Sunday, December 17, 2006

'Tis the Season

A friend made a statement today that spoke to my heart for this time of year. I hope it will speak to you as well. My friend, Arlene, explained to our Sunday school class that the quip is incorrect—it is not the season to be jolly. It is the season to be holy.

I’ve mulled that thought over since we left church and the truth of Arlene’s wisdom shines over competing thoughts and feelings, putting things into perspective for me. This season is filled with anything but jolliness for so many. Suicide is at its peak near the holidays. Loneliness, depression, and helplessness all run rampant.

Our family has experienced three deaths in the last month and a half. Even before that it has been a bittersweet time for us for over seven years—this will be the eighth Christmas without our Ian.

Yet, you hear it on every radio station—‘tis the season to be jolly.

Ever want to fa-la-la the bejeebers out of someone?

I’ll admit I question why I can’t seem to get into the holiday spirit like I did when the kids were little. But I’ve seen a lot since then and have wondered about a lot more things—things like do the kids who receive the Angel Tree gifts really feel a familial connection to their incarcerated parent or maybe do a few just want to forget about the person who used to rage and terrorize and abuse them? Maybe they are feeling lucky the parent was arrested for something else just to get them out of the house? Nonetheless, that doesn't keep me from volunteering--just in case.

However,when one must spend an hour haunting the lanes in the parking lot for a spot so one can spend money one really can’t afford to spend on a gift that will be consumed, broken or unappreciated just so one doesn’t forget to give something to someone whose approval one seeks but will never receive, it tends to take the jolly out of things. (There are some who will be more concerned about the absurdity of that sentence than the truth of its message).

Then Arlene’s statement comes back to me. ‘Tis the season to be holy. What does that look like, sound like, taste like, smell like? What does that feel like?

To me, it’s the red pot outside the store that reminds me my little bit together with others’ little bits can make a big difference. It’s the sound of someone sharing my tears as I remember a missed loved one. It’s the sweetness of acceptance. It’s a newborn baby in a dark, dank cave of a barn, lying in a manger of straw who is beginning the arduous journey to the cross of our salvation—God putting on flesh to enter our world through a womb and exit through a tomb. He didn’t come to make us jolly. He came to make us holy, to bring us peace in the midst of all that confuses, to bring us hope to sustain us, to bring us love to share with the least of these.

He came. We must remember.

‘Tis the season.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Good Samaritan—Cary Version

There’s this in-ground pool in our back yard. It contains no water but once upon a time it did and many fun memories still fill it. One day we will most likely have it filled in but, as of now, the money is not there. So it remains a gaping hole outside our back door.

Last Friday night, I came home after having my fabulous nails redone. Phil was at church so I came home to a semi-dark house and dogs in the backyard. Or at least there should have been dogs in the backyard. Mack was chained up but Daisy, who has never tried to hop the fence, was nowhere to be found. I called and called. No bark. Finally, I flipped on the outside lights and there she was in the bottom of the pool, very happy to see me. She still didn’t bark, though, but she panted hard. I imagine she got down there soon after Phil left and, having been trying to get out for sometime, she was too tired to bark.

In one of her other recent escapades, Daisy’s collar was ruined and I’ve yet to replace it so I had nothing to hook onto to pull her out. I looked around for the pool skimmer or other possible tools, but found nothing. Finally, out of ideas, I went down into the shallow end and sat at the edge of the ramp that ran to the deep end. I thought if I could coax her a little closer with some treats and I might then pull her up.

Instead, I slid down.

Did I mention this was a full-sized in-ground pool with a nine foot deep end?

At the expense of sounding clichéd, I tried repeatedly to scale the slippery slope to no avail. Then I figured, maybe if I took my shoes and socks off I could get better traction. Wrong again. Now I’m stuck in this hole with my shoes off, at night, in below normal temps for Phoenix (hey, it was cold!) and had no cell phone, no one else at home, and no means or ideas for escape. Phil wasn’t due home for more than an hour. Panic set in.

So what’s a girl to do? Well, this girl prayed. And prayed. You remember the verse about praying without ceasing? I didn’t cease. However, the only answer I seemed to hear was to call out for help. I did. Loudly. Often. Still nothing.

Finally, after about twenty minutes, I heard a voice. “You need help?”

“Yes, please! I’m stuck in my pool and can’t get out!” It was a new twist on an old line but it was also true and I wasn’t thinking about how my dialogue would sound for posterity—I’ll work on it for the book version. “You'll have to jump the fence.” The back yard is surrounded by a six-foot block wall.

“Okay, I’ll be back in a minute.”

It was one of the longest minutes of my life.

Finally I heard him again. He’d brought reinforcements. Soon I could see him and his friend. They were concerned thinking I’d fallen in but before I could explain, they were coming to my rescue—right down that slippery slope.

Then they needed rescuing. Yep, they both slipped and were down at the deep end with me. Fortunately, they were taller than I am (most twelve year olds are). One of the men grabbed hold of the built in love seat and pulled himself up. Then he held out a stick for his friend who tucked my arm securely under his—my other hand wrapped around his bicep. Slowly, I slipped and slid to the top.

I was out, but that still left Daisy in the pool. She had shied away from the guys when they first joined us and I was becoming more concerned for her.

“Do you have a sheet?” one of the guys asked.

I ran into the house, grabbed one and hustled back. “Here.”

He shook it out and tossed an end to his buddy who was back in the pool with Daisy. The buddy coaxed her onto the sheet and together they got her up. They used the sheet to get the other guy out and then the shaking started. I shook from head to toe, even when I walked them to the front door (didn’t want my rescuers to have to jump the fence again). I remembered to thank them over and over and to ask their names—none of which stuck with me.

And then they were gone.

When I finally calmed, I knew I needed to thank them better than just parroting “thank you thank you thank you.” So I bought a card and some cookies (you don’t want to eat my baking) and began my search for my rescuers. Now, Phil and I know the neighbors around us but over the back fence and on the next street, not so much. After two unproductive trips, my husband finally suggested the house. The one where the police show up every so often. The one where neighborhood gossip has them doing all sorts of illegal things. That house.

Well, I hadn’t tried that house so I decided I might as well. Bingo!

The thing is these are the only people who heard my cry for help and answered. I saw lights go on in other houses as I called but no one inquired or risked getting involved. Plus these guys didn’t just live on the other side of the alley. They lived across the street in back of my house so my voice apparently carried. I don’t know why the police show up at their house occasionally though I could guess right along with my neighbors—the ones who didn’t answer my cries. Or I can thank these men and speak blessings over them and share the love of God through my actions. God certainly blessed me by drawing them toward my need. It makes me wonder if the Good Samaritan felt he was repaying a debt to someone who had helped him once. I don’t know, but I am thankful and pray somehow they do see God’s love in our meeting. I sure do.

Abundant blessings!

Sunday, November 12, 2006


In honor of Veteran’s Day, I want to share with you about a certain vet, Richard C. Cary (yep, we’re related). To most, he went by Dick but to me, he was Dad Cary.

Over the years I’ve heard many stories (some I can’t repeat here) but my favorite one comes from his time in the army during WWII. Dad was assigned to Patton’s third army. Just out of high school, he was trained at Fort Dix before being sent to the European Theater. He celebrated his nineteenth birthday by getting his helmet creased by a Nazi bullet during the Battle of the Bulge.

If you remember your history, you’ll know that General Patton promised that his troops would move quicker and farther than even General Eisenhower thought they could. The truth of it is, that army moved farther and faster than even General Patton thought they could and he showed up to tell them so. With the men in Dad’s unit all lined up to see the general, Patton thanked them for a job well done and asked what he could do for them. Dad looked at his buddies all keeping quiet and just couldn’t stand it.

“We could use a hot meal, Sir.”

The general said he'd see what he could do. You can imagine the elation, especially after living on c-rations for days on end, when trucks bearing hot food rolled into camp the next evening. My sister-in-law recently told me that the general even helped serve the meal.

But the story doesn’t end there.

After the Nazi’s surrendered, someone noted that my father-in-law had taken a typing class in high school and assigned him to the typing pool at headquarters in Berlin. He was given the task of typing out General Patton’s stateside orders. When the general arrived to pick up the papers, he looked hard at Dad.

