Friday, March 30, 2012

Bookshelf Friday - Journey's Edge

Last summer I was lucky enough to review Dora’s first novel Journey’s End. I enjoyed it so much I asked her to remember me when the next book in the series came out, and I’m so glad she did.

I had the distinct pleasure, joy, fun…(insert any happy word here)…of reading Journey’s Edge last month, and today it finally releases—making it the perfect book to share on this Bookshelf Friday! In this sequel you get reacquainted with Renner Crossman, and we hear his story. Renner is a new Christian, who realizes he messed up in the past with the one woman he cannot get out of his mind or heart—McKinley (Kinny) Frasier. When he finds he’ll be in the same town as her for a night, he asks if they can meet, only to discover she’s in danger. Renner steps up to help her out—and win back her trust—as they battle the man who’s after Kinny and her daughter.

The pace of this story was perfect for me. Renner didn’t push for Kinny’s trust, he earned it back. It wasn’t always easy, yet those were the moments Renner’s trust in God grew. And I think that’s one of the reasons I love Dora’s writing style. She doesn’t do ‘easy’ for her characters. Things don’t always go quite like you’d expect, and yet we still get our Happily Ever Afters—a ***sigh***worthy mix.

Journey’s Edge delivered all those sighs with a healthy dose of suspense—which I love—and a lot of laughs. Renner and Kinny, while battling some old hurts, still found time to tease each other. It’s another element I love from Dora’s writing. She balances the heavy, suspenseful moments with fun, and she does it well.

Take a look at the blurb:

A Routine Audit? Hardly.

Red flags—including some goon who's following her—raise McKinley Frasier's suspicions that numbers don't add up at the insurance firm. When someone tries to snatch McKinley's daughter from school, she turns to police officer and ex-fiance, Renner Crossman—the cop who walked out on her a month before their wedding. But Renner's not the same guy who broke her heart ten years ago. He calls himself a "new man." She trusts the new Renner with her daughter's safety...but what about her heart?

If you haven’t read Journey’s End, not a problem, you can definitely start here. But I’m warning you, you’ll want to go back and get it once you’re done with Journey's Edge. Oh, and there’s a number three in this series too! Journey’s Embrace comes out next and you can check it out on Dora’s website. Stop by and tell her I said ‘HI’. Oh, and you can buy all of Dora's books right here or here.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Blessing Wednesday

Still counting my blessings today, but doing it a bit differently. See, it was missions week at church. We had several of our missionaries there and a special speaker. We're also sending out a group on a missions trip this week. After my two hours in church listening to all their stories I left thinking:

I am so thankful that I can be in church this morning, praising God and not worried about what awaits me as I leave. I am so thankful I can get in my car and listen to my Christian radio station and drive down the road waving my hands in worship with my windows down, not fearful who may overhear. I am so thankful I can go to lunch with my family and openly pray over our meal without worry of being arrested. I am so thankful I can listen to a friend's need for a Bible, drive a block away and purchase one for her without fear of being found out--or worry that a Bible won't be available. I am so thankful that I have the choice to school my children at home, or a Christian school, where I can teach them about God and not need a security fence around that building to protect me from those seeking to stop me.

And in all my thankfulness I wonder...have we lost the sweetness of our freedom? Do we daily wake up and comprehend the privilege that we have, honor those who fought for it, and desire to protect it? Or do we take it for granted?

Do we let fear stop us from sharing Christ when we really have nothing to be fearful of?

I don't have any pretty pictures today to go with this. I don't have any funny words. Just a simple reminder that every day we need to live in complete thankfulness for the freedom we still have: the very basic freedom of religion.

Share Him today.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Tending Your Garden - Don't Plant That!

I am the true vine, and my father is the gardener. (John 15:1)

I am not a gardner. No green thumb here. But I love gardens overflowing with colorful flowers in all shapes and sizes. Thank goodness for my mother who not only possess the ability to grow anything on earth, but also the knowledge. It’s her “thing”.

