"If you write FOR a particular market or FOR a particular editor you will often miss the mark. But if you write because your fingers have danced across the keyboard, because a character has tapped you on the shoulder, because a story has settled in your heart, then even if you never sell it you have done the work you were meant to do. And sometime, dear readers, real magic happens." Jane Yolen

12/31/09

All Things - Monday Manna for January 4, 2009


Monday Manna

The purpose of Monday Manna is to get together and get to know Christ more through His Word.

On the first and third Mondays of each month, anyone who wants to participate can post their thoughts on a specific verse--posted here at my blog on the Thursday before, to allow you to chew on it over the weekend. It doesn't have to be long -- just a few thoughts, a picture you feel helps express it, a poem, a short story, a devotional. Just post it on your blog on Mondayish (early OR late is fine, by the way!), then come back here and link up in the MckLinky gadget that will be at the bottom of MY post at o'dark thirty that morning.

I know it's a holiday weekend, but I'm not ready to take another week off from Monday Manna. Don't EVEN feel bad if you're "a regular" and DO feel the need to sit this one out. Just giving the option to participate - and as always, you don't have to post on Monday - MckLinky will be available for several days after.

ANYhow, God put this verse in my head recently. It's one I certainly know - and it's in my favorite NT book. But it scares me - and He's asking me to make it my theme verse for 2010. (gasp. shiver.) (check back tomorrow for another post on this verse, and my goals for 2010!)

Anyhow..here it is!
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.Philippians 4:13 NKJV
Looking forward to your thoughts (and mine!) on this verse. See you back here on Monday!

12/29/09

What I Learned On Christmas: Service

Click here if you want to see what I learned about love on Christmas Day - and watch for another post on gratitude in the next several days.
It's amazing what things can make me bitter and angry.
You'd think, with all the "big" struggles my family has had over the past several years, I would have learned "not to sweat the small stuff." But I haven't.


I don't(for the most part, anyway) get angry with the Lord about Marc's health struggles, or grow bitter about the financial, emotional, and spiritual struggles that may loom over us. But inconvenience me in some minor way--alter my little schedule without my blessing--and frustration and bitterness often take over my emotions.

You see, I had our Christmas Day planned out beautifully. Have lunch with the inlaws by noon. Be home by early afternoon. Enjoy an unrushed,leisurely Christmas with my hubby and two kids, opening and playing with gifts and praising the Lord for the greatest gift of all: His Son.
But it didn't turn out that way.
You see,  we didn't have our lunch by noon. Why is unimportant - but just know that I decided it was the result of someone else's selfishness. And I got grumpy. And bitter. On CHRISTMAS.

What was REALLY happening? I was the selfish one, demanding that everything go MY way (and, by the way, not even sharing with the person who was supposedly being selfish what my desires were). Not good.

So, as I waited, seething, I heard a whisper in my ear.
Do the dishes.
Why? They're not mine. I don't want to.
Do the dishes.
Sigh
So I did the dishes. I served, without being asked (by a person, anyway!), the person who was making me mad. And with every scrub of a plate, every soaking of a spoon, my anger lessened and my bitterness decreased. And I learned an important lesson.
It's hard to be angry and bitter at someone you're serving. If you do it in God's strength, in fact, it is near impossible.
And sure, my Christmas Day wasn't what I'd envisioned. But that's not what it was all about. God taught me the danger of bitterness--and a surefire way to eradicate it.

I'll leave you with a quote I came across on twitter that I've been pondering ever since I first saw it. Hope it gives you some serious food for thought.
Bitterness is the poison you drink hoping the other person will die -Corrie Ten Boom

12/26/09

What I Learned On Christmas: Love

It's only 12:30 on December 26, and I can already think of three "lessons" I learned on Christmas Day. Instead of a long post, I'm planning to write a separate, shorter, blog on each. My goal is to have them all done before the kids go back to school on January 4. We'll see, though. :)

Some days, I seriously wonder what Christ was thinking when he told us to be like "little ones" to enter His kingdom. The way my kids get on each other's nerves (often on purpose), forget their manners, and assorted and sundry other things makes me wonder exactly what there is to model.
Yesterday was not one of those days.
My son showed me a way he is SO much more like Jesus than I am. I pray I can have the faith, love, and understanding of Andrew when I "grow up" in Him.

My son was praying on Christmas morning, before anyone but the two of us were awake. Just because (how often do YOU do that? In my case, certainly not as often as He'd like). From a heart full of gratitude.
I love all the presents I got on Christmas Eve, Jesus, but I love You more.

That's an amazing thought from an 8-year-old, don't you think? And just the kind of thought Jesus loves to hear. We are to seek Him first. (Matthew 6:33)To love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Deuteronomy 6:5). What are you basking in today - the wonderful gifts you received from family and friends, or the indescribable gift of God's salvation(2 Corinthians 9:15), and the incredible grace and mercy made possible by the Word becoming flesh (John 1:14), dwelling among us, dying for our sins, and rising again (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)?

Yes - I love my new Christmas socks, the gift cards I got from assorted folks, and the other presents I received - including fellowship with family, good food, and the joy of watching others love their gifts.

And, a few times, I'm not sure I could echo my son's sentiments. I was way too caught up in the pride of my own heart and my selfishness to remember that God is sovereign, and that every good and perfect gift comes NOT from man (or woman!), but from God himself.

How about you?

Heavenly Father, help me to remember the lesson You taught me through my son. I want my love for You to be greater than any other love I may have: whether for people, places, or things. Help me to honestly pledge, as Andrew did, my love for You above all else. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen.


