Friday, February 28, 2014

Distortion- Book Review

I'm a big fan of page-turning, can't out the book down, stay up all night till it's finished kind of mystery/suspense novels. So, with that in mind, I had high expectations when I went to read Terri Blackstock's Distortion. It's the first book of hers, and let me say, she did not disappoint. This was a book I read from cover to cover in 12 hours or so.

A white Camero. After Dr. Bob Cole is shot dead right in front of his wife Juliet, that car could hold all the answers Juliet needs to track down the killer. But Juliet and her family-turned-investigative team soon learn the white Camaro is only one piece to an even bigger puzzle to a series of events that led to Bob's death. Along the way - Juliet's boys and family are threatened, and she learns the betrayal of her husband is deeper than she could have ever imagined… a life mixed with drugs, deceit, secret bank accounts and more. Distortion is a book that you won't be able to put down as you follow Juliet and her small team discovers all the truths behind who Bob really was. 

I truly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it. I give it five stars. This is definatetly a page turner without all the blood and gore, I can really appreciate that! Thank you Zondervan for allowing me to review it before it's release date. This is my honest review, I was not compensated for a positive review.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tension between confetti and meaningless

I feel like this theme keeps popping up in my life in several places and I can't help, but ignore it any longer. The fact is that several people I know are facing cancer and not just cancer, but terminal cancer. These people are finding themselves one minute healthy, living normal lives going to work and the next minute finding out they have six months to get their affairs in order for they will no longer be on this side. It got me thinking.. Have I been filling my life with confetti ready to go in six months?? Have I packed in every moment that I wanted? Have I spent time with those loved ones?


The other theme I'm finding myself facing is the complete polar opposite...

I'm finding people who are chasing meaningless things. Let me explain myself because I find myself in this category too. I find myself chasing perfectionism, I find myself worrying, and not just worrying, but worrying to please other people and worrying about what others think. I used to find myself concerned about my clothing, but that has gone to the way side, since we are paying off debt. I used to be concerned about the latest music and movies, but that has also gone to the wayside. I don't even know what the cool cars are anymore. I don't know what is coming out on DVD or who is coming to our local venues for concerts. I'm getting out of touch, but yet, I'm chasing meaningless things. I know because I can feel it. I spend hours on Facebook, Twitter, blogs and others social media. I know this doesn't add anything to my days. Maybe you're striving to be the perfect wife or you're trying to be an awesome stay at home mom. Or, you've put on 20lbs since your pregnancy and are trying to lose the weight that doesn't seem to fall off. You continue to chase, to find that your soul is EMPTY.

I myself, I'm finding this tension between living this normal life and trying not to chase those meaningless empty things. Are you with me? Do you feel the tension? Do you feel the tension between wanting to achieve and wanting to be? Are finding that you want to live your life fully and completely, yet your trapped by the meaningless?? Whether shallow or deep, I find the need to fulfill. Whether I fulfill with busyness or stuff, I continue to chase, but it continues to leave my soul restless.

As I continue to think about these two polar opposite places, I don't want to get to the end of my life chasing these empty meaningless things. I don't want to have wasted my days or my life. I can feel that my soul is restless right now as I struggle between these two things to find balance. I don't want to have worked all of my life, to have gained nothing, yet, I don't want to have wasted my life for nothing. Do you see where I'm going? Do you hear my struggle??

And so I invite you to find the confetti in your life. Where are you? Are in the tension of filling your life with meaningless things or are you filing your days with confetti? Where are you? Who are you spending your days with? Do you need to realign your priorities?? 

I'm with you. 
I'm struggling too.
Tell me I'm not alone.
Please hear my heart. 
I want life.
I want to live abundantly.
How do we do this?

Monday, February 24, 2014

Just a casual weekend

This past weekend, was just a fun weekend! Do you ever just need those weekends where you need to be carefree and let your hair down? No house work was done! No real groceries are here, but we enjoyed ourselves!

