Psalm 27:1

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Big Day!

Happy Birthday Jesus!!!  Merry Christmas!!

Last night, I was up wrapping presents until 1:30 this morning.  Before last night, I only had one present wrapped.  So, after the kids went to bed and went to sleep, I started on the gifts.  God answered prayers last night because I ran out of wrapping paper and bags.  God stretched everything to where I had just enough to cover everything I needed!!!  Mike had to wrap my gifts with paper bags but, hey, it worked!!!

About 6:55 this morning, Hannah came into our room excited about what Santa brought her.  She asked if she could play with her toys.  When I asked her to go back to bed because Mike and I had a late night, she very sweetly said okay then crawled into bed with me.  She then jumped out of bed and ran to the bathroom.  Mike was in there and I told Hannah to use our other one.  She said she would wait then suddenly changed her mind and darted out of the room.  When she did, Hannah pulled the cord to our space heater out of the socket.  She started apologizing like crazy.  She was so funny and sweet!!  Will got up shortly afterward and let Andrew sleep so we went up and looked at what Santa left.  Andrew woke up about 30 minutes to an hour later (he was up late last night).

The kids racked up!!  Hannah was most excited about her Barbie Jet; Will, his Hot Wheels Criss Cross Crash.  Andrew loved the Hot Wheels cars, Thomas the Train set, and Will's Hot Wheels city pieces. 

Mom, Dad, Joan, Melanie and Nathan all came over.  We opened presents and had a huge lunch.  Joan cooked a ham and made Ambrosia (some without coconut for me).  Melanie brought broccoli and cheese and a cinnamon butter braid.  Mom made dressing.  I made green bean casserole, corn pudding, rolls, and a breakfast casserole. 

While everyone was coming in and while we were opening presents, it started snowing!!!   It is the first Christmas in 93 years that we have had snow fall on Christmas Day.  A couple of times in the past we have had snow on the ground Christmas Day but it was already there.  It didn't stick because the ground was too warm but it was beautiful!!

The kids are playing one of their new Wii games.  I am getting ready to look at some of my new crochet books.  Mom bought me one on edgings and trims and other on stitches.  I am so excited!!

Hope everyone had a great Christmas!!  Remember the Reason for the Season - JESUS!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball Blog Tour

SUMMARY:  Mischievous matchmakers, two special tickets, one unlikely couple.  An evening for romance at the annual Christmas Ball.
     In a sleepy, snow-covered city, Cora Crowder is busy preparing for the holiday season.  As she searches for a perfect gift, a fortiutous trip to Warrer, Werner, and Wizbotterdad's (a most unusual bookshop) leads to an unexpected encounter with co-worker Simon Derick.  And the surprise discovery of a ticket for a truly one-of-a-kind Christmas Ball.
     Every year, the matchmaking booksellers of the Sage Street bookshop host an enchanting, old-fashioned Christmas Ball for the romantic matches they've decided to bring together.
     This year, will Simon and Cora discover a perfect chemistry in their opposite personalities and shared faith?  Or will the matchmaker's best laid plans end up ruining everything this holiday?

REVIEW:  This was a cute book.  The author weaves together a modern tale with old world charm.  I liked how Simon loved his unconventional family and included them instead of excluding them in his decisions and pursuits.  I also loved how he looked out for his sister Sandy, who has Down's Syndrome, and wanted to take her to the Christmas Ball just because he knew it would be something she would love.  Even though Cora had a rough childhood and her family was not close, she loved to have Sandy tag along with her and Simon.  Both Simon and Cora had strong Christian faiths and let it guide their decisions and life.

     I loved this book and would recommend it to anyone.  It was great!

This book was provided by Waterbrook Multnomah for review without compensation.

     Expertly weaving together fantasy, romance, and biblical truths, Donita K. Paul penned the best-selling, fan-favorite Dragon-Keeper Chronicles series.  After retiring early from teaching, she began a second career as an award-winning author and loves interaction with old and new writers.  In between books, Donita has plenty to do in her Colorado Springs home.  She enjoys spending time with her grandsons, cooking, beading, stamping, and knitting.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Clouds Roll Away Blog Tour

