Thursday, September 30, 2010

Thursday Thought

Finding Some Hang Out Time

I read this quote in a monthly e-newsletter I've been receiving for years called A Heart For Home. If you've been reading this blog, you've heard me mention it because it inspires me quite often. It's free so if you want to subscribe, simply send a blank email to

Julie wrote this, which struck me:

I have been diligent to set some time aside each day to “hang out” with at least
one of my sons. I get busy doing this-and-that and neglect
relationship-building. This “hang out” time isn’t anything formal or specific. I
just join them in whatever they’re doing and spend some time in conversation
with my total attention given to them. This week I heard about an insight Ben
learned from the account of Moses & the Red Sea, the intricacies of goat
breeding from Caleb, and all about a new story Eli is creating after being
inspired by a biography on C. S. Lewis. More importantly though, I’m learning
about my children’s hearts.

When I read this, I knew that I needed to also be diligent about setting aside time-- maybe not each day-- but at least once a week, to just go quietly find an individual child and hang out with him or her. No planned activity, no trip to the mall or the movies, no coffee at Starbucks. What Julie is talking about is simpler than that. It's just laying across their bed, or asking them to stay in the kitchen while you work, or sitting beside them on the couch. And then talking, asking questions, hearing their hearts.

The word that she used-- diligent-- is what struck me most. It's not like I don't know I need to hear from my kids. It's not like I don't want to. It's just that in the flurry of motion that is our household, the days whiz by quite often and I haven't taken the time to listen, to talk, to clue in to what's going on in their hearts. I might see what's going on in their lives, but their hearts stay hidden from sight.

Hang out time. I am going to be diligent about finding it.
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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Psalms For Moms

Psalm 16:7, "I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me."

My devotion today is on accountability. I shared about how accountability (advice and counsel) from others has helped me tackle tough issues in my life. But I didn't share about how receiving counsel from God also helps me when I am struggling with issues.

I love this particular psalm, because it talks about how God often uses the time we should be sleeping to walk us through issues. In the dark quiet we can rehash conversations, examine relationships, and pray fervently, with-- hopefully-- no interruptions.

My Bible note says, "Sleepless nights provide opportunities for instruction (facing hard facts)." The next time you struggle with a sleepless night, try thanking God for the counsel He is trying to give you. Listen instead of lament about lost sleep. Say what Samuel said, "Speak Lord, for your servant is listening." (I Samuel 3:10) We all say we'd have a better walk with God if only we had more calm and more quiet. What better time to talk to Him than in the middle of the night when we have exactly that?

Accountability from other people is wonderful. But direct counsel from the One who made the universe is irreplaceable!

Psalm 73:23-24a, "Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel."
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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Top Ten Tuesday

Today I thought I'd blog about the top ten things I do that keep me organized.

1. When I fill my car up with gas, I clean out the car. There are almost always trashcans at the pump, so that's when I gather up trash and throw it out. People often comment about how neat I keep my car's interior-- and this is a big way that I can do that. It captures that idle time. Also staying on top of the kids to carry their stuff inside daily helps.

2. In the same vein, whenever I am somewhere and I have to wait-- at a restaurant, for a doctor's appt, etc.-- I use that time to clean out my purse.

3. I work to keep my emails down to 25 or less. This means that one of my regular "to do" items is "Weed out emails." It's best if I can stay on top of them daily, but if I fall behind and they stack up, then I just carve out time to work on them at some point during the week. When I do I sit down with my to-do list and my calendar and note any dates that need to be marked, and write down any action steps I need to take. Having my emails tamed keeps me from getting that overwhelmed feeling that can sneak up on you. It also means I am delete happy. Sometimes this has come back to bite me, but for the most part I don't regret deleting emails once I've dealt with them.

