Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Power


So we had a really bad storm here last week. I watched the sky darken and heard the rolling thunder as it moved over the tree tops quickly toward our home. My hubby pulled in just as the hail started pounding the ground. My kids watched the storm with an excitement that only grew when the power went out. Oh what fun! Grab the flashlights. Light the candles. Cook over a fire. (thank goodness for a gas stove)

Yeah, that excitement lasted about 2.4 seconds. Then they realized: no TV, no phone, no radio, no computer, no video games.

Hubby and I laughed. Our kids couldn't even survive a night without technology. Kids these days. We, however, were much more mature and creative. An evening with no power - ha! We laughed in its face.

Play a game, read a book, sit in the silence we never have. We could do this no problem!

Within a 1/2 hour I was toast. Waving my white flag. Electricity, please come back! I'm pretty sure I did a happy dance when - two hours later - it finally did. I rushed to my computer and flipped it on, the blinking screen a beacon of happiness.

The children went to bed, and hubby and I went back to our computers. There was stuff to be done, and we'd been waylaid long enough. I sat at the kitchen table and began typing out the critique I'd promised a friend. Finished, I opened my email and hit 'send', only to have my screen freeze. I looked at hubby and found him in a similar predicament. We tried the TV - nothing but white fuzz. The phones? Silent. Our cable had gone out. I think I started to hyperventilate.

Okay, so maybe my breathing remained stable, but there was a bit of a scramble. Sure, we had lights, but no TV, no Internet, no...well...no nothing! What on earth was I supposed to do? Didn't God know how busy I was?

Oh, I'm sure He knew all right. Nothing escapes Him. And apparently, my frantic busyness hadn't either. It was time for Him to slow me down and refocus me.

I headed for bed, book in hand because, really, what else was there to do? As I slipped between my sheets and cast a look longingly at my laptop God spoke clearly to me. What if I desired Him as much as I desired my technology? What if my heart froze at the mere thought of approaching one night without Him? What if I realized true power came, not from a cord plugged into my home, but from Him.

Yeah. Stopped me too. Sometimes God does that. Takes something so simple and refocuses you. Reminds you that He is all you need. All you should desire. And the only source of power you'll ever need. His will never go out.


Friday, June 24, 2011

Changes Coming

I love words. Speaking them, writing them, reading them…love them.

I was a very early reader and that soon rolled into writing. These past two years I’ve been writing more and more, and that led me to joining ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers). What an amazing place! Not only am I learning and growing in my craft, but I’m meeting fantastic writers; some I’ve read and some who are new to me. All share one common thread—they write for the Lord.

Now, I read all genres. I love me some romance—I’m a true romantic at heart. But I also love a good “whodunit”, a touch of suspense, or a story that makes me grab a box of tissues. I love to get to know characters and see lives changed. I read to grow, or at times I read simply for the entertainment. Stories captivate me. I think sometimes it is simply how I’m wired. I see the world in stories. And I love that Jesus was the ultimate story-teller. He taught us so much through His parables. It’s one of the reasons I write, and also a reason I read.

Lately I’ve been praying about my blog—just wait, I’m connecting this all—and God’s been moving me to make some changes, and as this blog belongs to Him, I figure I better listenJ So, over the next few weeks I’m going to be re-organizing…err…or maybe just organizing. The changes will be very small, and made so I can continue making Steps forward in this journey He has me on. I’ll still be writing devotionals and the thoughts He lays on my heart, but one of the other things I’ll be doing is introducing Bookshelf Fridays. I want to high light some of the books other authors are writing and share my other love—reading. While the books will come in all shapes and sizes, they will all have a thread of faith in them.

One of my friends recently wrote to me that “we hold the pen, but He writes the story”. It's a statement that encapsulates everything I feel about writing, and life as a whole. He’s still telling stories today, through our lives in so many ways. My hope is to bring some of them to you, whether through writing what's on my heart or sharing something I've read. And whichever it is, may it all point back to Him.

