Friday, May 30, 2008

More Sorrow - Press On

My heart is broken yet again.

Many of you have been aware of and praying for Selah's Todd Smith and his wife Angie in the death of their sweet baby Audrey on April 7. Now they grieve anew. I quote from Angie's blog entry from two days ago:

Todd's sister Nicol (she sang in Selah) had her second child on March 18th of this year. His name is Luke.

Last night [Tues., May 27] around 9:00 central time, she went to check on him and he was not breathing. Paramedics were called but they were unable to resuscitate him.

Our nephew Gregory Luke Sponberg is now in heaven with Audrey, just 7 short weeks after we lost her.

I am overcome with sorrow for what this sweet family has had to bear in less than 2 months. Angie has more information on her blog. The cause of Luke's death was apparently SIDS and the memorial service will be on Monday.

I'm posting early for Then Sings My Soul Saturday. I may post another one tomorrow! But here are Nicol & Todd singing together (with the 3rd member of Selah, Allan Hall, on the piano) several years ago. They likely never dreamed the words they sang would become such a living reality for them both within such a short span of time.


When the valley is deep
When the mountain is steep
When the body is weary
When we stumble and fall

When the choices are hard
When we're battered and scarred
When we've spent our resources
When we've given our all

In Jesus' name, we press on
In Jesus' name, we press on
Dear Lord, with the prize
Clear before our eyes
We find the strength to press on
In Jesus' name, we press on

In Jesus' name, we press on
Dear Lord, with the prize
Clear before our eyes
We find the strength to press on
To press on

Written by Dan Burgess

I know many of you love Selah as I do and will lift them up to the throne of God.

Audrey, Luke, Maria Chapman. So much heartache, so many questions. . . .Come quickly, Lord! Yet I know each of these families are indeed pressing on with His strength and, if He tarries, the world will witness God's glory displayed in their lives as never before.

On Saturday be sure to stop by Amy's for more songs.


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Thursday, May 29, 2008

100th Post - Praises & Prizes!

My 100th post. Who woulda thunk it? Certainly not I! Way back on January 2 of this year, I tentatively started this blog. I had no idea what I was doing. Or if I would enjoy it. Or if anyone would even notice my blog. Or comment. Or . . . (gulp!). . .like me! (Do we ever outgrow junior high?!)

What a difference a few months make! I quickly became addicted fell in love with this delightful blogging community. After all, what's not to like about friends & fun, challenge & conviction, parties & prizes, or recipes & reviews?!

Now for a fun way to commemorate my 100th post. I can't think of anything more narcoleptic than listing 100 mundane facts about me. I'm not even sure I could come up with that many, and I certainly don't want to chase you all away now that I've found you!

Besides, the joy of blogging has not been the quest for the wise or witty post to flow from my fingers. No, what makes me look forward every day to (b)logging on is each of you, my blog friends! So what better way to celebrate today than to celebrate you! So I have some prizes to share! If only I could send every single one of you something, or at least give you a hug in person!
  • The sweet gals who commented on my very first post. . . . and most of them have hung around and become sweet, sweet friends. Thank you, Lisa the Preacher's Wife, Kim, Xandra, Lisa Writes, and Marina. You welcomed me with open arms right from the very beginning and warmed this newbie's heart!

  • The one who left my 100th comment: Mel. She is one enthusiastic gal who is always an encouragement!

  • And speaking of encouragement, a few of you have even given me an award! Not for a minute do I think I deserve any kudos for anything on this blog, but your friendly stamp of approval meant more than you could possibly know! So thanks Denise, Kelli, Xandra, and Angela. And of course CWO for the fun surprise of being Blog of the Month for April!
And since it's fun to get a reward without even trying, just for being your normal sweet self, I am giving away 2 Starbucks gift cards to that group above! My girl drew one name out of those first commenters, and Lisa Writes won. And then, each of you whose names were mentioned above were in the second drawing, and Denise was the lucky gal! Send me your addresses, ladies, and pretend I'm having that mocha right there with you!

But Wait. . .There's MORE!!

  • If you have left a comment on my blog, I thank you. You have ministered to my heart more than you know.

  • If you read and don't comment, I thank you for stopping by. And I invite you to leave a comment sometime and let me get to know you! Who knows, you might be planting the seed for an award!
I am also giving away 2 copies of this book, Then Sings My Soul: 150 of the World's Greatest Hymn Stories. Most of you probably know how much I love the great hymns of our faith. Leave me a comment on this post to be included in the drawing. I'd love it if you would include the name of a hymn that is or has been particularly meaningful to you. Leave a comment by Saturday at 6:00 CDT and I'll draw Saturday evening. (Continental US addresses only)

Finally, the One I celebrate most of all is He who ties our hearts together. And how fitting that this song of praise, the Doxology, is to the tune Old 100th!

Thanks for your friendship! I pray that you will be blessed as much as you have blessed me.

Just a reminder: don't forget to comment on the blog tour for Skid by noon CDT Friday for a chance to win a copy of the book! Tell me your dream vacation destination!


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    Book Tour - Ruby Among Us

    This week, the

    Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

    is introducing

    Ruby Among Us

    (WaterBrook Press May 20, 2008)


    Tina Ann Forkner


    Sometimes, the key that unlocks your future lies in someone else’s past...

