“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter. ’tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” Mark Twain

Thanks, Pam - God Is So Good

Welcome to my Wednesday feature God is So Good. Here I will share stories - true and fiction, mine and others' - of the Lord's presence in the midst of trials, struggles, and difficulties.
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33b
It was at the very beginning of our brain tumor journey - couldn't have been more than a few months after Marc had his first brain surgery back in the summer of '03. I'd heard the song before, but I didn't know it well. And then someone (wish I could remember who!!) stepped onto the pulpit that Sunday morning to do "special music." And that woman spoke to my heart

I still can't listen to this song without choking up. And, in case you haven't guessed, it has become a favorite. I'm guessing most of you have heard it - but listen to the words - and pray for your friends who are struggling.

Thank you, Pam Thum - and Heavenly Father - from bringing this music, and message, to me just when I needed it.

Do you have a song "like this" for your own struggles? Share it in the comments. I can always use more. :)
Do you have a story you'd like to share about God's goodness in your struggles? Drop me an email and we can talk!

Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

It's That Time

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is 
 like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 2 Peter 5:8

To God, time is very different than it is to us mortals. He sees the beginning, middle, and end at the same time. Hard to comprehend? You bet. (but this post by a friend helped me a LITTLE bit) But I never claimed to understand Him.

Andrew, almost 2
 Yet we "earthlings" are caught up in literal time. Past, present and future are different than each other. We can't know how our actions in the present will affect the future, nor can we even be sure exactly how our pasts made us the people we are today. All we can know is that God can see it all, and He is the same - yesterday, today, and forever.

There are certain days, however, when we are more likely to try, at least, to see life in a less linear way. And for me, this is one of them.

About six months ago (with his sister)
My oldest, Andrew, turns 11 today. And in just over six months, he will be in his first year of middle school. Last week, we had a middle school informational banquet, where we learned more about his new schedule, and how different his day will look in sixth grade as compared to fifth. Andrew was SO excited, he hardly slept that night.

And I panicked - at least a little. How will he handle it? Will he struggle with the more rigorous curriculum? Will he forget what classroom to go to? Will the teachers help him? How will he do socially?

But I can rest in the fact that God already knows how it will go. He knew before Andrew was born - before ADAM was born - exactly how it would all go. And it has all been sifted through His fingers. I can worry about the future, regret the past, and agonize over the present, but God's view is all-encompassing, and He can be trusted.


How hard is it for you to grasp time in God's eyes? Do you find yourself worrying about the future, agonizing over the present, or regretting the past? God's control and vision CAN comfort you!

Comment below, and/ or stop by Living by Grace and we can chat a bit!

Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

Finds for Fridays: February 24

Finds for Fridays is my way of sharing some of the wonderful blogs posts I read each week. I am currently following close to 100 blogs and at least scan them as much as I can. Each week, I'll note and "set aside" some posts that especially speak to me for whatever reason. And each Friday that I am able, I'll share them with you. I hope you'll stop by and read the posts, and maybe even follow the blogs if you aren't already. A win-win, right?

And here they are!

The Elevator Pitch (a poem for all you going to conferences) by Chip MacGregor at his blog (what NOT to do when you try to sell your book to an editor. Laugh alert!)

Fruit Basket Turnover by Patty Wysong at Internet Cafe Devotions (about giving our offering "whole" and God breaking it. WOW)

How to Find an Audience for Your Novel by Janalyn Voigt at WordServe Water Cooler (about market and passion)

I'm Looking For a Llama by Terry Burns at From The Heart (about what makes a book exceptional)

Hope you enjoy these posts. I know I did!

Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

Guest Poster Tom Parsons - A Diaper in the Basement - God is So Good

Welcome to my Wednesday feature God is So Good. Here I will share stories - true and fiction, mine and others' - of the Lord's presence in the midst of trials, struggles, and difficulties.
 In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33b
Often we have desires in our hearts, but God doesn't fulfill them in the timing we hope. We begin to get discouraged, to take matters into our own hands, or even give up. As we struggle, however, we are not alone. And here's an example of just that, from fellow FaithWriter Thomas Parsons. I hope this story blesses you.

A Diaper in the Basement
By Thomas M Parsons © 2010 
Adapted from This Little Life of Mine 

A lady in the church I pastored as a young man told my wife and me that all of the pastor’s wives who lived in the parsonage got pregnant. The story was that an earlier pastor’s wife had left a diaper (unused, I trust) stuffed in the overhead rafters in the basement of the house to insure that future pastors’ wives who lived there would have children.

