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Marion Pilgrimage at Lourdes–amazing!

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Thanks for stopping by to continue with Tiff and I on our journey. I had to save Lourdes for last because it is an amazing place. Above, we are on the second floor of the Basilica at Lourdes. Below are paintings of the outside of the façade.

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Going to Lourdes off-season was probably the most wonderful experience of my life. There was such a feeling in this experience of these holy places embracing our small band of pilgrims.

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I realize the tower looks like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, but my angle was a tad askew. The sculpture on the right is also part of the façade of the Basilica.

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Inside the Rosary Basilica, when I knelt down and prayed, it felt like my prayers could easily reach the entire world. Whatever our religion might be, if we do not pray, who will? Below, Lourdes is snuggled cozily in the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains, with a population of only about 15,000 people, but that population can grow up to five million visitors in one year.

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Above shows the healing waters of Lourdes. I can tell you from experience, that when you go into that water, it is very, very cold. We were allowed the privilege of immersing ourselves in the healing waters of Lourdes. Since there weren’t many people there, I took a little dip in the waters. I must admit if there had been rows of wheelchair people lined up to go into the waters, as there are during high season, I don’t think I would have gone in. It would have been like going in for a health tune-up when there were people in far greater need waiting for their opportunity to be blessed by the waters.

Below is the Grotto of Massabielle where the apparition of Mary spoke to Bernadette about the Immaculate Conception. Mary appeared to Bernadette a total of eighteen times.

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The peace and holiness of being in the grotto or in the square surrounding the Basillica at night is difficult to explain, particularly when lucky enough to be nearly the only people there. When I prayed for family and friends there, I felt very near to God.

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The next day we did a walk along the Stations of the Cross, and once again, it was an incredibly moving experience.

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At the end of the Stations of the Cross, Tiff tossed a rosary up into the tree where other pilgrims have done likewise.

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And then we went to Never, where I experienced the running faucet in midair at our quaint hotel in Never, not quite such a miracle. Of course, we all know that when we say ‘quaint’, in France it means Tiff and I could barely walk around each other in the hotel room.

 

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These last pictures show me, Father Brian, and Tiff in the garden at Les Buissonets, St. Therese’s family home. St. Therese is known as the little flower, one who became a saint by doing the ‘little things’ for others. I think it was important to visit this saint, who did not experience apparitions of Mary, but learned to serve God in all the small ways available to her. If we all learn to serve others in the ‘little things’ our world would be a much better place. It seems so simple, and yet, sometimes so difficult to do.

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Thanks for stopping by and allowing me to share my Marion Pilgrimage from 206 Tours. It started with my fascination with Mary, but it ended up being much more. It made me realize what my friend, Linda G., said to me was true and that spirituality dwells within us all. I’ll be forever grateful that I could share this experience with my daughter, Tiff, and I thank her for inviting me to go on this journey with her. And I especially thank God for allowing us this special blessing we were allowed to share with fellow pilgrims in Lourdes.

I hope that you all have a blessed and happy Easter!

Bren

Today on Thursday Threads that awesome duo, C.D. Hersh, are here with their latest, “Blood Brothers!”

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I’m very happy to have that awesome writing couple, C.D. Hersh, here to talk about their latest. I have read the first in their series, Promised One, and it’s a great story, so I’m looking forward to their next book in the series.

Cover Reveal ­ Blood Brothers (The Turning Stone Chronicles

Coming summer 2014 from Soul Mate Publishing

A Paranormal Romance

Heat Level: Sensual

 

We are very happy with our cover and excited to share it for the first time on the

Thursday Threads group post. Only our daughter and closest friends have seen the cover

before now. The SMP artist did a wonderful job in capturing the concept of our book and

the city skyline continues to be a part of the cover as this is the second book in the five

part series of The Turning Stone Chronicles which primarily takes places in and around

Cleveland.

When our heroine Delaney Ramsey saw she is on the cover of our new book she

about passed out. Not unlike she did when Rhys tried to bring out her alter ego. She just

couldn’t believe she had made the cover. Delaney has never wanted to be noticed or the

center of attention, but she now is out there for the world to see.

