Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Love Is . . .

Does anyone remember these comics? I hadn't seen them in years and came across this website tonight. I'm so excited. I used to love these comics when I was a young teen. I cut them out and collected them in a scrapbook, only my mom made me color clothes on them! I was so excited to come across these tonight and there are tons of them! Nice little things to tuck in my husband's lunchbox!

Monday, December 26, 2005

Procrastinating with Robin

Found this on Robin Lee Hatcher's blog, and since I'd rather procrastinate than finish the short article for my church newsletter due this week, I took her up on this invitation to procrastinate!

My name ... Dianne
My childhood ambition ... to be a teacher
My fondest memory ... time spent with my Gram
My soundtrack ... Far & Away
My retreat ... the Smokey Mountains, or Amish country in Ohio
My wildest dream ... believing I can be published (and paid for writing!)
My proudest moment ... everyday as I realize what a wonderful man I've married
My biggest challenge ... daily obedience to God
My alarm clock ... weekdays: around 6:15am by force; weekends and days off: by 7:30 am can't wait to get up!
My perfect day ... hmm, I think it would be just a long drive somewhere with my husband and spending the entire day with him
My first job ... babysitting
My indulgence ... reading, reading, reading, with no worries of dishes to do or laundry to fold
My last purchase ... veggies for a veggie tray this morning!
My favorite movie ... Finding Forrester or The Princess Bride
My inspiration ... my sister, mom of four
My life ... is just getting started
My card ... VISA

Sunday, December 25, 2005

So What Was the Best Part of YOUR Christmas?

Do you keep Christmas memories from year to year? I do. There was the one where our house burned down just days before Christmas. I remember being overwhelmed by the outpouring of love on our family by relatives, friends and strangers. I remember my first Christmas home after being away at college, and insisting we string popcorn and cranberries for our tree like I'd learned to do decorating the tree in the college lobby. There was that Christmas at my mum's when we were first married, when my husband and brother-in-law carried my gram over from her house. So like a little queen she was, her face glowed as they brought her into the livingroom. I also remember that last Christmas with Gram, as we gathered in her livingroom by her wheelchair, and she presented us with gifts she'd chosen from around her house.

Tonight another such memory has lodged itself in my heart forever. After the company had gone (and you didn't hear me say finally), I sat downstairs, finally getting my feet up, reading a book and listening to the CMT Christmas special on TV. Suddenly I heard something upstairs, music to my ears. My dear husband was tackling the pile of dishes in the sink. (No, we don't own a dishwasher!) I turned up the volume on the TV, then thought better of it and headed upstairs to express my gratitude to Mike. I saw the clean dishes piling up so I grabbed a towel and began to dry as he washed, and we just chatted together for a bit about the day. Tonight you couldn't give me a dishwasher. Nothing can compare to the joy of just doing dishes with the one I love. I told him, "This is the best part of my day," and he agreed.

So what about you? Any "keeper" memories made today? I hope so. Tuck them away in your heart and bring them out again next year. They'll never go out of style, like some decorations do, and they'll never wear out either.

Friday, December 23, 2005

How 'Bout a "Ta-da" List?

Last night as I was preparing for bed, I caught myself mentally starting to plan my next day's "to do" list. The Lord has really been dealing with me about my lists! (See previous post on the subject). Anyways it was as though a light bulb went on and I realized what I was doing. Instead of winding down from the day and preparing to relax, there I was, going into mental overdrive. It seemed as if the Lord said to me, "How about reflecting on all I did for you today? All I helped you to accomplish?" That's it, I thought. At night, rather than make a to-do list, I just need to make a "ta-da" list - and celebrate God's goodness to me throughout that day.

Psalm 118:28 You are my God, and I will give you thanks; you are my God, and I will exalt you.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Problem with Status Quo

Main Entry: status quo
Pronunciation: -'kwOFunction: noun
Etymology: Latin, state in which: the existing state of affairs

There's a verse in Psalms, that great book of reflection, that says of Israel ". . . because they do not change, therefore they do not fear God." (Ps. 55:19 NKJV)

I don't think I'm alone in resisting change. But what would my life belike if things never changed? It might be like a trip on a perfectly straight, flat road. Uneventful sure, but boring. Life, however, is anything but a perfect journey. Every bump in the road, every jolt and sidetracking serve to redirect my attention back to the One who sees the beginning from the end, the One who holds my future in the palm of His hand.

I'm really resisting some changes taking place in my life right now (not to mention making chasms out of potholes), but God in His goodness reminds me I don't need to fear change. I need to fear Him. Keep my eyes on Him and view change as His hand in my life.

Monday, December 12, 2005

When the To-Do List is Done

I get a lot of three day weekends - every other month I have either Fridays or Mondays off. Add to that holiday months and vacation weeks, and I have lots of long stretches away from work. All the better for the To-do List. The longer the weekend it seems, the longer the List.

Tomorrow I'll head back to work and be met with the inevitable "How was your weekend?" from my co-workers. And I'll reply with a list of things I did, but mostly I'll think about all I got done. The List. My weekends, even my days, seem to rise and fall on the List.

Today in my devotions, I read one of my favorite verses, Micah 6:8: He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you, but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Suddenly it occurred to me that the List probably matters very little in God's eyes. My lengthy, organized list of items to do and be done . . . the carefully placed checkmarks signifying my accomplishments . . . are all so insignificant in the light of eternity.

Tonight as I head off to bed, there's another list running through my head:
Did the thoughts of my heart and the words of my mouth please you today, Lord?
Is my attitude right before you?
Did I stop to listen to Your voice and seek direction from Your Word?
Did I share Your love with anyone today?

I'll make a to-do list tomorrow. And probably another next weekend. But the bigger List, what God really requires, is so much clearer to me now.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Christmas Movies, Anyone?

What's your favorite Christmas movie? I think mine still has to be It's a Wonderful Life. My sister and I were in college before we ever saw this movie (and that was the 80's so yes, we were a bit behind the times!) One year my dad taped it for us . . . thanks Dad! Oops . . . he taped a Steeler game over the last five minutes of the movie. My sister is a teary one to begin with; tears on top of tears over not knowing the ending to this tearful story - not a pretty sight!

I also love the classic Grinch cartoon and the Bill Murray version of A Christmas Carol (Scrooged, I believe is the name of it). My niece & nephews have watched my copy of Frosty the Snowman a zillion times; I swear I know that one by heart and the sound of Jimmy Durante's voice still warms my heart. Oh and I'm such a sucker for those sappy Christmas movies on TV every year around this time . . . on Hallmark and Pax/i. I can restrain myself all year from watching much TV until Christmas rolls around.

So what's your favorite Christmas movie?

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Waste Not, Buy Not!

Did you ever try to keep track of your spending for a month, or even just a week or day? Pretty tough, huh? It's a good idea recommended by budget counselors to help people control their spending.

I've found a more effective method of curbing my spending though. Over the last week or so, I've been trying to keep track of waste. Wow. I didn't realize how much of what I spent went right down the drain! An uneaten fast food salad here, that jar of special salsa I bought on a trip last month, that bargain pair of pants purchased on-line last winter.

Try it for a week. Don't worry about what you spend; just record everything of value you throw away. Between uneaten food, unworn clothing, unwatched video rentals, unread books and unnecessary "junk" purchases, I've discovered I toss between $25-50 a week. Now THAT, my money-conscious friend, will be an effective deterrent next time you go to spend money on the same items.

Okay, that was just a freebie but such an amazing discovery I couldn't resist sharing!

Monday, November 28, 2005

Who Took Christ out of Christmas?

It's on the news nightly these days - reports of retailers attempting to celebrate the holidays in a politically correct manner. This means no wishing anyone a Merry Christmas - "Happy Holidays" is the sentiment of choice these days. If at all possible, red and green should not be worn in combination with each other during December. Even jewelry needs to be holiday-neutral.

"They've taken Christ out of Christmas!" outraged Christians everywhere exclaim. But can we really blame this on the secular world? How can we expect those who do not keep Christ in their hearts to keep Him in their holiday?

How long have we as believers straddled the holiday fence ourselves? On one hand, we've succumbed en masse to the materialistic cesspool that has become "Christmas." We stand in line, pushing and shoving with the best of them. We overspend and overeat. We over plan and end up just as stressed as everyone else. On the other, we want Christ-honoring Christmas programs, and Christmas carols. We want to drop our extra change in the Salvation Army kettles, and invite unsaved relatives to church. We want our nativity scenes and advent wreaths. Can we have it all?

Maybe we need to take the Christmas out of Christ. Perhaps somehow we can return to a simple celebration of His coming? Maybe He'd be honored by simple gifts of our hearts . . . a humble and contrite spirit . . . our time . . . our worship.

Let the retailers and politicians have their Christ-less holiday. For me, Christ is not found in Christmas carols or two significant colors or meaningless sentiments. Christ is in my heart and it's in my heart I want to celebrate Him. No one can take that away!

P.S. Do yourself a favor and check out some of Martha's ponderings on the Advent season.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Prayer God Wants to Answer

James 1: 5-8 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.

Been reading in James for a Bible study I'm in, and at the same time time we're covering the topic of prayer in our teen small group right now. As I've been preparing to discuss prayer with the girls, my heart's desire is that they understand prayer to be more than merely asking God for things.

I think what God really wants is for our hearts to be constantly communing with Him. One thing I've noticed myself doing lately is asking God for wisdom. I don't mean at a set time, as something I check off a list. It's something I can do any time and any place.

