If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Need Some Spring

After reading Maria's post about finding some color in winter and looking at her beautiful pictures Saturday, I decided I wanted to get some flower pictures too.  So, Tracy, Kerri and I decided to go to Krohn Conservatory in Cincinnati.  They were having an early spring flower show.

Now, I haven't been to Krohn since I was a little girl and my husband and daughter had never been there.  It's not a real big place, but we really enjoyed it.  So here are some pictures.  Hope you enjoy it as much as we did.  There is a tropical house, dessert garden, Palm House an orchid garden.  The orchids were my favorite flowers. 














I saw this pink flamingo garden stake and I just couldn't resist it.  I made Kerri pose holding it so you could see it.

Hope your enjoyed our trip to Krohn Conservatory.  Also, why don't you go visit Maria and check out her beautiful photos of color in winter.

Have a great day.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Counting 1000 Gifts

Continuing on with counting my 1000 gifts or blessings.

94. Jesus loves me.

95. My family loves me.

96. I love Jesus.

97. My family loves Jesus.

98. My parents raised me to know about Jesus.

99. I found grace, mercy and forgiveness in Jesus Christ.

100. For the beautiful blue skies we had this weekend.

101. Time to spend with my family on Saturday to visit Krohn's Conservatory and see some of the the beautiful flowers and green plants that God has created for us. (There will be some pictures in a later post)

102. An hour spent Skyping with my oldest in Florida. So much fun to talk to her and see her at the same time when she's so far away.

103. A text from out of blue from same daughter saying "I love you mommy and have a great day."

104. Sweet messages on my FB Wall from both daughters just to give me a smiley face or an I love you. (Little things like this just make my day). I truly am blessed with 2 wonderful daughters.



Thursday, January 26, 2012

Don't Give Up! Hang in There!

Last night in Bible Study we were studying the 12th chapter of Hebrews and there are just so many good things in there.  But I really liked some of the things that were said about this first verse:

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, Hebrews 12:1

The "cloud of witnesses" in this scripture is the people in chapter 11 where they are talking about different ones that "by faith" they did this and "by faith" they did that. Such as:  " By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac," or "By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaohs daughter,"  We call chapter 11 the Hall of Fame of Faith.

These are the people that verse 1 in chapter 12 is talking about and also our loved ones who have gone on before us.  These are the ones who are our witness and they are cheering us on to the goal.  I think of people like my grandparents and my aunts and uncles that are in heaven.  I love the thought that they are there cheering me on home.  Maybe they are saying things like: get back up Cathy, we all fell sometimes too;  Keep on moving forward;  Keep the goal in sight.  You can do it.  Jesus is right there with you.



So if you're discouraged, Don't Give Up!  Hang in There!  You have a whole crowd cheering you on. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Wednesday Hodgepodge



Click the button above to join in with us.

1. The NFL playoffs were held this past weekend and this year's Superbowl lineup will feature The New York Giants versus The New England Patriots. How do you define 'patriot'?
I would define it as someone who is loyal to their country and is willing to stand for what they believe in.

2. What's something in your life right now that feels like a 'giant'?
This weight loss journey I've just started. 

3. What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think back to being 18?
How young and naive I was.

4. Coconut-mashed potatoes-vanilla ice cream-mayonnaise...which white food would be the hardest to give up?
Mashed potatoes

5. Describe an incident or a day you remember as the coldest you've ever experienced?
Probably one of the days when we've been out shoveling our drive-way and everything was covered in ice and then coming in and fixing "real" hot chocolate instead of the instant kind.

6. You're hosting a brunch...what's your favorite dish to prepare and serve?
I've never hosted a brunch, but one of the breakfast dishes I like to serve when my girls had sleepovers was French Toast.

7. How do you combat negative thinking?
By thinking positively!  lol  Don't you wish it was just that easy?   Actually, through prayer and scripture reading and talking and praying with my hubby.

8. Insert your own random thought here.
Has anyone seen "Joyful Noise" with Dolly Partin and Queen Latifah yet?  Is it any good?  I really want to see this, but I'm waiting for it to come to our local $5.00 theater.

Whither Thou Goest, I Will Go by Naomi Dathan

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!




You never know when I might play a wild card on you!








Today's Wild Card author is:




and the book:


Kirkdale Press (November 27, 2011)

***Special thanks to Ryan Rotz, Publicist, Kirkdale Press for sending me a review copy.***




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:




Naomi Dathan has been fascinated with prairie life since her third grade teacher read Little House in the Big Woods to the class. She finally indulged this fascination with her fourth novel, Whither Thou Goest, I Will Go. She lives in Ohio with her two daughters and two undersized beagles with oversized egos.





Check out her witty blog http://naomidathan.com









SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:


For everything there is a season. A season for joy. A season for sorrow. A season for testing.



Jem Perkins has it all – money, a fine house, a handsome husband, and a new baby boy. But when her family fortunes turn, Jem’s husband Seth leads her to a new home: a sod house on a Nebraska homestead.



It is a season of growth for Jem as she reluctantly confronts her new realities: back-breaking labor, dangerous illness, and mind-numbing isolation. She learns to embrace her new role as a capable woman and marriage partner and discovers an awareness of God’s hand in her life.



Then, on January 12, 1888, the history-making Children’s Blizzard sweeps across the land, ushering in a season of hardship she never expected. Can Jem’s confidence, marriage, and new-found faith weather the storm?





$.99 Sale!
Buy the ebook Whither Thou Goest, I Will Go from Vyrso for $.99. Use the coupon code WILDCARD at checkout or simply click HERE.
Offer ends this Friday.

Whither is also available for Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iBooks, and Google Books.

