We all have secrets we’d rather not tell…

Does anyone make it through their teenage years without doing at least one thing they regret?  Not the kind of regret from forgetting to turn in a homework assignment, I’m talking about the kind of thing you want to keep hidden from the rest of the world.

If you’re lucky, the mistakes you made didn’t have lasting consequences…

But for everyone of us that screwed up royally and then got to move on like nothing ever happened (hopefully after learning a lesson to avoid repeating the mistake), there’s another of us who is haunted by our choice(s).  Life has been changed forever.  There is no escape.  You can move away for a fresh start, but the secret life left behind will never really let you go.

Tapestry of Secrets

That’s what happened to Perla in A Tapestry of Secrets by Sarah Loudin Thomas.

After keeping her secret for sixty years, “Perla knew she’d been forgiven and redeemed long ago and had thought there would never be a need to revisit her shame,” but she’s worried about her granddaughter, Ella, and realizes that telling what happened back then could help her.

Sounds simple enough.  Just call up Ella, spill the beans, and life is all peaches and roses, right?

Not quite…

Perla suffers a stroke that robs her of speech before she’s able to tell Ella anything.   It’s especially frustrating because Ella decides to stay in West Virginia to take care of her grandmother while she recovers.

Slowly, her ability to talk improves and she’s actually excited to share her secret, but another stroke causes even more problems.

While Perla’s unable to speak, she’s still sharp as a tack!  When a developer comes to town buying up the property all around the church, many members of the small congregation, including Ella, are determined to not let the church go.  But, Perla sees it as a good thing.  After all, “sometimes a good dose of trouble was exactly what folks needed.”

When I started reading the book, I had no idea that it’s actually the third book in the Appalachian Blessings series.  Thankfully, the book easily stands alone and doesn’t seem like a series book at all!

I love the strong female characters in the story and the way there’s constantly something to keep you interested and needing to know what’s going to happen next.  I’d recommend this book to anyone who’s looking for an encouraging story of love and forgiveness.

I received a free copy of this book from the Bethany House Blogger Review Program.

I’m a whole year old!!!

Well, I wasn’t sure what I was going to post about today.  All I knew was, I really needed to post something…

I figured it’d probably be an update on my Anger Management Experiment.  That seemed pretty boring though since it’s been two weeks and my husband has yet to make me want to yell at him… I’m not complaining, just doesn’t make for a very interesting blog post…

Then I thought to myself… Self, we may have to check out The Daily Post and see if it’s got a good writing prompt for the day.  Hey, I’m dramatic.  That would’ve been an awesome post for me!pexels-photo-104963

But, I ultimately decided to celebrate with you guys instead.  Because when I logged in to start typing away I discovered…  My blog is a year old!!!

One year ago today I started this whole crazy blogging experience thing!

I looked back at my first blog post.  My husband did get laid off not too long after posting that and I did go back to working outside the home for a while.  It didn’t take him long to get back to work though (praise God)!  Now I’m doing transcription part-time from our house and still spending tons of time with my babies.

One thing that I said in that post that I completely forgot about was that simply realizing my dream of finishing my first novel was enough.  Obviously, I was a little naive when I said that.   Finishing writing a first draft was pretty simple… perfecting it is a whole other bag of worms all together!

Sure, technically I “finished” writing a novel.  (Technically I’ve got 1 1/2 novels written at this point and way too many short stories to count.)  But I had no idea how hard it was going to be to get it to a point where I feel like I can say it’s done.  I’m actually starting to wonder if I’ll be able to make it as great as I want it to be…

But I am incredibly proud of myself for writing it at all… I did realize the dream (even if the dream is currently in something like its 6th draft stage and has had almost every word changed at some point.)

And here I am, a year from starting this blog and I’ve met so many great people!  I’ve been introduced to some awesome authors and my to be read list just keeps growing.  I’m really looking forward to what the next year on jesscombs.com will bring.

Another amazing experience blogging has opened up to me is the wonderful world of book reviewing!  I had no idea that you can get free books in exchange for writing an honest review.  This is something I just started and I’m looking forward to sharing lots of reviews with you all!  KIMG0002

(Please still use the contact me form to suggest books for me to read!  I plan on posting reviews on books from my blogging peeps over the next year as well and if my husband doesn’t have to buy me books anymore, I’ll have to come up with something else to write on the I love you because board…)

I hope those of you who have followed jesscombs.com over it’s first year have enjoyed it as much as I have (although, admittedly, posts were few and far between there for a while).   And I look forward to another year with all my new blogging friends as well… Let me know what you think and if you’ve got any suggestions for the next year.

