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

Monday, February 29, 2016

Flag of the Week

I'm heading back to New York City for this week's Flag of the Week.

We spotted this fire department walking around the city one evening.

New York City is so diverse, and I loved the people there. Here are a few more pictures from a walk in Greenwich Village, or as the locals call it, the Village.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you all have a blessed week!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

River Deep, Mountain High: American Inspiration by Alicia Rasley

Today I'm excited to introduce you to a new friend of mine, Alicia Rasley.

Thanks, Jackie, for inviting me to guest blog! I have a book just out, Tryst at the Brighton Inn, which is set in Regency England. I hope I do justice to the time and place where I set my story! It's harder for me to imagine such an exotic setting, you see, because I'm a Hoosier.

Yep. A Hoosier. That means I live in Indiana, a place a long way from elegant, exciting Regency England. But in its own way, my Midwestern home is just as intriguing, a place of certainties and contradictions.

I really didn't mean to end up here. My parents, in fact, were both born here in Indiana, and when they met at Purdue University, they agreed on two things: They wanted many children, and they wanted to get the heck out of the Midwest. So they raised their many children (eight of us) in the Blue Ridges of Virginia. I grew up surrounded by siblings… and mountains.

You can probably figure out what drew me back to the flatlands my parents fled. Of course, it had to be a man. He was, as we say in Indiana, "Hoosier-born and Hoosier-bred, and when he dies, he'll be Hoosier dead." So I ended up back where I'd started. (I didn't brag about it, but I too was Hoosier-born, when my parents were students at Purdue.)

He was (and remains) a dazzling man, which is fortunate, because I found our new Midwestern home less than exciting. I was used to waking up every day to the sun rising over the mountains, but here the sun rises earlier because there's nothing but horizon out there. Where I would expect to see forests were cornfields. And instead of the roaring waterfalls, I saw only lazy rivers.

But I stayed. (What can I say? Love reigns.) And three decades later, I haven't just made my peace with the Midwest. I've discovered the specialness of this ignored region. This nation of ours—there is no region without beauty and mystery, not even the flat "flyover country" everyone ignores. The Midwest has its own beauty, not the big dramatic panorama of hills and valleys, but a vista that goes on for many miles with subtle variations in land and water. It is more than the breadbasket of the nation, the place of stockyards and soybean fields. It's the place of rivers and riverbends.

What I thought I would lament the most, the flat terrain, turns out to be the creator of the most significant aspect of this place. When the land is mostly level, the water (and there's a lot of water—the Lakes, remember!) finds the cracks and fissures and starts winding down in its leisurely but relentless way through the woods and meadows. The Midwest draws its uniqueness from its many rivers, which carve their winding paths through field and dale, from the Great Lakes to the Great Rivers of Ohio, Mississippi, and Missouri.

A river is an enigma, never the same from day to day. When the summer is hot and dry, the water level is low, and old logs and rocks and sandbanks appear—only to vanish with the next rainstorm. You can never predict where a river will bend and how it will move. There's something enchanting about hiking to a riverbank and looking ahead and see the water curving into the trees and disappearing around the bend. The stream is often hidden by the droop of trees along the banks. Most of the forests in the Midwest were mowed down to make farmland, but along the rivers, the water-loving trees—the willows, the sycamores—grown tall and strong and flexible, spilling their reflections in the summer and their leaves in the fall. And in the pale winter light, they carve stark and grim angles over the water, "bare ruined choirs," as Shakespeare put it, "where once the sweet birds sang."

Now we live on one of Indiana's main rivers, the White, and every day as I write, I look out at that ever-changing ribbon of silver. It moves slowly but inexorably, reflecting the sunlight that filters through the trees. No, it's not the White Cliffs of Dover or my childhood mountains, but there's plenty of inspiration in the winding way of water in the flatlands.

What about you?? Where do you live, and what's its secret beauty? What landscape inspires you?

Alicia Rasley is an award-winning and bestselling writer of Regency romances and mysteries. Her "Regency CSI" series, with a 19th Century doctor/sleuth, starts off with Tryst at the Brighton Inn, a Kindle Scout selection. Dr. Holt has to solve mysteries with the forensics knowledge that existed before DNA tests and germ theory—with the aid, of course, of the exotic and intuitive baroness Natasha, the woman he shouldn't love but does. Visit Alicia's website!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Flag of the Week

When I saw this flag on the grill of a firetruck, I was so intrigued I took a picture to share with you.

What's the most interesting flag you've seen?