“We’ve met before.”

“Yes, sir.”

“You’re that little SOB who wanted a hot meal, right?”

“Yes, sir.”

“So, did you get enough to eat?”

“Yes, sir. Thank you, sir”

It wasn’t long after that the general was hurt in that car accident and eventually died, never getting to use the orders Dad typed.

My father-in-law passed away last month. He would have been 81 next month. A lot went on during those nearly 81 years but today, I thank him and all like him who have stood in harm’s way so that we may continue to live as safely and prosperously as we do here in the United States. God has abundantly blessed us because of you.

Abundant blessings, and thank you, Dad.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Just an FYI

I've just posted reviews for two books:
1. The Jade Bracelet by Wilma Walls

2. Marta's Promise by Jeanne Denis and Sheila Seifert

Both books are published by Kregel. Just click on the titles to check them out. I recommend them both.

Abundant blessings!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Purse-onally Yours, the sequel

Well, folks, it's been a week and even though not too many of you took a chance on posting your guesses, I'll reveal the answers. If you are not acquainted with the writings of one or more of these authors, may I suggest you check them out? Not only are they lovely purse models, they also write like nobody's business. You won't find better authors anywhere.

I learned last week that I can't seem to line up my words next to the pictures, so I'm going to list the answers and then the picture proof will follow.

1. Mary DeMuth
2. Deborah Gyapong
3. Lisa Samson
4. Kathy Ide
5. Brandilyn Collins
6. Linda Windsor
7. Deborah Raney
8. Liz Curtis Higgs

Please check out their websites and blogs and expecially their books.
Abundant blessings, all!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Purse-onally Yours

A few weeks ago I was privileged to speak at the North Hills Annual Women’s Brunch. The topic was Purse-onally Yours and was themed around what our purses say about our personalities. I thought this was a great idea and so in preparing for my talk, I asked some authors if they’d allow me to take pictures of their purses, just to see if people could identify the genre based on the purse. I had so much fun and such a great response that I thought I’d share the game with you all. As you are guessing, I’m hoping you will be brave and post your guesses. However, if you see your own purse here, please don’t give it away. I’ll post the answers with lovely pictures of the owners next weekend. In the meantime, please pack your purses with care (okay guys, your wallets). Grab your salt packets, a flashlight, and some tissues because when we let our God-given personalities shine for His glory and flavor the world around us, there’s going to be a few tears along the way and some messes to help clean up.

And now, have some fun! (Okay, small problem--I've been fighting with blogger and can't seem to align any numbers or letters next to the pictures for identification so, there's eight of them. Just do your best).

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Art of Reading and Reaching Another Generation

A classroom off the school library comes with perks.

I have to admit, I’m a fan of writers who write well for children. But when they can inspire and impact a child to write, they’ve just imprinted their seal on the next generation—providing good books and good readers for more years to come.

One such author, Jack Gantos, visited our school this past week. And, lucky me, I was able to just open my door and hear him—and the laughter and interest of class after class of would-be authors.

I’d had the privilege of hearing Mr. Gantos a few years ago. This time, whenever I heard our librarian speak of him to a class, I volunteered how they were in for such a treat. So, with teachers, our librarian, and myself prepping the way and sharing the excitement, Mr. Gantos was ushered through waiting crowds of children who’d either caught the excitement or were ripe to see if the hype matched reality.

Everyone left satisfied.

What I found so amazing is that he delivered to the kids a simple plan of genius. When he was done, they were eager to start a journal just like he had done as a child—and let me tell you, if Jack Gantos had been my child, he wouldn’t have had younger siblings. Somewhere there is a chair among the saints for his mother. Something about his stories of breaking his brother’s arm or letting the Pagoda brothers launch him through the air, or the favorite one where he dropped a roach down his sister’s throat while she was sleeping (which led to him being locked out of the house buck naked) grabs the attention of even the most callous sixth grader and makes excellent fodder for his Jack Henry books. Personally I’m just glad he survived his youth and can write about it now.

Mr. Gantos repeated a phrase I’ve heard reiterated over and over by other authors, editors and agents—paraphrased: you must read if you want to write well. He expands this thought on his website where he bravely shares another of his journals. Here’s the link, you'll need to scroll down a bit on the journal page. Check out the entry for 7/31/05 and you'll see what I mean. And I have to agree with him. The writer in me also understands his post of 7/08/05—the excitement of a new book.

For a better understanding of what Mr. Gantos does with kids, check out this link to an article on his school presentations.

If you haven’t had the pleasure of reading a Jack Gantos book, I recommend you check them out—Rotten Ralph books, the Jack Henry series (highly autobiographical) and the Joey Pigza books. Be prepared to laugh and be transported--two very special blessings.

Abundant blessings!

Monday, September 25, 2006


I had an epiphany. Right there in Dallas in the middle of the American Christian Fiction Writers’ annual conference, I had an epiphany.

Before I can explain, I need to give you some back-story—honest! I know the rules about back-story and dutifully am judicious in my writing, but this small tidbit you need to know—I changed jobs at school this year. No longer am I teaching kinders (still love’m though). Rather I am teaching the gifted children of our school. We qualified for a part time position on-site since our numbers had shown more than 20 kids identified. However, that included last year’s sixth graders. Plus, we had to do some redistricting with the boundary lines so, though I got the job for having 20+ kids on paper, the body count was closer to 15. Therefore, I need to test my little brains out to get our numbers back up so I can keep my job.

These kids come in, so excited that someone thinks they are smart. I explain I am looking for a certain kind of smart and ask them if, should they not pass my tests, would they still be smart? Most say yes though some need to think it over. I affirm the yes, they are still smart, just not the smart I’m looking for at the moment. And you got to know, I love these kids. I’m cheering them on and want each one to succeed. Some have even been former students and I really want them to make it into the program. It breaks my heart that so many do not make it. The standard is high. I’ve had kids score a 96% (that means they only missed 3 questions between all the tests in that particular battery) and I have to turn them down.

Anyone in the writing business can see where I’m going with this. There I was in Dallas, mingling and conversing (and learning a few things, too) and it hit me—this is what the editors and agents go through each time they have someone come in for an appointment. They hope they will see something of what they are looking for, an idea of the right kind of "smart." Then the test comes. Is the story compelling? Is the writing stellar? Has this author a track record? Do they fit the pub house? Do they mesh with the editor/agent personality-wise? The standard is high. Oh, sometimes it is just a matter of a different house or editor or agent being a better fit. Sometimes in my class it’s a matter of trying a different test or giving the child time to mature before I test again.

The good news, for me anyway, is that bit of empathy for the editors and agents relaxed me and helped me enjoy my time so much more. I was ready for the take-homes I needed because I wasn’t manic about my assessments. . .er, appointments. I soaked up wisdom from Mary DeMuth on going deep and not letting anyone, including myself, put Jesus in a box. And I had a paradigm shift. I know I write for an audience of One (though you all get to read this, too), but until Liz Curtis Higgs said it, I had never ever thought the following statement:

Jesus is my agent.

Sure, I want a 21st century flesh and blood agent but finding that right fit is in the hands of my number One Agent. And with His guidance, it will all fall into place the way He wants it.

But lest you think the trip was all visionary and deep, I’ve included some pictures at this link. I hope you can tell we had a blast. Sending a special hug out to my roomie, Jen Tiszai who gave a wonderful Late Nite Chat on the art of mentoring. You are the best, girlfriend!

And now, back to the real world.

Abundant blessings!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Questions We All Need to Ask

Well guys, I'm behind on posting--again. The good news, though, is I have something to post (yea!).

First question: Would you like an easy way to see when I've updated my blog? If so, look at the bottom of my sidebar. You will notice a place to subscribe to Abundant Blessings. All you do is fill out your e-mail address where you would like to receive my musings and then you won't have to search over and over only to be disappointed that I haven't written something new. What happens is FeedBlitz will send the post directly to your e-mail. You can click on the link to come to my site or just read the e-mail note. FeedBlitz will notify you only when I have something new. I use FeedBlitz to receive my favorite blogs and like the convenience. Hope you will, too.