Summary:  Raleigh Harmon's life seems as impossible to solve as the high-profile case she's pursuing.
     Closing her assignment with the FBI's Seattle office, forensic geologist Raleigh Harmon returns to her hometown of Richmond, Virginia, expecting a warm welcome.  Instead she finds herself investigating an ugly cross burning at a celebrity's mansion and standing in the crosshairs of her boss at the Bureau.  And the deeper Raleigh digs into the case, the murkier the water becomes . . . until she's left wondering who the real victims might be.
     To make matters worse, Raleigh's personal life offers almost zero clarity.  Her former confidant is suddenly remote while her former boyfriend keeps popping up wherever she goes.  And then there's her mother.  Raleigh's move home was supposed to improve Nadine's fragile sanity, but instead seems to be making things worse.
     As the threads of the case begin crossing and double-crossing, Raleigh is forced to rely on her forensic skills, her faith, and the fervent hope that a breakthrough will come, bringing with it that singular moment when the clouds roll away and everything finally makes sense.
Review:  The Clouds Roll Away is the second Raleigh Harmon novel.  Having not read the first one, The Rivers Run Dry, I had difficulty understanding some of the relationships between Raleigh and her former beau DeMott, her renter/friend Wally, and her mother Nadine.  Not knowing their histories together made Raleigh's personal life really murky and hard to grasp the depth of problems she had at home. For example, why did she have a problem with Nadine celebrating Christmas like she did before her husband's death five or six years earlier?  I also didn't see the connection between Raleigh and Wally as friends and confidants as mentioned in the summary.
     The case Raleigh works on was interesting. I liked trying to figure out who the culprit(s) were and why.  I thought I had the end figured out but Mrs. Giorello threw a couple of curveballs and kept the story from being predictable.
     The story was well-written and interesting.  I loved the way the author showed Raleigh's faith and how important it was to her.  I would recommend this book to anyone wanting a good crime story and mystery.

Litfuse Publicity Group provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for review.

Sibella Giorello began her writing career as a journalist.  Her stories have won awards, including two nominations for the Pulitzer.  Her novel The Stones Cry Out won a Christy Award.  She lives in Washington State with her husband and family.  You can visit her website at

Sibella’s celebrating the release of The Clouds Roll Away by giving away a KINDLE prize pack worth over $150.00!

One Grand Prize winner will receive:
  • Latest Generation KINDLE with Wi-Fi
  • $25 gift certificate to
To enter simply click on one of the icons below! Then tell your friends! Winner will be announced January 3, 2011 on Sibella's blog:

About The Clouds Roll Away - "Beautifully written with exquisite descriptions, Giorello's mystery also features well-developed characters..."
—Booklist, starred review

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Dwelling on the Positive

Dwelling on the positive things in life is hard. I tend to want to think about the bad, hard, and negative things that are going on and that have happened instead of focusing on the wonderful things God has provided.

For example, yesterday was my birthday. I love celebrate birthdays and I'm proud to tell people I am 43 years old. But something happened last night that I allowed to put a damper on my festivities. Instead of cooking my own birthday dinner, I asked my husband if we could go out instead. Where I wanted to go eat (Carraba's) was too far of a drive so I thought about all the options available near our house. I decided on On The Border, a place I haven' been to in a while but love. So, Mike and I loaded up the kids and headed off. When the kids were told where we were going, they started in with the whining and complaining. It didn't stop until we were on our way home. At the restaurant, they fought with each other. One didn't like the choices on the kid's menus and drink options. Another wanted to stand up and jump on the seat (we were sitting in a corner booth) or sit on the corner edge of the back of the seat. When the food came out, they weren't happy with the cheese on the nachos they ordered (it was melted instead of the nacho cheese). It went on and on. I know we bothered the people around us even though they didn't say anything.

What I should focus on (and need to remind myself to do regularly) is that I have a family that cares about me. My husband is awesome, loves me a lot and treats me like a queen. He still has a great job and we can afford to go out to eat. (I have two different friends that have just gone through job losses and don't know what to do.) My kids are healthy and love each other, even though they don't like each other some of the time. I have a house that I love to share with others any time of the year (as long as they don't mind the mess ;-)). Most important of all, I have a Savior who loves me, died for me and forgives me of all I've done wrong even though I will never be able to repay Him.

Life isn't going to go the way I expect or want it to. I just have to remember to focus on the blessings God has given me and trust Him to get me through the rough patches. He will ALWAYS be there for me.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Topkapi Secret Blog Tour

A 1,400-year-old secret...
Those who threaten this secret die...
Two people risk their lives to uncover the truth...
Cultures clash and emotions soar as Arab researcher Mohammed Atareek and American professor Angela Hall team up to solve one of history's greatest cover-ups.  Time is running out.  Opponents who will stop at nothing are dedicated to maintaining the secret.  Will Mohammed and Angela finish their whirlwind journey of discovery or will it cost them their lives?

On display at Topkapi Palace Museum in Istanbul lies the Topkapi Codex, an ancient manuscript of the Koran.  Its secrets are just out of reach, sealed behind impenetrable glass.  Is its text the key to exploding a centuries-old myth about the Koran?  Are its pages stained with the blood of one of the Prophet Mohammed's mortally wounded followers?  No one knows, because the Topkapi Codex is off-limits.

Mohammed Atareek is committed to gaining access to the museum's forbidden manuscript.  His research leads him to believe that the Koran hides within it an extraordinary secret - a truth that would turn the Muslim world upside down.  Evidence lies within the Topkapi Codex, but the risks involved increase as other Koranic scholars start turning up dead.