Sometimes it's just a simple, "God, what can I make for dinner tonight?"
"What would be the best gift for this person?"
"How can I help this person?"
"How can I best spend my time today - help me to know what my priorities should be."

I can ask God for a bigger house or the resources to quit work. I can pray for my husband to grow spiritually. I can pray for the salvation of family members. God may or may not answer those when and how I would like them to be answered. I'm finding better prayers to be, "Lord, help me manage my spending more wisely. "Give me wisdom to know what my husband needs from me." "Lord, show me how I can reach out to this family member who needs you."

Amazingly enough, God seems to answer those prayers immediately. Not in a big Damascus road kind of way. Instead He provides just enough light to see the next step. To make a wise purchase. To seize an opportunity to listen to my husband. To not be selfish with my days off but give of my time to my family.

The best thing about prayer is knowing my heavenly Father longs for me to commune with Him. And like the verse says, He doesn't find fault with my request. He doesn't chide me or scold me or say I should have known that. He's all ears, so to speak.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Dirty Feet

In our Adult Bible Fellowship the past few weeks, we've been discussing worship and, in particular, the ordinances of baptism & the Lord's supper. As we read the passages last week relating to communion, I began reading John 13, where Jesus washed his disciples' feet. As clearly as Christ commanded his disciples to observe the meal as a reminder of his sacrifice on the cross, He also told them to follow His example and wash each other's feet. I wondered though, why is foot-washing not regularly practiced in most churches today?

The teaching I've heard on foot-washing usually takes one of two roads: it either emphasizes the servanthood of Christ, or it emphasizes the need for on-going confession and forgiveness of sins on a daily basis. While both are no doubt important truths, one other thought occurred to me.

Most of us don't have a problem with dirty feet nowadays, but we all struggle with ugly sin on a daily basis, sin we manage to hide very well. I think perhaps His intent was for us as fellow believers in the family of God to be open & intimate with each other. I think it was as important for Peter to allow Christ to wash his feet as it was for Christ to stoop down and wash them. The honesty was as vital as the serving.

In John 17, Christ continues on this night of nights by offering the prayer of prayers for his disciples. What an awesome glimpse into His loving heart we see here. Among other things, He prays for unity among the believers. He prays that we may be one, just like He and the Father are one. And this oneness will speak volumes to the rest of the world about the love of the Father.

What does it mean to be one? Oneness means when you hurt, I hurt. When you cry, I cry. Too often, it seems that church is more about a gathering of individuals than a oneness. A bunch of individuals, coming together, facades in place, to create an illusion of oneness. But are we really becoming one? When was the last time you admitted a weakness to a brother or sister in Christ? Obviously it wouldn't do to walk around the church with a sign around our necks enumerating our sins & shortcomings. But do we have someone we can be open and honest with? Or are we too ashamed to let anyone know we have dirty feet? To me, intimacy and oneness in the body of Christ start with the washing of the feet. The boldness to let others see the chinks in our armor, the cracks in the vessel. And the humility to admit we need each other.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Cheap Date

Whole cheese pizza at Sam's Club - $8.00
32 oz. drink to share - $0.74
Coffee & donuts at Krispy Kreme - $4.00
Time with my husband - priceless!

And we didn't spend much at Sam's either, so that was good. We laughed ourselves silly at Krispy Kreme when the conveyor belt got rather gummed up and donuts were being smushed into a big gummy mess. Oh well, guess you had to be there!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Top 25 Book List

I've never been one easily influenced by the popular opinion; just because a book or movie is rated highly doesn't necessarily mean it's really all that great. Cindy Swanson over at Notes in the Key of Life challenged me to recall and list my all-time favorite books: (I only listed 21 but several are series so it evens out!) Take some time to come up with your own list to share - post it in my comments section or give me a link to your blog so I can check it out!

The Story of My Life - Helen Keller - most amazing life story I ever read.
Secret of the Rose series - Michael Phillips
Screwtape letters - C.S. Lewis
Anne of Green Gables series - L.M. Montgomery
Circle of Quiet - Madeleine L'Engle (Ms. L'Engle is my current favorite
author - how did I not read anything by her growing up!)
Summer of the Great Grandmother - Madeleine L'Engle
A Ring of Endless Light - Madeleine L'Engle
A Wrinkle in Time - Madeleine L'Engle
Ribbon of Years - Robin Lee Hatcher (this book reminded me of my grandmother)
Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
The Robe - Douglas
Ben-Hur - Lew Wallace
The Light & the Glory - Peter Marshall & David ? (non-fiction but very interesting account of the early American settlements)
The Search for Delicious - Natalie Babbit (a wonderful children's book! I recently discovered my sister has my beloved copy of this book! Hmmm, it's
got my name in the cover; I could demand it back. But since it's being enjoyed by kids again, I'll just be glad it wasn't destroyed in a fire like I assumed!)
Flight of the Doves - Walter Macken(another wonderful children's book; incidentally this may have been the catalyst for my love of all things Irish)
The Iliad - Homer (my intro to the classics, complements of my HS English teacher)
Moby Dick - Herman Melville (yes, I had to read this for school but aside from the lengthy descriptions, I actually liked the book!)
Not My Will - by Francena H. Arnold
Light From Heaven - Christmas Carol Kaufman (she wrote several books including Hidden Rainbow and others - very touching stories I read as a teen)
The Mark of the Lion Series - by Francine Rivers (I have always enjoyed any story set in the time of Christ; these are especially well-written from the perspective of a young Jewish girl)
To the Golden Shore: The Life of Adoniram Judson - Courtney Anderson (a powerful biography I read in HS; years later I toured with a Christian drama portraying the life of this missionary to Burma)

Quote O' the Day!

I haven't heard this quote in ages but I always loved this thought by Edward Everett Hale. Sometimes it's easy to feel like what's the use, but then this reminds me that in the grand scheme of things, God only expects me to take the next step of obedience.

I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything. But I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do. What I can do, I should do. And what I should do, by the grace of God, I will do. (Edward Everett Hale)

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

A Stroll Through the Garden

Ever since I can remember, I've dreamed of having one of those beautiful English cottage gardens. I can just imagine heading out in the morning, while the dew is still wet on the leaves, and strolling along the pathways, cup of tea in hand. I'd stop to deadhead a few flowers and pluck a few weeds, then head for my garden swing under the arbor to sit and meditate for a while. Amidst the fragrance of the morning, I'd lift my heart in prayer to God.

In actuality, my gardening consists mostly of a series of must-do's: must buy and plant annuals, must mulch, must tear out dead stuff, must plant bulbs now - you get the idea. Since my flower garden is just a patch on my front yard, it's easily maintained but I don't spend nearly enough time enjoying it. Not much is visible from my front window, and it even escapes my view when I'm sitting on my front porch. Sigh - my only hope is that the neighbors might enjoy the display!

There have been times in my life when I've read the Bible daily, almost proudly checking off the requirements on a little chart each day. Other times, I've taken my time, meandering my way through a book or even just a passage. Last summer I took several months to read through the book of Acts. At a minimum, I read each chapter twice, usually in a pattern of chapter 1&2 one day, 2&3 the next, etc. Sometimes I read the same chapter several days in a row. Right now I'm reading through I Corinthians, using my Kay Arthur's inductive study Bible. With my current work schedule, a daily reading was getting to be a chore, and I felt unable to give God my undivided attention. Instead, I'm enjoying getting into Corinthians for several good sessions each week. On the other days, I've been reading from My Utmost for His Highest, by Oswald Chambers, or working on a Bible study I do with several friends.

A few years ago, I learned an unusual journaling method. The front 5-6 pages of my notebook are reserved for an index of sorts, with columns for the date, Scripture passage, title and page number. It's an easy way to look back over the weeks and months and at a glance, remember that God has been teaching me. I don't feel obligated to journal daily, which makes the times I do more enjoyable.

When it comes to personal Bible study and devotions, it really is different strokes for different folks. The plan you follow is not so important, as long as you take time to "smell the roses." Are you enjoying your time with God? Is it a stroll through the garden of His presence or a meaningless list of must-do's?

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Positive Quote of the Day

POSITIVE QUOTE OF THE DAY-----------------------------I have always been delighted at the prospect of a new day, a freshtry, one more start, with perhaps a bit of magic waiting somewherebehind the morning.-- J.B. Priestly (1894-1984) English Author

When I was in high school, I remember my classmates moaning and groaning about J.B. Priestley, the editor of the English literature text. Secretly I longed for complaining rights. Having just transferred from another school, as a junior I had to take several classes with the freshman. As a result, I sat in one room reciting Spanish verb forms with fourteen year olds, while my fellow juniors explored the world of Shakespeare and his contemporaries. Anyways, seeing this quote today brought back some memories of days gone by.

The Good, the Bad and the . . . Plain Ol' Truth!

Got my first official rejection notice today. There, it's out. I wasn't going to say anything but then again, this blog is intended to be a record of my writing journey. Sheesh, I'm thinking right now I might get to California walking faster than I'll be published but I'm okay with the rejection thing. Just last night I prayed and asked God to help me accept it with grace. That was before I got "the envelope!" Weird premonition, huh?

