Friday, May 26, 2023

Psalm 15, Create This Person in Me

A psalm of David.

Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent?

    Who may live on your holy mountain?

The one whose walk is blameless,

    who does what is righteous,

    who speaks the truth from their heart;

whose tongue utters no slander,

    who does no wrong to a neighbor,

    and casts no slur on others;

who despises a vile person

    but honors those who fear the Lord;

who keeps an oath even when it hurts,

    and does not change their mind;

who lends money to the poor without interest;

    who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.

Whoever does these things

    will never be shaken.


In other Psalms, David freely admitted that he was not this person on his own. Neither am I. Yet this is what is expected of the person who will live with God in heaven.


Thank you, Lord, that through the blood of Jesus and the help of the Holy Spirit, you forgive who I was and you are making me into your kind of person. 

Friday, May 19, 2023

Lunch in Canada

Murray married me before he realized I wasn’t his type.


Murray loves spontaneity, surprises. My picture is next to homebody in the dictionary. I like routines, the comfort of home. Surprises can irritate me.


In 2019, we got the driver’s license size passports, just so we could visit Canada sometime. The only time I’d ever been out of the country was in 2000, when we lived in far northern New York, in a town where you could drive across the bridge to Canada. We were moving soon, so we went to Canada for lunch. At that time, we didn’t need a passport.


So, we got the cards in 2019, and then Covid came. And we didn’t go much of anywhere for the next few years.


Last week, Murray said, “Let’s go to lunch in Windsor. Let’s just do it.”


I said, “We’ll see.”


“Yeah. We’ll se.” He sounded disappointed.


But Murray wasn’t scheduled to work that Friday. The next day after he asked me, I showed why maybe it was okay he married me after all. Even though I’m not his type. I said, “Hey, why don’t we go to Canada for lunch this Friday?”


So, Ping-Hwei took Friday off from work, and we were ready.


On Thursday night we got out our passports. We found Murray’s and Ping-Hwei’s. Not mine.


I thought, well, Murray and Ping-Hwei could still go, and that would be okay. But I was a little sad.


Then we found mine.


We were going to leave at eight Friday morning. It was only a little after eight-thirty, and we were off.


Twice as we drove along the road I said, “I smell pigs.”


Murray said, “Well, that’s all you.” He grew up in St. Louis. But he said, “Ninety percent of Ohio is farmland after all.”


Instead of listening to a book, we listened to a movie, “A Man Called Otto,” an Americanized version of “A Man Called Ove.” The movie had audio description, and Murray didn’t look at the screen of his phone while driving.


The movie was a delight, and when once I asked Murray what was happening, he said, “I don’t know. I experienced it just like you.”


Usually when we cross state lines, Murray honks. He did when we drove into Michigan. When we approached the tunnel between Detroit and Windsor, Ping-Hwei asked if we were in Canada. Murray said he’d honk when we got there, but then we both said, maybe he shouldn’t. We didn’t want to upset the border guards.


Murray has kind of a troubling memory of dealing with the border guards from 24 years ago, when he was in Maine for a job interview and went into Canada for the day. The guard last Friday was, as Murray said, “intense and stern,” but we made it through.


Murray looked for a sign saying we were in Canada, but didn’t see one. When he saw both the Canadian and the United States flags painted on the wall of the tunnel, he decided we were in Canada.


I wanted Canada jokes, and I was afraid Murray wouldn’t make any, so I started making them myself.


“Ping-Hwei, a Canadian car just honked at us.”


“Hear those Canadian birds tweeting at us? I wonder if they’re tweeting in both English and French.”


I couldn’t seem to stop.


“Honey, you better slow down, are you might get stopped by a Canadian policeman.”


Ping-Hwei and Murray were nice to me. Neither told me to shut up.


When we decided to have lunch in Canada, Murray looked up restaurants in Windsor, and the first one that popped up was The Back Road CafĂ©. They had an all-day breakfast menu, which is what I’d been hungry for for a long time. The restaurant was crowded—the hostess said she had just one more table for us—but it was delicious.


Sarah said, “You guys are lame.” We could have gotten a restaurant breakfast any time we wanted here, but she said we should have tried a specialty dish from another country while we were there.