About Vyrso
Vyrso is a new Christian ebookstore and reader app from Logos Bible Software. You can read Vyrso ebooks on your iPad, iPhone, Android tablet or phone, and online at Biblia.com.




Product Details:






  • Kindle Price: $6.15
  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 382 KB
  • Simultaneous Device Usage:Unlimited
  • Publisher: Kirkdale Press (November 27, 2011)
  • Sold by:Amazon Digital Services
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006FK72QE
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled






    AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:







    January 12, 1888




    At midnight, Charley woke shivering in his trundle bed. “Ma?”

    He rose, but couldn’t see his mother’s form in the faltering lamplight. “Ma? Mom-mom?”

    Still no answer. The cast iron stove was dark and silent. The wind outside howled like a wolf, and caught at the door of the sod house, swinging it open and shut.

    Where was Ma? Why wasn’t she making the stove hot or snuggling him warm under the covers? Was she outside with the wind-wolf?

    Charley went toward the door. Ice blew into his eyes, making them water. But he wasn’t crying. Not yet. Warmth brushed his legs, a wetness caressed his cheek. The big dog, Zeke, curled his shaggy body against Charley, pushing him backward—away from the open door.

    Charley pushed back and shook his finger at him. “No! Bad.”

    Zeke whined and pressed harder. Charley fell, landing on something warm and solid. It didn’t hurt, but he set to wailing anyway, protesting his alone state, his empty belly, and the bitter cold that bit at his eyes and ears and nostrils like fierce ants.

    No one came to comfort him, so his cries soon dried up. He scuttled across the still form on the floor, pausing at a tinkling sound. “Ging,” he said, remembering. “Ging, ging, ging.”

    The bell. Pa had rung the bell today. Ding, ding, ding. He’d stoked the fire high and hot, gave Charley cold mash to eat, and clung to the doorframe, ringing and ringing the bell. Once, Pa had fallen to the dirt floor, but after a long while, he pushed himself upright, clutched the doorframe, and rang the bell again.

    Now Pa was on the floor again, unmoving.

    Charley stepped on Pa’s head as he went to look outside “ Ma!” The storm sucked his voice away so fast that he didn’t even hear himself. The winds answered in high voices, scared and scary at the same time. Was Ma out there in the black with the wind voices?

    At last, Charley made up his mind. With Zeke making little worried sounds close beside him, Charley stepped out into the blizzard to find Ma.

    ***
    August 14, 1886 (Seventeen months before)

    The Reynolds’s tea was well attended, but the August heat oppressed the guests, subduing the conversation to a languid pace. Servants discreetly watered—and even fanned—the profusion of roses arranged in vases through the room. Ladies and gentlemen sipped English tea and nibbled at scones and trifles to be polite, waiting for the blessed moment when they could return home, untie their cravats and corsets, and have a cool bath.

    Jem Perkins had nothing but sympathy for the wilting flowers. She sank onto a thickly upholstered chair next to her sister and fanned herself.

    “Can we go home now?” she whispered.

    “Hush!” Sally hissed, shooting a worried glance toward their hosts. “Mrs. Reynolds has been planning this tea for weeks. And we haven’t even greeted the guest of honor yet.”

    Hiding behind her fan, Jem peeked at Mrs. Ashley Grayson, seated near the window. She couldn’t hear what Mrs. Grayson said, but it drew appreciative laughter from the surrounding crowd. Jem smiled at her sister with her eyes. “She does feed off the adoration, doesn’t she?”

    Sally frowned. “Oh, Jem, I’m sure that’s not fair. Mrs. Grayson deserves credit for starting the Children’s Board.”

    “Of course she does! But don’t you think she has a bit of the look a cat gets when he’s found a sunny spot on the windowsill?”

    Sally pursed her lips. “You could have worked with her, Jem. I know she asked you to. Then you’d be right up there beside her.”

    Wasn’t that just like Sally, to make out that Jem was jealous. What had she to be jealous of?

    Jem fanned herself again, waiting until her irritation ebbed before answering. After all, it wouldn’t do for Jem—the married woman—to engage in sibling squabbling with her poor spinster sister. Once satisfied that there would be only kindness in her voice, she answered. “I was hardly in a position to take on an outside project right then, was I? A woman’s first responsibility is to her family. Perhaps you’ll understand … one day.”

    Sally’s cheeks went pink as the arrow found its mark. She was Jem’s elder by three years, poor thing, and she didn’t even have a serious beau. She sniffed. “I’m sure that was it. I’m sure it wasn’t because you discovered that setting up a charitable foundation actually requires a great deal of work.”

    That stung. Jem lowered her fan. “Now you’re just being cruel. You know I work very hard, Sally. Look at how many hours I put into the flower garden last year.”

    “And then you lost interest and Rogers had to take it over.”

    “And think of all the poetry I’ve written. You’ve never written a poem in your life!”

    “And I’m better off for it.”

    “At least I’m trying things. Maybe I haven’t found my true calling yet, but you shouldn’t fault me for trying.”

    Sally opened her mouth, but then shut it again, holding up a restraining palm. “Oh, we’re quarreling like children.” She sighed. “I apologize. I’m sure you have found your true calling, Jem. I’m sure your true calling is motherhood. You’re wonderful with Charley, and what’s more important than raising a happy, healthy child?”

    Jem settled back in her seat, buying herself a minute by sipping her iced tea. Sally would never have apologized a year ago, would certainly have never offered a compliment. It was disconcerting, really. “It is hot,” she offered.

    Seeing Sally relax, she did too, leaning forward to whisper to her. “And boring. I know Mrs. Grayson deserves all of our admiration. I do, truly. But I’m so tired of seeing all the same people and having all the same conversations, day after day. This city is chockfull of people, but you couldn’t tell by us.”

    “There’s the doorbell,” Sally said. “I’m sure it will be someone fascinating.”

