December 29, 2009

Around the House: Closing out 2009

I am:

~Still enjoying all things peppermint.

~Loving the cold weather. Wrapping up in a soft blanket with a warm drink & a good book. Simply divine.

~Treasuring my quiet mornings with Jesus by the light of the Christmas tree.

~Not even thinking about taking down the Christmas decorations yet. I love my house at Christmas - this year, more than ever. Because I got a late start, I brought out only the pieces that actually mean something. I can tell you the story behind every decoration...from the angel that topped my tree every year growing up, to the nativity my mother painted for me, to the stocking & snowflakes my grandmother crocheted.  It's been a wonderful change, to be surrounded by the things that I love instead of a bunch of stuff thrown together. Decorating was less stressful and the house doesn't feel nearly as crowded. I've decided that whatever I didn't use this year is going to the consignment store next fall.

~Praying for discernment in many areas of my life.

~Looking forward to the Year of Faith and Freedom and to sharing it with the handful of people who read this blog.

~Contemplating some changes here on the blog. Making changes in my life. More to come on both later.

~Anticipating a long weekend, and January. I love January. This one will include a week at, purging, and generally putting our home back in order. Creating a sanctuary. You can do it, too...join Rachel Anne here to learn more.

~Reading Going Rogue: An American Life, and gaining a new respect for Sarah Palin.

~Searching for a Bible reading plan that's not so completely overwhelming. Any suggestions?

~Wondering what's going on around your house these days. Tell me, please!

December 22, 2009

On My Nightstand: December

What's On Your Nightstand

It's that time again...time to show you a peek at my nightstand. Here's what I'm planning to read in the coming weeks.

Going Rogue: An American Life. FINALLY got it from the library!

Anne Frank - The Diary of a Young Girl. Believe it or not, I've never read this book.

How to Study the Bible by John MacArthur. My Christmas gift to myself.

My Best Friend Jesus!: Meditating on God's Truth About True Friendship (Secret Keeper Girl). Looking at this one to host a Bible study for CJ and her friends this winter.

When God Writes Your Love Story: The Ultimate Guide to Guy/Girl Relationships. Checking this out to study with my youth girls.

Halfway to Each Other: How a Year in Italy Brought Our Family Home. Jennifer's review piqued my interest, so I requested my library purchase this book.

How about you? What are you reading these days?

December 21, 2009

Christmas Game - Final Thoughts

I'm taking a computer break this week. Between being sick with a horrible cold and wanting to focus on preparing my heart, I decided to make today's question the last.

This season has been different for us. R says he's more in the Christmas spirit than he's been in years.  We haven't bought many presents or gone many places. What we have done has been unhurried and enjoyable.  We've been more intentional, focusing more on THE GIFT instead of the customary holiday obligations. (And there are no credit card bills coming in January!) As my friend Meredith put it, Christmas feels more spacious. For once, Christmas feels more like a season than an exercise in spinning my wheels to get ready for one day that's over much too quickly.

It may just be the best Christmas ever.

What's most special about this Christmas for you?

December 17, 2009

Christmas Game - Day 3

What's your favorite Christmas special?

This question is easy for me to answer...hands down, The Year Without a Santa Claus.

All because of these guys...

They're too much!

Quiet Time

From my quiet time this morning...

Do we, who are busy preparing for Christmas, parties and presents and decorations and food and church programs - and visitors - do we prepare with equal fervor for the visitation of the Lord? If you are consumed by one more Christmas (one mere Christmas among two thousand) your Advent is fleeting, time-bound, and likely self-absorbed. Desperate preparations often indicate an anxiety about the opinions of others regarding ourselves.
~Walter Wangerin, Jr., Preparing for Jesus

"You are my servant,I have chosen you and not cast you off"; fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God;I will strengthen you, I will help you,I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." For I, the LORD your God,
hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, "Fear not,I am the one who helps you."
~Isaiah 41:9-10, 13 (ESV)

Sometimes it's hard to accept that God can bring about His purposes through our trials. It's hard to see past our circumstances to a future that, for us, doesn't exist yet. But God is not constrained by time. He is not reined in by our circumstances. Because of this, we have to trust that our limited perspective simply cannot process His higher purpose...Even when I don't understand and even when it's hard to wait, waiting anyway is part of growing in faith as we simultaneously grow in our relationship with Him. As our dependence on Him grows, so does our relationship with Him.
Marybeth & Curt Whalen, Learning to Live Financially Free

(Links to these books are in my sidebar)

December 15, 2009

A Christmas Game - Day 2

If you didn't play Day 1, please do. Now, on to Question 2 (and I did NOT mean for that to rhyme!)

What's your favorite Christmas tradition?

Individually - I love getting up in the morning, plugging in the tree and grabbing my coffee to spend time alone with my Jesus.

Family - Our Advent readings. (Although I must confess, we don't get to them every night.) I also love participating in our church's Angel Tree and Operation Christmas Child.

Church - Helping decorate the sanctuary, with people I love the most.

Maybe they're all the "churchy" answers, but I promise tomorrow won't be so serious!

A Christmas Game

Not much time for blogging lately, but I thought it would be fun to play a Christmas game. For the next few days, I'll post a Christmas question and you can leave your answer in the comments. I promise, it won't take much thought!

So, for today...

What's your favorite Christmas song?

I'll go first, okay? Except I'm suddenly realizing that it's way too hard to name just one.

~Favorite traditional carol - O Holy Night. When Josh Groban sang it years ago at the NYC tree lighting, I nearly fell to my knees right there in my living room.

~Favorite traditional carol, secular - White Christmas. Bing's is the only acceptable version, thankyouverymuch.

~Favorite "fun" song - Santa Baby by Eartha Kitt. I'm sorry, but whoever told Madonna that singing like Betty Boop was a good idea was just plain wrong. And an outerspace convertible?! (shaking my head...)

