Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Well Done


Like you, I love to hear when someone feels I did a good job. 

I don't need to hear a verbal response. Seeing my children's faces on Christmas morning, receiving a pat on the back from co-worker, earning a bonus in my pay check, or the sweet bubbly feeling God puts in our hearts is plenty for me.

In the middle of the job or in preparation of the work, though, I frequently feel nervous. 

Nervousness is a response to caring if others appreciate the work done for them.
Nervousness is also a response to knowing we were not fully prepared. A tinge of guilt goes along with this form of nervousness.

Recently, I heard a judge tell a performer: "Suppressing the nerves and hiding that [suppression] is important 'cause we are all nervous all the time. You know. It's like part of the job. But to, kind of never, make anyone believe that you are [nervous] is a huge part of performance. Try to make the 25% that was shaky part of the other 75%, which was really, really awesome."

My nerves increase in their ballistic behavior against me the closer time reaches its long and short hands to the deadline. One day, God, in His loving way, gave me the best counsel. "Mary, you can be nervous, if you really need to be, all the way up to seconds before the deadline. At that time you must surrender the situation completely to me and know that I am the one for whom you did the work--And I am well pleased."

Here are two of thousands of stories I could share:

1. My mother-in-law came for a visit. As she walked in the door, I took her coat and noticed the dust on the piano. I took a breath and walked past as though nothing was wrong. We had a wonderful visit, laughing, sipping tea, and enjoying the dessert. I never did find out if she saw the dust.  

2. I had practiced for the music special for church many times. Replaying runs on my flute, checking the phrasing, highlighting measures in my music I'd made mistakes in practice to prevent from doing them in performance. 

To teach my young students that God is a part of our performance, I had made it a policy to always pray with any other player involved in the performance before the service started. My prayer usually went something like, "...and if I make a mistake, please let the congregation only hear the sweet sound intended so they can worship You, Lord, instead of feeling bad about the mistake."  I stepped on the platform and raised my flute to play. Ignoring nervousness creeping into my fingers,  I smiled and thought of the words to the song. The notes flowed from my instrument as though an angel had taken over.  Sure enough, like clockwork, I made a mistake at one point. I kept the same look on my face as I had for the good notes, knowing God had the situation covered and the congregation was able to worship Him.

~
A few weeks ago, Kay, one of the readers of this blog, mentioned how she prayed for her neighbor and has used moments like the tree falling and missing both of their houses to witness to her neighbor. Maybe Kay felt nervous and for a short second doubted if she could talk with the neighbor. Thankfully, she chose to spend time with the woman God has placed in her life.


Your turn:
 Is there a time God has helped you keep your nerves under control 
through a performance of any type?

This post have been brought to you by the one word: GoodServant


Monday, April 28, 2014

The Unexpected Gift


The unexpected gift rarely falls on my side of the fence. 

Don't get me wrong. I have what I need and a bit more, so there isn't a need for an unexpected gift.

God has blessed me with a fine husband, three children, a roof over my head, and food on my table. My walls are decorated with kid created art. The Lord has blessed me with a godly church to attend. I am very content.

Perhaps you could say you have most or all of the above, too. 

BUT have you ever received an unexpected gift…one that you didn't know you needed? Did it come at a time you never expected? It wasn't Christmas or your birthday. In fact, there wasn't a holiday in spittin' distance.

Hubby had worked many extra hours to raise the funds he'd promised to give to a needy person we knew and I squeezed the fat out of the budget to insure we could help as much as possible. Times were lean this year, but the reward God gave our hearts meant so much.

A week ago, we received an unexpected gift. Hubby and I hardly knew what to say more than smiles of great appreciation. We didn't understand the reason behind the gesture but thanked God for the blessing.

Way before any of us were born, God saw our need. He knew we wouldn't figure out the problem, and He definitely knew we couldn't provide the solution. In His wisdom, God devised the perfect gift to give all of us. He sent His son, Jesus, to live among us, teach us what to do, then take the punishment for our sins, paving the way for us to go to Heaven. 

We didn't know we had the need. Yet He gave it to us. Jesus' gift of life is ready for us to accept and open at any time.

In many of Jesus' teachings, He ends with words like, "Go and do likewise."

Let's take a challenge this week. 

Think of someone.  You may or may not know the person well. It doesn't matter their financial status. Everyone needs to be treated special. 

Now consider a gift you could give them. This does not need to be a monetary gift, it can be the gift of time, or help.

