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Monday, December 24, 2012

Holiday Greetings and News for Pentriloquist

I'll be taking a blogging break for the holidays.  This is always a time for me to evaluate where I plan to go in the next year, and this year is no different.

In addition to Christmas & New Years, my husband is having a couple basal skin cancer spots removed on the 28th.  It's weird to be grateful for a sort of cancer, but we were assured "If you're going to have skin cancer, this is the one you want."  !!!

I'll also be stretching my tiny little tech muscles for a lot of DIY work on the blog.  I believe I'll be moving to self hosting, learning Wordpress, acquiring a new layout and a new look. 

One of the Weeping Women Series
And if that all works like it should, I'll be giddy with excitement over the improvements.  OR my blog may look like a painting by Picasso when you stop back in January.  Perhaps this one, since I'll probably also be weeping. 

To my daughter, if you're reading this... I accept the possibility that I don't understand the genius of Picasso.  I'm OK with exposing that ignorance.  (I once joked at Picasso's expense and she shared some interesting information about him that I didn't know, and upon Googling him later I realized that not all his paintings fit the joke.  Still, I enjoy using him from time to time, so I'm going to go with that.)

So, please don't forget me.  I WILL be back.  The blog should be awesomely different with a prettier look, much more to offer and easier to navigate to amazing places within it.... I'll be excited if the new look is in place and I have a new post up - the rest will be a work in process.

Have a beautiful holiday season.  May you find people to bless with your presence, and may you be blessed by the presence of others.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Ebook Christmas All Year Long: Launch Post

 If you enjoy getting free Kindle books, check out my new blog.  There are 7 books up today.  Enjoy and Merry Christmas.

Ebook Christmas All Year Long: Launch Post:

A Small Business Owner's Prayer Request

Today is my husband's last day of work until next year.  Business is slow, so the holiday vacation is long.  Hopefully when our government gets this fiscal cliff taken care of that will change.  In my husband's industry, there is a large collective "hold your breath" party going on.

If everything government spends is cut by 10%, then they would know what to expect... however this continuous failure to make decisions has everyone concerned it may be more.  Knowing God has always taken care of me reminds me to not work myself into a worried state.  However, not every employee knows that, and some families already have lost one job.  So, my husband isn't sleeping well.  He was a major influence in helping me to not worry when we were younger, but this is an area where worry is hard for him to ignore.

Employees aren't exactly your children, but he does feel responsible for providing business and work for them so they're able to care for their families, pay their bills, and buy their homes.  We'll be praying hard for the people in Washington D.C. to put their egos aside and do what needs done so our people can continue to work.  It feels like they're playing chicken, but they're driving our cars, not their own.

If you could remember to add these concerns to your prayers, it would be a lovely Christmas gift for each of us.  Thank you.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Why Would God Forgive Me? The Awkward Truth

Jesus said in Mark 7:6-8  "Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written; 'These people honor me with their lips but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.'  You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men."

Some days a Bible verse just smacks you in the face, you know?  I wonder how many times my voice joined the choir to support rules taught by men rather than God's commands.  I shudder to consider it, and yet today it's my very salvation that is being brought to mind.

When I received salvation, it was after I'd repented.  Repentance is sort of "old fashioned," isn't it?  But we all must start there, right?  I had to accept that my sins are worthy of bloodshed.  Red, warm, painfully drawn and spilled blood.  A life was given - brutally - because that was required to cover my sins before God.  A sin offering.

No matter how my heart breaks for those who are tortured in their lives on this planet, or volunteer to ease someone's suffering, I can't earn God's forgiveness by doing a lot of good stuff - not even the stuff that He himself has told us to do.  If I stand in my contemporary church service and lift my hands and eyes to heaven as I sing, "How Great Is Our God," it doesn't cover me in righteousness... no matter how much awe is flooding through me, my sins are not covered by an exceptionally high level of emotion.

Someone innocent of all my sins was beaten, crucified and bled out for those sins.  Why?  Why can't I just love people, love the idea of a gentle and tender God, sing emotionally uplifting songs of worship and call it a beautifully spiritual (not religious... religious is a bad word, right?) and blessed day in the life of a Christian? 

Because God is Holy.  He doesn't compromise on sin.  I don't get a pass for 5 sins because I purchased sin credits with exceptionally loving behavior.  Oh, this is flying in the face of all those rules taught by people... by Christian people. God is loving.  Yes.  Restoring?  Yes.  But restoration is taking something in poor condition and restoring it to a valuable condition.  This wasn't done by a big hug, a pat on the head and a comforting "It's OK."

A price was paid for our restoration.  It was done with the body of God's Holy son.  God didn't turn his back on holiness to be able to accept me.  He provided a sin offering so I could turn my back on those sins and once that blood covered them, I would be cleansed from their stain - grateful for the mercy... not pretend that it wasn't all that dirty

Do I carry that message?  Do I forget the powerful experience of that first cleansing of my soul?  Do I downplay the beauty of holiness so that I honor God with my lips but not an obedient heart?  Do I worship people (the creation), bowing to a resistance to submitting ego and self esteem in repentance,  rather than worshiping the creator and His Truth? 

Sin killed Jesus.  It isn't harmless or unimportant.  Sometimes I think I've become comfortable with some sin in order to be comfortable in our culture.  But Jesus bled for those sins.  I share the love part of my faith, but I'm not very quick to share that my faith began with submission and repentance. 

Wow.  It just got real. 

Yes, we've all been called to love and serve the hungry, imprisoned, lonely, sick and don't forget .... LOST.  How can they have hope for a clean soul if they're shielded from testimony of our repentance?  Precious things are rare or expensive.  Salvation is precious.  It was very expensive.  It isn't easy to get, just because we don't have to shed blood.  We have to submit our pride, bowing to a Holy God.

I'm certainly not implying we're all called to live in the wilderness in animal skins like John the Baptist and shout "Repent" at people who walk by.  Though, as uncomfortable as we may be with that - God has called someone to do just that at least once, hasn't he?  But we don't have the authority to change the message that repentance is required for salvation.  We don't get to tweak it to be easier or less dramatic.  Being saved by someone else's death is nothing if not dramatic.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Gun Control, Mental Illness & Evil

Since Friday, I've not been able to wrap my head around what happened in Newtown.  My husband lived not far from there when he was a boy.  Over the past month, we've heard of tragedy after tragedy involving small children and I've hardly digested one story when another pops up.  I was overwhelmed by them before Friday. 

I've heard knee jerk reactions run the gamut as we try to find the one thing that will stop this from ever happening again.  Some people are opportunists and will use it to further whatever their agenda is.  I'm just sad.... and sickened.

All I can do is pray, and yet... prayer is a big thing.  Only God can bring any amount of comfort to these people, and I long for them to be comforted.

Between our government and the media, and ridiculous bloggers that believe the government was behind this, fear is spread on a daily basis.  Some people choose to arm themselves in response to that fear.  Some choose to protest arms in response to that fear.  Some are calling for a return of state hospitals and commitment of the unmedicated mentally ill that have lost touch with reality.

We're securing the weapons we own.  Making certain that they never end up in the hands of someone capable of using them against innocent people.   We're evaluating reasonable points of view that prohibit this sort of mass attack, while still keeping people secure in their homes.