4. I also have another item on my to-do list that appears regularly: "Sort papers." This means I have a stack that I allow myself-- just one stack in the whole house. It sits on my dresser and when it starts getting too high, that means it's time to weed out stuff. I make 3 piles: throw away, file, or deal with. When I am weeding out papers it means I must deal with stuff THEN and not delay any longer. I also have several different files: files for writing or speaking stuff, divisions in my life management notebook, and files for each of my kids. I file stuff that I don't want to get rid of, but at least it's not in that pile anymore and it has a place to live. Someday I will give each of my kids their files-- stocked full of notes from teachers and particularly poignant examples of their childhood.

5. I keep a menu board on the side of my fridge. It has all of the meals that can be cooked with what we have in the house at that time on it. Every morning I glance at my options and decide what we'll be having that day. I will post more about my menu planning habits next Monday. I also keep a magnetic list beside the menu board where I (and the rest of my family, ideally) can write down stuff we run out of. I am training the kids to seize the moment and write that stuff down so we don't forget it until we need it the next time!

6. I keep one laundry basket for the whole house. (My oldest two do their own laundry so they don't fit into this scenario) When that basket gets full, that means it's time to do laundry. I have (for the most part-- it's a work in progress) trained the kids to put their laundry in that basket every night and every morning. Usually in the morning when the water for my tea is heating up, I go check the laundry basket and go ahead and get a load started or move a load from the dryer to the chair where I fold it. In this way the laundry rarely gets out of control. Dealing with a little bit every day is the way that works for us. Laundry is like raising kids-- you've got to find what works for you.

7. I keep a to-do notebook. Between this and my calendar, I can usually keep up with things that need to get done. If something makes it into my to-do notebook, there's a very good chance that it'll get done. I keep a list for each week, moving over the things that didn't get done to the following week. I am not allowed to cross it off unless I've done it or moved it over. Having my to-do list in a notebook keeps everything in one place, as I often have to look back to find phone numbers, ideas I've jotted down, etc. Using that notebook, I write my daily to do list on a small yellow legal pad. This system might sound rudimentary, but it works well for me. This is the notebook I use:

8. We have a chore chart for the kids and we have them help out around the house. The more I can get them to do the less I have to do. Many hands do make light work!

9. I use as many of the time-saving cleaning products on the market I can find: the Swiffer Wet Jet, Lysol or Clorox wipes, dust wipes, etc. These all help me clean quickly, or hand off stuff to my kids and let them go to it. They might be a little more expensive, but as I've said before, they're still cheaper than hiring help!

10. Reading blogs, magazines, or books that celebrate organization and home help me get and stay inspired. Sometimes just trying a new tip is enough to make the difference in how you view your home. Check out my sidebar for blogs that inspire me.

Do you have a time-saving organization tip to share? I'd love to hear it!
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Monday, September 27, 2010

In A Food Mood

Menu Planning

I thought it might help someone to see how simple planning menus is. If I can inspire you to create weekly menu plans, I will feel successful. Because really and truly having a menu plan for your week is so key to relieving you from stress and making your life manageable and your evenings better. I am not kidding.

Ok at some point during the week-- it might be on the weekend, it might be during the week, this part changes-- I will get my recipe binder (houses hundreds of recipes I've clipped through the years), and several of my favorite cookbooks out. (I'll do a top ten favorite cookbooks post soon!) I sit down in my kitchen with these books and write down what I want to have. Ideally, I also know what's on sale at my grocery store too when I do this. Sometimes I will admit I do not have any idea what's on sale. I marvel at the many times I get to the store and what I've planned to have is on sale. That's a high five moment between me and God when that happens, I'll tell ya! He takes care of me... that's all I can say. And He'll take care of you, too!

So I write down the meals I want to cook. I have my menu board where I write all the meals down (which I post on the fridge to refer to throughout the week) and my magnetic pad of paper where I write down all the ingredients I will need. I usually plan about 5 meals at a time. Much more than that and fresh food starts goes bad. When I am planning I am continually getting up and going to the pantry and the fridge/freezer to see if we have enough of everything. If not, it goes on the grocery list. If so, I know we're good to go.

