Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Good And Sad News

I'll start with the sad news and then move on to something more cheerful.

Saturday my husband's nephew was laid to rest. If you want to read a bit more about this, read here. It saddens and sometimes angers me that his life was brutally taken from him. My husband attended the funeral. He said it was tough and sad and hard.

I ask you to pray for his mom. This was her one and only child. I cannot even begin to fathom the depths of her grief. Pray for God to comfort and strengthen her in the days to come. Pray for the family as a whole for our comfort as well.

And now......

I need to announce the winner of the summer boredom buster gift basket.

Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner..........

Gift Basket goes to ....Robin Porter!

I know Robin personally. She has two beautiful girls and I know this basket will be out to good use.

Congrats Robin!!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Summertime Boredom Buster Giveaway

So everyone is gearing up for summer. And moms are wondering what to do with their kids. I promise it gets a bit easier as they get older. But for my fellow moms and friends of moms, I'd like to pass along a special gift basket to one lucky reader courtesy of Primrose Schools.

Remember, I attended a fun and informative mom blogger social there a few months back? (Wow has it been that long already??!!) In case you missed that post with the great pictures of the Primrose facility out in Morrisville, click here. Well, Kim from Primrose sent me a Happy Gram, which was completely unexpected! And I'm going to bless one of you with it.

What's in it you ask? Fun summer time stuff for the kiddos. It's all part of boredom busters for the summer. In it you will find most of what you'll need to create a boredom jar (see below for details), including the jar, stickers, glitter glue pens, colored note cards and a hard copy of the boredom busting ideas listed below. And they're wallet friendly. Music to the ears of a cheapskate, I mean frugal mom LOL!

All you have to do is leave a comment on one way you've found to fight summer boredom. Be sure to include your email address so I contact you if you are the winner. Tell all your mommy friends to stop by for a chance to win!

Thanks to Primrose Schools for providing this great summertime gift basket. I look forward to seeing what great and creative mommy minds I have reading this blog. Enjoy and stop back by on Friday when I announce the winner! Also be sure to check out the summer boredom chasing tips below

As always be blessed and definitely not bored!!

Bust Summertime Boredom with
10 Wallet-Friendly Ideas from
Primrose Schools

What could be worse than a rainy summer day, when your children are cooped up inside and you have nothing planned? For parents, even sunny days that seem filled with endless opportunities, still yield the inevitable “I’m bored!” Undoubtedly, your children will utter those words at least once during the upcoming summer months.

Studies show that without stimulation, children can lose up to 60 percent of what they learned during the school year. Primrose Schools, a family of 200 accredited private preschools, suggests the key to overcoming summertime boredom and the “brain drain” effect is to encourage imaginative play and have a plan in place to keep children engaged during the summer months.

“It’s important to keep children’s minds active during the summer, but it doesn’t take an expensive activity or big vacation to capture their attention,” said
Dr. Mary Zurn, Vice President of Education for Primrose. “After all, imagination is free.”

Summer is a great time to encourage children to let their imaginations soar. School schedules can sometimes be demanding and time for less structured, imaginative activities is often scarce. The freedom of summer gives children large blocks of uninterrupted time to create projects of their own choosing that can last several days or even longer.

Here are 10 ideas parents can use to keep young minds active during the summer months:

1. Banishing the Boredom Jar: At the beginning of the summer, sit down with your family and brainstorm a list of activities that can be done alone or that you can enjoy doing together. Encourage your children to share their own ideas and help you decorate and label a simple jar as the family “Banishing the Boredom Jar.” They’ll feel more involved in the project and more likely to think this is a “neat” idea, if they participate in the creation and idea generation. Next, write everyone’s ideas down on slips of paper and as a group decide which ones should go in the jar. Anyone in the family can pull any idea out of the jar to fight the summertime boredom blues.

2. Stories Alive: It sounds too simple, but reading is one of the most important ways to keep young minds engaged during the summer. Make reading even more fun by finding ways to bring the stories to life. For example, in the book Roxaboxen by Alice McLerran, children create a make-believe town in the desert out of rocks, boxes, and their imaginations. Read the book with your children and then challenge them to create their own town with materials they find in the backyard.

3. Art Treasure Chest: You’ll need to gather basic art supplies–child safe scissors, glue, markers, tape, and construction paper. Put them in a special box along with empty oatmeal boxes and paper towel rolls, colorful magazines, and bits of aluminum foil. Occasionally add a special surprise like chalk, stickers, or stamp pads so there’s always something new for the children to find. Even if you normally have these supplies around the house, it‘s fun for children to know that the Art Treasure Chest is just for them. They’ll probably have some good ideas of other household items that can be recycled to fuel their creative energies.

