The Wonder of Your First Crush

I was once a teenager. This may not come as a shock to most, but to my kids, it’s a bit weird to think of their mom as someone not much older than they are now. As I watch my munchkins grow older and taller, it’s a bit weird for me to think they’ll soon be going through puberty and all the lovely stuff that goes with it. Aside from those first glimpses of love (aka. infatuation), there’s nothing truly glamorous about adolescence. Oh, but to be able to experience all the giddiness and wonder of your first crush? That’s something worth remembering.

I remember my first crush back in third grade—yes, I started a bit young, but that might explain how I ended up being a romance author. 😉 Anyhow, my first crush was on a cute Asian boy in my class. I don’t remember his name, but I do remember that I stood next to him in our class photo. Fast forward to high school, and I fixed my sights on a blond football player who played the trumpet in band class. His name I do recall, but I’ll keep it to myself so as not to embarrass anyone. 😉

The great thing about these crushes was how innocent and endearing they were. There was no drama, only moments of daydreaming and hoping.

This is the kind of love I tried to capture in my newest release, Romantically Ever After. Gracie and Brady’s story is just plain sweet and maybe a tad bit naive, but I love how their relationship develops in an organic and genuine way. Not too much drama, but lots of tenderness and blushing. Just the way young love should be.

Here’s an excerpt:

Brady Hansen shook off his puffy winter jacket and fell onto his bed. He covered his eyes with his hands, his palms quickly warming from the heat in his face. Great. If he had a penny for each time he blushed in front of Gracie, he’d have enough money to buy her a couple dozen roses. Not that he ever would do such a thing. Nope, that’d be way too obvious. He was already sure she thought something was up with the way he escaped her company as quickly as possible. He sighed. It was either escape or confess how he felt about her, something he wasn’t ready to do. Not today, tomorrow, or ever.

 

He dug his phone from his jean pocket and switched it on. He clicked on his photo album and scrolled through the pictures he had saved to a folder titled with a simple letter “G”. G for Gracie, of course. Scrolling through the pictures, he stopped at ones they had taken a few months ago when they happened to both be wearing their green Oregon Ducks hoodies. He remembered that day well. They were sitting together at a cafe off campus and playing around with her new selfie stick. They’d taken a series of photos, each one showcasing a different expression. The faces they made ranged from normal to serious to downright silly. The last photo though was the one he loved the most. Gracie called it his trademark Brady face, also known as his “make a mental note” face. When they took it, with the two of them squeezing one eye shut and twisting their mouths to the side, he’d realized something.

 

He was in love with his best friend.

 

Brady loved that Gracie got him. She saw his goofy side and his clumsiness, and she accepted him for who he was. But that was the problem. Everything that she accepted about him was everything she wasn’t looking for in a guy. How did he know? It was obvious from the way she went gaga over the actors in those chick flicks she watched. They were all tall, handsome, and charming. Oh, he had the tall part down, but with it came feet that were too big for his body. Handsome and charming though? He’d need a fairy godmother for that.

 

That’s how he knew Gracie would never feel the same way about him that he felt about her. And why he couldn’t tell her how he felt. And also why he couldn’t be near her because every time he was, he ended up going gaga and doing something so not cool. Like falling onto her in an elevator and squashing her.

 

She had smelled so good though. Like fresh strawberries on a stack of homemade pancakes, the fluffy kind his mom used to make for him as a kid. He missed his parents and even his two older brothers living back in California, but not as much as he longed for his best friend down the hall. He missed hanging out with Gracie and studying with her. If only there was a way to turn off his heart, so it’d stop trying to fly out of his chest like those old cartoon characters’ did whenever they saw the girl they liked.

 

Knock, knock!

 

“Brady, open up! I have something to tell you!”

 

He shot up and almost fell off the bed at the sound of Gracie’s voice outside his door. Whoa. She sounded more excited that he’d ever heard her. Could it be? His heart started pounding as he wondered what she wanted to tell him.

I hope you’ll check out Romantically Ever After! It’ll for sure get you in the mood for Valentine’s Day.

Here’s a sweet song about young love, Kenny Holland’s “Less Than Three” that matches this story perfectly.

Do you remember your first crush?

