October 30, 2008

You'll Find Me...

Over here today.

I haven't intended to take a bloggy break...it just sort of happened. Trying to get some things in order and put some thoughts together. God's been speaking some good stuff, and I hope to share it soon.

In the meantime, don't forget to fall back this weekend. An extra hour of sleep & breakfast at church...the best day of the year!

October 24, 2008

Today's Thoughts

I'm asking:

~Am I ever going to write a blog post with substance again?

~Does my man know how much I love & appreciate him?

~How will CJ do on her reading test today? (We didn't study much because she was feeling bad last night)

~What's happened to the maid at my house? She's been pretty slack lately ;-)

I'm thinking:

~If preteen attitude/drama is just a precursor to teen attitude/drama, it may take a prescription for both me & CJ to survive.

~Buying a book for CJ is not breaking my commitment!

~I seriously love Cary Grant...they just don't make 'em like they used to ;-)

~This was a good read.

~If it wasn't Friday, I'd be pretty depressed right about now.

I'm reminding myself:

~Rewards for obedience don't always come in tangible ways, or even here on earth.

~His mercies are new every day.

For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him. - 2 Chron. 16:9 (NIV)

The Lord God has given Me the tongue of a disciple and of one who is taught, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary. He wakens Me morning by morning, He wakens My ear to hear as a disciple [as one who is taught]. - Isaiah 50:4 (AMP)

October 20, 2008

Weekend Recap

~Grocery shopping
~Cleaning house
~Jewelry party
~Extremely sore throat...painful!
~Football game...overtime win, baby!
~Aches & stuffy head...sent R & CJ to church without me
~My own personal Sunday School time
~Completed a God-task...not as difficult as I'd anticipated
~Lunch...loving whoever invented the crock pot!
~More football and nap on the sofa
~Puzzle with CJ
~Board game with CJ
~Three book reviews
~More reading
~Death of smoke detector battery...a 4:00 a.m. wakeup call
~No electricity
~No more sleep
~Back to work...sigh.

October 17, 2008

A Beautiful Fall

I haven't had the chance to read this book yet...but I'll be sure to let you know about it when I do!

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

A Beautiful Fall

David C. Cook (October 2008)


Chris Coppernoll


Chris Coppernoll is the founder of Soul2Soul Ministries, with his interviews with Christian artists airing weekly on 650 radio outlets in thirty countries. He has conducted hundreds of interviews on faith issues with personalities such as Amy Grant, Max Lucado, Michael W. Smith, and Kathie Lee Gifford. He also serves as a Deacon at The People’s Church in Franklin, Tennessee, and is currently working toward a Masters in Ministry Leadership degree through Rockbridge Seminary.

His "Inspirations" column is published monthly in the mid Michigan newspaper, The Jackson Citizen Patriot.

Chris Coppernoll is the author of four other books including Soul2Soul, Secrets of a Faith Well Lived, and God's Calling. Providence, his first novel, is his fourth book.


High-powered Boston attorney Emma Madison is celebrating her latest courtroom victory when she gets a call from a number she doesn't recognize. Area code 803 home. Juneberry, South Carolina eight hundred miles, twelve years, and a lifetime away from Boston. Emma's father has had a serious heart attack. Emma rushes to his bedside, and a weekend trip threatens to become an extended stay. She has to work fast to arrange the affairs of his small-town law practice so she can return to her life and career in Boston.

And then Michael Evans shows up. They'd shared hopes, dreams, and a passionate love as young college students during a long-ago summer. But Emma walked away from Michael and from Juneberry to finish college and start a new life. Michael has never forgotten her.

Enveloped in the warmth of family and small-town life and discovering that she still cares for Michael Emma knows she'll have to make a choice between the career she's worked so hard to build and the love she left behind.

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Beautiful Fall, go HERE

The Shape of Mercy

I vaguely remember studying about the Salem witch trials in school. I was intrigued by The Shape of Mercy: A Novel, the story of a modern-day college student who agrees to transcribe the diary of a young woman who was accused of being a witch in Salem.

It's a haunting, riveting read...one I'll share more about at 5 Minutes for Books in the near future. In the meanwhile, here's some info to whet your appetite.

Lauren Durough is a college student who finds herself on the road to self-discovery as she is hired by octogenarian Abigail Boyles to transcribe the journals of Mercy Hayworth, a seventeenth-century victim of the Massachusetts witch trials. Almost immediately, Lauren finds herself drawn to this girl who lived and died four centuries ago. The strength of her affinity with Mercy forces Lauren to take a startling new look at her own life, including her relationships with Abigail, her college roommate, and a young man named Raul. But on the way to the truth, will Lauren find herself playing the helpless defendant or the misguided judge? Can she break free from her own perceptions and see who she really is?

