"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

3/26/10

Going On A Diet (A computer one, that is!)

I've been pretty scarce around here lately (and when I say here, I mean on blogs, at Facebook, on Rwitter, and just about everywhere else I generally hang out on the computer). I have missed you all, but my life right now shows no indication of slowing down any time in the next week or so.

You see, we're moving. No - it's not a long-distance move (in fact, we're only going about a dozen miles away), but we have been living in this house for 13 years. And we're downsizing. In other words we (mostly I) have a lot of work to do.

We have to be out of our house by mid-April - though we are SERIOUSLY aiming for some time during spring break (which runs from April 2 to 11 - preferably in the first half of that time). I haven't done a lot yet as far as packing. So I need time to work on this (and less temptation).

So, I'm going on a "computer diet." Starting after I go to bed Friday evening, I won't be on Facebook, Twitter, (except possibly an occasional tweet/FB status update from my cell phone), blogs, FaithWriters, or, generally, the internet. I WILL be checking my email, but I will try to limit my email time to an hour a day.

How long will this go on? I'm really not sure. My guess is somewhere between one and two weeks. But I'll see. Once I feel like I HAVE the time, I WILL be back.

I truly appreciate your prayers! Blessings to you all.


Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

3/19/10

Not What I Expected

This is an exciting time for me and my family. After several months of waiting and looking and discouragement, we are closing on our current house TODAY, and on the new house we are buying on Wednesday. This has ALL been from God - so many little details that amaze me, and that I WILL share in a post at a later date.

Yes - for those of you who have been on my blog for a long time, this IS a repeat. I wrote it a year and a half ago and it has been on my heart A LOT over the past week or so.  I have not updated it - except for the picture below.

NOT WHAT I EXPECTED

This absolutely poured out of my heart, through my pen, and onto paper on September 27,2008. I originally thought I was writing fiction, but God showed me otherwise. I pray that it blesses and touches someone else. I know it has me.
“Hi, Mommmeeeeeeee!”

My son’s voice, almost a scream, decreases in volume as he speeds away on his too-small bicycle. I look up from my clipboard and smile at the streak zooming away in the distance. “Hi, Andrew."

Probably too late to buy him a bike that fits for this year. October is only a few days away, and the rain—and eventually the snow—will prevent him from riding much if at all before the spring thaw, and who knows how much bigger he’ll be by then? He’s not complaining, anyway

Fall has been so slow in coming this year. Here it is, September 27, and I’m in shorts and a t-shirt. It’s probably in the upper 70’s, if not 80. I’m usually drinking hot apple cider by now, but currently a glass of ice cold lemonade sounds much more appealing.

Yet, the autumn signs are upon us. The kids are back in school. They have been for nearly a month. The local grocery store has had Halloween costumes and bags of miniature candy bars at the front of the store for weeks. And the oak tree in front of our house is beginning to put on its fall colors and drop its “clothing” onto the grass below

As I survey the school playground from my vantage point under a small shade tree, I notice that my oak isn’t the only foliage beginning to display its seasonal beauty. The branches above my head, last month covered with a lovely green, are beginning to include tinges of yellow. The grass I sit upon has been sprinkled with those same yellow leaves, along with some brown crinkled ones. No matter the temperature, fall is here, meaning winter is closer than I’d like to think.

I look up to find Andrew has left his bike by me (where his helmet is nobody knows) and is now playing in the sand with his younger sister Annika and two other kids who, from here, appear to be about Annika’s age.

It makes me think of my own childhood. When I was in elementary school, I would always feel more comfortable with younger children. Sure, I had a few friends the same age as I was, but if given the choice, I would opt to play with kids a couple of years younger. I liked their games better—the simplicity of them, I suppose. My step-mother would discourage it, but it certainly didn’t change my preferences. It wasn’t until I was in my mid-teens that the majority of my friends were of my own age group.

I wonder what kinds of struggles Andrew will have as he grows up in a world where he doesn’t quite fit. What do his “second grade friends” think when they see him acting immaturely? Do they whisper about the fact that he’d rather watch “Dora the Explorer” than “Spiderman?” Do they shy away when he’s too demonstrative? Does he understand—will he ever understand— that his awkward movements, his inability at times to control his energy and emotions, are likely to make him a “less than ideal” social companion to some? Does he realize that some people are laughing at—not with—him?

Will he ever be able to think abstractly—beyond the rote memorization where he so excels? Can he truly understand the salvation message? Will his sister, nearly three years younger, soon advance emotionally, intellectually, and socially beyond him? Will that bother him? Her? Me?