 

Blurb:

When Delaney Ramsey is enlisted to help train two of the most powerful shape shifters

the Turning Stone Society has seen in thousands of years, she suspects one of them is

responsible for the disappearance of her daughter. To complicate matters, the man has a

secret that could destroy them all. Bound by honor to protect the suspect, Delaney must

prove his guilt without losing her life to his terrible powers or revealing to the police

captain she’s falling for that she’s a shape shifter with more than one agenda.

 

The minute Captain Williams lays eyes on Delaney Ramsey, he knows she’s trouble.

Uncooperative, secretive, and sexy, he can’t get her out of his mind. When he discovers

she has a personal agenda for sifting through all the criminal records in his precinct, and

secretly investigating his best detective, he can’t let her out of his sight. He must find out

what she’s looking for before she does something illegal. If she steps over the line, he’s

not certain he can look the other way for the sake of love.

 

Excerpt:

The telephone jangling pulled Delaney Ramsey out of a deep sleep. Moving the

digital clock on the nightstand closer to her, she squinted at the bright green numbers.

Three a.m. She fumbled for the receiver.

“If you’re calling at this ungodly hour, someone better be dead,” she mumbled into

the phone.

“Delaney, ’tis Eli McCraigen.”

Sitting up, she pulled the duvet cover with her. Why was the Keeper of the Stone

calling her? “What’s wrong, Eli?”

“Dinna worry yerself. ’Tis good news.”

Slumping against the headboard, she yawned, the adrenalin draining away with his

words. “If it’s such good news, why couldn’t you wait until tomorrow?”

“I need ye tae call a special meeting o’ the council before they get away from the

city.”

“All fifteen?”

“Nay, only the senior council. I’ve a new Promised One tae present.”

“Why wasn’t he presented last night at Samhain?”

“He hadnae committed tae the cause, and he dinna have a ring until minutes

before midnight.”

“This is highly irregular, Eli. I don’t know if I can get the council to agree.”

“Ye have tae. He’s a verra special man.”

“A Promised One who hasn’t even had his ring more than a few hours. That’s

unheard of. How can you expect someone like that to pass even one proof test?”

“He’s already shown me two­­and they’re not the paltry tests most Promised Ones

have failed. He has the elusive, legendary powers, and he did them using the power of

other shifters’ rings.”

She snapped awake. “Other shifters’ rings? Whose?”

“Mine, Alexi Jordan’s and Sylvia Jordan’s.”

Delaney switched the light on, knocking her reading glasses to the floor with the

motion. Great. She’d just bought them. Leaning over the edge of the bed, she retrieved

the glasses and put them on. “Sylvia Jordan Riley?”

“’Tis that what the she­witch is calling herself now?”

“Seems so. Her name has come across my desk in her official capacity with

Homeland Security.”

“That’s the other thing I need from ye. Sylvia’s butting intae Rhys’ and Alexi’s jobs

and personal lives. I’m pretty certain she knows what he is, too. I need reinforcements.”

In all the years she’d known Eli, he’d never asked for assistance. And he comes to

me now. At the worst possible time. “I’m honored you’d think of me, but I can’t do more

than call the council for you. Ask one of them to get your reinforcements.”

“Fine, the council can arrange that, but I need ye on a more personal mission.”

“I’m in the middle of something very important and time consuming. I can’t help.”

“Dinna ye know who’s asking ye, lassie?”

She knew all right. The most powerful man in the entire Turning Stone Society.

She was crazy to even consider refusing him. Her position on the council rested on his

say so. However, finding her daughter meant more to her than anything else. “Normally

I’d be willing to die for you, Eli, but­­”

“Let’s pray dying won’t be what we’ll be needing. But I could be putting ye in a

verra dangerous position.”

That did it. No way could she help if it might cost her life. Not now. Not until she

found Lila. “I’m sorry. I can’t.”

“I need ye, Delaney. Come tae University Hospital and see me. I’m in ER.”

“ER? Are you all right?”

“We had a little run­in with a panther.”

 

C.D. Hersh Bio:

Putting words and stories on paper is second nature to co­authors C.D. Hersh. They’ve

written separately since they were teenagers and discovered their unique, collaborative

abilities in the mid­90s. As high school sweethearts and husband and wife, Catherine and

Donald believe in true love and happily ever after.

