MAXINE BILLINGS, Photographer & Author

Fine Art Photography Inspired By Natural Creation & Wholesome Reading For Your Family's Entertainment



CORNBREADMy husband loves crackling cornbread!  While I love it, too, there are times when I prefer to have it just plain.  This past Wednesday, we had pinto beans, cube steak and gravy (cooked several hours in my slow cooker), and cornbread (crackling for him and plain for me.)

Sometimes when I first take my cornbread from the oven, I like to cut a slice open while it’s still piping hot and spread on some butter.  Mmmm-mm, talkin’ ’bout good!  And how many of us don’t love us some buttermilk and cornbread!!!  Ooh-wee, my mouth is watering just talking about it!  How do you like your cornbread?

And speaking of cornbread, over five years ago, Beverly Davis, Founder and Creative Director of Cornbread Millionaire, started her own cornbread career business based on her grandma’s secret recipe.  Since then, she has developed her very own variations and creative serving suggestions.  For example, how do the following creations sound (just to name a few):  Creme de la Corn Muffin, Cornbread Meal Muffin:  Squash & Onions, Homegirl’s Cornbread Chili Sandwich, and Sweet Potato Cornbread Donut-Muffins?  But Ms. Davis also has some other fabulous creations.

Please click here to visit her beautiful website and see everything she has to offer.  I just ordered her elegant picture cookbook that contains baking tips, creative cornbread recipes, humor, kernels of positivity, and photos of flowers from her photography adventures.  Best wishes to Ms. Davis in her endeavor!

As always, this is from my heart to yours,

Maxine 🙂

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desertRomans 2:15 helps us to appreciate that God gave us the gift of a conscience in order to guide us.  When our conscience is troubled, it can wear us down and torment us.  King David experienced this after taking another man’s wife.  In Psalm 32:1-5, he said that his strength had evaporated from him like water in the dry summer heat.  In other words, his attempted repression of a guilty conscience wore him out and reduced his vigor like a tree that loses life-giving moisture in a drought or in the intense dry heat of summer.  Only when he confessed his sins did he finally gain much-needed relief.

I recently shared a blog that I had finally finished my manuscript to my soon-to-be released novel, DESPERATE HEARTS.  This story will begin nearly two years after where ONE OF A KIND ended.  OOAKI am now in the editing process and also recently made a few minor revisions to the cover which I designed and created myself.  Although in our age of modern technology where many people are now reading books on their electronic devices, I realize that there are still some who really prefer to hold the actual paper copy of a book in their hands–including myself :).  Therefore, I am happy to announce that my current plan is to release DESPERATE HEARTS in both Kindle and paperback edition.  I have included at the bottom of this post a copy of the revised cover so that you can see it as well as read the back cover for a more detailed description of what the story is about.  If you are interested in reading a sneak preview of the first chapter, please click here.

Now, to the title of this blog.  I chose it because I wanted to write about one of the themes that is central to the story in DESPERATE HEARTS which pertains to the conscience.  Since our heart is the center of what motivates us, it only makes sense that the conscience affects it.  When under stress, our heart can become desperate.  As one dictionary defines the word desperate, when in this state, the heart can become reckless or dangerous because of despair or urgency.  Hence, the title of my new novel, DESPERATE HEARTS.  And it is during these moments that we can feel like King David as mentioned above.

Since I am so fascinated by the way that we imperfect humans interact with one another (especially when under stress), I love writing stories about family and relationships dealing with real-life issues.  So as many of you probably already know, my stories contain some drama but also include a little humor and flecks of tasteful romance.

Oh, and by the way, my ONE OF A KIND contest is still ongoing.  The prize is a Walmart gift card valued at $25.00.  For more details, please visit my website BOOKS page.  Plus, upon the release of DESPERATE HEARTS, I will be running another contest.

Well, that’s all for now.  HAPPY  READING!  And as always, this is from my heart to yours.  Good night.


(Moroccan Sand Dunes Photo-Courtesy Clip Art)



DH BookCoverPreview 3





POLICEAs I write this post, I’m without electricity, thankful that I charged my laptop last night before going to bed. And since I also have no Internet connection due to the power outage, I’m just writing this in my Microsoft Office Word to be copied and pasted later into my blog.

My day started off pretty typical. I woke up about 8:25 and laid in bed a few minutes, praying and meditating. Then I got up, turned on the television to listen to a bit of news as I made up the bed. The next thing I knew, our lights started flickering off and on (the television as well) while our cordless phone kept ringing short bursts of rings on and off. It was continuous—every second. It was nothing unusual though because it’s happened many times before whenever the power company was experiencing some sort of problem.

My daughter and I were the only ones at home. Of course, it was frustrating for both of us. Besides having no power, the constant flickering of lights and the telephone ringing was a nuisance. Also, she had been in the middle of something on her iPad. And as soon as I finished making the bed, I was going to bathe and get my grocery shopping done early.

So she and I were enduring—that is, until we started hearing an on again, off again noise outside the front of the house. I opened the storm door a few times in an effort to see what it was but could never see anything. But the noise continued, on and off—like someone or something brushing up against something either outside or underneath the house.

My in-laws live next door, and before I started hearing the noise outside, I was about to call them to see if they were having similar problems at their house (which has been the case several times in the past when our power company was experiencing electrical problems.) Well, I (being who I am), immediately panicked and called 911.

Several minutes later just before the police officer arrived, the power completely shut down. He checked out everything outside and told me that things appeared fine. He advised that the problem was more than likely power related. I agreed to a certain extent but asked him what would the noise outside have to do with the power. Then he began to ask me a series of questions, like: What rooms are on that end of the house? Where is the furnace?

