"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

3/31/09

Back to Work

Well, I enjoyed my ten days off from my book. Granted, it certainly wasn't exactly a vacation (trust me, I kept pretty busy!) It was, however, a break from from reliving the difficulties (and blessings) of my husband's health issues. It was good for me, I think.

I didn't exactly spend the time since I finished my rough draft twiddling my thumbs. I actually set a few goals for me to accomplish during my hiatus. And, if I say so myself, I did pretty well. I had set three goals for myself.
  1. Submit at least three old writing challenge entries to magazines for possible paid publication: DONE - two last week, and one earlier today
  2. At least start Rick Higginson's Marta's Pod: Not only did I start this fascinating, engaging manuscript, but I finished it--this morning, in fact. It was a pleasure to read and a very nice change
  3. Participate in Jan's Master Class: I participated in this for two topics - the week before last, and last week. May yet do this week's, but I'm not sure. I definitely learned something :D
Anyhow, tomorrow, I head back to "the grind." I'm excited to get back into my manuscript and get it looking a bit more readable. I have a lot of work to do, but I have decided to focus specifically on the sequence and "breakdown" of it for this first month.
Photobucket
What does this mean, you ask? Well, I want to determine my "chapters" and their order. I did a lot of "blabbering" on paper, so several of my "chapters" have lots of different topics in them, and will need to be broken into smaller units. Also, I can't do this book entirely chronologically, as some of the things I cover happened years before Marc's surgery, so I need to figure out the order of events in the book, and thus the order of chapters. I plan to spend at least a bit of time on it every day in April (since I am definitely a routine kinda gal!).

I'm also very excited to start taking my very first online writing class: Take Your Book From Good To Sold, offered through Writers Online Classes. The class, taught by author Shirley Jump, runs from April 15 to May 15. (Come join me - it's only $30!) I'm sure the class will help me greatly in getting this book into decent shape.

Thank you so much, my dear friends, for your support through this venture. With God's help, I will get this done.

3/30/09

Kettle Club: March Bible Insights

The Kettle Club is meeting today at Exemplify Online's blog. It's an opportunity for us to share the fruits of our goal of spending time in God's Word before blogging in March. Been looking forward to this! Be sure to pop over yourself and check out the other contributors at Exemplify's blog.



There were several questions to choose from, but I've decided to focus on one, then give a perspective I picked up this month that isn't addressed in the questions, but that I think can be beneficial.

What are some practical ways you maintain a consistent “in the Word” time?
It is the first (coherentish) thing I do each day. My kids know it. I know it. I've never tried to skip, but I imagine my kids would ask about it. I am traditionally an early riser (I joked the other day that I "slept in" until 6am one day last week - and it wasn't TOO much of a joke). I get out of bed, shower, dress, and grab a glass of milk, my Bible and my devotional book. It's become a habit to me. For me (and perhaps some of you) the easiest way to do something regularly is to make it a habit. That's what I've done. I simply do not allow myself to do anything else until I've finished--or if I get interrupted (to get something for my kid to eat, etc.) I just go back to it. I may not always have the most worshipful or even coherent time, but I ALWAYS do it.

What is your motivation for not just "going through the motions" in reading your Bible? (yeah - this question is NOT on the list, but I wanna share anyway! Kristen said it was okay, anyway!) As I mentioned above, I am VERY disciplined about having my "in the Word" time. Every morning it happens. I can probably count on one hand the number of times I did not do my reading in the past six months (maybe even year!). BUT, sometimes I read His Incredible Word like it's a magazine article - or even the phone book, or the cereal box. I will admit that there are times when I can't tell you 20 minutes later what I read. And that's ALMOST as bad as not reading at all.

This has to stop. And, inadvertently, I've found a way to combat it.

At least some of you know I am the Thursday blogger at Exemplify. I am currently doing a weekly series called Ponderings from the Pentateuch, where I write a blog/devotional every Thursday on some aspect of the five books of Moses. Well, in my daily Bible reading, I am currently in those very books (about mid-Deuteronomy at the moment). So, as I read, I am constantly keeping my mind open for topics for my series. I can't just "skim" if I'm specifically looking for a lesson, can I? And it's amazing what I've picked up. So, I'm gonna keep doing the same thing - even starting April 6, when I start Joshua. Even if I don't write the devo, if I'm constantly looking for the lesson, I'm gonna find it! (and I'm not changing my series then either - I'll still be plugging away with my Torah lessons. There's so much in those five books!) God's Word NEVER returns void!

Thanks for reading. Be sure to stop by Exemplify's Online Blog for some more "kettlers." And join in if you want!

3/27/09

Friday Fiction: Part Of The Job

Welcome to my contribution to Fiction Friday, hosted this week by Josh at Just Joshing. Be sure to stop by his blog for links to some wonderful fiction. And don't be afraid to post your own - just link up in the gadget at the bottom of his post!
This is a not-too-old Writing Challenge piece. I remember writing this one and thinking "this is a boring story. I really need a good twist." Well, I came up with something. Lemme know what you think. The topic was Christmas Cards. Enjoy!