With that out of the way, I have some more important questions for you. First I need to set the stage. My pastor has been doing a series titled American Idols where each week he shines the light on things we, as Americans, tend to let come between us and God. Today the idol was Excitement/Pleasure. Pastor Steve asked some deeply probing questions and I want to ask them of you. Here we go:

1. What are you giving yourself to that is significant? (Consider: Life is going faster, but is it taking us to better places?)

2. In Whom are you investing yourself?

3. For what are you embracing sacrifice?

4. If you were to die today, what would you be known for?

As Arsenio Hall used to say, "Things that make you go 'hmmmmmmm'." Only not because of the incongruity but because of the significance the answers mean to our lives, our futures, and those we touch. Pastor Steve also left us with some parting thoughts so I'll empart them to you.

Some people leave lasting investments of their lives.
Some people leave lingering impressions.
Some people just leave.

Abundant blessings,

Saturday, August 19, 2006

It's All About Meme

It's meme time! I got tagged last week by my buddy Jen but had just put up the interview with Tricia so I'm keeping my promise to do the meme today. Here goes!

1. A friend who has blessed me: There are too many to name. I easily could name Jen and pay the favor back but I’ll pass it on and say my friend Lori.

2. An unexpected gift: My husband has been getting me technorized (new word—should be in Webster’s by 2008) as of late. The most recent gift is making my new laptop into a card-free wireless laptop—very cool!

3. A kind word shared with me recently: I received several compliments on the interview I did with Tricia Goyer. It was the first interview where I wrote up all the questions alone, and was rather nervous about doing so.

4. Something that makes me stop and praise God: Hugs from former students.

5. Something I'm looking forward to: Having fun in Dallas at ACFW.

6. A particular part of me I'm pleased with: At the moment, my toes—they are pretty and sparkly--oooh!

7. Something in my life that I wanted but never expected: Hope for the future.

8. A place that moved/moves me: Ireland—standing in the ruins of the place where my ancestors were married.

9. One thing/person that always makes me smile: Ditto on Jen, my kids (ditto on the hair-pulling part too—see, you’ll have to go read hers.)

10. Most recent "love note" from God: A new story idea—He whispers them every so often and I heard a new one just last night.

And so, now, I have kept my word and it is time for me to tag someone else. Who, who could I tag? Just to be ornery, although I highly doubt he'll do it, I tag my beloved hubby, Phil.

And to every one else, abundant blessings!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Win a Copy of Arms of Deliverance by Tricia Goyer

So, dear reader, here we are at the end of summer (or so it seems) and the children will be starting classes at my school come Monday. Therefore, this weekend I am trying to finish up something I should have completd weeks ago. Please do not let my procrastion lead you to the eronous assumption that Tricia Goyer's latest novel, Arms of Deliverance, is anything other than wonderful. And just to prove that fact, I am offering a free, author signed copy of Arms of Deliverance to one of you. All you have to do is leave a comment on my blog (for this post) and I put your name in a drawing to be held in one week (Saturday, August 19, 2006). Just in case you are reading this and wondering if you want to take the time or not, I have three (count'm t-h-r-e-e) tidbits to help you make your decission.

1. If you click on this link, Arms Of Deliverance, you will find my review of the book.

2. If you click on the title of this blog post, you can link to the first chapter of the book--you will need to scroll down a little bit. And,

3. if that's not enough incentive to leave me an appreciative comment, keep on reading. I have an interview with none other than Tricia Goyer herself.

So, without further ado, here's the interview.

JC: Welcome Tricia! Before we get started, please tell us a bit about yourself and how you got started as a writer.

TG: Thanks Jenny. I'm a wife to a wonderful guy, mom of three kids whom I homeschool, and I also mentor teen moms. Oh yes, I write books too . . . because I've discovered I can actually CONTROL the people in my mind better than the real people in my life. Ha!

I started writing in 1994, when I was 22-years-old and pregnant with my third child. (Yes, I was a teen mom, and all the nitty-gritty details in that can be found in Life Interrupted: The Scoop on Being a Young Mom)

I attended my first writer's conference with a friend, and I actually sold a magazine article at that conference. I think it was just God's way of letting me know I was on the right track because I didn't sell anything else for 2 1/2 years. After that, I began regularly writing magazine articles, curriculum, Bible Study notes, devotionals . . . and eventually fiction and non-fiction books. I'm one of those crazy writers who want to write about everything in my life, so I tell the truth of my life in non-fiction, and explore the themes of my life in fiction.

JC: You've had four novels now set during WWII. What about that era draws you?

TG: When I first started writing proposals for novels I wanted to write contemporary. I thought research was too much work. Then I was on vacation in Europe and I met a historian who told me the true stories behind the liberation of Gusen and Mauthausen concentration camps. The story was so amazing it inspired my first WWII novel, From Dust and Ashes.

As I wrote that first novel, I was blessed to be able to meet and interview some of the veterans who were there. Their stories sparked more novel ideas, and so I kept writing about the area.

I think the one thing that draws me is the idea that God's hope and love can be found even in the midst of the most difficult circumstances.

JC: What sets Arms of Deliverance apart from your other WWII novels?

TG: Well, for one, there is a little more romance, and the characters actually get to spend time together. In my other WWII novels the characters are drawn a part during the war. In Arms of Deliverance, it's the war that brings them together.

Also in Arms of Deliverance I expore a number of POV characters, who really give insight into the various thoughts and motives behind different people involved in the war.

JC: You've touched on some diverse and unusal occupations for women of the era in your books. If you were to be able to go back and live during that time period, how would you have contributed to the war effort?

TG: Yes, I've had some strong female characters in occupations not formerly open to them before the war. In Dawn of a Thousand Nights I have female pilots. In Arms of Deliverance I have female war correspondents. Someday I'd love to write about the women in the factories.

Of course, I'm a big chicken. I can explore these exciting occupations while still remaining safe. I'd most likely grow a victory garden or pack bundles to send over the soldiers. Or write about the war . . . a safe distance away from the front lines.

JC: I understand (big grin). What lessons do you think we can learn from those who fought or kept the homefires burning during WWII? How can this generation apply them to the war we fight?

TG: During World War II our country lived with a strong trust in God. They looked to Him for guidance and help. So many times today, we try to figure everything out ourselves. We try to succeed in our own strength, but I truly believe that in our weakness God's strength is complete. When we are weak, God has a chance to be strong in us.

JC: Is there something you've learned in your research that you want to make sure your kids understand?

TG: I suppose the only thing I stress over and over is that we should be grateful for those who fought so hard for our freedom. All my children have been with me when I interview veterans--we've even had some veterans visit our home. We've also attending Veteran's Day ceremonies and have been the only people there under 50-years-old. It's easy for kids to be self-centered these days. It's good when we can get them to look beyond themselves and their circumstances.

JC: I understand your next novel will take on a different time period. Can you tell us about that? Do you think you will ever write about the WWII era again?

TG: My next novel is as close to WWII as you can get without being about WWII. It's about the Spanish Civil War. Here's a short overview of the series:

Nazi tanks roll across the hillsides and German bombers roar overhead, dropping bombs on the helpless citizens below. Italian troops fight alongside them, and their opponents attempt to stand strong—Americans, British, Irishmen—in unison with other volunteers from dozens of countries. And their battleground? The beautiful Spanish countryside.

From July 1936-April 1939, well before America was involved in World War II, another battle was fought on the hillsides of Spain. On one side, the Spanish Republicans, joined by the Soviet Union and The International Brigade—men and women from all over the world who have volunteered to fight Fascism. Opposing them, Franco and his Fascist military leaders, supported with troops, machinery, and weapons from Hitler and Mussolini. The Spanish Civil War, considered the “training ground” for the war to come, boasted of thousands of American volunteers who joined to fight on the Republican side, half of which never returned home.

And to answer your question, yes, I'll most likely write about WWII again. There are so many amazing stories I've heard that would make fantastic novels.

JC: Where can readers get a copy of Arms of Deliverance?

TG: On on-line book stores . . . or any local bookstore can order a copy too!

JC: Any last words?

TG: Thank you for the interview!

JC: Thank you so much for dropping by, Tricia!