 

Together they have co­authored a number of dramas, six which have been produced in

Ohio, where they live. Their interactive Christmas production had five seasonal runs in

their hometown and has been sold in Virginia, California, and Ohio. Their most recent

collaborative writing efforts have been focused on romance. The first book of their

paranormal romance series entitled The Promised One (The Turning Stone Chronicles) is

available on Amazon. The second book in the series Blood Brothers is coming this

summer.

 

Connect with C.D. Hersh

Website: http://cdhersh.wordpress.com/

Soul Mate Publishing: http://smpauthors.wordpress.com/

Facebook site: https://www.facebook.com/cdhershauthor

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/C.­D.­Hersh/e/B00DV5L7ZI

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorCDHersh

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/CDHersh

 

Buy Link for Promised One, first book in series:

Amazon buy link: http://t.co/yW59QqvkLh

I appreciate you all stopping by today.

Bren

What a wonderful world this is!

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I find when I’m traveling, I will follow the worst advice possible, all for the sake of a picture. When this man told me to stick a banana in my mouth and feed the water buffalo, it didn’t even seem like the worst idea in the world. Hmmm…and it wasn’t even on my bucket list!

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My husband asked me to sit between two Egyptian guards holding automatic weapons at the Valley of the Kings, and THAT didn’t even seem like such a bad idea. At least one of the men was smiling. It’s for the sake of a picture–so what could go wrong???

And I never expected to have to go all the way to Saigon to have a stranger give me bunny ears. Now that was a Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, for sure! In New Zealand, a Maori was showing me the fine points of spear throwing–unfortunately it didn’t go too well.

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Above is a famous opera singer in Beijing, but don’t ask me her name. She was at the same Peking Duck Restaurant we were at, and she gave me a flower of spun sugar. It was exciting because there were all sorts of photographers snapping ‘our’ photo together, but unfortunately, I don’t get the Beijing Daily, so I never saw the picture.

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Above, are pictures of a classroom in Sihanoukville, Cambodia, and I was privileged to be able to share some school supplies with the children. For me this was a particular thrill, because even though the classroom wasn’t as modern as the classroom where I taught back home, it still had that familiar feeling of a school where children were eager to learn.

Below we were in Bangkok and fortunate to view a wedding and a monk praying in the temple. These snapshots of other people’s lives make me imagine what their stories are and how their lives might turn out.

 

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This cow below was strolling down the street in Agra, where the Taj Mahal is located. Looking in the background, you’ll see familiar Coca-Cola ads as well as an Internet Café, adding to the consensus that it’s a small world after all. And then there is the fishmarket in Thailand. I know we must seem as exotic to this little girl below as much as she does to us.

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Above, is a picture of a young woman in her home in Cambodia. I feel blessed when people from other countries kindly allow a glimpse into their world. I wish I could know all their stories and write about each one. It’s easy to get wrapped up in our own lives and forget people from other countries have realities completely different from our own and that their cultures are every bit as valid as ours. When looking into the faces of others, I realize our need for food, shelter, love, and security in our lives make us much more the same than different. When we share a world, there’s far more to connect us than separate us. If only government leaders would choose to understand this as well!

Thanks for stopping by and letting me share a few snapshots of the world viewed through my eyes.

Bren

Today on Thursday Threads I have fabulous author Char Chaffin talking about her latest, Jesse’s Girl

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Jesse's Girl

Today I’m lucky enough to have author, Char Chaffin, talking about her latest release. If you love the era of the sixties, then I think you’ll love this book. I was fortunate enough to participate in a launch party for this book with Char yesterday, where she gave out cool prizes. I even won a prize. A very cool pikle, which I think will hold lots of stuff!  Thanks again, Char! Check out this book. You won’t be disappointed.

Title:  Jesse’s Girl

Heat Rating:  Sweetly Sensual

Genre:  Nostalgia Romance

Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Jesses-Girl-Char-Chaffin-ebook/dp/B00JK0DUD0/

Blurb:

In 1965, Tim O’Malley returns to his home town of Skitter Lake, Ohio, to clear his name and get the girl: Dorothy Whitaker, the love of his life since eighth grade. Blamed for a destructive fire he didn’t set, only Tim and Dorothy know the truth; that Jesse Prescott, Tim’s best friend and Dorothy’s boyfriend, did the deed that changed an entire town. But Jesse died in that tragedy and seven years later, Skitter Lake still honors him as a hero, rather than Tim, the boy from the seedy side of town whose father was a drunk . . . and whose quick actions saved six people from perishing in that horrendous fire.