    “Like Mark Twain?”

    “That’s right. Or Buffalo Bill.”

    Jem giggled. “How about Jesse James?”

    “I think he’s dead. Wasn’t he killed? Oh—” Her tone changed abruptly. “Look. It is someone new.”

    Jem looked. Her fan froze. The tall man stood in the entry to the parlor, his bearing military even out of uniform. He bowed slightly to Mr. and Mrs. Reynolds, shook Mr. Reynolds’s hand, and exchanged greetings with surrounding guests. Feminine eyes followed his progress as he strode in, but he didn’t seem to notice. His pewter gray eyes scanned the crowd, and landed on Jem.

    She returned his gaze, then lowered her attention to her skirts. “Well, now. The new guest is dashing, wouldn’t you say, Sally?”

    Sally made a haughty harrumph. “Oh, Sister, he looks to be a bit of a ruffian to me. Like someone who spends time in the Wild West. You’d do well to stay away from him, I think.”

    Jem murmured her agreement and peeked at the man over her fan again. His eyes were still on her. “I believe I’ll have some refreshment.”

    She approached the buffet table, turning her back on the man. Her sister was at her elbows, but when she felt Sally withdraw, she knew the man was approaching. She peeked at him over her shoulder while she ladled pink punch into a glass. He removed his derby and offered a slight bow.

    “Ma’am.”

    “Lieutenant.”

    His lips twitched at her return address, or perhaps at the Virginia drawl that had crept into the single word. “I wonder if I might join you for a beverage.”

    “Why, sir, as a guest of this tea party, you are as welcome as anyone to partake, I daresay.” Yes, the drawl of her childhood was definitely back, sliding through her words like sugarcane molasses.

    “Indeed,” the man said. He poured himself punch and downed it in a single motion. The glass looked ridiculous in his large hand, like a child’s play teacup. “I have to say, ma’am, that the scenery in St. Paul has certainly improved since my departure to Washington. I don’t remember such fine, dainty creatures as yourself frequenting the Reynolds’s teas in the past.”

    Jem smiled at that, but flushed a little, too. “Perhaps, sir, you are mistaking me for one of the young ladies playing Botticelli in the next room. I’m afraid I don’t particularly”—she took her time with the word, savoring each syllable as she hadn’t in years—“qualify as dainty anymore.”

    He imitated her accent, exaggerated it into a parody of a Virginia gentleman. “Why, ma’am, you are very mistaken, I’m sure. Why, you are the … the epitome of feminine beauty and delicacy. Your eyes are as blue as cornflowers. Your lips, well, they’re two precious little, uh, roses. In fact, I wonder if we could step out into the gardens and take a stroll together? Just the two of us?”

    “Why, sir! Surely you don’t expect me to leave this tea with you, unchaparoned. Think of the scandal.”

    He pressed his hand to his chest, gave her moon eyes. “Nothing of the sort, ma’am. I cherish your reputation as I would cherish, well, the soundness of my horse’s legs. I would die before compromising your honor. In fact, in order to protect your good name, I am willing to go this far: I will tell these people that we are married.”

    Jem started to giggle, then; she couldn’t help it. He grinned back at her, and the game was up. She threw her arms around his neck, in spite of all the company around. “Oh, Seth. I’m so glad you’re home. I thought you wouldn’t be back for two more weeks.”

    “Jem.” He put his arms around her waist and let out a long breath, letting his rigid stance relax. “This was long enough. I missed you. Can we break away from this tea? How is the baby?”

    “Oh, I hated to leave him. I think he might be getting diphtheria.”

    “Diphtheria?” He didn’t sound worried. In fact, he sounded a little amused. She backed out of his arms a little to frown at him.

    “Diphtheria is very serious.”

    “You’ve had the doctor by, I take it?”

    “Of course. Twice now.”

    “And he said?”

    “Oh, you know how Dr. Hollister is. You’d have to lay an egg for him to agree you have chicken pox.”

    Seth took her elbow lightly and led her through the parlor, nodding to the ladies, offering greetings to a few of the men. “Jemima, I’m sure Dr. Hollister would know if Charley had diphtheria. It’s very distinct.”

    “You know I worry. He coughs continually—all night long. And his nose is running.”

    “Darling, it sounds like he has a cold.” He led her to the front door, where they made their apologies to the Reynolds. “Come,” he said, as he led her to the carriage. “I’ll have a look. I certainly know what diphtheria looks like.”

    Before they’d stepped through the French doors of their home, they could hear Charley’s outraged screams ringing through the house. Jem dropped Seth’s arm and ran up the long, curving staircase, allowing him to follow when he would. “Charley! Oh, dear, what’s happened?”

    She stopped when she entered the nursery. Her boy was upright, clutching the bars of his crib with chubby fingers, red-faced and tearful, but otherwise apparently fine. “Oh, dear.” She hurried to lift him and snuggled him against her bosom. “What’s the matter, you poor little boy? Are you hurt?”

    Charley’s cries subsided. He rested his nearly bald head against her, hiccoughing.

    “Poor boy,” Jem crooned. “Mama’s here, now. Where’s Nursie, hmm? Didn’t she hear you cry?”

    “He has grown.” Seth’s voice came from the doorway. “Was he standing? When did he start that?”

    “Last week.” She smiled up at him, keeping her cheek pressed against the peach fuzz of Charley’s warm head. “I wrote to you about it, but I suppose you didn’t get the letter.”

    “No, but I haven’t stayed in one place for more than a night.” He sighed, came and wrapped his arms around Jem, enveloping her and the baby in a hug. “My family.”

    “Oh, no, ma’am!” Sophie’s voice was sharp. “He’s supposed to be napping.”

