Three Weeks til 2011!

My goodness, where has 2010 gone? This year has gone by pretty fast. If you haven't noticed, I haven't been blogging consistently. That's cos I'm trying to prepare for the new year. I'm so excited cos I'm updating my blog's look! Yay! It's looking awesome so far. Of course, Zoe from Chic and Sassy Designs is updating it. She's awesome, btw.

Anyway, I won't be blogging as much, but I will be back in 2011 with a new look and maybe some new things. Happy holidays, everyone!


Man-ificent Monday: Channing Tatum

Channing Tatum is this week's cutie pie. I must say I LOVE his eyes! You can see Mr. Tatum in movies like She's the Man, Step Up, Step Up 2, G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra, Fighting, and Dear John. He married his Step Up costar, Jenna Dewan, in 2009.

Word(s) to describe: Handsome; Good looking; Gorgeous eyes!


ARC Review: Rage

Author: Jackie Morse Kessler
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Release Date: April 18, 2011
* I received this ARC through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Missy didn’t mean to cut so deep. But after the party where she was humiliated in front of practically everyone in school, who could blame her for wanting some comfort? Sure, most people don’t find comfort in the touch of a razor blade, but Missy always was . . . different.

That’s why she was chosen to become one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: War. Now Missy wields a different kind of blade—a big, brutal sword that can cut down anyone and anything in her path. But it’s with this weapon in her hand that Missy learns something that could help her triumph over her own pain: control.

A unique approach to the topic of self-mutilation, Rage is the story of a young woman who discovers her own power and refuses to be defeated by the world
. [Book Blurb from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt]

Review: If I had to use one word to describe the second book in Kessler's Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse series, that word would be awesome. First of all, you don't have to have read Hunger, the first book, to understand this one...which is good cos I haven't read it yet, although, after reading this bundle of awesomeness, I realize I MUST go back and read it.

The cover alone, simple yet powerful, is what originally drew me in. The storyline pulled me in even further. A series about the horsemen of the Apocalypse is a nice break from vampires, werewolves, faeries, zombies, etc. Then, I read the story and was hooked. Honestly, I wasn't sure what to expect. I haven't read any books where the main character cuts herself so I was kind of leery about reading it. Self-mutilation is such a heavy topic. Kessler does a good job tackling a difficult subject without making it depressing.

In order to escape the pain brought on by others - ex-boyfriend, kids at school, family - Missy brings pain upon herself through cutting herself. Whenever something hurtful goes down, Missy goes to her little box, hidden in her closet, and lets the blade take her away, if only for a moment. After her ex plays a terribly cruel joke on her, Missy once again goes straight to the blade, only she cuts too deep (purely accidental). Death - a sexy Kurt Cobain look-alike, by the way - gives her a choice: die or except her role as War. Missy chooses the latter and her life is never the same.

I love how strong Missy is. She fights the urge to cut all throughout the novel. She gives in a few times, but for the most part, she's strong enough to fight it. I can't tell you how much I despise reading books with whiny, weak female main characters. I can tell you that Missy isn't that type. Yes she has her weaknesses - the blade, her ex to name a few - but her strengths outshines them. Missy is a well-rounded character and I found myself rooting for her all through the book. The way she takes on her new role without letting it consume her...awesome. Rage gives hope to those in Missy's shoes. I so hope, when it finally comes out, that teens experiencing the same issues can get their hands on it.

This ARC took my breath away. It's set to be published April 2011. Go out and Get. That. Book. Hats off to Jackie Morse Kessler!

Rating: 5/5


Man-ificent Monday: Brian J. White

This week's cutie pie is none other than Brian J. White, son of former Boston Celtics player, JoJo White. Mr. White has been an NFL player (New England Patriots), model, and now an actor. You can see him in movies like Mr. 3000, Trois: The Escort, Stomp the Yard, Daddy's Little Girls, The Game Plan, I Can Do Bad All By Myself (He did so well in "Bad" that I did NOT like his character, lol), and next year's, Politics of Love. He's also on TNT's Men of a Certain Age. Brian White is not only a model/actor, he's also a philanthropist, participating in several events and organizations to benefit children (gotta love a man who helps kids). Unfortunately, ladies, Brian White is no longer on the market. He got married in August. Blessings to Mr. and Mrs. White!

Word(s) to describe: Que guapo! HOT! Gorgeous!


Tickle-Me Tuesday

Cute comic from Writer Unboxed.


Inspirational Sunday

"Turn all your anxiety over to God because he cares for you. Keep your mind clear..."
1 Peter 5:7-8a

Rae's Thought: Each week, the TV show, Hoarders, showcases a person/family who has a serious case of hoarding. The definition of hoarding is to accumulate for preservation, future use, etc, in a hidden or carefully guarded place. These people keep massive amounts of things, sometimes in hopes of using it again or because of sentimental value. Over time, they've collected so much stuff that their living conditions become unlivable. Despite the horror of their living conditions, some of these people have an extremely hard time getting rid of their "junk".

Just like the people showcased on the show, the children of God sometimes have a terrible habit of unnecessarily hoarding "junk". We hoard things like worries, hurts, pains, past events, and anxieties. We keep them in a carefully guarded place in our minds and hearts, either for sentimental reasons (we don't want to forget what's happened), future use (we like to dredge up old stuff), or comfort (sometimes, it's easier to hold on to things because it's familiar).

Hoarding all of these non-necessities can and will make our life conditions unlivable. Our focus is pulled away from God and put on our stash. We find it hard to concentrate. We get bogged down, depressed, weary, etc. As if that weren't enough, we have an enemy who's roaming the earth in search of some unsuspecting hoarder he can devour (1 Peter 5:8). This is why it's so important for us to keep our minds free and clear of these things. As soon as Satan finds a way, he wiggles his way in our hearts and minds, making it hard for us go through life.

