Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Quotable Wednesdays


I LOVE this quote!

I love how it flips our minds on end. We so often don't think of JOY and SERIOUS in the same sentence. Life down here can be ohhhhh so serious at times. But in heaven? When we get down to business, we're getting down to JOY!

Love love love that:)

Acts 2:28 (from the Message) puts it so well:

I saw God before me for all time. Nothing can shake me; he’s right by my side. I’m glad from the inside out, ecstatic; I’ve pitched my tent in the land of hope. I know you’ll never dump me in Hades; I’ll never even smell the stench of death. You’ve got my feet on the life-path, with your face shining sun-joy all around.

Oh. In the middle of winter that sun-joy sounds even better:)

Get down to the business of JOY today, friends!

*I'll be taking a blogging break until February 12th as I spend some time with my husband. Because, yeah, I kinda like the guy;) But if you really miss me before that, you can catch me over at Seriously Write on February 6th.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Beating the Ho-Hums

Let's face it. Winter is looooooong. Especially if you live up here in the North like me. I think I've glimpsed the sun maybe twice since November. But snow? Now that is a constant. Everything is cold. Dead. Slushy. Muddy.

And yes, I'll admit, pretty beautiful for the 2.5 seconds that the white, fluffy stuff is fresh:)

When these long days pile up like the snow outside my door, it's easy to start feeling down. So today I want to think about things that make me happy. Like:

Fresh fruit. It means summer is here. Summer makes me happy.

The Beach. It means it must be summer. Summer makes me happy.

Green Grass. It means it's summer. And my son is a teen. Now he can mow it. That all makes me happy. 

Smiling. Because it just makes me happy. (Yes. I know. Buddy doesn't immediately make you think of summer, but hey, it's still winter and this is my attempt to roll with it.) 

How are you staying joyful these days?


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Quotable Wednesday


Thinking back to those pigs on Monday, this quote seemed to go so well. Praying your week is full of abundant blessings and letting go of more pigs, no matter the cost:)

Monday, January 20, 2014

Focused on the Pigs

This past weekend I was reading in Matthew 8 and came across the story of Jesus casting demons out of two men and into a heard of pigs, who then jumped into the sea and drowned. A funny thing happened after the pigs drowned…the people got mad. I set down my Bible at that point, wheels turning, because every time I read this story I see it from another angle. This weekend was no different. (See, this is what is so neat about the Word of God being living and active. God is constantly speaking new things through it to us.)

Now, let me back up a bit to the beginning of the story. I’m using the Message:

“They landed in the country of the Gardarenes and were met by two madmen, victims of demons, coming out of the cemetery. The men had terrorized the region for so long that no one considered it safe to walk down the that stretch of road anymore…”

The people were held in bondage by these two demon-possessed men. They couldn’t walk down this street. They had to plan alternate routes and avoid any place these men were. These two men were messing with the Gardarenes’ lives.

Jesus saw this. So what did he do? He stepped in, and he changed things. He commanded the demons out of these two men. Those demons took up residence in the pigs who then ran into the sea and drowned.

And look at how the people responded:

“Those who heard about it were angry about the drowned pigs. A mob formed and demanded that Jesus get out and not come back.”

That sounds like such a strange response, doesn’t it? We read it and think, here Jesus delivered you from this oppression and you’re angry about how he did it? Angry about the pigs?

Thing is, if we stop and really look at it, we can be the same way: focused on the pigs. Maybe we’ve begged to be delivered from an addiction, but to do that, God needs to kill off some old haunts or friendships. Perhaps God wants to help us overcome a bad attitude, but he’ll need to drown some unforgiveness in us. Possibly God wants us to grow deeper in our relationship with him, and he’s asking us to change some music, books, or tv shows we watch.

Oh, we so badly want to live lives free of detours and problems. We want to live in freedom, far away from the things that have plagued us, caused fear, or simply kept us from the path we should have been on. Yet when God delivers us, we can sometimes point to the dead pigs and complain.

“Why did that relationship fall apart?”
“Why can’t I watch that show?”
“Why can’t I have that drink?”

We start to focus on the things he killed in our lives so we could live in freedom, rather than rejoicing in that very freedom!

