Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Spring Cleaning: Yard Edition

Take Control of the Weeds Before They Are Out of Control

Weapons against weeds!
Weeds!  They can get out of control fast!  And Spring is the right time to nip those bad seeds in the bud before they take over our yards and lives.  Now, I know you're probably thinking that weeds are something that must be constantly dealt with; and you're right.  But did you know you can reduce the occurrence of weeds by getting the upper hand on them in the Spring?  It's true!  I'll show you how.
As you probably know from reading my blog, I really enjoy making my own cleaners, soaps, and solutions rather than buying pre-made items.  Weed solution is no exception.  Just Google homemade weed spray or weed control and watch how many Websites pop up!
The common products I use for killing weeds are:
  • Boiling Water
  • Bleach
  • Vinegar
  • Salt
  • Dishwashing liquid
My friends over at tipnut have several recipes that will help in conquering these pesky foliage competitors.  There are such easy methods of ridding one's yard that you may think,"That's it?!  I can do that!"  And you can!  Get the recipes here!  

In my own life, I have allowed weeds to pop up before I even realized they were there or that they might cause a problem for me later on down the road.  I've sown seeds of weeds.  My words have cast seed that has grown into such awful weeds, that I'm embarrassed by it.  Innocent little sayings such as "I've never been able to lose weight," "I can't afford to go to that restaurant," or "my loved one and I will always be at odds with each other."  Some of those things may be true.  But when I've uttered them, I've also planted seeds of failure in relationships, in weight loss, in my finances.  And if you're like me, you're probably wondering how you can dig those weeds up.  Well, just like we can pour chemicals and hot water over the weeds in our yard, we have been given non-toxic, effective tools for eliminating weeds in our lives, too. 

(C) 2012 Captured Memories 365 

 Our words have power. James 3:5 says: A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything--or destroy it! (The Message).  We can dig up those things we've said and tend our hearts (Isaiah 5:1).  Take notice of what you're saying.  Life and death are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21).  Speak life, abundance, prosperity, blessing and favor into you life today!

Blessings!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Moments with Our Kids

Spending Quality Time With Our Children

This past weekend, my middle son and I attended a Civil Air Patrol Wing Conference.  It was so much fun!  As a Senior Member (the name for adult volunteers!), I had the opportunity to sit in on sessions meant to enhance my understanding and efficiency of my role in our squadron.  My son got to learn about teamwork, physical agility, and endurance--at the Air Force Academy ropes course!  While our definitions of "fun" vary greatly, one of the main things I took away from this weekend was the importance of sharing a love of this organization and desire to do our best in our individual roles. 
As I was meditating on the talks my son and I have had, I began to think about ways we can engage our children by taking an active interest in the things that interest them.  Sure, I've supported my son as he promoted every 8-12 weeks;  yes, I've been that mom who take TONS of pictures of my kids in their theatre productions; and I've put my children in classes that fulfilled their needs for the things they were interested in. But I discovered that being a part of the Civil Air Patrol organization with my son took that interest and support of him to a whole new level.  
  • How can we take our support of our children's activities to the next level?
  • What more can I do to show my support?
  • What if I'm already doing all that I can to support my child(ren)?
Taking our support to the next level doesn't have to mean we begin coaching the football or baseball team or volunteer as an officer in our child's organization!  Maybe we begin to arrange a snack schedule for moms to bring snacks after the practices or we collect funds for an end of the season pizza party.  Maybe it means we audition and perform a theatre production  with our children.  Or maybe it means we step in and provide a service or other role that is needed within the group or organization.  Pray about your involvement and ask the Lord to show you how you can become more engaged.  Ask Him to show you unique ways, especially if you aren't sure how you might possibly add one more thing to your already busy week!

I know it was a big step for me to volunteer with our local  CAP squadron, but once I did, it made a huge difference in the relationship with my son.  What would the Lord have you do?  Ask Him; He'll tell you!!

Blessings!

Friday, April 26, 2013

People in Our Lives

The Tapestry of Friendships  

Facebook is the technology for connecting friends, family, old high school friends, celebrities, authors, musicians, and so many other groups of people.  You can LIKE groups, pages, people and become friends with almost anyone who approves your friend request!  It's been so interesting to me to see how seemingly unconnected people are so woven together. 
Vicki Lucas, me, Ginger Work
In the past several months, the Lord has really placed me in the direct path of some very special people in my life.  Women and men I would not have met in my casual, daily activities in my small hometown, but that were orchestrated meetings through this great thing of social media through God's divine intervention.  And what is most exciting is that the people He's connected me with have something I need to hear, see, know, and glean from while using the talents the Lord has given me to be of some help to them.  It's my passion to help others anyway I can, and that is just what the Lord is allowing me to do.
Jan Cline and me
I also enjoy seeing how so many of my friends have friends connected to my friends, too!  My friend, Leslie in Florida, has a friend who is friends with my friend Susan in Washington.  Only God could do something like that.  My friend, Alllisia who I only know on Facebook and who lives in North Carolina, has a friend in Bell, Florida where my friend Mary lives.  
  • How many friends do you know like this?
  • How did you meet your Facebook friends?
  • Would it have been possible to meet them without divine appointment of the Lord?
Me and Cami
One of my now very good friends even went the extra mile to meet me--literally!  She was the girlfriend of my son's best friend in the Navy, and we chatted on Facebook frequently.  Cami was driving from Arkansas to Washington State to be with her sweetheart, and, although she had never made a cross country or mid-country trip alone before, she plotted and planned and surprised me by showing up at my house!  The Lord brought us together for a reason, and we've created a strong bond in just a few short months. 
 