The border guard on the way back into the US said, “You drove five hours just to have lunch in Canada? You’re killing me.”


What did we learn about Canada?


The drinking straw at breakfast was made of paper, not plastic. Very ecological. When we paid for our meal, Murray asked the lady for change for a five-dollar bill. We wanted to send Canadian dollar bills to people as gifts.


She told us they didn’t have dollar bills any more, or two-dollar bills, or even pennies. She said, “I’ll give you five loonies.”


We met a nice lady in a souvenir shop who talked to us about Canada and her trips to the United States. She showed us a picture of the bird with the nickname her shop was named after, “Whiskey Jack Boutique.” People were hoping to make it the Canadian national bird.


Murray said that now we know our passports worked, we can go to Toronto for a weekend.


We’ll see.

Friday, May 12, 2023

Grace and Truth, John 16:16-33, Through Jesus We Can Overcome the World

Verses 19-28 and 31-33: Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them, “Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me’? Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.

A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.

25 “Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father. 26 In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. 27 No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 28 I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.

“Do you now believe?” Jesus replied. “A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”


Jesus, you told us we would have trouble in the world, just like you did. But you overcame the world, and we can, too, because you promised God loves us and will hear our prayers. You promised you will give us your joy. Thank you, Lord. 

Friday, May 5, 2023

Trip Highlights for Our First Wedding

We left last Thursday about 4:00 a.m., and saw two deer in the middle of the city as we were leaving, a not uncommon thing in our city because of the metro park nearby. There were five of us, plus Hammy, Caleb’s guide dog, in the van.


We seemed packed more than full, and I wondered how we used to do it with seven people in the van plus everything we had to take for a trip. But we made it okay, even over a thirteen-and-a-half-hour drive, and I thought how it might be the last time so many of us traveled together, as the kids get older and move farther into their own lives.


The wedding was Saturday. Sarah was one of the attendants and needed to be at the site early in the morning. Rebecca and Steve each had seven attendants, and she’d arranged for all the ladies to get together and have help with hair and make-up. I came a couple hours later to sit in while Rebecca was getting ready.


It was fun, sitting in the room filled with happy music and ladies talking and laughing. Rebecca gave me a gift bag with gifts for the mother of the bride. Smart she is. I think the gifts for the attendants may have included some cosmetics and jewelry, but mine had candy and snacks. She knows me well.


It took around an hour to do Rebecca’s hair and make-up, with ladies surrounding her. I thought about my friend Janet W. Ferguson’s most recent book about a lady who was a wedding planner. She said her goal was to help a woman feel like a princess for a day, and I felt like that was what was happening for Rebecca. Then she plopped down on the floor in front of me and asked if I wanted to check out her hair.


All week we’d kept checking the weather forecast. For a day at the end of April, we hoped for a nice spring day for an outside wedding. The forecast was for rain Friday, and temperatures in the 50s for Saturday but windy. Rebecca said she didn’t mind clouds, as long as it didn’t rain.


Murray said early in the afternoon it rained, but the sun had come out some after that, and it looked like it was going to be okay for four-thirty, the time of the wedding.


Our family sat down first, and we kept waiting for more people to sit down behind us. Finally, Murray went back into the building where the dinner was going to be, to see what was happening.


It was windy and chilly, and most of the guests had gone inside. Murray said he heard Audrey, Rebecca’s matron of honor call out boldly, “Okay, everyone who is not part of the wedding party, go on out and find your seats.” Sarah said later that she was so glad Audrey was there to help with all the arrangements.


Things never go perfectly for a wedding, no matter how hard you work. Rebecca told me they had coolers set up with signs made up for the different drinks. For kids they had a cooler with a sign that said “Milk and Juice,” but when they went shopping Friday for last minute things, they couldn’t find any small bottles of milk. Then, on Saturday morning, at her hotel breakfast, Audrey snagged several cartons of milk, so the sign was not inaccurate.


After guests were seated behind us, a few members of the wedding party started to move out to proceed up the aisle. Then it started to rain, and then Murray laughed and said, “It’s hailing.” Someone behind us called, “This is good luck folks.” Mom told me later that she’d always heard if it rains on your wedding day, you’ll have a happy marriage.