    In Ruby Among Us, Lucy DiCamillo is safely surrounded by her books, music, and art─but none of these reclusive comforts or even the protective efforts of her grandmother, Kitty can shield her from the memory of the mother she can no longer remember. Lucy senses her grandmother holds the key, but Kitty seems as eager to hide from the past as Lucy is eager to find it.

    From the streets of San Francisco and Sacramento, to the lush vineyards of the Sonoma Valley, Lucy follows the thread of memory in search for a heritage that seems long-buried with her mother, Ruby.

    What she finds is enigmatic and stirring in this redemptive tale about the power of faith and mother-daughter love.

    “What an incredible story. As both mothers and daughters, Ruby Among Us struck a special cord in each of the four of us. Tina writes in a way that makes us feel like we’re there; from the first line, we were captivated and drawn into an intricate weaving of the precious and fragile relationships that define us.”
    ~Point of Grace~

    Tina Ann Forkner writes contemporary fiction that challenges and inspires. Originally from Oklahoma, she graduated with honors in English from CSU Sacramento before ultimately settling in the wide-open spaces of Wyoming where she now resides with her husband and their three children. Tina serves on the Laramie County Library Foundation Board of Directors and enjoys gardening, spending time outdoors with her family, and works as a full-time writer.


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    Wednesday, May 28, 2008

    Book Tour Plus A Giveaway!


    Congratulations to Xandra, winner of the drawing!

    Random Integer Generator
    Here are your random numbers: 2
    Timestamp: 2008-05-30 18:44:04 UTC

    (I love this
    tool! I started to do the names-in-a-bowl since there were only 4, but I was too lazy!)

    Summertime and the living reading is easy! Are you heading to the pool with your kids and want to take along a book containing a combination of suspense and laughter? High prices got you staying home this summer and you'd rather fly the friendly skies vicariously? Keep reading for a chance to win a copy of this week's blog tour book, Skid!

    Blissfully unaware that Atlantica Flight 1945 from Atlanta to Amsterdam is about to make aviation history, First Officer Danny McSweeney focuses his energies on navigating the turbulent personalities of an eccentric female captain, a co-pilot with a talent for tactless comments and conspiracy theories, and a lead flight attendant with an outsized attitude that definitely exceeds the limits for carry-on baggage.

    On the other side of the cockpit door, the unscheduled in-flight entertainment includes a potbellied pig, a jittery diamond courier, and the recently jilted Lucy Meredith, whose personal mantra of “What Would Oprah Do?” will be challenged by the sudden appearance of her ex and his new traveling partner. On her left sits Hank Hazard, whose unusually polite but constant requests–prompted by his covert role as a spy for the airline–test the limits of the crew’s customer service.

    But as Lucy and the rest of the crew discover, Hank’s odd behavior is linked to a quiet faith that may play a key role in the fate of everyone on board. Especially when an unexpected traveler sets this already bumpy flight on a course toward the unfriendly skies.

    Rene Gutteridge is the author of twelve novels, including the Boo series, the Storm series, and the novelization for The Ultimate Gift, as well as Scoop and Snitch, the first two Occupational Hazard novels. She lives with her husband, Sean, and their two children in Oklahoma City.

    As a rather down-to-earth, non-creative type, I am always fascinated by the variety of storylines and characters that authors create -- as well as their experiences as they research their stories. (The author got to "fly" one of Delta Airlines' 767 simulators!) This book is full of unusual moments. At the point in the flight that they needed a doctor, I thought surely Leslie Nielsen would show up! (I know, don't call him Shirley!) But in the midst of the laughter, when some tense moments arise, the importance of faith emerges and suddenly the odd man out doesn't seem so odd after all.

    The publisher has graciously provided a copy of this book for me to give away here. To enter, just leave a comment below by 12:00 noon Friday CDT and tell me your dream vacation location. I'll randomly pick a winner Friday afternoon. (Continental US addresses only)

    You can also buy a copy of the book here.

    Happy Reading!


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    Monday, May 26, 2008

    True Love

    In my past experience as a nurse in the Home Health setting, and more recently as we are supporting my mother-in-law in the journey of my father-in-law's Alzheimer's, I've learned some wonderful lessons about love. Commitment. What it means to serve your spouse, in sickness & in health, for better or for worse. When age & illness have taken up permanent residence, and when "better" and "worse" are only relative terms that can change on a daily, or even hourly, basis.

    And as the annual "wedding season" is upon us, with its blushing brides (I pray that there are still a few who DO blush!), nervous grooms, tender vows, and dreams of "happily ever after," I've been thinking about how I've seen love in the waning years demonstrated .

    When all that remains is a shell of the person you married, what then?

    As I was with my mother-in-law this weekend, and we made daily trips to the facility where my father-in-law currently is, these words came to mind:
    Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
    I Corinthians 13:4-7

    Familiar words, no doubt. But they have taken on a whole new meaning to me now:
    • Love is patient. When you can't understand what he says. When you tell him "Hi, honey, it's me" 3 or 4 times in the same visit. When his condition is the same day after day after day.
    • Love is kind. When he doesn't know or care if you are there, you go anyway. When he can't manage his basic needs, you willingly do it for him, whether it is brushing his teeth, wiping his nose, or other personal matters. Love speaks kindly of him to others.
    • Love does not boast, it is not proud. It's about his needs being met, not about you receiving accolades.
    • Love is not self-seeking. You do what you do because because you love him and it is the right thing to do, not for attention. Nor for martyrdom.
    • Love is not easily angered. When he's confused and agitated, you don't take it personally. You know he doesn't understand or intend what he says or does.
    • Love keeps no record of wrongs. You let go of what happened 10, 20, 40 years ago, not thinking "he deserves this" or "I don't deserve this."
    • Love always protects. You "go to bat" for him, making sure he gets the best of care. Even if you'd rather not make that phone call or confront that staff member.
    • Love always perseveres. You "keep on keeping on," with God's grace, strength, and presence, fulfilling your vow 'til death doth us part.

