Sunday, December 27, 2009

This Week's Twitter Blatherings

  • made a big cup with english breakfast and irish breakfast teas - tastes like cold coffee - blech! #

  • with the latest download, i now have 10.5 hours of Christmas music, including 9 versions of Silent Night... #fb #

  • Oh my the ppl at walmart today!!! #

  • hello, my name is crystal and i'm a big, fat, freakin' pushover idiot... will i ever learn? #fb #

  • downloaded a few more Christmas songs from Amazon; realized i had a few cd's not on pc; uploading now... #fb #christmasmusic #

  • Toy Packaging by Sara Groves #nowplaying #

  • Carol of the Bells by The Proclivities #nowplaying #

  • dang, going through my Christmas cd case and finding a bunch not on my pc... #fb #

  • last cd in - then we'll see how many hours i've ended up with... #christmasmusic #fb #

  • final tally - 21 hours of #christmasmusic! #fb #

  • to bed late again; awake too soon with a headache; oh joy... #fb #

  • Ladies and gentlemen, Hellmas has now officially begun - Bethy puked in the car #hellmas #fb #

  • kids finally asleep after 10pm and i actually managed to finish a post to go up later this week; now i crash #hellmas #fb #

  • It's not a lux hotel, but @bestwestern in hillsboro tx has massaging showerheads & copious hot h2o #bliss #fb #

  • still tired; when's the vacation where i get to sleep and sleep and sleep? #fb #

  • took 4yo bethy up and down the stairs at the hotel - she got all excited because she saw the "pond!!!" (pool) #fb #

  • listening to and enjoying Susan Boyles' "I Dreamed a Dream" - early Christmas gift from @marcand - thanks, honey! #fb #

  • shower and bed; it's good to be home... #fb #

  • cleaning off my desk, then i may consider tackling the living room - maybe... #fb #

  • tried to make tea - stupid 2.5 gallon container leaked all over my counter; ugh #redotoday #fb #

  • nap down, gotta write this week's soapbox for @kidglue... #fb #

  • swing time with @marcand! #fb #

  • having my annual quiet, sad, contemplative night during the holidays, remembering Christmases past... #fb #

  • 4yo Bethy just brought Tigger to meet me, then Little Pooh... #fb #

  • AWESOME piece >> An abundance of blessings even in toughest of times -- - #

  • missing my hair... #fb #

  • is one pissed-off mama #fb #

  • beware thinking you're actually on top of something, lest you discover that you're really an idiot that's a day late #fb #

  • have you checked out all the posts i've written for @KidGlue today? two already and another coming at #fb #

  • snowing in mineola, texas; will wonders never cease?? #fb #

  • heading to my grandmother's house to have Christmas with my mom, sister, niece, nephew, and uncle #fb #

  • turkey, fruit salad & chocolate meringue pie eaten; annual scrabble played; sister heading home to snowy McKinney - pray for safety #fb #

  • is looking at the undecorated house and grieving that the magic is not here this year... #fb #

  • going to attempt a hot bath and bed... #fb #

  • just opened my review copy of @kathilipp's The Marriage Project that i got today - merry christmas to me! *squeeee* #fb #

  • Patton space heater - $18 from WalMart - made of win! #fb #

  • presents opened at the homestead; going back to grandmother's for meatloaf later today #fb #

  • just had some cold leftover tasty, tasty, turkey-murder #nom #fb #

  • but i don't wanna go to the store! #fb #

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Winter's Magic

Winter Fairy by *Cocodrillo at Deviant Art
Every year during the holidays, a night creeps up on me when I become pensive and sad, remembering winters past. For some reason, all my young misadventures occurred during the cold times. I was a very imaginative and moody child, being easily swept up in dreams of magic and fantasies of love, romance, and things eternal. As an adult now, I see them for the follies they were, but one night a year, I remember back to the days when my biggest dilemma was how to show that year's beau "how I loved him so." To embrace those times as the important things they were to me then, savor them, then let them go for another year...

heady days and nights

shivering in the cold but not noticing for the overwhelming infatuation

kisses and more kept us warm

i remember the most magical times were in winter

being found, being held, the candle's glow

music filling my ears, your smell in my nostrils, your whispers in my ears

your arms around me

nights spent in a world of magic

days spent in reverie

cares and reality floated by

oh, for days when winter's magic

washed o'er me

Sunday, December 20, 2009

This Week's Twitter Blatherings

  • hate shopping for clothes... #fb #

  • ugh #fb #

  • have a couple of girlfriends that hurting immeasurably right now; please pray for them; thanks #fb #

  • 4yo Bethy just woke up from her nap with a fever of 102.2; please pray for her; thanks #fb #

  • getting nerdy with google calendar with all the labs, extra calendars, and things; sad, i know #fb #

  • been working on a gift; excited to pour the Word of God into & pray the Word of God over someone throughout the year #fb #

  • btw, tweeple, if you're following me and i'm not following you back, please @ me so i can follow you - getting a big gap here... #

  • to bed, to bed!
    on the morrow
    your eyes'll be red! #

  • pray for @tw3nty3ight; had tonsillectomy today - in massive pain and having trouble sleeping #fb #

  • let's see if i can get some writing done... #fb #

  • Michael, Harry, and Tony serenading me - niiiice... #fb #

  • so much for that... oh, to have a computer that could handle playing music for me while i work... *sigh* #fb #

  • 8:30 am central time - 7yo Sarah gets 3 fillings - really this time - please pray for her #fb #

  • Sarah getting 3 fillings 8.30 am central; pls pray #fb #

  • Why oh why do i keep going to the store with my children??? #fb #

  • Sarah did great today; Dr Boozer said he wished all his patients were as good as her; so very proud of her; thanks for your prayers #fb #