I don't believe criminals care which laws they violate before they shoot their family or community members.  I don't think we can make the laws about the criminals.  I think we need to make laws for those of us who possess weapons and are law abiding people.  That's why gun control doesn't work.  The people who obey the laws aren't going to shoot anyone.

But we can operate our own sort of gun control.  We can control our own guns.  We can support requirements that gun owners guarantee a secure place for their weapons.  We can support responsible gun ownership and possession.

We can insist that if our government is taxing us, the minimum they should provide is safety to the best of their ability.  These people never attack police barracks - where they expect some resistance.  They attack our defenseless babies.  In truth, they don't need automatic weapons to commit a massacre - once the adult is taken out of the picture, no one will interrupt him while he changes clips or even weapons.

Our local courthouse has an armed guard, but the schools didn't.... until Monday. Our schools now have an armed retired state police officer at every building.  It was like that 30 years ago when I was in school.  We need a last line of defense to let people know  - Schools are not an option for the cowardly.  If you're going to end with suicide, perhaps you should just start there, because we're not letting you near our kids.

This may not be the most spiritually sound post I'll ever write.  Part is venting, part is a little ranting, part is just fighting the feeling of defeat against evil that would hurt our beautiful children.

Some days I want to enjoy the blessings of my life for years and years.  Some days I don't know if I can bear however many years I have left, seeing the horror people can inflict on one another.  Sad day, today.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Can You See Me Now?

Last month I heard a news story where a school district plans to either finger print children, or hang a bar coded tag from a lanyard around their necks.  This so that as they enter and exit the bus - they can scan themselves or their assigned bar code and the driver is alerted if it's the wrong stop.

When did we stop looking at children as people and start believing it was better to "process" them like bar coded products on a delivery truck?  Why is it considered "realistic" to accept that their driver won't pay attention to the little person walking right past them and off the bus?  Since when did apathy and laziness cross from unacceptable to inevitable.

Have we become so emotionally detached from other human beings in our daily lives that we only see the efficiency in this and are oblivious of how a child must feel to just slide his card past a digital product to get off the bus?  It must be very lonely to be a child today.

We really need to reconnect with community - the community with arms and legs, toothless smiles and button noses.  The Like buttons and Tweets are tools training us to be less engaged with real people.

How often do we ignore a real person in order to look at our phone?  How often do we ignore our kids to see what someone "more important" or "more interesting" is doing on Facebook?  What if we reverted to that time when that was considered rude?  What if we actually paid attention to the people around us, instead of the status updates by our third cousin's funny friend in that digital device?

What crimes could we prevent, what value could we bestow upon our kids if we just lifted our eyes out of the palm of our hand and looked at real people more often?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Holiday Party Upcoming - Volunteers Needed

Saturday night we'll be hosting our Christmas party - this includes everyone my parents or Ed's parents consider their kids or grandkids, except R & K - they're out of state and just had a brand new baby!! :-) 

I should be studying right now, but I'm Googling ideas to entertain children at family parties.  I have come across some very good ones, but they require more volunteers for preparation than I have at my disposal. because that's pretty much - me.  Not that my husband isn't helpful... but my concept of a "great" idea is sometimes his idea of "my wife is just insane and wants to turn our house into Disneyland in 48 hours."  And that throws a wet blanket on things, doesn't it?

I have more confidence in people that he does.  Yes, I believe he IS able to rearrange an area in the basement for an art station by Saturday, and yes the grandchildren will of course keep play dough on the table, crayons in the coloring books, markers on the paper, game pieces inside the home.  They wouldn't dream of fighting over the remote control cars, or throwing hard toys within 10 feet of the television. They will sit perfectly fascinated as I put Mary Poppins or Home Alone on the DVD downstairs, and no one will run and fall and smack their head off the concrete floor.  There will be no wrestling between the 4 boys ages 6-8.

There are days I just don't understand his propensity for doom and gloom.  Doesn't he know it's Christmas?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Hunters Aren't Villainous

Have you ever brought meat home from the grocery store, forgot it was in the fridge and it spoiled?  The recent conversations on Facebook about hunting brought this to mind.

My Grandad hunted, as did/do my uncles, son-in-law, nephews, and cousins.  The Monday after Thanksgiving my Granny's kitchen table always had 4-6 men eating a big breakfast together in the predawn hours.  My Grandad got a deer each and every year, until the year his eyesight diminished from his diabetes.  He was sad that year.  Sad that he was no longer able to provide for his family in a way he had for decades.

We buy meat at a grocery store someone else was responsible for slaughtering and don't allow ourselves to think about it.  We've let some of those animals spoil in our fridges, or freezer burn when not used in a timely fashion and not considered what we've wasted.  We allow half eaten burgers to be taken from our table and thrown in the garbage, not finished that rotisserie chicken we bought earlier in the week, threw away the beef stew that wasn't finished.

I think none of us would let that happen if we were responsible for hunting that meat ourselves.  I'm not appalled by hunting.  I learned as a girl that overpopulation led to animals starving to death because the new mall that took out a hundred acres of their habitat.

A young man proudly standing beside an animal he brought home to his family for food has personally taken part in the process.  That meat will NOT spoil on a refrigerator rack.  He knows what was given up for them to eat.  A package of steak on a Styrofoam platter is not nearly as respected. 

That steer was no less alive than a deer, though the steer lived his entire life in captivity while the deer roamed free.  There are no pictures of the steer after slaughter, because in all truth - there's no challenge in putting down a contained animal.  I have nothing against farmers.  I just wanted to take a minute to point out that if you're buying meat at the grocery store, it didn't grow on that Styrofoam tray.  Someone, somewhere killed that animal on your behalf.

I know I wouldn't want to do it - the deer congregate in my front yard during hunting season and I take pictures.  I think I saw little arrows in the woods pointing the way with the caption "safety zone and free corn in the bird feeder - this way. Pay no attention to the lady in the window."  But, I respect those with the strength to be hunters.  I'm a gatherer, myself.  Berries, anyone? 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Frugal Christmas Ideas - Gifts & Decorating

Christmas is a time for giving, but the pain of that giving can often last well into the new year.  Here are some ideas to make your Christmas less costly.

Gift Ideas

1. Load That Kindle! - If you're giving a Kindle to someone in your household, or someone on your Amazon account has a Kindle - Start accumulating free books.  Kindle Korner on Facebook announces free books all the time.  Here's a Link to Amazon's "Free" Search.

2.  Free To Play Games  Free Games Link.  Add some surprises to the computer on Christmas eve and simply turn on the monitor in the morning to reveal your additions.

3.  Second Hand Movies and Games - I admit it. I've rarely purchased new games.  A trusted eBay seller with a great feedback rating (over 99.5%) is a great way to pick up movie collections or video games that get you more bang for your buck. Perhaps an old movie that no longer is available at your local store can be stuffed into a stocking.

4.  Book Lots.  Another great way to pick up something special is to check the book lots on eBay.  For the cost of a hardback, I've picked up an entire series.  This is also great for children's books.

12 Months -
6 Issues $4.97
5.  Magazine Subscriptions Under $10  Almost everyone loves to receive magazines in the mail.  Many of these are only $5.  Amazon allows you to print out a gift card to slip into the stocking.  The magazine will ship directly to the recipient.  Be aware - many are auto-renewing.  After I purchased these as gifts, I immediately removed the auto-renew feature.