Anyways, I don't really see this as failure. Actually, I feel like I've gone through the entire process now, from idea generation and development, to querying, to actually writing and submitting the article. In my book, I have succeeded.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

5000 words per day

That's how many words author Angela Hunt estimates she averages daily. http://alifeinpages.blogspot.com/2005/10/q.html

Wow, that boggles my little pea brain. It shouldn't really. It comes out to about 625 words per hour. That's doable, nevertheless astounding to think of maintaining that for eight straight hours. Then I recall I generally send about 50 emails out per day at work. If each message
contains an average of 30 words, that's 1500 words right there. Add in the special text on all the orders I create and the tally's over 2000 words. I suppose if I added in all the words spoken in the course of answering the phone and taking orders, I'm probably putting out over 3000 work-related words per day. So, yes, I probably have enough words in me to make a living off them! It's just a matter of focus and discipline . . . I know a daily word count is impossible as long as I'm working 10 hour days, but 1000 words on my day off and weekends would be a good goal.

What's your WPD average? Or your goal?

Friday, September 23, 2005

Friday Feast

Appetizer  Name something someone has done lately that impressed you. Hmm, nothing comes to mind at the moment.

Soup Do you have any relaxing rituals? If so, what are they?  I like to spend quiet afternoons roaming the aisles of my library every so often.  And settling down to read for a while in the evening is always relaxing.

Salad If you could spend the winter season somewhere other than your current location, where would you choose to stay?  I'd only head for our gameroom to enjoy a fire in our woodstove.  With a husband who claims combustion as a hobby, I can't see us ever spending winters anywhere else!

Main Course When was the last time you had dinner out, and what was the name of the restaurant?  Last Saturday, we went to a new local hot dog shop - Famous Al's.  Mmmmm!  And the price was delicious too - only $12 for dinner for two!

Dessert If you had a boat, what would you name it?  Today, probably Madeleine, because I'm on a Madeleine L'Engle kick right now.  How did I miss so many good books growing up?

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Go Ahead . . . Answer My Prayers

Last night driving home from church, I found myself behind an old Chevy Lumina with the following bumper sticker: "Answer my prayers - Steal this car!" If that driver only knew how much I had loved my 1991 Lumina and how many times I've thought about getting another one. Somehow I don't think he'd be very happy if I followed him home and took him up on his request!

Don't we pray funny things sometimes? I know I've prayed prayers that I'm glad God didn't answer. More often though, I find myself praying prayers that I just don't expect God to answer. Case in point. I've been considering getting involved with teen small groups at my church. I volunteered, then signed up for the training session. In the back of my mind, though, I really didn't think this would work. My work schedule can be crazy and I just figured I might end up having to bow out. Oh, I prayed about it, but half-heartedly - since I was so sure what the outcome would be . Last night at the meeting, I found myself paired up with a co-leader who has agreed to host our meetings. Thursday night works well for both of us and - this was the best part - she works five minutes from me, so we can meet at lunch to pray and plan!

Once again, God did exceedingly & abundantly, certainly above all I could have prayed for (Eph 3:20). I know, prayer is about more than just asking God for things, but asking is certainly part of prayer.

Monday, September 19, 2005

These Things I Know

1. I just put a manuscript in the mail today. Wow, that felt good. Now I  do know I need to just forget about it and focus on the next thing.
2. I know I don't want to write for nothing. My time is worth something.  I'm not  saying I'll never send an article to a non-paying magazine, and I'd certainly write for my church without expecting payment; but in general, I don't think I'm wrong in expecting to be paid for my time.
3. I know I can write. I've had my doubts along the way but going through the process from idea to query to article just fed my passion to write.
4. My favorite part is still the editing! Maybe that sounds weird, but I've edited so many other people's stuff in the past and it's so fun to arrange thoughts in a logical, straightforward manner. It's even more fun when the thoughts come out of my own cranium!
5. I know I could do this full-time.
6. I know I better get myself organized!
7. I know the first thing I'm buying when I get the money - a new laptop!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Fact or Fiction?

So I'm taking this Writer's Digest correspondence course and I had a Eureka moment recently. The recent unit was on short fiction, and I was determined to master the fundamentals of fiction. I was reading everything I could get my hands on, both short fiction, novels and texts on the craft itself. Oh yeah, not to be forgotten, the many authors' blogs as well. I read some Jane Kirkpatrick and I read some Harry Potter. I read some Robin Lee Hatcher and some Clive Cussler. I read some Lisa Samson and I read some more Lisa Samson. (Write, Lisa, write!)

And then I sat down hoping to turn out a passable piece of work. Ugh. Nothing would come. Every idea seemed to dead end itself. Finally, I added another chapter to my WIP and whipped it off to my instructor, just glad to be done with it. Less than two weeks later it came bouncing back to me, with a note from my confused instructor. This was to be short fiction so why was I sending her Chapter 2 from another work? And my outline, intended to be the starting point for my short story was from a totally different story! Needless to say, I was MBR (mortified beyond recognition)! Okay, back to the drawing board.

When I was a kid, my sister and I both took piano lessons, she of her own accord while I was forced. Gosh, how I hated when we had to play duets. Finally, I got my mom to understand it just wasn't for me. Someone had to do the listening, I would tell her! Many nights as a teen I would prepare dinner while my sister did her practising. Some kids might have complained, "unfair," but not me. I was doing what I did best - listening.

I think that's the way it is with fiction. I have to do what I do best - read for enjoyment. I don't enjoy reading fiction while I'm subconsiously studying plot and character development. I just want to read. Now give me a bunch of facts and ask me to organize them into an article or training document - I'm all over that. But when it comes to fiction, I'm content to be a reader for now. Someone's got to do it!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Do What You Gotta Do

First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to
do. -- Epictetus (55-135 AD) Roman Philosopher

Isn't it easy to talk about what we want to do? A young couple moved in next door to us recently and one of their first goals, apparently, is to chop down all the trees on the lot behind their property. Naturally none of the neighbors want him to do so, as he doesn't actually own that property. My thoughts are simply wait and see. It takes a lot of time and money to chop down 40-50 full grown trees, not to mention clearing the downed trees from the lot. I'm reminded of when we first moved into our house. I had such great hopes for the place, including an addition. I figured within a couple years, we'd have turned our little two bedroom ranch into a spacious two-story. Seven years later, I've learned there's a big gap between our dreams (okay, my dreams) and making them a reality.

I've learned to be patient when it comes to home improvements, which is about the only way I can put up with a rotting back porch, with its broken windows and door that hangs on one hinge. I just look at the positive improvements we have made - a remodeled gameroom complete with wood-burning stove, new kitchen floor, new retaining wall and widened driveway. Bit by bit, piece by piece, we're seeing our dreams come to fruition.

But I'm veering from my initial thought. I see three groups of people in the above quotation:
1) Those who dream
2) Those who do what they have to do in order to reach their dreams
3) Sadly, there are those who don't dream at all. I can't imagine a life without any dreams, without any hopes, without a feeling of dissatisfaction pushing me towards something better, towards excellence. But there are people who don't dream at all.

Just curious - which category do you fall in? I think the challenge for most people is making the leap between the dreams and the reality. I often linger too long at the dream stage, trying to qualify it. Is it worthwhile? How much will it cost? Do I have the time to invest in this? I'm learning that lingering in the valley of decision does nothing to get me up the mountain. If I'm confident my dreams & plans are God-given and I've allowed God to define and refine them, then what I need to do is move ahead in faith.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

30 Day Challenge to Wives

Revive Our Hearts has posted a 30-day challenge for wives to encourage their husbands. The jist of the challenge is this:
"* You can't say anything negative about your husband ...to your husband...or to anyone else, about your husband.
* Say something that you admire or appreciate about your husband...to your husband...and to someone else, about your husband!"

Each day there's a suggestion for putting the challenge into practice. Unfortunately, you can't "sign up" for email reminders (not that I can see), so bookmark the site and check back each day.

Now I will once again try posting to Blogger . . . haven't been able to for about a week. Hmmm.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Each One Reach One

On Sundays at church, I try (not always with success) to introduce myself to someone I don't know. I have a sneaking suspicion if more people would take the time to meet and greet others, more people may feel connected to the body of Christ. If they in turn do the same, I wonder what the results would be?

I was blessed this morning almost to tears. I picked up the local newspaper and found a section devoted to messages appearing online at www.nola.com, which has forums for offers of support as well as a missing persons section for survivors of Hurricane Katrina. Several families were offering to take in survivors; one in particular caught my attention:

"Two bedrooms, food and clothing available in Central PA. Prefer family. Free. Ride to schools available. Not rich but we will make do. Will travel to south to pick you up."

Not rich? How can they say that? Indeed, doesn't the blessing of opening your heart and home far outweigh any bank balance?

What if everyone who could, would do something like that? There are endless opportunities to reach out, and be the hands and feet of Christ to people in dire need right now. What can I do? What would the Lord have me do? Will I sit back and just breathe a sigh of relief that once again, I was spared in my safe little corner of Pennsylvania? Or will I take a risk and try to be of help?

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Blessings and Bloggings!

I recently took the plunge and sent out a query letter. Was I ever surprised when I received a reply back asking me to submit my article! Needless to say, I've been busy contacting sources, drumming up quotes and getting my thoughts in order. By nature, I'm on the shy side, so the thought of contacting perfect strangers freaked me out a bit. But you gotta do what you gotta do, right? Surprise again! These people aren't strangers at all - they're my sisters in Christ. I feel like my family circle has been wonderfully enlarged through this experience.

Thank you, Lord!

Friday, August 26, 2005

Note to Self

I don't want to be confident. I want to be qualified.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Major Davis' Prayer Campaign

Please take time to check out this link on Cindy Swanson's site and be reminded to pray for victory in this war. I think Major Davis' has the right idea; it's time for Christians to humble ourselves and plead with God for His intercession in this struggle.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Hold Your Judgment!

