum-runners—and the agents who tried to catch them. So when
she realizes her brother is in danger, romance is the last thing on Laurie’s
mind. Yet the people she believes she can trust, may not be so honorable after

Katie Ganshert Contemplates God’s Grace

Katie Ganshert is back with us today sharing a devotion that touches on one of the themes her heroine, Robin has to contemplate on–one we all do! I hope you’ll join us Friday for our group review of Wishing on Willows! 

When I
contemplate God’s grace, I often think about good things. Forgiveness,
obviously. Restored relationships. Healing and freedom. Sometimes I even equate
God’s grace with finding a spouse or getting a promotion at work or populating
a big house with healthy children or fulfilling a dream.
But what if
that’s only one side of the coin?
What if God’s
grace comes wrapped in deferred dreams? Or broken relationships or scary
prognoses from doctors or unemployment or infertility or any thorn that pierces
our flesh?
As much as that
empty tomb shouts “Grace! Grace!”, let’s not forget that the cross does too.
With those nails and on that tree, grace and suffering are so tightly woven,
the two are indecipherable.
I read the red
words of Jesus—blessed are the poor in
spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for
they shall be comforted
(Mt 5:3-4) and I’m reminded of a woman I met in
Africa. A woman, who by America’s standards, had nothing. Abandoned by her
husband, sick with AIDS, six children in a squalid shack and somehow, she
radiated joy. This woman didn’t have to wonder if God was enough, she knew it
in the marrow of her bones.
There is a
special blessing that comes in the midst of hardship.
It’s in those moments,
when we fall on our faces with nothing, our dreams dashed, our plans and our
goals no longer, that we cling to Him with a ferocity we don’t find in the
midst of prosperity. God’s presence is magnified in the hard. We don’t just
have an intellectual knowledge about His strength, we experience it. It holds
us together. It keeps us breathing.
And Paul’s
nonsensical words—when I am weak, then I
am strong
? They make sense and our definition of grace expands.
The Lord is
close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
~Psalm 34:18
Father God,
would your grace rain down, no matter what season or circumstance we find
ourselves in. Hold us as we cling to You.
Have you found that special blessings come in the midst of hardship?
Does a second chance at life and love always involve surrender?
three-year old son, a struggling café, and fading memories are all Robin Price
has left of her late husband. As the proud owner of Willow Tree Café in small
town Peaks, Iowa,  she pours her heart into every muffin she bakes and
espresso she pulls, thankful for the sense of purpose and community the work
So when
developer Ian McKay shows up in Peaks with plans to build condos where her café
and a vital town ministry are located, she isn’t about to let go without a
stubborn as he is handsome, Ian won’t give up easily. His family’s business
depends on his success in Peaks. But as Ian pushes to seal the deal, he wonders
if he has met his match. Robin’s gracious spirit threatens to undo his resolve,
especially when he discovers the beautiful widow harbors a grief that resonates
with his own.
polarized opinions forming all over town, business becomes unavoidably personal
and Robin and Ian must decide whether to cling to the familiar or surrender
their plans to the God of Second Chances. 

Diamond Rings, Surfing, and Heaven in the form of Ice Cream with Sherry Kyle!

Today, I’m thrilled to have agent-mate, Sherry Kyle, hanging
out! Sherry is super sweet and I had the privilege of reading her newest book, The Heart Stone–so warming and
Sherry Kyle writes ReConnecting Faith and Fiction, including
books for 8-12 year old girls, as well as novels for women. Sherry is the
recipient of a Gold Mom’s Choice Award for her tween book, The
Christian Girl’s Guide to Style. 
Abingdon Press released her debut
novel, Delivered with Love, in 2011.The Heart Stone, her
second novel, released April 1st, 2013. Sherry and her husband Douglas have
four children and live by the ocean on California’s central coast. Readers
can connect with Sherry on her website at:
Okay, Sherry! Let’s chat:
Jessica, thank you so much for having me on your blog!
JP: You are so welcome! Thanks for being here. Tell everyone what
inspired the idea to write The Heart
SK: The heart-shaped diamond ring. I thought it would be interesting if
a ring was offered to someone forty years ago, but now is worn by a single
mother to fend off any unwanted advances. This idea intrigued me and propelled
the rest of the story.
thought it was intriguing too! Speaking of intriguing, Uncle George was a
missionary to the Philippines. Have you been on a missions trip there? Why did
you choose the Philippines?
SK: No, I’ve never been there. I chose the Philippines
because our adoptive daughter is Filipino and her birthparents were born there,
even though we adopted her from California. I thought it would be a fun tie-in
with our family.
JP: Oh
I love that, Sherry! George shows his niece, Jessica, a fan and shares with her
about the Philippine “fan” language. It reminded me a lot of Victorian “fan
talk.” Is that real or was that something you made up?
SK: The fan language is real. I wanted to include something
unique about the Philippines, and I thought the fan language was fun and
interesting to incorporate into the manuscript.
JP: How
cool! Can we expect to see future novels with any of the minor characters in The Heart Stone as main characters?
SK: I would love to write another story based on a minor
character from The