Rebecca and Steve had written vows to each other, and Sarah told me later that she thought they both sniffled a little. I said I certainly sniffled. When they were done, Murray told me, “Rebecca looked pretty happy.”


After dinner, Rebecca and Steve had the first dance, and Murray said it looked amazingly choreographed, starting slow and easy, then quickly moving to more fast and intricate. Ping-Hwei found an old digital camera in his room last week, and caught their dance on video. After the dance, Rebecca asked everyone else to join them on the floor, and I heard Caleb ask Sarah to dance with him.


A fun surprise at the wedding. We met the granddaughter of the couple who ran the home in Taiwan where we found Ping-Hwei, Caleb and Benjamin. She introduced herself to us as the wife of Steve’s best man.


On Sunday, Murray, Ping-Hwei and I went on to Missouri to visit my mother where she lives in a senior living facility. On Sunday, we played scrabble with her, which is a fun memory I have with Mom when I was a kid.


On Monday, we sat with Mom through her activities in the morning and afternoon, which happened to be bingo both times. I told her we were good luck for her, because with us there, she won four games.


My brother Rodney came about mid-day. He has a garden, and I’m constantly telling him he should mail me some of his fresh radishes with dry ice. When he walked into Mom’s room, he handed me a small sack full of radishes and said, “I pulled these, cut the stems and cleaned them just this morning.”


After we left there, we drove by to visit Murray’s brother Myles, his wife Heather and their daughter Melissa. They had happy little one-year-old dogs, who gifted me by again and again jumping up and putting their paws on my lap and kissing me.


With the closeness of our journey, the traveling, time in the hotel, the wedding, and our visit to Mom and the chance to be with family, not everything went smoothly, as it never does. But I thought these verses, one from Rebecca and Steve’s wedding, spoke well. Colossians 3:12-14: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.



Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Psalm 14, Lord, Make Me Not a Fool

For the director of music. Of David.

The fool says in his heart,

    “There is no God.”

They are corrupt, their deeds are vile;

    there is no one who does good.

The Lord looks down from heaven

    on all mankind

to see if there are any who understand,

    any who seek God.

All have turned away, all have become corrupt;

    there is no one who does good,

    not even one.

Do all these evildoers know nothing?

They devour my people as though eating bread;

    they never call on the Lord.

But there they are, overwhelmed with dread,

    for God is present in the company of the righteous.

You evildoers frustrate the plans of the poor,

    but the Lord is their refuge.

Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!

    When the Lord restores his people,

    let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad!


The footnote in Psalm 14 from Bible Gateway says, “Psalm 14:1 The Hebrew words rendered fool in Psalms denote one who is morally deficient.”


Lord, I often feel like such a fool. Now, even more. I can so easily fall into what is vile.


But I do seek you, Lord. I do call on you. Jesus, through your death, I am counted among the righteous. You are my refuge. 

Friday, April 21, 2023

Acts Chapter 29

At church this week we studied from the book of Acts.


Acts 1:7-8: He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”


Our pastor, Matt, said Jesus gave a table of contents here for the rest of the book of Acts, through chapter 28. I’m not sure where I heard it, but someone said we are living in Acts chapter 29.


Acts 2:42-47: They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.


Matt went on to talk about the church, a community of people who were joined together by belief in Jesus. He said this is talking about us in 2023.


The church two thousand years ago and now, are a group who give ourselves to God’s word, to prayer, to meeting the needs of those around us, and to showing why others should want to be a part of God’s family.


That is as true now as it was in the first century. God will add people to his church if they see us loving each other and those around us. We may not all be great friends or agree about everything, but we agree on this: Jesus, his word, his ways. 

Friday, April 14, 2023

Guest Author, Sally Carpenter

This book, and series, sound great. Thank you, Sally, for sharing with us.

The family that sleuths together stays together


I want to thank Kathy for this opportunity to write a guest post for her blog.