Bookshelf Friday-Beach Read: Behind the Badge by Susan Sleeman


I discovered the Love Inspired line of books a year ago and approached it very skeptically. I typically like longer trade-length books and steer clear of novellas. What I found, however, were stories full of faith wrapped in a small package. I was reminded of the old adage that I should never 'judge a book by its cover'- or size. These authors have hearts for the Lord and their beliefs shine through their stories. Quick and easy reads, these books are the perfect size and price to throw into a beach bag and take to the lake or pool for an entertaining afternoon read.

Love Inspired puts out new books in this line each month. Today I'm featuring Susan Sleeman's Behind the Badge. Fun, fast and faith-filled, Behind the Badge is an ideal summer read. It will keep you turning the pages in suspense until you're finished, which you can easily do in one afternoon in the sun (provided you don't have kids to watch:) )

Susan sent me some info on her book and a link for readers to enter for a chance to win an Amazon gift card. Check it out below, you can learn a little more about Susan and read an excerpt from her book.

Enter to win a copy of Susan Sleeman's Behind the Badge and a $50 Amazon gift card!

Susan Sleeman here. Behind the Badge, my second romantic suspense book for Love Inspired Suspense will release on June 6th and in honor of all of you, the readers, I am hosting a special contest on my website for the month of June.

Let’s face it. Without you, the wonderful readers, books would not exist and I wouldn’t be able to wake up looking forward to a job that is fresh and exciting each and every day. Praise God for this incredible opportunity!

Now back to the contest. All you have to do is read the excerpt below then go to my WEBSITE and answer the following question. That's it. You're entered to win.

If you'd like to sign up for my mailing list to learn of other contests in the future you can do that at the same time, too. Full contest rules are on the entry page. Remember only one entry per person.

QUESTION: What item let Russ know the bike was street legal?

SUSAN SLEEMAN is a best-selling author of romantic suspense and mystery novels. She grew up in a small Wisconsin town where she spent her summers reading Nancy Drew and developing a love of mystery and suspense books. Today, she channels this enthusiasm into writing romantic suspense and mystery novels and hosting the popular internet website TheSuspenseZone.com.

Her books include Nipped in the Bud, High-Stakes Inheritance, Behind the Badge, and The Christmas Witness. Also watch for the first two romantic suspense books in her Justice Agency series coming from Love Inspired Suspense in 2012 and featuring a private investigations firm specializing in helping those who traditional law enforcement has failed.

Susan currently lives in Florida, but has had the pleasure of living in nine states. Her husband is a church music director and they have two beautiful daughters, a very special son-in-law and an adorable grandson.

To learn more about Susan visit her website, Facebook , or Twitter.


Behind the Badge

"YOUR SISTER IS NEXT!"

A killer is threatening the life of rookie cop Sydney Tucker's sister-unless Sydney turns over evidence from a drug bust. But she doesn't have the evidence. Not that the thug believes her. Now she and the sibling in her care are under the watchful eye of Logan Lake police chief Russ Morgan…but will his protection be enough?

The killer is closing in, picking off the people and places that mean the most to Sydney. A list that now includes Russ. To protect her loved ones, will she pay the ultimate price-her life?

The Morgan Brothers - Bk 2

Love Inspired Suspense June 6, 2011

ISBN-10: 0373444478

ISBN-13: 978-0373444472




READ AN EXCERPT:


Chapter One

Gunshots split the inky darkness.

Deputy Sydney Tucker hit the cold ground, a jagged rock slashing into her forehead on the way down. She reached for her service weapon. Came up empty handed. She'd stopped after work to check on the construction of her townhouse and left her gun and cell phone in the car.

Dumb, Sydney. Really dumb. Now what're you gonna do?

Inching her head above knee-high grass, she listened. The keening whistle of the wind died, leaving the air damp and heavy with tension but silence reigned.

Had she overreacted? Could be target practice. But at night? Maybe. Hunters did crazy things sometimes.