Today's verse tells us to give it all to God. Everything. Your cares, anxieties...even the good stuff. Give it to the One who can handle any and everything. Once you've given it all to Him, let Him take care of it. Don't try taking it back. When you've given it up, God will replace it with extraordinary things. I'm talking about peace, joy, true happiness. Allow his Holy Spirit to fill you up and remove your anxieties. Then, and only then, can we live the life of freedom and abundance God has purposed for us to live. Once you're filled with his Spirit, it's like you hanging a "no vacancy" sign in your heart and mind. Satan sees that sign and begrudgingly moves on. He knows that where the Holy Trinity (God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit) reigns, he can't be. He has no other choice but to leave you alone. Isn't that awesome?

Let God come and clear your "junk" now and watch Him do marvelous things in your life!


ARC Review: The Oracle Rebounds

Author: Allsion Van Diepen
Genre: Young Adult, Romance
Release Date: November 1, 2010
* I received this ARC through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

As the "oracle of dating," Kayla is supposed to have all the answers about love and relationships. She's supposed to have the perfect relationship. But now that Jared is "taking a step back," Kayla feels like a total fraud.

So the expert on dating starts taking her own rebound advice—and some from her friends—and stops moping around. Yeah, there are other possibilities out there—including the beyond-cute French foreign exchange student she's showing around town.

But when controversy erupts about the Oracle's advice, Kayla is sent reeling once again. Will anything work out for her this year? Yet when her friends start seriously needing the Oracle, Kayla begins to focus on what really matters: Viv, Sharese, Amy and Ryan, her true-blue buds. And suddenly, everything starts making sense again
….[Book Blurb from Barnes and Noble]

Review: Okay. First of all, let me say I haven't read The Oracle of Dating, the first book in the series. I know, shameful, right? In my defense, I thought I'd downloaded book #1 for some reason. Simple mistake on my part. Luckily, you didn't have to have read The Oracle of Dating in order to read and understand The Oracle Rebounds - although I do recommend reading in order.

Anyway, in The Oracle Rebounds, Kayla, who anonomously runs an online dating advise blog, is handed some pretty harsh news: her boyfriend, Jared wants to take a step back from their relationship to focus on his art and applying to art school. Devestated, Kayla breaks it off completely. She decides to use her own rebound advise in the wake of her breakup. I like how Kayla was heartbroken, but she didn't stay down or fall apart. Throughout the book, she makes decisions - some good; some not so good - that helps her grow in the end.

While I like that she didn't stay down forever, I felt maybe there could've been a little more time between her breakup and her other relationship with sexy French exchange student, Benoit. But then, I guess that's what a rebound relationship is all about.

The Oracle rebounds is the right book if you're looking for a sweet, fun read!

Rating: 3.5/5


Tickle Me Tuesday

An email sent to me...

A cabbie picks up a Nun.

She gets into the cab, and notices that the VERY handsome cab driver won't stop staring at her.

She asks him why he is staring.

He replies: "I have a question to ask you but I don't want to offend you."

She answers, "My son, you cannot offend me. When you're as old as I am and have been a nun as long as I have, you get a chance to see and hear just about everything. I'm sure that there's nothing you could say or ask that I would find offensive."

"Well, I've always had a fantasy to have a nun kiss me."

She responds, "Well, let's see what we can do about that: #1, you have to be single and #2, you must be Catholic."

The cab driver is very excited and says, "Yes, I'm single and Catholic!"

"OK" the nun says. "Pull into the next alley."

The nun fulfills his fantasy, with a kiss that would make a hooker blush.

But when they get back on the road, the cab driver starts crying.

"My dear child," says the nun, "why are you crying?"

"Forgive me but I've sinned. I lied and I must confess, I'm married and I'm Jewish."

The nun says, "That's OK. My name is Kevin and I'm going to a Halloween party.


Tickle-Me Tuesday

I'm not ashamed to say I'm really feeling this song and the video is cute. Not too old for a 9-year old. Good job. *thumbs up*


Man-ificent Monday: Shemar Moore

This week's cutie pie started off as a model. Shemar Moore went on to become an actor. He is known for his role as Malcolm Winters in the Young and the Restless. The list of movies/television shows include The Brothers, Mama Flora's Family, and Diary of a Mad Black Woman. He can be seen every Wednesday playing Derek Morgan on Criminal Minds (one of the shows I'm addicted to). I must admit, I've always thought Shemar Moore was cute, but I think he looks so much better now, at 40, then he did in his 20s. He's definitely one of the actors that have aged beautifully (along with Will Smith, Bruce Willis, Taimak, etc).

Word(s) to describe: Distinguished! Sexy!


Inspirational Sunday

"You have endured and gone through hard times because of me and you have not given up...To everyone who wins the victory, I will give some of the hidden food. I will also give each one a white stone with a new name written on it. No one will know that name except the one who is given the stone.."Revelation 2: 3, 17

Rae's Thought: Today, I'm concentrating on the last part of these verses.

  • I will also give each one a white stone... I so look forward to receiving my white stone! White symbolizes purity. The day we get to heaven, all of our blemishes, flaws, and imperfections will be no more. We will FINALLY be able to stand before the Lord, perfect and flawless. God will be able to declare us pure. Isn't that just awesome!
  • ...with a new name written on it. Names are an important part of who we are...they're pare of our identity. I love my name. It doesn't have any particular meaning to it (my mom made it up), but it's unique, just like me. This verse promises us that, those of us who wins the victory - who endures til the end - will receive a new name. Our old names will be left behind. There will be no trace of our earthly lives when we go to heaven. Our earthly names, no matter how wonderful, important, or unique they may be, will be no more. The new name we'll receive will go with our new identities. It will fit perfectly with our new home, bodies, and status (status = perfect beings).
  • No one will know that name except the one who is given the stone. Nowadays, while "Raenice" is still an uncommon name, I hear of more women with that name than I did when I was younger. There are different spellings of the name (Rayniece, Ranice, Raynice, etc), but they all sound the same. I can only imagine having a name as common as Mary or Emily. Oh, but when I get to heaven, I'll be the only one with my new name. It will be special because it'll be my name and my name alone!

