December is here, and the days fly quickly by. The Christmas season always seems to be a very hectic time for most of us, and we see/hear the word "stress" quite a bit (sadly). Earlier today as I was bringing decorations up from my basement, I thought about many things I still need to do for Christmas (including more shopping and sending Christmas cards!). But a thought occurred to me as I was looking through boxes of ornaments and wrapping paper: The most important preparation I can do for Christmas is to prepare my heart. The oft-heard statement "Jesus is the Reason for the Season" is much more than a phrase for people to wear on pins. This statement is an all-important reminder of WHY we have this wondrous holiday each year on December 25. We are celebrating our Savior's birth!!! What a joyous thought! So no matter what activities we feel we must accomplish these next few weeks, we need to prepare our hearts to welcome the precious Baby who was born in a lowly manger. And remember the REASON He was born: To save us!!! So instead of being so overwhelmed with the world's ideas of what we should be doing, I want to make certain my heart is prepared to rejoice over my Savior's birth!! ~ ~ I am attaching a picture of my cat Moses as he "helped" me unpack a tub of Christmas items!
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Love Finds You in Holiday, Florida by Christian author Sandra D. Bricker is a delightful book! The story follows a middle-aged widow (Cassie) who has returned to Florida to sell the vacation home her late husband loved. While there, Cassie meets a widower, and sees her life change in ways that truly surprise her. Ms. Bricker has written a story with romance, humor, and a cast of characters who are believeable and entertaining! I highly recommend Love Finds You in Holiday, Florida for a very enjoyable read.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
I recently finished reading a book by Christian author Judith Miller, and I actually felt a little sad that the story had ended! To me, that's the sign of a good book - - when I would like to continue reading about these characters and see what happens in their futures. The Carousel Painter by Judith Miller is wonderful, and I highly recommend it. Taking place in Ohio in the late 1800s, Judith's characters really "came alive" for me as I read. This author does an amazing job with her characters' distinct personalities, and she also adds some bits of humor throughout the story too. I was never "bored" reading this book - - in fact, when I'd have to stop reading to tend to something else, I couldn't wait to return to this story. If you're a fan of historical fiction, read The Carousel Painter. You won't be disappointed!!
Friday, October 9, 2009
A few weeks ago I attended the American Christian Fiction Writers conference in Denver, Colorado. I had attended this same conference last year (held in Minnesota) and the experience was SO wonderful, I knew this year's conference couldn't possibly be any better. WOW! I was mistaken! For me personally, the conference this year was even MORE AMAZING....the Lord worked in such wonderful ways to bless me, I was constantly in awe of His goodness! I made new friends, visited with folks I'd met last year, and the Lord provided opportunities to talk with Editors - - even more than I'd planned on. ~ An added bonus was once again having my precious daughter Amy along with me. Such a special "mother/daughter" time together! ~ Perhaps the most amazing thing was our flight home. The plane was almost full when I made our online reservations, so Amy and I had seats at opposite ends of a row. We weren't thrilled about that, as we're used to sitting next to each other. ~ A precious couple from our church was also on that flight (they'd attended a wedding in Colorado) and as it turned out, their seats were beside ours! So, we were able to swap, so they sat together, and Amy and I sat together. Once again, I knew that was NOT "coincidence" but the Lord at work!! He is AMAZING!! (The picture is Debbie Macomber and me - - She was a GREAT keynote speaker!)