    (Of course, this demonstration of love isn't limited to marriage relationships. These examples are also ways we honor our parents and our husband's parents in their twilight years. Much easier to type than to do, 'tis true. I struggle with this on an almost daily basis with my mom.)

    All that I learn, all that I know, all that I expound upon, are worthless trash if I don't live in this "most excellent way." The key, I suspect, is to use opportunities to sacrificially show love to my husband now as a dress rehearsal, so to speak, for the grand finale, so that by then it will be second nature.

    Impossible? Absolutely -- in my flesh! -- but God's grace is sufficient, and His power provides all I need.


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    Memorial Day

    A brief but moving tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. May we never forget them, nor take for granted the freedoms they fought so dauntlessly for.


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    Friday, May 23, 2008

    Then Sings My Soul Saturday

    This week has tugged at my heart. I've been reminded anew of the brevity of life. Grateful for God's sovereignty. Awed by how the Holy Spirit enables us to bear one another's burdens. And blessed as I have shared another's grief.

    In addition to being touched by the pain that Steven Curtis Chapman and his family are experiencing, grief has also struck closer to home. Today I attended the funeral of a woman who died (ironically, also the same day as Maria Chapman) of the ravages of breast cancer. Although as a believer, she has traded her suffering for joy, another journey marked with heartache and sorrow is just beginning for a husband and 3 little girls, ages 11, 9, and 7.

    Though I had only met this woman once that I recall, her sister is my sister-in-law. And my sister-in-law also has breast cancer. Fortunately, she has no evidence of disease at this moment. We all pray that she will continue to be so.

    As frequently happens when I am sorrowful, music ministers to me. One blessed old hymn, while appropriate for all occasions, is especially fitting for difficult times when our burdens are great and questions fill our mind.

    And the man who wrote it, Joseph Scriven, experienced heavy burdens and the peace that resulted when He leaned on God. A wealthy and educated young Irishman in love, Joseph was happily anticipating his wedding. The evening before the wedding, his fiancee tragically drowned. He moved to Canada after this tragedy. He later became engaged again, only to lose this fiancee to pneumonia.

    Several years later upon hearing of his mother's illness, he sent her a poem he titled "Pray Without Ceasing." This poem was what we know today as What a Friend We Have in Jesus.

    Most hymnals only have 3 verses, but I discovered a beautiful 4th verse as well. I love this simple piano version:


    What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
    What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
    O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
    All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

    Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
    We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer.
    Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?
    Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.

    Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?
    Precious Savior, still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer.
    Do your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer!
    In His arms He’ll take and shield you; you will find a solace there.

    Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised Thou wilt all our burdens bear
    May we ever, Lord, be bringing all to Thee in earnest prayer.
    Soon in glory bright unclouded there will be no need for prayer
    Rapture, praise and endless worship will be our sweet portion there.

    WORDS: Joseph Scriven, 1855
    MUSIC: Charles Converse, 1868

    Be sure to visit Amy for more songs! Have a blessed weekend!


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    Thursday, May 22, 2008

    Hurting With The Chapmans

    UPDATE: The Chapmans have set up a blog in memory of Maria where folks can express their condolences. It contains a precious, precious fun video of Steve & Maria recently goofing around washing dishes!

    As we remember Steven Curtis Chapman and his family in our prayers as they are facing unimaginable grief, this song of his gives words to the cries of our hearts.


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    Songs for My Blog Friends

    My girl's school choir had their spring performance last week, called Follies. It was a Broadway musical revue and such fun. I love music (surprise, surprise!) and there were some cute songs I was not familiar with.

    This one is for Linda in response to her first impressions post. (She and I have waaay too much in common!) I can definitely relate to this song. And I love the ending! (Although I have to brag that the guy from my girl's choir was even better than this one!)

    This is a sweet song of friendship; the Girls Choir sang this as a group, and it was touching to see many of them reaching out and clasping hands while they sang it:

    I just had to share that one, because you, my dear bloggy friends, have changed my life For Good!


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    Wednesday, May 21, 2008

    May Giveaway

    Click on the banner above to register to win!

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    May-hem & Memories

    Whew! I thought toddlerhood and the preschool years were busy, but it's a whole 'nuther kind of crazy when the kids hit these middle years! Orchestra concerts and choir productions and piano recitals and field trips and award ceremonies and my calendar looks like the Sharpie package exploded. After this week, the extra-curriculars will all subside as my kids have their finals next week. Of course, with a high-schooler, that just means more trips back and forth to school as my boy can exempt up to 3 finals. And the finals he does take are in 2 hour blocks. Not that I'm complaining....these years are sifting through my hands like windblown sand.

