Friday, May 21, 2010

It's a fine life.

I have recently started cooking from a couple of cookbooks I never thought I'd own, much less use for anything other than a doorstop. I guess you could say the subject matter of these books was not my forte, not my "cup of tea" (or coffee) Now though, I use them and not only that I seem to have found some small measure of success...on occasion.

Last night I attempted to make roast chicken using the recipe in one of the cookbooks above.  I have made this before but only one time did I have success. By success I mean getting the chicken done when everything else is ready too. Last night was not a good night for getting everything on the table at the same time on time.

I'm not sure what my problem is. If I could blame it on my family I would. But I am happy I am not alone in the chicken cooking department. The department that says I am sadly lacking in the skills needed. My friend Mariette Putnam is sitting next to me in that whole department.

Mariette is a chicken cooking klutz too. But unlike me it really isn't her fault. She was born into a life of ease. Her father owned his own company. Her mom was a "society lady"

When I was a child I just told my parents, "There is no need to teach me to cook. I have no interest in it whatsoever. And furthermore, I will marry someone rich and we will have  maid and a cook."

Famous last words.

But you see whereas I grew up and learned to cook, Mariette only tried to cook. And while I've mastered the art of cooking to a small degree she hasn't. I mean let's face it, Food Network will not be beating a path to my door anytime soon...or ever.

Yes, I have stooped to a new all-time low. I'm comparing my cooking skills with a fictional character. Oh surely you didn't think I'd share that about a real friend?! Mariette Putnam is the main character in Eva Marie Everson's book, "This Fine Life". And let me tell you, it is one fine read too.  This book has all the elements I look for in a good book.
Is it believable? 
Do the character seem real?
Is there a wide range of emotions in the story?

Oh my yes!  You will laugh, you will cry and you will be madder than hops at the injustices in our world.  This book will get to you on so many levels. I highly recommend you add this book to your summertime reading. You will not be sorry!

Available May 2010 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”
 I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group for the purpose of reviewing. The free book did not affect my review.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

"Money Talks..

But it don't sing and dance and it don't walk. As long as I can have you here with me, I'd much rather be forever in Blue Jeans, babe." ("Forever in Blue Jeans, by Neil Diamond)

Money doesn't grow on trees.

When I was a child money in my pocket was a precious commodity in my pocket. And it burned a hole right through it too. I was always out of money and generally looking for ways to make money. I would ride my bike around town looking for lost change. I would pretend to be Nancy Drew hoping someone would hire me to solve a mystery for them. No one ever called me.

I tried being Lucy Van Pelt. I wanted neighborhood kids to come to me for help with a problem and I would yell, "YOU STUPID BLOCKHEAD" and smile when they paid me a nickel.

My first job was at our local library. I was 9 and proud. My first day on the job the librarian asked me if I knew how to reshelve books. Did I know how? I had reshelved books for years at that point. Every time I took a book off the book shelf at home I had to put it back.  So of course I said yes.

I had no clue. But I shelved books anyway. And the next day I got to shelve them the right spot. Because apparently the librarian was not happy with my creative shelving. I thought I was a creative genius.

I was fired from that job after a few months. Detention at school was cramping my ability to show up for work.

I learned two valuable lessons from my short tenure at the public library.
  1. Bosses generally expect you to obey them. They don't care much for your creative genius. They are not amused.
  2. Bosses generally expect you to show up for work. If you don't show up, they think you don't like them and you will find yourself with a lot of free time. 
So at the ripe old age of 9, I had been hired and fired already. I knew it was time to strike out on my own. If only Donna Partow had written her latest book, Making Money From Home so I could have read it and saved myself some grief.

But she wrote it now and I found it very informative. Donna has tons of tips and tricks to making money with your home based business. She talks you through setting up your home office, your business plan, as well as some pillars for long-term success. She has one chapter on finding the home based business that is right for you. Not your neighbor, not your spouse, but you. There is nothing half so frustrating as finding and working at the perfect job.....

for someone else.

