Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Finish Line is in Sight!

I received the jpg of my back cover earlier this week which I've been trying to put up here, but for some reason the colors are all off. I wonder if it has something to do with the file it is. Anyway, believe me when I tell you, it is GORGEOUS!!!

So much is in the works now it can set my head to spinning if I let it. I have a friend working on promo bookmarks that are the prettiest I've ever seen while I'm working on getting a date set for a "release" party (Basically just friends, fellowship, and fun, oh, and a really cool door prize!) the Saturday after my book is released followed by a book signing at a local Barnes and Noble (LOVE that store!) the week after. My radio interview which I mentioned in my last post has been moved to Jan 8th which is perfect timing. And then in March I'll have a few signings and the Young Authors event at my old elementary school! I'm busting at the seams for that event!!! In the meantime, I've picked up a few duties at school which I'm happy to do because I love that place so much! And I also must work diligently on The Heart's Lullaby, tentatively scheduled for release in spring of 2011. It'll be here before I even know it . . . which is a very scary thought. Time really, truly does fly, doesn't it??? One of the moments that has stuck with me in The Heart's Journey Home is a scene where Kate is talking to her Grandpa Clayton about how forever seems like so long to wait before she can see her deceased husband again to which he replies in his wise way, "Take it from this old man, it's not."

It's really not, is it??? That's why it's so important to STRENGTHEN our relationship with the Lord. I'm certainly not preaching here. I need it probably more than many of you, and I don't know all the ways that it can be done, but a few ways that work the best for me is by fellowshiping with other believers and by praying and listening. Listening is the hardest one for me because some times, well, I just get so busy that I can't even hear myself think let alone listen to my God. Do any of you ever feel like that? A fellow teacher sent me an email story regarding this very thing. Maybe you've seen it. If not, this is how it goes:

A young man had been to Wednesday Night Bible Study where the Pastor had shared about listening to God and obeying the Lord's voice

The young man couldn't help but wonder, “Does God still speak to people?”

After service, he went out with some friends for coffee and pie and they discussed the message. Several different ones talked about how God had led them in different ways.

It was about ten o'clock when the young man started driving home. Sitting in his car, he just began to pray, “God...If you still speak to people, speak to me. I will listen. I will do my best to obey.”

As he drove down the main street of his town, he had the strangest thought to stop and buy a gallon of milk. He shook his head and said out loud, “God is that you?” He didn't get a reply and started on toward home. But again, the thought, buy a gallon of milk.

The young man thought about Samuel and how he didn't recognize the voice of God, and how little Samuel ran to Eli . “Okay, God, in case that is you, I will buy the milk.” It didn't seem like too hard a test of obedience. He could always use the milk. He stopped and purchased the gallon of milk and started off toward home.

As he passed Seventh Street , he again felt the urge, “Turn down that street.”

This is crazy he thought, and drove on past the intersection.

Again, he felt that he should turn down Seventh Street so at the next intersection, he turned back and headed down Seventh. Half jokingly, he said out loud, “Okay, God, I will.”

He drove several blocks, when suddenly, he felt like he should stop. He pulled over to the curb and looked around. He was in a semi-commercial area of town. It wasn't the best but it wasn't the worst of neighborhoods either. The businesses were closed and most of the houses looked dark like the people were already in bed.

Again, he sensed something, “Go and give the milk to the people in the house across the street.” The young man looked at the house. It was dark and it looked like the people were either gone or they were already asleep. He started to open the door and then sat back in the car seat.

“Lord, this is insane. Those people are asleep and if I wake them up, they are going
to be mad and I will look stupid.” Again, he felt like he should go and give the milk so finally, he opened the door, “Okay God, if this is you, I will go to the door and I will give them the milk. If you want me to look like a crazy person, okay. I want to be obedient. I guess that will count for some thing, but if they don't answer right away, I am out of here.”

He walked across the street and rang the bell. He could hear some noise inside. A man's voice yelled out, “Who is it? What do you want?” Then the door opened before the young man could get away. The man was standing there in his jeans and T-shirt. He looked like he just got out of bed. He had a strange look on his face and he didn't seem too happy to have some stranger standing on his doorstep. “What is it?”

The young man thrust out the gallon of milk, “Here, I brought this to you.”

The man took the milk and rushed down a hallway. Then from down the hall came a woman carrying the milk toward the kitchen. The man was following her holding a baby. The baby was crying. The man had tears streaming down his face. The man began speaking and half crying, “We were just praying. We had some big bills this month and we ran out of money. We didn't have any milk for our baby. I was just praying and asking God to show me how to get some milk.”

His wife in the kitchen yelled out, “I ask him to send an angel with some. Are you an angel ?”

The young man reached into his wallet and pulled out all the money he had on him and put in the man's hand. He turned and walked back toward his car and the tears were streaming down his face.

He knew that God still answers prayers.

Yes, He does and He still speaks to us if we will just listen.

PRAYER REQUESTS AND UPDATES: Please pray mightily this week for Chris Dekker.
Chris is a very sick young man. He has been diagnosed with H1N1, pneumonia, AND is now also suffering from Adult Respiratory Distress Syndrome. When I received this info on him, he was on a ventilator, fighting for his life every minute. Right now he has been medically paralyzed in hopes that will help his recovery. His doctors agree he is probably the sickest person in their entire hospital. Please pray for his complete recovery. Pray for wisdom for his doctors. Pray for peace for Chris's parents. Pray for strength for Chris. Pray that the Great Physician will heal Chris completely and that through this terrible experience Chris is strengthened physically and spiritually. I'm believing that the Lord has big, big plans for Chris, that Chris will not only heal from this sickness, but become a mighty soldier for Christ!

Other updates will come soon. In the meantime, please keep praying for those on our list. My prayer for you this week and especially during the hustle and bustle of this holiday season is that you take the time to LISTEN to the Lord.

Blessings to you and yours,

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Things are a Changin'

The leaves are turning. The colors just this past week have really become vibrant. I think this is one of my favorite times of the whole year. We all know what an amazing Creator our God is, but this time of year reminds me over and over again what a magnificent Artist He is! I love the warm and cozy feeling that fall brings to my heart - the fires in the fireplaces, sipping hot cider, and trips to the pumpkin patch. Have I mentioned that I love fall??? :o)

Well, about a month has past since my last post. Rats! I MUST get better at updating this site! A New Years resolution, maybe??? :o/ But there's been a lot going on to fill you in on! Things are becoming very, very busy in our house!

The girls alone are keeping us busy! Ali is in mini cheerleading and Livi is deep into her first soccer season. They are both loving it . . . and I really love keeping them busy. When they get bored, they get unruly! Can anyone else relate??? Ha! Ha! They are both doing great in school. Ali floored me a few weeks ago. I had to stay home with Livi because she had strep throat and I told Ali that she could stay home and rest, too, to make sure she was well for our trip to Ohio, but she said, "But I want to have perfect attendance this year, Mama." Can you believe that??? Perfect attendance! I'm so proud of both of my girls!

Chris is doing great with his songwriting. It's a slow process, especially here in Nashville where there is a ridiculous amount of talent, but he's made all the right connections, and is really writing some great stuff. Just wrote one today that is really, really wonderful! I'm very proud of him, too! He's such a good provider for our family and I'm extremely blessed by him.
As for me, well I'm having the best year ever at school. My class is great. The teachers I teach with are as wonderful as you can get. God has big, big plans for Christian Community Schools and I feel so privileged to be a part of it. And God is also doing some amazing things with The Heart's Journey Home. I'm getting several endorsements in, which I am so humbled by. Kathi Macias, the very talented author of the book that I reviewed last month, My Son, John, said this about The Heart's Journey Home:

"In her debut novel, author Jen Stephens bursts on the literary scene with a warmth and charm that shines through her writing right into the reader’s heart. With down-home candor and skilled word-weaving, Stephens allows her story to unfold through believable characters, drawing readers in right from the beginning and carrying them on a pleasant journey with enough twists and turns along the way to maintain interest to the very last page. Congratulations on a great first novel, and I certainly expect to see more from this author in the future!"

As you can imagine, this endorsement brought tears to my eyes! It also makes me slightly nervous as I believe anyone who reads this endorsement will have high expectations for this book and I hope I don't let my readers down! Self conscious? Yes! This is my first try! *Chewing fingernails*

I also did a video trailer with a lot of assistance from our computer/year book teacher at school (who's a tech GENIUS!) to help generate interest for this book. I've gotten a lot of positive feedback on it. I'm hoping to get it put up here very soon, but right now the file is too big. :o( I'm also having troubles with my website. Grrr! But I won't let the tech problems get me down. Keep reading and you'll find out why!
Okay, now sit down because it gets even more exciting! At least for me it does. I was asked by a teacher at MY OLD ELEMENTARY SCHOOL to come and be the guest author at their Young Author event!!!!! I participated in that event . . . a certain number of years ago! :o) What an honor it is for me! I'm so overwhelmed with gladness I just can't even put it in words. Who would've ever thought, back when I was an 8, 9, 10-year-old, doing my little project, that I would one day come back as a guest author??? Really it has been a definite highlight this year and will be next year when I go in March. Pics WILL be posted. Count on it!!! Also in March I will be having a book signing at my hometown library and possibly at a Borders store in a neighboring town. A few weeks prior to those events, I'm working on planning a "release" party here near Nashville for the weekend of Valentine's Day. We'll see how that goes. And if all of that isn't enough to set your head spinning, just a few weeks from now, November 20th to be exact, I'm scheduled to appear on a local Christian radio show to discuss The Heart's Journey Home.

