Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Top Ten

The girls and I were having a discussion around the table on Christmas night, and we started listing our all time very favorite things. I wasn't able to put mine in any priority order, but these are my favorites. What are yours?

Sharpie markers
Post-it note pads
Lindt Truffles (if you haven't tried these you should ...they are awesome!)
my new copy of the Oxford Dictionary & Thesaurus combination
Pay-at-the-pump
Potatoes (fried, chips, french fries, baked, scalloped, mashed...mmmmmm)
Peppermint Ice Cream
Big, old trees
Two-sided tape
hardware stores

Monday, December 17, 2007

Back To Original Programming

I realized that I'm mixing too many things on my blog, so I'm going back to the original intent...writing about ways I see God working in our lives. If you are interested in checking out the latest and greatest Christian fiction (and a few non-fiction) books, please go to http://hisreadinglist.blogspot.com.

I will be posting at least one new book per week there, and often I'll have free books to give away!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

What Lies Within



This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is introducing What Lies Within by Karen Ball (published by Multnomah Fiction ,November 20, 2007)

This book is actually the third in a series, so I was a little hesitant to read it before I'd finished the other two. It really didn't matter! I tried to guess what the first two books might have been about, but there really wasn't anything that wasn't well explained in the book so I didn't feel like I missed anything.

The prelude to this book catches your attention immediately, and I had a hard time putting it down until I finished. The mystery and intrigue in the book keep you wondering who the bad guy really is. It is interesting to see some of the ins and outs of the construction business, especially seen from the perspective of a female owner in a male-dominated world.

The book successfully links Marines, gang leaders, construction workers, and clergy in a way that gives you insight into each of these worlds. I can't wait to read the first two books. I'd definitely put this on in my 'must read' column.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:







Karen Ball , bestselling novelist, is also the editor behind several of today's bestselling Christian novels. Her love for words was passed down through her father and grandfather - both pastors who shared God's truth through sermons and storytelling. Blending humor, poignancy, and honesty, Karen's writing style is a powerful force for revealing God's truth. She lives in Oregon with her husband, Don, and their "kids," Bodhan, a mischief-making Siberian husky, and Dakota, an Aussie-terrier mix who should have been named "Destructo."

ABOUT THE BOOK:



Nothing’s going to stop Kyla…



until the ground crumbles beneath her feet.



Kyla Justice has arrived. Her company, Justice Construction, is one of the most critically acclaimed, commercially successful companies in the Pacific Northwest. And yet, something is missing. Not until she’s called on to build a center for inner-city kids does she realize what it is: her sense of purpose. Now nothing can stop her, not the low budget, not supply problems, not gang opposition, not her boyfriend’s suggestion that she sell her business and marry him–and most especially not that disagreeable Rafael Murphy.

Rafe Murphy understands battle. Wounded in action, this Force Recon Marine carries the scars–and the nightmares–to prove it. Though he can’t fight overseas any longer, he’s found his place as a warrior in the civilian world. So he soldiers on, trusting that one of these days, God will reveal to him why Rafe survived the ambush in Iraq. That day has arrived.

Kyla and Rafe both discover that determination alone won’t carry them through danger and challenges. When gang violence threatens their very foundations, there’s only one way to survive: rely on each other, be real–and surrender to God. In other words, risk everything…

You can get a copy of the book here!

Check out more of Karen's books or contact her at her website.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A Shadow of Treason

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I have a new favorite author, Tricia Goyer. I just finished reading book two of her Chronicles of the Spanish Civil War series, A Shadow of Treason. This book is fabulous! Throughout the series, Tricia has done a ton of research. Maybe one of the reasons I like this series so much is that I have been to Madrid, and her characterization of the city is very real. I even stayed in one of the hotels she talks about in the book, and she has the layout down pat.

I hadn't really remembered anything about a Spanish Civil War from school, so I wasn't sure how this would play out, but it is really a fascinating story of intrigue, action, and romance. Tricia's characters are very life-like, her style keeps you on the edge of your seat, and the story line makes you forget where you are. I highly recommend it! Read on for a synopsis of the book, an interview with Tricia, and more info on Tricia and her books.

If you would like to win a copy of A Shadow of Treason, leave a comment and I'll draw a name early next week. Please be sure to leave a way for me to contact you or I won't be able to let you know that you won.

Book 2 in the Chronicles of the Spanish Civil War series

Sophie discovers that nothing is as she first imagined. When Walt, the reporter who helped her over the border, shows up again after Guernica is bombed, Sophie is given an impossible mission. She must leave behind the man she's fallen in love with and return to the person who betrayed her. Another layer of the war in Spain is revealed as Sophie is drawn into the international espionage schemes that could turn the tide of the war and help protect the soldiers from the International Brigade ... she must find a way to get a critical piece of information to Walt in time.


Q and A with Tricia!

Q:
A Shadow of Treason follows A Valley of Betrayal. This is the first time you've written books as a series instead of stand alone. Which way do you like better?

A: I love writing in series. It was great to continue with the same characters. In my stand-alone books I fell in love with these people and then I had to say good-bye after one book. It was wonderful to be able to continue on.

Q: In A Shadow of Treason Sophie must return to the person who betrayed her in an effort to help the Spanish people. It makes the book hard to put down because the reader has to know how Sophie's heart will deal with it. Why did you decide to make this an element of the book?

A: There are very few of us who go through life without giving away a part of our hearts to someone who didn't deserve it. Even though Sophie had the best intentions, she gave away her heart and she was hurt-not only that she must revisit those emotions.

I wanted to include this element-to delve into the topic that emotions are sometimes as big of a trap as any physical cage. Emotions are real and they guide us -- even when we don't want to admit it. Poor Sophie, not only does she have to deal with a war around her -- she also has to deal with a war within herself. It's something I've battled, and mostly likely others have too.

Q: There is an interesting element that arises in this book and that is Spanish gold. I know you can't tell us what happens in this book, but can you give us a brief history of this gold?

A: Sure. When I was researching I came upon something interesting. The Spaniards, as we know, had taken much Aztec and Inca gold during the time of the conquistadors. Well, at the start of The Spanish Civil War much of this gold was still held in Madrid . In fact Spain had the fourth largest gold reserves in the world at that time. The Republican government was afraid Franco would take the city and the gold. They had to get it out of Madrid and this included transporting priceless artifacts. The element of gold does make its way into my story. It was great to include this little-known (and true!) element into my story.

Q: Another historical fact I learned about was the Nazi involvement during this time. Not only were the Germans active in Spain , but they had spy networks busy around the world. How did you find out about this?

A: I love reading tons of research books. Usually I find one little element that I dig out and turn into a plot line. This is what happened with my plot-line for the Nazi pilot, Ritter. I dug up this bit of research of Nazi involvement in Spain -- and the United States -- because a lot of people aren't aware of the Nazi involvement prior to WWII. The truth is they were busy at work getting the land, information, and resources they needed far before they threatened the nations around them. The Germans knew what they wanted and how to get it. And most of the time they succeeded!

Q: A Shadow of Treason is Book Two. When will Book Three be out? Can you give us a hint of how the story continues?

A: Book Three is A Whisper of Freedom. It will be out February 2008. The characters that we love are all still in the midst of danger at the end of Book Two. Book Three continues their stories as we follow their journeys in -- and (for a few) out -- of Spain . It's an exciting conclusion to the series!

Q: Wow, so we have a least one more fiction book to look forward to in the near future. Are you working on any non-fiction?

A: Yes, I have two non-fiction books that will be out the early part of 2008. Generation NeXt Marriage is a marriage book for today's couples. It talks about our marriage role models, our struggles, and what we're doing right as a generation. It also gives advice for holding it together.

I've also been privileged to work on the teen edition of Max Lucado's book 3:16. It was a great project to work on. What an honor!

Tricia's Bio
Tricia Goyer has published over 300 articles for national publications such as Today's Christian Woman, Guideposts for Kids, and Focus on the Family, and is the co-author of Meal Time Moments (Focus on the Family). She has led numerous Bible Studies, and her study notes appear in the Women of Faith Study Bible (Zondervan).

She has written seven novels for Moody Publishing:
From Dust and Ashes (2003)
Night Song (2004)
Dawn of a Thousand Nights (2005);
Arms of Deliverance (2006)
A Valley of Betrayal (2007)
A Shadow of Treason (Fall 2007)
A Whisper of Freedom (February 2008)
Night Song was awarded American Christian Fiction Writer's 2005 Book of the Year for Best Long Historical. Dawn of a Thousand Nights won the same award in 2006.

Tricia has also written Life Interrupted: The Scoop on Being a Young Mom (Zondervan, 2004), 10 Minutes to Showtime (Thomas Nelson, 2004), and Generation NeXt Parenting (Multnomah, 2006). Life Interrupted was a 2005 Gold Medallion finalist in the Youth Category.

Also, coming out in the next year are: My Life, Unscripted (Thomas Nelson, 2007), Generation NeXt Marriage (Multnomah, Spring 2008), and 3:16-the teen version of the a book by Max Lucado (Thomas Nelson, Spring 2008).

