September 30, 2014

Freezer-Friendly Teriyaki Meatballs

Freezer-Friendly Teriyaki Meatballs

Betty blogger Molly Yeh shares her make-ahead method for Asian-inspired chicken meatballs, smothered in a sweet-soy sauce.

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September 22, 2014

Slow-Cooker Cranberry Pulled Pork with Cheesy...

Slow-Cooker Cranberry Pulled Pork with Cheesy...

Ease into fall flavors with a comforting pork dinner, made in your slow cooker.

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September 11, 2014

Green Chile Chicken Tamale Bake


Green Chile Chicken Tamale Bake

Pulled chicken, cheese and a handful of pantry staples make this twist on tamales a weeknight winner.

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March 12, 2014

Using Dental Floss to Cut Cake, Cheese and...

Using Dental Floss to Cut Cake, Cheese and...

Even with a common kitchen knife, cutting particular foods with a blade can be tedious and rather cumbersome. If you're anything like me, you can rarely get a good cut of anything, let alone a clean piece of cake or a sexy sliver of cheese. Who should you call upon for help next time you're having a wine and cheese night with the ladies? Your hygiene homie  Dental Floss . Make sure to grab an unscented pack, roll out a length of it that'll comfortably sink into whatever you're...

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October 30, 2013

Using Dental Floss to Cut Cake, Cheese and...

Using Dental Floss to Cut Cake, Cheese and...

Even with a common kitchen knife, cutting particular foods with a blade can be tedious and rather cumbersome. If you're anything like me, you can rarely get a good cut of anything, let alone a clean piece of cake or a sexy sliver of cheese. Who should you call upon for help next time you're having a wine and cheese night with the ladies? Your hygiene homie  Dental Floss . Make sure to grab an unscented pack, roll out a length of it that'll comfortably sink into whatever you're...

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Giddy Up Poppin’ Fresh The 1972 Pillsbury...

Giddy Up Poppin’ Fresh The 1972 Pillsbury...

Giddy Up Poppin’ Fresh The 1972 Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest was held in Houston, Texas. Poppin’ Fresh, the Pillsbury Doughboy, brought his one gallon hat. 

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Smashing First Birthdays!


Smashing First Birthdays!

Betty's friends and families celebrate their little ONEs first birthdays. Join in the fun, and share your celebration: #bettysbirthdays

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April 8, 2011

Book Review: Home-Ec 101

Looking for that "go-to" guide for tackling all those chores around the house? Look no further than Home-Ec 101 by One2One Member and blogger Heather Solos.

Her tagline says it perfectly: Skills for Everyday Living: Cook It, Clean It, Fix It, Wash It, and whether it's cleaning grout or removing chocolate out of the carpet, Heather covers all the details readers need to know to keep their homes clean and in good repair.

I must say that I enjoyed reading this quirky little informational guide.  I truly wish that I would have had something like this when I "flew the coop".  I went away from mom and dad's home knowing absolutely nothing about housecleaning, cooking or doing laundry!  I think anyone can benefit from this book...even those seasoned domestic divas out there!

I think this is a MUST READ for ALL who are leaving the confines of home and heading out into the world of independence.  This book will walk you through all of the ins and outs of the domestic side of life.  I really loved, loved, loved this book!

You can buy this book at Amazon or at Barnes and Noble.

**I am a member of One2One Network and was offered a digital version of this book to read in exchange for my honest opinion on my blog.**

February 25, 2011

Book Review: A Billion Reasons Why

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

A Billion Reasons Why

Thomas Nelson; Original edition (February 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***


Kristin Billerbeck was born in California to an Italian father and a strong Norwegian/German mother. Her mother tried to teach her to do things right, how to cook, clean, sew, and budget accordingly—all the things a proper girl should know in order to be a contributing member of society. Yet Billerbeck said she “failed miserably,” although her grandmother must still hold some hope since she gave her a cookie gun for her 40th birthday.

Billerbeck has authored more than 30 novels, including the Ashley Stockingdale series and the Spa Girls series. She is a leader in the Chick Lit movement, a Christy Award finalist, and a two-time winner of the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year Award. She has appeared on The Today Show and has been featured in the New York Times. She lives with her family in northern California.

Visit the author's website.


There are a billion reasons Kate should marry her current boyfriend.

Will she trade them all to be madly in love?

Katie McKenna leads a perfect life. Or so she thinks. She has a fulfilling job, a cute apartment, and a wedding to plan with her soon-to-be fiance, Dexter.