Whew! If that is still not enough, there is one more bit of news . . . The Heart's Journey Home is available for preorder on,,, and of course my publisher's website,!!!!!

So, I've been busy, and it's been great! But never ever too busy to pray!!! And that's exactly what I'm getting to right now.

URGENT PRAYER REQUESTS: Unfortunately both of these that I'm adding have lost loved ones.

Please pray for Jenny Hogg. Her husband was recently killed in a motorcycle accident. She has a 4-year-old daughter but has also recently had a miscarriage. My dear friend who is close to Jenny requested prayer specifically for wisdom and grace to handle the days ahead of her. I pray for the Lord to just hold her. Just hold her in the fury of this storm. I'm sure nothing anyone can say or do during this time will really be able to put a dent in the grief she's experiencing, but the Lord can. Pray that Jenny can FEEL the presence of God every single day. Pray that she'll come to know Him in a personal, intimate way, and that she'll begin to rely on Him in a way she never had to before.

Also, please pray for Joe & Shelley Butler and their family. Their oldest son was killed in an automobile accident early this morning. I just can't imagine what it must be like to have the holidays right around the corner, maybe Shelley had even bought her son a few presents, and now he won't be there with them. I can't wrap my brain around that kind of grief! But I know Someone who can. Our God WILLINGLY allowed His one and only Son to be killed only for the salvation of you, of me, of Joe and Shelley's baby boy, and I pray that they receive some comfort by the fact that their son is now visiting with His Son.

Please also continue to pray for the other requests on the list. I'll update them as I get updates.

I pray that you all have a wonderful week, a SPOOKtacular Halloween, and that you enjoy getting an extra hour of sleep as Daylight Savings Time ends this Saturday night. So don't forget to turn your clocks back! :o)


Monday, September 28, 2009

A Long Over Due Review

Good gracious! Once again time has gotten away from me. Lots has been going on with my family and with The Heart's Journey Home, but I will update you on all of that in a few days. One thing I will tell you, however, is that the first round of edits are done. YES! So I get a teeny tiny break and what would I rather do on a break but . . . READ!!! Now, I have some friends that can read more than one book at a time all while writing a book. While I LOVE reading, I have always been a slow reader. And I just don't do a lot of it when I'm trying to pour myself into my own novel. So, anyway, that's why I haven't put any reviews up . . . until now!

The novel I chose for my debut blogging book review is My Son, John by Kathi Macias. My Son, John is a riveting story of the depths of a mother's love. Liz Peterson's life is suddenly turned upside down when she finds out that her mother is brutally murdered. MURDERED! How would YOU feel if your mother was murdered??? Her life suddenly goes from upside down to shattered when her only son, her first born child, is arrested AND confesses to this heinous crime. How could her own child do this to her mother? How would you react/feel? I started this book with the mind set of, "Well, something like this could NEVER happen to me." But as Ms. Macias shows us so plainly in this compelling story, one bad choice can set in motion a life altering series of events. John was a typical young man trying to excel under the pressures of college and he made a bad choice - a choice that would continue to compound on itself until finally ending in the brutal murder of his grandmother. Liz goes through a complex series of emotions that, as a mother myself, I went through with her. Finally, with the help of her rapidly failing father, she came to the conclusion that would move any mother reading this story to tears. My Son, John is a story of love - the love children have for their parents, parents have for their children, and, ultimately, the love that our heavenly Father has for all of His children. It's a story about commitment and consequences and hanging on to faith through it all. I would highly recommend this book to any mother or mother-to-be.

PRAYER REQUESTS & UPDATES: I'm afraid I've gotten behind in reporting updates and adding new prayer requests and I hate that so much because I truly feel this is the most important part of my blog. So, to all those involved, I apologize that I haven't reported on your friends and loved ones sooner than this but rest assured they will be lifted up with prayer now!

I'm deeply, deeply saddened to ask you to pray for the family of Wendell Loveday who went home to be with the Lord on the 23rd, I believe. This is the brother of my dear friend, Connie, who was also Alison's teacher last year. Wendell had been sick and in great pain for years with rheumatoid arthritis (among other ailments) and was facing the possible amputation of his leg when he passed away somewhat suddenly. It is very easy for us to say, "He is not in pain any more," but for the days and months to come it doesn't help the emptiness and sorrow that his family is feeling in their hearts. Wendell was married to his wife, Peggy, for 40 years and they have a grown daughter, Stacey. Pray that they will all experience a comfort that could only come from the Lord in the days and weeks and even months to come, and also a peace that passes all understanding.

Also please pray for the family of Henry Dishaw, especially his wife, Diane. Henry had been sick with an enlarged heart and finally went home to be with the Lord on September 11th. Again, pray for comfort, a warmth that wraps around them like a cozy blanket. Pray for peace to descend on them like pixie dust and fill them with the hope of all of God's promises.

Also, please pray for the family of a man named John. I don't know his last name, but the Lord does. John was the CFO of a small company based in Birmingham. He'd been there for over 25 years. Last month John committed suicide leaving behind a wife, children, and grandchildren. There must be so many questions, many many never be answered. Please pray that his family will FEEL the Lord's presence constantly in the days, weeks, and even months to come. And that they will be comforted by the hope we have in the Lord.

Continue to pray for Romney McLellan who I recently received more information on. She has been diagnosed with intermediate grade large B cell lymphoma, but this cancer shows possible characteristics of advanced grade. Her LDH levels are elevated and also her anemia is a concern for the doctors. Her treatment is going to be much more difficult that originally anticipated. I've never hidden the fact that I'm NOT a medical person and medical terms are often lost on me (That's why I have my RN sis - my major source of info for anything medical in any of my books!) but my heart aches for this family because Romney and her husband have a two-year-old little girl, Marley, who is wanting her mommy. Please pray for strength for Romney. Pray that she can make it through her treatments better than anyone imagined she could. Pray for comfort and peace and patience for her husband and the rest of her family. Pray that her doctors will know exactly what to do to bring her back to restored health. Through all of this, pray that the Lord is glorified!

Similarly, please pray for Richard "Jim" McDonald, who was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins, B-Cell Lymphoma. He is beginning a new treatment today. Pray for healing and restored health. Pray for strength and peace. Pray for his family and doctors that they will know exactly how to help him and make him well again, that together he will have the support system needed. Please pray especially for his daughter Melinda who is one of the sweetest spirits I've had the pleasure of meeting recently.

This is an urgent prayer request. One of the girls who lived down my street as a kid now has a beautiful 17-year-old daughter, Monica Rose. Monica is battling liver cancer. I can't imagine what my friend, Holly, must be feeling right now. As a 17-year-old, already going through so many changes, I can't imagine what Monica must be going through either. Please, please, pray mightily for Monica. Pray that the Lord will touch her liver with His healing power. Pray that she will be strong and brave and obtain a faith that would amaze most adults. Pray for her doctors, that they will have the wisdom to know exactly what to do for her. Pray for peace for Holly and her husband that they would be bathed in a peace that passes all understanding. It's hard for us parents to let go of our babies, but Monica is always, always in the Father's hands. What safer place is there? Pray, my prayer warriors! Pray for Monica!

Also, please pray for Duane Sutton, the father of a fellow Sheaf House author. He is 72-years-old and was recently diagnosed with bone cancer. It showed up very suddenly seeming to indicate that it's an aggressive form of cancer, but the family is still waiting on details. He doesn't live near much of his family so right now that is the immediate prayer request. Also, pray that Duane will not be in pain, and that if treatment is an option it will be effective. Above all, pray that God's will is done and that His peace and grace surrounds this delicate situation.

I wanted to update you all on a few that still are/were on the prayer list: My best friend, Patty Smith, recently had a large mass in her abdomen discovered durning a PET scan. It is most likely cancer. She is going on Friday to find out how badly infested with cancer it is. Please pray that it doesn't "light up" AT ALL (which would mean there was NO cancer in it)! Regardless, she is very excited and hopeful to be going through a new, experimental treatment. If I get these figures right, I believe only 70 people are going through this study nation-wide. Please pray that the Lord works a miracle for Patty (and for all of us, really) through the doctors and scientists that have discovered this treatment. Pray for strength through the treatments. Her faith is so amazing. Pray that she will continue to always stand strong in her faith through this storm and that her family and friends will know exactly what we can do to help hold her up in her moments of weakness.

A little good news? Kristin Miller is fully recovered from her open heart surgery and doing FANTASTIC. And Dave Coleman, who underwent a radical surgery to attack his colon cancer aggressively, also has recovered completely, is back to work and his busy life as a husband, dad and grandpa. So for the time being, I have taken them off the list to make room for others. Also, Larry Harris is doing great and Trey Grant has almost completely recovered from his motorcycle accident and has started going back to work a few hours at a time, so I have taken them off the list, too.

Thank you for your prayers. I've seen it time and again, and I know you have too, that there is POWER IN PRAYER. Prayer changes lives - sometimes those needing the prayer, and sometimes those doing the praying. In a few DAYS (yes, days!) I will be reporting on the status of The Heart's Journey Home. I'm so excited with the progress that's been made and look forward to sharing it with you very soon! Until then . . .

Many blessings to you and yours,

Sunday, August 30, 2009

That Book

I've meant to make this post for 2 weeks. My excuse for not getting it done? Same as always - NOT ENOUGH TIME! School started three weeks ago and I believe it's shaping up to be our best year yet! My class is wonderful! I truly, honestly wake up every morning looking forward to going in and seeing them. I'm privileged to be a part of the most close knit faculty. I quite simply go to work with my family. It's a very special, Spirit-filled place.

