Friday, November 30, 2007
Plus, she is giving one away. So head over there and leave a comment if you would like to try your hand at winning. Or, just go ahead and buy a copy already. My baby needs new shoes!!
Thursday, November 29, 2007
If you are looking for a great Christmas resource to inspire you, help you stay focused on Christ, and fill you with great, do-able ideas, check out my newly-released ebook in the sidebar. Your purchase is a blessing to our family.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
I hadn't realized that my sweet toddler was intently trying to get me to laugh-- even though I was not responding the way she had hoped, she kept trying. I am embarrassed to admit that someone had to remind me to laugh. Sometimes I get so tunnel-visioned, I forget to see the joy in the little moments, to savor a moment of laughter with my children. I turn their childish behavior into mere annoyances instead of focusing on what could be a connecting point for both of us.
And so, the next time she tickled me with that feather, I laughed. Hard. Granted, it was fake laughter as it didn't tickle at all. But the best part is, she laughed with me. I got to hear her little baby belly laugh that will all too soon be gone. I should know better than to miss these moments. I am glad the seven year old was there to remind me that day.
Christmas From The Heart of The Home by Susan Branch (This one's mine!)
The Spirit of Christmas: Creative Holiday Ideas (another one for me!)
The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey
Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett
The Puppy Who Wanted A Boy by Jane Thayer
Welcome Comfort by Patricia Polacco
I also found a copy of Mary Did You Know used at Amazon. Since our library doesn't carry that one, I felt that the used price was worth it. I love used books at Amazon. I also got Susan Branch's Christmas Joy book used. I love her cozy illustrations and great ideas. Curling up with these books at night will fill my head with ideas, I am sure! I just love to read books that inspire me in the homemaking department. I need all the inspiration I can get!
If you are looking for some inspiration this Christmas, don't forget my ebook... you can order it in the sidebar to the right. Just click on the button and we will email your pdf file right away!
Here is a sweet note I got from one reader just today:
Thanks so much for writing the Christmas e-book. I have read the entire book and have highlighted traditions that I want to start for my family. I look forward to trying some of your recipes too! Thanks for sharing this book with me! Heather
Nancy McGuirk, author of the new devotional, Rest Assured, is giving away a Rest Assured Weekend Getaway at The Cove. Her book helps women rest by taking God at His Word. Plus, Nancy is offering the chance to win a weekend experience of rest in 2008 at the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove in Asheville, NC. The prize package includes a relaxing weekend for two with exceptional food, lodging, and a 3-day seminar with your choice of noted Christian speaker, such as Chip Ingram, Gary Chapman, or Tony Evans.
Nancy's book, Rest Assured, and the Weekend Getaway make great gift ideas for busy friends and family. Anyone can register at http://www.nancymcguirk.com/ No purchase is necessary, and the winner will be announced on December 15th. Don't wait, register today!
So, the other day I was sending some emails and I just felt God leading me to send her a copy of my book just as a little gift-- a way to say thank you for her inspiration. I didn't in any way expect her to mention my book on her blog, just for the record. I just felt led to give it to her and leave it at that.
But then she totally surprised me by mentioning it on her blog today-- and not only mentioning it but saying such nice things. And the post she wrote was so appropriate-- so perfect for what I believe about life, and what God has taught me in so many ways. (He has to teach me the same thing over and over, in many different avenues cause I am a bit slow on the draw... I have accepted this.) So, go read this excellent post-- not because she was nice enough to mention my book-- but because I absolutely love what she said.
I lost control a long time ago. Just like that toenail that got peeled back (Ewwww! But I told you I was looking for the life lesson in this), God peeled back my desire/need to control my environment. And it was no less painful, let me assure you.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
And now I am home, pausing for a moment in all of my criss-crossing the house getting more mindless stuff done to say hi, and to let you know that I really appreciated all your sweet emails and comments about my toe. It seems so silly to make a fuss over a toe. A digit. But, it hurt. And it still does. This morning I woke up telling my husband it was hurting worse than ever and did he think it could be infected? He said he doubted it and perhaps I should hit the prescription Ibuprofen the dr. prescribed.
Oh no, no, no, I said. I don't need medicine.
I will admit that I was hoping for enough pity to well up in him that he would offer to take the kids to school and offer to stay home.
After he left, I did in fact hit the Ibuprofen bottle. And boy, did it work. I am walking normal. And despite the fact that I am wearing flip flops in near-December and my toe looks scary ugly, I am all but back to normal.
At least for a few more hours til that dose of Ibuprofen wears off.
(Thanks to all of you who have ordered the book-- yesterday was the best day yet for orders!! And to all of you who haven't ordered yet, please do!!)
Monday, November 26, 2007
Dawn posted a wonderful review of my book today. You can find it here. Since you all know how much I love Dawn, you can imagine what it meant to have her give my book such a glowing review... thanks Dawn! I love the thought of my words being in one of her famous notebooks!
I also forgot to include Jess' sweet review. She is my friend so of course she is going to say nice things... but read it anyway!
Also, just had to post this from Jenn. She is the commenter who said that she had reservations about buying the book because she wanted to know how long it is and was a bit hesitant about the price based on the length. (Ie, she wanted the most bang for her buck-- and I don't blame her!) She sent me this last night after she bought the book, so I wanted to share it with you here:
I LOVE the book! To me, it reads much like a devotional! There are so many spiritual nuggets in there, I really am glad I got it. I definitely want to make our Christmas more Christ-centered, so this is a plus and I am sure I will use a lot out of it, not only this year but year after year.
(You can find Jenn's blog at http://jennsnook.blogspot.com/)
Now that is a review that makes me smile!