Now, I don’t believe this. This certainly sounds like an old wives’ tale. I mean, how would a woman ever reach the rafters of the basement ceiling? But, that’s what we were told.

Linda and I had been married for nearly eight years, but we had no children. It was not that we didn’t know how to make children. We did. It was not that we were too shy to make children. We weren’t. It was not that we were using some kind of preventative. That was not the case.

We had resigned ourselves to being one of those couples that never could conceive children. In fact, we had put our names on an adoption list. We were told we would have to work our way up the list, a process which would take months, even years.

Linda had an opportunity to give a devotional message at a ladies’ meeting at a nearby church. There she met an elderly lady who inquired about our children, or the lack of them. Linda explained, without going into detail, that we could not have children but that we were on an adoption list. The lady said, “I am going to pray that God gives you children.”

Okay. So why should this lady’s prayers be more effective than ours? We had prayed for nearly eight years that God would give us children. How was this lady going to change God’s mind? I mean, come on!

I accepted an invitation to pray the invocation at the local public school, for a banquet honoring the school’s athletes. Linda and I were going to get a free meal, a benefit of these opportunities. But Linda was sick. Throwing up sick. All day throwing up sick. So I went to the dinner by myself.

When she was still throwing up a day or two later, I took her to the doctor. He took one look at her and said, “I think you’re pregnant.” He did a pregnancy test, which in those days involved the death of a rabbit. The rabbit’s death was not in vain. Linda was pregnant.

Shortly after receiving the news, the adoption agency called. “Are you still interested in adoption?” the lady said. “You are nearing the top of the list.”

“Thank you,” I said, “but we are having a baby this fall. We just found out a couple of weeks ago.”

“Congratulations,” said the lady from the agency. “Do you want us to remove you from the list, then?”

“Please do,” I answered.

Maybe there really was a diaper somewhere in the basement rafters. Maybe the lady who promised to pray for us had an inside line to the Lord. It didn’t matter. Linda was pregnant.

Over the next six years, God gave us three beautiful daughters, all of whom are now wives and mothers, each with her husband serving the Lord and collectively giving us eleven grandchildren.

Tom Parsons and his wife, Linda, live in Columbus, Ohio. He is now retired after serving as a pastor in two churches for twenty-five years, and as an English and Bible teacher in a Christian school for nine years. In his retirement, Tom devotes much of his time to maintaining his website which he calls "The Master's Place," and writing. He has published three books, "Windsor's Child" about how the Lord revealed Himself to him when he was a small boy in Windsor, Ontario; "The Foolish Galatians," a series of essays based on Paul's letter to the churches of Galatia; and "Come, Lord Jesus," a commentary on the book of Revelation. Tom also edited "Joy Comes in the Mourning" which was written by a friend, Barbara Forsyth. He is now working on his first novel, which he calls
"The Missing Person." Tom and Linda have three grown daughters, and eleven grandchildren.
Find him at www.tmpministries.com

God certainly works in mysterious ways, doesn't he? Marc and I actually have a story similar to this (though ours has nothing to do with diapers in the rafters OR a rabbit - dead OR alive). God is SO good!

Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

Why I Blog

Take Flight. Patty Wysong Helping bloggers blog. When I saw Patty Wysong's latest "Take Flight" challenge, I absolutely, positively, had to participate.

(If you don't know, Patty/Peejers is an absolute BFF to me, and "Take Flight" is an occasional series she does on her wonderful blog Patterings, aimed at helping bloggers blog.)

Her challenge? Talk about why you blog. Peejers shares her reasoning here (and a place to link up if you want join in too). And now it's my turn :)

Here we are - our shared brain-halves almost touching!
First and foremost, I started blogging because Peejers made me (this is only partly a joke - she was definitely the one who encouraged me to start, and told me how much it would help me, and how much I would love it. She was right)  Three years, eight months ago EXACTLY, I put up my very first post, which was so-optimistically titled We'll See How Long THIS Lasts.

And that's where it began. If you read the post (which is NOT one of my best-crafted pieces of writing ever), you'll see that my original goal was to share information on my then work in progress (non-fiction on my husband's health issues) and share a bit of fiction once a week.

