THE INTERN – Two Thumbs Up and a High Five

The Intern movie posterYou may remember from this post that I’ve been waiting over four months to see The Intern, ever since I first saw the trailer. John thought it looked funny, too, so we went to see it yesterday. (It opened Friday.) It was SO GOOD!!!!!

Starring Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway, 70-year-old Ben has decided retirement is too boring so he applies for a job as a senior intern at a super-successful Internet fashion startup company owned and run by Jules, a woman trying to balance everything in her life with limited success. The differences between the older characters and younger characters felt realistic, yet sweet and funny as they all tried to learn from each other.

The Intern movie still photoWriter/director Nancy Meyers had so many opportunities to follow other filmmakers who try to make their characters believable by making them “raw” or “realistic” – and she didn’t take them. This movie will not leave you with a bad taste in your mouth at the end. It was so refreshing to see people making bad choices and then recovering from them rather then wallowing or taking the easy or selfish way out.

Everything about this film is smart and funny and clean. It’s not a romantic comedy, of course, but it’s a great comedy with some unexpected romantic elements. (Hint, gorgeous Rene Russo is older than she looks, and her and De Niro’s characters make you feel like getting older is still going to be fun.) The audience in our theater laughed a lot, and there is a heightened joy when you share laughter, so that made the whole experience even better.

I wanted to see The Intern again as soon as the credits started to roll. Like Saturday’s review of The Age of Adaline, this one is 5 stars, two thumbs up, and a high five. 😀 I am absolutely buying both of these movies on DVD! LOL! Please, give yourself a relaxing break and see them – and take a friend!

The Age of Adaline – A Must-See Movie

Age of AdalineI wish I could remember who told me to see The Age of Adaline – so I could hug her! I’ve been busy so I don’t remember watching the trailer when the movie came out in April. Also, reading the description on IMDB made me think this was some slow, boring, “literary” type of movie, which I’m rarely in the mood for.

But the other night John was out with his friends and I walked by a Redbox at the grocery store and didn’t see anything else that I wanted, so I said, why not?

I am so glad I rented this movie!!!!

Actually, at the moment it ended, I was NOT glad I rented it because I wanted to watch it again! 😀 But it’s on my Christmas list now. 😉

The best part was that there was no “Nicholas Sparks moment.” A couple times I had to brace myself thinking, oh great, this is probably the scene where someone dies and the whole thing is ruined. But it didn’t happen! And a couple times I braced myself thinking, oh great, this is probably where so-and-so is a royal jerk and ruins the tone of the whole movie.

But it didn’t happen!

In fact, I really enjoyed every character, and all the aspects of the plot line. It was a really wonderful story, and well done in every way. The only thing that took me out of the enjoyment of the moment was me worrying that the writers were about to ruin it. In fact, I figured this must be based on a book since it was so well done and that seems to be how we get some of the movies I’ve enjoyed the most the last few years. But when I looked it up, no, just two great screenwriters. I want to hug them too!  😀

If you have a chance, definitely see The Age of Adaline! It’s absolutely 5 stars to me. I can’t wait to see it again the second time, this time without worrying something is going to ruin it. I’m going to love it even more. :)

“The Amulet” by Dolores Else (Free Today)

Another one of my friends has a free book today! Yay! Dolores Else has a series called Burgundy Street Women. Her first book came out in February 2013, The Women of Burgundy Street. Book two, The Amulet, was released last December. But it’s free today and tomorrow, through September 24. Hurry and download it!  :)

If you want to start at the beginning, here are the book descriptions for both books.

The Women of Burgundy Street by Dolores ElseLa Fonda never had a family and never knew love. When she goes to Father Andre to advise where she could live, she feels love and generosity for the first time. He finds her a two-room attic flat in his Aunt Camelia’s building. How could she not love him?

Father Andre, a devoted priest, never dreamt he would fall in love with a young woman who looked up to him as a man of God. How could he not admire her innocence and unworldliness?

La Fonda and Andre become lovers. Father Andre’s pastor learns Father Andre has a mistress and transfers him to another part of the city and has him promise never to see “that woman” again. Andre cannot imagine the rest of his life without La Fonda. Will he be able to leave his beloved vocation and the respect of his parishioners for the woman he loves?

The Amulet by Dolores ElseCamelia, a midwife and dressmaker, prepares amulets for three friends and a daughter in her candle-lit dining room. Each woman has a special need. Some want children, some want love and normalcy in their lives, and Rosalia wants to consummate her marriage. She wishes to give her husband the love he deserves.

The women consider Camelia a wise woman and go to her with their problems. She puts different herbs in each little red satin pouch according to the needs of the women and tells them to believe in the power of their amulets. They do believe.

With her unique challenge, each woman goes through disappointment, and some must take a different path in their lives to attain happiness.

“The Good Girl” Part One by Tracy Reed (Free Today)

Are you a dreamer? I am. I love to dream and visualize my life. In The Good Girl, Gabriella Townsend had one dream, work for Morgan Grant Holdings. In her mind, it’s the best company in the world and they offer the most opportunity for advancement. Unfortunately, like in real-life, dreams don’t always happen in our time frame, but in God’s. I like that, because it means when I put my dreams in His hands, they turn in into so much more.