6. Baked goods.  Whether it's a fresh baked loaf of bread with some jelly, or a tray of cookies - you can extend your gift giving without breaking the bank by remembering people beyond your usual shopping list - the kids' bus driver, school teacher, your mailman, trash collector, or a neighbor.

Decorating Ideas

Gift wrap scraps are free.  They usually end up in the trash.  When my kids were little, I would take tiny boxes made of whatever cardboard I could lay my hands on.  I'd wrap them in the prettiest paper scraps and use them for decorating.  The kids would occasionally be caught playing with them, but they're unbreakable and free.  Tie strings to them and group the tiny "presents" for a hanging on your front door.

You can add a little festivity to your children's rooms by using ribbon or wrapping paper to form a Christmas tree on their door - secured with a little transparent tape.

Using Nature
  • This time of year, there are plenty of branches (here in this colder climate of Western Pennsylvania) with oak leaves still attached.  Clip off a branch, spray paint it and sprinkle it with glitter while it's still wet.  If you have some spare ribbon, you can loop it through the small branches or tie bows on the ends of them. Wind an old string of lights through them and you have a festive display.
  • Pine cones - yet another wonderful resource.  Whether you glue bows onto the fat ends, or brush a little school glue onto them and sprinkle with glitter... or even wire some together and hang them on your front door, you can't beat the cost and availability of pine cones.  A ride down a back road, and I've gathered a full bag in no time.  If they're sticky with sap, or not quite as open as you'd like them to be - follow the tips on this page to prepare them. How to Prepare and Preserve Pine Cones
  • Plain or Pine branches - glitter - yes, glitter again.  OR nestling an ornament into a couple pine branches on your window sill.  Just be sure to put something under them to protect your sill.

Please share some of your own frugal holiday tips.  Later this week, I'll have more Holiday Ideas.

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Branch That Doesn't Produce Fruit

The study I'm in right now is Secrets of the Vine, written by Bruce H. Wilkinson. I've known the illustration of the vine and the branches for a long time.

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. “ Jesus speaking - John 15:1-2 NASV

It seemed clear to me what the first verse meant by “takes away.” Thrown away, removed, discarded. Imagine my surprise when I learned the Greek word “airo” - which is translated here as takes away – is the same word used when the disciples “took up” 12 baskets of food.

The author shared the story of a vineyard owner explaining what was done in a physical vineyard to branches that weren't bearing fruit, that had fallen down into the dirt, splashed by rain and mud. Someone would take a bucket of water and, kneeling down beside the grape vine, he would lift the vine trailing into the dirt and clean it off. Then he'd reposition it on the supports where the sun could reach it.

If God's desire is for us to do good works to glorify Him … to bear fruit … cleaning us up (making us aware of our dirty sinful condition and forgiving our repenting hearts) produces that result much better than cutting us off and throwing us away.

The image in my mind of God holding me up out of the dirt and washing me off so I can receive nutrition from the sun is thrilling. I don't want to spend my life in the dirt... trailing along in a sickly, nonproductive way, trapped and unable to lift myself onto the support with my own efforts.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Is God Running "Help Wanted" Ads In Your Newspaper?

My dad has a saying - "Do something, even if it's wrong!"  Sometimes we approach ministry and volunteer opportunities with that frantic state of mind.  

"I have to do something.  Anything.  Because yesterday I did nothing.  I'm the first to admit - if I did nothing yesterday it does seem anything is better than that.  I'm anxious to produce fruit and express my faith with good works.

"Running around like a chicken with your head cut off" (that's a saying from my Granny) isn't typically God's plan for ministry.  It's been my plan for all sorts of decisions.  Actually, my plan was more like this... if it won't be an absolute failure, I must be supposed to do it - because someone should do it.  If I can make a living at it, I'll take the job.  If I can sell the books, I'll buy them. If I know how to put out food at the community meal, I'll volunteer there.  Lots of "if I"s.

So, this post is a volunteer idea - but it isn't for everyone.  I'm going to post these from time to time because I'm an idea person.  I have a gazillion ideas.  More than enough for myself, so I'm sharing them.  Please do not abscond with ideas and turn them into ministries that aren't meant for you.  How will you know?  Well, if you don't know - ask God about it, and listen for his answer.

If you don't know how to play piano - concert ministries are not meant for you.  That's an easy one, but spending time alone with God, allowing him to shine light on the talents and abilities He wants you to use is extremely important.  We will all share the work, and sometimes you'll be called to work.  As my girls were growing up, I wanted to be a mom that loved them and taught them to be wise and loving.  I also had to change diapers, give them baths, and help them find missing socks.  That wasn't the passionate calling, but rather work that needed to be done.  

So, don't just "get busy", seek to be available to God.  Today there will be prayers of pleading, "God, please help me."  "God, be close to me, I feel so alone."  "Please send someone to help me."  God has sent wonderful people to me in response to those prayers.  I want him to call on me and use me to answer a prayer for one of his other children.

This year my mother-in-law passed away.  Her husband lives 900 miles away from the closest of their children.  He spent Thanksgiving alone this year... as many of his friends had their own plans.  He doesn't attend church, but my mother-in-law did.  He would've welcomed an invitation.  In our churches and communities we have many facing their first Christmas without their spouse.  Every day the newspaper publicizes it - in the obituaries - in black and white.  Does that speak to you?  Do you have an idea bouncing around in your mind in response to that?  If you don't know anyone to include this year, can you each out to someone you find in your newspaper and include them next year?  

Others you can find in the newspaper - orphaned young adults, survivors of terrible car accidents, families that have lost everything in a house fire.

Is God running a Help Wanted Ad in your newspaper?  Are you the right woman (man) for the position?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Free Kindle books for December 4th!

Here are 5 Free Kindle books as of Tuesday, December 4th, 2012. 

Why, oh why can't I gift free Kindle books. It makes me so sad. :-(

The League for the Suppression of Celery
by Wendy Russ

 Kate Pearson heads west from Arkansas in an old jalopy with two parakeets, a job offer and a half-baked plan: Dreamboat celebrity chef Warren Hoffman has offered Kate a job – and himself – if she will relocate to Oxnard, California. The catch? Kate soon discovers Warren has a Big Secret. And that he’s possibly crazy.

During her journey, Kate stumbles into the lair of paranoid militants calling themselves the League for the Suppression of Celery. When they learn her destination is Oxnard -- celery capital of the world -- they stop at nothing to indoctrinate her into their nefarious cult.

Her escape from the League sends her racing toward her happily-ever-after while being pursued by members of the League who want her back, and by the compelling new friend who inexplicably quits his job to travel across the country to find her.

601 Chocolate Recipes
by Luke Wren

601 Chocolate Recipes: Delicious Easy Recipes For Homemade Chocolate Cookies, Chocolate Cake, Hot Chocolate, White Chocolate, & More Chocolate Desserts.

by Jackie Pilossoph

If your mother offered you 8 million dollars to have a baby, would you do it?

Jamie Jacobson doesn't have a lot of faith in love, except when it comes to her Jimmy Choo shoes. Her brother Danny has two loves; his barely existent acting career and his ability to pick up women. But life is about to take a wild turn for these two dysfunctional but lovable siblings now that their mother has just won the lottery.