Tricia and her husband John live with their three children in Kalispell , Montana . Tricia's grandmother also lives with them, and Tricia volunteers mentoring teen moms and leading children's church. Although Tricia doesn't live on a farm, she can hit one with a rock by standing on her back porch and giving it a good throw.

Important Links!

First Chapter

Amazon Link

Book 1, A Valley of Betrayal
http://www.amazon.com/Valley-Betrayal-Chronicles-Spanish-Civil/dp/0802467679/

Tricia's Website

Tricia's blogs:
http://triciagoyer.blogspot.com
http://genxparents.blogspot.com
http://mywritingmentor.blogspot.com
http://www.myccm.org/triciagoyer
http://www.shoutlife.com/triciagoyer

Friday, December 07, 2007

Status and Other Stuff

Well, it's been an eventful week! Sammi has been in the hospital for five nights now, and we aren't sure when this will end. They have done an MRI and spinal tap, both were normal. Her headache is still hanging in there...it's almost as persistent as she is! I'm pretty tired, so I don't know how coherent this will be, but I know some of you are looking for an update.

They have changed her medication, so hopefully we'll get a breakthrough soon. The hospital has taken on the challenge of beating this thing...Sammi will be there until the headache ends.

Children's hospital is a wonderful place, and it's full of tired parents who stand by helplessly as their children fight for their lives. I almost feel guilty that we are only dealing with a short term issue when they have such huge diseases to fight. We are on the floor with most of the cancer patients.

I've seen a lot of love and patience in the nursing staff. I was passing by a room when I noticed a nurse teaching a young girl (maybe 12) how to tie a scarf over her head to hide the baldness. They were smiling and laughing -- I really appreciate nurses who can help children focus on something positive. I also saw an adorable little girl walking in front of me with her mom. She looked like she was in the final stages of losing her hair. She looked so cute in her little hospital gown and matching bottoms, and when she turned around she had a huge smile on her face and a large red clown ball on her nose! She was giggling and laughing and she was very proud of her nose.

There is a group of doctors who dress up as clowns and visit rooms. They have a comedy routine that even made Sammi laugh (and she doesn't particularly like clowns). I missed their visit, but she chattered away about it with energy and enthusiasm that I hadn't seen during the rest of her stay. God has really blessed the staff here with a true love for their patients.

God has once again reminded me that he is in control. I'm frustrated that we won't be able to get our basement finished before Alicia comes home for the holiday, the house is a mess, and I'm way behind on Christmas shopping. But I am so blessed by this opportunity to spend a lot of time with Sammi. She's such a busy girl that we hardly get a chance to connect anymore. I'm sorry that she is in pain, but I love spending time with her.

Since light hurts her eyes, I'm also learning to just be still. I always want to be doing something...reading, writing, working. It's hard to just sit...and I'm getting better at it! I think I miss out on a lot of valuable prayer time by always being busy, so I've been able to spend a lot more time with God, too!

As the holiday season approaches, I am focusing on the people in my life instead of the trappings of the holiday. God is here every day, and I want to be thankful on a daily basis that he came to earth for us -- not just during a season. God is good, he's always in control, and he wants what is best for each of us. He is holding each one of the children in the hospital in his hands, and regardless of their earthly prognosis, he will take good care of them. We are so blessed!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Life Update

Our youngest daughter, Sammi, has been in the hospital with migraines since Sunday. We are waiting for the medicine to kick in...it seems to be taking a LONG time! Please keep her in your prayers.

I'll be posting two blogs next week about my two new favorite authors...I'm really excited about their books!

And the Winners Are...

Barb Kruse and L.W.

I will contact you to get more info.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Getting Inside the Head of Your Kid - Free Book!

"Who are you and what have you done with my child?" I have to honestly say that I have thought this about each of my children as they entered the teen years. At some point in their teens (usually during junior high), I've often wondered 'who' would be walking through the door after school. From day to day, and often hour to hour, their attitudes, actions, and preferences would swing from one extreme to another. Luckily, teens eventually discover who they are and what they want from the world and life settles down.


I just finished reading a book called For Parents Only -- Getting Inside the Head of Your Kid by Shaunti Feldhahn and Lisa Rice. I hope the things I've learned in this book will change the relationship I have with my teens (and improve the relationship I'll have with my boys when they become teens).

This is an easy-to-read book that is based on the input of hundreds of kids across the country. Some of the findings seem a little shocking at first until you think back to the time when you were a teen (regardless of how long ago that was), then you wonder if the authors had peeked at your diary! Other findings helped me realize that there are some things we are doing right.

At each stage of our lives we seek to stretch and grow. As babies we want to walk and communicate. As teens we want to learn who we are and how to function on our own in the world. More than anything, this book shows that teens crave freedom and they want to establish their own identity. Often our attempts to control our worlds as parents stifle the very things our teenagers need. Even though our teens may do stupid things with their freedom, they will do almost anything to gain more of it. Our job as parents during this time is to help the kids achieve independence and build responsibility without making reckless choices.

Many of the findings in the book helped me understand some of the attitudes and actions of my teens and their friends. While the information doesn't always make me comfortable, hearing the 'behind-the-scenes' thoughts and feelings that play out in everyday activities helps me gain perspective on what my teens are dealing with. The authors include a chapter that shows how boys and girls react differently to the difficulties of their teen years that really helps a parent deal with gender-unique interpretations of events.

Shaunti and Lisa provide an opportunity to look inside the heads of today's teenagers and give tangible actions parents can take to help their children grow into responsible adults. This would be a great gift for anyone who has a child entering or fully entrenched in the teen years!

Summary:
Shaunti Feldhahn is known for unlocking the mysteries of relationships for men and women. Now she turns to a parent’s relationship with a child, particularly a child of the opposite sex. Drawing on the results of a nationwide survey of kids and teenagers, she explores questions such as:
What do moms need to understand about the “tough and tender” boy who values respect over love?
What do dads need to understand about their daughter’s need for affirmation?
What are the six biggest pet peeves teens have about their parents?
Understanding the answers to these and other important questions can help parents make the holidays a time of celebration and unity, not strife and friction.

For Parents Only offers a unique look into a child’s mind and frees readers to communicate in healthier ways as they discover that understanding their kids may not be as complicated as they think.

Author Bio:
Shaunti Feldhahn is the author of For Women Only and numerous other books, with sales totaling nearly one million copies. A nationally syndicated newspaper columnist and public speaker, Feldhahn earned her master’s degree at Harvard University . She and her husband, Jeff, have two young children. Lisa A. Rice is the associate editor of Christian Living magazine, the mother of two teenage girls, and a screenwriter and producer.

You can find out more about the book and purchase it here, or you can go directly to the forparentsonlybook.com website for additional details about the book and some actual survey responses from teens. You can also get a workbook to go with it...this would make a great study for a small group of parents.

Leave a comment about this blog and I'll enter you into a drawing for a free copy of the book! Please be sure to leave an e-mail address or some other way for me to contact you.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Quick -- Give Thanks and Move On

I read an article that talked about the increased number of stores that were opening on Thanksgiving. One quote was particularly disturbing to me:
"Some people just can't wait until Friday," said Kirsten Whipple, a Sears spokeswoman. "Thanksgiving dinner is done and they have moved on."


Has our society lost the ability to connect with family and friends on a holiday? I remember many Thanksgivings where we spent most of the day playing games, talking, and watching football games with our extended family. We ate a large lunchtime meal together, and we stayed long enough to have turkey sandwiches and another round of desserts at dinnertime. I've always had a large portion of my family living locally, and we looked forward to any opportunity to play with cousins and reconnect even if it had only been a few weeks since we had been together.

This quote makes it seem like we should treat our holiday like a business interruption -- eat quickly and move on to the real work. We can't even take one day to relax and focus on our blessings. And, as a result, many of our friends and neighbors have to work on the holiday just so we can 'move on'.

It's a sad statement.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Prayer for a Friend

My very good friend Maryn just received one of those calls we never want...the test results are back and it is cancer. This is her second round with the dreaded disease. She is a strong Christian woman, and I know her faith and her family will get her through this tough time.

I sent her this prayer, and I plan to pray it at least once each day. If you are reading this, would you take a moment to pray for her too?

Lord, I pray that you will heal Maryn completely and miraculously. Rid her body of all cancer cells and protect those cells that are healthy. If she must go through medical treatments, surround her with doctors who are caring and gentle to their patients and who are like warriors on a rampage toward the cancer. Guide their hands and minds as they develop the strategy that will result in total healing. Please provide Maryn the strength she needs to get through this tough situation. Minimize any pain or side effects while those bad cells are erradicated. Surround her and her family with tangible love and peace. Let them draw even closer to you and to each other in this time. Provide wonderful distractions to keep their minds away from negative thoughts. Fill their hearts with laughter and wonder, and bless this family beyond their wildest dreams. I pray in Jesus name, Amen

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

God Allows Suffering for a Reason

I have frequently heard Christian speakers talk about how God doesn't want us to live in pain or with depression. If we turn it all over to Him, he will heal us and make us whole. As if some of these illnesses are our own doing and we should just try harder to get closer to God. We must be doing something wrong if we aren't healed. Many people get more discouraged by this kind of talk, and some may even fall away because they believe the lie that they, themselves, are the true cause of the problem.