In The Good Girl (free on Amazon through Friday, September 25!), Gabriella was content waiting for her dream job and when it happened, she got more than she expected.

The Good Girl CoverEXCERPT


We pulled up next to a huge jet and parked.  My nerves were on edge.  I should have known we’d be traveling on the company jet.  Tony got out and opened my door.  “Mr. Marchant will be here shortly.”

“Thank you.”  He helped me out of the car and my mind filled with a thousand possible ways this could be bad.  I walked up the stairs and when I crossed the threshold of the plane, my mouth dropped open.  I looked around the beautiful space and figured if I were being sold into white slavery, at least I was going in style with a great dress. 

“Good afternoon Miss Townsend.  I’m Gil.”  Oh great another strange man.  Am I the only female working for this man?   

“Hello.” I shook the gentleman’s hand.

“Can I get you something while we wait for Mr. Marchant?”

Alcohol wasn’t an option, I needed to stay alert.  “A mineral water please.  Thank you.”

“Have a seat and I’ll be right back.”

I sat down and watched as Tony loaded the bags, then disappeared. I closed my eyes and said a little prayer, followed by a couple of deep breaths. Then I sent a text to my mother, “So far so good.” 

Gil returned.  “Here you are Miss.”  He looked out the window.  “Mr. Marchant has arrived.”

My heart leapt into my throat.  I took a long sip from my glass, popped a breath mint, and stood up.  I brushed the imaginary lint off my sleeve, rubbed my tongue across my teeth checking for lipstick, and folded my hands in front of me.  I looked out the window hoping to get a glimpse of the elusive Phillippe Marchant as he got out of the black Bentley, but Tony “The Wall,” was blocking my view.

I held my breath and aimed my eyes at the entrance, but all I saw was his back, followed by the voice from the phone. 

“Tony, make sure Marcos knows to go to my place and check on things.  Have him forward anything that looks important to the D.C. office, and I’ll see you on board.”

Now I was confused.  I thought Tony was the driver.  Who the crap is Marcos?  I’m surrounded by strange men.  I looked down briefly.  When I raised my head, my eyes landed on a very tall, young, hot man walking towards me.  My body reacted in a way I had never experienced.  I was trembling from head to toe, and a strange sensation settled in the lower half of my body. 

I’ve never seen an executive or man that looked like this.  Most of the executives at Morgan Grant were older and definitely not this fine.  This man’s skin looked like rich black coffee.  I wanted to touch his face to see if it felt as smooth as it looked.  He was wearing a light grey suit and a simple white shirt, with the first few buttons undone to reveal more of that beautiful dark skin.  He continued toward me and his spicy scent filled up the plane.  This couldn’t be…

“Phillippe, we finally meet.”  He extended his hand and I saw his guns.  My God, every muscle in his body was at attention and now he was giving me permission to touch him. 

“Hello.”  I shook his hand and a spark erupted.  No really, an electric shock. 

“Must be the carpet,” he joked.

“Sir,” Gil appeared. 

“Gil, thank you for taking care of Miss Townsend.  Once we get on our way, please serve lunch.  I haven’t eaten since this morning.  When Tony gets back, tell the pilot wheels up.  Thank you.”

“Yes sir.”  Gil disappeared to the rear of the plane.

“Gabriella,” he looked at me and the most salacious thought crossed my mind.  For a moment, I forgot I was a good girl excited about this amazing job God had blessed me with.  “Have a seat.  We have a lot to discuss before we land.”

I smiled, sat down, grabbed the necessary files, and buckled my seat belt.  I reached for my iPad and when I straightened up, Phillippe was sitting across from me.  He had taken his jacket off, revealing more of his incredible build.  He removed his cufflinks and began rolling up his shirt sleeves.  I was fascinated by the crisp white cotton bending at his will, releasing more of his demanding, intoxicating scent.  I tried to focus on my iPad, telling myself, Don’t look at him.  If you do, you might suffer the same fate as Lot’s wife and turn into a pillar of salt.  I lifted up my iPad and pretended to read.  All of a sudden the plane seemed dark.  I looked up and Tony was walking towards us. 

“I told the pilot we’re ready,” he said to Phillippe.

“Let Gil know, and ask him to bring me a glass of ice water.  Thank you.”  He looked at me and I was grateful to be sitting because every muscle in my body was numb.  “Turn your iPad off until after take off.”  He capped off his comment with a smile.  Dimples.  Are you kidding me?   

His looks are strong and commanding until he smiles and then he becomes a real life sex fantasy.  His eyes look like black diamonds, and those have got to be the whitest teeth I’ve ever seen. 

What is wrong with me?  He’s not even my type.  Like I have a type.  My last relationship was with Todd Elliot, my lab partner.  Even then, I think it was a pity thing on both our parts.  He was short, fair skinned, sweaty palms and every time he kissed me, it felt like I was being kissed by a fish. 

I looked at Phillippe’s lips and wondered how those, gorgeous full lips would feel pressed against mine.  I bet they’re soft.  He probably doesn’t kiss like a fish, but like a man who knows how to take charge.  His kisses are probably filled with a lot of passion.  I bit my lower lip, lost in my fantasy of kissing him.