In addition, edits on The Heart's Journey Home are almost done! We are getting closer to our destination on this road to being published. Some of it's been a blur. Some of it's been a struggle for me. ALL of it has been a satisfying experience. I've learned more about myself while on this journey, but, most of all, I've grown in my faith. I pray every time I open my document to work more on it that something that I'm writing will touch somebody's heart and lead them on a closer walk with the Lord. Kinda like what happened to me when a speaker came to our church two Sundays ago and told us this story:

"I don't want that book in my house and I don't want you reading it." That's what a father said to his daughter after he found her reading the New Testament that she'd received from a Gideon who'd visited her school earlier that day. The next morning as she sat eating her breakfast, she took it back out and got caught again.

"I thought I told you I don't want that book in my house and I don't want you reading it!" The father snatched the Bible, slipped it into the breast pocket of his shirt and left for work.

He never returned.

You see he was a miner and that day the mine collapsed. Rescue crews worked tirelessly to get to the men before their pocket of oxygen ran out, but they were too late. When they recovered the bodies, they found that miner father holding the small, Gideon Bible in his hands open to the Confession of Faith that is found in every Gideon Bible. It states: Confessing to God that I am a sinner, and believing that the Lord Jesus Christ died for my sins on the cross and was raised for my justification, I now receive and confess Him as my personal Saviour. After that confession of faith, the rescue workers found the SIGNATURE OF THAT MINER FATHER. Under his name, they found the NAMES OF THE SIX OTHER MINERS AS WELL!

I'm sure I didn't tell this story as effectively as Gideon Jess Dillon did, but how could you not be moved by this story? By the obvious way in which the Lord worked through the Gideon and the daughter, but also what struck me is that the Lord met those 7 men at their deepest, darkest hour. He was there when they signed their names and He was there when they took their last breaths. He didn't give up on them. There wasn't a time limit.

Shouldn't it be our constant mission as Christians? To reach out to the lost? To do our best to help them reach for Jesus before it is too late? It's not always easy to do, especially if they are even remotely different from us. We're so much more comfortable reaching out to fellow believers, but Jesus Himself said that he didn't come for the believers but for the lost. The Gideon people reach out to the lost. Missionary families like the Whited family that I wrote about in my last post are actively pursuing that goal, too, in a big way. I recently met the mother of a little boy in Olivia's Kindergarten class and am blown away by how the Lord is using her as a prayer warrior. She is reaching out to anyone who is seeking the Lord in a beautiful way. (Please check out her blog. It's wonderful and uplifting. For your convenience I've added the link below - A Journey to Freedom & Opening the Door.) I pray that in a teeny tiny way I can reach out through my writing.

PRAYER REQUESTS & UPDATES: There are several and I'm probably forgetting some. I'm so sorry. I need to keep better tabs and get them in sooner, but I'm just going to inform you of the names and briefly what their need is today.

First, please pray for the family of Jeanette Johnson, the mother of my very dear friend Jana Iwanowski, who passed away this past Wednesday. Jana is incredibly strong in her faith, but please pray for her in the days, weeks, and months ahead that she will have peace and rest comfortably in the Lord's promises.

Also, I need you to pray for the family of Ned Oeder who lost his battle with liver cancer and passed away recently.

Also, please pray for fellow author and MTCW member, Tamera Alexander, who recently lost her mother to cancer. Similar to Jana, Tamera is strong in her faith, but I don't guess it's ever easy to lose your mother.

I ask you, dear friends to pray for a friend from high school, Crystal Winkler, who has been diagnosed with breast cancer and it preparing for surgery. Pray for peace, strength, and, most of all, complete healing.

Update on my Olivia: As of August 7th, she was up to 190K platelets so she has been released from further monitoring. Yay! No more "poinky shots".

I want you to pray for the husband of one of my friends. The Lord knows their names, and I want to protect their privacy. She is a strong Christian and he is unsaved. Also, pray for her as it must be so hard to know the one you love so much doesn't have a relationship with Christ.

Lastly, for now, as I'm sure I've forgotten some and will be adding them soon, pray for Romney McLellan. A young mother who was recently diagnosed with cancer. Hopefully I'll have more info on her soon, but for now pray for complete healing and the strength she needs day by day.

I pray for all of you to somehow reach out this week. Reach out to the lost, the hurting, the downtrodden. Let them see Jesus is you!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Getting the WORD Out!

I just LOVE when the Lord brings people into my life and I know it RIGHT THEN! Yep, you guessed it . . . story time!

Last week, I was up at school preparing my classroom (and my brain) for the rapidly approaching new year. Well, after quite a while of working I decided that the L-O-N-G walk from my classroom to the snack machine would be worth it for some much needed M&Ms. I came around the corner just a few feet from my destination and I almost ran into this lovely woman and her sweet daughter. Of course, since I've NEVER met a stranger, I said hello. She said hello. Amazing how in ONE WORD you can tell the level of a person's spirit, and I could tell that this woman was Spirit-filled. So, again, NEVER turning from an opportunity to "visit", I asked her what she was setting up. And she proceeded to tell me that they are a missionary family. Her husband works on airplanes and these airplanes are used to take Scripture to remote areas of this world. Right now they are in the States but hope to be going over seas soon. I proceeded to tell her that I've been wanting for our class to "adopt" a missionary family so badly for two years now. My classes in the past have "adopted" soldiers which was a wonderful experience, but the Lord just put it on my heart to take care of a missionary family. The Lord brought this family to my class! And what makes it even better is the sweet little girl with her that day is a third grader! My Alison met the little girl and everything so this year they will be able to write back and forth and I'm expecting a very wonderful experience through all of this. This is a photo of Dano and Melinda Whited and their beautiful family. Please pray for them with me, my dear friends. They are doing the Lord's work in a mighty way! I may be naive but I didn't realize how many groups of people DO NOT EVEN HAVE A PORTION OF THE SCRIPTURES! These people do not know about our Jesus! They don't know anything about Him! That makes me want to cry! Not just for them but to think that Jesus actually hing on the cross and died for those people, too! And without men and women like Dano and Melinda, so many would never know. I hope that through my writing I may touch a life or two, and bring people closer in their walk with the Lord, but, folks, really that's just a drop in the bucket compared to what Dano and Melinda and others like them are doing. I have very dear friends that have spent time as missionaries in Malaysia and Alison's teacher last year had spent many years as a missionary in Puerto Rico. These people are the most humble, warm, Spirit-filled people I know. And the world IS a better place because of them!

I didn't do a very good job writing this article. My heart is full, but my brain is mush right now. Editing for The Heart's Journey Home is coming along amazingly. It is so fun to go back and reread what I've written . . . and then make it better. School starts on Monday so we've been getting ready for that, and, on top of everything else, I am trying to get back into some kind of an exercise routine. I've always considered that the one "extra" thing, but I have since figured out that it should be one of my top priorities. My health is a precious gift, and I want to treat it like that. Still . . . it's a struggle to get on the treadmill everyday when my sleep schedule is, well, what it is. So, I said all that to say that though I didn't write it as eloquently as I'd intended, my heart is with the Whited family and I hope that you will print their picture out, hang it up somewhere in your house, and pray for them, too.

OTHER PRAYER REQUESTS: Please, please, please pray for Kevin Burris. Kevin is the husband of a wonderful woman that I teach with. Patty taught Alison Kindergarten and she will have Olivia this year. She is a dear friend, a wonderful co-worker, and one of the most godly women I have ever met. She and her Kevin are still in so much love after, oh, I'm just guessing about 23 or 24 years of marriage. Kevin was diagnosed with MS several years ago, but just recently it has gotten worse. Long story (and many medical details that I will get wrong) shorter, he will go in for a monthly treatment that may stop and even REVERSE the progression of his MS! My dear friends, please pray specifically right now that the Lord will indeed REVERSE the progression of Kevin's MS. Please pray that the Lord will ease his physical pain and the pain that I know is in my dear sweet friend's heart. I know it's so hard on her to watch her husband, her best friend, hurting like this. Pray for Kevin's doctors that they will have a divine wisdom and a compassionate heart in dealing with Kevin's illness. Pray that every financial need will be met for them. Pray, my friends, for the most precious peace to descend on Kevin and Patty and that they will find rest in our precious, precious Savior.

Please pray for my friend, Erica Foster. She is the mother of a former student and has recently been diagnosed with MDS, which according to my research is a "pre leukemia". She has to go through chemo, has lost her hair, the whole nine yards. Friends, pray for healing! Pray that Erica can have a super natural strength. Pray for peace, a peace that passes all understanding. Pray for Erica's doctors that they, like Kevin's, will have a divine wisdom and a compassionate heart in dealing with Erica's illness. Please pray for Erica's children, 10-year-old Josh and 5-year-old Erin. The fear that must be in their hearts, I can't even imagine. Please, lift Erica and her children up to the Lord!

Please pray for the family of Zelma "Pat" Rose, the grandmother of a friend's husband, who recently passed away. Pray that they will have peace and hope in the promises of the Word. Pray that memories will be abundant and will comfort the grieving hearts that she left behind.

Please pray for my friend, Sharon Chill. Sharon has had a myriad of health problems including a stroke and she is awaiting test results on a cyst in her throat. Please pray mightily that she will be healed. Period. That she will gradually experience better and better health until the doctors can no longer find anything wrong with her. Pray that the test results will come back that she does NOT have throat cancer. Pray for her girls. It must be so hard for them to see their mama so sick. Pray for her husband, Bob, that he will experience peace and comfort in knowing that his wife is safe in the hands of our Lord and Savior. Pray for her doctors, like Kevin's and Erica's, that they will have the divine wisdom and compassionate heart in dealing with Sharon's illnesses.

