Tuesday, May 31, 2011


In about an hour my boys and I are going to sit down here in our living room.    We gather together every night for family prayer.    However, tonight I have to sit and explain to them something I don't quite understand myself.    

Last night, we piled in our car and went up to Big Guy's best friend's house.   We stood in his front yard with his family and friends from our church.    We poured out our hearts to God in prayer on behalf of Cade.     Cade was scheduled for tests this morning to see how he was doing in this journey called cancer.     He has been on Plan B of his treatment regiment.    It has been so brutal on his body.    

I couldn't sleep last night.   I literally prayed Scriptures over Cade all night long.    I walked, prayed, cried and literally just begged God to give Cade some answers... some relief.

This morning Cade went in for his scans.    This afternoon the doctors called.     The MRI of the brain showed no cancer.      However, the CT scans showed that those tumors had not changed and to further evaluate means biopsy.    The prostate tumor seems larger.    The doctors will meet tomorrow to talk about Plan C. 

What?  Why?    I am not ashamed to admit it.   I stomped around the house this afternoon.   I literally threw a temper tantrum asking God "Why?  Why?  Why?"     I was just so mad.   Then I sat down and cried buckets of tears.

While talking with Cade's mom I told her, "If faith is knowing God can do something whether He does it or not then we have a LOT of faith."     We all have no doubt God CAN heal Cade.   We just don't know why He isn't choosing to right now.

So here I am.   Wondering.  Pondering.    How am I going to explain all this to my boys when we sit down in just a little while when I don't understand it myself?

I feel a little shaken, but thankfully I have no doubt I am still standing on the Solid Rock.

(If you want to follow Cade's journey:   http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/cadeainsworth)

Monday, May 30, 2011

Freedom Isn't Free

American Casualties of War....
American Revolution...217,000
War of 1812...286,730
Indian War...106,000
Mexican War...78,718
Civil War...2,213,363
Spanish American...306,760
Korean War...5,720,000
Gulf War...2,225,000
and still counting on the current conflict!

That is a lot of reasons to pause and thank the Lord for our freedom today.
Happy Memorial Day!

Darkness Follows

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Darkness Follows
Realms (May 3, 2011)

Mike Dellosso


Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Mike now lives in Hanover, Pennsylvania, with his wife, Jen, and their three daughters. He writes a monthly column for Writer . . .Interrupted, was a newspaper correspondent/columnist for over three years, has published several articles for The Candle of Prayer inspirational booklets, and has edited and contributed to numerous Christian-themed Web sites and e-newsletters. Mike is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance, the Relief Writer's Network, the International Christian Writers, and International Thriller Writers. His short stories have appeared with Amazon Shorts and in Coach's Midnight Diner genre anthology. He received his BA degree in sports exercise and medicine from Messiah College and his MBS degree in theology from Master's Graduate School of Divinity.

Mike Dellosso writes novels of suspense for both the mind and the soul. He writes to both entertain and challenge. In addition to his novels, Mike is also an adjunct professor at Lancaster Bible College and a faculty member at the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writer's Conference.


Sam Travis lives in a Civil War era farmhouse in Gettysburg, PA, where he awakens one morning to find an old journal with an entry by a Union soldier, Lt. Whiting…written in Sam’s own handwriting. When this happens several more times, both at night and during waking “trances,” Sam begins to question his own sanity while becoming obsessed with Lt. Whiting and his bone-chilling journal entries. As the entries begin to mimic Sam’s own life, he is drawn into an evil plot that could cost many lives, including his own.

Can the unconditional love of Sam's daughter, Eva, break through his hardened heart before a killer on the loose catches up with them and Sam’s past spurs him to do the unthinkable?

If you would like to read the Prologue and first chapter of Darkness Follows, go HERE

Watch the book video:

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Sue Ellen's Girl Ain't Fat, She Just Weighs Heavy

Shellie Rushing Tomlinson celebrates the charm and heritage of her beloved South on the popular "All Things Southern" radio show. Her latest book, Sue Ellen's Girl Ain't Fat, She Just Weighs Heavy: The Belle of All Things Southern Dishes on Men, Money, and Not Losing Your Midlife Mind  is the print expression of her show; a quirky, funny guide to Southern life. This release follows the bestselling Suck Your Stomach In & Put Some Color On!, with more helpful how-to's and keen observations from Dixie. Filled with recipes, an "Official Guide to Speaking All Things Southern," and priceless advice from Shellie's readers, Tomlinson has created a guide that is part therapy, part education, and all smiles. 

A born storyteller, Tomlinson breaks down the whys and wherefores of southern ways by weaving her thoughts in and around story upon story. Sue Ellen's Girl Ain't Fat, She Just Weighs Heavy is a compilation of many of her favorite topics-from how to distinguish between normal crazy and SRC (Straight Running Crazy) to "bubba whispering," the southern art of training your man.

Whether giving business tips or celebrating the inevitable resurgence of big hair, Tomlinson is an adviser women can relate to and laugh with regardless of what side of the Mason-Dixon line they call home.

"Over time, I've found myself opining on current affairs as much as southern traditions, and, what's more, it seems to have fallen to me to educate (I use that term very loosely) the masses with a bit of much needed southern etiquette!" says Tomlinson about the inspiration for her new book.

"There is nothing much funnier than someone that doesn't take themselves too seriously and just "tells it all." I know. I've made a pretty good living doing just that. As a Yard Bubba (You'll have to read the book for an explanation.) living in a house full of Southern Belles I am here to tell you that Shellie Rushing Tomlinson is laugh out loud funny. For anyone that has an ounce of Southern blood flowing through their veins or those that wish they did, this book is going to be a treasure!" -- Jeff Foxworthy (Jeff visits All Things Southern, listen here.)