This whole process takes 30 minutes. If you're just getting started it might take you longer. If you don't have a huge recipe collection to pull from, search recipes online. I have some recipe sites I refer to in my sidebar. Try A Year of Slow Cooking for a plethora of easy and delicious crockpot recipes. Check out some cookbooks from your local library. Buy one of those magazines at the grocery store with recipes in them. There are ways to get your hands on recipes without spending a ton of money. Having them readily available is key to menu planning. If you visited my home, you'd see my bookshelf in my kitchen filled with cookbooks. I've built this collection over time and love having them right at my fingertips.

Once I get my grocery list made, I am off to the store as soon as I can. Sometimes I even go at night so I can shop alone and really focus. Once I get home and get everything put away, it's a freeing feeling to know that all the stuff I need to prepare a week's worth of meals is in my house and ready to go. There will be no 4:00 panic attacks over what's for dinner. It's all planned out for me. Yes it took some time initially, but it saves time in the long run. Try it, you'll see!

Here's a post on menu planning from A Year Of Slow Cooking blog:
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Friday, September 24, 2010

Fiction Friday

I sat in the coffeehouse in classic avoidance mode. My eyes roamed the store, wanting to look anywhere but at the computer screen. I was struggling with my writing, feeling dry. I wanted to pack up and go home.

I looked out the window and noticed a sign that was there. It said: do it for love, not for profit.

My eyes widened as if God Himself had put that sign in front of me. I felt like I had received a direct blow to my solar plexus.

Suddenly, I knew why I was having trouble writing. I was not doing it for the love anymore.

Something happens when you become a contracted writer. Business enters in. Contracts and costs and commitments infringe on craft. Your focus shifts ever so slightly, and then ever so slightly more. You hardly notice that you aren't writing for the same reason until... you're sitting in a coffeeshop struggling to put words on the screen. You know you're there because you have to be, not because you long to be.

When I wrote The Mailbox, I was passionate about just telling the story at hand. I had no deadline looming, no one to answer to. The process felt... purer somehow.

This time I hammered out my second novel on deadline. I wrote 1000 words a day without fail-- Remember the "time to make the donuts" guy? Well that was me except mine was "time to write 1000 words." I wasn't moved to write, I was moved to hand in something on time. Not that I didn't love my idea but I wasn't giving myself the time to ponder and simmer, to play with words the way I love to.

The other day I had a conversation with a writing friend. She said that the difference in a professional and an amateur is simple. A pro gets paid. The word amateur, she said, has in its root the word amo, or love. An amateur, she said, still has a love for what they're doing.

I want to write for love, and not for profit-- as the sign said. With my next book I might just write it first, because I want to, the way I did Mailbox. With no eye on deadline or publishing houses or contracts or sales figures. Just an eye for the great story I am burning to tell.

If you are an uncontracted writer, treasure the place you're in. Write for the love, not for profit. Celebrate being an amateur today. That's a state I am working hard to stay in. I want to always be an amateur.
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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Thursday Thought

I'm so busy! How can I memorize scripture?

That's what I used to say. But this past summer God really started speaking to me in many different ways about the importance of memorizing scripture. This was culminated at She Speaks on Sunday morning when my dear friend Karen Ehman spoke. Her message about memorizing the book of James by this Christmas morning was the final boom.

Somehow, I had to stop offering up excuses and get intentional about committing verses to memory.

So I did what I've learned to do. I started where I was. I don't feel called yet to memorize an entire book, but I am sure that will come. For right now, I've just committed to memorize verses that speak to me about where I am. You know the ones... they leap off the page shimmering with meaning and speaking to your exact situation. They might be verses that come up in several different ways-- your pastor refers to them, your quiet time is on them, you read them on the blogs you frequent and then a friend refers to them.

Surely I am not the only person this happens to!

So now I've started keeping a package of index cards in my nightstand, right beside where I do my quiet time. When one of those verses jumps out at me, it goes on an index card. Now understand, I am not writing a verse a day-- not even a verse a week necessarily. But I am slowly adding to my repertoire. I keep all the verses on top of my Bible and, before I start my quiet time for the day, I practice saying them without looking, then go over them to make sure I said it correctly.