Also, please pray for Melinda Whited's daddy, Richard "Jim" McDonald, who has been diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins, B-Cell Lymphoma. From what I understand, this is an aggressive but treatable cancer. Pray for complete healing. Pray for peace for Mr. McDonald and his family. Pray for his doctors, just like we prayed for Kevin's, Erica's and Sharon's, that they will have divine wisdom and a compassionate heart in dealing with Mr. McDonald's illness. Please pray for Mr. McDonald's strength to increase and for his pain to decrease everyday.

UPDATES: My heart is very heavy to tell you that our sweet young friends, Katie Leach and Ethan Bibb, both going through treatments for cancer, have experienced some complications recently. Please pray for these two young people like you have never prayed before! Pray for HEALING! Complete restoration of health to their little bodies. Pray for their parents who are beyond exhausted, mentally and physically. I can't even imagine what they must be going through. Pray for their siblings who I'm sure must have questions going through their minds and a certain amount of fear in their hearts. Pray for their doctors, that they will know just what to do, what treatments/medicines to incorporate so that these two young people will once again experience life cancer free! I believe that this can happen with the help of the Lord! Please, make this your specific prayer request for Katie and Ethan!

Always remember that if you or someone you know is in need of prayer, I will be happy to add them to this list. Just let me know. I believe that there truly is power in prayer!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Introducing . . .

Here it is, folks! Consider this like an . . . ultrasound of sorts! I'm SO tickled with the way it turned out and I've gotten lots of positive feedback, too. I think it totally captures the essence of what this book is all about. And I just love the pink, too! I'm such a girl!

You haven't heard much out of me lately because things have been pretty quiet. The rough (and I do mean ROUGH) draft of The Heart's Journey Home was completed earlier this month and we are now knee deep in the editing phase, which is so fun! I explained it to my very good friend, Jana, this way: writing it was like running a marathon - fun and rewarding, but it took every last ounce of my creative juices. Editing is taking something that is already there and making it better. I LOVE that, and I'm still not very good at it yet, but my wonderful publisher is teaching me a little more about the craft as we go along. This has been an exceptional experience all the way around.

The very best part of the whole thing has been getting to know my characters. They are all so special to me! Point in case, I needed to write a scene that involved quite a bit of medical knowledge (of which I have NONE!), and so I called my sister who's an awesome RN to pick her brain in order to make the scene real and accurate. Do you know I started crying right there on the phone because of what this character has to go through? Sheesh! (Thankfully, Bonnie didn't think I was a nut . . . or, at least, any more of one than I already am! Ha! Ha!) I hope and pray that you grow to love these characters as I have, that they impact your life and touch your heart in some way.

Other than that, we've had a pretty uneventful summer. We visited with our family in Ohio for about a week which was wonderful. I posted a TON of photos from our trip on facebook. The girls have had swimming lessons for two weeks and are swimming like fish! Oh, and earlier this month when Olivia's platelets were rechecked they were up to 144K! 150K is considered normal so she seems to be completely out of the woods! Yay! It was a L-O-N-G 5 months!!! She'll be playing soccer in the fall which is what she really wanted to do so extra praises go up for that! I'm still going to keep her on the list of prayer concerns though until she gets her blood checked next month. Hopefully that'll be the last time and we'll just watch her carefully if she gets sick during the school year. Pray that this ITP never comes back!

Speaking of prayers . . .

PRAYER REQUESTS: Please pray for Leann. She is an 11-year-old who has been through quite a bit in a short amount of time. Now she has very real fears. Please pray that the Lord will work through those around her to ease her troubled heart. Pray that the Lord will just give her a peace that passes all understanding. Pray that the Lord will wrap this sweet young lady up in a warm, fuzzy blanket of His love and she will be comforted resting in His promises.

I need you all to pray for Billie Ensley. Billie is in her 80s and has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer. Thankfully, it was caught in the early stages, but she will be undergoing surgery in 3 weeks and that's not easy at any age. Pray for healing. Pray for peace and comfort for Billie and her family. Pray for wisdom for her doctors.

Please also pray for Nadja Welch. She is in her mid thirties, with four children and has recently been diagnosed with some serious health problems. Pray for complete and quick healing for this mother. Pray for her to have super natural strength and divine comfort. Pray for her doctors to have wisdom to know exactly what to do to make her better. Pray for her children, that they won't be scared or worry about their mommy but rest in God's promises.

Please, continue to pray for the others listed to the right, and, as always, pray for God's will to be done in all things. If you or someone you know is in need of prayer, please send me a message and I will be more than happy to add them to this list. There truly is POWER in prayer!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Parable of a Parable . . . at the Ball Park!

Sunday night Chris and I took the girls to a Nashville Sounds game. (The Nashville Sounds are our minor league team - a farm team for the Milwaukee Brewers.) We had the best time! We had GREAT seats - second row right behind the Sounds' dugout. It was so close! It was also autograph night where the kids (and kids at heart :o) ) could bring their paraphernalia and get it signed by most if not all of the players. Ali and Livi ate this up! They loved being so close to the big boys! It was a gorgeous summer night. We could hear the CRACK of the ball on the bat, the SMACK of the ball into a glove. Of course, ball diamond food is worth the price of admission alone. I mean is there a place in this world where a hot dog tastes better??? The Sounds played an excellent game, had beautiful plays, and won 14-5! Everything was as perfect as it could be, but . . .

There was a man sitting right in front of us that bumped our experience up one more notch. We don't even know this man's name, but he wore a jersy with the word EXTREME on the back so we just called him Mr. Extreme, and he seemed to be totally cool with this. Well, Mr. Extreme was a very friendly guy. He seemed to know every player. He got them to come to him to get autographs. Of course Ali and Livi loved that because they'd get their little programs out and lean over to get more autographs than they already had! I think some of the players actually signed twice. *Shrug* It was fun. Anyway, we are a pretty friendly family so we were getting along well with Mr. Extreme.

Well, a couple innings into the game, our Sounds were in the outfield (which wasn't that far away from us as we were in the 2nd row and Mr. Extreme was in the first row) and our third baseman made a play (I think he chased down a fould ball, though I can't remember) and he did what all of the fans love. He tossed the ball into the stands . . . right at Mr. Extreme. When I got over the shock because for a split second I saw a ball coming right for my head, I was overcome with appreciation because Mr. Extreme, without hesitating, turned around and gave the ball to my girls! Do you know that just a few innings later, the EXACT same thing happened??? A player tossed him the ball and he turned around and gave it to my girls so that when we left that game BOTH Ali and Livi had a GAME BALL! Of course, we thanked him and he just smiled his goofy, happy smile. But I got to thinking, there's a lesson to be learned here.

The lesson I came up with? Let me bring to your memory the Parable of the Rich Fool. Luke 12:16-21 says, "Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, 'Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.' But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."

If you let your imagination take a little walk with me, you'll see that Mr. Extreme was NOT like the greedy, rich man. He did NOT lay up those treasured game balls for himself. He gave them away and caused "extreme" happiness when he did so. As Christians, we MUST be like Mr. Extreme. We must learn Scripture like Mr. Extreme learned the players so that when we have an opportunity tossed at us, we can give away a little piece of Heaven. How much more happiness would it cause for a nonbeliever to enter the gates of Heaven just because we did NOT lay up the treasure for ourselves, but shared the best gift we've ever received?! I don't want to keep the love of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, all to myself. I want everyone to know what He did for me and all of humanity. I want to be like Mr. Extreme and just . . . give it away.

This is where I have gotten stuck for two nights in a row because this computer has frozen up on me. I want to update you on our list of prayer concerns and I will on another night. For now I'm going to add two new urgent requests and I will make some changes to the list of prayer concerns.

PRAYER REQUESTS: Please pray mightily for Cathy Sue Hodges, who has been diagnosed with cancer in several areas of her body. Pray for complete and total healing. Pray for the strength she'll need to make it through the days ahead. Pray for peace and hope and comfort for her and her family. Pray for her doctors to have wisdom and know exactly how to treat this cancer. We know that our God is bigger than any illness, that there is NOTHING too big for our God to handle. I pray that faith in Him is strengthed through this and that Cathy and her family will use this sweet time to bond together comforting each other and the Lord comforts them.

I also ask you to pray for the family of Linda Schafer. Linda and her family attended the church that I grew up in. I was friends with her daughters, Melissa, Robin, and Becky. Sadly, sometime between Friday night and Saturday morning, 54-year-old Linda very suddenly passed away. Please pray for her husband, Don, and her three daughters. Also pray for her mother Laureen. Pray that they can find hope in God's promises and that through that hope their broken hearts will gradually heal. Pray for them not just today and tomorrow but in the weeks and months ahead when life just keeps moving on and they have no choice but to move on with it, though they may still be so deeply grieved inside that it hurts to think of one more minute without Linda. Pray that they find the strength in themselves, in their faith, and in each other to keep pressing on until the day comes when they can see Linda again.

I'm going to post this before I lose it again. As I said I will post the updates soon. Until then . . .

"Extreme" blessings to you and yours,

Sunday, June 14, 2009


Um . . . sorry. This post IS NOT about the General Motors Corporation. It's not about how the government is or isn't bailing them out (because to tell you the truth, I lost track of exactly what the status was with that). In this post, GMC stands for: Goal Motivated Conflict.

