Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Blessing Wednesday

Happy Wednesday! Hope you all had a wonderful Holiday weekend. We played with family, spread some bark chips around our yard, and ate--a lot. Yesterday was so hard to get back into school, but hoping by tomorrow we'll be done for the year (please oh please!)...and right now I've got a big ol' pot of coffee brewing, my praise and worship playing, and I'm ready to count some blessings. Hope you'll join me:)

~Beyond thankful for those who have fought for my freedom. It is something I am daily thankful for. 
~Thankful for another year of successful homeschooling.
~Blessed by my neighbor who brought me a beautiful bouquet of flowers in all shades of pink.
~Blessed by time with my family this is wonderful (and yes, sometimes crazy) to live all so close.
~Blessed that I am able to walk, talk, eat, is an amazing blessing.

And for those of you who prayed with me for Amanda last week, I want to share an update from her mother Nancy. Prayer is an amazing thing...our God is amazing and ever so faithful:

Three areas I have been asking God for are her smile, speech and swallow to be restored. We are seeing such progress in all of those areas just in the last 48 hours. It started with Ben being able to have a 30 minute conversation with two days ago and now she is able to speak in full complete and intricate sentences. Her words are understandable although her is still weakened in strength (this will come !) When Rae and Mike Hyatt came to see her last night she was not just talking- but speaking scripture and declaring the word of God over her life and her baby! 

We got her laughing yesterday over some crazy antic of her dad (surprised anyone?) and her SMILE is so much better... only a little more to and it will be 100%. Such improvement over the last two days!! 

Her swallow is also greatly improved.She has working on some ice chips and is able to keep them completely in her mouth, chew and swallow all of the liquid. This is the first step in being able to transition off the feeding tube to solid liquids. No vomiting of late either. 

Everyday OB comes into check on baby's heartbeat. On Saturday "he" wasn't coming out to play and did not want to allow us to find him, but yesterday after a little hide and seek Terry and I were able to hear a good strong heartbeat from the littlest Ippel. precious! 

She is missing her kids terribly and wants to see them. Please pray their hearts to be prepared, grace to cover and the right timing. i told her let us know when she is ready and we will make that happen (she said NOW) ... I said would you like to see them 2 at a time.... vehemently shook her head no and firmly held up four fingers... all of them she replied! 

Pray for continued grace to carry Ben, wisdom for those of us who are caring for the kids so we can be consistant and (try) to fill her shoes (impossible) for this season. 

We are so grateful for all are bringing meals and helping in other ways. So many have brought random things that have been such a blessing- unasked for but exactly what God guided them to bring. 


That was shared on Monday. By last night, her feeding tube came out! She's bending her leg, working on getting dressed, taking steps, smiling & laughing...please continue to pray.

And keep working on that memory verse. One more week!

But now, thus says the Lord, your Creator, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel,
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name; you are Mine! (Isaiah 43:1)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Bookshelf Friday

Well we're getting ready for a holiday weekend - woohoo! It's almost summer!!

I hope many of you will have time with family and friends, and time to remember those who gave their lives so that we can have our freedom. I am incredibly humbled by the men and women who serve to protect us. THANK YOU!!!

Since you'll have an extra day this weekend, in between grilling and parades, maybe some of you will get a chance to read. I've got a pile next to my bed and another on my Kindle that I've yet to touch. So, I thought I'd give you some of my favorite older book titles that remain on my shelf today. I've re-read several of these...but these were my favorites in the series. If you haven't read them, go grab yourself one, find a chair, sit, and enjoy!

Dee Henderson's - The O'Malley Series: book #3 The Truth Seeker - not only did I love Lisa's job (a forensic pathologist, before you'd ever seen them in books--or at least Christian fiction) but I loved how Lisa and Quinn interact. Dee's entire series remains one of my favorites, but this was my favorite of them all.