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Yesterday afternoon I had an exciting evening planned that I was soooo looking forward to. I was making dinner for my friend Kitty. You all might remember that she lost her husband Tom to a massive heart attack back in August. She made a beautiful video tribute to him that you all can watch on YouTube if you would like. Here is a link.
And so, we had planned to have dinner together and I was going to bring two of my boys to play with her boys. And then a string of unfortunate events began to happen. First of all, I was making them tacos, cause that is something she said her boys would love to have. So Curt volunteered to do it, sweet man that he is-- only he dumped water in like normal and I was using a recipe that calls for tomato sauce in place of the water. (It is gooood!) So, he had to go back to the grocery store to get more taco seasoning.
In the midst of all this, I was working on a proposal that we are putting together that my agent is waiting on. So, I asked him to write his part so we could send it off but he said to do so he would need to go off to Starbucks where he could write in peace. So, off he went while I stayed home and finished putting the dinner and dessert together. I also needed to get a shower, as I had been fiendishly writing up til that point. So, I turned the burner up on the meat to bring it to a boil per the instructions. Right about that time, the baby woke up from her nap. I had no choice but to race in to get a shower before she was up and around without my supervision.
After I got out of the shower, I told the 11 yo to go get her out of her crib-- and right about then I smelled something burning. The meat. I had forgotten to turn it back down before I got in the shower. It was horribly burned-- scorched beyond saving. So, I called Curt and told him on his way home from Starbucks to please pick up new meat and also more taco seasoning. (If you are counting, this is now the third round of taco seasoning packets... in other words, these tacos qualify as the most expensive tacos ever made!) After I dumped all the meat down the drain and cleaned up the mess, I went back to dry my hair.
I was innocently drying my hair when my five yo came barreling through the house and busted through the bathroom door with all the force that his little body could possess. Right onto my big toe. The door lined up just perfectly with my toenail and bent it right back. I was afraid to look down and was in terrible pain. I can't even put into words what that pain felt like. My toe was bleeding and I just knew the nail was completely off.
It was still attached, though bent upwards at a 90 degree angle, if you can picture that. I made my 13 yo daughter call her dad and tell him to come home. Now.
The next several hours were lost completely and involved me canceling with Kitty, answering a phone call from Lysa who innocently asked me how many books I had sold and got an earful about my unfortunate situation instead, and deciding to go to the emergency room-- as I truly could not figure out what to do. (And yes, Lysa did mention that the nice pedicure she treated me to was now ruined.) Curt tried to cut the nail off with clippers, but my screaming stopped him cold. I would probably not have gone to the ER except for the fact that having your toenail at an inverted angle prohibits the wearing of shoes, and I knew that would present a problem eventually, seeing as how it is cold outside and all.
The ER doctor said that in fifteen years of emergency room experience he had never seen anything like it.
I am so proud.
What followed was no less than seven shots (I lost count but boy did that esteem me in my kids' eyes-- I am one tough mama, make no mistake!) to numb my foot while he attempted to do something to the offending toenail. He truly was at a loss for what to do and finally opted to just push it back down in place.
No amount of numbing it could gloss over that pain, let me tell you.
And so, that is the long and short of why I am home today, hobbling around and searching for a moral or life lesson from this experience.
I will let you know when I find it.
I know how many of you read this blog, as I have one of those handy invisible counters installed. And I know how many books I have sold.
And the two do not add up.
And this is problematic because my husband is watching this little experiment of mine play out and I desperately would like to impress him with my ability to provide for my family while being a stay at home mom. Sing the song with me please, "I can bring home the bacon, dum de dum, Fry it up in a pan, dum de dum... Cause I'm a woman, W-O-M-A-N." So, please don't let me down, for the sake of womankind.
And because the book really will bless and inspire you. I just know it. And don't let the fact that it's an ebook throw you off either. I am realizing that might be confusing if you have never encountered that term before. All that means is that you order it and then it shows up as a pdf file in your email box. Voila! You don't even have to wait on it to ship! You can either print it out and read it, or just read it on your computer screen.
And so, just in case you think I am tooting my own horn and extolling the benefits of my ebook, I thought I would post links to other blogs that have reviewed it. And, I will note, I did not in any way compensate these ladies... I simply sent them a review copy and asked them to review it if they felt like it was worthy.
So, as LeVar Burton says, "Don't take my word for it."
Take Cay's: http://caygibson.typepad.com/cays_cajun_cottage/2007/11/a-recipe-for-ch.html
Take Lysa's: http://lysaterkeurst.blogspot.com/2007/11/great-christmas-resource.html
Take Kelli's: http://kellishouse.blogspot.com/2007/11/recipe-for-christmas-joy-and-giveaway.html
Take Lindsey's: http://justenjoythejourney.blogspot.com/2007/11/recipe-for-christmas-joy-giveaway.html
Take Bonita's: http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/Lilliepad/426847/
Take Andrea's: http://flourishingmother.blogspot.com/search/label/Holidays
Take Valerie's: http://valerie.thestranathans.com/2007/11/supporting-authors.html
If you have posted a review and I didn't post it here, email me and let me know. I would love to hear from you and provide the link to your review as well.
And again, to all of you who have bought the book, I thank you and appreciate your support.
Friday, November 23, 2007
Last year we visited our friends and former next door neighbors, Wade and Julie, in The Woodlands, TX as I had a speaking engagement there and we turned it into an excuse to go to Houston together with (most of) our expenses paid. (I can still remember hugging them goodbye in their driveway as they moved away. They said, "Come visit us sometime!" and I thought, "Yeah, right. Like we would ever have a way to visit Houston TX!" But God, right? It took six years, but we got there!)