But soon, I found that my blog could be much more. Sure - it was somewhere to share my writing journey, but it was also a place  to use my writing gift. I started putting devotionals on my blog. (it was fun to look back and see that my friend Kristen Schiffmann started Monday Manna  - which I later took over - just a couple months after I started blogging!) I participated in Word-Filled-Wednesday for quite a whi le (this is still going on - and is FUN!). I started being a regular contributor to other blogs. I met LOTS of wonderful, wonderful people.

And then, I think I found my GREATEST reason I blog (and read others' blogs) - to encourage. Close to a year and a half ago, I started Finds for Fridays - a once-weekly blog posts that features my favorite blog posts by others. I LOVE doing this. And just this year, I began my God Is So Good series, which shares ways God is with us through struggles. This, along with my weekly devotionals and the occasional additional post on writing goals and other things I'm learning, is my blog in a nutshell.

And I still get to share writing tips and things like that - now that I'm the blogger at the FaithWriters blog (been doing that since 4th of July last year).

I LOVE blogging. It's a fun way to share what's in my heart, to encourage, to get to know people and have them know you, and make some wonderful friends.

So, why do YOU blog?

Stop by Peejers' TakeFlight post and learn others' experiences - and  link up with your own answer!

Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

Giving Something Up

God has given to us abundantly - more than we could ever want or need. Even those of us in poverty have more than we could possibly deserve - life itself, and, if we are saved, eternal life. Many of us, of course, have more: much, much more.

Could you imagine giving it all up? Your home. Your family. Your laptop. Your clothing. Your friendships. The food in your refrigerator. Your car. Everything you value on earth.

I'm not ready to do this, and I'm guessing most of you, if you are honest, aren't either. There might be someone you'd give all these things up for: a spouse, maybe a son or daughter, or perhaps a parent. But it would be a hard decision, wouldn't it?

But what if you were asked to do this - to give up everything - for someone who didn't like you? Would you be willing to make such a sacrifice for someone who would be glad to see you dead?

Christ did - and He gave up even more than that.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
He gave up His life, His possessions - and even His connection with God the Father - so that we (those who were still sinners, and hated everything about God) could be in a relationship with Him.

In seven weeks, we will all celebrate Easter, remembering all Christ gave up for us, and his triumphant resurrection from the dead on the third day. Because of all He gave up, we can be in fellowship with Him.

Two days from today is Ash Wednesday, and the beginning of Lent. While many Christians do not necessarily celebrate Lent as it is in Catholic and other Christian denominations, the idea of giving something up during this time of reflection on Christ's life, death, and resurrection is becoming more widespread. And I, for one, don't see it as such a bad thing.

A favorite food? An enjoyable activity? Some piece of technology? These seem like small sacrifices compared to my suggestions earlier, don't they? And even smaller when we see what Christ gave up for us. And every time you wish for that "thing" you gave up, you can remember the sacrifice God made so you could be saved.

How often do you ponder Christ's sacrifice for you? Do you generally give up something for Lent? Will you this year?

Comment below, and/ or stop by Living by Grace and we can chat a bit!

Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

Cuddling up at JoE

I hope you'll stop by Jewels of Encouragement today. I'm over there talking about cuddling up with my daughter - and when Someone else cuddles up with me. Hope to see you there!
Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

Old and New - Plus Finds for Fridays: February 17

Last month, I learned just how much a mattress can have in common with a baby, a rebellious teenager - and salvation. How, you ask? Stop by the Internet Cafe, and read what I learned about this in my devotional, Old to New.

 Finds for Fridays is my way of sharing some of the wonderful blogs posts I read each week. I am currently following close to 100 blogs and at least scan them as much as I can. Each week, I'll note and "set aside" some posts that especially speak to me for whatever reason. And each Friday that I am able, I'll share them with you. I hope you'll stop by and read the posts, and maybe even follow the blogs if you aren't already. A win-win, right?

And here they are!

Thursday Tete a tete by Rita Garcia at Reflections with Dr. Rita (about "natural" talent)

The Divine Dance by Jennifer Slattery at Jennifer Slattery Lives Out Loud (about keeping your eyes on your partner)

Tackling A Writer's Fears by Leslie Stobbe at the ACFW blog (about overcoming writer fears through His Word)

Love Letters and Valentines by Karen Fendick at Internet Cafe Devotions (about a valentine to - and from - the Lord)

Hope you enjoy these posts - and learn something. I know I did!

Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

As of Late - February 16

It's time for As of Late! My dear, amazing friend Christy hosts this monthly meme (rhymes with cream) on the third Thursday of each month. It's a great way to look back and contemplate how things have been for you lately.

So, after you read MY post, be sure to stop by Critty Joy and read hers and the other participants' (they're generally VERY quick reads) - and join in yourself if you want!

And heeerree I go!

LATELY, I've felt like a headless, emotional, scattered chicken more often than not.

LATELY, I've been loving this book (almost done!) and looking forward to this one (by the same author!)  - even though it's not next on my "to read" list.

LATELY, I've been in denial that my oldest will actually be starting middle school next year.

LATELY, I have become more and more in awe of Margie Lawson.

LATELY, I have become more and more aware (thanks to the lady above) how much work I have to do on my biblical fiction before it is as good as I can make it.

LATELY, I haven't had time to do the work I need to get it as good as I can make it - but I AM learning the skills I need!

LATELY, I've been keeping a secret (by necessity) and have been impatient to be able to share it (and I will - soon, I hope) - it has nothing to do with me being published, by the way.

LATELY, I have felt blessed by two different, but wonderful, groups of four women I belong to.

LATELY, I've seen more cute babies at Meijer than I thought possible.

So, tell me - what have YOU been doing as of late?

Be sure to stop by Christy's blog for more As Of Late.

Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

Not What I Expeted - God Is So Good

Welcome to my Wednesday feature God is So Good. Here I will share stories - true and fiction, mine and others' - of the Lord's presence in the midst of trials, struggles, and difficulties.
 In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33b
I wrote this about three and a half years ago, when things were tough, and I was just beginning to see some of the ramifications of my son's developmental struggles. It absolutely flowed from my pen (yeah, I wrote it longhand) then, and I DID post it on my blog before. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that some folks likely hadn't read it - and that some who had could use to read it again. I know I could. 

NOT WHAT I EXPECTED (Sept. 27, 2008)

“Hi, Mommmeeeeeeee!”

Andrew 7bday
Andrew then
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.

God is SO good - isn't He?
Do you have a story you'd like to share about God's goodness in your struggles? Drop me an email and we can talk!

Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

F is for Funny Flowers

a2z: Take 2. Patty Wysong Helping bloggers blog.
I was a regular contributer to my dear friend Patty Wysong's A2Z4UandMe meme last year - and she has started again, with "take 2." I've enjoyed reading many of the entries, but haven't participated - until today. As I was reading through several of them, I remembered a story I wrote several years ago for the FaithWriters challenge that fit this week's letter - F - perfectly. (It was my first EC, by the way)

So, I figured I'd share it with you. I know some have read it before, but I'm sure you'll have fun!

If Corn Had Ears
By Joanne Sher

Two eight-year-old girls, full of dimples and pigtails, glanced out the kitchen window. The sun was shining, the sky was blue, and the flowers and plants were blooming gloriously. What a perfect time for a picnic dinner!

Mary raced outdoors, dragging a red and white checkered blanket behind her. She spread it out hastily a few feet from the flower and vegetable garden she and her mother had planted earlier in the year. She headed back in, only to nearly run into her friend Sarah, who was carrying a large picnic basket.

"I'll get the lemonade and you set up the rest of the stuff - OK?"

Sarah nodded and started putting out the flowered paper plates, napkins and cups, and the pink plastic forks, knives and spoons. Mary returned and poured out the lemonade. The girls then began unpacking the food - fried chicken, potato chips, string cheese and chocolate chip cookies, just out of the oven.

"You wanna pick some strawberries? We can wash them off with the hose. I planted them all by myself!"


"Ow! Be gentle, kid!!"

"Listen to you! You're always complaining, straw! Yanno they can't hear you, so why bother?"

"I've heard about enough of you," an ear of corn added. "You think being picked hurts - try getting shucked!"

"That's nothing - bet none of you has ever had your head cut off!" the lettuce grumbled.

The potatoes rolled their eyes. "Such complainers!"

"When I was young," an iris added, "we had to get our own water - none of this sprinkler and watering can convenience. We sent our roots deep into the ground - uphill, both ways, in scorching heat! You youngsters have it easy!"

"You may be a bearded iris," the bluebells chimed in, "but you're no older than the rest of us, so get off your high horse!"

A serene, calm voice spoke, quieting all the grumbling.