Denise Hunter's  - The New Heights Series: book #1 Mending Places - I loved the connection between Micah and Hannah, their relationship, and the twists this book brings. And the depth of forgiveness and faith. This book made me fall in love with Denise Hunter as an author and again, the entire series is still on my shelf.

Susan May Warren's - Team Hope Series: book #2 Escape to Morning - This was one of Susan's earlier books, and I was already in love with her as an author when I read it. I tend to lean toward Romantic Suspense when I do read, (that's why Dee Henderson is up there!) and this one I fell in love with Dani and Will, and honestly, the entire Team Hope series. Their friendship and dedication to each other, they go anywhere to help the other out. I love seeing that.

So there you have it. A blast from the past. I'd love to hear what some of your favorite books have been--I can always add more to my pile :)

Have a blessed weekend everyone! I'm taking Monday off, so I'll see you on Wednesday. Don't forget the sunscreen this weekend :)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Blessing Wednesday--Advance Praise

Today we're doing things differently. I want to give praise and thanks in advance for a work I truly believe God will be doing. See, I ran across this post on Facebook from a woman who attends my church. Now, we're a slightly larger church and I don't know her personally, but I know our God, and I know He heals. These two posts come from Nancy's wall, shared within the last 24 hours:

on my way to Phoenix. my heart is breaking for my beautiful 29 year daughter Amanda. She is a mom of 4, incredible wife to her wonderful husband Ben, homeschooling mom, expecting baby #5. Last night she was stricken with a stroke. I am standing on the word of God, not what I see touch and feel-but what is unseen. We covet the prayers of those who believe in miracles. Please send this request to the ends of the earth. I am specifically asking for a creative miracle for her body in every way. Peace and strength for Ben and the children and that Abba will be glorified and her healing would amaze the physicans.
Amanda was moved to a private room last night. i spoke to the charge nurse and her internist.. asked that the words that are spoken within her hearing be tempered with hope. She slept well the first half of the night, then complained of an intense headache/vomiting. Nurses helped with both. Nuro doc in today - he is seeing improved reflexes in the foot and hand.I started worship music today-my back was to her for a minute, I heard her start to cry....I turned to see her good arm high in the air tears streaming down her face..worshipping God. Hourly I have begun manipulating her "crabby" (as we call it) hand and foot.she is also picking up the left hand moving the fingers and lifting it with the right.. Nuro doc said she needs to be motivated to work hard to be placed in rehab. I looked him in the eye and told him he has no idea who he is dealing with here. Motivation and drive lives in this girl. I have a pix placed in the room of her with the kids...I tell everyone who comes in...THIS is where we are going. There is a long journey ahead but .....GOD. your prayers and love mean the world to all of us.

Please take a moment and join me in praying for Amanda. As I read Nancy's words this morning God pressed into me not only to pray for Amanda's healing but for us to raise up praise for the mighty work He's going to do. He's a mighty God, and He does mighty things, we believe for the healing and praise Him in advance!!!

And for all you who are working on Scripture memorization with me--here's our next verse: (for memorization, we're only going for the first part...but I want all the words to resonate in your heart.)

But now, thus says the Lord, your Creator, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel,
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name; you are Mine! (Isaiah 43:1) (oh! We are HIS!!!!)

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they will not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched,
Nor will the flame burn you.
“For I am the Lord your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior;

(Isaiah 43:2-3a)

Have a blessed Wednesday friends!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Don't Forget to Rest

So I did a little experiment recently. Only I didn’t realize I was doing it at the time. I’m now writing my hypothesis—I’m sure I’ll nail it. You want to know what it is? Okay:

If I give up my day of rest, then I will implode spiritually, mentally and physically.

I don’t even need to check the data. Trust me. That hypothesis is right on.

And that’s because God created rest for us, and any time we are operating outside of how He designed us to work, well, things don’t go so well.

See, I go back to Genesis. We all know God rested on the seventh day, and it was not because He had too—He’s God, He doesn’t get tired. In fact, the Bible’s quite clear on this. Isaiah 40:28 says “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary…”

So why the day of rest?