Book Review

Southern is not a place.   It is a way of life.    As a friend's Facebook status recently said, "In the south, summer starts in April, we have lightnin' bugs not fireflies.  Pecon pie, boit peenuts and naner pudding is required on Sunday.    Ya'll is a proper noun.    You want your chicken fried or what?    Biscuit come with gravy.     Sweet tea IS the house wine.    Everyone is honey or sweetie.    You say yes ma'am or no ma'am or you are in BIG trouble.  AND  Everyone gets their heart "blessed" sooner or later."    This little details make it easy to spot a true southerner.

Shellie Rushing Tomlinson is one of us.    We could sit on the front porch and have a glass of sweet tea and laugh for hours.     However, since we can't really do that you should grab that glass of sweet tea and read her book instead.     Just don't take big sips because goodness this book is funny.

Look at these chapter titles....
  • She Got Those Heavy Legs From Her Mama's Side
  • The Science of Bubba Whispering
  • Normal Crazy vs Straight Running Crazy
  • Self-Cleaning Underwear, an Idea Whose Time Should Never Come
  • Ya Southern Mama Is Following You On Twitter
  • Paulette the Pundit, Lord Help Us One and All
  • Rein It In, Geraldo
  • Parties, Presents and a Missing Bubba Perched in a Deer Stand
  • If All Else Fails, Laugh
You know that any book that includes recipes gets bonus stars from me.   This one includes multiple recipes.  Woo hoo!    I am trying Shellie's Smashed Tater Balls for our picnic this weekend.    My organic eating sisters would just croak.    (They aren't southern at all I tell you.)

As if Shellie isn't funny enough by herself, there are little stories in the sidebar from southern women who submitted to her radio show.    I am telling you that there is no woman as funny as a southern woman.    We are married to southern men so we have to have a sense of humor.   

Buy the book and then go visit Shellie's website where you can listen to her radio show, find even more southern recipes and lots of amazing stuff!    

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity Group.   I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

How Huge The Night

Fifteen-year-old Julien Losier just wants to fit in. But after his family moves to a small village in central France in hopes of outrunning the Nazis, he is suddenly faced with bigger challenges than the taunting of local teens.

Nina Krenkel left her country to obey her father's dying command: Take your brother and leave Austria. Burn your papers. Tell no one you are Jews. Alone and on the run, she arrives in Tanieux, France, dangerously ill and in despair.

Thrown together by the chaos of war, Julien begins to feel the terrible weight of the looming conflict and Nina fights to survive. As France falls to the Nazis, Julien struggles with doing what is right, even if it is not enough-and wonders whether or not he really can save Nina from almost certain death.

Based on the true story of the town of Le Chambon-the only French town honored by Israel for rescuing Jews from the Holocaust-How Huge the Night is a compelling, coming-of-age drama that will keep teens turning the pages as it teaches them about a fascinating period of history and inspires them to think more deeply about their everyday choices.

Book Review
When I was little one of the books which I equally loved and haunted me was Corrie ten Boom's The Hiding Place.    Corrie's faith in the midst of such horrific circumstances challenged me.     I can remember lying in my bed wondering where we would hide people if something like that were to ever happen again.     I also remember praying I would have the faith I would need if I were to be the one hiding.

How Huge the Night is a story based on true events of a family who lived my imaginations.     Set in Tanieux, France, during World War II, it is about a family who takes in a young Jewish boy to protect him from being sent to a concentration camp.      

This is "on the edge of your seat" reading as France was in a precarious place during WWII.   Hitler had a particular hatred for France.    He made it so that there was no escape for the Jews.   The only way to protect yourself was to hide.      That meant to be in hiding or to try to hide a Jew was taking your life in your hands.  

While this book affected me, it hit my son in another way.    He identified with Julien the teenager.    Julien is only fifteen years old.   His life may be in danger from Hitler, but he doesn't want to leave his hometown.    However, the boys in his town aren't accepting of him.   They are bullying him in school.   They won't let him play soccer.   His family is starting to huddle around the radio at night because of news which is becoming more and more grim.    His life is spiraling out of control and he feels unable to do anything. 

How Huge The Night is an amazing book which is appropriate for any age reader.    I highly recommend you add it to your reading list.    If you are a homeschooler I especially recommend it to you for your World War II studies.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Kregel Publications.   I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Reluctant Detective

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Reluctant Detective
Monarch Books (April 30, 2011)
Martha Ockley


Martha Ockley is the pen-name of Rebecca Jenkins. She read history at Oxford University, and spent several years working alongside her father, the Rt. Revd. David Jenkins (Bishop of Durham 1984-94) during the turbulence of the 1980s. She lives in Teesdale in the North East of England where the landscape and history provide the inspiration for her Regency detective, F R Jarrett. Since September 2009 she has been Royal Literary Fund Fellow and Writer in Residence at York St John University. She is a full-time author, writing both fiction and non-fiction. (She should not be confused with a Canadian actor and singer, also called Rebecca Jenkins.)


The Reluctant Detective sees Faith Morgan arriving back in the region of her birth - Winchester in Hampshire. Recently ordained, she had been working as a curate in an Anglican inner-city church. Within an hour of her arrival at Little Worthy, she witnesses the sudden shocking death of a fellow priest during a communion service at St James's. He had been poisoned with a pesticide mixed with the communion wine. The senior police officer who arrives at the scene turns out to be Detective Inspector Ben Shorter, Faith's ex long-term boyfriend.

She is urged by the Bishop to stay on to look after the parish of Little Worthy. As she meets her parishioners she learns some surprising facts about her apparently well loved predecessor, and starts to suspect a motive for his death. And it is she who finally identifies the murderer.

