Thursday, March 31, 2011

Life's Detours

I've had an unexpected blog break come up this week. Monday night my girl woke up with severe abdominal pain, which we initially assumed was intestinal or menstrual. By morning, however it was evident this was more than a typical tummy issue and we began Tuesday at our pediatrican's office, then headed to the surgeon's office and spent the most of the day getting ultrasounds and scans as they tried to determine the source. By 4:00 pm we were admitted to the hospital and late Tuesday night she had a laparoscopy to drain an ovarian cyst. We got home Wednesday night but I am completely wiped out and only popped in here for a moment to explain why there is no Flashback Friday this week.

I'll be back when life gets itself turned right side up again.


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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

False Pretenses

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

False Pretenses
David C. Cook (March 1, 2011)


Kathy Herman


Suspense novelist Kathy Herman is very much at home in the Christian book industry, having worked five years on staff at the Christian Booksellers Association (CBA) in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and eleven years at Better Books Christian Center in Tyler, Texas, as product buyer/manager for the children’s department, and eventually as director of human resources.

She has conducted numerous educational seminars on children’s books at CBA Conventions in the U.S. and Canada, served a preliminary judge for the Gold Medallion Book Awards of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association , and worked as an independent product/marketing consultant to the CBA market.

Since her first novel, Tested by Fire, debuted in 2001 as a CBA national bestseller, she's added sixteen more titles to her credit, including four bestsellers: All Things Hidden, The Real Enemy, The Last Word, and The Right Call.

Kathy's husband Paul is her manager and most ardent supporter, and the former manager of the LifeWay Christian Store in Tyler, Texas. They have three grown children, five almost-perfect grandchildren, a cat named Samantha. They enjoy cruising, deep sea fishing, and birdwatching—sometimes incorporating these hobbies into one big adventure.

Zoe Broussard loves the life she and her husband Pierce have built in her beloved Louisiana hometown. She owns a thriving Cajun eatery in South Louisiana and is married to the love of her life.

But it’s about to become hell. One day, out of the blue, she receives a series of anonymous notes that sends her life into a tail spin. Five simple words, “I know what you did.” Zoe has a secret so terrible it could leave the business in shambles and tear her marriage apart. Unbeknownst to anyone, even Zoe’s husband, Pierce, she has a past—a past she had covered so well she never thought she would have to confront. How could anyone know what she did? Can she find the courage to face her past?

If you would like to read the first chapter of False Pretenses, go HERE.


I always enjoy curling up with a Kathy Herman book. With False Pretenses she has delivered another heart-pounding page-turner. As always, faith and truth are wrapped up in plenty of danger and suspense. As the story progressed and Zoe's began to reap the consequences of the secrets she had sown, it reminded me of the lines in Sir Walter Scott's epic poem Marmion:

Oh what a tangled web we weave
When first we practice to deceive

Zoe must discover that only the truth, and the Truth, can set her free.


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Monday, March 28, 2011

This Still Makes Me Smile!

Yesterday our Missions Pastor had a couple of adults and teens give brief testimonies/recaps of the mission trip to Progreso we took over Spring Break. My girl and GG were two that had the opportunity to share.

Before I get to their stories, I learned an extra tidbit about those teen boys who walked 30 minutes to come to VBS on Thursday that made that even more special. One of our teens guys (an incredibly mature 8th grader potentially headed for the ministry) who shared yesterday said that the day before, the guys said they weren't going to come on Thursday. J (our teen) was really burdened and said he prayed a lot for them Wednesday night. When our vans came back to the church with the neighborhood kids and the boys weren't on it, he was so disappointed. So seeing them walk up a few minutes later and discovering they had left home even earlier than the van would have picked them up to walk to VBS was a huge "Wow God" moment for him!

My girl talked about having the opportunity to be part of a home visit to share with a woman who is the grandmother of one of the little boys in her VBS group and then how he made a decision the next day when she shared the gospel during VBS.

GG shared about the experience of doing the manicures and pedicures and what a challenge that was, particularly because she has a "thing" about touching anyone's feet. Then she talked about how neat it was to share her testimony with the ladies during that time. "I was translating it in my head from German to English, and the translator translated it from English to Spanish. It was so cool!" She said it really demonstrated to her how powerful God is.

Powerful, indeed. And what a blessing to have a front row seat to watch Him work in these young lives!