We went out to lunch at Red Robin on Saturday! YUM!!! It's like our favorite place to go.
 They have the best fries and the most delicious southwestern chicken salad ever!! I love all the yummy stuff they put in it!
We even sprang for dessert, which is a rare occurrence! I'm not a huge dessert eater. 
Somehow, Drew managed dessert out if me.. Lol. I ate like two bites, but it was delicious! We took a nap and then went to watch some of our favorite children so their parents could go to a wedding.

We played a fun Disney Wii game called Think Fast and also watched this movie!
I love that we accomplished not one darn thing this weekend, but I'm feeling like I need to kick motivation into high gear this week to make up for lost time. I'm thankful for a nice, relaxing weekend.

Q: What did y'all do this weekend? Was it relaxing? Did you work?

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Where Courage Calls

Where Courage Courage Calls is written by Janette Oke and daughter, Laurel Oke Logan. It is a companion to the Hallmark Channel's Original Series " When Calls the Heart Tv" series. As a Hallmark Channel lover, I thought I would really enjoy this kind of book. The book and the Tv. series are a bit different, so don't go in thinking they are the same thing.. FYI...

Cover Art

This book is about a Beth Thatcher who has spent her who life living the comfortable life with her family and friends near her. She decides to be adventerous, get on a car train and head to Canada where she accepts a teaching position. Her father encouraged her to seek this new adventure. Beth new the journey would not be easy, but she did not expect the many bumps and bruises she would experience along the way. Of course, this story wouldn't be one without a little plot of romance and heart break along the way.

Beth is torn between Edward, a man of the past and Jarrick, a possible man for her future. Join Beth as she learns to trust God and lean on him during a difficult times. 

My Thoughts:
Parts of the book I really enjoyed and other parts were a bit slow for me. I have never read a book by Janette Oke, so this was my first read. I have a hard time rating this book because it was my first read. The last part of the book picked up for me when the romance was brought forth, but I had a really hard time in the middle of the book. It was a bit slow for my taste. I would rate this book 3.5 stars. However, to be fair, I would read another book by Janette Oke because I have heard great things about her books. Don't take my review for it! Read it yourself because you might love it and think my review was terrible! Everyone enjoys different books! I received a complimentary copy for my honest review, I was not compensated for a positive review.

Authors Info:
Janette Oke is know across the world for her contribution to the Christian book industry. She is credited with have sold over 30 million copies of Loves Come Softly. She currently resides in Alberta, Canada with her husband, Edward.

Laurel Oke Loagan, is the daughter of Janette and Edward Oke. She has also been the co-author of several other books. Laurel and her husband have six children of their own and two sons-in law. They live in Indiana. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Smitten Book Club

Looking to escape your everyday life to enter a quiet town? Join the gals of Smitten in Vermont as they find friendship, relationships and love. 

Heather, Abby, Lia and Molly find friendship, healing and loving in Smitten, Vermont. Real life friends, Colleen Colbe, Kristin Billerbeck, Denise Hunter and Diann Hunt have created the fictional town and wove three books together. The other two titles; Smitten & Secretly Smitten, which I highly recommend in addition to Smitten Book Club. 

Smitten Book Club

This book contains four novels:

1) Love by the Book- Collen Colbe

Does a book have the potential for romance and money? Will an old flame reunite Heather with a man from the past or will it end in hurt?
2) Shelved Under Romance- Kristin Billerbeck

Abby Gray is the towns Librarian and taken over her mothers care since her father has past away. Wyatt Tanner, a sports extremist is interested in her and begins to find clues about unburied treasure, will Abby be open to Wyatt and his quest for gold?

3) A New Chapter- Diann Hunt
Elliana Burton who fears doctors, suddenly find herself in need of going to a dentist when she loses a filling. Although, she cannot go to just any dentist, but her childhood heart throb, Dr. Joey, who has recently returned to Smitten. 
Will she move past her dreams of Dr. Joey? Or will this end in a romance? 

4) Happily Ever After- Denise Hunter
Molly inherited her husbands business from his death, but it is headed towards bankruptcy. Her only hope comes from her business competitor Gage Turner. She find herself wondering if she should trust his advice? Why would he want to help her. Finally, the last read of the courting gems leads to clues to find the ancestral gold. 