To find out more about the author, Susan Meissner, visit her website.

October 16, 2008

Love Starts with Elle

I'm a sucker for a good love story. Especially a good love story that involves a handsome widow raising his young daughter. Gets me every time. And, if the aforesaid story happens to take place in the South...well, it's practically a foregone conclusion that I'll love it.

That's why I jumped at the chance to read Love Starts with Elle by Rachel Hauck. I've read one of Hauck's previous books, Georgia on Her Mind, and I shared that experience here. Hauck doesn't just write a good love story...she delves deeper into the characters and their struggles with life and faith.

From the back cover:

Elle's living the dream-but is it her dream or his?

Elle loves life in Beaufort, South Carolina-lazy summer days on the sand bar, coastal bonfires, and dinners with friends sharing a lifetime of memories. And she's found her niche as the owner of a successful art gallery too. Life is good.

Then the dynamic pastor of her small town church sweeps her off her feet. She's never known a man like Jeremiah-one who breathes in confidence and exhales all doubt. When he proposes in the setting sunlight, Elle hands him her heart on a silver platter.

But Jeremiah's just accepted a large pastorate in a different state. If she's serious about their relationship, Elle will take "the call," too, leaving behind the people and place she loves so dearly. Elle's friendship with her new tenant, widower Heath McCord, and his young daughter make things even more complicated.

Is love transferrable across the miles? And can you take it with you when you go?

I don't want to give too much away about Elle, except to say I read it in one night. Oh, and I think the title is very clever ("Elle" = "L"). But you can check out what others are saying about this great read. And you can enter to win your own copy of the book by visiting Rachel Hauck's blog tour post.

Happy Reading!

October 14, 2008

Is There a Point to All of This?

~In response to Lisa's comment about our Sunday dinners on the china, I must confess that I put the china in the dishwasher. As I told Lisa, I'd much rather have china that shows a little wear and tear than having it sit in the china cabinet, pristine but unused. It's something small that sets Sundays apart, makes me feel special, and reminds me of my childhood (I have my mom's china, as well as our wedding china).

~I've just started Can We Talk: Soul-Stirring Conversations with God by Priscilla Shirer. She calls it an un-Bible study. It's just reading Scriptures and talking to God about it. Really digging into the Word. It's fantabulous, and I highly recommend it.

~The first week of the study is about the tongue. OUCH! I've been convicted of how much I complain. I'm trying to stop it. Something happened yesterday that nearly sent me over the edge. I promised God I wouldn't mention it to anyone. Oh, it was HARD. There were times I nearly made by tongue bleed for biting it. By God's strength alone, I kept my commitment. God has shown me today that He's got it under control. If I'd followed my standard mode of operation, I would've told so many people about it...whining about how unfortunate I was (when, in reality, that's not altogether true...or even slightly true). Complaining would have served no purpose, except to make others think, Well, Melissa's at it again. I sure wish she'd stop being so negative all the time. I'm glad I didn't put that poison out there for others to have to deal with!

~I've created an Amazon store. It's in the sidebar. Just sharing some of my favorite things with you...because I'm nice like that.

~I'm still woefully behind in reading, but am working to catch up. I've got a couple of reviews coming later in the week.

~Last week, I was lamenting (okay...complaining) that this was going to be such a busy week. I had scheduled myself to be away from home three weeknights in a row. I knew I'd made a mistake and overextended myself. An unfortunate turn of events has given me a night back. While I'm truly sorry about the circumstances, I am grateful that I'm able to be home tonight.

~CJ & I worked in the attic this weekend. We're getting there! The fall clothes are sorted & ready to take to consignment this week. We have 3 plastic bins, 2 boxes, and several bags to sort through...and we're done with the initial purge! Then we'll start organizing what's left. I'm sure I'll get rid of even more things along the way. I can't wait to post the before & after pics. I know this has taken a long time, but no climate control makes this task a seasonal one...not to mention the fact that my Saturdays are usually devoted to homekeeping rather than "extra" jobs.

~Praying friends, both far and near, are one of life's greatest blessings. I've asked Alyce, Alana, Joanne, and Lisa to pray for me about some stuff. Ugly stuff. The kinds of stuff you can only share with true friends. And not one of them judged me or made me feel guilty...they've just loved on me, and I'm so thankful. (I'd be even more thankful if Alyce would love on me through her spiritual gift of baking. I'm just sayin'.)

I guess that's about it for now. Happy Tuesday, everyone.

