Positive conversations with old and new friends. I'd love for you to join me on my back porch.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Farewell 2012

I had some great things happen in 2012. Some expected and some unexpected.

Here are some of the highlights:

We started the year watching the University of Kentucky Wildcats play basketball and win the NCAA championship with our good friends Karen and David.

In the spring, Asbury University's Men's Tennis Team went to their National Championship.

The men in our family gave us a run for our money this year. Tim had hip replacement surgery in January.

My father beat prostate cancer, and my brother beat thyroid cancer in 2012. God blesses all these wonderful men with great and caring doctors.

My mom and dad.

My brother's family.
Jessica, Eric, Chris, Carol, Kelli and Rob.

In the spring, Amanda announced she was expecting. In December Allie came into the world three weeks early at a whooping 7 lbs and 11 oz. Big sister Brooke was excited!

Thanks goodness we celebrated Brooke's third birthday early. Her parents are so smart.

It's been a year of celebrating life, family and friends.

I hope you had a great 2012, and I hope 2013 will treat you even better.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Girl in the Glass

I just finished reading The Girl in the Glass by Susan Meissner and was completely delighted.

I was pulled into this story from the first page.

Meg Pomeroy has dreamed of visiting Florence, Italy since she was a child and listened to her grandmother's stories. Her grandmother had a picture from Florence that captured Meg's imagination. At her grandmother's death, it becomes her father's responsibility to take her. He promises for years that they will go together, and even as an adult she believes her dad.

At last he buys her airline ticket and promises to meet her there. So off she goes. Once in Florence she discovers her father stood her up.

The week that unfolds for Meg will delight you.

Susan Meissner weaves together the present and the past beautifully. Not only does she help Meg connect the dots to her own past, but she meets a woman there who teaches her about the history of Florence in a personal way.

This could be the most beautiful book I've ever read.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Christmas Villages

I've always admired Dept 56 Christmas villages but never thought they were in my budget. So I've enjoyed other people's collections.

Last year a friend gave us a Dept 56 lighthouse. That's all it took.

I started small and ordered Mr. and Mrs. Clause drinking hot chocolate. That was it.

This year I decided the New England Village was going to be our village.

Here's where I got into trouble.......I went to eBay. I'd start bidding low. I had a price in mind that I'd never go over even when adding the shipping cost.

When somebody else outbids you they ask you to put in a new bid. Right away they can tell you if you're leading or not. If you're not the leader they suggest you HURRY and bid again before it gets away.

I've always known my kids were competitive, but now I know where they get it. If you're not careful you bid until you get the lead. It's kinda hypnotic.

One time I had to let the item go. Sigh. So I began a new search and found the same piece for less money with another seller. Lesson learned. Always check and see if another seller has the same item before getting carried away.

It's been fun adding a few more pieces. One problem though buying pieces this way is I don't really have a good theme going.

Some people are bigger than others, and I'm still trying to figure out why.

Hopefully by next year, I'll have learned how to bid and add onto my collection in a more systematic manner.

I'd love to hear any suggestions you might have.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Flu season

I hope you are all staying well. Flu season arrived early in Kentucky. I got my flu shot in October and so far so good. But I had an upper respiratory infection before Thanksgiving that went into bronchitis, and I still can't shake this cough.

When I first get the sniffles I start taking vitamin C and crave chicken noodle soup.

I want to share a chicken noodle soup recipe with you.

Start with 3 quarts of chicken broth. (Store bought is fine if you don't want to start from scratch.)

If you boiled your chicken cut it up to add to broth later, or you can add cooked chicken from the store and cut it up.

Next take:
2 cups sliced carrots
2 cups sliced celery
2 1/2 cups uncooked egg noodles
1 cup sliced mushrooms (I love them but my guys won't touch them.)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves

Add carrots and celery to chicken broth and bring to a boil.
Next add egg noodles and cook according to directions on package.
When they are ready you can add mushrooms, rosemary and chicken.
Cook a few more minutes and enjoy.

Do you have a favorite food you enjoy when you feel a cold coming on?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Do not worry

I know many of us are worried about money. Some of can barely get through a normal month, and now Christmas is coming.

Society tells us we need to give all these great gifts to others.

Stores run great sales with huge percentages off regularly priced merchandise.

Still it costs something. So once again our eyes are taken off Jesus in the effort to celebrate Christmas. How ironic is that?

I was reading Matthew chapter six this morning. In the margin I have written,

WORRY- Casting doubt on God to take care of us.


Here's part of chapter six from the New Revised Standard Version.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? 28 And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32 For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

34 “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

Don't forget what the season is really about. Jesus.

