Monday, December 19, 2011

21 Weeks Pregnant | It's a Girl!!

We had our 19 week scan two weeks ago tomorrow, but I completely forgot to post about it. Sorry!! Anyway, this is the only image they gave us that was even a little bit recognizably human, so it will have to do. Our beautiful little girl kept her face pressed up against the uterine wall the whole hour I was in there, and since ultrasound images are obtained by bouncing sound waves off the baby through the amniotic fluid, the tech was unable to get a very clear picture - there just wasn't enough fluid between her face and my uterus. I'm a bit disappointed that we don't have a cuter (more human-looking) picture of our sweety, but I am just so SO so thankful that she is healthy and in there!! For those of you who don't know, Nick and I struggled with unexplained infertility for four years and had given up trying for a baby when she showed up - a complete surprise. Our little Serenity is most definitely a miracle baby!

Yes, we've settled on a name ~ Serenity

Friday, November 18, 2011

House Of Hope | Elizabeth Gifford | Book Review & Blog Tour

House Of Hope
Elizabeth Gifford

One couple’s powerful ministry to some of China’s most vulnerable children. 
Robin and Joyce Hill lived in a gated community in Beijing. Their family’s life was marked by luxury and the security of Robin's job as an engineer. Then one day, as members of their church, they had a chance to tour a state-run orphanage. Haunted by the needs of the children they saw there, for the next four years they tried to help the institute in meaningful ways.

In 1998 the Hills planned to leave China, but instead felt a sudden call from God on their lives. They left their gated community--reserved for only non-Chinese residents--moved their family into a small apartment miles outside of Beijing and immediately began to take in foster children.

They took in any child, but especially those that needed extra care—terminally ill children that couldn't receive care elsewhere, and those that needed complicated and expensive surgeries that the Hills soon began to coordinate and sometimes pay for out of their own savings.

What began as Hope Foster Home is now New Hope Foundation. As they continue their work, the Hills enjoy support from major corporations and high-profile philanthropists as well as the trust of the Chinese authorities. The Hills' story is an inspiring example of God's care and provision for those whom society does not value. Learn more about Hope Foster Homes here:
This story is a very moving one, and I couldn't put it down. Robyn and Joyce Hill lead extraordinary lives, and because of their faith and devotion, thousands of Chinese babies are alive today who would otherwise have perished. What a legacy! I highly recommend this book to anyone with a heart for children, and for service to God.
"I strongly support Robin and Joyce Hill's New Hope Foundation which is saving so many orphan lives in China. Read this amazing story of God's grace and accept the challenge to make a difference!"
--Steven Curtis Chapman

"I had the privilege of going to China and witnessing the work that God is doing through Robin and Joyce Hill. They are wonderful servants of God who lovingly care for the 'least of these.' I hope that many will read this book and consider their example."
--Francis Chan, author of Crazy Love
You can read what other reviewers are saying about House Of Hope here.
Elisabeth Gifford is a journalist who has written for the London Times and the Independent Newspapers. She lives in Kingston, England, and teaches children with dyslexia.

You can buy this book for only $11.19 here!
The publisher is sponsoring a $50 "GET / GIVE" GIVEAWAY: One winner will receive a $50 gift certificate for themselves AND $50 will be given in the winner's name to Hope Foster Home!

To enter all you have to do is send a tweet (using #HFH) about The House of Hope or share about it on Facebook!
If you tweet they'll capture your entry when you use #HFH. If you share it on Facebook or your blog, just email them and let them know ( Easy!


I received a free copy of this book for the purpose of providing an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Author Interview | Jody Hedlund | The Doctor's Lady

Jody Hedlund, Author

What prompted you to begin writing? Is it something you have always wanted to do, or did the interest come later?
Like many writers, I’ve been writing since my childhood days. I always loved telling stories. When I was in junior high, I entered my first writing contest for a Biblical fiction story. And when I won, I realized God had indeed gifted me. I think that was when I became more serious about wanting to be a writer when I grew up.

However, as I began my college years, I quickly realized that creative writing wasn’t a career track that would help pay the bills. For a time, God moved me into social work. I went on to get my masters and was thankful for the experiences and opportunities I had during those years of helping underprivileged people.

Do you ever get writer's block? How do you work your way past it?
No, fortunately, I rarely get writer’s block. I give myself a daily word count of how much I need to write, and I stick to it as best as I can. Whatever amount I miss one day, I try to make up on another day of that week. Having the daily/weekly goals helps keep me going even when I’m not in the mood.

However, if I ever get into a slump, I put in my earbuds and listen to music. The steady rhythm helps me block out distractions, inspires me, and often evokes strong emotions deep inside me.

What was the very first story you ever wrote? Was it ever published?
The first story I wrote was probably in first grade in a spiral notebook. And of course, it’s long gone in the trash! But as far as my adulthood writing career, I wrote five novels that are collecting dust in a closet. They were my practice books, the books that helped me grow and become the writer I am today.

What inspired you to write The Doctor's Lady?


This book is inspired by the true life story of Narcissa Whitman, the first white woman to brave the dangers of overland trail and travel west. In 1836, she married Dr. Whitman, and then the next day left her childhood home and would never return for the purpose of starting a mission among the Nez Perce natives.