Next, plan an unexpected moment. A time that wouldn't impose, of course. Investigate their daily routine and choose a time that would not conflict with something the person does.

Last, give the surprise.

Do you have an idea? You can simply say yes in the comment section. 

When you do give the gift…stop back and simply say "done" in the comment section. I hope we fill pages of comments! 

Let's all rejoice in well doing.

I'll start. My mom was recently moved to a different room in her care facility. She was happy about the idea because she would room with a friend. I went online to the American Greeting eCards and sent her a "welcome to your new home" card. I made sure it had cute little animals, and a sparky tune like she enjoys. For her this was a new home. I can't wait to hear what my sister says when she helps mom open the eCard!


Friday, April 25, 2014

Fabulous Friday Feature: Jane Kirkpatrick




Today I welcome an author who crafts unforgettable stories: 
Jane Kirkpatrick


Enter to win 
Jane's book
Homestead

Scroll to the end of the post to see how to enter.




Some of us receive the call to serve God in the most unusual places. Jane followed God's call to write, but wait until you hear the details!  I asked Jane to share with us how God has led her on her writing journey. Here is what she said:


God Lead Me

In 1979, my husband and I purchased 160 acres along a wild and scenic river in a remote part of Oregon. The land boasted 12 foot tall sage brush, a reptilian road that dropped 950 feet down a steep grade along a dirt one lane road with no guardrail,  rattlesnakes and the promise of a spring. I never thought we’d live there – just camp and hunt and fish – because it was so distant from the nearest town 25 miles away. (Our mail box was seven miles away). The property had no power to it, no water and no structures.

Three years went by. Then, following a women’s retreat, I felt compelled to go to his land as my husband had been hoping to move to! He’d always said he wanted to go badly enough for both of us, but I knew if I went without knowing why I  was going that when things got rough – I knew they’d get rough – I wouldn’t like the me that I would become. I'd blame him for our troubles. The retreat helped me see that I was being called to the land just as he was.

But what to do there?  One evening while I was working through the Navigator series about Finding God’s Purpose in your Life, this little word came to me: Write.

Hmmm, write, I thought. I’d written wretched little poems as a child and my teachers had complimented me through the years on my writing ability but all the writing I’d been doing as the director of a mental health program for several years was writing to state officials and legislators. It’s true they did call me back when they got one of my letters so I knew that words had power to influence people but I couldn’t image what sort of writing I’d do while we were living at the bottom of a deep canyon. But I listened and enrolled at a community college creative writing class.

I kept my head down sure that the instructor and other students would see quickly that I didn’t belong there, that they had a fraud among them. I couldn’t even read my own work out loud I was so embarrassed. But God is good, all the time and the instructor it turns out was/is a man of faith and he wrote on one of my assignments “I don’t know why you’re frightened. You have a gift.” Later he told me he thought I could likely publish some of my assignments and I did, before we moved to the ranch which was great confirmation of my writing journey.

I now teach classes with the wonderful writer Bob Welch and we’ve maintained a writing/family relationship through the years. Turns out, that was his first teaching class. He’s since gone on to win writing awards and publish many titles. I went on to write a memoir of our life along that river called Homestead, my first published book that has just been re-issued by Whitaker House (It might be of interest to you that C-Span was just here in March of 2014 Bend City Tour.  We did an interview and the segment that aired nationally is now available here. I also wrote 25 other books, many of them earning lovely awards, most based on the lives of actual historical women.

Earlier this year I self-published A Simple Gift of Comfort (non-fiction). When you don't know what to say, this book may say it for you. The prose pieces are drawn from reaching out to friends and acquaintances, neighbors and relatives in the course of everyday life. Sometimes I may not know what turmoil troubles a friend, colleague or neighbor; I only know I wish to share their burden. I can do it best by telling them that someone has noticed their distress and offer to walk beside them for as long as they'll allow.

My latest release is part of a novella collection called Sincerely Yours with authors Amanda Cabot, Laurie Alice Eakes and Ann Shorey. My title is “A Saving Grace” which involves a young music teacher who travels to a remote site (as I did!) in order to help release a friend from an unusual hospital in the wilderness of the Northwest. It has suspense, some insights about ways that grief can overwhelm us and it has a bit of romance. All three of those features occur in wilderness places, too, but I have confidence in God’s presence in all those places of the heart… and hearth.