Another friend I have recently reconnected with.  I first met Kerri and Ron at a Salvation Army women's retreat in Orlando, Florida back in 2007.  They were newlyweds, she was pregnant, and I just fell in love with these two hysterical comedians who live in Los Angeles.  Through the years, and via Facebook, we've kept in touch, and I am so honored to be their friend.  Kerri and her husband refuse to let Hollywood and the temptations of taking bookings and shows undermine their morals and values or dictate their Christian walk.  God put us together for a reason, too.  We were all in the right place at the right time!  
Kerri Pomarolli and Me
  • What if I had never gone to that retreat? Would I have met Kerri and Ron eventually?
  • Have I gone the extra mile like Cami to make it a point to see my friends face to face?
  • How many friends do you have that you know well, but have never met in person?
  • How are your friendships sewn and woven together by the Lord?
Remember, there are always people in your life who you are teaching, who are your spiritual peers, and who are teaching you.  This week consider those roles and how you and your friends fit into those!

Blessings!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

One Word...IMAGINE!

Can You Imagine?  Letting The Lord Carry You Beyond What You Could Ever Hope or Think

I can't tell you the number of times someone has said to me, "You have eight children?!  I can't imagine having a big family like that!"  And you know what, those people probably never will experience raising a big family like my husband and I have.  But one of the reasons they won't have that is because they can't see it; they've eliminated that possibility in their lives.  So how can we keep from doing that in our own lives?  First, we must understand that our words have value.  Even in the midst of some of my older children not walking with the Lord, when I could have complained and focused solely on how they were acting, a friend reminded me that I do have great kids.  And you know what?  I do!  
Every time I speak those words, something goes off inside of me, firing me up and confirming just what the Scripture says:  "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved--you and your household (Acts 16:31, NIV).  

Next, we have to realize that current situations are subject to change.  Thinking about the story of the prodigal son, I can imagine how the mother of this son must have felt the day he walked away.  The Word only tells us how the father felt, but as a mom whose children have left for the military, moved out of state to begin a new life with a wife and baby on the way, and a child who lives in town, but not in our home, I know firsthand that feeling of both pride in their independence and a feeling of being left.  I'm sure the prodigal mother must have felt as though her baby were leaving and it was her fault, and maybe some of it was, but when you read the rest of the story, the son that left, came back!  The situation changed, and the lost son returned of his own choosing.  I can imagine when my children come back on fire for God, ready to be life-changers and winners of the lost!  I can see it because God has done it for others and He will do it for me--and for you, too!

Finally, we have to understand that apart from God, we can do nothing. I couldn't have raised my children without God.  Back when my older children were younger, I thought I had to be the general, the boss, and I got sucked into a life as a controller.  The past few years, the Lord has broken me down in that area and has shown 

  • What thing just looks too big to be fixed?  
  • What relationship is too far gone?
  • What loved ones are too lost?
  • What dream or vision is too expensive?  

God can do it for it if you just take that step to believe it, see it, want it and get it with God's help!!

Blessings!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Time for a NEW 30 Day Challenge!

What Can You Achieve in 30 Days?

Have you ever considered what you might accomplish in just 30 days?  

  • Begin to learn a new language 
  • Practice an instrument every day for 30 minutes each day 
  • Commit to listening to music more throughout the day 
  • Pray and read the Word consistently for 30 days 
  • Make your bed
  • Load/unload the dishwasher
  • Write lesson plans (if you homeschool)
  • Draw using pencils, paint, chalk

Statistics from usnews.com states it takes just 21 days to form a new habit.  Whatever it is, you CAN do it!
(C) phenomena.nationalgeographic.com


Several months ago, our assistant pastor decided to practice playing the trumpet for 30 minutes a day in a self-imposed 30 days challenge.  I began to think, I can commit to doing something for 30 days, too!  I knew National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) was getting ready to start, so I decided I would commit to writing a 50,000 word novel in those 30 days.  I turned on my internet radio in order to have some background noise for writing.  What I didn't realize until about 3 weeks in to writing was that I hadn't just committed to writing during that time, I had committed to only listening to music while I was writing.  Behold!  Another 30 day challenge was born!  Back in November, I started listening to various praise and worship, Christian rock, Christian contemporary music channels as I wrote.  Now, it is not uncommon to see me sitting at my desk with music on as late as 11:00 p.m.

What do you want to commit to for the next 30 days beginning in May?  C.S. Lewis said, "You are never too old to have a new goal or dream a new dream.  What will you set out to accomplish today?  You might use the suggestions above or choose something else, but if you will commit to being consistent in your efforts for the next 30 days, you will see results that become ingrained into your life!  
I'd love to hear what you're challenging yourself to do in May, so be sure to leave a comment!!

Blessings!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Spring Cleaning: Bedroom Edition

Cleaning, Decluttering, and Organizing the Most Intimate Area of Our Lives

This series has been all about Spring Cleaning various areas of our homes and our spiritual homes as well.  Today, we're discussing the bedroom.  The bedroom is a unique area in our home because it's often the least room visited by guests.  Why is that?  Maybe because it's the most intimate and private room in our homes.  Maybe because it holds baskets of laundry that we just couldn't get put away yet this week.  Or maybe because there are simply things in there that we don't want others to see.  Let's see what we can do to make those areas more visible, organized, and ready for visitors!