Footfalls pounded from below like someone charging through the brush. No. Two people. Maybe a chase. One person after another. A loud crash, branches snapping.

"What're you doin', man," a panicked male voice traveled through the night. "No! Don't shoot! We can work this out."

Three more gunshots rang out. A moan drifted up the hill.

Not target practice. Someone had been shot.

Sydney lurched to her feet, dizziness swirling around her. Blood dripped into her eyes. She wiped it away, blinked hard and steadied herself on a large rock while peering into the wall of darkness for the best escape route.

Heavy footfalls crunched up the gravel path.

"I know you're here, Deputy Tucker," a male voice, disguised with a high nasally pitch, called out. "We need to talk about this. C'mon out."

Yeah, right. Come out and die. Not hardly.

Praying, pleading for safety, she scrambled deeper into the scrub. Over rocks. Through grass tangling her feet. Her heart pounded in her head, drowning the prayers with fear.

"I'm losing patience, Deputy," he called again in that strange voice. "You're not like Dixon. He had it coming. You don't."

Dixon? Did he mean the man she arrested for providing alcohol to her teenage sister and for selling drugs? Was that what this was about?

Rocks skittered down the incline. The shooter was on the move again. No time to think. She had to go. Now!

Blindly she felt her way past shrubs, over uneven ground. Dried leaves crunched underfoot. Branches slapped her face and clawed at her arms, but she stifled her cries of pain.

"I hear you, Deputy."

She wrenched around to determine his location. A protruding rock caught her foot, catapulting her forward. She somersaulted through the air. Her knee slammed into the packed earth and she crashed down the hill. Wrapping arms around her head for protection, she came to a stop, breath knocked out of her chest, lying flat on her back in a thick stand of weeds.

"So you want to play it that way, do you Deputy? Fine. Just remember, you can run, but you can't hide. I will find you. This will be resolved one way or another." His disembodied laugh swirled into the night.

The darkness pressed closer. Blinding. Overwhelming. Terrifying.

She was easy prey. Even with her bulletproof vest, a few rounds fired in her direction would take her out. She had to get up.

She rose to her knees, but pain knifed into her knee, keeping her anchored to the ground.

Lord, please don't let me die like this. Give me the strength to move. I need to live for Nikki. She's only seventeen. She has no one.

Sydney uncurled and came to a standing position. Taking a few halting steps, she tested the pain. Nearly unbearable. But she could-no she had to do this for her sister.

Thinking of Nikki, she gritted her teeth and set off, moving slowly, taking care not to make a sound.

Out of the darkness, a hand shot out. Clamped over her mouth.

Screams tore from her throat, but died behind fingers pressed hard against her lips.

A muscled arm jerked her against a solid chest and dragged her deep into the brush.

God, please, no.

She twisted, arched her back, pushing against arms like iron bands.

She dug her heels into the ground, but he was too strong. He kept going deeper into the brush before settling them both on the ground behind a large boulder.

"Relax Sydney, it's Russ Morgan," Logan Lake's Police Chief whispered, his lips close to her ear.

Russ Morgan? What was he doing here?

"Sorry about the hand." His tone said she was nothing more than a stranger instead of someone she'd known for years. "I didn't want you to alert the shooter with a scream. I'm gonna remove my hand now. Nod if you understand me."

She let all of her relief escape in a sharp jerk of her head. His fingers dropped away.

"Once the shooter rounded that curve, you would've been a goner," he whispered while still firmly holding her. "Good thing a neighbor reported gunshots."

Sydney started to shiver and breathed deep to steady her galloping pulse. Air rushed into her lungs. She was alive, but barely. No thanks to her own skills.

"You okay?" he asked, his breath stirring her hair.

"Yes." She willed her body to stop shaking and eased out a hiss of disappointment in her performance as a deputy. "How long have you been here?"

"Long enough to hear the shooter claim he's hit Dixon and is coming after you next," he whispered again, but urgency lit his voice and rekindled her fear. "This have to do with your arrest of Carl Dixon the other day?"