Happy Birthday to ME!!!  :)

What if it were YOUR time to pay up?

Have you ever settled on a book?  You know, your buddy suggests this awesome book that you just HAVE to read, but when you read the jacket you’re like, “Dude, you’ve GOT to be kidding me?”9781101905142

That’s about what happened when I chose The Invoice by Jonas Karlsson.  I browsed through my choices, saw other books that seemed right up my alley, but ultimately settled on The Invoice entirely based upon the fact that it had the best reviews.

Apparently, it’s okay to “settle” sometimes…

I knew I was going to enjoy this book by the second page, loved it by page 50, and it took me all of two days to read it’s 204 pages. (That’s impressive when you’ve got a job, two dogs and a clingy teenager who’s been gone for a week demanding that you put down the book and watch Supernatural with her.)

You’re never told the narrator’s name (which I honestly didn’t realize until I started writing this post), but his life is thrown into a complete loop when he receives an invoice from a company he’s never heard of for an amount he could never pay.  After all, he works part-time in a video shop where he apparently doesn’t bother to put out the open side until after lunch.

He later learns that the government (every government, really) has begun charging for happiness and that the mistake he assumed was made in his amount wasn’t in his favor!  As he argues the case for how much of a loser he really is, his happiness score only goes up (along with the amount due).

While you gotta feel for the guy, it’s hard not to laugh at his continued misfortune.

While I loved the narrator, what really kept me from being able to tear myself away from the story was the way it constantly kept me asking what was going to happen next.   Once I would get the answer to one question, I had about three more that needed answering (like what they can do to stop your experiences if they’re not going to kill you)!

This book forces you to ask the question, what would happen if you had to pay for your Experienced Happiness… and what if you were too happy to be able to pay?

What really got to me was that I can totally relate to the guy’s E.H. type.  While I’ve definitely had my ups and downs (as we all have) I tend to be happy with relatively little.  I work part-time, watch television when I can and if you give me a good book and some time to write I’m pretty much ecstatic.

It does have a few “naughty” words in it, but I’d recommend The Invoice for anyone age 15+.  About the only negative I can possibly say about this novel is that I wish it had been longer.  I was actually sad when it ended and I had to put it down (please see that this is deducted from my E.H. score).


Thanks so much to the  Blogging for Books program for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for this review.


The Anger Management Experiment

In general, I’m a pretty quite person.   One of my best friend’s uncle nicknamed me “Mousy” because I’m too little and too quite.

I can spend an entire day not speaking to another living soul and be completely happy and content.  (Truthfully, I could do this for days and get a lot of reading, writing, knitting and work done.  It makes me feel accomplished and whole when I get to do all those things and bonus if I get to do it without interruption!)

Unfortunately, I can also be loud.  VERY LOUD!

My entire family is LOUD.  Which is something I never really noticed until I married my husband.  His entire family, including cousins, can fit into one room comfortably.

Mine can barely fit into one house.

And when we do, it’s sounds a bit like we could all use hearing aids.  We’re all trying to have conversations and be heard.  The volume goes up and up and up until children are covering their ears and neighbors are wondering if they should call the police.

We are not yelling at each other.

We are, however, speaking in upraised voices that force attention to the conversation and has been known, on occasion, to make babies cry.

This is normal.

It’s what we do.

How else are we going to be heard?

It’s a problem.

When I’m not heard in my little mousy tone, I get a little louder.  When I’m still not heard, I get even louder.  I continue to increase my volume until I feel I’m finally getting through and that’s the volume I stay at until I’m done saying what I need to say.

It scares my husband.

So I’ve decided to make a conscious effort to stop yelling and screaming to get his attention.

Great plan… no idea how to put it into motion.

We’re really caught in a cycle here.  It goes like this…

Me:  [Insert random thing] really hurts my feelings.

Husband:  [blank stare]

Me:  Seriously, I’m upset because [Insert random thing] really hurts my feelings.

Husband:  That’s stupid.

Me:  It’s not stupid, you’re not listening to me.  [Insert random thing] really hurts my feelings.

Husband.  Yeah, and that’s stupid.  Just stop feeling that way.

Me:  How can you say that to me?

Husband:  I love you.

Me:  I don’t feel loved because [Insert random thing] really hurts my feelings and you think it’s stupid.

