Monday, November 15, 2010


Yesterday I witnessed the sweetest example of giving. It happened at a birthday party for a 4 year old boy.

A little boy attended the party and he brought his gift wrapped in his coat. He set that coat on the counter of the church and said, "This has my present in it. I need to keep it right here so I can give it to him when he opens his presents."

The coat was then placed with the other gifts and when it was time for presents to be unwrapped that little guy went and got his coat. His little face beamed as he handed over the gift. He had brought it and wrapped it all by himself. When the coat was unwrapped the gift inside was a cracked and battered little truck. Both the giver of the gift and the child who received were thrilled.

As adults how many of us would be excited to have a dirty little coat to unwrap? How many of us would shout for excitement when we pulled out a very used toy?
We might pretend. But would we really be thankful? Would we pull back from that coat and wonder when it was last washed? Would we put the little truck on the table and move on to something else, something more worthwhile?

To that little boy, his coat held the most precious gift in the world. It was the best he had to give.

Friday, September 3, 2010


This has been a crazy summer. I hadn't realized it had been so long since I visited my own blog. How sad is that?
So, what happened to make the summer crazy. Not a lot, really. Writing deadlines, kids, kids, kids, vacation, the RWA NATIONAL CONFERENCE in Orlando, kids, kids, kids....

My husband and I celebrated our 24th anniversary this summer. Twenty-four years...and we actually still like each other!
Yes, people are amazed. Most particularly the people who wonder why he married me in the first place. Yes, I know who you are.

We've been asked how we do it. How has our marriage survived. I've thought about it and i think the secret is this: friendship. Okay, there is more to it than just friendship. Communication. Mutual Respect. Determination. Communication. Firm Grasp on Reality. Yes, seriously, reality. It's that place where you leave behind the fantasy you built around marriage and your partner and you accept REALITY.

But friendship is a great place to start building a healthy marriage. Friendship will get you through the tough times,( and there will be tough times).

We need to put the same energy into building a relationship with our spouse as we put into our friendships. The difference between our BFF and our spouse is the time spent together. Seriously, if our BFF moved into our house and left her dirty dishes on the coffee table, we'd get tired of her, too.

Your spouse is the best friend that moved in.

Remember when you were a kid and a friend spent the night. It was great. You played, rode bikes, stayed up all night. The next day you did't want the fun to end, so you asked your friend to spend another night. By the next day the two of you were fighting, tired, and never wanted to speak again.
Of course someone threatened to walk home or said the infamous words; I don't want to be your friend anymore. And of course you always made up. Why? Because you were friends and that's what friends do.

Marriage is a slumber party times infinity. There are going to be times when you just want the other person to go home. But then you remember: THEY LIVE WITH YOU.

Build a friendship with your spouse. Spend time together the way you spend time with your best friend. Learn to communicate. (that includes listening as well as talking). Drink coffee together. Go to lunch. Talk.

I think I can speak honestly and say, you aren't always going to feel in love. But if you have friendship, you'll have a foundation to stand on.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Haunted Crescent Hotel

This past weekend I had the great honor of being invited to Books in Bloom, a book signing event at the Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. What a wonderful time, and wonderful people! The weather didn't cooperate, but it really didn't matter. We sat on the veranda, under shelter, and with plenty of coffee to keep us going.

My husband and I really NEEDED this weekend to get away. We've planned it for months, booking a room at the Crescent, preparing the kids for our departure. And booking a room at the Crescent.

The Crescent Hotel. Yes, I'm easily spooked. It isn't really that I believe in ghosts. But I do have an wild imagination and I am afraid of my own shadow. I didn't read up on any of the Crescent Hotel ghost stories. Instead we went bravely, even laughing when our bellhop, John, made this comment, "Oh, room 218. Wow, they put you in the haunted room."

We laughed and happily checked into ROOM 218!! ewwwww, scary.

Saturday evening we snickered as we followed the ghost tours. Yes, they give tours. They stopped outside our door and discussed the construction worker that died, the crazy doctor who did research on patients, and on and on.

And then inspiration hit. We hurried into our room, laughing and plotting. I tossed a towel over my head, joking that I would run into the hall and scare the ghost hunters. When I opened the door, still joking, Doug pushed me into the hall and in the path of a couple of wayward ghost hunters. I yelled boo. They were less than amused.