She can think of a billion reasons why she should marry Dexter…but nowhere on that list is love.

And then in walks Luc DeForges, her bold, breathtaking ex-boyfriend. Only now he's a millionaire. And he wants her to go home to New Orleans to sing for her childhood friend's wedding. As his date.

But Katie made up her mind about Luc eight years ago, when she fled their hometown after a very public breakup. Yet there's a magnetism between them she can't deny.

Katie thought her predictable relationship with Dexter would be the bedrock of a lasting, Christian marriage. But what if there's more? What if God's desire for her is a heart full of life? And what if that's what Luc has offered all along?

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson; Original edition (February 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595547916
ISBN-13: 978-1595547910


A Fine Romance

Katie McKenna had dreamed of this moment at least a thousand times. Luc would walk back into her life filled with remorse. He’d be wearing jeans, a worn T-shirt, and humility. He’d be dripping with humility.

That should have been her first clue that such a scenario had no bearing on reality.

“Katie,” a voice said.

The sound sent a surge of adrenaline through her frame. She’d forgotten the power and the warmth of his baritone. A quick glance around her classroom assured her that she must be imagining things. Everything was in order: the posters of colorful curriculum, the daily schedule of activities printed on the whiteboard, and, of course, the children. All six of them were mentally disabled, most of them on the severe side of the autism spectrum, but three had added handicaps that required sturdy, head-stabilizing wheelchairs. The bulk of the chairs overwhelmed the room and blocked much of the happy yellow walls and part of the large rainbow mural the kids had helped to paint. The room, with its cluttered order, comforted her and reminded her of all she’d accomplished. There was no need to think about the past. That was a waste of time and energy.

Her eyes stopped on her aides, Carrie and Selena. The two women, so boisterous in personality, were usually animated. But at the moment they stood huddled in the corner behind Austin’s wheelchair.

Carrie, the heavyset one in the Ed Hardy T-shirt, motioned at her.

“What?” Katie pulled at her white shirt with the delicate pink flowers embroidered along the hem and surveyed the stains. “I know, I’m a mess. But did you see how wonderfully the kids did on their art projects? It was worth it. Never thought of the oil on the dough staining. Next time I’ll wear an apron.”

Selena and Carrie looked as though there was something more they wanted.

“Maddie, you’re a born artist.” Katie smiled at the little girl sitting behind a mound of colorful clay. Then to the aides: “What is the matter with you two?”

Selena, a slight Latina woman, shook her head and pointed toward the door.

Katie rotated toward the front of the classroom and caught her breath. Luc, so tall and gorgeous, completely out of place in his fine European suit and a wristwatch probably worth more than her annual salary, stood in the doorway. He wore a fedora, his trademark since college, but hardly one he needed to stand out in a crowd.

As she stared across the space between them, suddenly the classroom she took such pride in appeared shabby and soiled. When she inhaled, it reeked of sour milk and baby food. Her muddled brain searched for words.

“Luc?” She blinked several times, as if his film-star good looks might evaporate into the annals of her mind. “What are you doing here?”

“Didn’t you get my brother’s wedding invitation?” he asked coolly, as if they’d only seen each other yesterday.

“I did. I sent my regrets.”

“That’s what I’m doing here. You can’t miss Ryan’s wedding. I thought the problem might be money.”

She watched as his blue eyes came to rest on her stained shirt. Instinctively she crossed her arms in front of her.

“I came to invite you to go back with me next week, on my plane.”

“Ah.” She nodded and waited for something intelligible to come out of her mouth. “It’s not money.”

“Come home with me, Katie.” He reached out his arms, and she moved to the countertop and shuffled some papers together.

If he touches me, I don’t stand a chance. She knew Luc well enough to know if he’d made the trip to her classroom, he didn’t intend to leave without what he came for. “I’m afraid that’s not possible.” She stacked the same papers again.

“Give me one reason.”

She faced him. “I could give you a billion reasons.”

Luc’s chiseled features didn’t wear humility well. The cross-shaped scar beneath his cheekbone added to his severity. If he weren’t so dreaded handsome, he’d make a good spy in a Bond movie. His looks belied his soft Uptown New Orleans upbringing, the kind filled with celebrations and warm family events with backyard tennis and long days in the swimming pool.

He pushed through the swiveled half door that separated them and strode toward her.

“That gate is there for a reason. The classroom is for teachers and students only.”

Luc opened his hand and beckoned to her, and despite herself, she took it. Her heart pounded in her throat, and its roar was so thunderous it blocked her thoughts. He pulled her into a clutch, then pushed her away with all the grace of Astaire. “Will you dance with me?” he asked.