I don't know about you but I've read some other "work from home" books and found them sadly lacking.  They give you a lot of ideas, if you're independently wealthy or have a degree or 50. Donna's book, Making Money From Home, is different. This book fired me up. I can't wait to put some of her tips and ideas into practice. 

You can learn more about her book by clicking on the following links:
Donna Partow
Making Money

I checked and you can order this book (and I hope you do!) for only $9.88. At that price you can't really afford not to buy the book. If you click the above Making Money link you can order it too.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

I wandered lonely as a cloud

Well sort of. But not really. I wasn't wandering this morning. I had a very clear path in mind. I knew where I was going even before I laced on my shoes and hit the pavement. My path? It led home.  Even before I managed to pry my eye lids open, I longed for the time when I would again be home.

But pry my eyes open I did. I threw on my running clothes, pulled my hair up, laced up my running shoes and ran.

I noticed the strangest cloud formation. Because of our freakish weather this week, it has been well...cloudy. Dark storm clouds are common place here these days.  As I was running I noticed a perfectly formed eyeball of blue sky.  I found myself continually looking east to find the other eye. As i ran I did see it.

Yes the clouds formed two eyeballs. One was perfect, the other one, the clouds had moved and so it wasn't as perfect but it was close enough one could tell it had been an eye.

Immediately all the verses about the eye of the Lord ran through my head. One of my favorites is found in 2 Chronicles 16:9
For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully  committed to Him. 

I don't know about you, but when I'm running I can use all the strength I can get! It seems heart disease runs in my family, and I am attempting to run my way out of it.  But I'm not sure I'm really going to be able to. It seems heart disease affects all people. Everyone on earth suffers from heart disease. And it is only by fully committing our heart, diseased by sin, to the Lord that we avoid weakening our heart and we can actually buck the trend and have our heart strengthened. 

I've been enjoying a study with a wonderful group of ladies and we are working our way through the book of Philippians. I've been on my own, studying the book. I've read it through a few times now and I am amazed at the treasure trove of heavenly goodness I find there. The first time I read it I wrote down everything it says about God, who God is, what He does, anything I can learn about the person of God and His actions. Then I read through it again and wrote down everything I learn about me, the good, the bad and the ugly.  I am now reading through it at a much slower pace and writing down, studying all the things that just jump off the page at me. I am currently in chapter 4. If you are at all familiar with this chapter you will know this is where Paul says that he has learned contentment in all things. He has learned contentment with nothing and he learned to be content with everything. 

What struck me about these verses is the "how". How did he learn contentment?  He says in verse 12, "I have learned the secret..." what is the secret? How can I learn contentment? How do I find the secret? 

I think I might have stumbled on the answer. I just love it when I'm writing out my questions and it is as though God says, "Keep reading!" I think the answer is in verse 13. The secret is finding our strength in Him. Philippians 4:13 reads as follows in the NIV, "I can do all things through Him who gives me strength."

I am big on reading things in context. I know God gives us strength to do any number of things. But in the context of this verse it is being content. When we are content, God gives us strength to do anything...everything even. But I believe it is also true that God strengthens us to be content. Our contentment has to come from God.  His strengthen infuses us to know in the very deepest fiber of our being that He is enough and when God is enough for us, we can say we've learned contentment because we have everything we need.

How does that tie in with the verse in 2 Chronicles?  He strengthens us, not because we are so deserving, but because in our contentment, our heart is fully committed to Him. We can not say "God is enough for me" and not have our heart fully committed to Him. We can't be discontent and proclaim "God is sufficient."

I find myself daily praying for a heart that is fully committed to Him. I want His strength. I need it. I can't run my way out of heart disease without His help. None of us can. But how wonderful to realize He holds the cure and all I really have to do is run to Him. I can run home and find everything is okay. 

LORD, I'm running straight to You!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like....

Winter. In May? Sheesh. Who turned on the air conditioner?  I woke this morning to a white world. Three hours later it is still snowing.

It wasn't that long ago, a few weeks at best and I was baffled by the need to mow my April. I can't think of a time I've had to do that. In fact we mowed it twice in April.

