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


Friday, December 30, 2011

Life This Week Between Christmas and New Years

Things are quiet around our house this week after Christmas. Hubby and I are back to work, but we've been coming home in the evenings and just relaxing. The girls have been watching some movies and listening to music (with headphones on...Yay!). Tracy and I have been playing with our new Kindle Fires and trying to learn about them. I think I'm gonna like it. I watched a movie on it last night laying in bed and that was fun. I'm also reading "The Help" on it.  I got it from our local library who now lends out ebooks. 

A couple girlfriends and I are considering opening an Etsy Shop together and have been kicking around some ideas of things we could make and sell. Have you ever heard of Zentangle (no I'm not into Zen)? I hadn't until yesterday when Cathy G. told me about it. It's kinda cool and I think you could do some really neat things with it. Basically, Zentangle is doodling, only in a deliberate kind of way. 

Kerri received a gift certificate from Hobby Lobby for Christmas so she's been wanting to go. Plans are to have Chinese for dinner then head to Hobby Lobby ( for some pens, crimper clamps for some jewelry stuff I want to try to make, etc) and then back home for a quiet night of crafting and whatever else we might get in to.  Sounds like a good night to me.  Here's a Video if you want to see what Zentangle is.

Have a great day everyone!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Trying Something New

I wanted to take off the Christmas background and try something new. I'm getting a little tired of the Castle (not in real life, but just on my blog). So for now, I won't be using a picture until I can figure out what I want. I thought this background was kind of cute though.

What do you think? Do you have any ideas for me?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. Share something you loved about your Christmas Day.
We had a really nice Christmas Day and I enjoyed most all of it.  We slept in a little late, then opened gifts with the girls.  Then we got ready and went to church and had a really nice service.  Lots of Christmas Carols and a short sermon.  Very nice time of worship.  Then we went home and had a few minutes to relax and then we went to my husband's parents' home and had lunch and then opened gifts there. My nephews brought their guitars and played a few songs for us and then we just relaxed and talked and had a great afternoon.

2. You get to put five items in a time capsule to be opened in 100 years, what items would you choose and why?
1 - some pictures of my family...so people will know what we look like
2 - a short bio on each of us...so people will know who we are
3 - a Bible...so people will know what we believe and who we believe in
4 - an iPod with some really good music, to show what we listened to and a little of what our technology is like right now
5 - some pictures of our home inside and out...to show people where and how we live

3. What do you like on a cracker?
peanut butter or cheeseball

4. Do you make resolutions at the start of a new year? How'd that work out for you this past year?
No I usually don't.

5. What's a song or song lyric you'll associate with 2011?
Sorry, but I really can't think of any particular one.

6. How will you ring in the new year?
We haven't made plans yet.  Probably we'll go to my parents early in the evening and then come home and watch a movie or something and will probably be in bed early.  Yeah, I know that sounds boring, but with hubby being a pastor we have to be up early and at church the next morning, bright eyed and bushy tailed.

7. What is something you look forward to in 2012?
Hopefully, just being healthy and having a great year and growing closer to each other and to the Lord.  We haven't planned vacations or any special activities as of yet.

8. Insert your own random thought here.
My husband and I took our Christmas Gift money and each purchased a Kindle Fire.  I haven't decided if I like it yet or not.  I like a lot of the features, but I've found it is heavier by quite a bit than the other Kindle we had.  Of course, we just got them last night, so I haven't had much time to mess with it yet.  So right now, the verdict is still out on the Fire.  But my oldest is going to take my old Kindle to school with her and I know if I decide I like it better than the Fire, I can always switch with her at the end of the school year.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Smitten by Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Diann Hunt & Denise Hunter

This book is actually 4 stories brought together in one.  It is written by four favorite Christian fiction authors; Colleen Coble, Kristen Billerbeck, Diann Hunt and Denise Hunter.  They each wrote about one character in one section of the book.  My understanding is that the main characters that they wrote about portray some of their own characteristics.  They did a really good job of writing their character’s story but then blending each of the other characters in too. 
The main story is about 4 really good friends who live in the town of Smitten, Vermont.  The logging mill has just been closed and everyone is afraid the town will die, now that the main form of employment is gone.  These 4 friends devise a plan to attempt to save the town.  The stories then go on with how each one tries to implement their part and how they find true love in the process. 
I really don’t want to tell a lot more about the story, because I really don’t want to give anything away.  I will tell you it is written very well, and each woman’s love story is really fun to read.   
I also totally loved reading about small town life in Vermont.  Each story is written in a different season of the year, so by the end, you have read about the entire year in the life of the town.  I enjoyed imaging each of the seasons, such as: skiing and ice skating in the winter, roller skating in the summer, working on a Christmas Tree Farm in the winter. 
I really enjoyed this book a lot and highly recommend you reading it.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. 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 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011

Plans for the Day - Updated 7:45pm

I'm on a mini Christmas Vacation until Tuesday and I think today is going to be a fun day. Here are our plans so far.

