March 31, 2009

Does Your Pastor Believe in God?

is the title of this article by Dr. Albert Mohler, which reveals a disturbing truth.

I'd love to hear your thoughts.

March 30, 2009

My Story, God's Story

Back to your questions! His Girl asked

I love a good love story... tell us yours :)

I first posted my testimony on my blog a couple of years ago. Here it is again:

I have never met my biological father. He left when I was an infant, and never returned to our lives. The only picture I've seen of him is in one of my mom's high school yearbooks. He could literally walk up to me today, and I wouldn't know it was him.

Mom remarried when I was 3, and her husband has been my dad since that time. I don't remember life before him. He adopted me and raised me as his own. I love and respect him with all of my heart. He's been a good father. But I was haunted by guilt. I was ashamed that my biological father didn't love me enough to have a relationship with me. I felt there must be something horribly wrong with me. Ever since I can remember, I've knocked myself out to please people. I kept thinking that if I could just somehow be good enough, my biological father would come back and love me.

I worked hard to be the star student. The golden child. The parent-pleaser. Respectful and responsible. As perfect as I could possibly be. Yet it still wasn't good enough.

Fast forward to high school. Striving for perfection left me empty inside. Although I knew my parents loved me, I was afraid their love was conditioned upon my performance. (Pressure I, not they, put on me.) I thought I had to make all the right choices, be the right girl. On the outside, I was confident to the point of being arrogant.

On the inside, the cry of my heart was Won't someone please love me?

That gigantic need drove me to many desperate places. To many inappropriate relationships. To horrible, disastrous choices. Despite the scholarships and accolades...despite the best performances I could give...I was constantly looking for some to love me. When I was 19, I lost my grandfather & my best friend within 3 months of each other. I was devastated. I had a deep, cavernous void in my life, and I could only think to fill it with other relationships. In trying to use others to fill the vacuum, I found that I was the one being consumed. I was still empty, and I felt like I was vanishing before my very eyes.

I didn't grow up in a Christian home. Although my parents were both raised in church, they both turned away from all things Christian before I was born. I remember going through a period of attending church sporadically, but it didn't last long. I attended church only when I visited my grandparents. I went to Vacation Bible School a couple of times with my cousins. Yet I gave little, if any, thought to Jesus.

I began to curse God. If there was a God (which I wasn't so sure of), I certainly didn't want any part of Him. I shudder to think about the things I said about Him. It's a wonder He didn't strike me dead on the spot.

Then I met my husband, R. I later found out He was a Christian, though he had strayed. I've already shared the story of our courtship. We needed a church to get married in, so we started attending one. For the first time in my adult life, I admitted there was a loving God. I thought that was salvation. After we married, we moved to another church. I discovered that there was more to salvation than believing in God. I thought I made that step, and would be assured of my Heavenly home.

Four years later, during a Beth Moore Bible study, I read the story of David and Jonathan. I was in tears as I read how Jonathan, the prince, took off his beautiful robes and exchanged them with David, the shepherd boy. The prince took on the filthy, smelly, disgusting clothes of the shepherd boy. It hit me...Jesus did that for me. He took all that smut and ick in my life, and He put it on to give me a pure robe! Sitting on my bed, I genuinely gave my heart to Christ that night. And all the guilt and shame, the bad choices, the emptiness...they were all gone! I didn't have to beg anyone to love me anymore. Jesus filled that hole with Himself...and the earthly relationships provide the overflow.

Every now & again, Satan tries to remind me that I'm not worthy of God. This, I already know! Every time I enter a church, I'm amazed that the building doesn't fall down around me! But I take comfort in these verses penned by Paul...for I could have written them myself.

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners - of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. Now the King, eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
1 Tim. 1:12 - 17.

March 24, 2009

My March Nightstand

The following is a list of books I have in looming "To Be Read" stack. I reserve the right to not read every one on the list before we meet again. I also reserve the right to not finish a book for any given reason, at my own discretion. :-) that I have that disclaimer out of the way, I can move on to participate in What's On My Nightstand without guilt!