  • tired and in pain; deeply depressed #

  • brandon puked ALL OVER his bedroom floor; waiting for @marcand to get home with carpet cleaner while the baking soda dries #hellonearth #fb #

  • head killing me; brandon finally in back in bed; all wound up and exhausted all at the same time... #fb #

  • got a few hours of sleep; took kids to school; ate some oatmeal; went back to bed for a couple of hours; still stinkin' exhausted #fb #

  • please pray for my friend C; she's having a very, very hard day today #fb #

  • saw an acer netbook for $298 that's better than my desktop; *sigh* do you have any idea how depressing that is? #

  • sister just got call - grandfather back in hospital. 2nd time in 3 weeks; psbl pneumonia but won't know til 2mrw; pls pray for Tommy #fb #

  • just got up; no word on my grandfather this morning; last day of school before the break; not sure i'm ready for this... #fb #

  • off to pick up the kids and begin The 16 Days of Hellmas... #fb #

  • just cut Bethy's hair - it now matches her big sister's #fb #

  • nice quiet Sabbath at home today, including a nice nap #fb #

  • didn't realize the 'boys were playing; found out from @sheilawalsh & found it for @marcand; go me! #fb #

  • y'know what would be an awesome Christmas present? for the 'boys to slam the saints! #fb #

  • please pray for my grandfather Tommy; still in the hospital with fluid on his lungs #fb #

  • Win the $200 Gift shop and shop! #

  • BOO-YA BABY!!! #fb #

  • there's only ONE thing better than a saint - a COWBOY!!! #fb #

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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Send me a postcard! {Giveaway}

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As I've mentioned before, I am a postcard junkie. I ask my mom to send me one every time she travels out of state, and I've sent them for Christmas for almost a decade now. Oh, and you did realize they're cheaper to mail, right?

There's a plethora of ways to use postcards, but I really like the idea of using them as encouragement cards. Lunch box notes are another cool idea. Then of course there's invitations, stand-out business cards or calling cards, and advertising.

So you want some now, right? How about 100? How about 100 for free? is offering one 3Stairs reader 100 free postcards.

I know, it's awesomely awesome.

Prize Details:
Item: 100 Postcards for one (1) lucky winner

Size: 4"x6"

Paper: 14pt Cardstock Gloss

Printing: Full color both sides

Shipping: Winner must pay for shipping

Mandatory Entry:
Leave a comment telling me what you'll use your postcards for if you win.

Extra Entries:

  • Second Entry: Tweet this giveaway and leave a comment with a link to the tweet. This can be done once each day.
    visit @3stairs to win 100 FREE postcards from @uprinting!

  • Third Entry: Follow me on Twitter and leave a comment letting me know your Twitter user name.

  • Fourth Entry: Subscribe to 3Stairs and leave a comment letting me know if you subscribed with RSS or via e-mail.
    By RSS:


  • Fifth Entry: Blog about this giveaway and leave a comment with a link to your post.

  • Sixth Entry: Add a 3Stairs button to your blog and leave a comment with a link to your blog so we can visit!


I'll let choose a winner on the morning of January 4, so get your entries in by 11:59 pm on January 3. The winner will be sent a coupon code directly from on January 8.

Disclosure: As a thank you from for hosting this giveaway, I'll be receiving 100 postcards of my own. Go me!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

This Week's Twitter Blatherings

  • i love the way @marcand makes malt-o-meal; he's the bomb #fb #

  • look, it's sunday morning - it must be time to go to the store #fb #

  • just finished stamping a gift for a dear friend - can't wait to give it to her #fb #

  • i either need a liquid eyeliner tutorial or a makeup artist... #fb #

  • took caffeine pill then proceeded to sleep through the alarm i had set so i could go shop the school Christmas store with Sarah #momfail #fb #

  • yes, i should be working on my typing assignment, and yes, i'm on twitter and facebook instead; i'm taking a break! #fb #

  • somebody come finish typing this for me; it's killing me... #fb #

  • my eyes - they really hurt #thatisall #fb #

  • 7yo Sarah getting 3 fillings @ 8.30am cst; pls pray; thx #fb #

  • I'm an idiot; it's next week #fb #

  • tired and head hurts; just want to go to bed, but i have to finish this typing assignment #fb #

  • miniature marshmallows are addictive #thatisall #fb #

  • Meme having cataract surgery this am; pls pray for her #fb #

  • Hanging out at The Scroll while i wait for Meme to get out of cataract surgery #fb #

  • home from taking Meme to cataract surgery; have to be back in Tyler at 8am for follow-up; pot roast now cooking in the slow cooker #fb #

  • printing out typing assignment - 35 pages of poetry; let's hope everything's right and it's ready for publishing #fb #

  • time for wheel of fortune and crochet #fb #

  • finished hat / scarf sets for 1yo boy & 6yo girl for Bethy's playschool class ministry opp; really hope they like them; now to bed #fb #

  • typing assignment done, printed, and delivered; client very happy = me very happy #gladtobedone #fb #

  • What is your favorite Holiday Gift? @coveryourhair #

  • shoes are off - i am officially in for the night #fb #

  • where did this monstrous headache come from??? lori and jessica, are you guys ganging up on me and sending me yours?? :P #fb #

  • had intended to go help at the school at 10am; just realized they got done at 10; ugh #schedulingfail #feellikeaheel #fb #

  • A very blessed first night of Hanukkah for all my observing friends. May G-d shine His face upon you and your loved ones. #fb #

  • listening to christmas music and feeling sad tonight #fb #

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Sunday, December 6, 2009

This Week's Twitter Blatherings

  • today: grocery shopping; typing assignment; web assignment; blogging; laundry... aw crap, i just got a buttload of stuff to do today... #fb #

  • head = hurts; status = what else is new? #fb #

  • Found this on - enter to win $250 for Feeding America: #

  • feeling like an idiot that needs to just back out of and/or quit everything and just concentrate on keeping house #fb #