4. Family Performances: Break out old clothes or costumes and encourage children to make up characters and create a play to act out. They are the directors, actors, and producers. They can also make musical instruments out of pots/pans, wooden spoons, empty canisters and have a parade; or everyone can play along to your family’s favorite songs. Record or video the performances, and enjoy the replay. You’ll also be capturing a bit of family history everyone will enjoy for years to come.

5. Fort Building: Children love to build all kinds of structures--from small towns to large towers. Constructing forts or tents is an activity that can keep children focused and problem solving for hours. All the items you need can be found around the house–some chairs, cushions, blankets… and of course adult supervision.

6. Cookbook Fun: Have you ever shared your favorite cookbook with your children? Take it out and ask your children to choose a recipe to try. Measuring can be a fun and easy way to keep math skills fresh.

7. Summer Scrapbook: All you need for this project is a spiral notebook. Encourage everyone in the family to draw pictures of favorite activities and collect mementos from special events throughout the summer. Children love to go back through scrapbooks and albums and tell about what happened at each occasion. They will also be building their storytelling skills at the same time.

8. Listening Game: Lie down in the backyard, in the den or at the park and listen. What do you hear? Do you hear what I hear? Can you imitate the sound? This is similar to watching the clouds and naming the shapes, and it encourages everyone to slow down and focus on listening.

9. Camping Out: Pretend to camp out in the backyard. Plan a meal, pack a backpack and set up a campsite. You might even decide to spend the night!

10. 1Scavenger Hunt: Make a list or picture cards of common household items and have your children find the items on the list. Invite friends or neighbors to join in the fun to make it a competition.

Parents can use this list of ideas as a starting point for summer activities that offer a balance between the freedom of child-initiated play time and more structured activities.

“Keeping children engaged with open-ended activities that stretch their imaginations during the summer months helps them develop their independence, creativity, and thinking,” said Dr. Zurn. “We want to help parents keep the “brain drain” at bay while their children play.”

When preparing for a brain-drain-free summer, remember to suggest or provide age appropriate activities. Many times, children say they are bored because the activity they were doing was either too simple or too advanced to keep them occupied for long. Activities should be fun and challenge what they know, but should keep in line with the interests and developmental levels of your children.

Ultimately, we know every child is different, with different interests and learning styles so having a variety of ideas is a great way to be prepared during the summer months. Involving children in the planning of ideas gives them an opportunity to express their individuality and creativity.

So with these tips in mind, sit down with your family and make a plan for an engaging, imaginative and fun summer.

Find Dr. Zurn’s Monthly Tips Online at:

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Loving my Father God

These past 10 days have been so completely difficult. I withdrew from Facebook and Twitter. I posted one personal post here. I am a hurting woman right now. I don't understand what is going on in my crazy life......


is my Father and I trust Him. I don't understand what He is up to, but I trust Him. He's never failed me. He won't now.

Now can someone please tell my heart and my emotions? Thanks!

What is wonderful is that He loves me, even when I act like I don't know whose I am. He loves me no matter what. And I love Him. He is the best father a girl can have. My earthly father is up there hanging out with God in heaven. So now I lean solely on my Father God for fatherly advice and fatherly love.

I hope you lean on Him too. He's the best!

Happy Father's Day to all the dads. Use the best daddy in the world as your blueprint and you'll do well.

Happy Father's day Abba Father, Adonai. I love you. Thank you for being the best daddy I could ever want or have.

Be blessed everyone!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Devastating End to a Weekend

This is going to be a fairly short post. This Sunday has brought bad news on top of bad news.

The most devastating is that my husband's nephew is laying in a hospital bed in Chicago on life support as the result of a brutal beating. This young man was the ring bearer in our wedding. I don't have a lot of details right now but I know his skull was crushed. I am beyond words and tears don't seem sufficient. What I cling to is prayer and my faith.

On the heels of that news, I also received an email that the mother of one of Rick and I's friends died. We met her over Thanksgiving and shared dinner with her and the family. Death stings more when you've interacted on a a personal level with someone, no matter how brief. I ache for her son and her daughter-in-law, who've become dear friends to us. Losing a parent is hard. Rick and I lost both our fathers within 4 months of each other. This death, it beings all that pain and sorrow back to the surface.

It all just reminds me how precious time is with loved ones. Use it wisely. Heck, use it! Family is our primary ministry. And if it is not, I say with conviction and passion, it should be.

And now, I must go pray with my husband to petition God for our nephews life, it that be God's will. And if not, then peace and healing for the family. Also I will pray for justice to be rained down on the people who did this to him.