He began to hum a Cole Porter tune clumsily in her ear, and instinctively she followed his lead until everything around them disappeared and they were alone in their personal ballroom. For a moment she dropped her head back and giggled from her stomach; a laugh so genuine and pure, it seemed completely foreign—as if it came from a place within that was no longer a part of her. Then the dance halted suddenly, and his cheek was against hers. She took in the roughness of his face, and the thought flitted through her mind that she could die a happy woman in those arms.

The sound of applause woke her from her reverie.

“You two are amazing!” Carrie said.

The children all murmured their approval, some with screams of delight and others with loud banging.

Luc’s hand clutched her own in the small space between them, and she laughed again.

“Not me,” Luc said. “I have the grace of a bull. It’s Katie. She’s like Ginger Rogers. She makes anybody she dances with look good.” He appealed to the two aides. “Which is why I’m here. She must go to my brother’s wedding with me.”

“I didn’t even know you danced, Katie,” Selena said. “Why don’t you ever come dancing with us on Friday nights?”

“What? Katie dances like a dream. She and my brother were partners onstage in college. They were like a mist, the way they moved together. It’s like her feet don’t touch the ground.”

“That was a long time ago.” She pulled away from him and showed him her shirt. “I’m a mess. I hope I didn’t ruin your suit.”

“It would be worth it,” Luc growled.

“Katie, where’d you learn to dance like that?” Carrie asked.

“Too many old movies, I suppose.” She shrugged.

“You could be on Dancing with the Stars with moves like that.”

“Except I’m not a star or a dancer, but other than that, I guess—” She giggled again. It kept bubbling out of her, and for one blissful moment she remembered what it felt like to be the old Katie McKenna. Not the current version, staid schoolmarm and church soloist in Northern California, but the Katie people in New Orleans knew, the one who danced and sang.

Luc interrupted her thoughts. “She’s being modest. She learned those moves from Ginger and Fred themselves, just by watching them over and over again. This was before YouTube, so she was dedicated.”

Katie shrugged. “I was a weird kid. Only child, you know?” But inside she swelled with pride that Luc remembered her devotion to a craft so woefully out-of-date and useless. “Anyway, I don’t have much use for swing dancing or forties torch songs now. Luc, meet Carrie and Selena. Carrie and Selena, Luc.”

“I don’t have any ‘use’ for salsa dancing,” Selena said. “I do it because it’s part of who I am.”

“Tell her she has to come with me, ladies. My brother is having a 1940s-themed wedding in New Orleans. He’d be crushed if Katie didn’t come, and I’ll look like a hopeless clod without her to dance with.”

Katie watched the two aides. She saw the way Luc’s powerful presence intoxicated them. Were they really naive enough to believe that Luc DeForges could ever appear like a clod, in any circumstance or setting? Luc, with his skilled charm and roguish good looks, made one believe whatever he wanted one to believe. The two women were putty in his hands.

“Katie, you have to go to this wedding!” Selena stepped toward her. “I can’t believe you can dance like that and never told us. You’d let this opportunity slip by? For what?” She looked around the room and frowned. “This place?”

The cacophony of pounding and low groans rose audibly, as if in agreement.

“This may be just a classroom to you, but to me, it’s the hope and future of these kids. I used to dance. I used to sing. It paid my way through college. Now I’m a teacher.”

“You can’t be a teacher and a dancer?” Selena pressed. “It’s like walking and chewing gum. You can do both. The question is, why don’t you?”

“Maybe I should bring more music and dancing into the classroom. Look how the kids are joining in the noise of our voices, not bothered by it. I have to think about ways we could make the most of this.”

But she hadn’t succeeded in changing the subject; everyone’s attention stayed focused on her.

“You should dance for the kids, Katie. You possess all the grace of an artist’s muse. Who knows how you might encourage them?”

Katie laughed. “That’s laying it on a bit thick, Luc, even for you. I do believe if there was a snake in that basket over there, it would be rising to the charmer’s voice at this very minute.”

Luc’s very presence brought her into another time. Maybe it was the fedora or the classic cut of his suit, but it ran deeper than how he looked. He possessed a sense of virility and take-no-prisoners attitude that couldn’t be further from his blue-blood upbringing. He made her, in a word, feel safe . . . but there was nothing safe about Luc and there never had been. She straightened and walked over to her open folder to check her schedule for the day.

