Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Blessing Wednesday

Hey all, I am enjoying a little time with the family right now, and this week I am incredibly thankful for:

~the world's best Hubby
~the world's best son
~the world's best first daughter
~the world's best youngest daughter
~even thankful for my dog this week (can't say he's the world's best, but he is our best)

Truly, I am blessed beyond measure by my family. God's taught me A LOT through them, and this naturally selfish girl needed to learn those lessons. I'm blessed they've put up with me along the way!

I'll be off for the rest of the week, soaking up the last of summer and hanging with the family before we start our homeschooling adventures up again for another year. I'll be checking in here and there, but no new posts till after Labor Day.

Have a great holiday friends! What are you thankful for today?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Games We Play - Hide & Seek

Our pastor has been doing a study on Jonah—I love that story.  Listening to it got me thinking of another game we play: Hide and Seek. (Last Monday I wrote about the game of Tag. You can check it out here.)

Jonah, as you may know, didn’t exactly like what God asked him to do, so he ran. What amazes me is he actually thought he could hide away and God wouldn’t find him. Well, I’m here to tell you, God finds us every single time.

There are times in life when God asks us to do something we don’t really want to do. Believe me. I know. Yet, He asks; not to drive us crazy, but to grow us. Whether it’s growing our obedience, growing out talent, growing our faith…He never asks without a reason. And because He’s given us free will, we can choose to listen, or choose—like Jonah—to ignore and run in the opposite direction. When we do that, we’re playing Hide and Seek.

But listen to what God says in Jeremiah 23:24: “‘Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?’ declares the Lord. ‘Do I not fill heaven and earth?’

Pretty much He’s reminding us that He created this world, so He knows all the hiding places. Oh, and He’s omnipotent, which means we can ask Him to cover His eyes and count all we want, but He can still see us and our hiding spot, no matter how great we think it is. And while His omnipotence allows Him to see us, it’s His love that makes Him pursue us.

The Son of Man came to seek and save the lost. (Luke 19:10)

It doesn’t matter how long we’ve been hiding. It doesn’t matter how dark the corner is that we’re holed up in. It doesn’t matter how fast we can run. He’s faster. He’s brighter. He’s more persistent. He will find us.

And I don’t say that to wig you out. See. God’s not chasing us to throw our guilt and shame into our faces or to remind us of how we messed up. He’s chasing us so that He can remove the weight of all our junk from our shoulders. We aren’t meant to carry it. Oh yes, there are consequences to our sin, but He doesn’t want us to live under the weight of our sin. That’s way too heavy for any of us to bear. But not God.

Those things you don’t want to face—they’re so much easier to face when we’re tucked in Him. Those places you don’t want to go—the road is so much easier traveled with Him. That project you don’t want to tackle—is so much easier handled under His management. Whatever it is. Wherever you’re hiding. He sees you, so come on out and rest in Him.

And one more cool thing, just in case you’re wondering…God loves playing the Seeker, but He never, never plays the part of the hider. Don’t buy into the lie that you've somehow gone too far or made too many mistakes to be able to run to Him. He's not hiding Himself from you. He’s always there, always waiting, and always ready when you seek Him.

Ask and it shall be given to you, seek and you shall find, knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. (Matthew 7:7-8)

Friday, August 24, 2012

CD Shelf Friday - Who You Are by Unspoken

I'm in love with this song right now. Maybe it's because it's about my favorite message of all time - redemption. It's never too late. We're never too far. God's grace can reach us anywhere, and we can change, who we are :)

Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Blessing Wednesday

Happy Wednesday one and all :) Hope you're having a fantastic week. I'm squeezing the last little bit of summer out--I think I've said that all this month! Ohhhhh, I don't want summer to end! Along those lines, here's my blessing count for today:

~hot, long, gorgeous summer days. We have been blessed with an amazingly beautiful, blue-skied summer.

~not having to use an alarm clock

~playtime and the blessing of friends to play with!

