My Life with EDS?

I am often asked about why I’m always feeling so terrible. frazzled-woman-cartoon-paid-forWhy am I so sporadic about posting and reviewing? Why do I barely leave my home anymore? And, if I am home all the time, why am I not reading, reviewing and posting?

I am going to attempt to share my story here. I would love to say that you will have all the answers and completely understand after this post, but I am sure there are many that have their own viewpoints. keep-calm-and-power-through-9There are many that believe those of us with chronic conditions need to just “suck it up”.

I was one of those. I used to say that all of the time. That is my personality.

God knew I needed some compassion, so remember while reading this that it’s better to have compassion without God needing to teach it to you! ha 🙂

Flowers & Plants

When I was younger, I was very outgoing and active. I always had friends around and was busy with every activity I could fit into my schedule. When I was 18, that all caught up with me. My body just crashed. It wasn’t all the activity, necessarily, but my body was not strong enough to carry all of that and I hadn’t known it.

Cream Rustic Spa Makeover Party Photo Collage

I spent the year of 1996 confined to bed. I just couldn’t get up. I was so tired. Getting up and going to the bathroom was enough to make me need to take a few hour nap. It was unbelievable. I had no strength.

As I slowly built back up, I started back into all my activities again. This time, however, it wasn’t the same. I was a lot more tired and edgy. I would get angry a lot easier.

As years passed by, pregnancies and life got in the way, my pain became more acute. Doctor appointment after doctor appointment with nothing to show for it. “Do more yoga.” “Swim more.” “You just have fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.”

Then there were the “friends” with statements and questions such as: “Why do you need a name for it so badly?” “Why don’t you just juice?” “Why don’t you exercise more?” “Why don’t you just push through the pain. It’s mind over matter!”


Now, I know their intentions were good (at least I hope they were!), but anyone with chronic pain will tell you that those suggestions are not helpful at all. Chances are very high that we have already heard of all those diets that will help. We’ve done the research. We’ve tried to find the answer.

Thankfully, I am very blessed to be one of the few that actually DID get an answer. When I was 37, I finally found out that what I have is called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (also known as EDS). It takes many forms and affects people differently, but if you want to have a basic idea of what the side effects are, just click here.

Let me give you the quickest way to describe EDS to you (at least the form I currently have). Every person has ligaments that are used to hold your skeletal system together and in place. When you work out, you stretch them and then they tighten back up stronger.

For someone with EDS, that’s not always the case. For me, my ligaments never tighten back up. Every time I work out, my ligaments stretch and stay that way. You can imagine how loose they are around my skeletal system. So, all those years of yoga? Worse thing the doctors could have told me to do. In their defense, they had no idea. But, this is why it is SO IMPORTANT to continue pushing until you find the answer! Yes, a name is important!

Because my ligaments are so stretchy now, they are not able to do their job and hold my skeletal system securely in place. My muscles try to overcompensate by tightening up, but this just causes even more pain and trigger points. My skeletal system is free to move about and frequently “pop” out of place. Ever had a slipped disc? Mine slide as I walk or move.

That is just the very beginning of what it does. The pain I am in on a daily basis is, at most times, unbearable. I must completely trust in God to give me the strength I need for each day for I cannot think of the future.

I don’t sleep. I don’t do much. After years of not knowing what I had, I found that the advice I was given only made things worse. I am in such terrible shape at 40 years old. Some of my personal symptoms (aside from overall pain):

  • High Blood Pressure
  • Under-active Thyroid
  • Accelerated Heart Rate
  • Fatigue (unable to even lift arms or stand at times)
  • Restless Legs (Causing my entire body to jolt)
  • Sciatica
  • Migraines
  • Tension Headaches
  • Severe Trigger Points all over
  • Eye Weakness
  • Knees are sprained in a permanent state
  • Constant shifting of my back (and everywhere, really. The pain is worse in my back.)
  • Foggy Brain
  • Unable to sleep more than an hour or two at a time (3 hours of sleep is a good night for me)
  • Delayed Sleep Syndrome
  • Inability to make very many new memories
  • Slow processing time when talking to people and responding
  • Arthritis in my hands and lower back
  • Inability to plan ahead
  • Overstimulation
  • Inability to turn head left and right due to tight muscles in neck
  • Confusion
  • Fragile bones
  • Simple tasks (like showering, making a meal, etc…) are so overwhelming that I often cry and feel like I am going to throw up when I know they are coming up or while I am in the midst of them.
  • Reading (one of my FAVORITE ACTIVITIES) causes headaches, fatigue and can not distract me from my pain enough to continue for long periods.
  • Anxiety to go anywhere because I could get stuck feeling too terrible to get home.
  • Anxiety to go anywhere because there are people there.


I am sure that I could continue (and my family could offer a list twice as long). However, you get the idea.

Now, what am I doing about it?