It was my hope in this story to bring Narcissa Whitman to life. This heroic woman has often been ignored and at times even disparaged. In reality, she exuded incredible courage to attempt a trip many proclaimed foolishly dangerous. It was called an “unheard-of-journey for females.” Because of her willingness to brave the unknown, she led the way for the many women who would follow in her footsteps in what would later become known as the Oregon Trail.

What is your favorite part of the writing process? Your least favorite?
As a writer, I love telling stories. I especially like the feeling that comes as I near the end of the book when everything looks hopeless, the characters are in big trouble, and somehow I’m able to wrap up the book in a satisfying way. I call it the first-draft love affair! I fall absolutely and madly in love with the story and think it’s the best thing I’ve ever written. 

I struggle the most during the editing phase of each of my books. The love affair that started during the first draft comes to an end. I fall out of love with my books. By the last edit—called the Galley Review—I finally reach a point where I loathe the book, think it’s the worst thing I’ve ever written, and wish I could just throw it away. 

What advice would you give to someone who wants to write an historical novel?
Write a couple of books first and unleash your creativity. Then start reading books that explain how to write. Study techniques, practice them, and keep writing.

Of course, writing historicals requires more research than novels set in contemporary times. I plan in six to eight weeks of research before I begin writing the novel. I try to get a feel for the time period and learn as much as I can about the setting, plot points, etc. Once I start writing, I try not to let research questions distract me. I may look things up occasionally, but usually I mark issues that need further research and then I go back to them later during editing.

So, what's next? Will you write another historical novel?
In 2012, Unending Devotion, my next historical romance releases. I’m really excited about this story because it’s set in my home state of Michigan. It takes place during the 1880’s at a time in history when the lumber era was at its height. Although the story isn’t inspired by a true person the way my first two books have been, I do include several real people, particularly a real villain by the name of James Carr who was notorious in central Michigan for his violence and for introducing white slavery into the state.

The heroine of the story is a young woman, Lily Young, who is looking for her sister who’s caught up into the degradation of lumber camp life. While Lily searches for her missing sister, she fights against the evil that runs rampant around her, and she fights not to lose her heart to the lumber baron who turns a blind eye to the lawlessness of the lumber business.

Where can reader’s find you?
I hang out on Facebook here: Author Jody Hedlund

I also love to chat on Twitter: @JodyHedlund

My home base is at my website:

I love the "About" section all of your books include...
Jody Hedlund is an award-winning historical romance novelist and author of the best-selling book, The Preacher's Bride. She received a bachelor’s degree from Taylor University and a master’s from the University of Wisconsin, both in Social Work. Currently she makes her home in Michigan with her husband and five busy children. Her second book, The Doctor’s Lady released in September 2011
Thank you so much for joining us, here at Little Bit Of Wondeful, and for helping us to get to know you a little better!

Jody will be watching the comments section on this post, so if you have any questions for her, you can ask them here, or "like" her Facebook page and chat her up there. I hope you enjoyed this interview as much as I did! Don't forget to enter to win a copy of her brand new book, The Doctor's Wife, and read all about it here!

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Doctor's Lady | Jody Hedlund | Book Review & Giveaway

This giveaway is closed. Congrats to the winner, Kimberly Ferland!

The Doctor's Lady
Jody Hedlund
Bethany House Publishers
378 pages


Priscilla White KNEW God wanted her
to be a missionary. NOT A WIFE.
Then, the missionary board declares
THE ONLY WAY she can serve
is to be MARRIED.
Now, married IN NAME ONLY,
her epic journey west will test
her spirit...and the new
LONGINGS of her heart. 
~ from the back cover.


The Doctor's Lady is the fictionalized story of Marcus and Narcissa Whitman, a young missionary couple who traveled to Oregon country in 1836 to start a mission among the native Nez Perce. The Whitmans traveled with the Spaldings - a pastor and his wife - and Narcissa and Eliza Spalding are famous for being the first two white women to cross the Continental Divide and make it all the way to the far west. Narcissa wrote a very detailed diary, and drawing on those writings as well as the various historical accounts of their life, Jody Hedlund has constructed a vivid picture of the life of this incredible woman and her companions. In order to breathe life into her characters, Hedlund fictionalized the account just enough to speculate on what is not fully known, and gave the characters new names (Marcus and Narcissa Whitman become Eli and Priscilla Earnest); even so, this book is highly accurate as verified by Narcissa's diary.


From the very first chapter, to the final page, The Doctor's Lady is mesmerizing. Priscilla's faith as she marries a man she does not know so that she can serve God on the mission field is staggering, as is the faith of the man she marries, Eli Earnest. These two, so different and yet so alike, do not at first seem like they could ever have more than a superficial, even business-like relationship, but watching them grow together through the rigors and trials of the trail West makes you yearn for more for them than the distant arrangement upon which they agreed when they obeyed the American Missions Board and got married in order to serve as missionaries. Jody Hedlund proves her merits as an author in this incredible story as she masterfully depicts the harsh life on the Oregon Trail, and all of the twists and turns of two lives drawn together by the Master. I highly recommend this book!