1. Heading to Union Terminal in Cincinnati to see the Duke Energy Train Display.
2. Trying a chili restaurant we've never been to but was on the Travel Channel, Man vs Food Nation show. It's called Camp Washington Chili.
3. Then the girls and I are going to a movie. Either "Arthur Christmas" or "We Bought a Zoo." Any thoughts on which is best?

First we went to try the chili restaurant.  Camp Washington Chili.  I got a roast beef sandwich & fries that were out of this world.  Everybody else tried the chili and said it was really good.  We talked to the owner when we were checking out and he said they had been there since 1940.  It was just a simple place, but had good food and we really enjoyed it.  Here's a couple pictures.
Camp Washington Chili from the parking lot

This is their Christmas tree in the front of the restaurant.

Next we went to Union Terminal and saw the Christmas Train Display. The place was packed and we did a lot of waiting but it was a lot of fun.  We also decided to go to the Omnimax and see the Rocky Mountain Express which was about the train that was built across Canada in the late 1800's and early 1900's.  Wow!  The scenery was beautiful, but it made me a little dizzy and nauseous, so I had to keep my eyes closed a lot of the time during the second half.  But it was still fun.  Here are some pictures.

This is the front of the Terminal.  This is where all the trains used to come into Cincinnati and it's now a Museum Center.  There's a History Museum, a Children's Museum, and an Omnimax Theater.. It is an absolutely beautiful place.

The big window in the main lobby of the terminal.

Here's a small section of the mural in the lobby area.

Here's part of the train display.  This is a model of Cincinnati.

This is part of the Christmas display

Here's where they run all the model trains in the Christmas Part of the Display.

Here's one of the many lines of waiting we were in.

Here are the girls waiting in line.

This was a fun bunch of Christmas Carolers inside the Museum.

Kelli playing "pull my finger" with this flat-engineer guy directing us to the Christmas Trains.

Thomas the Train in the Christmas display.  Didn't even know I got a picture of him until I posted it here.

With all the crowds and waiting in line and then watching the Omnimax Movie, we didn't make it to see Arthur's Christmas or the Zoo movie.  Maybe another day!

Hope you enjoyed our trip to Union Terminal.  I know we did.

Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wednesday Hodgepodge

Click the button to join us playing Hodgepodge. It's fun!

1. Are you cooking Christmas dinner? How many will be round your table this year? What are we having?
No, I'm not cooking Christmas dinner.  I will, however, probably make something to take to both Christmas Dinner at my in-laws on Christmas and something for Christmas Eve at my brother's house.  I think my dad is making ham for the Christmas Eve celebration and I know I'm bringing Baked Beans and possibly chocolate chip cookies.  Don't know yet about Christmas Day.  There should be at least 14 of us Christmas Eve and 10 of us on Christmas Day.

2. What is one must-have Christmas cookie in your house?
Chocolate Chip for me.  Hubby would probably say no-bakes or iced sugar cookies.  The girls like them all, although they really aren't big cookie eaters.

3. Santa likes a glass of milk with his cookies. Do you? What kind of milk is on tap at your house-skim? almond? soy? full fat (Gasp!)
Kelli, Tracy and I all like milk and Kerri would be more of the almond milk type.  She has never liked milk.

4. Time magazine recently named their 'Person of the Year' for 2011. This is the person the editors believe had the greatest impact, for better or worse, in the past year. This year they chose 'The Protester'. Your thoughts? Who would you name Person of the Year for 2011?
Any serviceman or woman who is willing to serve would be "Person of the Year" for me.  Why celebrate the protestor...I don't get it.

5. December 21st is National Flashlight Day... when was the last time you needed a flashlight and did you know right where to find one?
I have an app on my iPod Touch and I use it in my room at night quite often.  And yes, I usually know right where it is.  It's what I use to do my morning devotions, so it sits by my bed.