Tapping a pencil on the binder, she focused on getting the day back on track. The students were involved in free playtime at the moment. While they were all situated in a circle, they played individually, their own favorite tasks in front of them.

“Carrie, would you get Austin and Maddie ready for lunch?”

“I’ll do it,” Selena said. “And, Katie . . . you really should go to the wedding.”

“I can’t go to the wedding because it’s right in the middle of summer school.”

“You could get a substitute,” Carrie said. “What would you be gone for, a week at most? Jenna could probably fill in. She took the summer off this year.”

“Thanks for the suggestions, ladies,” Katie said through clenched teeth. “But I’ve already told the groom I can’t attend the wedding for professional reasons.”

The women laughed. “I’m sorry, what reasons?” Carrie asked, raising a bedpan to imply that anyone could do Katie’s job.

It was no use. The two women were thoroughly under Luc’s spell, and who could blame them?

“Maybe we should talk privately,” Luc said. He clasped her wrist and led her to the glass doors at the front of the classroom. “It’s beautiful out here. The way you’re nestled in the hills, you’d never know there’s a city nearby.”

She nodded. “That’s Crystal Springs Reservoir on the other side of the freeway. It’s protected property, the drinking water for this entire area, so it’s stayed pristine.”

“I’m not going back to New Orleans without you,” he said.

Apparently the small talk had ended.

“My mother would have a fit if I brought one of the women I’d take to a Hollywood event to a family wedding.”

Katie felt a twinge of jealousy, then a stab of anger for her own weakness. Of course he dated beautiful women. He was a billionaire. A billionaire who looked like Luc DeForges! Granted, he was actually a multimillionaire, but it had been a long-standing joke between the two of them. Did it matter, once you made your first ten million, how much came after that? He may as well be called a gazillionaire. His finances were too foreign for her to contemplate.

“And who you date is my problem, how?”

“If my date tries to swing dance and kicks one of my mother’s friends in the teeth, I’ll be disinherited.”

“So what, would that make you the fifth richest man in the United States, instead of the fourth?”

“Katie, how many times do I have to explain to you I’m nowhere near those kinds of numbers?” He grinned. “Yet.” He touched his finger to her nose lightly. “My fate is much worse than losing status if you don’t come. My mother might set me up to ensure I have a proper date. A chorus line of Southern belles. And I guarantee you at least one will have the proverbial glass slipper and think her idea is so utterly unique, I’ll succumb to the fantasy.”

“Wow! What a terrible life you must lead.” She pulled a Keds slide from her foot and emptied sand out of her shoe. A few grains landed on Luc’s shiny black loafer. “To think, with courtship skills like that, that any woman wouldn’t be swept off her feet—it’s unfathomable.” She patted his arm. “I wish you luck, Luc. I’m sure your mother will have some very nice choices for you, so go enjoy yourself. Perk up, there’re billions

more to be made when you get back.”

“Sarcasm doesn’t suit you, Katie.”

e was right, but she didn’t trust herself around him. She’d taken leave of her senses too many times in that weakened state. Since moving to California, she’d made it her goal to live life logically and for the Lord. She hadn’t fallen victim to her emotions since leaving New Orleans, and she’d invested too much to give into them now.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “I only meant that I’m sure there are other nice girls willing to go home and pretend for your mother. I’ve already done that, only you forgot to tell me we were pretending. Remember?”

He flinched. “Below the belt.”

A pencil fell from behind her ear, and she stooped to pick it up, careful not to meet his glance as she rose. “I’m sorry, but I’m busy here. Maybe we could catch up another time? I’d like that and won’t be so sidetracked.” She looked across the room toward Austin, an angelic but severely autistic child in a wheelchair. He pounded against his tray. “The kids are getting hungry. It’s lunchtime.” She pointed to the schedule.

Luc scooped a hand under her chin and forced her to look at him. “Where else am I going to find a gorgeous redhead who knows who Glenn Miller is?”

“Don’t, Luc. Don’t charm me. It’s beneath you. Buy one of your bubble-headed blondes a box of dye and send her to iTunes to do research. Problem solved.”

He didn’t let go. “Ryan wants you to sing at the wedding, Katie. He sent me personally to make sure you’d be there and sing ‘Someone to Watch Over Me.’ I’m not a man who quits because something’s difficult.”

“Anyone worth her salt on Bourbon Street can sing that. Excuse me—”


“Luc, I asked you kindly. Don’t. I’m not one of your sophisticated girls who knows how to play games. I’m not going to the wedding. That part of my life is over.”

“That part of your life? What about that part of you? Where is she?”