My eighth and most recent cozy mystery and clean read, The Highland Havoc Caper, follows the ongoing exploits of Sandy Fairfax (his stage name), a 39-year-old former teen idol and TV star. Over the years, he’s faced numerous challenges: a career that peaked and then crashed, divorce, alcoholism and estrangement from his family.

But now he’s determined to get his life back on track (and solve a few mysteries along the way). Sandy quit drinking, returned to work and is mending broken relationships.


Sandy’s only son is called Chip because he resembles his father, with his blue eyes and blond hair, and also that his full name is the unwieldy Stanford Ernest Farmington III. Chip was seven years old when his parents divorced. Now he’s 13 years old and living with his mom, stepdad and younger sister.


Until recently Chip seldom spent time with his father and when he did, Sandy was often drunk. Chip more frequently saw his dad in reruns of his TV show. His dad’s fame didn’t endear him with his classmates, who made fun of Sandy’s well-publicized brushes with the law. Like most boys, he longed for a real dad. Chip loves his time with his dad, who is more adventuresome and foot-loose than his staid stepdad and disciplinarian mom.


Now that Sandy’s sober, he’s asking his ex, Becka, for more frequent visits to see his kids.   Becka’s dismayed that when they’re with Sandy, something bad happens. In a previous book, The Sinister Sitcom Caper, Chip helped Sandy to catch a murderer. Chip, of course, enjoyed the adventure; his mother was less enthused.


In Highland Havoc, a sober Sandy spends a good deal of time with Chip, more so than in the previous books. Sandy must start asserting himself as a father, not as a pal. Chip is yearning for more independence. When Sandy tells him it’s time to stop talking to some girls and come home, Chip replies, “Eat my shorts!” Sandy is not pleased at the rebuttal. He spoiled his kids so they’d want to see him, but that approach may not work anymore.


When Chip spends the night at Sandy’s house, Dad is shocked to discover that his son is afraid of the dark and must sleep with a light on. Just how well does Sandy know his kids? Having been absent from their lives during their formative years, Sandy is having a hard time catching up.


Chip is fiercely interested in the opposite sex. Sandy attempts to have an awkward talk with him about “the birds and the bees.” Chip is aware of his dad’s wild past with women and his string of girlfriends since the divorce. As a pop star, Sandy was quite the lady’s man in his heyday. Sandy preaches, “Do as I say, not as I did.” He hopes Chip will avoid some of the pitfalls he stumbled into, but do kids listen to their parents? Then a 19-year-old TV star takes a shine to Chip, and Sandy worries that the world-wise actress will take his son down a wrong path.


What bonds Sandy and Chip is that they solve a mystery together. In an attempt to expose Chip to culture, Sandy drags him to a guided tour of an old castle. Chip’s bored, so he takes an unauthorized detour into an abandoned wine cellar where he finds a body. Sandy rushes to get help, but when they return, the corpse is gone! How can the killer be found when there’s no body or even a name for the deceased?


Sandy and Chip look for clues together and share theories. Chip finds this exciting, but Sandy fears that his son’s involvement will get him in danger. And it does. No spoilers, but Sandy and Chip end up in a dire predicament, and only by working together—and overcoming Chip’s phobia—can they escape. Sandy beams with pride at his son’s accomplishments. Chip has a new appreciation for his dad.

 For more information on my books, purchase links and to download two free short stories, go to my author website


Friday, April 7, 2023

Good Friday

Isaiah 53:3-6:

He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.


Lord Jesus, I always want to remember what you suffered for me on this day.


And yet, through all your pain, you were still filled with love for us and for those around you.


Luke 23:27-29:

A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the childless women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’


Verses 32-34:

Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.


Verses 39-43:

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”


I also want to remember your triumph.


Matthew 28:1-7:

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”


Thank you, Jesus. 

Friday, March 31, 2023

Guest Author, Laurie Alice Eakes

I have read several books by Laurie Alice Eakes and loved them all. Interesting settings, fun characters, heart-touching plots. I highly recommend that you read her books.




What message do you hope readers take away from this book?

          A sense of hope that, no matter how bad things appear, have faith and they will get better.


What do you see as most significant to your publication journey?