"Now, dear friends, we must appreciate all that the good Lord has given us," the Jack-in-the-pulpit exhorted. "Look at this fine soil, with all the nutrients we could need to grow. And those lovely people who come and water us and give us fertilizer. God has also given us such wonderful diversity and beauty. And, for those of you complaining, remember that our purpose in life, at least in part, is to give pleasure to God's chosen - his humans! Remember that when you are cut or picked or eaten or shucked, God's purpose is being fulfilled!"

Hearty "Amens" came from all corners of the garden.

"And also remember, we could be indoor plants, and we would miss the wonderful show our Lord provides for us each day," Jack continued. "So be grateful and praise Him for exactly where we are!"

"Hey," a violet shouted toward the herbs, "Speaking of the show - does anyone have the thyme?"

The corn sighed and covered its ears. "That joke wasn't funny the first time you said it. Cut it out, bud!"

"Don't you even joke about cutting with a flower!"

"Watch it, mister! How do you think Susan got that black eye?"

"Hush, children," Jack whispered. "The show is about to begin."


Mary's mother stuck her head out the back door.

"Girls - keep your eyes open - looks like the sun is about to set!"

Mary and Sarah, finished with their meals, lay down on the blanket facing west.

As the brilliant reds, oranges, purples and yellows of God's daily performance came into view, two little girls - and several other parts of God's creation - thanked Him for the beauty of His artistry, and His many good gifts.

You mountains and all hills,
Fruit trees and all cedars,
Wild animals and all cattle.
Small creatures and flying birds,
Kings of the earth and all nations,
You princes and all rulers on earth,
Young men and maidens,
Old men and children.
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Psalm 148:9-12, 150:6 NIV

Fun, eh? Be sure to stop by Peejers' blog for more "F" posts. You will NOT be sorry!

Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

For A Good Time...

I enjoy my life. Spending time with my loving husband is wonderful. I often have lots of fun with my two kids (when they're not driving me crazy, of course). And I adore my friends - both "in the flesh" and across the internet. I enjoy reading, writing, studying God's Word, working with kids.

Life, for the most part, is good.

One question on a "secret sister" form, however, has me pondering my life and what I enjoy. The question? "What would you consider a fun day?"

I had no idea what to write. And after an hour, I finally wrote something - but I'm still not pleased with it. Even now, I really don't have a good answer.

Oh, in the past, it would have been easy.

Thirty five years ago? Probably a trip to the zoo and some ice cream.

Twenty five? A day at an amusement park, most likely.

How about fifteen years in the past?  At age thirty I probably wanted a day with Marc, maybe a whole-day date, with a movie, meal out, and maybe a few fun museums.

Ten years ago (in the midst of Marc's health issues), a fun day would have included a 12-hour nap.

But now? I really don't know. Have I lost my sense of what enjoyment is? Am I so caught up in my own rat race that I am blind to the possibilities of  "fun?" Or, maybe my life is already so fun that I can't picture anything better. (Ummm...)

Regardless, God wants us to relish and enjoy our lives. We are to be filled with joy - live life abundantly.
"But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful." Psalm 68:3

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Philippians 4:4
I'm still not sure if I've forgotten what fun is, or if my happiness in what I have has made me content enough that I needn't worry about it. 

But I DO know one thing: my life is good, and even fun sometimes. And even in struggles, He allows me peace and joy (if not a bit of fun).

And that's a good thing.


What is YOUR idea of a fun day? Have your ideas in this matter changed as you've matured in years? in your faith?
Stop by Living by Grace and we can chat a bit!

Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

Finds for Fridays: February 10

Finds for Fridays is my way of sharing some of the wonderful blogs posts I read each week. I am currently following close to 100 blogs and at least scan them as much as I can. Each week, I'll note and "set aside" some posts that especially speak to me for whatever reason. And each Friday that I am able, I'll share them with you. I hope you'll stop by and read the posts, and maybe even follow the blogs if you aren't already. A win-win, right?

And here they are!

What's Your Story?:::Kristen Schiffman at Christy McGraw's blog Critty Joy (about struggle and trusting God, and His faithfulness)

Three Ways to be the Best Neighbor by Janet Eckles at Reflections in Hindsight (about REALLY loving your neighbor)

Plans (Flash Fiction) by Sara Harricharan at Fiction Fusion (about trust and plans)

Why are you so mean? To you? By Nikki Turner at In Truer Ink (about giving yourself grace and "hypocrisy in reverse)

Updated Publishing Dictionary at Book Ends LLC (terms for writers to know. A GREAT list/reference!)