Even though I've read the Bible through countless times, I often find myself reading a passage as if it were the first time. Lately I've been reading through II Samuel in my NIV Quiet Time Bible. The other day I was shocked to read the story where Ziba, servant of Mephibosheth, tells David that Mephibosheth has turned his back on the king in an effort to reclaim his inheritance in the house of Saul. Unthinkable, I thought to myself! How could this man on whom the king has bestowed extraordinary favor turn out to be such a selfish creep? And I mentally listed Mephibosheth with all the other shady characters in the Bible.

Today I continued reading II Samuel 19, where David returns to the throne after Absalom's death. On his way back, Mephibosheth comes to greet him. David simply asks, "Why didn't you go with me, Mephibosheth?" He gives the young man a chance to explain himself. Turns out that Ziba had actually betrayed Mephibosheth, and lied to David. Whew!

This story reminded me there's always more than meets the eye to every situation. It's so important to stop and get the facts before we pass judgment on others. I can't help Mephibosheth was glad David was willing to give him a chance. How many times have I written people off due to hearsay, or because I only knew half the story?

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Good Guidelines for Blogging

Here are some thought-provoking guidelines for Christians in the blogosphere. I read this on Donna's blog, who linked to it from a missionary's blog.

1. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your blog, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs. (Eph 4:29) Is what comes from our blogs wholesome? Is what we are writing helpful for building others up? Or does it tear them down?

2. Blog about others as you would have them blog about you (Lk 6:31) The golden rule. If we blog about others, do we do it with love, respect, and integrity?

3. But in your blogs set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience... (1Pet 3:15,16) Are we consciously allowing Jesus Christ to rule over our blogs? When people disagree with us, do we respond with gentleness and respect?

4. Each one should use whatever blog he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms (1Pet 4:10) Are we using our blogs to serve others? To encourage, stimulate, and help others? To build them up in Christ? Or to blow our own trumpet?

5. Let us therefore make every effort to blog what leads to peace and to mutual edification. (Ro 14:19) And Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the blog of peace (Eph 4:2) Do we make every effort to maintain peace and unity in the body of Christ? Or do we focus on what divides us? When we disagree, are we humble and gentle?

6. Accept him whose blog is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters...Let us stop blogging judgment on one another... whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. (Ro 14 1-22) Let us be careful not to condemn ourselves by dividing the body of Christ over disputable matters, or by judging the spiritual state of our brothers and sisters with whom we disagree.

7. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - blog about such things. (Phil4:8) Amen!

Monday, August 15, 2005

Hey You! Off My Blog!

I was shocked to find my blog had been spammed this morning. Nothing offensive, just an advertisement for some financial opportunity posted as a comment. Grrr. If this happens again, I'll be forced to change my comments to "Blogger Members Only." Ha ha - like I'm just inundated with comments here!

Living the Writing Life

My friend and I only work 4 days a week (although my 4 days are 10-hour ones). We laugh about the so-called fantasy life that we live on our off days. You know; sleep in, go for coffee, swish around the house with a feather duster, etc. We both know this is not exactly the life non-working women live. In fact, I seriously doubt there's such a thing as a non-working woman. Nevertheless, it's fun to imagine life without the forty-hour week obligation to someone else.

So today, the last in a stretch of 6 vacation/off days, I planned to live out my writing fantasy. No really, I awoke this morning to leftover thoughts from last night when I got the bright idea of starting my own writing business. The gears were turning and light bulbs popping on all over the place. I couldn't wait to finish packing my husband's lunch and get him off to work and get back to my idea generation. I ran downstairs to grab a can of Chef Boyardee for his lunch - uh oh, what's this? Hmm, where's that water coming from? Oooh, the carpet's all wet too. Turns out our AC pump is not working. This comes on top of discovering a leak under the kitchen sink last night. Which came on the heels of a puking cat, in need of a trip to the vet today. Sigh. There goes my day, I thought.

But wait a minute. It is a blessing that I'm off and available to deal with all these little things. I don't understand it, but my husband is always extremely happy on the days I'm off. Hey, if this is the reality side to my fantasy life, I'll keep it - thank you very much!

So in between calls to the AC repair guy, sessions with the shop vac and wet carpet, and a trip to the vet, I'll be cranking out ideas and whatnot. This is the day the Lord has made, after all. I'm going to be glad and rejoice!

Friday, August 12, 2005

See Where Love & Respect Will Get You?

Check this out! We're about to celebrate our eighth anniversary this fall and I'm marveling at friends, younger than we are, who've been married for over fourteen years. But this - eighty-one years with the same person! That's just awesome.

Friday's Feast

I thought I'd do Friday's Feast since future blog entries are still in the simmering stage (and of late, on the back burner!)

Appetizer: Did you sleep good last night? Yep, 'twas good to be back home in my own bed, after several days away. Although the time away was blessedly peaceful and relaxing.

Soup: What is your current computer desktop image? At work, pictures of my niece and nephews.

Salad: When was the last time you planted something, what was it and where did it go? I just said to myself this morning as I picked yet another rotten-bottomed tomato from my garden, this thing is going to pot real fast! Well, at least I have a few Romas and a beautiful eggplant and some jalapenos to show for my efforts!

Main Course: What's your favorite condiment? Without a doubt, mustard. Gourmet mustard, if you please. Dijon or something like that. Mayonnaise should be restricted to ingredient status!

Dessert: Share a quote that you like, for whatever reason. "There's no way to accomplish great amounts of hard work without great amounts of hard work." Author unknown to me. Every so often, this quote comes to mind and I actually accomplish something worthwhile.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Perspective & Perception

As usual, this entry is written on the fly, but it's a topic I've been thinking about a lot lately. It seems to me that much of our lives would be right if we could grasp these two concepts: perspective & perception.

Merriam-Webster defines perspective as "the capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance." The really great artists have an accurate sense of perspective. They have an ability to not only see an object or scene as it is, but as it relates to the setting. Remember how as children, we tended to draw everything on the same plane. Houses, trees, flowers - we had no concept of near and far. As we grew, at least for some of us, we began to develop a sense of perspective, and soon clouds and trees were drawn smaller and higher up on the page to show distance.

As Christians, it's so important to gain God's perspective on things. We're often so full of our own feelings and emotions about issues and problems. Really small insignificant issues loom like giants from our point of view, consuming much of our time and energy, while the truly significant matters, things that matter to God, get shoved off to a mental corner to collect dust. Honestly, sometimes I find myself fretting over a small monetary expenditure and yet I can't seem to devote some time and prayer to improving some relationships. I wish I could tell you I have learned to see things from God's perspective but I'm a long ways off. But lately this awareness has caused me to at least stop and prayerfully consider God's perspective. And it's making a difference in how I pray and think about things.

Maybe tomorrow I'll share some thoughts on the other "P" word: perception. For now, I want to head back to that amazing viewfinder, God's word, and continue to seek to align my perspective with His.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Passing on the Left!

That's what the experienced biker said as he passed me by on the trail.

"Passing out is more like it," I thought to myself as I huffed and puffed and pedaled hard to keep up with my two friends.

"Passing," another bunch of riders whizzed by me.

"Help yourself!" I muttered under my breath.

"On your left!" This time it was a dad, followed by a string of little girls who obviously had more muscle power in their little legs than I do in my entire body!

It was not a fun ride. Well, it was in a way. My friends and I laughed quite a bit. The whole time I was thinking how extremely out of shape I must be. Finally we realized that the problem was my knobby trail tires; they create more resistance, making for a rougher ride.

The funny thing was, I've always ridden alone in the past. I never considered that I might be slower than the average biker, or having a tougher time. Alone - I was doing just fine. Along side some friends however, my lack of pedaling power quickly became apparent.

Later tonight, after I caught my breath and cooled off a bit, I saw an analogy between that bike ride and the Christian life. Alone, I think I'm doing alright. My sins don't seem that bad; in fact, I hardly notice at all how they drag me down. I'm encumbered by weakness but I have no clue. Then I spend time with other Christian friends. I see them curb their tongues, exhibit a spirit of humility, and live in an attitude of prayerfulness. My sins are not so comfortable now. I see how my weaknesses have dragged me down, held me back from enjoying the fullness of a relationship with Christ.

I know God wants me to walk with Him . . . to spend time alone in His presence. I'm comfortable with that. But He also commanded community for a reason. Not to compare ourselves to each other, but so that the brightness of another's light might reveal how dim my light is. And perhaps on a day when mine is shining a little brighter, another may see and want that for herself.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Slug Fest 2005

Slug Fest: a period of days on end during which one feels like a total slug, and yet, unable to muster enough strength to break free of the rut, appears to be enjoying this present state

That describes most of 2005 YTD for me.

I feel good when I'm in God's word on a daily basis. I feel loved and secure when He speaks to me through His word.

I feel so alive when I'm exercising and eating right. Nothing beats working up a sweat on the treadmill or an early morning walk that ends with a quart of freshly picked berries.

I'm so happy when I'm writing and giving way to the kajillions of thoughts bouncing around in my brain, eager to escape onto paper.

So why do I stare miserably into my closet each morning at the few remaining outfits that I fit into? Why do I moan and groan about pain, knowing it's mostly a result of poor eating habits and lack of exercise? Why do I deliberately choose to read something else, anything but my Bible day after day? Why do I jump on the Internet when I should be writing?