Which is why years ago when Hubby and I bought our house we called her. She gave me books with all kinds of information in them, but I found I learned the best when I spoke directly with her. I’d study and then take the information to her and ask if the flowers I was looking at would indeed do well where I wanted to plant them. Mom went over my picks and then took me to the greenhouse. There we selected the ones that would work well, and she inserted others in place of ones I really shouldn’t use. She helped me create a flower bed in my front and side yard that flourished—no green thumb needed here because I borrowed hers.

After I watched it all grow I gained some confidence and decided to tackle a small patch along the side of my house by myself. I consulted the books Mom gave me but didn’t find anything I really liked, so I headed to the greenhouse—all alone. I had everything under control. I knew the area I wanted was mostly shaded, so I’d simply find that section and buy a few things I liked. I immediately fell in love with a gorgeous groundcover called Lamium. It even produced flowers! Yeah! Oh, and it was on sale. Ha. Mom would be so proud.

I brought it home with no time left that weekend to plant it. I left it in its plastic container right in the spot I wanted to grow it. Two weeks later it still wasn’t planted, and Mom was coming over to see the grandkids. I could not wait to show her the amazing stuff I’d found.

Well. She didn’t exactly have the reaction I expected. I took her around the side of the house and she stopped. “Do not plant that!”

Turns out Lamium—though beautiful—is a weed. A weed that will dig its roots in, seed itself, and spread over your entire garden in the blink of an eye. Her neighbor once planted a small patch of it in her yard, and it not only took over the entire area but now has wound its way through the woods, jumped a concrete path, and made its home in my mom’s gardens.


Makes you think.

Or at least it did me as I sat outside weeding this morning.

See, that was a year ago. I never planted the Lamium, but it had spent two weeks in a plastic pot in my yard. Enough time to dig in some roots. All because I thought I knew what I was doing and didn’t consult my gardener. I took what the greenhouse offered because it looked pretty, and now it continues to make a mess in my yard.

You see where I’m going, don’t you?

There are a lot of not so nice things out there in the world masquerading as useful, beautiful, or even safe. They are offered to us on a daily basis. Some things might even be good—but they can still make a mess in our lives if they aren’t intended for us. Rather than trusting ourselves, (or the local greenhouse) we need to consult our Gardener. Ask Him if it’s what He wants planted in our lives, because if we open the door to these things without consulting Him first, they may just lay down roots that we have to deal with for years to come.
Bottom line? Don't allow this world to sell you the wrong things--no matter how pretty or useful they may look. Stay rooted in Christ. Seek Him. He’s knows what you need in your life. Let Him show you. are your flower beds looking?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Bookshelf Friday - Because of Me

I'm doing something a little bit different today. In the last two weeks I've been "tagged" by two great bloggers out there: Cathy from Thoughts on Books and Melissa from Tagglines. If you haven't met them yet, stop over to their blogs and say HI. Sweet ladies with great blogs--seriously, you gotta meet them:)

Anyway, in being "tagged" I was given eleven questions to answer and then asked to pass new questions on. As today is Bookshelf Friday, I thought I'd do a little merging.

First off, I am beyond excited to feature my friend Fay Lamb's book today. Critique partner and writer extraordinaire, Fay can spot a misplaced comma from miles away. She is priceless to many members of ACFW, and it makes me incredibly happy to help show-off her debut novel. She's worked hard for it, folks.

But before we get to her book, I'm having her answer the questions I was tagged with. So without further ado, here's Fay and her answers:)

Would you rather go for a run or a walk?

Neither. Well, that’s not exactly true. One of my favorite things to do is to walk around Lake Junaluska. I spend months at a time there, and I walk every afternoon, stop to read a book, then walk the rest of the way home. But walking in Florida? I’m a wimp over the hot weather. Only when my husband looks at me with puppy dog eyes because he wants to walk and talk do I venture out for a walk around the neighborhood.

What is your favorite movie?