~Favorite contemporary song - Light of the World by Michael Tait & Point of Grace. It's from Point of Grace's CD Christmas Story. Love everything about that song, and about the CD itself. If you don't have it, get it. Consider that piece of advice as my Christmas gift to you.

~Then there's December by George Winston, which I can't categorize because it's really just beyond words.

So...what's your favorite? Leave a comment or write your own post & link back.

December 10, 2009

10 on the 10th: The Year in Books

At first, I thought I'd participate in Mer's 10 on the 1oth with some sort of Christmas list. But, in case you haven't noticed, I'm a bookworm. So, I decided to list 10 books I read this year. (Click the titles to learn more)

1.The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. What a way to start the year! I loved it so much, I read it twice. In one year. Yeah, it's that good! (You can see my reviews here and here.)

2. Rest: Living in Sabbath Simplicity. Learning more about the Sabbath really caused me to rethink how we spend our Sundays. (Review here.)

3. Spectacular Sins: And Their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ. I never reviewed this. If I did, I would say only 3 words. Read it. Now.

4. Feeling For Bones. A haunting, insightful read.

5. A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World. Practical advice to change the way you pray.

6. The Uncommon Woman: Making an Ordinary Life Extraordinary. Another must read. (Review here.)

7.Drowning Ruth. (Review here)

8.Spiritual Mothering: The Titus 2 Model for Women Mentoring Women. Susan Hunt has given a wonderful, Biblical approach to mentoring younger women and impacting their lives for Christ.

9. Daisy Chain and A Slow Burn. The first two books in a great series by Mary E. DeMuth (Review of both books here)

10.Misplacing God: And Finding Him Again by my good friend, Joanne Heim. (Review here)

What about you? Have you read any books that I should put on my Christmas list?

December 8, 2009


Just some random things I'm thinking about these days.

~Why do I forget how big & how good God is? Just last week, He provided a gigantic blessing that's putting us in a much better position once R's job ends. Even though I'd been praying for it, He still took me by surprise.

~Why do I whine so much? Between the state of my house (please.don't.ask) and the job situation, I haven't felt much Christmas cheer. The decorating and sappy holiday movies are leaving me empty. Maybe God's trying to tell me something about the true meaning of Christmas.

~Why am I blogging? Haven't quite figured that one out yet.

~Why don't I have more patience? Seems I'm either blowing my top with CJ or R, or praying for God to REVEAL HIS PLAN ALREADY.

~Why can't I be content with the status quo? Haven't figured this one out yet, either.

~A self examination both humble and true must cause us to tremble before the living God. - Walter Wangerin, Jr., "Preparing for Jesus"

~It never was what we could accomplish that established a lasting relationship with God, but what God himself promises to accomplish for us. - Wangerin

~Our tendency to self-sufficiency can only be overcome when our situation is beyond our sufficiency. Only then will we learn experientially the sufficiency of Christ. - Susan Hunt, "Spiritual Mothering"

December 4, 2009


The email was from someone I don't know. The subject was "Band A/Band B Concert - Question". (Except the band names were given.) The author greeted me by name. He said his internet research indicates that I'd seen these two bands in concert, and he's looking for information about the date and venue to assist Band A's webmaster.

I immediately freaked out because (a) I did in fact go to this concert circa 1985; (b) I've never mentioned it on my blog; and (c) the email came to my "safe" email...which has no trace of my maiden or married name.

So, how could he possibly know that I went to this concert?

A quick search for Band A's name in my Google reader showed a post that I'd commented on, where I wrote for the entire world wide web to see that I went to Band A /Band B concert when I was in high school. Obviously, the guy read that post & the comments, came over to my blog & emailed me from there.

Maybe you're thinking What's the big deal? Are you so embarrassed that you won't even tell us who the bands are? That's really not the point. It's nothing I'm ashamed of. But the fact that a complete stranger emailed me about it, without telling me how he got the information, seemed sorta' stalkerish & frightened me just a little.

I am very particular about what I share here. I try to blog honestly about what's going on in my life, but I don't share anything that I feel is inappropriate or crosses the boundaries of my family's privacy. Still, it was definitely creepy to have someone track me down based on a comment I'd left on another blog.

This incident has given me much food for thought. As I ponder the place blogging has in my life (and the place I have in blogging), I'm stepping back. Not completely, but noticeably. If and when I figure it out, I'll let you know.

December 2, 2009

Around the House: December

I am:

~On a Facebook break. I challenged my Sunday School class to give up some form of media for a week. Facebook is my offering.

~Slow in decorating this year. I really want to put the tree up this weekend. I was hoping all the contractors will be out this week, but that's looking doubtful.

~Done with my shopping! Don't hate me. We're only buying for CJ and have scaled back considerably, so it was a fairly simple task this year.

~Looking forward to a December with no holiday stress. Cutting back on the gifts, obligations, and expectations is freeing indeed!


~Christmas music, practically non-stop

~All things peppermint (tea, coffee, candy get the idea!)

~The young woman CJ is becoming. She recently called me at work to ask if she could start dinner for me. During our greeting time in worship Sunday, she came up to the choir loft to hug me. Oh, she still has her moments of sass and attitude, but she's a gigantic blessing in my life.


~What the Lord wants to do in our family

~How He wants me to serve Him

~How to make my home more inviting, and to be more hospitable

~My place in God's kingdom, at this place and this time


~For peace and confidence

~To be the helper my man needs

~To be the mother my girl needs

~To be the woman everyone else in my life needs

~For courage to make some much-needed changes

What's going on in your house this month? Settle in for a cup of Candy Cane Lane tea, and tell me all about it.