And this morning, this:
We have snow. 

But never fear. I also have coffee. While I was outside snapping pictures of the snow I was drinking my Starbucks brew.
My mug was given to me by a friend. He went to Atlanta on business and since I have a penchant for mugs, in fact I have started collecting mugs from all over.  Knowing I would dearly love to be able to go to Atlanta myself and just explore. Forget business. I love Gone With the Wind and would love to see Peach Tree Street for myself. I know it's a work of fiction but I'd love to see where Sherman marched. Knowing also I'll never make it there myself...probably. I begged, pleaded and handed over money to Dan and he brought me back this mug. I thought it fitting for today, since I'd love to be there right now.
Here's to snowy May days. And hot coffee.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Life is either a great adventure....

or nothing. 
~Helen Keller
I found that to be incredibly true yesterday. One of my very most favorite things to do is drive. I love, dearly dearly love a good road trip. I love to take back roads and just see where you end up. I love traveling great distances all on back roads, stopping at small towns that dot the highway. I love diner food. I tell you some of the best food in America can be found in small town diners.  You can keep your interstates with speeds of 75mph. You might get there faster but I'll have more fun. 

Yesterday knowing this and my great unending curiosity for the "road less traveled" (I wonder where that road goes?) my dear man loaded all of us up in the van for a "short drive in the country." I really think he meant it to be a short drive and have us all home in time for supper. What a silly, silly man.

Now since I have lived in this area for a very long time the act of finding a road I've not been on is getting decidedly harder.  But we were happy to rise to the challenge and off we went. Armed only with one cell phone and my 2 pounds of water. 

At a stop sign we realized we knew the road north, south and well we had just come from the west so we went straight head. East. We went east all the way until the pavement ended. Then it was north. 

That turn north signified something momentous. It was huge. It was the end of civilization as we know it. For the next 60ish miles we saw one car. One.  We were blessed though to see a cell phone tower in the middle of nowhere. I guess if the cows got lost they could phone home. We were truly in ranch country. No doubt about it. 

My dear man is not in the least bit directionally challenged. He knows his directions very well but he was heard to say, "I want to turn north so I can go west." I still haven't quite figured out how that would work exactly.  It seemed the road swerved north and east. There were very few side roads one could turn off and get going a different direction. The county roads went north for a bit and then turned east, then north, then east. 

All told we traveled on back county roads to a town about sixty miles away and it only took us 3 hours to get there. Where we immediately thought to stop and get some fuel for the van, fuel for us before hitting the highway home.  It was good!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Never was a Horse Who Couldn't be Rode,

Never was a cowboy who couldn't be throwed.

That is a lesson Samantha Jensen had to learn. But her horse wasn't exactly a horse. It was a bull. To save her family's farm after her father's death competing in the rodeo, Sam decides she'll learn bronc riding. 

Sam's mom though has other plans for the farm. She plans to sell it to investors, investors who are somewhat left of honest. After the death of her husband, she had been forced to turn the horse breeding farm into a dude ranch. When the Ames family comes to "vacation" there, she is fully aware of their desire to purchase the farm. What she doesn't know is their plans for it. 

The Ames family comes to look over the farm with and eye for what is wrong with it so they can get a rock bottom price and turn it in a mall.

Sam, while going through a trunk of her father's things, finds a paper advertising the bronc riding rodeo. The amount the winner receives is the amount she needs to buy a horse that will allow her to turn the dude ranch back into a lucrative breeding farm.  But can she do it? Can she compete in the same event that cost her father his life? 

Rodeo Sweetheart, by Betsy St. Amant, is a well-written book about the determined heart of the rodeo. I just checked and the book is listed on for $5.50!!  You almost can't afford to NOT order this book. So go ahead, click on the link at the end of this post and buy it already. You'll be glad you did. 

(I received a complimentary copy of this book direct from the author. I was in no way paid for my review and the complimentary copy in no way directed my review.)

Okay I'm having trouble with the html link so just click on the link above to order the book. Thanks so much!!!