Heart Stone, but
at this point nothing is scheduled. Feel free to contact Abingdon Press,
however, and let them know! J I’m
currently writing a story set in La Selva Beach, California, about a woman who
discovers something in an old trunk.

JP: Sounds
mysterious! Let’s talk sweets. Ice cream seems to be a favorite of little Jacob
and Jessica (the main character). What is your favorite ice cream treat?
SK: The other day my husband and I went to Marianne’s Ice
Cream, the real shop in the story, and had a single scoop on a sugar cone. I
chose a flavor called Heaven and it’s my new favorite ice cream! It is vanilla
with walnuts, chocolate, peanut butter, and brownie bites. Doesn’t that sound
amazing? It was! I felt like I was living in my story because there was a woman
with her son sitting in the exact spot where Jessica and Jacob sat. It was
JP: That
sounds well…like Heaven! Evelyn has many memories of her dates with George as
youngsters. Would you share where you went on your first date with your
SK: Sure! My husband and I went to church to hear Chuck
Swindoll, and then went out to A& V’s pizza in Fullerton, CA, on September
9th my freshman year in college. It was the first of many fun dates.
love that your first date was centered on Jesus! Going to hear Chuck Swindoll! I
read on your website that your husband is a surfer? What about you? Do you
SK: I tried surfing once in college, but it’s definitely not
my sport. I don’t have the swimming skills and balance my husband has, and I’m
not fond of salt water. Plus, the water is chilly where we live. Brrr! I’ll
leave the surfing to him!
JP: And also sharks. Just sayin.
*Photos of beach and ice cream came from morgue file
Here’s a sneak peek at The Heart Stone:
the biological father of Jessica MacAllister’s son decides to break

custody agreement, Jessica and her son visit her Uncle George for advice and

Following a year of grief, Evelyn Sweeney is finally ready to move on.
Pondering her new path in life, her mind drifts to her first love, George

When the lives of these two women cross, they discover that one heart-shaped
ring binds their stories together. But will the results be a rekindled faith
and new hope, or will it lead them both back into the darkness they’ve fought
for so long?

Real-Life Romance: David and Gabrielle Meyer



  I’m thrilled to have Gabrielle Meyer with me today. Her real-life
romance will conclude our series, for now! I may do another month long series in
the future. We’ll see. Gabrielle is a great lady and a fabulous writer—I’ve
read some of her work. I wouldn’t lie to yah! Thanks for being here, Gabe! And
take it away!

I’m an old-fashioned kind of gal. So it’s no surprise that I
write historical romance, or that I prefer to spend my free time in a museum.
It’s also no surprise that I decided
early on that I would be Sweet Sixteen
and Never Been Kissed
I even had the courage to tell a boy this when
he asked to kiss me when I was fifteen! (Imagine the look on his face.)
The surprise came (at least for me) when I was Sweet Seventeen…and I’d still never been
I was homeschooled from fifth grade through tenth. I loved
this experience, but it gave me little opportunity to find a boyfriend. At the
time, I lamented this fact. But now, after hearing so many horror stories from
friends who had terrible first kisses, I’m happy my options were limited.
I met David Meyer when we were sixteen. I was still being
homeschooled, but I’d become friends with a great group of kids through youth
group. David happened to be among them.
the moment I saw him on stage singing in the production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat, I knew he was
something special
…it just took me a little while to convince him
that I was something special, too. Almost a year!
But when he finally decided I was the one for him we’ve
never looked back. I was seventeen when David kissed me for the first time, and
he’s the only person I’ve ever kissed. I like that.
This summer we’ll be celebrating twelve years of marriage,
but we’ve known each other for over sixteen. Through driver license exams, parental
curfews, wisdom teeth extractions, high school graduations, college, first
cars, first jobs and stepping out into the world, we’ve made many memories
together. I wouldn’t want to walk through life with anyone else.
God has
blessed our union in more ways than I can count, but at the very top of the
list are our children.
Eight years ago we had our first child, a
beautiful, imaginative daughter with green eyes and a sprinkle of freckles
across her nose. She was followed two years later by our second daughter, who
charms us with her dimples and blond hair. For five years our life was full of
little girls, but God had an even bigger surprise in store for us.
A set of twin boys! Now three years old, one is gentle and
kind with big blue eyes, while the other is bold and curious, with a mischievous
twinkle in his green eyes. To say we were surprised with twins would be an
understatement! Never, in my wildest dreams, could I have planned such a
perfect family.
Like I said, I’m an old-fashioned kind of gal. I believe my
greatest impact on this earth will be in my home, and I believe the most
important calling is to serve my family. Being a good wife and mother is the
hardest challenge of my life, but it’s also the most rewarding.
Every day, through the good times and the bad, I’m in awe of
the God who has generously given us our hearts’ desires and I pray that our stewardship of all He’s given
us will be a blessing to Him for countless generations who follow.
I’m also tickled pink that my first love became my true love,
and my desire to wait for that first kiss was worth it.
where were you when the one you love kissed you for the first time? I was in a
Connect with 
Gabrielle on facebook too!