Well, there is no cure for EDS. It is only pain management. Realizing that, I went into this trying to find things that would remove the pain so I could function normally. I have had everything from trigger points shots, acupuncture, dry needling, pain patches that pumped narcotics into me 24/7, and much, much more. I came to realize that none of that did enough to be worth the effect it would have on my body long term. Years of chiropractic work, yoga and swimming have completely destroyed the stability of my ligaments.

'The voices from my prescription side effects say you should consider lowering the dosage.'

Now, I am on minimal narcotics (by my choice to avoid addiction and constantly raising the amount as I become acclimated to medicine quickly). I try to use as many homeopathic remedies as possible and pray for wisdom.

So, there are so many things that I have mentioned here that are difficult to deal with on a daily basis. How about the things I am really thankful (in-spite of it/because of it):

  • My husband and sons have learned compassion. They watch out for me above their own needs.
  • I have learned compassion as I used to be annoyed by people with chronic problems.
  • My faith has grown and my relationship with God is amazing. I have had to cling to Him and learn to trust Him throughout all this. I would be in a state of hysteria if it wasn’t for Him and His peace. Nobody could ever convince me that God doesn’t exist because my relationship with Him is so intimate that I lack all doubt.
  • He has slowed me down. I used to always race around like crazy doing a million things and had no time to be still. I was angry because I was so overtired. Now, I am home and able to be a good mother and wife. I’m not too busy to love my family and be tuned into them.
  • I recognize my true friends.
  • God used it to save my son’s life (That’s a story for another day! You can email me if you want to hear about that.

Again, there are many things I could name, but my blessings far outweigh my troubles.

In my distress I called upon the LORD;to my God I cried for help.From his temple he heard my voice,and my cry to him reached his ears.

Yes, these are true. These are absolute truth. These are the things I cling to.

thinkingof youI pray for you, dear friends, as I know that chronic pain is something many of us struggle with. Unfortunately, many others do not recognize it for what it is. They don’t understand why we are skittish about scheduling things and often times have to cancel. They do not understand why we don’t just power through or juice or whatever. They don’t understand why we can look normal and healthy but say we feel as terrible as we do.

I get it. Hang in there. Find a way to give God glory through your pain and He will bless you more than you can imagine. You will begin to be thankful for the suffering. You will see how it has blessed your life (truthfully!). God can only show you the blessings and give you peace when you are content in His goodness. Trust Him. There’s a reason that you have it. Use it for His glory. That is what I have chosen and it has saved me from so much worse. It’s saved me from sever depression that is my constant shadow. It’s saved me from anger towards everyone around me. It has saved me from literally going crazy from pain.

He is worth it. He is what He promised. Run to Him for dear life and He will hold you in His arms through all of the difficulties.

Orange Bordered Autumn and Fall Photo Collage

But…if we are being honest? This is what my husband usually gets to come home to.



An Inconvenient Beauty

by Kristi Ann Hunter


Catching you up: Duke Griffith Hawthorne is the last of the siblings (Loudly_Crying_Face_Emoji_grande.png), thus ending the Hawthorne series. (TRAGIC!!!!!) He has been taking care of his brother and sisters for so long that he hasn’t even had time to find love for himself. Now that he is able, he has done extensive research and he has his sights set on…the wrong girl…

Isabella Breckenridge has come to London under false pretenses. She is to help her uncle by attracting as many eligible men as possible so that they might pass a bill through the courts. Everything about her feels this is wrong, but she knows that she must help her family and has not yet learned to trust God to do that for her.

My Thoughts: So, first of all…how does she keep doing this? Kristi is one of the most talented writers because she has the perfect balance of light-heartedness, deep characters, and Godly principles. It’s such a beautiful thing to see!!!

I am exceptionally sad that this series is over. It has been one of my favorite. As Griffith and Isabella’s worlds come colliding together, you will laugh, maybe cry, and most certainly be pulled in from the first page to the last.

The characters just grab on and don’t let go. You can’t shake them even if you wanted to (believe me, you don’t!). If you haven’t read any of Kristi’s books, definitely pick one up. They can be read as a stand alone, but you will appreciate it much more if you are to read them in order for the characters that are introduced in each book carry through to the next.

Be sure to click the link above to grab your copy! Also, if you would like to check out my fabulous face-off with Kristi Ann Hunter, just CLICK HERE! It’s loads of fun!!! Lastly, thanks to Bethany house for this great book in exchange for my review. As always, this is my honest opinion!!! Here’s to many more!

Click below to find the other books in this series. Aren’t these covers a-ma-zing??? #truth


Face-Off with Sarah Sundin!!

61Dm0I55KIL._UX250_novelsIt’s been TOO LONG and I’m SO EXCITED to have Sarah Sundin here today! This lovely lady has been more than patient with me and I appreciate it more than you can ever know!

She’s an author of WWII novels, speaker, has a PhD as a pharmacist, and, last but not least…a mom!!! Wha??? #truth Talk about a lady that loves living life to the fullest!!