~ ~

Jane is an award-winning and best-selling author whose fictional works based primarily on the lives of real people or events are meant to bring inspiration and to transform. Wisconsin native; graduate of University of Wisconsin-Madison (BA) and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (MSSW). Author of more than twenty books including mainly being fiction novels & novellas, as well as 5 non-fiction titles.
~
Want to connect with Jane? Here's how:



Joining her husband in the fight to create a home out of a rugged stretch of sagebrush, rattlesnakes, and sand in Eastern Oregon, Jane Kirkpatrick uneasily relinquishes the security of a professional career; the convenience of electricity, running water, and a phone line; and, perhaps most daunting, the pleasures of sporting a professional manicure. But the pull of the land is irresistible, and the couple dreams of gathering their first harvest from a yet-to-be-planted vineyard. Rather than the simple life they had envisioned, Jane and Jerry find themselves confronting flood and fire, government bureaucracies, and runaway calves, among other disheartening setbacks. Jane frequently questions the sanity of pioneering in this remote area, known as Starvation Point, and she fights against panic with each trip they make down the seven-mile, boulder-strewn, rut-carved "driveway" she calls "the reptile road," which threatens to spill them into the ravine with every lurch of the truck. But as she learns to navigate her new life, this novice rancher discovers that disappointment, isolation, and danger can't compete with the generosity of their rural community, the strength of family bonds, and the faithfulness of the God who planted in their hearts the dream of carving a refuge out of an inhospitable land.



Jane's April 2014 release Sincerely Yours
In this collection of brand-new historical novellas from four outstanding storytellers, four young women find their lives altered after each receives a letter that sets her on a new path toward a changed life--and perhaps lifelong love. From a Hudson River steamboat to a lush drawing room, from a carousel carver's workshop to a remote and controversial hospital, readers will love being swept into the lives of four young women who are making their way in the world and finding love where they least expect it.





~~
To enter the contest for an autographed copy of 
Jane Kirkpatrick's book: "Homestead":
leave a comment (and email address)
AND become a follower of this site, 
if you aren't already.

Sorry  US  only

Winner announced on my facebook page.


Thank you, Jane, for Joining us This Weekend!
.

Jane had to be taken to a quiet place before God called her to write stories.  We are called to do many different things during our life. It usually depends on the the moment. Sometimes we are stay at home moms, sometimes working to put hubby through college, sometimes teaching Sunday School.

Did God ever put you in an unexpected place to reveal a job He wanted you to do?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Throw Backs and Best Evers

Haven't the throw backs on FB been fun?

Friends are digging through memories and sharing pics from fabulous days in desperate need to be remembered. 

TV shows have had themes segments focused on the best ever years.

Have you joined the fun?


Photo Courtesy
Today, I visited my mom in a special care facility. The aids turned on fifties music during the lunch hour. My mom knew all the songs. 

Back in her teen years she'd learned all the dances. Talk about the ultimate work out--have you seen someone do the jitterbug?

Earlier, the therapist had visited with my mom before lunch and mentioned the need for her to exercise her left leg. 

As the lunch music bounced in the air I tapped my feet and shifted them back and forth. "Come on, Mom. Join the fun."

She said, "Oh, no. I did those dances a long time ago when I was a teen."

Ah hah. The challenge was on. Could I get my mom to move her leg using the music. I knew she loved the songs from her era. I asked her if Dad ever went dancing with her. "No," she said. "He never learned to dance."

She looked down at the table, maybe recalling days. To perk her up, I started singing along with the words. Charlie Brown was playing. I pretended I had a microphone and sang as silly as I could, "Why is everyone always picking on me?" 

Mom looked up at me. "You know the words?"

I laughed. "Sure I do. Move your feet with me." 

A whimsical glimmer came to her eyes and she smiled. Her shoulders moved a little forward and side-to-side and she sang. Her feet tapped to the right and left. 

We laughed. What a fun time we had celebrating something she enjoyed from her teen years.

****

I would be hard pressed to choose one individual from the Bible to share his or her throw back moment. Each one could easily share more than one.

Job - after the trial he was rewarded with children, animals, and so much more. They had       
         fantastic parties at his house I would have loved to have been at.
Noah - stepping off the boat to a cleansed land. Imagine how fresh the air smelled?
Abraham - being shown the stars of the sky and told it represented the number of        
                  descendants he would have.
Moses - witnessing his people crossing the Red Sea
David - dancing his praises to God, being crowned king
Zacchaeus - Jesus coming to his house for dinner
Esther - her coronation day - the day Israel was saved
Mary - the birthday of the King
12 Disciples - 3 special years with Jesus
Abigail - saving her husband's property by serving a meal to David and his men

There are so many more individuals who could share a fantastic Bible throwback moment!!