The Duality of Toxins with Jordyn Redwood

I want to welcome one of my favorite authors to my blog today! Jordyn Redwood. Not only is she an amazing writer, but she’s a really sweet person. I had the chance to meet and chat with her at ACFW this past year. I gushed. I’m trying really hard not to right now. 
Jordyn Redwood is a pediatric ER nurse by day, suspense
novelist by night. She hosts Redwood’s Medical Edge, a blog devoted to helping contemporary and historical
authors write medically accurate fiction. Her first two novels, Proof and Poison, garnered starred
reviews from Library Journal and
have been endorsed by the likes of Dr. Richard Mabry, Lynette Eason, and Mike
Dellosso to name a few. You can connect with Jordyn via her website at
  Thanks for coming, Jordyn, and take it away!
I like book titles with double meaning. My first published
book was titled, Proof.
There were two types of proof the heroine needed. Proof to convict her
assailant of his horrific crimes and proof of God in her life.

Poison, the
second book in the Bloodline Trilogy, is releasing this month and in this
instance—there is an actual nefarious agent (not giving away too much) and a
side meaning as well.
poisons your life?
Is it a bad relationship? Is it believing a
lie? Is it an actual toxin like drinking too much liquor, using illegal drugs
or prescription drugs in ways they weren’t intended?
Writing suspense, particularly with a heavy medical edge, I
think requires something unusual to be found. I’m a research hound. I love to
learn about new things. And for 
I read a lot on different types of toxins.
Aren’t toxins interesting? How minute substances can make a
person ill or end up killing? This is the stuff suspense novels are made from
and the lure for every author—finding that one poison—undetectable,
fast-acting, easily transmittable or ingested without the victim knowing.
I remember as a youngster hearing the story of how a
long-dead great uncle had passed. According to my grandfather, he’d served in
the military during WWI and had died as the result of complications from
mustard gas exposure.
So lately, in thinking about toxins, I began to wonder what
exactly mustard gas was and how did it kill.
Interestingly, I discovered that term “gas” can mean more than just a vaporous substance and can be any
chemical substance.

: Lead
to disablement or death.
Disrupt enemy soldiers.
: Gases
encountered during war that are not related to a chemical agent like excessive
gases from gunpowder during a fight.
Mustard gas falls into the first group—lethal gases. Tear
gas, for instance, would fall into the second category.
But how does mustard gas kill?

gas is also called sulfur mustard and
its name is derived from its foggy yellow appearance and mustard like smell.
It’s a
blistering agent/alkylating agent and comes in many forms: vapor, liquid or
solid. When a person comes into contact with the agent, it damages the skin and
mucous membranes inside. The chemical liquefies tissue.
Since it freezes at a high temperature, it’s not very
effective when it’s cold. It doesn’t spread easily and would fall to the ground
before soldiers could be exposed. This property also made it a good weapon
because it could stay low on the ground for weeks depending on the temperature
and expose unsuspecting troops going into the area. Another factor that made it
a good weapon—people adjusted to the smell quickly.
Mustard gas was used first by the Germans in 1917 and was
born out of the trench warfare era where new military strategies had to be
devised to get men out of their bunkers. The agent was fitted onto artillery
shells which were then shot to toward the enemy lines without the accompanying
explosion which I’m sure seemed strange to the soldiers at the time.
Hey, why didn’t that thing blow up? What exactly is that
yellow fog?
Unfortunately, mustard gas doesn’t often kill expediently.
The first symptom was generally red blisters to the skin that developed within 2-24
hours. If the gas was inhaled, these blisters would slowly develop and seal off
the airway.
Other symptoms:
  •    Eyes: Irritation, redness, burning, inflammation and even
  •   Skin: Itchy redness that is replaced
    with yellow blisters