When I told him that our furnace is also near that part of the house, he said that the noise could have been the furnace’s ductwork underneath the house—every time the power went off and on, it caused the ductwork to make a rustling noise. That’s when I realized that’s exactly what the noise I heard had sounded like! I apologized but could not help but to laugh at myself. He told me it was okay and was just glad nothing was seriously wrong. After he left, I called the power company and reported the outage (even though they were already aware of it.)

So that’s how my day began today. As I’m finishing up this post, we still have no power, but at least it gave me another opportunity to share with you another one of my many crazy, comical moments. I simply love writing, and even though I try to touch on real-life issues in my stories, I also enjoy adding touches of humor. Life is extremely difficult at times (2 Timothy 3:1-5); therefore, I need all the help I can get to assist me in keeping what little bit of sanity I still have left.

Hope you all have a great Saturday and an awesome weekend, and HAPPY READING!

As always, this is from my heart to yours,


P.S. Just took a quick second to check a text message I received. Had left my cell phone charging and was trying to figure out why it had stopped in the middle of charging—then remembered, WE HAVE NO POWER! Also, every time I go into a room, I’ve been turning on the light switch (that’s a whole other blog!) Have you ever done that when you know you have no power—but force of habit has you going for that switch anyway? Be honest—I know you have.  🙂  Okay, that’s really it for now. Bye.

P.S. I know—I’ve said good-bye twice already. But I just thought of one more thing I just have to share with you. Have you ever noticed how when your house is quiet, you hear all kinds of spooky noises? As I’m proofing this post, every few seconds, I keep hearing these sounds throughout the house—you know, creaking, rustling, etc. (that’s a whole other blog, too!) Okay, this time, I really mean it. Bye—unless something else comes to mind as I’m finishing up proofing this post. Just kidding. Or am I?

P.S. I know what you’re saying—you again! Just wanted to let you know that this will definitely be my last one. POWER’S BACK ON!!!!! YIPPEE!!!!! HOORAY!!!!!




I’ve had a lot going on this week with my mama.  Earlier, my baby sister had called to tell me she hadLAUGHTER to contact 911 for her.  So I jumped in my car and flew to Mama’s house.  My sister, the fire truck, and the ambulance were already there when I arrived.  The ambulance was parked in the driveway so I pulled up onto the front lawn out of the way of the vehicle.  In doing so, I had forgotten about a small wire garden fence there around Mama’s daylilies.

I suddenly heard a noise underneath the front of my car and realized that I had driven over something.  It was dark (almost eleven o’clock at night.)  I immediately backed up a little, and that’s when I remembered the fence.

But since I did not have time to worry about it at the moment, I rushed into Mama’s house where she was being assisted by the emergency medical technicians.  My husband arrived in his car.  After everything was situated and Mama was taken to the hospital, I stayed behind for a few minutes to tidy up the house while my sister and her family went to the hospital.  I told my husband about the fence.  He then moved my car to the driveway and straightened the fence.

At the hospital as we were waiting for Mama’s test results, I could not help but laugh to myself every time I thought about running over the fence.  I told Mama what happened as she laid there in her hospital bed.  She, my sister, and I got us a good laugh from it.  I still chuckle inwardly when I think about it.  It reminds me of another time when Mama was in the hospital and my kids and I were going one Sunday morning to visit her.

It was raining slightly, and my children (who were much younger then) were on either side of me as I tried to hold my umbrella in one hand and keys in the other.  I had given one of them my pocketbook to carry.  The next thing I knew, I was going down and could not stop.  I went down so fast that neither of them were able to try to help stop my fall.  The umbrella went one way and the keys, another.  I fell flat on my “boom-boom” onto a huge clay pot of begonias that I had recently planted.  The cool part about the fall was that when I went down onto the pot, it was as though I had just plopped down onto a chair–a flower-pot chair!  I never hit the ground.  It looked like someone had just picked me up off the ground and set me onto the flower pot.  Since the only thing that was hurt was my pride (just kidding–only my children saw me), all I could do was laugh at myself.  To this day, I continue to tell others about it as I’m doubled over with laughter.  It was so funny to me that I ended up putting it in one of my stories, IN SICKNESS AND IN HEALTH, which is my sequel to THE BREAKING POINTISAIHTBP

I love writing stories, and I love adding humor to them.  Many of us have heard of the age-old saying, “Laughter is the best medicine.”  And although many things in life are certainly no joke, there are times when having a sense of humor about them helps us to cope.  I often ponder God’s and his son Jesus’ sense of humor.

When Jesus was on earth, although he was serious-minded when it came to his ministry and way of life, he was not a tight-lipped disciplinarian.  He was kind, warm, and friendly. The Bible says at Matthew 11:28 that he brought refreshment to others.  At the same time though, many of us might sense a touch of humor in some of the things he said and taught.

Although his teachings were mainly for the purpose of spreading the good news about God’s Kingdom, one might also find amusing the idea of a camel attempting to pass through the eye of a literal sewing needle.  (Matthew 19:23 & 24)  Of course, this was just one example of Jesus’ way of teaching in order to get people to open up their minds and really think.

Since Jesus is the perfect reflection of his Father (John 14:9 ), it goes without saying that God also has a sense of humor.  Let’s look at just one example–his animal creation.  Have you ever stopped to take the time to watch them?  Some of them perform many humorous antics which bring a smile to our lips, laughter bubbling from within us, and extra joy to our lives.

Humor is a delightful gift from God and when used in moderation and with sound judgment, adds flavor, zest, and sparkle to our everyday lives.  So , yes, life will get us down now and then–but sometimes, laughter really is the best medicine!

Good-bye for now.  HAPPY READING!

And as always, this is from my heart to yours.