~family places on the water to play at

~fresh fruit...watermelon, strawberries, peaches, blueberries...thanks to the farmers who grow them, for allowing us to pick them, for the fruit stands to stop at when I'm too lazy to pick them...oh, I will miss thee, fresh fruit...

To those of you who've finished your summer, well, you had an earlier start than us Northerners:) To those who still have a week left, go play! And to all of you, count some of your blessings today!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Games We Play - Tag

Kids love the game of Tag. I personally think they’re crazy—that’s an awful lot of running—but they can play it for hours. Or, well, twenty minutes at least, which is really good considering their attention spans.

And while we may not play the actual game of Tag as adults, I do think we still play it. Have you ever said something along these lines: “I’m done running after them. Now it’s their turn to chase me.”

If you have, then you’re playing Tag. But…

Love is not a game of Tag.

I know, I know, so often we want it to be, but it’s just not. We can emotionally ‘tag’ people all we want, but that doesn’t make them It. Half the time they don’t even know they’re supposed to be playing. Oh, and just because we ‘tag’ them doesn’t let us off the hook of being It ourselves.

See, love isn’t a game. Love isn’t conditional. Love isn’t dependent on the other person. Love is always giving—even when we aren’t receiving. It’s thinking of the other person, chasing them, pursuing them, even when they don’t deserve it…especially when they don’t deserve it, because that’s what God has done for us. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) I love that our God pursues us!

And here’s what else is so cool. He doesn’t ask us to love our of our own strength. See, God is love (I John 4:8), and if He’s in us that means we have the ability to BE love too. We have the power to pursue others, the strength to keep running after them even when we’re tired, because “we can do all things through him that gives us strength”. (Phillipians 4:13) It doesn’t rest on our shoulders, but on His.

Thank the Lord His shoulders are HUGE, because I'm so not able to love that way on my own. Let's just be honest, it's hard enough do it with Him--hard, but not impossible:)

So what about you? Do you ever play tag? And what was your favorite game as a child?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Bookshelf Friday - My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade

I picked this book up at the beginning of summer, and I only now took the time to read it--I wish I would have done so sooner! I absolutely loved this sweet romance. While most of the struggles for the main characters were internal, the story moved along at a great pace; I think in part because Becky Wade is awesome with dialogue. There was only one short portion in the middle where I felt I wanted to push these two a bit faster, but never enough to make me put the book down.

Okay, here's a short blurb:

Kate Donovan is burned out on work, worn down by her dating relationships, and in need of an adventure. When Kate's grandmother asks Kate to accompany her to Redbud, Pennsylvania, to restore the grand old house she grew up in, Kate jumps at the chance.

Yet, she discovers a different kind of project upon meeting the man hired to renovate the house.  Matt Jarreau is attractive and clearly wounded -- hiding from people, from God, and from his past.  Kate can't help but set her stubborn heart on bringing him out of the dark and back into the light... whether he likes it or not.

There was so much to like about this book. Becky Wade's cast of characters was eclectic--and mainly over seventy-something. The pant suits, hair dye, and games of Poker had me cracking up. Then there's Kate and Matt. Like I said, Becky knows her dialogue and it flowed effortlessly. They bantered, argued, shared their hearts, even talked about nothing, really, really well. The chemistry between them just worked, and it grew over time.

So, if you're looking for another summer read (shhh...don't tell me it's almost over!), pick My Stubborn Heart up, and as a bonus for anyone on Kindle, it's currently at $2.99:)

Have a great weekend, friends!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Blessing Wednesday

Hey all! Time for some counting:)

I am so incredibly thankful today for...

~God building a day of rest into our week.


~board games and all who play them with me!

~that summer break is not over yet! Least wise not up here in the North:)

~God's Instruction Manual for Parents (yeah, you know the one, the glad He didn't give me these kids without it.)

