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"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house." Matthew 5:14-15

"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it." Matthew 13:45-46

Friday, July 30, 2010

Full House

"Taste and see that the LORD is good;
       blessed is the man who takes refuge in him." Psalm 34:8 


There has been a lot of activity at our bird feeders as of late. Birds of various kinds have been finding their way to our two feeders - one by our apple tree and one by a rose of Sharon bush. I have taken great pleasure in watching the birds. Most times the ledges are full, there is activity on the ground beneath the feeders as well as a swirl of commotion in the tree and bushes of birds awaiting their turn to eat. The whole time they are waiting they are chirping and communicating with one another.

This activity reminds me of this Bible verse. How would it be if all Christians were so excited about being together? If the pews/chairs at our churches were full each week with people eager to learn more about their Heavenly Father. We were eager to be fed and to share that knowledge with others. We took joy in meeting together. I think people around us would take notice, don't you?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Stiff-Necked

"O Lord, if I have found favor in your eyes, he said, "then let the Lord go with us. Although this is a stiff-necked people, forgive our wickedness and our sin, and take us as your inheritance." Exodus 34:9

I wake up each morning lately with a stiff neck. Many years ago when I was in high school I injured my neck during gym class. I've worn glasses ever since I was in second grade. I never have been exceptionally athletic, although I did enjoy playing kickball, basketball and baseball with my older brothers during our growing up years.

On this particular day in school, we were working on gymnastics. Our assignment was to lunge over a bar and go right into a forward roll. I took off my glasses, so I wouldn't break them. Big mistake, because without my glasses everything was blurry.

Somehow I misjudged the bar and instead of proceeding into my forward roll, I landed flat on the top of my head - jarring my neck and spine. Since that fateful day, I've had neck issues. I don't know if I'm starting to develop arthritis as I get older or what.

Due to my neck issues, I frequently have to change pillows. I have found that the memory foam contour pillows work best to support my neck as I sleep. With waking up every day for the past week with pain in my neck, I figured it was time to look for a new pillow.

I went shopping this morning and hopefully hound a new pillow that will help me. I thought of this verse (written above) while I was out today. Moses had just received the second set of stone tablets from God with the Ten Commandments. Moses knew that the people he was leading tended to be hard-hearted at times and forget what God had done for them.

Sometimes I wonder if we are any different. There may be times when we get stuck in out ways, or think that God has to perform a certain way. We may become close minded and bitter when faced with life's disappointments.

I pray that I remember the words that God spoke to Moses as He passed in front of him. "The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin." (Exodus 34:6b-7a) May I choose to have an active, growing relationship with the Lord and not become stiff-necked in my beliefs.

* I had hoped to post this yesterday, but our internet services were down.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Joy of Marriage

The Lord blessed me with an incredible man when He gave me my husband. After almost twenty-three years of marriage, he continues to be my best friend. This summer we've had the opportunity to have a lot of 'alone' time together, while our sons have been serving at a local Christian camp. In less than a week our concentrated time will come to an end. I must admit that I will miss it.

Today we dropped by our local community fair to drop off items that we had made. We ate supper and then spent a very short time walking around the fairgrounds. My husband checked out the displays, while I sat and watched people since my feet were hurting. I know my husband would have enjoyed staying longer and browsing around more, but he was sensitive to my being in pain, so we called it a short night, and headed home.

I feel so blessed to have a man that cares about me. He supports me in my endeavors and encourages me to be a woman of God. My husband's love, care and concern shows me in a small way, how much God loves me. What a joy to be married to a man that I love and enjoy spending time with each day.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Looking for Everyday Blessings

This month has been a busy one with trying to work hard on my creative writing. I am about 2500 words away from my goal for this month of writing 10,000 words. Three chapters are completed, and I'm about ready to start my next one.

One thing with writing a historical book, is trying to get details accurate. Not always an easy task when you are writing about 1878. I have been so incredibly blessed to have a couple people that continue to assist me with my research, especially when I have specific questions. Today I received some photos of the inside staircase of the lighthouse that I am writing about near Camden, Maine. It was exciting for me to be able to see it and picture my characters there.