PART OF THE JOB

"Is everything set?" A silver-haired balding gentleman slipped into the passenger seat of the van with a handful of helium-filled balloons.

"Sure is," his companion, a smart-looking blonde, gushed from the driver's seat. "Let's get going. It's only half an hour away."

**

"Okay, folks. Find your positions," she ordered. "Have you all had your potty break? No delaying the process with halts in production."

My mother had that drill sergeant look about her, so I knew it was time for business. I took my traditional spot at the end of the assembly line and waited for instructions.

Timmy was flitting back and forth, so I took his hand and reminded him of his spot. He shuffled into place between Dad and me. Beside him was Rebecca, with Mom's spot at the end.

"This shouldn't take very long, guys." Mom put her favorite Christmas CD in the boom box. "With all of us working together, these hundred cards should be addressed, stuffed, stamped, and sealed in an hour. A quick job."

Dad and Rebecca groaned. I stifled my moan to avoid Mom's evil eye, which almost sent Dad into convulsions.

"Let's review our roles." We all fixed our eyes, albeit reluctantly, on the woman of the house so she didn't feel the need to repeat what we'd heard repeatedly before.

"I'm in charge of the envelopes." She waved them above her head. "I will place the return address and the preprinted mailing address on each one in the proper place, and pass it on to Rebecca."

Rebecca nodded. "And I sign, fold, and stuff our Christmas letter in the envelope, then pass it to Dad. Right?"

"Exactly." Mom smiled at my younger sister. "Just be sure you fold it in fourths, so it will fit nicely in the envelope. And then your father will slide the Christmas card into the envelope."

Dad's eyes twinkled as he saluted. "Yes, ma'am. Open end first."

Mom giggled despite herself and nodded.

"And then I get to put the stamp on. Right, Mom?" Timmy actually sounded enthused about it, unlike the rest of us. Besides Mom, anyway.

I rubbed Timmy's back. "Yup. Then you pass the card to me and I pull aside the ones that need an extra note and seal the others."

"That's right, Angela." She looked over her troops. "Are we ready to get started?"

Nods traveled across the production line. Mom stepped into place.

"Okay then. Here we go."

It was actually pretty smooth going to start. I had to remind Timmy exactly where the stamp went, but he got into a pattern pretty quickly after that. We didn't really chatter much while we worked--we'd tried that last year, but the lady in charge hadn't thought much of it.

But then, when we were about halfway through, the unspeakable happened.

The doorbell rang.

Now, first of all, you need to know that nobody ever comes to our house without calling first. It couldn't possibly be a door-to-door salesman, as we live in the middle of the country and our front door is almost half a mile from the road. Friends and family always, always let us know they're coming.

Timmy screwed up his face. "What was that sound?" (I told you the doorbell doesn't ring much.)

Everyone stopped working and stared back and forth from person to person, mouth agape. Dad turned his body and began to leave his post, but Mom put her hand out.

"Don't answer it. We're almost done." She had that stare about her again.

Are you serious, Mom?" Rebecca's tween attitude was quite blatant.

My mother nodded. "Let's finish up."

We all sighed and got back to work, despite the doorbell ringing three more times. Mom, of course, gave us that same look after each ring.

According to Mom's stopwatch, we completed the task in one hour, twelve minutes and thirty-seven seconds, including our little interruption. Mom was thrilled. We were relieved.

"Now, aren't you glad we didn't allow that doorbell to distract us?" Mom poured a round of hot chocolate. "Who knows how long we would have been delayed? I'm sure, if it was important, they'll come back."

**

"Maybe we should go back," the blonde mumbled, biting her lip.

The gentleman sighed. "You know that's against the rules. If they don't come to the door, we draw another name."

"I know. It's just such a shame for that family, Mr. McMahon."

"It's part of the job, dear--just part of the job."

*

Thanks for reading. Be sure to stop by Just Joshing for more great fiction.

3/26/09

Pentateuch Ponderings: Who NOT to imitate

I'm over at Exemplify today, with another post in my Ponderings on the Pentateuch series. There are lots of people in God's Word to imitate: Balak is NOT one of them. Yet, I'm like him more than I'd like to admit. Check out Just Like Balak over there today. (if you're not remembering who he is, perhaps the graphic will give you a clue of what he was like!)

3/25/09

Word-Filled Wednesday: Water

Here I am again, with my contribution to Word-Filled Wednesday, hosted weekly at Amy Deanne's blog. Be sure to stop by her place and see all the other wonderful contributions.

As soon as I spotted this picture on photobucket, I knew I needed to use it for my next WFW. And it wasn't hard to find a great verse for it.

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For I will pour water and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. Isaiah 44:3 NIV

Heavenly Father, thank You for taking my dry spots and watering them with Your living water. Thank You, Lord, for blessing me beyond imagination. In Jesus' name. Amen.