Sunday, September 13, 2009
When I was still teaching school a few years ago, I didn't particularly enjoy my daily drive to and from my school. At the time I had two children in school, and we were always rushing---getting to their schools, and then I'd hurry on to mine to be ready to greet my roomful of kindergarten children. I loved my teaching job, but it seemed my life was a constant whirlwind - - always hurrying. Quite a few times I'd commented to family members and friends that I wished we lived closer to the schools, and I even reached the point where I'd say "I detest that drive!"~ ~ Now, several years later, due to a very bad back I am no longer teaching. My "baby" is now a high school senior, and I view that very same drive across the county each day with an entirely different perspective. Instead of seeing the drive as a "hassle," I'm viewing it as extra time with my child. Yes, he can drive, but I'd much rather take him each day (there are too many reckless-driving young people on those roads). Besides, I keep reminding myself that this time next year my son will be in college, and I know I'll actually miss those daily drives together. ~ ~ This thought just occurred to me last week: The very same activity I'd felt grumbly about in the past is now something I treasure! It's all in the perspective. ~ ~ I am reminded of the verse in 1 Thessalonians: In everything give thanks. ~ So I am giving thanks for this added time with my precious son, while he's still living at home, and I'm also noticing some lovely scenery along the way that I hadn't noticed a few years ago!
Saturday, August 1, 2009
A few days ago I was out running errands in our Georgia heat and humidity. There were a few clouds in the sky, but I really thought the weather would stay clear all afternoon. As I pushed my shopping cart (or "buggy" as we say here in the South!) to my car, I noticed the sky had quickly become an ominous gray. The instant I arrived at my car to load the groceries into it, the rain began. Only it wasn't just some raindrops falling down - - oh no, it was a DOWNPOUR, in every sense of the word! It was as if someone had a giant bucket, dumping water onto the Kroger parking lot. Not only that, but the wind began to blow strongly....so the rain was now blowing into my car as I loaded the groceries. Before I was even halfway finished putting the groceries in, I realized I was DRENCHED! I'm sure I looked as if I'd just stepped out of a swimming pool, fully clothed and dripping. ~ At that moment, I felt like a kid again, and I began to giggle. Then I laughed, continuing to place groceries in the car while wiping water out of my eyes. I know I must have looked silly - - laughing by myself and at myself - - but I knew there was no point in being aggravated at getting soaked. ~ On the drive home, I couldn't resist putting in a music CD of old classic movie themes. So of course I played "Singin in the Rain" as I drove home....and laughed some more! ~ ~ A favorite verse from Proverbs 17:22 - A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones. ~ ~ May I always have a merry heart!
Saturday, June 27, 2009
After recently reading the book Blessings, by wonderful Christian author Kim Vogel Sawyer, I was struck with the thought of that oft-heard phrase, "Count your blessings." We hear a lot about being thankful and counting blessings around Thanksgiving time, but shouldn't we be just as thankful ALL year long? I decided to make a determined effort to really count my blessings each and every day - - not just mentally "listing them" but truly having a thankful heart. After all, the Lord didn't have to bless me as much as He did, but since I am so very blessed, I should be continually thanking Him!
* * If you've never read any of Kim Vogel Sawyer's books, you are missing a very talented author. The book I mentioned above is the 3rd in Kim's Sommerfeld Trilogy, and is excellent. Of course, ALL of Kim's books are excellent....and she's a very sweet lady! * *
Friday, May 29, 2009
Christian author Cheryl Wyatt has written some wonderful books for the Steeple Hill Love Inspired line, and I recently read two of them. A Soldier's Reunion and Ready-Made-Family are both in the WINGS OF REFUGE series, and I highly recommend them. ~ These contemporary romances feature themes such as forgiveness and trust, and show how God can help people overcome major obstacles in their lives. Cheryl's characters are very believable, and there is a sprinkling of humor throughout the stories too. ~ I wasn't familiar with pararescue jumpers and the amazing jobs they do until reading Cheryl's books. Cheryl does an awesome job using these *heroes and their loved ones in her stories, and I look forward to reading more of her books!
* Although Cheryl's characters are fictional, their job descriptions are very real!