Knowing what I've got waiting on me in heaven only causes me to praise God. The only reason why I can look forward to these things is because His Son, Jesus died on the cross for me. IIn reading this, I'm reminded that, while I may go through "hell" here - with trials, hardships, pain, etc - it'll all be worth it when I get to heaven. If I keep going and not give up, and not end my life before it's my time to go, I will be one of those victors this verse is talking about. God knows we're suffering here. Because I believe He's an empathetic God, I believe He feels our pain. He hurts when we hurt. He doesn't like seeing His babies suffer. But He is taking notes and He is building up our rewards in heaven. He's watching to see who will be the victors and who won't.

Yes, life will get unbearable at times, but God is so good that, if we ask Him, He'll give us peace...the kind of peace that'll have us smiling, even when we don't have anything to smile about or happy when we should be depressed. He's right there with us, comforting and guiding us through life. We've just got to seek Him. And when we've taken our last breath and finally make it home, He'll be waiting with open arms and a white stone with our new name on it. I don't know about you, but that's enough incentive for me to keep pressing on!


Wannabe Writers #39

Wannabe Writers is a writing group for the un-published started by Sarah at Confessions of the Un-published. It's a place where future authors can ask questions, share stories, and get feedback. Interested in joining? Click here to find more about how it works.

Where I am in the writing process: Unpublished...revising novel #1 (tentively The Incredibly Rocky Life of Zachary Barnes) and writing novel #2 (tentively Who's Got Tha Moves).

My current problem(s): No big problems. Just trying to work on plotting. I've got the characters down as well as the situation. I'm trying to work on the plot/goal/motivation in Who's Got Tha Moves. I'm also trying to decide whether or not I want to keep a certain element in TIRLZB or change it into something else. That something else would require me to make significant amount of changes. Need to figure out which element would make the story better.

My question this week: Is everyone participating in NaNo? I'm not sure if I am. I guess I should make up my mind since I only have a week left to decide. If I participate, I think I'll do it as a NaNo rebel, where I can bend the rules a little bit. I'll more than likely participate. My NaNo name is creativeangel, if you'd like to buddy me!


Man-ificent Monday: Elie Maalouf

I found this week's cutie pie by accident. He is Elie Maalouf, a model from Zahleh, Lebanon.

Word(s) to Describe: Gorgeous!


Tickle-Me Tuesday

Funny, yet so disgusting! If the bird just pooped on my shirt, would I really look up with my mouth wide open??? NO!

The Next Dan Rather - Watch more Funny Videos


Man-ificent Monday: Larenz Tate

This week's cutie pie is actor, Larenz Tate. Menace to Society, Dead Presidents, Love Jones, Why Do Fools Fall in Love, and Crash are just a few movies he's been in. Can I just say that I LOVE Larenz Tate? He's a beautiful man! *swoon*

Word(s) to Describe: Swoon worthy, Fine, Lawd hamercy!


Inspirational Sunday

"You have endured and gone through hard times because of me and you have not given up...To everyone who wins the victory, I will give some of the hidden food. I will also give each one a white stone with a new name written on it. No one will know that name except the one who is given the stone."
Revelation 2: 3, 17

Rae's Thought: These two verses hold so much meaning, that I'm going to split this inspiration into two weeks. Today, I'm concentrating on the bold part.

  • You have endured and gone through hard times because of me and you have not given up. Life is hard. God doesn't promise us that life gets easier once we become believers. Sometimes, it may even be harder. I mean, as if having to cope with worldly battles isn't enough, we also have spiritual battles. We have an enemy who doesn't want to see us succeed in Christ. He's going to do whatever he can to keep us from reaching where God wants us to be. Make no will go through hard times. It's a given. God sees you struggling. He knows you're going through hard times. He also sees whether you're enduring or not. Keep up the race and you will be blessed.

  • To everyone who wins the victory. Verse 17 isn't talking to just anyone. It's written solely for those who win the victory. Now, remember, because Jesus died on the cross, we're already victorious. So, who then, is this verse talking about? Those who endure to the end (Matthew 24:13); those who persevere through life (James 5:11); those who keep running the race, even when it gets difficult (2 Timothy 4:7)...these are the ones this verse is talking to. I don't know about you, but this is one club I'd want to be a part of.

  • I will give some of the hidden food. What is the "hidden food" this verse speaks of? Other versions call it "manna", which is said to be a cake or bread-like substance. When I read this, I'm reminded of the fact that Jesus is the Bread of Life. Those who win the victory will be able to have Jesus for an eternity. We get to hold Him and bow at His feet when god calls us home. It's hidden because only those who know of Jesus and believe will be able to see Him face to face. His glory is hidden from unbelievers.


Wannabe Writers #37

Wannabe Writers is a writing group for the un-published started by Sarah at Confessions of the Un-published. It's a place where future authors can ask questions, share stories, and get feedback. Interested in joining? Click here to find more about how it works.

Where I am in the writing process: Still writing Who's Got The Moves (aka novel #2). I haven't worked on it this good reason, just haven't. I am participating in a mentor thing online that the online writing group I belong to is doing. I love it. The author that's mentoring me has given me some good stuff to look at in order to make WGTM better. Since I'm only on chapter 2, I think I can go back and incorporate her ideas. I'm excited!

My current problem(s): I am in need of a critique partner or critique group. I had one, but life got in the way and everybody had to bow out. Things didn't work out with the critique partner I had. I need a second pair of eyes to look at my writing (both novel #1 and novel #2).

My question this week: Does anyone know of good critique groups I may be able to join? If you know any that meet in Houston, that would be even better, but I'll be happy with online groups, also. Is there any place I can find a critique partner?


Happy Birthday to Me!

Today is my 34th birthday. No, I didn't celebrate it in a big way...although my sis did through a surprise party for me Sunday. I know. Awesome little sis, right? I'm just happy that God has allowed me another year. This just means He's not done with me yet. I still got work to do for His kingdom!

Now, 35...that's another story. If God allows me to see my 35th, I'm doing it big. I'm going to start planning early. The way I look at it, when I turn 35 next year, I can either stay at home, lamenting over the fact that I'm only 5 years away from 40, OR I can celebrate the fact that I'm alive. I choose option b. I'm okay with aging. I think I'm getting better in everything with age. I like where I'm at in life. I mean, there are some things I'd change, but overall, my 30s have been pretty awesome. So, I won't complain about being another year older. I'm just gonna live it up!


