The things we do for our kids


This is what happens when your husband goes to the grocery store and buys an after-Easter rabbit on sale and your daughter asks you to put antlers on it.

The Easter bunny turned jackalope happened yesterday. How could I say no when my daughter asked me to turn her bunny into a jackalope? Where there’s a will (or an idea), there’s a way.

So I took a scroll down memory lane this morning and found pictures of all the strange “fixes” I’ve had to do to toys over the years. I hope you enjoy. What’s the strangest thing you’ve had to do for someone?  (Tweet this)


This is what happens when your daughter’s favorite Barbie, Cheetah Girl, loses a hand. She becomes Pirate Barbie! Arr!


This is what happens when Cheetah Girl #2 loses a hand (see the blue hook) and also loses a leg. You make her a hook hand AND a wheelchair. I offered to make a peg leg but my daughter told me no. /shrugs/


This is what happens when your dog eats the horn off your daughter’s unicorn. You make a prosthetic horn. Looks like a little party hat, doesn’t it?


This is what happens when the same dog, a few days later, eats the eye off the replacement unicorn. You make a patch and voila, a pirate unicorn.

And a couple of fun projects revolving around wardrobe.


When you want to go as a fairy for Halloween, Grandma makes dresses and Mom makes wings.


Camp shirts for Glow in the Ark. 

2015-05-28 07.18.54-2

When you want to dress up as Abe Lincoln for a school project. Before you ask, the 16 is because he was the 16th president. 😉

And, remarkably, all of these requests have come from my youngest daughter. She thinks outside the box and apparently believes her parents can fix anything. It’s interesting to me how sometimes all you need to be creative is for someone to challenge you to do something you never thought of. (Tweet this.)

Manga 101 by Kat Vinson

Kat Vinson, better know as SparksofEmber, is an avid reader, blogger, long-time subscriber to The Scriblerians, and my friend. Her dream is to someday live in Japan (or Taiwan), building relationships, immersing herself in their culture, and living God’s light. Please welcome Kat to the blog as she teaches us about one of her reading passions, Manga.

So, manga… Either you love them – or you just haven’t yet experienced the joy that is contained in them. 😉 Today I am going to share a crash course in graphic novels – because an informed reader is a happy reader, right?

Graphic Novels or Manga
Manga (pronounced Mhan-gah – both plural and singular) is the Japanese word for what we commonly call graphic novels. Similar to anime being the Japanese word for animated cartoon, “purists” can make a career out of distinguishing Japanese manga from Western graphic novels. However, there is more that distinguishes “manga” from Western graphic novels than just the name.

Left-to-right or Right-to-left
Japanese is read right to left and most publishers stay true to the original format. Back before manga were very popular, it was common for publishers to flip the panels to fit Western norms of left-to-right reading. This generated a lot of criticism, especially from the artists (mangaka) as the flow of the artwork was heavily effected, not to mention all the comic characters suddenly becoming left-handed and so on.

Korean manhwa, while not quite as popular as Japanese translations, are written left-to-right. And, of course, Western graphic novels are the same. Learning to read a comic from right to left seems tricky at first but it doesn’t take long to learn to follow the flow of the comic. Nowadays I’ve become so accustomed to reading manga right to left that I’m more likely to confuse myself trying to read an American comic backwards. 😉


Just like regular books are commonly divided by genre, manga (and anime) have genre, too. But instead of fantasy, science fiction and so on, they are categorized by intended audience. The most common genres are:

Shōnen –  Aimed at younger males, usually up to about 15-18 years-old. Shōnen manga traditionally has a young male hero and is focused on action, adventure, and fighting. Examples*: Dragon Ball, Bleach, Naruto, One Piece, Attack on Titan.
Seinen (Say-nen) – Aimed at men in their late teens into adulthood. Seinen manga are more mature and so tend to be more violent and/or psychological in nature. And they may contain “adult” themes. Examples*: Berserk, Ghost in the Shell, Monster, One Punch Man, Battle Royal, Vagabond, Hellsing, Gantz
Shōjo – Aimed at younger girls – the female equivalent of Shōnen. Shōjo manga focus on romance and relationships — though this does not mean they are necessarily without action or adventure. Examples*: Kimi ni Todoke, Boys Over Flowers, Vampire Knight, Ouran High School Host club, Skip Beat, Fruits Basket, Revolutionary Girl Utena, NANA, Sailor Moon, Fushigi Yuugi
Josei (Joh-say) manga – Aimed at women in their late teens into adulthood. In general, these works tend to portray more realistic relationships (as opposed to shōjo’s often idealized ones) and can cover darker subjects. Like Seinen manga, they can have more “adult” content than the shōjo variety. Examples*: Loveless, Kimi no Sei, Paradise Kiss, Honey and Clover, Kimi wa Pet.
Kodomo (aka Kodomomuke) Manga: Comics/anime for little kids. Examples: Doraemon, Hello Kitty, Chibi Maruko-chan
Dōjinshi Manga: Comic publication that’s written by and for amateurs. Think fanfiction and the like.

(*I am not necessarily recommending these titles. They are just well known titles in each genre.)

*Head’s Up!*
Manga featuring “clean” same-sex relationships are referred to as Shōjo-Ai (girl-love) or Shōnen-Ai (boy-love). As such, they usually fall under the Shōjo category umbrella. Same-sex relationships under the Seinen/Josei umbrella are referred to as Yaoi (male) or Yuri (female). Also, if the book is covered in plastic-wrap, it’s a fair bet the inside has “Hentai” (pornographic) contents.

So how do you know if a manga is Shōnen or Seinen, Shōjo or Josei? Some stories might be obvious while some seem innocent until you stumble across a page that shocks your socks off. Which leads me to…

Rating System
I have often heard readers lament that YA fiction does not come with a rating system. Well, manga do (at least in the Western market.) But just because something is rated A (or E), doesn’t mean it might not be a Seinen or Josei manga – just like a G-rated movie doesn’t automatically mean it’s only for grade-schoolers.

A for all ages (or E for everyone)
T for teen
T+ (or OT) are for older teens
M for mature

At least one publisher also adds a Content Indicator to supplement the rating.
L – language
S – sexual situations
V – violence
N – nudity

The problem with mere ratings is it’s not always obvious exactly why certain books are rated the way they are. The content indicator helps but there is only one publisher who uses them and even they don’t explain everything. So a wise reader (or parent of said reader) needs to research or be prepared for surprises. You could end up buying Loveless because it sounds like a good mystery, it’s only rated T and there’s a boy with cute cat ears on the cover only to discover that the cat ears indicate his virginity and it’s a Shōnen-Ai (almost Yaoi) story about the relationship between a 12 year-old and a college-age man!
So What’s So Great About Manga?
All of this might be scaring you off of manga and I truly hope that’s not the case. For one, the pictures in manga and other graphic novels can be great for capturing the imagination of reluctant readers. Mangaka have also perfected conveying emotions and depth through art and dialogue. Screentones, backgrounds and illustrative speech bubbles can set the mood for a scene. Iconography lets you inside a character’s mind as much as their thoughts do. (A sweatdrop on a forehead indicating embarrassment or confusion, “cross-popping” veins indicating anger or frustration, etc.) And sometimes, the illustrations are just beautiful. One of my favorite aspects of manga are how they can be a window into Japanese culture, especially as many volumes have footnotes and cultural references at the end.
But what’s best about manga is how they can be just as powerful and moving as any novel. Full Moon wo Sagashite has an underlying theme of choosing life over suicide. Fruits Basket has strong themes about friendship, accepting differences, and forgiveness. Rurouni Kenshin revolves around atonement for past actions. Whatever your preferred genre, theme, and even art-style, there’s manga that will speak to you. If you haven’t explored that world yet, I hope you will soon.



The Year of the Jackalope


3D printed jackalope that was gifted to me

What can I say? I have a fascination with creatures that don’t exist. Mythological creatures. Folk tales. Fairy tales.