That is such a hurtful message to so many people. God often puts us in difficult situations, emotional and physical, so we can cling to him and help others. Yes, we often bring depression and stress-related illnesses on ourselves, but not always.

When Jesus was walking to the temple one day, he passed by the Pool of Bethesda. People believed that this pool was touched occasionally by the wings of angels, and that whomever could get into it first when the water was disturbed would be healed. John 5:3 says "Here a great number of disabled people used to lie -- the blind, the lame, the paralyzed." Jesus saw one man who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years, and he asked the man if he wanted to be healed. The man said yes, and Jesus told him to pick up his mat and go home. The man was cured at once.

Could you imagine being the person who was lying next to this man? Why had Jesus selected him and not someone else? Why did he not speak the words and heal every person at the pool? It's easy for us to give reasons such as 'they didn't believe enough' or 'they didn't deserve it'. But we weren't there, and John didn't give any explanation. Jesus healed this one to make a point, but that doesn't mean he didn't love or care about the others.

There are many great saints in God's kingdom who deal with physical and emotional disabilities. God doesn't heal their bodies, but he has healed their hearts and he's put them into situations where many can learn from their examples. They existed even in Biblical times; look at the injuries of Jacob, the thorn in Paul's side, the suffering of Job, and the depression of Jeremiah.

While God could heal them in a second, sometimes he choses not to. They will have whole and perfect bodies when they get to heaven.

If you don't have any physical or emotional ailments, or if you have been healed from them, please be thankful and praise God. But don't look down on others who suffer. They may be blessed with this 'gift' in order to be an example of faithfulness through adversity, and they may be just the example or help that someone else might need. Don't insult them by suggesting that they should just pray harder...you will be a clanging cymbal, just as Job's friends were.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Frost is on the Pumpkin

Today is the first frost for our area. The grass and the rooftops look like they've been sprinkled with powdered sugar and Jack Frost has decorated the windows of my car.

It's amazing how destructive something so pretty can be. In a flash, the impatiens that were bright and perky yesterday look like wilted spinach. Ick! This simple act of chill marks the end of one more summer and hints at the winter just around the bend.

What are the marks of change in our own lives? One day we seem satisfied with our accomplishments and on top of the world, the next we wonder if we are really making a difference and we question our direction. I watch my children grow into responsible adults (well a couple of them are still too young), and I see their struggles to find the right place in the world. It seems like only yesterday I was in that same position -- wondering if a single decision (like a particular college)will change the whole direction of my life in irreparable ways.

I think God gives us these crossroads to help us remember that he is in charge. We get overwhelmed with the choices and we turn to him for help. To facilitate our growth, he seldom provides a clear cut answer, but if we trust in him he always makes the best of our choices(even though it may take years for us to give him that chance).

Does this fall mark a key transition time in your life? Take it to the Father and ask his advice, seek guidance from godly counselors, and search your heart for the right direction. You will always be given choices, and if you turn it over to God as you move forward, he will bless your path or clearly tell you to take a different one. Even if you make a mistake, you can regroup and try again. The worst thing would be to get paralyzed with fear and miss out on the blessings that God can provide in any situation.

The frost marks an end of some things (hopefully mosquitoes), but it brings a promise of snowflakes, Christmas, and hot chocolate. Embrace this new season and snuggle close to God!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Feeling Convicted...

15I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[c] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.


Why is it that we struggle so much to do the right thing? Why is it so easy to see what others could/should do to help their circumstances when often the advice we would give is advice that we, too, should take?

Our lives are so full of 'stuff' that we often lose the blessing. We think that the solution to our problems is more stuff, more storage for the stuff we have, more money to buy more stuff...it never ends. We spend so much time and energy wanting stuff, getting stuff, taking care of stuff, finding the stuff we lost. And we miss the whole point of life.

Our daughter, Becca, went on a mission trip to Ecuador this summer. She was never very materialistic to start with, but what she saw there really changed her focus. She understands that the things of this world are temporary and for the most part useless. She saw very large families living in one to two room huts with no air conditioning, no running water, no cell phones, computers, televisions, sofas, rugs, you name it. As I look around the room I'm in, they probably didn't have much that I have but the bed, and then it wasn't the nice soft one we have. She learned that for less than $10, she could actually save a childs life...and she did.

How often do I toss $10 around like it is worthless? Oh, I don't think I'm too wasteful, but honestly, I'll spend $10 on a few 12-packs of soda and think nothing of it.

I clutter my home with things that may be pretty or useful, but they are meaningless. And yet I get so attached to them that I rearrange my home to be sure that I have room to keep them -- I'll give up room to relax and enjoy my family, sometimes even room to walk freely, so that I don't have to give up some stuff. At the moment, we can't get our cars in the garage because it is full of useless stuff I can't seem to give away. And in the process I've given away my peace and I'm failing in my stewardship to God.

Excuse me -- I think I need to go declutter.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

It's All Perspective

When Becca and I visited a college last week, we met with several of her friends who just started at the school this fall. Each had a different perspective on the advantages and disadvantages of the school, and for the most part they were thrilled with their choices to attend.

One friend, however, was having a miserable time. She didn't get along well with her roommates, she was not very involved in any activities, and she was terribly homesick.

How is it that different people have such opposite perspectives on something? Yes, each of us has different needs and interests, but these girls were having totally different experiences. There are many factors that play into this particular situation, but it has ramifications for life as a whole.

Do you know people who are miserable all the time? No matter what life hands them, they act as if there is a great dark cloud over their heads. In addition, they seem to suck others into their sense of woe.

Others, who may have really terrible things happen, seem to find a bright spot or a way to cope in tough situations. They, too, seem to pull other people toward their point of view.

There is one thing that we can know -- we will have trouble in this world. Jesus himself told us that in John 16:33. He also tells us that he has overcome the world. A little earlier, John records these words of Jesus:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.


When we lean on Him, He shares his peace and helps us to cope with our daily problems. And, if we are reflecting Jesus to others, we will help them cope with their problems, too.

Which type of person are you?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

What a Weekend!

We have had a whirlwind weekend! On Friday, Becca and I went to Missouri State University in Springfield with Kellee and her mother to check out the campus. Becca is having difficulty figuring out exactly what she needs to take to fulfill her dream of being a missionary who runs a children's home. She goes back and forth between elementary education and social work -- it seems that a double major in those things is almost impossible. The Bible colleges we have looked at require elementary ed students to co-enroll in a local state school. We are starting to look at some private Christian schools, too.

Saturday was Becca's 18th birthday! I remember the day of her birth like it was yesterday, and it's amazing to see what a fabulous young woman she has become. Becca has always had a soft heart for others and she's been our little social butterfly since the day she could stand. I am THRILLED that she has outgrown her temper tantrums (to those of you who have to suffer through a child with these, be assured that they can pass!). She can still slam her door with the best of them, but she hasn't thrown herself on the floor in a tizzy for at least 10 years! Becca is so grounded in her faith, and I love that we have great discussions about God. She comes home to eat lunch a few times a week before she goes to work at the grade school, and it's really nice to be able to talk with her without interruptions. I know she'll be ready to go off to school, but I'll really miss her! She went to the Rascal Flatts concert with several friends on her birthday, and she had a blast.

Saturday afternoon I drove 4 hours to Excelsior Springs to speak at a women's retreat. The women I met there were amazing! They were open and honest with each other and they desperately wanted to be more devoted to God. They were such a blessing to me in many ways, and I pray that their 'glow' from time away with God hasn't faded with the daily chores and their jobs.

Doug spent the weekend refinishing the dining room (aka computer room) floor, so I'm painting and staining moulding this week. We might have one floor of our house almost finished by the end of the week (lacking only a few rugs and a coffee table). We hope to have the basement completed in time for Thanksgiving.

The final quarter of the year is so crazy -- I pray that each of you can find some time to yourselves to find the peace of the season!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Becca's Senior Pictures

Becca is a senior...hard to believe! She asked me to take her Senior pictures for her, so I've been practicing (and agonizing) with my new camera. We took 'practice' photos today at the park. I'd love your advice! Check them out at my photoblog.

Monday, October 01, 2007

An Interview With Lisa Tawn Bergren

In an earlier post I mentioned that I was reading the books 'The Begotten' and 'The Betrayed'. I love historical fiction, and these two books were really hard to put down! They are set in Italy in the 1300's, and the story revolves around several characters who discover they have been given special gifts by God. The heroine, Daria, is a healer, and she meets up with several others who have gifts of faith, prophecy, discernment, and wisdom.

In those days, the Church was much more of a political organization than a religious one, and they would stop at nothing to eliminate those who went against their philosophies. In addition, there was a powerful organization of evil seeking to silent "The Gifted" in any way possible. The story quickly becomes an exciting chase through Italy as the Gifted find each other and discover God's will for their lives. Check these books out – they are amazing!