I hope if I keep my eyes on HIM, I'll worry less and enjoy these days before Christmas more.

I hope you do too!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Everyday hero

Today I sit by my window writing and look down at my backyard. My throat's sore, and my eyes sting from allergies. I tried working outside but didn't last long.

My sweet husband, Tim, is outside by himself raking pine needles to use as mulch on our garden.

A horde of young girls have pulled up on skateboards behind our house to enjoy the neighborhood sidewalk. They are giggling and having a good time. At one point they even had flutophones and were playing them. If you knew how much my husband detests flutophones, you'd know how funny it is.

He continued to work while the girls played and talked and never once complained.

Yesterday, we watched two-year old Brooke all day. Once I took the dog out, and Tim held Brook in his arms down on the patio. I could hear him talking to her about how many fingers she had on each hand. He drained the hot tub yesterday, and of course Brooke wanted to help. Tim always works fast, no matter what he does. But he slowed his pace to allow Brooke and me to help with the hot tub.

All kinds of people,do big heroic things. This weekend, Tim may not have done anything newsworthy, but he's my hero.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

God Bless America

It's almost over except for counting the votes.

When I walked into the building to vote, I saw a man lying on the floor and a woman lying on a couch.

One elderly lady passed out and fell backwards knocking three others over during her fall. At least three of these people went ahead and voted. It was being debated whether the other person would need to go to the hospital.

I saw on the news one lady voted while in labor on her way to the hospital.

People voted in shelters and tents in areas hit by hurricane Sandy.

One voter wrote in names of his father, college professor, and dorm director in positions unopposed. What an honor. This kid actually put some thought into those positions instead of checking the obvious vote.

My stomach is in knots as I watch the election returns.

Whatever happens, I hope and pray God will bless America.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Photo shoot with a heron

Herons are long legged birds I've seen at the coast from time to time.

This week I saw one down the beach and was so excited until a teenager scared it away. It flew across the water to the next island, and I was so disappointed.

A few minutes later he reappeared, and I whipped my camera out. He was such an accommodating fellow. See for yourself:

This first picture is with my zoom lens of the heron on Oak Island.

Now he's back at Holden Beach.

Okay, just two more to share. I guess you can tell the little things in life excite me!

I hope you have a great and safe day!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Surfing with Sally

We were heading to Holden Beach, North Carolina as Hurricane Sally was.

We arrived after midnight and learned she'd been downgraded to a tropical storm here. So we fell into bed relieved to think we might get to stay and not be evacuated.

I awoke to the sound of voices outside our condo window and peeked out.

I've never seen so many surfers in one place in all my life.
Everybody in Brunswick County, NC with a surfboard must have headed to the beach.

Three things are working together this morning to make a good surfing experience:

First, and most importantly, SALLY.
Second it's high tide.
And last it's practically a full moon.

While watching all the excitement on the beach this morning we discovered some things.

There seems to be a father/son bond with this sport.

We'd see teenagers standing on the beach stretching out and soon an older man would join them, and they'd head to the water.

Sometimes we'd see a man standing on the beach with his surfboard strapped to his ankle studying the guys in the water. He'd move down the beach and head back up. I felt sure his kids must be out there.

We even saw a few moms standing on the beach with big umbrellas (yes it's raining), with their eyes glued to the water.

One last story...

One man walked out to the beach with his surfboard. His hair was longer and gray. He had a slight belly. In his free hand he took about four long drags on a cigarette. I had to laugh because it made me think of the old movies where they'd offer the bad guy a last cigarette before hanging him.

By the way, I'm not encouraging anybody to go out and surf in a tropical storm. In fact I'm relieved I don't have a son on this trip to argue with me about the issue.

Have a great and safe weekend!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Webster's Dictionary defines anticipation as, "the act of looking forward; especially : pleasurable expectation."

Last week I couldn't wait for the University of Georgia to arrive in Lexington, KY to play football.

I flew our UK and UGA flags all week in anticipation. The big day finally arrived and, the Dawgs won, but it wasn't pretty. Still, it was a win.

Now I'm looking forward to vacation at Holden Beach, NC.

I've already packed books I want to read, snacks and my camera. Next up, clothes.

I heard a hurricane may hit the east coast on Halloween. But I'm so looking forward to this trip that even a hurricane is not diminishing my anticipation.

I love Holden Beach, rain or shine. I'm looking forward to walks and bike rides I'll take with my husband.

For the first time, we'll be there for the Sea Turtle Festival and plan to check that out. We'll visit our favorite restaurants, because I don't plan to cook on vacation.

There are lots of events I look forward to, but none are more important than the day I'll meet Jesus face to face.