  • Respiratory system: Runny or bloody
    nose, sneezing, hoarse throat, shortness of breath, coughing, sinus pain

  •   Digestive system: abdominal pain, diarrhea, fever, nausea and

It was possible for the body to heal if there was a short,
brief encounter. Longer, more frequent exposures proved to be more deadly.
By the end of WWI, chemical agents inured 1 million soldiers
and civilians and killed 100,000 people.
Likely, mustard gas wouldn’t be considered favorable to use
in chemical warfare these days because of its prolonged activity.
This link goes to a very
powerful article on mustard gas and its effects and was used heavily in the
writing of this piece—the italicized areas are from the article. It is
definitely worth the read.

about you? What interesting things have you researched that have ended up in a

(Jess) like to know, if you’re a reader, what interesting thing have you read
about in a novel that was used by the villain?

Here’s a peek at Poison!
Poison synopsis: Five years ago, Keelyn
Blake’s armed, mentally ill stepfather took her family hostage in their house
in rural Colorado. She and her half-sister Raven made it out alive, but others
did not. Authorities blamed the father’s frequent hallucinations about a being
named Lucent, but in the end, even the best of the FBI’s hostage negotiators
failed to overcome the man’s delusions and end the standoff peacefully.
Lucent is back, and he’s no hallucination. In fact, he is a very real person
with dangerous motives. He has kidnapped Raven’s daughter, and–Keelyn
worries–maybe has hurt Raven as well. Though she is estranged from her sister,
Keelyn feels the immediate need to find Raven and save what family she has
left. But when others who were involved in that fateful day start dying, some
by mysterious circumstances, Keelyn wonders if she can emerge unscathed a
second time.
You tube video link for Poison book trailer:
Link to the first five chapters of Poison:

Real-life Romance: Pastor Greg & Nancy Davis


When I think of love enduring, I think of my Pastor and his
wife. Their story is an inspiration to anyone. I hope you’ll be encouraged
today even though she’s only sharing the nutshell. Thank you, Nancy, for being
here today!
Don’t despise small beginnings.  Isn’t that what you’ve always heard?  I would add “or young beginnings.”  I’m sure my mother never had any idea that
when she dropped me off for my first day of second grade at a new school that I
would meet the man I would marry. But there he was. About half way through second grade Greg asked me to marry him, and;
obviously, I said yes.
Despite a couple of short-lived dramatic breakups
during elementary school we were an item. By the time we were old enough to
date there was no turning back.
Pastor Greg & Nancy Davis
Cornerstone Church
Newly married right out of high school we moved off to
attend Bible College (and, yes, the above-mentioned mother was a basket case)! Just
me and him and absolutely NOTHING else. We lived like paupers-as most students
do-and those were some of the most fun years of our lives. We discovered you
don’t really have to have much as long as you are happy with each other. Love doesn’t cost anything except time,
thoughtfulness and commitment. 
a small price to pay for something so rewarding.
You know, in 32 (almost) years of marriage I’ve learned some
things that are ageless.  Love doesn’t have to be complicated.  It doesn’t have
to be demanding or smothering.  It does,
in fact, take work and effort.  It cannot
grow on its own without attention and nurturing but it can flourish greatly when fed a constant diet of respect and
Not to say that marital love is perfect.  No love, other than that of our heavenly
Father, is. But you can certainly weather a lot of storms and face a lot of
“stuff” if you have someone to lean into. And, if handled correctly, the storms of life can make your love stronger –
more solidified.
That’s right! I really did say that! Not that you invite
bad times – absolutely not!  But, you
have to know those times will come.  Just
as sure as life rolls on, those times will come. And how you walk through them
as a couple will make, break, strengthen or weaken your relationship.
Our 32 years (almost) has brought with it many “opportunities”
for strengthening: Eight years of infertility eventually resulting in the birth
of our son, Colton, being born with 6 separate heart defects and facing a total
of 6 open-heart surgeries before his 18th birthday; my battle with a
blood disorder that almost killed me and took two years for recovery; our newly
adopted 12 month old Chinese daughter being diagnosed with a large, cancerous,
potentially-lethal brain tumor followed by a 12 hour brain surgery and 1 1/2
years of chemo and radiation; full time ministry for 25 years (need I add to
that one?) with 15 of those being the Lead Pastors; and, much more – but who’s
counting, right?
In all of these storms came times of despair.  A moment – even if fleeting- when the
darkness seemed greater than the light. We’ve all been there at one time or
another for one reason or another. 
Without Greg, I might have remained there. He held me close when I
shivered from the fear. He allowed me to process my grief knowing that he would
pull me back to deal with the present. He whispered words of hope and love into
my life and into my heart.  We cried
together. We talked out our frustrations and our fears. We contemplated our
options. We talked about everything-whether or not it was easy to say or to
hear. Then, and this is important, we
celebrated all of the good things in our lives.
We counted our blessings in
our times of want. We agreed that even though we might not understand our
situations we were certainly going to invite God into them. We also agreed that
we could allow our trials to make us bitter or to make us better. It was our
choice and we chose better every time. It’s always the best choice. Bitter gets
you nothing. Ever. That’s how we still handle our storms and we’ve yet to meet
a storm we couldn’t endure together.
A lot of our success comes from the little things. He fills
my car with gas because he knows I hate to. I buy whipped cream even though I
hate it because I know he loves it on everything. He buys me flowers on
Tuesdays because he says nobody expects to get flowers on Tuesday. I get up
early to turn the heat up and get coffee ready because he hates to get up to a
cold house. He tells me I’m beautiful
even though I’m constantly getting my hair colored to cover the gray and trying
new face creams to reduce the wrinkles. 
tell him he still makes my heart pound and even though he has a little less
hair now I don’t even notice.  It’s an
ongoing cycle of giving.  What happens,
though, is when you continually give you – continually receive. Pretty nifty
how it works out that way!
There’s been a lot of water under the bridge since he popped
the question way back in 1971 in second grade! 
There is no one in this world I would rather paddle my way through life
with.  Marriage is designed to get better and better every year if that’s how
you build it.
The trick is to get busy building.  
Thank you so much, Nancy, for guesting today. I never get
tired of your love story or watching it unfold every day. You inspire me!
If you’re
married, what are some things you do, to stay busy building a healthy and
successful marriage? If you’re not married, what are some qualities you’re
looking for in a spouse? (my questions)

Real-Life Romance Stories: Brad & Charissa Kerley

I’m kicking off Fridays with real-life romance stories that are meant to encourage and inspire you whether you’re single, engaged, or married! 

Each Friday during February, you’ll hear from one woman about her real-life romance! Today, I’m honored to have my dear friend (And my midnight Twilight Saga movie premiere partner) Charissa Kerley with us to share her unique story. 

I was so blessed to know Charissa during her teenage years and watch God do amazing things in her life. She’s always been a wonderful role model for my daughter and I couldn’t love her more! Welcome, Charissa! 

For as long as I
can remember I have been a romantic even back to elementary and middle school.
I was always daydreaming about my future husband, how we would meet, how
handsome he would be and how we’d live happily ever after.
 So naturally I was so excited when I
got to high school and would be around a ton of older boys whom I could
potentially date. However, in the 9th grade I strongly felt that the
Lord was asking me to give up dating much to my disappointment.
Unless He
revealed the man I was going to marry with a ray of light and a hallelujah
chorus, I would not be dating anyone until I graduated. This wasn’t to say that
I didn’t have plenty of crushes and even a couple of offers throughout high
school, but I knew that God had asked me to sacrifice those things for Him.
These are not B & C’s hands. 🙂 
All throughout this time, I learned
so much about being secure in my relationship with Christ. I stood on the verse
that said: “For your Maker is your husband—the Lord Almighty is his name.”
Isaiah 54:5.
Knowing that Jesus was the best husband I could ever ask for
taught me so much about who He is and who I am through Him. I look back on that
time in my life so fondly even though it wasn’t always easy when I was living
One of my closest friends in high
school was named Kayla. We had an accelerated English class together and became
fast friends, having similar views and taste in movies and music. Towards the
middle of our sophomore year she began dating a guy who was a junior named
Luke. Luke had a twin brother named Brad and I’d seen both of them around
school before (they both had a notorious style, wearing huge baggy pants and
their hair color changing practically every month.) I got to know Luke through
Kayla, but I didn’t speak to Brad much.
Fast forward to my senior year. Kayla
had moved to Iowa
and Luke and Brad had both moved away after they had graduated high school the
year before. I kept up with Kayla through Myspace (you can see how dated this
story is now) and I had also become “friends” with Brad on there at some point
as well.
Towards the middle of my senior year
I began talking with Brad a little bit on our Myspace pages. He had recently
been through a bad breakup while he had been away in St. Louis and I would get on his page to tell
him jokes and say silly things to cheer him up.
We began to talk more and more,
eventually upgrading to text messages.
As my senior year came to a close,
my choir held a banquet to celebrate all of the year’s accomplishments. Even
though Brad and I had never hung out one on one before and had only just
recently began getting to know each other, I asked him to go with me. He
immediately responded that he would be happy to go because he was coming home
for the summer.
The first day that Brad and I spent
any time alone together was (get this!) my very last day of high school.
picked me up from the school and we spent the rest of the day together.
Me and Charissa at her
wedding! I was a bridesmaid!