I tried not to stare at her, but I’m shocked at how beautiful she is.  Nowhere in Tony’s report did he mention how beautiful Gabriella is.  My last assistant was a pretty woman in her mid sixties.  Mrs. Reynolds was more like a mother.  However, this woman sitting across from me is a lustful distraction.  I’m not sure if this is going to work.

I tried to play off that spark thing, but it was real.  Nothing like that has ever happened to me, not even with Chantal.      

I’m trying not to stare at her, but those are the sexiest lips I’ve ever seen.  Full and juicy.  I could watch her talk all day.  I wonder how she kisses.  Did I just say that?  What is wrong with me?  She’s not even my type.   But her petite frame and those curves are doing something to me.  I wonder how her hair looks straight.  The curls framing her face make her look sweet and innocent, but those lips…maybe I should send her home and just communicate via the phone and a few video chats.  Who am I kidding? That wouldn’t help, because even talking to her on the phone, her face would be in my head and I’d be envisioning those lips. 

When I sat down across from her, I was glad she couldn’t see how my body was reacting to being so close to her.  How am I going to spend the next month or so on the road with her?

“Turn your iPad off until after take off.”   When she looked up at me with those big brown eyes, I was done.  I polished off that glass of ice water in one swallow and it didn’t seem like the air was working. 

I was exhausted and planned to sleep, but when I saw her, that plan instantly went up in flames.  I didn’t want to miss one moment being in her presence. 

What is that parfum she’s wearing?  It’s taken over the plane.  When I wiped my mouth with my napkin, her scent was there.  It’s like spicy vanilla and tobacco, unusual for a woman, but very seductive.  I’ve never been around a woman as mesmerizing as she is. 

“Were you able to reach your mother?” I asked.  Maybe hearing her talk about her mother will kill the lustful thoughts I’m having.    

“Yes.  I promised I’d call when we land.” 

No such luck.  The sweet sound of her voice traveled into my ear and danced around my head before journeying to my core, awakening something I assumed had become immune to sweet talk.  The funny thing is, she didn’t say anything seductive or enticing.  It’s just something about her.  I can’t quite put my hand on it, although I wouldn’t mind touching every inch of her.

After we reached cruising level, Gil served lunch.  I was starving.  I drank so much coffee in Seattle, I think if you cut me, I’ll bleed Sumatra roast coffee.

So far the only thing that matches up to the report Tony gave me, is that she’s very smart.  Considering the amount of time she had to gather the information I requested, she did very well.  I’m convinced she’ll be able to handle any task I assign her.

She caught me off guard with her question.  She’s a lot more perceptive than I anticipated, which is what she’ll need working with clients and the other executives.  However, I’ve got to be careful not to slip up and make her suspicious of me.  I need to keep the truth about her job and my position a secret as long as I can.  I want her to be fully trained and comfortable working with me and Tony, before telling her why I really hired her.  The longer she believes she was hired to be the Assistant to the new President, the better.  She needs to believe there’s someone I report to.

Only available at

Tracy Reed

About Tracy Reed:

I am a single Christian woman who loves God, Fashion and Cute Guys. Not all women who write Christian fiction will admit to that.

The subjects I write about are considered taboo in Christian fiction. If you want to read about Christians dealing with unrequited love, apprehension to give love another chance, arranged marriages, physical attraction, divorce, annulment, controlling their urges, infidelity, abortion, dating younger men, being a single mother, slipping up and sleeping with your estranged ex, standing up for yourself, being honest about not liking your in-laws, still being attracted to your ex, battling postpartum depression, having challenges in your walk with Christ or if you aren’t too proud to admit you sometimes get angry and yell at God, then you’re in the right place.

The people that read my books have a thing for designer clothes and accessories and aren’t ashamed to admit it. To them a cute Christian guy on their arm is the finish to the perfect outfit.  Sort of like lipstick, you don’t have to have it, but it sure makes you feel prettier when you do.

Check out Tracy’s other books at her website:

International Literacy Awareness

Did you know September 8 is International Literacy Day? The good folks at Grammarly reminded me and gave me permission to post their infographic showing the latest statistics on literacy/illiteracy in the world today.

Remember, you can help! Ask at your local library what is being done to increase literacy in your area. (Increasing literacy decreases poverty!) You can donate books, money, or become a literacy volunteer. Every little bit counts!

Literacy Day


To learn more or to share this infographic, read the full blog post on Grammarly. Also, check out some of Grammarly’s tools like their Plagiarism Checker.

Book Marks: The Bones Will Speak – Book Review by Carrie Kurtz

Cover image of the novel, The Bones Will SpeakThe Bones Will Speak by Carrie Stuart Parks

Goodreads Summary

Forensic artist Gwen Marcey has become the target of a serial killer who believes he’s been appointed God’s executioner.

In Copper Creek, Montana, Gwen Marcey is struggling to put together her life after cancer and divorce. When her dog retrieves a skull of a murder victim and leads her to the victim’s grave, Gwen uses her forensic art ability to identify a serial killer. She is horrified to discover all the victims look like her fourteen-year-old daughter.

The murderer is a “lone wolf,” a member of the terrorist group Phineas Priesthood – and he has a score to settle with Gwen. Unraveling the tangled Christian Identity movement, where race -not grace – provides salvation, Gwen is in a frantic rush against time. She must use all her skills to uncover the killer before he can carry out his threat to destroy her and everyone she loves.