I know you have seen her books! They are absolutely eye catching and beautiful. Not only that, but they are a GREAT PRICE right now! In fact…the first 2 people that buy one of these sets (using the links provided here) will receive a swag bag from me full of fun stuff 🙂 Just let me know as soon as you order!

ADM-Official-Cover-194x300 A-Memory-Between-Us-Cover-194x300 Blue-Skies-Tomorrow-Cover-194x300 $14.97 for all three on Amazon Kindle

Sundin-With-Every-Lettter-194x300 On-Distant-Shores-cover-194x300 In-Perfect-Time-194x300 $17.97 for all three on Amazon Kindle

Through-Waters-Deep-194x300 Anchor-in-the-Storm-193x300 When-Tides-Turn-193x300 $20.97 for all three on Amazon Kindle

Let’s get to it, shall we?


The rules are simple. I ask Sarah some random questions. She replies and then I give my answers. Each winning answer is worth one point and I get to decide whose answer is better.

It’s my blog.

Here we go!

1. Funniest movie?

Sarah – A Christmas Story. Every single scene.

Charity – Ha!!! I love that we both choose Christmas movies because…Elf.

— Definitely a tie!

Charity 1 / Sarah 1

2. Weirdest experience at the dr.?

Sarah – Keeping this family friendly… Our favorite family medical story is when our daughter had a blood draw and received her shots before kindergarten. Anna has a blood & needle phobia. And she’s feisty. I held her on my lap with my legs wrapped around hers and my arms anchoring her torso and one arm. One nurse wrestled her arm into position and held it there. And another nurse did the foul deeds. Anna screamed the entire time. When we were done, she went skipping and singing through the waiting room with her sticker and lollipop, while half a dozen people watched bug-eyed. I’m sure they thought Anna had been drawn and quartered.

Charity – Oh my gosh!! I would have needed a nap STAT! (see how I used a nurse word there?) If anything, I think that I make it really weird and awkward for the dr’s and nurses. I say REALLY inappropriate things when I feel uncomfortable. It’s a disease, really. I mean, there’s a reason I haven’t gotten a colonoscopy…


— Definitely don’t get that one…

Charity 1 / Sarah 2

3. Favorite destination type (beach, mountains, Disney, etc…)

Sarah – Sightseeing! London, Rome, Boston…I love seeing beautiful places where interesting things happened. We dragged our kids to museums and battlefields and volcanos. We toured historic ships and planes. We saw the California missions when the kids were in fourth grade, Washington DC and Williamsburg in eighth grade, Gettysburg and Antietam and Yorktown. And our daughter whined because we didn’t have “normal” vacations, going to the beach like everyone else. So we took her to the beach. And she was bored. Victory!

Charity – “Victory”, indeed! I am right there with you. I love historical sites and little villages. I would have been all, “We are sitting on the beach for 8 hours each day we are here and doing nothing else. Enjoy.”

— Tie

Charity 2 / Sarah 3

4. Least favorite chore?

Sarah – Scouring toilets. When you have boys.

Charity Oi, got me there. That’s just disgusting. Yeah, I don’t think I can beat that! I am so freaked out by anything un-princessy. Drains, toilets, hair, etc…


— You. I am a HUGE WIMP.

Charity 2 / Sarah 4

5. What’s your biggest phobia?

Sarah – This is totally bizarre, but I freak when I have wet feet and get hair stuck to them, especially tangled around my toes. Argh! I MUST have my slippers by the shower to prevent this. Yes, I know hairy feet aren’t dangerous. Yes, it’s totally irrational. And yet.


How could you even say those words??


Ok, I can’t even think right now.

Trying to pull myself together. I was going to say that my biggest phobia is the dentist…but you may have just single-handedly cured me of that.


— Nope. Just, nope.

Charity 2 / Sarah 5

6. If you could be an epic fighter, who would you be?

Sarah – I’m just giving you this point. I’m such a wimp. I cringed through my sons’ karate lessons.

Charity – Oh, man! I would love it if I was tough and a fighter!!! It would be so fun!!! I would have to be John Wick. Is there really anyone else???



Charity 3 / Sarah 5

7. Apple or Windows/Android?

Sarah – Both! I have a Windows laptop, which I love—and an iPhone, which I also love.

Charity – ehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!! (That’s a buzzer sound). WRONG ANSWER! Apple or Mac would have been the only correct answers to choose.

— Mine.

Charity 4 / Sarah 5

8. How do you strive to bring God glory in every situation?

Sarah – I try to see people through God’s eyes—and when I can’t, I ask Him to show me. Even the meanest, rudest, stupidest, and most arrogant people are beloved by God. He died for them same as He died for me.

Charity – Girl, that is SUCH a beautiful answer. It’s so easy for me to give up on people and not extend grace. “Grace” is the word that God has really been putting on my heart. It’s so dang hard for me! I suppose that straight up boils down to arrogance. Yikes.

— God wins!!!