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Journey to Riverbend

Journey to Riverbend
Henry McLaughlin
ISBN: 978-1414339429
January, 2011/432 pages/$12.99

Michael Archer is nothing if not a man of his word. Though he was unable to save Ben Carstairs, Michael is determined to carry out Ben’s dying wish: to be reconciled with his father. Unfortunately, Sam Carstairs, one of the most ruthless businessmen on the frontier, has no use for his own son, much less a man of God seeking reconciliation.

Soon after arriving in Riverbend, Michael meets and falls for the stunning Rachel Stone while waiting for Sam to return from a business trip. Beautiful yet guarded, Rachel seems to be running from a past as dark as Michael’s.

When word reaches town that Sam has been kidnapped on the stagecoach home, Michael offers to join the search party formed by the local sheriff. With a budding romance behind him and a dangerous rescue ahead of him, he sets out on the trail, determined to complete his journey no matter the cost.

Henry McLaughlin is the 2009 winner of the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild Operation First Novel Contest. He has a master's degree in social work and spent many years working in the public child welfare system. It was in this role that he first honed his writing skills in preparing concise and accurate court reports and petitions. He retired from that career in 1999 to work with Kenneth Copeland Ministries.

To improve his craft, Henry belongs to several Christian writer organizations; attends writers conferences, workshops, and retreats; and participates in online and local critique groups. He completed the Christian Writers Guild Craftsman course in April 2010. The story had

Henry and his wife, Linda, have been married for over forty years and live in Saginaw, Texas. They have five children, the oldest of whom is in heaven, and one grandchild. Learn more at his website.

I've read debut novels that shouldn't have seen the light of day but I know that if it has won the Christian Writers Guild First Novel Contest, it won't fall into that category. Journey to Riverbend does not disappoint and is a solid introduction for Henry McLaughlin as an author. Plenty of action, including stagecoach attacks and posses, will satisfy the lover of western historical fiction, yet this book is so much more. Multiple threads weave together throughout this story, including greed & evil, judgmental & legalistic attitudes, grudges & forgiveness, redemption & new beginnings, and faith, hope & love. I look forward to more from this author.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Tyndale as part of their Blogger Review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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Saturday, March 26, 2011

TSMSS - Blessings

I've heard this brand-new song on the radio several times this week and it has completely grabbed my heart. The simple melody and piano backdrop are just beautiful and the words are incredible.

I was not familiar with Laura Story, who wrote and sings the song until I downloaded this song and read a bit about her. What a delight to discover that she wrote one of my favorite worship songs that Chris Tomlin recorded, Indescribable. Her new album releases on April 12, but you can download the whole album digitally at her website; the single of this song is also available on iTunes.

Here's Laura sharing a bit of the story behind the song, which came from the experience of her husband's journey with brain cancer.

Laura Story

We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet Love is way too much to give us lesser things

'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops?
What if Your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You're near?
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
As long as we have faith to believe

'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops?
What if Your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You're near?
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not our home

'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops?
What if Your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You're near?
What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst
This world can't satisfy?
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise?

Join me at Amy's for more songs.


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Friday, March 25, 2011

Flashback Friday - We Interrupt This Broadcast

Did you parents watch the national and/or local television (or radio!) news when you were growing up? Did they have a particular favorite network or newscaster? What about subscribing to the newspaper? Did they shelter you and your siblings from news or was it discussed out in the open? Were you easily frightened by news events? Did your parents explain them? What significant news events do you remember from your childhood? What stands out about them? What is the earliest historical/news event about which you say "I'll never forget where I was when ________ happened"? (And where were you?!)

Our TV went on every night at 5:25 so it would be warmed up when NBC News started at 5:30 and it didn't go off until the local news was over at 6:30. I remember Chet Huntley and David Brinkley anchoring the news when I was little, and I loved their sign-off: "Good-night, David," "Good-night, Chet, and good-night for NBC News." Other than that, to me, the news was kinda like the adults on the Charlie Brown specials: "Bwah bwah bwah bwah bwah bwah." Boring and completely over my head.

The first significant event I remember was the Apollo 11 moon landing in July, 1969. I was just a couple of weeks from turning 8 years old. We were out of town at my grandmother's apartment, and I remember that night being out on the steps with my dad. I looked up at the moon and said, "I don't see anybody." My dad tended to get a little gruff when he was flustered or not sure what to say so he sorta scolded me like I was being ridiculous - "Of course, you can't see anyone; it's too far away!" I didn't think I would see a person, but I thought surely I would see a black dot moving across the moon!