"I don't know," she whispered back. "I just stopped to check on the construction of my townhouse on my way home from work."

"Off duty, huh? Explains why you don't have your weapon drawn."

"I left my duty belt in my car." She waited for his reaction to not carrying, but he simply gave a quick nod as footfalls grated against gravel.

"Shh, he's about to pass us." Russ leaned forward and drew his gun with his free hand, but didn't release his hold on her.

Crunching steps came within a few feet of their location. Halted.

"Can you feel me breathing down your neck, Deputy? I'm inches from finding you." He didn't know the accuracy of his words.

She felt Russ's breathing speed up, upping her concern and washing away the brief blanket of security his arms provided. Adrenaline urged her to move. To keep from panicking, she focused on Russ's unwavering weapon.

The shooter took a few steps closer. Her heart thumped, threatening to leave her chest. Russ tightened his hold as if he knew she wanted to bolt.

The shooter spun sending gravel flying then headed up the path.

As his footsteps receded, she tried to relax taut muscles. The warmth from Russ's body helped chase out her fear and the chill of the night. Thank God Russ was here. If he hadn't come.

She refused to go there. God had watched over her. Provided rescue, just not in the form she'd have chosen.

Not only was Russ an officer from the city police force-a team often in competition with the county sheriff's department where she worked-but a man she'd had a crazy crush on in high school. A man whose rugged good looks still turned women's heads.

She let out a long sigh.

"I know this's awkward," he whispered, "but hang tight for a few more minutes. We need to wait for him to head back down the hill."

She wanted to protest and suggest they flee now, but not Russ. He thought clearly. Taking off now gave the killer the advantage of higher ground, making them moving targets. They'd have to sit like this until he passed them again.

If they made it out of here, which the approaching footfalls told her wasn't at all certain.

They pounded closer. The shooter moved at a quick clip this time as if he thought she'd gotten away and he was fleeing. Or maybe he was heading to her car to lay in wait for her.

As the footsteps receded again, she felt Russ's arm slacken.

"Time to roll," he whispered. "Stay here."

"But I-"

"You have a backup?" He referred to a back up gun officers often carry.

She shook her head.

"Then wait here." He gave her the hard stare that'd made him famous around town and crept toward the path.

She leaned against the boulder and wrapped her arms around the warm circle on her waist where he'd held her. Without his warmth, she couldn't quit shaking. The reality of the night froze her inner core.

She should listen to Russ. Lay low. Wait until he apprehended the killer.

That was the safe thing to do.

The easy thing to do.

The wrong thing to do.

Not for everyone, but for an officer of the law, letting a shooter escape without trying to stop him wasn't an option. Even if that shooter had her in his sights, she'd make her way to her car for her gun and help Russ stop this maniac before he hurt anyone else.

*****

Near the ditch, Russ came to a stop and fought to catch his breath. Taillights on a mud splattered dirt bike roared up the trail. He'd warned the suspect to stop, but short of shooting him in the back, Russ couldn't stop him from fleeing into the dark.

At least he'd accomplished his primary objective. To protect Sydney and keep her alive. Now he needed to alert his men and the sheriff's office to the suspect's whereabouts.

He lifted his shoulder mic and ordered a unit from his office to stake out the end of the trail for the motorcycle and an ambulance in case Dixon survived. Then he asked dispatch to patch him through to the county sheriff's department to make sure they knew he'd taken charge of the scene so none of their hotshot deputies arrived with the hope of usurping control.

He turned on his Maglight and headed up the hill. The beam of light skipped over gravel and lush plants lining the winding path. Midway up, rustling brush stopped him cold. He'd left Sydney higher up. Nearer the lake.

Was a second shooter hoping to ambush him?

He flipped off his light and sought protection behind a tree. His breath came in little pulses in the unusually cold air for a typical Oregon fall. Adrenaline with little time to ebb away came roaring back, but even as the noise grew louder, he resisted the urge to take action.