I’m a movie buff. This is a hard question for me. I’m going to say the first movie that came to mind: August Rush. I truly think that Hollywood made a big mistake when they allowed this one to go to the box office. Why? This film is about God working all things together for good—even when man and women messed up, having sex out of wedlock. Like the Book of Esther, God didn’t have to be mentioned in this movie to see that He was the One who orchestrated that little boy’s life. And Hollywood’s adding in of a curse word didn’t change the message of that movie.

Do you have a pet?

Do I have a pet? No, actually, I have five four-legged indoor and three outdoor creatures who own me. We have a Cairn terror (and no, that’s not a typo) named Max. His sidekick is Herbie the Chihuahua, and their queen is our Maltese named Baby. The two indoor cats are Charley, she’s my husband’s supervisor, sitting on his desk all day making sure he gets the work done, and Melly, a sweet thirteen year old calico who has an amazing knack for staying glued to my body while I’m sleeping. If I turn, she just adjusts herself, but she never moves to the side or off the bed. Our three outdoor cats are actually strays who refuse to come into the abode. We call them Dodger, Jack, and Feagan. They show up twice a day for breakfast and for dinner.

What book in the Bible has moved you the most?

I can’t really claim one book of the Bible that moves me the most. If I had to say one, it would be the Gospel of John. I find myself crying every time I read John 20 where the Lord appears to Mary Magdalene. She doesn’t recognize Him at first while she is weeping because His body has vanished from the tomb. Then He asks her why she’s weeping, and she tells Him. Then he says one word that brings the tears to my eyes, “Mary.” I stop every time I read her name written in red, and I marvel at how there was a period in my life when I didn’t recognize Jesus. I wept like Mary because there was something missing in my life, and then I heard Jesus’ sweet voice say, “Fay,” and like Mary that day, I rejoiced at seeing my Savior.

What is your favorite meal?

Anything I don’t have to cook. My husband just crossed the house from his office to mine to ask what we were going to do for dinner. In Lamb language that means, “Where are we eating tonight?” Last week the dear man had actually gone out and brought food into the house. My first question: “What are you thinking?” My second: “Do I really have to cook?” Today, I’m actually cooking, but my favorite foods are served at The Moonlight Drive-In. Usually a cheeseburger wrap, fried pickles, a jumbo sweet iced tea with extra ice, oh, and ice cream. You gotta have ice cream.

If you could go back in time to live, what period would you choose and why?

I really wouldn’t want to go back to any time. I’m basically domestically lazy (but I have to have a clean house), and the first thoughts I have about any other era is the amount of work it took to keep house, to feed your family, to write a book, to do just about everything. Oh, no, no, no. I’ll stay right here in this time and place. Thank you very much.

Do you enjoy watching sports? If so whats your favorite?

Florida Gator basketball and football, respectively. There’s nothing like an evening in the O’Connell Center watching Gator b-ball or in the Swamp watching a Gator football game.

Country or City Girl?

Oh, I’m a country girl or at least a small town gal. Big cities scare me to death.

What kind of music do you enjoy the most?

I have very eclectic tastes in music. I love Radney Foster’s Texas country sound, and I can listen to alternative rock all day long. In fact, I have all kinds of various music shuffling on Pandora all day long while I work.

Beach or Mountain Vacation?

I live in Florida. I’ve lived in Florida, in the same city, all my life. I love the mountains. We have a home in North Carolina. But I also love this wonderful little island on Florida’s west coast. It’s a little fishing village called Cedar Key which sits twenty-four miles out into the Gulf of Mexico. Someday, I’d love to have a home on Cedar Key.

What author has influenced you the most in your Christian walk and why?

Elizabeth George. Her book, “A Woman After God’s Own Heart,” is a book that brought change to my heart. She uses scripture to show women how to honor God by accepting the authority He has set above us. I thought I loved my husband before I read the book. When I finished it and had to face the reality that I was lacking in some important disciplines, I began to change my life, my marriage, my relationship with my Savior. My love for my husband grew stronger. This book isn’t only for married women. It will cause life changing experiences for all women.