For more visual inspiration from scripture, be sure to stop by Word-Filled Wednesday at


3/21/09

Kicking up my heels

Well...not EXACTLY, but I AM celebrating finishing my rough draft of Ailing Body, Nourished Soul by not working on my manuscript until March is over. :D

Of course, working on my book is only ONE thing I do, but it IS one that took up a bit of my time. So, I'm planning to do some other things for the rest of the month to "fill in the gap" (plus, it's nearly the Faithwriters' Writing Challenge break too, so that frees up even a touch more time!).

So, for the curious, for the next ten days or so, I plan to:

  1. Submit at least three (maybe more) old challenge entries for paid publication somewhere.
  2. AT LEAST get started reading the latest revision of Rick Higginson's Marta's Pod, sequel to his Cardan's Pod. (He's an amazing writer and cool Faithwriters/blogging friend - and he blessed ME with the opportunity to check out his book before it's "ready for prime time." I've had it for almost a month - on my hard drive - and haven't even opened it :::blush:::)
  3. Participate in Jan's Master Class on the Faithwriters' Message Boards. It's a wonderful bunch of weekly classes that cover various writing techniques, and I haven't been a part of it in quite a while. Looking forward to learning tons!
AND, once April starts? Time to get working on a)figuring out the order of my book, b)getting a concept of chapters that may need to be joined, or broken up, and 3)editing, slicing, dicing, adding, and revising.

But until then, a nice little change of pace sounds good. And maybe I'll do a bit of extra blogging. Who knows, eh?

Thanks for coming along for the ride.

3/20/09

A Beginning AND An Ending (Friday Fiction plus)

Welcome to my contribution to Fiction Friday, hosted this week by Dee at My Heart's Dee-Light. Be sure to stop by her blog for links to some wonderful fiction. And don't be afraid to post your own - just link up in the gadget at the bottom of her post.
This post is actually a bit more, and a bit less, than my normal Friday Fiction. It is a bit less, because what I'm posting is actually (gasp!) not fiction. It is 100% true (Dear Patty said it was fine - and called me a silly girl when I asked! hehe).

And it is a bit more, because of the news I have to share. Keep reading. I'll get to it fairly soon. I promise.

My contribution this week is the introduction to my current work in progress: Ailing Body, Nourished Soul. This introduction, along with the first chapter and a synopsis, is what I submitted to the 2008 Page Turner Contest at Faithwriters, and what made me come in second place overall. Click here for a bit more information on my book in progress.

Those two parts of the book are the only ones that are even close to polished, but, as of Thursday, March 19, 2009 at 8:02pm ET, I am FINISHED WITH THE (very) ROUGH DRAFT. My word count is just over 51k, which I NEVER thought I could do. I am praising God - AND celebrating. (Watch for a more detailed post over the weekend with my future plans for what I've got done, and what I have yet to do)

Anyhow - for your reading pleasure, the introduction to my book.

Ailing Body, Nourished Soul
Introduction


Heavenly Father, my life is way too easy right now. Could you please make it more difficult-- a bit harder to cope with? A financial crisis would help, or maybe a life-threatening illness. You pick, Lord--I trust your judgment.

Have you ever prayed this prayer? Neither have I.

Yet it is often trials and difficulties that make us stronger. A death will often bring a family closer together. Being ill can make a person more reliant on God. Losing a job may help straighten out priorities or lead to a better, new opportunity.

Often, the Lord shakes up a life that is comfortable and predictable, allowing that person to mature through the experience. In order to serve Jesus effectively and become more like Him, we often must be knocked out of our simple lives and into difficulties we would never request or imagine.

As August of 2003 began, I was leading an ordinary, comfortable life. My husband Marc was working as a computer consultant, looking into a possible career change. I was a stay-at-home mom, taking care of my two and a half year old son and five months pregnant with my second child. We were fairly active in church and enjoying a middle-class life.

By the middle of that month, Marc was lying on a cold operating table with scalpels probing his brain. My life was no longer either ordinary or comfortable.

Marc has since endured two additional brain surgeries, a month and a half of five-times-a-week radiation, a year of chemotherapy, a blood clot in his lung, and extreme weight fluctuation.

Has life been hard? Absolutely. Has God abandoned us? Certainly not.

When difficulty comes, and comes repeatedly, we often feel like we are alone. The pounding of the wind of adversity upon us can make us feel isolated and beaten down. Yet, God is there, no matter how hopeless our lives feel. And those winds often strengthen us. The strongest trees in a forest are not the sheltered ones, but those that take the brunt of the elements and build up their endurance.

So it is with God’s people. The more adversity we experience, the stronger we become, and the better able to handle future difficulties we grow. In our case, through my husband’s illness, our spirits and souls were clearly strengthened and nourished.

Yet God also knows what we can bear. Sometimes, when a trial is too much for us (and only God truly knows if that is the case), He will remove the difficulty entirely. More often, however—at least it seems so—He will help us through it.