We covet your prayers during this time.

As always, be blessed...and tonight...go love your family!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

First Tour - Nothing But Trouble (Book #1 PJ Sugar Series)

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:

Nothing But Trouble (Book #1 PJ Sugar Series)

Tyndale House Publishers (April 2, 2009)


Susan May Warren is the award-winning author of seventeen novels and novellas with Tyndale, Steeple Hill and Barbour Publishing. Her first book, Happily Ever After won the American Fiction Christian Writers Book of the Year in 2003, and was a 2003 Christy Award finalist. In Sheep’s Clothing, a thriller set in Russia, was a 2006 Christy Award finalist and won the 2006 Inspirational Reader’s Choice award. A former missionary to Russia, Susan May Warren now writes Suspense/Romance and Chick Lit full time from her home in northern Minnesota.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers (April 2, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1414313128
ISBN-13: 978-1414313122


PJ Sugar would never escape trouble. Clearly she couldn’t shake free of it—regardless of how far and fast she ran. It had followed her from Minnesota to South Dakota to Colorado to Montana, down the shore to California, and finally over to Melbourne Beach, Florida, where it rose with teeth to consume what should have been the most perfect night of her life.

She stood on the shore, her toes mortared into the creamy white sand, the waves licking up to her ankles, and with a cry that sounded more like frustration than fury, threw her linen espadrille with her best underhand pitch. It sailed high, cutting through the burning sky, disappeared briefly in the purple haze of night, then splashed into the ocean.

Gone. Along with her future.

A seagull soared low, screaming, pondering the morsel it may have missed.

“PJ, come back inside.” Matthew’s voice sounded behind her as he trekked out onto the beach, kicking sand into his loafers, looking piqued as the wind raked fingers through his brown, thinning hair, snagged his tie, and noosed it around his neck. He dangled her oversize canvas purse from his hand, as if it might be a bomb.

Ten feet away, he held it out to her like a carrot. “They haven’t even brought out the crab legs yet. You love those.”

“Oh, sure I do. Right along with brussels sprouts and pickled herring.” She’d been so soundly ensconced in happily-ever-after land she’d failed to see that the man she wanted to marry didn’t even know she hated crab legs.

Pretty much all shellfish.

Thanks to the fact that she was allergic to it.

Matthew lowered the purse, as if her words stung him. “Really?”

PJ shook her head, her mouth half-open, not even sure where to start. Behind them, calypso music drifted out of Dungarees Restaurant, festive themes for happy couples. Twinkle lights stringing along the thatched roof overhung the porch, and the piquant smell lifting off the grills on the patio snarled her empty stomach. Maybe she should go back inside, pick up the wicker chair she’d knocked over.

He owed her dinner, at least.

She stood her ground, forcing him to march her belongings across the sand.

“Here’s your, uh . . . suitcase.” He held it out to her, letting go before she had her hand on it. It dropped with the weight of an anvil onto the glossy sand.

“Hey, that’s my personal survival kit—show some respect.” She scooped it up, realizing she’d been entirely too civil during his execution of their relationship. “You never know when you’re going to need something.” Laugh all he wanted—if a gal was going to haul around a purse, it should be filled with all things handy. Tape to shut someone’s mouth, for example. Or a flashlight to guide her way home across a black expanse of shore.

“Sorry.” He stuck his hands into the pockets of his khakis, his sports coat like a warning flag as it whipped around him. “C’mon, PJ, come back inside. Please. It’s cold out here.”

“Seriously? Because ten minutes ago you were telling me how I wasn’t the girl for you. How, after nearly a year of dating, on a night when I expected—” Nope, she wasn’t going there. Wasn’t going to give him the slightest satisfying hint that she might have come to dinner tonight hoping—convinced, even—that he’d actually take a knee and put words to what she thought she’d seen in his eyes. Devotion. Commitment.

How could she have cajoled herself into believing that perfect Matthew Buchanan, church singles group leader and seminary student, might see a pastor’s wife in her?

Maybe she wasn’t exactly the picture of a pastor’s wife, with her curves, dark red hair, too many freckles spraying her nose as if she were still fifteen. She’d never considered herself refined, more on the cute side, her height conspiring against her hopes of being willowy and elegant. But her eyes were pretty—green, and honest, if maybe too wide in her face. And she’d cleaned up over the years. Even if Matthew didn’t think her beautiful, couldn’t he see past her rough edges to the woman she longed to be—a friend of Jesus, a woman of principle, a servant of grace? a girl who’d finally outrun her mistakes?