12/23/09

Light - Word-Filled Wednesday

First - I designed myself a new button for my blog! I'd love to have you post it on YOUR blog (planning to start up my own "button collection" for my sidebar soon.) Check below, or on my sidebar, for the code.







And now, back to the "topic at hand."


**

Welcome to my contribution to Word-Filled Wednesday, hosted this week by Susan at Forever His. Be sure to stop by her blog for more visual inspiration from scripture. (and I can't believe this is my FIRST WFW for December. Have missed it!)

Been thinking about Christmas a lot - the real reason. There is so much darkness in the world. No need to list examples: we all have plenty in our heads right now, I'm sure.

But, because of Christmas - because the light of the Lord Jesus entered the darkness of this world - we no longer have to live there.



I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. John 12:46 NIV

Thanks for stopping by. Praying your Chrismas is blessed and Christ-filled. Be sure to stop by Susan's blog for more

12/22/09

Back from insanity-land :)

I can't believe it's been a week and a half since I posted here. Can't remember the last time I had that long of a hiatus. But it has truly been a busy time for me. And, believe it or not, the next few days are actually going to be LESS crazy (not often that I can say Christmas is the "calm part" of my December!) than they have been.

God has been SO faithful - my husband's surgery (he had it a week ago Friday) went pretty well. He had to stay in the hospital four days (he had some spinal fluid leakage when they drained the blood from the blood clot on his "old" brain tumor - so he had to be flat on his back for a few days), so has only been out a week (exactly - he came out LAST Tuesday). The doctor is sure that all the blood that needed to be drained was drained (about 5cc).


Though it could take a month or more to see the full effects of the release on his optic nerve, Marc is already seeing some vision improvement. And he's definitely on the mend (this picture was taken a week after his surgery - only three days out of the hospital. He made it to BOTH kids' school holiday parties!) We are praising God, and thanking all of you who prayed, and continue to pray, for us.

Of course, that isn't the only thing going on in our lives. For several months, my daughter has been rehearsing for her role in our dance studio's version of "The Nutcracker." Just Sunday, she did her last of two performances, a matinee (the other was Saturday night). She was a fabulous mouse, and I will likely NEVER forget when she was "stabbed" by one of the toys, and she rolled over on her back and kicked up a storm (she looked like a turtle who landed backside up!). She was literally carried off the stage. What a ham my daughter is! (the picture below is her, backstage, with the lovely girl who played Clara - what an AMAZING job she did!)


Just over an hour after this production ended, she was back on stage again - this time in our church's children's Christmas show "The Best Christmas Present Ever," where she sang (with energy and ANIMATION) in the choir AND played an angel. My wonderful son Andrew also had a part in this (a solo, even), and he did FABULOUS (another blessing - a few years ago we could barely get him to stay up onstage!). What a blessing! (only took videos of those, and have NO idea how to upload them here from my camera!)

So, we have a few days to relax for the most part, and enjoy the gift of Jesus. We're headed to Marc's folks for Christmas eve and will be back home Christmas day for our own little celebration.

As far as my book, I've been doing some agent research, and have read an EXCELLENT ebook on writing a book proposal by Thomas Nelson Publishers CEO Michael Hyatt (highly recommended - click here to see! And if you don't already follow his blog, it's DEFINITELY a must-read). So, I'm making progress. Maybe not like I'd hoped, but I am progressing.

So, that's what I've been up to. Hope to be around my blog a bit more in the next while. (and maybe even READING other peoples'!! I don't even wanna THINK ABOUT how behind I am in that!)

Praying you have a Christmas full of peace, grace, mercy, and love. Remember Who it's all about!


12/11/09

"Peace Like A...Pond?" - Friday Fiction



Fiction Friday,button,karlene


Welcome to my contribution to Fiction Friday, hosted this week by Karlene at Homespun Expressions. Make sure that you head over to her blog and link up with your own fiction. Or, if you just want to read some great fiction (ALWAYS great in my opinion!), head over to Karlene's blog and check out the links there.
Because of my husband's surgery today, I was considering skipping Friday Fiction this week. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that there is a fictional piece I wrote that really gives a clear insight into what I am feeling, and going through, right now. God has been so faithful.

I wrote this piece more than THREE YEARS AGO, but it still speaks to me - and reminds me what the Christian life is about (the peace like a river explanation, by the way, came from a Beth Moore Bible study I did. NO recollection which one.) Hope you enjoy it!

Peace Like A...Pond?

The sun was just creeping over the tree line, spreading its glow onto the landscape. Leaves crackled underfoot, but not loud enough to drown out the rushing of the water against the rocks.

"Move it, Mason!"

Harold Mason, sauntering along the riverbank taking the last drag on his Camel, increased his pace to a slowish trot, tossing his spent butt ahead of him and squashing it with the heel of his work boot as he ambled along.

Mason turned around with a start as he felt a jab in the small of his back.

"Hey - pick up that thing! We’re here cleanin’, not litterin!"

"Guards," Mason grunted under his breath as he took a few steps back, grabbed the cigarette butt and put it in the small orange bag tied to his back belt buckle, bumping into the guard.

"Hey there!"

"Sorrrrryyy!" Mason said with a sheepishness that was obviously phony.

Tittering, several of the other inmates looked Mason’s way and gave him the thumbs up. Mason smirked. Oh, how he loved getting a rise out of the guards, and a laugh out of the guys!

The group of them - about a dozen total - walked to a clearing, where it appeared several groups had picnicked recently. Food, napkins, cups, old boxes and other assorted trash were strewn about.

"OK - get to cleanin’. No goofin’ off, either. This ain’t no vacation!"

The men got to work, some more enthusiastically than others. Mason began picking up assorted garbage and slam dunking it into his trash bag.

"Hey."

