Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Blessing Wednesday- What I Don't Got

Oh, today, I am thankful for the things I don't have that others do. (ya'll know I really need to count my blessings after Monday's post! Just practicing what my Mama taught me.)

1 - Today I'm thankful for music. All kinds. It is one of the most powerful ways I connect with God. I'm not a singer, and I can only plunk away on the piano. I am ever-so-thankful that God gave someone this gift for me to enjoy! I am always blessed with other's gift of music. (Kerrie Roberts there, she's one of my favorites.)

2 - Thankful for those gifted with being an extrovert. If there were no extroverts out there I would never leave my house (right, honey?). God's placed enough of them in my life to pull me out of my shell.

3 - Thankful for people gifted with the ability to fix things. I am not a handy-woman in any sense of the word, no matter how hard I pretend to be. I am blessed by many, many people in my life who not only make sure things run smoothly, but fix the problems I create when trying to fix things.

4 - So thankful for my Mama and her green thumb. Otherwise my garden would be brown instead of green. Each spring and summer I get to see such beauty (oh my peonies! LOVE!) because of what flowers she told me to plant where--did you know some plants need sun while others don't?

5 - Thankful and blessed by my friends who have an ability to find sales and deals. On more than one occasion they have sent me links, coupons, emails; all ways to save money that I can never seem to find. It is a skill, one I do not possess but really wish I did! Truly blessed they share that with me!

Some of these may seem silly, but they are all gifts I don't possess, skills I wish I had but simply don't. And I'm constantly blessed by those around me who share their gifts with me so that I can enjoy them too.

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. Romans 12: 4-6

What's a gift or talent someone else has that you don't, but you've been blessed to enjoy through them?

Monday, February 27, 2012

But I Wanted That!

God’s gifts are perfect, aren’t they? He always seems to know what we need right when we need it. So why then do we look over others’ shoulders in horror when they receive something we wanted? Seriously, have you ever looked like this?

Yeah. Me too. Like just yesterday morning.

See, our pastor was reading a testimony prior to collecting offering. And it was an amazing one. Ah-maz-ing. Not only that but it happened to be exactly what I’d been praying for in my life. You know how you make birthday and Christmas lists and put your most wanted thing at the top? Yeah. I think He mistook my list for theirs and delivered it to the wrong person.

Come on. You know what I’m talking about here.

Except God’s not Santa and He’s not a genie.

He’s God.

And every gift He gives is perfect (James 1:17). Perfect shape. Perfect size. Perfect fit. Perfect timing.

Yes, we can make our lists, but what do we know really? Just because my son asks me for an assault weapon for Christmas does not mean that it’s the right thing for him. (He didn’t, it was just a BB gun, but still, he could shoot his eye out). Just because my daughter wants that super-mini skirt, doesn’t mean it is the right skirt for her. (um, yeah, she did, and she’s 9). And just because I ask God to clear all my debts doesn’t mean that it’s what I need. Because really, have I learned the lesson He’s been trying to teach me?

Honestly. I have. At least in regards to debt. But have I learned other lessons? Like patience. Resolve. Trust. Not coveting…(slinking away here)

See, God knows what we need and it never, ever looks like the person next to us—well, except for when He gave us all salvation. That’s the one gift He’ll duplicate a million times over, re-gifting it to all. But as for everything else, that’s up to Him. He’s not into making cookie-cutter disciples so the path you take will be different than the one I’m on. The timing for our gifts and blessings will be different. The actual gifts themselves will be as unique as we are. And, as long as I’m here, let me add this—if we’re so interested in everything being fair than we better be willing to walk the same valleys as the person next to us.

Oh. Not sounding so great now, is it?

That’s why I love how God doesn’t often give us what we want, but what we need. Like yesterday morning, the second those thoughts went through my mind He squished them. But He did it with a chuckle, reminding me of the picture above that I snapped of my son, whispering to me “you kinda look like that right now”…In His awesome love He convicted me. Sure, He could have listened to the temper tantrum in my heart and given in, blessing me with what I was stomping my foot over, but that would have made me a spoiled child of the King, not a warrior princess (my mental picture here, let me go with it). I raised my shield of faith and dodged those fiery darts, standing on His word—and became stronger for it.

He’s growing us people, to do awesome things that He’s planned for us way before we were even born. (Ephesians 2:10) That means sometimes He’s not going to give us what we’ve asked for. Be okay with it. Even more so, rejoice when the person next to you receives exactly what you wanted. Because the One who gives the gifts knows exactly what each of us needs--you included--and he's never early, but He’s never late either. So wait on Him. He knows what He’s doing.And it will be perfect in His time.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Bookshelf Friday - Upcoming

Wow -it's Friday! How exactly did that happen?