6. candy canes...yum or yuck?
I can eat them, but they are really not my favorite.  Although they make nice breath mints when you break them into pieces.

7. What Christmas carol lyric means the most to you?
From Mary Did You Know...."The child that you delivered will soon deliver you."  I love that thought.  Not only did He deliver her, but all of us who accept Him as Lord and Savior.

8. Insert your own random thought here.
God bless us everyone!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Heart Renewed (Prescott Pioneers 2) 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:

Karen Baney (April 17, 2011)

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


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.


Headstrong.  Unconventional.  Until life turns upside down…

Julia Colter struggles to accept life under her controlling brother’s greed.  The suitors he selects would benefit him, but are far from the ideal husband for her.  When her rebellion against her brother puts her life at risk, she turns to her friend for help.

Adam Larson longs to train horses and plans to head west to the Arizona Territory to see his dreams fulfilled.  When his sister’s best friend shows up in the middle of the night, he agrees to help her flee.  The decision changes his life, in more ways than he expected.

Can Julia forget the pain from her past and open her heart to love?

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99

  • Paperback: 338 pages
  • Publisher: Karen Baney (April 17, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0983548625
  • ISBN-13: 978-0983548621


Star C Ranch, Texas

July 4, 1864

   “You cannot be serious, Reuben!” Julia Colter shouted, not caring that she might wake her niece and nephew from their afternoon nap.  Pacing back and forth across the length of the kitchen, she stopped in front of her older brother, her temper flaring almost as hot as the stove.  “He is balding and fat and twice my age!”

   “You will marry who I say!” Reuben thundered.  “I expect you to treat Mr. Hiram Norton with the upmost respect this evening.  He has shown great interest in you and the least you can do is be civil with the man.”

   “But, I could never love him!”

   As Reuben shoved her violently up against the wall, Julia’s breath left her lungs in a rush.  Digging his fingers into her arms, she could feel the bruises starting to form.  His brown eyes darkened with unrestrained anger as he glared down at her.  She swallowed in fear, stunned by his abrupt action.

   “Stop, you’re hurting me,” she said, trying to break free from his vice like grip.

   He raised his hand as if he meant to strike her—something he had never done before.  The action startled her to silence.  Instead of hitting her across the face, as she thought he might, Reuben returned his hands to her upper arms squeezing even harder.

   Leaning so close the heat of his breath warmed her cheeks, he said, “You have no idea what hurt is, Julia.  You are an insolent little whelp.  You will paste a smile on that tart little face of yours.  And you will do your best to win his affections or,” his voice menacing, “you will suffer my wrath, the likes of which you have yet to see.”

   Releasing his hold, he pushed her so that she tumbled to the floor in a heap.  As he turned to walk away, he added in a sinister tone, “It would be best if you get used to the idea of Hiram Norton and give up fanciful notions of love, dear sister.  You will not have that luxury.  The sooner you come to accept that, the better it will go for you.”

   She sat in stunned silence as Reuben stalked to his office down the hall.  Tears streaming down her face, Julia bolted to her feet, running out the front door of the ranch house to the nearby stables, still frightened by her brother’s brutal behavior.

   The smell of hay and horse assaulted her delicate senses as she selected a gentle mare.  Throwing her saddle on the horse’s back, she led her from the barn.  Once under the open blue skies, she shoved one foot into the stirrup, swinging her other leg over the mare, riding astride.  Nudging the mare into a full gallop, Julia fled to the one place she would always feel free—the back of a horse in the wide open pastures.

   Reuben may be her guardian now, but she had only to endure a few more years of this before she would be of age and in control of her life.  If only she could stop him from marrying her off before then.

   At seventeen, she considered herself too young to get married, though many women her age and younger married.  She wasn’t ready.  She didn’t pine for the responsibilities marriage entailed.  She liked her freedom.  But, when she was ready to marry, she would marry for love and not because Reuben wished it.

   Certainly, she would never marry Hiram Norton.  The thirty-seven year old rancher was the exact opposite of what Julia wanted for a husband.  His short stature and fading hairline made him look even older.  He had a reputation for loving excess.  When it came to food, his waistline showed the results of that love.  There were other unsavory aspects to his reputation as well which included rumors that he frequented the saloon and brothel.

   No, the man for Julia would be young and handsome.  His character would be impeccable, his honor undeniable.  Land, money, and wealth held no importance to her.  She only cared that her dream man would be able to provide for her and their family.