    And speaking of quickly flying years, I am surely too young to be celebrating such an auspicious occasion as the one occurring today! I even received this card in the mail acknowledging this grand event!

    For those of you unfortunate enough not to recognize that beautiful landmark, that is the Tower on The University of Texas campus. The inside of this beautiful card read:
    Sigh. May 21, 1983. Has it really been 25 years? I used to think people were really old who had been out of school this long. They must have been younger than I thought. Or I'm older than I want to admit!

    One of the fun things about graduating in 1983 was that it was UT's centennial. So there was even more fanfare surrounding the graduation ceremonies. And we were the cool class that got to wear the burnt orange graduation gowns instead of the traditional black.

    The fact that black is a much more flattering color on me, and burnt orange makes me look like death warmed over, is totally irrelevant, of course! School spirit takes priority on such an occasion!

    Of course, I can't remember graduation without remembering the NCLEX-RN, also known as State Boards, which followed 6 weeks later.

    Yuck. It almost makes me break into a cold sweat just thinking about it and looking at that website. And way back then, there was no vast internet with oodles of websites for review. We had to bubble in the answer sheets. (Yeah and if it hadn't been July, I'm sure I would have walked barefoot in the snow to get there! Actually it was probably 103 degrees!) Two solid days of testing, 8 hours each day, and it took a month to get the results. So it was mid to late August before I got the letter in the mail that said I was officially a Registered Nurse. Now they test for 5 hours on a computer and get the results almost instantaneously.

    I'm officially old. Think I'll go churn some butter....

    SiestaFiestaBefore I forget, like I have for the past month. . . . be sure to notice the blog button at the top of my sidebar for the Siesta Fiesta in San Antonio August 22-23! My girl has the nerve to turn 13 on the 22nd, so I may not get there until the 23rd, but I'm sure hoping to meet lots of you! And be sure to visit the blog, whether you are going or not. Kim (connorcolesmom) and Patty (of Girlfriends in God) have done a fantabulous job on it.

    I know the button's big, but hey, it is gonna be in


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    Monday, May 19, 2008

    Book Tour & Review

    This week, the

    Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

    is introducing

    Embrace Me

    (Thomas Nelson March 4, 2008)


    Lisa Samson


    Lisa Samson is a Christy Award-winning author of 19 books, including the Women of the Faith Novel of the Year, Quaker Summer. Lisa has been hailed by Publishers Weekly as "a talented novelist who isn't afraid to take risks."

    In Embrace Me, the latest novel by acclaimed author Lisa Samson, readers are privy to the realization that regardless of outward appearances…hideous, attractive, or even ordinary…persons are all looking for the same things: love, forgiveness, and redemption.

    This story explores a world that is neither comfortable nor safe, a world that people like Valentine know all too well. Masterfully crafted by Samson and populated by her most compelling cast of characters yet. It is a tale of forgiveness that extends into all spheres of life: forgiving others, forgiving oneself, forgiving the past.

    She lives in Lexington, Kentucky with her husband and three kids.


    Biting and gentle, hard-edged and hopeful...a beautiful fable of love and power, hiding and seeking, woundedness and redemption.

    When a "lizard woman," a self-mutilating preacher, a tattooed monk, and a sleazy lobbyist find themselves in the same North Carolina town one winter, their lives are edging precariously close to disaster...and improbably close to grace.

    Valentine, due to her own drastic self-disfigurement, ahs very few friends in this world and, it appears as if she may be destined to spend the rest of her life practically alone. But life gives her one good friend, Lella, whose own handicap puts her in the same freakish category as Valentine. As part of Roland's Wayfaring Marvel and Oddities Show, a traveling band of misfits, they seem to have found their niches in an often curiously cruel world.

    Residing in a world where masks are mandatory, Valentine has a hard time removing hers, because of her disfigured face but more so because of her damaged soul. It is much easier for her to listen endlessly to different versions of a favorite song, Embraceable You, and escape reality. Yet, life has more in store for her when she meets Augustine, replete with the tattoos, dreadlocks, and his own secrets. With his arrival, Valentine's soul takes a turn.

    If you would like to read the first chapter, go HERE

    While I probably wouldn't have picked this book up on my own, I'm glad I read it. It forced me out of my comfort zone and made me look beyond the superficial to see folks for who they are inside, rather than judging them based on the outside package the world sees. The book expanded this lesson beyond the usual level of loving the unlovable to humanizing those who are generally outcast and ogled. It was also a sobering reminder of how daughters can bear long-term emotional and physical scars from the emphasis their mothers place on that outside package.


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    Sunday, May 18, 2008

    Recognizing & Recalling Wonders

    Amy is celebrating her 100th post and giving away some goodies. If you hurry you can join in - the deadline is today, and you can enter by commenting at her blog or posting about a sign, miracle, or wonder in your life.

    In our overview study of the entire Bible this school year, I was convicted by how often the Israelites recounted God's faithfulness -- even including the details of their disobedience -- many years after the event. (I discussed it here if you're interested.) Those thoughts came back to me as I tried to think of some spectacular "thing" that I could relate that qualifies as a sign, miracle, or wonder.

