August 14, 2017

Blogging Consistently and Eclectically

When you are writing with the hopes of publication, there is so much more to the dream than just putting words on a page. These days writers are expected to have an online presence before they are even published. It's a lot of pressure and takes up time that could be better spent writing, but if we are serious about publishing, we need to learn to go public.

I've had this blog for quite awhile and have been fairly consistent until the last couple of years. Now that I'm writing again, I need to blog more consistently. The thing is, I don't remember what made it so easy before.

Maybe it's because I just wrote what I was interested in, what I was doing at the time, or maybe I just did a book review. No pressure. Just me. Not what I thought people expected.

So I'm going to attempt to do that again. It will be an eclectic collection of posts, so if you are following me because of the summaries of John's excellent sermons that I post, then I apologize. Please feel free to unfollow me if you don't care for the new regimen. I promise it won't hurt my feelings!

Now....to think of something to blog about this week. ;)


July 13, 2017

Hallelujah: A Call to Praise

The last psalm in the Bible, Psalm 150, ends with one word.

Hallelujah

This word means 'God be praised'. It is a call to praise.

Through this psalm we can learn much about the praise of God.

PRAISE IS BEYOND US

Praise the Lord. (Hallelujah)
Praise God in his sanctuary;

    praise him in his mighty heavens.


Praise him for his acts of power;

    praise him for his surpassing greatness. (vs. 1-2)

Praise is other worldly. The psalm talks of God's sanctuary and His might heavens. There is praise there. It speaks of His surpassing greatness and His might acts of power. He is supreme.

He is a God who can do more than we can ask or imagine. (Ephesians 3:20-22) He is beyond our scope of understanding, scope of knowledge, and scope of imagination.

He's a mysterious God, this otherworldly God of ours. He is deserving of our hallelujahs.

Activity: Look for the thing that is awesome to you. A sunrise, a flower, a mountain. Let it draw you into His presence.

PRAISE IS CREATIVE

Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
    praise him with the harp and lyre,

praise him with timbrel and dancing,
    praise him with the strings and pipe,

praise him with the clash of cymbals,
    praise him with resounding cymbals. (vs. 3-6)

Just as the vast array of instruments listed here to praise the Lord, so is the body of Christ in its variety of gifts. We are all unique and bring a different facet of creativity to the body, His church.

God accepts each and every one's differences. He desires and loves your unique abilities. He delights in the special way you serve and glorify Him.

God delights in your unique hallelujahs.

Activity: Look for the creative ability God has given you to glorify Him. Can you sing? Draw? Count change? Organize? Encourage? Give a hug?

PRAISE IS SPIRIT-FILLED

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord. (vs 6)

The praise we lift to the Lord is spirit-filled because it is our breath that speaks of His glory and sings of His love.

You see, the word used for breath is Spirit. His Spirit. The two are interchangeable. When God breathed into Adam, it was with His very own Spirit. That very Spirit is the One inside of us.

We commit every breath to praising God and breathe Him out into the world.

The world needs your hallelujahs.

Activity: Breathe. Inhale, knowing we breathe in God. Exhale, knowing we share God with the world by who we are and what we do.

Hallelujah!

How are you praising the Lord today?


***Taken from John Ketchersid's sermon July 9, 2017***


July 05, 2017

People Watching At The 4th of July Fireworks Show

As an introvert at heart, I do not like crowds. But when I am in a situation where I am in the middle of a mass of people, I watch and listen. It is a great place for creative writers to use their imagination and make up stories. I took my camera with me and used my long lens to capture interesting people. Let's see who I found.

Now here's a closet superhero buff. He has hordes of comic books stuffed under the bed and in his closet. He secretly daydreams about being a caped superhero, saving pretty girls and making the world a better place.

Ah...here are two friends that are total opposites. The one on the right is a free spirit. She has some short shorts on with some wild socks and high tops. Her friend on the left is a bit more subdued. She wishes she could be more "out there", but just can't quite make it. She settles for a navy skirt with flowers and some denim high tops. Hey...at least she mixed the skirt and high tops!


Well....words aren't coming. Strange, I know. These friends like to stand out. I think they've tried mixing Halloween with Game of Thrones. The only thing I can think is....courage in numbers???
Okay, now I get it. The last girl has a bunch of flyers in her hand. After being handed one, I found out they are out advertising for the musical Pippin being shown at the Firehouse Theatre in Farmers Branch, Texas. Their shows are amazing!
Some people aren't very brave and settle for sticking a flag in their hat. This guy doesn't really care. He didn't want to be there anyway. See the tinge of gray? He is in the throes of mid-life crisis and just wants to do what he wants. 
  