All of the Apollo take-offs and landings were a really big deal. I remember watching the modules splash down into the ocean with the parachutes and the astronauts being picked up by a helicopter and taken to a ship and placed in isolation until the doctors checked them out to be sure they didn't bring some weird disease back from space.

The Nixon era brought some significant news events as well, of course. A fun one was Tricia Nixon's wedding in the White House Rose Garden. That was like having a royal wedding and as a 9-year-old, I was mesmerized. A few short years later, I remember exactly where I was sitting on the floor in the living room as I watched President Nixon resign. Even though I didn't totally understand what Watergate was, it was a bit unsettling to discover that the President and his cronies had broken the law.

I remember how Watergate utterly consumed the news for weeks on end. This was years before cable and C-Span and yet it still seemed like there was interminable coverage of the probes and trials. I particularly remember Senator Sam Ervin, who chaired the Senate Watergate Committee. As a kid, I thought he was dull as dishwater and had to be at least 130 years old. He was indeed about 77, but it cracked me up when I Googled to get a picture; he doesn't look nearly as old to me now as he did 35 years ago!

Then there are the silly news items that stick in our minds. Of course I wasn't all that little when this happened (15) but when President Ford was running for re-election in 1976, he came to Texas and made a stop in San Antonio. After touring the Alamo, he was handed a plate with a tamale on it. He picked it up and bit into it, not realizing that you are supposed to unroll it and discard the corn husk! When the ladies realized what he had done, they unrolled it for him and he finished it with a fork. He was infamously known for the tamale incident just as Dan Quayle is forever linked with potatoe.

Now it's your turn to share your newsworthy memories and link up here so we can all enjoy them!


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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Flashback Friday Prompt - We Interrupt This Broadcast

As much as I love Wednesday Hodgepodge, I was a surprised and a wee bit dismayed at one of this week's questions because it is the topic I had waiting in the wings for Flashback Friday! But we'll just consider it a running start and expand on it a bit.

Did you parents watch the national and/or local television (or radio!) news when you were growing up? Did they have a particular favorite network or newscaster? What about subscribing to the newspaper? Did they shelter you and your siblings from news or was it discussed out in the open? Were you easily frightened by news events? Did your parents explain them? What significant news events do you remember from your childhood? What stands out about them? What is the earliest historical/news event about which you say "I'll never forget where I was when ________ happened"? (And where were you?!)

Post your flashback tomorrow on your blog and come back and link up so we can all reminisce together!


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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Vicious Cycle - A Heart-Pounding Story

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Vicious Cycle
Zondervan (February 22, 2011)


Terri Blackstock


Terri Blackstock is a New York Times best-seller, with over six million copies sold worldwide. She has had over twenty-five years of success as a novelist. She sold her first novel at the age of twenty-five, and has had a successful career ever since.

Besides entertaining her readers, Terri tackles issues that she hopes will change lives. Her recent book, Predator, was inspired by her experiences on Facebook and Twitter, and her concern that people posted too much personal information about themselves. The book deals with an online predator who uses social networks as his playground. She hopes the book will change readers’ online habits. Her New York Times best-seller, Intervention, was inspired by her own personal struggles with a daughter on drugs. In the book, a mother hires an interventionist for her drug-addicted daughter. But on the way to treatment, the interventionist is murdered, and the daughter disappears. Barbara, the mother, sets out to search for her daughter. Terri modeled Barbara after herself, and poured many of her own emotions and experiences into that character. As a result, many families experiencing drug addiction have written to thank her for telling their story and giving them hope. Vicious Cycle, Book Two of the Intervention Series, released February 22, 2011. She’s currently working on Book Three.

Other recent books include a stand-alone novel called Double Minds, as well as Last Light, Night Light, True Light and Dawn’s Light (from her acclaimed Restoration Series). She is also known for her popular Newpointe 911 Series and Cape Refuge Series. Terri makes her home in Mississippi, where she and her husband Ken are enjoying their empty nest after raising three children.

Terri has appeared on national television programs such as “The 700 Club” and “Home Life,” and has been a guest on numerous radio programs across the country. The story of her personal journey appears in books such as Touched By the Savior by Mike Yorkey, True Stories of Answered Prayer by Mike Nappa, Faces of Faith by John Hanna, and I Saw Him In Your Eyes by Ace Collins.