My Thoughts on the Book

If you like watching Criminal Minds then you’ll probably love this book!  Seriously, it was like watching an episode of Criminal Minds, CSI, or something like that, except without any bad language or inappropriateness.

This is actually book 2, which I didn’t realize until after I started this book, but it didn’t seem to make a difference. It could have been a stand-alone and be equally as good.  I had a little trouble getting into the book at first, although I think it was just me and my overwhelmed mind at the time, but after the first few chapters I was hooked.

The Bones Will Speak is the first book that I have read by Carrie Stuart Parks.  I enjoyed her writing style, and the fact that she is actually a forensic artist shows.  Her knowledge of it makes the book even more believable.  I really hope Carrie Stuart Parks writes another book and continues the series.  I will definitely pick it up if she does and I highly recommend reading The Bones Will Speak!

*Note: I received a copy of this book from in exchange for my honest review.

Carrie Kurtz


Carrie Kurtz is a full-time mom and wife who can’t help but make time to explore new worlds in between carpooling and laundry loads. She’s trying to encourage a similar obsession with reading in her two children, and she’s grateful her husband supports her habit. She can be found at Carrie K’s Book Reviews

Are You On a Desert Journey or a Dessert Journey?

j0149014It took me forever to learn to correctly spell desert and dessert. It wasn’t until a teacher in high school said, “Remember, dessert has two s’s like food has two o’s” that I finally got it. Then a few years later I moved to the desert. That’s when I really began to learn the difference.

There are millions of people who live in desert and semi-desert areas who love where they live. I was never one of them. I call our 7 1/2 years living in Phoenix, Arizona, “our desert experience” for a reason: it was a hard, hard life. I usually liken it to the Israelites’ desert experience – full of trials and tests, more enemies than friends, and not seeing until the end how much God helped us grow.

But sometimes life hands you a dessert experience. That was how we felt about most of our 3 1/2 years in Sydney, Australia. The first year was difficult because we lived paycheck-to-paycheck in a tiny cockroach-infested one-room apartment. But the second time we lived there was hands down the most blessed period of our lives!

Kitty birthday cheesecake from Jess SoCalRWA confWe lived in the most gorgeous apartment we’ve ever lived in, walking distance to the beach. We had dozens of friends and a great church, all within walking distance or a short bus ride. Financially we were in a place where we could eat out regularly and sometimes treat others, vacation once a year, go to concerts and other events, and generally enjoy life.

We could afford to enter half marathons and other races, and we lived walking distance from the most magnificent park – still our favorite place to run. We were in the best physical shape of our lives! We were able to share the joy of our new home with several friends who visited from the States. We decided I would go back to school and get my master’s degree. I had a wonderful writing group a train ride away. John enjoyed his job and liked his coworkers. And we both had wonderful friends almost too numerous to count.

We’ve never had a period in our lives like that before or since, when everything came together at the same time in such a magnificent way. It was humbling, and we were filled with gratitude most of the time.

But…life is cyclical. Ocean waves come and go. The tide goes in and out. The moon shines brightly and then disappears, only to shine again.

And now we’re back in a desert experience. If you’ve known us for a while, you’ve heard how the last four years have been – unemployment, multiple deaths of family and friends, medical problems, and so much more. Just when we think we’ve got our feet under us again, something knocks us down. Again. Just last week I was feeling like things were getting better, then the next day someone fraudulently emptied our checking account. These are the moments when you feel like the beatings will never end.

Karen, Jill, Kitty, and John after Easter services at the Hollywood Bowl

But there’s something different about this desert experience. I’m not sure if I can explain it but…even though we’ve been knocked down to the point where we have to live with a friend for a while and still can barely pay all our bills, we have some truly major blessings.

They say financial difficulties are one of the leading causes of divorce, but John and I are tighter than ever. I am spiritually stronger and more joyful than I’ve ever been in my life. We both got tangled up in depression-caused overeating and not exercising, but we’ve recently turned a corner there. I plan to be my healthiest in the next couple years. :) And though we don’t see many friends very often, we are loved and supported by friends around the world.

Plus, despite innumerable setbacks and conversations about quitting, I am still writing and still teaching. My next self-publishing class will finally start in a couple weeks and it’s going to be the best class I’ve ever taught! I am cautiously optimistic about where my career is going and how quickly things may be about to change.

We’ve been through desert experiences, and we’ve been through dessert experiences. But I don’t know what to call where we’re at now. Oh! Just as I typed that, I thought – it’s an Oasis Experience! Yes! Haha!! That’s what we’re having! Oh, I just love that. Thanks, God, for giving us the cool description!

So what about you? Where are you – desert, dessert, or oasis? 😀 Do you feel like you’re growing, or are you hanging on with all you’ve got and praying for it to end? Whichever place you’re in now, I feel like I understand, at least in general. So here is my advice:

Remember, you are not alone.

TanzaniaIf you’re having a hard time, you’re not the only one. If you’re in a difficult place, there are people around you to help you through. There is always someone else having a tough time that you can encourage, too. (Think of it this way – you understand the hard times! Maybe their other friends don’t.)