I hope you have a great week!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Sherri Wilson

Today I'm so excited to welcome Sherri Johnson to my back porch.

Welcome, Sherri.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I am Sherri Wilson Johnson. I live in Georgia with my husband, our son and our two dogs. We’re half-empty-nesters since our daughter moved out in May. Of course, she comes home for a visit and one of Mom’s southern-cooked dinners at least once a week. I homeschooled my children for fourteen years and learned a lot about myself during that time. I learned you’re never too old to learn something new. I’m an extrovert most of the time but I am a wee bit of an introvert. That’s the writer side of me. I love to make people laugh and I talk a LOT. When I do speaking engagements, I definitely have to have a time limit. Writing is my favorite pastime and, fortunately, I have been able to see my dream of publication come true. My writing partner is my Chihuahua, Posey. She’s always by my side.

Tell us three things about yourself that would surprise your readers.

I am terrified of horses, which is kind of funny since my new book is about a cowboy and a ranch.
I have a bad habit of singing Christmas songs all year long.
I secretly dream of going on the show Wipeout, although my family has begged me to spare them the humiliation.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

I have a twelve year old Labrador who at times loves to bark like crazy. A few years ago I bought a bark collar for her to stop her from barking. It wasn’t working so I decided to see if something was wrong with the collar. I placed the little booger on my own throat and barked. To my horror, the collar worked quite well and shocked me ferociously.

Share something about your day-to-day life that might help readers feel as though they know you a little better.

In addition to being a writer, I also work part-time from home as a bookkeeper. Most mornings I start the day with Bible study and then do my bookkeeping work. After that if I’m not running errands or meeting with someone, I write. I would write all day and night if I could. I’m actively involved in church and love learning as much as I can about the Lord to help me through this crazy life.

How many books do you have published and where can they be found?

I currently have two published books. My debut novel, To Dance Once More (OakTara), was released in September 2011. Song of the Meadowlark (OakTara) released in September 2012. You can find links at my website, www.sherriwilsonjohnson.com .

How does your faith play into your work?

I’ve always said I would never write anything that shamed my dad. He was a Southern Baptist preacher. What it really boils down to is that I would never write anything that would shame my Lord and make a mockery of my faith. But other than that aspect of it, I can say that the struggles my family has gone through have tested and strengthened my faith and that overflows into my writing. When you have something so marvelous at your very core, it can’t help but spill out in your writing. It’s actually easier for me to write about my faith and demonstrate my faith through my writing than it is to show it sometimes.

As a speaker, what’s your favorite topic?

I love to encourage people along their journey—to spread the joy and fulfillment of living according to the Lord’s will for your life. Whether it is about homeschooling, writing and publication, or women’s issues, I always sprinkle in the wonderful news of God’s grace and forgiveness and try to encourage people to live according to their giftedness.

What is your favorite thing to write about?

I love to write about romance. That’s no surprise. In real life, I’m always trying to match-make. But you can’t build a story around just the romance. I love to write about change—some sort of forward movement for my characters. Life never stays the same and neither do people. Most of my characters need some sort of tweaking (like all of us) and so whether it is forgiveness, mercy, grace, acceptance, turning from a sinful path, I love to write about change.

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about conveying the message of purity and sexual integrity to the world. I have worked with teens and women as a volunteer small group leader at church and I’ve seen the struggle people go through when faced with the temptations of this world. That’s one reason I write clean romances.

Where can fans find you or your books on the internet?
Twitter: swj_thewriter

Thanks so much for stopping by today! I enjoyed our visit.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Heroes, Saints and Legends

This year Wesley Village will honor three people in it's annual Heroes, Saints and Legends Awards Banquet.

Willard Kinzer and his wife, Lucy, helped establish Prestonsburg's Mountain Arts Center, the Wesley Christian School in Allen and many other endeavors to encourage and develop young people in the mountains. A four-time national champion in motorcycle hill climbing, Willard took up drag racing at age 79 and recently set a new speed record of 239 mph in his prized twin-turbo '89 Mustang.

Stella Marshall Honored as a 2009 "Outstanding Leader of the Pasture" by the Kentucky Annual Conference African American Ministries is a beautiful example of service to others. She is an active member of her church and continues to sing in their choir.

Jim Stratton is the third honoree this year. Jim has been a friend of mine for years. He and his wife Colleen have pastored churches in Kentucky for years. He's been a good friend to Wesley Village and a great encourager to all he meets.

This Tuesday night will be a great time to celebrate these wonderful people.

Look around this week and see who the Heroes, Saints and Legends you come in contact with each day.