Because it was all part of His good and perfect plan—and He demonstrated that plan for us when on the seventh day, He sat back. Enjoyed. Rested. He didn’t make lists. Didn’t worry about what He hadn’t finished and what was yet to come. He “rested from all his work.” (Genesis 2:2)

All we had to do was follow His plan for creation. Only we thought we knew better and sin entered this world, messing things up big time.

Satan is still trying to mess things up today. Busyness is an awful addiction. We live in a day and age where information literally is at our fingertips. We are like Pavlovian dogs; when our phones beep for a new text or email, we grab them. We cannot seem to shut ourselves off. And we feel guilty when we try.

But God asked us to. It was all part of His creation, His plan for us. Not only did He create a day of rest, but He blessed it. Now, I don’t know about you, but wherever God’s blessing is, that’s where I want to be.

So I’m taking back my day of rest. It will take some planning, but it can be done. And here's the new hypothesis I'm testing: 

If I reclaim my day of rest, then I'll be recharged spiritually, mentally, and physically.

I think I'll enjoy testing this one much, much more:)

How about you? Do you take one day a week for rest? Or, like me, is it a hard habit to maintain?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Bookshelf Friday - and a writing question:)

Do you mind if I start with my question? Because it's been burning on my mind since reading this book.

See, I was incredibly excited to begin Submerged, until I began it. Slowly I noticed similarities between her main characters and mine. It was as if you’d picked up my two main characters and dropped them into her story. Now, I know all about recurring themes, especially in Inspirational Fiction, but we’re talking a few details that may make a reader stop and go, “hmmm…did she copy her?”

So, fellow writers, have you ever encountered this? My manuscript is done, it’s been through two critique groups now and is polished, sitting ready for the fall ACFW conference. The main plot, setting, and other characters all are very different (case in point, mine's not a Thriller/Suspense)…but how many similarities are too many similarities, especially when we’re talking story detail? I’d love to hear what you have to say.

Okay, now for my thoughts on this book:

Dani Pettrey’s debut novel?...Quite simply, it rocks. You can tell she is a gifted writer, and she’s poured every ounce of that gift into Submerged. If you’ve ever read Dee Henderson’s O’Malley series and loved it, you’re going to love this.

Dani’s characters come alive and you will so enjoy meeting them. The McKenna family is close-knit and loving, sucking me right into the middle of them. I confess, I’ve long enjoyed series that center around family (how they interact, watch out for one another, and all have their unique quirks) so this book was right up my alley. Yet Dani didn’t simply craft one great family, she gave us a host of characters with depth. Some you’ll love, some…well, not so much. A few of them even take center stage in this book, but the main characters are definitely Chase McKenna and Bailey Craig.

The suspense facet is woven in well, not too heavy handed, but enough to keep you turning pages. And the relationships that begin to build will keep you coming back. I for one cannot wait to see what happens in her next book—which she has left a great set-up for.

Take a look at the back cover blurb:

Bailey Craig vowed never to set foot in Yancey again. She has a past, and a reputation--and Yancey's a small town. She's returned to bury a loved one killed in the plane crash and is determined not to stay even an hour more than necessary. But then dark evidence emerges and Bailey's own expertise becomes invaluable for the case.

Cole McKenna can handle the deep-sea dives and helping the police recover evidence. He can even handle the fact that a murderer has settled in his town and doesn't appear to be moving on. But dealing with the reality of Bailey's reappearance is a tougher challenge. She broke his heart, but she is not the same girl who left Yancey. He let her down, but he's not the same guy she left behind. Can they move beyond the hurts of their pasts and find a future together?

This book will definitely find a permanent home on my shelf, and if you’re looking to beef up your summer reading list (only a few weeks till June!!!), this would make a great addition.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Blessing Wednesday

Hey all!

Hope your verse memorization is coming along:) Here's the one we're working on yet through next week:

All scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. 2 Timothy 3:16.