And thank you, dear reader, for checking out my blog. Be sure to leave a comment and I will put you in for the drawing next Saturday. Also, do check out the link to the first chapter of Arms of Deliverance. You won't be disappointed.

Abundant blessings!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Been Working--Honest!

Just wanted you to know I haven't dropped off the face of the earth. I've got two things to share with you today and would love your feedback.

First, I'm about to post some reviews for books I've recently read. If you'd like to check out my opinions, here are the links:

Everything's Coming Up Josey by Susan May Warren

Fighting for Bread and Roses by Lynn A. Coleman

Wish I'd Known You Tears Ago by Stephen Bly

Cowboy by Staci Stallings

Feel free to leave comments but I've changed the setting so your comment won't show up immediately. I'm testing this out and may not keep this particular feature.

Second, I am working on an article about prayer and why people should pray. If you would like to share why you think we should pray (or for that matter if you think we shouldn't) please post a comment. This is the reason I've readjusted the comment posting feature for my blog. I want you to be able to tell me what you think yet still not have your comment posted if you prefer. Also, you can post annonymously. The important thing is to let me know if it is okay to quote you. This does not mean I will automatically quote you but I will contact you should I feel the need to for your permission. I may even contact you to expand on what you commented. Just soze ya know.

Have a wonderful week.
Abundant blessings!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Family, Friends, and Fellowship

We just got back yesterday afternoon from a lovely vacation in the mountains of Arizona. I can't believe we're back so soon. Gotta tell you, if you ever get to visit up in Payson or Prescott, take the opportunity and enjoy your stay. There is so much to see, so much history and beauty you could have a never-ending vacation. Don't they call that retirement? ha!

My mom and Norman live up in the White Mountains in an incredible house Norman built for her. It is amazing with a porch that spans the whole south side. You have your choice of chairs, the swing or the glider to relax in while you watch everything from the leaves moving on the the trees to the antics of animals to the friendly neighbors waving as they drive down the street. In the afternoon you can stretch out on the hammock while the breeze rocks you to sleep. I could live that way for sure.

The best part of the visit, though, was enjoying my family. GrammaDear officially turned 100 years old yesterday. Plus friends came by--Tracy and her girls. I hadn't seen Tracy since her daughters were babies and now they are quite grown. Tracy and I go way back. I think she was about the age of her youngest daughter when we first met though she and my sister were the ones practically inseparable back then.

There was also the opportunity to visit the Women's Bible Study at Mom's church. They going through Liz Curtis Higgs book Bad Girls of the Bible. I saw old friends and made new ones there also.

For the weekend, Phil and I were at Family Camp with our church. The keynote speaker, Randy Spence, had the wonderful habit of spinning a story to pull you in and then holding up the mirror for you to see your own place in the story. I should never have worn make-up.

We also got to slip over for a party with friends, making connetions with people we hadn't seen in a while. It's funny how life keeps you moving until you find too much space between you and people you thought you would see routinely.

So, I've had this amazing and restful week of family, friends and fellowship--also fun. Now I am jumping back into my life with both feet. I am the guest blogger this week on the God Allows U-Turns blog so I hope you will check in there. I am sharing how God has blessed us so abundantly (like I do most times here) but including a great deal of my personal testimony. So, if you are the least bit curious as to how I got to be so . . . okay, just don't finish that statement where I can hear you. Anyway, drop on by. I will be blogging daily over there (don't get used to it) and would love it if you left a comment. Until then,
Abundant blessings!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy Birthday America!

Let the flag fly high
Flashes cover the sky
Your blessings overflow

You’ve been honored and blessed
By so much of the best
Your blessings overflow

God’s hand pours forth grace
Mercy streams from His face
Your blessings overflow

So raise thanks up to He
Who has caused you to be
Your blessings overflow

Abundant blessings, America!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

This One's for Jen

Accent: Only in Ireland
Best personality trait: Jen says I’m an encourager. The jury is still out on whether that’s actually a personality trait.
Chore I hate: I’m with Jen on this—I detest housework. But I’d say scrubbing the bathtub is probably the most hated.
Dad's name: Richard
Essential make-up/skin care products: mascara—I have no eyelashes without it.
Favorite perfume/cologne: Totally addicted to Amarige by Givenchy.
Gold or silver?: Why do I have to choose?
Hometown: Kokomo—the town in Indiana, not the bar in the Caribbean
Interesting fact: How long do I beat this dead horse about Davy Crockett being my Great, great, great grandfather? Is there anyone on the planet that doesn’t know? (Jen says that’s not too snarky, just funny so if you disagree, take it up with her. This was her idea anyway—luv ya Jen.)
Job title: Jill of all trades
Kids: Finally figured out where they come from.
Living arrangements: Hubby, me and our dog named Mack—well, we’re also dog-sitting for Chandler and Daisy
Mom's birthplace: Chicago
Number of apples eaten in the last week: Zip—what do I want with healthy food?
Overnight hospital stays: Five of my own—tons more if you consider the family members I’ve stayed with
Phobia: heights –don’t spend much times around kites either.
Question you ask yourself a lot: Where did I put that?
Religion: Christ follower
Siblings: one younger sister and two younger brothers (yes, that makes me the eldest, but I’m NOT old!)
Time I wake up: work schedule:5:00 a.m., summer schedule: whenever I feel like it (or when the dogs won’t let me sleep anymore)
Unnatural hair color: I’ve been blonde, red-headed, and a brunette.
Vegetable I Refuse to Eat: Brussels sprouts—when did Brussels sprout anyway and how do we keep it from happening again?
Worst habit: Putting things off—but I’m good at it so that’s also a strength.
X-rays?: Which ones do you want to hear about—head to toe.
Yummy food I make: Cooking isn’t my forté but I make a mean trip to Taco Bell
Zingers: You say that like it’s a bad thing. (that’s really my hubby’s so I stole it)

So, who to tag, who to tag... Malia, you're up!

Abundant blessings!

Monday, June 12, 2006


The other day at church I was so taken by something I saw I had to come home and write about it. With Fathers’ Day so close on the horizon, I thought I’d share my experience with you. Oh, I do want you to know, I did not take this picture. I do not know who did or I would give gredit. Whoever did take the photo, I know he/she understands what I saw.

There is a man in our church, a new father for the fourth time. This man stands tall and imposing, easily mistaken for intimidating until he smiles and his face cleaves in friendship. I remember once watching as he leaned in to help a woman struggling between wheelchair and seat. With gentle firmness he guided her to her destination. She struggled, she worked, she breathed a sigh when landing on her chair. His moves were unobtrusive yet sure. When done, he melted quietly into the seat behind to continue in worship.

Another time this big man did something that made me cry. He picked up is newborn son and stood holding the tiny bundle to his chest, smiling down on helpless trust.

And I saw God.

A stalwart defender. A tender father. The warrior king. The protector.

I saw my Abba and was drawn close against His chest, deep into His heart. A picture of power, a glimpse of glory, an embrace of eternity. Safe and secure from all alarm. Hallelujah!

May you see glimpses of our loving Abba this week—when you least expect it and when you need it most.

Abundant blessings!

Monday, June 05, 2006

So You Want to Talk Grandmas?

You probably have a wonderful grandma, a terrific grandma.

But does she carry brass knuckles?

Mine does and she just celebrated her 100th birthday. Okay, so her real birthday isn’t until next month but, here in Arizona, who wants to party in the middle of July? Hence, my mom set the party for the first weekend in June. Family and friends from all over arrived, some actually meeting for the first time. GrammaDear, as my girls call her, was surrounded by those she loves and those who love her. Getting to one hundred years of age has its burdens as well as perks. GrammaDear has out-lived one spouse, all her siblings, one grandson, and one great-grandson. However, that only ensures a big celebration when she has her "Welcome to Eternity" party. They can keep planning awhile longer though, since we aren’t ready to say good-bye quite yet.

