January 30, 2009

Friday's Fave Five

It's time for Friday's Fave Five at Susanne's again. I had so much fun last week, I thought I'd give it another whirl.

1. "God wants us to enjoy the peace that comes from a mind set on him and on his purposes rather than on how we feel." - Lydia Brownback, Trust: A Godly Woman's Adornment. I could list this devotional itself as my favorite, but I've been pondering this particular nugget for a couple of days now.

2. A Starbucks gift card, and the white chocolate mocha I'm enjoying right now as a result.

3. Frugal Friday hosted by Joanne at The Simple Wife. Today's is a special treat when you don't have #2.

4. Playing Scrabble with R and CJ on Sunday evening.

5. A timely lesson from the Lord.

What are some of your favorites? Be sure to visit Susanne's to see what others are saying.


January 29, 2009

Trusting... Even in the Face of Obstacles

When I was growing up, I loved to watch Battle of the Network Stars (Tom Selleck and Scott Baio in shorts...need I say more?). My favorite event was the obstacle course. I enjoyed watching the celebrities squirm through, jump across and climb over the various obstacles to race to the finish line. Watching it on television was fun.

In real life...not so much.

I'm not an athletic girl. I watch sports. I don't do them. So, it's not likely that you'll ever see me climbing over a wall or crawling through a tunnel. But if you look closely enough, you're sure to see me trying to navigate tweendom, hold on through the ups and downs of R's job, and wade through the muck of my sin.

God's obstacle course.

In their flight from Egypt, the Israelites encountered a huge obstacle...as big as the ocean. Faced with the Red Sea on one side and the approaching Egyptian army on the other, the people blamed Moses for leading them to certain death. Moses' response?

The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still. (Exodus 14:14)

No need to manipulate the situation or panic at the circumstances. Be still.

Look what God says next, "Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on..." (v. 15)

It seems that God was saying Forget about the obstacle in front of you...get over it and move on already! But how?

When faced with an obstacle that seems too large to overcome, we must:

Remember that God brought us to this place. He specifically led the Israelites to the Red Sea (see Exodus 13-14). He knew exactly where He was taking them and what they would face.

Remember that God hasn't deserted us.

Then the angel of God, who had been traveling in front of Israel's army, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them,coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel. Throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other side; so neither went near the other all night long. (vv. 19-20)

God moved behind the Israelites to fight off the enemy. He literally had their backs. They may have wondered where He went...been more focused on the obstacle before them than the enemy ready to pounce on them (anyone...anyone?). They may have wanted Him to shield them from the obstacle so that they wouldn't have to confront it. Instead, he shielded them from an enemy that was powerful enough to consume them. The obstacle was nothing compared to the enemy.

Remember that Believers have the power to overcome the obstacles.

I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.
~Matthew 17:20

We have the Holy Spirit...and the power that Paul spoke of in his letter to the church at Ephesus:

I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms...
~Ephesians 1:18-20

I can't imagine anything more powerful than the power to overcome death. That power is available to us, and it will help us confront and conquer the obstacles we face. If I'm going to trust God, I must realize that He's going to bring me to those obstacles that seem too large to hurdle. It's only in overcoming those obstacles that I'll live a life full of victories that can only be explained by Him.

And aren't those the only victories worth having?


January 27, 2009

Life Rolls On

It's the start of a long, busy week. I scheduled too much, I know. I have to take Southern Living at Home when it comes, though.

I'm struggling to get through a book that I need to finish. Sadly I wish it would end already so I can get to the rest of the books on my list.

Tomorrow is my last night of Bible study with the girls. I'm going to miss them so much. I'm getting a little weepy just thinking about it. They've asked me to still hang out with them some, and I plan to do just that. I've fallen in love with them and the way they live boldly for Jesus. Several of them are going to Peru with me, which I know will strengthen the bonds we share. God's given me some incredible opportunities to minister to the girls and to others, in the most unexpected ways: an email from a stranger, a phone call from an acquaintance, and several prayer requests from friends. It's a responsibility I'm blessed to carry, and one I don't take lightly.

I'm already looking forward to Friday. R, CJ & I will travel to my alma mater to watch the girls' basketball team. I get a kick out of watching CJ during the game. She really gets into it. I'm hoping our night includes dinner at my favorite deli.