Wannabe Writers #35

Wannabe Writers is a writing group for the un-published started by Sarah at Confessions of the Un-published. It's a place where future authors can ask questions, share stories, and get feedback. Interested in joining? Click here to find more about how it works.

Where I am in the writing process: Writing novel #2, Who's Got Tha Moves. I'd originally planned on plotting novel #3, Harmonie's Song, but I'm heeding to the call of novel #1, tentatively titled, The Incredibly Rocky Life of Zachary Barnes. It's been put away for about a year now, so I think that's more than enough time to come back to it. So, I'm writing Who's Got Tha Moves and revising TIRLZB.

My Current Problem(s): Oh how I long for the day I can afford to write full time...or at least have my own business so my schedule can be flexible. Right now, as a substitute teacher, I have the flexibility I desire, but not the finances. My sis and I are going the entrepreneur route, it'll be another year or two (or three) before we can leave our jobs to focus full time. I don't know. Sometimes, after work, I'm too tired to write. I have all these ideas in my head, and would love to write them out. Alas, since I can't afford to write full time yet, I'll settle for writing during the snatches of time I can get. I think if I can take a week-long retreat some time, I'll be good.

My Question this week: Am I the only writer who dreams of writing full time? Does anyone know of some relaxing, affordable writing retreats I can take? Or even ideal places for a writer to get away from the hustle and bustle of life just to write?


Random Thought Thursday

Speak Loudly. Last Saturday, a man by the name of Dr. Scroggins, wrote an editorial about how parents need to speak out about what their children are learning in schools. I'd agree with him if his comments were so off-based.

  • Sex Education. I'm not sure how they do it where in Republic, Missouri, but in the district I work in, kids are taught about reproduction and the body in about 4th or 5th grade. This is no cause for alarm, though, because letters and permission slips are sent home before, letting parents know. If parents aren't comfortable with their child learning about reproduction from the school, they can choose "I do not allow my child to participate" option. It's not forced on the children. Now, in my opinion, if parents don't want their children learning about reproduction, the body, or sex in school, they had better be teaching it at home. Why? They're gonna learn it from somewhere. What better place to learn it than home? If parents keep their heads buried in the sand and refuse to talk to their children, they'd have no right to be upset if the child ended up a mother or father-to-be. If you're not telling your kids about the right and wrong way to touch, how will they know if a family member, friend, or even stranger, is touching them inappropriately? And kids are learning things earlier and earlier. I've heard kids in 2nd grade talk about what they plan to do with their boyfriend/girlfriend after school. I'm sure some are talking about it earlier than that. Sad? Yes. It's very sad. Some of these parents need to take off the blinders and stop saying, "Not my child." I'm all for parents choosing whether or not their kids have sex ed at school, only if the parent is giving them sex ed at home.

  • Book Ban. Ok, I get it. There are some books that some people feel isn't appropriate for kids to read. I agree parents need to be more aware of what they're kids are reading in school. What I don't agree with is comparing the books he listed to soft porn. I mean, really? I've read both Sarah Ockler's, Twenty Boy Summer and Laurie Halse Anderson's, Speak. Twenty Boy Summer is basically about a girl dealing with the death of a loved one. Speak is about a girl dealing with rape. How he compares it to soft porn is beyond me. And thing is, he has disputed comparing the books in that manner. Some of the comments I've read is saying he didn't compare them that way. He said, and I quote, "In high school English classes, children are required to read and view material that should be classified as soft pornography. One such book is called "Speak."" Those were his exact words. Sounds like comparing to soft porn to me. And really, there's something seriously wrong with people who'd think rape scenes are like soft porn. And I'm sure both books have helped teens across this country...maybe even the world...through some very difficult times. Through Speak, victims of rape have a voice, which is normally silenced. So parents, yeah, be aware of what your kids are reading. Speaking as an educator, we need parents to become involved in their child's education. Instead of banning the books, read them with your kids. Discuss the book. Talk to your kids.

In the name of Christianity. I am a Christian. I'm in love with God, believe that Jesus died on the cross for my sins and believe that He'll be coming back again. I believe that Jesus is the only way to heaven. I read my Bible daily (seriously, I do) and I am very active in my church. With that being said, I am so sick of people doing and saying things in the name of Christianity. I don't know about the god some of these people serve, but the God I serve wouldn't be happy with some of these goings-on. I do not profess to knowing what goes through God's mind - no one knows what goes thru His mind...that's why He's God and we're not - but I do read and study my Bible. This allows me to catch little glimpses of His personality. I honestly believe that He'd be disappointed in what some of these peeps are doing in the name of Christianity. Some of these people are painting the wrong picture of God and who He is.

Temporary Insanity. I can't believe this article. I mean, really? REALLY?


Writing Wednesdays

I've tweaked my Writing Wednesdays a little bit. I will make Sharing the Spotlight posts only once a month. Other Wednesday posts will be all about...yep, you guessed it. Writing. Whether I find a helpful article, blog post, etc, on the web or I'm updating progress on my current wips, these posts will be on Wednesdays.

I added 2 word count meters to my blog so I can keep track of my writing. Who's Got the Moves is the novel I'm working on now. I hit a snag cos of summer (thought I'd get a lot of writing done, but I didn't), but I'm over the snag. Note to self: update word count meter. I thought I'd get started on novel #3, tentatively titled, Harmonie's Song, but I'm feeling the need to get novel #1 (no title) out and revise.

I love writing!


Tickle-Me Tuesday

Funny Facebook statuses found here.

  • Look at your status. Now back to mine. Now back to yours. Now back to mine. Sadly, yours isn't mine. But if you stopped posting about other things and made this your status, yours could be like mine. Look down. Back up. Where are you? .........You're on Facebook, reading the status your status could be like! Anything is possible when your Facebook status looks like this one...
  • This just in... Apple has just hired LeBron James to fix the iPhone signal problem!
    knows how to stop the BP Oil leak from putting out... Just put a giant wedding ring on it!
  • is wondering if you choke a smurf... what colour would he turn?
  • hates it when people say stuff in their status updates that you really didn't want to know? I hate that. Anyway, I gotta go poo.
  • is wondering on which day God created Justin Bieber... couldn't he have rested on that day too?
  • just found out that the next Hannah Montana will be played by Justin Bieber.
  • sometimes runs up to strangers on the street and yells "YOU'RE IT!!" and then runs away.
  • is a little down since nobody wished her a happy birthday today, which isn't surprising really, since it isn't my birthday.
  • can't go out this weekend... I'm babysitting Justin Bieber
  • What can you write in 140 characters? How about the memoirs of Justin Bieber?


