Girls Write Out
Friday, April 30, 2010


One of the things that I have never been particularly good at is planning my life so that everything doesn't happen all at once. Case in point? It's testing week for the kids, so they need a healthy, hearty breakfast their school papers say. Put them to bed early and greet them with a health breakfast. Gosh, doesn't that sound heavenly?

Except I have no kitchen right now. No sink, no way to cook, and my refrigerator is on the front porch. This is not iHop people. Your choices are, a bowl of cereal, a Pop Tart or a muffin from Starbucks. Take your pick. Yes, the Billerbecks will be responsible for bringing down Cupertino's magnificent test scores, because they had to have a new kitchen. If my neighbors come with burning pitchforks because the real estate prices have dropped, I'll let you know. Hey, my house is worth more. I have a new kitchen.

My book is due tomorrow, and I think I'm going to make it. But no thanks to my planning because the dust kicked up from the grinding of that horrible floor caused my MS to go into full gear, so I've been sleeping. A lot. Which isn't conducive to writing. Go figure. Then, I never account for real life. Two kids to the orthodontist, two to soccer twice a week, one at track daily, the tutor, two dr's appt -- can I not look at a calendar and say, oh not the best week for appointments. Hmm. Better reschedule.

No, because calendars and me do not mix. Dates are too much like math. But let's be honest, if I planned, I would never have had four kids to begin with! This is why I'm a firm believer in family pictures. They edit out the chasms of real life. So when all planning fails, my advice is to schedule a family photo.
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Thursday, April 29, 2010

When our kids left home, I assumed the job of mowing our lawn. We live on a corner lot, so our lawn is fairly good-size. A little less than an acre. I used an electric self-propelled push mower.

Not that I minded. It wasn't that hard to do. It just took me an hour and a half to do it. My husband would have done it, of course, but I was trying to help him because he was so busy and I wasn't.

Then we got a John Deere tractor mower.

Guess who mows now? Yep, hubby does. Why is that?

In all fairness, he did try to teach me to use the mower once. I see women on tractor mowers all the time. But I think I blew it with my first lesson.

I got on the mower and so help me, this powerful feeling came over me. I don't know if it was the roar of the engine of the fact I was elevated high in the seat, but I felt practically giddy. This mower had personality (think of the tipping tractors on the movie CARS).

So once hubby tells me how, I take off. I'm waving at the gathering neighbors. I'm screaming, "Whoohooo," and "Yeeehaw!" I'm racing around our house like I'm at the Indy 500, and hubby is running behind me, wildly waving his arms and screaming at the top of his lungs, 'Course, I have no idea what he's saying, but I'm rather enjoying the way his face contorts with every word. I know I should be ashamed, but it's like this evil mower woman came over me.

By now the neighbors have hauled chairs out to the curb and they're passing popcorn.

The only one not having fun is my husband. We make a couple more rounds through the shaved yard (which is looking pretty, well, interesting by this time) and finally when hubby's running slows to a mere trot and he's gasping for breath, I decide to hand over the keys.

He's been doing the mowing ever since.

To be honest, I need to add that he has offered to let me on again (he was delirious at the time), but now I'm afraid to. This time, the neighbors might sell tickets.

So, do you do the mowing at your house or does your hubby? If you have a tractor mower, does he share?

P.S. The picture is our son-in-law teaching Little Dude (our grandson) just how it's done. You mark my words, they'll work their way up to a tractor one day!

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Diann Hunt  
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Tuesday, April 27, 2010
See this green? There are deer and armadillo and wild pigs, bluebirds, eagles, hawks and an occasional mountain lion, along with the coyote, bobcats, turtles, snakes, ticks, chiggers (hey, we live in the Ozarks) spiders and mud. Pure heaven--okay it would be better without the chiggers, spiders, snakes and ticks, but I take what I can get on this trail.

I crave the wilderness, which is why I'm feeling some melancholy right now, as my mother has been forced to move from her country cabin into an apartment where there are built-in neighbors who seek her out to talk to her and force her into conversation--a necessity for her mental health right now. One minute, she's talking about selling the place, and the next minute, she's talking about when she can return. Mel and I went out and worked on her yard today--an acre and a half of grass and shrubs and trees, most of which Mom planted herself sixteen years ago. Now this place is a garden of beauty in the prairie.