It's not rocket science, but it's working for me. If the thought of memorizing whole books or passages intimidates you, then just start with one verse. Memorize it. Then add another. But keep the other one in front of you daily. Over time, as I've found, you'll build and build. And before you know it, you'll know more scripture than you did six months ago.

Try it! It's not as hard as you think!
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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Psalms For Moms

"Surely you have granted him eternal blessings and made him glad with the
joy of your presence." Psalm 21:6

Do you need something-- or Someone-- to make you glad? Spend time in His presence today. Don't move until you feel changed. Journal, read His Word, pray. Notice the verse says "made glad"-- it doesn't come naturally. As moms we need to be made glad so we can share that with the people we live with. Let Him speak to you, reminding you of the eternal blessings He has granted you. Then go pour those blessings out on those you love.
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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Top Ten Tuesday

Welcome to all who visit today after reading my devotion about our testimonies. On Tuesdays I share a top ten list. (You can learn more about who I am and my posting schedule at my "About Me" button on the top of this blog.) So today I thought I'd post my top ten moments that encourage me when I reflect on them:

1. I shared this moment in our book Learning To Live Financially Free. We were broke-- with only about $3 in the account, no food in the house and several days til payday. I went to unpack a box of books and pulled out a book that I had lent a friend when we lived in WI for a short stint. I felt this urgency to flip through it and found waiting in the pages a note and $25 she had stuck in the book as a thank you for giving us some of our son's baby things when we left. That $25 was enough to keep us afloat til Curt got paid again. I think of that moment even now, all these years later, as it was a defining moment of God's ability to provide in unexpected ways and to break through our moments of doubt and despair.

2. I was traveling back from a retreat and witnessed a horrific car accident. I pulled over to the side of the road and felt God nudging me to get closer to the accident. I stood on the perimeter for awhile, but felt God nudge me further-- to go and pray with the victim. I reluctantly did, and when I did all the witnesses who had gathered paused and prayed with me. It was a holy, God-filled moment I will never forget. He is there, even in horrific scenes that reek of hot asphalt, blood, and twisted metal.

3. Curt was out of work for 6 months this past year. Many of you journeyed through that time with me. When Curt lost his job, I made the comment that the only good thing I could see out of it was that my second novel was due on June 1 and this would give me more time to write. Curt didn't like that comment. Guess when he got his job offer? June 1! God is there in our times of loss, orchestrating the timing and taking care of the details. We really can rest in that.

4. While Curt was out of work, I wanted to go to this fiction writing conference but we knew to commit would not be wise since the conference was an unecessary expense. Several of my writing friends-- unbeknownst to me-- gathered money and offered to pay my way! I was floored by their generosity, and also by the way God brings people into our lives to be the conduits of His love and kindness. It ended up that I didn't need to take their offer, as Curt got a job. I just got back from that amazing conference and am still processing all I learned.

5. On the flip side, I've shared about the time I really wanted to go to a writer's conference and even won a scholarship to go. But travel wasn't included. We were still paying off debt at the time and I knew that commiting to the travel expense and babysitting costs still wasn't the way I should allocate our money. Soooo reluctantly, with a heavy heart, I turned it down. I couldn't understand why God didn't make a way for me to go. That weekend rolled around and found me immobile with a broken foot. I was so glad I hadn't committed to be there or I would've lost money as there was no way I would've been able to go. Sometimes I have to rely on His "no's" as much as His "yes's"-- that He is protecting me from myself at times. I didn't know I would have a broken foot but He did. He had me in a position to rest and recover instead of stress about not being able to go, and the money I'd lost.

6. When our third child was born with a birth defect that caused severe breathing and feeding problems, I learned so many things about God's goodness. But I also learned valuable lessons about struggling and waiting for answers to prayer. I learned that God has much to teach us as we wait for His answers.