Sunday, September 30, 2012


This weekend Asbury University Eagles participated in the ITA Regional Tournament in Georgetown, Kentucky.

The weather challenged the tournament. Matches were scheduled for 8AM and play finished at midnight on Thursday and Friday nights. By Saturday morning the players and most of the coaches were dragging.

One coach stood out to me as a great encourager. He was tall and loud on a foggy morning where most of the players looked like they'd rather be sleeping.

He clapped for his kids. He encouraged them. He had kids on more than one court, and he even called out encouraging words to the girls three courts away.

If his kids lost a point but played hard he still encouraged them. Up or down, he was there with something good to say to get them pumped.

I'd like to be as encouraging to others, as I saw this man.

I hope you have a great week.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


Unstoppable will release October 2.

Unstoppable can be found on Amazon and your favorite retail bookstore.

You can watch a book trailer on you tube. This is Nick Vujicic's story about faith in action. He's the director of a non-profit agency, Life Without Limbs and tours the world as a motivational speaker.

Please check this out, you won't want to miss it.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Tailgating fun

Yesterday we went to the UK vs WKU game.

My dad got a parking pass, so we loaded one car with food and games. The rest of us parked and walked over to the green lot.

At any Lutz family function we start with food. So we ate.

We celebrated my niece's birthday.

We talked.

And we played corn hole.

Some of us had more fun at the tailgating party than we did at the game.

Thank goodness for the pre-game party.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

New fruit--Pollia Condensata

I discovered a new fruit today on Pinterest.

It's the Pollia Condensata plant. It grows in the African rainforest, and scientists claim it's the most colorful plant ever seen.

It's skin changes color depending on the angle from which you look at it. I learned that animals don't eat this fruit. It's used mostly by animals for mimicry, mate choice and for signaling.

I find that sad. Fruit is meant to be eaten not just looked at.

This makes me wonder if I'm doing what God created me for. Am I loving and worshiping God like he hoped I would?

Am I a reflection of his love to others?

Something to think about.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Whole foods

Last week a good friend told me she'd met with a nutritionist. I asked her what the main thing was she'd learned.

"Whole Foods," she said.

Okay. I can do that.

It's easier with breakfast and lunch. For instance today I ate an apple, almonds and carrots for lunch.

So for supper I decided to try something new. Stuffed peppers. They always look pretty in magazines. So I went online and found a recipe.

I stuffed my pepper with whole grain rice, yes I cooked it first, tomatoes, spinach and sprinkled cheddar cheese on it at the end.

It looked pretty and smelled nice. But that's where the beauty ended. I don't know where I went wrong, but next time I'll make a salad.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Goodbye Andy Roddick

This week the tennis world said goodbye to Andy Roddick. His professional career began and ended at the US Open.

I've watched both of my sons play tennis competitively since 1996, and I'm still watching them play.

In December 2003, we all went to see Andy play at Rupp Arena in Lexington when he was here to help raise money for UK's tennis team. I've cheered for him the last ten years and will miss him.

So last night was Andy's last professional match. He played against Del Potro, who was a real gentleman. By the last set, I was crying. And when Andy made his final speech, I had a box of tissues in my lap.

I've got about three more years to watch Scott play tennis, and then I hope I hold it together better than I did last night.

Sunday, September 2, 2012


Hurricane Isaac has caused death and destruction for many.

The damage has been extensive and many have been forced to evacuate.

One family in Louisiana left for the hurricane and returned home when they thought it was safe. Soon a tornado hit their house. They survived, but they'll have to rebuild.

But for those of us in Wilmore, Kentucky, we're hoping for some blessed relief from the dry summer.

Many times in life I look at a situation by how it affects me. One lesson I'll take from Ike is there's more than one way to view a situation.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


From my back deck you can see the park, and a sidewalk follows our property line. Every day somebody is walking or riding their bikes on this sidewalk.

Yesterday I glanced up and saw a neighbor stop and look at my pink Cosmos. I love to grow Cosmos, but I usually have pink, purple and white. This year I only have soft pink. I started them from seeds in the spring and was surprised to see their light color. I was touched to see somebody stop and appreciate their beauty.

Later that night I ran into this same neighbor as we walked our dog. She stopped and asked me about my garden.

Such a simple thing connected us. It makes me wonder how many simple ways we can reach out and connect with others.

Matthew 28:19
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit...