Mom can't bear to think of parting with this place, and neither can I. My dream is to somehow crawl out of debt soon enough to be able to add on to her house in that veritable eden, and move in, so if she decides to move home, I'll be there to take care of her. She can stay in the studio apartment at the end of the garage where I once lived, and Mel and I could live in the house and keep watch over her.

I'm dreaming, I know, but the thought of selling that beautiful garden to someone who doesn't appreciate, who doesn't realize MY MOM planted all those trees and nurtured them all these years as she nurtured me all her life--well, it's a bite. This place is part of my mother. It's her legacy, and unless a tornado rips through that place and tears it apart in an act of God, I don't want to see it destroyed or disregarded.

Do you have a place like this? A family heirloom, family heritage, family farm, that you can't bear to part with, even if it isn't necessarily logical to keep it? Family history, especially the direct history of my mother as I prepare to lose her in the next months or years, has become something vital to me. I know we're on the subject of mothers lately, and this is yet another blog about them, how precious they are to us, how they shaped us, made us into the women (or men) we are today. Thank God for the faith of my mother or I may not know Christ.

Wow. Imagine what I would be today without my mother. What about you? What's your mother left you? Do you have her eyes? Her sense of humor? Her love for the land? Her love of God? Tell us.
Hannah Alexander  
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Okay, I realize it's ridiculous for me to be afraid I'm about to spoil the movie for you because it came out TWELVE years ago! LOL And I just watched it for the first time this weekend. I can't believe I've never seen this because I love end of the world type disaster movies. Anyway, we stumbled across the movie and I haven't been able to get it out of my head since. It's not that it was so fabulous that I can't stop thinking about it, but the THEME moved me.

As the movie progressed, it began to be clear to me that someone would not come back from that asteroid. And I just knew Harry wasn't going to be able to fulfill his promise to Gracie. I cried my eyes out when he punched that button as images of Gracie floated through his mind. And that's what has stayed with me. Jesus did that for me. I was on his mind. YOU were on his mind when he hung on the cross. And elements of his sacrifice permeate our lives as Christians as we give to others. The day we work in the nursery even though we're exhausted by the time we get out. The way we reach out to others and offer help and support when we can. That's not of us but of him.

I think that's why books and movies with a self-sacrifice theme resonate so well with us. What's your favorite book or movie that has a self-sacrifice in it? It doesn't even have to be of life but maybe a life lived of giving to others.

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Colleen Coble  
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Monday, April 26, 2010

I woke this morning to an ant on the kitchen island. Let me tell you, after our year-long battle with ants a couple years ago, the sight of this tiny creature traversing my countertop sent shivers of apprehension up my spine.

Because now I know. I know that the presence of this one little ant means there are a zillion others hiding behind my woodwork, deep in crevices I'll never see. It means I'll have a choice between killing dozens at a time with wads of paper towels or smelling the overwhelming odor of Raid. It means that one day soon, I'll open my pantry and see they've invaded our food supply, regardless of all my efforts. That's one way to motivate me to clean out the pantry, but not my preferred method.

So if any of you have a surefire method of ridding the house of little black ants . . . I'm all ears.
Denise Hunter  
posted at 8:29 AM  
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Friday, April 23, 2010

Ten years' ago, I told my husband that I could not handle four children -- he reluctantly gave up this dream, but then God intervened. Now I have four children, the youngest is nine. The problem is, I was right! I can't handle it! I want you to imagine my brain for a minute -- well, no twenty seconds, because that's really about my attention span. Now, take that attention span and stuff in a schedule that would choke up Martha Stewart and you have my issue. I never, ever get to feel like I "win".

Yesterday, I was so proud of myself. Our kitchen is currently torn apart, but I went to a coffee shop, wrote until it was time to get my daughter, came home, got her folder for tutoring and went back to the school. A day's accomplishment, I wrote amidst total chaos in the house by escaping it! Good plan.