I know for most people it is just a small and perhaps insignificant thing, but to me it is a blessing. As I thought about it, I realize how often throughout my day does God provide those everyday blessings, that perhaps I often just take for granted. Things like: a summer rainstorm, air conditioning, a sunset, hearing the birds sing, a baby's smile, etc. The list is endless of things I have to be grateful for.

When was the last time that you thanked God for your everyday blessings?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Thanks for the Trials

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

I've been thinking about this concept today. I came across this quote from Marlene Bagnull in her Bible study for writers entitled Write His Answer.

"I cannot allow disappointments to beat me down so that I become like the hard soil. If I do, the evil one will be waiting to fill me with discouragement and to snatch away my joy and enthusiasm. I cannot become like the stony ground -- someone who enjoys going to writing conferences and being challenged to write, but fails to go home and do it. Instead, I must make the decision to be productive by deliberately choosing to let my roots "grow down into him and draw up nourishment from him." (Col. 2:7, TLB)"
Over the past year and a half my family has been through quite a few trials. Many were ones that I personally faced. In February I took a retreat of sorts, to focus on studying God's peace. My heart was open and ready to have God speak to me in a special way. Since then, God has renewed in me the desire to write. I realized today that it took going through those trials to bring me to the point of being open to hear God's call to write again. Without these trials, I wouldn't be where I am today. I praise God for trials that produced perseverance in my life. When was the last time you thanked God for your trials?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Enough Elastic to Stretch

I want to be like hair bands that I had in my early twenties. All right, I know that's a strange thing to say, but let me explain. Over the weekend I commented to my husband about this issue. I have long hair, and usually have it pulled back during the summer months, because I get too hot otherwise. About a year ago, I finally broke down and bought a pack of new hairbands. All of the ones that I had before that were about on their last legs -all stretched out with not a whole lot of elastic left in them. I had had them for quite a number of years - at least ten or more, but who's counting.

These bands were reliable and strong for many years, before they finally gave out on me. I bought new hair bands, thinking that they would last just as long, but they haven't. I already have had to throw out quite a few of them, because they become so stretched that they are no longer useful anymore. I commented about this to my husband and he said that things from 'a while ago' were made with better materials. It was a time when quality of the workmanship was more important than speed.

Our fast paced society has often traded speed for quality. I can't help but wonder if we sometimes do the same in our Christian lives. Do we opt for sermons that make us feel comfortable, or do we seek to be challenged? Do I seek for things to be easy, or am I willing to be stretched and used by God? I pray that my heart and life will be hemmed with prayer and elastic that can be stretched to its fullest extent, and still bounce back.

We often face difficult things in our lives. That is just part of this sin-filled world that we live in, since man chose to sin. I pray that I'll be able to withstand the troubles and trials that come my way and instead stand strong, with my stretchy elastic in place, ready to bounce back and rejoice no matter the circumstances.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Are You Growing and Healthy?

"He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love." 
Ephesians 4:16

I continue to think about the body of Christ and how we are to strengthen, help and encourage each other. I love the image of this verse written above. "He makes the whole body fit together perfectly." It goes on to say that we each have a special job and work to perform within the body of Christ. We each have a calling that He has given specifically to us - to you. Have you found out yet what God has made you uniquely to do?

We need to have a healthy and growing relationship with the Lord in order to find out what that calling is that He has given us. Then once we know what that gift or passion is, we need to be faithful to earnestly pursue it. We also need to be reminded of where and who the gift came from. Ephesians 4:1-2a proclaims, "Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle." This tells us to not become proud. It is God that has given us gifts and all the glory should go to Him.

I know the gift and passion that God has given me - to write. I need to do what I can to nurture that gift and use it to serve God. I grown and learn by drawing into God's presence. I desire to serve Him so that others see Him through my writing, and not me.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Shades of Morning by Marlo Schalesky

Marnie Wittier owns a bookstore/coffee shop and is content with her life as she knows it. She limits the interaction she has with people and is very protective of her past. Marnie deals with regrets, sorrows, and past sins by writing them down and stuffing them in a box, never to be addressed again. Her life begins to unravel when a fifteen-year-old boy with Down's syndrome arrives on her doorstep, turning her world upside down in the process.