October 12, 2008

Ministry Redefined

It's Sunday night. The house is quiet, and I finally have time to try to put the words together to explain what I've been learning these days.

I've made no secret of my desire to have a big ministry for God. In fact, I've blogged about that very struggle here and here, as well as here. Despite my best efforts, it just didn't happen. I even hoped to develop a big ministry through blogging. My husband reads my blog, and the comments, and tells me that I'm having a big impact on the lives of other women, but I haven't believed him. I've been looking at the numbers...thinking that since I rarely have more than 5 comments on any given post, my blogging is irrelevant. I've been discouraged.

Last month, I decided to approach blogging differently. In that time, God has completely redefined my view of ministry. Keri Wyatt Kent sums it up perfectly in Breathe: Creating Space for God in a Hectic Life

If we say we value people more than stuff, then we can begin to trust God enough to let go of our addiction to stuff and live the value of loving people.
When God called me away from teaching and into the care and youth ministries, He reminded me that people grow when they are nurtured and cared for. One point He keeps bringing up to me again and again is that I need to love others. In order to do that, I have to get over my own need for love and adoration.

Even if I have a large readership, an overflowing inbox of email, and offers of trips galore...it would be futile I'm not making an impact for Christ in my own backyard. Blogging is a great hobby. I've gotten more in touch with what God's revealing to me, learned from many insightful and wise women, and formed some true friendships. Still, no amount of comments on a post can stir my soul in the way a text from one of the girls in my Bible study group does.

Praying with 20+ girls each week, hugging them, talking to them about what's going on in their lives, texting with them throughout the week...it's all so much more than I ever could have imagined. What was out of my comfort zone has turned into the most fun I've ever had with Jesus. Investing my life in others allows me freedom from my addictions...the need for love, praise and feeling important. When I give those very things to others, God returns it to me in such abundance that I am nearly overwhelmed by it all.

Here's what I'm learning, friends: Living where He wants me is, hands down, the best thing I've ever done in my life.

October 9, 2008

9 on the 9th

I'm going to join Angela @ All that Naz, and play 9 on the 9th.

9 Bible verses written on index cards and mounted on my desk:

1. Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths. - Proverbs 3:5-6 (AMP)

2. So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. - Colossians 2:6-7 (NIV)

3. One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock. - Psalm 27:4-5 (NIV)

4. Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. - Ephesians 5:15-17 (NIV)

5. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless,
innocent of great transgression. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. - Psalm 19:13-14 (NIV)

6. Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. - James 1:2-4 (NIV)

7. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. - Colossians 3: 5, 8, 12, 14 (NIV)

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. - James 3:17 (NIV)

9. Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. - Colossians 3:22-24

October 6, 2008

Just What I Needed

After my recent rant in my last post, I promise this one will be more upbeat. God is so incredibly good! He has poured Himself out on me until I am overflowing with His love and grace.

~On our 3-hour ride home from a football game Saturday night, my man and I kept each other company by discussing what God's doing in our lives and in the lives of the youth of our church. We kicked around ideas to help him build relationships with the young men in his class, and how I can minister to the young ladies in mine. Talking about the Lord for nearly the entire time was so special. R even told me last night how much fun it was. I agree. There's no one I'd rather "talk Jesus" with than my wonderful husband.

~I may have mentioned the girls' Bible study a time or twenty. Yesterday I got hugs from many of the girls...several who specifically sought me out for just that purpose. God keeps speaking to me through this group of young women, as well as the adults in their lives. I can't believe He would allow me this privilege, and I honestly do count it one. I am so humbled that He chose me for this service, and indescribably grateful that I listened to His call.

~Not only did I get hugs from my girls yesterday. Jesus loved on me through a 2-year old who ran at me with top speed so he could hug my neck for dear life, a precious 3-year old girl who makes me smile every time I think of her, and older members of my church family who are some of the finest Christians I know. He knew I'd been feeling downcast, and just rained down His love on me. It was overwhelming.

~We enjoyed the Sabbath. A nap, homemade baked potato soup, board games, and football. It was a wonderfully relaxing day that recharged my batteries. I wrote notes to my care group, and even drafted a couple of book reviews that will be coming to 5 Minutes for Books in the near future.

There is still laundry to be folded, emails to write, dishes to be washed, and paperwork to tackle. Yet I can face it now with a peace and joy that only my Jesus can give.

Praying His peace on you today, dear friends.

Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.]
~John 14:27 (AMP)

October 4, 2008

In Need of a Sabbath

It's October 4th. Wow. September is a blur, and that usually doesn't happen for me until later in the Fall. Yet here I am, wondering where the last few weeks have gone.