So on about 4, I realize third son is missing. "OH my gosh, Seth had his first track meet today!" I rushed out the door, and literally, missed his run by about three minutes. GRRRR. Failure. Real failure? His face saying, "It's okay Mom, at least you remembered to pick me up." Doesn't that make you want to cry?

I'm trying not to be an all-or-nothing person and to see rewards in daily living, but it really is hard when you daily forget something: A doctor's appointment, a hair appointment, something the school asked you for. The list goes on and on, but everyday is filled to capacity. And it changes daily. The schools always seem to be on some weird schedule, and with three schools and four kids, it's a recipe for disaster. My one son started all week at 7:35. Only today, it's 10:45. The other kids have late start on Wednesday, but Elle is out 30 minutes early on Tuesdays -- add in orthodontists, dentists, soccer and now track and it's like, how many things can I forget today? It's like the School District is out to get me -- which I know, is paranoia. You're not supposed to have four kids and live in one of the hardest school districts in the country. I need one for simple parents.

So the only thing I can think to do to simplify is not write, but then I'd fail at sanity too. I need to hire some help I suppose, but I'm terrible at directing, so that would just be one more failure to add to my list. The best thing I've found is colored 4 x 6 cards and writing the days' activities on it -- but something gets in the way, or Elle has run off with all the cards and I'm at square one. So what's the best decision you've made in your life to simplify?

Incidentally, that is not my desk. Nor will it ever be.

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

I amazed at the influence my mother has over me--even now.

My mother is a strong woman. My mother is fearless. My mother could spit nails. In fact, I have no doubt she could have been a sergeant in the military. Think Sergeant Carter on the Gomer Pyle Show.

Though we didn't dare disobey her, Mom had her soft moments, too. When we were growing up, she was sort of like a soft boiled egg, hard on the outside, soft in the middle. :-)

Now Mom is 84 years old. She's had a stroke but is doing so much better--to which she gives God all the glory! I'm so proud of her!

Here's the funny thing. My sister and I were visiting Mom at the hospital, then while Mom went to therapy, sis and I went to Starbucks. We were there quite a while when my sister's phone rang. We thought it was Mom and both of us immediately strapped on our seatbelts. I started the car and eased out of the parking place. It wasn't Mom on the phone and we started laughing at how we both jumped to attention thinking it was her.

She may be 84, but she's still got what it takes to keep these 50 plus year olds hoppin'!

How about you, do you still need Mom when you're sick? Maybe your mom is gone but you still hear her voice in your mind when you do certain things? Is your mom's influence still strong upon your life?

Diann Hunt  
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Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Okay, having trouble with the picture I was going to use, and I'm getting behind today, so better go ahead and share the only thing I have to share with you today: Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.

It's the verse that has gotten me through a lot of difficult times, and I'm leaning on it again. When you pray, delight yourself in the Lord. Read His word and allow it to comfort you, because when you delight yourself in Him, He becomes the desire of your heart. When you immerse yourself in His word and remain open to Him, you're allowing Him to work in your life, in your heart, and someday, when you look back on the difficult and painful and almost unendurable times in your life, you'll see where He used all that pain to mold you into the person He wants you to be. If you're alive and reading this, He's not done with you yet. There could be more hardship coming, but there is more delight, as well. Never forget that our faith in Christ will give us endless delight in the end.

Delight yourself in the Lord.
Hannah Alexander  
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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I'm breaking out the chocolate and coffee, and even that won't soothe my anguish. Leonard Nimoy won't be in the next Star Trek movie.

If you're a long time member of the Girls, you already know I'm a big Trekkie fan. As I was grieving this news about Nimoy, I started to think about my own life. I think there is something about things that impacted us as teenagers that help shape us. I married a dark eyed, dark haired man with long slim bones like Nimoy. Except Dave is better looking! :-) But he's very laid back and logical. One of those guys you can totally depend on. All of the heroes in my books have Dave's characteristics too, by the way. He's my Spock. LOL Spock was my first bonafide crush on a movie star. I know you're all shaking your head and thinking I'm crazy to have been so taken with a pointy-eared, green blooded alien, but I've never claimed to be normal. :-)

How about you? Who was your first crush? Did it affect the type of spouse you chose?

