“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

Silly, I Know...

This post is part of Patty Wysong's 
 A to Z meme. This week's letter is "S."
 A to Z blog hop at Patterings.
...But I had a hard time coming up with a good topic for the letter S. You see, I've been super busy (like the rest of you LOL), and since this is a holiday week (not only Thanksgiving, but a couple family birthdays here!), I considered skipping. It's certainly allowed. But then I looked back over my blog archives and saw that, in the three (or is it four) times my soul sister Peejers has run this meme (rhymes with cream), I have NEVER done every single letter. Gonna change that THIS time, Lord willing.

So, I'm not stopping.

I considered writing about the sales going on today for Black Friday (but decided against it, because I have absolutely no plans to attend any of them). I could have blogged about my stuffy nose - but not only is that kinda gross, but hopefully by the time you read this, it will be a distant memory! Santa also entered my mind, but I really don't have much to say about the guy in the suit. Could have written about my success in PiBoIdMo (as of Wednesday, 45 picture book ideas - only 30 required to "win") - but I think I've talked that to death on here.
One more plug ;)

The other idea - the one that stuck in my mind the longest - was to write about my family - the Sher family. But I've kinda been doing that all along, and there's enough about me on here, so I stuffed that idea back in my head where it belonged. Sorry if that one sounded good! (If you have questions, go ahead and ask in the comments!)

So, this is what you get. Stuff.

Wait - that's it! My topic! For me, S is for Stuff. Woohoo! ;)

(And just in case you are concerned, I already know what my T post will be about - so no more babbling on - at least not next week!)

So, what kind of stuff did you come up with for S?

Scripture Stories: Timeless Truths
Check out more "S" posts below, or add your own! 


Double Digits

And the boy Samuel continued to grow in stature and in favor with the Lord and with people. 1 Samuel 2:26

Three months old
In two days, my baby girl will be reaching a milestone. I'm not sure I'm ready for it. She, however, has no qualms of any sort.

The signs, of course, have been there for weeks, if not months. Maybe even years. The attitude. The independence. Her maturing sense of humor. The changing of her tastes. Her clothes shrinking (or something like that!). But I wasn't ready to admit it.

But now I'm doing it in public. My daughter will be entering "double digits" on Wednesday. Yup. TEN YEARS OLD.

It's amazing the changes I've seen in her - even in the past year. She's maturing. Learning from her
Two - already has style!
mistakes. Testing the waters. Developing her own style - opinions - way of doing things. Turning more and more into the woman God wants her to be.

And I couldn't be more proud. She is, just like the young prophet-to-be Samuel, "continu(ing) to grow in stature and in favor with the Lord and with people."

But growth is not supposed to stop once you add that second digit to your age. Most of us stop growing taller in our teens or twenties, for instance (my daughter's got a bit of time for that one) - but our knowledge can continue until we take our last breath.

Now (2 months ago)
How about spiritually? As far as I understand it, that can NEVER stop - even after we go from this world to our eternal home in heaven. By listening to the Holy Spirit, staying in the Word, and practicing other spiritual disciplines, our relationship with the Father will deepen, and we will grow more and more like Him - no matter how long ago our age went from one digit to two (or how soon it might make it to three!).

They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks. Well, don't believe them. No matter your age, the Lord will help you grow more and more like His Son.

Heavenly Father, help us to continue to grow in Your favor, no matter how old we might get. Each day, we want to be more like Your Son. Draw us closer, and help us become the men and women You want us to be. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen

We're discussing this here, and at Living by Grace on Facebook. Won't you join us?
How have you grown in the past month? Year? Decade?

Scripture Stories: Timeless Truths

The Running Season

It's been a busy week - and next week isn't looking any slower. And once we get into December? Do you even have to ask?? ;)

We're in what I call "the running season." Often during this time, we miss so much - as caught up as we are in rushing.
I'm at the Internet Cafe today, talking about slowing down during a season of rush. Don't miss God in the midst of all the busyness!
Scripture Stories: Timeless Truths

Our Family Reading List

This post is part of Patty Wysong's 
 A to Z meme. This week's letter is "R."
A to Z blog hop at Patterings.

I love to read. Pretty much always have, and almost positive I always will. And in the Sher household, that's pretty much the norm (though not COMPLETELY). Both my husband and daughter love reading - maybe as much as I do. My son? Not so much - but he still does it (mostly because it's required for school - but at least he DOES it! And maybe he'll find some books that really grab his interest, and that will change. Maybe).
And here we are!
So I thought, because this week's letter is "R," I'd share a bit about what my family is currently reading.