Angela had lost just about everything except her money and her job.  On a study trip to the Middle East, her research on women's issues gets sidetracked when her path crosses Mohammed's.  His overconfident, impulsive behiavior is strangely refreshing, but when he tries to engage Angela in his quest, he finds she has an agenda of our own.  Death awaits at every turn, and sparks of romance fly in this compelling adventure that reaches from the United States, across Europe, and through exotic settings of North Africa and the Middle East.

Based on solid historical research, The Topkapi Secret is a captivating debut novel of romance and mystery that sizzles like the desert heat with vivid characters, a page-turning plot, colorful locales, and eye-opening facts about the Muslim holy book.

This book was a huge disappointment.  The two main characters didn't even meet until about halfway into the book.  The chapters were disjointed.  Instead of one chapter covering an entire setting or event, the author broke it up and had three or four chapters covering the same thing (i.e., seven chapters cover the couples overnight stay in Cappadocia, Turkey).   There are 131 chapters in 400 pages!  The book jacket says Mohammed tries to engage Angela in his quest but she has a different agenda.  As of page 261, I still don't see where he does this or what her agenda is.  There is also too much other information that doesn't seem relative to the story but just seems to add fluff.

After reading the synopsis that was sent out about this book, I thought it would be very interesting.  But, I am struggling to finish the book and do not see what all the hype was about.  I am sorry to say but I would not recommend this book to anyone.

Glass Road Public Relations provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for review.

Terry Kelhawk is an award-winning writer, speaker, and teacher. She holds a doctorate degree and has considerable personal and professional experience with the Middle East and Islam.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Devil Don't Knock Blog Tour

Susan Sims Moody, the author of the book The Devil Don't Knock, is a friend from school.  Recently on Facebook, she asked for people to review one of her three books and post something on their blog, Facebook, Amazon and/or Barnes & Noble.  Since I love to do book reviews, I volunteered my services.

The Devil Don't Knock is the third in the Jennifer Martin series but it can stand alone on its own merit.  At first, I wasn't sure what to expect.  When I hear about local authors, I tend to look at their work and judge it different from one I might find on the Best Sellers List.  I really enjoyed this book.  As I read it, I felt myself drawn into the characters and the situations in which they found themselves.  Susan had twists and turns in the right places and it wasn't predictable (at least to me - hehe).  As I began to develop my own ideas as to what might happen, I was pleasantly surprised when it didn't work out the way I thought it would.  I'm afraid if I write more about the book, I will give important information away and spoil it for you.  Let me say this, I loved this book!!

There were two problems I had towards the end (and these are just personal preferences).  The first problem was with two of the minor characters who spoke Spanish.  A translation noting what was said would have been really helpful.  The website I used to translate the lines was really rough and made it a little difficult trying to figure out what they were talking about.  The second was with Arcana.  Her character seemed important in the beginning and throughout the development of the story but seemed underutilized in the end.  Granted, she is in a very important scene at the end but her character just seems anti-climatic.  Other than that, I love this book!  I would highly recommend this book for anyone wanting to read southern fiction or just something different.

Susan Sims Moody is a native Mississippian and graduate of Mississippi State University.  She is married to Tom and has two children.  They currently live in Wisconsin.

The author provided a free copy of this book for review.  I was not compensated in any way.

**At the time this post was written, the final cover had not been completely decided.  I will try to add it later.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Thanksgiving Celebration and Fun

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time of year.  Mike and I load up the kids and drive for two days to visit Mike's aunts, uncles and cousins.  We always have a great time and hate to see it end.  Every year after we eat Thanksgiving Dinner, the guys like to play in the Turkey Bowl.  It is a touch football game that gets more serious every year.  This year, a couple of the guys went and lined the field and set up cones to mark the end zones and the sides of the field.  I even found t-shirts at Old Navy that were perfect for the game.  Later that evening, Mike's cousin Andrew took a picture of the whole family on the staircase and a video that he is going to send in to Good Morning America for their "Three Words" segment.  We hope it will be picked.  If it is, I will try to post something here.

Here are some pictures from the weekend of the Turkey Bowl and a few of the kids.

Isn't this a handsome group of men?

Hannah and Ashtyn were the cheerleaders

 Andrew and Will playing in the sand
Some action shots

Mike has the ball!

Hannah and Ashtyn enjoying their time together

Aren't these some beautiful ladies?

Will being silly

The Grissom, Frazier, Edenfield, Jinnette, Chitwood, Hoyle and Nowiski  Families

Mike and Andrew were on their way back from the restroom when this picture was taken. (LaNell, Will, and Isabelle were looking at them.) I think another one was taken with them in it but I do not have a copy.  They were in the video which was done next.

I just love this family!!!