She ignored his question. “I cannot be the only woman you know capable of being your date. You’re not familiar with anyone else who isn’t an actress-slash-waitress?” She cupped his hand in her own and allowed herself to experience the surge of energy. “I have to go.” She dropped his hands and pushed back through the half door. “I’m sure you have a meeting to get to. Am I right?”

“It’s true,” he admitted. “I had business in San Francisco today, a merger. We bought a small chain of health food stores to expand the brand. But I was planning the trip to see you anyway and ask you personally.”


“We’ll be doing specialty outlets in smaller locations where real estate prices are too high for a full grocery outlet. Having the natural concept already in these locations makes my job that much easier.”

“To take over the free world with organics, you mean?”

That made him smile, and she warmed at the sparkle in his eye. When Luc was in his element, there was nothing like it. His excitement was contagious and spread like a classroom virus, infecting those around him with a false sense of security. She inhaled deeply and reminded herself that the man sold inspiration by the pound. His power over her was universal. It did not make her special.

“Name your price,” he said. “I’m here to end this rift between us, whatever it is, and I’ll do the time. Tell me what it is you want.”

“There is no price, Luc. I don’t want anything from you. I’m not going to Ryan’s wedding. My life is here.”

“Day and night . . . night and day,” he crooned and then his voice was beside her ear. “One last swing dance at my brother’s wedding. One last song and I’ll leave you alone. I promise.”

She crossed the room to the sink against the far wall, but she felt him follow. She hated how he could make every nerve in her body come to life, while he seemingly felt nothing in return. She closed her eyes and searched for inner strength. He didn’t want me. Not in a way that mattered. He wanted her when it suited him to have her at his side.

“Even if I were able to get the time off work, Luc, it wouldn’t be right to go to your brother’s wedding as your date. I’m about to get engaged.”

“Engaged?” He stepped away.

She squeezed hand sanitizer onto her hands and rubbed thoroughly.

“I’ll give a call to your fiancĂ© and let him know the benefits.” He pulled a small leather pad of paper from his coat pocket. “I’ll arrange everything. You get a free trip home, I get a Christian date my mother is proud to know, and then your life goes back to normal. Everyone’s happy.” He took off his fedora as though to plead his case in true gentlemanly fashion. “My mother is still very proud to have led you from

your . . .” He choked back a word. “From your previous life and to Jesus.”

The announcement of her engagement seemed to have had little effect on Luc, and Katie felt as if her heart shattered all over again. “My previous life was you. She was proud to lead me away from her son’s life.” She leaned on the countertop, trying to remember why she’d come to the kitchen area.

“You know what I meant.”

“I wasn’t exactly a streetwalker, Luc. I was a late-night bar singer in the Central District, and the only one who ever led my reputation into question was you. So I’m failing to see the mutual benefit here. Your mother. Your date. And I get a free trip to a place I worked my tail off to get out of.”

She struggled with a giant jar of applesauce, which Luc took from her and opened easily. He passed the jar back to her and let his fingers brush hers.

“My mother would be out of her head to see you. And the entire town could see what they lost when they let their prettiest belle go. Come help me remind them. Don’t you want to show them that you’re thriving? That you didn’t curl up and die after that awful night?”

“I really don’t need to prove anything, Luc.” She pulled her apron, with its child-size handprints in primary colors, over her head. “I’m not your fallback, and I really don’t care if people continue to see me that way. They don’t know me.”

“Which you? The one who lives a colorless existence and calls it holy? Or the one who danced on air and inspired an entire theater troupe to rediscover swing and raise money for a new stage?” Luc bent down, took her out at the knees, and hoisted her up over his shoulder.

“What are you doing? Do you think you’re Tarzan? Put me down.” She pounded on his back, and she could hear the chaos he’d created in the classroom. “These kids need structure. What do you think you’re doing? I demand you put me down!”

February 24, 2011

Book Review: A Promise of Forever Love

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

A Promise of Forever Love, Book Three in the Second Chance at Love Series

Whitaker House (April 5, 2011)

***Special thanks to Cathy Hickling of Whitaker House for sending me a review copy.***


Vanessa Miller is a best-selling author, playwright, and motivational speaker. She started writing as a child, spending countless hours either reading or writing poetry, short stories, stage plays and novels. Vanessa’s creative endeavors took on new meaning in 1994 when she became a Christian. Since then, her writing has been centered on themes of redemption, often focusing on characters facing multi-dimensional struggles. Readers and critics alike have responded with overwhelming affirmation with her work topping several bestsellers lists and receiving numerous awards including “Best Christian Fiction Mahogany Award” and the “Red Rose Award for Excellence in Christian Fiction.” The first two books in her Second Chance at Love Series, Yesterday’s Promise and A Love for Tomorrow, debuted at #1 on the Black Christian News Network’s Bestsellers List.