  • Enter to win your choice of any Handbag Heaven #giveaway Bag @ThetaMom Please RT #

  • #Win a Free Agent Go Sleek Portable HD @Seagate_Con A breeze to transfer & backup files #giveaway @pennypinchingma #

  • Ze Lists - zey went buh-byie... :( #


    ok, i think i feel a little better now... #fb #

  • maamie can haz tiem awt nao??? #fb #

  • i just snorted >> RT @marcand Twitter Lists, Twitter Lists, wherefore art thou, Twitter Lists? We barely knew thee ... #

  • T-30 minutes until "TV for You and Me" @KidGlue #fb #

  • did you see it??? #fb #

  • why would i rather sit and crochet than do any of the work i'm supposed to be doing??? #fb #

  • If your last name is Love, you might want to exemplify it -- especially if you're the front desk greeter/old lady #justsayin #

  • If your last name is Love, you might want to exemplify it -- especially if you're the front desk greeter/old lady AT THE CHURCH #justsayin #

  • I will eviscerate you on Twitter!! #Chaucer2.0 #fb #

  • What is your favorite color? @coveryourhair #

  • what is it with my kids the last two days? or is it me? whatever it is, i'm not handling it well... #fb #

  • I hate hiccups #justsoyouknow #thatisall #

  • I just generated a #TweetCloud out of a year of my tweets. Top three words: 3stairs, post, love - #

  • I just generated a #TweetCloud out of a year of my tweets. Top three words: 3stairs, post, love - #

  • want to crochet or cyber window-shop; preparing for MOPS and going to bed instead - look at me being responsible (sorta)!! #

  • you are Totally Frakking Kidding Me.... ugh - i hate being an idiot... #

  • eating homemade chunky vegetable stew while i read e-mail, play wordscraper, etc before i get to work. #fb #

  • ok, i watched conspiracy theory with @marcand; *now* i go to work... #fb #

  • why does my 7yo want to wear short sleeve shirts & fleece hoodies in freezing weather? she's mad that i'm making her wear her big coat #fb #

  • please pray for my grandmother Pat - today is my late grandfather's birthday #fb #

  • listening to @895kvne online while i work on a typing assignment #fb #

  • i've reached my ever-lovin limit! #fb #

  • and now we nap! #bliss #fb #

  • cold and tired this morning #fb #

  • gave up and took a nap, with many thankful thanks to @marcand; now, to work. #fb #

  • pray for my loved ones D and T, please #fb #

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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

MySpace and WalMart WishList Application Review

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I love wishlists. It's a great way to let people know more about you and what you like without being presumptuous or rude or obnoxious about it. On the giving end, it makes buying the perfect gift for someone easy. What size? Done. What color? Done. Which book or music genre? Done and done. It's a two-way awesome.

Want some more awesome? and have teamed up to create a wishlist app that is so easy a kid can do it - literally. If you can click a mouse and move it, you can use this application. At first, I went crazy and added whatever the heck I wanted. It was more of a "In Your Dreams" list. It's got this cool feature that keeps a running total of all the stuff in your wishlist. My original total? $1550.88. See? I told you it was a crazy in-your-dreams list!

That's okay, though. Know why? Editing my wishlist is as easy as click or drag-and-drop. So iPod Nano, good-bye. Laptop, buh-bye. Let's clear this thing out and be more realistic, shall we? How about $100? I think that might be a little more in my husband's price range, lol! So, $100 it is. Where shall I start....?

WalMart - ever organized, as always - makes "shopping" simple and easy with 10 categories to choose from:

  1. Most Popular - a dozen of the hottest offerings

  2. $10 and Under - budget buys that are sure to please

  3. Toys - the Happy Kid aisle

  4. Electronics - wired stuff to make a geek giddy

  5. Clothing - new threads

  6. Gadgets - handheld geekery

  7. Girls Clothing - the in stuff to cover her skin

  8. Guys Clothing - clothes to make the (young) man

  9. Gifts for Family - stuff that will bring you together

  10. For the Home - the stuff of domestic bliss

Being the geek I am, I head to the Gadgets category first. Some nice items, but that gotta-have-it isn't there. Electronics, here I come. Ooh! Camera! That looks nice. All I have to do is click the picture and I get a little window that pops up to tell me it's a for $99. Nice. Definite possibility, there. Clicking "Add to My List" button... now.

Heading to page two. Oooh. Phone. With keyboard. for $99.88. Hey, what's that? "View details at," it says. Well, don't mind if I do... The info (that opened in a new window) gives me a drool-worthy list for my basic phone-having self:
Bluetooth wireless technology
1.3 -megapixel camera
Mobile Web services
Caller/Picture/Ringtone ID
Hands-free speaker

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a contender! This is going to be a tough one. I've wanted a good digital camera for just about forever, but I've also been really wanting a fully-keyboarded phone with all the texting I do.

Decisions, decisions.

Since I already have a Flipcam, I'm going to opt for the camera as my wishlist winner. Click the X on the camera, click the "Save My List" button, and viola! - .

Easy peasy, pumpkin pie.

Oh, hey! - MySpace - add that to the wishlist options, will ya?