You can own your own copy of The Doctor's Lady for only $10.19 at!
Want to know more about this incredible author? Check back on Wednesday (November 16, 2011) to read an exclusive interview with Jody Hedlund, here on Little Bit Of Wonderful!
Want to win a free copy of The Doctor's Lady, right here on Little Bit Of Wonderful? The incredible author, Jody Hedlund, is offering one of my readers their own copy of this amazing book! All you have to do is enter via the Rafflecopter widget below (only entries received via the widget will count - comments are for blog lovin' only), and check back here (and in your email inbox) in two weeks to see if you are the lucky winner! This giveaway is open to residents of the United States, only.


I received a free copy of this book for the purpose of providing an honest review. All words and thoughts are my own.


Don't miss my interview with this amazing author! Jody shares some thoughts with us here.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Old & The Stupid (Dogs, That Is)

So, we have a problem with our dog-putting-out routine. When Nick's parents bought this house, we all thought, "Hey, cool! Poor Ty (the old dog) has been chained all her life, and how she gets a fenced yard! Boy, will she love this!" Butters (the stupid dog) spent the first year of his life in a fenced yard, so we were excited about the fence for him, too, as he hasn't taken well to being chained when outside. Fenced yard = awesome! Right?

Not so much.

The old dog turns out to be an escape artist. A really fat, slow, farty escape artist. Anyway, she's not allowed outside by herself for more than the time it takes to do her business anymore, because if left unattended and without imminent bodily functions to take care of, she somehow worms under the fence and runs away. The stupid dog is either too tall or long (or just dumb) to escape the same way, so he just follows her around the yard, frantically bouncing from one side of her to the other (and occasionally on her) and barks when she finally escapes.

After being assaulted by doggy gastric odors this afternoon, we threw both dogs into the backyard to do their business, and hopefully become less disgusting (ha). Mere minutes later, I braved the cold wind that is currently blowing our nice neat leaf piles back onto the yard, and called for Ty to come inside. Nothing happened. A quick (and shivery) glance around the yard confirmed what fatty's failure to appear had suggested - the old dog had once again slipped the fence.

"I'm not chasing her," was met with equally disinterested declarations from around the kitchen table - she's old, but she knows where she lives, bless her little geriatric heart, and we all knew she'd eventually get bored or hungry and come home. I was just settling into the rocker and trying to come up with something to blog about when I saw Ty through the front window, busy decorating the fire hydrant on the corner. Crap. Now that I knew where she was, I couldn't very well ignore her, and out the front door we went, calling her name (mostly) and pointing at the house (just in case she thought we were telling her to go next door). Cindy shooed her up the front steps, and all appeared to be ending well, when the stupid dog seized his chance at freedom and zipped between my legs and out the front door, vaulting the old dog, and skittered across the street and into the neighbors' front yard.

Unfortunately, you can't let the stupid dog just run around the neighborhood until he gets bored and comes home. For one thing, his attention span is so short, he never gets bored, and he's really really fast. For another, he doesn't know where he lives. What, you thought we call him the stupid dog because it's cute?

After shooing my barefoot, winter cold-riddled husband back into the house (and retrieving the piece of ham he'd had the foresight to snag out of the refrigerator instead of donning footwear), I followed the stupid dog down the block, waving the ham in the air, and yelling such gems as "Here, puppy puppy puppy..." and "Get over here, you fuzzy little waste of space!" Eventually he made the mistake of stopping to pee on a bush, then running up onto an enclosed porch, and I was able to get close enough to make him aware of the (nasty, wet) ham in my hand, and from there it was just a matter of keeping the ham high enough in the air that he couldn't snap it out of my hand. Did I mention that Butters runs like a drunken sailor? Well, when a piece of (disgusting, greasy) cold ham is floating a measly six feet off the ground, he doesn't so much run as bounce like some sort of demented, spring-loaded, carnivorous rabbit. It's a lot of fun.

We made it back to our own front door in one piece, and I gave him the ham (more to get it off of me than to be nice). The best part of returning the stupid dog to the house after he runs away is how he seems to have no idea he's done something wrong until we're on the front step. But as that screen door begins to swing open, he suddenly realizes he's outside without a leash, and his mommy is really pissed. Tail between the legs, ears back, big gold eyes beseeching me to spare his oh-so-miserable life... It's hard to keep a straight face and just say "Bad dog! No running away!"

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Lasting Impression | Tamera Alexander | Book Review & Blog Tour

A Lasting Impression
Tamera Alexander
Bethany House Publishers
426 pages


A fake. A forger. More than anything, Claire Laurent longs for the chance to live an authentic life, to become the woman she wants to be. And she'll be given that choice. But will it come at too costly a price?

Claire Laurent's greatest aspiration is to paint something that will bring her acclaim. Yet her father insists she work as a copyist. A forger. When she's forced to flee from New Orleans to Nashville only a year after the War Between the States has ended, her path collides with attorney Sutton Monroe. She considers him a godsend for not turning her in to the authorities. But after he later refuses to come to her aid, Claire fears she's sorely misjudged the man. Finding herself among the elite of Nashville's society, Claire believes her dream to create a lasting impression in the world of art is within reach--but only if her fraudulent past remains hidden.

The Federal Army has destroyed Sutton's home and confiscated his land, and threatens to destroy his family's honor. His determination to reclaim what belongs to him and to right a grievous wrong reveals a truth that may cost him more than he ever imagined--as well as the woman he loves.Set at Nashville's historic Belmont Mansion, a stunning antebellum manor built by Mrs. Adelicia Acklen, A Lasting Impression is a sweeping love story about a nation mending after war, the redemption of those wounded, and the courage of a man and woman to see themselves--and each other--for who they really are.