If you’re experiencing a “I can’t believe I’m so blessed” period, thank God for it! Share your joy and gratitude with others. Invite people over and eat cake. :) Think of ways to share your wealth, whether physically, financially, or by spreading joy and laughter in your wake.

We are not alone. If God is for us, who can be against us? Whoever it is, they won’t succeed. So take heart! And keep on keeping on!

Book Marks: The Pilgrim by Davis Bunn

The Pilgrim book coverWhen I read that The Pilgrim was the story of Constantine’s mother, Helena, I was eager to read it. As I got to know Anthony and Cratus and some of the other characters, I enjoyed it even more. Add in a perilous journey through enemy territory being chased by a massive brute who is eager to kill – I’m in!

As always, Bunn’s book is well-written and draws you in from the beginning. But for all the action and adventure in the stories in the Bible, I rarely feel like I’m sitting on the edge of my seat biting my fingernails with historical Biblical fiction, so I don’t read a lot of it. Since this story isn’t actually from the Bible, I’d hoped it would be closer to the nail-biting end of the reading spectrum. (I figure some Biblical fiction is somewhat sanitized so as not to offend.) But there was only one (really good!) scene when I wondered who would live or die.

The other scenes where I expected more action and anxiety faded off into nothing bad happening to our protagonists. Not just that the enemy didn’t attack, but also without any clear indication that the people believed God intervened, that it was faith that made the difference. Why didn’t the enemy attack? Why did they think the enemy didn’t attack? If I was supposed to see their faith growing as they prayed for deliverance and were delivered, it was too subtle for me to gather from the text. Instead, I felt like I didn’t know what was going on, like I was missing something. (Yes, I saw their faith growing over the course of the book, but it didn’t seem to be very linked to being saved over and over.)

And the book ended like that for me – like I was missing something. I expected the vicarious thrill of victory over the enemy and the joyful glow of feeling God had delivered them as promised. I expected to hear even the briefest mention of how Helena and Anthony and Cratus saw a change in their lives. But instead, the end gave me an arm’s length description of how Helena’s work changed a nation.

That’s great, but that’s the history side. I wanted the more personal side of how Helena was changed, but I never got close enough to her. Almost like a friend who never really lets you in, and eventually you give up and realize this person will never be the close kind of friend. That’s pretty much the exact opposite of what I look for in fiction, so that’s the disappointing part of the story for me.

If you already like this genre of fiction and/or if you like Bunn’s other books, you’ll like this one. But for me…well, I felt like I tried to make a new friend and ended up knowing her as little in the end as I did in the beginning.

[I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.]

3 1/2 stars

My 6-Item Checklist for Positive Thinking

Emoticon with big toothy smile

Over the years, I’ve read a lot of material on self-help, building a business, and spirituality. At some point in each of those topics, there is talk about the power of positive thinking. If you know me or have ever met me, you know that in general I am a pretty positive kind of girl. So I haven’t spent too much time trying to learn more.

But one thing I very much dislike about some of the more spiritual theories is the idea that if you don’t get what you want, you didn’t pray hard enough or you have a secret sin that God is holding against you. Either of those things may be true (God always forgives but wants you to acknowledge what you’ve done wrong), but sometimes God’s answer is “no” for reasons we don’t understand at the time. Complete repentance, Spirit-filled faith, and hours of prayer don’t always result in the answer we want. Don’t believe me? Read about the heroes of the faith in the Bible. There are numerous miracles, but there are also instances of faithful prayer resulting in “no.”

Additionally, I don’t believe a theory is true if it can’t be applied in all circumstances. If a positive thinking theory works in most Western cultures, which are more affluent than many other cultures, but it won’t work for a poor woman in a third-world country, I doubt its validity.

So when I listened to a podcast last week about positive thinking applied to building your business, I was interested but wary. I’ve been praying for weeks about positive thinking in business because I wanted to get God’s take on some things people had been telling me that I didn’t fully believe.

When I was listening to this speaker, I suddenly remembered two Bible verses. I looked them up and laughed in relief! God had answered my prayers to show me His way of positive thinking. Even though I’ve memorized these sections in the past, and thought I knew them well, I hadn’t applied them to this problem before. Read them and see what you think.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:4-9, Paul’s letter to the believers in Philippi)


But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23, Paul’s letter to the believers in Galatia)

Depositphotos_7310221_originalMy new 6-item to-do list: Rejoice. Don’t worry. Be grateful. Talk to God. Focus on the good. Look to see if “the fruit of the Spirit” is growing in my life.

I know from experience that those things work. God has transformed my heart and mind over and over when I allow myself to focus on what’s not working in my life, what I don’t have, what I’m afraid of. (He’s doing it right now as I type this post.) This is the kind of positive thinking power that I can believe in.

It’s Biblical, straight from the source, without unintentional mangling by human teachers. Don’t trust me. Go look it up, read the surrounding verses for context, read several translations. (You can read from over a dozen translations at

I’ve been searching and learning a lot in the Bible about how to build a great life and a great business. I’ve read a lot of books and articles on neuroscience – the science of the brain – and much of it underscores what God tells us in simpler terms in the Bible. Focus on the positive, be grateful, bring everything to God, and you’ll find peace. Or in more worldly terms, what you focus on is what you will find more of.