The story gets off to a dramatic start with the previous vicar collapsing as soon as he drank the communion cup, and it holds the interest throughout. There is some romantic interest too. Inspector Ben Shorter starts by sneeringly telling his sergeant, "Ms Morgan is a vicar. One of the ordained," Ben emphasized the word. “She's a card-carrying professional at the touchy-feely stuff.” But he soon starts to feel differently about her again, although she is well aware that he "didn't understand the reality she experienced through her faith. He didn't even recognize its existence. That was the gulf between them." Her own beliefs and doubts are convincingly described, for even she can't help wondering, "What if there is no truth to it?" But for her, as for Pascal before her, it was a gamble worth taking.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Reluctant Detective, go HERE

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Safe Swimming

It was another chlorine soaked day at the pool.     The boys and I woke up early and decided that we were going to beat the heat by swimming.      Big Guy was practicing his skills on his skim board while Little Guy and I were throwing the football.      Little Guy throwing the football farther and farther.     I noticed he was drifting closer and closer to the rope which separated the shallow and deep end.      I would tell him to move over.    He would.     We had been playing football for about 15 minutes when he threw the football a long way.   I went to get it and when I turned around I saw him standing there kind of bouncing up and down.     He was really close to the rope.     I motioned him to move, but he didn't.    I went to him and grabbed him up.     He immediately started crying and said, "I thought I was going to drown, Mom."     I pulled him into my arms and shed some tears of my own.     

Drowning doesn't look like it does on television.   It isn't splashing, screaming and flailing around.     It is very quiet and scary.   

Mario Vittone wrote a wonderful article called Drowning Doesn't Look Like Drowning.    My friend, Beth, originally posted it on Facebook and I wanted to share it with you.     If you have children 18 and younger you owe it to yourself and their safety to read this article!

Have a happy summer and safe swimming! 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Celebrating Daddy's 70th

When your Daddy is having a 70th birthday you have to do something special.   So our family crammed our cars with coolers, fishing poles, bicycles, and anything else we could think of and headed out to Roosevelt State Park for the day.     Despite it being a very hot day, we were in a covered pavillion under a lot of trees.    There was a great breeze and it felt wonderful.

Since fishing was what Daddy wanted to do, we spent a great part of the day out on the pier.    They say there are two types of fisherman -- those who fish for sport and those who fish for fish.     We must have been fishing for sport, because we sure didn't catch anything.    We didn't feel too badly because no one else on the lake seemed to be catching anything either.      My sister bought the twins matching Dora fishing poles.   They had big stars on the end instead of hooks.   They would cast those out into the water and then pull them back in.    They had so much fun catching stars and I had so much fun helping them!!

 Fishing really makes you hungry.    Grill Master T (aka my brother-in-law) did an excellent job cooking up lunch for us.    My boys are convinced that he can grill anything to perfection.   I am sure that Grill Master T wouldn't argue with that.

Since it was a pretty warm day, we brought along a couple of ways for the kids to stay cool.    My sister brought a swimming pool for the girls.     I brought water balloons and water balloon launchers for the big kids.

After homemade ice cream and a little more fishing, we all packed up and headed home.   It was a great day celebrating the birthday of our special Daddy!     We love you, Daddy!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Over the Edge

Over the Edge
Brandilyn Collins

Brandilyn Collins is an award-winning and best-selling novelist known for her trademark Seatbelt Suspense®. These harrowing crime thrillers have earned her the tagline "Don't forget to b r e a t h e..."® Brandilyn's first book, A Question of Innocence, was a true crime published by Avon in 1995. Its promotion landed her on local and national TV and radio, including the Phil Donahue and Leeza talk shows. Brandilyn is also known for her distinctive book on fiction-writing techniques, Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn From Actors (John Wiley & Sons). She is now working on her 20th book.

In addition, Brandilyn’s other latest release is Final Touch, third in The Rayne Tour series—young adult suspense co-written with her daughter, Amberly. The Rayne Tour series features Shaley O’Connor, daughter of a rock star, who just may have it all—until murder crashes her world.


Torn from the front lines of medical debate and the author's own experience with Lyme Disease, Over the Edge is riveting fiction, full of twists and turns—and powerful truths about today's medical field.

Janessa McNeil’s husband, Dr. Brock McNeil, a researcher and professor at Stanford University's Department of Medicine, specializes in tick-borne diseases—especially Lyme. For years he has insisted that Chronic Lyme Disease doesn't exist. Even as patients across the country are getting sicker, the committee Brock chairs is about to announce its latest findings—which will further seal the door shut for Lyme treatment.

One embittered man sets out to prove Dr. McNeil wrong by giving him a close-up view of the very disease he denies. The man infects Janessa with Lyme, then states his demand: convince her husband to publicly reverse his stand on Lyme—or their young daughter will be next.

But Janessa's marriage is already rocky. She's so sick she can hardly move or think. And her husband denies she has Lyme at all.

Welcome to the Lyme wars, Janessa.

“A taut, heartbreaking thriller. Collins is a fine writer who knows how to both horrify readers and keep them turning pages.”--Publishers Weekly

“Tense and dramatic. Holds its tension while following the protagonist in a withering battle.” –NY Journal of Books

“A frightening and all-too-real scenario. Very timely and meaningful book.” –RT Reviews

“If you know someone who suffers from Lyme, you need to read this compelling novel.” –Lydia Niederwerfer, founder of Lyme-Aware

If you would like to read the Prologue of Over the Edge, go HERE

Watch the book video:

Book Review

The thriller/suspense genre is not usually my favorite.    I tend to shy away from it because I read before bed and I don't like to read something that is going to leave my imagination going too crazy.   However the plot line for this was just too compelling and I decided I had to read it.    I am so glad I did.   This book is definitely a "don't miss" for 2011!   

You hear so much about Lyme disease, but unless you know someone who has had to deal with it, you have no idea how horrific it is.    I have a family member who was diagnosed with it, but after dealing with terrible health problems first.     It was long agonizing months of sickness before they were finally diagnosed.   This seems to be the norm instead of the exception.    

That is why reading Over the Edge felt so real.    I could so imagine someone being pushed far enough to do just what happened in this book.      What could have been so predictable wound up being completely unpredictable in the end.

Brandilyn Collins is a fearless, magnificent writer.     I highly recommend Over the Edge!

Happy Birthday, Daddy!