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed are solely mine, and other users may have different experiences. I received a $100 WalMart gift card from MySpace as a thank you for reviewing this application.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

This Week's Twitter Blatherings

  • CoverYourHair.com2 FREE Hats #Giveaway @coveryourhair (Ends 11/23) #

  • followed by some1 trying to help ppl get into modeling; seriously? um, might want to look at pix b4 you follow ppl, there. #wrongcategory #

  • finished bethy's pink birthday crocheted blanket tonight; now to start on Meme's white & beige scarf to match a hat she was given #fb #

  • getting excited - delivering 50+ @OCC_shoeboxes tomorrow on behalf of Mineola MOPS & Mineola Seventh-day Adventist Church #fb #

  • Passed front end wreck; pls pray #fb #

  • Wondering if i am just hearing things #fb #

  • final @OCC_shoeboxes count - 66 boxes delivered today! #

  • tired; what else is new? #

  • tonight: crocheting Meme's scarf #yarntherapy #fb #

  • exciting top-secret project under way... #fb #

  • Crystal's Soapbox will be back this week @KidGlue; brace yourself for Indian bubbles... #fb #

  • please pray for my grandfather, Tommy; in the hospital overnight for observation after going in with 160+ heart rate #fb #

  • finished meme's scarf; now to go get yarn to duplicate my mom's scarf for my mil; funny that they like the same colors! #fb #

  • fb says "Your account is currently unavailable due to a site issue." GRR! #

  • think i'm going to go start on mil's scarf soon... #fb #

  • Merlin and crochet = happy mama #fb #

  • well, that's off to bed with meself, then... #fb #

  • home from visiting family in fort worth; Papa is home from hospital on new meds and looking /feeling much better - thanks for praying! #fb #

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Holiday Gift Guide 2009

Holiday shopping season is here again and the Global Influence network has some great gift ideas for you, tried and tested by real moms. Click on the links to check out what our team of reviewers had to say about each of these gift ideas, and then take a moment to enter our fun giveaway and take a chance at winning some of these fabulous products.

Featured Reviews

Pouchees -

Busy moms need all the help they can get to stay organized and keep life as simple as possible. The Pouchee is the perfect solution to keeping all those little things together, putting everything you need, right at your fingertips.

Duck Hunter -

Duck Hunter turns the excitement of the hunt into an activity the whole family can enjoy. Launch the duck in the air and try to hunt it down with the toy shooter as it flies freely in the air. A fun choice for those who love outdoor sporting.

CardStore cards

-Personalized holiday cards are an important item on everyone's to-do list and often a hassle to create and print. has everything from family photo cards to invitations for your big holiday party, simplifying your holiday season.

Great Holiday Gift Ideas

Things Remembered Custom Couture Jewelry

Just Elfin' Around

Card Cubby

Harumika By Bandai

Harumika Runway Showstopper

Harumika Style Starter

Baby Alive Whoopsie Doo

Strawberry Shortcake Playset

Kota Monty Rex

Wall to Wall Basketball

Nerf Pocket Vortex

Busy Ball Popper

Talking Chuck Truck

Leapfrog My Pal Scout

Leapfrog Tag Jr

Leapfrog Scribble and Write

Animal Planet Polar Land Playset

Animal Planet Dinosaur Playmat

Onionhead Adult/Teen Feelings Pack

OnionHead Children's Feelings Pack

Onionhead A-Z Feelings Magnet Set


MeTime Tees

Fun Holiday Giveaway!

For this holiday guide, we want to share the love with the blogosphere! Some of our generous sponsors have donated prizes to be given away to lucky readers! To enter to win one of the following fabulous prizes, simply fill out the form here:

Prizes include:

Things Remembered Custom Couture Jewelry


Elfing Around


Onionhead Feelings Pack

Nerf Wall to Wall Basketball

Baby Alive Whoopsie Doo

MeTime T-shirt

Entries will close on December 6, 2009 at 11:59 PM EST. Winners will be contacted by email after the close of the contest.

Global Influence Member Guides

Need more ideas for this holiday season? Check out the guides that some of our Global Influence members have put together on their own sites!

Thrifty Jinxy,

Happy Healthy Hip ,

And Twins Make Five ,

Because Two People Fell In Love,

Mommy Musings ,

Lipstick to Crayons ,

Bargain Briana ,

Mommy PR ,

Shop With Me Mama,

Santa Picks,

Rave and Review,

Connected 2 Christ ,

3 Boys and a Dog,

The Classy Closet ,

Contest Corner,

Lisa Reviews ,

A Giveaway Every Day,



High Impact Mom,

From Cribs to Car Keys

Lisa Reviews

Mommy Musings

All reviews listed in the Global Influence gift guide were product provided. Featured positions were purchased by sponsors. Member gift guides are not affiliated with Global Influence.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

This Week's Twitter Blatherings

  • RT @tweetmeme Living Smart Girl: Out of the Box Sampler #

  • dinner for 5 at Sonic - $24; happy, full family and no cooking for Mom - priceless; Sonic FTW! #fb #

  • does liking to crochet make me an old fogie grandma or a cool, trendy lady? #fb #

  • what joy, what bliss /
    is found in this: /
    when the earth and the heavens /
    with rain doth kiss! #fb #

  • had to close the door because of the SSS {Stupid, Stinky Skunk}; harrumph & piddle!!! #fb #

  • i'm becoming convinced that there's *not* a hairstyle that looks good on my fat face... *sigh* #fb #

  • cold this morning; brandon being a challange - pray for him, please #fb #

  • and now i shall work on the MOPS newsletter for tomorrow's meeting... any Mineola MOPS moms have stuff to post? #fb #

  • Can stop and sit down yet? #fb #

  • i think i'm about to go chop my hair into long layers... #fb #

  • well, there's a foot gone... #fb #

  • nap or crochet? #hardchoices #fb #

  • didn't like the thinness at the end, so i chopped more off - just a little below my shoulders now. #fb #

  • hey guy in the minivan - do you have any idea how ridiculous you are with the boom-boom going like you're in a lowrider? #

  • oy, i'm tired; going to bed momentarily... #fb #

  • massive headache kicking my butt today; hopefully tomorrow will be better. #fb #

  • finished back-loop potholder today (gave to @marcand since he loved it), then made a couple of 3-ply red & green ones for MOPS #fb #

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

This Week's Twitter Blatherings

  • listening to Crazy Love from Michael Buble' for my review; catch it tomorrow at #fb #