Every morning I get up and make the bed.  It's just what I've gotten in the habit of doing for the past 10 years.  I am a fan of FlyLady.net and that was one of the daily home blessings that I began to do.  And some days, it was sort of difficult!  The baby hadn't slept through the night, so I was tired, and I didn't want to make the bed just to fold the sheets down and take a nap while the baby slept.  Well, that was my excuse anyway.  I'm telling you, though, that if you will take the time to daily make your bed, your room will feel more inviting to you and, if you're married, to your husband.  Making the bed is similar to reading a chapter of Scripture or a daily devotional.  It is a great start to your day and sets the tone for the remaining hours before the family comes back together for the evening meal.  So stop making excuses and just do it!

  • What excuses might you be using for not making the bed?
  • what excuses might we be making for not taking time for devotions?
In our bedroom, my husband and I each have a bedside stand.  Often, this becomes the catcher of all things that I don't want to take time to put away or throw away or things I don't really have a home for.  So I start to sort through each piece of jewelry, each ponytail holder, and each piece of paper I have unloaded on that little stand.  I do the same for my husband's stand, tidying up these two areas before moving on.  They seem kind of insignificant, but if they get cluttered, everyone notices and nothing can be easily found when needed. In our spiritual life, this might look like attitudes we've carried throughout the day or emotions we've continued to suppress and bottle up.  But others notice when we're cluttered with other things, thoughts, emotions, and rebellious feelings that we don't need to hang on to.

Next, I focus on laundry and the dresser.  Now laundry is an on-going process in our house of eight, but how easy is it to cut corners and stuff those clean clothes in the drawer (again, where few others actually see!) and not devote some time to folding and putting them away?  It is a blessing to my husband when he pulls open his drawer to get ready in the morning and his clothes are folded with care.  It is sort of my way of honoring his work outside the home by doing my housework to the best of my ability.  
  • What ways can you bless others by the work you do?
  • What ways have you cut corners in your work thinking no one notices?  
The final thing, as we've discussed with each room so far, is to remember the floor.  It is the foundation of the room, it does matter if it is not dusted, vacuumed, or mopped (depending on what type of flooring material you have.).  Think about how your room would look if the bed were made, the tables and stands cleared and organized, but the floor had not been vacuumed.  Would the room still look as lovely?  Probably not.  If any of these areas we've looked at today were left undone, the rest of the room wouldn't look as nice.  In our walk with the Lord, if we can quote Scripture, pray, read devotions, but we talk badly about others, what does that say about us?  As much as we may look like Christians up until that point, as soon as that little speck of dirty gossip comes out of our mouths, the rest of our image is defiled and looks bad, too
(C) A Girl and Her Mutt.com

Let's make a point this week in our bedrooms to make the bed, clear out the clutter, take time folding the laundry, and vacuuming the floor. And in our walk with the Lord, let's not stop short, but finish all the aspects of an intimate relationship with Him.  Let's make a commitment to spend time in prayer, read daily devotions, stop making excuses for why we can't, bless others, and stop trying to take short cuts!

Have a blessed week!





Monday, April 22, 2013

Jabez: A Prayer for Today

The Prayer of Jabez: Blessing, Increase, and Protection


The prayer of Jabez (the Scripture, not the book!) is one of my favorite prayers in the Word of God to meditate on.  Here's what it says:
     Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez saying, "Because I bore him in pain."  And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, "Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!"  So God granted him what he requested (1 Chronicles 4:9-10).

I like looking at the aspects of this prayer because it wasn't just for Jabez and it isn't something that is in the past; we can have the same things Jabez asked the Lord for!  Skipping down to his actual prayer, Jabez begins to ask the Lord to bless him.  I can't remember the last time I simply asked the Lord for His blessing. I declare in church each week that I am full of the Blessing of the Lord, but when did I last ask Him to bless me?
Looking at the next sentence, Jabez asks for his territory to be enlarged.  Now, there are a number of opinions as far as what is meant here, but for the purposes of today, I would like to suggest that it can mean increase our literal acreage, the number of people in our church, our sphere of influence with others, our family size, assets and more.  What area do you need increase?
The next two sentences I believe go hand-in-hand.  Here Jabez is asking for the protection of the Lord and for God to keep evil from him.  Especially with the recent events in our country this month, it is practically essential that we pray that portion!  
What areas of your life need protection?

  • Finances?
  • Relationships?
  • Health?
  • Addictions?

Finally, Jabez asks one last thing:  That I may not cause pain. How many times have I unintentionally said or done something that hurt, offended, or angered others?  This actually happened recently (and drew me back to the Prayer of Jabez!).  I honestly did not mean to hurt my friends, but through my words, I did.  I'm pleased to report, though, that the Lord healed that rift, and we are all okay once again.  But if I could have avoided the hurt and pain and mistrust at all, I certainly would have preferred that instead!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Stress Test--Book Review

STRESS TEST: A Story of Continued Faith in the Midst of Trials


Dr. Mabry does it again with a fantastic storyline, engaging characters, and action-packed into his newest book.  I'll be honest, though, I wanted to quit reading it at one point!  Let me explain...