Husband:  Well, that’s dumb.

Me:  You’re being a jerk.  I know it’s dumb to you, but it’s not to me.  I can’t just stop feeling that way and I need you to quit doing it.

Husband:  Okay.  I’m sorry, I won’t do it again.

Me:  Thank you.

Husband:  Can you not yell at me anymore?

Me:  You don’t listen until I start yelling.

That’s the basic format of our arguments.  The last one we had got really bad and my throat is still raw.

This is not healthy.  I know that.

And I don’t feel like an angry person, but after talking with another couple, I’ve realized that I definitely am.  I mean seriously, who isn’t automatically on the defensive when someone is raising their voice to them?  And even though I don’t feel angry when I first start raising my voice, I am by the time I’m done.

I have got to find another way to express myself.

I stayed up until 2 a.m. last night trying to figure out how I’m going to handle the next time I need him to hear me.  I still didn’t have it figured out when I woke up at 6.

I talked to my husband about it.  He had no idea and then he had to go to work.

This was me on the inside:


Kinda the exact opposite of what I was going for…

So I got proactive and did what every normal person does these days…

I asked the Google fairies…

Apparently no one else on the planet has a problem with yelling at their spouse.  However, people yell at their kids A LOT!

Google has lots of suggestions for not yelling at your children.

While my husband and I can be pretty immature and act more like our kids ages than our own, I’m not so sure I want to approach my issue the same way Google tells me to deal with a child.

Or do I???

I found a site called the Orange Rhino challenge.  It’s a 365 day challenge to help mom’s stop yelling at their kids.

On it, there is a list of “Orange Rhino” Alternatives to Yelling.  It’s a list of 100 things you can do instead of yelling at your children.  I’ve decided to steal this list (or at least part of it since I don’t actually own any of the 50 Shades books and have no desire to) and try it on my husband the next time I feel like raising my voice.

If you don’t have time to take a look at the list, here are just a few of the things my husband has to look forward to:

  • The Hokey Pokey
  • Somersaults
  • Me banging my arms on my chest like a gorilla
  • Him being tickled
  • Me flushing my screams down the toilet

I figure I’ll either get his attention or he’ll put me in a psychiatric hospital.  Either way, it should be interesting… and fun… and much better for my throat!

Wish me luck and I’ll let you guys know how it goes!


So much hate.

One of the advantages to not having cable or regular television is that I don’t have a single news channel.  (To be completely honest, I seldom watched the news when I had access to it because it was generally depressing and made me feel small and powerless. )

Unfortunately, my not watching the news doesn’t mean that horrible things don’t still happen in the world or that I get to just ignore it.

I was saddened when the alert came over my phone to tell me about the shooting  that occurred in Orlando on June 12th. My heart broke for the families of those dead and injured and I immediately began praying for them and the family of the shooter before I even read the article.

While the shooting upset me, I was more horrified by what I learned yesterday evening.  After the attack, a pastor actually preached in his sermon that the only tragedy that had occurred was that more people weren’t killed in the attack.  He called those in the night club perverts and pedophiles.

My first thought when my cousin told me about the sermon was that it must’ve been those Westboro people and I kind of shrugged it off.  When he told me it wasn’t them, I didn’t really believe him.  So, of course, I asked the Google fairies…

My eyes were so full of tears I couldn’t even read the whole article.  Google had confirmed that not only did a pastor in Sacramento preach this hate-filled sermon, but that he continued to defend it and called for the government to murder a large portion of our population.

No matter what your personal beliefs are, that night club was filled with people.  They were/are sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles… and I believe God loves each and every one of them.

I wish this was just an isolated incident, but there seems to be so much hate growing in the hearts of people.  It’s beyond my understanding and I struggle to control the anger that it ignites in me, but I refuse to let it get the better of me or harden my heart against humanity.

Some of the worst moments of my life ended up bringing me some of my biggest blessings.  That wouldn’t have been possible had I let my rage and hatred continue to fester and take over my thoughts and actions.   It would have tainted everything.

In the same way, if I let the words and actions of those who have chosen to let their hatred rule them affect the way that I look at the world,  I would do a disservice to myself and everyone around me.  I can’t help but wonder, how disappointed would the God I claim to love be with me then?

Instead, I choose to not only continue to pray for those who are persecuted against, but for their persecutors.  May God soften and change their hearts.  And I ask that others join me in consciously fighting against the instinct to hate the hateful and instead, show love to those we feel are undeserving of it.