  • come read my live review of Michael Buble's Crazy Love as I update after each song! #

  • Found this interesting. #

  • Done with my review of Michael Buble's Crazy Love - come see what I think: #

  • RT @heymego #CSUN not providing interpret services 4 their #Deaf students <<*totally* unacceptable, #CSUN! #

  • up too late /
    up too early /
    makes my eyes a little swirly #fb #

  • getting ready to go pack 25 boxes for Operation Christmas Child; want to sponsor shipping for a box for $7? #

  • Go to and give $7 to bring Christmas joy to a needy child #fb #

  • wait, i was going to be an hour ago; aw, crap! #fb #

  • seriously considering chopping off about a foot to a foot-and-a-half of my hair... #fb #

  • Win a Chemise or Cardigan from Happy Green Bee!
    #giveaway #

  • sarah's hair was cut to her chin on friday and bethy's had a foot cut off tonight; now what shall we do with mommy's hair? #fb #

  • nerdy fall dessert humor: What do you get if you divide the circumference of a pumpkin by its diameter? #

  • gotta rant for @KidGlue; what shall i rant about this week? #

  • Happy Veteran's Day; a huge thank you to @marcand and all the other vets who have served; you are heroes; #thanksvets #

  • new @ My Book Bliss: Christmas Miracles by Cecil Murphey and Marley Gibson:

    Chri.. #

  • RT Happy Veteran's Day; a huge thank you to @marcand and all the other vets who have served; you are heroes; #thanksvets #

  • yeah, i'm still here, but i'm going to bed now... #

  • new @ My Book Bliss: Set Apart by Jennifer Kennedy Dean:

    Set Apart Jennifer Kenne.. #

  • i'm cold this morning #fb #

  • yep, still here... #

  • on today's agenda - pay bills and have a birthday party at the nature preserve for bethy's 4th birthday #fb #

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Set Apart by Jennifer Kennedy Dean

[caption id="attachment_3253" align="aligncenter" width="155" caption="Set Apart"]



Jennifer Kennedy Dean
New Hope Publishers
ISBN: 10-1596692634
ISBN: 13-978-1596692633
Release Date: 9/1/09
Retail: $14.99

Because Living IN this World

Doesn't Mean Living LIKE the World

About the Book:

(Marion, Kentucky) - In a world of self-love and materialism it's reassuring to know that God's Word has a better plan for living. Renowned author and speaker, Jennifer Kennedy Dean, provides insight to the life of Christ, specifically the Sermon on the Mount, in her new book, Set Apart: A 6 Week Study of the Beatitudes.

Through careful study of the Hebrew traditions of biblical times, Dean leads participants into a deeper awareness of this early ministry sermon series by Christ.

Jennifer guides readers to a heightened understanding of each beatitude, correlating the Ten Commandments with the Sermon on the Mount to tie these Old and New Testament principles together. Dean shares how living the Set Apart Life is an exciting and life-changing spiritual journey. Participants surrendered to Christ will see a total transformation: outward actions of holiness as well as inward attitudes of joy. Believers following along in this workbook will experience the life God intends. This blessedness comes from seeking and knowing God. Anything outside the realm of Jesus Christ results in emptiness--the ultimate opposite of blessing.

Each chapter includes interactive questions for readers to answer, emphasizing God's desire to reproduce the character and attitudes of Jesus in each Christian's life. Along with the Bible study book, there is a Leader Kit that includes six DVD sessions and a CD with bonus material for small-group leaders. Jennifer's website,, provides opportunities for previewing the Set Apart materials and extra resources for pastors and leaders.

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Jennifer Kennedy Dean is Executive director of The Praying Life Foundation and a respected author and speaker. She is the author of numerous books, studies, and magazine articles specializing in prayer and spiritual formation. Her book Heart’s Cry has been named National Day of Prayer’s signature book. You’ll find articles and daily quotes from Jennifer at the National Day of Prayer website. Her book, Live a Praying Life, has been called a flagship work on prayer.

Jennifer was widowed in 2005 after 26 years of marriage to Wayne Dean, her partner both in life and ministry. They are the parents of three grown sons. Jennifer makes her home in Marion, KY.

Adapted from Set Apart by Jennifer Kennedy Dean

"I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Cor 12:9-10).

My weakness is my greatest asset in the Kingdom. My weakness is where God meets me. My weakness is where Christ's power is most clearly displayed in me. Only when I am confronted with my own helplessness can I experience the power of Christ in me.

"Your helplessness is your best prayer. It calls from your heart to the heart of God with greater effect than all your uttered pleas. He hears it from the very moment that you are seized with helplessness, and He becomes actively engaged at once in hearing and answering the prayer of your helplessness." (O. Hallesby, Prayer)

I recently had the tiniest glimpse of how powerfully helplessness speaks. A few years ago, I lost my husband to brain cancer. During the final months of his illness, he became utterly helpless. The man I had leaned on for 26 years, whose strength I counted on, was now dependent upon me for his every need. During those weeks, my ear was tuned to his every sigh, his every restless movement, every change in his breathing pattern. If I had to be out of his room for even a few minutes, I had a monitor with me so I could hear him if he needed me. When he was strong, I was not so attentive. His needs did not fill my waking moments, when he could meet them himself. His helplessness spoke louder than any word he might have spoken. Because of his helplessness--because I knew he could do nothing on his own--I was on watch day and night.

My experience is but a pale shadow of the reality of the Kingdom, but still it helps me understand how my weakness is the opening for His strength. The fact of my helplessness is the only prayer I need. It speaks louder than eloquence.

Let your helplessness and your weakness be the offering you bring to Him. He is not waiting for you to be strong. He is waiting for you to recognize that you are weak.