Apparently not.

She should be flinging herself into the surf right behind her espadrille.

“Expecting what, PJ?” Matthew had a faraway, even stricken, look in those previously warm eyes.

PJ couldn’t believe she was actually answering him and in a tone that betrayed her disappointment. “I just thought we were heading somewhere.”

“Like the missions trip to Haiti? You wanted to go on that with me?”

She stared at the place between his eyes, pretty sure she still had her shortstop aim. Her grip tightened on the other espadrille. “No,” she said slowly, crisply. “Not the missions trip.”

“Oh.” Wonder of wonders, he got it then, his face falling as he replayed his rejection. “I’m sorry. It just isn’t working for me.”

What did that mean exactly? Wasn’t working? Like she might be a cog that fouled up his perfect image? Clearly he’d forgotten the depths from which he’d climbed. Especially since, in her recent memory, he’d been a Budweiser-drinking surfer.

“You said that.” PJ hauled her bag up to her shoulder and curled her arms around her waist as her sundress twisted through her legs. She turned away, watching the ocean darken with its mystery. She never really swam in the ocean, just waded. The riptides and the unknown predators that lurked below the surface scared her. She tasted the salt in the cool spray that misted the air, heard hunger in the waves as they chewed the sand around her feet. She sometimes wondered what lay beyond the shore, in the uncharted depths of the sea.

And if she’d ever have the courage to find out.

“It’s just that, I want to be a pastor, and . . . ,” Matthew said, his voice closer to her.

“And?” She wrapped her arms tighter around herself, fighting a shiver.

“You’re just not pastor’s wife material.”

PJ refused to let his epitaph show on her face and found a voice that didn’t betray her. “Do you remember the last time we were out on the beach together?”

“What? Uh . . . no . . . wait—a couple weeks ago, we got ice cream on the pier.”

PJ closed her eyes. “That wasn’t with me.”

Silence. She didn’t temper it.

“Then, no.”

“It was the night of the sea turtles. Remember, we had to use flashlights because they made all the residents along the shore turn off their outside lights? We had our arms woven together to keep from losing each other. I remember wondering if it was possible to read your thoughts, because I couldn’t see your face.”

“We nearly walked on a sea turtle coming to shore,” Matthew said, reminiscence in his tone. She glanced at him, and something like pain or concern emerged on his face, edged in the shadow of whiskers.

PJ turned away, back to the ocean. “I kept thinking—that turtle mama’s going to bury her babies onshore and never see them again. She was going to leave them to fend for themselves, to struggle back to the sea, tasty defenseless morsels diving into an ocean where they’re the main course.”

She stared at her shoe, dangling in her hand. The wind ran its sticky fingers through her hair, tangling what had been a stylish short bob into a nest. Gooseflesh prickled her skin—she was cold and hungry, but she’d wrap herself in seaweed and dig a bunker in the sand before she’d return to the restaurant with Matthew. Probably she could even find something to eat in her so-called suitcase.

“Do you think they made it?” She wasn’t sure why she asked, why she prolonged this moment, their last. Probably trying to unravel time, as usual, figure out where it had snarled, turned into a knot.

Matthew dug his foot into the sand, watching it. “If they were supposed to, I guess.” He sighed. “Let’s go inside, PJ.”

PJ ran her eyes over the profile she’d previously—about an hour previously—told herself she loved. His sharp jaw, that lean rectangle frame. Barefoot, she still came to nearly his chin.

She wanted a taller man. “You’ve got to be kidding.”

He frowned.

“I’m not doing this ‘let’s be friends’ thing with you.”

“But we were friends before.” He reached for her and she dodged him, raising her shoe.

“Back away.”

“Whatya gonna do, PJ? Bean me with a shoe?”

“Don’t tempt me.”

He shook his head. “See, this is why we’d never work out. I need someone who is . . .”

“Perfect? Doesn’t show her emotions?”

He raised his shoulder in an annoying shrug. “Pastor’s wife material.”

Now he was going to get hurt. “Oh, that’s rich. Coming from a former surfer with a scar where his eyebrow bar used to be. What happened to ‘Ride the waves, PJ, and see where they take you’?”

His eyes darkened. “I’ve changed.”

And apparently she hadn’t. “Good-bye, Matthew. And by the way, yes, I hate crab legs. Because I’m allergic to them. Pay attention.”

She kicked up sand as she marched across the beach, thankful she could see her condo/motel/efficiency—depending on who she talked to—in the distance. She’d give just about anything for her Chuck Taylors to run home in. But she’d dressed to kill, or at least for love, this evening in a floral sundress and new espadrilles that gave her a sort of out-of-body feminine feeling. She needed her Superman pajama pants and a tank top—and fast.