When I first picked up this book, I was genuinely worried that I held in my hand a cheesy romance novel with a Christian bent. Boy, was I wrong! A Lasting Impression is the fascinating story of a young woman forced to forge art by her father, who takes the first opportunity after her mother's death to flee and begin a new life in a world where honesty is valued higher than money. But the past does not die, and Claire eventually has to face up to her roots and accept the consequences. Sutton, the young many in the story, must also learn from his past - that who you are is not tied to what you own or what others think of you, but that our identities are determined by the choices we make each day, and by who God says we are. Claire and Sutton cross paths in a comical accident, and choose to walk away more than a little pleased to see the other go, only to be thrown into each others daily lives when Claire takes a job in the home of Sutton's employer and friend. Not only do they have to learn to get along, but they must also learn to trust each other - something that does not come easy to either.

I loved reading A Lasting Impression, and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves historical fiction. This story has certainly left an impression on me, that will last through many, many rereads!


Tamera Alexander is a best-selling novelist whose deeply drawn characters, thought-provoking plots, and poignant prose resonate with readers. Having lived in Colorado for seventeen years, she and her husband now make their home in Nashville Tennessee, along with their two adult children who live near by. And don't forget Jack, their precious--and precocious--silky terrier.

For more information please visit


You can buy your own copy of A Lasting Impression for only $9.22 by visiting this link!


Kindle Fire Giveaway and Facebook Party from Tamera Alexander!

While Tamera and her book,  A Lasting Impression, are traveling across the country virtually (with a few international stops as well!), she will be hosting a Kindle Fire Giveaway (11/4 - 11/15) and preparing for a lavish Southern-Style Facebook Party (11/15) (dripping with hospitality, of course). She will be giving away Southern Food Baskets, books, and an array of other fabulous freebies! Don't miss a minute of the fun. Swoon!

Read what the reviewers are saying here.

One grand prize winner will receive:

  • A Brand New Kindle Fire (shipped as soon as it releases)
  • A copy of A Lasting Impression and 3 other special books Tamera wants you to have (for Kindle)
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends at noon on November 15th. Winner will be announced at A Lasting Impression Facebook Party on the 15th. Tamera will be wrapping up the A Lasting Impression celebration with an author chat and giving away Southern Food Baskets (Loveless Cafe Food Baskets, books, Amazon & Starbucks gift certificates, and copies of Christy Jordan's Southern Plate cookbook), six gift certificates to Starbucks and, and copies of A Lasting Impression! So grab your copy of A Lasting Impression (it's okay if you don't have one yet- you might win one!) and join Tamera on the evening of November 15th for an author chat, a trivia contest (How
much do you know about the 1860's?) and lots of Southern-inspired giveaways (complete listing here).

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

Don't miss a moment of the fun. RSVP today and tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER. Hope to see you on the 15th!


I received a free copy of this book for the purpose of providing an honest review. All opinions and words in my review are my own.

Monday, October 31, 2011

14 Weeks Pregnant

I am three and a half months pregnant today, and in my second trimester. My baby's eyebrows are growing in, he may be sprouting hair on his head, he's making facial expressions, and he might even be sucking his thumb! My belly has definitely popped, but since I have a fair amount of belly fat I only really look pregnant to people who know I am, otherwise I just look kinda fat. I can't wear my old pants anymore, but thankfully I found two pair of maternity pants at Goodwill, which I've been wearing since week eight. I've had to pack away all of my regular shirts, and switch to maternity ones with some long tunics and tank tops thrown in. Oh, and another significant change? Lets just say that I've moved way up the alphabet in the undergarments department. Yup, lots of fun.

Nick and I scheduled our 20 week ultrasound, and will be finding out if we'll be bringing home a son or a daughter, on December 6th!

Monday, October 24, 2011

13 Weeks Pregnant

Dear Baby,

Second trimester, here we come! Supposedly, I will soon begin to have more energy. That would be nice - after all, I plan to make your nursery bedding and decorations myself, and I can't do that if all I want to do is sleep! Your crib is almost paid off, and your Daddy and I plan to paint it a pretty shade of buttery-yellow. I think you're going to love it!

Love you always,


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Entitled To Nothing, Yet Grateful For Help

When I was able to work, I paid taxes. My husband pays taxes. We pay taxes, even though we don't make enough money to live on. And at the end of the fiscal year, we get at least part of those taxes back from the IRS in the form of a tax return.

There are some who would consider us mouchers or "entitled" because we use certain welfare programs, and we get some of our taxes back each year. I find this strange, considering that we do actually pay taxes - we take that hit every paycheck, just like everyone else. Just because we live in a country that recognizes that some of its citizens cannot afford to lose that money permenantly does not make us bad people. It doesn't make us any less hard working, nor does it make us any less patriotic. Frankly, I am offended by the very thought.