That summer Brad and I were
practically inseparable. He became my best friend. Every morning that I woke up
I couldn’t wait until I could see him that day and any time we were apart we
spent texting each other constantly. He finally mustered up the courage to ask
me out at the end of the summer and of course I said yes. My family loved him
and Luke and Kayla (who were now married) and the rest of his family were so
happy that the two of us had gotten together.

We had a whirlwind romance, getting
engaged after only four months of dating and then getting married six months
after that (at ages 19 and 20!). We’ve now been married over four years and it
has been an amazing ride. It’s not always easy, but we constantly strive to
grow closer to the Lord and each other on a regular basis.
            Brad and
Charissa Kerley live in northern MS. Brad is currently in grad school at the University of Memphis to be an entrepreneur and they
both work heavily in their church’s missions department. They have a huge heart
for the country of Haiti
and hope to minister there permanently or periodically after Brad receives his
Master’s Degree.

I love that story! And I love you, Charissa and Brad! 
*Next Friday, you’ll hear from a very special lady to me…my Pastor’s wife! You won’t want to miss this incredible journey of love!
Were you best friends with your spouse before you dated? 

Don’t Drink the Water: Lori Wildenberg

very excited to have Lori Wildenberg here today to share! I encourage you to
visit her websites. Thanks so much for being here today, Lori! Take it away…

don’t have to tell me twice. Actually you don’t have to tell me once.
Seriously, who would drink toilet water? Okay… besides Murphy (my dog).
Like a
splash in the face, it hit me. I do. I drink toilet water. I pour all kinds of
tainted things into my heart and mind. My thoughts, the things I view, or what
I listen to can be poisonous.
Why do I
do this?
I am a sinner.
am a saved sinner. There is hope for me. God has given me the power to turn
from sin, to run from it. I just need to tap into His Holy Spirit power, drink
it in, and let it flow through my veins.
my own, I’m parched, dying but His Spirit is the life-giving, pure
water-waiting to be consumed.
I pray my children will drink living water.
college years are filled with toilet water, beckoning the kids to take a sip,
next a gulp, then consume a gallon, finally it is their beverage of choice.
They can’t even taste the poison. (This can make a parent sick, heart-sick.)
If you
find yourself in this position of hurting due to your young adults choice of beverage,
prayer for my kids is any activity that does not honor the Lord leaves them
thirsty. I pray they desire clean water. I pray that only Jesus can
can quench that thirst.
The enemy may have won the battle but he hasn’t won the war.
Whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.
John 4:14
When was the last time you were actually parched for God’s Word? So thirsty you thought you might die if you didn’t get to it right then? If you’ve never been that thirsty, why do you think that is? (question by me–Jess)

Wildenberg, co-founder of 1 Corinthians 13
Parenting, loves speaking and writing about raising kids. She’s a
licensed parent-family educator and certified teacher, passionate about
mentoring parents. Since Lori, her husband, and four kids are perfectly imperfect, her approach to family life is real,
honest, and warm-hearted. This style makes her a favorite speaker at women’s
and parent events. In her seminars, she offers practical and easily applicable
techniques based on living out 1 Corinthians 13 love. Lori is co-author of EMPOWERED PARENTS: Putting Faith First, a
contributor to many other Christian books, a radio station guest, a member of
The M.O.M. Initiative team, a curriculum writer for teacher development at the
Professional Learning Board, and is co-columnist of Parenting Prose seen in Marriage
Magazine. For more information go to or

Come by and join
in the conversation!
I’m  hosting!

*Lori took that photo at the Grand Canyon! LOL