    And then I thought: "Why do we I always require an earth-shattering event to get our my attention?" God has declared His wonders in so many ways in my life. How often I have taken for granted....
    • Waking each morning to a new day
    • The intricacy of the physical body; I don't have to tell my heart to beat or my lungs to breathe or the myriad of cellular functions to do their "jobs."
    • His faithfulness, grace and mercy.
    • The steadfast love of my husband
    • The wondrous blessing of being a mom to my son and daughter
    • Spring's fresh newness following winter's dormancy
    • Food, clothing, and a roof over my head
    • A church family and the freedom to worship
    • Laughter
    • Tears
    • Friendship
    I could go on and on and on.

    A specific wonder in my life came when my mom's health declined and we moved her from Houston to an Assisted Living facility near me in 2001. Because she was in a health crisis, things needed to be done rather quickly. She initially was hospitalized in Houston and then transferred to a hospital here. I looked into several Assisted Living places while she was in the hospital, and the one only 5 minutes from my house just "happened" to have the best type of room become available right when we needed it and in the most convenient spot in the whole place!

    Next, my attention (with my siblings' help) was turned to cleaning out her house and preparing to sell it. (My dad had died 4 years previously and not much had changed since then - I think she had gotten rid of his clothes.) My folks were classic Depression-era Pack Rats. They had fortunately moved when I was in high school and so had "only" lived in that house about 24 years. They had saved not only every bill they had received (and most other pieces of mail), but kept them in their envelopes as well as all the little junky inserts that are included in them! We are talking major volume of stuff!

    We made a few weekend trips to do a little and move the things my mom would need up here. I figured it would take months to clean out the house. My brother and my husband and I tackled it with a vengeance that Memorial Day weekend. Wow! People were knocking on the door to buy furniture and kitchen items, and by the end of the weekend the house was empty; my brother got it on the market by Thursday, and within 24 hours we had 3 offers.

    This was just a nutshell version - it was uncanny the way every detail just clicked into place. Almost before we knew a need, it was answered and supplied abundantly.

    The significance, besides the obvious comfort and easing of our way, is this: Years before, when I had related a divine "coincidence" to my mom and said "God handled that one", her reply was that "God's awful busy to be worried about your {insert minor detail}." Having been raised with that mindset, even though my folks were believers, I was now convinced as never before that God was indeed involved in the details of my life!

    But there is a wonder that exceeds -- or maybe just demonstrates & encompasses -- all this. I must piggyback it onto my Then Sings My Soul Saturday post. This beautiful song, written by George Beverly Shea, depicts it perfectly. What a blessing to hear him sing it here:

    There's the wonder of sunset at evening,
    The wonder as sunrise I see;
    But the wonder of wonders that thrills my soul
    Is the wonder that God loves me.

    O, the wonder of it all! The wonder of it all!
    Just to think that God loves me.
    O, the wonder of it all! The wonder of it all!
    Just to think that God loves me.

    There's the wonder of springtime and harvest,
    The sky, the stars, the sun;
    But the wonder of wonders that thrills my soul
    Is a wonder that's only begun.


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    Friday, May 16, 2008

    Then Sings My Soul Saturday

    One of the hymns from my childhood which I still love to sing is 'Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus. And what a precious story is behind its writing:

    A young wife and mother, Louisa M. R. Stead, wrote it in the days following the tragic death of her husband; they were picnicking with their daughter near the ocean when they heard a drowning boy call for help. As she watched, her husband rushed in to save the boy, but was overcome as well and both drowned.

    Mrs. Stead soon moved with her daughter to South Africa, where she served as a missionary for over 25 years. Ill health caused her to retire, and she died in Southern Rhodesia. The missionaries who served with her wrote: "We miss her very much, but her influence goes on as our five thousand native Christians continually sing this hymn in their native language."

    Source: Amazing Grace: 365 Inspiring Hymn Stories for Daily Devotions by Kenneth W. Osbeck, (c) 2002

    How often God uses our pain to bless others. Reflect on the sweetness of trusting in Him as you listen with me to this beautiful rendition by Casting Crowns:


    ’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
    Just to take Him at His word;
    Just to rest upon His promise,
    Just to know “Thus saith the Lord!”

    Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
    How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er
    Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
    O for grace to trust Him more!

    O how sweet to trust in Jesus,
    Just to trust His cleansing blood;
    Just in simple faith to plunge me
    ’Neath the healing, cleansing flood!

    Yes ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus,
    Just from sin and self to cease;
    Just from Jesus simply taking
    Life and rest, and joy and peace.

    I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee,
    Precious Jesus, Savior, friend;
    And I know that Thou art with me,
    Wilt be with me to the end.

    Words: Louisa M. R. Snead, 1882
    Music: William J. Kirkpatrick,1882

    You'll find more songs for your Saturday here!


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    Wednesday, May 14, 2008

    Blog Book Tour Giveaway!

    UPDATE: Here are the winners of the 2 books!

    Random Integer Generator
    Here are your random numbers: 1
    Timestamp: 2008-05-16 18:57:58 UTC

    ("Scout's Honor" - I always hate being the first contestant; figured there was less of a chance - I guess it really is random! LOL) Congratulations to Lauren who was the 1st responder as well as the first winner!

    Random Integer Generator
    Here are your random numbers: 6
    Timestamp: 2008-05-16 18:58:05 UTC

    Congratulations to Carole, whose emailed answer to the question "What surprise did author Amy Wallace receive on March 26?" was the 6th entry I received. (BTW, the answer is: Amy found out that her 1st novel, Ransomed Dreams, has been nominated for a RITA award!)