The story unfolds with Matt Newman being kidnapped.  The action just rolls on until, holding his breath, he escapes his captors and conceals himself to make a getaway.  But when he slips and falls, winds up in the ER with no memory of what happened, and police questioning him for murder, things get really interesting.
I began to feel at ease knowing that his competent, and attractive, lawyer would get him off this charge, especially with little or no hard evidence.  But when another murder occurs, this time in his own home, and he is charged and booked for narcotics possession while the DA's office builds a case against him for murder, I just couldn't take it!  Matt was such a good, caring man.  He could never have done anything so awful.  I wanted to set the book aside and stop before things got any more horrible for this attractive, caring doctor (Wait!  He's just a character in a book!).
Just like in life, when bad things continue to get worse, and I want to push them aside so I don't have to see, I simply couldn't walk away, though.  I had to read to the end, knowing that God would see this character through.

Dr. Mabry does an amazing job of weaving the realities of life into his book and characters.  He carefully, vividly, eloquently, and very matter-of-factly shows that when things seem bad, sometimes they get worse.  But God is always in control and sees us through when we believe in faith that He will!   I'm glad I read the rest of the book--you will love the ending!!



Read more about Dr. Richard Mabry and his amazingly crafted novels here.
Stress Test is available at:
AMAZON
Barnes & Noble
Christian Book


Friday, April 19, 2013

Stress Test Giveaway!!

So honored to be on this book tour!  Be sure to enter the GIVEAWAY!!!

Richard Mabry is celebrating the release of Stress Test with a Nook HD Giveaway! Enter today.


Stress-Test-giveaway300
One winner will receive:
  • A brand new Nook HD
  • A $15 gift certificate to BarnesandNoble.com
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on April 27th. Winner will be announced on 4/29/13 at Richard's blog.

Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Prayers for Our Nation

God is STILL in Control!

Lifting up the citizens of our great nation in prayer:

May you find peace in the Lord, increase in your faith in the Father, and let the Spirit guide you in the days ahead.  Praying Psalm 91 over family, friends and everyone effected by recent events in our country.  AMEN!


GOD BLESS AMERICA!!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Choose This Day Whom You Will Serve

As for me and MY house, WE will serve the Lord!


Over the past few years, I have been saddened by the family members who were raised in the church, raised to know God, know the Truth of His Word, but who have fallen away from their walk with the Lord.  As I was meditating on my lost family, the Lord began to show me, through my pastor and Godly brothers and sisters, that those family members don't have to remain lost!  The seeds of salvation and the Word of God were planted in each of them years ago, and God says that His Word will not return void, but will accomplish that which He purposed it and prosper in the thing He sent it (Isaiah 55:11, NKJV).  Furthermore, we can take authority over those who have had the seed planted in them, through our witness, those the Lord has sent in their paths, etc., that the seeds would begin to grow and flourish and that they would find a new thirst and hunger for the Lord.

At our evening prayer meetings, we've been discussing the rising occurrence of singling out or profiling Christians as people groups who should be watched.  Oh, that we would be found in possession of overwhelming evidence that we are indeed Christ followers!  As the End Times draw ever closer, it is even more vital that we choose whom we will serve.  "...Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve...but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord (Jeremiah 24:15, Amplified).

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Q&A with Vicki V. Lucas, Author of TOXIC

Vicki V. Lucas Answers Questions About Her Books and Writing


I got together with author Vicki V. Lucas and asked her some questions regarding her books, inspiration, and projects she's working on.  Here is our question and answer session!!



What inspired you to write your first book?

I wanted to buy a book for my nephew’s birthday. He was getting to the age where I felt like I could really start sharing the great books with him. But when I was in the secular bookstore, I was shocked at the choices. Most were witchcraft, intense romance, or books only for girls. I went to the small Bible bookstore in their town, but I was told that they didn’t sell books for teens. That’s when I decided that we needed more books for teens that show God’s truths while giving the teens a great adventure to read.

What books have most influenced your life most?

Oh, that’s such a hard question. I have to start with the Bible, don’t I? J Of course, the Chronicles of Narnia – they didn’t make me feel like I wanted to become a writer, but they showed me how a book can be so much more than just a story. The Robe by Lloyd C. Douglas. Hinds’ Feet for High Places. The Lord of the Rings. I could go on and on. That’s one thing that I love about books. One book leads you to another. Then that one leads you to something different. After many years, you look back and can sum up your life by what you were reading at that time.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

I’ve found you can learn from anyone if you are willing. In secular fiction, I love the writing style of Jodi Picoult although I sometimes don’t like her topics. I love Thomas Costain, J.R.R. Tolkien, Ann McCaffery, Sharon Kay Penman, Lee Child, John Grisham, Christopher Paolini, and a few more. In the Christian world, I love Ted Dekker, Frank Peretti, and a few others. I like to read, if you can’t tell!

Finally, I have to thank my Mom. She has been an author all my life, so when I began, she was amazing at teaching me so much! I couldn’t have done it without her!

What book are you reading now?

I am reading a book called “The Knife of Never Letting Go.” It has a fascinating writing style.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

Absolutely! Patrick Ness is the author of the book I’m reading, and his style is interesting. Since I also self-publish, I read a lot of books from Indie authors, and it’s exciting to see the creativity and passion in their books.

What are your current projects?