Today is my Daddy's birthday.    I am so blessed because I have the best Daddy in the entire world.     I wish I could say that I have always been the best daughter in the world.   However, the fact that my Daddy has loved me when I haven't always been so lovable is what makes my Daddy so amazing.    It also is what makes my Daddy such an incredible example of who Jesus is to me.      So many "experts" say that your first idea of who God is comes from your earthly father.     I believe that is so and is why I have such a wonderful relationship with my Heavenly Father today.    My Daddy has always been loving, kind, compassionate, long-suffering, patient, and caring.     He gives the best hugs on the face of the earth.   

Because of my Daddy's example, I knew what to look for when I started looking for a husband.    He set the standard high which was good.     I believe I married the most incredible man out there.   

And of course, among the many things my Daddy taught me, he taught me about the finer things in life.   Which is why I was raised an Alabama Roll Tide fan!     You can't get any better than that, can you, Daddy?? 

The pic above was taken at the birthday party we gave Daddy (note the Alabama cap) this past weekend.    I will show more pics from that party.... tomorrow!

Monday, May 16, 2011

My Hometown is Flooding

My hometown of Vicksburg, MS is flooding. The last time that the city saw water like this was in 1927. These flood waters have now exceeded the levels of the 1927 Great Flood.      I am not living in Vicksburg anymore, but I have been watching the waters rise through photos that my friends have been posting on Facebook.       The building above is probably one of the most photographed buildings you will see.   

The corp of engineers and city workers are doing everything they can to minimize the damage, but it is called the Mighty Mississippi for a reason.     |

I wish I could find it, but a friend of mine posted a picture of Al Roker doing his weather forecast standing waist deep in the middle of the flood waters.   He was right in front of a flooded business down on the river front.    We all talked for hours that he must get paid a bundle to do that because none of us would have stood in those waters.    We know what is in that water:  alligators, snakes, electrical lines, and all types of nasty stuff!      Makes us shiver just to think about it!

Pray for all the people who are being affected by the flooding.    

Fade to Blue

Fade to Blue
Julie Carobini


A word from the author:

I grew up as Julie Navarro, in a family of truly right-brained individuals. Among us you’ll find writers, artists, and musicians, all of us willing to talk about the arts at a moment’s notice.

Over the years, I’ve published several hundred articles and stories in magazines and books, including Aspire, Decision, Expecting, Focus on the Family, Key Magazine and God’s Abundance: 365 Days to a Simpler Life. As I wrote, I found a common theme cropping up: my family, the sea, and God’s timely work in the lives of those around me.

Maybe it was time to incorporate those interests into novels, I thought.

And so I did. Not once, but twice. Both times, God shut both doors and windows. So I continued to write and dream and raise my kids with Dan. Eventually I decided to write romantic seaside novels, and that’s where I found my voice.

When I’m not writing, marketing, or editing for others, I’m driving my kids around town, imagining that my mid-sized SUV is actually a sleek sailing yacht.


Suz Mitchell is the determined dreamer we should all be and won't allow her ex-husband Len's jail sentence to ruin their young son Jeremiah's life. An accomplished artist, she moves with her child across the country to California's central coast and lands a sweet job restoring priceless paintings at the historic Hearst Castle overlooking the ocean.

To her utter surprise, a serious old flame, Seth, is also now working at Hearst and jumbles the dreams inside Suz's heart. While sorting out the awkwardness of their past split and current spiritual differences, a repentent Len shows up eager to restore his family.

Suz must learn to let God be the true restorer of all that once seemed lost.

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

Thursday, May 12, 2011

TOS Review: GoTrybe

Finding ways to fit P.E. into our homeschool has been something that I have never worried about.   The boys love to jump on the trampoline, ride their bicycles, participate in 4H, play baseball and other things.    However, when I was asked to evaluate GoTrybe I thought a little more about how well we are doing on the daily aspect of P.E.

GoTrybe is a social virtual community created for all ages and features workouts, nutritional and wellness information, interactive games, and blogs for youth and parents. GoTrybe hopes to turn kids' sedentary screen time into active screen time that reinforces healthy habits. 

GoTrybe has programs available for different age groups:
  • ZooDoos is for the elementary ages, K-5th grade
  • Trybe180 is for middle school ages, 6th-8th grade
  • NexTrybe is for high school ages, 9th-12th grade
We received a subscription to Trybe180!    If you would like to try GoTrybe you can go and sign up — GETFIT will let you try it yourself for free, and after that trial, a full year subscription is $19.95.

Fibromyalgia Awareness Day

Today is fibromyalgia awareness day.    I guess it is a day set aside for people who do not know anything about fibromyalgia because if you have it, you are definitely "aware".   As a matter of fact, it is pretty hard to forget.    Just last night at church I was chatting with a friend whom I have known for a while and she mentioned a health problem she was dealing with and asked if that sounded silly.   I told her that wasn't silly because I dealt with it because of my fibromyalgia.   She got tears in her eyes, grabbed me up and said, "Oh my goodness.  I didn't know anyone else had this."  

Fibromyalgia is a weird illness.    It affects every person differently and no two people experience the same symptoms, levels of pain, levels of fatigue, or even the same physical challenges.     However, there are some symptoms and challenges that each of us have in common.

Have you ever had the flu?  I mean a really bad case of the flu.   Imagine if the only symptom you had was the incredibly awful body aches and pains, the chills and the nausea.    Imagine that you felt feverish, but it didn't register on a thermometer.    Your muscles and bones ache, but your skin cool to the touch. 

Now imagine that you went out the day before you came down with the flu and were working in the yard.   Your muscles are really sore.    You even managed to get a bad bruise or several all over your body and it hurts to even touch it.   

To top all of this off, you are having a hard time sleeping and you have been up for about the last 48 hours.   You can't seem to put together a rational thought and concentrating is a dream in and of itself.   You are soooo tired, you can’t make sense of things sometimes, you can’t keep your eyes open, you feel dizzy and strange, and all you want to do is lie down and sleep for as long as you can. Imagine you get the opportunity to take that nap that you’ve been craving to take all day long and when you lay down all of a sudden you can’t get to sleep to save your life. You can’t figure out why, because your body and brain feel like they’re going to drop at any moment. Why wouldn’t you be able to sleep??? You get frustrated and angry because all you want to do is drift off and rest.