    Jem and Seth turned to look at the nurse. Her hands were closed into tight fists, pressed against her stout body as if she were restraining herself from snatching the child and putting him back in his crib.

    “Oh, but he was crying so hard. Poor boy.”

    “Good afternoon, Lieutenant. Welcome home,” Sophie said, then firmed her voice to Jem. “No, ma’am. Colonel Wilkinson was clear on that. The boy must stay in his crib for his nap. The colonel don’t want him spoiled.”

    Seth’s voice was pleasant. “Sophie, I believe you work for me, not Colonel Wilkinson.”

    “No, no.” Jem hurried to the crib. “It’s fine, Seth. Really. My father is right—you know I’ll spoil him.”

    She peeled Charley off her chest and set him in the crib. His screams renewed, broken by sobs. He rolled and pulled himself back up to his feet. Seth picked him up. Charley reached for his mother, but Seth didn’t hand him over.

    “Oh, Seth, really. My father is right.”

    “I haven’t seen my son in two months. I believe he and I will take a walk around the nursery.”

    Sophie gave Seth a long, tight-lipped look, and retreated from the room.

    “Oh, my,” Jem said. “She’ll let my father know. She always does.”

    “Darling, this isn’t your father’s child. It’s ours. Why does he have anything to say about when we hold him?”

    “You know how he worries. He wants the best for his only grandson.”

    Charley stopped reaching for his mother and stared up into Seth’s face.

    “Look, he remembers you.”

    Seth made a scoffing sound, but Jem saw he looked pleased. “He’s far too young. I’m glad he’s letting me hold him, though. So, other than this dire illness that has him at death’s door, he appears to be thriving.”

    Jem sighed. “You shouldn’t tease me, Seth. Ima Caldwell—do you remember her? She said her sister’s husband’s niece lost both of her little boys last winter—one to diphtheria, and the other to pneumonia. And Amy Wiley’s whole family is ill.”

    Seth sobered and kissed Charley’s head, holding him a little closer. “It’s terrible. I can’t imagine what they’ve suffered. But Charley is healthy. God has blessed us. Let’s thank Him for it, instead of borrowing trouble.”

    “Y—yes. I do, of course.”

    She shook her head. It was the sort of comment Sally had been prone to make lately. Seth had been no believer when they met; he’d gone to church only to please Jem and her family. But something had changed over the last year. Seth had changed.

    When he was home, he attended church on Sundays as well as a Bible study on Wednesday. He led prayer at mealtimes, even if it was only the two of them sitting at the long polished dining table. She tried to act like it was normal behavior—after all, she was the one who’d been brought up in the faith—but it was really rather embarrassing.

    “There, you see, Jem? He just needed a little walk.” Charley was settled against his father’s chest. His face had relaxed, his eyes closed in sleep.

    Jem plucked a cloth from the chest of drawers and swiped at the path of drool running down the baby’s chin. “You do remember about this part, don’t you?”

    Seth gave her a wry smile. “I tried to forget. I go through fewer shirts riding on top of the stage coach. Well, I suppose I should put him down.”

    Jem arranged the soft blankets in the crib. After Seth laid Charley on them, they stood side by side, admiring their little boy. “Isn’t he beautiful? I think he’s the prettiest baby in St. Paul.”

    Seth slid his arm around her waist. “By far the handsomest, anyway.” He sighed then. “Is your father at home today? I need to discuss some things with him. I didn’t see him at the Reynolds’s tea.”

    “He said he had business to attend to today. I’m not sure whether he’s at home or at the office. But, Seth, can’t it wait? You’ve just gotten home. Can’t we spend the rest of the afternoon together?”

    She looked up at him as she finished the question, and was surprised to see the grim expression on his face.

    “I’m afraid not, Jem,” he said. “I’m sorry; I know I just got home. But I have to handle some business.”

    She gave him a quick pout, making sure to smile with her eyes so he knew she was teasing. “It’s a shame, when a man would rather spend his homecoming with his father-in-law than with his wife.”

    Seth didn’t smile back, but he kissed her on the forehead. “I’ll be home in a couple of hours. We’ll have dinner together—just the two of us, all right?

    Jem wrapped her arms around his waist and accepted his embrace. “Hurry back. I’m sure my father will be glad to see you, anyway.”



    Monday, January 23, 2012

    Still Counting 1000 Gifts

    I'm still counting and I don't plan to quit until I reach at least a thousand. Click the button at the bottom of my post if you'd like to join in.

    82. Enjoyed the retirement of my boss and friend of 35 years. It's been great to work with him all this time.

    83. The opportunity to learn to work with a new boss.

    84. Blessed with a wonderful quiet weekend at home.

    85. Completed reading a book and starting another one.

    86. So thankful I was taught to read and learned to love it so much.

    87. Thankful for the teachers who taught me to love a good story by reading aloud to us.

    88. Thankful for a mother who loved to read and took us kids to the library all the time so we could read as much as we wanted.

    89. Thankful for my youngest daughter who is learning to go along with the flow, even when things don't go as planned.

    90. Enjoyed time with my youngest to watch a movie together that she got for Christmas. So fun laughing together and just being in the room together.

    91. Missing my oldest but thankful to know she is okay because of all her posts on FB and sometimes her texts with nothing more than a Good Morning. Glad to know she is thinking about me sometimes.

    92. Thankful that my parents raised us to always be in church and the same for my husband. Makes it seem strange when we have to cancel services because of the weather and we can't go to church. So glad to feel that way because it is so engrained to be there and worship together as a church.

    93. Blessed to know that we can worship him anywhere and not just at church.



    Wednesday, January 18, 2012

    Wednesday Hodgepodge



    1. A new Miss America was crowned on Saturday night-did you watch? If you were a contestant what would your talent be?
    I watched part of it and participated in a blog party which was kinda fun...well until my computer died.  Probably my talent would be singing or playing the piano.  