Charity 4 / Sarah 5

9. Fun hobby when relaxing (besides your awesome skill of writing)?

Sarah – Well. I read. I hike with my husband and our dog. I go to the gym. Hobby wise, I’m super-boring. Point to Charity!!

Charity – Not so fast, my friend…


and that’s about it.

— Definitely not my point! Uh, you even had “the gym” in your answer. *ashamed*

Charity 4 / Sarah 6

10. Favorite movie from the same time frame as your historical novels?

Sarah – So, so, so many. My most recent favorite World War II movie is Hacksaw Ridge. Absolutely gorgeous movie with superb acting, a sweet romance, some outrageous humor, harrowing battle scenes, historical accuracy, and a thought-provoking and uplifting message.


Charity – Yes!!!! What an amazing movie!!! Wow. I think I have to go with you on this one. Beautiful movie ❤

— tie


Charity 5 / Sarah 7


I thought I had it for a few minutes there!!! But, alas, Sarah’s coolness over-rode mine!!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH, GIRL!!!!! ❤ ❤

Just wanted to share with you a few beautiful moments of Sarah enjoying life ❤

Remember, be sure to grab a set of one of Sarah’s books from the link above and I will send you some fun stuff!!! Woot Woot! Everyone wins!

Israel – God’s Heart

by Ron Gafni and Kathleen Barrett


Ron Gafni is a professional aerial photographer that has taken many beautiful pictures of the landscapes in Israel. Even if you have had the opportunity to visit the Holy Land (as I have), you will enjoy seeing it from a completely different perspective.

image2(1) I really enjoyed seeing all of the breathtaking views! So, for photos, I highly recommend. Unfortunately, I found that the narrative left a little to be desired. There were definite editing issues and I failed to really get how it all went together. It seems forced – as if they were trying to get a lot more theology in than what works with a picture book.

Overall, it’s fun to look at and I definitely recommend checking it out. The link to Amazon is in the first pic.

Thanks so much for this book! As always, this is my honest opinion. Here’s to many more!!

Want to see a flipbook of this? Check it out!


NKJV The Woman’s Study Bible


Have you been thinking it’s time for a new Bible? Looking for a great Mother’s Day gift? Well, look no further! Click the link above 🙂


This great new release by Thomas Nelson is full color and bold print! What’s that mean? It means that there is plenty of room in it for all you Bible journaling fans, note takers and whatever other ideas you have to make your Bible your own personalized love letter.

Features Include:
-Beautiful full-color design throughout-Detailed biographical portraits of over 100 biblical women
-Thousands of extensive verse-by-verse study notes
FullSizeRender-Over 300 in-text topical articles on relevant issues
-Insightful essays by women who are recognized experts in the fields of theology, biblical studies, archaeology, and philosophy
-Book introductions and outlines
-Hundreds of full-color in-text maps, charts, timelines, and family trees
-Quotes from godly women throughout history
-Set of full-page maps of the biblical world
-Topical index
image2 I started a new One Year Bible reading plan and wanted to start fresh with a new Bible to highlight in different colors for specific things I was looking for. This is the perfect choice!

I love all of the great features that shed new light on things I’ve read so many times before. I’m a very visual person, so it’s fabulous to have these family tree pictures and sections dedicated to people that are quickly mentioned in Scripture. It brings it so much more alive for me!


I definitely recommend this and hope you will pick up a copy. image3They are really bargain-priced and you are getting so much with it!

Also, check out this fabulous giveaway below!!! I want to thank Thomas Nelson and Litfuse for this fabulous Bible in exchange for my review. As always, this is my honest opinion. Here’s to many more!!

You’re invited to receive God’s truth for balance, hope, and transformation in the fully revised and redesigned The NKJV Woman’s Study Bible. The new edition features a beautiful, full-color redesign and poignantly reveals the Word of God with Scripture insights and the contributions of more than eighty women from a wide variety of ethnic, denominational, educational, and occupational backgrounds. Special features designed to speak to a woman’s heart appear throughout the Bible text, revealing Scripture-based insights about how godly womanhood grows from a woman’s identity as a Christ-follower and a child of the Kingdom.

This spring, cultivate your heart’s spiritual roots and enter to win the Grow in the Word Giveaway!

One grand prize winner will receive:

Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on April 27. The winner will be announced April 28 on the Litfuse blog.

NKJV pin1

Getting Started!

Image-1Alright!!! The time is here! Tomorow we embark on a YEAR LONG journey through the Bible.

I am SO EXCITED! I actually have a new Bible that I am going to use so I can start highlighting all the new things I find.

I’ve decided that I am going to use three colors:

Pink: To highlight any passages that describe God and His character in ANY way

Purple: To highlight any passages that say ways we can please or worship God (including phrases like, “I fall on my knees and pray”.

Yellow: To highlight any passages that are confusing or that I find to be at all difficult to process.