And now...Because of Me:

Michael’s fiancĂ©e, Issie Putnam, was brutally attacked and Michael was imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit. Now he’s home to set things right.

Two people stand in his way: Issie’s son, Cole, and a madman.

Can Michael learn to love the child Issie holds so close to her heart and protect him from the man who took everything from Michael so long ago?

Okay, from page one this was not an easy read. Nevertheless, it was a fantastic one. Fay puts your emotions through the ringer: tears, fury, nail-biting, romantic sighs, and ultimately forgiveness unlike any of us deserve--yet God gives it and asks us to do the same for healing to occur. Yep, Fay takes you through it all with characters you'll fall in love with. When it's finished, you won't quite be ready to say good-bye, yet you'll do it with a smile firmly in place.

Oh, and it's available as hard copy or e-book, so you can get it right this second for a weekend read! Enjoy:)

And, because I want to play a fair game of 'tag', here's my answers to the quesitons:

Would you rather go for a run or a walk? Walk. Hands down.

What is your favorite movie? Notting Hill. Loved all the characters. And I love all old movies. Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, Bing Crosby...

Do you have a pet? Yes. A dog. He's lucky he's cute. That's all I gotta say.

What book in the Bible has moved you the most? Honestly, I don't have a favorite book. It's verses and stories I typically attach too. Right now all the stories on God renaming people are getting to me. It all goes back to us finding our identity in Christ. We need to be grounded in that.

What is your favorite meal? My mom's cheesy chicken with mashed potatoes. But she never makes it anymore. ***sigh*** (shameless plug here - she's a lurker)

If you could go back in time to live, what period would you
choose and why? The 50's. Cute clothes. Not too much technology, but just enough. Oh wait, could I have a microwave still?

Do you enjoy watching sports? If so whats your favorite? FOOTBALL!!!!

Country or City
Girl? Country. I'd love a wide porch, rocking chair, horses...and a few farm hands.

What kind of music do you enjoy the most? Anything but heavy metal. I love, love, love music of all genres. It completely depends on my mood and what I'm doing.

Beach or Mountain Vacation? BOTH! I just love vacations. I like to go out and try something new, but also have a place to relax.

What author has influenced you most in your christian walk and why? Beth Moore. I love how she teaches. She got me to dig
deeper in the Word and also pushed me to let go of fear. Her books and studies are amazing.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Blessing Wednesday

Oh, are the rest of you experiencing this glorious weather? Fall is typically my favorite time of year, but Spring is making its bid for the top spot right now! For us Michiganders, this is truly a treat. It's given me a whole bunch to be thankful for this week:)

1 - For the first time in years of Marches, my kids and I are not shack-wacky! A huge blessing in the homeschool arena! (typically this is the time of year you don't ask me if I'll be homeschooling again next year!)

2 - The reason for this is: our classroom! What a blessing to be outdoors!

3 - Also, warm weather simply inspires me to get out for a long walk, and with the extra hour of sunshine in the evening that's completely doable! A huge blessing to help walk off what winter's put on...(for me, long nights writing new chapters with a bowl of peanut butter M&M's by my side--so NOT figure friendly!)

4 - Early warmth=early start on spring chores=more summer playtime!!

5 - My screen door. Seriously. I am so thankful to open that thing up and let the breeze blow through my house. Again, it's so often the simple things, isn't it?:)

What about all of you? What's been making you smile this week? Can't wait to hear!


Monday, March 19, 2012

Quiet Time

My quiet time with God is in the morning. Shocking, I know, as I am not a morning person. But I’ve come to realize if I don’t get it in then, it’s not getting in. So, I get up each morning and pray over my family, my day, my home, and anything else on my prayer list.

Except when I don’t. Get up that is.

Anyone else struggle to keep their regular appointment with God? And it’s never because He’s late to show up or a no-show. Nope. He’s always there, waiting for us. And you know what I’ve discovered? Life doesn’t work quite as well when God’s not in the middle of it.

That’s because He designed us to have a relationship with Him. And, quite frankly, prayer works. Through it God orders our days. He softens our hearts. Through praying in the spirit, bonds are broken and freedom is released. Prayer is so important that we are admonished in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to “
pray without ceasing".