I’ve recently finished writing a middle-grade portal fantasy that incorporates American, specifically Southwestern, folklore. A few definitions:

Middle-grade: For 8-12 year olds, think younger YA
Portal fantasy: Where the characters go through a portal to a new realm (think Alice in Wonderland or the Chronicles of Narnia)

Here is some art I commissioned for the project. Didn’t the artist do a fantastic job?


My personal blog shifting to focus on American mythology. If you like that sort of thing, please come by for a visit. My first post Are Jackalopes Real? will debut this week.

And I’m on the hunt for jackalope books. I’ve found these so far that have jackalopes in the story. Do you know of any others?

Finally, I’ve created a Pinterest board to track jackalope sightings. Please send me pictures if you’re out and about and run across anything jackalope. I’m collecting!


The problem with Christian allegory

I’m both a fan/not a fan of Christian allegory. If it’s done well, it can be amazing. The problem with Christian allegory is that many attempts are not done well.

There are classics, of course:

  • Dante’s Divine Comedy (1308-21)
  • Milton’s Paradise Lost (1667)
  • Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress (1678)
  • Dicken’s A Christmas Carol (1843)

And more recent classics:

  • Lewis’s The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe (1950)
  • L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time (1962)
  • Hurnbard’s Hinds Feet on High Places (1955)

There are modern allegories too, of course. Some are fantastic, and others are, well, not.

Gate to heaven made in 3d software

What distinguishes good allegory?

  1. Complexity – There are many stories today that allegorize salvation. There are allegories for sin, allegories for redemption.

    It’s the stories that use allegory (symbolism?) as a part of a larger story that are better. If the entire book is about the salvation process, well that’s already been done. Several times.

    Morgan Busse’s book Daughter of Light had a splendid redemption scene within the larger context of her story. I remember reading it and thinking, wow, this is well done.
    Daughter of Light

  2. Subtlety– This goes along with #1. If within the first page you realize you are reading a heavy-handed allegory, then as a Christian, why would you read on? I mean, we already know where the story is headed.

    Now, if I’m reading a story that is fresh and it’s not until I get farther into the story that I realize that’s it’s an allegory, well you’ve caught me. Then I’m engrossed in your story world and enjoying the ride.

    Jill Williamson’s newest book, King’s Folly, is a fantastic example of this. It’s an allegory of Old Testament times, but you don’t really figure that out until you’re in the last third of the book. It points towards the erosion that sin causes and the hazards of tolerance. She handles the allegory (symbolism?) with deftness and grace.

    King's Folly

  3. Creativity– An allegory is, by definition, a story that uses symbolism to retell a story. (OK, so that’s MY definition). If you are retelling a story that has already been told, especially a popular one, then you are going to have to add some spice into the mix. Flair can make the difference between good and bad allegory.

    I recently listened to Jim L Rubart’s Rooms as an audiobook. In this one, he inherits a crazy magic house that brings him step by step closer to God. It’s original, and it has parallels with the Christian life in the context of our culture. So while it’s obviously allegorical, it’s creative and you can’t predict how it will end.Rooms

  4. Originality– Finally, if you’re going to tell an allegorical Bible story, choose one that hasn’t been done a million times. Give us something more than the story of salvation (unless the Holy Spirit has put it on your heart that’s the story you should tell).

    One of the most fantastic biblical allegories is Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers (which is in itself an allegory of Israel’s actions towards God). She’s placed the story of Hosea in the Old West. A man of God told by God to marry a prostitute? Great story. And yes, that happened in the Bible.

    A new book that is out that I haven’t read yet, but really want to, is Valor by R J Larson. This is her reimagining of the story of Jephthah. Not familiar? It is one of those hidden biblical gems that makes you wonder.

    And then, of course, we have our very own Vanessa Morton’s Moonfall. A reimagining of the story of Rahab.

Now, I realize I’m probably mixing up my literary devices a bit in this post. Sometimes when I’m talking about allegory, it might be more correct to refer to symbolism. (I’m sure Tim Akers will correct me.) But you get the idea. 😉




What to do when you’re overwhelmed

It’s the time of year for resolutions. Some of us make them. Some of us hate them. Some of us break them. Some of us have already broken them. (I haven’t started mine yet).