Please leave a comment to be entered in a drawing to win the following items from Jennifer. If you are a leader (small groups, book club, Bible Study, Women's Ministry), please note that you are--you will automatically be entered in the contest. If you are a member of one of these groups at your church or community, mention that you are a group member.

You will be entered to win:
A Set Apart Leader's Kit (video and leader resources and a student book) retail $79.99
A copy of Fueled by Faith (retail $19.99)
Jennifer will have a live web event just for your group


Christmas Miracles by Cecil Murphey and Marley Gibson

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Foreword: Don Piper

St. Martin’s Press, Oct. 2009

Hardcover, 256 pages

ISBN: 978-0312589837

Retail: $14.99

(Atlanta, GA) Many ordinary people experience Christmas miracles—those special moments during the season of giving and receiving when Christmas becomes more than just a holiday. In Christmas Miracles (St. Martin’s Press, October 2009), Cecil Murphey and Marley Gibson share the stories of those who have recognized the special moments that transcend daily experience and transform their lives.

In these stories, people overcome desperate situations through a miraculous twist of fate—all during the most wonderful time of the year. A young boy sits down to read a Christmas book and discovers that his learning disability has vanished. A woman stranded in a blizzard is rescued by a mysterious stranger who she suspects is an angel. And a woman living far from home gets an answer to her prayer in the form of an unexpected gift.

Bestselling author Cecil Murphey says, “We all face discouraging times, whether it's the lack of money, being stuck on a road in a snowstorm, feeling stress, or being hungry and homeless. But God's help is available. I want readers to see that miracles do happen—sometimes simple, unexpected blessings or those that involve the supernatural. We start by asking, and in strange and wonderful ways God tiptoes into our dark nights; we experience renewed joy in life and witness God in action through people and unexpected events.”

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Award-winning writer Cecil Murphey is the author or co-author of 114 published books, including the NY Times bestseller 90 Minutes in Heaven (with Don Piper) and Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story (with Dr. Ben Carson). He’s also the author of When Someone You Love Has Cancer and When God Turned Off the Lights, both 2009 releases. Murphey’s books have sold millions and have given hope and encouragement to countless readers around the world. For more information, visit


Marley Gibson is a young adult author whose first published books in the Sorority 101 series were released by Penguin Group in 2008 under the pen name of Kate Harmon. She has a new Ghost Huntress series with Houghton Mifflin written under her own name. She can be found online at

Interview with Cecil “Cec” Murphey by Marley Gibson Co-authors of Christmas Miracles, from St. Martin’s Press

I am extremely privileged to have the opportunity today to talk to my friend and co-author, Cecil “Cec” Murphey, and to chat about our upcoming book,Christmas Miracles.

Marley:  Cec, thanks for spending some time with me today.

Cec:    Marley, it's great that you could take time away from important things like making a living to spend a little time with me.

Marley:  I’m so jazzed about our Christmas Miracles book that’s coming out soon. I’ve had a lot of questions from folks wanting to know how we met, what brought us together, etc. So, I thought we’d do a back and forth on how it all came to be. Of course, I have to give props to our amazing agent and friend, Deidre Knight, for bringing us together. For those of you who don’t know, Cec co-authored the runaway New York Times bestselling hit 90 Minutes in Heaven with Don Piper.

Cec: I have to say thanks to Deidre Knight as well. Between Deidre and my assistant, Twila Belk, I've been able to sell quite a few books. 90 Minutes in Heaven has been my big book. I'm also proud of a book I wrote in 1990 calledGifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story. The book has never been out of print and has hit close to four million in sales. Early this year, Cuba Gooding Jr. starred in the made-for-TV film version.

Marley: That’s amazing! You are truly prophetic and definitely “the man behind the words.” Now, people ask how we teamed up. Sadly, there was a personal tragedy that brought Cec and me together as friends.

Cec: True. In early 2007, our house burned and our son-in-law died. Aside from the grief over Alan, we lost everything. Deidre and Jan, my-then-assistant, sent the word out of our tragedy without telling me. I'm immensely grateful for every gift people sent, but I probably wouldn't have admitted I needed help and wouldn't have asked. They taught me how much we need other people.

Marley: Deidre put out a call to other clients of The Knight Agency, to help Cec and his family out in any way in their time of need. At the time, my company was moving and we were cleaning house. We had a ton of office supplies that we were either going to throw away or give to some of the charities the company worked with.  I got my boss’ permission to send a large care package to Cec…full of office supplies for him to re-stock his writer’s office. You name it…post-its, staples, paper clips, pens, pencils, markers, white out, ruler, scissors, paper, notebooks, notepads, envelopes, a laptop case, tape, glue, folders, binder clips…etc. A veritable potpourri of office delights.  I was hoping that it would help Cec have a sense of getting his office back so he could keep working.

Cec: Marley's gift was the most unexpected I received. We hadn't met, although Deidre Knight had spoken of her many times and kept telling me she was wonderful. I wonder if you can imagine what it was like for me to open that box from someone I didn't know. I saw all those practical things for my office and yelled for my wife.  I felt as if I were reading a first-grade book. "Look! Look and see! Oh, look!" I was overwhelmed by the gift and even more to receive it from a stranger. Those supplies were the most practical gift anyone could have given me. I'm still using black paper clips and red folders from Marley.

Marley: Awww…thanks, Cec! I didn’t have to think twice about doing it. Writing is such a solitary “sport,” but the writing community always astounds me with how they help their own.  Not long after that, over plates of spinach and Gouda omelets, Deidre introduced me to Cec in person and I was thrilled to finally meet the man behind the words. Deidre knew we needed to work on a project together and thus began our brainstorming. What did you think of that first meeting, Cec, and cooking up the idea to work together?