    2. Do you have houseplants? Real or fake?
    I don't have any houseplants real or fake right now.  I do have a real plant in my office, but I'm about to kill that...which explains why I don't have any at home.  I've killed them all.

    3. When you were in school did you speak up or were you more of the hide your face, avoid eye contact, and pray the teacher didn't call on you type of student?
    Depends on what was going on.  If I knew the answer, I was glad to answer it, if not, then I'd tried to avoid eye contact.

    4. Next Monday marks the Chinese New Year...what do you order when someone suggests Chinese food?
    Broccoli and chicken with steamed rice.

    5. How would you define a miracle? What would it take for you to consider something a miracle?
    A miracle is something that can only be done by God's power.  I think even the very fact that we get up every morning breathing is a miracle because we couldn't do that without the power of God.  I believe the greatest miracle of all is that He loves me and He saved me.

    6. What's your favorite Disney song? If you're stuck you'll find a list here.
    I don't know if I'd say it's my favorite, but I think this is a really fun song.  I love so many that I really can't pick a favorite.



    7. I should have _____________ yesterday.
    done some laundry

    8. Insert your own random thought here.
    I joined Weight Watchers tonight. Hoping I can finally get some of this weight off.

    Monday, January 16, 2012

    Still Counting One Thousand Gifts

    Yes I'm still counting and I don't intend to quit until I reach a thousand. Hopefully by then it will be so engrained in me I'll never quit.

    73. I've been blessed to have the same job for 35 years and I've worked with our current police chief during that entire time.  He was a sergeant when I started and has been the chief for over 24 years.  He's retiring this week and I know I'm going to miss him, but I'm so thankful to have been allowed to work with him all they years.  He's a great Chief and more importantly a great man.

    74. Saw a beautiful sunrise this morning. The skies were a beautiful pink. I wish I would have taken a picture.

    75. Kelli has been home for a month and it's been wonderful.  We took her to the air port this morning (which is why I saw the sunrise) and she flew back to school at 7:00 AM.   I've talked to her and she is back safe and sound. God is so good.

    76.Spending some time in the evening with Kelli just sitting and watching some great movies together.

    77. Trying to speak some words of encouragement and wisdom to each girl and knowing God has some wonderful plans for each of their lives.  Praying they will seek Him with all their heart.

    78.  Fun times shopping together and eating together (all 4 of us).  Now we're back to 3 here and 1 there, but knowing that God is with all of us.

    79.  Having free time today to finish a good book.

    80.  Visiting at the rehabilitation center with my 87 year old Aunt and watching her and my dad (her 83 year old brother) interacting together and hoping to some day at those ages do that with my brothers and sisters.

    81.  So blessed to still have both of my parents still her and in relative good health and still being able to learn so much from both of them.  And finally learning what a treasure they are and how much God has blessed us through them.

    Why don't you click the button below and join in counting your blessings too.




    Thursday, January 12, 2012

    This and That Thursday

    Just sharing some things that have occurred this last week that I actually got my camera out for.  I haven't been taking many pictures lately, but I'm trying to start to take some more now.  So anyway, here's some this and that.

    The girls got free passes to go see the new 3D version of Beauty and the Beast and while they were there this is what we did.  Had breakfast in McDonald's and played on our Kindle Fires.  I think we all had fun.

    This is the little theater they went to.  Isn't it cute? 

    I thought this building looked neat.  It was close to the theater.  You see we also had to wait in the car for a bit when we left McDonalds.

    This is the town where we went.  It is such a neat looking city.

    This is my new Vera Bradley.

    It snowed today and I ran outside at work to get a picture.  This is my kind of snow.  Sticks to the trees and grass, but not the streets and sidewalks.

    I took this picture through the windshield while driving.  I was at a red light.
    And that is the end of my Thursday full of this and that.  Hope you enjoyed. 

    Wednesday, January 11, 2012

    Wednesday Hodgepodge



    Click the Hodgepodge button to join in and play along.
    1. Lake Superior University has once again published a list of words/phrases they think should be banished from the Queen's English in 2012-

    amazing, baby bump, shared sacrifice, occupy, blowback, man cave, the new normal, pet parent, win the future, trickeration, ginormous, and thank you in advance.

    Which of these words/phrases would you most like to see banished from everyday speech and why? Go here to read more about how the words are chosen.
    Trickeration???  Never heard of this one.  I personally don't care for baby bump.  It's just personal preference.  Why not just say baby or pregnant?

    2. Are you easily embarrassed?
    Sometimes.

    3. What is your go-to snack?
    Oreo cookies
    4. Have you ever been to Washington D.C.? If not do you have any desire to go? What site/attraction would you most want to see in that city? If you have been, what's your favorite site/attraction?
    I went as chaperone on my daughter's 8th grade trip.  I love DC and hope to go back again some day.  I'd love to tour the White House and Library of Congress and see the Aerospace part of the Smithsonian.  My favorite attraction that I've been to is Lincoln's Monument.  I love it and just so much want to climb up and sit in his lap.  Somehow I think that would be greatly frowned upon.  


    5. sit ups-planks-lunges-squats...which do you hate the least?
    I hate them all equally!! Definitely no favoritism being shown on my part.

    6. What's a small act of kindness you were shown that you've never forgotten?
    On my wedding day a friend unexpectedly loaned me a beautiful diamond necklace (made from her mother's rings) to wear.  I had no idea and it looked perfect with my dress.  I'll never forget her kindness.

    7. Have you ever been a blood donor?
    Yes I have, but not for quite awhile.  Although, I did just have a blood test today and it sure seemed like they took a lot.  :)

    8. Insert your own random thought here.
    I worked 15 hours on Tuesday...sure does make for a loooong day.  But the extra money sure will be nice.