Man-ificent Monday: Derek Ramsey

This week's cutie pie is 30 year-old, Derek Ramsey. Ramsey is a model and actor from the Philippines. He's also a former VJ of MTV Philippines.

Word(s) to describe: Wow!


Inspirational Sunday

"I lift my eyes to you..."
Psalm 123:1

Rae's Thought: Have you ever been anxious or worried about something? A few weeks ago, I'd been anxious about a financial issue. I spent a week worried about where the money would come from. One whole week, gone and wasted because I was worried. I had a "to do" list that I didn't even complete because I couldn't focus on anything but my financial woes. Needless to say, I was extra hard on myself for wasting a week.

Then, I realized I was stuck....kinda like being stuck in quicksand - the more you struggle, the more you sink, right? Well, the more I thought about my finances and my wasted week, the more I sunk. When I came to that realization, I asked God for forgiveness (my focus was on the wrong thing) and vowed to move on. If God was gonna bless me with another week, I didn't want to start it off with negativity (beating myself up over past mistakes) and anxiety.

As a teacher/tutor, my heart smiles when a kid finally gets a concept I'd been trying to teach them. This is how I believe God felt after I'd finally gotten it and asked for forgiveness. You see, He doesn't want me to stay stuck on "coulda, shoulda, woulda." He wants me focused on Him and moving forward. If I lift my eyes to Him - and keep them there - everything else will be taken care of. asking for forgiveness, vowing not be anxious, and refocusing on God was the lifeline I needed to get outta that quicksand.

Thank God for being a God of forgiveness and second (and third, fourth, fifth, etc) chances! If your focus has been off because of struggles you're having, ask God to forgive you, and then refocus your attention on God. It's only when our eyes are lifted to God that we can move forward and live the abundant life He's called us to live!


Random Thoughts Thursday

Quran Burning. So, Pastor Terry Jones has decided not to burn the Quran, because the Ground Zero mosque will be moved (a fact that the group building the mosque denies). I'm wondering if he's reveling in the attention he's gotten from the media. Don't get me wrong, I have no doubt he would've burned the Quran. I just think the media attention didn't make things any better. Now that I think about it, does it (media attention) ever make things better when something negative is showcased? I really think part of this is for attention...and he got just what he wanted. I will be surprised if his church membership doesn't increase after this. smh

And what about him representing all of Christianity?! I'm a Christian (very faithful and active in my church; in love with God) and I do NOT agree with the burning of the Quran. Do I agree with the Muslim faith? No. But do I believe I have the right to judge Muslims and go about burning the Quran? No. As Christians, our job is to tell people about Jesus and let them make the choice. Whether they choose Jesus or not, we're supposed to love them anyway. How is burning the Quran spreading the love of God? Yes, people around the world probably burn Bibles everyday, but two wrongs don't make a right.

And blaming the whole entire Muslim faith cos of the 9/11 attacks is pure insanity. So, I guess that means African Americans can blame the whole entire white race cos of slavery and the injustice our ancestors suffered, right? Or Jews can blame everyone of German decent because of the Holocaust. Maybe everyone of Native American descent can blame anyone of European descent cos of Christopher Columbus and others following him took their land away. Am I the only one seeing the silliness of this?

Willow Smith. I have mixed feelings about Willow Smith signing on to Jay Z's label. I'm hoping and praying she doesn't grow up too fast. She's only 9. I'm a firm believer in letting kids be kids. On the other hand, I'm kinda feeling her song. I love the beat. It's a great dance song (and I love dancing). Plus, if this is really her singing, she has a nice voice...very Rihanna like. I'd have to hear her live to make sure auto tune didn't doctor her voice up. Judge for yourself.


Writing Wednesdays: Sharing the Spotlight

August 23

Niki: Gonna stick with the '140 characters or less' theme here:

  • 1st day of skool-high on my "Best Day Ever" list. I have an awesome bff, gorgeous bf, e z classes, & did I mention I'm a SENIOR? Life is gd!

I figured today would be like all the other first days of school I've had. I mean, why break the cycle, right? I wish! For the last 2 years, my first days of school went a little like this: Meet up with Ari, find lockers (usually next to or near each other) and compare schedules (usually the same or close). The rest of the day felt like I was on a cloud. Today went like this: Meet up with Ari, find lockers (mine in the senior hall, hers on the other side of the building), and compare schedules (number of classes The rest of the day felt like I was on a roller coaster.

The most embarrassing part of the day was first period, which is Spanish 3. FIRST PERIOD! My brain has a hard time functioning in English that early, much less another language. I made it through almost the whole period thinking it wouldn't be so bad. Then I had to mess it up.

  • Senora Lopez: Senorita Blake?

  • Me: Si, Senora?

  • Senora Lopez: Como se dice, 'I can't find my comb' in espanol?

  • Me, laughing inside at how easy this is: No puedo encontrar mi pene.

  • Senora Lopez (double blink): Perdon?

  • Me, thinking maybe she has problems of the mental variety: No puedo encontrar mi pene.

I couldn't, for the life of me, figure out why Senora Lopez had turned red. Why was everyone laughing? Ari leaned over and whispered, "Um, I think you just said, 'I can't find my penis.'" So, apparently, in Spanish, comb is 'peine' and penis is 'pene'. How was I to know? They sound so much alike.

Unfortunately, my fellow classmates didn't forget about my little slip up like I'd hoped they would. Instead, they blabbed it to their friends, who blabbed it to their friends. Even Senora Lopez couldn't resist telling other teachers, which explains the little smirks I got when they called my name. Even Niki couldn't resist. I think I've heard enough penis jokes to last me a lifetime. The only highlight of the day was volleyball, which I have for last period. Did I mention that coach made me team captain? Woohoo!