Cover Reveal: Romantically Ever After

I’ve had romance on the brain for a few weeks now because I’ve been writing a Valentine’s themed story. This doesn’t mean I don’t always think warm-fuzzy thoughts, but reality and fiction are very different, in case you haven’t noticed. 😉 During the day, I do a lot of “mom-ing”, but at night after the family is in bed, I get to relive falling in love again along with my characters. Writing a Valentine’s Day story seems even more romantic than usual because I get to mention the colors red and pink (I love pink!), heart-shaped everything, stuffed bears, engagement rings, and more—all in one story. (That was a major spoiler alert if you didn’t notice. LOL). I also included my favorite romantic trope—friends to something more—to make the falling in love part of this story as sweet and organic as possible. I’m quite happy with how it turned out, and hope you’ll love it, too!

So, without further ado, let me introduce you to Gracie Sutton and Brady Hansen of Romantically Ever After!

If you read Chasing Romance, you’ll remember Izzy’s daughter, Gracie. Well, it’s now her turn to find her happy ending (but not without a few bumps along the way first).

Two best friends find romance in the most unexpected place: each other.

Despite her parents’ broken relationship, Gracie Sutton still believes in love. Even though her first year at college hasn’t turned up any romantic prospects, an unexpected message gives her a chance to reunite with a loved one. With her best friend, Brady, by her side, Gracie returns to her hometown to meet her estranged father.

Spending Valentine’s Day weekend in Romance, Oregon should be a wonderful occasion, but the tension between her parents and her mom’s new boyfriend makes her heart weary. Gracie questions whether or not happy endings exist anymore … until Brady helps her discover her own romantically ever after.

Romantically Ever After is now available for pre-order HERE! Release date will be February 1, 2018. There are also 2 other books from the Welcome To Romance series releasing with mine for Valentine’s Day. Find out more about the series HERE!

I’ll close with one of the songs I listened to on repeat while I wrote this story, Kenny Holland’s “This Dance”. It’s such a sweet song about young love, which is what Gracie and Brady experience.

The (Not-So) Glamorous Life of an Entrepreneur (+ How to Add a TOC Page to Your eBook)

It occurred to me today that entrepreneurism runs in my family. Both of my parents were self-employed before they retired; my dad had his own insurance business and my mom did home loans and real estate. It kind of makes sense now that I also embraced the all-so glamorous life of an entrepreneur.

I’m so kidding about the glamorous part, if you can’t tell. 😉

If there’s anything I’ve learned about having your own business, it’s that you—and only you—end up doing everything to keep the business going. (That is until you make it big and can afford to pay people to do things for you.) I’m talking about a lot of manual labor and blood, sweat, and tears (especially the last bit!). As an indie author, this means learning how to do everything from making your own book cover, editing your story, formatting your manuscript for publishing, and marketing your book once it’s published.

Eeks. It’s so not a glamorous life. 😉

The boy in the photo is pretty much what I look like when I’m trying to do one of the above tasks. But (here’s the silver lining, folks!), I’ve grown so much in my skillset over the years that I could actually provide these services to other authors and charge them for it. See what a savvy entrepreneur I am?! LOL. I’m totally kidding though because I’m not a fan of self-torture and I still want to have time to write books (oh, and take care of my family, too!). However, since I’ve gained so much support from other indie authors and know how important it is to have “a village” as an entrepreneur, I’m more than happy to share what I’ve learned with other authors.

One thing I can do fairly well now is create a Table of Contents page for an ebook, which I’ll share below. There are several steps to navigate through, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to do it without too much moaning and groaning. Trust me when I say if I can learn how to do this, anyone can. 🙂

How to Add a TOC (Table of Contents) Page to Your eBook (for Microsoft Word documents):

  1. Insert a blank page in your document where you would like the TOC to go.
  2. Type “Table of Contents” at the top of the page and list the chapters and additional back matter pages underneath it. (See the image for an example.) 
  3. Go to Chapter One in your story and select the words “Chapter One” (place your cursor at the first letter and drag the mouse to the right until you reach the last letter).
  4. Go to the “Insert” menu and choose “Bookmark”. Type in a name (an abbreviation such as “Ch1” is a good idea since you’ll be doing this multiple times) and click “Add”.
  5. Go to the TOC page in your document and select the words “Chapter One”.
  6. Go to the “Insert” menu and choose “Hyperlink”. Click on “This Document”, then click on “Bookmarks”. The bookmark name you added in step 4 will appear. Select the name and click “OK”.
  7. The words “Chapter One” on the TOC page should now be underlined. Check to see that the hyperlink is working by clicking on it (it should take you to Chapter One in your story).
  8. Repeat steps 3 through 7 for the remaining chapters and any additional back matter pages.