It’s also the time of the year for retrospection and reorganization. How did you do last year? What do you want to continue to do? What do you want to change?

If you’re like me, you’re just happy that you survived December. It’s time to recharge. Time to breathe. Time to wait for the energy to forge ahead with a new plan.

My social media is inundated with offers to streamline, simplify, and reorganize. Free downloadables, discounted plans, new ideas to try. They are fresh, glittery, and tempted. Part of me thinks, if I download the magical calendar organizer, the meal plans, or the decluttering strategy, maybe I can get myself back on track.

No wonder we all bought coloring books for Christmas.

Let’s be honest with one another. It’s not that we don’t know how to make goals, or clean, or get things done. Sometimes it’s a lack of motivation. Sometimes we are so overwhelmed by responsibilities and obligations we don’t have the time. Sometimes in the secret places we don’t like to admit, we don’t believe we can do it.

I’m there. I’m at that place and it’s not a good one. I suffer from anxiety and when I don’t manage it well, it snaps over into depression. The logical sides of my mind says, “Hey, get up and do something. You’re depressed. Doing something will make you feel better.” But the illogical part of me curls up in a ball, pulls the covers over her head, and says, “Maybe I’ll feel like it tomorrow.”

So for my sanity, and maybe yours, here’s a FREE list of things you can do to get yourself back on track.

Surprised young man looking at the camera over white background

You want me to do what?

  1. Pray. The voice telling you you’re a loser, or a failure, or you can’t do it isn’t one you should listen to. Quite the opposite. Pray for truth.
  2. Read the Bible. I know, I know. You’re overwhelmed. You don’t need to ADD things to the list, you need to take them away. We’re going to get to that. Just trust me when I say if you’re not in the Word, you’re not in a good place. This step and #1 are more important than any of the next steps. Praying is us talking to God. Reading the Bible is God talking to us.
  3. Make a list of all the things you need to do. Sometimes just knowing is half the battle. Separate them into things you can do quickly and things that need more time. Tackle the quick things to make yourself feel better, then start on the longer things one at a time in the order of necessity. Scratching the easy stuff off the list will make you feel so much better.
  4. Simplify. Look at all the things you’ve signed up to do. Some are no-brainers. If you have to work, you have to work. But what about the rest? Do you really need to do all those volunteer projects? Do your kids really need to be in all those after school activities? What would your life look like if you didn’t do X? Consider taking a break from some of the activities for a while, or scale back your involvement.
    • As for me, I’m an over-volunteerer. I’m resolving not to volunteer for anything else until I fulfill the obligations I already have. Then I’ll take some time to re-evaluate before diving into anything again.
  5. Draft your ideal week. This is especially important if you work from home. This article has a link with an excel spreadsheet you can download if you like that sort of thing. Don’t schedule yourself down to the minute. Just block out how your days should go. Then step back and look at it. Is it too busy? Does your schedule make you want to hide in your closet? If so, then go back to #4. You’ve got some things on there you shouldn’t.
    • We limit our kids to one after school activity. With two kids, that’s still pretty crazy.
  6. Set realistic expectations. If you’re a writer, don’t expect to write 10,000 words every day. If you’re a stay-at-home mom, don’t expect to clean the entire house, do all the laundry, and go grocery shopping by lunch on Monday. If you and your husband both work and all your kids have separate after school activities on Wednesday, making a 7-course nutritious dinner that everyone loves might not be in your bandwidth.
    • Start with something simple: I will clean one room a day. I will do housework for 1 hour each day. I will write for 20 minutes each day. I will make dinner 3 times each week. I will take a 20 minute walk each day.
  7. Recruit a friend. Someone who can pray for you, encourage you, and keep you accountable.
  8. Blog about it. Entirely optional. 🙂

I’m going through a tough season right now because I’ve been ignoring the steps. I know better, but I find myself falling into novels to escape the stress that has been building up on me since Thanksgiving. I can’t live in denial any longer.

It’s time to go back to the basics. I’ve been here before and I know these steps work. I know I can do it. I know I’m not really a loser or a failure with no hope of succeeding. Get behind me, Satan. He that is in me is greater than He that is in the world.