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Colleen Coble  
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Monday, April 19, 2010

Have you booked a flight lately? Even if you haven't--as I did yesterday--you've no doubt heard all the baggage hoopla. Apparently, if you need a toothbrush when you travel, you must pay to check it.

Okay, not a toothbrush, really, but any checked bag. The flight I booked yesterday? $40.00 per bag. Not a big deal for the lone traveler, but for the whole family? $200.00. And yes, I used a calculator.

No big deal, I think. We'll carry our bags to the gate. But then I see that gate-checked bags have the same fee. No worries. We'll use carry-on bags. Only official carry-on size is 2 by 3 inches and we'd need 40 bags to clothe our family of 5 for a week. We're sunk. One airline has even begun charging for carry-ons. What's next? "You have contact lenses, lady? That'll be an extra $10.00. Each." Here's a message to airlines everywhere: JUST RAISE THE STINKING TICKET PRICES.

Not only are we being nickled and dimed in the baggage department, but we're also being charged to reserve seats in advance--between $10.00 and $14.00 per seat per leg of trip. That's a minimum of $50.00 for us, each leg. (Leg of flight that is, not our legs, which they won't charge for until next January.) So we'll have to take our chances with the seating. And hey, if you end up by my 11-year-old, I'm sorry about all the questions. Tried to get us together, but hey, what can I do? You should've paid for a premium seat.

So we may not sit together and we may be lugging around 10 carry-ons, but I'm still making room for a baggie of quarters. After all, we may need to use the restroom in flight.

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Denise Hunter  
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Friday, April 16, 2010

My Aha! Moment

Last year, after going on a vacation from the dark side (seen here in my parents' RV at Mt. Lassen), I wrote a bucket list. A list of things I wanted to do before I kicked the bucket. Let me just say that an RV trip containing four kids, a dog and a husband who sees little use for technology or Starbucks, this event refined my goal. When I look at these pictures, I think to myself, what the heck was I doing in a stinkin' RV?? I hate camping. I hate being confined in small spaces with lots of little people and nature just looks better from well-appointed balconies.

"As God is my witness!" (Picture me plucking a turnip from the ground and holding it to heaven.) "I will NEVER go camping again!"

But it's not enough to be negative, is it? You have to be positive about what you want from life. You have to be honest with yourself -- even if that means that your life's goal isn't to go on a world mission to Calcutta. Someone has to do it, I just don't want it to be me. If you're not there either, don't be judging me. At least I'm honest. There are not enough Mr. Clean sponges to get me to a place with bad plumbing. (I am a Plumber's daughter, and Italian -- we practically invented indoor plumbing!)

Africa, I could do. Russia, no. China, yes! Caribbean? Don't really care. Italy, a must! But life's goals are about more than vacations. (Though I think defining no camping is most helpful.)

Many years' ago, I had one day's notice to go on "The Today Show". it changed my life because I was a background girl. I hated to be in the forefront. Writing was safe because I am not a speaker. My brain works faster than my mouth. But that event was life-changing because when I finished, and trust me, I was not great, but when I finished I had conquered ALL my fears. I had left without money, a good outfit for television, traveled to NYC (a place I was afraid of) and flown across the country (also a fear). But then, top it all off with a national TV moment where I talk about my book. It was all my fears wrapped up into one fell swoop -- and I did it. It changed my life because conquering your fears is empowering. God can't use scaredy-cats. He didn't create us for a spirit of fear.

So "The Today" experience forced me to look at a world that was bigger. Life opened up to me when I wasn't afraid to travel, fail or blow it. If you had one year left, what would you do with it? And the question is, why aren't you doing it right now? Because God ordains our days. What fear do you need to conquer right now. And let me reiterate that camping is not a fear. It is a vile creation of the dark underworld, sent into my life to make me appreciate the bathtub all the more.
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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I have three small holes in my stomach. Please don't be harsh, we all have our secrets.

Just so you know, I didn't request them. They came with that whole hysterectomy package. They're not supposed to be there and we're waiting for them to close. I suppose I could stick a cute little ring in one of them before it closes over and sport a little belly button ring, but then you have to have a belly button to do that. I no longer have one.