What's On Your Nightstand

Here are the books that have caught my attention:


~Billy:The Untold Story of a Young Billy Graham and the Test of Faith That Almost Changed Everything

~The Uncommon Woman: Making an Ordinary Life Extraordinary. Look for an upcoming giveway at 5 Minutes for Books.


~Journey to the Well

~The Swan House

~The Dwelling Place

~Sarah's Key

You can click here to see what others are reading. So, what's on your nightstand?

March 22, 2009

He's An On-Time God

That's the name of one of our church choirs favorite songs (It's a congregational favorite because the soloist can sing it like nobody's business!).

He's an on-time God, yes He is.
He may not come when you want Him,
But He'll be there right on time.

I wonder if He ever gets tired of proving His timeliness to me.

Friday was the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day...the culmination of a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week. Even though I'd commented on His Girl's post earlier in the week that I rarely cry, I couldn't stop Friday. I'd temporarily get myself under control, only to start blubbering again. Circumstances were closing in on me. I was having one giant pity party.

And, wouldn't you know it? God showed up.

I'd overslept that morning and missed my quiet time. I found myself at home alone that afternoon, so I crawled in my Abba's lap and cried some more. And then He spoke

We can enter into God's rest only if we take Him at His Word. Are you facing an insurmountable obstacle today, something bringing you to the brink of despair? Quit looking at your inability. Nothing is impossible with God, and you will find a clear path ahead if you look at Him instead.
~Lydia Brownback, "Trust"

I was completely undone. That devotion couldn't have described my feelings any better. And then I remembered...God knew my circumstances before the creation of the world. Even though I was surprised and disappointed, He wasn't caught off guard. He's prepared. I just have to trust.

You see, I had fallen back into old habits sin. I was consumed with my plight, and my own plans to fix it. I was tempted to take control. I didn't believe.

I've been praying to live a life that can only be explained by Him. (A fine example of Be careful what you pray for!) I knew this year would be a journey of trusting Him more. I just didn't know it would be this painful, or this convicting.

[Therefore beware] brethren, take care, lest there be in any one of you a wicked, unbelieving heart [which refuses to cleave to, trust in, and rely on Him], leading you to turn away and desert or stand aloof from the living God.
-Hebrews 3:12(AMP)

Oh, Lord, please forgive me! I want to believe! Help my unbelief!

March 19, 2009

Me, According to CJ

I stole this from Meredith & His Girl, because it looked like so much fun. I asked CJ the questions, and posted her answers. My comments are in italics.

1. What is something your mom always says to you? I love you. (She's right)

2. What makes your mom happy? Me & Daddy. (Again!)

3. What makes your mom sad? When I do something bad at school (Ummm...that would be mad)

4. How does your mom make you laugh? She tickles me & she says funny things. (this was a surprise)

5. What was your mom like as a child? She liked to play outside with her dolls. (Practically the only way my mom could get me to go out was if I could take my Barbies)

6. How old is your mom? 41 (After this post, I don't think that's a secret)

7. How tall is your mom? 5'8" (I wish. I'm 5'6")

8. What is her favorite thing to do? Read (She knows me so well)

9. What does your mom do when you're not around? Clean the house (and so much more)

10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for? Writing (not quite)

11. What is your mom really good at? Being a mom (aww....)

12. What is your mom not very good at? Being patient (sad, but true)

13. What does your mom do for a job? Works for a lawyer (right-o)

14. What is your mom's favorite food? Salad (not even close)

15. What makes you proud of your mom? Achieving her goals (if she only knew)

16. If your mom were a cartoon character, who would she be? Candace from Phineas & Ferb (except for the long-neck, this is probably a pretty accurate choice)

17. What do you and your mom do together? Go shopping (she wishes!)

18. How are you and your mom the same? We're girls (well, yeah)

19. How are you and your mom different? She's older than I am (that's obvious!)

20. How do you know your mom loves you? She takes care of me (aww...again!)

21. What does your mom like most about your dad? She thinks he's sexy (oh, yes he is!)

22. Where is your mom's favorite place to go? Church (one of them)

March 18, 2009

Totally Random

I've got a couple of posts brewing in my head, but haven't had a chance to get them down yet. I had a headache for 4 days straight. It went away just before CJ came down with the stomach virus. I think we're all a little weary today, but on the path to mending. I have no real point today, but I did want to drop in & say hello.