Often His help does not seem in any way miraculous. It could be as simple as a kind word from a friend or a check in the mail at just the right time. Know one thing, however: it is God. There are no coincidences, and there is no such thing as good or bad luck. When you are in the midst of the trial, you may not even see the encouragement and help the Lord is providing. In hindsight, however, it is evident to those who look for it.

I should warn you, if you haven’t already figured it out: I’m an optimist. That‘s the way God wired me. I have an uncanny ability to see the positive in the direst situation. But I don't make it up. It is there, and anyone can find it. No matter what you are going through, God is there--even if all you can feel is a vague sense of his presence.

I can only tell you how He worked for my family and me. But my experiences are not unique. God’s promises, I guarantee you, are not exclusively mine.

As I look back over the years, I can see God’s help in so many ways in relation to the trials my husband and I went through and continue to experience. That help has manifested itself from three different perspectives:
  • Before I had even an inkling of the difficulties to come, and in some cases before I had an inkling of Him, He was preparing me for what was to come.
  • While we were going through the struggles, He was providing exactly what we needed, often through His people.
  • While we were dealing with the typical, as well as more challenging, aspects of our trial, God was in the background, protecting us from countless “could have beens” that might have made the trial too much to bear.
God has truly blessed my family through my husband’s illness and the complications surrounding it. I would never suggest seeking out difficulties in order to draw closer to the Lord, and I am uncertain if I would “re-choose” our trials if it were my prerogative to do so. However, I can trust that my Heavenly Father has used them to develop our reliance on Him and to make us stronger and more Christlike.

My prayer is that, when the winds of adversity beat on the branches of your “life tree,” my experiences will encourage you to focus not on the wind, but on the One who is using it to make you stronger, and who is holding you up through it. He is there: preparing, providing for, and protecting you. He was for me, in more ways than you can imagine.

And He loves you just as much.

**
Thanks for reading, and joining in my celebration of my accomplishment. Be sure to stop by Dee's blog for more great fiction. (Promise to be back with REAL fiction next week!)

3/19/09

What's That In Your Hand?

I'm over at Exemplify today, with the continuation of my Ponderings on the Pentateuch series. Come check out my take on Moses' insecurities and God's reaction to them: What Is That In Your Hand? This was a new lesson to me - hope it blesses you. Oh - and while you're there, check out some of the other bloggers at Exemplify. They're fabulous!

(AND, I do believe I'm gonna have a pretty BIG announcement tomorrow. To me, anyway. :D Be sure to stop by!)

3/18/09

WFW: Mist

Welcome to my contribution to Word-Filled Wednesday, hosted each week by the delightful, Godly, and lovely Amy Deanne at her blog. Anyone can participate - just partner some of God's Word with a picture of some kind in any way you like. It is quite a blessing to see what folks come up with.

Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. James 4:14 NIV

I often look at the beauty of our world and treasure it. And, sometimes, I look at the ugliness of it and stew in it. It is good to remember that my life, here on earth, is but a mist that will vanish. Eternity, however, will not vanish--and it will be perfect.

Be sure to stop by Amy Deanne's blog for more


3/16/09

Monday Manna - Rejoice with Trembling

Welcome to Monday Manna. The purpose of this meme is to get together and get to know Christ more through His Word. 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 post to your blog and link up at the bottom of this post in the Mr. Linky gadget.

The Monday Manna verse this week is Psalm 2:11 - Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling. Looking forward to reading what you have to share.

My thoughts are below.

**
"...rejoice with trembling." Psalm 2:11b
It almost sounds like an oxymoron, don't you think? Rejoice...with trembling. Isn't trembling an action one associates with fear rather than joy? How can one possibly do both simultaneously?

I have, however, been so joyous that I trembled. Yet, I don't think the Lord had a positive, excited type of shaking in mind. It doesn't seem to jive with the first part of the verse. No, I believe, the type of trembling referred to here is the kind caused by fear: the same fear we are asked to serve the Lord with earlier in this verse.

If I am in fact right, what is the psalmist saying? What are we rejoicing about? Why should we tremble?

God's people are told to rejoice dozens of times in God's Word, and they do. Adam rejoiced when the Lord gave him Eve. The children of Israel were full of joy as they stood, free, on the opposite side of the Red Sea. David, king of Israel and a man after God's own heart, rejoiced over his victories and in God's faithfulness.

Yet, the Babylonian monarch Nebuchadnezzar also rejoiced, but it was not a good situation. A year previous, this great king of Babylon had been warned by the Lord through the prophet Daniel to give up his sins and self-importance and to honor the Lord. Daniel warned that this king would be greatly humbled if he did not. And Nebuchadnezzar did not heed the warning.
Twelve months later, as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, he said, "Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?" Daniel 4:29-30
King Nebuchadnezzar was clearly rejoicing, but his joy was in what he had accomplished, not the gifts and blessings God had provided for him. And boy, did he ever suffer the consequences.
The words were still on his lips when a voice came from heaven, "This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you. You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like cattle. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes." Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like cattle. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird. Daniel 4:31-33
Nebuchadnezzar's rejoicing was entirely self-centered, with no concern for, or fear of, the Lord. Adam, the Israelites, and David's joy were, on the other hand, God-centered, keeping their Heavenly Father at the center, and revering him in their rejoicing. They were rejoicing with trembling--remembering their fear and reverence for the one who had given them cause to celebrate in the first place. Nebuchadnezzar's joy was without that fear, and was displeasing to God, and he learned his lesson.