Jesus told us to go out and make disciples. Maybe it's as easy as sharing an appreciation of a flower.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Law, Books, and Life: Mackinac Island: Now & Then + Giveaway

The Law, Books, and Life: Mackinac Island: Now & Then + Giveaway:

Mackinac Island. It’s a magical place that allows you to step back in time from the moment you first step off the ferry. Authors Cara Putman and Melanie Dobson have teamed up for a tour of the island, now and then. Comment at each stop for a chance to win a copy of one of their books set on Mackinac Island. You’ll find the list of stops here. Share the tour on twitter, Facebook, pinterest and other places, and you’ll gain extra entries for the grand prize of a copy of each of their books and a 5 slice box of Murdick’s Fudge, straight from Mackinac Island. Just be sure to email Cara at cara@caraputman.com, so she can record your entries.

Melanie Dobson: Love Finds You on Mackinac Island

Growing up in Ohio, I always wanted to visit Mackinac Island where there are no cars, where I could freely walk and bike and explore. Researching and then writing Love Finds You in Mackinac Island, Michigan was truly a dream come true for me. From the moment I stepped off the ferry and heard the clip-clopping of horses’ hooves along the island’s historic Main Street, I was transported back a good hundred years. Pronounced “Mackinaw” like Mackinaw City (but spelled differently so the post office could differentiate between the island and town), Mackinac Island is a place that time seemed to forget. The diverse history on this island goes back hundreds of years, when Native Americans considered the island the home of their Great Spirit and local tribes gathered there each summer to fish. In the 1700s, lucrative French and American fur companies made their homes and millions of dollars on Mackinac until the British took over during the War of 1812 and held the island for three years before returning it to the United States. Then, in 1819, the first steamship of tourists arrived. The tourists have never stopped coming.

Cara Putman: A Wedding Transpires on Mackinac Island
I didn't grow up aware of Mackinac Island. I wasn't even sure what I was getting into the first time we drove the ten hours from Lafayette, Indiana to the tip of Michigan's mitten. I knew is it took a long time to reach this tiny dot on the map. It didn't take me long to learn the island had worked hard to preserve a feel of days long ago. It took even less time to fall in love with this retreat. We've stayed at the Grand, in B&Bs and in Mackinaw City. Each time, I couldn't wait to reach the island and explore its roads, shops, and Fort. It was only natural that it became the perfect place to set a contemporary romance.

A Wedding Transpires on Mackinac Island: Join attorney Alanna Stone as she returns home despite her determination to never set foot on Mackinac Island again. Once again in close proximity to Jonathan Covington, her first love, she vows to protect her privacy and her heart from the man who still makes her pulse race. But when her worst fears are realized and history repeats itself—landing her in the midst of a murder investigation—Jonathan may be her only hope. Will they be able to lay aside the past and let God heal their hearts, or will reconciliation come too late? Read the first chapter here.

Love Finds You on Mackinac Island: It’s the height of the Gilded Age, but Elena Bissette’s family has lost most of its fortune. The Bissettes still own a home on fashionable Mackinac Island, and they spend summers there in hopes of introducing Elena to a wealthy suitor. Quickly tiring of the extravagant balls at the Grand Hotel, she spends her days walking along the island’s rugged coastline. There she meets Chase, a young fisherman who invites her to watch the ships from an abandoned lighthouse. The two begin to meet there in secret, hoping to solve a decades-old mystery. Meanwhile, Elena’s mother contrives introductions between Elena and the island’s most eligible bachelor, an elusive millionaire named Chester Darrington. When Elena’s two worlds unexpectedly collide, she will be in for the surprise of her life.

Follow the link above to enter the contest.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

It's between you and God

Recently I found this on Facebook and thought I'd share it with you:

People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.” ― Kent M. Keith

Who is Kent M. Keith?

Kent M. Keith wrote this when he was 19 and a sophomore at Harvard College. They became know as the Paradoxical Commandments. He wrote them as part of a book for student leaders entitled The Silent Revolution: Dynamic Leadership in the Student Council which was published in 1968.

Mother Teresa put the Paradoxical Commandments up on the wall of her children's home in Calcutta.

If it was important to Mother Teresa, I thought it was worth considering.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

And he's out of here

Our summer began when Asbury University Men' Tennis team finished playing in their national conference in Mobile, Alabama.

Scott went with us to the beach for a few days before we began to adjust to our new summer routine.

One thing I learned this summer, Scott never worries what the house looks like when friends come over. All three of us worked this summer, and we'd be in and out of the house at different times. When Scott wasn't working he usually invited a friend over, or he'd go off with them somewhere.

Before Tim and I invite friends over, we want the house to be clean and orderly. I wonder how many fun times we've missed because we were too tired to clean thoroughly.

So one thing I hope will stick with me from this summer is that my house doesn't have to be perfect before I have friends over.

I will try to relax and invite friends more often.


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