*****
Your turn. 
What is your favorite throw back moment?
Have some fun... 
You can share more than one--wink ;)




Monday, April 21, 2014

Breath






Take a deep breath, hold it for a moment, and close your eyes.









Now that you've open your eyes and taken another breath think of something that you consider to be lovely.

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies. Philippians 4:8

I'll start the list:





1. This is the day after Easter.

HE IS RISEN!
Did you say or think to yourself--He is risen indeed? 

Yeah, me too.









2. Spring




3. flowers







4. rain



5. fragrance



6. earth






7. sunshine


8. bike rides


9. mud (and kid mud pies)



10. family










11. giggles




12. jumping












13. dessert



14. friends (like you :) )







15. Because of Jesus selfless gift, those who have accepted His gift will one day breathe air in heaven that will be fresher than even the air Noah inhaled after stepping off the ark.



YOUR TURN. 
Quick, type in the comment box the first lovely thought that comes to your mind... Have fun--
you can do more than one!


Friday, April 18, 2014

Fabulous Friday Feature-Marianne Evans



Today I welcome an author who aspires to show God's love in every one of her stories: 
Marianne Evans


Enter to win 
Marianne's book
Devotion

Two winners will be chosen!

Scroll to the end of the post to see how to enter.



While scrolling through FB one day, I happened to read about Marianne winning the ACRA trophy (Ancient City Romance Author's). I wrote to her and found out she had released several new books last year. And when I found she lived right here in my home state, I instantly knew she and I needed to connect. She has proven to be a godly, spirited, fun friend. I asked her if she could share with us how God had led her on her writing journey. After reading her words, so focused on glorifying God, I had to share with you what she said:



God's Plan Came to Fruition


My writing journey began in the lined pages of a black-and-white spotted composition book. I was in the fifth grade, and each time I handed it in for English, I received such wonderful words of encouragement: You show depth of feeling, so you drew me into your story. You utilize the senses very well. Readers love that. Your word-use is fantastic.

My love affair with words continued into the 8th grade, when I delivered hand-written stories to my friends in a chapter-by-chapter progression. These were sweet little romances, because even then, I was taken in by the notion of a butterflies-in-the-tummy explosion of happiness when people found their way to one another. Added benefit? My friends read, my friends enjoyed, my friends asked for more.

Given hindsight, I suppose those prompts should have tripped a few wires about what I was meant to do, but I never thought much about being ‘A Writer.’ I simply enjoyed observation. Word-crafting. Some of my most productive creative moments are spent watching the world around me, absorbing people and snips of conversation, and asking myself the all-important question: ‘What if?’ I translate those scenes into the written word because they come alive in my mind and refuse me peace until I’ve somehow captured on paper what I see in my mind. I enjoy the process of taking seconds in time and inking them into something that lasts (adding my own interpretation, of course…)

Back then, though, the art of story creation was no big deal. Believe me—if I could do it, anyone could do it. I didn’t recognize the gift, and God’s purpose through it. At least, not yet.

Let’s fast-forward a decade or so. My love of romance, along with the voices in my head and heart, led me to publication in the traditional, mainstream romance market. Following three releases with Kensington Publishing, an explosion in e-book publication led me to The Wild Rose Press. I loved it, but I’ll be honest. I wasn’t fulfilled.

Oh, Kensington and Wild Rose were wonderful. That wasn’t the issue. God kept tapping my shoulder, urging me toward a different path. I longed to write Christian inspirational romance and fiction but couldn’t quite come up with the right story to tell. Besides, I thought, who was I to write stories from a Christian world view. I’m a sinner. I’m not a theologian. I’m not worthy… (Ah…hello, Satan, you snake in the grass)

Fortunately, God is relentless. When He puts forth a mission, there’s nothing that stops it. It was His will that I move forward as a writer of Faith-Affirming Fiction, and an opportunity presented itself. Pelican Book Group, an independent, up-and-coming publisher of Christian romance and fiction, sponsored a contest called Heart’s Crossing. A bare-bones story idea was given, and it was up to the author/contestant to fill in the blanks. The victor would be awarded a publishing contract.