Easy peasy, right? 🙂 If you have any questions at all or if anything I wrote is unclear, please leave me a comment and let me know. I’ll try my best to help and share a virtual tub of ice cream with you if needed.

Here’s a song by Jason Chen called “Blank Check” to inspire you while you work.

Are you an entrepreneur or know of someone who is? What pros and cons do you see about having your own business?

Love’s Choice is Born!

My newest book baby, Love’s Choice, has arrived! 🙂 I shared a cover reveal a few weeks back, and am so excited, anxious, and relieved that the story is out in the world now. It’s always a strange love/hate, thrill/fear relationship that authors have whenever we publish a new book. Will readers like the story? But more than that, will the message we tried to convey through the story be heard?

These are two big questions I have about Love’s Choice because, to put it simply, it’s not an easy story to swallow. It’s very different from my other books, which tend to be lighthearted and fun (it does have funny moments though!). This story deals with the tough issues of abuse and an unplanned pregnancy, and also gossip within the church. Not happy topics people usually want to talk about, right? But I felt strongly that these are things we need to address. And there’s no better way to do hard stuff like this than in a fictional setting. (That’s one thing I love about writing fiction.)

So, I hope and pray you will give Nate and Missy a chance and see what truths you pick up from their story. You can preview it below and buy it for only $1.99! And please support all the other authors of the First Street Church Kindle World. Melissa Storm wrote the core series and there are now 40 books in the Kindle World. Yup, that’s a lot of books, but you can take this nifty online quiz HERE to see which book may interest you more (besides mine, haha). The best part is that all the books are part of Kindle Unlimited, so you can read them for free with your subscription. You can even try Kindle Unlimited free for 30 days (click HERE)!

I’ll leave you with the playlist for Love’s Choice, which includes a High School Musical song I listened to on repeat while I was writing the story. (Yes, I’m such a teeny bopper at heart). 😉

What tough issues do you appreciate authors addressing in their stories?

Whose Life Will You Change For The Better? (The Pay It Forward Giveaway)

As an author, a lot of what I write is based off what I know. There may (or may not be, haha) references to real-life places, events, and products. My characters may (or may not be, don’t ask!) inspired by my family, friends, and even acquaintances I’ve met online. The thing is, I want my fictional stories to be relatable and realistic but always with a thread of hope woven into them. That’s what makes books worth reading, right? They give us the ability to escape for a little while, but also cause us to think about issues and problems and resolutions.

Well, one of my next books releasing in November is set in a fictional town of Sweet Grove, Texas. I’ve been to Texas once in my life, about fifteen years ago (eeks!) before I had kids, to visit a dear college friend. We spent the weekend watching the 6-hour version of Pride and Prejudice, drinking tons of boba tea, and we also swam in the ocean at Galveston Beach (the water was as warm as bath water!). I had a grand ‘ol time in Texas (did I mention this was before kids? haha), so when I was given the opportunity to write a story for the First Street Church Kindle World set in Texas, I went for it.

Fast forward a few months to when I had finished my story, Love’s Choice, and there was news that a major hurricane had hit Texas and its surrounding areas. The images I saw on the news of the disaster were heartbreaking. So many people literally standing knee-deep in filthy water in their own homes. They all needed help, but with us being over 1,000 miles away in California, it was hard to know how to offer support.

Enter Convoy of Hope!

I came across this organization online and was immediately impressed with their efforts and ethical standing, and most of all, their heart for the hurting. Just a quick glance at their website shows how they are in the midst of natural disasters, providing  food and supplies to people, not only to those in the U.S. but abroad as well. In a nutshell, this is what they do (as stated on their site):

As a faith-based, nonprofit organization Convoy of Hope has helped more than 80 million people throughout the world by sharing food, water, emergency supplies, agricultural know-how, and opportunities that empower people to live independent lives, free from poverty, disease and hunger.

Convoy of Hope does this through:

Mobilizing tens of thousands of volunteers each year.

Partnering with churches, businesses, individuals and other humanitarian organizations who are intent on doing good work among the impoverished and suffering.

Transparency — we have received the prestigious Four Star Charity Award from Charity Navigator for 14 years.

Their name says it all, don’t you think? 🙂 They provide help and hope to those who need it the most.