My day may have began crappy, but it ended on a high note. Will the rest of the year be like this?


Tickle-Me Tuesday


Man-ificent Monday: Bow Wow

This week's cutie pie is 23 year old, Shad Moss aka Lil Bow Wow aka Bow Wow. I have to admit, when he first came out at the age of 13, I thought he was a precious little...girl. I know I know. It was the long hair that did it. Bow Wow has released 7 solo albums, and 1 collaborative album (Face Off with Omarion), as well as acted in several movies (Like Mike, Roll Bounce, and The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift to name a few). His recent movie, Lottery Ticket, was released last month. I'm not a cougar, by the way (he's 11 years younger than me), I just appreciate good looking men! What captures my attention? His smile and his eyes!

Word(s) to describe: Cute. Charming. All grown up!


Wannabe Writers #32

Wannabe Writers is a writing group for the un-published started by Sarah at Confessions of the Un-published. It's a place where future authors can ask questions, share stories, and get feedback. Interested in joining? Click here to find more about how it works.

Where Am I in the Writing Process: Unpublished. Writing novel #2, Who's Got Tha Moves.

My Current Problem(s): Shutting off my inner editor/critic. I hear writers say they just write and revise later...I have such a hard time doing that. You see, I'm a perfectionist, so I have to get things right the first time. I write something that my inner critic doesn't agree with, she lets me know. "Um, you're really gonna write that?" or "Yeah, that doesn't make sense." Perfectionism comes in handy at times, but it can also be SO annoying!

This week's question: How in the world do you shut your inner critic off?


Inspirational Sunday

"Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, 'Go south to the road - the desert road - that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.' So he started out..."
Acts 8:26-27

Rae's Thought: Can you imagine Philip's surprise when the angel told him to go to the desert? The verses before show Philip preaching in Samaria and, as a result, a spiritual awakening occurring. So now, God asks him to leave this place of great revival to go to the desert, for a reason unknown to him. Again I ask, can you imagine Philip's surprise? He may have wondered, "Why in the world is He sending me there" but he did something extraordinary: he went. Instead of complaining or begging God to allow him to stay and revel in the revival, Philip obeyed. Despite the weirdness of it, Philip "started out..."

What is God telling you to do that feels so off the wall? Maybe He's telling you to do something that seems so out of character for you. Maybe He's just telling you to do something that seems impossible. Whatever it is, do it. What happened with Philip? At the same exact time he reached his destination, a caravan passed by with an Ethiopian eunuch. This eunuch happened to be reading the book of Isaiah and stuck on a prophesy of Jesus. Philip witnessed to the eunuch and told him about Jesus, which caused him to become a believer and get baptized. This eunuch no doubt went back to Ethiopia and told others about Jesus. Awesome, isn't it?

"We must learn to obey whether or not it seems to make sense" (Avery Willis, MasterLife: The Disciple's Personality). Obviously God knows what's going to happen, even when you don't. He's confident that things will work out, even when you're not. Remember, His calling you isn't for you, but for the ones you'll touch and, ultimately, for His glory. When God leads you to do something, be obedient and watch God work!


Tickle-Me Tuesday

A little guy is sitting at a bar just staring at his drink for half an hour when this big trouble-making biker steps next to him, grabs his drink, gulps it down in one swig and then turns to the guy with a menacing stare as if to say, 'What'cha gonna do about it?"

The poor little guy starts crying.

"Come on man, I was just giving you a hard time," the biker says. "I didn't think you'd CRY. I can't stand to see a man crying."

"This is the worst day of my life," says the little guy between sobs. "I can't do anything right. I overslept and was late to an important meeting, so my boss fired me. When I went to the parking lot, I found my car was stolen and I don't have any insurance. I left my wallet in the cab I took home. "He continues crying even harder. "Then I found my wife in bed with the gardener and my dog bit me. So, I came to this bar trying to work up the courage to put an end to my life, and then you show up and drink the poison."


Man-ificent Monday: Lawrence Brothers

This week's cutie pies are the Lawrence brothers, Joey, Matthew, and Andrew. Joey is best known for his role as Joey Donovan on Gimme a Break and Blossom's hot older brother, Joey Russo, on Blossom (remember his popular saying, "Whoa!"). Matthew had roles in Boy Meets World, The Hot Chick, and Mrs. Doubtfire while Andrew is best known as the voice of T.J. Detweiler on the cartoon Recess. All three of them have GORGEOUS smiles...and eyes!

Word(s) to Describe: Guapisimos! Gorgeous! Fine!

Andrew Lawrence Matthew Lawrence

Joey Lawrence


Inspirational Sunday

"We must hold tightly to the hope that we say is ours. After all, we can trust the one who made the agreement with us." Hebrews 10:23 (CEV)

Rae's Thought: Imagine yourself climbing a mountain using a rope. One wrong move can cause you to take a plunge. Now, tell me. Knowing what could happen, wouldn't you hold on to that rope for dear life? Wouldn't you keep a firm grip on the rope? That's exactly the picture I have of hanging on to God's promises. The Message version of Hebrews 10:23 says, "Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going..." A firm grip...holding on for dear life.

You have the promises that God has given all of His children (He loves us, He'll never leave us, He came so that we may have abundant life, etc) and you have the promises He's given you personally. I don't know about you, but I'm going to hold on to His promises. God has given me some personal promises that haven't come to pass yet (it's been 10 years for some), but I REFUSE to let go. You do the same! Satan will try to make me doubt God. He wants us to give up, not wait on God and do things on our own. Don't do it. Is it easy waiting? NO! Sometimes it may feel as though God has forgotten about you. He hasn't. He thinks about you 24/7! We have something that nonbelievers don't have: hope. Not only that, but also a God who keeps His word. Hold on to His promises, no matter how long it takes. Wait for God and you won't be disappointed!


Random Thoughts Thursday

Katsaridaphobia. I finally found out the name of my fear of roaches. It's actually a phobia! Katsaridaphobia. YAY! Not that I'm celebrating my irrational fear of cockroaches...just that I'm not the only one with that irrational fear.