Each book has a unique story, with each of the women woven into each others stories. While they have all have their own unique story like a tapestry, they are woven together. I also loved the friendship among the ladies. Their four stories will touch your heart and make you want to be a better friend. It just reminds you to realign your priorities in your friendships too. Just a wonderful book! 

My Final Thoughts:
The Smitten Finale comes together at the end! You will not want to put this book down. However, I am really sadden that this will most likely be the last of the series due to the recent passing of Diann Hunt. I am deeply sadden by her loss and I know her fellow friends/colleagues are deeply touched by her loss. Will we see another book? Only time will tell, but I know the authors are feeling her loss, but would feel Dianns blessing to write another book, if they felt the calling to do so. I was not compensated for a positive review, but was provided a book to review. I rate this book 5/5 stars.

To learn more about these lovely ladies or purchase a copy, go here!!!

Tonight, you don't want to miss the opportunity to win a Kindle Fire or the Facebook Give-away Party! More info here!!!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

True love

I'm very blessed to have a wonderful husband who loves me inspite of my flaws!
This Valentines, we never do anything big and that is perfectly fine with me. I like Valentines Day quiet and relaxed. On Valentines Day, Drew was at Work, so my mom came over and we watched a gushy Hallmark Movie! That was fun.

On Saturday, Drew and I celebrated by going out to lunch and then Drew gave me a sweet card with Dove Chocolates and a yummy Disney Cupcake Mailbox!
So sweet! He's a keeper!! I love him!

I found this quote and thought this was priceless! Isn't this true? It's only two pounds of chocolate, why did I gain 5 pounds?? Sugar makes me gain weight fast!

Q: How do you celebrate Valentines Day?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Runner down week 4

Happy Monday!!!

So after 4 weeks of chest pain, unexplained weight loss, feel good Somedays and others us dragging, I went into the Dr today. I hate the Dr. It's so frustrating! They never have answers, let's be honest! I want to be dying before I go in, I mean really!

He basically said, "let's order a bunch of tests" and my response was, "insurance sucks now, so I have to pay for every single test" and he said, " I know, but how winded did you feel coming up those stairs when you got up here?" You're a runner, not an 80 year old woman! Something is constricting your breathing! Drats! He got me!

Off to chest x-rays, and blood tests we go!

He better figure this out, because this is SERIOUSLY screwing with my RIVERBANK training and I'm getting really aggravated! I want to be able to run! 

So, I've decided to post pretty quotes and things since my body is falling apart, yet again!

And this looks like a lovely place to visit!!

Q: How are y'all handling winter? If you're a runner, how are you handling staying healthy? Vitamin C, fluids and rest aren't doing it for me!! Got any good tips?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Princess Ever After by Rachel Hauck

Having heard wonderful things about Rachel Hauck as an author, I thought I would give Princess Ever After a read. 

Princess Ever After is the second novel in the Royal Wedding Series. I have not had the opportunity to read Once upon a Prince, but after reading this book, I will be sure to pick it up. I love this book because its a little bit different than your every day typical princess. Reggie is your everyday girl, who loves to restore classic cars and is just this sweet southern belle.

Tanner Burkhardt shows up in the story and gives Reggie a different message. She isn't just this ordinary girl, but that she is royal princess. Tanner challenges her to claim her heritage, but is Reggie fit for that lifestyle and does she even want it? Meanwhile, the story has a beautiful historical backdrop, with royal lineage and brings the reader along for a journey as Reggie discovers her past and her future.

I really like the character development we find in Reggie and Tanner. Tanner really struggles with self worth and I think we can all relate in some way to his struggles. Reggie struggles with identity with who she this is and who she was. I think we can identify with identify and role confusion as life throws unexpected twists and turns our way. 

I really enjoyed this book. Although I did not have the opportunity to read the first book in this series, I think it did great as a stand alone book. If you're looking for a non-typical romance, this is something different, yet wonderful! I enjoyed the character development, the story line, and would read another book by Rachel Hauck in the future.

I received a complimentary book in exchange for an honest review, which I have given.

Facebook Party:
On 3/6, their will be a Facebook Party for  Rachel Hauck’s “Princess Ever After. You could win a $200 Visa Card Giveaway and other prizes! I will post more details to remind you of the Facebook party as is gets closer!!