Tonight it occurred to me this is more of a slug fest than I first jokingly described. It's a true slug fest - a real, honest-to-goodness, knock-down, drag-out battle. I'm right where the Enemy wants me to be: feeling attacked and defeated. But I don't have to live on the losing side. Recognizing the Enemy is half the battle. Knowing victory is secure in Christ is everything.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Pray It Forward

I was deeply touched recently by a friend who offered, no - suggested, getting together with me some night to pray specifically about a burden on my heart. So often we promise to pray FOR others but how often do we pray WITH others? Immediately I thought of several other women I wished would do the same - reach out to me in prayer. Just as quickly, I felt the tug of the Holy Spirit on my heart. Is there someone in my circle of friends, family and acquaintances who needs me to reach out and pray with them? That's something I tend to be uncomfortable doing - I never know whether or not I'll offend them or make them feel uncomfortable! But I can't ignore the Holy Spirit, so I'm going to attempt to "pray it forward."

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

More Ways to Ruin a Marriage

Debra over at As I See It Now had a great tongue-in-cheek post on how to ruin a marriage. I've thought of a few more ways . . .

  1. Never express any gratitude towards your spouse, especially not for the little things. And if you do, be sure to follow it with a sarcastic comment such as "it's about time."
  2. Be sure to complain loudly about your spouse to anyone willing to listen. After all, you might just find a kindred spirit that way and then you can spend more time spouse-bashing than seeking ways to improve your marriage.
  3. Never compliment your spouse in the presence of others. They might get a big head and forget about all the faults they need to work on.
  4. Don't pray for them. Better yet, don't pray that God will show you where you need to improve in this partnership.
  5. When your spouse goes out of his/her way to please or surprise you, be sure to let them know how they could have done it better.

Thankfully, these are not lessons I've learned from ruining my marriage. But they are lessons in progress and I have lots of studying to do!

I went away for the weekend with a few girlfriends. We all talked frequently with our spouses over the weekend (hurray for cell phones with lots of free minutes!). Mike told me Sunday night he drove through the local park for awhile, and tonight I was delighted when he suggested we take the same drive. What tickled me most was not so much the drive, but the fact that he was thinking about me! We drove around for an hour, stopping every so often in hopes of being serenaded by cicadas (they were quiet tonight). We watched the trees twinkling with a zillion lightening bugs and held hands like silly teenagers. I don't want to ruin this thing we have - not in a million years!

Tuesday, June 07, 2005


"D, come on. Wake up. It's a beautiful morning. Let's head outside for a bit and you and I spend some time together."

Ugh. I checked the alarm clock. Five-thirty in the morning. I was wide awake but it was way too early to wake up.

"Give me fifteen minutes," I begged sleepily. But fifteen minutes turned into twenty, then thirty, and before I knew it, Toby Keith was serenading me from my clock radio. I checked the time. Six-oh-two. Time for one more snooze before I rushed into the day's routine.

"Help, Lord. You gotta help me through this day." It was barely nine o'clock and already a heap of problems threatened to ruin my day.

"I'm here," I heard His voice answer. "This is why I wanted to meet with you this morning. I thought we could talk about your day. I had some beautiful promises I wanted to share with you, and I wanted to remind you of my love for you. I just wanted to be with you for a while."

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Is It Just Me?

Or does much of our lives revolve around food these days? I say maybe it's just me because I'm in one of those "I need to watch what I eat" phases. But seriously, it seems to me like food is often very near the central focus of our lives. Case in point: aren't we all just a little put out in Sunday School when someone forgets to bring the treat?!

I remember when I was little and sharing a popsicle with my sister out on the front stoop was a big treat. An even bigger treat was riding down the street with my gram to the little market and getting to pick out our own flavor of popsicle. The little Vietnamese woman who ran the place referred to my Gram as "the Popsicle Lady" because when she came, she always bought a big bag to take home and keep in the freezer. But that's beside the point. The point being, when I was a kid, "what are we going to do today" was usually answered with a proposal of work or play. Popsicles and ice cream cones were big treats, coffee was the Maxwell house morning brew (that lasted throughout the day) and eating out only happened on your birthday. Our days revolved around picking green beans in Gram's garden, helping her can tomatoes, and playing in the creek and almost falling in.

Today, getting together with friends always seems to revolve around food. Nothing wrong with that; eating is generally understood to be necessary to live. But isn't there anything else to do with people besides eat? How about looking through some photo albums? Visit a shut-in? Work together on a house project - two hands do make such work lighter. Take a walk or ride bikes? Memorize some scripture or pray together. Take a ride through the neighborhood where you grew up? And when hunger pangs hit, go home and make some good old spaghetti or throw a couple of hot dogs on the grill.

I'm not at all against picnics, parties and going out to eat. I'm just wondering if there isn't a bit more to life. If there aren't more ways to connect with people than over a meal?

Monday, May 23, 2005

Woo Hoo!

I passed the 1500 word mark of a short story I'm writing! That's a milestone for me, but Stephen Koch's book on writing has inspired me to seek out this story as though I were looking for buried treasure. I'm having fun!

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Lord, Lord

I feel like a swinging pendulum.

When I first came to trust Christ as Savior, I was part of a very strict, fundamental denomination. Even as a young teen, I was under the impression that only members of that denomination could truly be saved.

I remember attending a youth camp at another church one summer. My mom thought it wise for me to socialize with other Christians outside my usual circle of friends. I was amazed to learn there were indeed others who knew Christ and yet worshipped a bit differently from me. My goodness, some of the girls even wore pants! I shut my eyes again, however, and shrank back to the "we alone" mentality during my years at Bible college. Years later, I left that denomination (and it's legalistic trappings) for good and once again opened my eyes and learned to embrace others who professed Christ as Savior but worshipped differently.

Lately I seem to keep bumping into people in my reading and on the Internet who call themselves Christians but don't have a clue what it's about. Their Christianity is based on their own perception of what they want God to be, a god of their own creation. I understand and believe that, while our fruits do bear witness of our salvation, it is not my place to determine whether or not someone is a Christian. That is between that person and God. However, Jesus did say that many will say to Him one day, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles? And Christ will reply, "I never knew you." So while it is not my job to judge the condition of another's heart simply by what I can observe, I believe I am to be wise and remember that not all who profess the name of Christ really know Him.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

It's Not Ours Anyways!

How funny we humans are. We own two lots, the one our house sits on, and the one behind it, making our yard a nice expansive 200 ft. deep. Although the houses are closer together than I'd like, the spacious backyard is what appealed to us. Most of our neighbors own both lots, except for the house next to us. The old guy that lived there didn't venture outside much; we ended up cutting his small back yard for the remaining few years of his life.

That back lot has been overgrown with trees and bush, and afforded us a little extra privacy. Until today. The new neighbors, a young couple, decended upon it today with axes and chainsaws and have proceeded to clear it. Sniff sniff! I feel robbed, exposed and naked! My backyard retreat is gone. The funny thing is, I think the new neighbors assume we don't own our back lot either. But we do. We pay taxes on it, we've earned the right to enjoy it. They are just encroaching on their back lot! It seems kind of selfish to me to be ticked at them for clearing property that's not theirs, when I guess we've done the same thing. We've got a huge woodpile sitting half on that property we aren't looking forward to moving.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Inspect or Expect - What Will It Be?

Someone once said, probably in a management training class, that people do only what is inspected, not what is expected. That saying came to mind tonight on the way home from work as a big red SUV whizzed past me into the 50 mph. construction zone. Where's the cop that's been sitting there all week to ensure motorists slow down to a safe speed?

In my Christian life, I want to keep the speed limit even when there's no cop sitting around the bend. I want pleasing God to be my motivation, not staying clear of His wrath.

Just some random thoughts for today (actually not so random since I think God probably used that SUV today to turn my thoughts toward Him).

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Ah, I Get It! (Thoughts on Submission)

Typically when the subject of submission is taught or preached on, there's a sense of resistance conveyed, as though this is a hard thing. I guess it is. But it occurred to me today that some woman may not see submission as a particularly difficult area for them. These are the women married to laidback men who generally are fine with whatever their wives want to do. These are the women who, out of necessity, make many of the decisions in the home about money and the children, because their husbands have little or no interest in doing so.

If we think of submission as a willingness to allow another to lead, rather than being forced to bow to the will of another, submission is can be a blessing rather than a discipline to dread. Along with the idea of allowing someone else to lead comes a consideration for their preferences and continuous open communication and consultation on areas where we've been given free reign.

I don't have any funny stories (do I ever) or quotes to go along with this post, just plenty to think about.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005


Psalm 46:10 Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

I was encouraged recently by this post by Mary DeMuth at The Master's Artist blog (Tuesday April 8 "Be Aware"). Lately I've felt like I just can't focus. I stay awake at night dwelling on work stuff. During the day, story ideas dancing in my head distract me from the tasks at hand. On my drive to and from work, I'm making mental lists of things at home and in my personal life needing my attention.

So on the drive home that day, I just clicked the radio off and tried to heed God's command in Psalm 46:10. Goodness, it's hard to just be still sometimes, isn't it? Sure, we can be sitting perfectly still in church or laying still in bed. But how often do we stop to be completely still and focus our attention on God? What does it mean to be still? For me, it's not just physically coming to a halt, but also shutting out all the mental distractions competing for my attention. That means the voices in my head. The ones planning my next story or blog entry. The ones carrying on imaginary conversations with the person I think needs a piece of my mind. The discouraging ones that laugh at my attempts to write as well as the prideful ones that commend my efforts prematurely. The worrisome ones reminding me of unfinished tasks and potential problems.

Being still for me is akin to laying flat on my back out in the yard on a cloudless night and just taking in the heavenly wonders. But simply being still is not enough. The proponents of extreme forms of yoga and meditation are content to empty their minds. God is not satisfied with us merely being still. He tells us to KNOW with every fiber of our being that He is God!