    Monday, January 9, 2012

    Still Counting One Thousand Gifts

    I'm still counting my blessings and I've got a long ways to get to 1,000.  But my God has so richly blessed me and I can never thank Him enough.

    66.  Enjoying watching "One Night with the King" as I just finished reading Esther in my morning devotions.

    67.  I'm thankful I'm relearning to knit, even though I haven't spent much time at it lately, but hopefully will pick it up soon again.

    68.  I'm thankful for my friend who always talks me into trying new things.  She's the one who started me blogging three years ago.

    69.  I'm thankful for the home God has given us.  A place where I can go for peace and rest.  A place where I can just be me.  A place where I don't have to change to please others.

    70.  I'm thankful for a husband who never tries to change me, but just always loves me.

    71.  So thankful for the opportunity to go out with my husband to dinner at Outback, using a gift certificate he got for Christmas.  Talk about a nice gift; dinner with just the 2 of us and it didn't cost us anything!  That's what I call the good life.  :)

    72.  A wonderful day of worship and a nice long nap this afternoon.




    Why don't you click on the One Thousand Gifts Button above and join in counting all the blessings of God in your life. You won't regret, looking back on your week and remembering the wonderful things He's done for you. Some are small and some are huge, but it's good to remember them all.

    Wednesday, January 4, 2012

    Wednesday Hodgepodge



    Click the button above to join in for Wednesday Hodgepodge.

    1. What are three words you would use to describe your 2011?
    Better than 2010

    2. Do you like shrimp? What's your favorite way to have it prepared?
    Yes I like deep-fried shrimp with tartar sauce.

    3. Is your house de-Christmased? If so when did you tackle that job? If not, when will the decorations come down?
    Yes, all except one wreath and I have to get something to store it in so it won't get broken.

    4. Do you like to watch scary movies?
    Absolutely not!!!!

    5. ice skating~sledding~skiing~snowboarding~of the four listed which wintertime activity do you most enjoy?
    I haven't gone sledding since I was a kid.  I've never skied or snowboarded.  I used to ice skate, but it's been probably 15 years or more since I've done that.  But I loved ice skating when I did it.

    6. Did you have a childhood hideout? Describe it.
    No not really, other than when I would read, it was like I was in another world...does that count?

    7. What's a place or space that motivates you?
    Motivates me for what?   I don't know.

    8. Insert your own random thought here.
    I ordered a new Vera Bradley Purse yesterday.  I can't wait to get it.

    Tuesday, January 3, 2012

    Praise

    The other day I posted that my word for 2012 is "Praise" and I quoted a scripture from Psalms about God inhabiting praise. I was talking to my husband about this scripture and he is the one who helped me find it. Then he also directed me to this blog post at "Ron's Thoughts on Scripture and Life."  I'm so glad he did.  He shared a song from the Imperials about praise and that God inhabits the praise of His people and he said He was praying to God and felt God told him to "Praise me and see if I show up."  Pretty simple isn't it?  Just try it and see if it's true.  I know it's true because the Bible says so.  But I say I want more of God in my life and it seems to me this is a good way to have Him.

    So in 2012 I plan to be more deliberate in my praise.  I will continue with my 1000 Gifts/Blessings list which makes me want to say thank you and praise him.  I plan to listen to praise and worship music more and to keep looking for Him throughout my day and trying to see Him at work, even in the small things.  I think this is my New Year's Resolution (if you want to call it that). 

    Jesus, I praise You for who You are and for all You've done for me and I ask You to help me keep focused on You in 2012 and see You at work in my life and to remind me to praise You in all things.  Amen 


    Monday, January 2, 2012

    A Life Restored (Prescott Pioneers 3) by Karen Baney

     

    It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books.  A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured.  The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between!  Enjoy your free peek into the book!

    You never know when I might play a wild card on you!



    Today's Wild Card author is:



    and the book:

    Publisher: Karen Baney (August 28, 2011)

    ***Special thanks to Karen Baney for sending me a review copy.***

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



    Karen Baney, in addition to writing Christian historical fiction and contemporary novels, works as a Software Engineer.  Her faith plays an important role both in her life and in her writing.  Karen and her husband make their home in Gilbert, Arizona, with their two dogs.  She also holds a Masters of Business Administration from Arizona State University.





    Visit the author's website.


    SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:


    Making mistakes is a part of life…

    Social butterfly, Caroline Larson, longs for adventure.  Since her best friend left Texas, she grows dissatisfied with her life.  A little lie to her parents sends her on the journey of her life.  Stranded in the Arizona desert, far from her final destination, she must rely on a stranger who gets under her skin.

    Thomas Anderson has always struggled with making good decisions.  A twist of fate, or Providence, leads him to Arizona to take a job as an express rider.  Dealing with the ghosts of his past threatens to overshadow his future—until he meets a woman needing his help.  Sparks fly as she grates on his nerves.

    As they both struggle to move beyond their past mistakes, will they find their lives restored?

    Product Details:
    List Price: $14.99
    Paperback: 330 pages
    Publisher: Karen Baney (August 28, 2011)
    Language: English

    ISBN-10: 098354865X

    ISBN-13: 978-0983548652

    AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:




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    Wickenburg, Arizona Territory




    August 19, 1865





       The stagecoach bounced over the rough terrain.  Caroline Larson tried not to slide into the man sitting next to her on the hard, bare wood seat.  The least they could have done was put some upholstering on the thing.  Then she would not be jostled so much from the side against the window to the poor young man next to her.


       Another jolt of the Celerity stagecoach shoved her into his side once again.


       “Sorry,” she murmured, glancing at the young man.