Frankie, a longtime widow has wanted grandchildren for years. Now she's prepared to pay cash for them. When Frankie presents her son and daughter each with a contract promising $8 million dollars if he or she can produce a child in the next twelve months (DNA tested, of course), Jamie and Danny each begin a frantic search for a person to help them reproduce.

Come along on their desperate, outrageous and hilarious journeys where fake seductions, ovulation kits and a tarot-card reader are replacing condoms, the pill and fun, meaningless hook-ups. They hit a couple big bumps in the road that have nothing to do with their lack of diaper changing experience, but a lot to do with their hearts.

Now they face the choice of their lives. Give in to love? Or go for the JACKPOT?

303 Chicken Recipes
by Luke Wren

303 Chicken Recipes: Delicious & Easy Chicken Recipes For The Best Chicken Soup, Chicken Salad, Chicken Breasts, Chicken Casserole, Chicken Pot Pie, And Lots More!

Thicker Than Blood
by C. J. Darlington

Christy Williams finally has her life on track. She’s putting her past behind her and working hard to build a career as an antiquarian book buyer. But things begin to unravel when a stolen Hemingway first edition is found in her possession, framing her for a crime she didn’t commit. With no one to turn to, she yearns for her estranged younger sister, May, whom she abandoned after their parents’ untimely deaths. Soon, Christy’s fleeing from her shattered dreams, her ex-boyfriend, and God. Could May’s Triple Cross Ranch be the safe haven she’s searching for? Will the sisters realize that each possesses what the other desperately needs before it’s too late? A stunning debut from the latest Christian Writers Guild winner.

Here's a link to the Paper White Kindle, in case you need to get one of those.
Not Free, but certainly delicious.... 

Monday, December 3, 2012

I Might Be Weird

I've found I have eclectic tastes and views.  I can't be labeled - there's too much of me to fit solidly into a box of any one category.  (I'm not saying that is always good, ok?)

If test takers color in the little circle with a number 2 pencil ... I'm the checkmark, or I color it in with black ink.  I don't mean to do that... I just do.

If the trendy colors are brown and blue, I don't have anything in that combination. 

So, when I read from successful bloggers that content needs to be a dependable sort of expected information, I become frozen.  I'm weird.  I like a little of this, a little of that.  This blog is undefined at best, a rambling journey through a weird girl's brain at worst.

Some days I feel overfilled with a new tidbit of wisdom I've gleaned when reading a book or studying.  I come here and sort it out for myself through the process of writing it out. 

Other days - I can't think of anything beyond the love of that pine tree smell in my living room. 

I love the ideas of others. I want to know what other people know.  Did a book change your life?  Awesome - tell me about that! Or even more significant (?) - share a recipe.  I've only eaten grits once - at a hotel, not cooked by a real person.  Ms. A. has a recipe for Garlic-cheese grits and I want to know what that tastes like.

I'm in love with people and service, and I'm an idea person - too many and too varied for one person to complete in one lifetime, so I want an opportunity to put my ideas out there and if they're good for someone... maybe one will ripple out beyond my view or knowledge. 

Everyone does want to be significant - not just soak up the natural resources and naval gaze... so maybe I'm not weird... just a little rebellious. Oh yeah, that's it.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Not Who Am I, But Where's My Place In This World?

When someone's struggling to figure out "who they are" - it isn't that they don't know themselves, but their purpose has become a question rather than a known answer.

A midlife crisis is one of those seasons, as is an empty nest, an involuntary career change, a chronic illness, a divorce, widowhood. When my girls left home, I filled my time with hobbies - not because that was my purpose, but it distracted me from the unfocused and uncomfortable feeling of being lost, a little boat cut loose from its anchor. 

Who am I?  Not exactly, more accurately - What's my purpose now?  What's my direction?  I spent many years focused on those people who now feel like bugs under a microscope, so I have to take responsibility for redirecting myself.

A season of discovery.  A short season of naval gazing, perhaps, to figure out what I had to offer and making a decision of where and how to make the offer. My most developed skill set revolved around motherhood and family. But beneath that skill set is the desire that influenced me to be the mother I am/was.

That desire needed to be discovered and understood.  It was the natural expression of what became important to me as I navigated my own life.

Are you in a season of wondering "Is this all there is?"  If so, I can tell you - the answer is no.  I don't need to know where you are, to know that if you feel that way - there is more for you.  Have hope and keep reaching out.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Yep, I Finished the Pies Off Yesterday at Breakfast!

So... here I am, the Post Thanksgiving Me, a couple pounds heavier and happier for it.  Throughout the year I spend a lot of time NOT eating what I like.  This usually results in eating too much of stuff that's "ok".  The scale doesn't seem to move very much in response.

The other day, as I pulled a little lump of cold stuffing from a ziplock bag, my husband said, "Can't stay away from it?"

"It's sooo good. I haven't had good food in a long while. I'm so tired of eating crap all the time."  I really need to find a different word to replace "crap" in my vocabulary options.

I've increased my walking, or I'd probably be 10 pounds heavier, because I've finished 1/2 of a Pumpkin/cheesecake pie, and 1/3 of a pumpkin pie by myself over the weekend.  I also finished the homemade noodles, peas, corn and am working my way through the mashed potatoes.

RECIPE IDEA                    Cheesecake/Pumpkin pie

I use the recipe on the back of the Libby's Pumpkin can.  I use all the individual spices, not the easier (cheaper) version where you replace 3 spices with one.  I'm not near my kitchen right now, so I'll just trust that when you see the recipe you'll understand that reference.

THEN, I mix one 6 oz. pkg. of Cream Cheese with 1/3 cup of sugar and an egg.  I pour that into the bottom of my unbaked pie crust before topping off with the pumpkin mixture and bake as directed on the Libby's can. (I love Libby's.) This will result in at least 1/2 of your pie being cheesecake with a pumpkin pie layer on top.  You can split it between 2 pies if you like.  It usually leaves some mixture that won't fit in the pies. I put that into little custard cups and bake along with the pies until it tests "done" with the holiday "knife mark in the middle of the pie" tradition.

Food is such a significant part of tradition.  The last few years my husband has skimped on holiday dinners to lose weight.  This year he had a normal dinner.  I can't tell you the difference it made for ME.  Fixing the Thanksgiving dinner, with my Granny's recipe for stuffing, Libby's pumpkin pie recipe - mixed with the cheesecake recipe from my late mother-in-law, and my husband's recipe for mashed potatoes (saute 1/2 a large onion in a stick of butter and blend into potatoes after you've fnished them with the mixer) is a gift.  When someone chooses to diet, it feels like you've given a very special gift and it was promptly stuffed in the back corner of their attic.

I'm bored with eating meals of "sustenance" as my husband calls those uninspiring foods.  I'm also disgusted that with eating all that "sustenance" the bottom of my stomach still touches my leg when I curl up on the couch. I've decided good food is worth working for - I'm going to enjoy my meals without going into gluttony, and increase my exercise.

For some reason, yoga - which is not at all cardiovascular activity - makes a significant impact on my poundage.  So, I'll add at least 15 minutes of yoga into my day (which makes me feel taller, also) and get a good long aggressive walk in each day. This week I'm listening to The Railway Children by Edith Nesbit on my iPod as I walk.  It's a lovely story, and is free on

Deer hunting season started on Monday here, so I'm sporting a sexy super-sized orange vest that belonged to my late father-in-law as I walk the trails around our house.

