May 25, 2012

Blessed by Dr. Reba of My Book Therapy

As a member of My Book Therapy, I have the opportunity to sit in on weekly webinars given by various Coaches on the MBT staff. Last night Life Coach Dr. Reba J. Hoffman spoke and her topic was Dare to Dream. She had stories and tips to move us forward to living our dream.

I was blessed by Reba's words.

She had asked us to type in our struggles in living our dream (the webinars are interactive) and several shared. Reba's encouraging and motivating words were like life to me. You know, many times you read advice over and over and it doesn't sink in; but when it is personalized and directed right at you, it is as if your very pores are open to absorb the essences of the advice given. You are receptive. You care, because the person talking to you cares. It makes a difference.

And you know what? She gave us her email so that when we face down times or discouragement along the way, we can write her and receive encouragement for the writing journey. How awesome is that?!?

You can check out Reba at her awesome blog or at MyBookTherapy.

Who has spoken words of life to you recently?

********
Weight Loss Update: I lost 1.6 pounds this week, so actually, I have stayed about the same this month, with all my fluctuating. But I feel like I am back on track - feeling better and ready to tackle getting healthy.



May 21, 2012

Asking God the Wrong Thing

Do you ever wonder if you are asking God the wrong thing? Or for the wrong things? To do the wrong things? I have to tell you that yesterday's sermon hit home with me. The service was so moving, with the Holy Spirit whispering through the words of the songs, touching my heart like only He can. And then the sermon came.

Don't you love it when your pastor is passionate about something? Has experienced God's presence and is excited about it? Yeah, that's what I love in a sermon!

Our church is facing some serious changes with our building being for sale and the thought of having to relocate is a tough one. My husband, the pastor, has been praying about these changes and asking for direction in order to help our church.

In his teaching,my husband has been focusing in John 14-17, which talks about the the Holy Spirit and staying connected to God. In that section, Jesus talks about "ask in my name" four times. My husband's word from God was this: He'd been asking God for wisdom to deal with the changes coming to our church. He'd been wanting God to send him knowledge to help our church. Sure, that's noble. But here's the thing, he had been asking God to help him do something for the church, not asking God to do something.

Ask God to do something!

God is a BIG God and He wants to work in our lives. He wants to DO something in us and for us. Sure, He can empower His people, and He does that, but He wants to do something big in our lives.

And here is the really AWESOME thing that God did. We have had two young couples place membership in the past week!!!

Our small church is such a wonderful mixture of generations that support each other and love each other. But in the change that is coming, we are going to have to realize that in a way, this change is going to be like a death. It will be the death of our church as we have known it the past decade. As with any huge change in church, there will be people who leave. It's a fact. A sad one for sure, but a fact, nonetheless. It will be a death of our church as we know it. BUT...The cool thing is that we will get to experience a new birth.

New beginnings! It's exciting to think about, really. What is God going to do? Well, He's already brought 2 new young couples into our church this past week and I believe that is just a foretaste of what's to come. We will need that energy and fresh perspective to face the coming days.

God is doing something! And I'm thrilled to see what else He will do!

What is God doing in your life?



May 18, 2012

The Awesomeness of a Writing Retreat

A writing retreat conjures up different thoughts from different people. Some would automatically think of a weekend full of sessions and speakers. Some would say it was a weekend at a getaway place with a group of writers, where you brainstorm each others work and write on your WIP. And then some would say it was a time you go off alone to focus on writing - just getting the words on the page.

Well, I just got back from my first writing retreat. I was not alone. I had my writer friend from church, Ava. She  invited me to her river house about an hour away and I said YES! It was the first time I've ever gone away for the purpose of writing and it was the coolest thing ever.

So Monday through Wednesday of this week, Ava and I sat on the front porch of the river house and worked in our Book Buddy. We were both in the beginning stages of our stories and spent time developing plot and characters. What was so cool was that we would sit in silence, working and writing in our workbooks, then one of us would say..."What do you think about this idea?" or  "I'm stuck here. What should I do?" We were able to have quiet time, yet have another person help us out when needed.

Me with my favorite drink and My Book Buddy (I had it printed and bound.)
Ava with her drink and Book Buddy.
I cannot tell you how cool it was to bounce ideas off of someone else. Ava thought of stuff I had not and she was able to tell me if something worked or if it was just plain confusing. It really helped to solidify my plot and make me feel like I could proceed with confidence.

On the last day of our retreat, I was able to start writing. Ahhhh, the sweet thrill of starting a new WIP. There is nothing like it. (well, maybe the sweeter thrill of finishing!) I'm pumped!