I had the chance to interview the author, Lisa Tawn Bergren and the information I learned is printed below. I'd highly recommend these books to anyone who wants to be transported to another time in the midst of an exciting and dangerous controversy!


1. How did you get the inspiration for this series?
I read Da Vinci Code and stayed up all night reading it. In the end, I was grieved and angered at the heresy presented there. I set out to find a true biblical mystery, and two scholarly friends told me about the "lost letter(s) of Saint Paul," written to the Corinthians. At the same time, was profoundly influenced in watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy on film. So when Publishers Weekly referenced both Da Vinci Code and LOTR, and compared my book, The Begotten, favorably, I was thrilled!

2. What do you admire most about Daria?
Man, this girl has gone through misery, and look at her! She was handfasted to her longtime love, Marco, then abandoned because she couldn't get pregnant (vital for nobles in need of heirs, thus the Church-sanctioned "handfastings"--basically a try-out of marriage!), finds out she's a healer of amazing proportions, that her coming has been prophesied to come for centuries, and oh...forces of evil are likely on the hunt for her and hers. She's strong, she's faithful, she battles darkness. I want to BE her.

3. Which character was the most difficult to create and why?
I don't want to spoil the story--so suffice it to say a character who is hovering between the righteous life and the evil life. We see this character move and breathe, understand his pain, and catch a glimpse of why he might be tempted by the dark. But watching it unfold is painful. And real. It happens every day. I don't want to be THIS character.

4. What are some of the unusual things you discovered in your research?
Handfastings, mentioned above; that there were no gondolas in my era in Venice; that each region in Italy at that time spoke a different language/dialect; that Venice had the most envied maritime force in the world.

5. What is the most challenging part of writing a historical novel?
Getting it right. I'm always afraid that some history professor will come in, read my book, and send me UnFan Mail. I work hard at trying to get the big--and small--stuff right. And the thing that is really tough is getting your head into the characters, how they might see the world at that time, in that place, rather than simply applying my 21st Century American persona in a different body. That's true perspective, true Point of View, which is undoubtedly the most daunting of tasks.

6. How have these stories changed the way you look at the world?
I'm much more aware of light versus dark, that there is an unseen battle taking place that we largely ignore, when we are in fact called to don our armor and enter the fray. We can make a difference, hold evil at bay with God's help, but we have to recognize it first. I autograph my books to "One of God's gifted..." because we all are given spiritual gifts that God hopes we will make use of on his behalf. Our lives count!

7. What projects are you working on now? When can we expect your next book?
I'm working on book #3 in the Gifted, The Blessed. It's due in a couple of weeks! It will come out Fall, 2008. Then I'm on to concepting my next series and beginning the research. I'm considering another epic trilogy, set in the 18th century, and a Colorado 19th century series.

8. How did parts of the story change based on what you discovered in research? For example, did you add or delete any scenes that resulted in a major impact on the story line?
The Gifted are on a quest journey, covering some major territory. The biggest thing I discovered was that the papacy had been moved to Avignon, France, during my time period (rather than Rome). Since the Church is essentially a main character in my books, that caused a big, screeching halt, reorganization and rewriting. It could've been an excruciating post-pub "whoops." I'm shivering, thinking about it.

9. What question would you like to answer that I haven't asked?
"Lisa, did you get to go to Italy to research?"
Yes, yes, yes! (I got to go three times--once with my husband, once with my eldest daughter, and once with my folks and children--the whole gang.) And I can't wait to return. It's every bit as cool as everyone says. I would very much like to see the Amalfi Coast next...hmmm...maybe that could be the locale my next book!


Lisa Tawn Bergren is the author of 28 books, with over 1.3 million sold. She is a publishing consultant, writer, Bible study leader, mother and wife. Her hobbies include travel (mostly from an armchair), reading, watching movies, cooking and exploring with her family. Lisa's most recent books include The Begotten, The Betrayed, God Gave Us Heaven, What Women Want and The Busy Mom's Devotional. She resides in Colorado Springs, Colorado. To sign up for her monthly email (which includes a new, unpublished devotional) go to www.LisaTawnBergren.com and join her newsletter list.

Make sure to check out her website, there is a longer bio and more about her other books.


The Begotten


The Betrayed:

Thursday, September 06, 2007

I'll Take What I Can Get

Chris and I had a rough day today. He's already decided that he doesn't like school this year so he whines and fights all morning until it's time to leave. It's interesting that he has always had a good day when we talk about it after school. I think it is just having to get ready on a schedule that causes him trouble...he's definitely not a morning person!

This morning it got pretty out of hand and I was frustrated for quite a while. He argued with everything I said and ended up screaming that he hated me (because I told him to put on his socks...I know, I'm cruel).

But tonight he asked me a very strange question. He wanted to know if I would trade my mother for a grape if someone asked me to. What???? After I asked him to repeat it because I was sure I'd heard incorrectly, I answered that of course not, I wouldn't trade my mother for anything.

Then he told Kevin that he would never trade me for a grape...he would be too lonely!It may not be a big hug and "I love you", but some days this is may be the best I can get.

After the disagreements this morning I was sure he'd give someone much more than a grape to take me away. I hope he doesn't change his mind tomorrow if we butt heads again!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

25 Years? Amazing!

Twenty-five years ago today I walked down the aisle and married my best friend Doug. I have been blessed more than I can imagine. The love he has shown me has helped me to understand how God can love us -- totally and unconditionally. Together we have learned how to focus on the things that matter and that by growing closer to God we can grow closer to each other.

Even though he tells me that he loves me every day, I would know without the words. He has allowed me to try new things and he's supported my crazy ideas regardless of their potential impact to him. He's encouraged me to accept challenging positions at work that resulted in a lot of travel, leaving him at home with three girls. He never complained, and he went out of his way to ensure that the girls had a fun time when I was gone...so much so that at times the girls couldn't wait for me to leave! He supported me in career moves that I had dreamed of and he's the cause of any success I've had.

He walked right beside me and never hesitated when I wanted to consider adoption. Although the original reason we considered adding to our family didn't work, he too felt the need to fill the empty seat(s) at our table and he was key in all the struggles we went through to adopt our boys. He had never complained about living in a house with all girls (well, he didn't really mean it...), and he'd even thought that another girl was what we wanted. I'll never forget the look on his face when he walked up and down the boy toy aisle and realized that he had a GOOD reason to play with light sabers now that we were adopting twin boys. He'd chosen to be so satisfied with our family that I don't think he realized how much he wanted a little more testosterone in the house!

With the same ease he was enthusiastic about my desire to come home to support our family and to try yet another new endeavor (writing). He took changes in income and my transition struggles in stride, never doubting that this new challenge would work. He even lets me bring cats home despite his intense dislike of them!

I could give a thousand example of his love and care, but one of my favorites is the way he wants to hold my hand whenever we stand or sit together.

Thank you, Doug, for every thing. For your love, your friendship, you abilities as a father and a husband. I look forward to holding your hand for at least 25 more years!

What a Great Place!

I don't usually like to promote business establishments in my blog, but I just have to tell about ToysRUs's Birthday Club. This is the second year we have done it (see my original blog, Like a Kid in a Candy Store, from last year). The boys each received a birthday card with a $3.00 gift card. At the store each received a balloon and a birthday crown. Christopher put his on immediately and wore it the whole time...Kevin decided he was too old for that, but he carried the balloon around like a prize.

Then, as we started shopping, they announced over the loud speaker that the boys were doing their birthday shopping, and they asked everyone to congratulate them on turning eight. Several people stopped us to aske about their birthday and oohed and aahed over their toy selections. The boys had each received a gift card from us and some birthday money from their Aunt and Uncle, so they had a fortune to spend ($48.00 each).

We had a blast. Just like last year, Kevin decided what he wanted very quickly (a Hot Wheels toy, Hungry Hungry Hippos, and a remote controlled snake). He put them in the basket and then happily helped his brother shop. Christopher checked over every item. He was appalled at how much some things cost (what a good shopper!) and he didn't want to spend his money all in one place. He was such a frugal shopper. He eventually chose two $5.00 items and I was starting to wonder if we had time to finish shopping since the store closed in just six more hours...

Then he found the spy toys, and he chose to put his two small gifts back in order to purchase night vision goggles, a listening device, secret message pen, small lights that attach to your helmet for secret missions, and several other things. They carefully handed over their money and gift cards and proudly carried their gifts to the car.

We had free kid's meal certificates for a local restaurant because of their birthday, but they didn't want to stop anywhere that might postpone their playtime! Whose children are they and where did they take my fast food junkies????

It was fun to see that their basic personalities are gelling and their shopping techniques remained the same for a whole year. They are already talking about their shopping spree next year! I guess I don't have to agonize over gifts any more as long as they like ToysRUs.