So what happens when we cease praying? From personal experience I can tell you things start to fall apart. And it doesn’t even have to be the big things. No. A whole pile of little things can make your day just as miserable and wear you out at an even faster pace. Anyone else agree?

I rediscovered this a few weeks ago when I started sleeping in. I was beyond tired and thought one morning off wouldn’t really hurt. Well, one morning quickly turned into a week—my bed was super comfy and, truly, I didn’t notice all that big of a difference in my day. Until Wednesday came. Oh, that Wednesday was a day. I mean…a day! And when I spoke with Hubby I found his was similar. After church that night I was driving home thinking over all the things that had led to our bad day and realized something. Every single issue we experienced was directly related to things I’d been regularly praying over up until that point—and hadn’t prayed about at all in the past week.

It was like a lightbulb.

And here’s the picture God illuminated for me.

A birthday cake.

Nope. I’m not kidding.

Have you ever fallen victim to those fake candles? Someone thought it would be hilarious to watch you try and blow them out, only to see them flame back to life? You realize pretty quickly the only way to keep them put out is by constantly blowing on them. You stop, and soon they are burning again.

See, the issues we pray about are just like that. When we are in daily prayer over a subject, we are blowing the breath of God over them and keeping the issue ‘put out’. God is at work. Change is occurring, sometimes even when we don’t see it. In fact, that same spot in 1 Thessalonians that instructs us to pray without ceasing goes on to say "do not squelch the spirit." We need to let it loose in our lives, and that happens through our prayers. When we cease praying, we stop His presence over the very items we're praying about, and they flame back to life.

If you want to keep those fires put out, you cannot minimize the importance of quiet time with God, but don't set yourself up with unrealistic expectations to attain it. It doesn't have to be an hour on your knees. It doesn't have to be in a special prayer room. Take a walk, lock yourself in the bathroom, sit on the back porch...wherever. And start with fifteen minutes--just you and Him. Shut off your phone, turn off the t.v., find yourself that quiet place, and talk with Him. Pray over all the areas in your life, not just the big ones. If He only cared about the big things, He wouldn’t bother to keep track of the number of hairs on your head. God’s all about details. So bring them to Him. Let His Holy Spirit blow all over them, and watch all those flames start disappearing.

So what about you? What works for you to find your time with God? I'd love to hear!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Bookshelf Friday - Just Between You and Me

I had just finished Jenny B. Jones' Save the Date and completely fallen in love with her. Seriously, if you haven't yet read that book (and I know most of you have), you need to pick it up.

Anyway. I need to read books. Lots of books. It's one of the best things a writer can do--and as I am crazy-in-love with reading it is research I happily submit to doing. I'm currently reading books I might be able to use as comparables when submitting to agents and editors. Basically, I need to say - "Look at this amazing person's book. Yep, mine is just as amazing in oh so many ways, but not so many ways that it's like printing the same book over again. Just enough ways that other readers may find me interesting too!"

So it was with great joy that I found Jenny's Just Between You and Me. I was already a happy follower of hers after finishing Save the Date, and now could log reading one of her books as marketing research? It almost felt like cheating!

Now, I must say, it did take a bit for me to get into JBY&M. I blame that on the style Jenny chose for writing it: first person, present tense. As a reader, that is the hardest format for me to follow. However, that said, the story still clearly held Jenny's voice and once I got my mind to replace all those present tense verbs with past tense ones, I started to slide into the book.

In this book Jenny does an amazing job of balancing her humor with healing. As usual, her characters ride a bit on the side of dry humor - and as I've said before, it's a trait I enjoy. I loved the interaction of Maggie and her niece Riley. The kid is hilarious. And Maggie keeps right up with her.

Above all though, this is a story of finally facing your past, letting go of your fears, and learning to trust God. And in true Jenny fashion, she delivers it all in a mixture of laughter and, this time, (at least for me) a few tears.