I attended the monthly MTCW (Middle Tennesee Christian Writers) meeting this morning. It is a group of writers - some published, some not yet - who meet to help each other hone their craft of writing. I get a ton out of these meetings, learning something new each month, but I think I can speak for even our veteran writers that everyone takes something away from the two hours we spend together.

This morning, multi-published Tamara Leigh presented us with the importance of incorporating GMC in our works in progress and how to do it effectively. Basically, the heroine and the hero must have a GMC AND each scene must have a GMC. Sound complicated? It's not really. Let me explain further by using my heroine, Kate, as an example.

Kate Sterling has a goal of trying to start over and begin a new life for her and her young daughter three years after her husband has passed away. Her motivation is that she is tired of grieving, tired of being alone. Her major conflict is just that she's not ready to let him go yet. Other goals, motivation, and conflicts come into play throughout the book to keep the reader interested and to propel the story along.

As I was pondering Goal Motivated Conflict tonight, I had the thought that we can apply this same formula to our everyday lives. For example: I have a goal to finish The Heart's Journey Home and get it perfect for my February release date. My motivation? Truly and honestly, to change hearts and bring people to a closer relationship with the Lord. My conflicts? Ha! Ha! That's funny! It's called LIFE! Olivia getting sick with ITP set me back. During the school year, my time is really divided up. I could keep naming conflicts that I have to work through to reach this goal, but you get the point. Sometimes in stories (and often in real life), the goal doesn't get reached, but it gets changed. That is typically a result of personal growth, and is a very cool thing to witness in real people and in characters!

I just wanted to share that with you tonight, and, in closing, I'm just wondering what are your Goal Motivated Conflicts? Have you ever had a goal that has changed instead of being met?

Stay tuned. In the next couple of weeks I'm going to be updating you on the status of The Heart's Journey Home, updating my list of prayer concerns, and posting book reviews. Right now I'm reading My Son, John by fellow Sheaf House author, Kathi Macias, and, let me tell you, folks, it is a gripping read! If you like deep, heart wretching, soul moving fiction, get ahold of this book.

But more on that later. For now I'm off to the wonderful world of fiction! :o)

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Do you remember your graduation?

Last month my baby graduated from preschool. It was a very sweet little ceremony. The kids sang "Jesus Loves Me" and recited memory verses and then did a little diddy about how they're "ready to go off to Kindergarten". Of course my heart was swollen with pride, and of course I wondered how my baby has gotten so big. Where does the time go? Yet, at the same time, I can hardly remember what my life was like before my precious Olivia. Olivia is already reading simple sentences and doing simple math! Yes, I'm a proud mama!

I wouldn't be a very good mama if I didn't tell you about my Alison. At the end-of-the-school-year awards ceremony, Ali made all "A" Honor Roll and received second place in her class in Bible, English, Spelling, and Reading. Plus, she learned ALL of the books of the Bible and received the charater trait award of Attentiveness. I thought that was interesting. *Shrug* As long as she is attentive as school! :o) Next year, she will actually be in my class, so we'll see what kind of awards she gets then! Ha! Ha! She's a very good, smart girl!

This year my high school graduating class is celebrating our 15 year reunion! 15 YEARS! Yes, I know I'm dating myself, but . . . HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE??? I remember very vividly wearing that cap and gown and clowning around with my good friends thinking that it would take F-O-R-E-V-E-R for me to get married, have kids, and a career. Surprise! Forever is here! I lost track of many of my classmates (Including my very best friend, Patty, for a while, but that won't ever happen again!) but recently I've been reunited with several of my classmates through facebook! It's been like a very special treasure to be in contact with the people who I spent so much of my childhood and teen years with! And this October, we are going to have a reunion. I just can't wait!

Between my reunion, Ali's awards ceremony, and Livi's preschool graduation I've begun to understand that life is a series of "graduations", isn't it? Moving from one stepping stone to another. Each one is exciting and scary and fulfilling, but none is more important the graduating into Christianity.

The Heart's Journey Home is moving into very exciting stages!!! We will be starting the editing process very soon and by the end of the month hopefully we will have a cover to proof. Can you believe in less than 8 months I will be holding it in my hands?!?! Please stay tuned and check back often for the latest updates as I have every intention of posting regularly from now on.

I will update my list of prayer concerns very soon also, so please be looking for that, too! Now, back to work. Until next time . . .

Love and blessings to all,

Friday, May 1, 2009


I can't believe it has been two weeks since I've postes last! Thank you to all of you who are still checking in regularly. All I can say is I've been working on The Heart's Journey Home like a mad woman . . . when I'm not being a mama, wife, or teacher. "Being busy" is such a lame excuse, but I promise you, my friends, I have never in my life been busier. Right now I'm tired, but satisfied, and that's a good feeling.

What's NOT a good feeling is knowing you have a storm coming, and, WHEW!, it has definitely been a stormy spring here in Middle Tennessee. The picture you see is actually a picture of our local news channel's website DURING OLIVIA'S BIRTHDAY PARTY! Talk about nerve wracking! It all turned out okay, though, as is the case with most storms. The hard part is weathering it, witnessing the power of Mother Nature. How often we forget the our God is bigger than any storm. Our God calmed the storm not with a huge, showy performance, but with thee simple words: "Peace, be still."

In chapel several weeks ago, Alison's teacher (who has also become my very dear friend), Mrs. Connie Roy, talked to the elementary about how we all go through "storms" in our lives. Now you can imagine that this idea varies greatly from child to child. You may have one child whose "storm" is that their cat ran away, and that really is a "storm". I'm certainly not down playing it. But then you have the child whose parents are getting a divorce or whose daddy lost his job or whose grandparent is very, very sick. I've wondered before how do you explain "big people" stuff like the ecomony, divorce, sickness, and death to children? Fortunately, for me this year, Connie taught that chapel because I took it into my classroom and we talked in depth, I mean really in depth, about life's many storms. How they aren't fun to go through, but when it's all over, you are bigger and stronger and that much closer to becoming exactly who the Lord is shaping you to be. As much as I hate going through a storm (Hate is a very mild word to describe how I feel about storms. Really.) I can't tell you how much I love the freshness and newness of the world outside when it's over. The same is true when I go through a life storm. Hate it during the wind and the rain. Love the freshness and newness in my spirit when it's over. Unfortunately, my students received an application of life storms this week that I didn't want to have happen. My student, the grand daughter of Janet Kraski on our list of prayer concerns, is going through a really, really hard storm right now. Janet lost her very short battle with brain cancer this yesterday (Thursday). Please note that I have moved her family to the list of prayer concerns that have lost a loved one. And please, please pray for them.

PRAYER REQUESTS: Larry Harris (and wife Kathy) have been on my list before. Larry recently had a procedure done on his heart and has been recovering well. So weel, in fact, that they went on vacation earlier in April. On the way back however, he got really sick and had to have emergency surgery. He's still in the hospital recovering from this procedure very, very slowly. Please pray for Larry that he can continue to heal and recover and pray that the Lord will just wrap his wife Kathy in peace and comfort.

UPDATES: Trey Grant is being moved to a rehibilitation hospital already after his motorcycle accident! That is wonderful news! It will still be a long road for Trey so continue to pray for him, his wife, Jen, and their three children. My Olivia had blood work today and it seemed that her platelet count has dropped some over the month. Everything else in her blood work looks perfect so it's still this ITP. It's just going to take time, quite a bit of it from what I understand, and I'm not very patient. Please pray her prayer: "Dear Jesus, Thank You for healing me and please put more platelets in my body. Amen." She'll go back in a month for more blood work. Our little friend, Katie Leach, has reached a point in her chemo treatments that her hair has started to fall out. I know this is hard for adults to have to deal with because hair has so much to do with one's identity. Well, it is for a child, too. The difference is than an adult can at least rationalize that this is a direct cause of the chemo which is directly fighting the cancer. Rationalizing is a lot harder for a kid. They just know that everyone is going to "look at them weird now". People, especially women, value hair and it starts at Katie's age. Think about it, little girls watch fairytale movies and how many of the princesses have no hair??? ZERO! They all (well, okay, except for Mulan, which just may be my favorite) has long flowing thick gorgeous hair and every princess is sought after and beautiful. Well, Katie, you ARE a princess! You are fighting a battle bigger than the one Mulan fought! The Lord will use you in His army one day, Katie. I believe He already is, and I believe He is looking down from Heaven with eyes shining with pride for His special princess! I believe that. I also believe that God is going to work a miracle in out little buddy, Ethan Bibb. The last report I received was a fabulous one! He's going through treatments AND physical therapy and making incredible progress on all fronts. In both Ethan's and Katie's cases they are surrounded by extremely faithful parents and family and countless friends who are supporting the families and PRAYING for them both. Yes, there is power in prayer! So keep praying for them and all of the others on my list who are weathering their own personal storms.

Thank you!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Hope on the Train Tracks

I got an email a while back where apparently Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life, was being interviewed. It was a very interesting interview but one thing he said struck me and stuck with me. He said that he used to view life as like a type of roller coaster going through hills and valleys, but now after the great success of his book coming at about the same time as his wife's diagnosis of cancer, he views life as a set of railroad tracks, running side by side, parallel to each other. With every praise in our lives right now, we do have something to pray about and with every prayer request we all have a blessing to be thankful for. Running side by side, parallel to each other.