Right now I’m in the process of finishing the sequel to Toxic named Rancid. I’m on the second round of edits. I normally do three rounds, if not more, so it’s almost done. I’ve also started writing my third book. I’m keeping that a BIG secret though because it’s rather exciting! All I can tell you is that it’s not of the Toxic series, and it takes place in this world. Does that make you curious?  

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

Man. For Rancid, I would’ve cracked the whip and got it done faster. For Toxic, I don’t know. Writers are like artists, and I believe that as both practice, they become better. I think I could write Toxic better now. I’ve learned a lot about writing in the last year, but I’m very happy with it.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Making the time! I have little problems with writer’s block. Even if I procrastinate, it’s because I’m tired or distracted. I have over eight series and a few books that aren’t part of a series planned, but there’s little time in the day. 

Who designed the covers?

I’ve contracted a lady to do my work to save me time. Do you want her name? ;)

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

To write a book, you must sit down and write. It’s not a communicative process. And when it’s your first one, you stare at the scene and wonder if you’ve got what it takes. Am I any good? Will anyone want to read it when I’m done? Have I lost my mind? If I have, should it  bother me that I don’t want it back? How do I even start? But once you get going, you gain confidence!

Did you learn anything from writing your book (about yourself, the overall writing process, publishing, etc.) and what was it?

Criticism is hard to take! I am so thankful for every piece of constructive criticism I’ve received, but it still tastes nasty when it goes down! I didn’t think I’d like writing as much as I do.  I’m surprised that the editing and rewriting takes longer than the first draft, and I’ve learned that this is the best career in the world.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Go for it! And don’t get discouraged! We have so many venues right now and so many options. You don’t have to wait for a publisher if you don’t want to. Also, we always feel like we are in competition with each other, but there’s a much sweeter fellowship waiting when you make friends with other writers.


Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thank you! I appreciate everyone who has read Toxic, and I truly hope you like it. There are MANY exciting things coming up as soon as I can, and I’m working as fast as I can to get you the next book!

As a reminder, TOXIC can be purchased via Amazon.com!  Please post a review to support Vicki and other independently published authors as well!!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Vision and vision boards

Catching the Vision God Has for Your Life

Many businesses include mission and vision statements on their websites and as a reminder the purpose and direction of the company. Our calling, our job assignment from God, is by no means any different. So today, I’m talking about creating a vision board.
(C) Jade DeGood 2012


  •  Have you ever thought about going on a trip? 
  • Did you just get in your car and drive with no set destination? 
  •  Did you go to the airport and buy a ticket (oh, boy! The cost of airfare the day you want to leave!!) and tell the ticket agent you don’t know where you want to go, but you’ll trust his or her judgment for whatever destination the agent chooses? 
  •  Did you start walking with no particular place to go? 

 For many of us, the answer is NO! More than likely you spent weeks, months or even years planning where you wanted to go, how you would get there, what you would do once you got to the destination and how much it would cost to take this trip.
 Habakkuk 2:2 says, “And then God answered: ‘Write this. Write what you see. Write it out in big block letters so that it can be read on the run (The Message).”
We need to constantly have a picture and reminder right in front of us, telling us where we believe the Lord has told us we are going. We can create vision boards, as Terri Savelle Foy (www.terri.com) has suggested, and we will remain focused on our overall goal for the Kingdom of God.

  •  The Lord wants us to be prosperous. 
  •  He wants us to enjoy nice things. 
  •  He wants us to enjoy our lives. 

 What things do you desire? Put them on your vision board! What dreams has God given you? Put them on your vision board! Maybe it’s vacations, missions trips, to be debt free, to become an evangelist or to go to college…put those things on YOUR vision board!!
I’m posting mine as an example and would love to see yours…and as those things come to pass, please write and tell me!




Have a blessed week!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Busyness and the Lord

Being About the Lord's Business and Reducing Our Busyness

It is amazing how busy I have gotten over the past few years.  I remember when I was homeschooling my older six children and we belonged to a sort of support group and co-op.  There were field trips, play groups, sports, and planning days.  Then we had church activities such as worship team, youth group, 'tweens group, curriculum writing, audio-visual team, and home prayer groups.  And those were just the activities that the children and I took part in!  We were busy!  
Now, our week is filled with swimming three days a week, Civil Air Patrol, a cooperative school (my kids take theatre classes there), mid-week prayer, supplemental school all day, ballet classes, youth group, usher training (my husband, son, and I are a part of this team!), drawing classes, youth singers, youth group, women's ensemble, men's fellowship, women's fellowship, audio-visual team, cafe outreach, and a homeless dinner outreach.  We are even busier!
One thing I noticed about our busyness is that before it revolved around things we wanted to do and, in many ways, simply kept my children entertained.  The things that cause us to be busy now have changed and become more the things of the Lord and increasing His Kingdom.  As we work in those areas at church, for His Kingdom, He continually increases our time for working on our own goals, dreams and visions that He's given us.
There are also times when we need to slow down.  The Scripture says, "Be still and know I am God (Psalm 46:10, NKJV).  We need to daily meet with Him, just as we would look at our daily planner, to see what He has in store for us.  Meeting with the Lord and making time for that shows the value we place on our relationship with Him.  We wouldn't neglect to meet with a friend for years and when a crisis arose suddenly call them and ask for help, money, a place to stay, etc.  It's the same way with the Lord.  Let's make a point of not being too busy to daily meet with Him and talk with Him.  Remember, in Jeremiah 29:11 the Word says, "For I know the plans I have for you, the Lord; plans to prosper you and not harm you.  To give you a hope, a future, and an expected end."  