I would love to hear your thoughts about other things I can be looking out for! I would also love to have you join me so we can be reading the same passages and having really awesome discussion/accountability.

I will be starting tomorrow, April 1st. (nope! No joke!) Please join me and comment here any thoughts you have. ❤


PS: I know that this is not TECHNICALLY what Matthew 18:20 is referring to, but it still works~

Ahhh…What does this mean? Are you with me?

I don’t know about you, but I seem to always think that life is going to slow down as soon as I get through this thing I am dealing with right now.69520623f35487f2bed71f2c4d4f5a6d Strangely enough, that never happens and my pea brain keeps thinking it will.

I mean, YEAH, it hasn’t slowed down yet…but it’s got to eventually, right?


I am pretty sure that God lets us think that so we aren’t too overwhelmed. That’s totally His mercy. But the truth is, His thoughts are so far above our thoughts that there’s no comparison. He knows what’s coming and knows we couldn’t handle it if we knew all of what was to come. So, He gives us these little chunks we can handle (with His help) at a time.

You know, I was talking to someone the other day and she was commenting on how hard it must be to be a counselor. I mean, they have to know how to handle their clients’ problems AND their own. She was saying how difficult it was because just handing your own is overwhelming. I suggested to her that maybe that was the problem. We aren’t meant to handle them. Why would we want our own opinion on how to help ourselves when we have access to the One who’s thoughts are so far above our own?

c771a9bccf11c9ab09d603fdf00ecea7I know that almost every time I try to sort a problem (big or small) on my own, I would naturally do the opposite of what God would suggest. And the truth is, He created us, so He would know what makes us the happiest.

a4ea5912d48c3634db2a1fb313a986a6When you find yourself unsure about ANYTHING (Yes, even if you should buy the red or the blue shirt), ask God.

He WANTS to give us wisdom. He is NOT a God of confusion. If you are confused, perhaps that’s a sign that you aren’t seeking God’s wisdom?

All this to say, we need to be in the Word. We need to be learning more about Him and helping each other out! The more we know Him, the better we can hear His voice. I don’t know how many times I have been saved from a big jam because I asked Him for wisdom at the last minute!

I am just now finishing my “reading through the Bible chronologically in one year” plan and am about to start something new. I want to do it again, but a bit differently.

I am hoping that some of you would like to read through the Bible with me (and adding in a few things). I am not going to read it chronologically this time. I am using a different plan. I also intend to do some very verse specific highlighting. Lastly, and most importantly, I would love if some of you would like to go on this year-long journey with me starting April 1st. (nope, not a joke) It would be fabulous to be working together and falling more and more in love with God ❤

I will be posting more about it over the next couple of weeks. I can’t wait to hear from you guys about taking this journey!


Face-Off with Zachary Bartels: Take 2!!

17264506_1662741187074521_4203841052978384135_nToday is a BIG DAY!  It’s the perfect storm for you readers. Why? Let me tell you:

  1. It’s COVER REVEAL DAY for Zachary’s newest book, All Souls’ Day.
  2. We have GIVEAWAYS (yes, plural!)
  3. Face-Off round DUEX!

So, keep on reading because there’s lots here! SQUEEZE!!!!!


Zachary Bartels is my Author Highlight of the month, so you can check out more info on the homepage. For now, let’s get to all the fun! Woot!

Well, well…It’s time for round 2! As you know, we tied in the first face-off, so now it’s time to see who is the winner once and for all!


The rules are simple. I ask Zachary some random questions. He replies and then I give my answers. Each winning answer is worth one point and I get to decide whose answer is better.

It’s my blog.

Here we go!

1. Worst hotel/motel experience? 

Zachary – I don’t know if I have anything funny. The first experience that comes to mind is, we were in Orlando just last month and had to call the cops because of a domestic dispute in the room next to ours, but there was a crying kid and everything, and my own kid was sort of low-level traumatized by it, so . . .

Let me say this: up until I was about fifteen, I loved staying in hotels more than anything. It was exciting and special and the TV had cable and there were vending machines right outside the door and sometimes an indoor pool.  Then, I had my germaphobe-awakening and saw some footage of people bringing black lights into their hotel rooms. All of a sudden I was horrified by the idea of sleeping in those beds and showering where who-knows-what had  gone down. I started packing flip-flops to wear in the shower and sometimes my own pillow cases to put over the hotel’s. One bad-but-funny experience was the time I forgot the flip flops and tried showering with two of those hotel-issued plastic-elastic shower caps on my feet. I slipped and slid all over the place and very nearly went down . . . wound up making all sorts of skin contact with the inside of the shower curtain, which is sort of the germaphobe equivalent of spending the night inside a rotting buffalo carcass.

Charity – Oh. My. Gosh. I literally laughed out loud. I can actually say, “LOL”! That was quite the visual.


Ok, I thought I had this one in the bag, but you with those plastic shower hats on your feet – slip-sliding all around….YIKES!