Saturday will be our first full day at home since R's had weekends off. It will be filled with the joy and excitement only cleaning can bring...and that's fine by me. Having him home with us is thrilling all on its own.

Speaking of cleaning...I worked myself into a dither this past Saturday, and still don't feel like I got much accomplished. It's probably because I'm famous for putting off cleaning my bathroom for as long as I can. Then it takes a good chunk of my day to restore order. When R was working weekends, I was at the mercy of his erratic sleep schedule. Now, I have no excuse. Which led me to my new cleaning plan. I'm really tired of being overwhelmed by all the cleaning, cleaning, cleaning! I'm learning the practicality of God, and of giving even the mundane tasks to Him. (I'll keep you posted, because I'm sure you be waiting with bated breath for my updates.)

That's all I've got for now. Not exactly gripping news, just the ebb and flow of life.

What's On My Nightstand - January Edition

What's On Your Nightstand

It's been a while since I participated in the What's On Your Nightstand carnival at 5 Minutes for Books. My list this month is long, and I'll just tell you right now that there's no way I'm getting all of these read any time soon (thank goodness I can renew my library books online!). Still, here they are:

~I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. I'm finishing this up for the Classics Bookclub.

~Unaccustomed Earth. A book of short stories. I've read the first two. Intense and exquisite at the same time.

~Teaching Your Children Healthy Sexuality: A Biblical Approach to Preparing Them for Life (Pure Foundations). With a 10-year old girl in the house, this is a critical read!

~Change Your Habits, Change Your Life: A Proven Plan for Healthy Living. Do I really need to elaborate on this one?

~The Face. I enjoy Angela Hunt's work. Can't wait to dive into this one!

~Born Country: How Faith, Family, and Music Brought Me Home. I'm a small town girl who grew up in the 80s, and the group Alabama was a big part of my teenage life.

~Anne of Avonlea and Anne of the Island (Anne of Green Gables). I was trying to read these in time for Carrie's Lucy Maud Montgomery Reading Challenge. Sadly, it's not going to happen. But I do want to read them, so I'm not returning them quite yet.

When am I going to find time to read all of these? I honestly have no idea. But it's going to be fun trying!

Are you trying to conquer your own stack of books? Click on over to 5 Minutes for Books and let us know about it.

January 23, 2009

Friday's Fave Five

This is my first time participating in Susanne's weekly meme, Friday's Fave Five. It looks like fun!

My favorite 5 things this week:

1. God's Provision of the deposit for my Peru trip! He came through in a BIG WAY!

2. Pumpkin Muffins. We ate many of them right away, but I was able to stash some away in the freezer so we can enjoy them in our lunch boxes.

3. Girls' Night in with CJ tonight. R is working, so we're having Chinese and watching this.

4. Reese's 100 Calorie Wafers. Excellent!

5. Moroccan Pomegranate Red Rooibos Tea. Divine!

So, there you have it. I'm not going to even stop to think about the fact that 2 of my 5 are food. Sigh...

You can visit Susanne to see what's on everyone else's list. If you create your own, let me know!

January 22, 2009

We Have a Winner!

The winner of the Rest giveaway is Lisa @ Lisa Writes! (Very scientific method to pick the winner...I drew the number!)

Thanks for your comments. If you didn't win, make sure to put this book on your wishlist! Keri has a new book coming out in the fall, and I'm hoping we'll have another tour and giveaway then.

Trusting & Obeying: A Start

Okay, I've started this post five different times. Five different beginnings. No clear direction. I just can't seem to come up with an eloquent introduction chocked full of meaning (what else is new?). This journey of trust is so vitally important to me right now, and so intimate at the same time. It's hard to find words that make sense.

I'm going to press on, because I want to share what God's been doing. I thinking of posting weekly summaries of how I'm trusting and obeying, and what I'm learning. Hopefully there'll be a smattering of praise reports thrown in for good measure. I've got a HUGE praise to share this week, but you'll have to wait...