   As the wind tangled her long, sandy brown curls, she continued to press the horse for more speed—needing it to soothe her fear and anger.  In the distance she saw the herd of longhorns kicking up dust.  The sight sparked a memory of Will, the kinder, more honorable of the Colter brothers, sending her mind racing in another direction.  So many times he’d taken Julia out to the pasture, teaching her how to rope, ride, and work with the cattle.  Some thought such behavior unacceptable for a lady.  She was glad to learn these skills.  Should her handsome young dream man end up being a rancher, he might appreciate her ability to work the ranch by his side.

   Why hasn’t Will written?  The thought of Will brought fresh tears as memories of his hasty departure flooded her mind.  Not only had she buried her father, but she also lost the brother she was close to—all within a few short weeks.  Almost a year ago, following her father’s death, Reuben forced Will to leave the ranch when he had been deeded the house and ranch.  While Will and Reuben both received half of the herd and the financial holdings, Will was left with no home or land.  Unable to find anything close, Will moved to the Arizona Territory, leaving Julia behind.  Alone.

   The only time she heard from him was in November 1863.  Will wrote that he, his men, and his cattle arrived safely and set up their new home near the Granite Creek settlement in the Arizona Territory—wherever that was.  No other letters came.

   Despite the thirteen year age difference between Will and Julia, they adored each other.  She followed him everywhere, never far from his side even when he worked with the herd.  When she needed protecting, it was Will who came to her defense.

   Oh, how she could use his protection now.  If he were here, he would stop Reuben from forcing her to marry that awful Hiram Norton.

   But, he wasn’t here.  He was in a distant territory, far from Texas, far from her aid.  Her father left her in Reuben’s care—not Will’s—even though Will would have been the better choice as far as Julia was concerned.

   Their father never saw the evil that clouded Reuben’s heart and he knew nothing of his manipulative ways.  In her father’s eyes, Reuben was as good of a son as Will.  If her father knew of Reuben’s late nights in town or of his forceful tactics for bankrupting other ranchers and taking over their lands, he turned a blind eye.  She found it hard to fathom that father could have missed such thinly concealed behavior.

   As the mare started to struggle for breath, sides heaving with great effort, Julia eased up the pace.  She was so torn.  She had thought more than once to runaway to Arizona, but was afraid Reuben would find her and drag her back.  Now he wanted her to flirt with Hiram Norton and get him to marry her.  She had no desire to do what Reuben was asking.  Mr. Norton may be wealthy, but he was twenty years older than her.  There was something indecent in that alone.  Nothing about him or his character appealed to her.

   Realizing she was nearing the outer pasture, Julia turned the mare around to head back to the ranch house.  She did not want to risk angering Reuben further by being unprepared for their dinner guests.  Lord, please don’t make me have to marry that repulsive man.  Will always said you could work things together for good.  I am not seeing much good right now.  Please give me the strength to make it through this evening meal.

   As she pulled the mare to a stop in front of the stables, she slid off the horse.  One of the young cowboys, Bates, took the reins from her hand.

   “Miss Colter, you best hurry,” he said, nodding toward the lane leading to the ranch house.

   A cloud of dust at the far end of the lane indicated their guests were already arriving.  Julia shot a quick word of thanks to the friendly cowboy before picking up her skirts and running to the house.  As she threw the door open, panting for breath, she caught Reuben’s seething look.

   Rushing down the hall she slammed her bedroom door shut.  She splashed some water on her face, wiping away the dust from her ride.

   “Where have you been?” Mary’s panicked voice preceded her entrance into Julia’s room.  Reuben’s normally calm, quiet wife seemed rather anxious as she picked up the corset she laid out.


   “Whatever for?” came the squeaky, agitated response.

   Julia tore off her day dress, tossing it over a chair.  As Mary came to assist her with the corset, Julia took her last deep breath of the evening.  She hated the confining contraption.  Once the stays were tightened, she lifted her arms as Mary helped settle the lovely yellow silk down over her shoulders.

   “You should have been in here an hour ago,” Mary lamented.  “Now there is no possible way we can fashion your hair into ringlets.  The other women will think you don’t care about your appearance.”

   They would be correct, Julia thought.  “You fret, too much,” she replied, brushing out her tangled curls.  She would be content with twisting her unruly hair into a chignon, despite how much it fought against the pins.