I’m super excited that this all came together for me. Finally! 😀 Now I have a much better idea of how to move forward in growing my business. I’ll work on being grateful and joyful regardless of whether God answers specific prayers with “yes” or “no.” I’ll focus on the positive, on what’s working, and take the problems to God without worrying about them. (That will be hard, but I’m going to keep trying!)

This will even work for decision-making. Not sure if you should buy that new item for your business? When you think about buying it do you have peace, or is there some doubt that today is not the right time? Is it true that you need it today, or can you wait? Which is the more admirable choice?

Trying to filter a decision through the above, I decided to wait a month before deciding if I’m going to sign up for a comic book convention I really want to go to. Yes, I’ll sell books and promote my work, but it will cost more money than I’ll make. Much as I want to go, I feel more peaceful about putting off the decision for a month, even though it’s possible all the tables will be gone by then.

Don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying I’m right and other teachers are wrong. (Well, I’m not saying all of them are wrong.) But I can’t just blindly believe things because someone else says it. I don’t think you should either. Give this some more consideration. Think about what you believe and why.

I hope you find a way to move forward into a happier, more peaceful life. And perhaps both of us will find greater success in business because of it.

S’more Romance in Little Miss Lovesick – Free This Week

If you haven’t picked up Little Miss Lovesick yet, it’s free today through Saturday (August 18-22, 2015) on Amazon in all countries. Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 3. I chose this portion because it’s the scene with the s’mores. 😉

My friend Rachel visited last week from Melbourne, Australia, and my friends here threw a s’mores party in her honor. Here’s a picture of her eating one of her first s’mores. You can just see her smiling around the bite. I, on the other hand, am getting melted marshmallow all over my hand. 😀

Rachel and Kitty eating smores

From Little Miss Lovesick, Chapter 3:

“Seriously, Sydney, our cute fishing guide was definitely hitting on you.”

“Which is precisely the reason I don’t like him already.” Technically, I was lying. He seemed nice enough. But I needed to put a stop to Em’s ideas.

“Yeah, right, I forget how that works. Only flirt with guys who ignore you. I always get that one wrong.”

I threw an orange peanut butter candy in her direction. “I didn’t come up here to flirt, I came up here to heal. Rebound relationships rarely last because they’re rarely healthy. I’ll get healthy, then start…you know, dating.” It felt weird to say it. When I moved to Traverse City, I assumed I’d never have to date again.

“Quoting another Internet guru? I’m telling you, flirting is a healthy way to move on. Trust me.”

Listen to her, urged Little Miss Lovesick.

I’ll admit, it did feel good to have the attention of a seemingly nice and definitely attractive man. And we were only here for the weekend. If Emily was wrong, we’d be safely home again in three days and I’d never see him again.

I sat up on my bunk and stared hard at Em. “You really think it’d be good for me?” Even though she didn’t have a boyfriend right now, she always seemed so confident when it came to relationships.

“Healthy and harmless.” She crossed a finger over her heart. “I swear.”

I ate some more of my candy, pairing up the brown ones with either an orange or a yellow and eating them two at a time. After a minute, I said, “Okay, I guess.” I looked up at Em again. “But don’t get pushy, okay?”

She grinned. “You’re going to feel so much better. Come on, let’s go outside.”

We wandered out and sat on the porch swing. It was in good shape, but it looked old. I liked that.

“This is the life, huh?” said Emily.

“Mmm,” I said as we set the swing in motion.

We both leaned back and closed our eyes. The breeze tickled the leaves and rustled them like quiet wind chimes. I smiled. I just might have to sit here the whole weekend.

Footsteps sounded down the porch. They got closer until they stopped and I heard another chair creak nearby.

“Ah, this is the life, huh, girls?” Patty’s voice floated over and we giggled without opening our eyes or changing the rhythm of the rocker.

“I just said those exact same words,” murmured Emily.

Creak, swish, creak, swish. The rocker lulled us into a lazy peacefulness. It felt soo wonderful. A few minutes later, more footsteps sounded on the grass, getting closer. I opened one eye and saw Matt coming toward us.

Patty waved. “Matt, this is wonderful. You and Ted have outdone yourselves.”

“I’m glad you’re enjoying it,” Matt said as he turned toward us and stopped. “I guess you were right about the swing.” He put one foot on the bottom step and leaned against the railing, nodding toward Em and me.

His wavy dark hair was tousled and messy. His eyes and his mouth always seemed to be smiling. I liked people who smiled a lot. Normally, I’m one of them. I thought about Em’s suggestion that I do a little flirting. How do you start again? I noticed his biceps and forearms were tanned and covered in muscle. Nice, but I couldn’t really say, hi, so how’d you get all those muscles?

Little Miss Lovesick by Kitty BucholtzHe is so sexy, crooned Little Miss Lovesick.

I closed my eyes again. Too relaxed to argue. Especially about that.

Patty laughed. “I didn’t unpack quickly enough.”

“Did you want to sit here?” I asked. I turned toward Patty, poised to get up.

“I can trade with you if you want,” Emily volunteered.

Matt grinned and Patty laughed. “No, no, no. You girls enjoy it. I’m fine for now.”