This guy is ready for the sun to go down and get the fireworks going. Why must he sit in the heat just to save a seat close to the display? Ugh...the band is sooooo loud. 
 
This momma is tired. She has her cute bandana tied around her head, with her hair twisted around it. It was all she could manage with 3 little ones running circles around her.

This sweet lady loves the 4th! She even dyes her hair to match all her July 4th paraphernalia. If only she had some sparkly red earrings to go with her outfit. 

Dude!!!! Check me out. I got spirit. 
 
Ah, the sad lonely chair...all decked out by mom, and abandoned by the energetic 3 year that should be sitting there. 

Okay, no story here. I just want to say this band was amazing. They play cover songs and are incredible. They could sound like the original! All the music was upbeat and there were lots of people dancing. Just a great concert!
Check out Inside Out on Facebook.
 All I have left are a few fireworks. Farmers Branch puts on the best low-level fireworks show around.





Do you love to people-watch? Have you ever made up stories about the people you see?


June 29, 2017

Strength for the Journey

I spent a lot more time in my Bible today. Some days, well, you just need more. I am going through Psalms in my daily readings and was in Psalm 84. Verse 5 really resonated with me as I feel like I've been going through my days relying on my own strength. Ugh...that gets so tiring!

Blessed are those who make You their strength, for they treasure every step of the journey.   From the Voice 

When we rely on our own strength, our own path, our own abilities, we grow weary. It's hard to do it all alone. The thing is, we aren't created to do it all alone. God gave Adam a helper, Eve. He Himself walked with them each day. We were not meant to live in isolation.

We have godly people all around us who can carry the weight for us. They can pray you through, encourage you to lean not on your own understand, and love on you to bring you peace.

We have God and His strength to lean on. When we can remove the burden of isolation. We can push off the load of having to be strong in our own right. We can enjoy the journey and treasure every step of it!

Are you leaning on God's strength or taking it all on yourself?


June 23, 2017

Is God Jealous?

We talk a lot about God's love and his faithfulness. We talk about his goodness and compassion. But we don't often bring up the fact that He gets jealous. Even angry.

We don't like to talk about that kind of God, because then we would have to look into why He would ever be that way. What would make the God of love so angry?

In my reading of Psalm 78, I was asking God to speak, to show me the verse that He wanted me to dwell on. That is how I find scripture to journal and meditate on. But Psalm 78 is not an encouraging Psalm. There isn't much in it that speaks of love, compassion, and encouragement.

After reading over it a few times, I kept coming back to verse 58.

"They angered him with their high places; 
they aroused his jealousy with their idols."

They aroused his jealousy with their idols. We don't have physical idols today - no stone monuments we pray to. But an idol can be anything we prioritize over God. The Oxford Dictionary says it like this:  "a person or thing that is greatly loved, admired, or revered."

Sleep can be an idol when you keep hitting the snooze button instead of spending time with Him.

Sports can be an idol when you choose to stay home and watch a game over going to church to worship Him.

Work can be an idol when you give it priority over your relationship with God.

Anything can become an idol when it takes precedence over your love for God.

So while God is a God of love and compassion, He is also a jealous God. One not to ignore. He wants us to love Him above all else. He wants your heart, your love, and your time.

I've been guilty of making God jealous. Time and time again. It's just a matter of getting my priorities back into focus....and focus on Him.

How are you doing with your priorities? Does He come first in your life?



June 22, 2017

Review: A Tailor-Made Husband

Review of A Tailor-Made Husband by Winnie Griggs

Backcover Copy:
Tired of pining for handsome sheriff Ward Gleason, seamstress Hazel Andrews plans to head East for a fresh start—until Ward finds an abandoned child. Hazel can't turn down his request that she watch the little girl while he investigates a spate of crimes. But spending time with Ward is sending local gossips—and Hazel's heart—into turmoil. 
Nothing in Ward's world is the same since he took charge of orphaned Meg…and that includes his growing feelings for Hazel. A fake engagement will allow them to care for the child together until Hazel moves away and finds someone more worthy. But with little Meg convinced she's already found her forever family, can Ward and Hazel dare to make her dreams come true, along with their own?