To anyone who thinks that all people who have to use "the system" are slackers, or that they are all living high on the hog on tax dollars - take a look around you. Yes, there are some who use the system as an excuse to not work, to live like slobs, to abuse their children, or any number of other horrible things. But for every one person like that, there are hundreds like us; people who want to work, who want to be independent, but because of the economy or other factors outside their control cannot make enough of an income to live without those welfare programs. I do not feel entitled to your hard earned tax money. But I do thank God every day that we live in a country that does its best to take care of those in its midst that are unable to take care of themselves sufficiently.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

9 Weeks

Sweet little baby, deep inside
Mama's thinkin' about you tonight
Sweet little fingers toes and ears
Mama's cryin' happy tears

~ 9 weeks

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Bouncing Baby Belleque | Sharing The Good News

Nick and I decided to wait until I got home to tell anyone else the good news. We wanted to be together for that, and I had only just hit five weeks, so we knew we had plenty of time. I was originally supposed to stay in Kansas for two weeks, but given the news, we decided to cut my visit short by a week, so I could get home and go to the doctor, and be with Nick.

It was hard, not spilling the beans, especially since I still got on Facebook every day, but Nick had it way worse - he had to pretend nothing had happened while seeing family every day for a week! His mom and dad both asked me if he was okay when I called for him, because the poor guy was wandering around the house in a daze! He finally confided in our pastor, which really seemed to help. I was lucky - Tina already knew (obviously), so I could talk to her about it all I wanted.

The day I got home, Nick and I had barely put my things down in the house when he told his parents. They were more than a little surprised! We went over to his sister's house and told them, and they prayed over us, which was really nice. Then we called my parents, who were stunned and thrilled as well. My sister Jessica found out from Mom and started jumping up and shrieking, telling everyone else in the family! I told my brother the next morning, and he claimed he knew what I was going to say, and was also very happy. This is the first baby on my side of the family - all of my siblings are going to be first time aunts and uncles, and my parents will be grandparents for the first time, too! It was very late by the time I told our immediate family, so we called everyone else the next morning, and announced it on Facebook the day after that.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Bouncing Baby Belleque | How We Found Out

Some of you know I went to Kansas to see my sister, Tina, and her family a couple of weeks ago. She is expecting her sixth child next month, and of course as soon as I walked in the door all we could talk about was babies and pregnancy! Well, one thing led to another, and I mentioned I was late (again - this is not unusual), and she surprised me by suggesting I test. Considering the more than thirty pregnancy tests I have taken in the last four plus years without a single positive result, I wasn't very excited about the prospect of yet another disappointment. But I was late, I was experiencing early pregnancy symptoms (even though every time in the past I had experienced the same symptoms, they turned out to be nothing but PMS), and darn it I just couldn't turn off that little spark of hope that always ignites whenever Aunt Flo fails to show up on time. So I took the test. And it was positive.

The first thought through my mind when I saw that second pink line? "It's finally happened; I've snapped, and now I'm hallucinating!" I stumbled out of the bathroom and told Tina there was a second line, then stumbled out the back door and stood leaning against the swing set, hyperventilating. Could I really be pregnant, after all this time, and so much heartache? What if it was a bum test? After all, Tina is almost full term, so that test is at least eight months old, and it isn't even one of those sophisticated ones, just a dip stick! What if it's wrong? What if it's right??

I don't know how long I stood out there, but suddenly I needed to be sure - sure - that I had really seen a second line. I rushed back in the house and grabbed the test - the second line was real! I showed Tina (who reacted very gracefully to having a pee stick shoved in her face), and she agreed - there was a second line. It was then it really hit me; I am pregnant!! I sat down hard on the couch and burst into tears. I don't know why I cried; shock, maybe? Fear? Sheer joy and disbelief rolled into one? Tina's children gathered around me and patted my arms and shoulders, and gave me hugs. They were so excited to hear that Aunt Alena had a baby growing in her tummy!

Later that evening, Tina took me to the store and we picked up another box of tests, just to be sure. I took one when we got home, and it was also positive - a strong positive! I called Nick.

The poor guy threw up, I kid you not. Started crying (or at least got all choked up, it was hard to tell over the phone and he wasn't telling), and just kept saying "Really? Really? Oh wow...". It was beyond words to describe, making that call.

I tested again the next morning, and was met by yet another positive. I called my doctor's office and they told me that I didn't need to worry about going in until I got home because the home tests are just as sensitive as the medical versions nowadays. Three positives? Pregnant!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Skyrim & Why I Should Not Game

I am a big time fan of the Elder Scrolls video games. My obsession started back in high school (or was it my second year of college? I can't remember.) with Morrowind, and when Nick and I first got married I discovered Oblivion, which I have been gleefully happily playing ever since. Well, Skyrim is about to come out, and I am ridiculously beside myself with joy excited about it!

And here is a picture of why I am WAY to obsessive to play video games...

From this bizarre article on mixed race babies in Skyrim.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

30 Day Challenge | Husband Encouragement Challenge For Wives | Day 3

30 Day Challenge
Husband Encouragement Challenge For Wives
Day 3

{ Devotional }

" suffers long, and is kind..." 1 Cor. 13:4  
"And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." Phil. 4:19   
Love indeed suffers long and is kind. As you consider your Encouragement Challenge, determine today that you will not say anything negative to or about your husband. Speak kindly to him with words of genuine encouragement.  
If your husband is considerate of your needs, let him know that you have noticed. Thank him for his kindness and consideration. Thank the Lord that your husband knows how to be both tough and tender.  
Sometimes it's difficult for a man to be gentle, kind or tender - especially if he hasn't had role models in these areas. If he's not a considerate person, appeal to him for help without complaining. Let him know that it's hard for you to handle some things alone. Then, when he moves in to help, don't insist that he do it your way. Be glad that he is responding, and express your gratitude.   
Ultimately, you can't expect your husband to make you feel more secure, loved, etc. Remember that only God can meet the deepest needs of your heart. 