When you rejoice, do you tremble?

Heavenly Father, thank You for giving us so many reasons to rejoice, even during difficult times. Everything we have is because You have given us. Help us to remember to rejoice with trembling. Make us ever-conscious of our blessings from You, and help us to give credit where credit is due, praising You rather than ourselves. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen

Thanks for reading! Be sure to link up at the bottom with your own thoughts on this verse, and be sure to read others' contributions. See you in a few weeks for the next Monday Manna!



3/13/09

Friday Fiction: "Billy's Pocket Change"

Welcome to my contribution to Fiction Friday, hosted this week by Rhonda at Beach Reads. Be sure to stop by her blog for links to some wonderful fiction. And don't be afraid to post your own - just link up in the gadget at the bottom of her post!
This is another old Writing Challenge piece from Faithwriters (the topic was "sad," by the way). It did quite well. I actually expanded it to about three times its length for a competition (which it didn't win) - but I'm posting the original, shorter version. Unlike last week's giggler, this one is a bit more emotional (as one might guess from the topic). Hope you like it.

BILLY'S POCKET CHANGE

"But Mama, I can't find him." Billy groaned, skinned knees tucked into his chest and tears dripping from his dirt-streaked face.

Marietta kneeled, running her fingers through Billy's hair with one hand and wiping away his tears with the other. "I'm sure you'll find it soon. Do you want me to help you look?"

Billy nodded. Marietta stood with her arm outstretched. Billy rose and put his hand in hers. Her son's plodding forced Marietta to slow her pace as they walked toward his bedroom.

"When do you remember having it last?"

Billy sat on his bed and lowered his head. "He was in my pocket right after lunch - I know 'cuz I looked at him."

"Did you put it back in your pocket?"

He shrugged. "I think so."

Marietta sat on the floor and looked up into her son's downcast eyes. "Hey, Billy? You're not going to find it sitting on your bed."

Billy sighed. "But I've looked everywhere already. He's totally gone."

"It can't be gone, hun." Marietta looked under the bed. "Where have you been since lunch?"

"Just in my room, and I looked everywhere. He just disappeared."

"Did you go to the bathroom?" Marietta began opening Billy's desk drawers.

Billy nodded, a glimmer of hope invading his eyes. He bolted for the bathroom.

"Mom, I think..., Oh, no!"

She ran after him, finding Billy kneeling by the commode, tears flowing.

"What, sweetie?" She rubbed his back.

He tried to speak but couldn't.

"It's all right, Billy. Take a deep breath and tell me."

Turning around, he breathed deeply several times until he could speak.

"I flushed him, Mom. He must have fallen out of my pocket." Billy held up a toy car and a quarter. "These were next to the toilet, and they were in my pocket too."

Marietta sighed. There was nothing else on the bathroom floor. He was right.

"Come here, Billy."

Billy buried himself in his mother's arms and she held him, rubbing his back.

"I'm sorry, Billy. Do you want me to get another one?"

Glancing up, Billy appeared at least ten years older than any second grader had the right to look. "He won't be the same. He's gone."

Marietta closed her eyes briefly, then looked down at her son once again. "Billy, let's sit down."

The two walked to Billy's room and sat on his bed. Marietta rested her hand on his shoulder.

"I know that picture was the last one we took of you and Daddy before he died, and I am really, really sorry you lost it." Marietta cradled his chin in her hand. "But we have other pictures. You can look through the scrapbook and pick out any one you want. I can even laminate it, so it won't get bent or torn."

Billy shook his head vigorously, sliding away from his mother and turning his back to her. "It wouldn't be Daddy. I lost Daddy, Mama. I lost him!"

Marietta enveloped him in her arms. "Oh, sweetie, your daddy will always be with you. You can lose his picture - every picture - but you will still have your memories and your love. Daddy will always be with you: in your head and in your heart."

Billy sniffled, looking up at his mom with a sparkle in his eyes. "Really?"

She nodded and smiled. "And do you know what else?"

"What?"

"You will get to see him again."

"I will?" Billy's eyes were filled with expectation.

"Yes, you will." Marietta grabbed both of Billy's hands. "You know where Daddy is right now, don't you?"

Billy crinkled his nose. "Um, heaven. Right?"

Marietta nodded. "And if you believe Jesus died for your sins, you will be going there too some day. And you told me the other day that you did, right?"

"Yup. So I'm going to the same heaven Daddy's at?"

Marietta giggled. "There's only one heaven, sweetheart, and we'll all be there some day. And it will be wonderful."

Billy paused a moment. "Mama, can we both just go there now? I really miss him."