Friday, August 31, 2007

A Front Porch Day

Psalm 65:11-13
11 You give the year a good harvest,
and you load the wagons with many crops.
12 The desert is covered with grass
and the hills with happiness.
13 The pastures are full of flocks,
and the valleys are covered with grain.
Everything shouts and sings for joy. (New Century Version)

Taken from www.biblegateway.com


Here in the midwest it is a glorious morning! After a long hot and humid spell, the air finally has a cool freshness to it. I could swear the flowers by the front porch are a little perkier this morning after being weighed down by the weather for so long. We've opened all the windows and turned on the attic fan to clear out the air in the house. A perfect day to sit on the porch and read the paper.

It's amazing how a slight change in weather can impact your spirits. I'm energized and ready to attack the day. Dare I say that I'm now anxious for the crispness of fall and caramel apples? Hmm...it's still August, I'd better hold off.

Today reminds me of the unseasonable warm day of February -- a relief from the expected weather and just enough to instill hope for the season to come!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Faith Lifts

After a long 'sabbatical', I'm publishing my column at Faith Links again...check it out!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Unreasonable Expectations?

Well, I brought it on myself. I had great expectations that this morning would be different. After all, the boys are eight now, right? Surely that means they will be more mature, wake up happier, and won't fight at the breakfast table.

I know that this is unreasonable, but I expected that today would be better since it was a special day.

But no. Kevin woke up early and realized that his brother had stolen his pillow sometime in the night. He yanked the pillow out from under Chris as 'gently' as he could, and somehow Chris just woke up! I don't think I've written the warning in my blog NOT to wake Chris up any earlier than necessary...he's just not a morning person. I know he's too young to introduce morning caffeine, but he's really tough to live with before 8:00!

So the birthday got off to a rip-roarin start. Have I mentioned that I often pray through the day for the boys' teachers? Some days I think they need it more than others...this would have been one of those days, but at around 8:00 Chris decided that a birthday was worthy of a better attitude. He was all smiles by the time he got to school.

So, the birthday celebration worked to perk up his mood today...what can I use to entice a smile tomorrow?

And before any of you start thinking that Kevin is an innocent bystander in all of this...he told me about getting the pillow from Chris with a big gleam in his eye!

The joys of twins...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Last Seven-year-old Hugs...

13Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them.
14Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." 15When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there. Mt 19:13-15


Ok, it was shameless I know, but I did it anyway. Tonight is the last night that my adorable, obnoxious, funny little boys will be seven years old. So I made them give me their last 'seven year old hug' -- I told them I would never get one from them again as seven year-olds. As they limply wrapped their arms around me (they are boys after all...most times that's the best I get), they told me that this wouldn't be the last time...I can hug them again when they are seventy-seven! Whew -- that's a long time to wait!

Don't tell them, but I'll pull the same thing next year when they are eight for the last day! After all, I'm sure Jesus was rewarded with a hug or two from the children when he blessed them...so it's just being Christ-like!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Glorious Rain!

It has been a rough August around here. The temperatures have been sweltering (not as hot as the South, but 103 is HOT), and everyone's grass is turning brown. We took Alicia back to school in Tennessee on Tuesday, and many of the trees on the side of the road are dying (well, hopefully they are just shedding their leaves to protect themselves against the heat, only to return next spring). But this morning we are having a wonderful, slow rain. It is a dingy sort of day, perfect for curling up in my big chair and reading.

I just received a copy of Lisa Bergren's books The Begotten and The Betrayed. You shouldn't start these books unless you have time to finish them! I'm hooked on her characters and the story line. Lisa is going on a 'virtual book tour' and she'll be visiting my blog on October 1. I was concerned that I might not have time to read both books before hand, but I was wrong. I'll write book reviews later, but if you are looking for a great read, check these out. They are available at Target in the "Breakout Books" section.

Well, it looks like my life might settle back into a routine again since everyone is back at school. I hope to do more writing and housecleaning (well, I don't really WANT to do more housecleaning, I just want it to be clean!). I have gotten out of the habit of creating my daily to do lists and as a result not much has gotten done. I am looking forward to my Fall Energy Boost...it occurs at the same time the air gets crisp and the caramel apples show up in the stores!

I hope you are able to take some time to sit down and enjoy the day!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

So the Summer Ends...

School starts on Monday for the kids. I love school shopping...the overwhelming number of crisp new notebooks, ink pens, and glue sticks at amazing prices is sort of like being in a candy store! In addition to filling the lists sent home by the teachers, I always buy a few notebooks and pens for me, too.

Kevin and Chris are going into second grade. As we were moving things around in the basement today to remove more panelling so we could put up more drywall (it never ends...), I saw a photo taken of the boys about a month after they moved in with us. They were so little! While they give me fits and I still don't get this 'boy thing' (did I mention that Kevin has devised 8 ways to..umm..make 'tooting' sounds????), they still want me to sing and tuck them into bed each night.

Sammi will be a sophmore, and Becca is a SENIOR. Alicia is a senior in college. I clearly remember each of their first days of school. Alicia looked so small getting on that bus behind big sixth graders, but she was brave and excited to go. Becca went directly to the magnet school with Alicia (in third grade at that point), and I followed their cab all the way to South St. Louis so I could walk her to her class. And Sammi wore a cute green jumper and a cute floppy hat when she headed off to preschool at the magnet school with her older sisters...once again I followed that little bus all the way downtown.

I'm so proud of each one of our kids. They are very different (and I'm glad), and they are growing into wonderful people.

But I digress. The new school year still seems like a time for new beginnings...a new year, a new school, a new adventure. I have officially submitted my notice of termination at Boeing and I'm starting off on my own learning experience.

Although I've had two and a half years to practice being at home, it is a little different not to have a safety net...to officially step away from a successful career and a lot of nice amenities (no more first class upgrades and international trips!). But I know that God has even better things in store, and I can't wait!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Windy City

Sammi and I took our first train trip to Chicago on Sunday. We spent two nights in a really nice hotel (priceline.com is great) right at the end of the Magnificent Mile. Although the weather report showed rain and thunderstorms, the only time it rained was while we were inside the Rainforest Cafe, and it stopped in time for us to walk back to the hotel.

If there was a theme to our trip (besides shopping), it was chocolate! We visited the Lindt chocolate store every day for free samples (the absolute BEST chocolate in the world. Their truffles are to die for). One day we went from there to the Ghiradelli's for samples and ice cream sundaes, then to the Hershey's store for more samples. We really did that backwards...having the best first! The other two stores hardly had a chance. We spent a good portion of our fun money on chocolate (it was on sale, of course).

Sammi finally found a couple of dresses and we spent a lot of time just walking through stores. I got some pants (believe it or not, 8 out of 10 pairs I tried on fit...a definite first), tops, and shoes. We visited five malls and lots of stand alone stores, and we probably walked close to five miles each day. Definitely a shopping success.

Sammi introduced me to the Sephora store...a fun place where you can try on all different kinds of make up and perfume. We stopped there every day, too, to get gorgeous!

We had a really good time together, and we decided that we need to take a girls trip (we'll invite her sisters) at least once a year from here on out.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Wow...has it been a month?

I knew I hadn't been writing much, but I didn't realize it had been this long. I've sort of taken the summer 'off' from any sort of routine due to the chaos of the house, and I'm really feeling out of sorts because of it.

July was a really busy month. Sammi got her drivers permit and got to go white water rafting in Tennessee. Becca went to Ecuador and got back yesterday (we are STILL waiting for her luggage to make it...). Doug, the boys, and I went to Great Wolf Lodge and later the boys and I went to High Hill Teddy Bear Camp while Doug played golf. Alicia was on crutches for two weeks and is still going to therapy for a problem with her toe.

We have hung drywall in half of our basement, put down a kitchen/breakfast room floor, started laying a family room/living room floor, and tiled about 1/2 the basement. We will be finishing all these projects in August (I hope), so writing may still be a little infrequent.

I have been playing with my new camera, and you can catch up with some of the activity here.


Though the mess and frequent activity kind of makes me crazy, God has been here holding it all together!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

A 15 Minute Day

Have you ever had one of those days when you wish you weren't a grown up? I want to revert to my teenage years today. I want to sleep 'til noon, then go lay around at the pool all afternoon. I'd like to come home to see that someone else has cleaned house and made supper. After I eat I'll rush off to do something with my friends, laugh a lot, and come home just a few minutes before curfew.

But alas, I have kids to get off to summer school, meet two deadlines, work on my share of house repairs, and clean more rooms than I have time or energy for.

It's one of those days when I need to set my timer for 15 minutes and head out to accomplish something in that time...then start all over again!

So, my top ten goals for the day are:
1. Stain the quarter round boards for the kitchen
2. Keep the boys, who just woke up in foul moods, from killing each other
3. Dust and vacuum the living room and family room
4. Take Sammi to work
5. Stop by the library
6. Do basic research for Thursday's Bible study
7. Spend at least 1/2 hour reading my book (guess what will fall off the list first!)
8. Take a photo for my photo a day challenge
9. Smile and have a positive attitude
10. Make the bed so I don't crawl back in

Let's see how I do!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Sammi's Big Day

Today my 'baby' girl is 15. I am so proud of her that I could just bust. She's turning into such a beautiful, responsible young woman. She's always been a lot of fun to be around -- she is fearless and fun-loving and quick to smile. She makes friends easily (see photo below to meet a new one -- he kissed her on the forehead just seconds after he met her!) and she is comfortable around all ages and types of people. She's now the second tallest in our family (after her Dad) - her sisters aren't too thrilled with that. She's also the toughest -- she loves sports of all kinds and plays so competitively that she often has the bruises to prove it. She's also been known to eat ANY concoction that someone can prepare...the grosser the better!