Anyway, while we were browsing in the Borders near Julie's house that Saturday morning (because I can't stay away from bookstores) I heard this song come over the loudspeakers. I was captivated. I knew it was Sarah McLachlan but I had no idea she had a Christmas cd out! I purchased it immediately and that song, and the others on the cd, became an integral part of our Christmas preparations last year. If you like her, I urge you to get the cd, titled "Wintersong." It is a good one, and worth having.
And so, while I did the remainder of Thanksgiving dishes and cleaned up from lunch, I selected the first song to play of this season. In the past, it was always this one. (If you go to this link, don't watch the video, it is distracting in my opinion-- just minimize it and listen to the song as I am doing right now.) Sarah also has a beautiful version of this song on her cd-- you can listen to it here. But I am partial to Robert Downey Junior's version because, yes, I am partial to him but we won't talk about that.
But this year, I opted for "Wintersong" to be the way I started the season. Either one is a great start. I realize that these two songs are very untraditional, but they speak to me. They say to me: Christmas is here. Go slow. Savor the shorter days, the chill in the air, and the brief amounts of time you will have with the people you love.
This year I will listen to all my favorite Christmas songs over and over again, providing my own personal Christmas soundtrack. I have pulled out my cd of Ally McBeal, "A Very Ally Christmas," Chris Rice's "The Living Room Sessions: Christmas," Jim Brickman's "Peace," Amy Grant's "A Christmas To Remember," George Winston's "December," and Michael W. Smith's "Christmas." I hear Josh Groban finally has a Christmas cd, which I will most definitely be getting. All through December, I will let this music work its magic as the words and the melodies infuse my heart with song.
And in all of this, I will focus on doing what one of the lines in, "What Child Is This" suggests we all do:
"Let loving hearts enthrone Him."
The two little girls are upstairs "pay weggos," which in two-year-old speak can be translated to "Playing legos." They were admonished not to put any in their mouths, and I am hoping for the best. With five other children of various ages and interests in the house, child-proofing for the sake of the two-year-old is just not really possible.
The five year old is begging to go outside though it is still too early and quite cold-- and is not taking no for an answer. He is already in trouble for asking me for something that his dad had already said no to. (I said yes, and the seven year old was only too glad to inform me that he was told no by dad. I just know we are not the only parents who occasionally fall victim to these type of tricks-- are we?) He is destined for some punishment-- some days just start this way for reasons I can't explain.
The 11 year old is watching Home Alone behind the scenes dvd extras. (He is my one that says he wants to be a filmmaker when he grows up. I believe he will. He watches the behind the scenes/how they made the movie extras for every dvd we rent for him. I am not kidding.) We held onto our annual tradition of watching Home Alone last night, as a family. Since we discovered the day before Thanksgiving that the dvd was already checked out at our local video rental place, we had to go to a Target far, far away (not to be confused with where Shrek lives) to buy it, just to hold onto the tradition. Do you think the children appreciated this? Probably not.
And the biggest boy is still asleep, somehow blocking out all the chaos.
And that is our Thanksgiving, the day after, report.
Our Thanksgiving was calm, and basically involved me cooking the meal from the moment I woke up until we ate at 1:30-- then cooking desserts until my parents arrived to eat with us at 4. My husband took a nap-- but after watching the kids for me to go on a cruise, I figured he had that coming! I did sneak in a bit of time to go through the ads that were in the newspaper. That is my personal Thanksgiving tradition, I will admit.
We are all dealing with some stage of the same cold that has been lingering around our house for weeks. It is getting to the point of ridiculous. Oh, the coughing! The horrible, horrible coughing!
I am not going shopping today with the rest of the crazies. Probably because God is sovereign and did not see fit for the Kohl's ad to make it into my Thanksgiving day newspaper. And so, I was not tempted. It is for the best.
At some point today I hope to drag out all the Christmas stuff from the attic and begin the process of decorating for Christmas. I love transforming our "little house" into a "Christmas cottage." That is how I feel when it is all decorated-- with red and green trimmings in every available spot. It helps propel us into the season.
And so, dear reader. I know you are out there. And I just know that you want to buy my Christmas ebook. Even if you don't really want to, it would be good for you to, seeing as how the Christmas holidays are now, officially, upon us. I know it will inspire you-- and it will help me feel like all my hard work was not for nothing. As my friend Lysa reminds me often, it was not for nothing if my kids will have it as a part of who I am and what we believe. But selling lots of copies would also be really, really nice.
(Just click on the button in the sidebar to order! I would promise that this will be my last plea, but that would be a lie. I will probably beg for at least a few more weeks. Sorry.)
Thanks to all of you who have bought one!! My family thanks you, as do the two organizations who will benefit from the donations we are making from the proceeds.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
But in this case, I have lots to say about my trip-- so much I don't even know if I can adequately express it all. I have to say first that as we were traveling home on Monday, Lysa kept asking us if we could still feel the ship moving. But I couldn't. I just shook my head and thought that I was just better at adjusting to life on land. Au contraire mon frere! The rocking began yesterday when I tried to settle into real life at home. Even as I type this, I can feel myself swaying internally just slightly. It is a unique experience, let me tell you.
We started off the trip with a first for me-- my first ever pedicure. Sadly, I am not kidding. I had never had one before. There are just so many other urgent things to spend 30 bucks on in my world that I could just never justify it. So when Lysa called to ask me if I would like to get one before we left (her treat!), I called Curt and begged him to meet me at the nail salon instead of at home to get the baby. You can bet he gave me a hard time about it-- but he did it with a smile! I sat back and relaxed and thought that there was simply no better way to start a cruise vacation than by getting a pedicure. Thanks Lysa!