Monday, May 18, 2009
As long as I can remember, I've heard people use the phrase "Spring cleaning" each year (especially in the months of April and May). It's a great concept, and who would argue that a sparkling clean home doesn't make the occupants feel better?! ~ But I recently had a thought, that in addition to having a thorough cleaning and de-cluttering in my home, I should also have this in my heart. This may sound silly to some folks: Spring cleaning in your HEART?? ~ For me, this just means "cleaning out" negative thoughts and habits that are cluttering up my heart - - which in turn affect my mind. I'll admit I've always been a worrier, so that's definitely something I need to "toss"! If I eliminate worry from my heart and mind and replace it with TRUST, PEACE, and PRAISE, what a difference that would make. Instead of fretting over situations in which I have no control, I would pray - - trusting the Lord to take care of the situation. This in turn gives me peace, and I can praise the Lord.....knowing He is in control! ~ I pray all my family and friends are having a wonderful Spring season - - filled with peace as you enjoy the beauty of this marvelous season (even if you haven't cleaned your house yet!!).
Monday, May 4, 2009
I recently finished reading the book Love Finds You in Treasure Island, Florida by Christian author Debby Mayne, and I now hope to visit Treasure Island myself one day! Using an actual location, Debby has created an enjoyable story with believable characters and a strong faith element. I enjoy stories that are not predictable, and that was certainly the case for this book! The characters' unique personalities and various situations throughout the story kept me turning pages. The ending was delightful, and now I look forward to reading more of Debby Mayne's books. ~ If you are a fan of contemporary Christian romance, you will enjoy reading Love Finds You in Treasure Island, Florida by Debby Mayne.* * This is another book in the "Love Finds You" line from Summerside Press. Each book, although fictional, is set in an actual town of the United States. * *
Thursday, April 23, 2009
I recently finished reading the historical fiction book Beyond This Moment by Christian author Tamera Alexander, and it was WONDERFUL. I was so moved by this story that as soon as I finished the ending, I hurried to my computer and sent Tamera a message. ~ This is the second book in the Timber Ridge Reflections series, and is set in the Colorado territory in the 1870s. The story follows a newly-arrived teacher, Molly Whitcomb, and James McPherson, the sheriff of Timber Ridge, and also includes many believable secondary characters. God's hand at work is demonstrated as events unfold and characters learn important truths. ~ Tamera has the amazing gift of writing in such a way that allows the reader to get completely involved in the characters' lives, and you feel as if you're there witnessing the events happen. ~ I've read and thoroughly enjoyed all of Tamera's books, but Beyond This Moment is now my VERY favorite!! Fans of historical fiction will enjoy and appreciate this touching story of love and forgiveness. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED !! : )
Friday, April 3, 2009
Okay, I know my title looks rather strange...but if you read this post, you'll understand! ~ Being a true Southerner, I LOVE fried okra, and back in January decided I was really hungry for some. One Sunday afternoon my son Steven needed to work on a school project at a friend's house, so we decided I would pick up some fried chicken and okra (he loves it too) on my way back to get him after the project work was finished. It was a blustery cold January afternoon, and I was really looking forward to getting back home and "digging in" to that yummy meal. ~ I had driven Steven to this particular friend's house on several occasions, so I knew right where the boy lived. As I was heading down the street, I called on my cell phone to let Steven know I was there, but the boys weren't quite finished yet. I told him it was no problem---I had a book to read in my car, and they could take their time (after all, I certainly wanted them to get a good grade on this project!). I pulled down into the circular driveway of the boy's house and turned off my car. I noticed two other vehicles parked in the driveway too and assumed they belonged to other boys working on the project. Since I was parked about ten feet in front of a large window, I knew it would be easy for Steven to glance out and see just where I was parked. ~ I bundled up in my winter coat and opened up my new copy of Tamera Alexander's wonderful book From A Distance (which, by the way, is awesome--in case you haven't read it. Tammy is a super-talented Christian author!!). As I began