If you’ve tried these steps and still can’t get your head around things, or if you’re so overwhelmed you still don’t know where to start, then here’s a bonus one for you:

***Get help. Sometimes we need professional help to get through the road bumps life throws at us. Seek a good Christian counselor. Someone who will pray with you. You might have to see more than one to find your match, but the right person can make a world of difference.


Blessings in disguise?

In retrospect, driving to Wyoming at the end of November probably wasn’t the smartest of ideas.

Screen Shot 2015-12-03 at 11.14.52 AM

The trip started off innocuous enough. We hadn’t gone anywhere for vacation over the summer, so we thought we’d get out of town for Thanksgiving week. Our school district gives the kids the full week off for Fall break so that’s an entire week plus both weekends. (Score!)

We decided to visit family because that’s what you do at Thanksgiving. Since we hadn’t seen my husband’s older brother in the longest time, we thought “Why not drive to Wyoming?” (We live in Houston.)

We could stop in Santa Fe and see my brother for a couple of days on the way. Which we did.

Day 1: Driving to Santa Fe. Would have made it to our destination by 11:30 pm after driving all day but a major accident on I-40 had the freeway closed down near Tucumcari for 2 hours. Two hours of sitting and wanting so badly to go to bed.

Looking on the bright side: (1) Thank goodness no one needed to use the bathroom. (2) Thank goodness we weren’t in the accident. (3) We made it safely.


Cottonwood on Canyon Road in Santa Fe. See my little bitty family members next to it?


I love sculpture gardens. Here is a chain dragon at a store on Canyon Road.

Day 5: First night in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Did you know it gets really cold in Cheyenne? So cold that you have heat up the car and scrape the windows before you can drive anywhere. New to us: if you own a Toyota 4Runner and you turn your rear window defrost on when it’s really cold, it shatters your back window. Who knew? Design flaw? I would say so.

Fortunately, we were at my brother-in-law’s house so we were able to park our SUV in his garage and he lent us one of his to get back to the hotel. Can you imagine if it had broken once we got to the hotel? It snowed 3 inches during the night. That’s a lot of snow for the inside of your vehicle, don’t you think?

When the air is dry, snow looks like glitter when it falls.


This is NOT Houston.

Day 7: Trying to get the rear window fixed. Day 6 was Thanksgiving, so we started calling first thing on Black Friday to find a rear window. My husband read on the Toyota forum that the rear window debacle is a fairly common thing and costs around $650 to replace. According to the Toyota dealer, the closest rear window for our vehicle was in Chatanooga Tennessee. They couldn’t have it replaced on Wednesday. (That would be Day 12, and we needed to be home by Day 9!)

Happily, a local auto glass place was able to get the window in and replaced the same day for $234. So we saved $400 and 4 days. Thank you, Safelite Autoglass!

Added bonus, an extra day with family we don’t see often.


Great opportunity to trampoline.

Day 8: Traveling home in an ice storm.

First day traveling home was snowy. Once it got dark, the overpasses started turning a bit icy. Despite warnings in Amarillo to not travel, we continued on for another hundred miles. (No overpasses). The roads were fine. The problem was that we were getting low on gas. We planned to stop at a little town called Memphis, TX to refill but when we got there, the whole town was dark. At first we thought everything had closed early, but then we realized the whole town had no power. No power = no gas. We had 34 miles left and were 36 miles away from the next town. Yikes!

For the next 36 miles, everything we passed was dark. The power in the Texas panhandle had been obliterated by an ice storm. Thankfully, we rolled into the next town with 3 miles left on the gas gauge and the town had power.


Truck in the hotel parking lot. No wonder the power was down.


Trees in the Panhandle were heavy with ice. If we had seen this, we probably would have stayed in Amarillo!

The moral: Visit Wyoming in the summer. 🙂

True moral: Inconvenient and/or bad things happen to us all the time. The fact these things happen isn’t the blessing. When we realize we were spared worse circumstances, we see God’s grace and provision. THAT is the blessing in disguise.

NOW YOU: Any interesting Thanksgiving travel stories? Where did you go for Thanksgiving?