The Word:
I'm hiding this Word in my heart as I begin to trust:

One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek, inquire for, and [insistently] require: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord [in His presence] all the days of my life, to behold and gaze upon the beauty [the sweet attractiveness and the delightful loveliness] of the Lord and to meditate, consider, and inquire in His temple.
~Psalm 27:4 (AMP)

The Truth:
Trust is built upon a relationship. If I expect to fully and completely trust God, I've got to have a closer relationship with Him. I love how the Psalmist says he's going to insistently require that he be able to dwell in God's presence. I want need to be in His presence! I have access to inquire of Him, and to meditate and consider what He's telling me. Once I learn to really do that, I'll learn to trust Him more. I'll know what He wants me to do, and I can trust that He will bring it to pass.

The Lesson:

I'm also learning that I've got to get out of the way and stop trying to manipulate situations where I should be trusting Him. Case in point...finances. R and I have made a budget, and are trying to be diligent in sticking to it. I've become consumed with trying to save money. Being frugal isn't a bad thing, but allowing it to take over my life is. I had convinced myself that I needed to make this work. I didn't stop to consider that if I'm spending time with God and asking Him how He wants to spend our money, the budget's going to work out.

I'm reading Trust: A Godly Woman's Adornment (On-the-Go Devotionals), which has taught me so much about trusting God. These short devotions pack a big punch...

God doesn't want our efforts at self-improvement. He wants our trust in His kindness toward us in Christ.

I can knock myself out with budgeting, planning, or whatever it is I'm trying to accomplish, but God isn't interested in that. He wants me to put it in His hands...and leave it there. That's where I'm struggling the most. Am I the only one?

The Praise:
I turned in my deposit for Peru! Yep! The money was due sooner than I expected. I set out a fleece before the Lord, and pretty much told Him that He needed to provide this money above our normal income...AND QUICK. And wouldn't you know it...R is getting a bonus for almost the exact amount of the deposit. Way to go, Jesus!

Six months isn't very long to prepare, and it's time to get moving. I know there's a lot to do, and many more areas where I'll have to trust and obey. For now, Psalm 27:4 has become the cry of my heart. I'm hanging out here until He tells me where to go next.

January 20, 2009

The Stand-In Groom by Kaye Dacus

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Stand-In Groom

Barbour Publishing, Inc (January 2009)


Kaye Dacus


Kaye Dacus is an author and editor who has been writing fiction for more than twenty years. A former Vice President of American Christian Fiction Writers, Kaye enjoys being an active ACFW member and the fellowship and community of hundreds of other writers from across the country and around the world that she finds there.

She currently serves as President of Middle Tennessee Christian Writers, which she co-founded in 2003 with three other writers. Each month, she teaches a two-hour workshop on an aspect of the craft of writing at the MTCW monthly meeting. But her greatest joy comes from mentoring new writers through her website and seeing them experience those “aha” moments when a tricky concept becomes clear.


When wedding planner Anne Hawthorne meets George Laurence, she thinks she's found the man of her dreams. But when he turns out to be a client, her "dream" quickly turns into a nightmare. Will Anne risk her heart and career on this engaging Englishman?

George came to Louisiana to plan his employer's wedding and pose as the groom. But how can he feign affection for a supposed fiancee when he's so achingly attracted to the wedding planner? And what will happen when Anne discovers his role has been Stand-In Groom only? Will she ever trust George again? Can God help these two believers find a happy ending?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Stand-In Groom, go HERE

What they're saying about it:

“Dacus pulls off a delightful story that places readers in the heart of the South with the debut of the Brides of Bonneterre series. Readers will enjoy this look at how lives are transformed through devastating events and how forgiveness is the key to a promising future. Nothing is as it seems in this heartwarming story.”
Romantic Times, 4-Star Review

“Absolutely delightful! I enjoyed Stand-In Groom from cover to cover! Ms. Dacus’s clever story and wonderful prose will draw you away to a place deep in the heart of Louisiana, surrounding you with the scents, sounds, and sights of the deep south. A story filled with romance and intrigue, betrayal and forgiveness, I found myself laughing, crying and rejoicing right along with the characters.”
M.L. Tyndall, author of The Falcon and the Sparrow and the award-winning Legacy of the King’s Pirates series

“Stand-In Groom is as sweet, beautiful, and chaotic as a perfectly planned wedding. Anne is a bright and wounded heroine you’re going to care about for a long time. George is a hero to capture your heart. Kaye Dacus will take you along for a fun, poignent ride in Stand-In Groom.”
Mary Connealy, author of the Lassoed in Texas series and Of Mice...and Murder

January 19, 2009

Rest by Keri Wyatt Kent

If you've read this, this, or this...you know that Breathe: Creating Space for God in a Hectic Life has been a big life-changer for me. I was beside myself when the author herself, Keri Wyatt Kent left a comment on my blog one day. (I was pleasantly surprised to see that Keri has a blog.) She asked if I'd be interested in reviewing an advanced copy of her latest book, Rest: Living in Sabbath Simplicity. I jumped at the chance.