One thing became very apparent during our weekend celebration—GrammaDear has been a major influence on a lot of people, many who will never know her until they get to heaven. Here’s one tiny example: When my cousin Greg was a child, Gramma led him to the Lord. Greg, in turn, led a lovely young woman named Lynn to the Lord when they were both sixteen. A few years later, Greg and Lynn married and had two very beautiful daughters and Lynn led them to the Lord. Greg and Lynn’s daughters have both grown up and married godly men and are working in Christian ministries—Lindsay and her husband work with Young Life and Kristin and her husband are looking to leave for the foreign mission field, working with Campus Crusade. Imagine the number of lives they will touch all because one grandmother shared her heart with her grandson.

GrammaDear was surrounded by her four daughters, most of her grandchildren,
and several of her great grandchildren.
All of her daughters share her faith and the majority of the grandkids and great grandkids do as well. It is a testament to God’s promises for families.

Today as Phil and I were leaving for home, I got to stop and talk with Gramma one more time. It was like a mutual fan club meeting, sharing how much we love each other. But then she put her hands on my face and said, “The best part is we both love the Lord and we will be together in His Kingdom forever.”

She carries brass knuckles and she’s one hundred years old, but that last part makes my grandma the best.

Abundant blessings!

Monday, May 29, 2006

At Last, the CCWC

In my last post I promised you all I'd tell you about my trip to the Colorado Christian Writers Conference (CCWC) . I thought I'd be quicker about the sharing but after the past week, this is good. As you can see, the vista was incredible--hardly any pollution (or oxygen, for that matter) but the view was quite lovely before I passed out;-)

My friend and mentor, Esther Bailey, thought this would be the perfect trip for us to do together and I agreed--still do but with a few reservations. We had an adventure with the shuttle service making our arrival time 11:30 p.m. The driver dropped us off and we checked in. As the man handed us our keys he said we could drive a couple blocks to the four-way stop. Go another block beyond and then turn left. That's where I explained we didn't drive. He shared a "short-cut" and wished us well. Esther and I (along with Monique, another writer who shared our shuttle adventure) started walking, pulling all our luggage behind--uphill. When we finally arrived at the door to our building, this is the sign that met us. I had to take a picture--I didn't think I'd believe it the next day without proof.

Fortunately things improved after that. I had so much fun seeing old friends, making new ones, learning, growing. I took James Scott Bell's continuing session and was lucky enough to get to sit around the lobby of Wind River one night and shoot the breeze with him, Nancy Rue, Angela Hunt, and Lisa Samson. I think I learned more that night about being an author and this crazy business than in any of the classes. It was fun, it was great, it was amazing.

Seems I've loaded my limit on pictures (and didn't even get to post the ones with me and Ted Dekker and Tammy Alexanderor several others--none to worry, I have plans:-). However, I have to say this has only whet my appetite for the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference (ACFW) in Dallas this September. More pictures to follow. In the meantime, wishing each one of you a day of rememberence and hope. Thank you to all who have stood in harm's way for us and Abundant Blessings one and all!

PS By request, I'm adding a link you need to check out.
And it is my pleasure to do so.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Interview with Stephen Bly and More

Dear All,

I have a million and one things to share with you, not to mention a great interview with Western author Stephen Bly. So, a quick set of announcements and then on to the interview.
First, I have a new website that is up but not quite done. So, if you checkout and notice some problems, please be patient. I will announce when it is finished. Second, I have just returned from the Colorado Christian Writers Conference (CCWC) in Estes Park and have lots to tell and pictures to share. Again, soon, I promise. Last (before the interview) this Wednesday is the seventh anniversary of the homecoming for our son, Ian. If you are led to think about us this week, I’d appreciate your prayers. Also, use this as a reminder to give your child an extra hug or pray for a family dealing with chronic illness in their midst. If you want to do something more substantial, may I suggest making a donation to the Make-A-Wish foundation? This group was wonderful to our family.

And now, please enjoy getting to know more about author and Pastor Stephen Bly and his latest book Wish I'd Known You Tears Ago.

Abundant blessings!

Q: Why did you decide to try your hand at writing a contemporary Western instead penning another historical?

SB: Actually, I've written a number of contemporary novels, for instance: The Austin-Stoner Files, The Hidden West Series, and Paperback Writer. One motivation was that the basic plot for The Horse Dreams series, a divorced teacher whose ex dies of a heart attack, before she gets a chance to offer peace and forgiveness, fit a contemporary scene better.

As a matter of fact, that was my entire plot when I sat down to write the books. I don't plot much. Okay . . . I don't plot at all . . . it's more like a "guideline" idea. I often don't have a clue where a story is headed. PLUS. . . in this case, I knew lots of ladies like horses (and cowboys), even if it's only a daydream. So I combined those elements and placed the series in one of my favorite locations, the empty prairies of central Wyoming. It seemed like a good mix. Dev Worrell is the kind of caring, gifted schoolteacher that all of us can remember--mine was named Mrs. Welch, and she taught the 4th grade at Ivanhoe Grammar School.

Q: Which character in this series did you most enjoy writing?

SB: Casey Cree-Ryder. I was going to say Casey and Uncle Henry, but since Uncle Henry is a burro, I suppose he doesn't quite fit the category.

Casey is a 29 year old, Wyoming "cowboy girl," who is dark skinned like her Native American/African American bloodlines but has the temperament of her Mexican American/Irish bloodlines. She is totally unpredictable in behavior . . . almost shocking in speech, and lives life with few restraints. She is very much the opposite of Dev. But they become great friends and throughout the series, you can see how each makes the other a better person.

Casey is one person you would like on your side in a fight (guns, knives or fists.) One glance from Casey and tough cowboys are known to cross to the other side of the street. Yet, there is sensitivity, a crushed spirit and a broken heart that need healing. I like her too, because she has a waist-length, thick black braid that is purdier than bronc-rein.

Q: What challenges did you face writing from a woman's point of view?

SB: You know, I get that question a lot. Gals write to me and say, "How did you know what was in my mind?" I attribute my ability to write from a woman's point of view to two factors: first, I have been married to a talented, interesting, adventuresome, intelligent, creative and beautiful woman for 43 years. Second, I have LISTENED WITH ALL MY HEART to a talented, interesting, adventuresome, intelligent, creative and beautiful woman for 43 years.

If a man will truly listen to women . . . he can write from their point of view.

Q: You are among the first to write Christian Westerns. What changes have you seen in this genre? What advice do you have for others wanting to break into this market?

SB: I'm not sure the genre has changed too much, but there are still only a few that can master it. Too many writers want to tell a modern story, and they dress it up like a doll in cowboy gear. That's not a western. If you are going to write about the 1800's, you have to know the west-the history, the geography, the politics, and human nature of 1880.

Many read a Louis L'Amour novel and say, "I can do that." They can't. Most good writers can research the right words, but they don't have the right tune. It's the rhythm, the tone, and the flow that makes a great western. It's a tough thing to teach.

If you want to break into the western market, spend the next 10 years roaming up and down every dirt road in the 11 western states. Read every book you can find about the old west and published by University of Oklahoma, University of Nebraska, University of California, and University of New Mexico press-and a few others. For months, study every old map of the west you can find, memorize such books as Ramon Adams' "Western Words" . . . Andy Adams' "Log of a Cowboy" . . . Charlie Siringo's "A Texas Cowboy" and Fay E. Ward's "The Working Cowboy's Manuel." Then move to Denio, Nevada and work the Fall Gather for one of the Big Basin ranches. That'll work.

Get your facts right and forget most of what you've seen in western movies.

Q: As mayor of Winchester Idaho, pastor of a church, and a prolific writer, what does your schedule look like? How many hours a day are you able to spend writing?

SB: Lucky for me, there are forty hours in a day. That's the only way I keep up. I go to bed about 10 - 10:30 and get up about 3:30. I like to spend 5 to 10 hours a day writing-more when the deadline approaches. But there are breaks. I travel a lot around the west and find time to read lots of non-fiction books about subjects that fit my stories. I have all the time I need to do the important things of life. I just have to keep reminding myself what those important things are.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Happy Mothers' Day

They come in all shapes and sizes, temperaments and abilities, colors and humors. Most people only get one and if they’re lucky, that one is a keeper. I have to say, though, I by-passed lucky a few decades ago when my little brother’s speech teacher saw something in a widowed father with three kids. The smartest thing Mary could have done probably had something to so with “just say no!” and running as fast as her feet would fly. Instead she opened her heart and loved us all.