November 30, 2009

The Thankful List

Leah over at South Breeze Farm hosts the Giving Thanks Challenge each year. I think this is the first year I've made it all the way through. Sad, but true. But this year, in this season, I am reminded that being thankful changes my perspective...and that's a very good thing.

Hard to believe it's already over. As I was reading through my list this morning, it didn't seem like I'd taken the time to be grateful for 30 things. But I did. And you can read them in the sidebar...the spiritual and not-so-spiritual alike. There's so much more to be thankful for, too!

I finished reading Philippians this morning. I didn't realize how many wonderful nuggets of wisdom & truth are jammed into Chapter 4 alone. I think I could read it and sill learn something. This particular passage has become my prayer.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:4-7, ESV)

Thanksgiving may be over, but giving thanks should never end.

November 24, 2009

What's On My Nightstand: November

What's On Your Nightstand

I don't do much reading in December because I'm usually camped out in front of the TV overdosing on Fa La La La Lifetime, ABC Family's 25 Days of Christmas, and Hallmark's Countdown to Christmas. Every once in a while, I'll forego the sappy holiday movie in favor of a sappy holiday book.

This year, I'm making a few exceptions. My December reading goals are:

~Going Rogue: An American Life by Sarah Palin. Just waiting on my library to process it. I'm looking forward to reading this book more than any I've read in a long time.

~Learning to Live Financially Free: Hard-Earned Wisdom for Saving Your Marriage & Your Money by Curt & Mary Beth Whalen. I've already read and reviewed this one, but it's taking on a whole new meaning these days.

~Preparing for Jesus: Meditations on the Coming of Christ, Advent, Christmas and the Kingdom by Walter Wangerin, at the recommendation of my good friend Joanne. This will be my morning devotion reading.

~Home for the Holidays: The Forgetful Bride\When Christmas Comes ( didn't think I'd include at least one sappy holiday book?!)

So, what about you? Do you read in December? If you want to play along, head on over to 5 Minutes for Books and link up.

November 23, 2009

Treading Water

No "gifts" post today. Because, to be quite honest, our current state has felt nothing like a gift lately. In fact, it's felt like quite the opposite.

A lie, brought to me courtesy of the prince of 'em.

Weekends are the toughest. During the week, I'm too occupied with my job, housework & homework to care about much else. Saturdays bring time to think and worry, inevitably leaving me utterly defeated. I have no interest in leaving the house, seeing anyone, or doing anything. I sink to the lowest point I can imagine. Just in time for God to scoop me up on Sunday and remind me that He's got this under control.

I've been thinking a lot about water. God keeps bringing the Israelites' journey to the Red Sea to my attention. I wonder, have I jumped into the sea too early? Do I think I can navigate this obstacle on my own? Am I trying to move ahead before without giving God time to perform the miracle?

I've never been a strong swimmer. I can tread water, but I don't like it. It's tiring and it gets you nowhere. I'd rather just walk on across. Since I can't do that right now, I've got to exercise a little lot of patience and faith.

The Israelites only had to wait overnight for their deliverance. I'm sure it felt like much longer, considering the entire Egyptian army was on their heels. It was probably the longest night of their lives. Yet when God acted, there was no doubt about Who had delivered them. They went into the midst of the sea on dry ground (Exodus 14:22, ESV), and started marching toward their freedom.

2008 was the Year of Peace and Simplicity.
2009 is the Year of Trust and Obedience.

And now...
2010 will be the Year of Faith and Freedom.

Come along with me & let's see what my Jesus will do!

November 19, 2009

The Swiss Courier Blog Tour

With everything going on these days, I've haven't been as focused on some of my commitments as I should be. Case in point...I haven't had time to read The Swiss Courier by Tricia Goyer & Mike Yorkey.

Based on the reviews of other bloggers (see the full tour here), I'm thinking this book should be at the top of my stack. WWII fiction has recently earned a place in my heart, and The Swiss Courier promises not to disappoint.

From the publisher:

Gabi Mueller, a young Swiss-American woman working for American spy interests in Switzerland during the latter days of World War II, accepts a do-or-die mission: safely courier a German physicist working on the Nazi atomic bomb to Switzerland.

Following the assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler on July 20, 1944, the Gestapo conducted a merciless roundup of suspected enemies of Third Reich. While doing background checks of those involved in government work, it's discovered that Joseph Engel, a German physicist born in 1918, is actually a Jew. He was adopted as an infant by a Christian family after his parents died in the Great Flu epidemic that killed millions in 1918. The young Engel, who is part of the team developing an atomic bomb for the Nazis, is unaware of the intense danger he is in. A plant in the Gestapo's office tips off a church pastor in Heidelberg, who, in turn, orchestrates his escape, working in coordination with the OSS (the Office of Strategic Services, the forerunner of the CIA run by OSS head Allen Dulles) based in Switzerland. A young Swiss-American working for the OSS, Gabi Mueller, must safely spirit the physicist and his knowledge into Switzerland before the Gestapo can capture him.

You can visit Tricia Goyer at and Mike Yorkey at

Thanks to Litfuse Publicity for the opportunity to read this release.

November 17, 2009

The Gift of Praise

Confession: this is an edited, older post. But it's a much-needed reminder for me!

When I was a young girl (back before the days of cable & VCRs), "The Wizard of Oz" would come on television once a year. From the time I saw the first commercial announcing its pending arrival, I could hardly wait for that night to come. Every year, I'd sit patiently through the "boring" (black & white) part, eagerly anticipating the appearance of The Lollipop Guild, The Lullaby League, and, of course, Glenda the Good Witch. I just loved when Dorothy met Scarecrow and invited him to come along on her journey to the Emerald City. I was enthralled by the bright Yellow Brick Road and those snazzy ruby slippers. My fascination was soon lost. When the trees started talking, I headed for the door. Talking inanimate objects are just plain spooky, if you ask me!

