The Secret Ingredient

One of my favorite memories as a little girl is of baking and decorating sugar cookies with my mom. Baking them for Christmas is a tradition I’ve taken over, and now my girls and I are the sugar cookie providers for our family and friends. Every Christmas, we do a huge cookie swap dinner with the mothers and daughters we are closest to. It’s something we look forward to all year long–planning, preparing, baking, cooking, decorating, and then finally enjoying. This year would have been our sixteenth cookie swap, and my girls and I are so disappointed that we won’t be able to have it under the current circumstances. However, we certainly will be baking our sugar cookies because they are more than cookies.

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Groundhog Day in November

Before I get to my blog…

I have an update on my live streaming event on On December 1. Because I’ve had so many readers reach out to me who do not have Facebook, I will be hosting my Launch Party on both Facebook AND YouTube! Tune in live to get your signed copy of the first book in my new series which takes place in the Ozarks! Join me from 4:00-6:00PM Eastern Time on either YouTube or Facebook Live. I’ll have copies of my new book, Desert Fire, Mountain Rain, on hand for you to purchase via a special link, and you can watch me sign your book while I answer questions and talk to readers. Leave a comment with a question, and I will answer it live during the launch. Keep checking my website and social media (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter), for more information about the launch and the series. 

Do you remember the Bill Murray movie, Groundhog Day? Of course you do. It’s the one where Bill’s curmudgeonly character has to relive the same day over and over until he gets it right. Do you feel like we’ve all been sucked into the vortex of the never-ending story? That this pandemic just keep playing on a loop over and over again?

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A Sneak Peek At Buffalo Springs

Before I get to my blog…

I have big news for readers of my inspirational novels! On December 1, just in time for Christmas, I will be hosting a Launch Party on Facebook for my new series which takes place in the Ozarks! Join me from 4:00-6:00PM Eastern Time for my Facebook Live event. I will have copies of my new book, Desert Fire, Mountain Rain, on hand for you to purchase via a special link, and you can watch me sign your book while I answer questions and talk to readers. Leave a comment with a question, and I will answer it live during the launch. Keep checking my website and social media (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter), for more information about the launch and the series. 

For today, my blog isn’t quite a blog. Instead, it’s a peek into the world of Andi Nelson…

Andi always heard, You can’t go home again…

Andi Nelson’s dream was to go to the Naval Academy and serve her country. As an intelligence commander with SEAL Team Three, her life is what she always imagined until a lapse in intelligence leads to the death of her team and the man she loves. Plagued with survivor’s guilt, Andi returns to her hometown in the Arkansas Ozarks only to discover that Buffalo Springs is as depressed and broken as she is. 

Wade Montgomery, a mover and shaker in New York City’s world of finance, has closed his heart to the possibility of love. When he returns to Buffalo Springs to care for his ailing mother, Wade accepts the position of mayor and the task of helping the town to die gracefully. Succumbing to the pitfalls of pride, he closes his eyes to the illegal dealings within the town’s government, plunging the town and Wade into a pit of lies and deceit that may destroy them both. 

Will restoring the town provide the purpose Andi needs to continue living? Will Andi’s determination to save the town open Wade’s eyes and his heart?

A Teaser From Desert Fire, Mountain Rain

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Living My Life in Blue

I have big news for readers of my inspirational novels! On December 1, just in time for Christmas, I will be hosting a Launch Party on Facebook for my new series which takes place in the Ozarks! Join me from 4:00-6:00PM Eastern Time for my Facebook Live event. I will have copies of my new book, Desert Fire, Mountain Rain, on hand for you to purchase via a special link, and you can watch me sign your book while I answer questions and talk to readers. Leave a comment with a question, and I will answer it live during the launch. Keep checking my website and social media (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter), for more information about the launch and the series.

Have you ever heard of the Blue Zones? These are the areas of the world where people are the healthiest and live the longest. Many of them are in and around the Mediterranean. Sardinia, one of the Blue Zones, was featured in the Zac Efron Netflix Special, Down to Earth, which our family thoroughly enjoyed.

I’ve often told my girls I want to live to be over a hundred. It’s not that I’m not looking forward to spending eternity in the next life with my Lord and Savior (God willing), but I’m enjoying watching my girls grow, looking forward to grandchildren, and only in recent years have met my true tribe of female friends. I want to live as many more years as I’ve lived so far. And this is why I’m fascinated by the Blue Zones.

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2020 – A Year to Be Thankful

2020 has been quite a year. What started with Katie’s Homecoming, my trip to Houston to see friends, Rebecca’s law review presentation, and my surprise 50th birthday party, took a sharp turn into no social events, no in-person school events, and no family gatherings. I keep hearing how bad the year has been, and I certainly don’t want to jinx anything with two months left to go, but I realized yesterday that 2020 was a pretty darn good year.