Of course we did wind down in the evenings. Ava brought us Snuggies to wear to keep us cozy and comfortable, and we watched Letters to Juliet one night. And I did bring my Kindle to read, but my brain was so tired, I didn't get much read before my eyes would close and I'd snort. (Yeah, I snore some...sigh.) Romance writers should NOT snore. It's just not cool.
Yes, I look like a wizard here.
Ava and her UT Snuggie. Go Longhorns!
I am now a firm believer in The Writing Retreat! Everyone should try to get away for a couple of days and just focus on writing. Yes, we were brain dead at the end of each day, but the jewels we uncovered were worth the brain overload!

So tell me...have you ever been on a writing retreat? What was your experience like? If not, have you ever thought of how you could make that possible?

May 14, 2012

On Vacation

Today I'm going on a writing retreat with a my friend, Ava, from church. She has a river house about an hour away and invited me to get away with her and work on our WIPS. I've never done anything like this and I am soooo excited. I'll be back Wednesday afternoon, so I won't post until Friday.

I wanted to leave you with some pictures from Mother's day. I made Mother's Day gifts from an idea I saw on Pinterest. The first picture is the Pinterest picture. The second one is what I made.




I thought it turned out cute!

And here is a couple of pictures of me and my husband and then me and my kids on Mother's Day. My husband cooked a Sunday night meal...grilled pork chops!!! My daughter in Austin at UT tried to come home, but it didn't work out with all her finals and last minutes stuff, but she is going to come home in a couple of weeks where she can spend more time. YAY!


I just noticed my oldest son just to the right of me is squatting down behind his wife! lol He is 6'6" and is one inch shorter than my son in the back. I knew the picture wasn't quite right! And just because I miss my daughter, here is a picture of her...


Have a great week!

May 11, 2012

A Plethora of Thought

No theme today. Just a big ol' mess of my thoughts. There's just some days that thoughts don't come. Nothing brilliant comes to mind. It's just a pile of various things that I'm thinking about.

SQUIRREL! (Anybody ever see the movie UP?)



Yeah, squirrel is a good descriptor.

CASTLE: So, what did you think about the Castle season finale? I know most people were so glad that Castle and Beckett finally got together, but a blog post by Jenny B. Jones really said what I couldn't quite put my finger on. You can read her post HERE, if you so desire. I posted Jenny's link in Facebook and it got some Castle-watchers talking. If you write romance, you probably feel like I did - that the "getting together" was too rushed. I won't get into all the nuances here, but Jenny's post sure made me think!

WRITING: I'm still trying to work through My Book Buddy and get my plot worked out for my new story. It's slow going, mainly because I've been trying to keep up with laundry better, keep my house straighter, keep my kitchen sinks shiny, and the toilets not so gross. Yeah, some things are kind of important that way.

MOTHER'S DAY: My parents and my in-laws are coming over Sunday evening for dinner to celebrate Mother's Day. My kids...except my daughter, who is in Austin at UT...will be there. And I don't have to cook! Gotta love that. So I've been perusing Pinterest, trying to find some cute, easy craft to do for gifts. What do you think...

Bookmark?

I Love You Frame




Family Key Chain



I need something easy that I can make tonight. :) What do you think?

WEIGHT LOSS/GAIN: I almost didn't go to Weight Watchers last night. I knew I had been bad and had eaten out way more than I should have, and was pretty sure I'd gained a few pounds. I went anyway and was surprised that I gained only 1 pound. So here's to a new week of eating well.

BLOG VACATION: I'm taking a short hiatus from blogging next week, because I am taking three days vacation and going on a writing retreat with a friend! We are going to her river house about an hour away and staying Monday through Wednesday. No internet! Just writing! I've never done this before and I am so incredibly excited!

I'll be back next Friday sharing about my exciting Writing Adventure at the river house. So have fun next week!

What fun things do you have planned for Mother's Day?

May 08, 2012

Are Your Characters Being Lied To?

I'm talking about The Lie our characters believe over at The Writer's Alley. Stop by and let's talk about Lies and how they fit into character development.

May 07, 2012

Review: Wildflowers from Winter

I loved this debut book by Katie Ganshert. Her talent for layering depth, pain, healing, and romance, kept me turning the page and wanting more. The heroine, Bethany Quinn, is a tortured soul, a woman who ran from her past and has built a life free from memories and free from pain. When tragedy brings her back to her home town, she must face that past and deal with the emotional turmoil it brings.