Mason turned to see a young inmate, probably half his own 40 years, gathering trash beside him and glancing his way.

"Hey yourself. Name’s Mason."

"I know your name - everyone here does. I’m John Phillips. Just transferred here a couple weeks ago."

Mason nodded. The two men returned to garbage collection, working side by side in silence for several minutes.

"Mason, can I ask ya something?"

"You can ask," Mason quipped.

Phillips pointed at Mason’s right forearm.

"Noticed your cross tatt. You a Christian?"

"What do you think?" he snickered.

Phillips shrugged.

"I may have been one before, but I sure as heck ain’t one now! Why would God stick me here? I didn’t even do anything! How can I follow Him when He deserts me?!"

"No peace, eh?"

"Who the HECK can have peace when they’re in jail for a crime they didn’t commit?!"

"Paul did. Peter did. So did Joseph and Jeremiah."

Mason rolled his eyes and turned away, focusing on picking up a large pile of napkins that had blown over the picnic area.

"You guys can take a break," the guard shouted. "Sit down and have your lunch."

The men each grabbed a box lunch from a crate the guard had brought out and sat on the ground. Phillips brought his lunch over by Mason and sat. Mason shifted, facing away from Phillips and toward the rushing river.
"God never promised you a stress-free life, you know, Mason."
"And why the heck not, Mister Christian??"

"Do you see that river out there, Mason? Does it look peaceful to you?"

"Guess so. But what does that have to do with anything?"

"Look at how the water pounds the rocks. Sure doesn’t look calm to me!"

"OK - guess not! Still; what are you getting at, Phillips?"

"God promises us peace like a river - you remember that?"

Mason nodded, turning toward him.

"He doesn’t promise us peace like a pond - now THAT is calm. A smooth sail; an easy life. That’s what you were expecting.
He promises us peace like a river: peace and security as you go over the twists, turns, and boulders of life. Jesus promised us trouble in this life - but he also said we could have His peace through it.
"God hasn’t let you down, Mason - you have let you down! You can have peace - His peace - peace like a river!"

Mason looked at Phillips thoughtfully, then walked out to the river’s edge, watching the water drift down the river - past rocks, logs and other obstacles in its way.

"Peace like a river, eh?..."


Scriptures used: Isaiah 48:18, John 16:33


Thanks for reading! Be sure to stop by Homespun Expressions for more great fiction!



12/9/09

Covering My Bases: Update on my Husband

Chances are, you have already seen this information - I have it posted/linked to on twitter, Facebook, and the FaithWriters' message boards. But, just in case, here it is once again. Thanks SO much for the prayers-those you've already said, and those yet to come. Trust me - they have been felt here in West Michigan!

Update on my husband, Marc (surgery this Friday at 1:30pm)

First of all, your offer of prayer and love and support have been absolutely WONDERFUL. I SO appreciate it, as does my wonderful husband.

Now, for some of you, part of this will be old, but I wanted to share exactly what led up to all this as well, so you can pray more intelligently.

In August of 2003, a tumor was found on my husband's brain - on the optic nerve, near the optic chiasm. Because it is woven into the optic nerve, they didn't remove it (removing it would have caused him to lose all his vision, because they would have needed to cut it, and optic nerves do not regenerate). He had a craniotomy back then (took off the front of his skull and went to his brain that way) - they meant to only take enough for a biopsy, but they apparently took a bit of nerve too, as his vision was definitely affected. As of a couple months ago, he had about a 30 degree range of vision in his left eye, and could barely see anything in his right (could see movement at six inches). He had a couple other craniotomies during that first year (no details necessary), plus he's gone through radiation and chemo (in pill form - for a year during 2005 because of tumor growth). There had been no further complications since then. (not a normal life, i should say - still always tired and hormonal issues, as the radiation killed the back part of his pituitary gland - but nothing new)

Fast forward to about a month ago. Marc got an absolute KILLER migraine that lasted for a couple days. We finally went in to the doc for a shot, which cleared it up, but even after it was gone, his vision was worse than before it, and he had increased light sensitivity (another issue he's had since the tumor was found, but it's more pronounced now). A couple days after, I called Marc's oncologist, who said it sounded like it was a symptom of the headache and to not worry unless it got worse. So, we gave it another week and then called again - played phone tag that week (was Thanksgiving week), until last week Monday, when I said I wanted an MRI, if only for peace of mind. They got us in the next day, and we got the results of the scan last Thursday afternoon - there was no tumor growth, but there was bleeding. He set up an appointment with a neurosurgeon for Monday (two days ago). We saw him, and he gave us more details.

Basically, an aneurysm had grown on the original tumor, and it had burst. The pressure of the aneurysm, and the blood, on the optic nerve, is the cause of his increased vision loss. We were given two options - waiting for the body to assimilate the blood there and such (which our bodies WOULD do in time! What amazing machines God made when He made our bodies!), or have surgery.

The obvious benefit of the wait approach was, well, no surgery. However, the longer that optic nerve is compressed, the less likely it will "work" when it is no longer compressed. In fact, the doctor couldn't even assure us that the four weeks it HAS been compressed already aren't too much to reap a visual benefit to Marc.

The surgery is less intrusive than any of the three craniotomies Marc has had before. Basically, the doctor would go in through his nasal cavity (this is VERY simplistic), poke a hole in the cranial membrane, and let the blood drain out. He believes it would likely be that simple. If, however, it didn't drain, he may have to "poke around" in there to get it out, which could cause other optic nerve damage. There could also be risk to his pituitary gland, but since it doeesn't work anyway, that doesn't really matter. Depending, he will likely be in the hospital for 1 to 4 days.