Keep working on it! I almost have it, just keep forgetting that TRAINING...and that's what we're doing as we learn, right? It's like spiritual weight lifting. Keep lifting, and next week I'll drop off our second verse of the month.

And, since it's Wednesday, let's count some blessings!
Before I do, I gotta share though...
I felt moved at the beginning of the year to be intentional about counting my blessings. As a result, I chose to focus my Wildfire Wednesdays for this year on praise through thanksgiving. A simple list each week of those things I'm thankful for. Blessings big and small.

I chose to do a list of five each week - which is all my mother's fault. When we were little and having an awful, ungrateful attitude, we'd get sent to our rooms. We couldn't come out until we had a list of five things to be thankful for. And that list better not always sound the same!

So, using those guidelines, I started posting my blessings each Wednesday. But you know what? By about March I felt like I'd said it all. What more could I write? I wasn't allowed to repeat myself...what was I gonna do?

Okay? How sad is that?

And the exact reason I think God wanted me to do this.

Because I'm gonna have to look past the blessings that stare me in the face to find the ones I take for granted--and in doing that begin to truly grasp how much God blesses me.

So this week I'm thankful for these blessings:

~the beautiful red roses on my kitchen table
~the bike we were able to find--in our price range, town, and HER favorite color--for my youngest.
~the pastors who teach my children faithfully every week at church - Pastor Tim and Pastor Candy, you rock! Gonna miss you in the fall :)
~a mom who taught me to count my blessings

Hope you all continue to post a blessing each week. Something to be thankful for. Try and look around and pull on one you haven't seen before. Ask Him to open your eyes to gifts you may have overlooked. Because He loves you so very much, and He wants to bless you.

I'm gonna guess He already has.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Faith for Tomorrow

So yesterday morning in church our pastor preached from 2 Kings 7. His focus was on reaching others, not hoarding God’s gifts to ourselves but sharing them. And it was a fantastic sermon; really, really it was. I even kept up with it while my mind traveled down a rabbit hole.

See, there was this other part of the passage that snagged my eye—which always happens when I keep reading after Pastor stops.  But the stories are so fascinating I cannot help myself!

You need to check out 2 Kings, starting in chapter 6. These people were in the middle of a famine, and they were eating some not-so-nice stuff. Even their children. (I found it quite funny that on Mother’s Day, Pastor slipped into the sermon the one story in the Bible about a Mother eating her child. But I digress…see—rabbit hole.)

Anyway, the king of Israel was none too happy about this famine. In fact, he wanted the prophet Elisha’s head.  And he sent a messenger looking for him. Now here’s where things got interesting for me.

The messenger shows up (Elisha knew he was coming too!) and delivers these words from the king: “This disaster is from the Lord. Why should I wait for the Lord any longer?”

Um...have you ever been there? Waiting. And waiting. And waiting some more. While the land around you is barren. When you see nothing happening. When your hope is nearly gone and you just want to shout “Why should I keep waiting for you Lord? This is all YOUR fault!”

I have.

More than once.

But here’s what amazed me. See, the king (or his messenger speaking for him) boldly asks that to Elisha. And Elisha simply answers him, “Hear the word of the Lord. This is what they Lord says: About this time tomorrow, a seah of flour will sell for a shekel and two seahs of barley for a shekel at the gate of Samaria.”

In other words—God’s got it under control. He sees your situation, and He’s gonna turn it around. You just need to wait for tomorrow, because it’s coming.

Yet there’s an officer there. An officer who’s probably tired. Hungry. Thirsty. His stomach is probably bloated. His muscles atrophied. And as he looks around he focuses on what he sees rather than the Word of God. He looks at the impossible situation and only sees the impossible. His response? “Look, even if the Lord should open the floodgates of heavens, could this happen?”

And, wow, listen to Elisha’s response this time:

“You will see it with your own eyes, but you will not eat any of it.”

A tad more harsh, wouldn’t you say?