I'll start with my lovely daughter (who turns 10 this coming Wednesday, by the way. WHERE did the time go!??). At bedtime, we are reading The War of The Ember, which is the fifteenth and final book in the Guardians of Ga'Hoole series by Kathryn Lasky. This is my second time through the series (read it with my son a few years ago - though I must admit that my daughter read the majority of these herself, without my help), and there's some fine storytelling in there.

She is also reading two books on her own: a novelization of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (she read the first two in the series already), and Newberry Honor book Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm. She's enjoying them both very much.

My handsome son (who is three months shy of being a teenager!) has developed a liking for a book series that his father read when he was younger called Alfred Hichcock and the Three Investigators (in fact, the books are the ones my husband read himself when he was Andrew's age). His required reading for school (he needs to read two hours a week outside of class) is the fourth book in this series - The Mystery of the Green Ghost. At bed (yes, I still read to him - though he reads to me too on occasion), we are working on the third book - The Mystery of the Whispering Mummy. Delightful and interesting stories - and if he's enjoying them, I'm all for it!
And then there's my loving, wonderful husband. He's been reading Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine (that's a staple for him - guess he has always liked mysteries!) on his Kindle, as well as Idiots at Work - Chronicles of Workplace Stupidity (humor is another big one for him!) and The 17-Day Diet (which I finished reading myself not too long ago).

And we can't forget yours truly. :) In addition to the December issue of The Writer (to be followed quickly thereafter with January's issue of Writer's Digest), I'm reading Shelly Beach's Ambushed by Grace (lovely and helpful book on caregiving) and Randy and Nanci Alcorn's Help for Women Under Stress (for a FRIEND. Stress? Me? Nah ;)). NEXT on my list will definitely be fiction - probably something historical that screams at me from my Kindle Fire.

So, what's on YOUR reading list?

Scripture Stories: Timeless Truths
Check out more "r" posts below, and/or share your own! 


The Growing Part

Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. James 5:7 NKJV 

It's not often that a spiritual truth plants a Tom Petty song in my head. Or at least part of the chorus. But when I was working through a study of James at SheReadsTruth earlier month, a very profound lesson I learned came with an earworm.

The lesson, as the verse above might have hinted at, was about patience. More specifically, waiting.

Waiting is not one of my strong suits, despite having plenty of opportunities to practice. I waited for the right guy to ask me to marry him. Waited six years after marrying him to finally have my first child. And, of course, waiting room after waiting room (they are NOT inaccurately named) for doctor visits, surgeries, consultations, and whatnot.

And it's hard. Waiting, that is. Cuz while you wait, it's easy to dwell. To second-guess. When, as the day 20 lesson says, "our flesh likes to take over."
As pressure builds, we turn on those we care about most, grumbling against one another. We look at others and judge out of our own aching, empty parts. We forget that our own Judge is standing at the door, with His hand on the handle. We get exasperated in our impatience, swearing, negotiating with the Lord, carelessly throwing around thoughtless phrases like “Oh dear Lord, if I have to wait another day!” or “For heaven’s sakes, this shouldn’t be so hard.”
We want it to be easy. We want everything to come fast. We want things in OUR time - and our time is yesterday. The waiting is indeed the hardest part.

But it is also when you have the greatest potential for growth. Cuz God changes us (if we'll let Him)
Image Source
while we wait. And sometimes, perhaps that's why we're waiting. Because the Master Gardener is growing our faith, our hope, our love, our self-control (and more) through that waiting. And the Gardener can't - won't - be rushed in this season.

And He knows what we need. What's best for us. And often, we won't learn unless we are waiting.

So let Him grow you. Cuz though the waiting IS the hardest part, it is also the growing part. And growing is  exactly what every child of God should be doing.

Father, help me to not get impatient when you have me wait. Stop me from trying to get ahead of you - from attempting to circumvent your growing process. I know You know what is best for me. Help me to grow in my waiting - to become exactly who You want me to be. And Lord, don't end my waiting until You have achieved Your purpose in me. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.

We're discussing this here, and at Living by Grace on Facebook. Won't you join us?

Scripture Stories: Timeless Truths

My (New) Favorite Quote

This post is part of Patty Wysong's 
 A to Z meme. This week's letter is "Q."
A to Z blog hop at Patterings.

I love a good quote. Adore a great one. Can't stop thinking about an amazing one. I guess I'm just quirky that way. And, earlier this week, I found one. (yeah, all of the above)

Of course, many of my favorite quotes are from the Bible - Isaiah 53, Philippians 4, and the Psalms, among other places, are filled with verses that touch me, fill me, and change me. But there aren't many writing-related quotes (though I certainly can't say there are none!) in His Word. And the quote in question is definitely one that applies especially to writers.