When fifteen-year-old Lance Covington finds an abandoned baby in the backseat of a car, he knows she's the newborn daughter of a meth addict he's been trying to help. But when police arrest him for kidnapping, Lance is thrust into a criminal world of baby trafficking and drug abuse.

His mother, Barbara, looks for help from Kent Harlan---the man whom she secretly, reluctantly loves and who once helped rescue her daughter from a mess of her own. Kent flies to her aid and begins the impossible work of getting Lance out of trouble, protecting a baby who has no home, and finding help for a teenage mother hiding behind her lies.

In this latest novel of suspense and family loyalty, bestselling author Terri Blackstock offers a harrowing look at drug addiction, human trafficking, and the devastating choices that can change lives forever.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Vicious Cycle, go HERE.

Watch the Book Video:

Terri Blackstock has written yet another gripping book that kept me glued to the pages. I practically read it in one sitting. Her Intervention series is one that should be required reading for every high school and college student. Drug addictions have consequences that reach farther and involve more evil than any teen could possibly realize when he or she takes that first step down the wrong path. Blackstock masterfully weaves together the lives of teens from two very different backgrounds (one from a "good Christian family" and one from a broken, drug-riddled dysfunctional home household) who have both very nearly destroyed their lives with their addictions. The suspense was palpable in this story, and it wasn't always obvious if the greatest threat came from the outside or from within their own minds and bodies.


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Wednesday Hodgepodge

I missed Wednesday Hodgepodge when I was out last week! Thanks to Joyce From This Side of the Pond for hosting it each Wednesday.

1. Sunday was the first day of spring. So they say. Ahem. What is your favorite outdoor springtime activity?

Seeing the bluebonnets on the side of the road.

2. Who would you want to come into your kitchen to cook dinner for you?

My friend Xandra. Not only is she a phenomenal cook, but it would also mean we would get to spend some time together! She really needs to come back to Texas.

3. When did you last fly a kite?

When my kids were little - at least ten years ago.

4. What topic puts you to sleep faster than anything?

Stock market analysis.

5. Which flowers do you associate with specific people, places, or events?

Yellow roses - my wedding. Bluebonnets - spring in Texas.

6. What significant historical events took place during your elementary school days?

Astronauts landing on the moon.

7. Do you swear? Do you pseudo-swear? (You know crap, shoot, friggin'?)

No to swearing. I would say no to the pseudo-swearing too because I've never considered "shoot" to be in that category. I don't consider it in the same category as the other two words listed. I pretty much abhor swearing and anything remotely connected. Including abbreviations, such as OMG.

I loved the poster on the wall of the dining room at the camp where we stayed in Progreso last week: "God doesn't have a last name and His first name isn't Oh My."

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Woohoo! The ortho MD put my girl in an air cast boot and took away the crutches yesterday, which means she can take it off to bathe and sleep and she can manage her books and viola at school. And my man's eye is healed from the tree branch-induced corneal abrasion. (Details about these injuries and the week in Progreso are here.


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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Bound by Guilt Blog Tours Presents:

Bound by Guilt
by C.J. Darlington
Published by Tyndale House

Shuttled between foster homes, Roxi Gold will do anything to fit in. Soon she’s traveling the country stealing rare books from unsuspecting bookstores. Police officer Abby Dawson has seen the worst of society—and not just at work. One fateful night, both their lives are changed forever. One searches for justice, the other finds herself on the run. Will the power of forgiveness set them free?


C.J. Darlington sophomore novel is as compelling as her first. Drama and suspense pulsate throughout this tale as Roxi's desperate search for unconditional love leads her down paths she never expected to travel. I enjoyed this story and look forward to more from this author's hand.