Visit the author's website.


Since her husband’s death two years ago, Yvonne Milner has been serving as sole pastor of the church they pastored together, but she’s embroiled in a battle with the church board who wants to fire her. Just before a pivotal meeting, her husband’s former best friend Thomas Reed, a handsome and world-renowned motivational speaker, steps back into her life. Thomas is a widower and understands the pain she’s going through on many levels. When a different kind of threat targets both the church and her daughter, Yvonne turns to Thomas and long-buried emotions arise between them. Yvonne is hesitant to get involved, not wanting to break her promise to her husband to love him forever

Product Details:

List Price: $9.99
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: Whitaker House (April 5, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1603742093
ISBN-13: 978-1603742092



On days like this, Yvonne Milner wondered why she even bothered to pray. She had yelled, screamed, begged, and cajoled, yet the doctors still couldn’t make eye contact with her when they came into her husband’s hospital room. There were no more talks of surgery or chemotherapy. They’d told her that nothing more could be done for David. But, as far as Yvonne was concerned, the doctors didn’t know diddly. David Milner was the senior pastor of one of the most notable churches in Detroit. He was the father of two beautiful daughters, and he was her beloved husband. So, she wasn’t just going to throw in the towel and believe the doctors’ doom-and-gloom predictions. She and David had been married for thirty-four years, and he had promised her a fiftieth wedding anniversary celebration. “We’ve got sixteen more years to go, David,” she urged him. “Don’t give up now.”

A vicious cough shook his fragile, cancer-racked body as he attempted to sit up in his hospital bed.

“Don’t, sweetheart. Just lie down.”

“No…I need…to tell you…something.” David labored to get each word out.

It was killing Yvonne to see her husband weak and bedridden like this. He had always been so strong, had always been her hero. She had admired this man, even when they hadn’t seen eye-to-eye about her role in the ministry. Early in their marriage, Yvonne had known that she was destined to preach the gospel. However, David wouldn’t hear of it. They had fought, and Yvonne had prayed for years that God would change her husband’s mind. Finally, David had accepted the fact that his wife had been called by God to be a preacher. Yet, even through those tough years, Yvonne couldn’t have imagined being anywhere else but with the man she loved. “You can say what you need to while lying down, honey. You need your strength to get better.”

David shook his head. “I’m going home, baby.”

“I know that, David. You just need to regain your strength so they will let you out of this hospital.”

He shook his head again and then pointed heavenward. “Home…with Jesus.”

Yvonne’s eyes filled with tears. “Don’t say that, David. You and I have a lot more living to do.”

He patted her hand. “Call Thomas.”

Thomas Reed was David’s best friend. The man traveled the world building churches and ministering to God’s people. He’d recently lost his wife to the same evil disease that was threatening to take David’s life. “Call Thomas right now? Why? What do you want me to tell him?”

“If you need help, call Thomas. He promised me—” A coughing fit cut him off.

Yvonne took the cup from David’s bedside table and filled it with water from the pitcher, then held the glass to his lips for him to drink once the coughing subsided. “Here, baby, drink this.” When he had taken a few sips, she said, “Now, just lie here and rest. Our girls will be here soon, and you need to save your energy for them.” Toya, twenty-nine years old, was their firstborn, a self-assured attorney with political aspirations. Tia was their twenty-six-year-old “baby.” Whereas Toya was analytical and ambitious, Tia’s strength was creativity, yet she was introspective and reserved. She could paint and write poetry from sunup till sundown and be perfectly at peace.

It had been difficult for Yvonne to manage her daughters’ very different personalities while raising them, but David had convinced her to relax and let God work out His perfect plan for each girl’s life. If it hadn’t been for David’s wisdom and prayers, Yvonne was sure that she would have broken Tia’s spirit. She had needed more time than David to understand their daughter’s passion for writing and painting. What was she going to do if he didn’t survive this illness?

No sooner had the thought crossed her mind than Yvonne tried to banish it. But that was also the moment when she noticed that David’s breathing sounded funny. And then she understood why none of the medical professionals who had come into the room today had been able to look her in the eye. They had heard it, too—the death rattle.

“No, baby, no—don’t leave me!” she begged him.