       “No harm, Miss.”  A smirk played on his lips causing the jagged scar on his right cheek to wrinkle unattractively.  She wondered how he got the scar.  The hint of laughter in his voice indicated he was enjoying this.


       Caroline stifled a snort of disgust as she turned to look out the opening with a small canvas cover secured to the top of the window frame.  The dust billowing up from the front wheels obscured much of the view, filtering into the interior of the stage.  The small town—if one could call it that—of Wickenburg faded behind them.  The only good thing about facing the rear of the stage was that she did not have to endure a face full of dust with each breath.


       The stage jerked violently, propelling the man across from her forward, landing awkwardly in her lap.  She turned her shocked green eyes towards him, narrowing them slightly until the red of embarrassment tinged his cheeks.  He offered profuse apologies as he tried to return to his designated seat.


       She should have listened to Millie.  She and her father had acted as chaperones, escorting Caroline west.  Unfortunately, their travels ended in Wickenburg.  Millie and her father assured her they would take her the rest of the way to Prescott by mid-September. But, she had come this far and did not want to wait another month or more before being reunited with her brother Adam and her best friend Julia.


       As the stage crossed over a huge bump, sending Caroline airborne for a few seconds, her mind returned to her present circumstance.  Despite Millie’s concern, she boarded the stage this morning headed for Prescott.  Things were just fine.  She could handle the inquisitive looks of these men.


       Abruptly, the stage skidded to a halt, propelling Caroline into the arms of the man across from her.  Her almost apology died on the tip of her tongue.


       “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”


       Rifle fire echoed in her ears.  Her head snapped towards the window.  The driver fell from his perch on the front of the stage.  As she jerked forward, the young man with scar clasped his hand down on her arm.  She turned her eyes toward him.  He lifted a finger to his lips and shook his head.  He pushed her back against the seat, out of the view of the window.


       “What’d ya do that fer?” another voice sounded.


       “I told him not to reach for his gun.”


       Caroline froze.  The stage was being robbed!


       “Y’all come out slow like,” the first man shouted.


       “Miss,” the man with the scar whispered.  “Let me go first to make sure it’s safe for you.”


       A lump formed in her throat.  She watched as he exited the stage.  Maybe she had been too quick to judge him earlier.


       “How many more of you are in there?” the first robber’s voice asked.


       “Just four more,” the man with the scar answered.


       That was not true.  There were four more men.  And her.  What was he doing?


       “Come out nice and slow.”


       The rest of the men did as instructed.  Caroline hesitated in the shadows, wondering if the scar-faced man—now she wished she would have asked his name—was trying to protect her.  Tapping her finger against her temple rapidly, she tried to figure a way out of this situation.  Scanning the landscape offered no solutions.  Nothing but vast open desert presented itself.  There was no place to hide.


       For the first time in her eighteen years, Caroline had no solution.  No plan.


       “Bart!” the first robber yelled.  “Check out the stage.  Make sure no one else is lurking around.”


       She heard the distinct sound of a man dismounting a horse.  Moments later, shuffling feet sounded just outside of the stagecoach door.  Flattening herself into the shadows as much as possible, Caroline wished she had not worn her bright yellow dress this morning.  Her dark green would serve much better to hide her now.


       “Looksee here,” Bart said with a broken toothed smile.  “Come here missy.”


       He leaned in and caught hold of her foot.


       “Unhand me,” she said before realizing she had destroyed any hope of hiding her presence from Bart’s boss.


       As Bart tugged harder on her ankle, she slid off the seat, landing with a thud on the floor of the stage.  Kicking his face with her other foot, she freed herself long enough to make a somewhat graceful exit.  Bart’s beefy arms clamped around her shoulders as soon as her feet hit the ground.  He shuffled her to the line of passengers.


       Bart flung her toward the scarred man who helped her earlier.  The force was so hard she lost her balance and landed at his feet with a whimper.  When he knelt to help her up, the robber cocked his pistol, stopping him in mid-crouch.  All she could see was the scar on the passenger’s face as she tried to control her breathing.  It wasn’t as noticeable now as it had been before.  For some reason, she found that comforting.








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       The air rushed from Robert Garrett’s lungs.  In all his life he had never been this lucky.  There was no mistaking those flashing green eyes.  The young woman Bart just pulled from the stage was definitely Caroline Larson.

       As his lackey, Bart, pushed her forward, she fell at one of the passenger’s feet.  Robert cocked his gun, leveling it at the passenger.

       “I think she can stand on her own,” he said, covering his momentary shock.

       When the passenger made no further move to help her, Robert pointed his gun at Caroline.  His sinister smile hid behind the red bandana covering his face.  She straightened with that defiant look she always had etched haughtily on her face.  He would relish wiping that expression away later.  He had to finish the business at hand first.

       He spoke with an exaggerated accent to further disguise his identity, not that Caroline would recognize his true identity if she saw his full face.  “Now, I want y’all to empty your pockets of all yer valuables and place ‘em in the bag Bart has.  We don’t want no trouble, so just do as yer told.  Otherwise, I might decide to empty my pistol into this little gal.”

       Robert plotted his next move, while Bart went down the line taking all the valuables from each of the passengers, including Caroline Larson.  He hated her blasted brother, Adam, almost as much as he hated Will Colter.  Almost.  Patience.  You’ll have your revenge soon enough.

       A slow plan was always much better than a hurried one.  In fact, robbing this stage had been a bit hurried—it’s how he ended up doing it himself, instead of hiring it out.  It was a dangerous move to get his hands dirty.  After this, he would distance himself from the execution of his plans.  Too risky.  But, if he hadn’t been here, he wouldn’t have seen Caroline and the ideas taking shape in his head would be a missed opportunity.