“PJ! Don’t run away!” Matthew’s voice lifted over the surf.

“Running away is what I do best!” She didn’t turn.

“Why do you have to be such a drama queen?”

Okay. That. Was. It. She spun around, dropped her bag to the sand, and with everything in her, hurled her other shoe at him, a hard straight shot that any decent first baseman could have nabbed or at least dodged.

His four-letter snarl into the night put the smallest of smiles on her lips as she turned away.

The restless ocean stirred into the sounds of the club music as she hiked up the beach. She clung to the shadows, avoiding the pool of light from houses and condos, restaurants and cafés.

Not pastor’s wife material.

She broke into a little jog, hiking up the confining circle of her hem.

Angling up the sand, she hopped over the boardwalk toward her building. Brine-scented sea grass brushed the walkway, carpeted the trail to the two-story Sandy Acres motel/apartment complex, the half-lit sign now reading only “Sa d Ac es,” a term that seemed particularly apropos as she opened the metal gate alone, again.

Around the patio area, rusty pool furniture glimmered under the tinny, buzzing fluorescent lights. A horde of moths flirted with death around the heat of the bulbs; the earthy palmetto smell tangled with the coconut oil smeared onto the deck chairs, tempering the sharp odor of chlorine. Hip-hop thrummed under her downstairs neighbor’s door, and wet towels taunted by the wind slapped the metal rail above her as she climbed the stairs to her unit.

Home sweet home.

A temporary home. Three years could mean temporary. In fact, until tonight, she’d already been mentally packing, giving away her garage sale wicker and, finally, her Kellogg High School Mavericks sweatshirt. Maybe even Boone’s leather jacket, the one she’d stolen the night she left town. It seemed an uneven prize to all he’d cost her.

Her skin prickled as she fought the dead bolt.

Boone had probably forgotten the girl who wound her arms around his waist and dug her face into the leathery pocket between his shoulder blades as he roared them away from Kellogg on his Kawasaki.

Loneliness met her in the silence, the lights between the slats of the blinds striping the bedsheet that cordoned off her so-called bedroom. Her faucet dripped, and she dropped her key onto the counter, surrendering to the habitual attempt to turn it off. Then she ca-lumped her bag onto the chair, folded her arms, and stared out the window at the dark, hungry ocean.

Almost without realizing it, she clamped her hand over her left shoulder, high, near the apex, where the word Boone marked her in flowery script.

Beep. Behind her, the answering machine beckoned her away from the past and what might have been.

Boone was probably in jail or, worse, reformed and married with children. The great taboo, he wasn’t mentioned in her mother’s phone calls; his name wasn’t scrawled in her letters. She was sure he’d forgotten her, just like everyone else had.


Forgotten that she’d left Kellogg, Minnesota, accused of a felony—an accusation too easily pinned on a high school senior whose reputation indicted her without trial. Her only crime had been abysmal judgment in men and allowing her heart to trespass into places her common sense told her not to tread.

A crime, apparently, she kept committing.


Forgotten that her mother cut a deal with the director of the country club, one that included a full tank of gas and promises of a new kitchen. Her mother’s instructions to her included the phrase “just until things blow over.”


Perhaps things had blown over long ago. Perhaps she was the one not ready.


She pushed the Play button as she opened the freezer. Please let there be ice—

“PJ, it’s me.” Connie. The fact that her sister’s attorney-solemn voice tremored made PJ close the freezer door.

“Don’t panic.” Of course not. Because Connie never called her without some earth-shattering joyful news: I passed the bar. I bought a house. I’m having a baby. I’m getting married again!

PJ forced herself to remember that dissecting all that joy was the dark news of husband number one’s death. No one, regardless of how successful, thin, wealthy, and smart, deserved to be woken up at 2 a.m. by the police and asked to identify her husband’s remains. Or those of his mistress, with whom he’d been traveling when his car went off the road.

Still, PJ could hear panic under Connie’s voice. Especially when Connie continued, a little too quickly.

“Okay, listen, I know you don’t want to hear this, but . . . I need you to come home.”

Connie took a breath. And PJ held hers.

“Mom’s been in an accident.”

Everything went silent—the hip-hop beating the floorboards, the far-off hunger of the ocean, Matthew’s criticism in her ear. The years rushed at her like a line drive knocking her off her feet, regrets scattered like dust in her shadow.

Then Connie sighed and hung up. The beep and time signature noted no further messages.

PJ reached for the phone.