And I've shared writer quotes here before (don't believe me? Check out this post.). And I know just about every writer of ANY kind has a favorite. And as a quadragenarian (my new FB/church friend Debbie Toretta-Sewers introduced me to THIS word), mine has changed several times. But this one, I dare say, will likely stick around for a while.

Okay - enough ado. Here it is!
"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
For those who don't know, Jane Yolen is an award-winning and well-loved children's book author  (you might be familiar with "Owl Moon," or her "How Do Dinosaurs" series) with over 300 books for kids under her belt. And I found this quote in the middle of Ms. Yolen's blog post for PiBoIdMo (you KNEW I'd work that into this post somewhere, didn't ya?).

Now do you see why I love it so much?

What's YOUR favorite quote?

Scripture Stories: Timeless Truths
Check out more Q posts, and/or add one of your own! 


It's Not Just a Story

Like most writers, I love to read. Fiction especially. And I love a good story - a great form of entertainment that can also teach and give us insight.

But everything you read isn't meant to be read like your favorite novel. I'm over at Internet Cafe Devotions today, talking about one particular book that is too often read (by me - and maybe you!) for entertainment - but whose true function is much more. Hope you'll stop by and see how this Book is Not Just a Story.

Scripture Stories: Timeless Truths

How to Have Peace

Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days,keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies.Turn from evil and do good;seek peace and pursue it. Psalm 34:12-14 NIV (also 1 Peter 3:10-12)

Peace is a common desire among many.  Just the idea of it makes many, including me, smile. A peaceful life, day, moment, mind - I'll take them any day of the week (and, as they say, twice on Sundays).

I don't know about you, but in my mind, peace has mostly been defined by what it lacks - what is NOT included. No war. No fighting. No conflict. No noise (hence my favorite phrase "peace and quiet."). So the best way to experience peace is to not make any waves and wait for it. To suppress anything that might cause conflict and wait. It will come. Right?
Graphic source
Peace doesn't just come. It isn't the result of inactivity. No - it is the opposite. The psalmist and Peter don't tell us to have peace - or even to make peace. We are to seek it - to PURSUE it. If we want to love life and have good days (and who doesn't?), we must chase after peace - work to achieve it.

This doesn't mean we push troubles under the rug and pretend they don't exist. Nor do we let others have their way, or ignore sin, to avoid conflict. It means we work to promote harmony in our hearts, our families, our communities, and our world. And, with the many different perspectives, personalities, and priorities that surround us. It IS work. But it's absolutely worth it - because nothing is better than God's peace in our lives.

So don't just wait for peace - or even make it. Pursue it with all your efforts. Cuz you won't get it any other way.

We're discussing this here, and at Living by Grace on Facebook. Won't you join us?

How do you seek peace in a world of strife?

Scripture Stories: Timeless Truths

A Fruity Comparison

Most of you know I'm not a native Michigander. Where I come from, things are quite different. But I'm happy to be here.
The Barn Door

I'm posting at the Midwest blog The Barn Door today, talking a bit about the differences between where I grew up and where I now hang my hat. It's a fun - and fruity - comparison. Hope you'll stop by and learn what It's Like Comparing...
Scripture Stories: Timeless Truths

Picture Book Ideas

If you've been to my blog lately, you likely realize that for the month of November, I am participating in PiBoIdMo - Picture Book Idea Month. The event, in its fifth year, was started by picture book author Tara Lazar. The idea is to come up with thirty different picture book ideas in the thirty days that encompass November. There is a Facebook group to chat in, a twitter hashtag, and a blog post every day at Tara's blog (by a picture book author and/or illustrator) to inspire you!

I'm definitely having fun with it (in case you haven't guessed!). I bought some index cards attached by two ring things (yes - that IS the technical term, if you were wondering), decorated the cover, and tied a pen to it. This goes with me wherever I go - so I can jot my idea down wherever I go (and there's enough space to expand on it if the idea explodes).

As of the writing of this post (4:30pm on Wednesday - as I had a tech-free day on Thursday the 7th), I had fourteen ideas in my PiBoIdMo notebook - pretty good for six days, eh? I'm fairly certain, in foresight, that number will have increased by the time you read this post. (Friday morning update - I'm to 16 ideas now :D)I'm already halfway there (or more)!

Will every one of them become a picture book some day (on my hard drive - not even necessarily on a book shelf)? Probably not. I have one (a flip kind of book based on the game "Who What Where") that may be logistically impossible. A few others where the idea is odd at best. And some simply won't inspire me beyond the few words I've jotted down. (And I can almost guarantee that I will look at my notes for at least one or two of them and say "what does THAT mean?")