What are the foods that have special traditional meaning for your family?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Be Careful, That Thing's Sharp!

To be quiet.... ARGH!  It's one of the hardest things to do.  It's hard to listen to people getting it wrong, mischaracterizing you or even out and out lying. I wonder how Jesus did it.  Knowing he held the keys to the kingdom of heaven, how did he bear the slander and lies without putting on a lightning show the world would never forget and saying, "Do you get it NOW?"

I know I'd do that. I remember a few years ago someone was driving me crazy. He was looking for a fight. Well, not really a fight, as that would involve talking to me about the misunderstanding.  He wanted to talk to other people about it. I wanted to defend myself. I wanted to set it straight in a bitter manner and demand "Do you get it NOW?" I kept it no secret. I ranted and whined and practiced what I wanted to say until I'm sure my husband wanted a good piece of duct tape to stop the madness.

But from God I was hearing things like, "God is my champion, my defender, my deliverer, my help, my biographer. God knows the truth and sometimes that has to be enough." It was terrible in its wonderfulness.  I didn't know if I were spiritually mature enough to make it through this with dignity.

Sometimes a tongue is best used at rest. Otherwise it behaves like this:

James 3:9-12 "With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water."

My tongue is the hardest thing for me to control and keep still. When I studied James last year, these verses were sort of like those you read past to get to something really meant for you. Today, it's importance astounds me.  'Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?' had to have been born from these verses.

I'm called to do good works that glorify God.  We're all called to bear that fruit. When I talk about God, I want to be believed. I wouldn't lie about God. I wouldn't insult you then try to talk to you about God - or would I?

Do you believe every news story from Fox News, MSNBC, or CNN? Why not? Yellow journalism isn't an oddity - it's the norm. Ever watch a report where they backpedal on everything they told you an hour earlier, because they jumped the gun? Or watch an anchor talk about someone's marital infidelity or divorce as though it's important for you to know? It isn't. It's trash and gossip, which used to be an embarrassing habit.

I was burned on a story about Taiwan a few years ago, and I'll never again share a big news story without doing a little research of my own first. Until it has a second source, I still consider it a rumor. News outlets have allowed their reputation to undermine their fundamental purpose.  To know what is newsworthy and to tell it truthfully.

Romans 1:18 "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth."

I thought this meant to purposefully cover up the truth; doesn't it sound that way? Not allow Bible ownership, or religious worship.  Persecute those that convert to Christianity or participate in Bible study. Or, in our free country - forbid kids to wear Jesus T-shirts, start a battle against wishing people Merry Christmas, or change Christmas to "Sparkle Season."

But this week, it was brought home to me that these verses have everything to do with one another for ME. My unrighteousness suppresses the truth when I destroy the reputation of my tongue. If I've used it to gossip, humiliate, judge, or return hurtful remarks in an argument -  I've revealed a heart of cruelty, not compassion. Compassion is to have sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others. Who would glorify God in response to my tongue telling a sweet testimony of God's work, after it's spewed so much bitterness? Who would believe me?

Just as Fox News & MSNBC reveal their true character with the stories they cover, my tongue reveals the true condition of my heart with the things I allow it to say. Even the things I only desire to say are powerful warning lights on my spiritual dashboard. My tongue tells me so much more than it tells anyone else. Perhaps I shouldn't get so upset when I realize someone isn't listening to what I'm saying, if I'm not willing to listen to myself.

Oh, this growing thing is hard........

Thursday, November 15, 2012

God, Could you just tell me the whole plan now?

Perhaps because I'm starting a second career, (or second life even) my first was my family, (Both directions - first my birth family, then the family I gave birth to) I feel a little hesitant at crossroads.  Sometimes in the middle of a path, with no forks in sight, I stop and wonder if I'm going the right way.  Should I go back?  Should this path be wider, perhaps zigzag a little more, or even be more like an obstacle course than a finely pebbled trail? Did I miss a sign back there?  Am I lost? It's terribly quiet here all by myself.  Family is a group activity.

Oh, wait! This is a group activity as well.  Only the group contains just a couple of us.  There's me, of course... and God.  And our project is me.  It's changing me, growing me, stretching me, teaching me, equipping me, pointing me in the right direction to ... well, to be fruitful. To be a good daughter and help Dad with whatever his assignment is.  It could be writing a presentation.  It could be picking up supplies for his kids at the homeless shelter.  It could be giving His Word to someone who needs to hear it.

See, that's hard for me.  I want a detailed plan of action, a flow chart of necessary steps.  Please tell me what I'm doing today and why.  Then lay out the next 10 years, highlighting the important steps that the rest of the plan depends on, so I'm sure I do exactly the right thing. If you're only revealing the next step, the next 30 inches of tightrope, I might get nervous that there isn't any tightrope beyond that step. Am I stepping foolishly or faithfully. (Yes, I've changed my wooded pebble path to a tightrope, because that's the way my mind works.)

"Keep looking at me."  He says.  His eyes warm and inviting.  His hands are stretched out around me in case I teeter off balance.

"I don't want to mess up.  I don't want to waste time.  What if I die before I get this right?" I tend to worry.  Do you see that?

"I'll show you more, as you step forward more.  Come toward me."

This blog is the documentation of the trip of my life.  It will contain fear, suspense, exhilaration, tears, many Aha! moments, revelations, and I write it only because I have to.

Whether I write it simply because
  • I process by writing and he wants me to really "get it," 
  • Someone else out there feels a little crazy when they second guess, third guess, fourteenth guess God's whispered direction on that quiet path (or trembling tightrope) and gains a little bit of... "Ok, I'm not the only one that finds this a bit uncomfortable.  See her over there on the other side of the circus tent? (where else would you find a tightrope?)  Sure, she's on a different rope, but it feels the same for her.  If God can use this screwy woman, well... he surely can use ME! 
  • Whoa - did you see what God taught her today?  I needed to learn that too.  What a fantastic NONcoincidence!

I don't know the end of the story.  I only know now.  I can't be obedient tomorrow. I can only be obedient now.  I don't know where God wants me in 5 years.  I only know that if I go where he wants me to go each day... I'll be where he wants me to be in 5 years. And he does want me to be somewhereHe wants us to bring light to the world, to do good works that glorify him, to be evidence of his incredible supernatural provision and love.
My favorite Christmas movie always comes to mind when I think of this.  God is represented as the Moon and you are Mary Hatch. Jesus is represented as George Bailey  (You HAVE seen the movie "It's a Wonderful Life," haven't you?)  George was going to lasso the moon for Mary and bring it to her.  And she'd swallow it and it would dissolve within her and the moonbeams would shoot out of her fingers and her toes and the ends of her hair. No one could contain God's light and not be transformed by it. No one could behold such a spectacular miracle and not desire it for themselves. 

I want to be a part of that. I have to trust Him to provide the safe spot for my foot to step, to teach me what I need to know. To practice humility in seeking to move closer to God every day.

I have to crawl up into his lap and be willing to look at the things He shows me through HIS eyes.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

What's Wrong With Me, Part B

Continued from yesterday.