Thank you all for the birthday wishes. Despite my headache, it was an altogether lovely day. I got to teach the youth girls' Sunday School (a rare treat...I just fill in for the regular teacher), worship with R & CJ, have lunch and dinner with my closest friend & her family, and even got a nap in between!

More highlights of the day:

~CJ's homemade card that read "Thank you for feeding me, taking care of me, and so on." With a preteen in the house, there's a LOT of "and so on" going on!

~R didn't buy me a card, but said, "This day, 41 years ago, was the best day of my life." *SWOON*. My heart still skips a beat just thinking about it! He's romantic, AND he bakes! My strawberry cake was wonderful. Oh, the Lord blessed me with such a family!

Nothing much else going on here. The house is a mess, and I've been too tired to deal with it. Besides, I was glued to American Idol last night. This is my favorite season. I'm having a hard time picking a clear winner, though I adore Danny. And just WHAT was that Adam did last night? If Johnny Cash were still alive, he would've had a heart attack on the spot! Disturbing what that guy did to the classic Ring of Fire.

R is leaving for a 2-week business trip on Sunday. I'm thankful he'll return for the weekend in between. I'm not sure I could handle it if he didn't.

I haven't forgotten your questions. In fact, I'll answer one of Jill's right now.

What's in YOUR CD player?

At the moment, a solo trax version of Mercy Me's Jesus Bring the Rain. I haven't gotten up the gumption to tell our choir director I'd like to sing it, though.

Another of Jill's questions (she had MANY!) Do you remember the first "chapter" book you read? If so, what memories do you have about it?

I honestly can't remember the FIRST chapter book. Probably the one that stands out to me is Little House on the Prairie. (I read that before Little House in the Big Woods). I remember thinking that Laura was so lucky to go on such a great adventure. And it made me wish my Daddy played the fiddle.

I'll answer more soon. I like stretching this out!

Hope y'all have a good Wednesday.

March 15, 2009


That's how old I am today. You do the math. I'll be back tomorrow with weekend highlights (Elizabeth George was AMAZING!). Today, I'm listing 41 things I've learned during my lifetime:

1. Biology doesn't make someone a parent.
2. Love & sacrifice do.
3. Being the older sister can be a pain, but it's mostly good.
4. Ditto for being the younger sister.
5. How to tie my shoes.
6. How to fold fitted sheets.
7. Reading puts the world at your fingertips.
8. Chocolate is a gift from God.
9. So is coffee.
10. A good teacher can leave an indelible print on a life. I was blessed with many.
11. Nobody's perfect.
12. Life is short.
13. Waiting on God is always worth it.
14. Use sunscreen.
15. Don't try a bike ramp after it's been raining.
16. Respect your elders.
17. Laughter is good for the soul.
18. Don't take your friends for granted.
19. People come & go.
20. Nothing quite beats a PB&J sandwich.
21. Well, maybe a grilled cheese.
22. Be yourself.
23. Flashlight tag can be dangerous.
24. A bloody nose is no fun (see # 15 & #23)
25. Soap tastes terrible (but I learned my lesson!)
26. Don't play with matches.
27. There are worse things in life than cleaning the bathroom.
28. A little hard work never hurt anyone.
29. Paper comes from trees, but money doesn't grow on them.
30. God keeps His promises.
31. A great marriage starts with a great friendship.
32. Make time to date your spouse.
33. Asking someone to love you never works out.
34. The Mona Lisa is a lot smaller than you think.
35. Never loan your clothes to your younger sister.
36. "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall." - Proverbs 16:18 (NIV)
37. Simple pleasures are the best.
38. Paul Revere never said, "The British are coming!"
39. No matter how beautiful Satan makes something look, it's not going to turn out well.
40. Don't check your hair in the rearview mirror while driving.
41. "Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst." - 1 Timothy 1:15 (NIV)

March 13, 2009

As the Keeper of the Home

Now for the last part of Jennifer's question. Once again, I asked R what his answer would be.