    Thanks to the rest of you for your comments and interest. More book giveaways are coming soon!

    I have a great book to recommend to you. And I have 2, (count 'em, 2!) copies to giveaway to one of you! Read through the end of the post for information on how to win!

    Healing Promises

    (Multnomah Publishers - April 15, 2008)


    Amy Wallace


    Amy Wallace is the author of Ransomed Dreams, a homeschool mom, and a self-confessed chocoholic. She is a graduate of the Gwinnett County Citizens Police Academy and a contributing author of several books, including God Answers Moms’ Prayers and Chicken Soup for the Soul Healthy Living Series: Diabetes. She lives with her husband and three children in Georgia.


    Facing a new threat.

    When FBI Agent Clint Rollins takes a bullet during a standoff, it might just save his life. But not even the ugly things he’s seen during his years working in the Crimes Against Children Unit could prepare him for the overwhelming powerlessness of hospital tests revealing an unexpected diagnosis. If only Sara weren’t retreating into doctor mode…he needs his wife now more than ever.

    Frozen in fear.

    Sara Rollins is an oncologist with a mission–beating cancer when she can, easing her patients’ suffering at the very least. Now the life of her tall Texan husband is at stake. She never let the odds steal her hope before, but in this case, the question of God’s healing promises is personal. Can she hold on to the truth she claimed to believe?

    Faith under fire.

    As Clint continues to track down a serial kidnapper despite his illness, former investigations haunt his nightmares, pushing him beyond solving the case into risking his life and career. Clint struggles to believe God is still the God of miracles. Especially when he needs not one, but two. Everything in his life is reduced to one all-important question: Can God be trusted?

    If you would like to read the first chapter, go HERE

    This was a riveting book. It was suspenseful without giving me nightmares, and it was a challenge to solve the mystery. But I was captured by the struggles of Clint and Sara as they wrestled with their faith in the midst of their circumstances. This is a very "real" book which grapples with trusting God when life isn't tied up with a neat and pretty bow.

    Check out Amy Wallace's blog, Heart Chocolate!

    The publisher has generously provided 2 copies of this book for me to give away. If you'd like to win one of them, you can enter by one (or more) of the following ways (1) leave a comment on this post, (2) link to this post on your blog (be sure to let me know you did so!) or (3) email me the answer to the following question: what surprise did author Amy Wallace receive on March 26? (Hint: The answer can be found by clicking on the book title at the top of the page and looking at her journal entry on the Amazon page!). Do all 3 things and you'll have 3 chances to win!

    So sorry, but I can afford to ship to continental US addresses only!

    I'll accept entries until 12 noon CDT this Friday (May 16) and will draw 2 winners Friday afternoon!


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    Tuesday, May 13, 2008

    Meme Contest

    I've been tagged by Linda at 2nd Cup of Coffee for a blog tour meme in the hunt for gold treasure. The treasure? Chocolate gold coins and the Chronicles of the Spanish Civil War series by Tricia Goyer. Since I love books, chocolate, and contests, I figured this was my cup of tea mocha!

    There will be 3 winners, so I will begrudgingly invite happily tag any of you that wish to join the meme! The rules are posted at (the other) Linda's!

    So. . . . Here are my answers to the following questions:

    1. List three things you would do with a chest full of gold (assuming you got to keep it!)

    I would give a substantial portion to my church, put aside enough to pay for our kids' college expenses, and enable my husband to retire so he can spend all his time helping others like he'd love to do.

    2. List three charities/missions/organizations you support (and why).

    Our church (for obvious reasons), the International Mission Board (for sisterly reasons), and Virtuous Reality Ministries (Because I have a daughter. And a son that will need a virtuous and modest wife one day. Like when he's 40!)

    3. List three ways you have volunteered your time/services.

    PTA & other school activities, pastoral care and other church ministries, Virtuous Reality events

    4. List three things you keep "hidden" when company comes over.

    The garage, bad moods, master suite.

    5. List the last three things you've lost.

    My patience, sleep, my sunglasses.

    6. List the last three things you've found.

    A birthday gift for a friend, my man's glasses, the sour cream in the refrigerator that my 14-year-old boy couldn't find because it wasn't right in the front at eye level.

    I know that is all such riveting information for you! Follow me as I go to Linda's and then to the author's blog to let them know I played!

    And come back tomorrow for my own blog tour with TWO giveaways!


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    Monday, May 12, 2008

    Read All About It!

    Have you taught your kids how to read a banana?

    No?! You say you don't know how to read one yourself?

    Well, pull up a blog and have a seat!

    Here's another question: Have you ever longed for a practical way to instill a heart for missions in your kids (or yourself) and remember to pray for missionaries? You may be surprised to find that these two things go hand in hand, or should I say, banana in hand!

    The next time you are at the grocery store, pick up some bananas. Look at the sticker that should be on at least one of the bananas in the bunch. You will notice that in addition to the brand name, such as Dole or Chiquita, it will also say what country the banana was imported from.

    This banana is from Ecuador. Right there in the store you and/or your kids can say a silent prayer for that country and the missionaries serving there. You can encourage your children to pray for the kids in that country, that they would learn about Jesus.

    Other fruits have stickers like this too - the produce department can become an international missions adventure!