Rest is a continuation of Breathe, as Keri expands on the topic of observing the Sabbath. I've gained a lot from her practical insight into how the Sabbath can look and feel different for each family, but yield the same benefit.

When we rest, for a day or just for a few moments, we are free to love and to notice the needs of others, needs which often are not material but spiritual. And in a divine paradox, when we meet others' spiritual needs, our own are mystically and supernaturally met as well.

When we spend a day resting, focused only on loving God and loving others, we experience the presence of Jesus in simple things. We experience peace, the sacredness of the ordinary.

Why is it so hard for us to rest? Perhaps because we're convinced that we have to knock ourselves out to please others, and even God. Yet Keri points out

That lie, that if we are busy, we must be important, is what drives much of our frantic activity. The Sabbath command reminds us of our value but also warns us not to put our faith in our accomplishments.

God knows...that we tend to think too highly of ourselves, that we tend to think our value lies in our accomplishments. That we believe way too much in our own indispensability. That we make ourselves God.

How, then, do we rest? In an interview for Rest, Keri gives great tips:

Q. What are some simple steps anyone can take to seek Sabbath Simplicity in their own lives?

A. The first step is to assess the current pace of your life—what activities have you and the people you live with said yes too. How hurried are you? You can’t figure out your next step, really, until you know where you are starting from. You may have to get very concrete and write down your schedule and look at it. Because your activity level during the week is going to affect your Sabbath.

Second, choose a day that you will keep Sabbath. I recommend Saturday or Sunday, and go from sunset to sunset. The Old Testament Sabbath was from sunset on the 6th day of the week to sunset on the 7th day—although as I explain in detail in the book, their ancient calendars were different from ours.

Third, choose one thing to refrain from, one thing to engage in. For example, refrain from housework or running errands, and engage in reading a spiritually challenging book, or playing with your kids. Start with small steps, and think about building your Sabbath Simplicity life a little at a time, gradually. After a few weeks, add another thing you will refrain from, and another thing you’ll engage in. Pray and listen, let God shape your Sabbath practice. Make your relationship with him the focus. Allow yourself flexibility.

Although I've taken great strides in observing the Sabbath during the past year, Keri brought points to mind I hadn't thought of. I'm so glad I've read Rest to help me in this journey!

Rest: Living in Sabbath Simplicity is available at bookstores everywhere, and on-line. Click here to purchase it from amazon.com or here to purchase from christianbook.com. BUT, one blessed reader will have a chance to win the book here! Just leave me a comment and let me know why you'd like to read Rest. (make sure I have an email address if you're a no-reply commenter), and we'll draw for the book on Wednesday!

January 17, 2009

The Balancing Act: Menu Planning

Since I've been so late getting everything else done around here, why should you be surprised that I'm what...a month or so late on finishing The Balancing Act series?

And I'm hoping you really won't be shocked when I point you to a couple of ladies who have the menu planning down to a science. My attempts pale in comparison.

So, go visit Joanne and Meredith. You'll find lots of great tips...I sure did!

January 16, 2009

Fade In

Last time, I tried to tie a bow around the Year of Peace & Simplicity. Now, halfway through January, it's time to announce where God & I are going in 2009 (better late than never, right?)

Last month, I read this quote from Contentment: A Godly Woman's Adornment (On-the-Go Devotionals) by Lydia Brownback. This simple statement resonated with my very soul, and I knew God was up to something good!

Stepping out in obedience, even when we can't understand why or where it will all lead, is the only way we will find the peace we are yearning for...

