Thursday, January 21, 2010


The Amabile Youth Singers, sings Beth's part. You can find more about them at,


Wow, where do I begin. I was blown away when I read TAKEN BY STORM by Angela Morrison’s, so I had no doubt, SING ME TO SLEEP would be good. Yet I couldn’t have begun to foresee what an impact Beth’s story would have on me.

When I finish reading a book, I often run to the computer to write my review. Not so with SING ME TO SLEEP. There was no way I was emotionally ready after finishing the final pages. Heck, I wouldn’t have been able to see the screen, anyway.

I was pre-warned that I would need a box of tissues. Silently I said to myself, I don’t think so. As an avid reader, I’ve read my share of tearjerkers. One tissue, maybe…but a box? I don’t think so.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

As an aspiring writer, I was in awe of Ms. Morrison’s writing as I read one great line after another. There was nothing I would have changed and that’s saying a lot. It exceeded anything I could have conjured up. She has a uniquely amazing way with words. Each line was perfect in every way. I laughed. I cried. I was angry. I smiled. I felt every emotion Beth, Derek, and Scott experienced. I felt as though I were right there in the midst of their lives

On page 88, my jaw dropped. Some of the sweetest words you could image came from Derek and Scott. Ms. Morrison is more then a writer of fiction. She’s a poet and a song writer as well. I was so caught up in the story that I longed for a soundtrack of, SING ME TO SLEEP.

I was taken back to my school days, living them through Beth and Scott. Many faces came to mind of past schoolmates. Kids today need to hear this story, as do teachers and parents.

SING ME TO SLEEP is filled with trials, and tribulations, as well as friendship, love, hope and faith. It was moving, gripping and intense. It set me on an emotional rollercoaster from the very first line to the very last!

I have never experience a book such as SING ME TO SLEEP where I sensed what direction the author was taking the characters early on, then doubted my decision several times, then was blown away by the final chapters.

This morning after the kids left for school and my husband for work, I sat down in the living room to read the remaining seventy pages. God must have known I would need the solitude. I began to read and couldn’t put it down. There were moments where I was chocked up but I kept reading, absorbing every word.

I held back my emotions…until I got to page 291. That’s were I lost it! I have never HAD to step away from a book before. After several long minutes, I was finally able to pull myself together enough to read the final pages. This was not the first time I’ve cried or got caught up in a book but NEVER to this capacity. I was an emotional wreck through the last three chapters. They were truly the most powerful chapters I’ve ever read.

This book is a must read for preteen, teens, young adults, teachers, parents, and so many more. One can not help but get caught up in the lives of these characters, each one beautifully done. I savored and absorbed every word, often rereading many lines because they were that good.

I see “movie” written all over this book. If some producer doesn’t snatch it up, they’ll be missing a great opportunity.

Watch out, Nicholas Sparks.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


What I’ve learned about writing…It’s hard to get started but once I do, it’s hard to stop!

Friday, January 15, 2010



A Christmas Celebration at Cook County Jail

As the first group of men from division fourteen filed into the room, taking their seats, I could sense God’s presents. What a treat it was to recognize several of the men from only a few weeks prior when I severed then a Thanksgiving meal.

The hour began with encouraging words from Gaius. When Chicago Willow began to sing, oh, what a blessings that was. The men were off their feet and clapping their hands. A smile spread across my face as we sung the roof off the jailhouse.

Bev gave a message about salvation and how each and everyone of us have sinned, yet Jesus came to save us. Her message was powerful; reaching many of the men as they called out, Amen’s and nodding in agreement.

Song that grabs the soul

A song from Cheryl, I HAVE TO BELIEVE was so powerful; it reached down and touched your soul. As I glanced around, there were men standing with raised hands, others with tears in their eyes. Even the three officers standing in the back of the room, arms around one another, were swaying back and forth to the powerful words Cheryl sung with tears rolling down their cheeks.

Jim then spoke to the men on how we all have made promises we haven't kept. Have had people in our life let us down. Yet Jesus is always faithful. His word is His word! At that time Jim asked the men if they’d like to ask Jesus into their heart, to step forward. One by one, man after man, gathered at the front of the room. Tears were flowing from volunteers, inmates and offices. The presence of God was truly tangible.

Back to their floor

As each man left the room in single file, one by one. They shook our hands, thanking us with a grin upon their face. Once back on their floor, each man would receive a bag of homemade cookies that were baked by volunteers.

Receive the blessing of volunteering

Every Monday night several volunteers meet at Cook County Jail for a Bible study with Division 14. As the ministry continues to grow, so does the need for volunteers. If God has put upon your heart to find out more about what goes on behind locked gates, please contact Anne Rand at, http://arand@willowcreek.og.

Picture courtesy of SOCPM (Soldiers of Christ Prison Ministries) at,

Sunday, January 10, 2010


Wow, where do I begin? As in all of Travis Thrashers books that I’ve read, they are written in a way that leaves me in awe of his writing. One may say his books are like Pringles. Once you start, you can’t put them down.

I love the way Travis blends the past with the present. Letters with dialog and story. Love the short chapters, not to mention the way he ends then, leaving you no choice but to start the next. You know a writer is good when the reader can’t find a good spot to stop.

Somewhere in my mind, I knew this was a story about a father and his daughter but being a hopeless romantic, I was quickly swept into the story of Billy and Kayla. As with many of Travis’ novels, he has a way of sucker punching you, causing a jaw dropping reaction, and EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE was no exception.

I loved the character, Billy. What girl wouldn’t?