Rae's Ultimate Career Dream. My ultimate career dream is to be a successful business owner who doesn't have to go in to work everyday (I'll have people who'll run things while I'm gone cos I'll be the boss chick); write books for children and teens full time; continue to research in reading and education...become an expert of some sort that people come to; and travel the world doing conferences and motivational speeches for girls and youth.

Fall Lineup. Shows I look forward to this fall:

Old Favorites. Dancing With the Stars, Castle, NCIS, NCIS Los Angeles, The Good Wife, Glee (OF COURSE), Criminal Minds, Law & Order SVU, CSI, CSI NY, CSI Miami (OF COURSE), Desperate Housewives (only cos Vanessa Williams will be on it), and Grey's Anatomy (only cos cutie pie, Jesse Williams is on it).

New Must Sees. The Event, The Defenders, Law & Order Los Angeles, Undercovers, Blue Bloods, Melissa and Joey (um, 2 words...Joey Lawrence).

Of course some of these shows are on at the same time, so I'd have to choose. I so can't wait til the fall!

Rock Star Dad. My dad was a member of the group, Merge, popular in the late 70s/early 80s. He's the one at the top of the pyramid. This is one of their popular songs, Take it to the Top. Cool, huh?


Tickle-Me Tuesday

I'm SO gonna do something like this for my wedding (whenever that will be). No one would expect me to do it. That's what's gonna be so awesome!


Man-ificent Monday: Iglesias Brothers

This week's Manificent Monday features the Iglesias Brothers: Enrique and Julio Jr. Both men are Spanish singers, although Enrique is more known. Older brother, Julio Jr, is a model, actor and singer. Two year ago, he won the CMT competition, Gone Country. Enrique started out with Spanish albums, but has since crossed over. Both are sons of Spanish singer, Julio Iglesias. While Enrique is definitely a cutie pie, I'm thinking big brother, Julio Jr, is the hotter of the two!

Word(s) to Describe: Muy caliente!

Enrique Iglesias

Julio Iglesias Jr.


Inspirational Sunday

"...none of you men who are over twenty years old will enter the land that I solemnly promised to give you as your own..."
Numbers 14:29-30 (CEV)

Rae's Thought: This week's inspiration is for those who have not reached their promised land. There could be several reasons why you haven't crossed over, but I'd like to focus on two main reasons: your own rebellion or lack of faith in God and God's raising you up to do His will.

Your own rebellion/lack of faith. Let's look at the Israelites as an example. In Numbers 13, Moses and Aaron sent 12 men to spy on the land God had promised the Israelites. The men spent 40 days spying on the inhabitants and taking notes. At the end of the 40 days, the 12 came back with two slightly different reports. Ten men reported that, although the land was flowing with milk and honey, just as God had promised, (1) the cities were huge and fortified, (2) the people were strong and of great size, and (3) there was no way the Israelites could conquer the land. Only two men - Joshua and Caleb - believed that they could definitely take on the inhabitants because the Lord was with the people of Israel (Numbers 14:9). Who did the Israelites listen to? The 10 men. Despite all that they'd seen God do - their exodus out of Egypt, parting the Red Sea, manna from heaven, to name a few - the Israelites forgot all about God's power. Because of their unbelief, all of the adults, except for Caleb and Joshua, missed out on the promised land.

"Those who do not trust God, continually vex themselves...Sinners are ruined by their own rebellion" (Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible). Sometimes, we, as children of God, get angry with God and wonder why, if we're going to church and saying our prayers, haven't we experienced life to the fullest. It never crosses our minds that it's not God, but it's us. Are you doubting God today? Despite all He's done for you, have you forgotten all about His power and who He is? Has God given you an assignment that you have yet to complete? Your doubt and/or rebellion is what's holding you back from your promised land...that abundant life God yearns for you to have.

God is raising you up to do His will. Did you know that, even though Joshua and Caleb were the only two who trusted God completely, they had to wander around in the desert for 40 years before reaching the promised land? When I first read that, I felt it was unfair. I mean, when the 10 men came back with the negative report, riling the Israelites up against God, Joshua and Caleb got upset, to the point of tearing their clothes - which, by the way, was a sign of great distress. I asked God why couldn't these two men of God automatically go to the promised land while the doubters died out. His answer: The desert was their training ground. You see, although Joshua and Caleb trusted God, they weren't completely ready for what God had in store for them. While in the desert, God molded, guided, and prepared them for what was to come. By the time the 40 years were up, both Joshua and Caleb were ready to do God's will. Joshua succeeded Moses in leading the people of Israel and Caleb conquered Hebron, the main city that had the 10 spies up in arms. If you remember, the city was large, fortified, and had people who were of giant size. Not bad for an 85 year old, right?

The Bible doesn't say how Joshua and Caleb felt after finding out that they'd have to wander in the desert, but from what I do know about them, I can imagine they took the news pretty well. They both strike me as men of God who trusted that God knew what He was doing. It was their faith in God that kept them from being banned from the promised land. It was their trust in God that brought them through the desert and across the Jordan River. If you're "wandering," keep that trust in God. He may be preparing you for something big...something beyond your wildest imagination. In His mind, you may not be ready yet. Oh, but when He deems you ready, you can best believe you'll cross over with the power and victory He afforded you! Matthew Henry tells us that, "while we have the presence of God with us, we need not fear the most powerful force against us." When He reveals that great mission - that big assignment - He has for you, you can conquer it with no fear and the belief that He is with you.

Spend some time to take a good look at yourself. If you find that it's your own doubt and rebellion holding you back, I have three words for you: request, repent, and remember! Request God's forgiveness. Tell Him you're truly sorry for ever doubting Him. Let Him know you're ready to trust Him and do what He's called you to do. Repent and turn away from your doubt and rebellion. You'll be tempted to go back (Satan's very persistent), but don't. Don't let Satan trap you again. Remember all that God has already done for you. He's gotten you through some crazy stuff, hasn't He? Guess what? He can do it again! If you find that you haven't crossed over because God is preparing you, PRAISE HIM! This only means He's about to use you in a big way. He's chosen you to do His will and to bring glory to His kingdom. Isn't that awesome? When you've finally crossed over, give God the glory that He so rightly deserves.