When Jesus entered Jerusalem for the last time, the crowd went wild. They waved palm branches and shouted praises to God for all the miracles they'd witnessed during Jesus' ministry. The Gospel of Luke says "the whole crowd" of disciples was giving joyful praise. Some Pharisees in the crowd told Jesus to rebuke them. His response... "I tell you, " he replied, "if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out." (Luke 19:40)

As a girl who doesn't like talking trees, I'm not crazy about the idea of talking stones, either! So, how do I keep them from crying out? I praise God! He wants to know we appreciate Him, and that we recognize His gifts to us and let others know about it. Through our praise, we are teaching others about Him. We're also reminding ourselves of His goodness.

I haven't praised God enough because I haven't looked for Him enough. It's easy to find Him in the big things. Still, sometimes I have a hard time realizing He's in the daily, mundane things of life. Wouldn't you think our BIG God hiding in the every day is kinda' like an elephant trying to hide behind a telephone pole? He's sticking out all over the place! All I need to do is open my eyes and look.

I don't need to just praying more fervently. I must also praise more fervently too. He is completely worth it. Besides, I don't want to be responsible for any talking stones. Do you?

November 16, 2009

The Gift of Prayer

Is anyone tired of this gifts series yet? I hope not, because God has been pouring them on me. Not that everything's hunky-dory around here (forgive me, my Southern roots are showing!) There are days of pain and doubt and fear. Days of arguments and misunderstandings and hurt feelings. Days of wishing we were walking through anything but this.

I'm not a super Christian. Sometimes I wonder if by sharing these gifts I'm painting myself in that light. The truth is, I'm not even a particularly strong person. So please accept my apologies if I've led you to believe otherwise during these past few weeks. I'm praying that anything good you've seen here has been a testimony to Jesus and His all sufficient grace. Believe me when I tell you that it is NOTHING I'm doing.

But you can also believe me when I tell you that, even in the middle of circumstances I can.not.stand, God is good. He is faithful. He is loving and kind. He is the source of my strength. He is worthy of praise no matter what's going on in my life. Sometimes the knowledge that the Almighty Creator of the universe loves sinful ole' me and wants to spend time with me...well, that blows me away. One of the many things I've learned recently is that prayer isn't something I'm entitled to. It's a gift. Being able to voice my hopes and doubts to God, knowing that He is listening carefully, is a privilege.

Almost immediately after we found out about R's job, I knew the Lord was telling me to find prayer partners. I have friends across the country who've agreed to let me email them my requests so they can pray very specifically as R & I feel the Lord is leading. I have a mentor from my church whom I call regularly. (When I thanked her again this morning, she told me she was enjoying this.) What a blessing each and every one of them has been to me! I can honestly say I feel their prayers throughout each day. In the times I feel lowest, I remember that I have advocates pleading my case before our Father, even when all I can do is cry out, "Oh, God, please!"

Despite what the world would like us to believe, prayer is not a crutch. It's a blessing that binds us to the heart of God and brings the body of Christ closer together. It's the strategy that brings sure defeat to our enemy. It's the tonic that soothes my weary soul.
Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray.
~James 5:13 (ESV)

November 13, 2009

If You Came to My House Today

Kellie @ La Vida Dulce is hosting a carnival, and I thought I'd join the fun. So, here goes:

If you came to my house today...

...well, you'd have to come after 2:00 to catch me home. Then you'd find seen me on one sofa trying to snooze away my headache while CJ curls up on the other and watches Food Network. Alas, R is already at work!

The house is in decent shape, because I worked like crazy last night to put things back in order. Well, as much order as you can have when you still don't have a master bathroom and closet. (Yes, it's been 4 1/2 months!) But, I'm a firm believer that a Cinnamon Chai Woodwick Candle and a little Bing Crosby cover a multitude of sins.

I'd put the kettle on for tea (Madagascar Vanilla Red is my current fave) and we'd sit back and enjoy each other's company. I'd share how God answered our first prayer today, in a way only He could. I'd ask what good book you've been reading, and share the four that I'm in the middle of (see my sidebar).

CJ would ask you to play cards or finish the puzzle we started. We'd spend the rest of our time together enjoying my girl's infectious giggles, and planning your next visit.

Sadly, it's time for you to go. But I'm so glad you stopped by! Come again soon!

November 11, 2009

The Gift of Teamwork

You know what I've noticed in the past few weeks? My little family of three is becoming more united. It's an "Us (and God) against the world" sort of feeling.

I like it.

Our goal is to get to the other side of this valley in a manner that gives glory to our King. Any successful team (my favorite included) knows that to accomplish your goal, you must:

Work together. I can't be off on my own making plans without telling R. Likewise, he and I have to let CJ in on the game plan (as much as we feel she needs to know and can handle, at least). No secrets or hidden agendas.

Play your position. Each of us has a specific task. Right now, R's working as much as he can. That means we don't see him a lot. CJ and I have to accept that these extended work hours are temporary, and will ultimately prove to be a blessing when the job is gone. We've told her that her job is to: (a) realize we're cutting back wherever we can; (b) trust God to take care of us; (c) trust us to follow God's leading; and (d) PRAY. My job is to keep the home fires burning and lighten R's load in every way that I possibly can.

Endure. Believe me, this isn't a walk in the park! Do I have faith in God? Of course! Do I trust Him? Without a doubt! Do I still have down days? You betcha'. But Scripture commands us to lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. (Hebrews 12:12-13, ESV) If we want to find healing, we've got to keep moving even when we don't feel like it.

Encourage your teammates. When those down days come, we find ways to motivate each other by sharing what God's revealing to us. Mercifully R and I haven't been "down" at the same time, and we've been able to remind each other of the Source of our hope.