7. My Bible is a testimony. Every time I pick it up I am reminded of the value of a praying grandparent. I wasn't always walking with God. But my grandparents never stopped praying for me. When I was 17, my grandfather called me and told me to go pick up the Bible he had ordered for me. I didn't have any interest in that Bible he had ordered. But because I loved my grandfather, I went and got it like he asked. Now I interact with that Bible daily, use it when I speak, and have looked up countless verses in it while writing devotions and articles to share my faith. Never stop praying for those you love-- no matter how far from God they seem.

8. When we moved to WI for Curt's job early in our marriage, I didn't want to go. I felt alone and abandoned there. Even in our desperate times, our abandoned times, God is working. Through my time in WI, I met a woman there who introduced me to this crazy concept called homeschooling. This began a journey for our family that yielded wonderful changes in our lives. Changes I wouldn't trade for anything. Though we're not homeschooling any more, I still look back fondly over the memories we made and treasure the vast difference it made in our family.

9. When Curt wasn't interested in being the spiritual leader of our family early in our marriage, I began to pray for him. I prayed that God would do whatever it took to make him the leader. "Whatever it took" involved financial devastation, a critically ill child, and the near end of our marriage. And yet, today he is an amazing spiritual leader. Would I want to relive those days that led to this point? No way. But am a strangely grateful for those times? Undoubtedly yes.

10. A good friend shared with me how God was enough for her. She told me that if she lost everything tomorrow, He would still be enough. I was struck by her love and devotion for Him. At that point-- though I was a Christian and went to church, etc.-- I couldn't say that with conviction. God led me to a place of finding Him to be enough. It was and is an ebbing and flowing relationship and I have learned to just sit back, and enjoy the ride.

There are many more testimonies I could share, but this is ten, so I will leave it here. Do you have testimonies of times He's drawn near to you? Use those testimonies as reminders of what He's done, and promises of what He'll continue to do in your life.
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Monday, September 20, 2010

In A Food Mood

I am traveling back from the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference today, so I thought I'd offer these sites as places to visit to put you in a food mood. These sites are designed to help moms with their menus. Next week I plan to post about how I plan our weekly menu. I hope you'll come back but in the meantime, check this out!

And this! (This is the home of Menu Plan Mondays!)

I highly recommend planning your menus-- it's money saving, time saving, and (at 5:00) sanity saving!
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Friday, September 17, 2010

Fiction Friday

Today I am leaving for one of the highlights of my year-- the American Christian Fiction Writers conference.

If you are a Christian fiction writer-- or think you'd like to be one-- I would highly recommend putting this conference on your radar for next year. This is a great place to 1) make fiction writing friends, 2) network within the fiction writing world, 3) learn a LOT about how to be a better fiction writer, and 4) pitch your ideas to editors and agents.

The ACFW conference couldn't come at a better time for me, as I am in the midst of my edits for my next novel. I am looking forward to some great, inspiring classes that I can put to use right away!

Want to learn more about ACFW? Visit
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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Thursday Thought

I just read Mary Beth Chapman's book Choosing To SEE. It was gripping, compelling, authentic, and heartbreaking. I devoured it in 3 sittings. If you followed the story of their loss of Maria two years ago then you will love this book. Mary Beth details her life as Steven Curtis Chapman's wife and the mother of 6, plus their decision to adopt. The latter half of the book is devoted to the accident and their ensuing grief. Mary Beth walks through many personal, revealing details in profound starkness. I admired her courage to not just process her grief on paper, but also to invite the rest of us in to experience it with her in an honest, vulnerable way.

I highly recommend this book. We will be talking more about it over at She Reads in the near future. Stay tuned!
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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Psalms 4 Moms

I love Psalm 4. It is a Psalm that speaks to me as a mom.

“Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God.
Give me relief from my distress;
Be merciful to me and hear my prayer.”

Lord, today has been a long day. I am not so sure that I am cut out to be a mom. Are you sure you called me to this?

“How long, O men, will you turn my glory into shame? How long will you love delusions and seek false gods? Know that the Lord has set apart the godly for
himself; the Lord will hear when I call to him.”