Special Notice: Goodreads Giveaway

If you’ve wanted to read the second novel of the Bird Face series, 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status, now’s your chance! Author and Scriblerian Cynthia Toney is hosting a giveaway of a signed print copy on This giveaway is open to addresses in the U.S. and Canada.

You don’t necessarily have to read the first novel, 8 Notes to a Nobody, to understand the second. If you’d prefer to read the books in order, look for an announcement soon about how to acquire a free Kindle version of 8 Notes to a Nobody.

If you are not a member of Goodreads, here are some reasons to join–and these are only a few!

  • It doesn’t cost a thing.
  • It’s a great place to find out about books with topics or themes you’re interested in.
  • It’s a great place to meet authors, writers, and readers with similar interests.
  • You can keep track of books you’ve read and want to read.
  • You can rate or review books and see other members’ ratings and reviews.
  • You can recommend books to friends and receive recommendations.
  • You can be notified of giveaways for books on your to-read list.
  • You can search for giveaways and enter them.

So, what are you waiting for? Someone will win, and it could be you!

Goodreads Giveaway of 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status

10 steps

STOP BUYING THINGS (AKA How to Simplify Christmas)

Simplify Christmas 1

(I almost titled this post “Looking Past Thanksgiving,” a little tongue-in-cheek poke at Beth’s wonderful post from Tuesday.)

Over the last few years, I’ve come to dread December. Part of the reason is because I work part-time at a church and December can be like tax season for an accountant if you let it. Add to that the onus of decorating, purchasing gifts, parties, and travel and I find myself tired before the season has even begun. What should be one of the most hope filled, joyful seasons of the year has become something I’m beginning to dread. How messed up is that?

And I don’t think it’s just me. I hear people say things like, “I can’t wait for January 2nd.” Others get upset about coffee cup design at Starbucks. (Really?) Black Friday isn’t enough, now stores are opening on Thanksgiving, because isn’t that what Thanksgiving is all about? We’re thankful we have a day off work to go out and buy things?

OK, time to stop and reign in the cynical… /deep breath/

It doesn’t have to be this way, folks. Christmas doesn’t have to be a season of DOing. I can be a season of BEing.

Do you remember what Christmas was like as a child? The round-eyed wonder of the Christmas tree. Candlelight services. Family gathered around. Christmas lights.

What if we all took a step back this year?

Our kids (and grandkids!) don’t need as many presents as Dudley Dursley on his birthday! What if you gave your kids less? Good friends of ours give 3 gifts to their kids (because Jesus received three gifts from the wise men): something fun, something educational, and something spiritual. Or recently on Facebook, I saw an article suggesting 4 gifts: something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read.

What if you didn’t send out Christmas cards? Or maybe this year you skip the Christmas letter?

What if you only put out a third of your Christmas decorations? Or none at all?

What if you didn’t schedule all those parties? Or maybe skip a few this year?

What if you decided not to buy gifts for everyone you know? Maybe give a card instead? Or tell people you’re taking a year off?

What if you took a break from Commercial Christmas like some people do social media? Instead of going on a Facebook or Twitter fast, what if you took a Christmas fast? Get back to the basics. What is most important to you at Christmas? Spending time with family? Going to church? Watching Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer? Do those things.

What if you replaced gift giving with memory making? Why not write a letter and tell the person why they really matter to you instead of buying them something? Draw a picture? Send them a throwback picture. Go caroling, sleigh riding, bike riding. Make a memory, don’t give someone something to collect dust. Be creative. Use your talents.

Do things because you WANT to, not because they are expected. Not because they’ve become a laundry list of traditions.

Here’s my challenge to you: Make a list of all the things you do for Christmas, and then go through and strike off half of them. Extra points if you get rid of 2 out of 3!

Simplify. Be the dentist and pull all the teeth out of the Abominable Commercial Christmas monster. You’ll be glad you did.

Simplify Christmas

NOW YOU: On a scale of 1 (stress free) to 10 (completely crazy), how hectic is the holiday season for you? What can you cut out this year to make the season more fun and less run? What was your favorite thing about Christmas as a child?