What's up with you this week? Dig in, tell me some of your blessings--I LOVE to hear them!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Summer Reruns

I gotta say--I have the best Hubby ever! This weekend he took the kids for me so I could work on some of the writing stuff I want ready by the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) conference next month. Between prepping for that, squeezing some end-of-summer fun in with the kids, and digging out school supplies, I didn't get a chance to write my Monday blog. So, I'm hauling out a re-run. I'm going way back to my very first post ever:) I gotta admit, it's one that's near and dear to me for lotsa reasons, but mainly because it's the theme that's driven me for the last two years. Whenever I want to stop, whenever I get a bit discouraged, I ask myself, What If???

So here it is, my first post, "What If?"

Well ok. I’m starting a blog. Why, you may ask, or what will you be saying? Well, I haven’t quite figured all that out yet. But here’s what I have figured out.

I am thirty-six years old. I’ve had many passions in life; singing, writing, ministry….yet I’ve never thrown myself into any of them. I’ve spent the better part of my life thinking, What if? What if I tried out for that play? What if I tried to publish that book? What if I went to seminary? What if I threw out all those thoughts that are spinning in my head? To be followed by; What if they laugh? What if it’s awful? What if I fail?

Never have I asked, What if I succeed? Instead I’ve been ruled by the fear of failure.

It’s funny. When I was young, I was scared of the dark. I was scared to be home alone, or frightened to walk across that dark campus. Those were, in my mind, legitimate fears that I could battle. I armed myself with God’s word. “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and sound mind (2 Tim. 1:7)” and from Psalms, “I will not be afraid of the terror by night, nor the arrow that strikes by day” (Psalms 91:5). These verses, and a lot of prayer, allowed me to be free of those fears. Soon, I felt confident of God’s protection in my life. Never did I recognize that spirit of fear was still lurking, and it was keeping me from discovering God’s purpose in my life.

Well, I’ve recently recognized that I’m still allowing that fear to play into my decisions and my thoughts. Along with that realization came the decision that I don’t want to allow fear to stop whatever God may want to do with my life. I’ve given enough years to my What-ifs?

So, will I fail sometimes? Yes! But isn’t that where God teaches us some of our biggest lessons? And has He ever failed to reach down, brush us off and set us on our feet again? No one likes failure, but maybe, just maybe, we can handle it a bit better when we start to recognize that our failures are what draw us closer to God. Without them we would never be aware of our inborn need for His hand in our lives. If we succeeded at everything in our lives, would we ever call out to Him? Not to mention, it sure keeps us humble when we fail.

So, I’m going to start this blog. Will many people read it? Maybe not. I can count on at least three people. My mom, my best friend, and one alternating curious reader (fill in your name, whoever you are). But, I felt the nudge to do this, and just once I want to say, What if I succeed? instead of What if I fail?. I figure just by taking the leap to put this out there, and listening to what God’s calling me to do, I’ve already succeeded. Take that, Fear!

Well, I've taken lotsa leaps since then, and going to ACFW conference next month is another one...I'm sure I'll blog about it:) And yes, at times I've landed on my face, but God was always there. He is so very, very faithful.

Our leaps come in all shapes and sizes, and I'd love to hear some of yours. Oh, and if you're a blogger, what was the name of your first post?

Friday, August 10, 2012

Bookshelf Friday - Lethal Legacy by Irene Hannon

A fan of Irene Hannon's, I've been waiting for Lethal Legacy to come out. I picked it up on Sunday and dug in, happy to finally have it in my hands and yet sad that it was the final book in this series. I always hate to say good-bye ***sniff sniff***

While I can't say this was my favorite book in the series, it still was a great read. I love Irene's style of writing, she does a lot of research and sucks you right into the middle of her character's lives and scenes. I did find this time around the bad guy was easy to pinpoint, but she didn't let the reveal wait until the maybe she wrote it that way on purpose. Here's a short blurb:

The police say her father's death was suicide. But Kelly Warren says it was murder--and she has new evidence that she believes proves it. Detective Cole Taylor doesn't put much credence in her claim, and nothing in his case review suggests foul play. But when Kelly ends up in the emergency room with a suspicious life-threatening medical condition, the incident strikes him as more than just coincidence. Digging deeper, he discovers she's linked to a long-ago crime. Is history repeating itself? And who wants Kelly silenced?