   “Go on.  I’ll finish,” she instructed Mary, hoping to have a quiet moment to compose herself before entering the fray.

   Mary hesitated for a brief moment before softly exiting the room.  Taking as deep a breath as she could, Julia let it out in a heavy sigh.  Undoubtedly, Hiram Norton was already here, waiting for her in the other room.  Pasting a smile on her face, she squared her shoulders and left the solitude of her room.

   “Hiram,” Reuben said as Julia approached, “I do not believe you have met my sister, Julia.”

   It took every ounce of courage to hold her smile steady and extend her hand towards Mr. Norton’s rotund frame.  Taking her hand, he placed a sloppy kiss on top, before asking, “Reuben, where have you been hiding this lovely filly?”

   Filly?  The distasteful comment sickened her.

   “Mr. Norton, a pleasure to meet you,” Julia said with more decorum than she thought she possessed.  As soon as his hold lifted, she discretely wiped the back of her hand on her dress.

   “Miss Colter, you are absolutely stunning,” he replied, allowing his lustful gaze to rove over her neckline, down her curvy figure, making overtly inappropriate stops along the way.

   She fought to tamp down her mounting abhorrence.  As the guests were seated around the table, she eagerly helped Mary set out the food.

   Still irritated by Mr. Norton’s uncouth comment, she decided to fight back as she took her seat.  “Mr. Norton, my brother tells me you have been very successful with your ranch, despite the Union’s blockade.  Tell me, how do you do it?”

   Reuben’s eyes narrowed slightly, letting her know he caught her barely hidden sarcasm.

   “My lovely Miss Colter, such matters are too complicated for your simple mind to understand.”

   Another mark against Mr. Norton—condescension towards women, she thought, keeping the sweet smile firmly in place.  Lobbing a spoonful of potatoes on her plate she waited for him to continue.

   “However, I shall endeavor to enlighten you,” he said with an air of superiority, snatching the potatoes from her hand.  “While the Union may have blockaded our route to drive cattle to the New Orleans market, they have made no such effort to stop us from driving to points north or west.  It seems that as long as we aren’t supplying the Confederate Army, they care little where we sell our cattle.  We have simply changed our route north to the railways in Missouri.  While I don’t care for the Union and their imposing ways, a profit is a profit.  And I have made significant gains by being one of the first Texans to sell to eastern markets by way of Missouri.”

   “Mr. Norton.”  As her irritation rose, Julia retorted, “If a large profit is to your liking, why not drive the cattle west towards the California market where prices are more than triple that of the eastern markets?”

   Reuben shifted in his chair uncomfortably.  His darkening eyes warned her to hold her tongue.  Julia knew she should have heeded the warning, but she preferred being forthright.  Let Mr. Norton find that out now.

   Mr. Norton laughed off her question, causing her to dislike the man even more.  “You are a spirited little woman, I will give you that.  But your comment shows your youth and your naivety.”

   Taking not one, but two large pork chops from the platter she handed him, he said, “While the prices west are much higher, so is the cost to drive the cattle such a great distance.  The length of time it takes to drive the cattle to California is almost three times as long as the northern route.  It is also much more dangerous.  There are many more Indians and cattle thieves westward.  It would simply not be profitable to drive the herd west.”

   His snooty tone grated on her nerves.  When she opened her mouth to speak, Reuben interrupted.  “Perhaps, dear sister, you should leave the business matters to men.  I’m sure you would be much more interested in knowing how Mrs. Withers’ new baby is faring.”

   Mrs. Withers quickly picked up the conversation, monopolizing both Julia and Mary’s time.  While Julia was surprised Reuben even knew the woman had a child, she was thankful for the opportunity to ignore Mr. Norton.

   As the conversation continued, she felt something brush against her knee then move away.  She kept her focus on Mrs. Withers’ overlong description of her young son and on eating the meal, until she felt the unmistakable presence of a man’s hand move above her knee.  She stole a glance and confirmed Mr. Norton’s hand rested most inappropriately on her thigh.  Angling her legs further away from him as discreetly as possible, Julia’s stomach churned.  When Mr. Norton pressed closer, she thought she might lose her dinner.  The man appeared to have no limits.

   Standing abruptly, she said, “If you’ll excuse me.  I’m not feeling quite myself.”  Without waiting for a reply she hurried to her room.

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   Reuben scowled after his sister.  Her behavior had been completely unacceptable, despite his attempt earlier in the day to reason with her.  This silly idea of marrying for love must have worked its way into her thinking from the stories their father told of their mother.  No one married for love.