Your consistency.

(I told you I have a great man! Although you may not have read it, because Blogger was acting up.)

You see, for years...and I mean YEARS...our home was a shambles. I would throw things in the closets and hide the mess when company was coming, because I never had took the time to really clean. All the clutter overwhelmed me. There simply wasn't room for everything, so I could never truly "put it away".

God changed all that. Not me. Him.

I could write volumes about the work He did in my heart and in my home. In fact, I have. If you're new here & you're interested, you can click on the "In Pursuit of Simplicity" label at the bottom of this post and read more.

Lest you think my house is always perfectly neat, let me assure you that it's not. More often than not, it can be picked up and pretty clean within 20 minutes. I've learned that an environment of simplicity doesn't just happen, it must be cultivated. In addition to drastically reducing the physical clutter, I've taken intentional steps to create an atmosphere and attitude of simplicity in our home.

~We watch limited television during the week. Often we listen to classical music while eating dinner, homework, and going through the nightly routine.

~I've introduced CJ to The Waltons and Little House on the Prairie on DVD. Trust me when I tell you I underestimated the influence these shows would have. We had become desensitized to the rudeness and laziness of children in current shows. By watching these older shows, CJ's seen that children should be more responsible and that they can't have everything they want. She's realized that she's tremendously blessed. And she's helping out more around the house, without my nagging her. I'm praying it will last!

~We stay home more. Since things are calmer, we love to be home.

~We rest on Sundays. Naps are not only permitted, they're expected! We come home from church and spend the rest of the day together relaxing and having fun.

~We have a routine that's structured, yet flexible.

These are small changes that have paid big dividends. Think about it for a minute. If you could do one thing today to cultivate an environment of simplicity and peace for your family, what would it be?

I'll be back on Monday to read your responses. In the meantime, I'm going to see this lovely lady for my birthday. I can't wait. Have a great weekend!

March 11, 2009

The Passion of Mary-Margaret

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Passion of Mary Margaret

Thomas Nelson (March 10, 2009)


Lisa Samson


Lisa Samson is a Christy Award-winning author of 19 books, including the Women of the Faith Novel of the Year, Quaker Summer. Lisa has been hailed by Publishers Weekly as "a talented novelist who isn't afraid to take risks."

Her novel Embrace Me has been named as one of Library Journal's books of the year.

She lives in Lexinton, Kentucky, with her husband and three kids.

She stays busy by writing, volunteering at Kentucky Refugee Ministries, raising children and trying to be supportive of a husband in seminary. (Trying...some days she's downright awful. It's a good thing he's such a fabulous cook!) She can tell you one thing, it's never dull around there.


Mary-Margaret accepts a calling that surpasses her wildest dreams . . . and challenges her deep faith.

When Mary-Margaret Danaher met Jude Keller, the lightkeeper's son, she was studying at convent school on a small island in the Chesapeake Bay. Destined for a life as a religious sister, she nevertheless felt a pull toward Jude-rough and tumble, promiscuous Jude.

After sojourning as a medical missions sister in Swaziland, Mary-Margaret returns to the island to prepare for her final vows. Jude, too, returns to the island, dissolute and hardened. Mary-Margaret can hardly believe it when the Spirit tells her she must marry the troubled boy who befriended her all those years ago, forsaking the only life she ever wanted for a man she knows she'll never love.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Passion of Mary Margaret , go HERE

As a Wife...

In an effort to fairly and honestly answer Jennifer's question, I asked for R's input. Boy, was that a fun conversation! Seriously, he blessed my socks off with his response.

You're sensitive to my needs.