Next there was a mad dash to the airport that involved spilling lunch down my shirt and having to stop at Target to buy another one, and much switching around of luggage cause certain people who will remain anonymous were over the weight limit. Then finally we were on our way to Pensacola by way of Atlanta. In Atlanta I got a phone call from Curt that went like this:
Him: "Are you aware that the school does not have the immunization records and birth certificates on file for the kids and because of that they can't come to school tomorrow?"
Me: "Ummmm, no." (All the air sucking right out of my chest and all the happy feelings going right with it.)
Him: "Well, this is a problem. Did they not tell you this?"
Me: (feeling very defensive) "Well, there was a letter but I was so busy writing the ebook and getting ready to go on the cruise, I just figured I would deal with it when I got back."
Him: "Well, there's nothing I can do about it now but take time from work and go first thing in the morning to their doctor's office, then downtown to get their birth certificates." (heapings of guilt, guilt and on top of all that? more guilt!)
Me: "Are you sure the kids can't go to school and I will just take care of it when I get back?"
Him: "They were pretty explicit. No."
While he was FAR more gracious about this screw-up than I ever would have been, I hung up feeling like a total failure. I threw myself a big ole pity party right then, singing the blues about how no matter how much I try to prepare and plan and iron out all the details, something always sneaks in when I least expect it. Don't let anyone tell you that having six kids and doing life is easy. It just isn't. I guess the moral of this little story is, don't go on a cruise and leave your husband and six kids alone and not expect some complications. Though things did work out, it was hours before I felt better and back in "cruise mode."
So, that night we spent the night in a very nice hotel suite and had breakfast and then went back to the Pensacola airport where we caught our ride to the cruise, which was leaving from Mobile Alabama. To learn more about our harrowing ride from Pensacola to Mobile, you can go here. Lysa has explained that part very well. While it was scary, it was pretty funny in hindsight. We bonded with Leigh from Point of Grace because a near-death experience will do that for you.
Once we got on the ship, we had to go to a meeting for "industry guests," which means all the speakers, musicians and their guests. Then it was on to the ever-exciting lifeboat drill. I met a nice woman and her two daughters during the drill who turned out to be a friend during the cruise! Hi Susan! Susan goes to the church that produced "Facing The Giants" and she so graciously gave me the cd from the movie before we left. I was so blessed by meeting her and spending time with her.
The rest of Thursday and Friday was spent trying to learn our way around the ship and enjoying the speakers who were there. It was pretty cold, so there was not much to do on deck. We had all brought tropical clothing so we were all lamenting about how cold we were. Note to self: if you go on a cruise near Christmas, realize that until you reach your tropical destination, it is not necessarily going to be warm air you are sailing through!
I did get seasick on Friday afternoon and evening. Renee gave me some Bonine and that eased it a bit. Mostly I just needed to lay down and then I felt better. One of the guys that works for Premiere told us this was one of the rougher cruises he had been on and that he had never seen them put barf bags (sorry to be graphic but the facts are the facts) in the elevators before! So, that made me feel like less of a cruising lightweight!
One of the highlights of the trip was dinner time when we all got to be together. During the day we were pretty scattered. Shari Braendel was there for her fashion talks and was a huge hit-- but that meant that she was always so busy doing analysis that we didn't get to see her very much! So she was able to be with us for sure at dinner-- and oh boy, did we laugh! One night after dinner we went back to Renee and Lysa's room and just shared stories about different things and that will be one of my most treasured memories of the trip overall. We all lead such busy lives that taking time to share from our hearts and laugh til we ache is a rare gift.
Another of my treasured memories was getting to know my roommate and fellow speaker team member, Sharon Glasgow, better. She is so sweet and cute and inspired me with her encouragement and words of wisdom. She is a mom of five girls and had such insight into what's really important as she is a bit ahead of me in this parenting thang-- one of her daughters is married and two are out of the home, and her youngest is 11. So, she has a perspective on raising teens and treasuring the time I have with mine now that was refreshing. She poured into me all weekend-- I am sure she left exhausted and should probably send me a bill for counseling services!!
The speakers were great-- though I missed most of the ones from when I was sick. I did enjoy the Point of Grace concert. Go here to see the same video we saw during the concert, as Heather had just had a baby and was not there to sing their new song, which I do love. The message just resonates with me and I have listened to the song so many times. I felt blessed to have seen them up close and personal as they are the real deal-- very normal moms and wives who struggle and doubt and trust God in the midst of it. Not too far from you and me-- they just happen to be able to sing about it in harmony, which I so cannot do!
We ended up going to the beach in Cozumel on Saturday and then shopping. I bought nothing. I am serious. Not one thing. I still can't believe it. We found out later we didn't get far enough into Cozumel to get to the "deals." Where we were was incredibly expensive and we didn't find much worth buying. We did however, find a Starbucks-- and of course we had to get one. I even took a picture of the sign in the window! We ended up chartering a 15 passenger van with our group and Point of Grace to go to the beach, then when we got back from the beach they went to Starbucks right along with us. So I can now say I have had Starbucks with the girls of Point of Grace-- not many people can say that, you must admit.
The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful. We spent Sunday at sea with, thankfully, less choppy waters and docked about 4am Monday morning. Sunday night Lysa capped off the entire trip with an inspiring message about her adoption of her sons from Liberia. It is always quite fun for me to sit in on that talk and see people's reactions, as I was there when that was all happening and it is so neat to see God using it now to inspire people to trust Him fully and say yes to Him-- even when what He asks sounds completely crazy. I felt like a proud mama watching her up there, speaking her heart out and hitting it out of the park in my humble opinion-- of course, I am just the slightest bit biased!