Since you can't sleep you decide you might as well "do" something, but you just can’t hold onto objects very well and you seem to be dropping a lot of things for no reason that you can determine. Imagine a time when you were really nervous and your legs and arms felt like spaghetti. You trip over things and can’t seem to feel sure of your footing.

Now…add all of those together and you get what most people with fibromyalgia feel 24 hours and day, 7 days a week.
Unfortunately, those are just SOME of the symptoms we live with. Some of us also experience irritable bowel syndrome, migraine or stress headaches, blurred vision, weight gain (oh man have I experienced this one!), and much more.

I was diagnosed in 1994 after a year of going from doctor to doctor.   My diagnosis was very official.   My doctor walked in and handed me a pamphlet and said, "This is what you have.   You won't die, but you will wish you were dead."    Hmmm... that sounded encouraging.

Trying to explain it to my family and friends was pretty weird too since I looked completely normal.   If I had money for all the people who said, "You don't look sick." I could pay my bills.

I have been more than blessed because I have an incredible husband who has believed in me and stood by me since the moment I got sick.     He was the one who set up our method of communication regarding this fibromyalgia.    Instead of letting this sickness become a focal point, he set up a 10 point scale with 1 being awesome and 10 being I have to go to bed.    We still use this scale.    If he is worried about me of if I need to let him know it is going to be a bad day, I just let him know my number on the scale.   

Has fibromyalgia been frustrating to us?   Yes!   Has it affected our lives?   Yes!   There have been many times when we have had to cancel plans or rearrange our schedule all because of fibro.    We have both had to learn to let some things go that used to be important to us.    "Live in the moment" is our thought process.   

While we "live in the moment", we also have become great at planning.     We both have calendars and we use them.    I know his schedule and he knows mine.    Being able to keep track allows us to plan in the rest periods that I know I am going to need.   He knows that I am not going to be able to handle four days in a row of all day events.    Planning ahead is great, but we plan with the thought that plans change.     Making that decision has allowed us to avoid a lot of stress, disappointment, and resentment.

When I first was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, I wasn't sure how I was going to live the rest of my life feeling like this.     However, God showed me that I truly can do all things through him who strengthens me.  (Philippians 4:13)    I have discovered that I can control this instead of it controlling me most days.    There are some days when it gets the upper hand, but I realize that that is part of the process.

I have drawn closer to my God, my husband and my sweet boys through this illness.   Because of that I consider it a gift instead of a curse.   

Every good and perfect gift is from above, 
coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, 
who does not change like shifting shadows.    James 1:17

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Hidden Affections

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Hidden Affections
Bethany House (May 1, 2011)
Delia Parr


Delia Parr, pen name for Mary Lechleidner, is the author of 10 historical novels and the winner of several awards, including the Laurel Wreath Award for Historical Romance and the Aspen Gold Award for Best Inspirational Book. She is a full-time high school teacher who spends her summer vacations writing and kayaking. The mother of three grown children, she lives in Collingswood, New Jersey.


Betrayed by her husband, Annabelle Tyler wears the burden of legally being a divorcee, a difficult position for an upstanding young woman to find herself in.

While attempting to start a new life for herself, an unexpected turn of events once again has Annabelle married--this time to Harrison Graymoor, the most eligible, yet elusive, bachelor in Philadelphia. Harrison assures her that he will secure an annulment immediately, unaware that the constable has sent word of the marriage to the press in Philadelphia. And here things continue to go awry.

Harrison's past, a philanthropic cousin with his eye on Annabelle, and the appearance of Annabelle's ex-husband threaten the tentative relationship growing between Harrison and his "wife." For two individuals set against marriage, there are certainly a lot of second thoughts regarding the one forced upon them.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Hidden Affections, go HERE.

Take me Out to The Ball Game

Saturday morning was a gorgeous day for baseball.   We were excited to go to Little Guy's game after so many rain outs.    Both sets of grandparents have driven over at different times to watch him play only to have his game cancelled because of rain.   What a disappointment!   

Hubs had to fly out of town unexpectedly to attend a funeral so Little Guy was super excited when he found out that his Uncle Tay, Aunt Krisa, and twin cousins, LK and MM were coming to watch him.   

The two cutest fans ever watching to cheer their cousin!!    If Little Guy wasn't on the field they were asking where he was.  

Baseball is a very slow game for a two year old when you are only there to watch one person.   ha!

When Little Guy wasn't on the field they kept themselves enteretained by exploring my purse.   I am not sure why, but my purse always seems to be a source of intrique and entertainment.     Maybe because I hide fun stuff in there.   It is my right as their aunt.   Ha!

Of course, at this game they had even more fun because Little Guy's best friend was there and she played baseball with them.     So sweet.     It won't be long and we will be going to see these two cuties at their own softball, soccer or gymnastic events.

Monday, May 9, 2011

An Unlikely Suitor

New York dressmaker Lucy Scarpelli befriends socialite Rowena Langdon as she's designing her 1895 summer wardrobe. Grateful for Lucy's skill in creating fashions that hide her physical injury, Rowena invites Lucy to the family mansion in Newport, Rhode Island, encouraging the unusual friendship.

One day Lucy encounters an intriguing man on the Cliff Walk, and love begins to blossom. Yet Lucy resists, for what Newport man would want to marry an Italian dressmaker working to support her family?

Rowena faces an arranged marriage to a wealthy heir she doesn't love, but dare a crippled girl hope for anything better?

And Lucy's teenage sister, Sofia, falls for a man well above her social class--but is he willing to give up everything to marry a woman below his station?

As the lives of three young woman--and their unlikely suitors--become entangled in a web of secrets and sacrifice, will the season end with any of them finding true happiness?

If you would like to read the first chapter of An Unlikely Suitor, go HERE.