Join me after the jump for my response to today's devotional...

Friday, September 2, 2011

Fairer Than Morning | Rosslyn Elliott | Author Interview & GiveAway

Rosslyn Elliott
author of Fairer Than Morning

The delightful Rosslyn Elliott, author of Fairer Than Morning, generously agreed to participate in an author interview here on Little Bit Of Wonderful, and is sponsoring a giveaway of her lovely book! I enjoyed getting to know her better imensely, and I know you will too. Be sure to read all the way to the bottom for a chance to win your own copy of Fairer Than Morning! If you missed yesterday's post, you can find my review of her book here, as well as information about the huge book release party going on all over the web, and the amazing giveaway she's sponsoring to celebrate the release of Fairer Than Morning.

Join me after the jump for my interview with Rosslyn Elliot, and a chance to win your own copy of her lovely book, Fairer Than Morning...

30 Day Challenge | Husband Encouragement Challenge For Wives | Day 2

30 Day Challenge
Husband Encouragement Challenge For Wives
Day 1

{ Devotional }

"...through love serve one another." Gal. 5:13b 
How did you do yesterday with your first day of blessing and encouraging your husband? Was it easy? Was it hard to hold your tongue when you wanted to say something negative? We hope you're off to a good start. (If you blew it, don't give up - start again today!) There are so many practical things you can praise, if you look for them. 
Today, find some way that your husband is serving you or your family. Does he help around the house? Take care of the car? Fix things that are broken? If your budget allows, give him a new, small tool with a big bow attached. But make sure he doesn't think it's part of a "Honey Do" list! 
Maybe your husband's not a handyman, but does he run errands for you? Let you go first? Take care of you when you are sick? Help you make decisions? Praise him for his willingness to serve others. Let him know that you see his unique service as a great strength. 

Join me after the jump for my thoughts on today's devotional...

30 Day Challenge | Husband Encouragement Challenge For Wives | Day 1

30 Day Challenge
Husband Encouragement Challenge For Wives
Day 1

{ Devotional }

"The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain. She does 
him good and not evil all the days of her life." Prov. 31:11-12   
To refresh your's the 30-Day Encouragement Challenge...for the next 30 days:  
* You can't say anything negative about your husband your husband...or to anyone else, about your husband.  
* Say something that you admire or appreciate about your your husband...and to someone else, about your husband!  
To help you get started, have you ever thanked your husband for "choosing you" above all other women? He found you attractive as a person, and appreciated you. Though many circumstances in your marriage may have changed, let your husband know that you are glad God led you together, and that you want to be a blessing to him for the rest of your marriage. Let him know that he can trust you to be in his corner. 
One of the best opportunities to express your gratitude is first thing in the morning. How do you greet your husband each morning? Is he confident in your love? Give him a "wake up call" that he'll never forget-a big "I love you" and an "I'm so glad I'm your wife!"

Join me after the jump for my thoughts on today's devotional...

30 Day Challenge | Husband Encouragement Challenge For Wives

The other day, I received a Facebook invitation to an interesting challenge for the month of September. The original Facebooker who set up the event gave this message...

For the month of September I am asking all you wives to join me in a 30 day husband encouragement challenge. 
I did this challenge in March 2011 and it changed both my marriage and my life. And I want to welcome anyone and everyone to join me in making our marriages stronger and ultimately making us stronger as wives. What I noticed most through this challenge was how much it changed me. 
If you decide to accept this challenge, I hope that you will give yourself some grace when you have a hard day or when you feel like you've failed. Those days will come, but keep at it, let God move in you and through you. 
I'm excited to do this challenge with you. If you feel lead, from time to time, post some of your experiences. I will be sharing mine as well. We are all from different walks of life, some married for a few years, some for many years. How this affects us can be so different and hearing your stories can be inspirational. 
God's blessings to you as you take up this challenge.

Join me after the jump for the rules and my challenge to you today...

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Fairer Than Morning | Rosslyn Elliott | Book Tour & Review

by Rosslyn Elliot


Ann dreams of a marriage proposal from her poetic suitor, Eli-until Will Hanby shows her that nobility is more than fine words. 
Ann travels to Pittsburgh, accompanying her father on business. There she meets Will Hanby, a saddle-maker’s apprentice. Will has spent years eking out an existence under a cruel master and his spirit is nearly broken. But Ann’s compassion lights a long-dark part of his soul. Through his encounters with Ann’s father, a master saddler, Will discovers new hope and courage in the midst of tremendous adversity.
When the Millers must return to Ohio and their ministry there, Will resolves to find them, at any cost. If Will can make it back to Ann, will she be waiting?

Read an excerpt here:

Join me after the jump for my thoughts on this book, and info about the great giveaway the author is doing to celebrate the release of Fairer Than Morning!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Author Interview | Karen Witemeyer | Part 3

Welcome to Part 3 of my interview with Karen Witemeyer, fabulous author of To Win Her Heart! If you missed Part 1 or Part 2, check them out here and here. Looking for my book review? Check it out here, and don't forget to enter my giveaway of this lovely book! Join me after the jump for the conclusion of this delightful interview...