Marnie is forced to deal with the hurts and burdens from her past. She no longer is able to sweep them under the rug and forget. In the process of remembering and letting go, she learns about forgiveness and redemption.

I found this book enjoyable to read, although sometimes it bogged down with lengthy flashbacks.

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.



To purchase this book: http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/catalog.php?isbn=9781601420251

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Hand in Hand

"This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad." 1 Corinthians 12:25-26

I have been thinking about the body of Christ as of late. When I think of the body of Christ and each of us working on improving our faith, I picture a tall mountain. All the way up the mountain, starting at the base and working its way to the summit is a line of people. At the top is God, reaching down toward us. Each of us are at different levels of faith. It is our job as Christians to be reaching ahead to someone that is a little further in the faith, for help in our journey. We are reaching towards someone (and of course God) who can further us along, but we also are reaching backward, to help ones that are coming behind us. We all stand hand in hand helping each other up the mountain.

Some of us may be just starting this journey and have a long way to go. Those ahead of you are saying, "You can do it." Perhaps some are resting beside a cool mountain stream, being refreshed and renewed by their Heavenly Father. Or perhaps you are in the briers and brambles along the path, caught up in the difficulty of a situation. God reaches down to you and lovingly says, "Look to me, my child." Then there are those who can see the end of their journey, when they get to be with God forever. They are looking forward to what lies ahead, but also reaching back to say, "Follow me, so we can join our Heavenly Father together."

For me, this is a picture of what the body of Christ looks like. We are each here, to be a help for someone else. Who can you reach out to today?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

When You Least Expect It

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.  "Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" Matthew 7:7-11 

Have you ever had a time when you have been praying about a request for quite a while, and when you get that answer from God you end up being surprised? That happened to me yesterday. I had been praying for months about a specific desire that I had. I kept asking, knocking and seeking, but I wasn't hearing any answers.

Then I received an email that changed my world. It was a direct answer to my prayer that I had been praying for months. I was surprised, overjoyed and moved with emotion. It reminded me once again of how much my Heavenly Father loves me and cares about me. He desires good things for me.

He gave because He is God, not because He had to do it. It's also possible that the answer could have been, "No, not yet. Or wait." But for this time it was "Yes, my child." I revel in His love, and am extremely grateful.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Cool Thoughts

It's been a scorcher week here in PA. We've had at least three days of temperatures above 100 degrees. The other two days were in the upper 90's. Today it's a little cooler - only 91 degrees at present. Definitely not my cup of tea. I'm a winter loving kind of girl. Give me a choice between summer and winter and I would gladly choose winter. I love those days when we are snowed in and have nowhere to go. I revel in being home, perhaps relaxing by the fireplace, curled up with hot cocoa and a good book.

My husband and I have been out and about a bit this week and we noticed school supplies being stocked at a couple department stores, and Christmas items are already coming into the craft stores. It makes me in the mood for cool, crisp days of Fall and preparations for the holidays.

Right now I'm enjoying air conditioning and not having to be outside in the heat. My thoughts often go to my two sons who are helping out at a Christian camp this summer, and have many hours of being exposed to the heat. They are often in my prayers. Even though I'm not crazy about summer, I'm enjoying the fact that things are a bit more laid back. I am finding time to write and work on some things that I'm unable to do when we are in the middle of the school year.

But I guess right now my thoughts are leaning towards fall and winter and cooler temperatures. It gives me hope to realize that Fall is just around the corner. What gives you hope today?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Letting Go of the Baggage

"Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you." Ephesians 4:31-32

We live in a fallen world where it is easy to get caught up with the hurts that we face from day to day. They could be words that were said harshly, or perhaps with a certain tone. Perhaps we pray about it and give our hurts and burdens to the Lord, only to find that we take it back again. It becomes an extra piece of baggage that we carry along with us. One travel bag isn't very heavy. But perhaps as we go about our days, we experience another hurt, or time when someone said something unkind about us. We pick up a small suitcase this time. As the days, weeks, months, years advance, our bags may become so many, and so heavy that we can barely carry them. That's why we need to bring these things to the Lord - continually until we can completely give him each bag and suitcase and allow Him to carry them, and not take them back.