My doctor calls me Eve.

While I'm spilling my guts (okay, that was really bad but I just couldn't help myself), I may as well tell you, the doctor said I needed to put peroxide in those little holes and pack them with gauze. And . . . . since I can't do that myself because of the awkward angle, she wanted my husband to do it.

Now, I love my husband, I really do. But well, you know how I've confessed to you that I have absolutely no grace and elegance, though I wish I did? Let me just say he was formed from the same cloth.

On our first date, he whacked me up side the head with an umbrella and knocked me in the leg with a case of pop. I wanted to say, "Look, if you don't want to go out with me again, just say so." But I kept silent and here we are thirty-five years later, looking at these little holes and wondering what we're going to do about them.

He either fills the holes or uses me as a lawn ornament.

The good news is hubby has done a wonderful job so far. He's so proud, I think I saw him filling out an application for the nursing school here in town. I'm thankful for all he's doing, but I doubt I'll recommend him. My head still aches from that umbrella.

So let's be honest here. If YOUR husband had to take care of an ouchie on you, how would you feel about it?

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Diann Hunt  
posted at 9:21 PM  
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No, I'm not going to write about our cats this time, although they are as darling as the little kitties in this photo. I want to write about my experience speaking to a bunch of Women On Mission at a church banquet. Cozy. Warm. Familiar. Like the kitties in this photo.

Since Mel works ER in the town where he graduated high school (valedictorian, the show-off) he just happened to treat the mother of one of his former high school teachers, who found out he was part of the Hannah Alexander writing team. She found some of our books and read them, then invited us to speak at their Women On Mission banquet tonight, held at the church Mel attended as a child.

Long story short--Mel ended up having his mother as a patient on his shift last night, and lost a lot of sleep, didn't make it to the banquet. They were stuck with me. But I had a great time hearing stories about Mel and his twin brother, their escapades and terrorization of Sunday school teachers, their prayers for June bugs (?) and Mel's ability to speed read shorthand. Lots of ladies approached me to tell me stories about Mel. So many remembered him. He made an impact.

In my speech, I asked the ladies to be thinking about their own mission in life, because God gives each of us a mission, be it encouragement, serving, writing, mentoring, music, teaching...the list is as varied as we are. And of course I told them about my own mission, and gave them each a free book at the end. Warm fuzzies again. My autograph hand is tired, and I'm glad. I hope I made them think more clearly about their calling from God.

I know I harp on this, but we do each have a mission. Today, when I was telling Mel what I was going to speak about, he asked, "What's your mission?" I told him that, of course, it was writing. And he just looked at me. I haven't been writing much lately, but this afternoon, while he slept, I wrote six pages, and tonight, when I spoke to the ladies about practicing the mission God gave them in their lives, I could honestly say I've been doing it today.

Are you practicing your mission? I plan to be more faithful to do what God has called me to do. I don't think that calling has changed, even though my circumstances have. I want to delve back into the main reason for being on this earth--to serve God with my writing.

Hannah Alexander  
posted at 12:31 AM  
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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Well, our trip is over tomorrow and it's back to Indiana. We came expecting something similar to Hawaii and were disappointed the first five or six days. We'd picked St. Croix because it was a U.S. territory so we thought it would retain much of the U.S. flavor. It's much more Caribbean than that but that's another blog post about living on the frontier. LOL We expected world class snorkeling and saw hardly any fish at first. The island IS beautiful. When we walked in the house, we just gasped at the view through the open wall. Fabulous! But the kids weren't raving about the diving after the first dive and I sure wasn't impressed with the snorkeling which is my very favorite thing to do on vacation. Well, other than playing with Punky.

After about six days things began to change. We quit expecting the island to be something it was not and began to enjoy it for what it is. About day three we were saying we'd stick to Hawaii from now on. As of yesterday we were making plans to come back and looking at houses. LOL The kids came up from their second dive raving about the diving. Yesterday we went to Buck Island and I've never experienced such fabulous snorkeling. I wish we'd done that sooner and I would have gone back. The only bad thing is you have to pay to get to the best snorkeling place in St. Croix since it's an island. We can see it off our beach but it's a little far for the kayak.