       First things first.  He had to finish this job then rendezvous with his other men.  He would have his associate pay off Bart before taking the stage horses to La Paz to sell.  He would instruct his associate to return to the stagecoach, where he would leave Caroline alive, and have his associate fetch her and take her to the small shack on the outskirts of his property.  He’d let the men have fun with her, as long as they kept her alive.  He needed her if he was going to ransom her for money.

       Oh, Adam Larson wouldn’t have anywhere near enough funds to rescue her.  That would be part of the fun.  And it would be what would force Will Colter to get involved.

       The best part was that no one would have any idea he was involved in any of this.  He would clean up, shave, and change into his fine clothes after his meeting with his associate.  Then he would head back into Wickenburg and spend the night at the hotel before heading out to Prescott tomorrow as the respectable Robert Garrett.

       Inwardly, the swell of anticipation for the next phase of his revenge sent giddy shivers up and down his spine.  He would come back despite all that Colter and Larson took from him and he would do it while destroying them.




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       When Bart stopped in front of her, Caroline realized she would need to part with her items as well.  Slowly she unfastened the broach her mother gave her and let it slip into the bag.  Then she emptied her reticule, thankful she had taken the time to discretely hide half of her money elsewhere on her person this morning.

       Once the man had a full bag, he began dumping luggage from the back of the stage, littering things everywhere.  He picked through her trunk, strewing her clothing on the dusty ground.  Finding nothing of worth there, he went to the next trunk.  After several minutes ticked by, he announced he was finished with his search.

       Then the boss man dismounted his horse.  He came straight towards her.  With a small bandana in his hands, he shoved her over to one side of the stage.

       “What are you doing?” the scarred man asked, making a move towards the robber.

       The robber turned and shot him.

       Caroline gasped as the man’s body fell limp in a pool of blood.  As his face relaxed, the scar became almost invisible.  A tear trickled down her cheek.

       “Any more questions?” the robber asked.  When no one moved, he added, “Good.”

       He turned her back towards him, pushing her face into the side of the coach.  She tried to struggle, but stopped when he pressed the barrel of his pistol against her neck.  When she stilled, he yanked her hands behind her back and tied them together with the bandana.  Then he shoved her to the ground.

       “Stay,” he commanded.  “And don’t give me no trouble.”

       Her heart pounded loudly in her ears as she watched helplessly.  He unhitched the team of four horses from the stagecoach.  He barked another command to Bart, who then led the remaining four men to the other side of the stage.

       At the first rifle shot, Caroline jumped.  Looking through the undercarriage, she saw two of the men who sat across from her lying in a heap on the ground.  Blood soaked their clothing and the odd angle of their bodies suggested they died from the same shot.  Two more rapid rapports of a pistol were followed by the harsh thud of another man hitting the ground.

       Tears streamed down her face as she heard the pleas of the last man.  The echo of a rifle cut off his cries.  Glancing over to the other side of the coach, she saw his body land on the others.


       Quickly, she looked away.  Fear squeezed her heart.  She would be next.


       Raising her knees to her chest, she buried her face in the folds of her skirt, as well as she could with her hands still tied behind her back.  Lord, help.  I shouldn’t have lied to papa.  But, I need you.  I don’t want to die.


       The sound of men mounting their horses brought her eyes up.


       “Boss, ain’t ya fergetting something?” Bart asked.


       The robber turned dark eyes on her.  “Naw.  I ain’t about to kill a woman.  Let her be.”


       “We just gonna leave her?”


       “Yeah.  Desert will kill her soon ‘nough.”


       Those were the last words she heard before the robber’s loud “Yaw” forced the unhitched stage horses into motion between him and Bart.


       Caroline stared after their dust cloud for what seemed like hours, still stunned that she had come out of the ordeal unscathed.


       When she was certain they were gone, she stood, arms still tied behind her back.  Looking around, she found a rough metal edge to the harness system on the front of the stage.  Kneeling awkwardly, she rubbed the bandana against the metal until her hands were free.


       Flexing her fingers in front of her, she stopped short at the blood on them.  Reaching down to her petticoat, she ripped off a strip and wrapped her cut left hand.


       Her stomach revolted at the thought of what she must do next.  Taking a few deep breaths, she walked toward the scar-faced man.  Crouching down beside him, she searched for any sign of life.  There was none.  She didn’t even get to thank him.  She wiped her eyes on the sleeve of her dress.


       Caroline proceeded to the other side of the stagecoach.  Three of the men’s bodies were piled one on top of the other.  She wasn’t strong enough to move the first to check on the other two, though she could see no evidence that any survived.


       The last man lay prostrate nearby.  As she approached, she thought she heard him groan.  When she kneeled next to him, his body shook violently.  She managed to turn him over just as the last spark of life slipped from his eyes.


       Jumping to her feet, she staggered to the other side of the wagon.  Sinking to her knees, she let the tears fall down her face.  Her stomach roiled at all she witnessed.  Crawling on her hands and knees she moved only a few feet before she lost the contents of her stomach.


       Wiping the back of her hand across her mouth, she despaired.  Was she going to die before ever reaching Prescott?


       Then the guilt settled in.  If only she had stayed in Texas and married Nathan Finley.  She wouldn’t be in this fine mess.



    My Thoughts:  Book 3 in the Prescott Pioneer's series is just as good as #1 and #2.  Again the characters were well written as was the story-line.  Like so many of us Thomas keeps trying to live a better life in order to get past his bad mistakes in the past.  It took him awhile before he finally learned, the only true way to change is to let Christ change you.  Caroline, too had to learn to trust in God and not herself.  Makes you realize that in Christ all things are possible.  I think one of my favorite parts of the book though was reading about Betty and Ben.  I love their story.  This book is very good and I recommend reading this whole series.  I don't think you'll be disappointed, if you do.