My hubby and I were thrilled to partner with Convoy of Hope and help in the little way that we could to hopefully make some people’s lives a little better in Texas.

I highly encourage you to think about whose life you will change for the better. Perhaps it will be through a partnership with a group like Convoy of Hope, or maybe it will be the kind act you do for your neighbor, family member, or friend. Whatever it is, know that God can use anyone to be a blessing! How will you choose to be a blessing today? Let me know in the comments below!

*This post was done in conjunction with my fellow Sweet Grove Books authors for The Pay It Forward Giveaway. To enter this giveaway for a free Kindle and a gift card, please go to this link: https://www.litring.com/the-pay-it-forward-giveaway/

Thanks for visiting my blog and for supporting the First Street Church Kindle World!

Thoughts about Nutella (+ A Cover Reveal)

So, author confession time. When I started out 2017, I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to join two boxed sets. Both releasing towards the end of the year. I had no idea, however, of the other things that would pile up on my platter this year, too—platter, because I need something bigger than a plate to fit all my responsibilities! 😉 Long story short, I’m helping with the PTA at the munchkins’ school; I’m blogging regularly at three book-related sites in addition to my own; I babysit my niece once a week, so my mom gets some time off—funny how the tables have turned!; I have a family to feed, clothe, drive around, and listen to; and I have books to write, edit, and market. I realized I was pretty stressed out when I had a dream the other night that I was buying groceries and I couldn’t pay for them, but when I finally got the money to pay for them, the groceries had vanished! It was crazy, folks, like heart-pounding crazy! 😉

I’m not complaining though (okay, maybe I am complaining about having to feed my family every day). 😉 The thing is, I’m a bit tired. Tired because there are a lot of things I want to do, but there’s so little time to do them. (I know I’m not the only one who feels this way!) But when you also add my perfectionistic mindset to the mix, you’ve got a recipe for … nutella!

Yup, you read that right. I have been trying to be nutella. You know that rich, creamy, nutty goodness that goes good with everything and makes everyone happy? Yup, that nutella.

The thing is, no one can be a jar of nutella. Because sooner or later, you’ll find yourself with chest pains and headaches and waking up thinking you left your groceries at the store!

Here’s the truth (and doesn’t it look good?!):

I’m striving to remind myself to breathe and to do my best, but not to demand the best. Because when I demand perfection from myself, I only end up stressed out and frustrated and not a fun person to be around.

The big lesson here for me is grace. We need to give ourselves permission to say no. To mess up. To take a day off for our mental health. To do something for fun, not work. To be nice and kind and gentle to ourselves. To extend grace to ourselves because we’re human, after all.

I’m not saying we need to slack off (that would probably be torture, haha), but it’d be good to take it easy once in a while. Doing so may be hard at first, but everything (including being an anti-perfectionist) requires practice. And remember, practice doesn’t make perfect. Practice makes better. 🙂

And oh, before I forget, here’s the cover reveal for my story that’s coming out November 7th in Winter’s Kiss, a new Christian romance boxed set.

Tropical Kiss and Tell

Micah Chan has loved Lucy Choi ever since they were kids, but life—and some regretful decisions—stopped him from pursuing her. Now he has a choice to make: Let her marry another man or break up her engagement to make this Christmas the most memorable one of their lives.

You may recognize Micah and Lucy’s names from two of my other books, Tropical Kiss or Miss and Drawn to You. They were kids in those stories, but now they’re all grown up and getting their own happily-ever-after. 🙂

Pre-order your copy of Winter’s Kiss today for only 99 cents!

Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0767LWGCL/

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/winters-kiss/id1293778445

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/winters-kiss-elaine-stock/1127196238

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/winter-s-kiss-10

Google Play: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/winter-s-kiss-10

7 Fun Facts about Chasing Romance

Fall Into Romance, a boxed set of ten sweet romances, has been a project in the making for about half a year now. It’s been a fun journey and I can’t wait for its launch so you all can experience romance in the fictional town of Romance, Oregon. With only one week to go before release day (squeal!), I thought I’d share 7 fun facts about my story from the set.