As I sit beneath an autumnal tree on this summerish afternoon, I am reminded that life doesn’t always happen the way you suspect it will. Sometimes there are snowflakes in May. Sometimes it’s 80 degrees in autumn. And sometimes your child isn’t exactly what you were dreaming of when the doctor first told you that you were pregnant.

But just because life isn’t predictable doesn’t mean there is no reason to rejoice and thank the One who put the world, and every “off kilter” part of it, in motion. It is all from Him: the summer snow, the autumn heat, and my mildly autistic son. And though life may be hard and, yes, unpredictable, I know Andrew and I will both be richer for it, and that my son will (and has!) bless me and others in ways that he never could if he were “normal.” And because Andrew is undoubtedly my gift from God, I know that he is right where he is supposed to be.



I love you, Andrew, just the way you are.



Heavenly Father, thank You for meeting me under the tree in the Kettle Lake playground this afternoon, through my own pen. I praise You for working in me to think and pray through this issue I didn’t even know I had. Help me, Lord, to trust You, and to turn my wonderful, special son—and my concerns about him—over to you as many times as I must until I really mean it. Thank You, Lord for knowing all and for being in control. And I thank you especially today, dear Lord, for my precious son. In Your Son’s name I pray. Amen.


Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

3/15/10

The Word: 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 taken from the Pentateuch - the only scriptures I knew much, if at all, until a dozen years ago. 

Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, "Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?" Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, "Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?" No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it. Deuteronomy 30:11-14

Looking forward to hearing what you have come up with. My thoughts are below.

**

I don't know about you, but I have a LOT of Bibles. I have one that lives in my car. There are a couple others in our finished basement, another on my nightstand, and yet another in the dining room, in the "take to church pile." And that doesn't even count the ones we have in the library. So, in a very literal sense Deuteronomy 14a is true for me - the word is very near me.

But I really don't think that is what God meant when he moved Moses to pen those words as the Israelites were preparing to enter the Promised Land. No - He had just given His people a list of rules and true stories - a canon that would eventually become the Pentateuch. They were to come out of their mouths, and live in their hearts.

But we have an even more amazing benefit, this side of the Cross. Not only do we have the Word of God near us; we have the Word Incarnate - the Word made Flesh, near AND in us. We don't have to ascend to heaven to reach Him, nor cross the sea to know what He wants from us.

Jesus--our "Bible" in human form--is a part of every believer. And all WE must do is obey.

**
Thanks for reading! Hope you'll share your own thoughts, and read other contributors' posts below.

Just FYI - there will be no Monday Manna the first Monday in April, as it is the day after Easter. See you back here the third Monday of that month!



Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

3/11/10

Monday Manna for March 15: Near

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.

This Monday's verse(s) are from the end of the book of Deuteronomy, a book that is basically Moses' speech to the children of Israel before they crossed into the Promised Land. As they prepared to end their 40-year wanderings and cross into a land flowing with milk and honey, Moses, and God, felt it crucial that they be reminded of the commandments they were to follow. And perhaps, it is not a bad thing for us to remember either.

Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, "Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?" Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, "Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?" No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it. Deuteronomy 30:11-14
Much to ponder, isn't there? Looking forward to your thoughts on the 15th!

(oh, and FYI, we will not have Monday Manna the first week in April, as it will fall the day after Easter. Next will be the third week in April)

Blessings,

Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

3/10/10

Word-Filled Wednesday: Near

Welcome to my contribution to Word-Filled Wednesday, hosted this week by Lori at All You Have To Give. Be sure to check out her blog, and the links below it, for more visual inspiration from Scripture.

I love the book of Deuteronomy. There is so much to ponder in this amazing Old Testament gem. This verse - and the ones just preceding it - captured me this morning as I was doing my "Bible In A Year" reading. We have the Word right with us - yet the amazing thing to me is that this was written NOT about the Word Who became flesh, but about God's Word, the Bible (and just the Pentateuch at that!). His promises are the same yesterday, today, and forever.

No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it. Deuteronomy 30:14

Thanks for checking out my post! Don't forget to stop by Photobucket for more


Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

3/8/10

Hagar's Good Side - At Exemplify :)

About a month ago, I posted a blog at Exemplify about Hagar, Sarah's maidservant from the book of Genesis. It was part of my Mothers of the Bible series. In this post, I showed a few ways that Hagar could teach us NOT to be a woman of God.

Well, today, the tables are turned. Hagar was not all bad (just like none of us are one-dimensional). Stop by TODAY's Exemplify post in the family channel and learn what we can learn from this Egyptian woman on how to be a mother pleasing to the Lord.