Lord, I see people all around me running after the wrong things, things that I know don't last. And yet those earthly solutions look so much easier, so tempting. I want easy, I'll admit. It's hard to raise kids of character. It's hard to seek You in the midst of so much noise. It's hard to believe I've been set apart or that You hear me.

“In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent. Offer right sacrifices and trust in the Lord.”

Lord, sometimes at night I lie in bed and go over my day. I review all the things I did wrong and pray for You to erase all the bad stuff from my children’s minds. I know You have called me to sacrifice my sense of self, my time, and my agenda in the name of spending day in and day out mothering my children. I am learning that even on my worst days, I have to stay committed to this calling, continue making the sacrifices, and choose to trust You to bring out the best in all of us, no matter how badly I blow it.

“Many are asking, ‘Who can show us any good?’ Let the light of your face shine upon us, O Lord. You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound. I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord,
make me dwell in safety.”

I look at these children You have given me and I see hope in spite of my many mistakes. I see them displaying character, learning to work and value money, to be kind, and to hunger and thirst for You. Lord, it is true that there is no greater joy than to see your children walking with You. I thank You for these little glimpses all along the way that fill my heart with joy and give me the strength I need to get up tomorrow morning and do it all again.

(Passages quoted from Psalm 4, New International Version)
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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Top Ten Tuesday

My Top Ten Favorite Things To Do With Chicken.

My favorite grocery store has chicken on sale this week-- buy one, get 2 free. This means I have LOTS of chicken breasts in my fridge/freezer right now. Because of that, I thought I'd list my top ten favorite things to do with chicken breasts today.

1. Put the chicken breasts in the crockpot and pour barbecue sauce on top. Cook all day, shred and serve on buns with chips and fruit.

2. Slice up and stir fry with baby carrots and broccoli. Serve over rice.

3. Marinate and grill. Serve with rice and a green veggie on the side.

4. Grill extra of the chicken, slice into strips and toss with pasta sauce, serve over your favorite pasta.

5. Make chicken pot pie or chicken pie (use recipe from yesterday).

6. Put chicken in crockpot and add cream of chicken soup and a 1/2 can of water over top. Add some chopped onions and celery for flavor. Cook all day, shred and serve over rice (chicken and rice) or broad egg noodles (tastes like chicken and dumplings).

7. Make little foil packets and add a drizzle of olive oil and Jane's Crazy Salt. Seal the packets and bake at 350 for 45-1 hour. Serve with green veggies and baked potatoes.

8. Use the recipe on the back of Progresso Italian Breadcrumbs and bake the chicken. Serve with mashed potatoes and green beans. Delish!

9. Make taco soup or tortilla soup.

10. Put chicken breasts in crockpot and add a packet of taco seasoning and a can of chicken broth. Cook all day. Shred and serve as a burrito or taco filling.
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Monday, September 13, 2010

In A Food Mood

Thought I'd post a menu plan today. Hope this puts you in the mood to plan some great food for your family this week!

Monday) Chicken and Broccoli With Bow Tie Pasta

Tuesday) Roasted Chicken with Lime and Rosemary, Baked Sweet Potatoes, Salad

Wednesday) Chicken Pie (I am cooking 2 chickens at once on Tues. and will use the meat to make this), Green Beans

Thursday) Chicken Tacos, Sliced Apples

Friday) Marinated, Grilled Chicken, Rice, Peas

Saturday) Grilled Hamburgers, Chips

Sunday) frozen pizza

Here's my Chicken Pie recipe. This is a favorite at my house-- it's comfort food at its best!

8 cups cooked chicken
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 cup margarine, melted
1 cup self-rising flour
1 cup milk

Put chicken in 9X13 pan. Add can of soup over top. Mix together melted margarine, self-rising flour and milk. Pour over top. Bake at 400 for about an hour, or until brown.
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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Saturday Bonus: Secretariat

The nice folks at Disney sent me links to these two videos about the forthcoming movie Secretariat. I can't wait for this one!! It opens October 8th!