My Thoughts:
I enjoy stories of love developing between friends, and this was no exception. Hazel Andrews, the town seamstress, has loved Ward Gleason, the town sheriff, from afar. But she has waited long enough for Ward to notice her and decides to leave town, making a new life taking over her aunt's business. But Ward needs her help when he returns from a trip with an abandoned little girl named Meg, so how can she say no?

I enjoyed the town and friendship between Hazel and Ward. They had an easy relationship, which made for conflict in and of itself. Hazel is a strong woman who knows what she wants and doesn't mind standing her ground to get what she wants, even if it means walking away. I love that about her - tough love! Throw in a fake engagement and a town mystery and you have a fun story!

This was a sweet story with some twists and turns that will entertain all those who love a good romance.


June 19, 2017

Taking The Dad To The Museum of Biblical Arts


 We were given tickets to the Museum of Biblical Arts in Dallas by some dear friends from church. (Thank you, Eric and Megan!) Since Father's Day was nearing, we thought it would be a good idea to take my dad and mom. You see, Dad is an artist. He has drawn and painted all his life. He is now a writer and editor, but art is in his blood. So last Friday we met for lunch and toured the museum.

I was blown away by the quality and variety of the art there. There were works dating back to the 1100's. There were pieces from all over the world. There were works done in paint, ink, pencil, mixed media, oil, and even markers. It was fascinating to see the various mediums and the creative way in which they were used.

There was an exhibit by an artist that honored women who had served and made a difference during World War II and the Holocaust. I learned about so many brave women who stepped up, risked their lives, and changed history by their efforts. Just incredible.

I think my favorite part was all the statutes. There was such a variety of materials used to create them: bronze, wood, steel, plaster, and even drill bits! Such beauty. Such creativity.







I thoroughly enjoyed the day and I think Dad did too!

What is the most fun thing you have done with or for your Dad for Father's Day?


May 27, 2017

Heart on the Line by Karen Witemeyer



I thoroughly enjoyed Heart on the Line by Karen Witemeyer. The heroine, Grace,  is a telegraph operator in a town comprised of women. Hiding from her father's murder who seeks something she has, she has found shelter in this town full of women who love and protect their own. I loved the various characters in this town and the side romance that developed by one of the "I hate men" women in the town.

I loved the idea of finding love over the telegraph wire. It is like online dating, but the old-fashioned way. Will they like what they see? Are they the same as their "wire" persona? It makes for great tension in the story when Grace and Amos finally meet for the first time.

I am not usually a fan of beta heroes, but Amos grows on me as he steps up to the plate, time and time again, for Grace. When the Pinkerton character comes into town, this sparks competition between the two as they both vie for Grace's attention. It also spurs Amos into stepping out of the box and being more assertive.

Overall, this book was an enjoyable read with plenty of adventure and suspense. I would definitely recommend! I gave this 4 out of 5 stars only because of my preference for alpha heroes.

Backcover Copy:

Grace Mallory is tired of hiding. She hungers for a normal life, perhaps even a suitor like two of her friends in Harper's Station have found. But when the man she believes responsible for her father's death discovers her whereabouts, survival takes priority. 

Amos Bledsoe prefers bicycles to horses and private conversations over the telegraph wire to social gatherings with young ladies who see him as nothing more than an oddity. His fellow telegrapher, the mysterious Miss G, has been the ideal companion. For months, their friendship--dare he believe, courtship?--over the wire has fed his hope that he has finally found the woman God intends for him. However, when he intercepts an ominous message and discovers her life is in peril, Amos must shed the cocoon of his quiet nature to become the hero Grace requires. 



I received Heart on the Line by Karen Witemeyer from Bethany House Publishers and Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

You can purchase the book HERE.


May 22, 2017

Burying Your Talents In The Sand?

Photo by tpsdave @ Pixabay.com
All my life I have struggled with sharing my work, whether it be lettering, writing, art, you name it. I would worry that it might be considered prideful or that I was vain for putting myself out there. But the parable of the talents keeps coming to mind and I've been pondering it in relation to the gifts God has given me and how I am to use them.

In Matthew 25:14-30, a landowner entrusts his property to 3 caretakers while he takes a trip. To one he gave 5 talents (a measure of money, and quite large), to one he gave 2 talents, and to the last, he gave 1 talent....each according to their ability. When the owner comes back, he questions the caretakers about how they tended to the property with his money. The one with 5 talents bartered and sold, turning the 5 talents into 10. The one with the 2 talents went to the market and turned his 2 talents into 4. The one with 1 talent was afraid and buried his talent so that he could give the landowner the money intact.