As most of you know, we opted for the surgery, which the doctor said he would be able to get done soon (this month, hopefully soon, because of the nerve compression issue.). I have a message in to him, with hopes of getting a call back today with a surgery date. UPDATE - surgery will be this Friday at 1:30PM

Currently, Marc's vision is quite bad. He can't focus on anything, and he said he couldn't even see me clearly sitting across the table from me. He also has the increased light sensitivity (been wearing sunglasses a lot) and is more tired than usual.

I can't think of anything else to share at the moment, other than another HUGE thank you for the prayers. Our peace has been straight from God, and I know you all are a part of it!

12/7/09

Flesh - Monday Manna

Join me at the Family Channel at Exemplify today, where I'm starting a series on Moms of the Bible with a focus on one of the central characters of the Christmas story - Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist. We have much to learn from her - stop over!



Welcome to Monday Manna. The purpose of this meme is to get together and get to know Christ more through His Word. On the first and third Monday of each month, anyone who wishes can post their thoughts on a verse I introduced at my blog the Thursday before. It doesn't have to be a long post -- just a few thoughts, a picture you feel helps express it, a poem, a short story, a devotional.

Anyone is welcome to participate. Just put a link to your Monday Manna blog entry in the MckLinky gadget below, and check out others' thoughts.

This Monday's verse (the only one for the month of December, by the way - taking the third Monday off for Christmas!) is a wonderful one to ponder for the Christmas season.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14
Looking forward to hearing your thoughts (post on your own blog and link up on the MckLinky gadget below - or just share in the comments section!). Mine are below.

**

The Word became flesh. God, the Almighty of the universe, became human. The unbounding glory of our Savior dwelt in skin. He had a heart, kidneys, bowels, a brain, blood vessels, and kneecaps. He was born of a human. He knows how it feels to scrape his knee--to be hungry. He is familiar with pain and joy. He may have spent time in bed with the flu. Perhaps, at some point in his life, he broke a bone, or got a splinter. He truly experienced the struggles, aches and pains of being in the flesh.

And then He went to the cross, conquered death AND the flesh, and rose again. He has conquered death: conquered the flesh. And because he conquered it, we will too. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. We are "stuck" with our fleshly bodies: some riddled with disease, some incredibly healthy, but ALL disintegrating cell by cell as we get older.

Perhaps He will miraculously stop the bleeding on my husband's brain, or zap away the tumor there. Perhaps He will use a neurosurgeon to stop the bleeding, or some medication developed by a scientist in a lab thousands of miles away.Or maybe He won't.

But no matter what He does, I know that my husband's flesh will be conquered, just as Christ's was. And all because The Word become flesh in the first place.

**

Be sure to link up below with your own thoughts on John 1:14. Can't wait to read your thoughts, and I'll see you again in the new year!



12/4/09

"In Love and Desperation" - Friday Fiction


Fiction Friday,button,karlene


Welcome to my contribution to Fiction Friday, hosted this week by Karlene at Homespun Expressions. Make sure that you head over to her blog and link up with your own fiction. Or, if you just want to read some great fiction (ALWAYS great in my opinion!), head over to Karlene's blog and check out the links there.
I wrote this a year and a half ago, when I was using the FaithWriters' Writing Challenge to figure out how I was going to write my book Ailing Body, Nourished Soul, which is now officially in the hands of its professional editor. This is not an excerpt, but shows my heart about the events of my husband's brain tumor and the complications.

It looks like we may have a bit more trial in this. My husband's vision has worsened, and an MRI found there is bleeding on his brain (though no growth, thank the Lord!). As he meets with the neurosurgeon on Monday, I need to remember things like this from the first portion of this trial. God never changes, and he is always faithful.


IN LOVE AND DESPERATION

"I'm so glad you're here." Those were the only words I could force from my mouth as I held her tight.

"Me too. It's going to be all right, dear." Neither of our voices was above a whisper.

We both needed the embrace, the encouragement to hang on, the hope for the future. We were desperate for the strength to work through--to think through--the events of the past few days. I certainly can't speak for Sharonl, but I know I was glad to see her walk through the hospital room door at that moment. Her hug was precious, as were her words.

It made no difference to me that we were not blood relatives, or that she wasn't even related to him by blood. It didn't matter that she was "just" his step-mother. Sharon loved him with a maternal love, and she treated me like the daughter she'd never had.

My own mother, the one I'd turned to for every scary, frightening situation in my first half-dozen years, was no longer living. My step-mother, who had taken her place (to an extent, anyway) in those matters for the next dozen or two years, was three thousand miles away.

For the past decade or so, I'd had someone else to turn to with my fears--someone new with which to share them. My husband, Marc, became my protector: the one who scared away the boogie man and comforted me in my troubles. But today, when I needed someone to do just that, not only was he unavailable, but he was what was scaring me.

Then, of course, there was God. Was he there? Undoubtedly. And, yes, he comforted me. But sometimes having a physical person you can actually touch and talk to can make a difficult situation a bit easier to handle.

It was my husband in that hospital bed, and we really had no answers. When hospital personnel were mentioning "mass" and "brain" in the same sentence, however, best-case scenarios were not the first things to come to mind. Sure, God was in control, but how would this affect me, my family, my husband, my LIFE?

It was comforting, somehow, to have another woman there with me. Females really do seem to react to situations like this differently than men do. I needed someone who could share in my concern and fear: someone who would understand. We could certainly empathize with each other. She and I were both afraid of losing someone we loved dearly: she, her step-son of nineteen years, and me, my husband of nine.

Sharon and I, unlike the mother-in-law stereotype, had gotten along since we'd met. Yet, something about that desperate situation, and the love we both had for Marc, created a special bond--a bond of desperation and love, if you will--between us. We were truly drawn together by this trial. This is a bond we still have, five years later. The trial is not gone either, though it is different: less immediate, more controlled, if you will. And through it all, Sharon was, and is, there.