Get to know the Author:
Rachel Hauck is award-winning and best selling author of " The Wedding Dress." She also worked with recording artist, Sara Evans on their novel Softly and Tenderly, which was one of the top 2011 Booklist Inspirationals. Rachel was a graduate of Ohio State University with a degree of journalism. 
To Learn more about Rachel, please visit her website at:

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Great day with good friends, cozy read, warm tea & a blanket

This morning/ afternoon, I spent the day with my awesome friends who just know how to make life better. I just had a blast with them!
Isn't she adorable?? I love those glasses on her ! So stinking cute!!
They are such goofballs, I just love them all!! Makes me want girls so bad!! So fun! Only one at a time, of course.

I stepped on the scale this morning and was shocked to see this number, don't be scared that my feet are bright red, I had just gotten out of the shower.

I also have this awesome review of this book that I have been reviewing. The Storm Inside is written by Shelia Walsh is one of the most powerful books I have read in a long while. 

In The Storm Inside, Shelia writes about what it's like to struggle with big life things. She knows what it's like to deal with huge disappointments, heartache, dispair, anger, shame, insecurity and in forgiveness. She touches on these topics and many others. What I love about this book is the way that Shelia communicates her thoughts on some very difficult topics in a way that speaks to your heart. She talks to you about the storms in your life as if she is your best friend, with no judgement, completely loving and very calm. If you are facing any kind of storm or a difficult season in your life, this book will speak to you in so many ways. I am already re- reading parts of this book as a devotional as I am going through certain storms in my life and this book is broken into chapter that you can read it as a devotional, if you wanted too.

This is a book that I will read over and over again as it isn't preachy and doesn't tell you what a horrible person you are. Thank you Thomas Nelson for allowing me to review this book. I was not compensated for a positive review, but was given the book to review.

Please pray for my friend Myra, my 95 year old neighbor who made me my blankets! She went into the ER today. Pray for her sister who is quite worried!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Runner down.

For the past two weeks, my immune system has been trying to fight off something off. I can tell because I have been sleeping for hours on end and without no probable cause.

My chest has been very painful, I get winded very easily and I have no appetite. Food does not sound good to me and my energy is completely drained. This could not come at a worser time, especially as my mileage is picking up for Riverbank training. I have taken off almost 2 weeks from completely doing any Physical activity. I have noticed the lymph nodes in my armpits are swollen. I am afraid to go into the doctors office, where they will work up a bunch of tests and tell me that my white blood cell count is down again like it was five months ago.

But then, I woke up Monday and felt so much better. It was like so odd.. I thought for sure it was a fluke this.. I woke up this morning, again felt way better. I haven't been running at all! No exercise, nothing. I know my body and I knew it needed the proper and complete rest.

For the rest of this week, I am going to continue to properly hydrate, rest and hope for a long run Saturday. I know it will not be a good long run and my time will not be stellar, but I just need the mileage in...

Monday, February 10, 2014

Things I'm loving from this weekend!

First, did you know Shamrock shakes are back ?? Oh, yes!!!

        They are so stinking delicious!!

Second, I love this crochet blanket my 95 year old neighbor made me! She made us another one too.. So sweet! She brought it over for a Valentines Day gift!!

This weekend, I read this amazing book and cried my eyes out. I usually don't cry, but this book completely moved me.

Then someone else brought us a Red Robin Gift Card!! Yum!!! People are so kind everywhere this weekend! 

Finally, I got to see my favorite family too and that made my entire weekend!! This family just blesses me in so many ways! I just love them! No words to describe oh much they mean to me!

All in all, I just felt like we were blessed all over the weekend. Did I mention, two more books came in the mail for review? I love that!! 

Q: How was your weekend?

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Has Biggest Loser gone too far?

I have always been a fan of the NBC show, The Biggest Loser. The show has inspired millions of people to lose weight and get healthy. It has inspired families, children and adults to have conversations about health, wellness, exercise and creating a different lifestyle.

As I watched the finale on Tuesday and saw Rachel win, a lot of thoughts crossed my mind. If you get I twitter or read anything online, you will see a number of different debates going on about this very topic. 