School started, and CJ has done so well. She's exceeded our expectations, and is having a wonderful year (until yesterday, which she proclaimed to be the worst.day.ever!) The difference between 4th grade and 5th grade is HUGE. She's getting herself ready without much prodding, reading without my nagging, and being way more responsible than I ever imagined. She's also branching out socially. Making new friends and going to "middle school madness" at our local YMCA. She will be 10 on Tuesday. I am not ready for this.

God is blowing my socks off in the youth Bible study. More than 20 girls each week...laughing, sharing struggles & triumphs, and GETTIN' INTO THE WORD. It has been so much fun, and blessed me more than I ever thought possible. Why didn't I get involved with the youth before now?

Yet with all the good going on, I've been under a cloud of apathy. I just can't seem to get motivated. The house is clean & decorated for fall (though I am coveting Jill's turkey platter), but beyond that...nothing.

~I've read a little, but it's been so long since I've given Jennifer a review for 5 Minutes for Books, she probably thinks I've slipped into the Atlantic Ocean.

~I'm not focusing on work as I should be.

~I haven't done anything to minister to my Sunday School care group.

~I've not responded to the sweet comments on my blog lately, and I feel like a heel about that.

~The attic still isn't finished.

I'll stop there, lest my ranting slides into a full-blown pity party. Late this week, I had the A-HA moment...when I finally figured out why I couldn't seem to care less about life around me. I haven't had a true Sabbath in several weeks. We've had commitments other than church. Good things, but they've taken away my day of rest...a day my soul needs just as much as my body.

For much of my married life, Sunday was "church and errand" day. Since I work outside the home, I spent most of Saturday was cleaning (when I was surrounded by clutter, it took much longer to clean the house), which gave me no choice but to grocery shop and run other errands on Sunday. I never realized what I was doing to myself and my family by not setting Sunday apart as a day of rest and restoration. Upon Joanne's advice, I became intentional about making Sunday the Sabbath. No chores, errands or obligations. Just worship, rest, dinner on the china, and family time.

I've let circumstances dictate my Sabbath for the past few weeks, and I'm taking it back. I need it back. Regardless of what doesn't get done today, I am not doing it tomorrow. I repeat, I. am. not. doing. it. tomorrow.

It's not just my act of worship to God, it's His gift to me.

October 2, 2008

Snarky Girls, Mean Girls, and Otherwise

I have a habit of making up words. Or so my husband tells me. I guess that's true, considering I introduced him to the word "blucky" early on in our relationship. (I think it was a combination of bloated & yucky...and it was the perfect description for how I felt some days.)

Earlier in the week I complained that someone had made a snarky comment in an email, and he accused me of making up another word. I informed him that Tim Gunn had used the word just last week on Project Runway. (aside: Melissa is so thankful that Suede is gone. Melissa thinks that talking about yourself in the third person is just plain weird!) Since R doesn't share my affection for Tim Gunn, he wasn't persuaded that snarky actually is a word.

I'm not one to let my man think he's right when he's most definitely wrong...and I'm sure he appreciates that I love him that much (hi, honey!). So, I went to Merriam-Webster Online and looked up "snarky".

snarky \ˈsnär-kē\
Function: adjective
Date: 1906
1 : crotchety , snappish 2 : sarcastic, impertinent, or irreverent in tone or manner

I didn't make it up, but I misusing in this instance. The comment in the email wasn't snarky. It was just plain mean. And I was furious. I practically had to tie my fingers together to keep from retaliating. I prayed and griped, griped and prayed. With all the strength Jesus gave me and with my hubby's sound advice, I was able to consider the source and put it behind me.

In the girls' Bible Study last week, we discussed Hannah's troubles with a mean girl, Peninnah (see 1 Samuel 1). The Scripture is silent about Hannah's response to Peninnah, but that silence speaks volumes. Are we, too, to be silent when faced with mean girls? As the girls shared their thoughts and experiences, we talked about seeing beyond the mean girl exterior and praying for those who intentionally hurt us. Easy for me to say, since I haven't been part of the teen scene for more than 20 years. I didn't expect I'd be the victim of meanness. I think God wants me to practice what I preach.

He drove it home in my quiet time.
If we are focused on Christ, if he is the treasure of our hearts, we will arrange our lives around that singular focus. We will desire to see him more clearly. And he tells us how to sharpen that focus: love others. Love others.
~Keri Wyatt Kent, Breathe

Love others....those who are lost, those who are mean, and even those who are snarky. In doing so, we will see more of Him.

May it be so, sweet Jesus!

P.S. - "Snarky...since 1906" is a catch phrase that R thought up. Sounds like great a blog tagline!