Would love to hear what you think. 


Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

3/7/10

Please Come Down To Me (a song that blessed me)

A few times since I've been blogging, I've posted the words and/or a video of a song I heard in church because of the impression it made on me. (If you're interested, click here to see all of my "music posts.") Well, today is another one of those days.

This song was sung as special music, and the message touched me (not to mention the gorgeous voice that sang it). How often have you forgotten that you are not worthy of the love the Lord gives us? How often do we forget that we need to come to him humbly? We forget what we are without Him, and that we have earned nothing.

Enjoy - and think about the message.



Please Come Down To Me
The Crabb Family

Verse I
I know that I'm not worthy to call upon your name
All my life I've been a sinner and for that I am ashamed
But I heard that you would listen to I'm giving you my plea
I'm too unworthy Lord, to come to you
Could you please come down to me?

Chorus
I know that there are others who could offer more than I
I promise you I'd understand if for me you had no time
I think I've just hit bottom and I'm looking up to see
I'm too unworthy, Lord, to come to you
Could you please come down to me?

Verse II
I guess I must be reaping from the seeds that I have sown
Lord, you owe me nothing, we haven't spoken for so long
If you could spare some mercy I'll pledge my life to thee
I'm too unworthy, Lord, to come to you
Could you please come down to me?

Words and Music by Gerald Crabb
 
http://www.thecrabbfamily.com/lyrics/pleasecomedown.html 


Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

3/5/10

No Greater Love - 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.

This, like most of my FF, was a response to the FaithWriters' Writing Challenge. The topic was "volunteer." I've posted this here before, but it was over a year ago. The idea I present in this story has intrigued me since the thought came to me. Hope you find it so as well - would love your feedback.

NO GREATER LOVE

Sylvia Bennet's wrinkled, calloused fingers struggled with the envelope in her hand. Eager as she was to examine its contents, she could not get her arthritic fingers to open it. Sighing, she walked across the room for her letter opener.

She hadn't heard from Marcie Willingston in years. For two decades, they had been neighbors, but Marcie's husband's job had moved them away ten years ago. They had written and called each other for a while, but the friendship had tapered off over time. Sylvia had heard from mutual friends that Marcie was having some chronic back problems, but was getting by all right, by the grace of God. Now here, out of the blue, was a letter from her.

Dearest Sylvia,
It has been so long since I wrote to you, so please forgive me. I want you to know that I have not stopped praying for you, and have missed you terribly.

I really need to see you, dear friend - God has told me it is very important for both of us. Please use the enclosed check to purchase airplane tickets and anything else you may need to get to me, soon if possible. I promise you will not be disappointed if you do.

Your dear friend in Christ,
Marcie


**

Sylvia exited the taxicab, surveying the huge assisted living center. So this was where her dear friend was living.

Sylvia's imagination was certainly in high gear. They had spoken on the telephone once final arrangements had been made for the trip, but Marcie had been very elusive about why she wanted to see Sylvia.

Following the directions Sylvia got over the phone, she quickly located the room. The door was open a crack, so Sylvia knocked gently.

"Marcie?"

"Is that you, Sylvia? Come right in, dear."

Entering the room, she found Marcie lying in bed, absolutely glowing.

"Oh, Marcie! So good to see you!"

The two grasped hands, Sylvia cringing slightly from her aching joints.

Marcie loosened the grip immediately, kissing her friend's hand lightly.

"Oh dear - I had nearly forgotten how painful that must be."

"It's all right, Marcie. I'm starting to get used to it."

Marcie smiled. "Oh, don't worry about that, dear. You won't need to be used to it for long. Have a seat."

Baffled by her friend's words, Sylvia found a chair just to the left of her friend's bed. Marcie closed her eyes briefly and smiled.

"I'm sure you are curious why I asked you here. Well, I have been talking with the Lord a lot lately, and we have decided that I need to do something for you."

"But you already have, Marcie! You paid for this trip here, and I am getting to see you. What else could you possibly do for me?"

Floundering about until she found Sylvia's arms, Marcie placed both of Sylvia's hands in her own.

"Have you been able to do your knitting?"

Sylvia's countenance dropped, and a tear ran down her cheek. "Not for a month or more. It's just too painful."

"Well, dear, God wants to do something about that."

Her brow furrowing, Sylvia sat up straighter, looking questioningly into Marcie's eyes. "What do you mean?"

"Your knitting is your heart's desire; your ministry. So many children have been saved from the cold because of it, and many have come to know Jesus because of those gifts you've made. God wants you to be without arthritis, and he wants me to do it. Sylvia, I want to take your arthritis from you."