The Power of Football

Power of Football

Texas A&M vs. Auburn Oct 2015

I’m a Texan. Born here, went to college here, still live here. When the air turns crisp and no one can breathe because of all the ragweed in the air, something magical happens.


Football is a religion in Texas. You can worship Friday night (high school), all day Saturday and sometime Thursday night (college), and Sunday and Monday (pros). People change which church service they attend depending on what time the Texans/Cowboys play on Sunday. Out of town trips revolve around away games. Children are banished to the upstairs TV so parents can eat chips and queso and yell for their team. And if the game is really big, sometimes you don’t invite other people over so that you can be grumpy and yell at the refs and coaches without anyone to witness your bad behavior.

What is it about football or any other professional sport that inspires such fantastic fanatics?

Coming together with >104,000 of my closest friends.

Coming together with >104,000 of my closest friends.

As creatures, we were created for a purpose–to worship our Creator. To come together as a group for fellowship and to cheer for the good guys. To lend our voices to proclaiming Truth: that in the end, our team will be triumphant.

We need to believe in something larger than ourselves. We crave the camaraderie that comes from like-minded individuals. The Aggies have a saying:

“From the outside looking in, you can’t understand it. From the inside looking out, you can’t explain it.”

That’s a good descriptor for Christianity too, isn’t it?

Some would argue that football is an idol. That can be true, but it depends on the individual. There is a power behind football that, like anything else, can be used for good or for evil.

This past Monday, I went to see the movie Woodlawn with some of our church staff.

Coming off the Aggie’s first loss of the season to the University of Alabama, it was a bit hard to watch such a pro-Bama movie, but who doesn’t admire Bear Bryant?

Woodlawn does a marvelous job of integrating the draw of football with the power of the Gospel to show how Jesus can turn around any situation and person.

The movie is based on a TRUE STORY. This isn’t one of those made-up football teams and fantasy premises. This is how a football team’s conversion healed an entire city in Alabama’s racial wars in the early 1970’s. This is how people in the right position can look past society’s biases and stand up for God’s truth to bring powerful change.

Woodlawn is funny, entertaining, and inspiring. I can’t say enough good things about it. Go and see it while it’s still in the theaters. We need more movies like this.

NOW YOU: Favorite sport? Favorite team?

We are so proud!

Great Job Note Showing Praise Compliment Or Approval

We are happy to celebrate our writing successes!

Congratulations to Linda Samaritoni, winner of the San Francisco Bay Area ACFW chapter’s Elevator Fiction Contest!

Linda Samaritoni

Linda Samaritoni

Her entry, In Shock, at just 250 well-chosen and placed words, can be read in its entirety along with the two finalists’, on the San Francisco Bay Area chapter ezine.

Cynthia Toney

Cynthia Toney

The first two books in Cynthia Toney’s Bird Face series released in September!

The first book, 8 Notes to a Nobody, is the same story as the original Bird Face and has been granted the Catholic Writer’s Guild Seal of Approval.

8 notesThe second story, 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status, takes place during Wendy’s first semester of high school.

10 stepsA Cajun family secret, two very different boys, and a fight to keep a grandmother’s love—who would’ve guessed that looking through old photo albums could get Wendy into so much trouble? 

Wendy Robichaud is on schedule to have everything she wants at the start of high school: two loyal best friends, a complete and happy family, and a hunky boyfriend she’s had a crush on since eighth grade—until she and Mrs. Villaturo look at old photo albums together. That’s when Mrs. V sees her dead husband and hints at a scandal down in Cajun country. Faster than you can say “crawdad,” Wendy digs into the scandal and into trouble. She risks losing boyfriend David by befriending Mrs. V’s cute hearing-impaired grandson, alienates stepsister Alice by having a boyfriend in the first place, and upsets her friend Gayle without knowing why. Will Wendy be able to prevent Mrs. V from being taken thousands of miles away? And will she lose all the friends she’s fought so hard to gain?

This story uses humor and hope to address issues of adapting to a blended family, having a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s, and struggling through that first innocent romantic relationship.