My turn. I must preface this story by saying that, first of all, I HATE West Virginia. I was headed towards Chicago area to visit my mother-in-law (shout out! holla, mom!) with the fam. We were in WV heading over one of those horrible cliff roads with nothing on either side of us but guard rails (like that’s going to do a dang thing) to keep us from plummeting to our deaths. Anyway, at that very moment, a tornado comes towards our car while I am driving straight towards it with nowhere else to go. Yep, I drove through a tornado on the road with nothing but my family’s impending death on the sides of us. Here’s the news link of that devastating storm, FYI.

After that fright, we decided, against our better judgement, to stop at a hotel in that deplorable State. We were in the capital city. How bad can it be?

Check in went great. They even had little, chewy cookies there. Nice and warm. “Oh yeah, BTW, the elevator is broken”, they say AFTER we check in. Let’s just say we were’t anywhere near the first floor. So, up the stairs we go (which is against every thing I stand for). We open the door and, SURPRISE, the room has been slept in and used. Totally not cleaned. As I am a princess and my husband and boys were carrying all my luggage, I said that I would quickly run down and get keys to a new room (which was very generous of me, considering I would be repeating the offense of the stairs). Oh yeah, BTW… the door to the stairwell locks and only opens from INSIDE the main part of the hotel. So once I made it downstairs, I was forced to go OUTSIDE into a dark alley to get back around to the doors inside. ugh.

Not very princess-y.

Needless to say, it was a nightmare. We are quite particular about hotels due to the germ-age factor. That hotel did NOT gift us with a comforting night of sleep.

— Sorry about the novel.

Charity 1 / Zachary 1

2. Stupidest (PG rated) thing you have ever done? (I know…hard to pick one…) 

Zachary – Obviously, I’m not going to tell the world my stupidest mistakes. But here are a couple bonehead moves:

In college, me and two buddies got wrapped up in some weird brand of fundamentalism that we may have accidentally invented (its sacrament was Jolt Cola–twice the sugar! twice the caffeine!)  And we drove around Grand Rapids at night, smoking cigars and duct taping Luther’s 95 theses to the doors of Catholic churches. To what end, I do not know. (When your Christian school has rules against everything from dancing to having a TV in your dorm room, you go to some great length to amuse yourself, I guess). The really pathetic thing is that this was ’96, before the “real” Internet was overly accessible on campus (remember VAX??), so we wound up getting a book about Luther from the library and taking turns typing up the theses. It took like forty-five minutes. You would have thought the process of reading/typing them would have brought us to our senses re: the stupidity of our night raids, but no . . . our stupidity was too brazen.

More recently, I started a Facebook group for people of my particular theological persuasion who live in my hometown, just for fun. Wanting to get some people in there right off the bat, I clicked the thing to promote it for $5. Only I accidentally left the campaign open-ended and, by the time I realized my mistake, I had blown $225. The net result? Twenty-one members. I have yet to do anything with or post anything on that group.

Charity – wow. You were pretty cool.face-with-tears-of-joy I am assuming you didn’t tell your wife about this until she was your wife?  And as far as your $225 “mishap”, just call it mission work and call it a day.

I was a total mess. I don’t even know how many stupid things I did. Let’s see…a couple that stand out?

I’ll start with one from the same year. ’95-’96 college year. My best friend and I going to a Christian college and hating life … and rules… (Shout out to Sue! Holla, girl!). So, what do you do in a religious school with bonkers rules? I’ll tell you. We would look at what all the weird, conservative girls were wearing (Only mentioning my sentiments at the time. This does not necessarily reflect my current feelings on how conservative people dress) and then we would show back up at class wearing an exaggerated, matching outfit (as to mock them….yeah, I was cool too).

Once I got out of school, I was really cool. Like, for real.


Once I was older and wiser, I would enjoy pulling up at a light, next to a guy on a motorcycle and asking if I could ride with him. I would then pull into the nearest 7-11 (write down his plate # and leave it in my car because I was obviously smart enough to make sure I was safe if nobody could find me) and jump on the back of the bike. wheeee.

How am I still alive?

— I think it’s a tie again.

Charity 2 / Zachary 2

3. Funniest thing you hid from your parents growing up? 

Zachary – Starting at about 12 years old, my bedroom was in the basement, which really lent itself to hiding things from my parents. Luckily, I was a pretty upstanding young man, comparatively speaking. When I was 16 or 17, though, I did draw on (pun!!) my artistic skills to paint a replica of the little basement window in my bedroom on some corrugated cardboard. With the little curtains semi-obscuring it, you couldn’t tell the counterfeit from from the real thing. The idea, of course, was to remove the window, pull myself out of the house (thus bypassing the insanely loud wood floors and front door), and replace the window with the fake. It’s funny in retrospect, because it took days of work to get it right, but I had no real plans to sneak out, or even a desire to do so. It was just a self-challenge I guess. I did use it a couple of times to slip out into the night, but one was to attend a Christian rock concert. Yeah, I know–when I give my testimony I leave that part out because it’s just too dark.