I sat there and stared at those verses for a while, running them around my mind. Those answers stood out to me. See, Elisha never said anything when the king railed against God. No, in fact when the king questioned where God was and asked why He should wait for him…when the king blamed God, what did Elisha do? He offered encouragement. He spoke the Word of God over him—because that Word had not been spoken yet. The king was looking at a hopeless situation where God’s hope had not yet been brought.

But the moment Elisha reveals the Word of God, the men are expected to have faith. To believe. And the messenger doesn’t because he’s too fixated on his surroundings.

And his faith slipped through his fingers.

And that lack of faith cost him his life. (Literally. The man dies the next day. Trampled by all the people running for the food)

Over and over again in the Word we are asked to have faith. Why? Why is it okay to rail against God, to question him, to wonder where He is, but the moment we doubt Him He begins to take issue?

Because it’s how we come to Him. Through faith. For it is by grace we are saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. Ephesians 2:8

Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6.

On a smaller scale, I believe this was showing us that there will be times where we don’t know what’s going on around us. We cannot find God in the midst of it all. Yet we need to remember that He is there. And He will deliver His Word. When He does, all He asks is that we faithfully believe and wait on Him. Tomorrow is coming. 

But you know what I really see when I look at this story? I see how so many people are missing out on God. How He reveals himself to them, but they look at their surroundings and cannot believe He's capable of changing them. As a result, they never receive His grace through faith and in the end, they'll  see heaven with their own eyes, but will not taste any of it.

Oh, to reach them. To help build up their faith. Because no one should have to see heaven, but not be allowed to touch it and taste it. Not when one of us can reach them.

Because tomorrow is coming and it's time to not only strengthen our own faith, but the faith of those around us.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Blessing Wednesday / Word Wednesday

Hey all! I had a little trouble getting my Monday post to post, so if you haven't read it, scroll on down and you can do so. The gist of it was how important it is for us to know God's Word, and I invited you to learn it with me.  Every other Wednesday I'll be posting a verse for us to memorize/learn and then at the end of the month I'll be checking in to see who learned the verses for that month. I'll pull one name from the comments that week, and you'll win a little something. You don't have to be a follower to participate (I know I have a lot of lurkers out there!), you just have to be willing to spend a little time getting His Word into your brain. No matter how you slice it, it's a win/win situation:)

So. Get out your cards and Post It's our first verse.

All scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. 2 Timothy 3:16

Let the learning begin!

And the praising! It is Wednesday after all:)

~Praise you Lord for your Word!
~Praise you Lord for the ability to learn.
~Praise you Lord for taste buds...seriously, He didn't have to give us those. Can you imagine NOT being able to taste chocolate?
~Praise you Lord for the invention of the mattress. Would you still want to be sleeping on straw?
~Praise you Lord for my car still working even with all the miles on it. It's truly still running on a wing-and-a-prayer.

We serve a great God, don't we?:) Come on and share your praises!

Monday, May 7, 2012

God's Word

There have been times in life when I’ve wanted an owner’s manual. On more than one occasion, I’ve wanted to look up the answer for how to do something, and wondered where to turn.

Silly, I know, because we have God’s Word here. But sometimes we forget the power it holds. We look at it as a book full of old stories rather than the manual God intended for us to use it as.  Just look at some of the things we can find in His Word:

~Direction: Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. Psalm 119:105

~Protection: For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword…Hebrews 4:12, and it’s listed as the sword we take up when we put on the Armor of God in Ephesians 6:10-17. (for a great devotional on this, check out Jessica Patch's blog here)

~Regulation: I have hidden your word in my heart that I may not sin against you. Psalm 119:11

~Precision: Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. John 17:17

~Inspiration: You are my refuge and my shield; your word is my source of hope. Psalm 119:114

~Relation: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Read that last one again. The very Word of God you hold in your hands is God. The power. The beauty. The very breath of God (for all Scripture is God-breathed, 2 Timothy 3:16) in the palm of our hand. It’s how we get to know Him. I have actually slept with my Bible hugged to my chest, holding this one tangible piece of Him, trying to absorb all I could. Yeah, I know, I'm crazy like that, but it is such a precious, precious gift He left us . Don’t you think we should learn it?