Hope you enjoy these posts. Lots to read and ponder this week!

Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength


The Barn Door

I'm over at the Barn Door today, talking about the least wintery winter I've ever experienced (seriously - we're something like 20 inches below average in snowfall!). Stop by and read my Lesson about Seasons. And while you're there? Check out some of the past posts. It's a wonderful blog. :)

Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

A Clue for the Clueless - God Is So Good

Welcome to my Wednesday feature God is So Good. Here I will share stories - true and fiction, mine and others' - of the Lord's presence in the midst of trials, struggles, and difficulties.
 In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33b
One of the hardest parts of  dealing with my husband's health issues was how much we didn't know. Especially in the beginning, when everything was foreign to us, we felt like we were going at this blind. And though we never really did get EVERY answer (who does, this side of heaven?), when we were feeling the most lost, He put someone into our lives to help make things a bit clearer. Like this day, just a week into the ordeal...

 The Tuesday before, Marc had a headache. Now, six days later, the neurosurgeon informed us he had a brain tumor. What kind? He wasn't sure. Possibly a pituitary tumor. Or it could have been a craniopharyngioma. What did these words mean? Not a clue. What were the ramification? Beat me. Other than brain surgery in two days. Everything else was doctorese.

But the doctor did give us some information on brain surgery and tumors. A LOT of information. Paperwork and informational packets probably two inches high. And it's safe to say I was not in the mood, or mindset, to read, much less understand, all that information.

So, after I left my husband in the hospital to rest, I headed home to process, and fill my family in on the news. I tried to read the information. It put me to sleep. I tried again. It gave me a headache.

So I took a break to fill in my family on the latest on my husband. I called my dad and gave him the details. He knew nothing about either type of tumor. (I could hope, anyway!) And promised to call the rest of my family and give them the update so I didn't have to.

So I gave the avalanche of information another try. Until the phone rang.

It was my uncle, telling me his daughter's fiance' was in medical school, doing his residency under a neuro-opthalmologist (an eye doctor who specializes in brain issues).

I called him - and someone who knew how to speak English helped me understand what was in those papers. He even offered to talk to our doctor and ask questions of his own. I went from confusion to a bit of understanding. And only the Lord could put this person in my path. He is SO good.
Do you have a story you'd like to share about God's goodness in your struggles? Drop me an email and we can talk!

Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

Giving My Eyeballs A Break

Yup, it's that time again, and I KNOW I need it!
It's the first Tuesday of the month, and I'm taking a break from my computer and texting. Actually don't have a lot on the agenda - Bible study in the morning, and some cleaning the rest of the day. Might read some too, and maybe work on some writing OFF the computer.

If you possibly can take a tech-free day on occasion, I really can't recommend it more highly. It makes such a HUGE difference in productivity and sanity :)

See you Wednesday!

Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

Banging Change

Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD,
   and he will reward them for what they have done. Proverbs 19:17

I first met Ryan in December 1993. I was meeting my fiance's family over Christmas break in Michigan. Of course, I was trying to make a good impression. I think I did all right - though Ryan wasn't exactly the one I was most focused on.

Perhaps the fact that he was only five years old played a role in that.

I remember his smile, and his speed, from then. Boy, could he run fast :) Hubby and I married in May of 1994, and moved to Michigan three months later. We weren't living in Ryan's back yard, but we did see him on occasion. Nice kid. Fun. Cute as a button. Crazy. But we were never close.

I recently got a chance to learn a whole lot about him - about his love of movie making, about his passion for the homeless, about how devoted he was to his friends. And he inspired me.

As I learned more and more about him, one phrase continually popped up: "Bang Change." This was something he did regularly. He would take the change from his pockets, and throw it against a building, most often in the rougher parts of town, saying "Bang Change," leaving it for someone hungry enough to pick it up. That way, no one had to lose dignity, or feel grateful or indebted to him.

I wanted to tell him how much I admired him for that. What a creative, and powerful, way it was to help those in need. That I would make a point of doing that very thing. But I couldn't.

at the crash site - see all the change?
Because I found out these things about him at his funeral. My nephew, Ryan "Kinch Kid" Lennox died in a car crash on Tuesday, January 31, 2012 at the young, young age of 23. At the visitation (which I was unable to attend) the floor became covered with coins his friends had dropped in his memory. And "bang change" was a continual refrain at his funeral, which I was able to attend last Friday. Many of his friends (and he had MANY) are vowing to continue to "bang change" regularly as a way to carry on his memory. And I'm one of them.