“Patty and my uncle argued all winter about whether he should bring up this swing. He insisted no one would sit on it, but it looks like he was wrong.”

“It used to be in my backyard. But we got a new one and I couldn’t think of a better place for that one than up here. Worst case, I’d sit in it every time I came up.”

“You all know each other then?” Emily finally opened both eyes.

“Oh, where’re my manners? Matt this is Sydney Riley and Emily Dodson.” The three of us murmured our acknowledgements. “Matt’s mother and I were best friends all through school.”

“And you still are?” I said.

“Well, she died when Matt was a boy.” Patty smiled in a motherly way at Matt and he smiled back. Smiles tinged with a bit of sadness. It made my heart ache a little. Seemed I was sensitive to anyone losing someone they loved.

“Are you going to build our little fire?” Patty asked, eyeing the bag in Matt’s arms.

“I can’t build a little fire. I can only build towering bonfires.” Matt’s eyes sparkled and Patty laughed. Her eyes widened and she said, “I know!” like there was a story there somewhere.

“What’s in the bag?” Emily asked.

“Hot dogs, condiments, s’more fixin’s, napkins—” Matt peered inside as he listed the contents.

“S’mores?” Emily interrupted. She stopped rocking and we looked at each other and smiled. “Hey, I know you probably need to get that fire started and, you know, watch it and all. We’ll set up the supplies for you, if you like.” She elbowed me.

The supplies Emily referred to were, of course, the s’mores makings. If you haven’t eaten s’mores on a summer’s evening, you haven’t lived. A big fluffy marshmallow toasted over an open fire until it was golden brown, then pressed between two graham crackers with a big square of Hershey’s chocolate. Yum. So good, you always wanted “some more.”

For s’mores, I could pretend to flirt. “We’re very good at setting up supplies,” I said in a mock serious tone. “We set up supplies all the time, don’t we, Em?”

“All the time,” she echoed, standing up. “Patty, don’t you think he needs help setting up the supplies?”

Patty waved her hand at us and laughed. “I’m sure he’d love your help. You all go start dinner”—she got up from her chair—“and I’ll reintroduce my seat to that old rocker.”

“Well, if you want to.” Matt looked at me like he wondered if I was going to play nice or not. I smiled brightly at him, hoping that was the right amount of flirtatiousness. He smiled and made a manly grunting sound, then led the way to the fire pit.

“Are you ladies enjoying the U.P. so far?” Matt asked as we walked along.

If you’re not familiar with Michigan, it’s surrounded by the Great Lakes so both land masses are called peninsulas. The Lower Peninsula is where Traverse City is, where I live. The Upper Peninsula is bordered by Canada on the north, and it’s mostly just called the U.P.

“Oh, it’s wonderful,” said Emily. “The flowers and the scenery — and we saw a bear on the way here! Very cool.”

Matt smiled at her contagious enthusiasm. (Everyone does.) “What about you?” He turned to look at me. His expression was kind and gentle. For a second, I wanted to put my hand in his and walk for a very long time. Not Little Miss Lovesick. Me. I wondered what Patty had said to him. Why else would he look at me that way?

I mentally shook myself and decided to go the witty route. “Hmm, I’ve found it to be”—I looked away—“damp and sticky.” I looked back to find the tug of a grin beginning around his mouth. I felt a bit of a tug around my mouth, too. I was tired of being mad at people. In fact, the little relaxation I’d gotten on the porch swing had helped a lot. There was no reason not to be friends. Or at least friendly. We’ll see about flirtatious later.

“Damp and sticky, huh?”

I noticed below his lovely blue eyes, a day or two of whiskers covered his cheeks. I never had to push Dirk to shave every day because he’s the kind of guy who wants to look professional seven days a week. I like kissing a clean-shaven man better than one with whiskers. But there was a certain charm to Matt’s unshaven state.

“Any chance of improvement in the forecast?” he asked.

I tried to act like I was thinking. “Mm, I think tonight is expected to be a vast improvement. A fire, food, fun — and s’more food.” I couldn’t help but laugh a little.

“Definitely, s’more food is in the forecast,” Emily chimed in. “Which will likely lead to s’more fun.”

Matt laughed. “Okay, point taken. I’ll get that fire going.”

We’d walked down a wide trail in the woods and into a small clearing. A firepit the size of a small car was in the middle. There were huge logs around it that I assumed were for sitting on because a piled of chopped firewood waited to one side. A couple picnic tables made up the balance of the man-made objects. The simple setting was perfect.

Matt dropped the bag of groceries on the nearest picnic table and walked over to the pile of wood, grabbing some smaller pieces. “Either of you know how to start a fire?”

Emily pulled the hot dog buns out of the top of the bag. She looked at me and grinned as she answered. “Sydney knows how to build a great fire.” My eyebrows rose. We had a gas fireplace at my parents’ house. You flipped a switch and had a fire. “She used to be a Girl Scout,” Em finished.

“No, I, uh, that was a long time ago.” I made a what are you doing? face at Emily. She nodded her head in Matt’s direction. Thankfully he wasn’t looking our way. Stop it! I mouthed with a glare. Building fires was one of the many things I did not learn how to do in Girl Scouts. This smelled like an Emily setup to me.