As I said, you find out early who wants Kelly silenced, and the end of the book wraps everything up as you'd expect. Still, this book did not disappoint. It was a great Contemporary Romantic Suspense--Irene is one of the best authors in this genre--and though I was happy when I closed the book, it took my reading a friend's Facebook status to realize what more I wanted from this book...from many of the books I've read recently. My friend posted that she was at the 1/2 mark in her WIP (work in progress), with twists, turns, and no one is safe!!!

Sign me up! Many books nail the twists and turns, and I LOVE that. But I also love the unexpected, the feeling as if you don't know what's coming and truly, no one is safe. Sure, you hurt a favorite character of mine and I may hurl your book against a wall, but there's something to be said about shocking your readers. I miss that. As an author, you can't do it everytime (you kill everyone off and suddenly your cast of characters is gone), but you can unsettle your readers just enough to make them keep coming back.

My friend's book has yet to be published, but when it is, I'll be reading it. In the meantime, I'll happily look forward to more of Irene's books--luckily she's got one coming out this winter. As for you, who's some of your favorite authors and why?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Blessing Wednesday

It's nearing 11 o'clock Tuesday night and I've spent the better part of my evening doing chores...just like last night. I just rinsed off the last dish, intent on reading another chapter in my book--which I've been waiting to get back to all day--when I realized I'd yet to write my blessings down for today. With a weary sigh, I pulled out my computer, but something happened as I opened it up. I realized how much I have to be thankful for:)

So today, my blessings are:

~having the money to do my grocery shopping.

~having the food in my cupboards to make dinner with for my family.

~having dishes to wash.

~having clothes to wash, dry, and put away for me, my children, and Hubby.

~having green grass to mow around a home in a great neighborhood.

Normally these are "chores" to me, but I think I needed to look at them in a new light:)  Be blessed today my friends!

What are some of your "to-do" list that you could flip around and look at as a blessing today???

Monday, August 6, 2012

What I Learned From Downtown Abbey--or my lack of knowledge thereof...

So Friday night Hubby came home very tired from helping our neighbors move. He slunk off to bed. My girls were already there, but my son had a friend over for the night. Not wanting to nod off to sleep before them, (for fear of what the house might look like the next morning or what groceries might be missing) I decided to see what everyone was up to on Facebook. And there my friend Dawn Crandall had just posted this picture:
with this status: "I'm finally starting this!"

To which I replied: "I think I'll start too!"

I was beyond ecstatic to find another human being who'd never seen Downtown Abbey! (If you are a fan of the show, you can quit laughing now). So I found it on Netflix and started watching, checking out Dawn's status along the way, feeling very much a part of something big. When people there told her the dinner party was a great scene, I couldn't wait to get to that part. Finally, in the second episode there was a dinner party, kind of, but no smoldering looks between the two in the picture there as promised--who, by the way, I wasn't quite sure I'd even seen yet. I convinced myself that it had to be Mary with a man she'd eventually fall for...who was played by this Richard Armitage they kept talking about who'd also been in the movie North & South.

Now I just loved that movie--Patrick Swayze was a dreamboat--but I couldn't remember anything about a Richard Armitage. Imagine my glee when I pulled up the cover and saw him on it. But on earth had Richard not aged in the last thirty years?

I was sooooo confused.

It took me pausing the movie and reading two different bio's of Richard's to realize...

Dawn wasn't watching Downtown Abbey, she was watching North & South, but not the North & South I was thinking of...oh, I was so off base in so many ways and all because I knew nothing at all about Downtown Abbey. I've heard a lot of buzz about it. I know it's the "it" show right now. And when I saw that picture Dawn posted I just assumed Downtown Abbey was what she was talking about. (It does look similar, maybe...right?)

Anyway, I had a good chuckle with myself and then kept watching Downtown Abbey. But my mind wandered a bit--it was nearly one a.m. so a bit of wandering is allowed. I started thinking about how easily we can also get off track with God. For some it's the same thing as Downtown Abbey and me. They've heard a lot about God, but they don't know Him well enough to understand if they're watching Him or something else completely. And while they may convince themselves they're on the right track--like me trying to make all those actors into the same people--it does not make their belief into truth.