Connie sounded as if she might be on her fourth cup of coffee in some cement-lined corridor, tapping out the hour in her Jimmy Choos.

“PJ, where have you been? Mom’s already had her cast set and is in recovery.”

“Please, Connie, not now. Just . . . what happened?” PJ pressed the phone tight to her ear and paced to the window, the ten-year near estrangement with her mother hollowing her out. Had her mother forgotten her silent pledge to carry on, to be waiting if and when PJ summoned the courage to point her car north?

“She fell on the tennis court and broke her ankle.”

The window’s cool surface broke the sweat across PJ’s forehead. Tennis? “For pete’s sake, Connie, I thought . . . oh, man . . . Don’t call me again.”



“Don’t you want to know how bad it is?”

PJ sank into a chair. “How bad is it?”

“They casted her ankle; her bones are secured with a pin. She’ll be out of the hospital tomorrow. But I need you to come home. I’m getting married in a week, and I need help.”

Married. Of course. PJ had seen a picture of Sergei, Connie’s fiancé, and seriously wondered why a double-degreed lawyer might be marrying her tae kwon do coach. But who was she to question—after all, she, a near felon, had dreamed she might pass as a pastor’s wife.

“I thought you two were eloping.” PJ had managed to catch her breath and now returned to the freezer, cradled the phone against her shoulder, and dug out the Moose Tracks. As she opened the lid, crystallized edges and the smell of freezer burn elicited only a slight hesitation. She lifted a spoon from the dish drainer cup in the sink.

“We were flying down to Cancún, but Sergei’s parents couldn’t get a visa for Mexico, so I planned a little soiree at the country club. But the thing is, I have vacation time coming, and if I don’t use it, I’ll lose it. So we need to get away now if we want a honeymoon, and Mom certainly can’t watch David while she’s in a cast. I need you, Peej.”

PJ leaned a hip against the counter and cleaned the sides of the carton, the chocolate swirls melting against the roof of her mouth—sweet with only an edge of bitter.

“So let me get this straight—it’s okay that you weren’t going to invite me to the sunny sands of Mexico to watch you tie the knot with Mr. Muscle, but you want me to leave my life and return home at your whim?” She kept her eyes averted from the threadbare wicker and the chipped Formica table and stomped the floor once, real loud, hoping the boyz in the hood might hear her over the rap.

On the other end of the phone, Connie’s voice wadded into a small, tight ball. “I know how you feel about Kellogg and Boone and especially Mom, and frankly I don’t blame you. I’ve even tried to respect your decision. But it’s time to come home. You have family here. I need you. David needs you. . . .”

PJ tossed the empty container into the sink, licked off the spoon. Down the street, a car peeled out in a hurry, and a dog barked in disapproval.

“You know how I feel? Really? Because you got to stay, Connie. After graduation, you went on to college, to a life. I left town right after the ceremony, a Tupperware bowl of fruit on the seat beside me, praying my ancient VW Bug would make it to the South Dakota border. I’ve spent the past ten years wandering from one tank of gas to the next, trying to figure out where I should land. You lived the life Mom dreamed for you—”

“You lived the life you dreamed for yourself.”

PJ flinched, Connie’s voice sharper than she remembered. She stared out the window, wondering if Matthew still stood on the beach, a hand to his bruised head. “Is that what you seriously believe?”

Silence on the other end made PJ rub her fingers into her eyes. Connie had become an unlikely ally over the past ten years, mediating between PJ and their mother, once in a while sending her enough to cover her rent. However, it still wasn’t so easy to share the limelight with the sister who was wanted.

As opposed to being the one left on the proverbial doorstep. Being adopted sounded so endearing to everyone but the adoptee. The fact that Connie had been born just a few months later, close enough to share the same classes in school, constantly earning better grades and more awards, only served as a constant reminder that PJ hadn’t been good enough, even from birth.

“I’m sorry,” PJ said, letting a sigh leak out. “I’ve had a rough night.”

“Then come home, PJ. If only for a couple weeks. Or longer. You can stay with me until you find your own place.”

“Did you ask Mom?” PJ winced, hating the question and that she didn’t yank it back. Hadn’t she learned anything?

“I asked. Even if Mom won’t admit it, she needs you.”

PJ stood at her screen door, staring out at the now star-sprinkled night glistening on the rippled landscape. The Milky Way streamed across the sky, heading north.

“Please?” Admittedly, it was the closest to pleading she’d ever heard from Connie. “I need you.”

“How long before your wedding?”

“Six days. Sunday at two.”