While I was so glad to be going home to my family, I was also sad that our time went by so fast. I want to thank Proverbs 31 and Premiere Christian Cruises for making my trip possible. It is one I will never, ever forget!
Around lunchtime, we decided to order some authentic Mexican food to enjoy while we laid out on the beach-- the height of luxury in my opinion! We dined on real tortilla chips with salsa, corn and chicken wrapped in tortillas, coconut shrimp with orange sauce and real guacamole that was delicious. We felt like princesses being served our every whim! And then the bees found our food.
Now let me just tell you that Mexican bees are just as pesky and annoying as American bees. We swatted them away and tried our best to enjoy our lunch without being attacked. But there was nothing we could do to deter them. As I watched Renee do her best to trap one particularly determined bee in the orange sauce (we were finished eating by then, I will add), the thought struck me: As perfect and idyllic as this place was, there were still bees to invade our picnic. I turned to Lysa and commented that even in paradise, the grass is not greener.
I mused over how this is so true of life in general-- we foolishly think that if we could just have ________ or we could just do __________, then our lives would be perfect. Sitting on that beach enjoying yummy food, listening to the waves hit the shore, and enjoying the beautiful view was darn close to perfect-- and yet, there were still bees and sand that got everywhere and sharp coral that was hard to walk on. In this world, I concluded, there simply is no way to obtain perfection. It is a far better thing to be content wherever God has you.
I thanked God for that perspective that day-- for allowing those bees to remind us that even picnics in Cozumel get interrupted by the less than pleasant things of life. It is what living in a fallen world will always look like. Til we all get to heaven. What a day of rejoicing that will be-- life without tears, paradise without pests, beaches without bees. In the meantime I plan to remember my encounter with those bees and embrace the life God has chosen to give me all the more.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Happy (early) Thanksgiving! I hope you all have some fun plans to share the day with those you love most. I can't wait to count my blessings over a big plate of turkey and dressing and all the fixin's!
What a lovely word, home.
With every step in our journey home yesterday I felt a little more hopeful. We started off by meeting in the Americana Lounge on the ship at 8:15 am, and I arrived home at 9pm last night-- over 12 hours of planes, buses and automobiles were involved in getting me safely home. And with every leg of the trip behind us, I could feel my heart settling peacefully into my chest. That out of sorts feeling that comes from being away from my family was slowly but surely diminishing the closer I got.
When I walked in last night, they were all waiting by the door-- from dad down to the two year old. My fifteen year old (who has been giving us a fit lately, but that's a post for another time) was the one who opened the door for me, smiling just as big as the rest of them. I was so happy to see those faces and as we all gathered in our kitchen sharing stories about our time apart, I thought, "Nothing on that trip-- no yummy food, no breathtaking views, no amount of laughing with my friends-- can touch this feeling right here." I have said it before and I will say it again, there is indeed, no place like home-- and no people like the ones I share that home with.
And now today it is back to life, back to reality. (Yes, I am singing that 80's song as I type this.) I have a to-do list that makes me want to sit and stare off into space while drool rolls down my chin because I am so overwhelmed by the thought of tackling it.
I will list it all here just so you can feel sorry for me: Ü
read and respond to more than 100 emails
make tea (something no southern home should be without!)
return several phone calls
take my daughter to the chiropractor
make grocery list and go to the grocery store
review Thanksgiving menu
clean the bathroom
laundry times ten!!
write 2 devos
write 1 article
clean kitchen sink
Our washing machine died this weekend. We held no services but we probably should pay our respects to that dear humble servant who literally worked herself into an early grave. So the laundry from the weekend, plus yesterday sits piled in my laundry room until the new one is delivered this afternoon. It will be a few days before I am caught up I think.
I am so thankful to my husband for not only holding down the fort, but for dealing with this problem too. He is a gem and I am blessed. Did y'all just love his posts while I was gone? I thought he did an excellent job in my stead!
And yes, I think he was motivated to post some more about the book so you all would be motivated to buy-- seeing as how we have to buy a new washing machine unexpectedly. Hint, hint. Every purchase counts, y'all. Don't go thinking that the books are selling so well that I don't need YOU to buy one!! Cause that just would not be true!
Saturday, November 17, 2007
For anyone who wants a copy, all purchase are made through Paypal, a secure site. Once you click on the JOY button on her sidebar, you’ll be directed to the Paypal site where you enter your payment information and email address. Once Paypal has cleared your payment, an email notice is sent to us and we are able to email you her book via PDF file. (Note: we never see your payment information, just your email address.)
Here’s a teaser. This is the typical meal that Marybeth prepares for our family’s Thanksgiving dinner. The recipes for each item are included in her book.
"A Holiday Menu:
sweet potato casserole
broccoli rice casserole
glazed baby carrots
cranberry pecan relish
The “centerpiece” of your holiday meal is always the turkey. Cooking a turkey used to intimidate me until I freed myself from feeling like I had to cook a whole bird. My family doesn’t really care for dark meat, so a turkey breast (or two) suits us just fine.
There’s more than one way to cook a turkey! I have included two:"
Ok, to get the recipes, you have to buy the book. It’s guaranteed not to disappoint!
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Christmas has been a big topic in the Whalen house lately. Because of all the time she's put into her Christmas book (see sidebar on right), we found ourselves talking about Christmas memories from our past and how special this time of year can be. God pierced through time and space to place himself in our midst, and the ripples of that phenomenal event are still felt in our hearts today. God gave his children a holy, undeserved gift, and the Christmas season becomes a time when we focus on sharing that love and compassion with others.