Here's a blurb:

The only thing scarier than living on the edge is stepping off it.

Maggie Montgomery lives a life of adventure. Her job as a cinematographer takes her from one exotic locale to the next. When Maggie's not working, she loves to rappel off cliffs or go skydiving. Nothing frightens her.

Nothing, that is, except Ivy, Texas, where a family emergency pulls her back home to a town full of bad memories, painful secrets, and people Maggie left far behind . . . for a reason.

Forced to stay longer than she intended, Maggie finds her family a complete mess, including the niece her sister has abandoned. Ten-year-old Riley is struggling in school and out of control at home. The only person who can really handle the pint-sized troublemaker is Conner, the local vet and Ivy's most eligible bachelor. But Conner and Maggie keep butting heads--he's suspicious of her and, well, she doesn't rely on anyone but herself.

As Maggie humorously fumbles her way from one mishap to another, she realizes she's going to need to ask for help from the one person who scares her the most.

To save one little girl--and herself--can Maggie let go of her fears and just trust God?

Happy reading and have a fantastic weekend!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Blessing Wednesday - Springtime!

I have loved taking my Wildfire Wednesdays this year to simply stop and count my blessings, to look around and see all the things I'm thankful for rather than my focus slipping to, well, other things. (I can be a crabby pants if left to my own devices--and thank the Lord He doesn't do that!) But what has blessed me oh so deeply is hearing ya'll share your blessings too! It puts a huge smile on my face:) <------see? So please, keep them coming!

Today, well today I want to focus on renewal! Spring is springing up all over, making all things new--and that's a beautiful picture of our God, isn't it? So...

1) I am thankful He makes all things new. And the one sitting on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." And he said to me, "Write, for these words are faithful and true." (Rev.21:5) Love that - His words are faithful AND true!! Means we can count on Him and believe Him. (ohhhh, and check out 2 Corinthians 5:17 - spring truly is like living in a picture of what God can do in our lives. The old is gone! The new has come!!)

2) He makes everything beautiful in its time. (Ecc.3:11) Because true beauty takes time, right ladies:)

3) He shares that beauty with us. See how the flowers of the field grow, they do not labor or spin. I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the fields, will he not much more clothe you? (Matthew 6:28-30) That verse tells me two things. First, God made the flowers in amazing splendor that man cannot duplicate--but a splendor we get to enjoy! And second, He will tap into that splendor to bless our lives in ways that exceed even our wildest dreams!

4) He has a season for everything . (Ecc. 3:1) (I wrote about that on Monday and am living in that right now, so very thankful for the seasons in my life!)

5) And...on a lighter note...So thankful for the warmer temperatures which means the kids and I can get outside, run, and play without being bundled up like Randy from Christmas Story.

So how about it? What is spring singing to ya'll right now?

Friday, March 9, 2012

Bookshelf Friday - Troubled Waters

Troubled Waters introduced me to a new author, and I'll definitely be reading her again. Maybe it's my love of the south (my mama's from the south), maybe it's my love of books that center around healing, maybe it was my need for a slower pace, but I truly loved this book. With Troubled Waters Rene Gutteridge does a beautiful job of immersing you into the story and tugging you along with Macey as she and her mother finally find healing after seventeen long years apart. Oh, and then there's Noah, the handsome artist who lives next door to Macey's mother. Macey and Noah's first encounter had me laughing. I love his almost sarcastic wit (I have a very dry sense of humor, that often gets me in trouble, so I always love characters who share that trait). And while romance is definitely not a theme in this story, Noah played a large role in Macey's journey toward healing. Though I would have liked a bit more to the ending, all in all I I liked this book.

One side note to my author friends--you'll need to turn your internal editor off for this one. Published in 2003, you'll find a little head hopping, a small chapter of info dumping, and unclear POV's at times...but not enough to bug me, and if you can still read just for the sake of story, then pick this one up and enjoy:)

Here's a short blurb:
After many years away, Macey Steigel has unexpectedly come back to her childhood home in Kansas for her father's funeral. She intends to return to her big-city career as quickly as possible and leave the dismal past buried along with her dad. But the first sight of the old farmhouse triggers a wave of memories--and recollections of a painful secret--that she thought she'd left behind long ago. While her life in the city beckons brightly, her past is also quietly challenging her to face old demons.