Thursday, April 11, 2013

TOXIC by Vicki V. Lucas--Book Review

What if your destiny stretched you mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually?


Think carefully about reading this book. It’s filled with things like sword fights and flying horses, death and magic, violence and huge evil monsters, and there is absolutely no hope that life will turn out okay at the end. If you do choose to read this book, prepare yourself. This is not a story for the faint of heart. Your beliefs are guaranteed to be challenged. The monsters will never give up until they catch you, the magic is too strong to fight, and the disease from the water is impossible to cure. Kai, Taryn, and Lizzy have to purify the toxic water of Eltiria before anyone else dies. If they don’t, life as they know it will cease to exist. A Winged Horse sets them on the search to locate the source of the poison and to find their faith while battling to see the truth in a world of chaos and destruction.

In her book, TOXIC, Vicki V. Lucas brings to life three youth who are thrust together to fight a common enemy and solve a big problem for their towns perhaps making them heroes.  Lucas does an amazing job of creating the fictional towns these three came from and details the area so much so that it is easy to "see" the people, the landscape, and the characters.  The characters were my favorite part of the book, next to the story.  The action flowed so well and engaged me in such a deep way that even when I fell asleep reading the book at 1 or 2 a.m., I would dream about the characters and the events in the story!
The story takes three teens and casts them as chosen slayers who can defeat the evil Belial and Nighthawk Nephesus and free their people of delusions of great kings, goddesses, crystals.  The trio is shown the power of Adoyni, a great and loving God.  There is tell of a battle in which Lesu is killed, and has evil pawns called the Unwanteds.
One of my favorite parts was the accurately and detailed manner in which Lucas shows how the two teens boys have come to have compassion over their friend, Lizzy, who falls ill.  They are all from such different social classes that back home this would have been unheard of.
An underlying theme that I saw was that often God calls us to minister or partner with those who come from very different walks of life, but He has a purpose for us and it's much bigger and grander than we know.  We aren't alone in fulfilling our destinies, and we just have to believe in the power of God.
I have to admit that, aside from Lord of the Rings and Chronicles of Narnia, I don't usually like a lot of fantasy fiction. In fact, I've ONLY seen the movies of those books; I never have read the stories! 

Thank you, Vicki Lucas, for engaging me with your characters and drawing me in to this story!!

You can order TOXIC via Amazon!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Distractions--How to Avoid Common Pitfalls and Finish Your Tasks

Staying the Course and Finishing the Task at Hand

One of my favorite books to read to the kids was "If You Give a Mouse A Cookie."  It was the perfect example of how a simple task can lead to distractions, and, before we know it, we've done everything except the one thing we had set out to do in the first place.
There was recently one on Facebook that described a mom's life almost perfectly.


If you give a mom a muffin, she’ll want a cup of coffee to go with it.  So she’ll pour herself some. 
The coffee will get spilled by her three year old. She’ll wipe it up. 
Wiping up the floor, she will find some dirty socks. She’ll remember she has to do some laundry. 
When she puts the laundry in the washer, she’ll trip over some boots and bump into the freezer. 
Bumping into the freezer will remind her she has to plan supper for tonight. She will get out a pound of hamburger. 
She’ll look for her cookbook. The cookbook is sitting under a pile of mail. 
She’ll see the phone bill which is due tomorrow. 
She will look for the checkbook. The checkbook is in her purse that is being dumped out by her two year old. 
She’ll smell something funny. She’ll change the two year old. 
While she is changing the two year old, the phone will ring. 
Her five year old will answer it and hang up. 
She’ll remember that she wants to phone a friend to come over for coffee on Friday. 
Thinking of coffee will remind her that she was going to have a cup. 
She will pour herself another cup. And notice that someone has eaten the muffin.

(C) 2012 Parenting Is Funny
Does this sound familiar to you?  I know it does to me!  It could almost be my daily routine and one reason I lose such valuable time throughout my day.  These sorts of distractions are all around us, but there are ways of avoiding them.  
As I said yesterday, we can make schedules.  Whether you use a smartphone, tablet or hard copy calendar, I encourage you to write things down.  This allows us to see our day at a glance.  And with everything we have going on in our busy lives, we are not likely to remember all these things no matter what we tell ourselves.  I am a list maker and I enjoy checking things off throughout the day.
Since I'm a writer, I like to do that, but maybe you need something printed out or visual examples work better for you.  Then I would encourage you to create a pictorial task list or chore list.  Laminate it so it can be reused.
When taking on more tasks, such as helping at church, community involvement, and children's activities, ask yourself if you can do it and then ask God if you should do it!  Service is such a great opportunity to reach out to others, but not at the expense of our own families.  This can be a distraction that keeps us from accomplishing daily goals and tasks.  
It is also a pitfall for us if we fear letting others down or how we might look if we choose to turn down the request for help.  This is a pride issue.  A lot of distractions, not wanting to let others down, how we might come across to others, wanting to seem as though we can "do it all" are all pride things, and we need to know and accept our own limitations. 


We don't have to live with an immediacy expectation either!  We can work to finish our tasks knowing that we have done them well and for the glory of the Lord.




Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Spring Cleaning: Bathroom Edition

SPRING CLEANING!!