Never in a million years did I think that would be his answer. But it was. I promise. I'm guessing it was because the day I asked was a good example of what he meant. He returned home from Mississippi late Thursday, and started second shift on Monday. To say we've hardly seen each other is an understatement. I asked him to lunch this week, and he was happy to oblige. There, in the middle of Subway, we reconnected and gave our relationship enough nourishment to make it through the next couple of days. I knew we needed that time together, and found a way to make it happen.

I wish I could tell you that's always the case. Unfortunately, more often than not, I'm selfish and self-important. I don't put him first. I don't pursue his needs and happiness ahead of my own. Somehow, he loves me anyway.

If I'm a good wife, it's only because I've got a great husband. He extends grace and encourages me to follow the Lord's leading on my life. As CJ said tonight at dinner, "I don't know what we'd do without that man."

Amen, baby, amen!

March 10, 2009

10 on the 10th

Meredith has started a new carnival, 10 on the 10th. Since she just got an iPod Shuffle (a girl after my own heart), I thought I'd share 10 songs that are on my own:

1. I Try by Macy Gray. Hands down, my favorite song of hers (pretty easy, since I only like one other). I can't help but cranking it up & singing along.

2. I Won't Dance by Frank Sinatra. Every time I hear this one, I remember Mel Gibson's scene in What Women Want...and swoon.

3. Forever You Reign by Nicole C. Mullen. My favorite praise song now, and possibly of all time.

4. Hallelujah, I Love Her So by Ray Charles. Listen, and you'll know why.

5. A Man Ain't Made of Stone by Randy Travis. I just can't help myself, I love that man.

6. Straight Up by Paula Abdul. I know, she's gotten a little flaky in her old age. But the girl could bring it in the 80s (do you remember who was in the video?)

7. Picture to Burn by Taylor Swift. Reminds me of being a teenager in my small town, and the boys I loved who drove trucks. (My man does let me drive his.)

8. When the Saints by Sara Groves. The prayer of my life.

9. Made to Love by Toby Mac. It reminds me of my purpose.

10. Mercy by Duffy. Just for fun.

As you can see, my musical taste is all over the place. Personally, I think that only makes me more interesting ;-)

March 9, 2009

Seeking the Reward

It's been a while since I participated in Joanne's Memory Monday. I'm sorry I got away from it, and I'm glad to be back.

So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.
~Hebrews 10:35-36

As I pursue trusting God this year, I'm learning to lean on Him for some pretty big things. He's been incredibly faithful so far. Am I surprised? To tell you the truth, sometimes I am.

According to the world, I should've given up on going to Peru...or never signed up to go in the first place. There are "signs" everywhere warning me to stay away from this trip.

According to the world, we should be cowering in fear that R's going to lose his job as his employer makes cutbacks.

According to the world, we should be full of discontent and envy.

I don't want my life to be defined by the world, but by THE WORD. If I can determine to fix my eyes upon Jesus and His Word, I will receive the reward He's promised. I don't know exactly what that reward is yet, but I can tell you that I want it.

More than anything.

March 6, 2009

Dinner with a Perfect Stranger/A Day with a Perfect Stranger

When I first heard about this blog tour, I was excited because, let's face it, I'd give anything to have dinner with Jesus! I found this summary of Dinner with a Perfect Stranger very intriguing.

The mysterious envelope arrives on Nick Cominsky’s desk amid a stack of credit card applications and business-related junk mail. Although his seventy-hour workweek has already eaten into his limited family time, Nick can’t pass up the opportunity to see what kind of plot his colleagues have hatched.

The normally confident, cynical Nick soon finds himself thrown off-balance, drawn into an intriguing conversation with a baffling man who appears to be more than comfortable discussing everything from world religions to the existence of heaven and hell. And this man who calls himself Jesus also seems to know a disturbing amount about Nick’s personal life.

I was also curious about the sequel, A Day with a Perfect Stranger.

When her husband comes home with a farfetched story about eating dinner with someone he believes to be Jesus, Mattie Cominsky thinks this may signal the end of her shaky marriage. Convinced that Nick is, at best, turning into a religious nut, the self-described agnostic hopes that a quick business trip will give her time to think things through.