Work hard and play hard. Since we haven't had much family time together in recent weeks, we take advantage of every opportunity to have fun together. As soon as homework and housework are done, we play a game. I make every effort to make our time away from R special, so that CJ will look back on this season as one of joy.

Achieving the goal won't be easy. Nothing of value is. But we will press on.

We're going to be a humble group. We're going to be a grounded group. We're going to be a selfless group.

We don't live in our fears, we live in our hopes.

~Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin

November 9, 2009

The Gift of Order

Another gift that God has given me during this time is the gift of order. After I quit wallowing, I saw that He was giving me a list of things to pray over. I'm sure the list will be long by the time it's all said and done, but for now it consists of just two things. I knew I was hearing Him right when I told R that we need to be doing this in steps, and he replied, "Yes, and right now we need to pray about _____ & _________." (exactly what I was going to tell him!)

Having a plan makes all the difference. Praying in such a practical manner keeps me focused and gives me peace. I like knowing that God has a plan of attack. He's the general, and we're soldiers. Our job is to carry out His orders. Every.single.time. I veer away from the list and start praying for something else, I end up depressed, confused, and angry. That's not what He wants for me at all.

For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.
~1 Cor. 14:33 (ESV)
I admit I've taken this verse out of context, but I think it applies because it speaks to the character of God. He doesn't like confusion. He wants us to have peace and order. What a comfort that is to me at a time when my life could be topsy-turvy!

And the gifts, they keep on coming...

November 6, 2009

Friday's Fave Five

I've read a lot of good stuff this week. Here are 5 of my favorites (in no particular order):

1. Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. ~ Hebrews 10:35-36 (ESV)

2. Encouraging emails from friends who are praying for us.

3. RT @kirkfranklin: Soldiers: God will never show up & do the supernatural as long as He is an option and not the solution. (Can I get an AMEN?)

4. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. ~ Romans 15:13 (ESV)

5. This post is such a worthwhile read. Here's an excerpt to whet your appetite.

The very first descriptive trait of the virtuous wife deals with the heart of her husband. She is a SAFE PLACE for his heart.

Amplified Bible 11The heart of her husband trusts in her confidently and relies on and believes in her securely, so that he has no lack of [honest] gain or need of [dishonest] spoil.

The Hebrew word for heart is leb, meaning inner man, heart, understanding, mind, will, and so forth. This is our husband’s inner place where he holds his hopes and fears, dreams and worries, desires and burdens. The Hebrew word for trust is batach, meaning to trust in, have confidence in, be secure with, to feel safe with, to be careless with. When you put them together, the excellent wife is a safe place for her husband to let down his guard and be honest about his inner burdens and struggles. He can be careless in what he reveals of himself because he has confidence in his security with his wife.
~Wendy Alsup

What's been your favorite this week? Leave me a comment to let me know. And be sure to drop by Susanne's place. You'll be glad you did!

November 5, 2009

The Gift of the Cloud

And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way...
~Exodus 13:21 (ESV)

I've already established that I don't like surprises. Which makes this journey, already full of ups and downs (and we're just two weeks in), tougher than I thought it would be. I like to see ahead. I like to know what's going to happen. I like control. So, the fact that I have none, zilch, nada in our situation freaks me out just a little.

When I look too far ahead (at the job market, the finances, taxes on R's severance, etc.), I am consumed with doubt and fear. When I look down the road, knowing what's coming, I want God to answer already! I get impatient, frustrated, and whiny.

But God...He's protecting me with a pillar of cloud I can't see past. There are days when following the cloud is easy. Then there are days when the cloud doesn't move, and the wait feels excruciating. (Have I ever mentioned that I'm terrible at waiting?) Those are the days when all I can do is lean on Him and pray that I hear His voice. I do not want to make a move without Him.

Even though I can't see where we're going, I will follow the cloud every step of the way.

I will move ahead, bold and confident, taking every step in obedience.
While I'm waiting, I will serve You;
While I'm waiting, I will worship.
While I'm waiting, I will not faint.
I'll be running the race, Even while I wait
-"While I'm Waiting" by John Waller

November 4, 2009

Words Worth Pondering

Paul tells us three things that are God's will for each of us: "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (1 Thess. 5:16–18). We have there joy, gratitude, and constant prayer in every circumstance. They are always linked. Joy springs from gratitude and prayer.

The opposite is also true: pessimism and grumbling are linked to depression. It is perverse, then, that we so often disobey God in our outlook and attitudes. We choose to take a glass-half-empty outlook and complain about our lives, and the price we pay is our joy and peace. It just makes no sense. Rejoicing and giving thanks are how we say, "Not my will, God, but yours be done." Rejoicing and giving thanks is the essence of humility, and it is the way God connects our hearts to his good purposes in all things, big and small. That is God's will, and if we follow it, we will much more easily discern his will for the details of our lives.
-HT: Lydia Brownback (emphasis mine)

November 3, 2009

Classics Bookclub: The Inheritance

Classics Bookclub

This month's Classics Bookclub offered the opportunity to read anything by Louisa May Alcott. I chose The Inheritance because it was set in 19th Century England (my favorite, you know).

The Inheritance is Miss Alcott's first novel. She wrote it when she was just 17, but it wasn't found and published until after her death. It's the story of Edith Adelon, an orphan who's been raised by the wealthy Hamilton family as a companion for their daughter, Amy. Edith is sometimes treated as a member of the family, and sometimes as just a servant. She doesn't seem to fit in either world. Her beauty, grace, and sweetness earn her the respect and admiration of James Percy, and draw the ire of the Hamilton's cousin, Ida. As James seeks to protect Edith, they find themselves heading toward a relationship that society forbids.