Friday, August 19, 2011

Author Interview | Karen Witemeyer | Part 2

If you missed Part 1 of this three part interview with Karen Witemeyer, the brilliant author of To Win Her Heart, check it out here. This second part of our interview focuses on her other books, and let me tell you, I am excited to get my hands on them as soon as possible! And don't forget to enter my giveaway! Join me after the jump...

Friday, August 12, 2011

Author Interview | Karen Witemeyer | Part 1

Karen Witemeyer is the incredibly gifted author of To Win Her Heart, an historical romance set in the old west. You can read my review of this amazing book here, and don't forget to enter the giveaway to win your very own copy of To Win Her Heart while you're there! Karen has graciously agreed to do a three part interview with me for Little Bit Of Wonderful, and I know you are going to enjoy what she has to say as much as I did! Join me after the jump for Part 1 of this special three part series...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

To Win Her Heart | Karen Witemeyer | Book Review & Giveaway

This giveaway is now closed.
The winner will be announced Monday, 8/29/2011. 
Thanks a bunch!!

{ Buy @ BethanyHouse }

Karen Witemeyer
347 pages

I am very excited to share with you not only my review of this exciting new book, but announce that the beautiful and talented author ~ Karen Witemeyer ~ has agreed to a series of interviews and to give away a copy of To Win Her Heart to one lucky reader of Little Bit Of Wonderful! Make sure you read all the way to the bottom for details...


After completing his sentence for the unintentional crime that derailed his youthful plans for fame and fortune, Levi Grant looks to start over in the town of Spencer, Texas. Spencer needs a blacksmith, a trade Levi learned at his father's knee, and he needs a place where no one knows his past.

Eden Spencer has sworn off men, choosing instead to devote her time to the lending library she runs in the town her father founded. When a mountain-sized stranger walks through her door and asks to borrow a book, she's reluctant to trust him. Yet as the mysteries of the town's new blacksmith unfold, Eden discovers hidden depths in him that tempt her heart.

Eden believes she's finally found a man of honor and integrity. But when the truth about Levi's past comes to light, can this tarnished hero find a way to win back the librarian's affection?

~ From the back cover of To Win Her Heart by Karen Witemeyer.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

To Win Her Heart | Karen Witemeyer | Check Out My Review!

If you have a soft spot for romantic historical fiction, To Win Her Heart by Karen Witemeyer is an absolute must-read ~ and it will inpspire you, too! Set in the Texas town of Spencer at the turn of the last century, this is a story of love, forgiveness, and redemption. Karen Witemeyer is a master of her craft, and this book is an amazing example of her work! And if you haven't already discovered my literary blog, be sure to check it out while you're there! After all, it's Just Another Day In Paragraphs...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

30 Days Of Truth Challenge | Grow Where You're Planted | Day 5

Day 05 → Think about your childhood ~ does anything come to mind that affected your growth into adulthood?

Seriously?? I don't think I thought this particular writing prompt through very well when I was compiling them for this Challenge. I've covered this question pretty well over the last couple of days (read here, here and here), so I am going to do today's post a bit differently.

April is Child Abuse Awareness Month. I will be doing a full post (maybe more than one) on this later this month; for now, here is an image to start us off...


To see the full Challenge list, click here.
To see Day 1, click here.
To see Day 2, click here.
To see Day 3, click here.
To see Day 4, click here.

Monday, April 4, 2011

30 Days Of Truth Challenge | Grow Where You're Planted | Day 4

Day 04 → Name an area in your life in which you would like to change. What steps can you take this week to affect that change?


Isn't this such a loaded question? I could talk about the weight I want to drop, and how I can take longer walks or eat less bread. Or I could tell you about my obnoxious habit of poking at my poor husband when I'm bored, and how I should probably stop before he has a heart attack or divorces me. Really, there are any number of things I could talk about wanting to change, and any number of ways in which to affect that change, but wouldn't that be just more of the same?

Real change is something not easy to do. It involves a depth of honesty and self-reflection that, frankly, most of us just aren't ready to face. And some things? Some things, you can't change the way you wish you could, and facing that reality takes even more strength, and yes, humility.


The single most frustrating thing about being me - the thing I would change in a heartbeat, if I could - is the anxiety condition that I bear as a scar of a childhood of abuse at the hands of my father. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder manifests itself in many different ways, and each person afflicted has a different experience than anyone else with the disorder. Many symptoms are common to sufferers, but how they combine and affect daily life varies greatly. For me, while I have many different symptoms, I handle daily life fairly well. I go to church, small group, to the post office and the grocery store, and on dates with my husband. I can hold a conversation with a stranger, and maintain long-term relationships. What people don't see is the toll those and other activities take on me over the course of a day or a week, and how certain activities are beyond me completely in some circumstances.

When someone knocks on your front door, what do you do? I know my own reaction...