So now we love it! And it got me thinking about expectations. We expect even God to be a certain way and don't open our eyes to who He really is. We want to put Him into a box and He's so much bigger than that. So this vacation has taught me to put down expectations and try to see the truth in front of me. How about you? Have you had your first impressions about something totally tossed overboard? Or have you had a revelation about God you didn't expect because you weren't looking?

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Colleen Coble  
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Monday, April 12, 2010

Since many are returning from Spring Break trips (not me, mind you, but many), I'm posting my favorite vacation memory.

Our middle son, Chad, was 3 at the time, and we'd been talking up our vacation for weeks. We were planning to drive to Florida and spend some time at the beach.

So on the designated day, we hopped in the car (okay, three kids and tons of luggage. Maybe hopped isn't the right word). Three hours into our trip, we stop for a break at a rest stop, use the facilities, and grab a drink. The stop has a nice wooded area with a trail, so we stretch our legs (read: let the kids expend some energy), then jump back into the car.

Once we're all buckled in, I look over at Chad, who has this huge smile on his face. "I like vacation!" he says. "Can we do dat again someday?"

Now, it never occurred to Kevin or me in the preceding weeks that Chad might not know what a vacation was. And I guess it never occurred to Chad to ask, "Hey, what's this vacation thing you keep talking about?" But he knew by our planning that it was a fun, exciting thing we'd drive to, and in his little mind, he'd just experienced that.

If only we were all so easily amused. We had a good laugh then, and still laugh about it today, usually at the start of vacation. So, what's your favorite vacation memory?

The photo is Chad when we arrived at our actual vacation, walking on the beach for the first time.


Denise Hunter  
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Friday, April 09, 2010
Rearranging Life...

Have you ever noticed that sometimes your life needs an overhaul, and if you don't take care of it, God will do something to force the changes you're leery to make?

Case in point, my move. If you're not familiar with my sad tale of woe, and sheesh, I've complained about it enough, isn't everyone? But I lived in my favorite house ever for two years. This was not the house of "our dreams" that we built, but an old rancher in need of loving care in Saratoga, CA. The only friend who saw the potential in the house at the time was my friend from childhood, Beth.

I loved that house.

But houses are things, and God doesn't want us to fall in love with things, so though I fought an scrambled to make things work there -- and still in the back of my head -- believe we should have gone on faith to stay there, it was not to be. We moved four kids and a dog (and us) into a townhouse that I hated. I mean, I hated it when I had nothing more than debt and my husband owned it as a rental property. (We weren't married yet!)

But sometimes, God says tough. I got rid of my giant table, put in a high, small bar table that fits six. I moved my desk into the corner of the room, so it isn't the first thing you see and I had my husband put in those plastic Lego hardwood floors. It's not perfect, but I love having the community pool and a Cul-de-sac for my daughter to play in with her school friends. I love that my daughter is talking with an Indian accent so she can fit in. LOL I love that all the kids are within walking distance to the school and the mall because son can catch a flick with his friends on the way home from school and I don't have to get him there. I love that my tax base is 1/6th of what it was and that I can afford to shop.

There are a lot of reasons God forces us to change. I know, it's always to my benefit, but that doesn't mean I am not going to moan while walking through the desert, you know? Is there a way you're fighting God right now? Could you make it a lot easier on yourself to go with the current?

Di was tired yesterday so she didn't post, but she's doing well and she's half-way done with chemo. Keep praying!
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Tuesday, April 06, 2010
Okay, I was having a bad hair day in this photo. Hard to do your hair when you have only one arm. And of course, my friends would choose that moment to take a shot. And of course I'd be out of any other photos more interesting for this blog tonight because Mel's at work and I don't know how to download photos from my cell phone. So this photo is just me saying hi.

What I really want to talk about is the experience I had the other day on a hike. Yes, I know, it's all too familiar, me talking about hiking. But this one was different. I hadn't been hiking for awhile. Why? Because I was having a dark season of the heart, when I felt as if my prayers weren't getting through, and that even if they did, God wouldn't hear them. I wasn't exactly mad at God, but I just didn't think my prayers would be answered. So often it seems they're answered in ways I don't want them to be. I felt totally disconnected.