"You want to what?"

"Sylvia, you know that my ministry is prayer, and that I have always been faithful to God that way. Yours is making things with your hands. I can pray with arthritis. You can't knit with it."

"Oh, Marcie! What a gift you are willing to offer me. But how can it be - even if I were willing to take it, which I'm not saying I am?"

Marcie smiled. "It can be, dear friend. My son is continuing to build homes in Nicaragua because I took his back pain, and my neighbor Allison has painted several paintings for Him because I took her blindness for her."

Sylvia fell to her knees before the bed and prayed aloud.

"Oh, Lord, what a gracious friend You have given me, given this world! What a heart! How can I thank her enough for all she has done for You?"

Take her up on the offer.

**
Thanks for reading! Be sure to stop by Karlene's blog for more great fiction.


Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

3/2/10

Gumby, Goals, and Progress

This past month was NOTHING like I expected when I started.

I made the commitment to write a lot more in February - I set a goal (that seemed fairly insane) of 35,000 words written on my current WIP in those 28 days. That came out to 1,250 words a day. I said on my blog that I was gonna be Gumby.

Well, I have to say that I DID feel like Gumby--but perhaps not the way I was anticipating. You see, life happened. The month was very much taken up by other things. The first part of the month included several house showings (which I had to clean, and get out of the way, for). The middle and end included accepting an offer to sell our house, finding a house to make an offer on ourselves, have the offer accepted, AND deal with inspections. I was BUSY. (Just FYI - hoping for both closings some time this month. Would be WONDERFUL!)

Still - I did manage to make some decent progress on Handmaiden To A Princess, and wrote at least some every day of the month (I think LOL there may have been one day I didn't, but it's not coming to mind!). Though my word count was lower than I wanted, it is certainly nothing to be ashamed of.


21175 / 35000 words. 61% done!

Still, this has been a great month for me as far as working on my manuscript. I've learned lots (check out this post for specifics!), and I think I may have even gotten into a habit/routine of writing at certain times during the day. And for me - trust me - that is more than half the battle. I also think I have a pretty good idea of what a reasonable, yet challenging, writing goal is for me.

SO - my goals for March are as follows:
  • Write 500 words a day on my WIP six days a week (see the button on my sidebar). This month, that makes my goal 13,000 words. (watch my ticker)
  • Post three times a week on my blog.
  • Keep up with my other responsibilities, including my monthly Exemplify blog post, and editing articles for Exemplify's magazine
  • READ regularly  (I haven't been doing this - besides Bible reading - in MONTHS). I'd love to finish the book I started on Sunday - Choosing Gratitude by Nancy Leigh DeMoss - before March is over - and write a book review for my blog.
Will life get in the way? Possibly. But if it is God's plan, that's exactly what I'll want to happen.

Thanks for the prayers and support!

Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

3/1/10

In His Name: Monday Manna

35k in 28 days (finished yesterday - watch for an update/goals tomorrow)

21175 / 35000 words. 61% done!



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 is a familiar one, though one, I must admit, I've never really pondered until this weekend.
Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted,"Hosanna!" "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" Mark 11:9 NIV
Looking forward to reading your thoughts. Mine are below.

**
He was surrounded. Wherever He or His disciples looked, they were there. The multitude, shouting praise and blessing to Him. If He needed encouragement, there it was. If He was feeling like nobody was taking Him seriously, all he needed to do was look around and see these people - creating a lovely path for him to ride on, and singing his praises.

It could have been the ultimate self-esteem boost. Most of us could have lived on those kinds of accolades for months.
But if He had, He would have been looking to the wrong place for His encouragement. And He might not have gone to the cross.
On that day, Jesus had lots of "fans." The people, the multitudes, were on his side. They were ready to make Him king. The people before Him were cheering Him on. It wouldn't have taken much to keep those people on His side - to develop a regular following to boost Him into power.

But if He had, He would have been looking to the wrong place for His power. And He might not have gone to the cross.
  The people, at that point, likely would have done just about anything He asked. He could have led a successful rebellion against the Romans and given them the temporal freedom they were hoping for.
But if He had, He would have been seeking the wrong kind of Freedom for His people. And He might not have gone to the cross.
 And I wonder--how often do I allow the will of the crowd, the boost to my self-esteem, the love of attention, my belief in my own strength, to control my actions? And how often has this caused me to avoid going to the cross? How often have I put myself and my desires over God's perfect plan and will?

**

Thanks for reading! Be sure to link up below, and read the other contributions to Monday Manna.



Paving Rough Roads With God's Presence

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