Jesus wants us to be kind to the poor. To help the widow and the orphan. And there are many ways we can do this. But I can honestly say I've never heard of this one before - and it's easy to do. And, as a bonus (to me and my family, anyway), it honors the memory of a passionate, laid-back, wonderful young man who just might change the world - even though he's no longer on it.

God did not give us specific instructions on HOW to help others - but he did say "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." (Matthew 25:40)

I'm certainly not God, but I think He would approve.


What kind of impact are YOU having on the poor? What do you think of Banging Change? Hug your kids - and make sure you get to know those close to you - or you could learn about them at their funeral.
Stop by Living by Grace and we can chat a bit!

Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

Finds for Fridays: February 3

Finds for Fridays is my way of sharing some of the wonderful blogs posts I read each week. I am currently following close to 100 blogs and at least scan them as much as I can. Each week, I'll note and "set aside" some posts that especially speak to me for whatever reason. And each Friday that I am able, I'll share them with you. I hope you'll stop by and read the posts, and maybe even follow the blogs if you aren't already. A win-win, right?

And here they are!

Delivery Room Angst by Karlene Jacobsen at Jewels of Encouragement
(about wait and pain and the reward at the end)

Dirty Snow Angel by Mari LaVell at A Mari Heart (about perfection and God using those of us who aren't)

Potentially Tense Canaries by Andy Scheer at From The Heart (about spell-check NOT being the be-all, end-all - made me laugh)

Five Ways to Welcome New Chicks by Lisa Lickel at Reflections in Hindsight (on being a wonderful in-law)

When Writing Isn't Your Day Job (guest post) by Nancy Kimball at Seekerville (on dealing with word-count envy and other such things)

Hope you enjoy these posts - I know I did :)

Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

Writing Craft Recap for January

2012 is my "learning the writing craft" year. And once a month, generally on the first Thursday of the month, I will share some highlights of what I learned. And here I go.

From The Art of War for Writers by James Scott Bell:
  • It's not the will to win that counts, but the will to prepare to win.
  • Turn your envy into energy - and more words
  • Self-motivation is crucial
  • Write hard and fast, but edit slow and tough
  • Resist the urge to explain
  • To write comedy, make the characters believe they are in a tragedy
  • A goal is just a  dream unless it has legs
From Six Stages of Change - The Character Arc (a Savvy Authors course taught by Mary O'Gara):
  • Every person goes through six stages when a big change happens in their life: Precontemplation, Contemplation, Preparation, Action, Maintenance, and Termination or Relapse.
  • Most books' character arcs cover stages three through five -- with stages one and two being mostly backstory and stage six being after the book ends
  • Each shift between stages is the result of the character making a decision
  • Precontemplation is when the character is in denial or uninterested about needing to change.
  • Contemplation is when the character begins to see change is necessary, but hasn't done anything yet.
  • Preparation is when the character starts gathering resources to make the change that has to be made.
  • Action occurs when the character (duh) takes action. This stage carries the hero from the first real, conscious, committed action to being on his knees with everything he has depleted, exhausted and used.
  • Maintenance is when we see the results of the change. The actual change occurs between stages four and five.
  • Termination (not often used in fiction) is when we see that the change caused lasting pleasant change - or Relapse the opposite.
From Avoiding the Mistakes that Scream Novice (an ACFW course taught by Kathy Ide):
  •  Read agent/editor submission guidelines carefully and follow them exactly (yeah, I knew this already, but it was a GOOD reminder).
  • Make sure your writing is as succinct and "sharp" as it can be.
  • The most important parts of your manuscript are the beginning and the ending.
  • Nothing screams "novice" more than punctuation, usage, grammar, and spelling errors.
  • Be absolutely certain you have your facts straight.
This isn't, of course, everything I learned -but it's a bit of a snapshot. Feel free to ask questions in the comments if you'd like, and I'll answer there as well.

Watch for my post next month, where I'll share what I learn in February - including from Margie Lawson's class "Empowering Characters' Emotions."

What "learning" of mine was most interesting to you? Feel free to share anything you've learned about the craft lately.

Traveling Rough Roads With God's Strength

My One Word: 2016 and 2017

Most who know me know I am a very goal-oriented person (in fact, I already shared my goal wrap-up for 2016 and my new ones for 2017 on this...