Every year, I make photo calendars for my family. I plug in as many pictures as I can find using my own camera roll, social media, and photos sent to me by others. I highlight different people each month, based on birthdays and anniversaries. I make sure I cover all of the special events each person took part in over the course of the year.

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Have Your Cake…

Did you know that today is National Dessert Day? Yep, it’s the day on which you can indulge in a decadent concoction with the knowledge that you are just doing your part to celebrate the happiness that can be found in a bowl of fudge ripple or a slice of blueberry lemon cake. It’s your chance to bake something sweet or order dessert or…

Take the family to the ice cream parlor. Because, while there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a perfectly torched plate of Bananas Foster, I’d like to suggest that it isn’t the dessert itself that we love and take pleasure in. It’s the people we share it with and the occasion on which we share.

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Yet Eternal

As is typically the case here in Maryland, we went from sunny, balmy days, to breezy days and cold nights in the blink of an eye. One day, it was eighty-five degrees, and the next, it was fifty! Fall is certainly here, and according to the national weather map, that’s the case across the country. Along with pumpkin spice lattes and the sudden appearance of corn mazes and apple cider ice cream, we’re turning our focus to warm fires, cozy sweaters, and fast approaching holidays.

The leaves are beginning to change, and the days are growing shorter and shorter with less daylight in each twenty-four period. My evening walks are now late afternoon walks, and we’re turning in earlier than we were just a couple weeks ago.

I like to think of fall as the time of year when we recharge. It’s the chance to snuggle under a blanket, sip from a big mug of hot chocolate, and take Sunday afternoon naps. There seems to be a kind of lull between the busyness of the summer and the rush of the holidays where we can just take a deep breath and gaze at the world around us.

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Nine Days of Prayer = A Lifetime of Happiness

Here we are, four days post-wedding, and I’m feeling that letdown that happens after months of frantic activity. Since the first of July, I have followed a strict daily list – adding, rearranging, and checking things off each day. Now, I’m not sure what I should be doing with my days! Fortunately, I already have a bit of an outline (in my head, of course) for my next book, and the manuscript is formatted and ready for me to begin weaving my tale. Once my house is finally put back together and all loose ends are tied up, I will be back at my desk for eight to ten hours each day. I will still have my checklists, but they won’t be hyper-focused on wedding planning! One thing I know I will still follow from those many checklists is saying a daily novena. I’ve never been a novena person. My grandmother used to say them all the time, but I just never thought about adding one to my morning prayer time.

For those who are not familiar with the novena, it is an ancient tradition in which devotional praying is repeated every day for nine days (hence, the “nov” part). Tradition holds that the first novena was said between the Feast of the Ascension and Pentecost when the disciples gathered for nine days in the Upper Room and prayed before being sent into the world by the Holy Spirit. Most often, novenas are prayed to ask for the intercession of saints on behalf the person praying or persons being prayed for. Many Christian religions use novenas in prayer.

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That’s How it Should Be

Ken and I started our week by attending the very low-key funeral of a dear friend from our church. As I stood in the pew watching the priests process to the altar, it occurred to me that we are beginning the week with a funeral and ending it with a wedding. I thought to myself, how appropriate.

Though many see death as the ultimate ending, we Catholics see things differently. We celebrate funerals. We don’t have them. We don’t host them. We don’t do them. We celebrate them. A funeral is a celebration, not of one’s life (though we certainly do that, too), but of one’s passing on to the next life. Death is not seen an end but a new beginning. Jesus told us,  “In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be” (Jn 14:2-3).

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I Surrender

Our daughter’s wedding is less than two weeks away, ten days to be exact! To say that planning a wedding during COVID is stressful doesn’t begin to come close to what it’s actually like. It seems like there’s a new snag to deal with every day. However, our family has come to realize that for every bad thing that comes up, something good outweighs and outshines it. And each time I become frustrated and want to scream, Ken reminds me that Rebecca’s wedding day will be a beautiful celebration of love no matter what.

No matter what.

That’s a phrase I keep repeating to myself. No matter what we face, no matter what obstacles or stumbling blocks we hurdle, no matter who is there or not there, our daughter and the love of her life are getting married in a union blessed by God. And that’s really all that counts, isn’t it? They are being married, and God is involved. All of these snags, all of these inconveniences, all of these worries and fears, perhaps they are God’s way of reminding me to stop trying to be in control, that He is involved, that He has this under control, that all I need is to surrender to Him.

I need to surrender and to remember that from the day they met, God has been involved.

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