Cleaning bathroom: love it or don't!  I happen to like it because it's a small room that doesn't take much time to get things done and see the efforts of my work.  It usually is only comprised of a sink, a tub/shower, the floor, and the toilet.  I like to start with the sink, then move to the tub/shower, toilet and end with the floor.  With that in mind, let's also examine some areas of our lives that are similar to the bathroom.
First, the sink.  To clean this fixture, I usually use baking soda.  If the drain runs slow, I shake some baking soda down it followed by vinegar.  The chemical reaction causes the compound to bubble and really does clean the pipe!
  • What area in our lives is running slow and needs to be cleaned up?  
  • Perhaps we procrastinate calling someone or sharing the Word with others.  
  • We can clean that area up by letting the Holy Spirit bubble up in us.  
  • Allow His words to flow out clean and smooth.
Next, I clean the shower.  We just have a shower and every time I step into it to clean it, is makes a sort of popping noise where there is a space between the shower pan and the actual floor below.  It always catches me off guard startling me, and I have to remember that I'm not going to fall through the floor!  Cleaning the shower usually is easy and quick because I can use glass cleaner on the doors and walls. I use baking soda again on the floor because it kills germs and gets into the grooves easily.
  • Are you sure of your footing with the Lord?
  • When we fellowship with the Lord, we're standing on holy ground just as Moses did when God called him to the burning bush (Exodus 3:5).
  • Jesus is our firm foundation, the cornerstone the builders rejected (Ephesians2:20).
Now I move to the toilet.  Now, we all know that this is by far the filthiest fixture in the bathroom!  The nice thing is that is doesn't stay filthy.  We spray cleaner (I use a recipe from dear friend over at Stacy Makes Cents!) in there and it just begins to sparkle with no telltale signs of the filth that was once there.  It's like that with Jesus, too.  Paul says in 2 Corinthians7:1:  "Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from the filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God (NKJV)."

Finally, I finish the bathroom cleaning by cleaning the floor and washing the rugs and towels.  We have wood floors in our bathroom, and all sorts of things are tracked in on it.  Vinegar and water clean the floor up nicely.  The mixture removes scuff marks, dirt and mud, and even makes it shine a little bit.  I move the dog food bin, the dog's water dish, the rugs, trash can, and the standing toilet paper holder out of the bathroom to mop as much of the floor as possible.  I empty the garbage then, I put everything back in its place and the bathroom is finished.
In Scripture we read that John the Baptist is telling others of the coming of Jesus.  He says, "He's going to clean house--make a clean sweep of your lives.  He'll place everything true in its proper place before God; everything false he'll put out with the trash to be burned (Matthew 3:12, The Message)."

Who would have thought there would be a faith message in cleaning the bathroom?  Well, maybe if tackling the bathroom isn't your favorite thing to do, this article will inspire you to consider areas of your faith walk as you clean and freshen this area of your home!

Blessings!







Monday, April 8, 2013

Time Stealers: How to Make the Most of Your Days

Help!  What Happened to My Day?

Have you ever had one of those days when you get up, poised to make the most of your day and be super productive in all that you accomplish...only to find that before you know it, it's 5:30 p.m., you've washed and folded one load of laundry, checked Facebook, and you haven't even thought about making dinner let alone accomplished much for the day? (tell me I'm not the only one who's done that!).
Can I just let you know, it's not you!  You probably didn't set out to get distracted and sidetracked, but that is just what Satan intends for us so that he can keep us from completing things in our day that turn back to praise to God!
Last week we talked a little about some time stealers and how we seem to turn from our daily goals fairly easily.  With children, getting distracted is not difficult.  In our homeschool, I created a daily schedule so that we would know what subject to be working on at any given time during the day.  The problems would begin when I went to bed later than I expected to so I got up later.  That set our whole day behind!  Then I would have an unexpected errand that had to be run during our schooling time which got us further behind.  Next, we would find ourselves out and about during lunch time, so we settled for eating on the run and going to a fast food restaurant.  This of course put us even further behind in school and snowballed out of control as I found myself returning home just in time to start cooking dinner and having finished only a few things in school with my children.
Do you know that this isn't just a problem for homeschooling families but for a lot of people!  One thing sets off another which sets off another and so on.  We get sidetracked, distracted from our daily goals.  I used to fret about these things all the time, but for homeschoolers we can combat those times when we're out running around by pre-planning for them.  For example, I have a Galaxy Tablet now and have downloaded a variety of educational apps for the kids to work on while in the car.  It's a lot easier than bringing their books if we have to run errands.

Here are some ideas to help you make the most of your days:

  • Schedule EVERYTHING!  If you want to make time for Facebook, put it on the schedule.  Time for homeschooling, put it on the schedule.  Time for your vision or calling, exercise, coffee with friends, a date with your husband, put it all on the schedule.  
  • Meditate on health and healing.  By refreshing and renewing your soul, mind, and body, you can re-energize yourself.
  • Visit your vision board regularly.  Don't get frustrated with what isn't done; pray about the timing.  Pray for the next day and the next, too.
  • Stick with the tasks you're supposed to do now.  Often we get so busy trying to get things done when they really could wait.  Focus on the tasks that are for now.
  • Finally, ask the Lord to restore the time that Satan has stolen from us!  Ask and it will be given to you (Matthew 7:7).



Friday, April 5, 2013

Ninety Days--Twenty-five Percent of A Year

The First 90 Days

The first three months of the year are over now.  I can't believe all that the Lord has allowed us to accomplish in such a short amount of time!