I want to stop right there and say that I want to dedicate this post to Katie Leach and her amazing parents, Ashley and Ron. Folks, this family has more than their share of prayer needs. For those of you new to my blog, Katie is a 6 1/2 year old, sweet angel girl who recently had a FOOTBALL-sized tumor taken out of her abdomen. She also had a small spot on her lung that was cancerous. Yet, to read Ashley and Ron's posts on their Facebook group page, they are so faithful! They have counted their blessings amidst the prayer needs. They have been completely honest and open about what they are going through with their sweet child - things I personally can't get my brain to wrap around. I don't know Ashley, Ron, and Katie personally. I've never met them face to face, but they are in my heart and a part of my family much the same way that my characters in The Heart's Journey Home have become real, true, honest to goodness friends of mine. This is a part of Ashley's latest post. I think you'll easily see how I've come to love this family so much: There is relief in my heart and a renewed hope that Katie will be able to tell this amazing story of hers to anyone who will listen. There's a song that keeps running through my head these days (actually one of many) that says that "we can pray with hope." I studied the word "hope" some time ago and learned that "hope" does not mean just wishful thinking, as we sometimes use it. It is a confident expectation that God will fulfill His promises. That's what I feel: a confident expectation that God will do as He's promised. So, yes, I pray with expectation that God will work ALL this for our good; that He will remain faithful to His own character and love toward us; that His glory will be shown in my Katie's life. Thanks for praying with the same hope, even when Ron and I cannot. I truly believe Katie's "bounce-back-ability" is fueled by your prayers. You are quite the team! And we are so very grateful! I pray God's blessings for you, too, as you've somehow opened His storehouse for us! Ashley and Ron, if only you knew the storehouses YOU'VE opened for US through this journey you've been on. I for one have begun to see each and every day with a new clarity. So thank you!

Okay. I got that much written last night before I fell asleep! Isn't that terrible?! So, now time is of the essence. I'm going to get through this as quickly as I can and still do justice to all of the prayer concerns on my lists, but I have to also get some work in on The Heart's Journey Home before Ali's softball game this afternoon and right now the girls are actually behaving nicely. Opportune time!

Status update on The Heart's Journey Home: Progress is still good but slow. I got over 800 words done Thursday night which was really great progress for me on a school night, but then last night I fell asleep before I could open the file so tonight I have some makin' up to do. And I will. My deadline is May 1st - less than 2 weeks away. It's slightly nerve wracking. I'm not for sure but I think every author gets nervous as it gets closer to their deadline. My biggest "issue" is that I want it to be perfect NOW, even before editing, and it won't be. I've really got to put that out of my mind and JUST WRITE! After my manuscript is turned in and we begin editing it, the real fun begins - cover design, the editing process itself (isn't it always such a great feeling to make something good even better?!), and all of the little extras that The Heart's Journey Home will include. Oh, you'll love it and I'm beyond excited! I feel like a kid two days before Christmas!!! Really!

Moving on . . . You might have noticed I changed the list of Prayer Concerns to two lists. I was starting to feel like I was getting so many requests and I'm pleased with that. I want to be able to serve you all in this way, but I didn't want any of the requests to get over looked on a growing list of prayer concerns. I didn't want to take off the requests for those who've lost loved ones because the grief process is a long one and comes in waves. Someone may very well need more prayer 6 months after their loss. So I put them on a separate list and intend to keep them on the list for a year. Please pray mightily for those individuals. I don't have updates on any of them - what really can be said? As for the rest of the list, I am going to go down the list and update you on the ones I have updates on, but first let me bring your attention to a concern I just added yesterday:

Trey Grant is a friend from our church. He's a husband and a father of two girls (the oldest is my Alison's age) and a baby boy born this past summer. Trey was in a very serious motorcycle accident. From what I understand, he sustained a brain injury, skull fracture, broken sternum, and many other broken bones. He HAS moved his legs so that is a good sign, but as of last night they had him in an induced coma. Please pray for Trey and his family.

My granny, Betty Moltz, was recently readmitted to the hospital with fluid retention in her legs. She is very weak trying to recover from her mild heart attack. Please pray for strength for my granny and my grandpa who has been wonderful at taking care of her during this time - a true role reversal after 60+ years of marriage.

Time for not one but two HUGE praises! Both of the missing persons on the list - Dave Dean and Leif Sherry - HAVE BOTH BEEN FOUND ALIVE AND SAFE! Praise God!! Please continue to pray for them for hope and healing as I believe both men have some issues to work out.

Ethan Bibb is an 8-year-old who recently underwent surgery to remove a brain tumor. Unfortunately, the tumor was cancerous and the doctors discovered the cancer went down the poor baby's spine. Ethan needs a lot of prayer, as does his mother and father, Robyn and Farris, and sister Lana. Ethan is in an immense amount of pain. If you have a facebook account, please join the group Prayers for Ethan Bibb and follow the link provided to his Caring Bridge site. Leave them a note of encouagement. They SOOOO need it! According to the last update on the Caring Bridge site, he will be starting radiation on Monday and hopefully that will help a lot with the pain. Please lift this "Small Soldier" up to the Lord in prayer and let your hope or "confident expectations that God WILL fulfill His proimises" cover Ethan and his family.

I took off Mr. Fred Gross because he has been doing so well the he and Ms. Esther have traveled to Texas recently! Praise God for that!! I also removed my sister Julie and bother-in-law Jon Roeder as their sweet little Kaylee Ann is doing just fine. I can't wait to see them and love on that gorgeous little angel baby. June can't get here fast enough for that!!!

Katie Leach has started her chemo and according to her mama and daddy, is doing great! Seriously, if you haven't joined the group, Praying for Katie Leach, on Facebook, do it. This amazing family has changed my life and I truly love them! Please pray for continued healing for our sweet Katie. Pray that the world can one day know a faith like this family has! What a wonderful world this would be! Love and prayers go out to you, Leach family and especially to you, Angel girl! :o)

Kelly M is the daughter of one of the fellow authors at Sheaf House. The last report I received is that Kelly is in constant pain. Please, please pray about this for them. Kelly has a young daughter that is torn up to see her mama in such pain and of course Kelly's mama is torn up to see her daughter in such pain. Something HAS to be done for Kelly. Please, pray for hope and HEALING for her!

2-year-old Lilly with lukemia is receiving maintenance chemo for another 9 months or so but the report is that she is doing well. Praise the Lord! Please continue to pray for her, that God will remove this disease from her little body PERMANENTLY! That is my "confident expectation"!

Logan West is a 12-year-old that was recently added to the list. It sounds like he is having problems with his platelets dropping. From the information I received, he was rushed to the hospital three times with excessive bleeding. His mother is frantic, and I'm fairly confident that she has a constant knot in the pit of her stomach. It's how I was with my Olivia. Bleeding and issues with the blood is very, very scary stuff! Nancy, if you read this, please have Logan's mother email or call me with any new information. In the meantime, my friends, please pray Jesus' own words over Logan: "This is my blood given for you."

Mark Frohock is a friend of my publisher, Joan. Mark has been diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer that has mestacised to the bones in Mark's spine, the lymph nodes, and the liver. He will start this Monday. Sounds not very good, but our God is bigger than any kind of cancer. They gave percentages, but I'm not going to report that. Mark is an individual, not a statistic (I learned that from the family and friends of Ethan Bibb - I learn so much from all of you!) and God IS still in the miracle business! Please pray MIGHTILY for Mark, his wife, Tillie, and his children. Pray with CONFIDENT EXPECTATIONS THAT GOD WILL FULFILL HIS PROMISES! Pray, friends, pray!

Ned Oeder, suffering from liver cancer, went to the Cleveland Clinic yesterday. I haven't heard yet the outcome of the visit, but I know that over Easter weekend he had to go to the hospital because of complications with his blood. I'll have an update on our friend, Ned, soon. In the meantime, please lift him up to the Lord. Pray for healing and HOPE!

Yesterday there was a benefit dinner at our old high school for my best friend, Patty Smith. I couldn't be there, naturally, so I'm waiting anxiously to see how it went. My mom went and said it looked liek they had a good turn out and she said Patty looked really good, too! Yesterday before the dinner Patty said she was just a little achy. I suppose that is to be expected when your body's fighting such a battle! Other than that, she seems to be doing well! Please pray for continued HOPE and healing for my very best friend! I love her so much and I WANT HER HEALTHY!!!

Oooo, oooo, oooo. I just couldn't wait to give you this update! Robin Baughman, the 40-year-old mother of 4 that was diagnosed with STAGE 4 cancer in her brain, breast, and lung, IS CANCER FREE IN HER BRAIN!!! Her one lung is completely clear now and the breast cancer seems to be only an outer ring of cancer cells attached to a fatty tumor. The doctors are still concerned enough to begin radiation soon, but, my friends, THAT IS GOD! There's nothing else to say! When my friend Shelly brought Robin to us as a prayer concern there was minimal hope. Just look what our God can do! Just look!!! (Whew! It moves me to tears that I love and serve such an awesome God!) Please continue to pray for Robin for HOPE and healing. The next update I want to give you is that our friend, Robin, is cancer free. That is my confident expectation!

That is an excellent way to end this post and so, until next time . . .
Love, blessings, and HOPE to you and yours,

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter, dear friends! I'm so thankful for what the Lord did for me on this day all those years ago! I'm so thankful for His healing hands continuing to be on my Olivia and for His guiding hands to constantly be there in my life. I SOOO need Him!

Today I am also thankful to you for supporting me and visiting my blog often. I check the stat counter regularly and just over the past week the number of visits has grown like I never imagined it would! I've also received several new subscribers and I just feel so blessed to be able to serve you in some small way - whether I leave you with an inspiring thought or entertain you with a chunk of reading material, but always to list your prayer concerns and updates.