The only way to not be fooled (an even as Christians, we can be fooled) is to know God intimately. Know His voice. Know His Word. So when you catch a snapshot of something, you'll know if it's Him or not. And if you're even the least bit unsure, stop...pause what you're doing...and pray about it. Seek out God's truth. Don't go any farther until you KNOW what's in front of you.

Yeah, I know, a deep message from my silly mistake, but isn't that so often how God works? He takes these real-life missteps and uses them to speak to us. I love how relational He is that way. And that He laughs with us.  Go ahead, now you can laugh with me too :)

So I've got to know, anyone out there Downtown Abbey fans? I'm going to admit...I'm not--at least not yet. I'm half-way into episode four, wondering if I'm still missing something. I do like Bates, and of course, the countess because I love Maggie Smith, but I'm not in love with the show. Guess I'll have to try North & South--the British version!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Bookshelf Friday - Wish You Were Here by Beth Vogt

Can I say I loved this book both as a reader and as a writer? Cause I did.
("This book" being Wish You Were Here by Beth Vogt--hence the cover picture above.)

As a reader I loved that this book didn't all happen at once. I mean, she kisses her fiance's brother five days before her wedding. Yeah. That's not just a "next week I'm with the new guy and we are completely in love" type of set-up. I enjoyed how Beth allowed her characters to take their time and deal with things, yet still pulled at our hearts along the way. A great romance. Not only between the characters, but also as they learned to love and trust God.

As a writer I loved that Beth broke some genre rules by putting three Point of Views (POVs) into this book. That's a huge no-no in Contemporary Romance, but I'm seeing it done more and more. I LOVE this because it's how I write. Not all the time. But some stories simply need it. While I love your formula romances, I love even more when great stories are simply allowed to be told. Beth had done just that.

Here's a little blurb:

Kissing the wrong guy days before her scheduled wedding leads Allison to become a runaway bride. But can it also lead to happily ever after?
Allison Denman is supposed to get married in five days, but everything is all wrong. The huge wedding. The frothy dress. And the groom.

Still, kissing the groom’s brother, Daniel, in an unguarded moment is decidedly not the right thing to do. How could she have made such a mistake? It seems Allison’s life is nothing but mistakes at this point. Daniel’s adventures—chronicled through a collection of postcards—have always appealed to Allison’s well-hidden desire for something more. But how can betraying her fiancĂ©’s trust lead to a true happily ever after?

Can Allison find her way out of this mess? Recognizing she doesn’t have all the answers won’t be easy because she’s used to being in control. To find her way again, she will have to believe that God has a plan for her—one outside her carefully defined comfort zone—and find the strength to let Him lead.

Since your sleeping patterns will be all out of whack after the Olympics are over--anyone else staying up past midnight???--now's the perfect time to pick this book up and keep the late nights going. You're already acclimated:)

Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Blessing Wednesday

It's Wednesday:)  Time to count our blessings, and as I was getting ready to post today, I realized something--it's my 200th post! So, today I'm thankful for:

~God nudging me into blogging, and all I've learned through it. It's caused me to dig deeper into His Word and every time you do that--every time--you'll find blessings. Trust me.

~His complete faithfulness through the past two years as I've blogged...sometimes out of my comfort zone. (oh, who am I kidding??? Every moment of it is out of my comfort zone!)

~blueberries. Yeah. I know. Giving you whiplash on my list here, but boy-oh-boy have I been in blueberry heaven this week! They are like God's handmade candy. I'm serious.

~the cooler, beautiful, sunshiny weather we've had during the day with rain at night...perfect combination.

~the amazing people I've met out here in cyber space. Thanks for visiting and thanks for reading my ramblings:) Y'all bless me so much.

Have a blessed rest of your week everyone--and share some of your blessings with me. I LOVE hearing them!