The landowner was pleased with the first 2 caretakers and gave them more responsibility. The owner was not pleased with the last caretaker who was afraid. He should have at least put it in the bank to earn interest. The caretaker was thrown out and left to fend for himself.

It sounds rather harsh, doesn't it? Some parables are rather difficult to understand, but really, this parable is about using the gifts that the Lord gives His people to serve Him.

I am not an extrovert and so evangelism is not my strong suit. But I can share God's word through my art (Bible journaling) and through my writing.

I don't like to lead, but I am a good worker and love to help behind the scenes. I'm not a great solo singer, but I can harmonize and use my voice on the praise team. I don't have a big fancy house, but I can open up my living room for Bible studies.

Here's the thing...we all have something we can do for the Lord. It could be the Lord gives you a gift later in life. What if He nudged you to step out and do something you are not comfortable doing? What if He is pushing you to learn something that will enable you to touch others with His love?

Try something new. You never know...you may be good at it! It may be something new for you to bless others. Be brave. Step out of the boat. If it's not your thing, that is just fine. But who knows, it may be the thing that will reach a lost soul for the Kingdom of God.

So whatever you do, whether in word or in action, do it as if you were doing it for the Lord. You plant the seed and He will make it grow.

Are you using your gifts for the Lord? Or have you developed a gift later in life? I would love to hear!


May 15, 2017

Who Needs Headlights In The Dark?

Photo by omeWillem at Pixabay
The other day John was preparing for his sermon and he ran across an interview of a writer named E.L. Doctorow. The interviewer asked him, “Do you have any idea how a project is going to end?” Doctorow said, “The easiest way to explain it is that it’s like driving a car at night: you never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”

John asked me if I knew how my story was going to end when I start one. At first, Who I said yes, because you have to have that happy ending, so you know in the end the hero and heroine will fall in love and live happily ever after. But after thinking about it, I said no, because while you may plot your story and have a certain path for your characters to follow, sometimes they get a mind of their own and want to do things not on the path you designed.

I thought Doctorow’s quote was interesting because in a way life is a lot like that. As believers in Jesus, we know the ending. The ending is just the beginning. We will get to continue on throughout eternity, being with our Lord, doing His work with other believers.

But while we know the ending, we certainly don’t know the path we will take. Some of us older ones thought we had our lives in order...all planned out, but then something happens that knocks you off your feet. And then, when you get up, you see that your path has taken a turn. It could be a nice easy path, or it could be one with muddy ruts and big stones to trip over.

But as followers of Christ, we have His light to illuminate our footsteps. No, we don’t get to see the whole road laid out before us, but we can trust Him to be with us every step of the way.

Psalm 119:105 says that His word is a lamp for your feet and a light for your path.

In John 8:12, Jesus says “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

We have all the light we need in order to take every step of the journey. But sometimes the light may seem dim and you might feel like you are stumbling over rocks and debris in the road. Maybe you need to clean your headlights or maybe your flashlight’s batteries need to be recharged.

When you find the darkness closing in, that’s the time to refocus and reconnect to the power source that gives Light to the world. Open up the Word and read about the love story of God and us. Sit still and spend time praying to the One who loves you enough bring you out of the darkness and into the light.

I think Doctorow not only had it right about writing, but about life itself when he said, it’s like driving a car at night: you never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.


It’s about living in the light and trusting that light to get you around the next bend in the road. 


May 01, 2017

Open Your Ears to Hear

Stephen was a man full of grace and the Holy Spirit. He was not afraid of what man could do to him and was obedient to proclaim the good news of Jesus. In his last sermon before he was stoned for his faith, Stephen pleaded with the people to not be stiff-necked, but full of faith and the Holy Spirit.

We are to be open to what God has for us. We need to listen with our ears and our hearts to hear the words of Jesus and let Him be our teacher in this life.

Don't resist the Holy Spirit as He whispers the ways of the Father and the Son. The wisdom of the world can lead us astray, but Jesus has the words of life...true life full of wisdom and grace.

How can you be open to the Spirit that gives life?


April 19, 2017

Anne of Green Gables Is Coming!

Have you heard? Netflix is doing a remake of Anne of Green Gables (by LM Montgomery) and will be here on May 12. I just saw a trailer today and am so excited. I loved the old one, but this one looks fresh and funny.