Charity – ha! I guess so. Women would be fanning themselves and feeling faint.

I had a couple posters of Christian Slater up on my walls…Um, well, technically, in my closet. Ok, you got me. They were hanging up behind the clothes in my closet.


I sure showed my parents what was up! woot!

— We really weren’t too cool. At all.

Charity 3 / Zachary 3

4. Do you believe we, as parents, should be allowed to arrange marriages for our kids in this day and age?

Zachary – Obviously.

Charity – Oh. My. Gosh.

My kids disagree. Whatevs.

— This is ridiculous. You need a dumb answer so I can get a point.

Charity 4 / Zachary 4

5. Would you enjoy playing rugby? 

Zachary – I don’t know; probably not. I get really overly competitive with everything. Even, like, Scrabble and Pictionary can become uncomfortably intense when I’m involved. And when I play racquetball, it becomes full-contact spazoid-ball really fast. All that to say, if I were to play an actual full-contact game, involving minimal protective equipment, I would probably get myself killed in short order.

Charity – Dude. You don’t even want to get me started in a game of SPOONS. I will take off your fingers. Without blinking.

HOWEVER, I am like 90 year old princess. I am not even joking. In my mind I would be amazing at it. In reality, I couldn’t get past the smell of the other players, let alone be on the field.

— lame

Charity 5 / Zachary 5

6. Favorite current song/band/singer? 

Zachary – It’s gotta be either The Decemberists, The Accidentals, or Trip Lee. Yeah, that’s a weird mix, I know. Also, I acknowledge that it is pathetically dorky for a just-about-middle-aged white Baptist minister to listen to hip hop. Maybe that’s why it’s so perfect… but probably not.

Charity – Uh…Have you ever heard of NF? Andy Mineo? Totally cool to be pasty white and listening to Christian rap. woot. At least I hope.

I really love 21 Pilots (which…FYI, are a couple of homeschooled, Christian boys. Yep. True story). I also love Tenth Avenue North.

Here’s a fun Andy Mineo video.

— This is more like a never ending ping-pong match! Who’s going to flinch first…BRING IT!

Charity 6 / Zachary 6

7. Recommended vacation spot?

Zachary – Mackinac Island, between Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas. It’s so beautiful and idyllic. No cars are allowed, so the streets are filled with horses and carriages. There’s an old 19th Century fort, beautiful houses, B&Bs, and the Grand Hotel (where they filmed Somewhere in Time). Also, they make the world’s best fudge there. On any given morning, I usually think at least once that I’d rather be riding my bike around Mackinac Island than doing what I’m actually doing.


Charity – Ok, I spoke WAY TOO SOON. I just looked it up and I am dying here! What in the world?!?!?! That has to be the coolest place EVER!

— Nicely done, my friend. Nicely done.

Charity 6 / Zachary 7

8. If you had to write a historical novel, what era would you choose?

-Zachary – Well, The Last Con had a series of flashbacks to 18th Century Europe, which I loved writing. That would be fun to flesh out. Having degrees in biblical studies, a biblical era novel would seem natural. In fact, I have some great ideas for biblical fiction, but the notion of getting every little detail right (i.e. doing all that research into everyday life) is just overwhelming to me. I’m going to Israel with Cliff Graham and Connilyn Cossette and some other authors in May; maybe I’ll try and steal their research secrets/methods.

Charity – Oh, yes! Do that! I went to Israel when I was in college and it was pretty dang incredible! Of course, I spent the whole time getting pictures with all the soldiers…

ANYWAY, I seriously need to read that! I can’t believe I haven’t read that yet. What up??

— Ok, you are pulling ahead now. Watch your fingers.

Charity 6 / Zachary 8

9. Worst natural disaster you’ve been a part of? 

Zachary – Oops. I just wrote something political and then deleted it. (I don’t need that kind of heat.)

[[just a side note…I couldn’t remember if I, Charity, wrote that last sentence or if you, Zachary, did. I now remember that you did…but it sounds like something I would say! haha]]

Living far away from the hotbeds of hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, etc. there aren’t many disasters to speak of around here. I’ve avoided tornadoes thus far. I guess my answer would have to be either the big flood of 1990 (people were rowing boats down my street) or the Great Blizzard of 1978, which apparently dumped many, many feet of snow on the High Five. Except that I was literally zero when the blizzard happened and the worst part about the flood was that my basement bedroom filled with an inch of water, ruining my box full of Breakaway Magazine back issues. Seriously, if I want to re-read that cover article about the radical skateboarding couple who were also super-radical  youth ministers, I’ll have to buy another copy online! I’m sorry, I can’t talk about this any more; it’s still too raw.

Charity – I should be a journalist. I know how to ask the deep questions.

I am going to refer back to my answer in question #1. Yes, I live on the East Coast amid hurricane after devastating hurricane. Still, my drive through WV was pure evil. (Did you ever notice that you can switch WV to VW and it becomes something wonderful??)