“Come help me get this thing going and you’ll have your s’mores in no time,” he said as he arranged the kindling in the bottom of the pit.

This is the point in the movie when the audience yells, “No! Don’t do it!” But like all movie heroines, I blindly moved forward, not knowing that this moment just might be the beginning of the end.

I walked over to Matt, feeling a little stupid, and stood there watching him. He took a long-nosed lighter like people use to light their fireplaces and started dry leaves and grass burning under some twigs.

“Hand me some more of that kindling,” he said. He pointed behind him to a little pile of sticks. I squatted down and handed them over, and he fed the growing fire.

What is it about a T-shirt and jeans that is such a turn-on? Twice in one day, I was admiring this man’s very fine rear end. Women complain about being ogled like a sex object, but we do a pretty good job of doing the same thing to men.

Matt backed up a couple steps as the fire burned higher. I nearly fell over in my haste to get out of his way. The contact I was trying to avoid happened anyway when he reached down and clasped my wrist, pulling me up. “Why don’t you move back a step. The fire’s going to be hot soon.”

Soon? The calluses on his hand tickled the inside of my wrist. I think the fire is too hot already. I was torn between trying a little flirting per Emily’s suggestion or backing up and getting away, far away. My not-yet-healed heart made the decision. I pulled back.

“Looks like you’ve got it going, so…I’ll just see if Emily needs any help.”

The words were barely out of my mouth before Emily called, “Oh, I’ve got it under control here. Matt, you need Syd to help you with anything else?”

Matt tossed another couple pieces of wood on the fire and backed up a little more. He looked over his shoulder at me and said, “Wanna help make some hot dog skewers?”

“Sure. What do you want me to do?” I tried to sound cheerful, easy-going, not at all intimidated by his presence or the fact that he was asking me to help with something I was clueless about. Hot dog skewers. How hard can that be? I could keep a comfortable distance between us. It’d be fine.

He pulled a pocketknife from his jeans and took a long, green stick from a pile on the ground. Unfolding the knife, he grabbed the end of the stick and, with a few clean hard swipes, had a perfect skewer for hot dog roasting and marshmallow toasting.

“Okay?” He smiled and handed me the knife and another stick.

I gulped and took the knife very carefully from him. Concentrate on the task at hand. Don’t think about his smile. I have a task. I can focus. This is good. I took a swipe at the stick. Not bad. I can do this.

I glanced up as Matt happened to look my way. He smiled. I smiled back. If a butterfly flaps its wings in your stomach, will there be a storm?

I looked back at the stick I held and took another swipe with the knife. Yes, concentration is good. The stick is looking fine. Just have a little knot here. Careful. I’ll cut it the other way.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw Matt lean over, grab another log, and toss it onto the fire. The muscles in his arms were amazing.

I pressed too hard with the knife. It hit the knot and went flying along the wood toward my hand. Matt turned to me just as I nearly cut my thumb off.

“Whoa, there!” He jumped toward me and grabbed both of my hands in his, holding the knife hand away and looking closely at the thumb I nearly lost. “You okay?”

He’s quite a bit taller than me and he’d bent down to examine my hands for blood and missing digits. His face was very close to mine. I looked for the telltale ring around his irises that would prove he’s wearing blue contacts.

“Fine. I’m fine.” I felt like I was stuttering. “There was a knot.” I held up the stick, but I was still looking in his eyes. No contacts. Real blue eyes. I felt his hands holding mine. That was contact. I pulled away. After all, I didn’t know this guy. He could be a total lunatic.

He’s not a lunatic, he works here, said a Voice.

Remember The Shining, said another.

Patty knows him, so he must be safe.

But I don’t feel safe. I feel like I’m being slowly electrocuted. That Voice certainly had the right of it.

Matt let go of my hands and stood to my left, explaining to me how to safely sharpen the end of a stick with a knot in it. But there were too many other Voices and I couldn’t concentrate. I pulled the knife down the end of the stick and hit the knot again.

“Hold on, you’re going to hurt yourself.” Before I knew it, his right arm was around my back and holding my right hand. His left hand covered mine and he moved the knife smoothly over the wood.

I’d always wanted Dirk to teach me something in a romantic gesture like this. Like what you see in the movies. A man’s arms around the woman he cares for, showing her how to swing a golf club or swing a tennis racket or…

Or sharpen a hot dog stick. Oh geez, he smells good. I closed my eyes for a moment. Like sunshine and spices and…and fire. Matt shifted his weight. I could feel his entire body behind me. His breath moved my hair, which tickled my ear.

“You see?” he said. He moved the knife again, my hand still held in his.

Should I say no so he’ll stay? The Voice in my head seemed logical to me.

I know he was just helping me sharpen a stick without cutting my hand off. I know that. But it felt like being held. And I couldn’t remember the last time I’d been held. I don’t know if I moved closer or he did. But as the knife continued to move up and down the stick, I felt his body wrap around mine. I closed my eyes again, feeling content for the first time in months.

The knife stopped moving. I opened my eyes and turned my head to look at him. A bolt of electricity raced through my body. He must’ve felt it, too, because he pulled away suddenly with a surprised look in his eyes.

He cleared his throat. “And, uh, that’s how you, uh, yeah…”