Who is it? What do they want? Do they mean me harm? Is it still light outside, or is it dark now? What if they are hiding behind the bush beside the door? What if they jump out at me? What if they shove open the door and attack me?What then?? No, no, I'm being silly; no one wants to hurt me, just calm down now. But what if it's someone I don't know, and they want to sell me something or convert me to their religion? How can I get rid of them without causing offense? What if my fear of confrontation takes over and I spend money we don't have? For Pete's sake, I couldn't even say no to that little redheaded 4th grader - and I hate pie!! Or worse, what if it's someone I know, and they want to come in?? That grabby lady at the store yesterday really took it out of me, and I just can't face anyone right now; what if I start crying? And they're not someone who knows or understands why I would just suddenly do that?? Dang it, there's the door again... Maybe if I just sit really quietly they'll think no one's home-- no, wait, the car's in the drive. Would it look weird if I carried this frying pan to the door with me? Maybe if I pour some oil in it first, they'll think I was about to start cooking something - how horrible would it be if they knew I had it because I'm too freaked out to answer the door unarmed?! There goes the doorbell again...

Most of us enjoy feeling clean, and showering is a daily routine for many. Some people dislike showering for various reasons; maybe your shower stall is tiny, dark and cramped, or maybe you have low water pressure which makes shampooing shoulder length hair more of a chore than a tool for relaxation. But I doubt many dread showering because even the thought of it makes them shake from head to toe with dread, break out in an icy sweat, or have violent flashbacks that they can't quite understand (which makes it even worse).

Do I sound dramatic? I'm sorry. I wish I could tell you I am just making all this up for sympathy or new readers, but I'm not. Even writing this down, knowing that people who know who I am in real life will see it makes my hands tremble and my breath quicken; I do not write because I am brave - I write because too many people like me, who suffer symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression, and paranoia, are misunderstood simply because no one steps forward to say "I feel that way too, and we all have very real reasons to feel like we do."

What do I wish I could change about my life? I don't think that's the right question. You see, the things I've experienced in my life have affected me powerfully, and not just in ways that cause me grief. Because of my experience as an abused child, my heart is soft towards others who suffer. I am more ready to run to the defense of the helpless, even though doing so resurrects my own painful memories. No, I wouldn't change the things that have already happened to and around me; I am who I am because of those things, and I wouldn't change that for anything.

But change is not a bad thing! Does embracing who I am because of my experiences mean that I have to accept debilitating phobias and crippling anxieties? Absolutely not!

For most of my life, I simply avoided things that made my life difficult, or that provoked a negative fear response. But over the last year, I realized that living a life of avoidance and isolation is a poor way to live, and I resolved to do better. So I got a dog.


This is Butters! In conjunction with my physician and therapist, Nick and I decided that acquiring the use of a service dog was in my best interests. Unfortunately, the only people in the United States who can acquire a psychiatric service dog are members of the Armed Forces who are diagnosed with a mental illness as a result of their service to their country. Thankfully, it is legally permissible to train your own service animal, and use them without restriction, as long as they meet the legal requirements to act as a full fledged service animal. So, armed with a prescription from my doctor and a letter from my therapist, I adopted an eight week old Chihuahua / Fox Terrier cross breed puppy last March, and began training him as my service dog.

The details of how to train your own service dog could easily take up a full month of posts, so I will refrain from going into detail right now. The main thing, for this discussion, is that Butters's job is to act as a tool that I can use to calm myself down when I have an attack of anxiety, or when I begin to feel paranoid. When I answer the door, he comes with me, and provides a visual reminder that I am safe (he would never attack anyone, its purely a me-thing). If I am having a hard time showering, he hangs out in the bathroom with me while I do my thing, and I talk to him to distract myself. When I need to go to the grocery store, but the thought of all those aisles and people freak me out, I put Butters in his service harness, and off we go. When I flew home from Kansas last summer, he sat on my lap all the way home.

There are other things I can do to make my symptoms easier to bear. An open shower in a well lit bathroom relieves the feeling of being trapped, and an front door with a peep-hole or window allows me to see who is there before I open the door, greatly relieving my paranoia. Sitting in an aisle seat, or at the back or a room often works to relieve unpleasant feelings, as does giving myself plenty of time to get places and settle in, instead of rushing around which makes everything worse.

These tactics don't always help. Butters is still young, and can't go everywhere with me yet; no one would like it much if he started crying in the middle of a movie because he's bored, or begged at Olive Garden, or sniffed ankles during church! He stays in the car or at home in those situations, because he simply isn't ready for that level of service. And while taking him for walks has allowed me to enjoy the outdoors without trepidation once again, there are days when his puppy exuberance is just too much for me, and trying to get him to walk in a straight line is more stress than it's worth. Some days...well, some days it doesn't matter how well behaved and on point Butters is, because I wake up feeling anxious and unsettled, and absolutely everything - from an innocent remark from Nick to another driver looking at me as they pass me on the road - sets off a horrible chain reaction of anxiety and physical symptoms that leave me trembling and unable to form a coherent sentence. Those are the days when I have to make a choice - participate in my life, and risk a serious meltdown, or stay at home and wait for it to blow over.

Every day brings different situations and different choices. PTSD is a chronic illness without a cure; I live with the scars of my childhood every day. What I choose to do with my days is up to me, and I choose to live them to the full extent I am able in each situation, and to thank God that I have the opportunity.

This week, I will take my dog for a walk

To see the full Challenge list, click here.
To see Day 1, click here.
To see Day 2, click here.
To see Day 3, click here