Did I mention I am pretty ADHD?

— I am taking it! boom.

Charity 7 / Zachary 8

10. Funniest thing your son has said?

Zachary – How to even narrow this down? The main redeeming function of Facebook these days is that it pops up with “memories” each morning–usually hilarious stuff my little guy said and did years ago. Here’s a good one: when he was about four, he was running around the house one day, shouting, “Ovary!!!” We couldn’t get him to stop. When I asked him what he thought it meant, he just sort of shrugged. It was like a week later that we were watching one of his favorite episodes of Phineas and Ferb, and I realized he was emulating Phineas shouting, “Wolverines!” (i.e. a reference to the craptastic ’80s flick Red Dawn).  Also, he used to call his nipples, his “knuckles.” So that was great . . .

Charity – Oh my word. That’s amazing! hahaha.

Ok, so before I was following God in any way, I was a single mom in my early 20’s. My son was 2 years old and had never asked about his father (because the guy was not in the picture). We were at the beach just chillin’ and my pasty, white son sees this big, african-american man walk right by our towels and he yells, “HEY, MOM! IS THAT MY DAD?????” holy crap. That guy’s eyes were HUGE and he couldn’t have walked his big self any faster out of there. I was just horrified and laughing so hard at the same time.

–Yeah, I am taking that one.


Charity 8 / Zachary 8


NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You are a worthy competitor, Mr. Bartels! Very worthy, indeed!! We will definitely need to have an instant death round soon!

Who’s ready to see the big COVER REVEAL???


First of all, let me share the synopsis with you:


It’s been a year since pastor Parker Saint found himself in the middle of an ancient conspiracy involving demon possession, ritual killings, holy relics, and Vatican operatives, and things are just starting to get back to normal. Well, as normal as they can be now that he’s married to Detective Corinne Kirkpatrick.

Corinne is having trouble adjusting to life as a pastor’s wife. And while she’d love to retreat to the familiarity of her precinct, she’s beginning to feel out of place there too–surrounded by younger, unfamiliar faces and beginning to feel like a relic herself.

When a new series of grisly murders rocks the quiet city of Grand Rapids, everyone is on edge, and no one more so than Parker–at every murder scene, there is some connection to him. Soon he and Corinne are thrown into a deadly game with a timer that is swiftly running out. As the stress takes its toll on their fledgling marriage, they’ll have to lean on God and each other–and even those Vatican operatives–in order to stop the killer before it’s too late.

And here it is!



Want to pre-order your own copy? Head on over to:

Amazon or Barnes and Noble (hint: It’s cheaper at B&N)

OR……You can head on over to:

a Rafflecopter giveaway to win your own SIGNED copy when it’s released!

Zachary has graciously offered to do 2 GIVEAWAYS! You can win SIGNED copies of Playing Saint and it’s sequel, All Souls’ Day (paperback, once released). Wait, that’s just one giveaway! The second includes a hard cover copy instead of paperback! Now we’re talking!

Thanks so much for this fun post!! I hope you guys all the best! Remember:

  1. U.S. Rez only for giveaway
  2. Entries will be checked


The Polygamist’s Daughter

by Anna LeBaron/with Leslie Wilson


(link in pic)

Ervil LeBaron was one of the most famous Mormon fundamentalist leaders. He was a self-proclaimed prophet that thought he was a god. He was imprisoned for the blood atonement killings that were done in the name of god.

Anna was his daughter.

This is one of those books that will be heavy on your heart for days to come. The darkness just sits in your mind and you find yourself thinking on it. Her story is brutal, but written with such forgiveness, kindness and love. A love that only the One, True God could put in her heart.

Please pick up this book. It is eye opening and incredible. It’s not written in anger or spite. It’s written by a girl that has come through the darkness into the light of the One, True God. It’s difficult, yes. It’s also powerful. I highly recommend!

Thank you for this book in exchange for my review. As always, this is my honest opinion. Here’s to many more!

Counter Culture

by David Platt

Wow. This man, his faith and obedience, always inspires me so much. I loved, LOVED this book. He is such an incredible disciple because he is willing to obey God in all things.

The subjects tackled in this book are brave, to say the least. I don’t know many people that would be willing to even comment on most of these topics, let alone write a book with their name on it.

David writes on topics ranging from abortion, sex, ethnicity, and even refugees. Have questions about what God says in these areas? I bet you don’t want to know! Ignorance is bliss…or is it? Do God really know what is best for us? Are we willing to fall in love with Him, trust Him and, most importantly, surrender to Him?

I hope so. I know the road is narrow, but let’s make it a little wider.

Be sure to pre-order Counter Culture: Following Christ in an Anti-Christian Age. It is a revised and updated version of the original with an extra chapter added based on the refugee crisis. Release date set for February 7, 2017.

Thanks for this read! As always, this is my honest opinion. Here’s to many more!!