    My sister came up with this since so many bananas come from South American countries. We found bananas with stickers from the country where she serves and she uses them. She often uses audience participation - she asks for a 1st or 2nd grader who is anxious to show off their new reading skills to come up to the front to read something for her. They come up all excited and proud, and then she hands them a banana and asks them to read it and they look at her like she has lost her mind!

    But when she did this at my church, moms told me weeks later that their kids wanted to read the bananas in the grocery store and pray for the kids in those countries!

    And now you, too, are among the elite banana-reading public! Who knew blogs could be so informative!


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    Friday, May 9, 2008

    Then Sings My Soul Saturdays

    I had my song post for Saturday all ready to go. And then this afternoon the KLOVE folks started talking about Mother's Day and played a Steven Curtis Chapman song I had never heard before. He wrote it one night on tour in tribute to his wife after he called her and she was exhausted, up late with one of their sick children.

    Move over, Cinderella! I found a version of this song with some precious pictures of moms and their kids. Happy Mother's Day to all of my blogging mom friends. And when Mother's Day has come and gone, and you are overcome with the dailyness of life, remember, you are making a difference. . . .


    You'll find more songs for your Saturday here at Amy's!


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    Motherhood Moments

    Mothers Day 2008 - Giveaway Event

    I could never make this stuff up!

    I've been sitting here contemplating this experience of motherhood. Wondering which moments are the most poignant, the most memorable, or even the most humorous to post as I anticipate Mother's Day.

    Do I mention all-day sickness for 20 and 24 weeks of pregnancy, ultrasounds, amnios, marathon labors? Or hospital scares for meningitis, pneumonia, and newborn MRI's? No, too depressing.

    What about the wonders of a sweet-smelling newborn, the gurgles and coos, first steps, the wonders of toddler discoveries, play dates. birthdays, starting school, or making new friends? Nah, they're special to me but everyone has their own equally precious version.

    Or maybe the tender moments such as the way their faces lit up as they ran to meet me at the end of church nursery time, the bedtime talks, a hand in mine, a smile, a hug, or a snuggle in the night? Too cherished to describe.

    Perhaps even the exasperation of toddler tantrums, timeouts and spankings, testing limits, teenage attitudes, rolling eyes, and sibling spats? Certainly not - let me forget those!

    So here I sit, awash in memories, wondering what one moment stands out. Because the deadline is quickly approaching for the 5 Minutes for Mom Motherhood Moments Contest. And the prize is one of these cool USB Flash Drives:

    And as I sit here, my girl, who has no idea what I am doing, walks up, holding something in her hand.

    "Mom, you know that [really cheap freebie] flash drive you gave me to take to school for my projects? Well, this little connector broke and the flash drive came off this key ring and fell out of my binder somewhere and I need another one."


    THAT is what being a mom is all about!


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    Thursday, May 8, 2008

    Lessons from Mom

    With Mother's Day coming up this Sunday, I wanted to share with you a few things I learned from my mom. I'm sure you've seen this before, but these are classic Mom-isms! Unfortunately, a few have probably come out of my mouth as well!


    1. My mother taught me TO APPRECIATE A JOB WELL DONE.
    "If you're going to kill each other, do it outside.
    I just finished cleaning."

    2. My mother taught me RELIGION.
    "You better pray that will come out of the carpet."

    3. My mother taught me about TIME TRAVEL.
    "If you don't straighten up, I'm going to knock you
    into the middle of next week!"

    4. My mother taught me LOGIC.
    "Because I said so, that's why."

    5. My mother taught me MORE LOGIC.
    "If you fall out of that swing and break your neck,
    you're not going to the store with me."

    6. My mother taught me FORESIGHT.
    "Make sure you wear clean underwear, in case you're in an accident."

    7. My mother taught me IRONY.
    "Keep crying, and I'll give you something to cry about."

    8. My mother taught me about the science of OSMOSIS.
    "Shut your mouth and eat your supper."

    9. My mother taught me about CONTORTIONISM.
    "Will you look at that dirt on the back of your neck!"

    10. My mother taught me about STAMINA.
    "You'll sit there until all that spinach is gone."

    11. My mother taught me about WEATHER.
    "This room of yours looks as if a tornado went through it."

    12. My mother taught me about HYPOCRISY.
    "If I told you once, I've told you a million times. Don't exaggerate!"

    13. My mother taught me the CIRCLE OF LIFE.
    "I brought you into this world, and I can take you out."

    14. My mother taught me about BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION.
    "Stop acting like your father!"

    15. My mother taught me about ENVY.
    "There are millions of less fortunate children in this world
    who don't have wonderful parents like you do."

    16. My mother taught me about ANTICIPATION.
    "Just wait until we get home."

    17. My mother taught me about RECEIVING.
    "You are going to get it when you get home!"

    18. My mother taught me MEDICAL SCIENCE.
    "If you don't stop crossing your eyes, they are going to freeze that way."

    19. My mother taught me ESP.
    "Put your sweater on; don't you think I know when you are cold?"

    20. My mother taught me HUMOR.
    "When that lawn mower cuts off your toes, don't come running to me."

    21. My mother taught me HOW TO BECOME AN ADULT.
    "If you don't eat your vegetables, you'll never grow up."

    22. My mother taught me GENETICS.
    "You're just like your father."

    23. My mother taught me about my ROOTS.
    "Shut that door behind you. Do you think you were born in a barn?"

    24. My mother taught me WISDOM.
    "When you get to be my age, you'll understand."

    25. And my mother taught me about JUSTICE.
    "One day you'll have kids, and I hope they turn out just like you!"

    Author Unknown


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    Tuesday, May 6, 2008

    Dying To Tell You About This!