One of our family traditions is something Marybeth calls "making the Goodie Trays." A few weeks before Christmas, Marybeth goes out and spends a ton of cash on ingredients to make a bunch of different Christmas treats to take to friends.
A few years ago, right after buying all the ingredients, Marybeth came down with a severe case of strep throat. Maybe it was because I couldn't stand to see so much money wasted, but I decided to step in and make everything for her. I complained and grumbled at first, but something happened to me as I started to think about getting to deliver all the trays of snacks to our friends. I found myself getting excited and caught up in the spirit of what Christmas should be about.
The next day I loaded up all the kids in the car and we drove all over South Charlotte knocking on doors, shouting "merry Christmas!" to friends, and basking in the deep-in-your-soul joy that comes when you're able to surprise someone with a special gift.
I'll always remember it.
This is what Marybeth hopes will happen for you with her book "A Recipe For Christmas JOY." She hopes that some of the ideas she's put in this book will help your family create memories and traditions of your own.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
I have just published my first ebook (yea!) called A Recipe For Christmas JOY ($9.95). It is literally every bit of Christmas wisdom I have gained through my years of being a mom striving to keep Christ at the center of our celebration and having fun while doing so.
Are you searching for some Christmas JOY? Do you long to find peace and happiness in the midst of the crazy busyness that is the Christmas season? This book is meant to help you do just that! It is filled with ideas for
- balancing your commitments
- organizing your holidays
- creating memories with your family
- celebrating with great food
- not blowing your budget
- (most importantly) keeping your focus on Jesus
JOY: A Simple Recipe
You have probably heard it said that JOY means Jesus, Others, and Yourself—in that order. But what does that look like at Christmas? This book is filled with thoughts on how to include all three components— including making time for yourself! I hope that by using this “recipe” throughout the Christmas season, you will find true JOY and your family will reap the benefits.
For years, I thought that if I just did enough and strived hard enough, my family’s Christmas would be that picture-perfect, Norman Rockwell Christmas I desired. But then reality inserted itself in the form of illnesses and bills, bad attitudes and exhaustion. I realized that I needed to lay down my ideal Christmas and allow Jesus to reveal what He had for me through the season. And so, I am including amidst all the recipes and ideas some thoughts, some scriptures, some things to ponder. I hope that this will be a book you come back to year after year to enjoy and learn from.
Here is an overview of what you will find in this book:
- how to make Jesus the center of your Christmas
- a complete menu for Christmas dinner and a traditional New Year's Day meal (with recipe's!)
- a week by week checklist for organizing your Christmas
- helpful websites
- suggestions for easy meals on those busy nights
- how to observe advent in a way that will work for your situation
- ideas for decorating for Christmas and instructions for gifts you can make
- many tried and true recipes for Christmas goodies
- 25 ways to make the holidays holy days
- fun and creative ways to reach out to others at the holidays
- list of great Christmas read alouds for you and your children
- a week of devotions for the week between Christmas and New Year's
Click on the "JOY" button on my sidebar to order the book (I'm using Paypal, a secure site that will process the payment.) Once your order is processed, you will receive the book via your email address as a pdf file. (So make sure you give the correct email address.) Just think-- no waiting for the book! You get it right away so you can start dreaming and planning your Christmas celebration.
I have poured my heart into this book and to know that people are buying it will be beyond thrilling-- and it will help us put presents under the tree this year, too. Let's just be honest.
But don't just take my word for it. Lindsey just posted a review here.
But where I am going is oh so interesting.
Remember months back when I posted about winning that cruise? Well, I leave tomorrow! I still can't believe I am going. All day long, it was hard to imagine... as I told LeAnn (who is going with us), Cozumel feels a million miles away when you are sitting in a tiny pediatrician's exam room with four kids bouncing off the walls and navigating the aisles of a grocery store with those same four children. It is surreal to think that tomorrow night this time I will be in a hotel room with my friends getting ready to board a cruise ship--
Please don't hate me. I have never done anything like this-- the most tropical, exotic location I have been to before this trip was Hilton Head Island, SC. So, just know that I am not a jetsetter. Had I not won this trip, I am not sure when I would have gone on a cruise!
And so, I will be MIA for one week. Be sure to check back with me so I can tell you allll about my trip. And if you are feeling led, please pray for my poor husband who is being left behind with the six children!!
Sunday, November 11, 2007
I just finished listening to MC Hammer sing "Can't Touch This" on my Ipod. And I never, ever hear that song without thinking about my friend and suitemate Athia running into my dorm room and dancing to that song whenever it came on-- which was a lot. Athia is married now and has two little boys. I wonder if she will still bust out and dance to that song when she hears it?
Athia had a real life Big Fat Greek Wedding-- Greek girl marrying non-Greek boy. We went to her wedding and it remains one of our best memories. Her wedding really was like the movie. And she is so like the main character in terms of how she views her big fat Greek family. We, of course, loved them and spent the whole ride home from her wedding talking about how our white bread families lack the culture and connectedness of Greeks, Italians, etc.
Speaking of being Greek, I totally forgot to blog about my friend Zoe coming over here to teach me how to make baklava this week. This is one of my favorite treats to buy at the Greek festival (an annual date for me and my husband). One time I told Zoe that, and she waved her hands exclaiming, "I can teach you how to make it!" And so, it took about a year and a half to happen, but we did it! My mom came and she and I were both pleasantly surprised at how easy it was. And can I just say that this baklava is the BEST I have ever tasted? We are enjoying it piece by piece, savoring every bite. Zoe makes 300 pieces every Christmas and gives it away. Not sure I will ever do that-- but I can tell you that I look forward to making baklava part of my Christmas baking tradition.