I have no book to post today as I've been preparing my entry into ACFW's Genesis - a writing contest for unpublished writers. So, reading time has been limited. But here's what is on my current reading list, soon to show up on Bookshelf Friday:

Fay Lamb's Because of Me
Dora Hier's Journey's Edge
Mary Hall's Amberly

All of these ladies I count as friends and two are critique partners that I've met through ACFW. Because of Me was just released, Journey's Edge will be out next month, and Amberly is in the process of publication. I cannot wait to feature them here. So excited for each of them - they are all fantastic writers!

I'd love to hear what you're currently reading~anything I need to add to my pile???

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Blessing Wednesday - What Works.

***Before I even start I need to tell ya'll with Internet Explorer - for some reason that search engine doesn't like me! My blog header is not working on Internet Explorer. It'll come up and then switch to black. I'm trying to figure it out. Tips anyone? I hope to have it fixed soon. Pardon my dust - or black screen - until then:)***

Okay, now that housekeeping is done, lemme have my coffee and chat. I gotta admit, it's been a week - and it's only Wednesday. Lots of stuff not working the way it should, but I'm going to focus on what is working, because when it comes down to it, we've still got lots to be thankful for!

Here goes. What is working:

1 - My smile. You know the saying - "Turn that frown upside down." It's a choice, isn't it? So let's all borrow a line from Buddy the Elf: "I just like to smile. Smiling's my favorite."

2 - My legs. I was able to get out in the gorgeous sunshine and take a walk with my daughter yesterday. That's amazing for February!

3 - Speaking of the sun...The Sun. Amazing. It comes up like clockwork every single day! Imagine how dark it would be without it. And God didn't have to put it in the sky. He'd already made light without it. Probably because He IS light. But how great of Him to give us something so our minds wouldn't always wonder what day it way, what time it was, what year it was...and we don't have to worry about changing the bulb or plugging it in...

4 - Oh, which makes me think of my alarm clock. My awesome alarm clock. I've had it for twenty years and it still works. I don't have anything electrical that's worked that long. Come to think of it, I don't have anything at all that's been with me that long. Well, except for Paddington the Bear, but I digress...

5 - But the best thing that has always and will always work without question? The thing I'm most thankful for today? God's Word. It's active (Hebrews 4:12), never returns void (Isaiah 55:11), and never fails (Zephaniah 3:5).

Huh. When you start to count those blessings you find there's a lot to be thankful for, don't you?

So how about you? Things going well or needing a tune-up? Take a look around, I'd love to hear what's working well for you this week.

Blessings to you my friends!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A New Look!

A big ol' thank you to Hubby! There's only so much computer techyness (yes, it's a word--go with it) I possess and God knew this when He created me. It's why when He designed a partner for me, He gave him all the abilities I lacked--and a whole lotta patience!

Anyway, at the beginning of the year I got a niggling to update my blog. New year, new look and all that. But I wasn't sure what color to go with. I love red, but I'd already used it. And while I like pink, I'm not quite that girly. I dress in black and grey, but knew if I chose one of those alone it'd be too drab for me. So I sat around and thought. Then I noticed:

My favorite shoes

My purse

The color I keep trying to sneak into my bedroom/bathroom

And my favorite chair ever! Grandma's chair. The one I loved the first moment I saw and shall never reupholster (nor shall Hubby, unless he uses the same fabric). The one I plan on designing my writing room/library around one day. I'm typically not such an antiquey person, but I loved the way this chair lit up Grandma's room.

And that's what I wanted at my blog. Something bright and cheery. And you can't get much more bright and cheery than yellow! But to do my entire blog yellow proved to be a bit much. So I found that lovely header, played around with it and the picture, found a background I liked...and that's about as far as I could take it. Step in Hubby and VOILA! A newly decorated blog.

So I hope you like the new look. Along with the thanks to Hubby I need to thank my friend Jocelyn for taking that lovely shot of me and my boots. Her gift is photography, and I thank her for using it on me. Hopefully this summer I'll even let her take a new shot of my face. Baby steps people.

I'd love to hear what your favorite color is and whether this new year has brought any new looks to something in your life. We're also redoing our bathroom right now - imagine, this is the shower curtain I'm attempting to convince Hubby we need: Hmm...I'm sensing a pattern here...

Friday, February 17, 2012

Bookshelf Friday - When the Smoke Clears by Lynette Eason

Lynette has started a new series called Deadly Reunions, and I love that she brought along a character from the Women of Justice series - Serena Hopkins. Only we don't get Serena's story quite yet. She's a friend of the main character, Alexia Allen.