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Hi My Blog!

Just seems funny not to have posted or even really looked at my blog for a few days. I've just been going in a million different directions. Usually I kind of chew on a thought for a few days until it morphs into a bloggable thought; haven't even had any thoughts worth chewing on lately. I'll be back though!

Monday, April 11, 2005

Deep Cleaning

I'm so anxious to get my kitchen put back together and I'm almost there! It was tempting to be content with the newly painted cabinets and walls, but something in me (perhaps memories of cleaning house with my Gram) knew I had to deal with what was on the inside. And so I've spent the last two days cleaning my cabinets, putting down new shelf paper, and most importantly, purging them of junk and seldom used items. Wow! What a difference. It's not likely anyone will ever notice the insides of my cabinets, but I would know if I was hiding a mess in them!

Aren't our lives like our homes in a way? We can appear totally put together at church and when we're with others, but only God and we know what messes lurk behind that pleasing appearance. Sometimes we don't even realize what kind of junk we're hiding until we buckle down in the Word of God and prayer and allow God to reveal some of these problem areas. I don't want to just look good on the outside. I want to know that my heart is right with God, day in and day out.

Psalm 51

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Fruit in Season

I love the verse in Psalm 1 where David likens the man who lives in God's word to a tree bringing forth fruit. Who, as a growing Christian, does not desire to bring forth fruit in his or her life? Lately it seems God is working on my heart regarding the last three words of that verse: "in its season."

If you've read any previous posts on my blog (or know me personally), you may recall we just finished remodeling our basement, a project which took three years and then some. A few months ago, I decided to tackle my kitchen. Good thing I'm not in project management for a living: my plan allowed a month to paint and a weekend to lay the floor and install new light fixtures. But here I am, more than two months later, uh - shall we say - behind schedule!

I'm okay with this though. I really believe God had a patience lesson in mind for me when we began that gameroom project. So although I'm anxious to finish the kitchen, I'm not nearly as uptight or frustrated as I was with the gameroom.

I think I'm beginning to understand that God's sense of timing is so different from mine. I can't imagine God working on deadlines! If that were the case, He'd have abandoned this project called "Dianne's life" long ago. I think we try to pigeonhole God into our time frame. And that's the beauty of ripe fruit. No one enjoys fruit picked prematurely, and you can't force fruit to ripen (okay, I'm sure there's a way to trick it into ripening, but it still has to ripen on its own).

So yes, I desire to live a fruitful life. But I'm learning the fruit is God's work, not mine. And it will be best in His time. My job, really, is just to get out of the way and let Him work.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

An Untended Plant

During my recent kitchen project, I had kitchen items scattered everywhere throughout my house to protect them from my sloppy painting. I thought I put everything back together this weekend but I just noticed a plant in the corner of the livingroom which I've neglected for several weeks. It looks so sad and droopy.

It reminded me of my "story" I was so enthused about last week. I just looked at it today - yikes, it too looks sad and droopy. It hasn't grown at all since I left it. What happened?

Okay, I'm really not dumb enough to think a story would write itself. But it did occur to me when I opened the file this week that I've neglected this story that's yearning to be told. I'm learning that stories, much like plants, need nurturing attention in order for them to thrive. So this is just a lesson, an observation, on my writing journey that I want to remember.

In case you wonder why my posts never seem to have a finish to them, forgive me. Ten minutes at the computer is sometimes all I get these days when hubby's school demands computer time!

Sunday, March 27, 2005


I just finished reconciling my checkbook. It's such a satisfying feeling to see those zeros which indicate my checkbook is in agreement with my bank statement. But before I get to that point, I usually have to do a bit of adjusting. Somehow things don't usually balance out at first. Inevitably, I've failed to record a few transactions in Quicken, and sometimes there's a discrepancy between my amounts as recorded, and the bank's report. In most cases, I end up relying on the bank's statement rather than on my record, and so far I've managed to keep my checkbook balanced.

Imagine though, if I chose to rely solely on my records. What if I marched down to the bank over every little discrepancy and insisted the error lay with the bank. Or what if I just chose to ignore the few minor differences every month, instead of considering possible error on my part?

How ridiculous, you'd say! But isn't that what so many people do with God? Rather than accepting God's word as the inerrant, unwavering source of truth, they make up their own standards of what is right and what is wrong. And in their minds, that's the only thing they have to measure up to.

I like knowing for a fact that I don't measure up. I can't and never will measure up to God's standards of righteousness. But thanks be to God, I don't have to try. God in His mercy has already afforded me His assurance of reconciliation through His Son. II Cor. 5:18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation (KJV). I'll take God's accounting system over mine anyday!

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Can I Scream?

I'm at work on Saturday, trying to make heads or tails of a project that was dumped on me. Worrying just about ruined my week off so I decided to come in for a few hours today and tackle it. I'm getting nowhere! So frustrating! But there, I feel better now, having vented a bit.

Monday, March 21, 2005


My sister wrote a poem about me once that started, "Your favorite color must be green . . ." And up until a few days ago, it was true. Until that horrid pastel wishy-washy mint green appeared on my walls. (Okay, I put it there!) In my haste to bring this kitchen project to completion, I almost just left it and moved on. But something in my crazy mind wouldn't let me leave it. I picked a new shade of green yesterday called Pickling Spice, and I absolutely love it. Well, my shoulders and arms are screaming at me for putting them through this again, but I made the right choice.

And that's not the only choice I feel good about today. In recent weeks, I've become convinced that I need to heed the call I heard 30 years ago when I decided to be a teacher. Wow, has it been that many years? The road back is exceedingly long and filled with obstacles, which is why I've put off this decision for ten years.

It all starts with my having attended an unaccredited school, and, shame on me, never trying supplement my degree at all or pursue certification. I'm about done being bitter and full of regret over a past I cannot change. Doors are opening (not without a bit of effort on my part) and I don't want to let another decade end with me looking back at missed opportunities. So the last week I've been busy requesting transcripts, filling out college apps, looking for loopholes which might make my degree worthwhile and applying for several certifications.

This week I plan to do something that takes every last bit of nerve I have - apply to some local Christian schools as a substitute. I just have visions of them looking over my transcripts and laughing at the gaping holes there.

Instrumental in this decision has been a great book called "Behind the Stories," a collection of stories of God working in the lives of different Christian authors. Although the book focuses on those blessed with the gift of writing, the author emphasizes the underlying truth that we are all endowed by God with certain gifts. It's only when we're using those gifts for His glory that we find fulfillment.

I still feel like writing will be part of this journey in someway. Perhaps it will provide the means to leave a good paying job and start from scratch. But in a way, I've never felt more fulfilled than when I'm encouraging some young person to follow their dreams. Maybe there's a budding writer out there who just needs some encouragement. All I know is I'm ready to quit resisting God's leading, eager to follow and see where He leads.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Not All Things Green are Lovely

I finished painting my kitchen yesterday, just in time for St. Patrick's Day. Ugh! My walls look like they're covered with McDonald shamrock shakes. Instead of turning out a sage, citrusy green, they're rather cool and minty. Minty is fine for gum and lifesavers, but please, not all over my walls! Now I have to decide if I want to go get more paint and do them over, or just leave them be.

Monday, March 14, 2005


BJ Hoff had a couple of great posts recently on the topic of "story" over at her blog, Grace Notes. One thing she said was "that stories are not made up: they’re found. Stories are discovered." That one little thought has stuck with me for days. Go read her post for yourself; I couldn't begin to do it justice here. Make sure you check out "Part 2" as well. I immediately purchased the book she references by Stephen Koch: the Modern Library Writer’s Workshop. Already I've found my approach to writing revolutionized. Suddenly I'm enjoying the process of of watching this story unfold. I kind of feel like a news reporter, following my characters as I try to capture their feelings, and keep up with the ever changing events in their lives. It's there, it really is!

It makes sense, really, that stories are there to be discovered, like "bolts of material, layer by layer by layer" as BJ points out. After all, aren't we all stories created in the mind of God? I doubt God is sitting on His throne, inventing all kinds of plots with twists and turns to make our lives more interesting. Even if something surprises me or throws me for a loop, God is never caught off guard. How comforting to know He will complete the work He began in me, because He knows the story from beginning to end. And when I'm stuck, be it in my life or my writing, I can always turn to "the Greatest Story Ever Told" for guidance.

But Blondie Did It!

Did what, you ask? She read in bed. I'm talking about Blondie Bumstead, wife of Dagwood Bumpstead, who often ended her evenings reading in bed. Meanwhile her husband Dagwood tossed and turned, dreaming of confrontations with his little old boss, Mr. Dithers, then headed for the kitchen to make one of his famous mile-high sandwiches. That's me and hubby to a "T"! Well, kind of. He has these recurring dreams in which he's working at an old job . . . night auditor at a hotel. More often than not, he's up halfway through the night to get a drink or snack. So, why, I ask . . . does he not like me to read in bed? It's not fair, I tell him. Blondie did it!

I can't figure out if I'm a morning person or a night owl. When I have to get up for work in the morning, I can't. But come weekends or my day off, I'm up at the crack of dawn. And I love to stay up late reading or writing, which makes it even harder for me to get up for work on time. It makes for some really ugly mornings, the ugliest part being that I rush off to work with wrinkled clothes and two-day old hair snatched back in a ponytail holder (how much longer can I get away with ponytails, now that I'm forty, I wonder?)!