Secretariat – “Penny’s Story – Against All Odds”


SECRETARIAT - Trailer # 1

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Friday, September 10, 2010

Fiction Friday

My friend said this to me last week and I wanted to share it with you:

We're all gifted with a writing strength - that thing that comes easy and makes us want to keep working.

And we're all gifted with a writing weakness - that thing that forces us to rely on God and devote ourselves to becoming better.

Notice both the strength and the weakness are gifts.

If you are a writer-- of fiction or nonfiction-- what is your strength? What is your weakness? Do you acknowledge them both as such?

I am in the process of defining both in my life. I can reel off my weaknesses with no problem. I am finding it's harder to point out my own strengths. And yet, I want to praise God for both of these gifts. Not in a boastful way, but in a humble, "thank You for these gifts" way.

Strengths and weaknesses. We bring both to the table. The challenge is to see them clearly and maintain a thankful attitude for both.

If you haven't identified your strengths and weaknesses, spend time today doing so. It's a challenging process, I will warn you!
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Thursday, September 09, 2010

Thursday Thought

CARPOOL TUNNEL SYNDROME: a physical ailment characterized by hands frozen in gripping-the-steering-wheel position, headache, stressed shoulders, and erratic thought patterns due to incessant noise coming at the patient from both the car stereo and the little people in the backseat. This syndrome primarily affects women.

Symptoms usually begin to manifest around mid September, peaking around January, and declining in the latter parts of May. Symptoms disappear during June-August.

The only known treatment for carpool tunnel syndrome is an extended visit to a spa, which must include a one hour massage, manicure, pedicure, and beauty treatments. The beauty treatments are the only consolation when the driver checks the rearview mirror, which she finds she is doing entirely too much:

"I see you! Don't make me stop this car!"

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Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Psalms For Moms

If it's Wednesday it must be time for Psalms for Moms. Thanks to those of you who have let me know you like this new feature and like the new posting schedule. I like it too! No more wondering what to write when I sit down to write a blog post.

I've been doing Jennifer Kennedy Dean's Bible study Live A Praying Life, as I've mentioned, and I am loving it. I highly recommend it if you're looking for a study to do this fall. I am not doing it with anyone-- just as my personal quiet time each morning. It's rich stuff and she's a gifted writer/teacher.

One of the things she has the reader do is to take a verse that features a promise and turn it into a prayer. So this week I am going to use one of the verses that she used and challenge you to do the same today.

Psalm 25:12, "Who, then, is the man that fears the Lord? He will instruct him in the way chosen for him."

Make this psalm your prayer for today. Write the words God gives you in your journal and thank Him for choosing the way for you-- not just a way, but the way. Words to rest in, words to live by and aspire to as we seek to live a praying life.
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Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Top Ten Tuesday

Ten reasons I love writing fiction:

1. I really and truly love not being bound to the truth. With nonfiction I was challenged to always tell the story exactly as it happened and not take any creative license. With fiction I can start with a kernel of truth and extrapolate to my heart's content!

2. I love reading fiction more than non-fiction so it makes sense that I would love writing it.

3. I've met so many great writers through my fiction writing. They inspire me in my walk with God and in my effort to be a better writer. They have truly become some of my best friends because they "get" me.

4. I get to talk to people who aren't there without being referred to a psychiatrist.

5. I finally have something to do with all these ideas that have been swirling around my head as long as I can remember.

6. When I hear a snippet of conversation between two people or observe something funny, quirky, or profound, I can file it away to use later.

7. I love to tell a good story.

8. I love to create interesting characters.

9. I love to visit places in my mind that are either 1) my favorite places or 2) places entirely of my own making. In my new novel, She Makes It Look Easy, I created a neighborhood for the characters to live in. This neighborhood only exists in my mind, but to me it's very real.