People were stunned as she walked out..

                                           Bob and Jillian's face says it all.

The debate has begun as to whether or not Rachel is to thin and has an eating disorder? First, that's not a debate I want to get into. The discussion I want to have and remind people is about their kind words or lack thereof.

 For Rachel, this was a competition, she was willing to go to extremes to lose the weight in order to win the money and be titled The Biggest Loser.. The show is a game because although its about getting their lives back, it has to be a game to keep them losing weight, staying motivated and staying focused. 

Does it look like she went a little to far to win? Yes. I'm not denying that. Am I concerned about her weight? Yes. I'm not arguing with the concerns that people are expressing. I am frustrated by the word choices people are using to describe her such as "gross", "anorexic", "disgusting", "sickly" or statements like "Biggest Loser should be Ashamed." 

She is a person who has overcome huge struggles and don't think for a second that people from Biggest Loser are not reaching out to her, because they are. She doesn't deserve these unkind words, the media is bullying her and I think we need to just be careful with how this situation is handled. We need to be kind with our words.

Final thoughts:
Be kind with your words. We are all humans. She is a person who has feelings and is more than just a number on a scale or a size. I love the concept of Biggest Loser, but remember it's a TV show, not real life folks. Many contestants go home and gain some weight back, which is normal and healthy for their bodies sizes. It's a contest. Be nice to one another. Use kind words. 

Q: What are your thoughts on Rachel Fredericksons weight loss? Do you think NBC should public address the concerns or leave it alone?

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Secrets of Happy Families

I had the opportunity to read and review a book called " The Secrets of Happy Families" by Bruce Feiler. Now, I don't have a family of my own, but as a school social worker, I was interested in this title because I work with so many families who start their days with arguments or end their yelling at their children to go to bed. I am always looking for practical ways to help build families and this book is an awesome tool. Here are a couple of things I loved about this book! 

1) First, I loved the morning lists, which reduced the morning frustration and commoation in the household. It eased the frustration, the kids knew what to expect and they handled themselves well, and they knew exactly what was expected of them. They did not have any surprised. The morning list was compromised of this chart with things they had to do each day for the mornings Monday- Sunday. Then at the end of the week, they discussed three questions going into the next week to find out what worked well and what they could do differently. This chart idea created communication between the adults and children. It decreased anxiety and increased responsibility. LOVED it, but anyone could come up with this idea.. I loved the idea of the three QUESTIONS.

2)I love that he talked about eating together as a family. How many of us don't eat together as a family anymore? I know we all have busy schedules and can't eat together as a family unit anymore? Bruce talks about even if you can't eat together every meal together as a family, maybe share dessert as a family  or pick one night a week where you can eat together. The point is to AIM for ONCE a week or to spend ONE night a week as a whole family together. He also shares how each night of the week that his family would discuss a different topic at the dinner table or play a different game around the dinner table.. I LOVE THAT IDEA! SO unique! For example: Monday was word of the day- Create your own that is unique for your family.. I love that you can take this idea and make it perfect for your family.

3) I also loved how in this book he talked about body language. We often don't realize how in our family life, body language shows more and speaks louder than our words. Children pick up on our body language. Bruce talks about this type of communication and how parents need to be in tune with their particular body language when they relate to one another. For example, he talks about being aware of certain times of the day where couples may be more prone to fight or that the length of fighting should never be too long. He gives some great insight on family fights. It's natural for families to fight, but couples and families have to be careful and aware of how to handle them. 

These are just three of the many of the reasons I really enjoyed this book. This book covers more topics including allowances, money, intimacy, happiness, love, grandparents, marriage enrichment, sports and family vacations. This book is very well rounded and includes lots of topics that families deal with. 

I received this book for review purposes and was not compensated for a positive review.  Hope you enjoyed it!

Monday, February 3, 2014

The heart of it

I'm blogging from the hospital today, not for me, but for my father- in-law. He has been having some heart valve issues. One of his valves has not been closing properly.

The snake has a story, which I will get on the blog tomorrow. For now, I'm sitting here in the hospital and awaiting to hear from the surgeon. He's suppose to have open heart surgery.