We are going to the Muny (an outdoor theater) tonight to see 'Grease' and she's planning to wear this terrific hat she got several years ago that looks like a giant birthday cake (she'll take if off in time for the show, of course!). That's my girl! Thanks for bringing so much joy into our lives. We love ya, darlin!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

A "Mom" Moment

I took Becca to the doctor today, and the boys went with me. We waited in the waiting room while Becca was seen, and Christopher wanted me to read to him. I brought books with us and I was happy to read them.

He surprised me by climbing up in my lap with the book. Then he reached around and grabbed both of my arms gently and wrapped them around his stomach. I wasn't able to read this way, but he wasn't as concerned about the book as he was the hug he got while sitting on my lap. He held the books and turned the pages as we read four books this way. The whole time he rubbed my arm and snuggled against my neck.

Just the other day I had been lamenting the loss of my 'huggable' little boys. It's nice to see that as they near eight years old they are still willing (and needing) to sit still for just a few minutes for a cuddle bucket refill!


  1. cuddles
  2. a good, slow rain that refreshes the earth
  3. thunder that reminds us how small we are
  4. a husband who tells me every day that he loves me

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Catching Up

Wow...I can't believe it's been so long since I've written. We've been very busy with the house (see previous post), but in reality I just haven't felt like I had much to write about.

Since the last post we have:
Kissed Alicia goodbye for the summer as she heads off to Panama City for an internship
Finished school...everyone passed!
Shopped with Becca to prepare for her Ecuador trip
Transported Sammi back and forth to her job at the Fireworks stand
Hugged my Uncle Tom goodbye -- he's moved to Arkansas
Started a summer Bible study on Moms of the Bible
Ripped up the laundry room, kitchen, breakfast room, and 2/3rds of the basement floor
Put down new laminate in the Laundry room, kitchen, breakfast room
Put down black/white tile in 2/3rds basement
Ripped out basement walls
painted the laundry room
watched 2 swim meets (Kevin, Chris, and Sammi participate)
Got a new camera and have fun playing with it
started a photo blog (www.liftupmyeyes.blogspot.com)

And probably a bunch of other stuff I've already forgotten!

One of the verses that I've read during my 'Year Through the Bible' efforts is:

Nehemiah 4:14b "Don't be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes."

It reminded me that we must always keep our eyes on God, and that we will have to get involved and fight for what is good and right. It's not that He can't do it by himself, but He wants us to want things badly enough to get involved in the fight!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Check Your Washing Machine Hoses

I've been told this before by a wise person, and I promptly did as he suggested. Then I forgot to ever check them again.

Friday I realized I have waited too long. I came downstairs and found the fountain of my dreams going off full force in my laundry room! Apparently it had been spouting for about 45 minutes. I reached through the water to turn off the faucet, but it was stuck. I ran to the basement to turn off the water to the whole house and realized that we had a bigger problem when I splashed through water in the work room at the opposite end of the house from the laundry room.

After turning the water off, I checked the basement and saw that we had a torrential rain storm brewing in the storage room and Doug's office. I grabbed all the trash cans and buckets I could find to catch the water and I called by dear hubby to come home and save the day!

Did you know that laminate floors start curling up about two hours after they are wet? And that the underlayment wicks water to the furthest reaches of a room? Nice things to know.

So, you are all invited to our home in September to see the new digs...we are getting new flooring on the first level and we get to totally redo the basement. God is good...even though the water was coming down all over, it totally missed computers, televisions, beds, Christmas decorations, and anything of any value...all we really threw out were boxes!

So, please take some advice from a now wiser woman and check your washing machine hoses.

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Best Grass Grows in My Garden

One of God's great gifts to us is flowers. There are so many different sizes, shapes, and colors available that it continually amazes me. There is something about a flower garden that makes me relax and smile.

But no matter how hard I try to garden, like everyone else I continually fight with weeds. I don't mind pulling the ugly, thorny things out of the flower patch, but I always hesitate to remove the grass that has worked it's way past the barriers. It has fought so hard to get there and it is often the greenest, strongest grass in the yard. Why does it grow so well here and not on the other side of the barrier?

At first I thought it must be out to get me...that the grass thought out what it could do to be most annoying and then set out with a plan to take over these small plots I tried so hard to preserve. Hmmm...I don't remember learning about brains and evil intent of plants in my botany class.

After thinking about this for a while (yes, I know I need to get a life)it hit me -- the garden plots get much more attention in the way of loosened soil, fertilizer, and moisture protecting mulch. Grass will naturally grow best in those areas that are well prepared than in areas that are ignored. But when a large clump has grown it actually removes a big chunk of the garden dirt when you pull the grass out by the roots. The only way I can avoid this is to check the garden frequently and remove any small sprout of grass I see.

Sin acts in much the same way. It may sprout up and look really nice for a time in our lives. We can even pretend that it's growth is admirable and we can hesitate to remove. But without immediate attention it's roots will take over and it will be difficult to remove without taking a lot of good soil with the roots. It leaves a gaping hole in our lives that must be repaired.

The only way I can avoid sin is to examine my heart with God's help each day and remove any hint that sin is moving in. Then all that remains are the 'flowers' of my life -- the fruit of God's Spirit.

Galatians 5:16 - 25
16So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.
19The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. (NIV)

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Great Contest!

Check this out (oops, I've been watching too much American Idol)... 5 Minutes for Moms has a great new contest. You can win a whole years worth of Nexcare bandages...well, it's actually 43 boxes so hopefully they will last much longer than a year.

Leave a comment and you are entered...go here http://www.5minutesformom.com/1571/nexcare-contest/

Friday, May 04, 2007

The Spirit in Me

I have been preparing a Sunday School lesson on the Holy Spirit, and I have learned so much...mostly things telling me how little I actually know! My weekly teacher challenged me to take on one class during the current series (What Really Matters - The Essential Beliefs of the Christian Faith). After looking at the agenda for the series I knew I wanted to learn more about the Holy Spirit, so I jumped right in and chose that one.

Foolish me! The totality of the Holy Spirit is so far beyond my comprehension, I have no idea how I can teach anyone anything. It seems that anyone who has ever written a Christian non-fiction book has written on on the Holy Spirit (there are 24 books on the subject at our public library alone...a search of Amazon.com books results in 53,919 hits).

Several books list facts, though, that have really helped me narrow the lesson down. They meant a lot to me and I thought I'd share them:
1. If I am a believer, I already have the Holy Spirit.
2. I are to be filled with the Holy Spirit (being filled with him is definitely different that 'having' him).
3. The Holy Spirit Gives me power for God's purposes.
4. Sin blocks the work of the Holy Spirit in my life.

The Holy Spirit is probably the least understood and the least utilized member of the Trinity. Most Christians woefully underutilize the power of the Holy Spirit, many ignore him completely. Is that because we don't understand?

Jesus had to leave this world so the Spirit could dwell within us -- and he said that was a good thing! Because I believe, I have access to the very heart of God. The Spirit will convict me, teach me, pray for me, equip me, and provide me power to complete the plan God has for my life -- if I let him.

I pray that I will actually incorporate what I learn into my life so that those around me will know that I am filled with the Spirit...not so that I can boast, but so that they can see his power and seek it for themselves.

I imagine that this study could last for the rest of my life.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Not On My Gift Registry

I'm fascinated by the life of Solomon (the current topic of my 'Bible in a Year' plan). He pulled out all the stops to build a magnificent temple for God and a grand palace for himself. There is one parenthetical passage that just floored me, though:

16 (Pharaoh king of Egypt had attacked and captured Gezer. He had set it on fire. He killed its Canaanite inhabitants and then gave it as a wedding gift to his daughter, Solomon's wife. 17 And Solomon rebuilt Gezer.) (NIV, 1 Kings 9:16-17)


Now I don't know about you, but I don't think I'd be really happy to receive a town from my father for a wedding present -- especially if I knew that all the inhabitants had been killed and then the whole town had been burned down! I am glad Solomon rebuilt the town for his bride, but I would still feel horribly guilty every time I walked in the place if I were her.

As I continued reading the text for today (1 Kings 9-11), it told of the vast riches Solomon received...absolutely amazing. I had to laugh, though, when I read that:

3 He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray.(NIV, 1 Kings 11:3)


Well of course they led him astray, what WAS he thinking????

I hope you enjoyed your Bible reading for the day...let me know what you read and what you learned!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Checking In - Bible In A Year

Are you still with us? I haven't sent any notes out to those of us who had decided to read the Bible in a year in a while, so I thought I'd check up on you! (One of us has dropped out of the program because of massive Bible study required to prepare lessons...just checking to see if you are doing daily reading...).