Don’t let another day go by focusing on the pigs. Look to what God has brought you through, not what you had to give up. Because if God had you give something up, it’s only because he’s got something so much better! And freedom is one of those things:)

Friday, January 17, 2014

Bookshelf Friday - The Headmistress of Rosemere by Sarah E. Ladd


I had the pleasure of meeting Sarah Ladd last fall at our ACFW writer's conference. She is effervescent and warm, so incredibly welcoming I felt at ease the moment I was introduced--a hard accomplishment for this introvert:)

Well, this past week I finally had a chance to meet one of Sarah's books! It was as much fun as meeting her. From the moment I cracked the page, I was drawn into the world she created and whisked away to Darbury, England. Here's a blurb and we'll chat on the other side:


At twenty-five, Patience Creighton is
already a spinster. The busy headmistress of Rosemere always expected a dashing man to sweep her off her feet and take her away . . . but that man never came. And since her father’s death, keeping the school running and her mother happy
has been plenty to keep her occupied.

William Sterling dallied his way into financial trouble and mortal danger. When he is assaulted by his creditors’
henchmen on the road home from a tavern, he guides his horse to the doorstep of his tenant, the Rosemere School for Young Ladies. After being tended to by Patience, the wounded William rides off into the dawn—but makes a point to
learn more about the lovely headmistress.

As he spends more time at Rosemere,
something delicate begins to develop between William and Patience. But that will not deter William’s creditors. With little money to repay his debts, and
less for the upkeep of his estate, it becomes clear that sacrificing Rosemere may be the only way to preserve his legacy. But it may also cost him his happiness.

Sarah's writing is poetic and flows effortlessly. Her characters are intriguing with struggles we all could encounter. I have to admit, one of my favorite persons in this book was that of the secondary character Cassandra. Sarah weaves so many truths into Cassandra's words, and the don't feel forced at all.

The pacing of the story progresses in such a manner that had me turning pages, not feeling rushed and yet eagerly anticipating what would happen next. I enjoyed watching Patience and William grow in their relationship and as individuals too. And, of course, I was rewarded with a very happy ending.

If you haven't read any of Sarah's books, I highly recommend The Headmistress of Rosemere which you can purchase here. And Sarah's first book (which I'm now snapping up) The Heiress of Winterwood can be purchased here.

If you want to know a little more about Sarah, here she is:)
 
Sarah E. Ladd received the 2011 Genesis Award in historical romance for The Heiress of Winterwood. She is a graduate of Ball State University and has more than ten years of marketing experience. Sarah lives in Indiana with her amazing husband, sweet daughter, and spunky Golden retriever.

You can connect with Sarah at her website www.sarahladd.com

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Quotable Wednesday


Not only do I want to be where that picture was taken, but I want to follow the advice listed there. This walk with Christ is an every-day thing. Every day we make the conscience choice to rely on him.

I'm working on doing this before my feet hit the ground.

How about you? Are you relying on him today?

Monday, January 13, 2014

Life is Like a Bracelet Maker

So my daughter got this for Christmas. It's a bracelet maker, because she's eight and she likes to make bracelets. I figured I used to make them as a kid, how hard could it be? Um, yeah. Trying to make them myself? Forget it. Explaining it to her? Not so much.


So eventually I hauled out the instructions and looked at them. I'd read a step and then follow it. Read another, follow it. If I didn't watch for knots, they whole thing would become a tangled mess. Which meant periodically, I'd have to stop and straighten the strings. I couldn't skip a step either because then I started making something that looked nothing like a bracelet.

Hmmm...do you see what I started to see? This whole bracelet maker thing was a lot like life.

See, we need God for our instruction, and he left us this wonderful book called the Bible. As I walk out this life he created for me, I need to consult him for each step. And then I need to actually take it. If I'd only read the instructions of that bracelet maker and never actually completed the step, I'd never have wound up with a bracelet. So it goes with us. If we're always gaining the head knowledge but never stepping out in our faith, we'll never get to where God has called us.