I took my “time out” on the patio. It was the wonderful week when Indian Summer sets in, so it was pleasant, but in truth... with enough layers, you can be comfortable outside almost every day.

Here are my steps to finding out the cause of my restlessness and agitation:

ONE:  No Tech Time – No TV, telephone, texts, email, internet, or video game. Most of the time no music, either.  These are easiest to avoid outside.
As I sat there, I felt antsy. My mind is quite a worker and she kicks in when I get quiet. I think of the book I haven't yet opened, the pans sitting in the sink to wash, my Bible study - which I'm 3 days behind in, letting the dogs out, doing laundry. Then my mouth kicks in – I want a snack or a drink. I start holding my stomach in, engaging my bandhas. Yoga is a demanding wench, reminding me to multitask... and yes, I know this means I'm doing it wrong. (My understanding of yoga is less than rudimentary, but I feel taller and less soft after a practice.)
And then... I hear the breeze washing through the leaves and sounding like ocean waves. A chipmunk chides me because he's afraid to run past me to the bird feeder. An airplane buzzes out of my view, and I take and release a deep breath. I begin to feel refreshed. And, it always happens... if I wait 10 minutes past the moment when I think, “This isn't working! I need to get something done!”
Then I reach for my pen and books.

TWO:  Thinking time. This is when I study with my pen and notebook nearby, and here's what I get from that.
  • Topics for studying or writing.
  • Edification – I'm able to make decisions on the basis of what is truly in line with my values and priorities. When I starve that part of me, or tap it out through the decisions and situations I face, I begin to react out of emotion or exhaustion. Rather than confidently resting in my decisions, I second guess them.
  • Clarity. There are aspects that my week will need and this time brings those into perfect clarity. No, I don't plan my entire week in 15 minute blocks, as I used to, trying to get every little thing scheduled in. Instead, I clearly see the handful of activities that need to be part of my week, and in doing them, I find a perpetual source of energy. Completion of those activities provide more energy than they consume.

THREE: I let it set.

My friend Robyn said her husband gave her those 3 words when she'd get anxious about a situation. “Let it sit.” Soak it in, let it set, add another day of this private time, soak it in, let it set. I find clarity not only in handling the 5 big things I need to do this week, but in who I am and what's important to God in my life is clearly revealed to me. Perhaps not His plan for my next 5 years, but for today. For this week. For the next step. I have a tendency to "run with it," so this requires some discipline and, yes - patience, on my part.

I develop an inner source of energy, with stamina for a long run. God's power is revealed in my life as I discover the tasks before me aren't as difficult or confusing when I let him direct me and provide what I need to complete them.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

What's Wrong With Me, Part A

Sometimes there's this tension inside me so tightly coiled I'm driven to respond to it. It's uncomfortable and I'm sure of one thing... I will act on it.

I know you've felt the same way. I've made some rash decisions in response to that tension. Some of those decisions soothed me – eased my tension the way a glass of wine eases the end of a bad day, while others distracted me for weeks, months, even years. When the tension returned, I changed something else.

And then there were books. Ah, my ever present lovers. There were many times I didn't make rash decisions, but instead dived into a new book. Self Help, Time Management, Life Management, Spiritual, Psychology, Al Anon – they were my wiser selections. I learned a lot about my fragile mental, emotional and spiritual composition there. I also learned many tips, tricks and motivational techniques – and in all sincerity... who doesn't like tips, tricks and motivation?

The concept of being still or quiet, submitting to doing what I knew was right when I didn't feel like it was foreign to me. Still can be uncomfortable at times. It's knowing you'd feel better if you exercised but since you don't feel like exercising you find something else to do. Knowing you'd feel better if you didn't have pasta and instead had a beautiful salad... and forked that spaghetti in anyways.

Like last week. My bible study lesson seemed pedantic and uninspiring, I'd gotten behind on my blog commitment. I hadn't taken a good cardio walk in over a week. My inner self was agitated and impatient. I was very uncomfortable. Something was eating at me. There's a restless discontentment, stirring, or rather churning. I wanted to DO something.

Doing something was my go to coping mechanism in the past. I'd find an activity, craft project, start a new hobby or get a pet. I've changed jobs, joined a new group, went away for a weekend, signed up for a class, went to a movie or spent an hour on the phone. I've also said, “Let's move!” (I lived in an embarrassing number of apartments in my late teens and early twenties.) Any of those things would lead to something else and I'd be off chasing that for awhile.

Instead, I carved out a piece of time and secluded myself for a bit. I went outside and found some clarity.

What have you used to distract you from that uncomfortable tension?

Tomorrow, I'll share what I learned in those moments of seclusion.

Monday, November 5, 2012

I Love Books... Really!

“When I realized it was a book, I knew it was from Mom.” Heard at the family Christmas party a couple years ago after my daughter opened her Grab Bag gift.

Books, to me, are the closest thing to sacred that any possession could be.

As a little girl, I remember a set of books from Disney that I read over and over – except for the boy stories, like Jungle Story and Robinson Crusoe, which just never appealed to me. Old Yeller was one of the stories I read only once. It was horrifying.

Source: via Amy on Pinterest

I ate up the Beverly Cleary books. I read the Bobsey Twins books that my aunt had left behind at my Grandmother's, the Nancy Drew Mysteries, the Trixie Belden series (wouldn't it be cool to be named Honey, like Trixie's best friend?) I also loved horses, so The Black Stallion series I scooped up in junior high. Standing in front of that book shelf that covered the south wall of our school library... the sense of pure pleasure is something I can recall 36 years later. I can picture the spines, recall the smell, and remember worlds impacted by none of my reality.

Then there was my high school library, and the public library of every town I've ever lived in. I always had a card. I love to sit at the tables surrounded by all that wealth. Some girls may feel that way in a jewelry store, or in the presence of designer clothes and bags. Some men may feel that way at a car show.

I even admired the text books I received the first day of school for history or English, not so much Science. As a teenager, I could never fall asleep at my bedtime. I would open my curtains and read book after book after book by the light of a street lamp 100 feet from my bedroom window. I can safely say that if this hurt my eyes, it didn't present symptoms for 30 years.

My family has its share of dysfunction, which I've come to understand in the Self Help section of my local book store. I had (have) the Pisces quality of struggling to finish what I start, until I read books on how people ALMOST succeed at almost everything but stop a step short. (This has caused an entirely different set of issues ,because I'm not always sure when to give up. Not everything I've “stuck with” has been a success story.)

So, when I say I love books... I mean it. When everyone in my family got Kindles, I felt personally responsible for saving books. Tangible paper with the occasional ink dot in the wrong place, fresh spines, beautifully soft paper that feel as soft as bedsheets or cheaper, coarse paper of paperbacks. The horror of waking to a world without books really scares me... and if the power goes out.. so do our Kindle “books.”

I have a collection of books that teach survival skills... and though I may never need them – I'll keep them, in case someone else needs them someday.

Books took me everywhere I've never gone.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Free Kindle Books - Christmas WHAT?!

Yesterday, I was at the store and I heard my first public Christmas song. My heart thrilled a little bit. I happened to be project shopping for a special gift for one of my daughters. On top of it all... I saw about 10 snowflakes yesterday morning. So, we'll just get this out of the way. Here are some free Christmas themed Kindle books. Many of the ones I browsed this morning were shorter length.