I've had my good weeks and bad weeks, but after a couple of marathon reading sessions I am back on track. Today's reading (in the plan I'm on) was really good -- Solomon had just finished building the temple and he said this:

56 "Praise be to the LORD, who has given rest to his people Israel just as he promised. Not one word has failed of all the good promises he gave through his servant Moses. 57 May the LORD our God be with us as he was with our fathers; may he never leave us nor forsake us. 58 May he turn our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways and to keep the commands, decrees and regulations he gave our fathers. 59 And may these words of mine, which I have prayed before the LORD, be near to the LORD our God day and night, that he may uphold the cause of his servant and the cause of his people Israel according to each day's need, 60 so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other. 61 But your hearts must be fully committed to the LORD our God, to live by his decrees and obey his commands, as at this time." (1 Kings 8:56-61, NIV).

Amen!!!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

We'll Miss You, Maddie

Maddie Bayer died yesterday. She is the 7 year-old girl mentioned in a post a couple of days ago. Her death won't be covered by any news organization. Her life won't be discussed much on-line like those of the victims at Virginia Tech. Yet the loss of her life shows the loss of potential just as their did. Her death seems just as senseless, just as tragic. She was the most beautiful, most brave little girl I've ever met.

Yet, as I struggle to explain death to my 7 year old boys, her friends, I know my struggle is so much less than that of her parents and her two brothers. My prayers continue to be with them.

I know Maddie was looking forward to being in heaven, she talked about wanting to laugh, play, and not hurt. A child should never have to think of those things. I hear stories about being met in heaven by those you knew who had gone on before you...who meets a young child that has not been touched by the death of others?

I suppose Jesus himself meets her. I imagine her pain has gone and she is smiling that big, beautiful smile. We'll miss you, Maddie.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

A Thousand Gifts, continued

  1. the smell of fresh cut grass
  2. the feeling of cool, fresh cut grass on bare feet
  3. bright blue skies
  4. seeing the moon in the daylight

Friday, April 20, 2007

Let's Pray

I cannot help but think about the families of those killed earlier this week at Virginia Tech...each of those thirty-two families, all their neighbors and friends, those who suffered injuries, and the parents of Cho Seung-Hui are all facing pain I can't imagine. Although they can point fingers and try to find reasons behind this senseless killing, ultimately there is no one with whom they can reconcile.

I'd like to ask that you pray for all of those effected by this tragedy. Pray not only for the families of the victims, but for every person who touched Cho's life trying to help. They must be second guessing every interaction, wondering if there was some way they should have known. I can't imagine the guilt they may be feeling...even though they really couldn't have realized it would come to this. Pray for those who's last interaction with someone who died was less than pleasant...those people who wanted to share their love but didn't...those who had to be involved in the clean up...those who have to somehow go on with their lives.

Each one of these precious people needs to find the ability to forgive so they can move forward with their lives. All we can do is pray.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A tangible help

Sometimes you want to help other people, but you have no idea what to do. Boomama and some others have found a way to help Heather with the expenses she faces as she heads to the Mayo Clinic for more tests and possible surgery. You can read her story at http://www.especiallyheather.com

If you would like to help out with a love offering, click on the 'For Heather' button on the left. I'm sure they would really appreciate your help!

  1. Great neighbors
  2. Cookies
  3. People who want to help others (especially when they have never met)
  4. Clean spring air

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Do It Anyway

As I sit here the house is finally quiet after our usual morning frenzy. It is a beautiful day and I can hear the birds singing outside my window. I have Martina McBride's song, Anyway, running through my head today. Specifically:

God is great, but sometimes life ain't good,
and when I pray, it doesn't always turn out like I think it should,
but I do it anyway.




There are two people who are constantly on my mind, and I ask God why bad things happen to good people. One is Heather (see button on left). She has been a momma bear protecting her cubs for years...especially Emma Grace who has had a heart transplant and who blesses others through her hardships. Now Heather has discovered a brain tumor and her future is full of tests, difficult treatments, and uncertainty.

The other is the sweetest little girl, Maddie. She has been in Kevin and Chris's Sunday School class for a few years, and she has suffered through difficult treatments for cancer. You can read her story at http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/maddiebayer. Maddie is currently in hospice care and she is in a lot of pain.

I know we aren't supposed to understand the world on this side of Heaven, but it just seems so unfair. Even though the answer I want doesn't always come, I know that God is in control. He tells us to pray, so I do it anyway.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Thank You

  1. Grocery stores that have so many choices of wonderful things
  2. Tangible heritage I gained because I was able to know my grandparents and great grandparents
  3. Good Christian fiction
  4. Cars that start right away and take me where I want to go
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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

What a Difference A Day Makes

Some days we struggle with problems all day long...disobedient children, dinner that just doesn't turn out like you want, dogs that make messes on the carpet, and people who are jerks when they drive. Then, in the blink of an eye, we wish that those 'crises' were all we had to face.

I am in tears today over a woman I never met. Heather (at http://www.especiallyheather.com/) had an MRI just a day or so ago to see what was causing dizziness, and she found out she has a brain tumor. My heart breaks for how her world is turning upside down. She's facing a series of doctor visits and further tests to even understands what is really going on. Heather is a woman who has devoted her life to her children and working to ensure that her daughter with special needs gets the medical care and educational attention she needs. She cares about moms and the things they go through, and her love is demonstrated daily in her work.

Please pray for Heather and her family. They are in shock as they learn about terminology and treatments they never heard before. Heather, we stand behind you with prayer.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Walking to the Dreaded End

In our Sunday School class we are reading verses daily in preparation for a discussion on the reality of the resurrection. As I go through the verses where Jesus tells his disciples what will happen in the next few weeks, I am trying to understand his emotions during that time.

One of the last times he mentioned that he would be persecuted, killed, and then would rise after three days was on his final trip to Jerusalem. A day or two before his triumphal entry, he had this conversation in between healings, discussions with Pharisees who were trying to trip him up, and with the young rich ruler who wanted to know how to gain eternal life.

I believe Jesus made peace with his destiny in the Garden of Gethsemane, butwas he wavering prior to that time? Did he tell about his future in an attempt to convince himself to go through with it? He was fully man, and therefore I believe he was probably scared of the pain and suffering he would have to go through. I bet each step on that final journey brought him one step closer to something he was dreading.

I praise God that he continued on the path so that we can follow!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Decision

I am 46 years old and I've finally decided to give up trying to figure out what to be when I grow up. From now on I'm only going to work to figure out what God wants me to be next (or even right now...).

I'm not sure why society wants us to figure out one thing we can 'be'...especially at age 18. I know very few people who actually used their college degrees as intended. Most changed majors several times, then changed careers once out of college. If that's the way we tend to live, why do we make people choose? In fact, in the next ten years the 'gurus' say that many of the types of jobs available today won't event exist and thousands more will be available to take their place.

I spend more time struggling with what I should do or what a I want to do that I spend on just 'doing' what's in front of me. I still plan to set goals and shoot to continually improve myself, and I'll listen more closely for God's nudges. (Remind me of this next week!).

  1. Grocery stores full of fabulous treats
  2. Bright purple flowers on kelly green stems
  3. Hail that bounces like super balls but doesn't do any damage

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

A Thousand Gifts

At Moms of Grace, I met a woman named Lundie. She has a terrific post where she is creating a list of one thousand gifts she's received from God. This is something started in 2006 as a way to appreciate our daily gifts instead of buying into the craziness of a commercial Christmas (click the button below to see where it all started). She shared her posts with us and I want to jump on the bandwagon to be sure I pay attention to the little daily gifts I receive that are awesome representations of God's love.

You can read Lundie's blog at http://randomwanderings.wordpress.com/
(sorry I can't make the link work...check out Lundie's comment for a direct link)

  1. Salvation offered by Jesus
  2. The bright green color of spring grass
  3. Daffodils that don't care if the temperature drops to 29 degrees
  4. Little boys who think it is hilarious to make noises with their armpits (well, it's not the noises I'm thankful for, but the giggles they produce)
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Friday, March 30, 2007

Bible Study on Forgiveness

We have started a new Bible study at the Moms of Grace forum. We are working through the book Why Forgive, by Johann Christoph Arnold. This book is available at no charge on line...check out the study and join us if you wish!

http://www.momsofgrace.net/forumdisplay.php?f=121

Monday, March 26, 2007

A Weekend with the Girls

I just had the most wonderful long weekend! Last week was Spring Break, so everyone was home except Alicia (her break doesn't start until next week). Doug took off from work, so I actually got to see him (well, for two days, anyway...). Wednesday morning Becca, three of her friends, and I took off in our van to visit Ozark Christian College in Joplin, MO. The girls spent two nights with friends in the dorms and got to experience college life first hand. They attended classes, ate in the "Caf", and learned that a hilly campus may be pretty but impractical!