   He certainly hadn’t.  While Mary was pleasant looking enough and easy to control, he did not love his wife.  He had married her to increase his social standing among the area ranchers—something his father never seemed to care about.  Her father had been one of the wealthier men in the area and he was easy to win over.  In fact, Reuben thought, most everyone he met was easy to manipulate—except Will and Julia.

   It didn’t matter.  Will was gone and out of the picture.  He was no longer a nuisance, even though it was Will’s fault that he was in such a financial mess.  The timing of Will leaving with half the herd and half the financial holdings was disastrous, leaving him unable to pay debts to some very powerful men—a situation he was desperately trying to resolve.

   The last bite of his pork chop churned in his stomach as fear gained a foothold.  He needed Hiram’s money from the marriage arrangement to Julia.  It was his only hope of turning things around.

   As his guests finished the meal, Reuben stood.  “Gentlemen, shall we retire to the front porch for some refreshments and cigars?”

   The men eagerly nodded, obviously wanting to be away from the women as quickly as he did.  As Hiram stood, Reuben pulled him aside.  Speaking loud enough for the others to hear, he said, “We’ll join you in a moment.  Hiram and I have a few business matters to discuss.”

   Leading Hiram back towards his office, Reuben hoped Hiram would still be amiable to the agreement they discussed several days ago at the saloon, despite Julia’s less than enthusiastic attitude this evening.

   Before he offered a seat, Hiram took one, starting the conversation on his terms.  “Julia is quite lovely, Reuben.  You’ve been holding out on me.  When you asked for such a large sum, I assumed she must be dreadful to look at.”

   “So you are pleased?”

   “To a point,” Hiram admitted.  “While she’ll keep me entertained well, she needs to learn to control her tongue, especially in front of guests.  I’m surprised you haven’t dealt with this already.”

   Reuben frowned.  If only Hiram knew what he was up against.  With any luck, he wouldn’t find out until after his wedding day.  “Well, father has only been gone a short time.  He doted on her, so it will take some time to get her to properly respect a man.”

   “Ah, there’s the catch.  I’ll have to train her myself then.”  Hiram laughed.  “It will be a fun challenge—breaking her.  Too bad you didn’t have more time to do the job yourself.  You could get a much higher price for her, as beautiful as she is.”

   The price he was asking was enough.  Normally prone to greediness, when it came to selling his sister’s hand in marriage, he felt it prudent not to get too greedy.  He was running out of time and needed to pay his debts soon.  Once that pressure slackened, he could focus his energy on rebuilding his wealth.

   A brief hint of remorse came over Reuben.  Had he stooped so low that he was selling his sister for money?  But, it was not as if he were selling her to a brothel.  No, he was just selling her to a wealthy rancher.  She would live in luxury.  What could be bad about that?

   He knew living with Hiram Norton would not be pleasant.  The man had a reputation for being ruthless to his business associates, to his women, and even to his mother.  He had no limits.  He made Reuben look like a saint.  Julia would undoubtedly be miserable married to him until she learned her place.

   Chiding himself, he refocused his attention back to what Hiram was saying.  He needed this man’s money, not a sudden case of conscience.

   “After we have our cigars,” Hiram was saying, “then, I will take Julia for a walk.  See if I still fancy her.  When I return, we will announce our engagement.  It will be short.  No longer than a month.”

   Reuben held back a gasp.  He hadn’t expected Norton to want a short engagement.  “You know what the townsfolk will say with such a hurried wedding.  They will think my sister has been compromised.”

   Pulling a large stack of bills from his coat pocket, Hiram slammed it down on the desk.  “I don’t think you will care too much what is said about your sister’s reputation.  Who knows, what they say may end up being true anyway.”

   The dark look on Hiram’s face sent shivers down Reuben’s spine.  Ruthless seemed rather inadequate of a word to describe the man before him.  He had to make sure Julia did not ruin this deal, for he did not want the added pressure of Norton’s anger.

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   Mary knocked on Julia’s door not more than ten minutes after she left the meal.  Her voice was timid when she spoke, “The men have retired to the front porch for cigars.  Reuben requested that you return to the parlor with the women.”