10. Fiction writing challenges me on so many levels. It's like exercise-- I don't always like the stretching and pain, but later, I am glad for it.
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Monday, September 06, 2010

In A Food Mood

Today is Labor Day! A day to celebrate the work we do by... not working! Take a day off from cooking and order pizza, or arrange a cookout where everyone brings just one dish so no one's overwhelmed. Eat off paper plates and splurge on some plastic utensils and toss it all after so you don't have to clean up. Other labor-free (or nearly that) meals are Make-Your-Own hoagies, Stouffer's lasagna, or even just throwing something in the crockpot in the morning. Of course, if your budget allows, there's always eating out. I plan to call up my friends at Domino's.

Enjoy a labor-free day in the kitchen. I know I plan to!
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Friday, September 03, 2010

Fiction Friday: How They Do It

For today's Fiction Friday post, I asked two of my favorite writing mamas to share how they work writing into the mix with children, housekeeping, marriage, errands, cooking, and even homeschooling. I am sharing two answers for you to read and learn from. I hope it helps inspire those of you who are writing in the midst of your own busy lives!

From Nicole O'Dell, mom of 6, including triplet toddlers!

As for writing time-- usually 6-8 am everyday is for blogging, preparing for the radio show, following up on interviews, etc. When the babies are up, I steal 15 mins here and there to reply to emails, make calls, etc. I see their awake time as time I need to give them and also any social obligations I have like returning calls. I hardly ever give up a nap minute to do anything other than work that demands attention like writing. They nap from 1-3:30 everyday and they go to bed by 7. I'd like to say that I write at night, but I'm usually too fried. I catch up on facebook, chat with friends, etc. Two days a week, my husband takes over completely from the time they wake up in the morning until they wake up from their nap--so that's 7 straight hours.

I'm not a write everyday kind of person--I wish I were. But I write when I have something that needs to get done by a deadline or if I have a plan to get it out. I don't typically bang out a word count otherwise. I work best under pressure and write as clean as possible.

That's about it. For me it just comes down to flexibility and fitting in what I can, when I can, and trusting God to make it work if it's in His will. I can totally tell when I'm doing something that's driven by me and not Him. It's a drudgery and doesn't come easily at all. It takes forever and sucks up my energy.

From Kimberly Cash Tate, homeschooling mom, novelist and Women of Faith speaker!

My best time to write has always been early morning, before the homeschooling day starts. I'd leave the laptop on the kitchen table and keep coming back to the story, but it's hard to get in the groove the rest of the day. I'm hoping I'll have more time to write with just one at home this year...and thankfully this is my self-motivated one. :)

Trusting God to give me time has been my issue for years. Can't imagine the day when it won't be. Oh how I'll relish it! :). Seasons, seasons...

Thanks to both these ladies for giving us this glimpse into how you do it. You both inspire me and now you've inspired others!!
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Thursday, September 02, 2010

Thursday Thought

I read this quote in the Bible study I am doing called Live A Praying Life by Jennifer Kennedy Dean and wanted to share it with you:

At our first entrance into the school of waiting upon God, the heart is chiefly set upon the blessings which we wait for. God graciously uses our need and desire for help to educate us for something higher than we were thinking of. We were seeking gifts; He, the Giver, longs to give Himself and to satisfy the soul with His goodness. (Andrew Murray, Waiting On God)

How has the school of waiting led you to get more of God and to find satisfaction in His unique brand of goodness? A good question to ponder today...
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Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Psalms For Moms

Thanks to all of you who stop by today after reading my devotion today about dreams. Every Wednesday I share Psalms for Moms, focusing on a Psalm that I feel directly speak to moms in the trenches. Today's is below:

Psalm 33:18, "But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear Him, on those whose hope is in His unfailing love."

Do you need to know that God sees you today? That He sees your children? Your situation?

Do you need to be reminded where to put your hope? Are you putting your hope in the wrong things instead of in God's unfailing love? I know I tend to put my hope in everything but God's unfailing love at times-- the state of the economy, the state of my family, the state of my home, etc.

I heard a quote at church last week. "People are looking for hope. They just don't know what it looks like." I want to show those in my life that hope looks like unfailing love. I want to experience His unfailing love so that I can point others-- my children, my husband, my friends and family-- towards it.
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