While they were staying up all night having dorm parties, I got to spend quiet time in a nearby hotel. I had grand and glorious plans to do a lot of writing, but I wasn't able to get a good Internet connection for the research I needed. So I spent my time reading two new books and shopping. After the chaos that is our home, it was nice to be in a quiet place.

On Friday, the girls and I took off across the state toward Sikeston. We travelled through a part of Missouri that I've never seen before. The highway was relatively new and the scenery was great.

Doug and Sammi met us at Sikeston, and Doug took the van and the 'college bound' girls home while Sammi and I headed to Jackson, TN to surprise Alicia. She was performing in a college Variety Show and I was dying to see it. She looked fabulous in her fancy black gown and long gloves while she sang Motown hits with two other girls. About twelve of her best friends danced on the stage -- they did a wonderful job. After the show we surprised her -- she had no idea we were there. We got to go out for a midnight snack and we spent a little time together on Saturday before Sammi and I had to hit the road again.

I know I'm biased, but I am so proud of our girls. Each one has a terrific personality, and they have very different strengths. Each reflects a different view of God to me, and I learn and grow every time I am around them. As the girls get older I am honored to watch them become the women God wants them to be. There are plenty of struggles, but over time those will just make them stronger. I love spending time with the boys, too, but being able to spend time with the girls without 'testosterone distractions' is a blessing!

Thanks, girls, for making my life a loving adventure!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Daffodil Days

The verse of the day:

Jeremiah 31:25 "I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint." (NIV)

I'm not sure why, but things have gotten totally crazy around here. Between doctors visits, school conferences, concerts, and to-do lists, it's hard to feel like I accomplish anything. Every time I cross one item off my list, it seems like three more appear. I'm starting to feel like a cartoon character, running for my life but not moving forward.

Most of the things we are involved in are really good things! Doug is starting to golf again, my writing and speaking activities are picking up, Becca is getting prepared for her mission trip to Ecuador, Sammi made the soccer team, and Alicia's choir group is coming to St. Louis on their Spring Break tour. But positive or not, everything just seems to be a bit overwhelming at the moment.

But in the midst of it all, God shines through. I walked outside yesterday and was greeted by the bobbing head of the first daffodil of the year! I'm not sure there is much that rekindles my faith than seeing spring life return after a long winter. Daffodils represent hope and faith to me. After a long winter of regrouping and re-energizing, they are persistent and prolific.

Spring is here, and it's time to go get dirt under my fingernails!

Friday, March 09, 2007

It's Party Time!

When is the last time you had a TGIF Party? Or any party for that matter? In the Old Testament there were celebrations and festivals for all kinds of things ... Habbakuk, Harvest, Passover, Day of Atonement, and many more. There were frequently feasts and days set aside for regular gathering and celebration.

The 5 Minutes for Moms Website is having a virtual party, and everyone can join in. Check it out here: Ultimate Blog Party

Your challenge today is to put on your party clothes, fix yourself a treat, crank up the music, and check out all the cool blogs of other people who have joined the party. If you have a blog and sign up, you might just win one of over a hundred door prizes! Come on over!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

The World's Aglow!

Verse for the day: Isaiah 60:1-3 "Get out of bed, Jerusalem! Wake up. Put your face in the sunlight. God's bright glory has risen for you. The whole earth is wrapped in darkness, all people sunk in deep darkness, but God rises on you, his sunrise glory breaks over you. Nations will come to your light, kings to your sunburst brightness." (The Message, taken from www.biblegateway.com)

For a brief moment this morning, the whole world was glowing with a lavendar light. Now before you send the nice young men in their little white coats over to take me away (if you recognize this reference, you too are showing your age!), there were no spaceships hovering over our court. The sky is overcast this morning, and as the sun rose it reflected through the clouds at just the right angle to create a pervasive glow. I just had to stop and stare, it was so amazing.

It made me think of the glow that Moses had on his face after meeting God. When you come face to face with something so wonderful, all you can do is reflect it's glory. Whether or not people were looking outside, the glow hit all homes equally. As in the verse, God's glory broke over me and anyone who happened to see, but many people missed it. They were sleeping, or busy getting ready for their day. God wants us to stop and revere his creation. Sometimes he'll give us a long time to catch his glory, as in Autumn when the leaves are magnificent for days. Other times he gives us a brief view that we might miss if we look the other way.

I pray that I am ever watchful so I don't miss those brief moments. They may come in nature or in the laughter of a child, and they give me yet another reason to praise my God!

If you get a chance, click on the Faith Lifts button to the left. This is a site devoted to improving our faith through practical application in all elements of our lives. Today they published an updated site with specific topics to help us grow. I get to host the column called "Self." This is a great opportunity for me to stretch and I'm very excited about it!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Confession Time

I am a WHOLE WEEK behind in my Bible reading! Before you jump to conclusions, I have been reading every day in order to prepare for the Moms of Grace website Bible study. But I didn't even think about my "Read the Bible in a Year" schedule.

I had a little extra time this morning, so I caught up by 3 days. I'll have to find a way to do the rest because I'm committed to making this work for once. I can always read two day's worth of lessons for the next few days and then I'll be back on schedule.

I'm in Numbers right now, which is a lot of cool and a lot of shocking things that happened to the Israelites in the desert. I'm at the point where the spies went into the land of milk and honey to bring back a report. There was lots of disbelief in God and animosity toward Moses and Aaron at this point. But even when God's wrath occurred in front of the people, they still rebelled. In the reading I did today, over 15,000 people have died of unnatural causes!

Yet God continues to want the best for them and to forgive them at Moses and Aaron's request. It is good to remember that our God is awesome and loving, but also that he is vengeful and all powerful.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Just an Update

What a week it's been! Sammi has been pretty ill for a little more than a week now. We had her in and out of Children's Hospital ER for potential appendicitis or ovarian cyst. After lots of tests and needles, they decided she had gastroenteritis (I think that's Latin for "you have a bad stomach ache and we don't know why"). She was doing really well on Friday and over the weekend, but she threw up at school again today and spent most of the day sleeping.

Christopher was feeling a little punky yesterday, but I knew he was sick when he laid down on the couch at 4:00, covered himself up and promptly fell asleep! He slept straight through until morning. I checked him at his normal bedtime and he had a temperature of 102.4, so needless to say he didn't go to school today. We've watched a McGuyver marathon (the dvds were due at the library today!) Chris loves contraptions, so he's been thrilled.

Becca has a bad sore throat and headache, but no fever, and I've had a migraine since Friday...boy, aren't we a crew! Doug and Kevin are ready to pack up and move so they don't catch anything!

I've been having a lot of fun working on the daily Bible study for Moms of Grace, and I've got a couple of writing assignments (one for pay!) to work on this week.

The weather has warmed up to almost fifty degrees, so bye bye snow! I'm getting excited again about the little green things popping out of the ground.

Well, nothing profound to say today, just wanted to explain why I haven't updated much lately. Hope you are all more healthy than we are!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Feb 15 - God Changes the Rules

Read Acts 10:17-29

Context: Peter had been sitting on his roof when he saw a vision of a large sheet being let down to earth that contained all kinds of four-footed animals as well as reptiles and birds. A voice told him to get up, kill and eat.

Text:
17While Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision, the men sent by Cornelius found out where Simon's house was and stopped at the gate. 18They called out, asking if Simon who was known as Peter was staying there.
19While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, "Simon, three[a] men are looking for you. 20So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them."
21Peter went down and said to the men, "I'm the one you're looking for. Why have you come?"
22The men replied, "We have come from Cornelius the centurion. He is a righteous and God-fearing man, who is respected by all the Jewish people. A holy angel told him to have you come to his house so that he could hear what you have to say." 23Then Peter invited the men into the house to be his guests. The next day Peter started out with them, and some of the brothers from Joppa went along. 24The following day he arrived in Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends. 25As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence. 26But Peter made him get up. "Stand up," he said, "I am only a man myself."
27Talking with him, Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people. 28He said to them: "You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with a Gentile or visit him. But God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean. 29So when I was sent for, I came without raising any objection. May I ask why you sent for me?" (NIV)
Footnotes:
Acts 10:19 One early manuscript two; other manuscripts do not have the number.
taken from www.biblegateway.com

Up to this point, God had sent the disciples to many different countries, but they were to witness to people like them, the Jews. They shared heritage, culture, and daily rituals.

Cornelius was a perfect person to facilitate the transition of God's salvation to the Gentiles. While he was a centurion in the Italian Regiment, he and his family were God-fearing and they prayed to God regularly. An angel had come to him first, so Cornelius actually initiated the search for the truth instead of the Jewish disciples trying to convince the Gentiles to believe.

With Peter's vision, God was really throwing out the Mosaic Law. Early in Jewish history he had given them many rules about what to eat and how to cook it. Now, out of the blue (literally!!!), he is saying that they can eat everything. Then someone knocks at the door and Peter is called to witness to people who were also considered 'unclean.' I'm not sure we can comprehend the significance of this change. These things were against the law to them, the thought of it was detestable.

But God didn't give Peter much time to think about it...he showed Peter the 'new way' and then thrust him right into the fray!