Maybe it was Sydney. The Sydney he used to know wouldn't have listened to his directive and stayed put. She'd trounce down the hill, her chin tilted at the same insolent angle as when he told her he didn't return her crazy crush her freshman year of high school. Not that he'd wanted to send a beautiful, lively girl like her away. He could easily have dated her, but he was four years older, in college. With their age difference, it wouldn't have been right.

Bushes at the path's edge shook then parted. Slowly, like a sleek panther, Sydney slipped out. He watched until she stood tall on those incredibly long legs he'd admired since she was sixteen before lowering his gun and aiming his flashlight at her.

She jumped. Peered up at him, an impudent look planted on her face. This was the Sydney he'd known as a teen and heaven help him, in less than thirty minutes, she'd sparked his interest again.

"Care to shine that somewhere other than my face." She perched her hand over her eyes, warding off the glare.

He moved the light but not before he caught a good look at a gaping wound running from her hairline to eyebrow, covered in congealed blood. He lifted his hand to check out her injury, but stopped. He wouldn't probe a wound on one of his men's faces. As a fellow LEO-law enforcement officer-he wouldn't treat Sydney any differently.

"I told you to stay put." He infused his words with authority.

"I wanted to help. Wish I'd listened. I tripped over the body." She held out blood-covered hands. Her eyes watered as if she might cry.

Man. Don't do that. Don't fall apart. He couldn't remain detached if she started crying. He'd have to empathize, maybe give her a reassuring pat on the arm. Maybe feel her pain and resurrect all the reasons he'd left his homicide job in Portland.

He changed his focus. Nodded at the brush. "Show me the body."

As a faint whine of sirens spiraled in the distance, she limped into tall grass, a grimace of pain marring her beautiful face. He followed, illuminating the area ahead of her. About ten feet in, she suddenly stopped. He shone his light a few feet ahead of her.

Diffused rays slid over a young male lying on his back. Russ swung the beam to the man's face landing on open eyes staring into the blackness above.

Sydney gasped and swung around him. She rushed toward the main path. Even though Russ knew it was a lost cause, he bent down to check for a pulse. No question, this man hadn't made it and no question about his identity. Carl Dixon, a man every LEO in the area knew from his frequent blips onto the police radar and the most recent arrest for selling drugs.

All that ended with three gunshots to the chest at close range from what Russ could see with his flashlight. Once they thoroughly processed the scene, he'd know better. But first, they needed to vacate the area before further contaminating the scene.

He found Sydney near the path, gaze fixed in the distance, hands clasped on her hips and exhaling long breaths as if trying to expel what she'd just seen.

Haunted eyes peered at him. "He's dead, right?"

"Yeah."

"And what about the killer?"

"Couldn't catch him. He took off on a dirt bike."

Disappointment crowded out the fear on her face. "Did you at least see him?"

"From the back. He was my height or a little taller, but lean. Wore a black stocking cap. The bike has a plate so it must be street legal. I caught the first few digits."

"That's something, then."

Russ didn't want to tell her it would do little for them in terms of searching DMV records as three digits would return thousands of bikes, but he didn't think she could take any more bad news so he kept quiet. "Let's head down to the parking lot."

He gave her the flashlight and urged her to take the lead down the steep hill. Once on solid concrete, she handed it back to him. Holding it overhead, he watched her closely for dizziness or other impairments from her fall. He saw nothing out of the ordinary, but a head injury could mean a concussion. He'd have the EMT's check her out when they got here.

He pointed at a rough-hewn bench. "Maybe you should sit down."

"I'm fine " Her voice cracked and she seemed embarrassed over reacting to the murder.

"It's okay to be upset, Syd. A horrible thing happened tonight."

"I'm fine really. I'll be back to a hundred percent by morning."


Text copyright © by Susan Sleeman

Permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A.





Monday, June 20, 2011

Pass It On


We had a long week this past week with the passing of my grandmother. What an amazing lady. Of course, in remembering her, we spent hours going through old pictures. That’s how I came across the one above.