The author has some fabulous lines in Anne of Green Gables.

“Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It's splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.” 
“It's been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will.”
“Life is worth living as long as there's a laugh in it.” 
“I'm in the depths of despair!" 
“Red hair is my life long sorrow.”
“Next to trying and winning, the best thing is trying and failing.”

Now here is a trailer for the new Anne of Green Gables.


Doesn't that look fun?

Have you read or seen Anne of Green Gables? What do you love about it?


April 16, 2017

Sunday Morning Hush

The air was still and the sun was just peeking over the horizon, bathing the sky in a lavender hue. She heaved a heavy sigh as she hugged her sack of spices to her chest, its pungent scent filling the air as they walked the dusty path.

The women with her were silent, which was a relief to her weary heart. What more could be said? He was dead. Their hopes and dreams dashed as his life gave way to death.

How would life ever be the same? How could she go on without the one who gave her such hope?

She stifled the sob that threatened to undo her. She must be strong like the other women. Though silent, none of them were wallowing in grief as she wanted to do. She kept her head down, eyes on the path in front of her.

They neared the tomb and she finally looked up. The stone! Someone had rolled the stone away! Lurching ahead of the women, she ran to the tomb.

Who would steal her Lord? Who would dare?

Heart hammering in her chest, she stopped at the opening of the tomb, dust billowing all around her, making it hard to see. She stepped forward, then gasped.

He was gone, just as she feared.

She was jostled further in as the other women strained to see as well. Their cries of anguish filled her ears and she tried to make sense of the empty tomb.

A shift in the shadows to the right sent a shiver down her spine. She looked and suddenly a man in a white robe, gleaming in radiance appeared, sitting to the right of where the body should be.

They all cried out and sank to their knees in fear.

"Don't be alarmed," he said. "You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, 'He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you."

Just as suddenly as he appeared, the man disappeared from their sight. No one moved, and all was silent except for their labored breathing. She looked around at the faces of the women around her, their eyes wide, just as hers probably were.

He has risen!

A smile stole across her face. He has risen. She put her hands to her face, her grin unstoppable.

He was alive!

"Come on! Let's go tell the disciples!" She grabbed the hand of one of the women, pulling her from the tomb. "What good news we have to share. He is alive!"

She laughed, her heart full. Her hope restored.

Jesus is alive, the Giver of hope, the Teacher of all wisdom, the Bestower of peace. 

Have a blessed Easter.



April 05, 2017

Bat Appreciation Week

Did you know it was Bat Appreciation Week? I didn't. In some ways, I wish I didn't know, but as one of God's creatures, I suppose we should appreciate them at some point. So here are a few bat facts:

  • Bats are the only mammals that are capable of true flight.
  • Bats make up a quarter of all mammals.
  • They have 1 pup a year.
  • They can live up to 30 years. 
  • They can eat 1,200 mosquitos in 1 hour. 
  • They can live anywhere except polar regions and desert areas.

Did you know you can even Adopt A Bat?

Yeah, I don't want to either.

Happy Wednesday!




photo by jochemy @pixabay

April 03, 2017

The One Who Sees

Jesus was traveling through Jericho on his way to Jerusalem - the place where he would give up his life. He knew the plan and was focused on it.

But He looked up.

He looked up and saw Zacchaeus high in a tree.

Zacchaeus expected to be ignored. He usually was. It is ironic that the name Zacchaeus means innocent or pure. He was anything but innocent. He was a tax collector. A wealthy tax collector who most likely gained his wealth by extortion. No, he was not innocent by any stretch of the imagination. He was considered a bad man and was ignored.

Being a short man, he climbed the tree to see over the crowds while Jesus passed. In the branches of the tree, he would be hidden. He would be camouflaged. He could perch in the tree, get a good view of Jesus, and be hidden from those who would turn their backs on him.

But Jesus is the One who sees.

Jesus knows who we are and our value. He offers mercy and we won't find it in the trees we hide in.

Even though he was journeying to the cross, Jesus took the time to look up and see someone in need. Someone whose heart was open and receptive to His love.

The presence of Jesus changed Zacchaeus and He can change us too. His presence changes our mission in life.

His love becomes the heart of everything we say and do when we look up and see those in need around us.

Just like Jesus.

***Based on the John Ketchersid's sermon on 4/2/2017



Photo by Josch13 at Pixabay
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