I had other ladies in my life during this time, and they were certainly a blessing. Yet, God knew what I needed at that moment in the hospital room (and several others over the next few years): a woman who loved me, and Marc, in a way only a maternal figure could--and could do it in person. God gave us that woman in Sharon.

**

Thanks for reading! Be sure to stop by Homespun Expressions for more great fiction!

12/3/09

Monday Manna for December 7 -


Monday Manna

The purpose of Monday Manna is to get together and get to know Christ more through His Word.

On the first and third Mondays of each month, anyone who wants to participate can post their thoughts on a specific verse--posted here at my blog on the Thursday before, to allow you to chew on it over the weekend. It doesn't have to be long -- just a few thoughts, a picture you feel helps express it, a poem, a short story, a devotional. Just post it on your blog on Mondayish (early OR late is fine, by the way!), then come back here and link up in the MckLinky gadget that will be at the bottom of MY post at o'dark thirty that morning.

In the spirit of Christmas (and because we won't be doing Monday Manna the third Monday of this month because of the holidays), I thought I'd pull out an appropriate, but non-"Christmas storyish" verse for us to ponder this weekend. Our Wednesday night Bible study and prayer time this month is focusing on the humanity of Christ, and our pastor discussed this verse, among others, yesterday.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14

Looking forward to your thoughts (and mine!) on this packed verse. See you back here on Monday!

12/2/09

Now for the SCARY stuff - An "Ailing Body Nourished Soul" Progress/Goal update

Can hardly believe it's December, and two days past my super-gynormous goal for my book--getting my book professional-editor-ready by November 30, 2009, a year from when I was awarded honorable mention in the 2008 Page Turner Nonfiction contest (Congratulations to Lynda Schab, THIS year's fiction winner, as well as Shelley Ledfors and Lisa Mikitarian, the runners up, by the way!). And, if you missed my November 24 post, I am announcing to you that I DID IT! I am done with it - and have put it aside until a professional looks at it again. What an INCREDIBLE feeling!

Anyhow, as is customary, I am posting my goals for November here, so you can see what I have accomplished.

  1. Finish my "read-aloud" read-through of Ailing Body Nourished Soul
  2. Do one more "proofreading/whatever else I can find" read-through
  3. Spend a minimum of 15 minutes a day, two hours a week on my book until I'm done 


I am pleased to say that I met all three of these goals in November...then took a few days' respite (from writing, anyway - it was ANYTHING but restful in every other area, but that's beside the point!). I THINK I'm ready to get back to work.

My goals, however, are different for this month, now that the book-writing portion is done, as is the editing (at least until Deb gets my stuff back to me!). Now is the time to start diving into the scary part of the process - getting this book PUBLISHED!

And here they are:
During the month of December 2009,  I will strive to:
  1. Spend a decent amount of time researching agents and publishing houses who could potentially publish "Ailing Body Nourished Soul" and
  2. Begin working on whatever documents (cover letter? book proposals) I might need to submit along with my actual book to be considered for pubication.
So, that's it. With the holidays, I'm not setting specific time goals, as this is a crazy time for me and EVERYONE ELSE! Will try to work just about daily, though, as I can. Still plugging along!


Thanks so much for reading, and your support! Have a blessed Christmas!

11/30/09

Kettle Club: November Quiet

The Kettle Club is a monthly meme from Exemplify Online. We are committed to spending time with the Lord BEFORE writing and blogging, and at the end of the month, we share our experiences. This month, our goal was to be silent before the Lord. Check out this post for some suggested questions to answer, and this one to read other folks' contributions to this meme. My thoughts are below

**

Twas the month before Christmas,
and all through the house
not a creature was stirring,

not even a mouse.



This little poem parody did NOT describe my month. But then again, I don't think that is what the Kettle Club's challenge for November was. Coming before the Lord in silence is not the same as being surrounded by quiet when coming to Him.


And it's a good thing, because my quiet time this month was rarely if ever auditorily quiet. It was filled with children playing and/or fighting, requests of many sorts from my kids, insistent meows, and even, on one occasion, the squealing of an actual mouse struggling to escape the jaws of our mighty feline hunter. Sure, there were some days when the noise wasn't there. But that was the exception.


No: for me, silence meant a hushing of my expectations, my preconceived notions, and my heart. I've discovered that I don't listen very well when I'm talking. And I was coming to my devotional time with lots of things to discuss, and ponder. I had my agenda: with God, even with my Bible reading. I was looking for something to tweet - or something to write a blog about. Or I was remembering the story I would read and skim for things I hadn't noticed before.


But this month, I tried to listen to God first - without expectation. I tried to read God's Word as if for the first time. 


And as I silenced myself, I heard God speak.


And it was GOOD.


**

Stop by November's Kettle Club meeting to see what others have to share about their month of silence before God.


 

11/25/09

Thanksgiving and Prayer - Word-Filled Wednesday

Welcome to my contribution to Word-Filled Wednesday, hosted this week by Susan at Forever His. Be sure to stop by her blog for more visual inspiration from scripture.

I'm guessing I won't be the only person focusing on Thanksgiving today. We have so many blessings, but there is little more precious than the ability to petition our Father, and to thank Him for all he has given us. Prayer is powerful.