Makes you laugh, doesn’t it? The crazy idea that we used to strap infants in that way? My siblings and I passed it around and shook our heads. I tucked it away to bring home and put up on Facebook for a good laugh. As I scanned it into my computer, I began to think…

How lucky am I that someone before me learned a better way to secure children into cars—and passed it on. My children today are safer because of it. Sure, someone could have rigged up a better system and only shared it with those close to them, but they didn’t. They shared what they knew to help others. It has changed lives.

I guess, in some small way, the picture reminded me of my family. Not only did we attend my grandmother’s funeral this week, but we also had the chance to celebrate Father’s Day. These celebrations of life gave me a glimpse of how blessed I am. Somewhere along my family line, someone realized we were not belted in safely—that there was a better way of doing things…God…and they passed Him on. Today, I am belted in securely through my life because of what they’ve taught me, and so are my children.

How about you? Are you secure today because of those that have gone before you? If so, keep passing it on. God charges us in Deuteronomy 11:18&19 to fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” In other words—pass it on. His commands, His Word, even His all-encompassing love.

If you haven’t had those before to teach you, let it start with you. God wants to change your life. Right now you’re driving along, strapped in no better than the child above is, and He’s got something so much better for you—and it’s as simple as asking. Romans 10:9 tells us that “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” And once you ask Him in, you’ll never go back.

So keep moving forward. Whether you’re new to the faith or an old saint. Dig into the Word, find a Godly church for you and you’re family, and keep passing your faith on. Strap yourself and your child in tightly with God. There is nothing more important you could ever do. It will change lives. I look back through my family line and know it has changed mine. For that, I am forever thankful.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Fantastic Homeschooling Devotional


I was lucky enough to receive an early copy to read. This devotional hits all the spots for homeschooling parents. You'll find yourself laughing at times or even wondering if Anita, perhaps, has been a fly on your wall. Her stories are ones we can all relate to, and she weaves Biblical truths right into your homeschooling days. Be encouraged each morning with a story, a verse and even a challenge for your day.

Here's an excerpt from her book:

The Source
I can do [everything] through him who
gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13)

Catalogs surrounded me as I sat on the floor of our family room.
ABeka, Sonlight, Five in a Row. Which curriculum should I buy?
Though I had taught graduate and undergraduate journalism
courses, being responsible for my daughter Lisa’s education overwhelmed me.
What did I know about teaching a five-year-old?

Yet my husband, Jim, and I had prayed, explored schools, and
weighed the pros and cons of homeschooling an only child. It
took more than a year before we were certain of God’s leading.

The more I thought about homeschooling, the more I lay
awake at night. What if I messed up her foundational years?
“Lord, I have no idea how to homeschool. Please help me,”
became my daily prayer.

Weeks later at church a sentence grasped my heart: “God
always empowers you for the task he gives you.” It reminded me
of Philippians 4:13.

On our first day of school, Lisa slid her tiny hand into mine as
we bowed in prayer. I knew then that Jesus would walk with us
on this journey.

On our last day of school that year, as Lisa read aloud from her
little Bible, I blinked back tears. Successfully homeschooling her
hadn’t rested on my academic qualifications and abilities, but on
Jesus, my source.

That evening Lisa gasped when Jim handed her a certificate
for completing kindergarten. Eyes sparkling, she refused to let it
go until we promised to frame it. That certificate still has a place
of pride in our home.

Every year since then, we’ve made our last school day special.
It’s a celebration of the end of a school year. And it’s a celebration
of God manifesting his strength through my weakness.

Digging deeper: What reassurance does Philippians 4:13 offer you?

I hope you enjoy this devotional as much as I have! To learn more about Anita and her book, check out her blog: http://www.anitamellott.com/

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Process

I was reading about Naaman this week. He’s a guy you’ll meet in 2 Kings Chapter 5. He had it all: commander of the king’s army, wealth, highly revered…and leprosy. He desired to give that last one up – he wanted healing.