So tonight, we hit upon a compromise. If I get up on time for work, I can stay up and read or write as long as I want that night. But if I get up late, he gets to make me go to bed early, and I have to. Now lest you think I'm making him sound like an ogre, let me assure you that I am married to Mr. Wonderful and 'tis I that am the sluggard. Most mornings he has the dog walked, cat fed, breakfast on the table and his clothes ready for work before I get out of the shower! I don't know where that man gets all this character. Maybe he got my helping when God was passing it out. Yeah, that must be it!

So do I get to read in bed now? Well, only if I beat him to it . . . but this is a fair trade, I think!

Saturday, March 05, 2005

I Answered My Own Question!

Or rather Blogger just did! I just wrote an entry entitled Mismatched Socks, published it and poof! It's gone. Rats - I hate when that happens.

Question for Bloggers

Do you blog elsewhere first (on your computer) then copy & upload the entry to your blog? Or do you just blog away?

Friday, March 04, 2005

How's Your English?

Here's a fun quiz to test your English skills: The Commonly Confused Words Test http://www.okcupid.com/tests/take?testid=14457200288064322170

Thanks to Cindy for the link. Here's my score:
You scored 93% Beginner, 93% Intermediate, 93% Advanced, and 94% Expert!
You did so extremely well, even I can't find a word to describe your excellence! You have the uncommon intelligence necessary to understand things that most people don't. You have an extensive vocabulary, and you're not afraid to use it properly! Way to go!

Hmm, is this a sign I should pursue my goal to return to teaching English? :)

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Throw-away Words

Is there such a thing as throw-away words? I used to frequent a Christian forum where much of the discussion included slamming the associations, beliefs and lifestyles of the other posters. There's something to be said for healthy debate and discussion, but after a while, I stopped posting altogether and rarely read anything there. The negativity was oppressive.

I can't help but wonder if we're not accountable for every word we speak or write. It seems like some people, even Christians, must think we're alloted a certain number of "disposable" words, seeing all the words wasted entirely on fluff and fussing.

In this issue of Today's Christian Woman magazine, Lisa Welchel explains how she encourages her teens in their blogging pursuits, while reminding them that for the most part, the words we blog are out there forever. I guess it's possible for my words to reside on a remote server somewhere long after I abandon this blog, which is likely to happen at some point! Aside from blogging, what about the words I speak on a daily basis? Are there twinges of some hurtful words I spoke in haste nagging at someone's self-esteem? Is someone resisting the call of Christ because of some careless, unChristlike words I blurted out without pausing to think first?

No doubt, God's Word is the only true eternal word, and the only all powerful source of God's instruction to man. Yet as we are made in God's image, surely our words will have some lingering effect. Likewise to a limited extent, our words have a sense of power. I find it amazing that with a word, God spoke our world into existence, and He has chosen to impart the power of words to man. Our words can build or tear down. They can encourage or defeat others. With our words, Christ can be honored or disgraced. We can't speak, or write, lightly therefore.

Proverbs 25:11 A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver. Lord, may all my words be aptly spoken.

Memo to self: Do a study on the word "word" in Psalms & Proverbs.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Addictive Behaviors

Having been brought up in a strict legalist denomination, it's been drilled into me that certain behaviors, namely drinking and smoking, are clearly taboo. I don't drink, and I don't smoke, but of late I find myself questioning the rational behind these standards. As Christians, we are to be controlled by the Holy Spirit. After a rough day at work, I can see how people might want to escape the troubles of the day by enjoying a relaxing drink. I see plenty of stressed coworkers heading for the exits several times a day for a smoke. But as a Christian, what are my options?

Lately I have begun to realize that I create my own escapes - all perfectly acceptable behaviors, of course. Who can find fault with reading, for instance? Or coffee - surely the beverage of choice among Christians! But when I retreat to my books to block out a bad day, or rely on a cup of coffee to get me through one, aren't those serving the same purpose as alcohol? I'm just guessing that what God wants from me is complete reliance on His Holy Spirit, and a book or cup of "joe", while not in and of itself evil, if it takes the place of dependence on Him, can be just as much a problem as any other addictive behavior.

That's the whole issue with legalism; it circumvents the heart. Isn't this where Jesus took issue with the Pharisees? He said the outside of the cup was clean, but the inside was filthy dirty. He never said he had a problem with a clean appearance, only with those who focused only on the outward appearance. Isn't the Enemy subtle?

Friday, February 11, 2005

Love Is . . .

I sometimes get dismayed when I shop for Valentine's Day cards. Some of them sound so self-serving, i.e. they're all about what "he" does for me. I love you because . . . you make me smile . . . you make me feel secure . . . you make me laugh. That sounds like a very conditional love to me. I know, the point of Valentine's Day is to take time to cherish what you have and those sentiments have their place. But I think love is better expressed in our actions.

When I was a teen, our newspaper ran a little comic every Sunday called "Love is." It was just a cute little couple, with big eyes, and a one sentence completing the thought "Love is . . .: I faithfully cut these out and stuck them in a scrapbook which I've kept all these years. My mom thought it appalling that they were naked and she usually made me color clothes on them!

Anyway . . . here are some "Love Is" thoughts for Valentine's Day . . . and everyday!

Love is . . . flipping everytime you think about him.
Love is . . . making sure he's warm for the winter.
Love is . . . sharing the joy of traditional holidays.
Love is . . . sharing the same piggy bank.
Love is . . . trying out her exotic recipe!
Love is . . . keeping the home fires burning.
Love is . . . seeing the happiness in your reflection.

And a few of my own (these are ways BOTH of us express our love):

Love is . . . not batting an eye when your partner makes the entry in the checkbook but forgets to actually transfer the money!
Love is . . . cleaning out the freezer together when someone left a can of pop in there!
Love is . . . realizing that his junk is as important to him as mine is to me.
Love is . . . taking the dog out on an icy cold morning when it's not your turn.
Love is . . . staying up to take the dog out one more time so the other person can go to bed early.
Love is . . . a surprise phone call in the middle of the day just to say "I love you."

Ah, love . . . truly it is a many-splendored thing!

Thursday, February 10, 2005

This is Creepy!

Yahoo! News - Parents Protest Student Computer ID Tags I don't have kids but if I did, I don't know I'd want their school tracking their every move!

Monday, February 07, 2005

How Much Do You Really Need?

I'm planning to redo my kitchen - mainly paint and a much needed new floor. In preparation, because this may be a month long project, I've already begun packing up knick-knacks and whatnots. I glanced at the box tonight, the corner of which my cat is using in lieu of a good hand to scratch herself, and it occurred to me I haven't missed anything yet!

I wonder just how many things I tend to accumulate as I go through life that serve to weigh me down more than spur me on. I've been accused by my husband and mother of being a "pitcher" - I find it easier to just put things in the trash or give them away, which works fine as long as they're mine to pitch! That's always been my modus operandi when it comes to cleaning. And I absolutely LOVE to clean other people's junk! (I never understand why they don't seem as appreciative of my efforts!)

Seriously though, even though I think I'm less "things-oriented", sometimes I feel like a giant tumbleweed, moseying along through life accumulating things. Or worse, looking for things to accumulate! It's hard when the world seems to be telling us what we need, creating desires and needs in us we never knew we had.

I don't have the perfect solution right now, beyond the practical tips found on Flylady and other such sites. I know where the answer lies though: Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Notes in the Key of Life - A Must Read!

If I lived in Rockford, IL, I'd definitely be listening to Cindy Swanson, news director & popular radio personality on WQFL. Thankfully, she shares her buoyant spirit and positive outlook with an even larger audience on her blog. She interviewed Joni Eareckson Tada recently regarding the Oscar-nominated movie, Million Dollar Baby, a feel-good movie that promotes euthanasia. Check out the transcripts of the interview for yourself and bookmark Cindy's blog for a guaranteed good read!

Just for fun - something different. I got this from Blogin' Idiot who got it from Unspace who got from Therapy Failed who got it from Dell who stole it from Stacey who lifted it from Big Orange Michael who borrowed it from All Things Jen(nifer) who picked it up at Master Foley's Blog:

First, recommend to me:
1. A movie:
2. A book:
3. A musical artist, song, or album:

Next, I want everyone who reads this to ask me three questions, no more, no less. Ask me anything you want. (I will respond in subsequent posts. I reserve the right to not answer questions that might hurt someone else or that might be grossly inappropriate for my blog.)

Then, I want you to go to your blog, copy and paste this allowing your friends to ask you anything they want!

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Happy Groundhog Day!

To me, that is! And my hubby! We got engaged on Groundhog Day a mere eight years ago. My then boyfriend arranged to meet me one Sunday morning on the pretence of an early pre-church breakfast. As many young lovers do, we gave each other a gift each month on our "anniversary" - February 2 marked five months for us. I had a silly t-shirt for him (I think it was free with the cologne I gave him at Christmas and I just saved it). He gave me adorable white teddy bear. I was oohing and aahing over it when I noticed the green yarn around its neck with - what! Just then Mike dropped to his knees and asked me to be his wife!

Each year I look forward to Groundhog Day as a chance to thank Mike for asking me to be his wife. So we actually celebrate - whether or not Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow. Even the prospect of six more weeks of winter can't dim the memory of that wonderful day.

Sooooo - do you remember the day you got engaged?

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

I'm Glad God Recycles!

". . . from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: II Cor 5:16-18

I'll admit I always pictured God getting so fed up with this messed up earth someday that He finally hurls it off into oblivion and starts all over again, hence the promise of a new heaven and new earth. But today on the radio I heard someone explain that "new" in this sense may not necessarily mean starting from scratch. It could also mean "being transformed or renewed."