That’s my mom—my second mom.

My first mom died of cancer when I was a young teen. I thought that was the end of the mom-thing in my life. God had other plans. And now this retired teacher has been my mom more than twice as long as the one who gave me birth.

Not that is was all moonlight and roses. Anyone who has tried to blend two families knows what I mean. But Mom didn’t run when she had the chance and she didn’t even when things got bad, ugly or rough—and they got all three. She hung in there for the long haul and now she has seen the rewards of a Proverbs 31 Woman—we, her children, call her blessed knowing full well that we are the ones who have been blessed.

My first mother was a rare gem. Lovely, loving, and lovable. Not everyone can say that about their mom. I can say that about both of mine. I am blessed beyond measure and want to publicly thank you, Mom, for not running for the hills, for loving us as your own, for being my mom. I love you! Happy Mothers’ Day.

Abundant blessings!

Sunday, May 07, 2006


Yesterday I learned a lot about friendship.

During the course of my life I have been blessed to call a few incredible women “friend.” I wrote about one of them, my friend and pastor, Lori, a few posts back. Today I want to tell you about another friend who allowed me the privilege of sharing in her special day.

My buddy Laura has now joined the ranks of those of us who can officially claim to have lived a half century. Many find reason to celebrate that milestone with black balloons and AARP jokes. No black balloons for Laura, though.

Ten years ago, she was forty, bald and in a wheelchair, fighting an uphill battle with stage four cancer. I doubt any of her doctors would have placed bets on her seeing fifty. That is, unless they took time to get to know her.

Laura puts the fun back into dysfunctional.

She and I go back a long way, about twenty-five years to be exact. We’ve been pregnant together, sold Tupperware together. Laughed, cried, and leaned on each other. We never say good-bye though years may pass without us being in touch. And then one day we get together and just pick up where we left off. Almost like a revolving door deposits us in the same place every once in a while and then we move on. But somehow we always manage to end up back together one more time. Probably because that revolving door spins inside my heart.

I could tell you of how Laura came running to the hospital in the middle of the night when my son was dying. I could tell you how she ran interference for me when I just couldn’t take another hysterical phone call, or how she held my hand through panic attacks and the loss of my identity. But I haven’t the words to do her justice.

Instead I want to tell you how she finds laughter in the midst of pain, beauty in brokenness, and magnanimous heart in the middle chaos. But how do I describe how lights burn brighter in her presence? Or how humor becomes more healing when she tells the story? I can’t. I can only say I am so blessed to call her my friend.

Happy birthday, Laura! Many, many more!

Abundant blessings!

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Kindergarten is a Dangerous Sport

Whodathunk it?

One of my little darlings, who has had some difficult days in the past, had a wonderful day last Tuesday. A stupendous day. A red-letter day. She earned twenty minutes of computer time to be awarded during the last half hour of said day. Sounds like the makings of a date to circle on the calendar, huh?

Oh, it got circled alright.

Dad, in his infinite wisdom, decided to pull my little darling out forty minutes early. HE had an appointment. He never thought to call and let us know ahead of time. Oh, no. And so I had a sobbing five-year-old who had jumped through every hoop of the day with alacrity only to be crushed with the injustice of it all.

And if that wasn’t enough, when I knelt to comfort my little kidlett, my knee landed on something—or at least I was sure it had due to the stab of pain shooting up my knee. I quickly moved to see nothing between my knee and the carpet and felt the burn—and not the good kind.

The next few minutes were a blur of getting the child to the parent in tears (both mine and hers) and sending another child to the nurse’s office for an ice pack. Wrong move The ice-pack request generated paperwork and a trip to Occupational Therapy. By the time I was seen (and I have to say my nurse had the best sense of humor) the X-ray department was closing so I had neither x-rays nor MRIs done. However, I was given instructions to stay off it and allowed five minutes per hour to maneuver myself to the facilities should I feel the need. Other than that, no standing.

I teach Kindergarten.

Alrighty then.

First there was Tuesday night (also known as my husband’s birthday—he spent it pushing me around in a wheelchair. I SO owe him big time) when I was supposed to be at Kindergarten Registration. In the wheelchair it felt more like a cry for attention than being there for parents to get to know me.

Wednesday, a team member had called in for a sub already so I knew I could not miss. That day was spent with children vying for the privilege of pushing me in the wheelchair. The above-mentioned little darling had a very difficult day as did a couple of her friends and I left the second I could roll myself out the door.

The good news is I had extra writing time this week (Pollyanna will now return to her corner)

Thursday and Friday I hobbled on a crutch, waiting for the weekend. And now we’re back to that key word in my life—waiting.
I am really getting tired of waiting.

Even things I thought were good to work through while I waited have been stripped away. I was up to walking three miles (count’m T-H-R-double E) and now I hobble. So much for losing a dress size before attending the CCWC in Estes Park next month. There are so many exciting things on the horizon but not here yet. So I keep asking my Abba what am I supposed to be learning in all this waiting?

I may be starting to get it—at least intellectually. Up until now I have been looking forward and excited like a kid at Christmas. All the goodies that might come my way. But I don’t’ think that is the definition I am supposed to be taking to heart. Somehow I’m getting this picture of a waiter, like in a five-star restaurant. The type of waiter who is unobtrusive but always available. One who doesn’t ask how things are the second you have just put food in your mouth but instead knows exactly when to remove the salad plate and bring the entré and fill the beverage glasses without a request.

Am I that type of waiter for my Abba?

As much as I’d love to say yes, I know the answer is no. So, maybe if I can take that head knowledge and get it into my heart, I will begin to appreciate the journey and not be so focused on the destination—the ultimate destination is up there ahead and I am excited for that. But the big oases along the way are only enjoyable if the journey brings about the right attitude.

At the moment, mine needs an adjustment.

Abundant blessings to all!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Just Fiddling Around

“A little bit of this, a little bit of that.” I feel sort of like Tevya in Fiddler on the Roof for this post. Today I’m just sharing snippets of interest.

Actually a good one came this morning. My pastor made a confession that rocked the church—to be fair, I’ll put it into context. He began a new sermon series on relationships and is using a driving/rode motif to illustrate his points. Today his focus was that no one likes a road hog. And in the midst of this very spiritual, moving sermon, he asked of the married people in the congregation how many disagree with their spouses on the types of movies they like to watch. Hands flew up all over (mine and Phil’s included). And that is when Pastor Steve confessed. He likes movies where somebody blows up—he’s not picky, he just wants bloodshed and mayhem. However, his wife prefers something to make her cry. He went further. After the last Elder’s Meeting (a grueling one that saw my own Elder/hubby crawl in way after his bedtime) he popped in Rambo First Blood to feel better.

Something about knowing that little quirk about Steve leaves me unsettled. However, the men in our congregation had else to say. Especially when I suggested a good ol’ chick flick comedy (and yeah, Jen, I was thinking about your favorite nail polish at the time) instead of a tear-jerker. Uh, no. Rather it was countered we find one where the hero blows up things, but sheds a sensitive tear in the process. Where’s the chick flick fun in that, I ask you?

So, before I let flashbacks from Steve’s confession and the resulting aftershocks scar me forever, I’ll switch topics.

One of my very favorite people in the whole world—yeah, he’s got a corner on the market most of the time—is having a birthday this coming Tuesday. He will officially be old. But that’s okay, I’m learning to like antiques. Happy birthday, dear husband of mine. I love you.

And with that I will wish you all abundant blessings!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Dealing With Rejection

I had jury duty this week. I didn’t get picked. Again. I never get picked. Okay, for the first few times I trotted my little self down to one of the courthouses we have around here I was happy to escape the final selection. But now, I’ve done this about six times already. You’d think someone down there would like me. At least a little.

But no, I’m rejected again. Went off to moan and groan to my Abba. Bad move—especially this week. He knows more about rejection than I’ll ever experience. Talk about feeling like a whiner.

But when I got over my little pity party and let Him give me that attitude adjustment I was just begging for, I was reminded once again that it is all Him. Even though he did it for me. And you.