Thanks Zoe for giving your time and talents to my mom and I and helping us embrace a new tradition in our home!
Thursday, November 08, 2007
I want to be her when I grow up.
Head on over to her place if you have some time on your hands to check out her Loveliness of Homemade Gifts fair. It'll put you in the mood for Christmas-- which, she reminds us, is only 48 days away!
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Instead, silence. It really is golden.
And then this song came on the random shuffle. (Love me some random shuffle as it is like a surprise popping up all the time-- you just never know.) And I listened to this song like I never have before. Then I listened again. And again. And I never got tired of hearing David Crowder sing, "Praise our God for He is good." It was a holy moment and I am not embarrassed to admit that there were tears involved. How could there not be?
I had the music cranked so loud even my kids would have been horrified. God met with me there, handing me that song like a gift-- a reminder of what He has done in my life, and the lives of my friends-- some of whom I had the pleasure of having lunch with this afternoon. A happy reunion. We used to go to church together, but we don't anymore. And that's a bit sad. I miss those girls, miss the old days when we were all in each other's business all the time. And now days, weeks, months go by with only emails to keep us connected. And so, I listened to that song and reflected on how much I love my friends, and miss them, and yet still love my church we now call home so much I wouldn't want to go back. Isn't that just how life is? Change is hard, painful even. And yet so, so good. And necessary.
And so, let me tell you what He has done for me, He has done for you, He has done for us. Great and wonderful things-- more than we can ask or imagine. Showing up in the dailyness of life. Meeting with a frazzled mom of six in an old Suburban in the carpool line. And carrying her all the way home.
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Here is the recipe:
2 large bananas, very ripe
1/2 cup melted butter or margarine
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 tsp. salt
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
Beat egg and add sugar, butter and bananas (mashed). Beat with an electric mixer to well blended. Add this to the flour, soda and salt which have been sifted together. After mixing, put in greased loaf pan and bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes, or until it begins to leave the sides of the pan. Makes 1 loaf. (I often double this.)
Thanks to all who entered. The giveaways were quite fun and I can't wait for the next one!
Many of you commented that you would like to hear the Cultivating Creativity, Becoming A Woman of Influence, or I'd Be A Great Homeschooler if It Weren't For These Kids messages. I do have copies of these cd's available for a small fee just to cover my costs-- so send me an email if you would like to order one.
Linsey, send me your address and I will send the package out asap!
Monday, November 05, 2007
Rice Krispy Treats
Banana Chocolate Chip Bread
Raisin Bran Muffins
The breads and muffins will go into the freezer to be eaten gradually. The Rice Krispy treats are for dessert tonight!
Meals This Week:
(in no certain order, though we are having the first meal tonight)
Barbecue Chicken sandwiches, chips, sliced apples
Pot Roast, glazed baby carrots, mashed potatoes and gravy
Cashew Chicken with broccoli and rice
Chicken in foil packets with baked potatoes and corn
Italian breaded baked chicken with stove top stuffing (my kids love this!) and green bean casserole
That'll get us to Saturday-- when I have to start all over again!
Sunday, November 04, 2007
Also, you think we would learn. It is not wise to go to an open house for a house that looks promising if you have not yet sold your own home. Because even if it looks like a great, perfect house that you would so totally make an offer on, you are not going to be able to do anything about it and it will send you into a fit of depression which will cause you to come home and act grumpy to your kids. One added benefit is that it will inspire you to clean up your house and finally cart that old bookshelf out to the trashcan because you are trying to make sure your house will be show ready, just in case.
And so, you just got a taste of my Sunday afternoon, in a nutshell.
Friday, November 02, 2007
Second Baptist Church
Attn: Denise Johnston
1426 Great Falls Hwy.
Lancaster, SC 29720
Your check must be received no later than Monday Nov. 26 to reserve your spot!
But here is the question, what else could I have done in one minute and seventeen seconds? I could have:
prayed for someone
heated up water for a delicious cup of tea
jotted down an idea for an article or story
tidied up some (small) area of my house
read a verse
hugged one of my children and said, "I love you and I am blessed to have you in my life."
Instead, I watched a bird boogie. So, what say you? What can you think of that would be a better use of a minute and seventeen seconds? Or is it just that sometimes, watching something mindless and stupid is exactly what you need to spend a few minutes doing? Deep thoughts for a Friday afternoon!
I must say, that bird did make me laugh!
the only promise you must make is that you will not stop coming here to my blog because she is ever so much wittier and engaging than I ever thought about being!
And now I really must go to the grocery store so my family will have something to eat tonight for dinner.
And also, my son's Junior Varsity football team won their conference championship by defeating and undefeated team-- allowing them to stay undefeated for ten straight games!! A school record! He was flying high when he came in last night. What a memory for him. One I know I won't forget.
Thursday, November 01, 2007
The thing is, people don't realize when they leave ugly comments that they are speaking to a real, live person! A person with feelings and frailties, doubts and insecurities. Bloggers don't blog because we know all the answers and always think we are right. Primarily, I think most people blog for the same reason I do-- to throw our ideas out into the world and see what happens. To see if people care at all about what we have to say, and to know if those ideas actually help others. We certainly don't do it because we like to be held up to public scrutiny and attacks. Bloggers, to my knowledge, don't have any more thick a skin than the rest of the general public-- they are just people who are willing to expose themselves a bit more, share a bit more, be real and vulnerable and transparent as much as possible.