But I'm pretty certain that at least some of them (maybe my Scrabble tiles/popularity/importance idea I got on the first day - or one of the several based on a child's imagination) will grow beyond the scribbles in my PiBoIdMo notebook thing. They might become a list of ideas. A sketch/outline. A rough draft. A polished manuscript. And even - just maybe - a book you can pick up in your local bookstore, on Amazon, or "anywhere that fine books are sold."

And even if that never happens? If the first week of this challenge is any indication, I spent a month having fun, getting to know a whole bunch of picture book authors and illustrators, and learning the craft. Sounds like a good payoff to me!

A to Z blog hop at Patterings.
Do you have a place to record ideas for your next work in progress (whatever it might be)?
Scripture Stories: Timeless Truths
Check out these other "p" posts, and/or share your own!



So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. Romans 7:21

They say that the more often you do something, the better you get at it. But, contrary to popular belief, this isn't always a good thing.

photo credit: lydia chow via photopin cc
 Sometimes I give the kids in my daughter's fourth grade class their individualized spelling tests, and on a few occasions, I've seen the way this principle can backfire. Every once in a while, a child will copy one of their spelling words incorrectly, and for a week they will study, and do all their spelling activities, with  wrong word.

And guess what happens when I give them the spelling test? Yup - they miss the word. And, even though they spelled their word exactly as it appears on their spelling list, I need to mark it wrong, and give it back to them for the next week. And often they miss the word again the next week - because it's hard to unlearn what you already know, no matter how wrong it is.

And sometimes, that can be an issue with following Christ. We are so used to living worldly, that changing - that doing the right thing - is a real, honest to goodness effort. We've spent the first part of our lives doing it wrong - whether "it" is parenting, praying, speaking, helping, how we treat others, or how we spend our money or time - and changing that isn't as easy as deciding to.

Sin, my friends, is a hard habit to break. Just ask me. Or the Apostle Paul.

Almost the entirety of the seventh chapter of his book to the Romans deals with breaking the sin habit, if you will. And the devil's desire for us to keep it. It's a struggle for all of us. We have these battles going on within us between what is wrong - though possibly familiar, comfortable, and/or easy - and what is right.

We WANT to do what is right, but we don't. We desire to please God, but we keep doing what we always have been.
What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Romans 7:24
It would be easy to feel hopeless about changing those bad habits - if it weren't for Paul's next sentence.
Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:25a
We CAN'T do it on our own. But with Christ, we can break any bad habit. For we can do all things through Him (Philippians 4:13) - and He is greater than anything in the world (1 John 4:4).

Lord, you know my heart AND my actions - and how often they don't align. Help me, Father, to "unlearn" the habits that are sin, and to do what is right in Your sight - both out of habit and out of love for you. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
We're discussing this here, and at Living by Grace on Facebook. Won't you join us?

What Habits Do You Need To Unlearn? Are You Seeking Help From the Father?

Scripture Stories: Timeless Truths

October is Over...

This post is part of Patty Wysong's 
 A to Z meme. This week's letter is "O."
 A to Z blog hop at Patterings.
Don't know about you, but here in the Sher house, the past couple months seem to have flown by. Yesterday was the last day of the first quarter of my kids' school year - which means we're already 25% of the way through!

October (and September before it) was full of soccer, it seemed. And school. And running here, there, and everywhere. And researching/learning more about what seems to be my new writing focus - children's stories.

The kids are NOW almost 10 and on the cusp of 13!
Getting used to the routine of a new school year generally takes until some time in October to happen, and this year was no different. I think I can say with some certainty that, now the October is over, we've gotten ourselves into a nice pattern (that is apt to change - at the last minute - with no notice. But still :D).

And today is the first day of November. My kids have the day off (teacher inservice training) - a nice treat the day after Halloween, you think? We're getting a family portrait taken today (has been seven years since our last one - you can see it right there). It's about time in my opinion (though some in the family aren't QUITE as agreeable ;)).

AND, today starts PiBoIdMo - picture book idea month! Very excited about it (click here for last week's post for more details). Got my ring of index cards to carry with me so I can jot down any picture-book related ideas that pop into my head throughout the month, and plenty of places to go for inspiration.
The official site

Other highlights of this month will likely include my daughter's birthday (she goes double digits at the end of the month!), a couple field trips I'm driving for (one for each child - a pipe organ "investigation" and a Mexican supermarket), Thanksgiving, and who-knows-what else.

I don't know about you - but I'm READY for November, and glad that October is over!

How was your October?

Scripture Stories: Timeless Truths
Check out these other "o" posts, and/or share your own! 


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...