7 Fun Facts about Chasing Romance

  1. I got the idea to make the main characters songwriters because I used to write songs waaaay back in the day (aka. college). I wrote the lyrics and my best friend created the melodies. It was something fun we did that took our minds off studying. Along with a couple of other friends, we came up with a song for our college fellowship group called, At the Crossroads. I believe they were still singing the song a few years after we graduated!
  2. I returned to my songwriting roots and wrote the lyrics for two songs in this story. Unfortunately, the words don’t have music to go with them, but that means you get to make them up as you read. 🙂
  3. The teenaged girl in me might have a slight crush on singer/songwriter Shawn Mendes, which is why Chase Lockhart is based off him. I also might’ve listened to his songs non-stop while I was writing this story.
  4. Izzy Sutton was inspired by Rachel McAdams and the strong and sassy characters she usually plays. While I was researching for this book, I found out that Rachel McAdams is actually Shawn Mendes’s real-life crush! Talk about art imitating life. 🙂
  5. Thor, the black lab/pit bull mix, that Izzy adopted in the story is based off my sweet fur-nephew of the same name. He went through some rough times (the injuries I wrote about in the story are real), but is now so happy in his forever home with my sister, bro-in-law, and niece.
  6. I’ve never been to Oregon before, which meant I had to do a lot of research to make it seem like I knew the area well. Thankfully, one of my beta readers who had lived in Oregon for a few years said I managed to fool her. 😉
  7. Why did I write an older woman/younger man story? Um … I don’t have a good reason, other than wanting to try something different. LOL. I personally don’t think I’d fall for a man eleven years younger than me, but it was fun to toy with the idea as I wrote this story. I made sure though to keep the romance believable and grounded in more than physical attraction. There is some of that, but ultimately, the characters’ shared passion for music keeps them together.

If you haven’t picked up your copy of Fall Into Romance, make sure to do so before the price goes up! This set of ten stories will for sure get you in the mood for pumpkins, apple pie, hay rides, and more! And if you love animals of all types—dogs, cats, pigs, horses, and even roosters—you’ll enjoy the ones featured in these books.

Welcome to Romance! Pies are baking and leaves are falling. This fictional Oregon town has plenty of love in the air. Fall Into Romance, a box set of 10 heartwarming romance novellas by USA Today and National Bestselling authors, will bring you the best of the autumn season. It releases October 5th. Order it today for just 99¢.

Kindle:  https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0749T1Z89

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/fall-into-romance-stacy-claflin/1127045367

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/fall-into-romance

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/fall-into-romance/id1264676338

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=6mouDwAAQBAJ

When Opposites Attract and Write a Book Together

I recently saw an old friend I hadn’t seen in about fifteen years(!) and met her hubby for the first time. Within five minutes of our visit, I could tell they were a perfect match. Why? Because their personalities complement each other.

Yup, we’re talking about my of my favorite romance tropes, opposites attracting.

It’s no secret that my own hubby and I are opposites. If you’ve been following along this blog, you likely know that I’m the square one and he’s the fun one. I’m detailed, organized, and cheap; he’s … not. 😉 You’d think with so many differences between us, I’d have realized we were opposites when we met. Nope! It seems I’m still learning every. single. day. how differently we think, feel, and act.

Grr. 😉

Case in point. I don’t talk about this much, but for the past five years, hubby and I have been writing a book together. Yup, a book, folks. One with lots of words because hubby is so much more talkative than I am and a storyline that borders reality (because he loves sci-fi) and romance (because I love love!). And as you can imagine, it’s been quite an adventure. He’s cranked out the words during his work breaks and late at night, while I’ve been editing his words all the other hours of the day. Amazingly enough, by God’s grace, we are almost done. Well, he’s done writing, but I’m still editing (2 more chapters to go, baby!).

Now this is where our differences come into play—again. I mentioned to him, “You should start reading the story again from the beginning.” I mainly want him to see the changes I made and let me know if he likes them or not. His reply? “I already wrote it; I don’t want to read it.”

AIYA. This was me (minus the Star Trek uniform.)

Image courtesy of Flickr.

Seriously? What writer doesn’t go back and read his story after it’s finished (and even sometimes after it’s published because you like the characters so much)? It’s not just me, right? 😉

So, sigh. I think I know who holds the pen in this house (figuratively speaking because we both use laptops). And who’s more of the perfectionist when it comes to writing. Hint: It’s not him!

Yup, we are soooo different. Thankfully, it’s those differences that drew us to one another and keep us going and entertained, haha. And a very good thing I still like hubby and love him more and more every. single. day! 🙂

I’ll leave you with a song I’ve been listening to on repeat as I edit. It’s Kelly Clarkson’s new single, “Move You”. This is my aim with each book I write—to move my readers. I hope I can do justice to hubby’s story, too, and make it a worthwhile read (even if he won’t read it)!