My ANONYMOUS (why do they hide behind anonymity?) commenter didn't like that I said what they considered something ugly about Hillary Clinton. Perhaps this person is a Democrat. Perhaps this person is a feminist. Perhaps this person just likes to sit around and take potshots at any unsuspecting blogger he or she can find. My pastor's wife once posted about driving around looking for her son some shark plates because he is two and going through a shark phase. So, she wanted to find him some shark plates for his birthday party. An innocent, devoted mom thing to do. Some person took offense to this and commented that she should not be wasting gas doing that and that she is not environmentally friendly because she did! Seriously people-- was that ever the point? And how did we get from there to here? It boggles the mind!
For about twenty minutes last night, I seriously debated shutting this blog down. I don't need it. I don't need strangers to remind me I am a sinner. I know this already, believe me. I don't need strangers to remind me that I mess up-- believe me, Satan slithers in on his ugly old belly and reminds me of that quite often. I was preaching myself a little sermonette as I cleaned up the kitchen after dinner while my kids went TRICK OR TREATING (ha-- there's something for you to go after!!). And I even fell asleep last night, thinking, maybe I will, maybe I won't.
So what did I do after I got up this morning?? I decided to post a bunch of thoughts today. To move forward. To continue blogging and not be daunted by ugly acting people. My mother always told me that if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. I wish all those ugly-acting folks would take my mom's advice.
But until then, I did enable comment moderation, just in case!
So, just for fun, I thought that today I would share my TBR list with you. Because I keep such an extensive list, I have divided them into categories. (No comments please about my OCD or anal tendencies-- I already know.) I will star the ones that I have already started, but haven't finished yet!
*Behind The Stories by Diane Eble
*Communicating For A Change by Andy Stanley
The Writer's Book of Hope by Ralph Keyes
Pop! Stand Out in Any Crowd by Sam Horn
Beginnings, Middles, and Ends by Nancy Kress
Word Painting by Rebecca McClanahan
The Blogging Church by Brian Bailey
Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference by Philip Yancey
Self Talk, Soul Talk by Jennifer Rothschild
When God Whispers Your Name by Max Lucado
Autumn From The Heart of The Home by Susan Branch
*Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
*The Mom Walk by Sally Clarkson (doing this one for my Momtourage group study)
My Heart's At Home by Jill Savage
Here For You: Creating A Mother-Daughter Bond That Lasts A Lifetime by Susie Shellenberger
The Yada Yada Prayer Group by Neta Jackson
Mommy Tracked by Whitney Gaskell
*Sufficient Grace by Darnell Arnoult
I really do hope to read each and every one of these! What's on your TBR list? Leave a comment here or post about it on your blog and leave me the link so I can take a look. Let's start a TBR revolution!
This writing thing is a marathon, folks. Or maybe better put: an ironman triathlon. I started writing in 1992. I had no instant success. I wrote in obscurity for ten years. I believe I am published today because I:
* Created imaginary deadlines for myself and met them early. Every time.
* Wrote every day, even when I knew it wouldn't be published.
* Developed my writing voice, which took years and years and miles and miles of written words.
* Listened to critique (though I admit, it stung at first) and then implemented what I learned.
* Learned to critique others (You'll be surprised how well you'll learn writing when you're critiquing others).
* Read writing books and magazines.
* Read great books and took notes.
* Took lots of risks, sent out queries aplenty-the majority of them rejected.
If you're serious, do these things first. Then venture out into the paid critique area. And please, don't despise humble beginnings. Remember the biggies of the Bible. So many heard from God, yes, but waiting for Him to fulfill that promise often took a lifetime. In our fast-paced, I-want-it-now society, I fear we are guilty of obstinate impatience, demanding God to give us our dreams without being willing to walk through deserts to realize those dreams. Writing is not easy. There's a mountain of work involved, often un-applauded. Most of what is done is hidden. But none of that obscurity is wasted. It's fodder for God to use as He builds us as writers.
Mary has written a new ebook all about how to write proposals. If you are thinking of writing a book, you will first need to propose it to a publisher. And Mary is a master at doing just that. When I read who her endorsers were, and what they said, I knew I had to have this book! If you only buy one book on writing proposals, this should be the one. So, please go to this link to get your copy of Nonfiction Book Proposals. The best part is, it's an ebook, so you will have it immediately for the bargain price of just $10! Yay!
Happy writing! Ü
As my friend Rachel and I have said many times, God loves to humble us! Nearly six months later, the for sale sign is still sitting forlornly in our yard. I am working on not coveting the for sale sign in the yard across the street-- the one that has a big "under contract" sitting on top of it now. Since we listed ours, two houses have gone up and back down.
I am still trying to figure out why ours hasn't sold. We always get the same feedback pretty much: Shows great! Wrong for my client!
It is hard to take in, hard to see God's hand in what we see as a delay, hard to trust that there is a plan at work here, hard when a house we really wanted went to folks who didn't have a house just sitting on the market.
And so, in 20 days, the sign goes back down. We have decided to take it off the market through the holidays, then will put it back on after the first of the year. Unless God pulls an eleventh hour rescue (which He still could do), we will be in this house indefinitely. I told a friend the other day that I remember clearly setting out my Christmas decorations last year, thinking all the while, "This will be the last time I do this in this house." And come to find out, that was (probably) not the case.
This verse comes to mind:
James 4:13-15, "Now listen, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.' Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, 'If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that.'"
A good reminder, indeed.
Just wanted to share that with you all, as I am learning as I walk this daily road of trusting the unseen and placing my plans in God's very capable hands to do with as He wills, not as I will.