I adore Little Women, and I really wanted to feel the same about The Inheritance. I like the idea of the story, and I think she created some interesting characters. But, this was Miss Alcott's first novel, and obviously so. It's a valiant first effort, but (for me) not as engaging as her best-known work. (Updated to add: I do applaud her for writing a novel at 17. I wouldn't/couldn't have tackled that! It wasn't terrible, and reading it allowed me to see how much she grew as a writer.)

Have you read any other Alcott? I'm anxious to see what other Bookclub participants have to say.

October 30, 2009

Friday Fave Five

I haven't participated in Friday's Fave Five in a while, but there's a lot of goodness to share this week:

1. Friends who pray. It's incredibly encouraging to know we have friends all over the country (virtual and otherwise) praying for our family during this time of transition.

2. Surprise packages in the mail. Carrie sent me a sweet note, inspirational bookmark and John Waller's CD, "While I'm Waiting". The words are ministering to our hearts already. What a blessing! (the link is in my side bar)

3. A trip to the symphony this weekend, for Vivaldi's Four Seasons. I made these plans with a young woman from church quite a while ago. The Lord knew I'd need some beauty right now. His timing is perfect!

4. Falling back. What with turning the clock back Saturday night, breakfast at Church on Sunday morning, and the symphony Sunday's likely that Sunday will be my favorite day of the year!

And saving the best for last...

5. God's grace. I know several of you have left comments that my faith is strong and my testimony is great. Believe me when I say that it's all God. He alone is doing this. R said last night that he feels closer to God than he's ever been, and he really likes it. I feel the same way. There's something so precious about knowing that He's holding us in His hands right now. Something so tender about being completely in His care. We have fleeting moments of doubt and fear, but those are the moments when we cling to Him and rest in His love and peace.

So, what's been your favorite part of the week? Let me know in a comment, and visit Susanne to see what others are celebrating.

October 29, 2009

The Gift of Freedom

When R & I first married, neither of us had great-paying jobs. We were blessed to get a great deal on a house R's employer was building, and moved into a new home 6 months after our wedding. I still remember getting that first electric bill (it was the dead of winter) and calling my mother in tears. I was afraid we'd gotten in over our heads. God provided everything we needed in those early years, but we still found ourselves hoping R could land a job at the plant. We just knew if he did, our lives would be so much better. No more financial struggles. No more economizing. No more worries.

Well...nearly 15 years later, I can see how naive we were. Instead of gaining financial freedom, we sold ourselves into bondage. Don't get me wrong. R's job has been a blessing. It's also been a curse.

~The more we earned, the more we spent. When I look at our annual income, I'm astonished and ashamed. I'm sad that we haven't been better stewards of the resources God's poured over us.

~Swing shift has stolen so much that we'll never get back. R has missed CJ's recitals and ballgames, family gatherings, and time with friends. The three of us have managed well, but there have been many, many times that we've wished R didn't work this crazy schedule.

~My husband has not enjoyed his job. At times, he's loathed it. I'm in awe of the sacrifices he's made in order to support us.

All the while, we were comfortable. We had food, clothing, shelter, and just about everything else our hearts could desire. We've traveled to Paris, New York and Boston. We've taken advantage of the things R's job has afforded us. We wouldn't have made a move.

But God...He's decided it's time to bring us out of the bondage and into a new beginning. He's blessing us with a chance to get rid of what's been weighing us down and to change our money habits. The hope of a future without shift work. The opportunity for R to find a job he loves. Sound familiar?

and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey... ~Exodus 3:8 (ESV)

October 28, 2009

The Gift of Preparation

The more I realize that our present circumstances are actually a gift from God, the more excited I become! Not that everything's perfect, because it's not. The "need to know" part of me would like to have all the answers right in front of me, but I'm learning it's okay if they're not. In the meantime, we've been given the gift of preparation.

True, the announcement of the plant shutdown was a surprise. Perhaps it shouldn't have been, but we've had reason to believe lately that we'd gotten past the rough patches. Like most people, we're shaking our heads because it just doesn't add up. Still, even though we were surprised, we know we've got several months before R is unemployed. Praise Jesus, he didn't walk into work only to be told to go home for good! We're not exactly certain how long we have, but we know he'll get paid through the end of the year. We're praying to make it through R's employment anniversary in March (to help with severance), but the timeline has yet to be established.

The good news is, we know it's coming. The news caught us off guard, but the loss of income won't. We have time to pray about the practicalities of trimming the excess, paying down debt, and putting money aside. We have the luxury of seeking God's counsel in our finances and waiting for His guidance. I'm so grateful that we found out before Christmas and the extravagant spending!

My friend Joanne is in the midst of The Gift of One Year, which is exactly how this time feels to me. (Don't you love it when God starts impressing things on your heart well in advance, and you're not sure why, but then it all makes sense? Joanne's post resonated with me and I didn't understand I know!) The prospect of starting over and changing the way we live is exhilarating (even if it is a little scary!) The opportunity to consecrate this time and make it an offering to my Jesus humbles me beyond words.

And the gifts just keep coming...

October 26, 2009

The Gift of Hindsight

God has been ministering to me in such tender ways since He turned out the lights on my pity party. In fact, I realize I've been given a wonderful gift. The ability to look back on the past two years and see how God has ordained this time in our lives, and the opportunity to prepare for what lies ahead.

It's been nearly two years since I started the quest for peace & simplicity. During that time, I learned so many things. (I think this post sums it up best, but you can click on the labels to read more about that journey). I cut physical, spiritual & temporal clutter. I saw what was important. I (obviously) sought peace & simplicity. I became more frugal. I didn't know what was coming. I just knew God was orchestrating these changes in my life, and I tried to follow Him wholeheartedly.