In trying to set the record straight and finally claim Dorothy as his own, Tim—and Dorothy, too—will discover that in some small towns the legend often outweighs the truth . . . and their family and friends will forever see Dorothy as “Jesse’s girl.”

 

Excerpt:

 Dorothy Whitaker. Good Lord, almighty.

Tim had almost crashed his car when he saw her, sitting in the sun with her ice-cream cone. Of all the people in Skitter Lake he figured he’d see, she was at the top of his ‘hope to run into’ list. He’d had to pull over right on the side of the road and look his fill, before summoning enough courage to step out of his car and approach her.

She hadn’t changed a bit. Still the most beautiful girl he’d ever seen, and that included all the California girls he’d met after he moved from Skitter Lake.

In grade school, they’d been inseparable. They’d played together during recess, spun on the merry-go-round, paired off on the seesaw. Dorothy was the first girl he’d held hands with, the first girl he’d ever taken to a Saturday matinee, back in seventh grade. They’d stuffed themselves on popcorn and thrilled to the adventures of Peter Pan. He’d walked her home, shyly brushed her mouth with the briefest touch of his lips. And trembled, needing more. He dreamed that night, how someday they’d be old enough and when they were, he’d kiss her the way a boy kisses his girlfriend.

But by eighth grade, Jesse had noticed Dorothy, and after that, Tim didn’t stand a chance.

Well, that was then, and Jesse no longer stood between them.

“You let your cone get away from you.” Was that his voice, hoarse and deep? He cleared his throat, offering the damp towel. Slowly, her hand reached out, and her fingers touched his. The spark between them seemed immediate and powerful, at least to him.

“Thanks.” She wadded the towel and wiped at the stain on her dress. Her downcast face couldn’t hide the flush that rode high on her cheeks. Dorothy had always been a blusher, her creamy skin revealing every emotion. A coil of loose, silky hair slipped over her shoulder as she worked at the smear of chocolate. If anything, the color had deepened over the years. ‘Strawberry blonde,’ he’d heard it called in California, but back in school she’d simply had the loveliest hair he’d ever seen.

Silence stretched between them as he waited for her to raise her head and she seemed hell-bent on fussing with her damp skirt. Finally, nothing remained for her to clean, and she had to look up. She laid the towel on the picnic table behind her, started to speak, hesitated, then her lips curved into a sweet smile. “It’s good to see you, Tim. When did you get to town?”

“About two hours ago. I’ve just been driving around.” He couldn’t take his eyes off her. He had to shove his hands in the pockets of his pants to keep from touching her. “I wasn’t sure I’d see you. Guess I thought you’d have left by now, moved somewhere else.”

She shrugged. “No, I decided to stay. After my dad died, Mom’s health problems got worse. And I work at the bank now. It’s pretty good money.”

Yeah, and it doesn’t hurt that Bob Prescott owns the bank and still thinks of you as his honorary daughter-in-law. The thought tasted bitter to Tim, even after seven years and moving a dozen states away.

As if she could read his mind, Dorothy’s face flamed brighter and she looked away, out over the lake. He didn’t know what the hell to say to her, which infuriated him. Once, a lifetime ago, words flowed between them so easily. Even after Jesse had claimed her, Tim still had these incredible conversations with Dorothy about music, movies, books, dreams. He could tell her about how boxed-in he felt, living on the rougher edge of the blue-collar side of town with a father who thought the world owed him a living, and a mother who silently endured her unhappy marriage.

In turn, she confided the difficulties of life as the daughter of Preacher Whitaker, professional Bible-thumper. Tim knew she’d loved her father fiercely. He also knew her childhood had been knotted up in Christian duty, an often heavy burden for a kid.

Now, Dorothy released a quiet sigh and picked up the soiled bar towel. “Well, I should be going, I suppose—”

“Stay.” He laid his palm on her shoulder, fought a losing battle with the need to caress her baby-soft skin, and ran careful fingers along her slender forearm. When she didn’t move away, he took at as a good sign, and murmured, “It’s been seven long years, Dorothy. We were friends once.” He watched the emotion flicker over her face. “I missed you, a lot.”