While I'll leave the theological and eschatological lines for others to debate, the verses above came to mind. I'm grateful God is a patient potter and willing to work with what He has - in my case, that's certainly not much. How much more patient ought I to be with myself then? The question is not whether God is working in my life, but whether I allow Him to work without getting in the way.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

"Am I in God's Place?"

After Jacob died, it occurred to Joseph's brothers that he might now seek revenge for the wrongs they'd committed against him so many years ago. Perhaps, they thought, Joseph had only delayed punishing them to avoid further pain to his dear father. They couldn't even face Joseph with their fears; instead they sent a messenger to plead their case to him.

I love Joseph's response: "Am I in God's place?" If anyone had reason to forget who he was, it would have been Joseph. After all, for several decades, he enjoyed a vast reign of power second only to Pharoah. All the nations of the world knew their future depended upon this man Joseph, who meted out food from the Egyptian storehouses to those he considered no threat to the prosperity of Egypt. Men from all nations had bowed the knee before this young Hebrew.

Through all this, Joseph never lost sight of his role in God's work. He was only the dreamer - God gave the dreams. And he was merely the actor in the miracle God had orchestrated - in Joseph's mind, it never ceased to be God's story.

So graciously he allayed his brothers' fears and assured them he only wants the best for them and their families. He reminds them that the events of the past years were all part of God's plan.

Wow. What a reminder for me. So often I get so wrapped up in my life and I actually think it's all about me. It's not. It's God's story and I'm just privileged to be a part of it. May I continually point others to the Author of the Story. (Read the conclusion to the story for yourself!)

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

My Sister, The Writer!

For as long as I can remember, my sister has been the writer in the family. From the first Nothing Books we got from our gram, to a myriad of silly poems and sweet stories, to plays and children's programs, she's been the one with the golden pen in her hand.

If asked about her writing aspirations, my sister would most likely tell you now is not her time. I beg to disagree. Right now she is writing what will surely be her life's most significant work. Her words are not to be found scribbled on paper with pen, or typed on a computer. No, right now she is busy scribing lessons of character on four little hearts. Daily, amidst the routine of diapers and housework and refereeing, she manages to translate the principles of God's word into living lessons which are woven into the fabric of her children's lives. In an email, she told me she'd spent two hours at the library yesterday all to herself, and came home with no less than twenty-five books for the kids, and one for herself. While other people wonder how she manages to homeschool, she wonders how she could pass up the opportunity. She truly enjoys motherhood.

Yes, I may be the one pecking away on the computer, trying to earn a nickel a word for an article that will be printed in some magazine, but in my book, my sister is the real writer.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Ever Feel Stupid?

I've been reading some Sherlock Holmes short stories on my Palm, and got a charge out of this line by his faithful companion, Dr. Watson:  "I trust that I am not more dense than my neighbours, but I was always oppressed with a sense of my own stupidity in my dealings with Sherlock Holmes."

Nice to know I'm not the only one who has lots of "duh" moments!  Anyways, I'm finding these stories to be absolutely delightful.  I can usually read a complete story during a lunch break so they're perfect.  And you can't beat $6 for an online book that's easy to tote around with me and I never lose my page!


Tuesday, January 18, 2005

I Read Too Fast!

Too fast or too much? I just checked out And the Shofar Blew, by Francine Rivers, from our church library on Sunday. I finished it last evening and it's not a short book. Sometimes I just can't help myself; I get to reading and can't stop. I've even wondered if it's not an unhealthy addiction sometimes! It seems the less time I have to read, the more I crave it.

At any rate, I found this book surprisingly insightful. For years, I was caught up in a denomination where appearances were everything. The story of a pastor who put his ministry before his family, and to whom keeping up appearances meant everything, is more than just a fictionalized account. Francine Rivers has done another outstanding job on this book. I can't wait to check out her Lineage of Grace series next.

My, How Time Flies!

Seems like just yesterday, she was a young single woman experiencing the ups and downs of life on her own. Can it be that Cathy is now engaged? Oops, I guess it has been twenty some years, hasn't it? Immediately I thought to myself, "Gram would be so tickled!"

When I was in my first year of college, struggling with the "freshmen fifteen" pounds I'd gained, and wondering if any of those preacher boys would ever want to date me, nothing brightened my day like a letter from my Gram. More often than not, she tucked in some coupons or some "pin money," as she called it. I could always count on a few stamps, so that I'd have no excuse for not writing her back, although I didn't write nearly as much as I should have. But my favorite surprises were the comic strips she'd send, usually Hagar the Horrible or Cathy. Somehow it was always comforting to know someone across the miles was sharing a chuckle with you!

I've since tossed most of my class notes and text books from my college days, but I just can't part with those letters. Every so often I'll pull out the dusty shoe boxes overflowing with those precious missives and just revel in the memories they evoke. The stamps and money have long since been spent, and who knows what I did with the coupons and comics, but the memories are as fresh as ever. Gram's letters always started off "Dear Dinne" (her pet name for me) and ended with something sweet, like "Your ever-lovin' Gram Cracker! In between were bits of wisdom, prayers and requests for prayer, and an account of the days in the life of a woman who saw beauty in everything around her. Nothing brought her more joy than to bring joy to others. Even on her toughest days, she always managed to look on the bright side of things. That's the stuff memories are made of.

What about you? Are you a letter-keeper?

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Jorge Cruise and Me!

This book, Eight Minutes in the Morning, is just great. Right now it's impossible for me to adhere to the strict Quick Start eating plan he proposes, but that's alright. I primarily bought this book for the 28 days of strengthening exercises. These exercises are great and they really do take just 8 minutes to accomplish each day. He recommends, of course, starting your day with the exercises but so far that just hasn't happened for me. I'm not giving up though. Maybe after 28 days of breathing deeper and feeling stronger, I'll have the motivation to get up in the morning. For now, anytime is "better 'n nuttin!"

Can Someone Explain This to Me?

I'm really scratching my head here after reading this article on MSN today. In essence, a judge has ruled it unconstitutional for a public school system to include the following statement inside the biology books:

“This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered.”

The lawyer who sued on behalf of the parents (of six students) believes they will be pleased that their children will be "permitted to learn science unadulterated by religious dogma.”

Since when does stating the facts constitute religious dogma? It seems we're moving closer to becoming a nation where if someone even thinks you're pushing a religious agenda, you must be.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Your Kitchen or Mine?

There was just a bit of tension yesterday in our adult Bible study as different members voiced their questions, concerns and points of view about The Purpose Driven Life. To me, it was a beautiful picture of the body of Christ, each one differing in their approach to the Christian life.

I have what I believe could qualify as the world's teensiest kitchen! Not everyone could cook in my kitchen, but I'm perfectly comfortable there. I've accepted the fact that my 20 year old lineoleum floor will never be as clean as I'd like, and there will always be bits of dust lingering on the many shelves and knick-knacks. Preparing a full-course Thanksgiving dinner was no problem, as I've learned to plan and prepare dishes ahead of time, and to clean up as I go.

I might not be as comfortable in some other kitchens though. Some people cook like a house of fire, and their kitchens look like disaster areas by time the meal's on the table! But they're perfectly happy cooking that way, and hey, what are dishwashers for anyways!

No doubt, someone who wouldn't want to live in my house or cook in my kitchen would still come to enjoy a meal with us. And I certainly wouldn't turn down an invitation to spend time with friends in their home.

My point is, even though someone else's approach to the Christian life is different from ours does not make their Christianity invalid. Some people struggle with every point spoken from the pulpit, doing as the Bereans did, diligently searching the Scriptures for themselves. Others live "in the Narthex" so to speak, thrilled to meet and greet visitors and new members. Some are content to work quietly behind the scenes, in support of those who naturally fall into leadership positions. We can learn from everyone and indeed, we need these other people in our lives and churches and communities.

So, where are we meeting for tea . . . your kitchen or mine?

First Things First!

I read an article in this month's issue of Today's Christian Woman about listening to books on tape while walking. Excellent, I thought! This is just what I need to get me moving . . . and it has been. Until tonight when I realized I've been listening to the 2nd half of the first tape without listening to the first side. I thought something was amiss but was enjoying The Carousel by Richard Paul Evans nevertheless. Imagine my disappointment when I flipped the tape and heard the introduction tonight! Oh well . . . I'm sure I'll be able to piece together the plot anyways!

Sunday, January 09, 2005

A "Duh" Moment!

I was sitting in our adult Bible class at church this morning, half listening to the discussion on Rick Warren's book, The Purpose-Driven Life, and half caught up with my latest ideas for a novel. I say latest ideas - not latest novel! The topic of God's purpose in our lives naturally led me to think of my characters, who, although they are professing Christians in full-time ministry, never encountered or considered God's purpose for themselves.

Well, as usual, my imagination ends with a good dose of reality - "Come on, Dianne. Do you really think you'll ever write anything worth anything?"

Then it occurred to me that not once have I ever prayed about my writing. There are plenty of things that I pray about on a regular basis, and plenty more that I need to take to the Lord in prayer more often. I'm no great prayer warrior but I do believe in prayer and especially in Paul's exhortation to "pray without ceasing." So it was a eureka moment for me to realize I've been leaving God out of this very important area of my life. Strange, huh?

I don't know where this realization will take me, but I've decided I need to give my writing to God and seek His direction. This desire that God has put in my heart does have a place in the grand scheme of His purposes, of that I am sure.

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14