This year, for instance, my mother has been having tiny strokes in her brain, and I can't stop it. Meds can't stop it. Doctors can't do anything about it. I'm helpless to help her, and the grief process right now is weighing heavily on me. I feel as if I'm flying apart, just as this picture represents me, only there's no smile.

So after consulting with some long-time friends about my doubts and fears, I was encouraged, finally, to take a hike, to seek God there despite my feelings of abandonment. Hiking is something sacred to me, because I feel closest to God when I hike. He speaks to me through the sights, smells, sounds, feel and even tastes I find in the forest and valleys and fields.

God knows me well. He knew that, this time, I would be walking with my head down instead of up, looking around me. He knew how heavily I was loaded with grief. This hike? It took place on Maundy Thursday, and my prayer was, literally, "God, why have you forsaken me?" It became my litany as I walked with my head down.

Not long after I started, however, I took a turn from the main trail onto a grassy one, head still down, still dying inside. But then it happened. Because I was looking down, I saw the first little sprigs of tiny flowers that began to carpet the trail. As I looked ahead instead of down, the whole trail was filled with these flowers. God was showing me the beauty that still exists in this world. I dropped to my knees and inhaled the fragrance of those tiny blooms, and then looked up, gazed around me and saw the bright yellow jonquils nearby. I walked over and smelled them.

And then I saw the one thing that took my breath away. It was a thorn tree. Not a big tree, only a sapling, but the thorns were three inches long, stabbing into the blue sky.

That was when I remembered the crown of thorns that stabbed Jesus. And I remembered that Jesus also asked, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" And I knew that God was speaking to me. He was still there, and He heard. And I was no longer alone on the trail. He walked with me there. Even through the pain and awareness of impending death. God is there with us through it all, even when we don't sense His presence.

If you're feeling cut off from God, don't be afraid to seek Him. Ask Him to hold you and encourage and guide you. Don't be afraid that He'll ignore you, as I was. He isn't. He won't. He loves you with a deeper love than any parent could ever have for a child. He knows your heart, He knows your future, and He has you solidly in His arms. Never forget that.

Hannah Alexander  
posted at 10:00 PM  
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Before I tell you where I am, I have to share our fabulous news--Diann's CT-125 score is 19!!!!! Well in normal range! Praise God for answered prayer!

Now to where I am. I'm looking at this view right now if you can believe it! The whole family is here in St Croix, our first visit to the Caribbean. Well if you don't count a short cruise we took. We found out we are NOT cruise fans. We don't like being on someone else's schedule. Here at the house, we can do what we like, when we like. We have found out that cheeseburgers are about all we can afford though. LOL The food is way expensive, even buying it to cook here. We paid $10 for a gallon of milk the first day then found it for $5 at another store so that's better.

I'm now beginning to think we might survive too. When we came out of the airport in the rental cars with both Daves driving on the left side of the road, it was SCARY!!!! I still wince when we go turn a corner because it feels so WRONG. After 11 days of driving on the left side, I have a feeling I'll be just as freaked out when we go back to the right side of the road. LOL

One thing I'm finding out already is that I still love history. I'm fascinated by the history of this place, by the ruins of Danish windmills and sugar plantations, by the people and the culture. No wonder I'm enjoying writing the historical romantic mysteries so much! Nothing like it taking a while to find my spot. How about you? When you visit other places, do you find yourself interested in the history?

Here is the house we've rented. Fjell House.If you want to stay in paradise sometime, I highly recommend it! The owners, Herb and Liz Land, have been just wonderful. But I have to go now. I hear some jewelry shopping calling my name. . .But before I go, any tips for the caribbean? Any of you been here?

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Colleen Coble  
posted at 8:03 AM  
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Monday, April 05, 2010

They say we're becoming less patient in this digital age. I don't know who "they" are, but I happen to agree with them. I used to give a book several chapters before I gave up on it. Now, I admit, I don't even buy a book that doesn't hook me on the first page. And even then I flip to middle of the book to read a page because I know how hard authors work on that first page.