“Remember…Thomas promised…love you.”

Tears were running down Yvonne’s face as she heard her husband’s last words. She put her arms around the man she had loved for a lifetime—and yet not long enough—and whispered, “I love you, too, baby. Always and forever.”


Eighteen months later

Yvonne Milner collapsed into her office chair and heaved a sigh. Pastoring Christ-Life Sanctuary by herself was far from easy, and it seemed that her situation was only getting worse. For years, the church had grown and thrived, even reaching megachurch status with more than five thousand members. But since David’s death, two thousand of their “You can count on me” members had left the ministry. The head elder, Ron Thompson, had broken away to start his own ministry, taking another two hundred church members with him. Tithing was down, charity fund expenditures were up, and Yvonne knew that the church’s board of directors blamed it all on her.

Several of the board members had challenged her authority to her face and as good as said that they wouldn’t be having those problems if David were still around or if their senior pastor wasn’t a woman. Yvonne acknowledged that some people could not accept having a female in the highest position of church leadership, but she also knew that not all twenty-two hundred members had left for that reason.

Sighing again, she stood up and stepped over to the bay window to gaze out at the new Family Life Center—or, rather, what was supposed to be the new Family Life Center, the final phase of their latest building project. The Family Life Center had been Yvonne’s vision. After the sanctuary had been expanded to make room for their growing congregation, Yvonne had convinced David that they still needed to do more. She envisioned a brand-new facility that would provide space for recreational activities, especially for the children and young adults, as well as a cafĂ© and a bookstore. In addition, she intended for one of the rooms to be set up theater-style, with tiered seats and a movie screen, where they could organize movie nights or perform stage plays.

Five years ago, when Yvonne and David had first proposed the building project to the board, they had developed a financial plan based on the church’s finances and projected that they would have more than enough funds to cover each phase of the project. But Yvonne hadn’t foreseen the death of her husband or the annihilation of Detroit’s economy. How could she have known that General Motors and Chrysler would go crying to the government for a bail-out and then lay off thousands upon thousands of workers, many of whom attended church at Christ-Life Sanctuary?

Now Yvonne was stuck staring at a half finished Family Life Center, as it would probably remain. After all, the coffers were empty. She really couldn’t blame the board of directors for asking for her resignation. When her husband was alive, Yvonne stood side by side with him as they built this church from the ground up. She had installed three of their seven board members herself. And she knew that God wasn’t finished with her yet. The work He had begun in her—and in the church through her ministry—was far from over, and she would be dead and buried before anyone took her out of the pulpit permanently. She just needed a plan, needed to pray about knowing the right things to say at the board meeting tomorrow in order to convince the members to give her more time to turn things around.

A knock at her door drew Yvonne’s eyes away from the window. She turned toward the door. “Come in.”

The door opened, and in walked Thomas Reed. Actually, he didn’t walk; he swaggered like a man who had the keys to the kingdom. If she hadn’t known Thomas for almost thirty years, Yvonne would have thought he swaggered so confidently because he was a millionaire several times over. But Thomas had strutted like that even when he had been as poor as a man carrying a “Will work for food” sign.

Thomas had a way about him that caused men and women to stop and stare. He was one of those fine, chocolate, Denzel-Washington-types of brothers, with wavy black hair and heavenly hazel eyes.

David had met Thomas thirty years ago in seminary and had joked about marrying Yvonne to keep her away from pretty boys like Thomas so that he didn’t have to worry about her running off. But David never had reason to worry; he had always been her prince, and she’d never wanted anyone but him.

When Thomas got married, David became less worried about his friend’s captivating charm. The four of them—David and Yvonne, Thomas and Brenda—had settled into their own ministries yet maintained a lasting friendship. David and Yvonne opened Christ-Life Sanctuary a year after David graduated from seminary, and the church had thrived from its inception. Thomas, on the other hand, was forced to close the doors to his church after struggling for five years to make a go of it. He hadn’t let that stop him, though. Thomas became a Christ-centered motivational speaker and took his ministry on the road. He now pulled in fifty thousand dollars per speaking engagement and had written nearly a dozen New York Times best-selling books.

“Thomas!” Yvonne gave him a hug and stepped back to admire his suit. “Look at you, dapper as ever on this hot summer day.”

“You don’t look so bad, yourself,” he said with a grin.

“I can’t believe you came all this way.”

“I wouldn’t miss this board meeting for anything in the world. And besides, I have a promise to make good on.”