2009 has been the year of trust & obedience. I watched Him provide as R's job fluctuated. I leaned on Him as He cleared the path to Peru. It was all so real and intimate and beautiful. It was the summit. When I returned home, we started downhill. I went back to grumbling and grousing about things. I got caught up in my wants and visions. I became discontented with my home again. I was seeking to change things, make them better.

We must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. -Hebrews 2:1 (ESV)

That's exactly what was happening. I drifted. I ran ahead, and stumbled headfirst into the valley. That's when the news of R's pending unemployment hit.

But God... (Aren't those the sweetest words ever?) He has poured out His love, mercy & grace upon me since Thursday. He has sustained me. He's shown Himself to me in dozens of ways already. Some I'll be sharing here in the days and weeks ahead. Some I'll keep tucked inside my heart. One thing's for sure, this time is something I want to take full advantage of. I don't want to miss even one syllable of what He's saying or one glimpse of what He's showing.

To be continued...

October 25, 2009


Thursday was shock.

Friday & Saturday were grief & despair.

Today is HOPE.

Hope that the Lord will carry my family through this. Hope that He will carry my town through this. Hope that He is bigger than any mountain I'm staring in the face right now. He moved mountains for me to go to Peru this summer. He'll do it again.

Right now, I'm praying for discernment. I know what I would like to see happen, but that doesn't mean it's God's will. I've asked Him to make His path crystal clear to us. I've laid out what I want before Him and prayed that He will honor it. I've asked that He give me peace and strength to be obedient if He has something else in store. I'm also praying for strength to be the helpmate my husband needs and to be Christ's light to those who are hurting.

Thursday, we slid down the mountain into the valley of despair. Friday & Saturday, I looked at the next mountain and was crushed by the sheer size of it. Today, I crawled out of my Abba's lap, grasped firmly on to His hand, and started walking up the mountain. And I can rest assured that He's got my back.

And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, "This is the way, walk in it," when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.
-Isaiah 30:20-21 (ESV)

October 22, 2009


We learned today that R's company is closing down the local plant in a few short months. He is one of 1,100 employees (in a community of 8,800) to be let go. This news, and the trickle down effect that will follow, is devastating to our town.

This has been one of the toughest days of my life. Losing a job is one thing in this economy. Seeing almost every family I know suffer through the same circumstance is completely overwhelming. There certainly won't be 1,100 jobs here. Moving would mean taking a gigantic hit on our house, as I'm sure the housing market here just tanked. Most employees have been there since graduating high school. Many don't have trades. Praise Jesus, R has an Associates Degree and building skills.

Things look bleak right now. But through it all, I know God will provide. Maybe not in the way we expect, want or like...but He will take care of us.

When I started 2009 as the Year of Trust and Obedience, I had no idea it would look like this. I'm surprised, but He isn't. That's the hope I cling to.

Back on Track

Recently, I saw myself in this post. I remembered how, before the Year of Peace and Simplicity, I wore my busyness like a badge of honor. How important I felt. How I rated my days by the number of things I'd accomplished.

Thank goodness I'm past all that, I thought.

Thinking about it long and hard, I have to admit, I'm not. Something's been missing in my home and in my heart lately. I first whined about it here, but didn't want to admit how bad things had gotten until I read how Jill says "NO" and Laura's confession of quitting. Then it hit me. Peace and simplicity had completely vanished.

It was a slow departure that most likely started when I was wrapped up in preparations for Peru. Returning home to the great bathroom disaster (and no, the remodel's still not finished) added fuel to the fire. Add middle school into the mix, and suddenly I didn't need any excuses to return to my old habit of rationalizing the busyness.

I've been taking a good, long look at my life and found it dangerously close to getting too full. I've learned (again) that when I am too occupied with things outside of my home, things inside my home suffer. Chaos comes quickly and easily. Once again, I've had enough. So, I've started to let go. I've stopped telling myself "I'll do it tomorrow" and "I can't take care of that until the house is back together". I've quit believing the lie that a full calendar equals a full life.

Instead, I've gotten back into a nice routine. Thought about changes I can make to create a home that welcomes friends and offers sanctuary to my family. Started making some of them, and formulating a plan to make others. The desire of my heart is for my family to want to be home more than anywhere else on earth. For CJ to look back and remember her childhood home as a place of love, peace, and restoration. For my home to be like a breath of fresh air...a Breath of Life.

A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.
- George Moore

October 20, 2009

Around the House: October

Reading: The Inheritance (Louisa May Alcott's first novella) and Real Simple: The Organized Home.

Enjoying: cooler temps. So cold last week, we turned on the heat & the gas logs. Aahh...

Learning: just how blessed I am as a wife & mother.

Watching: CJ morph into a young woman right before my eyes.

Anticipating: going to the symphony in a couple of weeks.

Realizing: God's agenda & mine are nowhere near each other at times. And that saddens me.

Pondering: Only a passion for God's glory can overpower our self-interest. - Susan Hunt, "Spiritual Mothering".

Studying: Titus 2 and Spiritual Mothering

Wondering: if and when I'll return to semi-normal blogging. I think perhaps this is the "new normal". And that's okay.

Remembering: that the state of my house directly affects my moods.

Praying: for opportunities to encourage others.

What's going on in your home these days?

October 9, 2009

On the Brink of Insanity

Hello, my name's Melissa. Apparently I DO still have a blog, even though I haven't posted anything meaningful in who knows how long. I didn't intend to take a hiatus. But, as a good friend and I were recently discussing, blogging is the easiest thing to take off a full plate.

What a full plate it's been.

The bathroom remodel? Well, I can't see the wall studs anymore. Praise Jesus...we have drywall! Hopefully the tile man cometh next week, and this nightmare will be behind me in just.a.couple.of.weeks. On the bright side, it's going to be gorgeous when it's done and I'm going to appreciate my bedroom more than ever. Nothing says "sanctuary" like having racks of clothes, boxes of shoes, and a tall medicine cabinet in your bedroom! To celebrate reclaiming my space, I found a stunning cream wingback chair at the thrift store today and snapped it right up for a new reading nook.