          Perseverance sums it up in a word. The only way to get published is to work and work, improve and learn and improve some more and just keep trying.


How do your faith and spiritual life play into the picture and affect your storytelling?

          My books, even my secular ones, have an underlying spiritual tone. Humans need connectedness and something bigger than ourselves to look to for strength. Not everyone believes in the same source of faith, yet I believe, even those who believe they have no faith in God believe in something that they turn to, whether they realize it or not.


Who/What spurs you to write? Where do your story and character ideas come from?

          What spurs me to write is a deadline. I am an author who works best to deadlines.

          As to where I get my ideas, I’m not always certain. Sometimes I think they popped into my head fully grown. Mostly, though, they stem from something I read or experienced. When I wrote historical fiction, A passage in a nonfiction history book would set my “what if” factor going. For contemporary, ideas are provoked by a news story or a ride on the L (the Chicago elevated train). For example, I heard about a man falling off the tiny platform between cars, and that fostered the idea of someone trying to push someone off that area. Then I ask myself: Why would they want to do that? And thus the process of plot development begins.


What is the funniest thing that has happened to you as an author?

          I keep thinking about this, and I’m not sure if I’ve had any funny things happen to me as an author. Or nothing I thought funny at the time. Now I can laugh about the editor who told me my blind heroine would never do what I had her doing. Like some sighted person could know more about what a blind woman would or would not do beyond me, the blind woman who had proof this thing had actually happened. At the time, I was so horrified I wanted to quit writing.


What do you enjoy doing when you are not writing?

          I love to read. Mostly I read young adult fiction because I don’t write in that genre, so I’m not always trying to rewrite the story in my head. I also like movies, especially the old ones. You know, Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant, etc. Before I smashed up my knee, I loved long walks. I am hopeful for that ability to return. And I love to be near water. I live close to an enormous lake, and this is incredibly special to me.


What books are on your nightstand right now?

          I usually read two or three books at a time, usually one book for research and the others fiction. Right now, I’m reading The Edge of Light by Elizabeth George and Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill. My nonfiction books are Blind Man’s Bluff by James Tate Hill and Complex PTSD by Pete Walker.

Friday, March 24, 2023

Grace and Truth, John 16:1-15, Our Advocate

“All this I have told you so that you will not fall away. They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God. They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. I have told you this, so that when their time comes you will remember that I warned you about them. I did not tell you this from the beginning because I was with you, but now I am going to him who sent me. None of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ Rather, you are filled with grief because I have said these things. But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.

“I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”


Jesus began to warn his disciples of the trouble they would go through. He was leaving them, but he would not leave them, and us, alone.


He sent the Holy Spirit, an advocate, a helper, someone to stand beside us and help us through our lives as Christians. He will help us know and share the truth. Thank you, Father, for this unbelievable gift. 

Friday, March 17, 2023

Field of Diamonds

My friend, author Sharon Connell,, shared this story with me. It truly did make me smile.


Kathy wanted to know about my other story when God came to my rescue. This one isn’t as dramatic as the Cattle Truck Miracle, but to me it was God’s hand intervening on one of those days when I was really down. The funny thing about it is, I can’t remember what had me so depressed at the time. Even that was erased from my memory on that day.


The day started out with me preparing for work. In Illinois, I worked in advertising at a food broker. What happened to depress me or had continued to depress me from the day before, or whenever, is a mystery now (as I’ve said). But whatever it was, it brought me to tears.


Driving down the busy highway running along the interstate with a ton of cars all around me is not a good place to have tears in one’s eyes, but that was the case. It had been raining that morning, as well, and the sky was overshadowed with dark clouds. A few blocks from the turnoff to the building where I worked, I came to a stop for a red light. At the time, I was still in the inside lane and tried to wipe my tears before the light turned green again.


A break in the clouds appeared, and a wide ray of sunlight shown down, just like you see in a painting. It shined across a stretch of grass next to the interstate where little droplets of dew were still on the tips of the blades of grass. My line of vision followed the rays as they became extremely intense. As the sunrays moved across the patch of grass, about the size of a front yard, it seemed to stop, lighting up the entire patch. The drops of dew glistened as if they were each a half-karat diamond. Imagine hundreds of diamonds, glowing in the sunlight. My unhappy mouth turned into an ear-ear smile and I laughed.


