Football in the South

College football starts in the South Eastern Conference this weekend. In honor of the upcoming football season, today Janet Ferguson is my guest. Janet and I just enjoyed time together at the ACFW 2016 Conference in Nashville.

Now, here's Janet:

The South, Football, & Life

In the South, most of us love football. It’s something we talk about, cheer for, and spend time watching with friends, whether in person or as a group watching it on TV. The adrenaline seems to flow as the leaves begin to turn from deep greens to those fall yellows and oranges, and a chill touches the air, and those pads and helmets are put on.
My husband played high school football. He was a center. I’ve always watched the sport at whatever school I attended, and of course, in Mississippi, we follow the SEC games. I never thought a whole lot about why we enjoy watching so much or about the injuries the players battle with—until my son played the sport.

His junior year, he tore his ACL and his shoulder labrum participating in this sport he loved. And he was not able to make a comeback. I saw the game through different eyes as he struggled with the loss. He missed the comradery, the goal, the discipline, the friendship. Everything about being a part of a team.

While he was going through three of four surgeries that he ended up having, I began writing Tackling the Fields. It combines this love for a game with the loss of a dream for one character and the loss of innocence for another. It was a challenging, almost painful, book to write. But in the end God heals our wounds and helps each of us recover from our broken places.
He’s there to free each of us from the heartaches that try to take us captive.

I'm so thankful Janet could take time out of her busy schedule and visit today. Tackling the Fields is a wonderful story and is available as ebook and paperback.

Janet Ferguson and Leaving Oxford

Today I'd like to welcome back my good friend, Janet Ferguson. Here's Janet.

Where would you run to escape your problems?

If something terrible happened in your life, is there a place that gives you peace? Oxford, Mississippi is the setting for my book called Leaving Oxford. My main character is in a tragic accident in Los Angeles and wants to escape her heartbreak. I chose the charming area for a backdrop because I had fond memories of the quaint college town.

There’s nothing like walking the downtown square and indulging in sweat tea and a local delicacy. From fried green tomatoes and catfish to fine dining with a Southern flair, Oxford will meet your culinary expectations and more. Just a stroll down the road is one of the most beautiful campuses in the nation. And people do take relaxing strolls along the sidewalks lined with magnolias and giant oaks.
But like in real life, no matter how far we run, our problems follow us.

The heroine of my novel suffers from a severe anxiety disorder. I’ve experienced anxiety difficulties, and I’m open about it. In being open, I’ve met many individuals plagued by anxiety or depression. These terrible disorders also carry an unfair stigma which only adds to the suffering. My desire was to write a novel that would encourage people with serious anxiety problems.

Leaving Oxford is what came of it. God has still been able to use me as a children’s minister, a youth volunteer, and in so many other ways despite my weakness. Whatever struggles and weaknesses you’re facing, you aren’t alone. No matter where you are in life, you are still glorious and useful in God’s eyes.

I hope and pray that at least one person is encouraged by my story.

If you or someone you care about has dealt with anxiety or similar issues, you may enjoy this clean but quirky romance set in Mississippi. If you buy it and enjoy it, I’d be honored if you would leave a review on Amazon. You can sign up for updates and other of my quirky personal stories on my newsletter page.
Thank you for having me on your blog, Jackie!

Here’s the link and a description of the story.
Releasing in April 15
Amazon EBook Pre-Order Discount available now for 99 cents.
Leaving Oxford
Southern Hearts Series ~ Book 1

Escaping home to Oxford, Mississippi, seemed like a good idea. Until it wasn’t.

A year after a tragic accident in Los Angeles flipped her world upside down, advertising guru Sarah Beth LeClair is still hiding away in her charming hometown of Oxford, Mississippi. And she may well be stuck there forever. Suffering from panic attacks, she prays for healing. Instead, her answer comes in the form of an arrogant football coach and an ugly puppy.

Former celebrity college quarterback Jess McCoy dreamed of playing pro football. One freak hit destroyed his chances. Although he enjoys his work as the university’s offensive coordinator, his aspirations have shifted to coaching at the highest level. His plans of moving up are finally coming together—until he falls for a woman who won’t leave town.