On board the plane, Mattie strikes up a conversation with a fellow passenger. When she discovers their shared scorn for religion, she confides her frustration over her husband’s recent conversion. The stranger suggests that perhaps her husband isn’t seeking religion but true spiritual connection, an idea that prompts her to reflect on her own search for fulfillment.

As their conversation turns to issues of spiritual longing and deeper questions about the nature of God, Mattie finds herself increasingly drawn to this insightful stranger. But when the discussion unexpectedly turns personal, touching on things she’s never told anyone, Mattie is startled and disturbed. Who is this man who seems to peer straight into her soul?

Both of David Gregory's novellas are well-written and thought-provoking. More than just stories of encounters with Jesus, Gregory digs into the arguments unbelievers make against Christianity. In Dinner, the dialogue centers around other possible paths to Heaven, whereas Day speaks to the legalism found in organized religion. Both are compelling reads, as well as a good resource for witnessing.

I thoroughly enjoyed these books, and am grateful for the opportunity to read them. If you'd like to learn more, click on each title.

March 4, 2009

As a Mom...

In response to my open invitation, Jennifer asked:

What do you think you do best as far as housewifely duties? What do you struggle with? And if you want, you could tackle the same questions about marriage and parenting.

In order to have more blogging material fully answer Jennifer's questions, I'm going to focus on them separately. First up, parenting.

We're right smack in the middle of tweendom, which is an emotional roller coaster not just for CJ, but for everyone in our household. In fact, there are times I feel as if I'm walking a tight rope and riding a roller coaster at the same time! Trying to maintain my balance while helping her deal with the ups and downs of hormones isn't for the faint of heart. A few days ago, it was "don't talk to me". This week we've entered the weepy part of the ride, so my job is to coddle and provide extra tender loving care. Anyone with a 10 -12 year old daughter can relate (oh, please! tell me you can relate!). One minute she frustrates me to no end, and the next she melts my heart.

Yet if I'm being perfectly honest, I have to admit that my biggest struggles as a parent are the result of my own sin rather than CJ's...specifically my lack of patience and unrealistic expectations. As I mulled over Jennifer's question, I thought about how many times CJ's told me that I expect things to be perfect. I believe, in her mind, this translates into expecting her to be perfect. I am a perfectionist, but I am far, FAR, F.A.R. from perfect. Still, this is obviously an ongoing struggle for me because I first blogged about it nearly three years ago.

I am mortified that CJ wrestles the perfectionist demon, as I have and still do. It's the trait I least wanted to pass along to her, but she has it in spades. Living with it in myself is tough. Knowing how to parent a child with the same trait is much tougher.

As far as what I do best, I wish I could say it's to show CJ how much I love her daddy and our Jesus, for that's truly my heart's desire. I decided that CJ could give the most accurate answer.

"I get lots of things I want." (Maybe I should list that as my biggest struggle!)

So I asked her if that was seriously the best thing about having me as her mom. She thought about it for a minute and finally said, "You love me and you take good care of me."

Good thing I didn't ask her last week. There's no telling what her answer would've been.

March 3, 2009

Just Have to Share This

Wow, you all ask some good & thought provoking questions! I'll start answering later in the week. For now, I've got to tell you what God's been up to!

Saturday I received a card from a good blogging buddy with a nice check for my Peru trip! To say I was stunned is an understatement. I immediately started crying and praising the Lord. This gal is funny, beautiful and so very generous. I don't want to share her identity because, it's "FOR JESUS" as the memo on her check said (which, I must admit, was my very favorite part!). I trust she knows that her obedience is a HUGE blessing to me (as is the lady herself), and I pray that God pours out His blessings on her and her family.

I feel as if during these last two months I've just stood idly by and watched God provide for this trip. He has impressed upon my heart not to do any "fund raising", because He wants to do it Himself. So far, we're over halfway there.

If He teaches me as much during this trip as He's done during the preparation for it...I won't be able to stand it, friends. Honestly, I won't.