I cried out, “Thank you, Lord. You knew I needed to see a glorious sight like this.” My heart lifted, and I forgot all about the depression for that day. I’ve always referred to this little miracle as “My Field of Diamonds from God.”


I hope it brings a smile to you too. 

Friday, March 10, 2023

Psalm 13, Help me be more like David

For the director of music. A psalm of David.

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?

    How long will you hide your face from me?

How long must I wrestle with my thoughts

    and day after day have sorrow in my heart?

    How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Look on me and answer, Lord my God.

    Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,

and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”

    and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

But I trust in your unfailing love;

    my heart rejoices in your salvation.

I will sing the Lord’s praise,

    for he has been good to me.


Father God, again I crave the faith of David. In his saddest times, he laid everything before you. He told you all his sorrows and begged for exactly what he wanted.


But no matter what your answer, he gave you praise.


Lord, grow my heart to be more like David. 

Friday, March 3, 2023

A Father's Faith

Mark chapter 9 tells of one of my heroes in the Bible. I thank God for including such stories to encourage us.


Mark 9:14-27: When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him. “What are you arguing with them about?” he asked. A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.” “You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.” So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth. Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?” “From childhood,” he answered. “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the impure spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up.


Many times throughout my Christian life, I have struggled with a weak faith. I don’t know if I even believe in God. He couldn’t love me. No way could he forgive me.


And yet, I do believe. I cling to the faith I doubt. The Bible is living and active (Hebrews 4:12,) and through it, the Holy Spirit brings me hope even in the darkest of times.


The father in Mark 9 admitted a weakness to his faith, but he had great love and courage. He braved this crowd and spoke up to Jesus for his son. Jesus challenged the father, but he honored him by healing his son and including his story in the Bible. Even when our faith is weak, God accepts it as real, and he raises us up.


Matthew 12:20: A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he has brought justice through to victory.



Friday, February 24, 2023

Thank God for Music

Last week during the meet-and-greet time of our church service, a song played that brought on a feeling I have had many times. A joyful ache, a sense of hope and promise, which happens even in a sad time. I don’t remember the song; I don’t even know if I knew it.

Often, I’ll get this swell inside when I hear a song, a certain sound. I may have no idea of the words—I might not even like the words if I remembered them—but I know that joy. The day opens up, and I feel lifted. I smile; sometimes I cry.

God gave this to us in waterfalls, in the drumming of rain, from birds and wild animals, the clomp of horses’ hooves, wind brushing through leaves, a baby’s laugh, the whispers from someone we love.

I get a sense of such healing possibility. Lord God, just another gift to thank you for.

“I Got a Name” by Jim Croce; “El Shaddai,” Amy Grant; “It’s a Big Old Goofy World,” John Prine; “What a Wonderful World,” Louis Armstrong.



Friday, February 17, 2023

Guest Author, Kathy Cretsinger

Kathy Cretsinger is so special to me. She was my first publisher, and I can never thank her enough for taking a chance with me. And she is a great author. I highly recommend this fun series.


Thank you, Kathy, for asking me to be on your blog. It’s a special honor from a special friend. I’ve known Kathy for several years. She and Murray plus all the children are dear to my heart.

Kathy asked me to write about my book coming out February 21, 2023. This is the third book in the series, Nothing Shady Ever Happens In Shady Valley. The first book, Bogged Down by Murder, is about Daisy McQueen and Harry Greer. Shady Valley is nestled in the mountains in what we call Northeast Tennessee. You know where the state juts out into North Carolina? That is very close to Shady Valley.

The second book, Death by Doubloons, is about Liberty Garcia and Matt Sluder. Gold Doubloons in the mountains of Shady Valley? Yes, in my imagination there are.

Now, for the next book, Shady Connections. This book is about Bruce Howard and Grace Manis, bodyguards for Daisy McQueen Greer.

Bruce and Grace fall in love after working together for five years. They slipped into love. Didn’t mean for it to happen, but it did without them noticing. Bruce and Grace are in their 40s, and two months after their elopement, they find they are expecting a baby. That is a shock because both were married before but never had children.