As the deadline for Jess’s decision on his dream career looms, the bars around Sarah Beth’s heart only grow stronger. But it's time to make a decision about leaving Oxford.

Flag of the Week

This week's flag comes from Oxford, Mississippi. Thanks to my friend, Janet Ferguson for sharing this picture.

Oxford has been called the “Cultural Mecca of the South.” It is home of the University of Mississippi and the Ole Miss Rebels.

Oxford offers shopping, sports, history, good music, great Southern food, and fun times.

Come back on Thursday and get to know more about Janet.

So long 2015...

2015 is almost over. It was a great year for my family. Tim and I were able to travel to Hilton Head, SC where we enjoyed watching plenty of tennis.

Asbury University Men's Tennis Team made nationals again this year, so after graduation we drove to Mobile to watch them compete. By graduation, I mean Scott graduated from Asbury University with a degree in accounting.

Bill and Amanda have run a lot of races. This summer Bill and Scott ran the Tough Mudder with two friends.

During the summer I discovered I was a finalist in the Genesis Writing Contest sponsored by ACFW. I didn't win, but I got to see some great friends in Dallas at the yearly ACFW conference.

This year our sweet Brooke started kindergarten!

Scott, Tim, and I went to New York City and got to watch a few days of the US Open. What a thrill! I'd go back to the city anytime, and we loved the US Open.

My daughter-in-law, Amanda, started a blog on coping with infertility. She tackles the heartbreaking issues of infertility in a sensitive way and she has moved me to tears more than once.

Speaking of blogs, Scott and a friend also started a blog focusing on young adults facing life and how to handle money.

These are only a few of the blessings we've enjoyed this year. My word to focus on for 2015 was hope, and this was definitely a year of hope and dreams. Speaking of hopes and dreams, Scott proposed to his girlfriend, Kellianne Crouse. She will be a wonderful addition to our family, and we all feel blessed she said yes.

Special Christmas Decorations

Do you have a favorite decoration you like to set up or put on the tree? Today I want to share a few Christmas decorations from my friends.

Janet Ferguson, one of my amazing critique partners shared this with me. Janet said, "I never buy Christmas items for myself. I don't have matching holiday decor that would please a decorator. Most of my ornaments and other Christmas miscellaneous have been gifts. My mother loved to buy each of us an ornament every year. Friends have given me various platters, candles, etc. over over the years. And ever since I moved into my neighborhood, some twenty plus years ago, the ladies have had an ornament swap. I've participated in swaps with other groups, as well, like at my church. I think my neighborhood one is my favorite because I realize many people don't know their neighbors these days. I was lucky in that before we located there, some nice ladies organized a neighborhood bunko. I really don't care about playing the game, but once a month I get to see my neighbors, and at Christmas, we play the dirty Santa ornament swap game. I received these two birds this year through a bit of strategic stealing, but all in good fun. The mercury glass fowl will join my mismatched collection of ornaments and fun memories."

Another one of my amazing critique partners is Misty Beller who writes historical romances. She shared this ornament, and it just made me smile.

Misty said, "My grandparents brought this ornament back from California for me when I was a girl. It's more eclectic than my usual traditional style, but it captures two of my loves. The girl is dressed like a cowgirl, which is much the way I dressed during most of my childhood. Hanging from her arms are musical instruments, which I have always loved. So much so that I was a music major my first year in college."

LeAnne Bristow is another of my amazing critique partners. She shared her nativity set that her daughters gave her when they were little. They saved their money and surprised her with this set. She said she'd always wanted one, and it's now her favorite decoration.

Flags, Sisters' Weekend, and The Greatest Generation

Today my good friend, and crit partner, Janet Ferguson is sharing our special 'Flag of the Week.' Here's Janet...

Every few years, I’ve gotten to experience an idea my oldest sister came up with—Sister Weekend at the Beach. It’s awesome that she came up with idea and also that she has a condo we can use on Hilton Head Island. We have a chance to catch up without our kids around and bond (we sometimes invite our husbands), and now that our parents have passed on, we share special memories.