That evening we had fun sitting on our veranda making ghostly noises.
And then we went to bed. After a full evening of MOCKING THE GHOST. Now, if I was a ghost and I'd been mocked all night by a couple singing the theme song from Ghost Busters, I'd be thinking of ways to get back at the non-believers.

At 3:30 am, I woke up. What was that noise? Oh, the TV. AND THEN, wait, the curtains are moving. Why are the curtains moving? Back and forth, back and forth. I kept watch, one eye cracked open. (because everyone knows that you can't be attacked if your head is covered up or your eyes closed)Back and forth, back and forth went the curtains. Shouldn't the ghost's arm get tired?

Oh, never mind, it was the air conditioner blowing the curtains.

I have to admit, I made my husband leave the bathroom light on.
Perhaps I'm just not a ghost magnet, but I can happily say that nothing appeared the night we stayed in room 218.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


My August Love Inspired. And I LOVE this cover! This is definitely my favorite so far. I kind of like the story, too. Andie Forester is twin to my March heroine, Alyson.(The Cowboy's Courtship)
Ryder Johnson, her hero, has been her best friend forever. You'll have to read the book to find out what happens! Oh, and make sure you read The Cowboy's Courtship so you don't miss anything.

Monday, April 5, 2010


Isn't it true that we often learn lessons from unexpected sources?

Every other Sunday evening we have church at the nursing home where my dad is a resident. The service has grown and as it grows we find ourselves growing.

This ministry is dear to our hearts and so are the residents who attend.

I won't use names, but I want to thank one of those residents( should he happen to read this). For the last couple of months he has joined us and ministered with his musical gifts. He's an amazing soul and God is really using him. He's blooming where God planted him!

We would like to believe that God always plants us in the best possible place. Wouldn't it be wonderful if that were the case? But we're not always going to be planted in the perfect spot, with perfect conditions. Take a look outside. There are flowers growing in soil that is so poor, you wonder how they can thrive. Dandelions are a great example. They grow in cracked sidewalks, they pop up in a gravel driveway, they sprout in soil that is mostly clay. I'm sure the dandelion would love to be a petunia, planted in a flowerbed, nurtured, watered, tended. Instead they sprout up and do their job. They're called weeds. They're sprayed with herbicide, pulled from flower gardens, tossed aside.

But they bloom where they're planted.

They're determined, sunny little flowers with a great purpose. They have more vitamin A than broccoli and when they turn to seed they attract birds to our back yard. They cover bare areas where grass can't grow.

Last night a sweet resident made a comment about being where God wants him to be and being content until God takes him home. He explained that God has given him this good home and he is thankful. This man has peace that truly surpasses all understanding. God put that peace in his heart and an acceptance of his circumstances that is hard to understand. Before our service he saw that I had a lot to carry and thought it might be heavy and that maybe he could help. During our service he got up to ask the young woman cleaning the dining area if he could help her. After the service he told me about his prayer life and how he always talks to God before he goes to bed. And he never has a hard time sleeping. He sweetly asked me if I could show him his room, because he couldn't remember where it was.

But he doesn't forget to be pray and be thankful.

Bloom where you're planted, even if it isn't where you want to be. Find God's purpose for putting you there AND BLOOM.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Alien Abduction Day

I was so bummed when I realized that I missed Alien Abduction Day. Yes, March 20th was not only the first day of spring, it was also Alien Abduction day.

I didn't get the tree put up or the lights hung! I didn't buy gifts.
But since it has already come and gone, I guess we'll just shoot for abduction next year.
After all, I wasn't really ready to travel.

I have a list of reasons why this wouldn't have been a good time for a trip (in case you're an alien and you're reading this).

First of all, I didn't have a thing to take with me. What kind of clothes does a girl need in space. Is the weather warm or cold? Flip flops or hiking boots? Both?

Second language barriers. I would at least like to brush up on my alienese.

I don't have a passport.

I like to vacation where there's a beach.

Last, but not least: I really do not like things stuck up my nose, in my ears or placed beneath my skin. You never know what kind of harmful effects you'll suffer later in life. I'd hate to see a class action lawsuit brought against aliens because they didn't know that their micro chips might someday cause burning skin, dry mouth, bladder control issues or insomnia.

All in all, it was a good day NOT to get abducted by aliens.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

How to Lose Weight

Disclaimer, this is not a standard, recognized weight loss program.