Book Review

Meet Lucy, the seamstress and main character of An Unlikely Suitor.    No, I am  not kidding.   This is the photo that Nancy Moser used as her inspiration for her character.    One of the things that I love about reading a Nancy Moser is the research she puts into her books.    I love reading her blog to find out her

It is so easy to get drawn into her story lines when I can read her research about the time period.   She even posts the pictures of the houses she uses as her inspiration as well.     Love, love, love it!

With all Nancy's research and love of her characters and the time period, is it any wonder that her books are so wonderful?     Every page of an Unlikely Suitor not only was historically accurate, but an entertaining read that I would read again.    

My Sweet Boys

After not taking any photos of my boys on Easter, I told the boys I was going to take a quick pick of them after church yesterday when we got home from church.    We were all tired after a long, packed week and weekend. 

I can't believe my precious boys are so grown.   Big Guy is taller than I am and Little Guy is up to my shoulder.      I am so in love with these amazing guys.  

The questions they ask.   Their heart for God.   The ways they are willing to do for others.   It humbles me that God allowed me to be their mom.   

My life verse for my boys continues to be...

"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth."
3 John 1:4
I love you my sweet boys.
You are truly the greatest gift I could ever receive...
on Mother's Day or any day.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother of Pearl - Sunday

Welcome to Pearl Girls Mother of Pearl Mother's Day blog series. The series is week long celebration of moms and mothering. Each day will feature a new post by some of today's best writer's (Tricia Goyer, Megan Alexander, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Beth Engelman, Holley Gerth, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, and more). I hope you'll join us each day for another unique perspective on Mother's Day.

AND ... do enter the contest for a chance to win a beautiful hand crafted pearl necklace. To enter, just {CLICK THIS LINK} and fill out the short form. Contest runs 5/1-5/8 and the winner will on 5/11. Contest is only open to US and Canadian residents.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we're all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT Mother's Day gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

And to all you MOMS out there! Happy Mother's Day!

Each Life is Unique by Lucinda Secrest McDowell

“God’s divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. II Peter 1.3 (NIV)

Moms, God wants you to know that He has given you everything you need for life --- your unique life. He does not plan to give you what you might need to live the life of your best friend, or your neighbor, or even your favorite mother-model. No, God has called you to the life that He planned. I suspect that for most of us, it didn’t turn out to be the life we thought it might be… so long ago when we were young and dreaming of ‘growing up.’

On Mother’s Day I often recall my own dreams to one day be a mother. I grew up playing with dolls and looking to my own Mama as a model for that particular role in life. However, by the time I reached my thirties I was still not a mother! God did, however, have a plan. It just wasn’t what I imagined.

My own unique life would find me becoming a mother through the adoption of my first three children who were ages 9, 7 and 4; and then much later giving birth to our fourth child. Of course I was shocked when God revealed this to me, but I was ecstatic as well. It’s as though I could hear Him saying, “Well, you’re not getting any younger so I’m just going to just give you a jump start with three at one time!”

A huge blessing! A huge adjustment! A joy and a struggle. Change is often like that, isn’t it? We finally get what we want then we have to deal with it. May I just offer a bit of advice if you just got a great answer to prayer, but perhaps not in the way or form you imagined? Just receive it. Embrace it. And be willing to move forward into a new paradigm for your life. So what if you’re not like all the other mothers you know? So what if you’re not like your own mother? So what if your family unit is different? I guarantee God has a plan.

Not only did he want me to embrace my own story, but He called me as a mother to do perhaps one of the most important tasks of all --- to nurture my children to live their own unique lives. Not for me to try and squeeze them into what I hoped and dreamed they would be. Not for me to try and live my life through them. But to recognize how God made them, gifted them, and called them to their own special place.

All of my 4 kids are different from one another. Let’s take sports, for instance: I have one child who wins gold medals in international tennis competition, one who is a born equestrian, another who competes nationally in obstacle course shooting matches, and yet another who manages to dance onstage in 3 inch heels, do cartwheels and splits while singing at the same time. Now, honestly, I do none of these things. And yet they do.

I don’t remember placing my order with God for these things.  But I do remember when that tennis player turned 9 years old and I enrolled him in Special Olympics for the first time and how it changed his life… and ours. I remember getting a counselor job at an exclusive summer camp so that my daughter could take English riding classes. I remember being a Cub Scout leader (even though I knew nothing about boys) so that son could one day become an Eagle scout and pursue his love of the great outdoors. And yes, I remember enrolling my preschooler in dance lessons. Later when all the little girls were scared to go on stage for the recital, she exclaimed that she had endured a whole year of lessons just so she could go on stage.

Don’t compare yourself to someone else. And don’t live vicariously through your favorite reality show star. Live your own story. And Moms, raise your kids to embrace the unique life God has for them.
Remember, He has given us everything we need for life!

Lucinda Secrest McDowell, a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Seminary, is the author of 10 books including “Role of a Lifetime,” “Amazed by Grace,” “Spa for the Soul” and the new Bible Study “Fit and Healthy Summer.” She is an international conference speaker and enjoys being a Pearl Girl from “Sunnyside” – her home in a New England village. Visit Cindy at www.EncouragingWords.net

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mother of Pearl - Saturday

Welcome to Pearl Girls Mother of Pearl Mother's Day blog series. The series is week long celebration of moms and mothering. Each day will feature a new post by some of today's best writer's (Tricia Goyer, Megan Alexander, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Beth Engelman, Holley Gerth, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, and more). I hope you'll join us each day for another unique perspective on Mother's Day.

AND ... do enter the contest for a chance to win a beautiful hand crafted pearl necklace. To enter, just {CLICK THIS LINK} and fill out the short form. Contest runs 5/1-5/8 and the winner will on 5/11. Contest is only open to US and Canadian residents.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we're all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT Mother's Day gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

And to all you MOMS out there! Happy Mother's Day!