She released a broken little sigh. “I missed you, too. But I wasn’t the one who moved away, Tim. I wasn’t the one who left.”

“I didn’t have a choice, you know that.” He bit back the familiar frustration, a feeling he’d thought had finally left him after years away from this town. “I paid the price for leaving. Everyone still blames me. Don’t they?” He caught her fingers, which trembled in his grip. “I paid, and it wasn’t my fault.”

Tears formed in her pretty hazel eyes, and even his instant remorse at hurting her yet again couldn’t keep him silent a second longer. “It wasn’t my fault,” he repeated. “You know it. Hell, Bob Prescott knows it, too.”

“What’re you talking about? What are you saying?” Now her hand pressed against his, holding him steady when he would have turned from her. “What’s Mr. Prescott got to do with anything?”

“Ask him, Dorothy.” Tim gently disengaged her hand and gave it a quick squeeze before he let her go. “I’m in town for a while.” He paused, his gaze roaming over her with a yearning he didn’t attempt to hide. “I’m staying at the boardinghouse. I’d really like to see you.”

He could feel her eyes on him as he headed to his car.

 

 

Char, thanks for stopping by, and thank you all for visiting, too.

Bren

 

 

 

 

Our Marion Pilgrimage–Part One. What a fantastic journey!

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Well, Tiff and I started our trip in Lisbon, Portugal. This was the restaurant where we ate our first dinner. She had pork chops which were wonderful, and I had some questionable meat I had no idea what it was. The upside was we had a Kool-Aid pitcher of wine for four Euros. Result!

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Things got a little more spiritual when we hooked up with our tour group the following day. We were most fortunate to have only nine people, including us, in our tour group, and our priest was Father Brian Costello from San Francisco. I will not insult your intelligence by pretending I remember every cathedral we were in. But the beauty of the churches always put me in awe. These places made me imagine the love and devotion of the people who created this architecture and religious art to convey their faith in God.

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We were so blessed to have beautiful weather on this trip. I hope you can get a sense of the peacefulness of the places we visited in the pictures. Above are statues of the little shepherds of Fatima praying to the Angel of Portugal, who came to them before Mary appeared and told them to pray for peace in the world. I think we all need to continue to pray for peace in the world, now more than ever.

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Again, we were so fortunate, because if you notice, the weather is beautiful and the crowds nearly nonexistent. Imagine that Fatima’s square is more than twice the size of St. Peters square at the Vatican. Amazing!

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Above is a picture of the path the little shepherds would take as they led their sheep to pasture and on the way to where they would see the apparition of Mary. We followed this trail as we walked through the Stations of the Cross.

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Above is the site where Mary appeared to the children, Lucia, Jacinta, and Francesco, after they returned from being arrested by city officials who wanted them to denounce what they had seen and experienced. The sculpture of the crucifixion is located at the top of the Stations of the Cross at the Chapel of Calvary, which overlooks Fatima.

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I would like to change gears a little bit and talk about the 206 Pilgrimage Tour Group. The pictures above and below show the ‘surprise’ lunch the 206 Group gave us in Alba de Tormes on our way to Avila, Spain. I was the only non-Catholic in our pilgrimage, and I cannot begin to express how welcome and accepted I felt in our band of merry pilgrims, especially by our spiritual director, Father Brian Costello.

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Did I experience a religious epiphany on my pilgrimage? I wish I could say that Jesus or Mary whispered in my ear, but unfortunately, that did not happen. My daughter thought I had accidentally channeled Erma Bombeck a few times, but that is my daughter’s story, not mine. I do know that sharing these beautiful and holy sites with Tiff and the other pilgrims was a most precious experience for me. Did it make me a better person? I hope so. Did my heart still go out to Mary and the relationships between mothers and their children after this? You bet it did! Below is a picture of Tiff and I outside the walls of Avila. And of course, there is always Mary with her beloved son, Jesus.

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Well, thanks for stopping by and letting me share. I thought I would share our Lourdes experience for another day. Have a great and blessed week ahead!

Bren

 

 

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