In When the Smoke Clears, Alexia returns home after ten years and danger follows her. We're kept in suspense over why someone is after her, only getting little pieces along the way as Alexia discovers them along with Hunter Graham--the handsome detective and old friend who is helping her. This is one of the reasons I love Lynette Eason books. She does a great job of balancing the romance with the suspense and keeps you on the edge of your seat for the entire book. The story starts off at a fast pace and keeps it up, and offers a lot of twists and turns along the way. Oh--and a cliff-hanger of an ending. Cliff-hanger as in you will not want to wait until fall for the next book to come out. But you have to. You got no choice people!

Here's a blurb:

As a member of the North Cascades Smokejumpers, Alexia Allen always takes care of the equipment that keeps her safe. So when she nearly dies in a fire due to equipment failure, she knows something is up. Ordered to take time off while the investigation continues, Alexia makes a last-minute decision to recuperate at her mother's home and attend her high school reunion. Yet trouble seems to be following her, and within hours of arriving home she's involved with murder, arson--and a handsome detective. But the conflicts ahead are nothing compared to the ghosts of her past. As she strives to remember and forgive her family history, she must also decide if the secret she's been guarding for the last ten years must finally come to light.

Chock-full of the suspense and romantic tension readers have come to expect from Lynette Eason, When the Smoke Clears is the explosive first book in the Deadly Reunions series.

If you enjoy fast-paced books that keep you guessing, you'll love When the Smoke Clears.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Blessing Wednesday

Today I'm thankful for those little things that just add the "ahhh" to your day:

1. Fizzy Coke from McDonalds.

2. Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt.

3. Biggby's (that's a local coffee shop) Cinnamon Spice Tea Latte

4. Cadbury Mini Eggs - the dark chocolate w/ the hard shell. They used to only come out at Easter but now they have Christmas ones. That means I can stock up early!

5. Warm homemade chocolate chip cookies and a big glass of milk.

Our diet cannot survive on these treats alone, and we definitely don't need them to live, but they sure are fun to add in every now and then. And that's the thing about God. He doesn't just meet our needs, He gives us these silly little enjoyments outside of them.

What are those little extra treats in your life?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Bear Hugs From God

Ever look like that? Yeah, we all know we’re supposed to be cute and cuddly, but what happens when someone steps on our last nerve? Or…is mean to someone we love? The teeth and claws pop right out, don’t they?

There’s only one little problem with that—God told us we’re suppose to love people. All of them. And He didn’t say “love then when…” or even “love them if…”. Nope. Just love them.

He even went so far as to ask us to love our enemies. I'll be paraphrasing here, but basically in Matthew 5 Jesus comes right out and says, “Listen, loving people who are all sweet and cuddly and kind all the time, not a problem. But loving someone who doesn’t deserve it? Who has been cruel to you? Who knows just how to push your buttons? Now that right there will stretch you.”

He should know. He loves us. Enough to die for us. And we’re not always so cute and cuddly.

But we can work on it.

See, there are going to be times when you want to take someone down—literally or figuratively, we’ve all been there—but we cannot tackle a person and try to call it a bear hug from God simply because we’ve wrapped them in our arms. If our heart resembles that picture above, we’ve got a problem and people will see it no matter how nice our words sound or actions look. Simply put, we cannot effect change in people’s lives with our claws and fangs out even if we try to hide them.

God's Word says it best (doesn't it always!) right there in Romans 12:9:

Love must be sincere.

Sincere. Genuine. Honest. Heartfelt. All are synonyms. Not anywhere does it relate to easy. But that doesn’t mean it’s not possible—if you rely on God. Look at Matthew 19:26, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Even loving who you think is unloveable with a sincere heart. So if we're going to be giving bear hugs, let's shoot for something like this:

Totally cute and cuddly:)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Bookshelf Friday - Walks Alone by Sandi Rog

The past two weeks have flown by with little time to read. Yet, in the middle of all my busyness I kept stealing small snippets of time to pick up Walks Alone, even if it was simply to read another paragraph. This book was like a lazy river ride full of twists and turns that slowed my crazy mind, but entertained me all the while. Sandi Rog's descriptions of the western countryside, the Cheyenne villages, and even Denver City were beautiful. Not only did she make the scenery come alive, but she sucked you into the lives of her characters. I loved getting to know Anna and Jean-Marc/White Eagle as they took their journey toward forgiveness and love. If you haven't experienced this book, add it to your To Be Read pile!

Here's a blurb:

A Cheyenne warrior bent on vengeance.

A pioneer woman bent on fulfilling a dream.

Until their paths collide.

After fleeing her abusive uncle, Anna is determined to reach the city of her dreams. But White Eagle and his fierce warriors take her prisoner. Anna attempts a harrowing escape, but her savage captor is determined to have her at all costs and forces her to be his wife. Has God forgotten her, or does He have plans of His own?

A man with a boot in one world and a moccasin in the other, White Eagle is disillusioned with his faith after a minister leads a massacre on his peaceful tribe. Where is his God? He’s definitely not with the white men who are slaughtering his people. But White Eagle also can’t give in to the idolatry practiced by his fellow tribesmen. Only the Truth can set him free.