See, God didn’t leave us His Word so it could collect dust on our bookshelves. He gave it to us to use it. And to use it, we must know it.  That very thought has been on my heart for months now. God keeps bringing it back and bringing it back until I finally submitted to Him.

Earlier this year God gave me my One Word. It was 'time'. Now, He and I have been doing a lot of learning with that one word, but this one I’m asking you to join me on. Committing something to memory takes time, and this is something we have to make time for—it’s our sword, our measuring stick, our look into the heart of our Father.  Each one of us may do it differently; some may use cards for reference, some learn the gist of the verse and where to find it, others may simply have stellar memories and memorize each verse word for word (um, stellar memory is not me, but I'm going for it!)…the point is to learn it.  Whichever it is, we need to have His word constantly at the ready.

So here’s what I’m asking. Every other Wednesday I’ll be posting a verse for us to memorize (don’t worry, I’ll still be doing praising too!). We’ll have two weeks to do so. Write it down. Keep it on your mirror, door, or bedside table (Deuteronomy 6:8-9), wherever you need it to be so you can see it and learn it. By month’s end we’ll have learned two verses, and by year’s end we’ll have twenty-six verses committed to memory.

And I’ll be checking. At the end of each month I’ll ask on one of my Wednesday posts for those of you who’ve learned your verses to comment—and one of you will win a little something. But I’ll tell you all about that at the end of the month.

This is not about numbers for my blog. You don’t have to join to win or participate. This is simply about us learning the Word of God. Growing our relationship with Him. Starting to wield that sword. Knowing our faith. Because everything else may fall away, but the word of God will forever remain. 

The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of God endures forever. Isaiah 40:8

See you Wednesday:)

Friday, May 4, 2012

Bookshelf Friday

So today I'm pulling my Bible off the bookshelf - or more accurately my side table. I've featured this book on my Bookshelf Fridays before, but it is a classic so it can be shared again...and again...and again:)

Last time I talked about all the stories you'll find in the Bible. Seriously. There are some amazing things going on in there. Today, though, I'm coming from a different angle.

Yes. It's full of stories (it's the inspiration for the ones I write), but more importantly it's our manual while here on Earth. And to use it, we need to know it.

I want to touch on this next week--hope you'll join me:) For now, have a great weekend! I'm spending it with my family...the whole bunch of them. Planning on writing a bit, reading a bit (just picked up a new book, Submerged), and hopefully enjoying the great outdoors. What's up with you?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Blessing Wednesday

I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all of my heart; I will tell of your wonderful deeds. Psalms 9:1

Having a heart of thankfulness is a choice. We live in a world of instant gratification, and all too often if we don't get what we want, when we want it, we're in a bad mood. Little things get under our skin and can ruin our day.

Like right this minute...I had this entire post written and ready to publish and ***poof*** it disappeared. I haven't had breakfast yet, and my coffee pot is moving at an all-time slow. And I'm facing down another day of wrestling with my children to do their schoolwork when they are SURE it should be summer vacation by now.

But I have a choice, and it affects those around me. I can be grumpy or happy. Simple as that. And the one I choose becomes my testimony. I'm not saying we can't have bad days, I'm saying we can't let those days control us...because only One should have that power, and He talks about JOY, PEACE, LOVE.  If He's in us, so are those qualities.

And they begin to peek out when we choose to give thanks rather than complaints. So today, Lord, I thank you for:

~the beautiful light and sound show you're performing outside my window this morning. I LOVE a good thunderstorm!
~the ability to homeschool my children
~a husband who loves YOU
~food in my cupboard
~my warm cup of coffee with lotsa cream...thank you for this daily treat
~your unconditional, all-consuming, never-ending LOVE for me

Simple. Honest. Praise. And the list is endless once you truly get started. So come on, praise Him:)