PJ hung up without promises and walked back outside, over the boardwalk to the beach. The wind had chased the clouds, and a diamond chip moon hung in the sky, surrounded by the jewels of the night, brilliant and close enough to wrap her fingers around. She pressed her bare feet into the sand, then lifted them out, listening to the water slurp, then fill the imprints. Finally, she stared out again at the ocean and wondered how many turtles really made it back to the sea.

Excerpted from Nothing But Trouble by Susan May Warren. Copyright © 2009 by Susan May Warren. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.

I haven't finished the book yet. Life's been busy. Be back later with a review!

Monday, June 8, 2009

My New Favorite Thing

A couple months back, I stopped washing my two beauties' clothes. Except the whites. I still do those, because, well I want them to stay white. LOL So of course with giving up (gladly) that activity came extra hands and bodies using the laundry closet.

And then came the "how much of this do I use again" questions. This was supposed to reduce my stress, not add to it. This was a good thing right? You know teaching responsibility. Preparing them for the future. And all that jazz.

Then a couple of weeks ago, I found the jazz, the stuff......my new favorite thing. And yes it's used in the laundry closet.

I absolutely *ADORE* these! The one sheet has everything in it the two beauties need to wash and dry their clothes. Laundry detergent? In there. Fabric Softener? In there. Anti-static? In there. No more questions about how much laundry detergent to use. The answer, which they provide for themselves is --- one sheet. How much fabric softener? One sheet.

They actually *want* to wash their clothes now. I actually have no mess to look at or clean up in the laundry closet. If you haven't tried them, try them. Simple. Easy. Did I mention that it's eco-friendly in that instead of all those bottles and boxes, you buy the refills and they just go into the original little compact dispenser? Simple. Easy. My new favorite thing.

If you want to know more, stop by http://www.purex.com/ to get more info and watch a cool demo. And since I am such a cheapskate, I mean frugal, I'll advise you to print the coupons too. Thank you Purex. You rock!

Friday, June 5, 2009

First Tour: Bittersweet Memories

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:

Bittersweet Memories

Heartsong Presents (June 2009)


Cecelia Dowdy is a world traveler who has been an avid reader for as long as she can remember. When she first read Christian fiction, she felt called to write for the genre.

She loves to read, write, and bake desserts in her spare time. She also loves spending time with her husband and her young son. Currently she resides with her family in Maryland.

The three books in this series are:
John's Quest(Maryland Wedding Series #1), Milk Money (Maryland Wedding Series #2), and Bittersweet Memories (Maryland Wedding Series #3).

Visit the author's
website and blog.

Product Details:

List Price: $2.97
Publisher: Heartsong Presents (June 2009)
ISBN: 9781602603547
Binding: Mass Market
Pages: 176 pages


Karen burst through the church doors, tears streaming down her face. “Pastor Smith, I can’t believe Lionel is still missing!”

The reverend and his wife, Candace, pulled the hysterical woman into a hug, patting her back. After they released her, Candace stroked Karen’s hair. “Honey, thanks for coming as soon as we called. The police detective is in the boardroom, waiting to talk to you. Are you sure you’re up for this?”

Karen wiped her eyes, struggling to gather her thoughts as the events from the past couple of weeks played through her mind like a nonstop movie. Her fiancé, Lionel Adams, had been fired as church treasurer after being accused of stealing thousands of dollars from their megachurch. And it was rumored that the assistant treasurer, Michelle James, who had recently resigned, had aided him with the theft.
Like the rest of the congregation, Karen had been shocked when the allegations against Lionel were announced at church two weeks ago. And since Lionel had left town the day before, she hadn’t been able to contact him to find out what was going on.

Karen turned toward Candace, her trembling lips attempting a smile. “I’ll—I’ll do the best I can to—to answer his questions.”

The threesome began walking slowly down the hallway, toward the boardroom. A moment later, the pastor stopped outside a closed door, placing his hand on Karen’s shoulder. “Karen, Michelle is missing also.”

Karen gasped, stepping away from the pastor. “That. . .that can’t be true.”

He nodded. “Unfortunately, it is.” Speaking softly, he said, “The church leadership team is concerned for both her and Lionel’s welfare. We want to find them, but we can’t ignore what’s happened.”

Candace took her hand. “Honey, we have to do all we can to locate them. What if there was foul play involved? Don’t you want to make sure Lionel is safe?”

Tears rushed from Karen’s eyes, and she wiped the moisture away. Her head pounded as she leaned against the cool wall, the contact bringing relief to her heated skin.

“Are you okay?” asked Pastor Smith.

Pulling herself away from the wall, she silently prayed, God, give me strength. “I–I’m okay now.”