What is a Grandmother? by Suzanne Woods Fisher

“A grandmother is a little bit parent, a little bit teacher, and a little bit best friend.”
 Amish proverb

I arrived late in the night in Rhode Island, anxious to meet my two-day-old grandson, Blake, after a full day of flying. My daughter and son-in-law had just returned home from the hospital and felt like they had been in a train wreck. There was stuff everywhere.  Already, the needs of this little eight-pound bundle of joy were enormous: an all-terrain stroller, plenty of diapers, onesies, spit-up rags, an assortment of pacifiers to try out until he found the ideal one.

And he was perfect.

I know, I know. “Every mother crow thinks her own little crow is the blackest.” But this little dark eyed, dark haired boy really was perfect.

I spent the next seven days (and nights) getting to know this little guy. His schedule (he had none), his hunger cries (very similar to his every other cry). His pirate look--one eye open, one eye squeezed shut, as if he was still surprised by all that had taken place to him in a week’s time.

I felt surprised, too. How could my baby possibly have had a baby? How could I be a grandmother? I had just turned fifty-one. Shockingly young! How could a kid like me give up playing tennis three times a week to settle into knitting and crocheting and Friday night bingo? And shouldn’t I alter my appearance to fit this new label? Give up my jeans? Switch over to below knee-length calico dresses, thick black socks, practical shoes, gray hair pinned in a topknot. Think…Aunt Bee on Mayberry R.F.D.

As soon as people knew my daughter was expecting, I was bombarded with advice from my well meaning friends—even those who weren’t yet grandparents. “The best way to avoid getting on the nerves of your daughter and son-in-law is to not say anything. Ever.” Or “You’d better pick your nickname or you’ll be stuck with something hideous, like MooMoo Cow.” 

What should I be called? Granny? No…reminded me of The Beverly Hillbillies. Grandma? No…sounded like The Waltons. Grammy? No…it was already taken by the in-laws.

But no one really explained what it meant to be a grandmother. I didn’t know myself, not until I held baby Blake in my arms. In that moment, I realized that he was one of mine. He belongs to me. He will be on my mind and in my prayers, every day, for the rest of my life. There’s a bond between us that can’t be broken. He has altered my life forevermore.

I had become a grandmother. 

Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling author of The Choice, The Waiting, and The Search, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace. Her interest in the Anabaptist cultures can be directly traced to her grandfather, W. D. Benedict, who was raised in the Old Order German Baptist Brethren Church in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Benedict eventually became publisher of Christianity Today magazine. Suzanne is the host of a radio show called Amish Wisdom and her work has appeared in many magazines. She lives in California. www.suzannewoodsfisher.com

Friday, May 6, 2011

Mother of Pearl - Friday

Welcome to Pearl Girls Mother of Pearl Mother's Day blog series. The series is week long celebration of moms and mothering. Each day will feature a new post by some of today's best writer's (Tricia Goyer, Megan Alexander, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Beth Engelman, Holley Gerth, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, and more). I hope you'll join us each day for another unique perspective on Mother's Day.

AND ... do enter the contest for a chance to win a beautiful hand crafted pearl necklace. To enter, just {CLICK THIS LINK} and fill out the short form. Contest runs 5/1-5/8 and the winner will on 5/11. Contest is only open to US and Canadian residents.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we're all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT Mother's Day gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

And to all you MOMS out there! Happy Mother's Day!

When Mother's Day is Difficult by Holley Gerth

I have a confession (anyone surprised?). I have mixed feelings about Mother’s Day.

On one hand, I love celebrating all the women who have made a difference in my life (thanks, Mom!).

On the other hand, a long journey of infertility has left my heart with some tender places.

On May 8th, we’ll celebrate Mother’s Day once again. For many, it’s a time of appreciation and joy. For others, it can be one of the most difficult days of the year. This is often true for women facing infertility, families who have recently experienced the loss of a mother, and many other painful situations.

At one point in my life it seemed as if I couldn’t take another step. In addition to infertility, I was facing several other losses. I felt as if I were in a dark cave. But then I sensed the Lord gently and lovingly speak to my heart, “You may be in a cave, but you still have a choice. You can sit in despair or you can diamond-mine your difficulties.” I decided I was not leaving that time in my life empty-handed. I was taking every hidden blessing I could find. Of course, I still had difficult days. But choosing hope made a difference.

As a reminder, I now wear two rings. The one on the fourth finger of my left hand represents my commitment to my husband. The one on the fourth finger of my right hand is a simple silver band inscribed with the word “hope” and it represents the commitment I have made to God and myself to hold onto hope no matter what happens.

The story of an inspiring woman named Terrie also reminds me to hold onto hope. She endured the loss of four pregnancies and waited seventeen years before adopting a little girl. She told me, “I think one of the most important parts of this journey is learning to trust God. I don’t mean the flippant kind of trust. It’s easy for people to say, ‘You just need to trust God.’ It’s much harder when you’re in the middle of all this pain. But he is trustworthy. Through it all, God has given us an amazing story. I wouldn’t have chosen this road, but he has been with us. I can look back and truly say every step was worth it.”

I don’t know how my journey will end and you probably don’t know how yours will either. I also don’t know how many of you will be silently grieving your losses as we sit in church together on May 8th. But I do know that God sees each one of us. He knows how many hairs are on our heads and how many cares our in our hearts. Whatever you’re going through this Mother’s Day, you’re not facing it alone. As King David, a man who experienced many losses in his life, expressed in Psalm 34:18 NIV, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” May God surround you with love, fill you with hope, and give you strength for each moment—especially this Mother’s Day.

Excerpted from When Mother’s Day is Difficult.

Holley Gerth is an award-winning writer for DaySpring, a cofounder of the popular web site (in)courage, and licensed counselor. Holley loves chocolate, coffee, Jesus and connecting with the hearts of women through words. Her next book, a devotional titled God's Heart for You: Embracing Your True Worth as a Woman (Harvest House) will release this July. You can find Holley online through her blog Heart to Heart with Holley.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

TOS Review: Yesterday's Classics

A room without books is like a body without a soul. -Cicero

I was so fortunate to be included in this review of Yesterday's Classics.   When they posted that this was coming up for review, the list was so long they had to turn people away.