Cec: Deidre and I had already spoken about a Christmas book and I had some idea about what it should contain, but nothing had come together. One day Deidre told me that Marley was coming to visit her and she wanted us to work together on a Christmas project. Marley and I talked before we ate and again during the meal. Everything felt right to me. I knew my strengths and Marley knew hers (and Deidre knew both of us). Everything clicked. Marley, a far better networker than I am, immediately sent out the word for submissions. Within days she had almost four times more than we could use. (She read every one of them!)

Marley: I was truly impressed with the submissions we received and it was hard narrowing it down to the ones we chose for the book. We’re fortunate to have such a go-getter agent in Deidre Knight. Cec, can you share how the whole idea of Christmas Miracles came about and what you thought of the project originally?

Cec: For me, it actually started while I was on the rapid-rail train from the Atlanta airport when I listened to teens talk about Christmas and it was mostly about gifts. I had the idea then, but nothing really came together. Months later when Deidre I and had a meeting, she brought up the idea of a compilation and mentioned my working with Marley. I've been Deidre Knight's client since 1997 and I've learned to listen carefully when she comes up with an idea. I said yes before she gave me all the information.

Marley: That’s the truth about Deidre! Getting back to those submissions, I want to say we got more than two hundred submissions for Christmas Miracles. So many wonderful stories to read through and select for the book. It was a challenge to pick and choose which ones were right for the book, but I loved every minute of it. After I chose the entries that would go into the book, Cec toiled long hours editing the works for a unified voice. What was the biggest challenge you found in the editing process, Cec?

Cec: I've been a ghostwriter and collaborator for twenty-plus years and this was a switch to give the book a unified voice—which was mine. It would have been easier to stay with each writer's voice, but the book—like many compilations—would have been uneven in tone and quality. When I discussed this via email with our delightful editor, Rose Hilliard, she was (to my surprise) familiar with my work. She told me she liked the warm tone of my writing and that I don't waste words. "That's the voice we want," she said. It still wasn't easy, but it was an exciting challenge. After Marley and I agreed on the stories and gave them that unified voice, our editor pulled six contributions. Although different, Rose felt they were too similar to other stories.

Marley: Can you give our readers a preview of the book? A favorite story perhaps…or one that moved you to tears?  (I have to say the little boy who wished for nothing but to be able to read a book all the way through because of his stutter had me bawling when I read the submission.)

Cec: That's not fair! I liked them all. The one that touched me most, however, is the last story in the book, "Sean's Question." We had almost finished the book and I was teaching at a conference in Florida. I felt we needed one strong story at the end. Despite all the good ones, I didn't feel fully satisfied to conclude the book. On the last day of the conference, I met a conferee named Sara Zinn for a consultation. As we talked, I mentioned Christmas Miracles and that I still needed one more story. "I have a Christmas story," she said and told me about Sean. As I listened, tears filled my eyes—but, being the macho type I am, I was sure it was an allergy. Sara wrote the story, and it became the one I sought.

Marley: Oh yes…that one is an emotional one all right. It was meant to be in the book because of how you met at the conference. Now, you and I have both had challenges in our lives that others might have found too much to take, but we are both very strong in our faith and our relationship with God. How do you think Christmas Miracles is going to help others feel closer to God and experience His miracles in their own lives?

Cec: Awareness and appreciation are the two things I want readers to grasp. Awareness means for them to realize that they're never totally alone in life. Those unexpected, out-of-the-ordinary events remind us of that. Appreciation means to be thankful for what we already have. Too often, and especially at Christmas, we focus on what we'd like or what is supposed to make us happy. Christmas Miracles gently reminds readers of both.

Marley: In this day and age when our country is fighting two wars, unemployment is high, and a lot of people have a lack of hope and faith for their future, what do you want readers of the book to take away fromChristmas Miracles and how can the stories in our book help provide comfort to those struggling?

Cec: I want readers to see that miracles do happen—sometimes simple, unexpected blessings or those that involve the supernatural (as in one of Marley's stories). I call myself a serious Christian. For me, the world's greatest miracle began with the birth of Jesus. Regardless of a person's religion, this book encourages readers to think about life during the Christmas season and see that life as more than gifts and celebrations. It's also a reminder that God loves us and hears our needy cries.

Marley: Beautifully put, Cec, and I couldn’t agree with you more. Can we share what’s next after Christmas Miracles? J

Cec: Why it's the Cec and Marley show, of course. Because of our go-getter agent and our enthusiastic editor, we've already received thumbs up for The Christmas Spirit. This will be stories of people who express the true spirit of Christmas by acts of love and kindness, for release in the fall of 2011.

Marley: And I can’t wait to start working on that project!  Thank you so much for your time, Cec, and answering my questions. It was a privilege and honor to work with you and I look forward to our future projects together. You’ve helped me along during a trying time and I appreciate your friendship and support.

Cec: I liked this project because Marley had to send out the word, collect submissions, read them, and discard the weaker ones. I get to see only the better-written stories. (Don't tell her that I have the better job.) Although I mentioned only one story, all of those in the book touched me because of the poignancy of their situations and the miraculous answers. I won't say the stories increased my faith, but they increased my appreciation for the delightful mix of human need and divine intervention.

Marley: Thanks again, Cec! God Bless! And to our readers, please be sure to pick up a copy of CHRISTMAS MIRACLES, out October 13, 2009 from St. Martin’s Press. It’s a great stocking stuffer or gift basket filler. We hope you, too, will discover your own Christmas Miracles in your life.


Leave a comment for your chance to win this fabulous gift basket!

Leave a comment for a chance to win the Christmas Miracles gift basket.

Wouldn’t you love to take home this amazing basket filled with Christmas goodies galore? This amazing gift basket contains everything you’ll need to make your Christmas holiday a success. Inside you’ll find a stocking stuffed with hard candies, kitchen towels and oven mitts, seasonal potpourri, holiday-colored candles, stuffed animals that talk, snowman candle, nutcrackers, Christmas ornaments, gift bags, gift tags, gift bows, ornament hangers, Christmas cookie cutters, a Merry Christmas doorstopper, a picture frame, Christmas cards, Santa ear muffs, and not just one, but two copies of Cecil Murphey and Marley Gibson’s Christmas Miracles – one to keep and one to give away to someone special.