   Sighing, Julia did as instructed.  She listened to the gossip of the rancher’s wives and wished her friend Caroline Larson was in attendance, so she might actually be able to enjoy the evening.  The Larsons owned a ranch to the east of the Star C and they had been long-time family friends.  Up until last year, before father passed away, the Larsons were always invited for every social gathering—sometimes they were the only guests.  Since then, Reuben saw little use for Mr. Larson’s moral ways and only included them on rare occasions to pacify her or his wife.

   Not paying attention to the boring conversation, Julia missed seeing the men return from the outdoors.  Mr. Norton’s hand on her forearm jolted her from her thoughts.  “Miss Colter, I was hoping you might take a walk with me.”

   “And who will be acting as chaperone?” she replied curtly, not wanting to be alone in his presence.

   Mr. Norton laughed, a sound she was beginning to detest.  “Silly girl, I am much too old for a chaperone.  I assure you, your reputation will be safe with me.  I simply want to stroll for a few moments with a beautiful woman on my arm.”

   Julia thought a stroll might be too much for the man.  He was sweating profusely and seemed to have difficulty walking the distance to the door, as his breath came in short, heavy bursts.  She looked to Mary for support.  She smiled and nodded her approval, oblivious to Mr. Norton’s reprehensible behavior.  As Reuben stood next to Mary, his eyes narrowed with a silent warning.  Heeding the unspoken message, she stood and accepted Mr. Norton’s arm.

   Outside, the air barely cooled in the waning sunlight, causing Julia to grow warm in a matter of seconds.  She wished she thought to grab her fan when a sour odor wafted from the man at her side.  Averting her face, she tried to catch an untainted breath of air.  Unsuccessful, she decided parting her lips to breathe through her mouth might be preferable.

   Nearing the stables, Mr. Norton stopped abruptly, turning towards Julia.  The quick motion—seemingly impossible coming from the man who seemed to struggle walking much of a distance—frightened her.  Sucking in air quickly through her mouth, a slight tickle lingered in the back of her throat, almost bringing on a cough.

   When he spoke, his voice took on a sinister edge.  Even in the dimming light she could see the contempt in his eyes.  “Miss Colter, while I admire your feisty spirit,” he said as he grabbed her wrists, “It would serve you not to embarrass me again, especially by questioning my business practices in a room full of my peers.  I can make your life most unbearable if you cross me.”  Without warning he pulled her close and crushed his mouth down on hers as his hands took great liberty in exploring her body.

   The shock of his action took a moment to register.  Once it did, Julia brought her booted heel down hard on the top center of his foot, just as Will showed her.  He dropped his hold instantly, crying out in pain.  As he limped toward her, she ran for the front of the house to put some distance between them.  Tripping over something, she stumbled, giving Mr. Norton time to catch up.  He grabbed her bruised upper arms with surprising strength.

   “Do not ever do that again,” he said in a hostile tone.  “Do you not know that Reuben has promised you to me?  Make no mistake, Miss Colter, I am a powerful man.  If you want to live a decent, peaceful life under my roof, you best lose some of your haughtiness… Or, I will take whatever measures necessary to force it out of you.”

   Julia blinked, trying to absorb all that he said.  Was he saying that Reuben already agreed to her marrying this loathsome man?  An ominous chill swept over her as he continued his intense stare.  Her heart beat rapidly within her chest as her panic rose.  She could not—would not—marry this dreadful man.

   Dropping his hold on her, Mr. Norton extended his arm and placed her hand in the crook.  “Smile,” he commanded as he limped to open the front door.

   While her smile came insincerely, his seemed quite pleased.  He crossed the room slowly, still favoring his injured foot, before stopping in front of Reuben and Mary.  “Reuben, it gives me great pleasure to announce that Julia has eagerly agreed to accept my offer of marriage,” he said smugly.  “She was so delighted that she agreed to a short engagement.  We will be married in a month.”  His fingernails dug into her arm daring her to speak otherwise.

   The smirk on Reuben’s face told her this had been their plan all along.  Such a public announcement, even though it was completely false, would be difficult to break.  Lord, help me.  I cannot marry that man.

My Thoughts: This book is the sequel to "A Dream Unfolding" that I reviewed on December 7th. I loved this book too. I loved getting to read more about Hannah and Will. This book though focused on Will's sister, Julia and family friend Adam. Julia had terrible things happen to her in Texas and then she went to live with Will and Hannah in Arizona. There she had to learn to forgive. It was quite the road she had to travel to that end. There are definitely some real life lessons to be learned from this book. I definitely recommend this book if you enjoy reading about the old west and ranches, etc. Very good.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Still Counting One Thousand Gifts

I'm still counting. If you want to join in, please click the button at the bottom of this post.