Shady Valley is such a unique place. It is so peaceful with mountain streams, cranberry blogs, and good people all over the place. The residents are peaceful, the summers are cool, and the winters are snowy.

There is only one way out of the valley without going over mountains. Bruce and Grace decide this is their forever home, after they find out who wants to steal their baby.

Kathy Cretsinger lives in Kentucky, but she was born and grew up in Tennessee. Her husband, Jerry, grew up in Shady Valley, where some of his family still lives. Kathy invites you to check out her Facebook page at. and her author page, She also writes a blog at

What’s up next? Two more books set in Shady Valley, Tennessee, and another one I’m not talking about now. Love suspense.

Kathy Cretsinger

Friday, February 10, 2023

Guest Author, V. B. Tenery

V. B. Tenery has been my critique partner for a number of years. I have enjoyed all her books, historical (World War II) and contemporary fiction. She writes with sensitivity and excitement.


A Time to Speak is filled with suspense and action.

Friday, February 3, 2023

A Few of My Favorite Things

I’m always bad when someone asks what is my favorite something. “I have a lot of favorites,” I complain. But as I was thinking about it recently, I came up with a few favorites.


Book: To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee. I read this book again not too long ago, to make sure it was still my favorite. It is. Still brings tears to my eyes.


There’s so much I can learn about writing from Harper Lee, and I want to be as good a story-teller as Scout Finch.


Food: Hamburger with all the fixings.


Song: “He Is,” by Aaron Jeoffrey.


Movie: The Sound of Music—“These are a few of my favorite things…”


Flower: daisies. Especially tiny wild ones.


Color: orange. I met a lady this week who said her favorite color is orange too. “It’s a happy color.”


I don’t watch much TV anymore, but I have a couple favorite shows I love watching reruns of: “West Wing” and “MASH.”


Book of the Bible: The Gospel of John. When I was in college, I was having trouble believing in God, and a minister suggested I read the book of John. Many years later, this book still touches me.


John 20:30-31: Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.


Dessert: Chocolate anything. ’Cept maybe chocolate-covered bacon. Mmm, well, I guess I’d be willing to try that.


When my kids ask me, I always say I have five favorite kids—my favorite Ping-Hwei, my favorite Sarah… 

Friday, January 27, 2023

Grace and Truth, John 15, Our Promise, Our Advocate


Verses 18-19: “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.

Verse 26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me.


Jesus has chosen us to share about him in the world. What a privilege, to be chosen by Jesus. He warns us that this will cause trouble for us, but Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to us from God the Father. He is our Advocate, someone to stand by us and stand up for us. Thank you, Father. We do not need to testify about Jesus alone. We will not receive trouble from the world alone. 

Friday, January 20, 2023

More About Books Shared with Our Kids

I wanted to share some comments from my blog about books with our kids.


From Mary Lou: My daughter Christie enjoyed the Little House books.”


From Erma: “Thanks for the recommendations! I've read some of the same books to my children - loved their faces as they discovered the stories and then read them for themselves!! What fun!!:)”


From Kathy C.: “My granddaughter has asked for books for her baby instead of cards at her baby shower. I've seen this before, and I always give Christopher Robin. I can't think of the name of the book, but Winnie the Pooh. I love this book.”


From Patti: “Kathy C, one of my daughter's favorite Winnie the Pooh books was Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too! One time we were in the doctor's office waiting room and that book was sitting on a table. We sat there and read it out loud together. We were laughing about it because she was already a teen-ager!”


From Nina: “I loved reading about sharing your love of reading with your children when they were small. It was one of the happiest times for me as a parent, reading about Curious George and Madeline and The Little Engine That Could.

“Brett was fascinated by firemen when he was tiny and we checked out a picture book from the library and renewed it until we reached the limit.  At 3 he felt the need to dress in a fireman’s costume every day and he was wearing it when the librarian gave us the bad news.  We could not renew.  He cried. She gave a deep sigh and checked the book in, then right out again to us.  The little fireman broke into a smile.  The book was ours again for 3 renewal cycles.