Thanks for stopping by, and praying you have a blessed Thanksgiving (whether you are an American or not!). Be sure to stop by Susan's blog for more

11/24/09

Celebrating Another Step: "Ailing Body, Nourished Soul" Progress/Update

I know - it's NOT the end of the month quite yet, but I couldn't POSSIBLY wait to share the latest step in my "finishing my book" process.
Last night, I FINISHED my last read-through of Ailing Body, Nourished Soul before sending it off for its professional edit.
Now, the ball, for the moment, is no longer in my court. Just waiting (patiently - really!) for my editing estimate from the amazingly talented, beautiful, loving, and busy Deb Porter, and then the thing will be off my desk :). I can hardly believe it!

I'm buying donuts today to celebrate. Chocolate, of course! It's party time!!



So, what's next, you ask?

My plan for the rest of this month and all of next is to start researching agents and publishing houses and such. Once I get my beautiful manuscript back (hopefully torn to pieces by sweet Deb so I can make it better! LOL), I'll shine it up and get ready to send it to those scary people! Wow.

Thank you, Lord! And all of YOU!

Blessings!

11/23/09

Who's The Rose?

Would love for you to stop by the Family Channel at Exemplify today. I've got a post up there that exposes a bit more of the "real me" than I generally share - but God told me to do it. I'm sure (LOL or perhaps I hope!) many of you can relate. Pop over there and read about Motherly Insecurities.

I'm going to be spending the Thanksgiving holiday, as many of you, I assume, with family. In fact, at various times over that long weekend, there will be a total of nineteen of us together - some of which I haven't seen in months, others in years, and a couple in nearly a decade.

Out of those I will see, I am 99% certain of the spiritual condition of all but two of them. The have NOT accepted Christ as their Lord. So, it seems, I have a job to do.

I so want to be a good witness, to be salt and light, to my family. How I would LOVE God to use me and my family to bring them into a saving knowledge of Christ. But I am nervous.

I'm afraid I'll chicken out. I'm afraid I'll  say it wrong and turn them more against Christ than they already are. I'm afraid I'll compromise my convictions to keep the peace, or to avoid confrontation.

And sometimes, I wonder if they're beyond reaching--that they're so engrossed in their selfish lives that even the love of Christ can't break through.

Of course, I know that NOBODY is beyond reaching - but still, Satan allows that thought to occupy me occasionally.

And yesterday morning, in church, our pastor preached on the stewardship of the gospel of Christ. They were words I needed. He ended his message by sharing a powerful, four-minute video, which I am sharing with you.

There are so many messages in this, for so many people. But for me, it spoke to me, asking if, perhaps, my parents, or my brothers, or anyone else who will be with us for Thanksgiving, might be the rose. And if so, what must I do?



Click here if you can't view it on my blog.

Blessings!

11/20/09

Old Glory's Tears - Friday Fiction




Fiction Friday,button,karlene

Welcome to my contribution to Fiction Friday, hosted this week by Sherri at A Candid Thought. Make sure that you head over to her blog and link up with your own fiction. Or, if you just want to read some great fiction (ALWAYS great in my opinion!), head over to Sherri's blog and check out the links there.
This is actually my most recent challenge entry and I wrote it for (gasp!) last week! Enjoyed writing it. Hope you like it too (I've been told to add a tissue warning - so here it is!). The topic was purple.


OLD GLORY'S TEARS

It was sideways. This just wouldn't work.

Daniel sighed. "Can I put it on the floor, Mama?"

"Put what on the floor, DJ?" Mrs. Harris looked up from the newspaper she was reading and turned toward her son.

"The paper." He pointed at the easel in frustration. "I have to paint it wideways, and it's hanging longways."

Mrs. Harris rose slowly and grabbed the pad of paper off the easel. She turned it ninety degrees and hung it back up.

"Does that work?"

DJ nodded, licking his lips and staring at the angle of the paper.

"Thanks," he mumbled.

He went digging through the art box, pulling out a paintbrush and two containers of paint: red and blue.

"What happens when you mix blue and red, Mama?" He held the paintbrush up in front of him and stared at the blank canvas.

"You get purple. Why?"

"There isn't purple on the flag, right? Isn't it Daddy's favorite color?"

"The American flag? No, there isn't, hun." She wiped her eyes. "And yes, it was Daddy's favorite."

"I shouldn't mix the colors, then. Or it won't be a real American flag." DJ chewed on the end of the paintbrush and furrowed his brow.

"I think a little bit of mixing would be okay, DJ." She rested her hand on the top of his head and tousled his hair. "Like you said, purple was his favorite color. I think he'd like it."

DJ whipped his head from side to side. "It needs to look like a real American flag, cuz daddy's a real American hero." He looked at her, eyes blazing. "That's what you said, right?"

Mrs. Harris nodded, her eyes shut tight. "That's what I said, DJ."

He nodded himself and turned back toward the easel. He uncovered the blue paint and dipped his brush in. He slowly and meticulously painted a large blue square in the upper left corner.

Dropping the brush in water, he looked up and licked his lips. He opened the red canister, picked up and shook off his brush, and dipped it into the paint. With careful yet childlike brushstrokes, he painted each of the seven red stripes, glancing occasionally at a picture on the table. As the paintbrush got closer to the blue field, DJ slowed his strokes and stared, his tongue peeking out from between his closed lips. Not once did the colors mix.

Finishing the last stripe, he put the brush down, stepped back, and looked over his creation. He picked up a pencil and wrote on the white stripe below the blue field "my daddy is a hero" in uneven block letters.

He grabbed a sheet of star stickers and carefully placed them, one by one, in the blue field, just dry enough to touch. As he placed the 50th star, he felt a hand on his shoulder.

"We leave for the cemetery in about ten minutes. You about ready?"

DJ nodded.

"Why don't you go wash your hands and change into the outfit on your bed? I'll be up to help you in a minute." She kissed him on the head. "And that's a beautiful flag, Daniel. Your father would be honored to see what you made."