For your PREholiday reading pleasure..

The Father Christmas Confessions: A Christmas Comedy 
by Emily Ann Benedict

146 pages

What if Santa Claus isn’t one man? What if he is a secret organization?

Jeremy Ogden has 25 day to accomplish his mission and a list of people whose lives can be changed forever if he makes it to them in time. He just has one big problem…And her name is Virginia.

Virginia Kipyard is the last girl Jeremy wants holding his family’s ancient secret, no matter how many times his mother suggests she’s “the right girl.” But if he wants to save the life of the next man on his list, he might just need her help.

The “season of miracles” is about to take on a whole new meaning, even for Father Christmas.

Christmas in the House of O'Byrne (Druantia's Children) by L. S. Fayne
246 pages

The House of O’Byrne, governed by Haley's line, has become one of the most magically powerful branches of the O’Byrne dynasty. Adell, who is the new Matron, has opened its doors for the winter celebrations. Over a hundred people will be attending. These aren’t strangers. They are the people Adell has known all her life, and magic literally dances on their fingertips.

Things start off right with the love of family, and the magical shenanigans of those happily carrying on. Then start going terribly wrong. There is a traitor from within whose jealous spite wants to crush them all.

Unaware of the threat, the teenage girls fool around with magic and inadvertently open a portal into Faerie. This initiates a whole mess of complications.

Trapped within the magical house, deep love and silent hate are constant companions until the truth is exposed.

Christmas Chaos by Jennifer Conner
25 Pages

Christmas chaos hits Josiane. All she want to do is get to her family's Christmas Eve dinner for once on time. Instead, she gets stuck in her office's elevator with a tall, stranger in the dark.

Christmas Beyond the Box by Josh Langston
63 Pages

The holidays mean many things to many people. "Christmas Beyond the Box" takes that notion a little farther, and provides some enchanting looks at the season from some very interesting perspectives. Suitable for all ages, there's sure to be a tale worth re-telling in this collection for many Christmases to come.

Beginning with a race of holiday sprites who can't stand the limelight and ending with an eccentric billionaire who only sees his family the day *after* Christmas, this collection provides enough laughs, sighs, and insights to satisfy the most discriminating tastes.

Checking It Twice by Melissa L. Webb   Christmas HORROR???!!! 
Yep, that's what it says!
23 Pages

Public Domain Selections.


Winner of the October Drawing! was my friend for this drawing. I plugged in the total number of comments and it eventually generated the number 13. The first number it picked was 61, but when I went to my list of comments... that would have been one of my own replies. So, when I counted through the list, the winner - with a lucky 13 - is Ms. A. It was her comment on THIS post that won the prize. Ms. A has won a $25.00 Gift Card! 13 is my lucky number and today it's Ms. A's also. Ms. A, I've emailed you to make arrangements to get your prize to you! You're a winner! How often do you get to hear that? Not often enough, I'll guess!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Day 30: Two For Tuesday
A Hole In Our Gospel by Richard E. Stearns &
7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess
by Jen Hatmaker

"A Hole in Our Gospel" by Richard E. Stearns 
"7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess" by Jen Hatmaker.

I think of these books today, because millions of people in our country are facing a morning without power, water, and heat.  This isn't the norm for them, though there are many living below the radar in my own country that this is normal for.  And in the world?  In the world, the number is staggering.  So large that it becomes too big for us to actually feel.

If the little girl next door starves to death this week, you feel that.  If 25,000 people starve to death today... it's beyond our scope.  They aren't little girls and little boys, but a large faceless number.  Except... they ARE little girls and little boys.  They are mommies, daddies and grandpas.  They are 25,000 people with names, capable of smiles and laughter and playfulness, hugs and comforting words and love.  Thoughts and desperation and longing.  Pleading prayers for God to send some help.

This isn't a guilt trip, or a post of condemnation... truly, it isn't.  I can honestly say that we care about people in our country.  We often times want to help, but don't know what to do... we're not sure what we're able to do with limited resources ourselves, gas prices are going up, and getting ready for those heavy winter heating bills.

"Imagine a world in which two billion Christians embrace the whole gospel - each doing a part to complete God's stunning vision of a reclaimed and redeemed world, the kingdom of God among us.  Picture armies of compassion stationed in every corner of our world, doing small things with great love.  Can you imagine this different vision for our world?" R. Stearns

What if we demonstrated God's love for the world instead of just telling the world about it?

Open yourself up to be exposed to "pure religion" as expressed in James.  Read "7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess" first, to see what we really have available to work with.  Read "A Hole in Our Gospel" to see what we can do with it.

I'm not calling on you to become depressed, but energized.  Yes, it may be a little uncomfortable at first to know.  But if you've been called to bring good news (the gospel, the truth) to the poor, you have to know who they are and what their poverty is.  Until then, that feeling that you know you have a purpose, but you don't know what it is... it's setting up camp and staying.  Be willing to let God break your heart for the things that break His heart.  Be the answer to someone's prayers.

You can't rescue them all, but maybe you can find a way to bring that good news to just one.  Save One.  You can't save the entire world, but to ONE, you will change their entire world.

Be the answer to someone's prayers.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Day 29: If You Want to Write by Brenda Euland

If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit by Brenda Euland

Most of my visitors are women, and I think Brenda Euland has something special to say to women, though she's taught writing to both sexes.  Even if you have no interest in "becoming a writer," this book should be in your library. Why? Because it is truly a gift to every woman.

Brenda Euland lived from October 24, 1891 - March 5, 1985.  This book was first published in 1938, reprinted as recently as 2010, and as relevant and fresh as it was 72 years earlier.

Brenda's mother was Clara Euland, a suffragette and the first President of the League of Women Voters of Minnesota. She also was the mother to six children. Brenda wasn't raised with an embarrassment of being a courageous woman, and she turned around to teach that to many other women for decades.

“In fact that is why the lives of most women are so vaguely unsatisfactory. They are always doing secondary and menial things (that do not require all their gifts and ability)for others and never anything for themselves. Society and husbands praise them for it (when they get too miserable or have nervous breakdowns) though always a little perplexedly and half-heartedly and just to be consoling. The poor wives are reminded that that is just why wives are so splendid--because they are so unselfish and self-sacrificing and that is the wonderful thing about them! But inwardly women know that something is wrong. They sense that if you are always doing something for others, like a servant or nurse, and never anything for yourself, you cannot do others any good. You make them physically more comfortable. But you cannot affect them spiritually in any way at all. For to teach, encourage, cheer up, console, amuse, stimulate or advise a husband or children or friends, you have to be something yourself. [...]"If you would shut your door against the children for an hour a day and say; 'Mother is working on her five-act tragedy in blank verse!' you would be surprised how they would respect you. They would probably all become playwrights.” B. Euland, "If You Want to Write."

Is this any less true today?  Brenda revealed something in that paragraph - so many women have that pervasive feeling of discontentment - we're soaking in it!  Become your fully developed self, or recognize that you're living only a shadow of your life while trying to convince others to live the full living color versions of theirs. What credibility do we have when we're teaching what we don't DO ourselves?