The pastor’s kind dark eyes offered comfort. “The detective is in here. We called you to be questioned first since you know Lionel so well.”

Karen glanced at Candace. “Nobody told the congregation exactly how much money Lionel may have stolen. We just know it was thousands of dollars. How much cash was

The woman released Karen’s hand and looked at her husband, frowning. In a calm voice, the pastor paused before speaking. “Fifty thousand dollars.”

Karen’s head started spinning. With a muffled sob, Karen turned away, wiping her eyes. “Lord, please help me deal with this pain.”

“We’ll take this one day at a time,” Candace said. “The Lord will see us through.”
Karen looked back at the closed door, hesitating. “Is it okay if I go to the restroom be–before talking to the detective?”

“Of course,” Candace said with an understanding smile.

Leaving the couple, Karen walked to the bathroom, pushed the door open, and entered the room, desperately seeking a private moment with the Lord. Her heart skipped a beat when Tara Baker, the church secretary, dressed in an immaculate cream-colored suit and sporting stylish hair and polished fingernails, stepped out of the stall. Spotting Karen, her dark eyes widened.

While the secretary wordlessly washed her hands, Karen regarded her own worn jeans and faded T-shirt before touching her hair, which she’d pulled into a ponytail in her
haste to get to the church. She suddenly felt rumpled and dowdy. “I always thought Lionel and Michelle were up to no good,” Tara finally mumbled, drying her hands with a paper towel while glaring at Karen.Karen gritted her teeth, shocked at the rudeness of a woman who’d once flirted with Lionel.“I find it hard to believe that you had no clue what your fiancé was doing behind your back,” Tara said then turned on her heels and strode out of the restroom.

Waves of pain floated through Karen’s head as she struggled to blot out the secretary’s words. Turning her focus to the Lord, she prayed, “God, please help me. Help us to find Lionel and Michelle. And keep them safe. Amen.”

Somewhat soothed, she rejoined the pastor and his wife. Pastor Smith gestured toward the now-open door. “Karen, I’m so sorry about this.”

Karen gave him a halfhearted smile then entered the room, praying for strength. The detective sat in a chair near the front of the room.

The minister spoke, his voice full of kindness, “Detective Ramsey, this is Karen Brown.”

“Good morning, Karen,” greeted the detective.

“Good morning,” Karen mumbled, taking a seat near the detective. She turned to her minister. “Can you stay here with me, Pastor Smith?”

The clergyman touched her arm, gazing at the detective. “Is that okay with you, detective?”

Ramsey shrugged, opening his notebook. “If she wants you to stay, that’s fine.”
Pastor Smith settled into the empty chair beside her.

The investigator asked his first question. “Do you know where Lionel is?”

“I. . .” She paused, chewing on her lower lip. “The day before the church announced he was fired, he told me he was going to go out of town to visit his cousin. I haven’t talked to him since, and th–that was two weeks ago.” She paused, gripping the arms of the chair. “I—I haven’t been able to contact him since he left.” She took a deep breath. “He won’t answer his cell phone. I figured he wanted some time alone and I would see him when he returned for his hearing.”

The detective looked up from the notes he was writing. “Where does his cousin live?”
As Ramsey’s questions went on and on, Karen felt overwhelmed with worry, fatigue, and nausea. Hot tears flowing down her cheeks, she prayed, Lord, will I ever feel normal again?

Her head pounded with pain, and she began rubbing her temples.

Pastor Smith touched her elbow. “Are you all right?”

“My head. . .hurts.”

“Detective, is it okay if we stop the questioning for a few minutes while I get Karen some aspirin?”

“I don’t mind at all,” said Ramsey.

Karen heard Pastor Smith’s retreating footsteps as she closed her eyes and rubbed her aching head. Her pain worsened as she leaned back into the chair. And then the world faded out.


I enjoyed this book. I've said before I'm not big on romance novels but I might get converted LOL.

I enjoyed the way the relationship between Karen and Keith developed slowly and even to her surprise. I really connected on the scenes with the teen ministry at the church, since that is a ministry I find important and significant. Even though there wasn't a lot of character development with the teens, Cecelia did give you a deeper glimpse into a couple of the characters, which was nice.

I will say that early on, I could tell which phrases were some of her favorites because they tended to cluster together over a couple of chapters. That happened a bit early on and then I didn't see it so much anymore.

I also loved how the Christian message was woven in without beating you over the head or smacking you in the face. It was great that everything was not tied up with a neat little bow at the end of the book, because that's more realistic. Things aren't always neatly worked out like I see in some Christian books and movies.

I definitely recommend this book. I plan to go back and read some of her other titles.