I found out, just days before Christmas of 2009, that I won the contest. Want to read it? Heart’s Crossing is free, and located at Amazon, right here: http://amzn.to/12BCHuM.

This novella led to nothing less than a writing explosion in my life. God called, I did my best to follow, dedicating each word, each character, each story to His glory. After Hearts Crossing came the Woodland Series, the Sal’s Place Series among several others. Then, there was Devotion, my “big book” as I like to say, which formed my Christian fiction debt. My latest release, Jodie’s Song, part of four very special novellas being released to celebrate the Easter season at Heart’s Haven, an apartment complex in southeast Texas governed by loving angels and God’s miracles. In creating these stories (this is the third set of Heart’s Haven stories) God also graced me with the friendship and sisterhood of three precious writing partners, Delia Latham, Mary Manners and Tanya Stowe.


God’s Plan came to fruition. I never could have dreamed of contracting over twenty titles in a span of four years. I never could have dreamed of sharing my stories with others in such a big way. God, however, is faithful to His promises, and He exceeded my every prayer. Piecing stories together, mixing words and emotion into the world of human experience comes to me as a grace from Him, and I’m forever grateful!


~ ~


Marianne Evans is a multi-award-winning author of Christian romance and fiction. Her hope is to spread the faith-affirming message of God’s love through the stories He prompts her to create. Readers laud her work as: ‘Riveting.’ ‘Realistic and true to heart.’ ‘Compelling.’

Marianne’s Christian fiction debut, Devotion, earned the prestigious Bookseller’s Best Award from Greater Detroit Romance Writers of America as well as Best Novel with Strong Romantic Elements from the Ancient City Romance Authors (ACRA), also a chapter of RWA. Hearts Communion earned Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year honors as well as Best Inspirational Romance from ACRA. Her novella Finding Home earned the Selah Award for excellence in Christian fiction and Evans has also earned acclaim in such RWA contests as The International Digital Awards, the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence where she has been a finalist three times, and the Colorado Romance Writers Award of Excellence contest. 

Happily married and the mother of two, Marianne is a lifelong resident of Michigan who is active in a number of a number of Romance Writers of America chapters, most notably the Greater Detroit Chapter where she served two terms as President. She’s also active in American Christian Fiction Writers and the Michigan Literary Network

~
Blessings, friends, and please join me at the following sites—I love connecting with readers!!

~ ~

HEART'S CROSSING  

“How do you feel about God, Collin?”
“I don’t.”

Collin Edwards, a former parishioner at Woodland Church of Christ, has renounced God without apology, his faith drained away in the face of a tragic loss.

Daveny Montgomery cares deeply about her relationship with God and the community of Woodland. But lately she's been in a rut, longing for something to reignite her spiritual enthusiasm.

A beautification project at Woodland seems the answer for them both. Daveny spearheads the effort and Collin assists—but only with the renovations, and only because he wants to know Daveny better.

Despite his deepening feelings for her, even stepping into the common areas of the church stirs tension and anger.

Can Daveny trust in Collin’s fledgling return to faith? And can Collin ever accept the fact that while he turned his back on God, God never turned his back on him?

Heart’s Crossing is free, and located at Amazon, right here: http://amzn.to/12BCHuM.

Devotion

From This Day Forward

Christian Music agent Kellen Rossiter has everything he ever wanted: A-list clients from coast to coast, a loving wife who honors and respects him, and a faith life that’s never wavered—until now.

Juliet Rossiter has the perfect life: a rewarding schedule serving the underprivileged, a husband who loves her as Christ loved the church, and a blessed future as a mother—at least that's what she thinks.

For Better or Worse

But what happens when their rock-solid marriage begins to crumble under the weight of an unexpected and powerful temptation? How does love survive when its foundation is shaken?

'Til Death Do Us Part

When human frailty and the allure of sin deal a harsh blow to their relationship, it will take more than love to mend the shattered trust and heartbreak. It will take a lifetime of devotion.


To enter the contest for an autographed copy of 
Marianne Evan's book: "Devotion":
leave a comment (and email address)
AND become a follower of this site, 
if you aren't already.

TWO WINNERS WILL BE CHOSEN!

Sorry  US  only

Winner announced on my facebook page.


Thank you, Marianne, for Joining us This Weekend!
.

Sure sounds like Marianne is bursting with her good news. God is so very good!

How has God blessed you recently? Let's share what He has done for us.