Bizarre Bible Stories: Super Family Read!

bizarre bible storiesOur family is complicated. We have four children—an elementary school student, a middle schooler, a high schooler and one graduate. Here’s the problem: finding a family devotional that speaks to and engages all these age groups.

I just found the solution to my problem.

Bizarre Bible Stories gets two super huge thumbs up from our family!

The best books for kids appeal to two audiences—kids and the parents who buy and often read the books to them. Dan Cooley nails it with his Bizarre Bible Stories.

The book’s fun, conversational style, amazing facts, and wildly bizarre stories have captured the interest of not only my kids, but us parents as well. And, can you believe it? My teenagers are even enjoying it.

Each self-contained story and offers scripture, the story told in everyday language, an explanation and an application, so it makes a perfect devotional book. Cooley has a humorous way of relating the stories so there’s always a few chuckles during our pre-bedtime Bible story time, especially in the “yuck!” parts. (Boys love “yuck!” parts)

One of the things I loved about this book is that it brings to light lesser known stories. If we believe all scripture is inspired and good for teaching, then why do we focus a couple dozen stories? Cooley has chosen some great stories that have even my Sunday School veterans, hanging on to hear what happens next.

Bizarre Bible Stories makes and excellent family devotional. Because it’s important to give children the opportunity to make their own Bible study habit, I would also recommend this book as a gift to older elementary or middle school students to work through on their own.

Well done, Dan Cooley!

Find it on:       Amazon   *   Goodreads   


Sisters, Despite Distance and Differences

My first sister. I'd always wanted a sister and finally I had one.

My first sister. I’d always wanted a sister and was thrilled I finally I had one.

I live thousands of miles from my biological family, and I haven’t spent Christmas in my home state of Oregon for 13 years. So this time of year I spend a lot of time thinking about my family and what they might be doing right now. 

I think a lot about my three sisters, especially this Christmas when I know things are less than ideal for them. We have a unique relationship, and from their point of view, probably very little relationship at all. I’m sure, as the oldest, I know them better than they know me. I held them all as babies, but once they were old enough to remember much, I moved away. When I say oldest, that may understate the age difference. I’m nine years older than my next sister, 21 years older than the next and 23 years older than the youngest. 

Three sisters. The fourth hadn't joined us yet.

Three sisters. The fourth hadn’t joined us yet.

One sister lives in Oregon and two live in Texas. It’s rare that we see each other. To add to the distance

between us, we have three different mothers. But, for me, there will always be a connection. I doubt anyone could understand the past situations that brought us to this point better than us. 

Despite the distance and differences, I care deeply about them. I hope they know that somewhere in the cold Canadian prairies they have a sister who is thinking of them and praying for them and hoping the very best for them.

Merry Christmas to my beautiful sisters!


When My Family Needed a Food Hamper


food hamper1There have been two times in my life when I’ve been the recipient of a food hamper. Both times, we were in dire financial situations and we needed the help. It’s not an easy thing to accept. I wanted more than anything not to need it. I wanted to be able to run to the grocery store and pick up what we required on our own dime. How did it make me feel? Pathetic, ashamed, depressed. Poverty sucks your energy like nothing else I’ve ever experienced.

This time of year, there is special attention paid to giving to those in need and supplying organizations that put together food hampers. My experience as a recipient makes me carefully consider what I drop into the food bank bin and I hope, after reading this, you will too.

Among some, there seems to be this “beggars can’t be choosers” or “they should be happy with whatever they get” attitude. Of course, people are happy to get food. We were thankful for everything we received and for the generous people who gave it. But, I’ve learned that we shouldn’t just toss whatever is cheap into the bin. Can you imagine living on Kraft Dinner or Mr. Noodle? As givers we are looking after the nutritional needs of others, more often than not, those recipients are children. Just as I wouldn’t want to feed my children KD at every meal because it isn’t good for them, the poor don’t want to either. They want their children, and themselves, to be healthy.

People going through tough financial times still need protein and fruits and vegetables just like everyone else. Some needing food hampers are elderly with reduced sodium diets and diabetics in need of lower carbohydrate meals. Often the food we throw into the bin aggravates these conditions.

Ask yourself, if you were receiving this hamper, what would you hope to get to feed your family? Or contact your local food bank and ask what items they need most. This Christmas, I encourage your generosity. You could be helping a family just like mine.