How did your first 90 days of the year end for you?  
Did you start your vision board?  
Have you listed things and prayed about things to put on it?  
Have you taken the first steps in moving toward your vision?

My first 90 days included travelling to Washington State for Inland NW Christian Writer's Conference and preparing two of my books for publication.  These were THREE things on my vision board!  My friend and I have also been working to enhance and improve our women's ministry at church, another thing on my board.

My year so far:

  • travel to other states and write about their hidden treasures
  • attend a writer's conference
  • publish two books
  • women's ministry



Remember to consider what one thing, one step, can you take toward accomplishing something on your vision board today!

IMAGINE what you can do!!!







Thursday, April 4, 2013

Stolen Dreams

Dream Stealers:                                                                        What Are They and How Can You Get Your Vision Back?

What did you dream of doing or being when you grew up?  Do you remember?  As I've shared before, I used to pretend I was a famous writer and a television news anchor!  You may be thinking, "Oh, sure!  She remembers and now that is just what she's doing!  Why can't I be like that?"  
Well, let me encourage you with this:  I didn't remember that I pretended to be a writer when I was little!  I was reading a devotion and the topic was dreams, like what you dreamed of being in life.  I seriously couldn't remember much of what I played except school and Swiss Family Robinson with my sister and some neighbor kids.  
I began to seek the Lord in this area asking Him, "Bring back to my memory those dreams I had as a child, Lord."  You know, that's just what He did!  Memories of playing television news came flooding back and so did all the times I had spent writing for the joy of it--four years in high school of scripts and books were immediately thrust into my memories.  Now that I know my dream and I'm striving for it, I have to protect it to keep it from being stolen.

You know the Scripture says in John 10:10, "The enemy comes to kill, steal, and destroy.  But I've come to give you life and life more abundantly."  Satan continually tries to steal our dreams and visions.  How does he do that, you're wondering.  By stealing our time, our money, our friends and network of support people, by lying to us (telling us we can't possibly follow through with our dreams or telling us we aren't worthy of accomplishing them), by stealing our health so that it looks as though we can't do things, and a wealth of other ways that we simply brush off.  We get up late so we end up with less time to write or our paycheck is short or there is a misunderstanding between friends.  And the lies we hear!  We shouldn't listen to the Father of Lies!  He's stealing our dreams!!

Listen to what the Father says about us:  I am the righteousness of God in Christ; I am no longer a slave but an heir and if an heir then a child of God; I am blessed; everything I put my hands to prospers; I am joint heirs with Jesus!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

What ARE My Dreams and Visions?

Discovering the vision God has for YOU

Do you know that God has a vision for your life?  In Romans 8:29-30 Paul says, "God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him. After God made that decision of what his children should be like, he followed it up by calling people by name. After he called them by name, he set them on a solid basis with himself. And then, after getting them established, he stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what he had begun (The Message).  He decided how our lives would play out.  Since we have been given free will and we can choose the path of our life, we often get sidetracked from the original plan.  The Word says that "we like sheep have gone astray (Isaiah 53:6, NKJV).  To get ourselves back on His path and discover His vision for us, we need to do a few things.
  • Pray.  Ask the Lord to bring back to your memory those things that maybe you played as a child or that you enjoyed doing.  Maybe you enjoyed singing or writing music or taking care of animals.  Often, our childhood is where our dreams and visions began to prepare us for our paths in life.
  • Look back over your life.  Do you see a common theme running through it?  I did with my writing!  I wrote stories for my friends, scripts for plays and movies, and wrote research papers--because I enjoyed all of that.  Think about those things in your life, too.
  • Take a step toward what you think your vision is.  God won't let anything we do go to waste, so if you proceed with something you believe is part of your vision and find out later it wasn't, that's okay.  God will use it to your advantage.
  • Start with something that interests you.  Typically, things that interest you are part of your vision.  You can include things that you are passionate about in this, too.   Activities, hobbies, and the like all fit together into your vision, so don't discount them.







Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Lead Your Family Like Jesus book review

"Leadership is an influence process."--Ken Blanchard, Lead Your Family Like Jesus

(C) Tyndale House
This book shows parents how to become like the ultimate role model--Jesus.  Using twelve priceless principles based on Jesus' life and teaching Blanchard, Phil Hodges and Tricia Goyer explain how every member of the family can benefit when parents take on their God-given role as servant-leaders in the home.

As a parent of eight children, I can honestly say I wish this book would have been written when my older children were still young.  A few of my favorite chapters discussed knowing a bump in the road from a crisis, inspiring obedience and not rebellion, and turning mistakes into opportunities through forgiveness.  If you have younger children, this book will position you to help your whole family succeed by teaching you early on how to lead your children.  If you have older children, perhaps teenagers, know that this book is for you, too!  It is an opportunity to show your children that leading as an example of Jesus is of high importance and it allows you to talk with your children about why you feel this way, what you expect from them, and what they can expect from you.  Finally, my husband and I had never considered our family's core values before reading this book.  It was a great inspiration to sit down and think about what we believe the Lord is leading us to do as a family and then to discuss that with our children.  Tricia Goyer's transparency of her unplanned pregnancy hit home as well since I too was an unwed teen mom.

If you have children, this book is for you.  If your children are grown, I highly recommend getting this book for them to use with your grandchildren!

Lead Your Family Like Jesus can be purchased at:
Amazon