Well, I knew Jackie Layton featured the American Flag on her blog, and when I saw a family had hoisted one in the sand, I was reminded of my father’s service in World War II.
I interviewed my father,James White, in 1997 and printed his story so that our family would be able to have his history to pass on. He was a determined and somewhat lucky man, dodging death on several occasions. The oldest son of a widow in tiny Hickory Flat, Mississippi, he aptly called his home town at the time “a wide place in the road.” During World War II, he enlisted in the Signal Corps so he could choose his area of service.

After basic training at Camp Crowder Missouri, weeks of teletype and radio school, then thirteen weeks of field artillery at Fort Eustis, Virginia, my father began radar training. At first, they used radar connected to their big guns. He said, “We were firing at a target pulled by a small plane, and once we got too close to the plane.” He transferred after that to Camp Davis, North Carolina, to attend another eight weeks of special training. “We went to school each day to a class which was across a pull-up bridge. Everything was top secret. I had to be investigated and approved before attending this training. No one was allowed in the area except those attending the classes. The bridge was kept pulled up at all times except when someone was allowed to cross.”

He had many other interesting stories, but I found this one intriguing. If you’d like to read more about Fort Davis, here’s a link My father never made it overseas to fight in the war as his appendix ruptured just before his unit shipped out to Germany. Did I mention he was lucky? And so were my sisters and I to have a father from that Greatest Generation.

Fort Morgan in the Fall with Janet Ferguson

A good friend of mine, Janet Ferguson, shared about a beach trip she took to Fort Morgan. She shared the experience on her blog, Janet Ferguson author, and agreed to repost it for us.

Confession. My blue eyes shaded green for years when I heard other moms talk about their annual girl beach trips, pictures of their toes in the sand on their profile.

(To be honest, I did manage to escape once with my sisters and once with my daughter for girl trips. We had a blast.)

But I love the beach. It’s like God opens a treasure chest and sprinkles prizes around for us to find. Shells, porpoise, heron, sand dollars, starfish, sunsets, the ocean breeze, sea turtles, glowing jellyfish, the stars and the waves as constant as His love, and so much more. Another confession. I like to get a flashlight and chase little crabs at night. (I don't hurt them.) Good times.

Visions danced in my head of a trip where I would read novel after novel and then walk the beach observing God’s natural surprises. No shopping. No putt-putt. No movies. Just beach and books.

None of those moms’ beach trips ever materialized for me. With my daughter in college and my son almost out of the house, too, I figured I’d plan my own trip in a year or two or three. Then last fall, out of the blue, I received an invitation. And the timing couldn’t have been much worse.

Basically, I prayed, then went anyway. Destination Fort Morgan. The first weekend in October. Seemed like an odd time of year, but who cared?

The weather was fantastic, people. Forget spring break, fall is the season. The gulf is still warm. Not crowded, cheaper prices. I’m sure you could land nicely on one of my other favorite coastline resorts, San Destin or Orange Beach, as easily.

But Fort Morgan holds the charm of a bit more isolation. Filling the air with chatter, the trip down passed quickly. But not without picking up pastries at Jody’s Bakery in Hattiesburg. Yum! They have great homemade frozen casseroles, too, which saves time one night for dinner. Stop at the grocery before turning onto Fort Morgan road. Then make another quick pickup at the Fresh Seafood Market for shrimp or fish.

Now don’t leave the condo except to hit the beach.

If you must go out one night, Sassy Bass Amazin’ Grill is further west toward the fort. Yes, there is a cool fort at the end of the road built after the war of 1812. I’d already been there a few times with my kids, so I didn’t feel the need. But if you like history and you've never been, it’s worth a tour. I'd let you leave the condo for the experience. After all, it’s on the beach.

Okay, I’m over coveting for now, but I still love the ocean. The beach reminds me to search for God’s treasures. His gifts are all around me at home, too, I know. If only I take time to look.

Janet, thanks for sharing your trip with us. It looks like a great beach to visit one day.