“I once bought a subscription to Highlights.  It’s a quality children’s magazine but it turned out to be a mistake for us.  The monthly feature, ‘Goofus and Gallant’ proved problematic.  No matter where they were- playing, at school, sitting at the dinner table with the family- Goofus was demonstrating poor behavior.  “Goofus jumps up from the dinner table without excusing himself and runs off to play.’   Gallant demonstrated admirable behaviors ‘Gallant thanks his mother for dinner and helps her to clear the table.’  Goofus cheats at games, talks instead of listening to the teacher, grabs the biggest piece of cake at a party.  Gallant, noble soul, helps his teammates, pays attention at school, writes thank you notes.

“Unfortunately, my son was fascinated with the awful behavior of Goofus and saw the short lessons and sketches as inspirational material for future misbehavior.  Goofus, he decided, was living a much more exciting life!  Sigh.  I didn’t renew the subscription!

“But books- we read and read.  Later it was the Narnia series.  Katrina loved the Babysitters Club and The Boxcar Children series.

“I hope to continue the joy of reading with Remy and Elden (her grandsons.)  Any books about things with wheels are a huge hit right now.”

Such joyful memories. 

Friday, January 13, 2023

Books Shared with My Kids

Reading was something we shared with our kids from their very early age.

We read the bible to them. I told bible stories, and we shared acting them out with enthusiasm. “Jonah was gobbled up by a big fish. What was it like in the fish’s belly?”

The kids would answer, “Icky,” “Stinky,” “Slimy.”

We shared so many books with them, and they started reading for themselves early on.

Some favorites I remember reading to the kids were The Little House Books, the Chronicles of Narnia, Magic Tree House books, Boxcar Children, To Kill a Mocking bird.

Now that they’re grown, I love it when they share a book with me, suggesting I read it because they loved it.

More than a dozen years ago, Rebecca told me about the O’Malley Series by Dee Henderson. I’ve read this series multiple times, and I will continue to. I’ve read as many other books by Dee Henderson as I can find, and she has been a wonderful mentor for my own writing.

The road back to you: an enneagram journey to self-discovery by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile.

Benjamin suggested this book to me. It’s a fun, easy to understand look at the enneagram, a Christian system with hundreds of years of history that looks at personality types.

The authors suggest that understanding ourselves and others better can help us be the person God created us to be. It helps us find grace for ourselves and others. I’ve also heard this system recommended for writers to use to make their characters more believable. The book is written with humor and compassion.

Rebecca and Sarah both talked with me about reading The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas. They warned me of its rating—a little sex, lots of cussing. But I feel so good that my girls considered me worthy of them recommending the book anyway. A story of a sixteen-year-old Black girl who watches her childhood friend be killed by a police officer. An incredible story of the love of her family, her friends, and showing her come to understand and accept her own identity.

From Caleb: What happened to the Bennetts by Lisa Scottoline.

This is a gripping story of suspense and quick surprising action. friendship and family bring the main characters through horror.

Caleb loves to read intense, heart-stopping suspense stories, and I love talking with him about what he’s reading. 

Friday, January 6, 2023

Psalm 12, Keep Us Safe

For the director of music. According to sheminith. A psalm of David.

Help, Lord, for no one is faithful anymore;

    those who are loyal have vanished from the human race.

Everyone lies to their neighbor;

    they flatter with their lips

    but harbor deception in their hearts.

May the Lord silence all flattering lips

    and every boastful tongue—

those who say,

    “By our tongues we will prevail;

    our own lips will defend us—who is lord over us?”

“Because the poor are plundered and the needy groan,

    I will now arise,” says the Lord.

    “I will protect them from those who malign them.”

And the words of the Lord are flawless,

    like silver purified in a crucible,

    like gold refined seven times.

You, Lord, will keep the needy safe

    and will protect us forever from the wicked,

who freely strut about

    when what is vile is honored by the human race.


Have you ever felt like David, that there was no one loyal and faithful left in the world?

And yet, even in that state, he knew God’s word was perfect; God was the one who would help.


Lord, we pray to you to keep us safe, to protect us from the danger and horror around us.