She embraced her son. "Oh, Billy. God wants us to stay here for a while longer. I miss Daddy too, but we can still think about him. We can remember what a wonderful place he's in and look forward to when we will be together. Okay?"

Billy nodded and kissed Marietta on the cheek.

"Mom?"

"Yes, Billy?"

"I think I do want another picture of Daddy. Can we look through the scrapbook?"

**

Thanks for reading! Don't forget to stop by Rhonda's blog for more great fiction!

3/12/09

Monday Manna for March 16

I'm at Exemplify today, with my Ponderings from the Pentateuch series. Stop by to hear what I have to say about Two Goats.

And now, on to Monday Manna :)


Monday Manna

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

For those of you unfamiliar, on the first and third Mondays of each month, anyone who wants to participate can post their thoughts on a specific verse. The verse is 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 a long post -- just a few thoughts, a picture you feel helps express it, a poem, a short story, a devotional.

I've chosen a verse this week from the Psalms that has me intrigued.
Serve the LORD with fear and rejoice with trembling. Psalm 2:11

I look forward to reading what you all come up with. Just post your thoughts on your blog on Monday, then link up to my post with the Mr. Linky gadget here that morning. Anyone is welcome to participate. See you then!

3/11/09

Word-Filled Wednesday: Content

(for those who read my last blog - I'm back! AND my dear son is feeling MUCH better. Thanks for the well wishes and prayers!)

Welcome to my contribution to Word-Filled Wednesday, hosted each week by the lovely Amy Deanne at her wonderful blog.

Right now, I am writing about a very tough time in my book on God's workings in my husband's health issues. I am remembering, and trying not to relive, some of the confusion and struggle we went through. But it is reminding me of God's great faithfulness.

I felt the need to use a picture from that time for my Word-Filled Wednesday this week.

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. Philippians 4:12 NIV

This picture was taken one month and one day after my husband's first craniotomy. There is a lot more here than you might notice at first.
  • If you look just below his hairline, you can still see his craniotomy scar. This same scar would never heal right, and would cause the bone flap to get infected and die, leading to TWO MORE brain surgeries in less than a year.
  • The hat my cute son is wearing? That is the hat Marc wore whenever he went out, partly to protect the scar from infection, and partly to not freak people out.
  • The cane? Partly to help him feel his way around due to his decreased vision, and partly to help him because of his weakness.
  • That book? One of Andrew's favorites. And I DESPISED it. This is a picture of my husband saving me the ickiness of having to read it to Andrew myself. What a sweetie.
During this time, I can honestly say we both were needy and had plenty. God provided so much for us during these struggles, and this picture reminds me of it so well.

Be sure to stop by Amy Deanne's blog for more visual inspiration from scripture.

3/9/09

I'm Here...

Just not "here," per se. Have had a sick kid, and now a sick power cord for my laptop! (and when you have a sick kid, you can't just go down in the basement and play on the puter there, cuz the sick kid needs tending to!) The new power cord is in the mail(theoretically, anyway!) and should arrive in the next day or two.

Praying the sick kid is no longer an issue before the sick power cord - yanno? Poor guy has had an awful cough and fever (off and on) for a WEEK now.

Hope to be back to writing (AND reading) blogs VERY soon!

Cheerio - and praying you are having a God-filled, blessed day!

3/6/09

Friday Fiction: "Mrs. Chillsome Chills Out"

Welcome to my contribution to Fiction Friday, hosted this week by Shirley McClay at Sunny Glade. Be sure to stop by her blog for links to some wonderful fiction. And don't be afraid to post your own - just link up in the gadget at the bottom of her post!
This is a favorite of mine (and several others, apparently) at Faithwriters.com. It did quite well in the challenge, and was an absolute hoot to write. If you're looking for something deep and psychological - SKIP THIS ENTRY. The topic, by the way, was calm.


Mrs. Chillsome Chills Out

"Now I want you all to sit cross-legged on the floor."

"Umm... Mrs. Chillsome?"

Sarah Chillsome groaned almost silently (almost). "Yes, Amy?"

"It's Amanda Lynn, please."

"Okay, Amanda Lynn. And you can call me Sarah. What do you need?"

"I can't sit cross-legged."

"Excuse me?"

"I am physically unable to sit Indian style. My limbs don't bend that way."

Sarah forced the corners of her mouth up. "Okay, then. Why don't you just sit in whatever position makes you most comfortable? Does that work?"

Amanda grinned, her eyes sparkling. "That sounds great. I'll just be sitting here with my knees bent in front of me. Would that be okay?"

"That's perfect." Sarah widened her gaze from Amanda Lynn to the other students in her class. "Now rest your hands on your lap."

"Mrs. Chillsome, I don't really have a lap right now."

Half the class snickered.

"Well, then, Amanda Lynn, you could always rest them around the front part of your legs. It should give the same effect."

"That's a great idea, Mrs. Chillsome. I'll just do that."

"Wonderful." She took a deep breath. "All right now, class, close your eyes."

Sarah paused, waiting for an objection. After several seconds, she continued.