Some say readers give a book 30 seconds in the bookstore. I admit, as a writer, that makes me work pretty hard to get that first page, that first paragraph, that first line just right. And even after that, you have to keep the reader reading through a middle that is somewhat prone to sagging if one isn't very careful.

So, I'm curious. Has the Age of Instant affected your reading patience? How long do you give a book in the store to grab you before purchasing? And how long do read a boring book before giving up on it?
Denise Hunter  
posted at 10:38 AM  
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Friday, April 02, 2010

Happy Good Friday! It always seems weird saying that, as I remember sitting somberly in church for three hours on this day, listening to the priest talk in some foreign language (strong Irish accent) and wondering when we could leave. One time, an older woman passed out in the three hour service, and I remember as a kid thinking, lucky her, she gets to leave.

Yes, I was a warped child. Not much has changed. Except Easter is my favorite holiday. I love how no matter what the weather is like during the week, the sun always seems to shine here in California on Easter to remind us JESUS IS RISEN!!

Which brings me to a family argument, I'd like you to weigh in on. I grew up Catholic and one of the things I love about Catholicism is the "scary" attributes of God. Meaning, they don't sugarcoat what happened to Jesus. Even as a child, you are faced with the stations of the cross at any Catholic church. I have a hard time with the Evangelical view of Jesus as my friend, and I don't like that my kids haven't learned to properly respect the church building (as we go to church in a century-old school theater.) But here's the argument:

I have a Crucifix on the kitchen wall. This drives my husband crazy because he finds it to be idolatry. I put the palm from palm Sunday behind it, like I always did as a child, and now it's more of an eye catcher. I fail to see the difference between the Cross and the Crucifix, but the image bugs hubby as he grew up Methodist. So what do you think, should I take down my Crucifix since it bugs hubby? Or should he respect that it's my symbol for what Good Friday and ultimately Easter Sunday means?
posted at 12:14 PM  
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Thursday, April 01, 2010
See that picture? It's me when I was little--okay, NOT. My dad didn't let me anywhere near the kitchen--except to wash dishes--when I was a kid. He said I could experiment in cooking on my husband not him. I think my husband soon understood the wisdom of that statement.

I'm a barely-get-by cook. That means I put food on our table when the kids were growing up, but as soon as they left home, it was restaurants all the way, baby.

But something is happening. The tides, they are a changing. I think it's because I've had all this time on my hands where I had to "rest." So now I'm hooked on the cooking channel, can you believe it?

Now, I didn't say that I actually "do" anything they do, but I enjoy watching them make things while I snack on potato chips.

The truth is I have to start eating better. I've seen such words as kale and collard greens on my doctor's recommendations. Yikes! So I started checking out recipes. I haven't started actually cooking/eating them yet, but I'm working on it, okay? I think I might try Cracker Barrel's greens first. They know how to cook 'em.

So do you like to cook? Hate to cook? What do you do to keep creative in the kitchen--besides change your coffee brand, I mean.
Diann Hunt  
posted at 7:56 AM  
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The Authors
Kristin Billerbeck
Kristin Billerbeck is a proud Californian, wife, mother of four, and connoisseur of the irrelevant. She writes Christian Chick Lit; where she finds need for most of the useless facts lulling about in her head.

Colleen Coble

Colleen Coble writes romantic suspense with a strong atmospheric element. A lovable animal of some kind--usually a dog--always populates her novels. She can be bribed with DeBrand mocha truffles.

Denise Hunter

Denise Hunter writes women's fiction and love stories with a strong emotional element. Her husband says he provides her with all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too.

Diann Hunt

Diann Hunt writes romantic comedy and humorous women's fiction. She has been happily married forever, loves her family, chocolate, her friends, chocolate, her dog, and well, chocolate.

Hannah Alexander

Cheryl Hodde writes romantic medical suspense under the pen name of Hannah Alexander, using all the input she can get from her husband, Mel, for the medical expertise. For fun she hikes and reads. Out of guilt, she rescues discarded cats. She and Mel are presently taking orders from four pampered strays.

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