See, the journey to peace isn't over. The next step in the journey is obedience. I can't step out in obedience unless I trust. Not just say that I trust God, but genuinely trust. My Theme Verse for 2009 sums it up best:

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)

As we adjust to R's job change (and the financial change that comes with it), CJ's fast-approaching adolescence, and my upcoming trip to Peru, I keep hearing God whisper Trust Me! I'm desperately trying to set aside my need to control and micromanage, and instead trust and obey.

I hope you'll buckle up friends and join me for the ride!

January 14, 2009

Fade Out

Now that we're well into 2009, I guess I should let you know how 2008: The Year of Peace & Simplicity turned out, huh? As I've said many, many times during the past year, I don't know where to begin. God has been so amazingly good! He has recreated my life in such a way that I sometimes hardly recognize it.

Still, I've learned that maintaining peace and simplicity in my home and life requires effort on my part. I got out of whack during the holidays, and it didn't take long for things to spiral downward. Fortunately, I woke up before things got too out of control. Several weeks with no schedule or sense of true purpose made me realize that I wanted my structured, simple life back! I marvel that I lived any other way.

I'm not foolish enough to believe that I have obtained a perfectly simple, peaceful life. I have not, nor will I ever. I may have started the year expecting to arrive at the final destination in one year, but that certainly wasn't realistic. If nothing else, I learned that the journey will be life-long.

As my new bloggy friend, Keri Wyatt Kent, says so aptly in Breathe: Creating Space for God in a Hectic Life:

Simplicity is not a method. At its heart, simplicity is a relationship with God that is focused on Him and is growing, changing, evolving.

You can organize and downscale all you want, but if your heart isn't focused on Jesus, you won't live a simple life.

I did a lot of downsizing and organizing this year. I knew I had to start there before I could hope to find simplicity. Intentionally focusing my time and energy in this manner was necessary for a short period...yet the journey to simplicity is a marathon, not a sprint.

According to my theme verse, it's the same for peace:

I will listen [with expectancy] to what God the Lord will say, for He will speak peace to His people, to His saints (those who are in right standing with Him)--but let them not turn again to [self-confident] folly.
~Psalm 85:8 (AMP)

In order to have peace, I've got to be in right standing with the Lord. That's a continual process, a constant work. There's no way I won't return to my self-confident folly if I'm not depending oh Him.

Which brings me to 2009.

To be continued...

(P.S. - If you're curious about some of the lessons I learned this year, click on the labels to read more posts in these topics.)

January 13, 2009


Wanna' read a great book? Check out my review here.

And these books are a great option for the tween girl in your life.

Thanks for the prayers for our community. This is going to be a long haul for everyone. May God be glorified through it.

January 9, 2009

Words Can't Express

I cannot believe I'm typing this. This morning at CJ's school a child was struck by a bus in the parking lot and died. I believe he was a pre-schooler. His mother is a teacher at the school.

Other students witnessed this tragedy. I'm grateful CJ did not, but she's heard other children give details. She saw teachers on the floor sobbing. Images that won't be quickly forgotten.

If you will, please pray for the family, the students & the faculty. This is going to be a long road, and we need Jesus to carry us through.

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor.
~Isaiah 61:1-3 (NIV)

January 8, 2009

Things I've Been Doing Instead of Blogging

~Celebrating the holidays with family and friends
~Helping a family member who's in a tough spot
~Enjoying a stay with out-of-town friends
~Reading (one review is here...others to come)
~Engaging in hand-to-hand combat with the enemy
~Losing the battle with a nasty cold/virus, as well as the one to get the house back in order
~Praising God that the year of the book fast is over. I made it! Funny, I still can't bring myself to buy anything.
~Trying to find the words to describe for you what God did in the pursuit of peace and simplicity in 2008.
~Mulling over what He's asking for 2009...Trust and Obedience.
~Praying that He will bring victories in my life that can be explained only as His doing. In particular, the deposit for the Peru mission trip due in the too near future. To be honest, I'm getting a little nervous about the trip itself, as well as the finances.
~Asking myself Are you willing to rest on a single foundation? Jesus plus something else does not double your security. It actually takes it away. The only security is Jesus plus nothing. (Trust: A Godly Woman's Adornment, by Lydia Brownback).

I'm going to try to get it together soon and actually write a post of substance.