And it’s found in beautiful Anna’s carpetbag.

Walks Alone is currently offered as an E-book on Amazon, soon to be released in hard copy.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Blessing Wednesday - Time

Some of the best blessings in life are when people give of their time. Lately I've been given so much:

1. Blessed by Hubby who's using his time to paint my bathroom. Not his favorite task. At all. But he knew it would put a smile on my face.

2. Blessed by a friend who used her time and talents to snap pictures for my blog because she heard I want to redecorate it. Hubby and all his painting inspired me:)

3. Blessed by my critique partners who spend countless hours going over my rough drafts and helping me make the finished product shine.

4. Blessed with parents who give their entire weekend to watch our kids so Hubby and I can get away.

5. Blessed by my BFF who made the hour plus drive, in the snow, when she could have called, just to surprise me.

We can't minimize what our gift of time can mean to others. So often we think we need to bless people with tangible gifts, but that's not true. Sometimes it's just about taking our time and giving it. Take this week to stop and look around you. How have others blessed you with their time, and who can you bless with yours?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Test Time - Be Prepared

So this past week my son had a science test. I had him study the day before, and then the day of I asked if he wanted to study a little while longer before taking it. He didn’t. He wanted to take the test and be done. I handed it to him and went on to start the girls with their school. Two minutes later I hear, “Uh, Mom? I think I do want to study first.”

Oh man. I could relate! I’ve so been there. And wouldn’t it be great when tests come our way if we could hold up our hands and say “Time out! Not prepared. Give me a minute here.”

See, we know life is full of tests, and we know where to find all the answers. But sometimes—most times—we don’t want to put in the time to learn them.

Get up early and read the Bible?

Go to church mid-week?

Sunday mornings are for coffee time, right?

Quiet prayer time = nap time.

Yeah. Why is that? I can stay awake to watch an episode of Castle, but put me at the kitchen table for my morning prayer time and I conk out cold.

And then when the test comes we're left wanting a time-out. Hold the boat! We're not ready!!

But cramming is no way to learn. The info is there one second and gone the next. Not to mention we’ve been admonished to “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” (1 Peter 3:15)

Tests will come in all shapes and sizes, and we need to be ready. Some days it’s the enemy attacking us from all angles. We need to remember that “the word of God is alive and active, sharper than any double-edged sword” (Hebrews 4:12) To wield this sword, we must know it! To know it, we must study it. Commit it to memory. It’s even more important than that math you thought you’d never use but still do every day. And yes, you will use the Word every day. Don’t even question it.

Other tests are of this world. Every day you’ll encounter people who don’t know God. Schools, neighborhoods, workplace…what makes you different? Why doesn’t your family watch that movie? Why do your girls dress the way they do? Why do you like that candidate? Why aren’t you fearful that the price of gas is going up again?

Something makes us different. Different in the way we live. Different in the hope we carry. Different in the joy that fills us even in adversity. But can you give a well-informed answer to the questions when they come?

I mean, if you went to the ER because you had chest pains, and the doctor stood over you with a syringe and said something to the effect of,“Yeah, I’m pretty sure this is what you need. I’ve seen it used here before, and it looked like it worked but I don’t really know the details on it. That’s okay though, I feel like it’s the right one. So just trust me.” You’d be outta that bed so fast there’d be a trail of smoke behind you.

If we want people to take us seriously, we've got to study. There's a confidence that comes when you've studied. When you know your answer and why it's right. That's no different for a Christian. Yes, we need faith for many things. But we also need to know our faith so we can share it. And sure, some of us aren’t eloquent speakers (see my hand raised), but if God can use Moses with his stutter, He can definitely use you and me. We just need to be prepared.

And we need to be nice.

Yeah. That’s right. No yelling to get your point across, no matter how much your blood may boil (election year, anybody feeling me here?). Because that admonishment from 1 Peter 3:15 actually says “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…”

So this week, I challenge you—and myself—to start studying, so when your next test comes you won’t need that time-out. You'll be ready.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Blessing Wednesday

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. (Ephesians 1:3)

I came across this verse and it got me thinking. There are all sorts of blessings that God gives us, but by far the spiritual ones are the best. Don't ya think? So today, I wanted to name a few:

1. I am thankful that I am a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) because I wasn't always quite as sweet as I am now.

2. I'm thankful for forgiveness. Daily. (1 John 1:9)

3. I am thankful for grace. What an amazing gift. Nothing I've done deserves it. Nothing I can do will earn it. (Ephesians 2:7-9)

4. I am thankful for His love. (Romans 5:8, Ephesians 2:4)

5. I'm thankful that God shares His Fruit with me. (Galatians 5:22)

So what about you? What spiritual blessings are you most thankful for today?