Not only does Bethany have to deal with her past, she meets Evan Price, the handsome farmhand that has taken care of her family's farm for several years. Bethany and Evan clash from their very first meeting, but as they get to know one another, the pain and hurt they see in each other draws them in.

I loved the depth of this book. Katie explores subjects not often seen in romance and it makes the story rich with emotional and spiritual depth. You will get caught up in Katie's past and will root for her, urging her to open up so that she can heal.

You will love the secondary characters...well, not one of them!...who bring their their quirks, their pain, their life into the mix and make for a well rounded story. I believe Katie's next book is about one of them!

If you love a deep, emotional, fulfilling read, you will love Wildflowers from Winter. Katie will take you on an emotional roller coaster where you will laugh, cry, and heave a sigh at the end. Well done, Katie!

About Wildflowers from Katie:

A young architect at a prestigious Chicago firm, Bethany Quinn has built the life she dreamed of during her teen years in a trailer park.  An unexpected interruption from her estranged mother reveals that tragedy has struck in her hometown and a reluctant Bethany is called back to rural Iowa. 
 
Determined to pay her respects to her past while avoiding any emotional entanglements, she vows not to stay long. But the unexpected inheritance of five hundred acres of farmland and a startling turn of events in Chicago forces Bethany to come up with a new plan.
 
Handsome farmhand Evan Price has taken care of the Quinn farm for years.  When Bethany is left the land, Evan must fight her decisions to realize his dreams. But even as he disagrees with Bethany’s vision, Evan feels drawn to her and the pain she keeps so carefully locked away.
 
For Bethany, making peace with her past and the God of her childhood doesn’t seem like the path to freedom. Is letting go the only way to new life, love and a peace that she’s not even sure exists?


You can purchase Wildflower from Winter HERE.
To find out more about Katie Ganshert, go HERE.


*I was provided a copy of Wildflowers from Winter by the publisher for my honest review.

May 06, 2012

Winner of Wildflowers from Winter

Using random.org, the winner of Wildflower from Winter by Katie Ganshert is....

Merry

Congratulations! I will email you to get your snail mail address!


May 04, 2012

Friday Mash Up

My mind is fractured today, with no clear train of thought. May has always been a busy month, and this one is no exception, it would seem. Between graduations, end of school, work projects, new faces at work, church gatherings, Mother's Day, Memorial Day, etc..., I have trouble staying focused.

So here's some things going on with me...not that you are really all that interested, but I just want to organize my thoughts.

Renovations: We were told our offices at work will be renovated to add more office space. Some of the work will be done 10 feet away from me. And you know what? All I could think about was the dust! After 7 weeks of daily dust from our bathroom remodel, I'm not too excited about this renovation. But, of course, it will be so nice when it's done right. (keeps repeating to herself)

Vacation: I've been giddy about this since I put in for it at work yesterday. I am taking 3 days vacation in 1-1/2 weeks! And I am going to a river house with a writer friend from church to WRITE! For 3 days straight! This is a first for me. Usually I feel guilty about taking any time away from my family, but I decided that it was okay. It would be good for me. And probably for my family too!

Weight Watchers: Well, I weighed in last night and to my utter surprise, I lost one pound! I'm not sure how I accomplished that, since I ate out a lot an devoured tons of food, but I am very pleased. That brings my total to  24.6. Yes, it is slow going these days, but thankfully, it is going in the right direction.

Giveaway: I am giving away a copy of Wildflower after Winter by Katie Ganshert. You can go HERE and comment to enter, as well as read my own Wildflower story. Katie is also hosting a blog hop today featuring many women who have their own Wildflower after Winter stories. Go HERE to find the links for all those participating.

And I guess that's it for me. I'm glad it's Friday, aren't you?


May 03, 2012

Hope after Failure PLUS Book Giveaway! Wildflowers from Winter

Katie Ganshert's debut book, Wildflowers from Winter, is a story of hope. It is the story of something beautiful springing up from a well of pain. To celebrate the power of hope and beauty, Katie is hosting a blog hop tomorrow, to showcase people's true life stories of hope. These stories will show how God brought beauty from painful situations in people's lives. So stop by her blog tomorrow to see all the links to the blogs that are participating in this celebration of hope.

Here is my story; my story of hope after failure.

I've been a preacher's wife for 26 years. In many ways, my life has been idyllic. No drama, no trauma, nothing major in the way of hardship. While money was always tight...I am married to a preacher, you know...we never went hungry.,and I was able to stay home with our four children.