Can you blame us?    Yesterday's Classics gives you access to history books from several civilizations, including Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, the Middle Ages, and Great Britain. There are also works of classic literature including poetry and hero tales.  Add in there a number of nature books round out a complete reading selection.  

Top that with the fact that you have the option of purchasing these separately or as a bundle for your Kindle and that is pretty much a homerun!

Right now you can get all 225 books for your Kindle for only $99.95 which is a sale price from their regular price of $149.95.

Even if you don't have a Kindle or other ereader, you can download these books to a ereader format on your computer.     So great!

What a great idea just before summer.     You know that there are going to be those moments when the kids are tempted to say, "I'm bored!"    I am going to love handing them my Kindle and saying, "Pick a book!"

Mother of Pearl - Thursday

Welcome to Pearl Girls Mother of Pearl Mother's Day blog series. The series is week long celebration of moms and mothering. Each day will feature a new post by some of today's best writer's (Tricia Goyer, Megan Alexander, Suzanne Woods Fisher, Beth Engelman, Holley Gerth, Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, and more). I hope you'll join us each day for another unique perspective on Mother's Day.

AND ... do enter the contest for a chance to win a beautiful hand crafted pearl necklace. To enter, just {CLICK THIS LINK} and fill out the short form. Contest runs 5/1-5/8 and the winner will on 5/11. Contest is only open to US and Canadian residents.

If you are unfamiliar with Pearl Girls, please visit www.pearlgirls.info and see what we're all about. In short, we exist to support the work of charities that help women and children in the US and around the globe. Consider purchasing a copy of Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace or one of the Pearl Girls products (all GREAT Mother's Day gifts!) to help support Pearl Girls.

And to all you MOMS out there! Happy Mother's Day!

A Mother's Day Wish by Shellie Rushing Tomlinson

Heads up: Margaret McSweeney deserves a medal, or at least a commendation for giving everyone a much deserved Mother’s Day rest. Okay, y’all can be seated. I’m glad you agree, but you’re supposed to be taking a load off, remember? Oh, and full disclosure—Margaret didn’t know I was going to say that so I hope she leaves it in, and no, I didn’t do it just because I’m ridiculously nostalgic about the theme of her community, although I am. As the Belle of All Things Southern, one who is southern to the bone, I have a thing about pearls.

When I was a teenager, add-a-pearl necklaces were all the rage. They may not be as wildly popular anymore as they were back in the day but I still say they’ll always be a classic concept: a gift of a single pearl on a dainty chain given with the intentions of adding other pearls on important holidays and special occasions. Today, I see add-a-pearls as a beautiful reminder of the accumulated wisdom we learn from our mamas.  Oh, sure, we snicker as young girls because not all of their advice strikes us as useful and some of it seems positively fossilized, but hopefully, over time and with the Father’s blessing, we gain enough perspective to see that these mama-isms—the important values and the silly little lagniappe— are all increasing in value with the years.  By the way, that’s my Mother’s Day wish for each of you, that we’d each take the time and the responsibility to thread these precious heirlooms into treasures worthy of bequeathing to the next generation. Mother’s Day...

May I be honest? I’m looking ahead to the annual celebration with somewhat mixed emotions. I’m not feeling very Mother of the Year. Instead of cooking dinner for my most deserving mama and enjoying her company, instead of reveling in the love of my husband, kids, and grands, (known as the Baby Czars of All Things Southern), I’ll be on the road, touring with my latest book “Sue Ellen’s Girl Ain’t Fat, She Just Weighs Heavy.” I’ve got Mama’s gift bought, wrapped, and ready to be delivered by my beloved hubby, and my grown kids understand that I didn’t choose the release date, but the facts remain:  I won’t be there. (Shameless plugs time, anyone? My daughter blogs at Kitchen Belleicious and is raising funds to build an orphanage in Rwanda at Shelter a Child http://www.shelterachild.com/ and my daughter-in-law celebrates the daily details of getting to know the Holy One at Providence, http://providence-carey.blogspot.com). I won’t get to enjoy Mama tickling the ivory from the piano bench of Melbourne Baptist Church and I won’t be overdosing on baby sugah. Sigh.

But, then, I mentioned mixed emotions earlier, didn’t I? Well, before some sweet soul cues the violin music, perhaps I should lighten up and come clean on what Mr. Harvey would call “the rest of the story.”  It so happens that while the 8th of May will find me miles from home, it’ll also find me in Savannah, Georgia where I’ve secured myself a little reservation at that famous establishment belonging to Mrs. Paula Deen, the Queen of Southern Cooking. Indeed, y’all, I’ll be suffering for Jesus at The Lady and Sons. I know. It’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it.

Regardless of where you spend it, I wish you each a Happy Mother’s Day. I’d love to think that everyone reading my words had a mother like mine, a woman of faith who taught me from childhood of the Risen Savior who saves souls and anchors lives. But, dear reader, if that’s not your past, I hope you know it can be your future. I pray you’ll be the one that begins such a legacy, and that you’ll be moved to start building that heritage today.

I’d love to see y’all on the road somewhere. Watch for me, and I’ll watch for you. I’ll be the one with an empty glass of sweet tea looking, always looking, for a refill.


Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, known as the Belle of All Things Southern is a radio host, columnist, author, speaker and founder of the All Things Southern online community, www.allthingssouthern.com. She loves meeting, greeting, laughing and learning with the whole wide world or as many who wander her way. Shellie once dreamed of writing great important things that changed the world, only once she started writing the world grinned and christened her a humorist. Shellie saw this as a problem at first, until she discovered that the laughter softens hearts, builds relationships, and invites her into people’s hurting hearts where she can share her own, which is exactly where she wanted to be all along. Look for Shellie’s latest book, Sue Ellen’s Girl Ain’t Fat, She Just Weighs Heavy wherever fine books are sold.