Then there's those crazy knots. Unforgiveness. A seed of jealousy. Root of bitterness. Left unchecked, these small tangles can lump together to form some pretty big knots, effectively stopping us in our tracks. That's what happened when I'd forget to check my strings and straighten them back out. We need to make sure while we're walking, to stop and straighten out any tangles or knots that form so we can keep forging ahead to who God called us to be.

As for the steps. Yep. Sometimes we want to skip one, or two...or several. We grow impatient. We think we can get there faster or that a certain step isn't for us. However, we do that and the end product is no longer what God created, but what we created. And everything he creates is good. I'd so much rather be that than a life filled with holes and missed steps. Each step is there for a reason. Follow it.

So as I sat on my couch, working through each step and checking for knots, an amazing thing happened. Oh, it didn't look like it at first, and I gotta say, it took a whole lot longer than I'd thought it would, but look:


We finally got a bracelet. It's not perfect. There's some wavy areas. Some that are tighter than others, and a few that look a bit lumpy, but it's finished and fulfills the very purpose it was created for. A thing of beauty for others to enjoy:)

God doesn't need perfect, he just needs us to follow.

And there was one last thing I learned. If I'd never sat down and figured out this whole bracelet making thing, I'd never have been able to explain it to my daughter. To instruct her in the way of making a bracelet so that she could turn around and make one. We learn these lessons not only for the path God has called us to, but to help others along their paths.

Pretty neat, huh?

What are you stringing together in your life?

And, who remembers making these as a kid?

Friday, January 10, 2014

Bookshelf Friday - Welcome 2014

My shelf is empty! I know, crazy, right? But I've been striving to finish my current book so that I can get it into the hands of my awesome agent, Linda. As such, I've cut myself off from reading (might as well have cut off my right arm) and my TBR pile is about to topple! I have a few books at the top that I cannot wait to dive into...which will be early next month.

However. To tide you over (and let's not lie, me too) I'll have a review of Sarah Ladd's newest The Headmistress of Rosemere up next week.

Hope you'll come back and check it out!

(Is there anything sadder??)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Quotables

This year on Wednesdays I'm doing something a little different. All last year I kept stumbling on quotes I'd love. Nine times out of ten they were by CS Lewis. So I decided that this year I'd start sharing some of them.

Every Wednesday I'm going to put up a quote. Sometimes I'll add a few thoughts on it, sometimes not. Pretty sure they'll all be from CS Lewis, but I may toss in a few others here and there.Gotta keep everyone on their toes:)

So welcome to 2014 and welcome to Quotable Wednesdays!

Monday, January 6, 2014

2014. Let's Do This.

Happy New Year! 2014. I wanted to start the year out with a verse, because really, what's better than the Word of God?

Habakuk 2:2

And then God answered: “Write this.
    Write what you see.
Write it out in big block letters
    so that it can be read on the run.
This vision-message is a witness
    pointing to what’s coming.
It aches for the coming—it can hardly wait!
    And it doesn’t lie.
If it seems slow in coming, wait.

    It’s on its way. It will come right on time.

As we begin this new year, I challenge you to write down what your dreams are. The passion and direction God has placed in your heart. That thing that aches in your heart to move from a vision into reality. Oh, you know what it is. And it may seem sooooooo slow in coming. But it's on the way and in the right time, it will come.

Because God holds time. So he's never late:)

But once we have it written down, what then? That's where prayer comes in. Sometimes when things seem so slow in arriving we start to let loose of our prayer life. As if prayer has a shelf life and once our dreams hit their expiration date, we toss them out. They haven't come, so guess they won't.

One thing I've found in life, though, is that about the time you feel like throwing in the towel, you should amp up your prayer because typically, a breakthrough is just around the corner.

I've been really challenged in this area lately, and that challenge led me to my 2014 word. Here it is:



My word for the year is FERVENT, mainly centering on fervent prayer. A passionate prayer life. On-fire walk with God. Going after those dreams and visions he planted in me when he knit me together, and demolishing those strongholds that dare touch my family. I don't want to live a quiet life in Christ. After spending 2013 delving into abundant life, I want to live what I've found. I'm posting Habakuk 2:2 right next to my word and running headlong into this year.

2014. Fervent.

I'm ready.