A few minutes later, Daniel entered the car. Once buckled up, he held the flag across his chest.

"I miss him so much, Mommy."

"I know, sweetie, I do too."

Tears dripped down his face and further, a few landing in the flag's blue field. He glanced down a moment later and sighed, his crying increasing.

"There's purple, mom. The red stripe under the blue part has a purple smudge. My crying ruined my real American flag!" DJ bowed his head.

Mrs. Harris pulled over to the side, turned her body, and shook her head. "No it isn't, Daniel." She lifted his chin with her hand. "It's perfect. It has your own tears of love on it. Daddy is looking down on it right now, so glad you made it for him."

Daniel sniffled and looked into his mother's eyes. "Really?"

She nodded. "I think your tears will remind people of the tears we all cry when a hero dies for our country. A crying flag makes sense to me. Don't you think?"

DJ cracked a smile. "Yeah, I guess you're right." He closed his eyes. "And purple tears are kinda special too."

"They sure are, sweetie. Especially when they come from a special boy and his special flag."

**
Thanks for reading! Be sure to stop by A Candid Thought for more great fiction.

11/18/09

Sheltering Protection - Word-Filled Wednesday

Welcome to my contribution to Word-Filled Wednesday, hosted this week by the lovely Christy at Critty Joy. Be sure to stop by her blog for more visual inspiration from Scripture.

This isn't the EXACT picture I wanted for this verse, but it works. I love how unafraid these children look. If only we could feel this way when we are in the midst of "rough seas." And we should--because of Who is beside us.




Photobucket

Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for in you my soul takes refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed. Psalm 57:1 NIV

 Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to stop by Christy's blog for more



11/16/09

Ultimate Faith: Monday Manna

Welcome to Monday Manna. The purpose of this meme is to get together and get to know Christ more through His Word. On the first and third Monday of each month, anyone who wishes can post their thoughts on a verse I introduced at my blog the Thursday before. It doesn't have to be a long post -- just a few thoughts, a picture you feel helps express it, a poem, a short story, a devotional.

Anyone is welcome to participate. Just put a link to your Monday Manna blog entry in the MckLinky gadget below, and check out others' thoughts.

This week's verses are from one of the greatest stories of faith in all of God's Word. I wonder sometimes if I would be able to say these same things in the face of difficulty and trial.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." Daniel 3:16-18
Looking forward to reading your thoughts. Link up below!

**

It's been a bit of a busy week/weekend for me. I have been thinking a lot sbout these verses, and my thoughts keep coming back to some "stuff" I've already written on this subject. So, I'm going to share two of them. 


First is a story I originally wrote over a year ago for the writing challenge. It is not Biblical fiction, but this character (who still haunts me a bit, by the way) is living the life of Daniel 3:16-18. Check out "The Pain of Gain," and let me know what you think.

Also, back in August of last year, I wrote a devotional on this very story. I'm sharing it here.

Each year, I read through the entire Bible, and I just finished the book of Daniel. In the early parts of this amazing book, I foun, once again, one of the most incredible statements of faith in God in the Bible—in my opinion, anyway.

Let me set the scene. Daniel’s friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, are in the service of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. He has recently built a 50-foot statue, and demanded that every one of his subject bow down and worship it. These three men of God, high up in Nebuchadnezzar’s organization, refuse to worship anyone but their Lord.

The king approaches the three men and gives them one more chance to obey: "If you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?" Daniel 3:15 NIV

Now, if I had been one of those men, I'm fairly certain my panic alarm would have gone off at maximum volume. Doubts, anxiety, and fear would have dominated my thoughts. I might have even bowed (with my body) just to save my life (admit it--you might have considered it too!).

But not these guys.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." Daniel 3:16-18 NIV
Now that, my friends, is faith. These men knew He could save them, but were willing to pay the ultimate price even if He chose not to do what they wanted. That is faith no matter the circumstances--faith despite circumstances.

There are many around the world who are faced with the same dilemma as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: men and women who risk their lives, families, finances, possessions and everything else every day just to share the Gospel, or to live it out. The persecuted church is huge, yet it is the fastest growing part of the body of Christ. These people are willing to look their oppressors in the face and say "but even if He does not." And in some cases, He does not. But they still say it.

That is the kind of faith I want.

Heavenly Father, I pray for all those who are suffering for their faith, for those who risk death daily because of their love for You. Give them the strength to say, and life "but even if He does not" each day. Strengthen them, and hold them close to You.

And Lord, I pray that you would give me that kind of faith. Help me to trust You enough to live for You no matter what the consequences. Make me an "but even if He does not" Christian.
In Jesus' name. Amen.

**
Thanks for reading! Be sure to link up below, and check out other folks' thoughts on these verses.




11/13/09

Friday Fiction: "Litter Box Ministry"

Fiction Friday,button,karlene

Welcome to my contribution to Fiction Friday, hosted this week by Vonnie at My Back Door. Make sure that you head over to her blog and link up with your own fiction. Or, if you just want to read some great fiction (ALWAYS great in my opinion!), head over to My Back Door and check out the links there.
AGAIN, I'm posting non-fiction. Hope you don't shoot me through the toes and hang me by the holes ;). Wrote this one a year and a half ago, when I was first working out how I was going to write/format my non-fiction book Ailing Body, Nourished Soul. This is in the style of my book (which is VERY close to ready for its professional edit!!!), but not an actual excerpt. Hope you enjoy it!

LITTER BOX MINISTRY

It felt like a completely ridiculous and uncomfortable request, but I had to make it.

Our needs at the time were wide and deep: money, day care, prayers, meals, transportation, companionship, clothing, groceries, yard work. Some we had graciously received from our church family without even a request on our part. Others had been granted after we made the need known.