56. Kelli is home from school. Love seeing my oldest and having her home for Christmas.

57. Christmas Dinner with our Church Family. Great company and great food.

58. Again, singing Christmas Carols with friends.

59. Shopping alone with hubby and also going to lunch just the 2 of us. Love that man and thanking God still for bringing us together.

60. Having a blast at a white elephant auction at church and earning over $600 towards a small building project for the church.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas Photo Challenge-Catching Up

Trying to catch up on the Christmas Photo Challenge. Let's see how many of them I can come up with.

Day 12 Something Sticky
These get pretty sticky when they start melting.

Day 13 Reindeer
The 2 stockings on the right have reindeer.  Those are the girl's stockings.

Day 14 A decked hall
How about this.  The girls old doll house that is now in our livingroom decorated for Christmas.

Day 15 Silver bells
How about the bells hanging on the left side.  I love the round bells.

Day 16 A Hippopotamus

Day 17 Under the Mistletoe
I have nothing for this one, so I thought I'd post this video instead.

Heading out to see if I can't finish up the Christmas shopping.  The girls did most of the wrapping last night of the gifts we already have.  I'm so glad they like wrapping presents.  It makes my job so much easier.

Have a great weekend everyone and remember the Reason for the season, Jesus Christ!!

Friday, December 16, 2011

She's Hooooommmmeee!!!!!

She's home and already the volume level has raised significantly! There are 2 girls now to giggle, fight, holler and carry on! Wow! It's gonna be an interesting month to say the least.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Wednesday Hodgepodge

Click the button to play along.
1. Do you put Christmas decorations in every room of your house? If not every room, what rooms do you decorate?
Not in every room, but in the living room & dining room.  Sometimes in the girls bath and the girls sometimes do their own rooms.

2. If you could visit one of the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden) which one would you choose and why?
Sweden probably.  Why?  Because I've never been there.  But where I'd really like to go is Holland so I could see the Corrie ten Boom House.

3. What does the word faith mean to you?
Believing what you can't see or touch or hear.  My faith is in Jesus Christ.  How about yours?

4. You can go back to your childhood for one day...what day and age would you choose?
How about this day. That's me on the right and I look like I'm having fun.  I'm with 2 of my cousins and I think we're all looking pretty cute.

5. When did you last have 'punch'? If it's not too much trouble share your favorite punch recipe.
My mother-in-law makes the best punch on Christmas Day every year.  It's become a tradition.  It's got strawberries and ginger ale and I'll have to ask her what else sometime.

6. Do you fill stockings at your house? Are stockings opened before or after the bigger gifts?
Yes, we fill stockings and they are usually the last thing we open.  Love stockings.

7. What takes your breath away?
Walking up a set of stairs!  lol  Is that what you mean?  Really, my hubby is the one that takes my breath.

8. Insert your own random thought here.
 Here are a couple of ideas I got from Pinterest.  Took them to a church function Sunday.  Not too hard to make and people seem to like them.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Still Counting One Thousand Gifts

Still counting God's blessings in my life.

51. Potato Soup for Supper

52. Lunch at Panera Bread with my husband's wonderful  parents and his brother and his family on Sunday afternoon. So fun.

53. Finding out my local library lends Kindle books. Awesome!

54. Saturday night to attend a Christmas play and Cantata with my parents & Kerri that my brother and lots of old friends sang in.  So fun and so moving.  Thank you God for the memories.

55. Wonderful time spent with my parents Saturday evening driving to and home from the Christmas play.   God thank you for such wonderful Godly parents.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas Photo Challenge-Away in a Manger and Ribbons and Bows

I'm doing today and tomorrow Christmas Photo Challenge in one post. Go visit "This Day" to join in or to see some more.

This is the nativity set my mom and dad gave us.

That's Kerri as Mary back a couple years ago.
Ribbon and bow on a Christmas package
Have a great weekend everyone!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Christmas Photo Challenge-Santa Claus and Wreath with Red Bow

Day 9 prompt for the photo challenge is Santa Claus.  Be sure to go over to This Day if you want to link up.

Santa and Mrs. Claus at our town's Christmas Festival in 2009

Santa in a wreath in Pigeon Forge in 2008.  Also, this would qualify for the wreath with a red (plaid) bow.