Great job! You kept me turning the pages.
--Francine Rivers, Internationally best selling author

C.J. is a wonderful, talented writer . . . extraordinary . . .
--Bodie Thoene, best-selling author of the A.D. Chronicles

This one engages your senses and reaches your heart.
--Jerry B. Jenkins, NY Times best-selling author & owner of The Christian Writers Guild

Watch the book trailer:

About the Author:
C. J. Darlington won the 2008 Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild Operation First Novel contest with her first novel, Thicker Than Blood. She has been in the antiquarian bookselling business for over twelve years, scouting for stores similar to the ones described in her novels before cofounding her own online bookstore. In 2006 C. J. started the Christian entertainment Web site with her sister, Tracy, and has been actively promoting Christian fiction through book reviews and author interviews. A homeschool graduate, she makes her home in Pennsylvania with her family and their menagerie of dogs and cats. Visit her website


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Tyndale House Publishers and TitleTrakk Blog Tours as part of their Blogger Review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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No Safe Haven

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

No Safe Haven
B&H Books (March 15, 2011)


Kimberly and Kayla Woodhouse


A devoted wife and mother, Kimberley Woodhouse is a third generation Liszt student, she has passed down her love of the arts to hundreds of students over the years.

About fifteen years ago, Kimberley began writing seriously. Songs, plays, short stories, novels, picture books, articles, newsletters - you name it - she's written it. It wasn't until a dear friend challenged her to "do something with it", that she pursued publication.

Kimberley and her family's story have been on the front page of newspapers, in magazines, articles, medical journals, and most recently her family was chosen for ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. They were also asked to share their story on The Montel Williams Show and Discovery Health Channel's Mystery ER. She has recorded three albums, and has appeared at over 700 venues. Kimberley lives, writes, and homeschools in Colorado with her husband and their two children in a truly "Extreme" home.

Thirteen-year-old Kayla Woodhouse’s zest for writing comes not only from her natural ability, but also from her love of the written word as witnessed by her voracious reading appetite. One of only a few dozen cases in the world, Kayla was born with HSAN, Hereditary Sensory Autonomic Neuropathy, an extremely rare nerve disorder. Unable to sweat, or feel pain, she’s also been through brain surgery. But even through a life of extreme hardships, her ever-present smile encourages others to pursue their dreams, no matter the obstacles. In addition to being homeschooled and writing with her mom, she’s an amazing swimmer, and spends up to thirty hours a week in training. No Safe Haven, her first release from B&H Publishers in 2011, written with mother, Kimberley, makes her the youngest author to have a full-length novel published by a royalty paying publisher.


Jenna and Andi Tikaani-Gray are hoping for a fresh start. Though twelve year-old Andi has long struggled with a rare medical disorder, she and her mother have finally received good news from out-of-town specialists. It's news they desperately needed, especially after the recent death of Jenna's husband (Andi's dad) in a car accident.

But as they are flying home to Alaska, ready to begin again, the unthinkable happens. The pilot sabotages their small plane and crashes into Sultana, one of the most remote and dangerous mountains in the Land of the Midnight Sun. Even worse, a winter storm is headed their way along with someone who doesn't want to save them, but to kill them.

Only one man can keep them alive: Cole Maddox, the mysterious last-minute passenger who joined them on their flight. But trust doesn't come easy to Jenna or Andi√Ďand they both sense Cole is hiding something.

A relentless tale of survival and suspense unfolds, involving military technology designed by Jenna's late husband that some would do anything to possess.

Watch the Book Video:

If you would like to read the first chapter of No Safe Haven, go HERE.


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Monday, March 21, 2011

The Week in Progreso

Wow. Last week's mission trip to Progreso is one I will remember and ponder for a long time to come. It's hard to even know how to begin to describe the varied experiences, both from a spiritual and emotional standpoint. As with many trips of this nature, there were highs and lows. Parts of the week were a real struggle for me for personal reasons which will remain unstated on a public forum. Yet God worked in those to minister to me through times of sweet fellowship with others on the trip.

A huge highlight of the trip was watching my girls absolutely glow as they experienced God moving and using them. My girl was able to share the gospel several times and experienced the power of prayer like never before. And GG described it "as the best week of my life" (along with her salvation and baptism) as she learned to serve, share her testimony, and pray in a group. It was a joy to watch them and the other youth grow in leaps and bounds.

Here are a few pictures to give you a "snapshot" view of the week:

One of the girls at VBS with her craft from day one: she chose to write Jesus vive (Jesus lives)

Painting the bookshelves some of our church members had made for us to bring for the book fair.

One of the girls copying a verse at VBS on Tuesday morning.

Tuesday afternoon we had a Ladies Salon at the Community Center and ministered to some of the "weariest" women by giving them pedicures and manicures, along with a bag of goodies (including a Spanish Bible) to take home. Several of our teen girls helped with this and described it as one of the most challenging (read: disgusting!) yet fulfilling things they had ever done. I was so touched by their maturity in serving "the least of these."