I can't possibly write a summary of this book.  All I can do is say, thank you... to Brenda Euland, who 22 years after her death, daily impacts my life through this little book which doesn't just tell you how to write, but WHY to write - whether another soul ever reads what you write or not. She mentors you on how to be still and listen, to step out of busyness and feed the part of you that is unique.  We all have jobs and responsibilities.  The world doesn't stop turning when we vacate them... but the world is truly a different place when you are fully you.

“Why should we all use our creative power….? Because there is nothing that makes people so generous, joyful, lively, bold and compassionate, so indifferent to fighting and the accumulation of objects and money.” B. Euland

This is part of the 31 Days Project at The Nester.  For a full list of the books I've recommended this month, click HERE.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Day 26: Free Friday eBooks - Thousands of them!

Happy Friday!  Free books?  Yes, please!

This is the last Friday of the Good Books month, which made me a little sad. :-(  <--my sad face.  So, because I love to find free things, love to tell other people about free things and looking around for you has caused a traffic jam on my Kindle as I've been downloading all along the way.... I'm going to continue to do a free ebooks day.

If you stop by Amazon, you can get these books even if you don't have a Kindle.  You can read them on any devise with a browser. Or, it seems you can even download them to your computer with this app. Kindle for PC

The first 30 minutes and last 30 minutes of your awake time are supposed to be the most creative moments of your day. Since I slept in today... you've hit those magic moments of my life... so, yes, we're having a monthly Free Kindle Books day from now on. I'm thinking Free Firsts (On the First of each month) would be a catchy way for you to remember when to stop by, but a subscription to it as a series would be so much easier - you could just get it in your email... I don't have anything techy techy like that on my site.  So.... I'll work on that.

In the meantime, you could follow me on Twitter @AmyJMable or put me in a Circle on your Google+  (just Amy Mable), and catch a reminder there.  This would make me feel a little better, since I just realized I lost 3 twitter followers and I'm a little sad about that... but I'm very new to Twitter, so the number of followers I DO have is nothing short of a miracle.  (I ramble a little in those first minutes of each day as well.)

Released October 15.  The Trial of Poppy Moon by John Corder

A very unusual plot.  I'm not very educated on organ donation, so if the premise isn't plausible, then I suppose the entire story would fall apart... but I downloaded it this morning.

"At the hospital, Poppy is pronounced dead from exposure. Documents she’s carrying permit the immediate removal of her organs for transplant....

But when the human body is dangerously below normal temperature, its vital life-signs can be deceiving. Poppy is still alive. But by the time she regains consciousness, it’s too late: the remaining kidney, which has been traced to a private hospital in Caen, is already in the body of a twelve-year-old boy. Unfortunately, the law regarding transplanted organs gained by illegal means is particularly clear: victims never get their organs back.

Marcus Coaker, a leading London solicitor advocate, is tasked with proving the doctor’s negligence – and he has an unexpected witness to prove it. During the removal of her kidneys, Poppy had a Near Death Experience; she saw and heard everything that was done. Marcus promptly sets in motion the first legal action ever prosecuted on the basis of an NDE...

...The Trial of Poppy Moon is a remarkable debut novel – fast-paced, hard-edged and terrifically moving, it approaches one of the biggest questions of all: whether there is life after death." (Publisher's Summary)

Released October 10th
21 Days to Change Your Body by Helen M. Ryan

"Have you ever wondered why you don't lose weight on a diet? Is it the diet program itself that is ineffective? Or is it your mindset?

In this fresh, new approach to weight loss, 21 Days to Change Your Body (and Your Life) will show you how to lose weight by positively changing the way you think about dieting. Be healthier, be happier and enjoy a better quality life—while eating the foods you love.

Tamilee Webb, the star of the Buns of Steel workout series, says of the book: "I loved it. Lots of inspiration & easy to follow solutions. Anyone can do 21 days!"

Based on the author's own experience with losing more than 80 pounds, Helen M. Ryan shows you how to overcome the mental blocks to weight loss success, how to fit exercise into your busy day, and what you should doing and eating to fit into your "skinny jeans."" (Publisher's Summary)

Released February 4, 2012  "How Can I Forgive and Forget - The Intelligent Way to Be A Happy Person: A Proven Step By Step Guide That Will Teach You How To Forgive and Forget Even When You Don't Feel Like It"  by Ellena Whitey

"Are you trying to forgive someone but just don't know how?
Are you looking for a way to be happier but don't know what is stopping you?
Are you ready to break free from anger, bitterness, resentment and even depression?
Are you ready to forgive and proceed toward a beneficial future without constraints?" (Publisher's Summary)

This book has is very short and has only one review.  What if we all read it and reviewed it?  I just downloaded it.

Lastly, here's a link to 40,000 free books. Project Gutenberg  And now I feel like a philanthropist! 

Enjoy your weekend.  Let me know your thoughts on any of the previous free books you've read!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Day 24: Friends for the Journey by Luci Shaw & Madeleine L'Engle

"Friends for the Journey" by Luci Shaw & Madeleine L'Engle

How often do we set up requirements for our closest friends to be "just like us?" 

As simple as preparing a meal together, as complex as enjoying a love of God from significantly different Christian backgrounds, this friendship is one where both women were willing to love one another through their differences and not only in their similarities.

This kind of friendship is rare, and I felt inspired to make commitments to my friendships in a very different way after reading their story.  We let friendships go because we become uncomfortable with diversities less significant than Luci & Madeleine encountered in theirs. 

This touching story of a friendship spans decades of joy and also sorrow. Each woman lost her husband to a battle with cancer.  Their acceptance of one another and commitment to the relationship was remarkable.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Day 23: Unplug the Christmas Machine

"Unplug The Christmas Machine" by Jo Robinson & Jean Coppock Staeheli

Last year I purchased this book near the end of November.  We were already in full swing of buying, buying, buying.  We always spend more than we plan to spend, and as the family grows, so does the shopping list.

Here's who is on the list:

My husband & myself
3 Daughters
1 Son-in-law (lost one this year)
3 Parents (lost one this year)
6 Grandchildren
Grab bag gifts for the party
3-4 others.

My husband purchases a gift for his brother.  They are the only members of their original family still alive,  My siblings and I sometimes exchange gifts.

Because Christmas has been my method of lifting me out of my fall "funk", I feel uneasy changing things. (I go through seasonal depression for the last half of October through whenever my Christmas energy begins to climb.) In addition, I've built expectations of our Christmases into my family - will they think I've morphed into a selfish Scrooge, or appreciate I'm seeking to have a more meaningful holiday.  And, what if I can't do all those personal touches and handmade gifts - will I just exchange one sort of frenzy for another?

This isn't a "how to" book, though you will see how other people "Christmas", but rather a "why" book. I examined the why's of the things I did and things I only longed to, and they made sense.  If you find each year brings with it the desire for it to "be over, already," you owe it to yourself to check this book out.  We're setting our kids up for empty holidays that climax in a ton of wrapping paper and toys instead of memories of holiday traditions with their parents and extended family.

This book helped in a way I never expected... my husband reengaged in the holiday. For a long time, he opted to simply watch me "do" Christmas.  (Better expressed as... "He hid while I did Christmas.") I missed sharing the preparations of the season with him, and last year we enjoyed it together.

Visit my other posting on this topic. Tis The Season of Excess and Stress - STOP!

Do you have a family tradition that isn't stressful?  Please share it in the comments, I'd LOVE to hear it!