In the first couple of pages I was instantly hooked, and not just hooked but deeply moved. What parent wouldn’t be? Not many stories start out in such a way that you have to hold back the tears. In fact, I don’t recall any other book I’ve read doing so.

As I read one page after another, I “knew” what was going to happen. How could I not? It’s a romance right? My emotions were deeply intertwined with Billy throughout the story. I silently nudged Kayla in the right direction. All the way till the very end.

Finishing EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE in two short days, at one o’clock in the morning, I flipped through the last couple of pages, still rooting for Billy. I “knew” what was going to happen, yet the suspense was there.

As I turned the last page, my heart stopped. What…! A rush of emotions swirled through my head and my heart. I felt as though I had been suckered punched. I laid there in my bed trying to make sense of it all. I tossed and turned but couldn’t fall asleep.

I needed answers.

Then it came to me. This wasn’t a romance…well, it was a romance. But more then a romance, it was a lesson about life. About being a parent. I am truly amazed at Travis’ insight to being a parent with only having one young child. The lessons that Thomas learns, is one every parent will come to learn. Or at least should.

Not only was this an amazingly well written story but it was a realization of something that every parent needs to know, and or be reminded of.

What an amazing life lesson this story turned out to be.


Thursday, January 7, 2010


Several years ago I started a new Christmas tradition with my kids. The Christmas Pickle Ornament. To tell you the truth I don’t even remember how I came to hear of it. What I had learned was that you could purchase an ornament that looked like a pickle. On Christmas Eve, you’d hide the pickle on the tree, and come Christmas morning the kids would get up and search for it. The first one to find it would get a gift.

This was all I knew about the Pickle ornament. Nothing else. So I happened to come across the ornament and decided to implement the tradition in my own home. Not knowing who would find the pickle, I’d purchase a gift that would suit everyone. Usually a movie or one of those obnoxious holiday stuffed animals that sing and dance. The kids quickly caught on, having a blast with it.

A few years into someone did the unthinkable…they broke the pickle ornament. Yikes! I thought, what were the odds of ever finding another one. So I had a mission…to search high and low, whatever it took to find another pickle. And search I did, and found I had. I wasn’t about to let that happen again and purchased not one, but several.

Each year I purchase my kids a new ornament for the tree, usual pertaining to something they did that year, like played baseball, karate, started playing an instrument, or things they were really into like Hannah Montana. That sort of stuff. On each one I write their name and the year it was purchased. One day when they marry, they’ll be given to them for their own tree. That's where the extra pickles came in. Why not purchase each of them their very own pickle ornament as well.

My kids have such a blast each year taking out the ornament, remembering specifically each one and why they received it that year. They make sure they get to hang their own ornaments and no one else. They love it so much they insist on taking them down as well.

Each year the kids promptly remind me about the pickle ornament. They so love to search for it. It’s been fun over the years to see how it’s evolved. I have four kids, the age difference between the first two is almost eleven years, and then comes four years and lastly, less then two. For several years my older two would help the younger ones, allowing them to find the pickle. Now that their older, it’s every kid for themselves.

But with this family Christmas tradition, there was the ignorance of how The Christmas Pickle Ornament originated. So with the first pickle being broken, the purchase of the new ones provided us with the story behind it.


In Old World Germany, the last decoration placed on the Christmas Tree was always a pickle…carefully hidden deep in the boughs. Ledged has it that the observant child who found it on Christmas Day was blessed with a year of good fortune…and a special gift.

Sunday, January 3, 2010



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Wow, what an amazing movie and story. THIS is what life is about! The Bible says, it is harder for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, then a rich person to get into Heaven. THE BLIND SIDE is an inspiring story but even more so when you line it up next to this Bible verse. This family did it right!

What a great message to society. To do for others. To think beyond our self. To take a leap of faith. To do what’s right. To do what our heart and soul prompts us to do. To not let others stop us from doing what’s right. That in spite of our circumstances…believe, hope, preserver…have faith!

The Tuohy’s are an amazing family, taking a risk and following their hearts to take in some kid off the streets. But they aren’t the only hero’s in this story. The man who insisted that Michael get into the private school. The teacher who cared enough to stop and find out what Michael needed to succeed in school. These are some of the people that along the way, made a difference in Michael’s life. A great example of what affect a little act of kindness can result in.

Besides the message of what one can do to help change a life, this is a story about a boy who doesn’t let his grim circumstances lead to a destructive attitude and life. How refreshing to see someone who accepts the help from someone instead of rejecting it because of foolish pride or anger.

This is a must see for everyone, both young and old. This is what everyone should be doing, seeking to make a difference in others life. Listening to the calling of God’s will for ones life. To serve God, by being an example to other in living our lives as Jesus would.


This movie was not what I’d expected. I guess I was expecting it would be more focused on the relationship between the wife and brother. What I walked away with was the effects one being in the service and fighting for our country can have on someone’s life.

What I hadn’t expected was another message that was played out in this movie. One of redemption. How wonderful to see a character with seemingly no direction or purpose in life, gain exactly that. I loved how the one brother found acceptance and purpose and hope for his future as he was suddenly placed in a position he’d never imagined he’d be in.

This movie could have gone in several directions. I liked that in the end the brother gain so much, as did the husband/other brother start to find healing in confiding in his wife. In today’s society, it’s refreshing to see a movie where the wife sticks by her man. A brother who despite everything, does what's right. And a man whose love is so great for his family that he puts all aside, laying it out on the table in hopes to regain what he was on verge of losing…his family.

Friday, January 1, 2010


New Years resolution…monitor my writing to accomplish more!


Happy New Year, Everyone!