I have to be completely honest with you and tell you that, though I feel strong in spirit right now, my human body is struggling. I am very, very tired. I'm working very hard on meeting my deadline while trying to fulfill my duties as a mama, wife, teacher, friend, etc. and now I'm just plumb tuckered out. I'm not complaining. I love every aspect of my life. There's nothing in this world that I love more than my babies and my husband. Teaching and writing somehow compliment each other and fulfill me like no other occupation could. But I need more time. From now until I meet my deadline, my posts will be short with an occasional snippet or inspirational word and I will add prayer requests and updates as I get them so I won't forget any. Please forgive me, but this is all I'm going to leave you with tonight. Please, check the list of prayer concerns as I've added a few.

Serving you the best way I can,

Friday, April 3, 2009

Making Progress, S-L-O-W-L-Y but surely!

To recap for those of you that might be new to my blog, in February 2010 my very first novel, The Heart's Journey Home, is scheduled for release by Sheaf House Publishing. It a story of a young widow who returns to her small Ohio hometown with her spunky, seven-year-old daughter. It's really about how the Lord guides your path in life and often when you think He's going to lead you one way, He leads you in a completely different direction. And it's about all the healing a heart can do with the Lord's help along that journey. My completed rough manuscript is due to my publisher by May 1st.

I am down to 27 days before my deadline and I averaged about 200 words/day this week. That's not good. I'm not exactly sure how much I need to add to that word count to meet my deadline, but I need more than 200/day. The story is all right there. I just have to get it down and that's actually the hard thing right now. My fingers just won't type fast enough and here lately with everything we've been through with Olivia and teaching all day long my brain has moments of lapses where I can't get the words from there to my fingers or I can but my fingers are just too tired to move! *Sigh* So I'm gonna make this post super quick so I can get to writing tonight. Ali's already asleep, Livi isn't far behind, and Chris has to get up really early for work tomorrow morning so he'll be going to bed soon, too. Then it'll just be me, my dog, and my laptop. Ahhh. Now, let's see. About two more cups of coffee and I'll be all set for a l-o-n-g night.

So, do you want a snippet? I recently wrote another scene that I'm in love with and it's because it's another scene between Adam and Grandpa Clayton. (For you newbies, if you go back a few posts, you'll find the first scene between Adam and Grandpa Clayton where Adam is just beginning to wonder about Christianity.) In this scene, Adam is exploring further, and Grandpa Clayton (who is Kate's grandfather, not Adam's) reveals more of his faith journey. For this scene, I had to research the attack on Pearl Harbor and have become deeply moved by the events that day and the impact it had on what is truly the greatest generation of all time. It was a ridiculously high price to pay, but the events of that day made this great country even greater. More than anything, I love, love, love the stories our grandparents have to pass down from generation to generation. I'm reminded of the stories of my Grandma Dominick when she performed with her family band. She sang, danced, and played the saxophone. Once, I think, she danced in roller skates on a drum! I believe there's even a picture of it! My Granny and Grandpa Moltz have been married for . . . oh gosh, I'm gonna mess this up . . . about 61 years or so and they are still so in love. They have a wonderful legacy to pass down especially in this day and age. Chris's grandfather talks of the 1932 basketball team that he was a part of that went to state and won the championship. He is so proud of what they accomplished as a team. And I am so proud of my heritage and the heritage I married into.

As a teacher, I often I feel like I learn more from my students than they learn from me. As a writer, I feel the same way about my characters. Grandpa Clayton has taught me so much about our country's history, about life, love, and loss, and about the undeniable importance of having a real relationship with the Lord. I hope I told his story well enough for you to experience some of Grandpa Clayton's gentle wisdom. It's long. Probably the longest one I've posted thus far. I hope it's good enough to keep you reading. Please keep in mind that, even though it's long, this is just a snippet. There may be a line or two that you don't fully understand because it refers to something mentioned in a previous scene. (For example: Chloe is Adam's daughter and his ex-wife lives in Chicago and Madeline is Kate's daughter.) Also, this is an UNEDITED version. It may change slightly (or drastically) between now and publication. Also, feel free to make a comment. You're input makes me a better story teller. And Sha, I want to thank you for the comment you left me after my last snippet. There really wasn't a better compliment you could've given me and I so appreciate your support. Now, without further ado . . .

Adam pulled into Kate’s driveway, shut off the engine and grabbed his grandfather’s Bible from where he stashed it under the seat. He and Chloe climbed out of the truck and the very next second Chloe ran off to play with an eagerly awaiting Madeline. Adam, on the other hand, wasn’t in that big of a hurry. He spotted Grandpa Clayton sitting in a lawn chair under a sprawling oak and, though Kate was no where to be seen, he moseyed across the yard in that direction.

“Nice day, isn’t it?” Grandpa Clayton said when Adam drew near.

“Sure is.” Although the older man wore a light weight jacket, Adam was comfortable in his t-shirt and jeans.

“Katey’s in the house brewing a pot of coffee. She’ll be out in a little while.” Grandpa Clayton gestured at the empty lawn chair next to him. “Have a seat. Make yourself comfortable.”

Adam didn’t know if he could shake enough of his edginess to qualify as comfortable, but he took a seat anyway.

Grandpa Clayton patted the arm of the chair with the palm of his hand. “That was a good game last night.”

“Thanks.” Then astonishment hit him over the head. “You mean you were there?”

“Nah. I listened to it on my old transistor radio. I don’t make it to too many away games anymore, but Katey and Maddie went with Jane and her family.”

“The boys have been working hard. They really want to win a state championship.” Adam really wanted it, too, but he left that side note out.

“Think you’ll bring home the trophy this year?”

Adam was silent for a moment. He wished he could confidently say yes, but he just didn’t know. “We still have to clinch play offs.” Adam shrugged. “Our team is good, but there are a lot of good teams in our division this year.”

Grandpa Clayton nodded, his bottom lip protruding just a bit. “Well, Adam, I’m guessing you didn’t come over here to talk football.”

Adam leaned forward, resting his forearms on his knees, and he rubbed his hands together. “You’re right. I didn’t.” He took a deep breath and decided to jump right in. “The last time I was here you said that faith is when a person makes the choice to believe even when it doesn’t make sense.”

“That’s it in a nutshell.”

“I need to know more about it.”

“Gotch your Bible?”

Adam held it up.

“Turn to Hebrews 11:1.” Grandpa Clayton gave the instructions and then waited.

Adam opened the front cover, skimmed the table of contents until he found Hebrews, and then flipped to the page number. Finally finding chapter eleven, he began to read. “It says, ‘Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.’”

“In other words, faith is made up of what we hope for and believe in, but can’t see with our eyes.” Grandpa Clayton tapped on his chest. “Faith is kind of like seeing with your heart.”

“Simple as that.” Adam shook his head. Seeing with your heart? How is that even possible?

“I suppose for some it’s as simple as that.” Grandpa Clayton looked at Adam. “But everyone I know has had their struggles.”

“Including you?”

“Oh, sure. Surviving the attack on Pearl Harbor made me question a lot of things.”

Adam stared at Grandpa Clayton in awe and utter amazement. “You were involved in the raid on Pearl Harbor?”

“’Fraid so.”

Adam sat on the edge of his seat, not wanting to pry, but hoping Grandpa Clayton would share some of his experience.

After a few minutes, Grandpa Clayton cleared his throat. “I was a young man in 1941, not that long out of high school, full of myself and empty of the Lord, though I was raised in a church-going family, mind you. Well, I arrived in Pearl Harbor just after Labor Day and I was assigned to the USS Vestal, a little repair ship. Our job was to upkeep all of the other ships. Not a fancy job, but I was proud of the Vestal and the crew that I was a part of.” Grandpa Clayton wore a reminiscent grin. “They were a good group of fellas. Secretly, though, I couldn’t help being just a little bit disappointed that I wasn’t on the Arizona or one of the other battleships where all of the action was. You know the grass is always greener on the other side, right?”

Adam gave a little snort. “Yeah, right.”

“Well, by the time my buddies and I finally crawled out of bed that Sunday morning it was somewhere around a quarter ’til seven. I wasn’t feeling very well, no doubt a result from our late night ashore.” Grandpa Clayton elbowed the air near Adam and Adam chuckled. “So I skipped breakfast. As I made my way very slowly to the bathroom, I remember thinking that if I’d been here in Harvest Bay with my mother and father, with the time zone difference, we’d have already been to church and home by then, and I knew Mother would’ve been disappointed that I was headed to the bathroom to sober up instead of cleaning up for church.”

Adam nodded. He understood that all too well.

“About an hour later, just before eight o’clock, we heard the alarm sound from General Quarters, but we didn’t think much of it. We just thought, odd as it was, that someone was holding a drill . . . until I heard the planes flying unusually close. When I looked out my porthole and saw a big red ball on one of the planes’ wing, I knew it wasn’t just a drill.”

Adam sucked in his breath. “What did you do?”

“We’d all trained for this, but for a minute or two no one really knew what to do until our commander started shouting orders. ‘Man your stations! Man your stations!’ The station I was responsible for was the three inch gun. The other gunners and I got to our stations lickety split, trying to prepare ourselves for what was about to happen. We didn’t have long to process it. Right about the same time we began firing our weapons we felt the ship shudder and rise out of the water just a bit.”

“You were hit, weren’t you?”