Through his wife’s servant, Naaman hears about Elisha, the prophet of God. Hope begins in him. Here, Naaman believes that maybe, just maybe, he can be healed. And he begins the process of seeking that healing. It’s also here where his problems begin.

See, we all have desires in our lives. To be used. To be healed. To be relieved from that addiction. There are so, so many things that God can do in our lives. And He’s always got a plan (remember Jeremiah 29:11). But that plan involves a process, and it’s His process, not ours.

Now, Naaman puts it in his head how his healing will go. He’ll pay off the King of Israel –where Elisha lives–then Elisha will lay hands on him and BAM…he’ll be healed. Then he'll return home and continue on with his life.

Hmm…have you ever done that? Gone off seeking God and telling Him how He’ll answer you? Maybe not intentionally, but think about it. Are you running after something you desperately desire with a picture in your mind of how He’s going to bring it into your life? What happens when God meets you, but His picture is different?

Let’s look back at Naaman.

Naaman approached the king, but it did nothing. He goes on to Elisha, but when he gets there, Elisha doesn’t exactly lay hands on him. No, Elisha tells him to go bath in the Jordan-- seven times--then he’ll be healed.

Umm…the Jordan? That muddy river? Not only is his healing not instantaneous, not only must he work for it, but in a muddy river? When there are so many other clean rivers Elisha could have picked? Yeah, Naaman isn’t exactly thrilled. He stalks off; upset and unwilling to go through the very process that will bring him the healing he sought.

And that’s where we can mirror Naaman. We have these desires for God to work in our lives, but we want Him to do all the work. We don’t want the process. Or, maybe we don’t want the process if it involves getting in some muddy water. Ooohh…think about that. Naaman’s servant even calls him out on it, saying, “If the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it?” (vs. 13)

See, getting to where we desire won’t always look like we hoped it would. There’s a process. It involves work on our part, and sometimes hard, muddied-up work. But it’s in that muck, mire and sweat that we are transformed. Our faith grows. We develop character. We find God’s strength in us, and when we come out we know it was His hands that changed us, not ours.

Naaman finally did step into the waters, and he received his healing. But more important than his clean skin, Naaman found God and his life was radically changed.

Don’t shy away from the process. Don’t make a picture of what you think it should look like and throw a fit when God’s picture is different. Just seek God and be willing to follow wherever He calls you. Even if you wind up in the mud.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sweet Blogs



So I was tagged in the Irresistable Sweet Blog Award. The rules? List seven random things about me and pass it on to other blog friends. Thanks Dora for "tagging" me:) You can check out Dora's blog too: http://dorahiers.blogspot.com/





Here goes:


1. I love music - any and all kinds of music. It's always playing in the background of my life, even if it's just in my head:)

2. I have an incredibly dry sense of humor.

3. I'm a hopeless romantic.

4. I'm not huge on candy, but you can bake for me any day.

5. October thru December 25th is my favorite time of year.

6. I have three wonderful, unique, crazy children and a husband to match.

7. I cannot play sports to save my life, not even running (I don't move in a straight line)...but I love being active.

So that's it. Now to tag others!

Joy Avery Melville - http://www.joyaverymelvillejoyfullyjournaling.com/2011/06/joy-title-this.html

Daphne Webb - http://dmwebb-writebyfaith.blogspot.com/2011/05/more-to-come.html

Kenneth Briggs - http://www.kennethmbriggs.com/

Maria Morgan - http://mariaimorgan.blogspot.com/2011/06/something-to-gain-from-pain.html

Mary Hall - http://marylizhall.blogspot.com/2011/06/prodigal-god-part-1-younger-son.html

Jo Huddleston - http://johuddleston.blogspot.com/

Jean Huffman- http://sislynstewart.wordpress.com/

Christine Long - http://writing2theheart.blogspot.com/

Bethany Kaczmarek - http://marredandreformed.blogspot.com/

Ann Minard - http://labuonacucina70.blogspot.com/

Enjoy! And...TAG - you're it :)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Show Don't Tell

For those who don’t know, I love to write. In the past year and a half, I’ve written two novels. While writing the second, I’ve also begun to educate myself. Wow! There is a whole lot about the publishing world that I did not know. I also joined a critique group of writers who can tear apart my story and help me learn this wonderful craft in the hopes of one day being published. One phrase I hear over and over is “Show Don’t Tell.”