On Wednesday afternoon we had a book fair and about 25 families received a pile of new and used books, both in Spanish and English, including Bible storybooks, a reference book to use when their children are sick, and the Gospel of John, along with the bookshelves (personalized with their children's names). Here a brother and sister proudly display some of the books they have chosen.

The gospel presentation at VBS. I love this visual. Black cherry Kool-Aid mixed with water is poured into a glass of water to show how black our hearts become when we sin and don't have Jesus in our lives. Here she is getting ready to pour "Jesus" in to show what happens when He comes into our lives.

The kids all gasp when the black instantly disappears, showing how he purifies us and takes away our sin. Even though we sin after we become a Christian, we are still seen as spotless because of Jesus; when she pours a little more of the Kool-Aid mixture into the jar she purified, it doesn't turn black. (The jar representing Jesus contains Clorox.) We've done this illustration at our church VBS a lot and it is always a hit. I've heard about it for years but this is the first time I've actually seen it done.

My girl wanted to bring this 5-year-old boy home with us!

The four boys to the left of the teacher and closest to the van are teens who had ridden the van several days to VBS. Thursday they weren't there when the van went by to pick them up, and we were disappointed that they weren't coming. A little while later they showed up at the church. They had WALKED 30 MINUTES to come to VBS!

It took several days but I finally tracked down my friend Laura that I met back in 2008. She was so active in the church back then. I had asked her two married daughters about her after church on Sunday and they were vague but said she was fine. Her kids didn't come to VBS, and God placed such a burden for her on my heart. Wednesday I talked to the pastor through our interpreter and he told me she has had some marital struggles and has drifted a bit. So Thursday afternoon I and another of the ladies from our church, along with my girls and one of the teen boys and the intern who was our interpreter for the week, drove to her house hoping she would be there. She was and we had a sweet reunion. We gave them one of the bookshelves and some books. Here my girls are personalizing it while the boys look on.

And here is Laura and her family. The little girl she is holding is her granddaughter, and the two boys on the left in the black t-shirts are her grandsons. The others are some of her ten kids. The taller boy in the cap is Ernie, who played the accordion in the service when we were there in 2008.

I showed Laura the picture on my phone that I had taken in 2008 and told her I wanted another one of the two of us, so here we are. She speaks very little English but when we were about to leave, she grabbed me, looked me straight in the eye and said "thank you very much" -- I could tell it was from the depths of her soul. I told her that I had been asking about her (and her daughter had told her that someone was looking for her as well). How I pray that God uses the fact that I sought her out to minister to her and show her that He is seeking her as well.

After we got back to the encampment where we were staying Thursday afternoon, we had a little bit of a break before heading to the community block party we were sponsoring. Um, some of us had a bigger "break" than others. Several of the youth had an impromptu basketball scrimmage and my girl came down and twisted her foot and so she and I had a little side excursion before the block party. It appears she has a hairline fracture on her right foot. The irony is that last year on her mission trip to Guatemala she broke a finger. This year it's a foot. (At least it doesn't hamper her music!) Next year she is eagerly anticipating the Junior-Senior mission trip to Thailand. I would really like a doctor or nurse to accompany her! And she feels called to missions as a vocation! Either she needs an organization with great benefits or she needs to marry a doctor!

When we got back to the party, a grandmother had brought her granddaughter who has Down's syndrome. My girl has such a heart for special needs kids so they immediately bonded. My girl painted a rainbow on her face and then they headed off to the playground area together. I love this picture.

We got home Friday evening and Saturday was filled with grocery shopping and laundry and piano lessons. Then I continued my statewide tour of Texas ERs: my man had been helping a friend build a shed and prune some trees on his retirement property and, in spite of wearing a hat and glasses, a branch whipped across his face and gave him a pretty bad corneal abrasion. So we spent a couple of hours Saturday evening in the ER as soon as they got back. My friends have asked if I'm either a) a secret shopper for ER's or b) getting frequent flyer miles, and have also suggested I not let my boy leave the house since he's the only one of our original family that is unscathed!

I hope you had a great week last week - I had to just delete the 450+ blog posts in my reader. And since first thing this morning I have my PT treatment, an orthopedic appointment to make, and an eye doctor to call, plus issues to handle regarding my sister, I'm not sure exactly when I'll be around to visit you! Have a great Monday!


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