Another silver lining is that we've been motivated to do some other things around the house that have desperately needed to be done. Still miles to go, but at least it's a start.

Middle school? I'm happy to report that CJ is doing remarkably well. But balancing chemical equations and learning the SIXTH GRADE?!

Between homework and housework, I've come close to shutting down. Reminds me of life before the Year of Peace & Simplicity...and I don't like it one bit. I've been telling myself it's only for a season. I know I'll feel better once I can put everything back in it's place.

Of course, my spirits are lifting because my favorite time of year is upon us. Seems I spend most of the year longing for October thru February. Bonfires, flannel sheets (if I can find them!), hot tea, and curling up under my favorite blanket with a good book soothe my soul.

I'd like to say I'll be back soon, but I honestly don't know. (I just hope I return with as much zeal and insight as Lisa...who's ended her hiatus with some seriously great reading.)

In the meantime, friends, remember that it's all

September 22, 2009

What's on My Nightstand:September

What's On Your Nightstand

I've gotta say, when I looked back on my Nightstand entry for August, I was so excited because I read everything on the list! I know! Well, CJ & I are still reading A Young Woman's Guide to Making Right Choices: Your Life God's Way, because we're taking our time to read and discuss a little each night before she goes to bed. Still, I'm claiming a victory.

I just finished reading the first two books in the Defiance Texas Trilogy, Daisy Chain and A Slow Burn. Excellent reads, both of them. My reviews will be coming at 5 Minutes for Books soon.

So what's waiting on my nightstand?


~The Missionary

~My Hands Came Away Red

~The Moon Looked Down

~Rooftops of Tehran


~Religions of the Stars: What Hollywood Believes and How It Affects You

~Spiritual Mothering: The Titus 2 Model for Women Mentoring Women

What books are in your future? Leave me a comment here, or click over to 5 Minutes for Books and link up your own entry.

Happy Fall, Y'all!

September 11, 2009


Originally written October 2001.

Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy...I heard and my heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound; decay crept into my bones, and my legs trembled. Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us.
--Habakkuk 3:2, 16

Where were you when you first heard about the madness that struck our country on September 11, 2001? I was sitting at my desk, caught up in my daily routine, when I heard of the first crash into the World Trade Center. At first, I brushed the news off as just a “freak accident”. Checking with CNN, I quickly learned about the second hit. My work forgotten, I became engrossed in following the latest developments. As the hour passed, I could hardly believe the mass chaos and devastation unfolding as I was watched. Indeed, as I sat glued to the internet and the television, realizing the magnitude of this tragedy, my “heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound.” I realized that life will never be the same again. Days passed. When I pondered this crime & the ramifications for our world, I was astounded by Satan’s sheer evilness. Obviously, I had underestimated the true nature of his spirit. Suddenly, “decay crept into my bones, and my legs trembled” at the horror which he had perpetrated.

Six weeks later, the Lord gave me this passage of Scripture which has not just spoken, but shouted, to my soul. I stand amazed at God’s timeliness! I struggled with putting my feelings into words, but He has given me the most accurate description of the emotions that have flooded my heart since this tragedy. He has also reminded me that He is still capable of performing deeds that will make us stand in awe; all we have to do is ask. Oh! how we need to be asking!

Finally, God has reminded me that He is in control. Justice is His, and His will shall be done. Hijackers do not have the last word. Biological warfare does not have the last word. Terror itself does not have the last word. And so, like Habakkuk, I will wait patiently...for I know that My God reigns!

September 10, 2009

10 on the 10th - September Edition

I haven't participated in Mer's 10 on the 10th in a while, but her list today was so fun that I'm totally copying it. So, here are 10 things that I'm enjoying right now:

1. Cooler temps. Praise Jesus, Amen.

2. College Football. My alma mater probably couldn't beat a high school team this year, but I enjoy watching SEC football.

3. The NFL season opens tonight...with my beloved Steelers playing the Titans. In case you hadn't guessed, football is my favorite sport.

4. Reading this book as part of Joanne's Read + Chat + Live. There's still plenty of time to join us, so come on!

5. My Senior High Girls' Sunday School class. I really have a bunch of awesome girls, and I seriously heart them!

6. CJ. My girl started middle school Tuesday. After the reality of that hit (and I shed just a couple of tears), I realized how much she's grown over the summer. There are still plenty of days with pre-teen attitude, but she's also assuming more responsibility around the house. LAtely, she's wanted to help cook practically every dinner...more accurately, she's wanted me to help her cook. I'm not complaining!

7. Pumpkin Muffins. We just made our first batch Monday.

8. Getting back into a routine. I enjoy the laid back, non-scheduled days of summer for a while, but I do love the routines we've established in our home in the past two years. Still trying to keep things peaceful and simple!

9. My favorite season. I'm an autumn and winter girl.

10. The progress we're making on the long last! We're 2 months in, and things have been S.L.O.W. But it looks like things are finally starting to move in the right direction. Honestly, it hasn't been so bad sharing a bathroom and having the contents of our closet stuffed into our room. (I guess Peru gave me some perspective on that.) We've been able to make some changes to make things more open/functional/pretty. And I've learned that we had WAY TOO MANY clothes! I told R that if we can live without the clothes we stored in the attic during this time, then we should just take them to consignment instead of trying to cram them back in. Thankfully, he agrees. Funny, our closet was the one area I never finished purging. I kept putting it off. I guess God had other plans.

If you've stuck with me this long, head over to Meredith's to see the other 10 on the 10th posts. But first, leave me a comment and let me know what you're enjoying these days.