"Now take a deep breath through your nose and let it out slowly through your mouth."

"Mrs. Chillsome? I have decreased lung capacity."

"You have what?"

"Decreased lung capacity. If I take too deep a breath I could start hyperventilating."

"I see." Sarah spoke slowly and deliberately. "I would recommend, then, that you only take as deep a breath as you can, um, safely."

Amanda Lynn hit herself lightly on the side of her head. "Now why didn't I think of that? You sure are helpful, Mrs. Chillsome."

"Thank you. Now, shall we get back to our relaxation techniques?"

"Sure. Sounds good to me."

That was a rhetorical question, you dingbat!

"Great. Return to your position, Amanda Lynn, dear, and we can continue."

"Okay - all set."

"Wonderful. Now continue with your breathing, and picture a peaceful place in your mind. Imagine yourself at the beach, on your porch swing, in a meadow: anywhere that you can just let go of all your stresses and worries. Focus on that scene, and let all your troubles flow out of you as you breathe out."

"Mrs. Chillsome?"

Sarah gritted her teeth. "Yes, Amanda Lynn."

"The hole in my mouth is too small. All my troubles won't fit."

"Why don't you just let them out a couple at a time, dear? They'll all escape sooner or later."

"Well, they keep sneaking back in up my nose."

She stifled back a snicker. "How about if you open your mouth a bit wider? Maybe that way more will get out than come back in."

"Thanks, Mrs. Chillsome. I'll definitely give that a try."

A couple minutes later, Sarah glanced at her watch and sighed. "Okay, class. Slowly open your eyes. Unfortunately, class is over. Thank you so much for coming. I hope this was helpful for you."

Sarah stood at the doorway and shook hands with each student in turn, apologizing with her eyes. Amanda Lynn was the last to exit.

She grabbed Sarah's hand eagerly. "Oh, Mrs. Chillsome, I just can't thank you enough. I feel so relaxed and calm now. That was such a wonderful class, I think I might just sign up for another!"

"Wonderful, Amanda Lynn," Sarah mumbled. "Just wonderful."

**

Thanks for reading! Don't forget to stop by Shirley's blog for more great fiction.

3/5/09

Fire!

I'm at Exemplify today, with the next post in my Ponderings from the Pentateuch series. Have you ever wondered why God doesn't always tell us everything we may be curious about? Check out Unauthorized Fire to see my thoughts on at least one instance of this. (I'll give you a hint: it's related to the priesthood)

I'll see you there - and be sure to check out the other bloggers--and the March issue of Exemplify Magazine. You won't be disappointed.

3/4/09

The Kettle Club - Bible reading!

The Kettle Club is meeting today at Exemplify Online's blog. It's an opportunity for us to share the fruits of our goal of spending time in God's Word before blogging in February. Been looking forward to this for a month!



There were quite a few questions offered for discussion. I've chosen to blog on the following:


• Did you focus on a specific portion of Scripture this month (for example, the Psalms)? If so, share why you chose to focus on that specific portion.

Since I was saved, with the exception of one year, I have read through the Bible in its entirety annually. I don't always do it the same way, or with the same version, but I do it. This year, I'm using a reading schedule that takes me through the Old and New Testaments chronologically. Also, a big change for me is that I'm actually using The Message as my Bible. It has given me some interesting insights for sure. For February, I spent most of my time in Exodus in the OT (plus the end of Genesis and the beginning of Leviticus), and in the second half of Matthew and the first half of Mark in the NT.


• Are you following along with a specific devotional? If so, tell us a little about the devotional. Do you recommend it for your fellow Kettle Club ladies?

I'm actually using an old (for all of you, I'm sure), tried and true daily devotional this year: Oswald Chambers' My Utmost for His Highest. Chambers has a way of bopping me upside the head with truth I had never noticed before--and always, of course, when I need it most. I've never read this one before, and have already decided to add it to my "yearly rotation," along with "Streams in the Desert" and Our Daily Bread.

• What is a stand out lesson you learned this month? What has the Lord been steadily teaching you?

With my Pentateuch series at Exemplify, I have found myself looking more deeply into my reading this month - especially the Old Testament portions. I think my biggest lesson was from Rachel this month. She was the beloved wife to Jacob, but she kept messing up (she took dad's idols, complained to her husband about not having children, and on). Yet, she REMAINED the beloved wife. I'm like that to Jesus. How amazing is that?

• Do you find that when you place your time spent with the Lord before blogging life somehow seems…simpler? Or feels more balanced?

ABsolutely! (though, I have to admit that this was NOT a "change" for me, per se) The only thing I do in the morning before my Bible reading is get out of bed, shower and dress, and grab a glass of milk. When for whatever reason I can't do this, I feel harried. Simple as that!

And, do you know what? I've determined that it is just because I get a "quiet" quiet time. Because I don't necessarily. Even though I am sitting with my milk and the Word before 6am most every morning, my kids sometimes "join me" during this time, and they're anything but quiet as mice. But still, the peace in my heart comes.