How do you get along with someone who’s different from you? What do you learn from one another?

Cover Reveal: Love’s Choice

As an author I put a lot of my heart—not to mention, blood, sweat, and tears!—into my work. That’s why I need to feel passionate about what I write. I want my stories to not only entertain, but to bring meaning and value to those who read them.

When God opened the doors for me to join Melissa Storm‘s First Street Church Kindle world series, I jumped at the opportunity. All the books set in the fictional world of Sweet Grove, Texas are rooted in faith, hope, and love. The characters are realistic, three-dimensional, and most of all, flawed—emphasis on flawed. The authors writing in this world are actually encouraged to tackle messy issues that the church tends to shy away from, for example, depression, suicide, and addiction. As a former therapist, these kind of books speak to me. I’m very much about hope and change and growth, and what better way to address these issues than to tackle them head-on with my characters? This is the reason why I chose to write my book, Love’s Choice.

Here’s the official cover reveal!

Missy Clark left small town life and her first love when she went away to college. Five years later, she returns to Sweet Grove with a secret that’s sure to tarnish her reputation.

Nate Dawson never stopped loving Missy when she left home. Answered prayers have brought her back into his life, but the consequences she bears may destroy their future.

Can these high school sweethearts regain the innocence of the past and find hope and healing in the Lord to move forward?

I just finished Love’s Choice this week. It is a story unlike anything I’ve ever written, which makes me both nervous and excited to share it with you. The book, along with 19 other First Street Church books, will be released in November, so please stay tuned!

Thoughts on Going to Jail

The munchkins know to ask for approval before they download a game to play on the iPad. The process usually goes something like this: 1) Munchkin shows me the game; 2) I peruse the description, rating, and reviews; 3) I say yay or nay. It’s a pretty straightforward and quick process, and so far we’ve been able to keep the games age-appropriate and family-friendly. That is, until recently.

Lo and behold, I’ve discovered my mama brain doesn’t function too well during the summer. It could be that I don’t have enough me-time during the day, so I end up staying up way too late at night, and the gears in my head just don’t turn as fast when they’re tired. Or I could just be getting old. 😉 Either way, when one of the munchkins asked me to approve a game the other week, I inadvertently agreed to let them go to jail.

Yup. The game is all about trying to escape from prison.

What was I thinking?! At first, I reasoned it was a good game for problem-solving because breaking out of a locked establishment would require using your brain to come up with a plan and then to implement said plan. What I didn’t think through were the reasons why one would be in jail in the first place and how breaking out of jail would be a crime. Playing this game would in a sense make my child guilty of not just one crime, folks, but two! I had basically given a thumbs-up to illegal activity.

Sigh. Can we say, #mamafail?

All was not lost though! (There’s always gotta be a bright side to things, right?) 😉 Because life is all about trying and failing and trying again, I decided to make the best of this opportunity. We talked about what prison life is like (based off what I know from TV shows and books, not my own personal experience, mind you!), and also increased our knowledge of some key vocabulary words (e.g. warden). I also talked about my friend and former classmate who currently works as a therapist in prison. And get this, he’s not just a therapist for one jail, folks, but two! (Yes, he’s as awesome as he sounds!) And I even managed to share about how a large percentage of prisoners are from fatherless homes and the implications of that. Amazingly enough, I was able to use a game about jail to strike up some interesting and educational conversations about life. God’s grace, folks, God’s grace! 🙂

And to top it all off, I heard from my therapist friend recently that the Moodkins have become quite a hit in—you guessed it!—jail.

The therapists are using them for one-on-one counseling, as well as group therapy with the prisoners. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine the cute therapy plush toys I created for kids to be helpful for adults, too. It’s been a huge blessing and affirmation for me to see them making a difference in schools, counseling centers, and now—prison. It just goes to show, you never know how God will use our small stuff for bigger purposes. 🙂

All this is to say that there’s been a lot of talk about jail in our home lately. There’s never a dull moment in parenting, is there? But thank God for His grace and providence in working everything out for good.

I hope you’ve had a good summer! We have less than one week of vacay here and then I’ll be back to my regular blogging schedule. As always, thanks for reading and sharing in my journey. 🙂

What have you been doing this summer? How have you seen God at work in your life? Tell me in the comments below! 🙂