Happy Reading! And have a blessed weekend:)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Blessing Wednesday - Oh So Simple

Time for the simple things. I'm so thankful for:

1 - laughter in my house

2 - the sound of rain on my roof while I sleep

3 - the days growing longer...spring is here!

4 - big, sloppy kisses from my kids and their hugs--they give the best hugs!

5 - the quiet of a morning

How about you today? What simple blessings put a smile on your face?

Monday, March 5, 2012

Vulcanize Me!

So in my daughter’s history this week we learned about vulcanization. At first I thought they were slipping in Star Trek—wasn’t one of them a Vulcan or something? Then I realized they were slipping science in, and I got a bit sweaty because I try to avoid science at all costs, which is kinda hard since I’m supposed to be the kids’ teacher…but I digress…

Anyway, we were learning about the history of rain forests and how latex is taken from trees there and that lead to this term: vulcanization—which I swear is science cloaked as history—but once I got past that point, I saw this really cool connection and I was like, “Oh! That’s me!! I’ve been vulcanized! Lotsa times!”

See, rubber (as latex) in its natural state is rather useless. It crumbles in extreme temperatures and doesn’t possess the elasticity needed to work, and it’s stinky. But—get this—when scientists apply heat and pressure and add sulfur to it, it improves not only the strength and resiliency but also removes the odor.

Basically, some kind of chemical mumbo jumbo occurs that I won’t pretend to understand, but here’s the gist of it:

Latex + heat + pressure + sulfur = resilient, strong, elastic, odorless, useful, rubber.

Okay, starting to see where I’m headed? Let’s start with the fact that basic latex is stinky and not very useful. Reminds me of myself before God. Anyone else relate? But you add a little heat and some pressure, and you begin to get something new. Ever feel that in your life? None of us enjoy those times when we’re being pressed or going through the fire, but we come out the other side a new creation—at least we do when something is added to the heat and pressure.

In vulcanization, that additive is sulfur. So I looked it up, and here's some of it’s properties: odorless, used in fertilizers, bleaching agents, and insulators. The site says “sulfur is essential for life.” Hmm…reminded me of God in my life. God removes my odor, allows me to fertilize those around me, bleaches me white as snow, and insulates me from the world. And like latex, He also changes me into something useful—He’s the sulfur in my vulcanization. Without Him, the heat and pressure would eat me alive! He’s essential to my life.

So once we’ve been vulcanized, what properties do we acquire?

Resiliency – Able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions.
Strength – Solid, tough; not easily broken or injured; able to withstand violence and attacks; not easily subdued or taken.
Elasticity – Easily resumes original shape after being stretched or expanded; flexible.

Now those are qualities I want to possess.

Yet all too often we buckle under the pressure and stop the process before it produces its results. But if we want Him to use us, we need to let the entire process—heat, pressure, Him saturating our lives—occur. He’s got a plan, and we need to let Him see it through, because if we do, we'll become a product He can use.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

Friday, March 2, 2012

Bookshelf Friday - My CD Shelf


Can I be honest here? I haven't had a moment to read a book for review this week. It's been busy and my kids have needed me...and as much as I'd like to call an "all reading day", the responsible adult in me says I have to teach them their history, math, english...(and when did I grow up, I want to know?)

So, I often tell them to "just roll with it", and I guess I'm taking that advice. Which means today I'm changing this Bookshelf Friday into CD Shelf Friday. Am I dating myself by not calling it Pandora Playlist Friday? Probably. Well, as long as I am...

Here's one of my favorites, because who doesn't love Keith Green? And this song is stuck in my head, so I wanted to bring it to yours:) Have a blessed weekend everyone! And remember--He's got it all under control, so just keep doing your best and let Him take care of the rest!