I am SO loving this meme - already!! Be sure to drop by Exemplify Online's Blog to read more "Kettlers" 0r join in yourself!

Word-Filled Wednesday: Anything

Welcome to my contribution to Word-Filled Wednesday, hosted at the lovely Amy Deanne's blog. Be sure to stop by there for more visual inspiration from scripture!

I enjoy photography (though I'm not terribly good at it, nor do I do it very often), and my favorite pictures are almost always candid shots. The posed ones are okay, but you don't get the life of the person anywhere near as clearly as if you take the picture unawares.

That being said, this picture that I found is the exception. (no, I didn't take it, but as soon as you see it, you will KNOW it is not a candid shot) As soon as I found it a couple of days ago, I decided it HAD to be my WFW. So I spent that time finding a verse for it. Enjoy!

Photobucket
I am the Lord, the God of all mankind; is anything too hard for me? Jeremiah 32:27 NIV

Don't forget to stop by
for more visual inspiration from scripture.

3/2/09

Monday Manna - Beginnings

Welcome to Monday Manna. The purpose of this meme is to get together and get to know Christ more through His Word. 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 post to your blog and link up at the bottom of this post in the Mr. Linky gadget.

Monday Manna verses this week are Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1. You can comment on one or both. Looking forward to reading what you have to share.

My thoughts are below.

**
Beginnings. We all experience a lot of them. The beginning of a life, a job, a marriage, a year, a story. Some are celebrated, some not.

Even in God's Word, there are several significant beginnings: the beginning of God's chosen people with Abraham, the beginning of the monarchy with Saul, the beginning of the church at Pentacost, the beginning of Paul's mission to the Gentiles at Damascus.

But the two most monumental beginnings in the Bible are not these. They can be found at the beginning of the first book of the Old Testament, and the fourth book of the New Testament.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1
A radical statement, to be sure. The beginning of our planet was not the true beginning--for God already existed. And that same God is the creator of everything.

This opening verse forces readers to make a decision. They must decide, from the first line, if what they are reading is fact or fiction. And our choice will profoundly affect how we view the rest of this Book. Accepting Genesis 1:1 as truth is a fundamental part of believing in this God.
Photobucket

But believing in God is not enough. That's where John 1:1 comes from.
In the beginning was the Word. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1
Another radical statement. The Word (namely Christ, as is shown just a dozen verses down) was in the beginning--and He was also God. Not a man. Not just a miracle worker, or a great teacher. He is, was, and always will be, God.

Again, we have a decision to make. Do we believe that Christ was in fact God incarnate? That he was not created that day in Bethlehem 2000 years ago, but instead is as eternal as the Lord Himself? Do we believe that the Man who was born in Bethlehem, lived 3o plus years, died on the cross, and rose again is in fact the same Man who created the heavens and the earth? Again, whether we accept John 1:1 as truth influences our view of every other bit of the New Testament, and, of course, of Christ Himself.

And, if you do accept these beginnings as fact, then, perhaps, you have your own beginning to celebrate and ponder: your beginning as a new creation in Christ.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 2 Corinthians 5:17
And in your life, that is the most important beginning of all.

Heavenly Father, thank you for starting my life anew when I accepted You as my savior from sin. Thank You for giving us Your Word, which is not just a book. Thank You for using Your words to create the world, to create me, and to send Your Son to be the Word for us. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.

**

Don't forget to link up in the Mr. Linky gadget below, and to check out the other contributors. Thanks for participating and reading!



3/1/09

Nearing the Finish Line: A book update

Well, it's a new month (can you believe we're in March alreaady?), and those of you who have been here for a while know what that means: time for an update on my progress on the rough draft of my nonfiction book "Ailing Body, Nourished Soul."

My goal for this month was 9,000 words, and I am pleased to say that, with God's help and your encouragement, I not only met that goal: I surpassed it!


9539 / 9000 words. 106% done!

I'm also quite excited to announce, as I recently updated on my book progress page, my word count for the entire book is at 44,867 words. I NEVER would have thought I could write anywhere near that amount just a year ago, but I have.

I am also realizing that I am coming close to the end of this book (the rough draft, anyway!). As of right now, I feel like I only have about three more chapters to write, including the one I started a couple days ago. That means that I may actually finish the draft before this month is over. WOW.

Of course, it's entirely possible that I'll think of something else I haven't considered before and need to write another chapter(that happened twice this past month!). If that's the case, I'll just keep moving on. But, I am definitely approaching the end of this draft.

So, I'm sticking with my same goal of 325 words a day for the month of March (10,000 for the month), with the caveat that if I do finish the book before I've written those 10k, I won't go back in and try to add more! (LOL and I AM the type of person who would do that. Trust me!)

Oh, and trust me. If I DO finish before the end of the month, you'll know about it. (AND I will take a break from the book for at least the rest of that month!)

I'll have my new ticker up on my sidebar tonight after I write my first set of 325 words. Thanks again for reading, and supporting me in this adventure!

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