Never ever weigh yourself on a standard scale. If you do, make sure you turn the little dial so that it is negative a few pounds. Yes, start out with the scale below zero. There's nothing like positive reinforcement!

If you use the Wii to weigh yourself, make sure you count your clothing!

This is a conversation I had with my son, who caught me 'dieting.'

The wii asked, "how much do your clothes weigh."

I think that question is subjective so I clicked the four pound option with confidence. And yes, I know that shorts and a T-shirt don't weigh four pounds.

Dear Son says, "Your clothes don't weigh four pounds."

Me to son, "Yeah, but I just had two cups of coffee, yogurt and a glass of water."

Dear Son, "That doesn't count."

Me, "It does count. It makes me weigh more."

The great news, I've lost 8 pounds on the Brenda Diet Program!

Monday, March 8, 2010


A magic world where laundry is caught up, and never needs to be washed again. A place where children scrape their own plates and put them in the dishwasher, rather than at the opposite end of the counter from the sink. A world where girls actually wear the clothes they try on, rather than take them off and toss them in the hamper.
Utopia, a place where men toss clothes in the laundry basket, not on the floor next to it.

Utopia (sigh).

But now, back to reality. Dishes. Laundry. Whose stuff is this on the table?

Monday, February 1, 2010

What's Next

There are a few questions that I get asked about being published, my schedule and how I do it all. All meaning, writing, kids, house, church...

The truth is, I don't do it all. I prioritize by putting off what doesn't have to be done. Writing has to be done. Family, of course is a priority. Church is a priority. Housework is NOT a priority. That means dust bunnies run rampant; if we aren't wearing it-it doesn't get washed; if you run out of dishes-wash one.

As for what happens next in the writing world, here's how it works:
I recently finished a manuscript that will come out in November 2011. I also finished a proposal for my January 2011 cowboy romance. Last Thursday I got the approval on the proposal (three chapters and synopsis) which means time to start writing. Friday I got word that the November book was good to go and line edits will follow.

So for now I'll be working on the new cowboy story: The Cowboy's Family. The deadline for finishing is April.

Of course I'll fit some priorities into my schedule: drinking coffee, talking on the phone and shopping!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Mom 1, Kid 0

Me to husband: Can you go get garlic bread?

Husband to me: Right now?

Me: Pretty soon.

Middle Kid at computer in dining room: I want to go. I want to go.

Husband: Isn't it ju...

Me: Shhh, go with it.

Kid: Isn't it just what?

Me (yes, lying): Nothing, its just almost time to eat.

Kid: Wait for me. I want to go. I want to go.

Husband (finally seeing the fun in this): Okay, I'll wait for you but you have to hurry.

Kid: I'm turning off the computer. Hold on. Don't leave. I have to get my shoes.

Me to kid: On your way, take the trash out.

Kid: Okay.

Husband: Come on, let's go.

Kid 3 to Kid 2 as he goes out to the door: You're just going to the shed to get the garlic bread out of the freezer.

Kid 2, halfway to the car, brain catches up with ears: "WAIT A SECOND, I THOUGHT WE WERE GOING TO TOWN."

Dad: Nope, just going to the freezer to get the garlic bread. Thanks for taking out the trash.

Oh yeah, I rock.

Monday, January 4, 2010

HELLO 2010!

Another year.

We're 4 days into 2010 and I'm looking around to see how it is different from 2009.
Dirty dishes: check
Laundry backed up: check
Scattered toys: check
Kids fighting: CHECK

Nope, looks like 2009 to me.

I guess the point in a new year is to make it look less like last year by changing myself. (we all know that the dishes are still going to get dirty, clothes will still need to be washed)

But honestly, who decided that it was a good idea to make a New Year's Resolution? I need to google and find out who he was, because this little plan for improving is backfiring. This isn't making me a better person, its just killing my self-esteem and making me feel like a failure. Before the year even gets off to a good start I'm thinking about last year's resolution that I didn't keep and knowing that I'm probably not going to keep this one.

So really, if you think about it, a New Year's Resolution is really a negative thing!

I will no longer promise myself to eat healthier, lose weight, exercise more.
I'm not going to promise that my house will be organized and everything will get done.

I'm making the same resolution I made last year: to do my best and to make this year better than last.

And to anyone who doesn't know me, if you haven't figured out my warped personality, please take this with the humor intended. Have a wonderful 2010. Laugh more, enjoy your family and friends and be the best you that you can be. If you have a dream, make it a reality.