reading, I decided to go ahead and munch on some fried okra....the aroma had been tempting me! I was quite content, all cozy as I read and munched away on the fried okra. ~ About ten minutes later my cell phone rang, and it was Steven. "Mom, where are you?" I immediately figured he and his friends were trying to play a joke on me, as if they couldn't see my car right there in front of a window! I calmly replied I was sitting in his friend's driveway, waiting for him. "Mom, no you're not." Okay, I guess these boys were going to be persistent in trying to fool me today. "Honey, I'm sitting right here just ten feet in front of their house." After a slight pause, Steven's voice calmly spoke. "Mom, you're at a house down the street. Just stay where you are and I'll walk to your car." WHAT??!! Sure enough, I glanced back up the street and saw my son, walking in the howling January wind down the street to meet me, and I wondered ---WHOSE house was I parked in front of? I immediately put my van in reverse and backed out of the driveway, running over the curb in the process. Without a word, I picked Steven up at the curb, and scooted out of that neighborhood. HOW had I gone to the wrong house? And what must those people have thought, if they glanced out their front window and saw a STRANGER sitting in their driveway, reading a book and eating fried okra?! Thankfully Steven didn't question me or make any comments about what I'd done---I guess he's used to his mother by now. Besides, he was hungry and enjoyed getting started on the fried chicken and okra as I drove us back home. ~ How do I do such silly things sometimes? I honestly don't mean to - - these things just happen to me. ~ Lately I've been thinking perhaps I should buy one of those bumper stickers that reads: Embarrassing my children.....Just one more service I offer : )
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Happy St. Patrick's Day! I've always gotten a little amused, because on this special day lots of folks "claim" some Irish descent. I happen to be among them-LOL! From what I was told as a child, there truly is some Irish blood on my Mother's side of the family. Now that I have 3 redhaired children, they could certainly pass for having Irish heritage! ~ When I taught kindergarten, St. Patrick's Day was always a fun time with the children. A leprechaun would "visit" my classroom while we were on the playground, and he would leave little notes for us---along with making some harmless "messes" in our classroom. The children loved searching for him, and then discovering the "gold" he left for us (chocolate candy wrapped in gold foil). ~ I have also enjoyed reading the history of why this holiday was started, and the Christian heritage of St. Patrick. Whatever you're doing on this day, I hope you're having a blessed day filled with sunshine. * I'm including a picture of Sweetums as she celebrated St. Patrick's Day last year!*
Friday, March 6, 2009
I've just finished reading another book by Christian author, Kim Vogel Sawyer, and LOVED this story! A Promise for Spring is set in Kansas in the 1870's and tells the story of a young English woman trying to adjust to life on a sheep ranch. Her fiance asks her to stay until spring; if she's still unhappy then, he will pay her fare back to England. ~ As she always does, Kim Vogel Sawyer writes in such a way that you are drawn into the events of the story and feel the emotions of the characters. A Promise for Spring also shows amazing ways God can work --touching a hardened heart and using situations that appear hopeless to result in a positive outcome. ~ Kim Vogel Sawyer was already one of my VERY favorite authors, and after reading this book I am once again reminded of why I love her writing style. If you are a fan of historical romance, you should read A Promise for Spring by Kim Vogel Sawyer. HIGHLY recommended! : )
Sunday, March 1, 2009
I cannot believe it's been an entire year since a stray Calico cat had her four kittens on my front porch! Animals are much smarter than many people realize....this Calico knew whose porch she needed to use as a "maternity ward". Anyone who knows me at all knows I am the "ultimate CAT person" - LOL! Even though I already had several cats, I certainly couldn't turn away this sweet Calico (now named Patches).
The original plan was to keep one kitten and find excellent homes for the other three....but after tearfully placing one white kitten (Simon) with a loving owner, I just never found homes for Levi, Delilah, and Moses. SO.....Patches and the three remaining kittens happily live in my home now - - along with two older cats. Yes, they're a LOT of work (especially the litter box cleanings) but they are so worth it. I cannot imagine a home with no kitties now! Happy Birthday Babies!!