    I have been not so patiently waiting for Angela Hunt's new book, She Always Wore Red, to be released, and I finally managed to get my hands on a copy Friday evening. And was it ever worth the wait! This is the 2nd book in her Fairlawn series, following Doesn't She Look Natural?, which is being re-released this month with a fabulous new cover, as shown here.

    If you have never read one of Angela's 112 books, you are in for a treat. Angela is truly a master at spinning a story that will capture your heart and your mind from the moment you begin reading. She manages to make me smile on one page and shed a tear on another. But beyond that, she makes me THINK. I wrestle with some of the issues she presents in her books at least as much as any non-fiction book I've ever read.

    I don't know of many authors who can set a series in a family funeral home without it being morbidly macabre. Angela manages to make it realistic without being repulsive, delightful without being disrespectful, and credible rather than cliched. Infused throughout are messages of faith, trust, unconditional love, and forgiveness that strip away the facade of our "Sunday Smiles" and delve right into the heart of the matter.

    Here's the summary of the book from the back cover:
    Jennifer Graham--mother, student, and embalmer's apprentice--could use a friend. She finds one in McLane Larson, a newcomer to Mt. Dora, and is delighted to learn that the young woman is expecting a baby. While McLane's soldier-husband serves overseas, Jen promises to support McLane and then learns that her tie to this woman goes far deeper than friendship. When a difference of opinion threatens their relationship, Jennifer discovers weaknesses in her own character . . . and a faith far stronger than she had imagined.

    While I absolutely loved and recommend reading the first book, you don't have to read it to enjoy She Always Wore Red. A third book, She's In A Better Place, will complete this trilogy; Angela is in the process of revising it now.

    You can read more about Angela here and on her blog. This week on her blog she's been telling us about the process of writing this book. Getting the inside story has been the icing on the cake!

    Happy reading!


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    Monday, May 5, 2008

    Moody, Mundane, & Miscellany

    It's been one of those days. A melancholy Monday, so to speak. Dreary and rainy outside. And a bit dreary on the inside as well. Clutter accumulates quickly when I become lax, in the house, in relationships, and in my soul. A good bit of debris went into our physical trashcan today, with more to follow, and cobwebs are being discovered and cleaned out in other areas not visible to the human eye as well. As II Corinthians 7:1 says, ". . .let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God."

    Not all has been gloom and doom, however. You gals continue to bless me on a daily basis with your encouraging and challenging posts, as well as when you pop by here and leave me a comment! And I've had a couple of very nice surprises in the past several days. Recently several folks have been promoting The Busy Mom's Devotional, including Melody, and I won the book at her giveaway! Now before you groan, let me tell you that it took 2 tries to win it! The first winning gal won it at two different blogs, (talk about the magic touch!) so she declined Melody's and when Melody drew the second time, she drew my name! Then, I was absolutely stunned to see I won a Starbucks card from Lysa TerKeurst when Lysa put out the call for help with her book title! I don't suppose she'll deliver it in person, though. . . . Phooey! I don't think I've ever won a random drawing with so many other entrants - I was #154, for heaven's sake!

    Some of you may have noticed on my sidebar and that of a few others, like the other Lidna Linda, a scrolling network of blogs titled Family Friendly Network. This is a relatively new network whose umbrella page, the Blogged-In Network.Nicely. site, has a variety of family-friendly articles, recipes, and all sorts of neat stuff. And right now, they are giving away some Blogged-In Bounty! Of course, I really don't want you to enter or anything, because I want the $100 Target gift card they're giving away. I just thought I'd let you know about it so you won't be surprised when I win. And 'cause telling you about it gets me 8 entries. (You get 10 entries if you subscribe to their email!) Now don't be knocking each other down on the way to the site. It is family-friendly and all. You girls act nice.

    I mentioned awhile back when I got this award that I was going to hang on to it and give it out as the occasion arose. Well, today, I'm presenting it to Julie of Pragmatic Compendium. Because she, too, alphabetizes her spices. And is married to an engineer and has apparently birthed one as well. She, like I am, is dealing with some "Sandwich Generation" issues (tho' much much harder than mine) and is doing so with grace and wisdom. Although she IS responsible for completely grossing me out. . . .and causing me to buy the movie for my night with my girl this weekend. But she also makes me laugh now every time I order my mocha - you gotta watch this! She's become a sweet friend and I smile every time I see her name in my inbox. Julie, you make my day on a regular basis!

    More to come. . . .(I'm sure you're on the edge of your seats!) Have a great Tuesday!


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    Saturday, May 3, 2008

    Mother's Day Giveaway!

    Mothers Day 2008 - Giveaway Event

    Well, I'm "fashionably late" to the party, but there are still some great prizes available in the 5 Minutes for Mom Mother's Day Giveaway! Head on over and take a look! And congrats to my friend Linda at 2nd Cup of Coffee one of the 15 finalists in their Photo Contests! Go vote for a winner!

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