And then it hit. We were at a wonderful church for 12 years and then things went sour. I won't go into all the details, but after a ton of prayer, we decided to leave and start a church. We had direct confirmation from scripture and we were excited about what God was going to do. We were confident.

Our church started with 45 people and we met in the basement of our house. (We had a huge house with a 2000 foot basement.) We eventually leased a small house/business on a busy street and really had some wonderful experiences together. We grew as a family in Christ and it was beautiful, even though our little church never grew in number.

My husband had to find a job to supplement what the church could pay us. I had a job and we lived as frugally as we could. But after 4 years, we had run out of our savings, spent all of our retirement money, racked up some debt, and ended up losing our house. We had to make the difficult decision to shut the doors to the place where God had led us.

We had failed.

Had we heard God wrong? We thought we had clear confirmation. We stepped out in faith, and we lost everything.

We spent time questioning, agonizing, and wrestling with God. We were heart sick. We were afraid. We were weary.

And then I remembered.

God had spoken to me in a dream once. I used to fret about money...I am married to a preacher, you know...and at one point we were praying about whether to sell our home and  we didn't know what to do. I asked God to speak and He did.

In my dream I was standing at the window in my house, looking out into the yard. The wind began to blow, bending the trees with it's strength. A loud roar filled the air and a tornado bore down on me. I just stood there, afraid, frozen to my spot at the window. Wind began to blow in the house and the tornado swept in. It did not damage the house at all, but the tornado surrounded me, whipping my clothes and hair. 
I fought against the wind, terrified in its grasp. I finally made myself relax, willing the fear to go. It was then that the wind became a caress. It still whipped around me, but it felt like a warm embrace. White light enveloped me and an indescribable peace filled my entire being. It was then that I heard these words...
"Know that I love you. Accept my love. Know that I love you. Accept my love. Know that I love you. Accept my love." Three times.
I woke up sitting in bed, breathless and damp with perspiration. 

I am loved by God. I am His child. In the midst of turmoil, pain, and hardship, there is peace that can only be found by resting in His love. We have to accept that love and trust Him to keep us close.

As believers, we are not promised a life without pain. But we are promised to be loved. We are promised to be given life...real life in Him.

Remembering that fact helped me to rest in God's love, and it wasn't long until my husband found a preaching job at a church not too far away. This church was the kind of church we had longed for. A church with gender equality and the freedom to worship in a variety of ways.

We are getting back on our feet and living in the security of God's love. After going through failure...at least failure in our eyes...we know that our only hope is Jesus. We follow wherever He leads, whether it be through a desert, a valley, or a mountaintop. We step in His footsteps, one step at a time.

And the best thing is...He holds our hand the whole way!

The is beauty that comes from pain. There is hope that comes from failure.

There really are wildflowers that spring up from winter.

Thank you, Katie, for your vision in this sharing of hope. I pray God uses your book to bless others like it has blessed me.

Don't forget to stop by Katie's blog tomorrow for links to more stories of hope.

If you would like a chance to win a copy of Katie's book, Wildflowers after Winter, leave a comment along with your spam free email address. ( sherrinda{at}gmail{dot}com ) Drawing will be held Sunday, May 6. You will be notified by email and will posted on my Monday's blog.

May 02, 2012

Just Do It...Pinterest Style

One of my DIY Pins
So I joined Pinterest back when hardly anyone knew what it was. I have 26 boards and over 1400 pins. I even have 217 followers, almost as much as my blog. It's an interesting phenomenon and Jody Hedlund blogged about it yesterday on her website. I do believe she has sold many of her followers on Pinterest. :)

Pinning has been a fun pastime, and I've made a few things that I found on it...some bracelets, some cute magnets, and a few Weight Watcher recipes. But I've decided I really need to step it up and get busy creating some of these wonderful ideas. Why?

Because I am going to get my Christmas presents made early!

Because I need to create!

Because I need to have presents on hand to give away at a moments notice!

So here is what I started last night:

Crusty Bread!

Looks yummy, huh? It took me all of 5 minutes to mix together the flour, salt, yeast and water. I covered it with plastic wrap and set it aside. When I get home from work tomorrow, I will cook it in a hot ceramic dutch oven and have some wonderful crusty bread. The cool thing about this bread is you can add ingredients to it to change it up. Think about it...cheddar jalepeno, cranberry almond orange, pepper jack, raisin walnut cinnamon, or thyme green onion, Swiss. Mmmmm!!!

I'll let you know how it turns out.

So tell me, do you do Pinterest? Check out my boards and pins HERE to see how fun it is!  

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