Bottom line, my rejection meant I got to sit in an air-conditioned courthouse, make a couple new friends for lunch, and read a novella without having to deal with kidletts poking and prodding and calling, “Teacher, TEACH-er.” Don’t get me wrong. I love my little rug rats, but Spring Break is long over and there are still six weeks left (count’m S-I-X) until I kiss their dear little heads so-long. It doesn’t even compare to the ridicule and rejection Jesus endured on my account.

Our motives were different as well. Way different. I went for the vacation from school—and to do my civic duty, of course. He did it to give me life everlasting. And he did not allow the rejection, the ridicule, or the pain to keep him from his appointed goal—the original postman living out a love letter from the Father.

So, have I grasped the lesson now that it isn’t all about me? Well, the jury is still out on that one. For the long term, don't know. But for the moment, I’m grateful He hasn’t rejected me. Thank You, Abba.

Have a happy and very blessed Easter.

Abundant blessings!

Sunday, April 09, 2006

E is for Easter

I just got back from viewing Lee Stobel’s The Case for Easter. It is late and I am tired but I want to share what I learned. To hear and see irrefutable proof of what I hold dear in my soul demands that I share, so here are the basics.

1. Execution—there is no way that Jesus could have lived through the torturous execution he suffered. Medical and historical documents cannot be argued away. Jesus died.

2. Early—the accounts, including the creed passed on from the Apostle Paul in Corinthians, would have been argued or declared shams. Instead they can be dated back to soon after the actual event. Studies show legends and myths take much longer than two generations to generate. Less time is involved with the reporting of the early accounts. Mr. Strobel calles this a News Flash.

3. Empty—this is one of the most convincing pieces of evidence. If somehow Jesus could have lived through the crucifixion and having his lung and possibly his heart stabbed with a spear, and if he could have gotten himself unwound from the linen cloths and seventy pounds of spices, and if he could have moved the stone that blocked the entrance to the tomb, He would have held far more scars than just the ones on his wrists and feet--the only ones attested to in any account. So, he really did die, but the tomb was empty—historical evidence other that the Bible backs that up. The Jewish leadership and the Roman government didn’t want Jesus to be alive. If he was dead, all they had to do was produce the body. For Roman soldiers to admit they fell asleep on the job? They would have been put to death for that. And to be tricked by a bunch of itinerant fishermen? Oh, please! The tomb was empty.

4. Eyewitnesses—over five hundred people personally saw and interacted with the risen Jesus. FIVE HUNDRED EYEWITNESS ACCOUNTS! If you produce less than one-fifth that many in any court of law, you will get the verdict you want.

5. Emergence—the birth of the Christian Church is based on the sermon Peter gave at Pentecost. Three thousand people heard him cite information they knew to be true—"Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed though Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know—" That is verse 22 of Acts 2. Peter is telling them things they knew—they knew Jesus did miracles and had walked among them. The also knew He’d been crucified. And after seeing and hearing the apostles in their own language, they could not refute it—3000 people could not refute and asked what to do, begged to be told what to do. Three thousand people gave their hearts and lives over to the Lord. Mr. Stobel also pointed out that people of all creeds will die for their faith. The difference was, the apostles knew the truth. If they had been making up the story, each would have died a martyr's death for a lie they knew to be a lie. To die for what you hope is true is one thing, but to die for what you know is not true of your own accord when you can easily say “hey, I was just telling a good story to make a point” and live just wouldn’t happen. And it didn’t happen.

So as you go through this Passion Week, it isn’t just a good story that teaches a lesson. It isn’t a warm fuzzy in your heart to help you get through your grief at the loss of a loved one. It is the truth—He is the truth. It is His story in history. And I am overcome with gratitude and love for my Abba.

Abundant blessings!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Savoring Satisfaction

I struggled this week with what to write. Somehow I knew the answer would come at church this morning. I was right.

Our pastor, Steve Chiles , is in the middle of a six part sermon series that examines who Jesus said He is. Today Pastor Steve spoke on “I Am . . . The Bread Of Life!” I thought I would share (with his permission) some of the insights of today's three hankie sermon.

To begin, the main Scripture reference is John 6:25-35. I won’t print it here but you can follow the link. Steve made two main points based on those verses: 1.) He (Jesus) wants us to look to Him as the true source of satisfaction; and, 2.) He wants us to learn to savor Him.

Amid an unruly chorus of “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” Pastor Steve noted that most of what we seek for satisfaction is simply medication. We look for Mr. or Miss Right in all the wrong places. We fill our time up with busy-work and “holic-isms” (my word) and miss out on the One Who can satisfy our every need. Remember the verse “Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.”? (Psalm 37:4 NIV) I thought I had matured when I realized it didn’t mean "love God and He will give you what you want the most,” but instead meant “put God first in all things and He will place within you what your heart needs to desire, longs to desire.” Sounds pretty good, huh?

I had an epiphany this morning when Steve shared how the Lord had opened his eyes. “He (God) is not a MEANS to what your heart is looking for; HE IS what your heart is looking for!” I draw near to Him and HE IS the desire of my heart. He gives Himself to me freely. All I have to do is open the door. Powerful!

The second point--He, Jesus, wants us to learn to savor Him--also hit home. I have my quiet time each morning. My dog, Mack, and I have a routine involving Scripture, a devotional, prayer and yogurt—Mack’s favorite part. I’ve learned my day will not be as it should be, or as it could be if I neglect to begin it with my Abba. This doesn’t make me extra pious, it's just that I’ve learned a few things in my fifty years on the planet. But the savor part, that was new—“to enjoy something with unhurried appreciation.”

And then Steve made this telling statement: “We say Jesus is the Bread of Life, but treat Him like fast food.” Ouch! But I have to work for a living. I have to be at work on time. People depend on me. Then my pastor asked, “What does God dream?” If I knew Him well enough, I would know that answer. The point being, when we savor Him, we truly come to know Him. And the only way to know someone is to spend time with him.

That led to the next point—when we savor Him, we move from salvation to transformation. And we aren’t transformed by walking with Him across the street. We need to walk the whole journey with Him, every step of the way. With that in mind, read 2 Corinthians 3:18. I just love it when familiar Scripture becomes new again.

Steve’s final thought was when we savor Jesus, His life flows in us and through us. Think about how Peter’s mere shadow flowed with healing power ( Acts 5:15-16) My shadow only offers shade.

So, tomorrow morning, I want my first thought to be, in the words of King David, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” No more nibbling at the Bread of Life and hurrying on with my day. That diet is over. From now on, I want to savor my Savior. May you find satisfaction at His table as you linger to savor His goodness.

Abundant blessings!

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Word Games

I love words. Even when I’m not writing, I’m surrounded by wonderful, stimulating words. I find humor and pathos in the conversations that fly around me. For instance, one of my little kinder Romeos tried to plant a big wet one on another kidlett. His classmates met him with the rule, “No kissing in Kindergarten!” Don’t you just love that?

Oh, and my class now has a favorite new word: Hallelujah! I kid you not. One Friday when I was longing for Saturday a student asked, “What is today?” I answered, “It’s Friday, Hallelujah!” The word spread throughout the room and I heard Hallelujahs echoing over and over, and smiled at the personal revival they inspired. About a week ago, while writing the Morning Message, I added the word after writing “Today is Friday.” All this week the class asked me to put the word Hallelujah into the Morning Message. I get so excited hearing them praise God—even if they don’t know that’s what they are doing.

After school last Wednesday, I got into a discussion with a friend about favorite movie lines. Her favorite? “Toe pick.” Took me a minute, but I remembered the movie. My own personal fav only illustrates my very warped sense of humor. “Nailed’m.” My hubby’s favorite line is “It’s a good thing your mother died in childbirth ‘caused she’d have died of embarrassment by now.”—that one may not be perfect, as I didn’t go double check the DVD.

I won’t tell you the names of the movies here but will add the answers in the comments tomorrow. Promise. In the meantime, I’d love to know your favorite lines and what makes them your favs. You can comment on your favorite quote, kid wisdom, or even most clever book title—I’ll give you my favorite on that one. James Howe has written a great series of books for kids all about the hare-raising (correct spelling) adventures of a vampire rabbit named Bunnicula. One of the sequels is titled The Celery Stalks At Midnight. Man, I love that title! I know, I know, I’m still a Three Stooges fan after all these years, too.