Random Thoughts Thursday

Ok, can I just say that I absolutely LOVE Claudia Mair Burney? I mean, really. I do. She is probably my 2nd fave writer - Maya Angelou being my 1st. I've read 5 of her books and loved them all. She doesn't disappoint. If I see her name on a book, I just know it's gonna be AWESOME! I stayed up late last night finishing Deadly Charm, the 3rd book in the Amanda Bell Brown mystery series. I knew I had to work this morning, but I couldn't put it down. I wanted to know what was gonna happen. I love the character of Belll Brown. She's flawed, but strong. And Jazz...Lord, have mercy! *fans self* I'm so gonna review this book soon.

I can't wait to get her next book, Exosistah: X Returns. I reviewed the 1st book in this series, The Exorsistah, a few months ago. You can find it here. Are y'all looking for a good book to read? Try any of Ms. Burney's books. You won't be disappointed!


Writing Wednesday: Sharing the Spotlight

August 5

Niki: Why does life hate me so? Why? It's bad enough I still have to share a room with Ren - Mom refuses to give up her 'office'. Now, I have to share senior year with her, too? Don't get me wrong. I love my sister and all, but come on. This was supposed to be MY year, not ours.

And to make matters worse, Mom is making us "chronicle" our senior year in a diary. I mean, really Mom? Diaries are so 20th century. Hello! Anything more than 140 characters is just too long. Do we even use pen and paper anymore?

Life is so unfair! Why did Ren choose to skip a grade? Was she even thinking about my feelings when she made her decision? Apparently not.

Ren: Niki is such a drama queen sometimes. I bet her first diary entry is about how I ruined her life or about how life is so unfair. Look at her with her eyebrows drawn together. I wonder if she knows that frowning can cause wrinkles.

It wasn't even my idea to skip junior year. Mrs. Porter, my guidance counselor, suggested it. It was either skip or attend some outrageously expensive private school for nerds like me. Considering the fact that the private school doesn't have a good volleyball team, I chose to test out of junior year. You'd think my big sis would be happy for me. Guess not.

The more I think about it, the more I get excited. I mean, I'm a senior now. I'll be part of the first graduating class of Kingsley High School. And I'm finally gonna step out of Niki's shadow. No matter what I've done - made straight A's for the 10th year in a row, became the only freshman on Varsity volleyball, etc - I've always been known as Niki's little sister. This year, I'm finally getting my own identity! Yeah. This year is looking so good!


Tickle-Me Tuesday

Say what you want, the image of Christ is everywhere, even in the Whirlpool Galaxy. This is an image taken by the Hubble telescope.

Whirlpool Galaxy


Man-ificent Monday: Benjamin Bratt

This week's cutie pie is Benjamin Bratt, best known as Rey Curtis on Law and Order, a tv show I faithfully watched. He was also on Clear and Present Danger, Demolition Man, and one of my fave movies, Miss Congeniality. Can I say that I just LOVE Benjamin Bratt!

Word(s) to Describe: Sexy. Gorgeous. Beautiful. Etc...


Wannabe Writers #28

Wannabe Writers is a writing group for the un-published started by Sarah at Confessions of the Un-published. It's a place where future authors can ask questions, share stories, and get feedback. Interested in joining? Click here to find more about how it works.

Where Am I in the Writing Process: Unpublished. Writing novel #2.

My Current Problem(s): Ugh! I thought this summer would be the time where I finish the next great novel, but I haven't been working on it. *sigh* Summer vacation has struck again. I've given myself a deadline. I absolutely MUST finish the first draft of novel #2 by the end of this year.

This week's question: Do you suffer from Shiny New Idea Syndrome? What are some ways to beat it?

My Answer: Boy do I EVER! While writing novel #1, the idea for novel #2 (my current wip) came and bugged me. First, I ignored it. Then I started planning it (yes, I'm a planner). After a few months of trying to split my brain in 2, I got smart and finished novel #1 before completely concentrating on novel #2. Now that I'm working on novel #2, so many new ideas are bombarding my mind! I'm disciplining myself to only write the ideas down in my notebook and not work on them. What about you?


Tickle-Me Tuesday

Another email sent to me...


A guy calls a company and orders their 5-day, 10 lb. weight loss program..

The next day, there's a knock on the door and there stands before him a voluptuous, athletic, 19 year old babe dressed in nothing but a pair of Nike running shoes and a sign around her neck.

She introduces herself as a representative of the weight loss company. The sign reads, 'If you can catch me, you can have me.' Without a second thought, he takes off after her. A few miles later huffing and puffing, he finally gives up..

The same girl shows up for the next four days and the same thing happens. On the fifth day, he weighs himself and is delighted to find he has lost 10 lbs. as promised. He calls the company and orders their 5-day/20 pound program.

The next day there's a knock at the door and there stands the most stunning, beautiful, sexy woman he has ever seen in his life.. She is wearing nothing but Reebok running shoes and a sign around her neck that reads, 'If you catch me you can have me'.

Well, he's out the door after her like a shot. This girl is in excellent shape and he does his best, but no such luck. So for the next four days, the same routine happens with him gradually getting in better and better shape.

Much to his delight on the fifth day when he weighs himself, he discovers that he has lost another 20 lbs. as promised. He decides to go for broke and calls the company to order the 7-day/50 pound program

'Are you sure?' asks the representative on the phone... 'This is our most rigorous program.'

'Absolutely,' he replies, 'I haven't felt this good in years.'

The next day there's a knock at the door; and when he opens it he finds a huge muscular guy standing there wearing nothing but pink running shoes and a sign around his neck that reads, 'If I catch you, you're mine.'

He lost 63 pounds that week.


Man-ificent Monday: Omari Hardwick

It's baaaack! This week's cutie pie is Omari Hardwick, who plays Ty Curtis on TNT's Dark Blue (season premiere Wednesday, August 4th). His film list includes Gridiron Gang, Miracle at St. Anna, Next Day Air, Kick Ass, and The A-Team. Doesn't he have a gorgeous smile? *sigh*

Word(s) to Describe: Enticing!