It reminds me of the words of Darrell Evan's song, 'Trading My Sorrows.'

I'm trading my sorrow
I'm trading my shame
I'm laying it down for the joy of the Lord

I'm trading my sickness
I'm trading my pain
I'm laying it down for the joy of the Lord


I'm pressed but not crushed persecuted not abandoned
Struck down but not destroyed
I'm blessed beyond the curse for his promise will endure
And his joy's gonna be my strength

Though the sorrow may last for the night
His joy comes with the morning


Interestingly enough, these words in Ephesians 4 are followed by these: "Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God." (Ephesians 5:1-2) In order to imitate God, we need to be willing to first let go of the baggage. 

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Laughter - A Light Thought For The Day

"a time to weep and a time to laugh,
       a time to mourn and a time to dance." Ecclesiastes 3:4  

I had an enjoyable time with a couple friends this morning, as well as phone conversation with my friend in Georgia. After getting off the phone this afternoon, I realized how light my heart felt. In both instances I had the opportunity to laugh and enjoy their presence. Some people even say that laughter is a type of medicine - therapeutic and helpful.

I think we often take things too seriously in our lives. Don't get me wrong, I know you may be in the midst of a very difficult situation, that is extremely serious. But I also realize that it is important to cut loose and relax a little more often, and to not take myself so seriously. I think I have been able to find more of a balance between the two as of late. I can't help but feel that part of it has been my seeking out God's will and desire for my life and radically following the passions that He has given me. Even in the midst of difficult situations that spring up from time to time, I still return to and rest in the peace that God has given me. When I'm at peace, I'm more readily able to relax and laugh! 

Friday, July 2, 2010

Going Beyond Fear

"So we say with confidence,
   "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.
      What can man do to me?" Hebrews 13:6


Recently traffic patterns have changed on the highway near my home. It has been under construction for at least a year or two? Cars are now directed in the center lanes through cattle chutes (all right, they actually are those concrete pylons). I never have been crazy about driving this stretch of road, but even more so now. Unfortunately it is often the direction in which I need to travel.

Last week I had to go to my podiatrist appointment. I choose to go the longer route instead of the faster one. Why? Because I wanted to avoid the highway. I admit, I was a bit afraid. Crazy, I know, for a grown women to be afraid of driving through a construction zone.

Today I had to return and I debated which way to go. I felt the Lord prompting me to go outside my comfort zone and try driving on the highway, and you know what? I made it through. Of course it helped that God had it that I wasn't faced with any 18 wheelers trying to pass during this time. I know it's insignificant to most, but I was proud of myself for facing this fear, releasing it and moving onward.

As I thought of this very small accomplishment, the Lord reminded me of other areas in my life where I allow fear to rule me. Not a good thing. I have been sensing that God has great things in store for me. I catch a glimpse of it on the horizon. Part of me is excited, but part of me is scared of the unknown, of stepping out and taking that leap of faith. Today God used this little illustration in my life to remind me the importance of giving my fears to Him and trusting Him more.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Blessings!

I feel like God is constantly showering me with blessings lately. I'm amazed at what He has been bringing about in my life. I have been so incredibly blessed by joining American Christian Fiction Writers. Now I wonder why I debated about it for so long, whether or not to spend the money to join. It is well worth the membership price! Through it, I have opportunities for growth as a writer.

There are different 'loops' to join. They offer a writing workshop each month. They also have a loop for news, prayer requests, as well as a forum which is great for posting questions and finding answers from other writers - way cool. This month quite a number of us are taking the plunge and committing to write at least 10,000 words this month. That equates to about 40 pages, which doesn't seem like a lot. Many authors are choosing much higher goals, but I chose the suggested amount, just because I'm out of practice of regularly writing.

Just today I learned about a writing group for my geographic area as well as a group that specializes with 19th century America, which is my favorite time period to write about. I think I like that time period, because it was a simpler way of life. How I crave that! :)

Forgive me for going on and on about writing today. I usually keep these thoughts to my separate writing blog, but they just spilled over onto this one. I guess I just needed to share my joy!