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sponsor Christmas for a Needy Child for Only Seven Dollars

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Want to make a child's Christmas? Donate just $7 to cover shipping for an Operation Christmas Child shoebox and a needy child will receive a box full of love and fun for Christmas!

Please note: I am not a 501(c)3 organization, so unfortunately, your donation will not be tax-deductible. Thank you so much for your dedication and commitment to bringing Christmas joy to children without thought of monetary benefit.

Album Review: Crazy Love by Michael Bublé

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My only exposure to Michael Bublé thus far has been a snippet of a ringtone with him threatening to scat until the person answers the phone. I liked what I heard of that and I like big band, so when I got the opportunity to review his latest album, Crazy Love, I jumped at the chance. I wasn't sure what to expect, other than a big band sound, but when the first song started, I knew I was in for a surprise. This isn't your run-of-the-mill big band album.

I have to tell you, hearing bass strings and horns in a Bond-esque cadence was not what I was expecting when Cry Me a River started. I like it, though - it reminds me of a marching band music, which is another love (I'm weird and geeky, I know. Get over it.). The notes are crisp and rich. Then the crescendo dies off and Michael starts in with "Now you say you're lonely" and I'm hooked. Michael manages to combine flow with staccato impressively. The action-movie theme continues throughout the piece, which only adds to the dimension and sexiness. I dare you not to moan a little "oooh" when he growls as he sings "now you say you love me" about halfway through the song.

All Of Me starts with the bouncy piano big band lovers love. You can't help but tap something along with it. Michael's voice blends in seamlessly and the bursts of horns are expected, rather than jarring. You can tell he's having fun with this one.

Georgia On My Mind starts with a few flats, which caused me to cock my head warily and really listen for what he was going to do with it. Gladly, Michael doesn't disappoint. He adds a bit of himself, while staying respectful of the classic tune. Michael brings the song into this century while keeping the feel of the original era, but bypasses the seventies camp, which I find many current artists unable to do. Well done. Definite points for Bublé on that one.

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Crazy Love gets the seventies camp that Georgia on My Mind was missing. I'm not sure if I'm turned off by it, or impressed that he can do a range of styles. Technically, he's right on and he's no less feeling in execution, so it may well be the arrangement that I'm not fond of here.

Haven't Met You Yet starts upbeat and suddenly plops me in the nineties. Bublé shows here that his sound stretches across genres and eras and I think I'm finding that's there's a little something on this album for most everyone that appreciates true musicality.

All I Do Is Dream Of You has a fun, fifties feel to it, complete with doo-wap and snapping at the beginning. Then he breaks out in a scat and my breath catches in my smile. A blast of a song that makes you want to sing and dance along. Two-and-a-half minutes of fun.

Hold On brings you back down to earth. This is a great first dance at a wedding song. It kind of makes me want to remarry Michael so we can dance to it. Not like we're a slow dancing type of couple, but the song totally makes me want to do it anyway. Awesome Love Stuff here. Hearing the song before and after it, though, I think it was misplaced in the album queue. The difference in feel is too different between this and the songs surrounding it.

I was so taken aback by the jump in sound, that I spent the first hearing of Heartache Tonight distracted and resentful that it broke the feeling of Hold On. Musically, I could hear that it's a great song, but my heart wasn't in it. After taking a break to cleanse my aural palate, I was able to listen to and appreciate the song for the fun, raucous party song it is. How Bublé manages to merge big band horns and crescendos with blues harmonica and guitar is beyond me, but it works here somehow and it's just a fun, fun song.

You're Nobody Till Somebody Loves You has some great piano stylings. The trumpet seems a little off when it comes in, as well as the big band sound. Once it's into it, though, it sounds fine. At first, I thought it was the transition that needed work, but hearing the rest of the song, I'm thinking the beginning of the song was too muted. I like the song overall, but I'd love to hear it sung in the same vein Michael starts it in as well.

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Baby (You've Got What It Takes) is another fun song. The interplay between Michael and Sharon Jones is fun and unforced. Their voices blend well, and I find myself bouncing and bee-bopping along with the song. This is a great, feel-good, jam out while you clean the house song.

At This Moment is a highlight of the album for me. This song showcases Michael's talent for emotive singing. I keep wanting to say without being showy, but it is showy - but it feels sincere. I'm not sure that makes sense, but there you have it. If I weren't typing, I'd be closing my eyes and just enjoying. Great song. Great voice. It's official: I'm a Michael Bublé fan.

I absolutely love how Michael's voice emerges from the harmonious first few bars of Stardust. It's like it just wells up - fabulous. This is the crooning that makes me swoon for this genre. Yeah, I know I got all rhymey there. I don't care. Oh my -- the clarinet bridge! *catches breath* Oh yeah, this one's my favorite. *swoons*

Michael notes on the back cover "I loved this one [Whatever It Takes] so much that I sneaked it onto the CD as a little bonus for you!" I'm glad he did. You can tell he's just really enjoying the song and his talent on this track. It's got a nice, smooth sound. Seventies fans will enjoy it, though for some reason it doesn't feel so campy to me. Go figure.

All in all, a great album, and one I'm glad to have received. As I mentioned in the beginning of the review, I didn't know what to expect other than a big band album. I am corrected. I wouldn't call this a big band album. This is a Michael Bublé album. There are too many genres and styles represented to categorize it that simply. But it is simply enjoyable.

*This is solely the opinion of 3 Stairs. Other people may have different experiences with this product. I received the album free of charge to do this review. *

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