Sunday, February 15, 2009
I recently finished reading another book from Summerside Press, Love Finds You in Last Chance, California by Christian author Miralee Ferrell and LOVED it !! This well-written, entertaining story is set in 1877 and centers around a young woman who suddenly inherits a ranch when her beloved father dies. She's determined to be successful, but realizes she needs help. A young wrangler comes into town, along with his very young son, and is soon hired to work on the ranch. ~ Lots of action, mysteries, and a developing romance kept me turning pages. The way Miralee describes the characters and settings made me feel that I was actually "watching" the story....it really came alive for me, and I love that in a book! I can honestly say I was sorry to reach the end of this book - - I wanted to continue reading about these characters. ~ I highly recommend Love Finds You in Last Chance, California by Miralee Ferrell for a delightful, never-dull book!
Sunday, February 8, 2009
I've recently finished reading another book from Summerside Press, Love Finds You in Humble, Texas by Christian author Anita Higman, and I definitely recommend this book. I enjoyed Anita's style of writing, and if I had to choose one word to describe this book, it would be: ENTERTAINING ! I was never "bored" while reading the story, and I especially liked the bits of humor Anita used in her characters' thoughts. Love Finds You in Humble, Texas tells a present-day story of two sisters who are in love with the same man. As I read I was never sure exactly what would happen next, which of course kept me reading and interested! Anita's characters are realistic, and the faith message is woven in throughout the story (without being "preachy"). The secondary characters are even interesting too, which made the story all the more a pleasure to read. ~ If you're looking for an entertaining Christian book, read Love Finds You in Humble, Texas by Anita Higman. Now I'm looking forward to reading more of the Summerside Press "Love Finds You" books, AND more books by Anita Higman!! : )
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Two years ago today (January 22) my precious Daddy went to Heaven. Although he had been quite ill, we all expected him to recover, as he had always done in the past. He was a survivor, and we expected him to survive his health issues that had begun just a matter of weeks before his passing. Over the years, he had overcome some major heart problems, prostate cancer, and other serious conditions. I firmly believe one reason is because he wanted to be here for us: He was ALWAYS the Daddy! He felt his job was to take care of his family, no matter how old his daughters were. When we'd do things for him, he would always say: "It's not your job to do for me; I'm the daddy---I'm supposed to do things for you!" ~ A graduate of Georgia Tech, my Daddy was the smartest man I've ever known, and as a hospital volunteer said shortly before his death: "Your father is a walking encyclopedia of knowledge." I couldn't agree more.~ By the world's standards, my Daddy wasn't a wealthy man, but by his standards, he was. He loved his family so much, and he also loved animals. (He had five cats at the time of his death). It was very hard after my sweet Mama passed away (they'd been married almost 64 years!) but Daddy's cats were his companions. Over the years, whenever a stray cat or dog wandered into the yard, Daddy made sure the animal was fed and cared for. He loved wildlife too, and sent many donations to help care for sick or injured wild animals, in addition to the Humane Society. ~ But the most important thing about my Daddy was that he truly loved the Lord, and so now we have the comfort and peace of knowing Daddy is in Heaven, and we'll see him (and Mama!) again one day.
Thursday, January 1, 2009
Wow! I've heard lots of folks commenting about how quickly 2008 flew by, and I agree. Although my days are not nearly as hectic as they used to be since I'm no longer teaching school, the time still seems to slip away too fast. ~ It's really made me stop and think lately about where my time "goes." As Christians, we are called to be good stewards of our time, and I'll be the first to admit that time management is something I've struggled with for quite a while. As we welcome a brand-new year, I'm praying for the Lord to help me use my time wisely. Due to my back condition, routine tasks often take longer than they used to, and that is frustrating at times. But I want to focus on the most important tasks this year, and do those things first. ~ I pray that all my family and friends are blessed with a safe, healthy, happy 2009, and that we'll always put the Lord first in our actions and thoughts. Happy New Year!! ~ (I'm including a picture of Sweetums as she celebrated New Year's Eve last year!).