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Challenge for Lent

A friend of mine, Cathy Miller, challenged me to give up one article of clothing every day for Lent. I'm not very extravagant when it comes to shopping. I usually shop for a specific occasion or when I've worn something out. But I thought giving up something every day of Lent would not only help me grow closer to God, but it will help others in need of clothing.

I would not have come up with this idea on my own, so thanks to Cathy for challenging me.

In case you're not sure what Lent is, it start with Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter Sunday. During this time we remember Jesus' forty days of fasting and time in the desert. Easter is the day Jesus rose from the dead. Many Christians use this time to reflect and pray in preparation for Easter.

This year each time I step in my closet to select an article of clothing, I'll remember Jesus' sacrifice for us.

As I began collecting clothes, I wondered if there is other junk in my life weighing me down. Are there other things I could share with others besides clothing? (I'm sure my husband would say I could give away some of my books. I have quite a few piles everywhere.

Are you doing anything special for Lent?

Monday, February 15, 2016

Flag of the Week

This week's flags of the week come from sunny and warm Florida. I'm ready for some warm sunny weather, but this is as close as I'm going to get right now. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Love Is In the Air

Have you noticed love is in the air? Before long it'll be Valentine's Day, and I'm seeing the signs.

Here's a cute little chocolate covered ladybug. I don't know how much it cost the giver, but it is so cute. Only somebody in love, or serious like, would give this to his girlfriend.

Some people go for a more personal touch and bake up some love.

And then there's the love of a good dog. Tim was out of town for eight days, and Heinz missed him like crazy. The mornings are their time. Each morning I"d get up and take Heinz out, feed him, and take him out again. Still the little stinker lay at the door hoping to see his master.

Pitiful and sweet at the same time. Now that's true love.

(Just so you know, I missed Tim like crazy too, but I didn't lay down on the floor in front of the door.)

Monday, February 8, 2016

Flag of the Week

Remember our friend Matthew Bradford? This week's flag comes from Matthew speaking at a Winchester-Clark County Parks and Recreation event.

In case you missed meeting Matthew, he is a proud Marine and a Purple Heart Recipient who lives every day as if it was his last day. He's an American Hero.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

A Prayer for our Military by Debby Giusti

Last week when I was organizing my office, I came across A Prayer for our Military written by Debby Giusti. I contacted Debby and asked if I could share it.

She graciously said, "Yes, I'd love for you to use the prayer."

Debby writes romantic suspense stories with a military theme. I asked her why she focused on the military, and she said, "My dad was career Army, as was my husband. My son just retired from the military. He had four deployments into war zones so not only have I prayed for my son throughout his career, but also for all those in uniform. The guys and gals sacrifice so much for our country. I wanted to encourage prayer for their protection and safe return home and have been distributing the Prayer for Our Military to do just that. God bless all of them...and God bless the families who support them.

Because of being an Army brat, Army wife and Army mom, my editor asked if I'd like to write a military series. Of course, I said yes! The eighth book in my Military Investigations series, PLAIN DANGER, is in bookstores this month and is also available as an ebook on Amazon. The next story, PLAIN TRUTH, will be out in the fall. Each story stands alone so the books can be read in any order."

I've always enjoyed reading Debby's stories and can't wait to get my copy of Plain Truth.

Here's the prayer:

Lord, protect our military deployed around the world. Be their armor of righteousness as they stand firm against the enemy. Keep them physically, mentally and spiritually strong. Comfort them in times of hardship, and bring them safely home to the families who eagerly await their return. Amen.

Thanks to Debby for sharing and thanks to her family and all the men and women who have served and continue to serve our country.

Monday, February 1, 2016

American Heroes

My son, Scott, got me started reading books about American heroes. He suggested I read The Heart and the Fist: The Education of a Humanitarian, the Making of a Navy SEAL.
With this book, I was hooked. Eric Greitens' journey moved me. His life is a picture of servanthood and a challenge to the reader to become a better person.

“There were a number of definitions of courage, but now I was seeing it in its simplest form: you do what has to be done day after day, and you never quit.”
― Eric Greitens, The Heart and the Fist: The Education of a Humanitarian, the Making of a Navy SEAL

The next book I read was A Warrior's Faith. At points in this story about Ryan Job's life I was impressed, mad, and heartbroken.

I am currently reading, Seal of God by Chad Williams. He takes you into his journey of becoming a Navy SEAL. I'd heard of Hell Week, but there is so much more to their training I'd never dreamed about.

Reading books about our American heroes has given me a deeper appreciation for our service men and women and their families. My ears perk up when I hear stories on the news about our military personnel, and I pray more for them.

I'd like to challenge you to read at least one book this year about an American hero.


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