Just before David died, he had told Yvonne to call Thomas if ever she needed help. She’d seen Thomas at the funeral, where he had asked if she needed anything. No, she’d said, and for eighteen months, she hadn’t bothered her husband’s best friend for assistance, even though he’d called her from time to time to check in. But today, she was finally calling in a favor. Thomas had been installed as a board member of Christ-Life Sanctuary about ten years ago but rarely showed up for meetings. The board had always been in accord with David, so he’d never needed to rely on his friend for a tie-breaking vote.

Yvonne had no such luck, and so she’d asked for Thomas’s help on this vote. Yet she hadn’t expected him to make an appearance—not when he could have simply phoned in with his vote.

“Please, sit down,” Yvonne said, gesturing to the couch. “Before we talk about church business, I want to know how you’ve been doing.” It had been months since they’d caught up, and she was eager to hear about his speaking ministry and his family.

Thomas unbuttoned his suit jacket and sat down on the couch next to Yvonne. “So, what do you want to know?”

“For starters, you haven’t been traveling as much lately. Has the world received all the motivation it needs?”

Thomas laughed. “I’m still getting more speaking engagements than I can accept, but I guess I’ve kind of lost my wanderlust.”

Yvonne knew that for years, Brenda had asked Thomas to spend less time on the road and more time at home. It seemed strange that now, more than two years after Brenda’s death, he was finally willing to limit his travels. “What brought this on?” she asked.

“Since Brenda died, I’ve spent a lot of time putting things into perspective. I want to spend some time reconnecting with my son, which is going to be hard since he has his own career now.”

Yvonne understood exactly where Thomas was coming from. She and David had spent many years on the preaching circuit, and then, one day, they looked up and saw that Toya and Tia were grown. She wished she could take credit for the woman Toya had become, and she definitely wished that she had spent more time helping Tia mature. If life didn’t turn out right for Tia, Yvonne knew she’d be tempted to blame herself. “I should have spent more time with my girls as they were growing up, too.” She slapped her hand against her thigh as she sat up a bit straighter. “But, hey, I figure I’ll get a second chance when they give me some grandchildren.”

“Speak for yourself, Granny,” Thomas said, nudging her arm. “I’m not trying to become a poppa for at least another five years. We didn’t have Jarrod until I was thirty, so I figure he can at least return the favor and not have his first kid until he’s at least thirty, maybe even thirty-five.”

Yvonne chuckled, then laughed outright, so hard that she doubled over. When she finally regained composure, she sat up again and wiped the tears from her eyes. “Okay, maybe I don’t want to be a granny so soon, either.”

“You certainly don’t look like any granny I know. I mean, look at you. You’re fifty-two, but you don’t look a day over forty.”

Yvonne had been told that her looks were what Olay would want to advertise its facial products. Fifty was definitely the new forty where she was concerned. With her long, coal-black hair, light skin, and eyes that sparkled and danced, she could have passed for a relative of Lena Horne. “We’ve known each other entirely too long. There’s no way you should know my real age.”

Thomas lifted his hands in surrender. “Don’t worry about it. I’ll take your secrets to the grave with me.”

Yvonne felt her droll mood depart. “I don’t want to hear anything about you going to your grave.”

Thomas put an arm around Yvonne’s shoulder and gave her a squeeze. “I shouldn’t have said that. I’m sorry.”

With his arm still wrapped around her, Yvonne took a deep breath to steady her nerves. She had seen two deaths too many in the past two years, and she didn’t know if she could make it through funeral number three so soon. With David and Brenda gone, Yvonne felt that she should have fulfilled her quota of homegoings for a lifetime. “Don’t say stuff like that. I don’t consider it funny.”

“Again, I’m sorry,” Thomas said as he stood up. “Are you ready for the meeting tomorrow morning?”

Yvonne shook her head and leaned back in the couch. “I’ve been in ministry for thirty years, copastored Christ-Life for twenty, and now some board that my husband and I formed wants to vote me out. I don’t know how to get ready for something like that.”

“But I’m here to cast my vote in favor of you staying senior pastor of Christ-Life,” Thomas reminded her. “And I believe several others will vote in your favor, also.”

Yvonne pushed herself to her feet and planted a kiss on Thomas’s cheek. “God love you for what you’re doing, Thomas. But I don’t know how much good it’s going to do. If Deacon Brown has his way, I might need to take on a few of those speaking engagements you’ve cancelled.”

“Don’t worry,” Thomas said. “This meeting is in the Lord’s hands. He knows that you’re meant to pastor this church, and I plan to do everything in my power to make the other board members realize that.”