“Yes, indeed. Twice. Once on the port side and once on the starboard side. History experts say that the bombs were meant for the USS Arizona moored inboard of us, but it didn’t really matter. We were taking on water fast, and I knew there were men hurt, maybe even dying, below the decks.” Grandpa Clayton let out a little sigh. “But I couldn’t think about that. I had my own problems. After three rounds of firing, our gun jammed. The commander barked at me to go get more ammo while the rest of the crew worked on clearing the jam. I followed the orders without question.” Grandpa Clayton shrugged. “That’s just what you do in the service. But I had a lot of questions after it was all said and done.”

Adam thought if he sat any closer to the edge of his seat, he’d fall out of it. “Why?”

“Well, as I already said, the USS Arizona was moored inboard of us. We were scheduled to service her from December sixth through the twelfth.” Grandpa Clayton gave a humph and shook his head. “As I was heading back to my station, a bomb hit Arizona in one of her magazines. That explosion ignited adjacent magazines and resulted in a blast so powerful that it blew our commander and my fellow gunners right off our ship!” Grandpa Clayton’s boney shoulders fell. “I saw the whole thing. Despite the intense heat, I ran to the side of the ship. Oil had leaked into the water and was burning. There was no way any of them could’ve survived. I had permanent hearing loss from the explosion, received some burns, and a few cuts and scrapes.” Grandpa Clayton’s gravelly voice wavered. “But that didn’t compare to the pain I felt for my shipmates.”

Emotion rose in Adam’s throat and he swallowed hard against it. “I’m so sorry.”

“I was, too, not just for my crew and me but for all of the men on Arizona and the other ships moored on Battleship Row. Over two thousand men died, eleven hundred on the Arizona alone.” Grandpa Clayton wiped a hand over his mouth and down his clean-shaven chin. “I was sure I got a glimpse of hell that day.”

“Is that when you turned to God?”

“Nope. No, I turned farther from Him. Under such horrifying circumstances, some people aren’t able to think clearly. For a while, I questioned whether God even existed because in a young man’s mind it didn’t make sense how a loving God could allow such devastation and destruction to happen.”

“I can understand that.”

Grandpa Clayton gave his signiture nod. “I thought you might.”

“So, what happened?”

“Oh, well, it was utter chaos on the Vestal. With the commander overboard and our ship going down, others began abandoning ship, saving themselves, but for some reason, I couldn’t. I guess I was in shock because I couldn’t do much of anything. I can’t say what would’ve happened to me standing out on the deck an easy target, but,” Grandpa Clayton slapped his palm on the arm of the lawn chair, “by the grace of God our commander climbed back onto the ship.”

“No way!”

“It’s true. It didn’t even look like him at first, he was so covered in oil. But when he started barking at those of us who were left to return to our stations and prepare to get underway, we knew it was him. So, we cut loose of Arizona. With barely enough steam pressure to turn over our engine, we puttered up to safety and beached the USS Vestal.”

“That is an amazing story.”

“It’s more than a story.” There was a sad look in Grandpa Clayton’s eyes and Adam was instantly sorry for his thoughtless remark.

After a brief moment of silence, Adam said softly, “Your faith seems so strong now. How did you get from there to here?”

Grandpa Clayton slid his gaze over to Adam. “The love of a good woman.”

Adam glanced at the house just as Kate emerged carrying a steaming mug and all of his senses involuntarily came alive.

“My Bonnie was a nurse at the hospital on the base. I finally went to get checked out when the ringing in my ears wouldn’t stop. She asked me if I minded if she prayed for me. The foolish boy that I was told that pretty young thing that she could do whatever she wanted, that it was still free country for the time being.” Grandpa Clayton chuckled as Kate approached and handed him his cup of coffee. “Thanks, Katey.” He took a cautions sip.

Adam hopped up. “Here, Kate. Take my seat.”

“That’s okay. I’ll get another chair from the garage. Be back in a jiffy.” Kate turned and headed back toward the house.

Adam couldn’t keep himself from watching her go.

Grandpa Clayton cleared his throat. “As I was saying, when my Bonnie laid her hand on my shoulder and earnestly prayed for me, a stranger, my soul stirred. Despite all of the death and destruction, there was a sweet, little glimmer of hope. For about two weeks I kept going back to see her with fake pains in my back or knee or whatever I could think up until I finally got up the nerve to ask her out on a date.” Grandpa Clayton smiled staring off into another place and time. “She told me yes, but she would have to pick the time and place.” Grandpa Clayton turned to Adam with a twinkle in his eye. “Do you know where we went on our first date?”

Adam shook his head.

“We went to a young adult Bible study that she was leading at her church and then out for coffee afterwards.”

Adam grinned. That sounds just like Kate. But then his expression fell slightly as he questioned Grandpa Clayton’s, and, in all honesty, his own motives. “So you became a Christian for your wife?”

“No-o. No, no, no. You can’t become a Christian for someone else. I became a Christian for me but it was because of Bonnie. Sometimes the Lord brings people into your life who will very gently take your hand and lead you to Him.”

Adam redirected his gaze to Kate, crossing the lawn with a chair that matched his and Grandpa Clayton’s. “I’m beginning to see that.”

“That’s good. You’re seeing with your heart. That’s a start.” Grandpa Clayton looked thoughtful for a moment. “You know the old saying, ‘Everything happens for a reason?’”

Adam nodded.

“Well, it’s true. The Bible promises us that God uses all things for His good. All things. As terrible as that December day was, there was good that came out of it – in our nation, in the world, in my life. Because of what happened, I met Bonnie, and the forty-two years I spent with her were the best years of this old man’s life. It took a long while, countless evenings of Bible studies and a whole lotta prayer, but she helped me grow to have a solid relationship with the Lord.” Grandpa Clayton’s eyes became misty and Kate laid her hand over his. “And when He called her home twenty-four years ago, I still had that relationship to bring me peace and comfort.” Grandpa Clayton shrugged. “If ya ask me, that’s what faith is about.”

Adam’s gaze fell to his beaten, worn tennis shoes. He could never have a faith like Grandpa Clayton’s and he couldn’t stand the thought of letting Kate down, not to mention Chloe and the rest of his family. “I . . . I don’t have it in me.”

“Yes, you do.”

Adam stared at Grandpa Clayton. “How do you know?”

“It says in Romans chapter twelve verse three that ‘. . . God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.’ The hard part is done for you. The seed has already been planted. Now all you have to do is grow it.”

“And how do I do that?”

“First, you have to make the commitment to believe without seeing even when it doesn’t make sense, to trust in the Lord when you don’t understand. Then, just keep doing what you’re doing now – read your Bible and ask questions when you need to. It would be good to attend church to worship and fellowship with other believers.”

Adam shoved his fingers through his hair. Commitment? Church?

Kate leaned forward. “Just take it one step at a time. It’s a journey, Adam. A marathon, not a sprint.”

Adam looked at Kate suddenly very aware that she didn’t enter his life by some crazy coincidence. Driving from Nashville, she’d had five hundred miles for a flat tire to occur, yet it happened just a few yards from his parents’ house. Was that God? The corners of Adam’s mouth turned up. “One step at a time, huh? I think I can do that.”

PRAYER REQUESTS: I've gotten some more heart wrenching requests, guys. This first one is the grandparent of a sweet little girl in my class. Please pray for Janet Kraski. It was recently discovered that she has a mass on her brain. From what I understand she'd been having some memory loss and having a hard time making heads or tails out of simple tasks such as counting Monopoly money. She went in for some tests and that's when they found the mass on her brain. They are scheduled to do a craniotomy on Monday morning to remove and then biopsy a baseball sized tumor. Please pray for the strength and peace for Janet as she is awaiting surgery. Pray for a soft, fuzzy blanket of comfort to be wrapped around her family, including the sweet child in my class, who is not fully aware of all of the details. Pray for the doctors that they will have wisdom and discernment to know exactly how to treat this tumor. Please pray with all of your might that this tumor NOT be malignant. I will update you on this as soon as I get an update.

I also need you to pray for a distant cousin of mine. Her name is Verona. Her mother was my grandfather's sister. I have recently learned that Verona's daughter, Marissa, has passed away from Parkinson's. Please pray for peace for Verona and her family. Pray for the kind of peace that fell upon the raging waters when Jesus simply lifted His hand and said, "Peace, be still."

UPDATES: Many of you have become a member of the group on facebook, Praying for Katie Leach, so you may already know that our Katie is having a surgery on Monday to remove a spot on her lung. Please pray right now that this spot is NOT cancerous. Pray that these excellent doctors cannot even find the spot! Wouldn't that be something?! I wanted to put this picture of Katie on here so you'd know exactly who you are praying for. Isn't she so sweet?! Look at that angel face. Ashley said in a recent post that Katie is already working on coordinating her hats with her clothes. This entire family is remarkable. I get on facebook daily and check Ashley or Ron's daily posts and am unceasingly amazed at the faith they have shown through this ordeal with their sweet baby. If you have not yet become a member of Praying for Katie Leach, I encourage you to do so. You won't be sorry! I'll bet you'll quickly grow to love her as I do.

PRAISE REPORT: This is new. I don't know why I haven't added it sooner because it is SOOOO important to praise our Lord. I have had an amazing thing happen to me this week that has truly been a gift from God. There's no other way to put it. Through 1 letter that I got via snail mail, I found and connected with six family members on facebook whose mother or grandmother was a sister to my grandfather. (One of them lives only about 30-40 minutes from me!) My heart feels so full to have this new family that I'd only ever heard of. It's my heritage. It's part of who I am and I'm so thankful to have them.

Finally! We've come to the end of this post! Whew! Please keep your eyes on this computer screen until we've come to a complete stop. I hope you've enjoyed your stay here and thank you for riding this ride with me! :o) Until next time, love and blessings to you and yours!