So, I’ve shown you my words (or ones I wish I’d thought of). Now you show me yours.

And may the words of my mouth (and fingers) bless my Abba, bring encouragement to others, and a smile to all.

Abundant blessings!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Interview With Jack Cavanaugh

I know, I know, I just posted Saturday and you are used to me posting once a week. There is a reason for this mid-week update--I have a very special interview for you, dear reader. Best-selling author, Jack Cavanaugh teamed up with the late Bill Bright to write a series of books, based in our history but relevant to our today. Dr. Bright has since gone on to be with our Lord but Mr. Cavanaugh has now completed the first book in their series. I am so excited to be able to bring you this interview with one of my favorite authors, Jack Cavanaugh. Enjoy!

Tell us about the conception of The Great Awakenings series.

JC: This series was born out of a shared desire for revival in our country. When Dr. Bright and I learned that we were both praying for revival, it seemed only natural that we would team up to write this series about the historic revivals in America.

There are so many unexpected twists in Storm, were those plots twists made during the planning sessions with Dr. Bright, or were they inspired as you wrote?

JC: The creation of a novel has many stages. Before he passed away, Dr. Bright and I met and prayed and sketched out the broad strokes for not only Storm, but three other stories as well. We knew that unless God intervened in a miraculous way, Dr. Bright would not be alive to see the release of any of the books. My task has been to bring our stories to life.

As you researched the revivals that once swept our country, what most affected you?

JC: Two things: First, that God so often chooses common, ordinary people to be the spark for the extraordinary outpouring of His Spirit. Second, the unexpected nature of revival. Not only the timing of revival, which is wholly in God's hands, but the unimaginable wonder of it all. The historical events that occurred are far more fantastic and wondrous than anything we could have imagined.

Do you consider Storm a character or plot driven novel?

JC: Storm is a character driven novel. But don't mistake that for lack of action. Character driven simply means that readers keep reading because they want to find out what happens next to the characters. Storm is a personal duel between two men. Imagine if you were given the task of leading your greatest rival to the Lord. The one person you can't stand. The person who annoys and torments you endlessly. Then imagine you learned that God had chosen him, a non-Christian, and not you, to start a national revival. That's exactly what happens in Storm.

What do you hope your readers will take with them from this series?

JC: That's easy. When we began this project, Dr. Bright and I got on our knees and prayed that after reading these novels Christians would turn their hearts to God and cry out, "Lord, do it again."

Until next time, Abundant blessings all!

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Raining and Reigning

I awoke to a familiar sound this morning. It was one I knew but couldn’t place at first. Then, going deep into the recesses of my mind, I found a closet where sensory memories are kept, and dug into the back. Low and behold, I found the memory.


Rain tickled my senses and dripped down onto my skylight, pinging a rhythm that told me God still reigned, even over the driest deserts of my life.

Our valley has begged for precipitation now for over 140 days. God heard our prayers and told the clouds, heavy with needed moisture, not to pass us by this time. The clouds obeyed, breaking open with a welcome shower and soaking our parched ground.

I snuggled down into my warm covers. In my mind I sang thank yous to my Abba and danced in His rain.

One more time my Abba explained, in patience and in love, “All in My time, My child. All in My time.”

I really need to remember that.

Abundant blessings to desert dwellers everywhere!

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Waiting With Elijah

I’m feeling a lot like Elijah these days, though he hasn’t always been the Biblical character I relate with the most. In fact, I generally feel a kinship to Peter and the uncontrollable desire to say the wrong things—especially after I just got something right.

But these days, I’m more like Elijah—I’m in the waiting mode.

Not a fun mode, I have to tell you. And this mode applies to many areas of my life—both collective and personal.

As you may or may not know, our wonderful valley, in the midst of what should be the best season of the year, is knee deep in drought. One hundred thirty seven days, to be exact. Oh, sure, we experienced a wee bit of spittle a couple days ago, but as our weathermen explained, if it doesn’t get the cup at the end of the runway at Sky Harbor Airport wet, we haven’t had measurable rain.

So we wait.

And then there is that Postal Service snafu which is playing havoc with my time and temperament. How long does it take a priority package to arrive from Arkansas? Well, it’s been a week and a half and we still don’t know.

I have work related waiting issues. I have medical related waiting issues. I have spiritual related waiting issues. In fact, I am just now getting over no Internet waiting issues—that’s why I can now update my blog.

I don’t remember praying for patience.

So, like Elijah, I wait.

Only, unlike Elijah, have no one to send to check my PO Box for that little fist of a cloud, er, I mean priority package. So day after day, I faithfully look. I think I’d be happy for junk mail. Or a cloud burst. Or unexpected dark chocolate (I know, it always comes back to chocolate).

One good thing came of this, though. I had time to read two wonderful novels. And in reading them, I realized I was hungry, ravenous even, for good fiction. My appetite was sated with both these books.

The first is actually the third in the Ahab’s Legacy Series by Louise Gouge. I’ve had the pleasure to learn from her--in a cyber class and in person. When reading Son of Perdition, I knew without a doubt, this woman knows her stuff. Even when forced to put the book down by things that wouldn’t wait, my mind continued to check in on the characters as if they were real members of my acquaintance. Though not a suspense, this historical contained enough plot twists to keep me guessing. Even when I thought I could see where she was headed, she led me with such artistry, I was caught unaware. I do not want to give away too much, for this book is so worth the read, but know, you will never look at Captain Ahab or Moby Dick or even the sides of the Civil War in the same light. When one learns and grows while reading well-written fiction, that is the sign of a great book.

The second book I picked up on a friend’s recommendation. I was not disappointed. Christine Schaub’s Finding Anna is the first in the Music of the Heart series that looks at the stories behind the great hymns of faith. She began with a story many claim to know, me included. However, I was so taken by her retelling of H.G. Spafford’s writing of the lyrics to It Is Well With My Soul that the black moment was made very real. Even though I thought I knew what was coming, in reality, I didn’t. I was swept along with the flow, bringing humanity to the tragedy. Ms. Schaub writes in her Author’s Notes “If I did my job and convincingly wove those two elements (history and fiction) together, if I presented you with a really exciting, plausible story, you won’t get caught up in the details wondering, ‘Did that really happen?’ You’ll just believe it.”

I believed it.

Abundant blessings, all!

Saturday, February 04, 2006

The Hat

I first saw it on a quick run-through trip to my neighborhood Walmart. That oxy-moron should have been the first clue. There is no such thing for me as a quick run-through Walmart.

But, that no longer matters.

What matters is, I saw it, I loved it, I bought it, thrilled at the bargain price.

And since then this soft white, angora Gilligan-type hat has turned into a matter of contradiction for me on so many levels.

From the moment I put it on, I felt fun, sporty, and (okay, I’ll admit it) cute. The one thing I did not feel was fifty years old (but that’s another blog).

Since that moment in time, I’ve had confirmation (“Oh, you look so cute in that hat!”) to confrontation (“I can’t hear what you’re saying. I’m too focused on that white fuzzy thing on your head.”). One person told me, “It makes you look young.” Another said it made me look like an 80 year old person of color.

One of my loving daughters put it this way: “It makes your face look fatter.”

BTW, she’s out of the will.

Even my very own Pastor Steve has expressed repulsion nearly on the same scale as his aversion to country music.

I’m toying with the idea of buying a hat just like mine for his wife.

The crux of the matter is this: I love my hat. When pressure is stressing me, I can reach up and touch the soft fuzz and be instantly transported to my happy place. One would think that is a good thing for everyone involved.

Alas, no.

I love my hat but my loved ones do not. What’s an anal retentive, compulsive people-pleasing codependent to do?

Well, I’ve decided this is where I draw my line in the sand (sand, of course, since if I make a mistake, I can always rub it out).

I love my hat. I will wear my hat. I will enjoy my hat.

Besides, Punxsutawney Phil has said there’s only six more weeks of winter. In Arizona time, that’s only four more days. I think I can last that long.


Abundant blessings!