Every person in our family had been blessed by the gracious and giving natures of the body of Christ. Whether it was a church member mowing our three-acre yard so my husband wouldn't have to, a ready-cooked meal so I could stay out of the kitchen, or a toy to keep my son occupied, each member of our household had been blessed abundantly by the giving of fellow Christians.

Well, almost every member. It seemed our two "feline children" needed ministering to as well.

Twix and Squeak were already getting food and water, and even a bit of love. Their needs were a bit more sanitary in nature.

You see, for the past several months, my husband had been taking care of the cats' "business" after they relieved themselves. Prior to this, cleaning up after the cats had always been my chore, as my husband's sense of smell was a bit more acute than mine. This was certainly not a job he enjoyed, but he had done it, nonetheless, because of the warning in my most consulted book (besides the Bible, of course): "What To Expect When You're Expecting."

My second child was on the way, you see. Every pregnancy book known to man, it seemed, discouraged expectant females from contact with cat poo (I can be straightforward, can't I?). It seems feline fecal matter can carry a disease called toxoplasmosis. This disorder, though having little effect on the mother-to-be, can be spread to the unborn child and cause serious complications, including blindness.

Well, my husband was now physically unable to take care of this, and cats will only put up with an unsanitary lavatory for so long. And, as much as I adored my kitties (and hated asking for yet another favor), I was unwilling to risk my newborn child's eyesight.

So, I called Barb, our pastor's wife and a dear friend, who had been coordinating our assistance (do you know what a Godsend it is to have someone coordinating your assistance?). Apparently attuned to my plans, our calico curled up on my lap, gazing up at me with that "rub me or else" look. I obliged, of course.

"Hi Barb."

"Hi, dear! How are you doing?"

"We're doing okay. Barb, thank you so much for all you've done. You don't know how much we appreciate it."

"I just thank the Lord that I can."

I sighed. "I have one more thing I need help with."

I could hear her shuffling papers. "What do you need, hun?"

"Well, I need someone to come and clean out the litter box." I paused. "Of course, my husband can't do it, and I'm not supposed to because I'm pregnant."

Barb went right to work, with a smile I'm sure. Within a day or two, she had found a cat lover (had to have been!) and sister in Christ willing to come to our home and take care of Squeak and Twix's "leavings."

Now if that doesn't require a selfless attitude, I don't know what does. And she performed her litter box ministry cheerfully and without complaint for three months.

The body of Christ blessed every living being in our home during our trial, it seemed. Some prayed. Some gave us rides. Some watched our son. And some cleaned up our cats' waste. Every one was a blessing.


Questions: Do you ever feel embarrassed to ask for help when you really need it? Do you let your pride get in the way of asking for, or performing, assistance that may seem "below you"? Do you feel like you need to do something important in order to really help someone?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help us to remember that Your Son was willing to do the lowliest of jobs when He was on earth. Help us not to be ashamed to ask for help, and not too prideful to do even the lowliest of tasks for Your sake. Thank You for hearing our prayers in Jesus' name. Amen.


Thanks for reading! Be sure to stop by Vonnie's blog for great fiction!

11/12/09

Monday Manna for November 16 - Even if...


Monday Manna

The purpose of Monday Manna is to get together and get to know Christ more through His Word.

On the first and third Mondays of each month, anyone who wants to participate can post their thoughts on a specific verse--posted here at my blog on the Thursday before, to allow you to chew on it over the weekend. It doesn't have to be long -- just a few thoughts, a picture you feel helps express it, a poem, a short story, a devotional. Just post it on your blog on Mondayish (early OR late is fine, by the way!), then come back here and link up in the MckLinky gadget that will be at the bottom of MY post at o'dark thirty that morning.

In my Bible reading, I'm in the book of Daniel. There is so much to learn and study in this wonderful Book. One of my favorite, and most inspiring, verses is in this OT prophetic book. Every time I read it, it challenges me. How real IS my faith? How much am I willing to put on the line?

And so, for this week's Monday Manna, I ask you to ponder, and write on, the very same thing.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." Daniel 3:16-18
Look forward to YOUR thoughts on these verses. See you back here on Monday, I hope!
Blessings!

11/9/09

Exemplify: Moments to Spare

Be sure to stop by Exemplify today. I've got a post over there in the Family Channel about making time for YOU in the busyness of your hectic life. Check out Moments to Spare. Maybe you'll learn something from reading that I had to learn the hard way.
Speaking of Exemplify...
Have you been over there in the past week or so? If not, there are TONS of new features, with more to come in the next few weeks. This wonderful site is becoming a place for all Christian women in whatever stage they may be in. I am so excited to be even a small part of it!

Just last week, five new channels were introduced. Each has its own blog with its own feed. With several more writers added to the mix over the past few months, there truly is something for each of us, no matter where we are in life.

For those of you who are "spouseless," try the Singles channel. Wives, the Marriage channel may be just what you're looking for--or perhaps with kids underfoot, the Family channel may be more up your alley.

Are you in some type of Christian service (and who isn't these days?)? Our Ministry channel may be just what you need. And for a bit of God's message for all of us, you can't go wrong with the Devotional channel. And don't forget the Editor's Blog, hosted by our incredible, beautiful, and blessed cupcake in chief Kristen Schiffman.

Subscribe to the one that fits you best--or to all of them (I do!).

And what would Exemplify be without the wonderful monthly magazine, also available on the blog?

And that's not all! In the coming weeks, Exemplify will be unveiling a new design, interactive community features, a new flipbook style magazine and much more.

So, be sure to stop by this wonderful site (and not just to read my devo!). You won't be sorry!


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