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Kid to Kid logo

Operation Kid-to-Kid Blankets a Hurting World with God’s Love

Tonight in countries around the world, children will go to sleep hungry and cold, without parents, without homes...without hope. Now your ministry group can send a simple, tangible expression of God’s love to those in need.

Group Publishing, the premier publisher of children’s Bible curricula, including Sunday school and VBS, believes that some of the best ministers to children who are experiencing disaster and hardship are other children. Through the Operation Kid-to-Kid (OK2K) program, Group partners with nondenominational Christian ministries like Biblica (formerly International Bible Society) and World Vision to provide opportunities for children in North America to share God’s love with other children in difficult or disastrous situations. In 2009 alone, Operation Kid-to-Kid reached almost one million children. Since its inception 12 years ago, Operation Kid-to-Kid projects have impacted over 4.5 million kids and their communities all over the world. Highlights include:

·        Over 100,000 care kits distributed to countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, and Albania
·        More than 380,000 gift boxes sent to needy children worldwide
·        Over 310,000 pairs of shoes and 200,000 pairs of socks given to orphans across the globe
·        Over 1.5 million Spanish Bible books delivered worldwide
·        More than a million cuddly prayer bears and copies of The Survivor’s Bible provided free of charge to underprivileged children all over the world

“Operation Kid-to-Kid is a great way to teach kids compassion and service,” says Joani Schultz, cofounder of Group and OK2K. “Children learn by doing. It’s one thing to drop a nickel in the offering plate, but when kids make a gift with their own hands, when they can be creative and personal, this leaves a real impression on both the givers and the receivers.”

blanket 1.jpgThis year’s OK2K project is a simple no-sew fleece blanket that proclaims “God Loves Me!” right in the fabric. Each 56” by 42” blanket will also include a hidden surprise—a little white heart concealed between the fleece layers. The heart is a sweet secret kept by those who create the blankets, one that symbolizes God’s love for the world and our love for others. Project participants are encouraged to pray specifically for the unknown person who will receive the blanket as they tuck the heart inside. 

The OK2K blanket can easily be incorporated into any Sunday school or VBS curriculum. This year, the “God Loves Me” blanket is included as a special activity in Group’s two new 2011 VBS programs, Egypt: Joseph’s Journey from Prison to Palace and High Seas Expedition. The multi-generational participants will learn about the 40 million children around the world who are desperately vulnerable because of the AIDS pandemic and the effects of extreme poverty. Through Group’s partnership with World Vision, blankets created this year will reach children in Africa coping with the pandemic’s effects on their communities or families, including those who have been orphaned. Instructions for delivering the blankets to World Vision for distribution are included with each blanket kit. To make the gift extra special, churches can send a personalized “God Loves Me” coloring book with each blanket.

blanket 2.jpgOver the years, OK2K has become one of the largest forces mobilizing children in serving other children around the world through gifts of school supplies, Bibles, hygiene kits, Christmas gifts, Bible coloring books, and socks and shoes. But the ministry opportunities are not just for kids. Between recent natural disasters like the earthquake in Haiti and the lingering effects of the global economic crisis, there are more opportunities than ever for Christians to show the love of Christ to others in need—and not just for a VBS event. Operation Kid-to-Kid can mobilize service projects any time of the year. Because the “God Loves Me” blanket project is so simple and practical, it is a perfect fit for a variety of ministry opportunities, from youth or women’s groups and short-term mission trips to neighborhood outreach initiatives and ministry to the homeless. With a little imagination, a ministry group of any size and age can customize the project to support its own ministry vision.

“For many of us, a mission-focused heart is something that develops over time. Like any aspect of Christ’s character in us, loving others like Christ loves them takes practice. This is a lesson for adults as well as children,” says Schultz. “Hopefully, OK2K service projects like the ‘God Loves Me’ blanket will encourage Christians of all ages to commit greater time and resources to missions.”

To find out how you can get involved, visit!

Audra Jennings
Senior Media Specialist
The B&B Media Group
1-800-927-0517 Ext. 104 -  ajennings(at)
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