Show Don’t Tell, or SDT, is quite a buzz phrase in the writing world. It’s the difference between:

“Jack was angry.”
and
“Jack’s eyes narrowed into slits and his hands clenched at his sides.”

Now, that’s a very basic example, but put quite simply, the first sentence tells you Jack’s state of mind, the second one shows it. In doing this, a writer’s story deepens and pulls you farther into their character's world. The story becomes more vibrant, and you feel like you’re almost in their character’s skin. It made me think…

Isn’t this what we are supposed to do as Christians? Rather than walking around, telling people we are a Christ follower, shouldn’t we be showing them? We need to make our lives vibrant with His love, deepen our stories so that He spills out from them and people cannot help but see God in us. Anyone can say they are a Christian, but it’s when we show it that people truly see who He is—and want more of Him.

So, let’s start showing others Christ. Don’t just tell your neighbor where you go to church, invite them. Don’t just tell your hurting friend you’ll pray for them, hold their hand and pray. Don’t just talk about how there are hungry people in your city, volunteer at a shelter and feed them. Ask God where He wants to use you, then go out and show His love to this hurting world. I absolutely love how The Message writes out Matthew 5:14-16:

Here's another way to put it: You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We're going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don't think I'm going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I'm putting you on a light stand. Now that I've put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.

Yes, we need to tell people about His love...but they will never listen if we don't show them first. So get out there and Show Don’t (simply) Tell.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Clean Up

It’s springtime and things have been crazy around our home. Between finishing our homeschooling for the year, little league and spring fever, not much indoors has been accomplished. Yep, the house is a mess – just ask my husband. So yesterday I told my kids they needed to clean their disaster areas, err…bedrooms…before they could play.

Meanwhile, I worked on Mount Laundry.


Some time later my children informed me their rooms were complete. I checked on them and stood amazed. Shiny and clean, with minimal complaints while doing them – what great kids. Giving my okay, they ran past me to play outside and I returned to the laundry.


Well, I finally scaled my mountain and headed to put the items away. Normally my children need to put their own clothes away, but they’d been so good about cleaning their rooms that I decided to do it for them. The first closet I opened nearly buried me alive. Upon closer inspection, I found under their beds held whatever the closets could not. They hadn’t cleaned their rooms, they’d just hidden their messes.


After I brought them back inside and set them to cleaning – again – God hit me with this little thought. Don’t we sometimes do the same thing? God asks us to clean something out of our lives and we shove it into the corner, claiming we’ve dealt with it and hoping He no longer sees it. On the outside, our lives look all neat and tidy, but on the inside they are a raging mess. Then someone walks by and unsuspectingly opens our closet door and gets dumped on.


Here’s the thing, we may successfully hide our stuff from the people around us - though they often fall victim to our avalanches - but do we really think we’ve hidden anything from God? His Word clearly states that “you justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows you hearts.” (Luke 16:15) You’re not hiding a thing from Him. And it’s not doing you, or those around you, any good to keep your mess.


So go clean your room. I know it’s not always fun and that you’d rather keep playing, but it needs to be done. You can’t find anything in the chaos, and you don’t have room for anything new because you’re overrun by the old. People around you are wondering where that ‘drive-by’ dumping came from and you’re left feeling out of control. Listen to your Father’s voice calling you back inside, telling you it’s time to clean it all out, because the only thing you should be hiding in your heart is His Word. So come on, grab your Bible, get on your knees, and start cleaning. Things will look a lot better once you’re done.