A Word from the Emotionally Constipated

I was lying on the hospital bed exhausted, feeling disembowelled. I felt like I was three stories off the ground. As the doctor suctioned the baby he said, “She’s biting me,” and in my Demerol induced stupor I imagined my baby with razor-sharp little teeth. What did I give birth to? And then the doctor asked me joyfully, “Do you want to hold your baby.”

I said, “No.”

That wasn’t the way I’d imagined reacting to the birth of my first child. In movies women always cried with joy. Not me. I watched my husband walk the floor with her and name her when the doctor asked.

I’ve learned that I don’t usually react the way I think I should, or the way others think I should to exciting situations. I think of it as emotional constipation.

So when I got the call that the proof for my book was in, I excitedly drove over to see it. In the spring of 2015, it will have been five years since I wrote it. The subsequent years were spent revising and then giving up on it for a period of time and hiding it in folder called, “Completed Manuscripts.” It hid there with the others.

So how did I react upon seeing the product of five years of work? I was reluctant to hold it, but took it anyway. I turned it over in my hands, read a few words. Yep, my words. Weird. So weird. I’m still feeling weird about the whole thing. Am I so used to striving after something and not getting it, that I don’t know what to do when I get it?  I mean, five years of critique and rejection and work, work, work. I can’t process that it’s over (for that manuscript at least). I want to be jumping up and down with excitement. I don’t want to think about how the dream looked when I first formed it in my mind because logically I know those were pie in the sky dreams, but I’m also having to get over a sense of failure that I didn’t achieve that old vision.

A week after my daughter was born, I caught sight of myself in a mirror, holding my little girl. It finally hit me–this is my baby.  So I’m waiting for this to hit me too–to finally get to take some joy in my first  published novel.

Loving My Cover

I wrote Enslavement, a YA sci-fi novel, over four years ago and I’m so excited that it’s finally getting published. Over that past months I’ve been working intensely with the Rebelight Publishing editors to get Enslavement whipped into shape.

Recently, I got the go-ahead to share the cover. This makes it seem so real. This. Is. Really. Happening. I was nervous to see the cover (what if I didn’t like it), but I was stunned by how much I loved it. What’s it about? Read on.

Book Cover“One World. One Currency. One Bright Future.”

That’s the promise made by OneEarth Bank after a global economic collapse–but only for those who accept the insertion of a commerce chip.

When Rielle’s parents refuse to comply, government officials tear her family apart. As punishment for her parent’s crimes, Rielle is forced into a Community Service Contract–a legalized form of slavery–and sold to a wealthy, abusive banker.

The Banker’s secrets hold the key to Rielle’s freedom, but will she risk prison or even death to escape and search for her family?

Enslavement is a work of YA sci-fi/dystopian.

Performing the Lick Test

badlandsWhen you’re fossil hunting (because you fossil hunt all the time) do you know how to distinguish between a rock and a bone?

I hate to flaunt my knowledge here, but I’m about to tell you.

You lick it. Not really a lick, more like a tongue dab.  The bone absorbs the moisture from your tongue and will cling it. Rocks don’t stick to your tongue.

RIMG0796We took a trip to the Black Hills this summer and on our way back home we took a detour through the Badlands. There, we came across a park ranger giving a lecture on the fossils found in the area. He said we too could go fossil hunting and told us about the lick test. He held up specimens found by tourists just like us. He reminded us repeatedly, “find, photograph, report.” Don’t take them home! Find. Photograph. Report. Got it.

I was a little excited. I reminded myself to stay calm. I casually strolled downRIMG0808 the path. Just lookin’ for some fossils. No big deal.

I picked through rocks, scanned mounds. And then I found it! Something. I don’t know what it was. It couldn’t be a rock. Only one way to find out. Lick it!

As it turns out it was a rock. And the next one was too. I licked half a dozen rocks.

But, then I hit the mother load. This had to be a bone. It was rounded weird. If I had to guess, I’d say a Coccyx of some sort (I took Anatomy and Physiology). I performed the lick test. I got stickage! A fossil. I found a fossil. Find. Check.

I waved my husband over to document my find. He asked, “Did you lick it?”

RIMG0828“You know I did.” He snapped the picture. Photograph. Check.

Oh, it would have fit so nicely in my pocket. My fossil. My ten thousand year old Coccyx. My cute little Coccyx.

Don’t worry. I didn’t rob mankind of earth’s history. I resisted temptation. I put it back where I found it. It’s still there. I told the park ranger about my find. Report. Check.:(

Sigh. Some other tourist is probably licking it right now.

This is coprolite--fossilized poop. I did not lick this one.

This is coprolite–fossilized poop. I did not lick this one.