Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Wordless Wednesday? Nah...Just Short & Sweet

Sometimes silence is golden. You know how Mary pondered all those things in her heart...well, I'm a ponderin'. One of these days maybe I'll share. But if not, know that I'm still here. Just wishin' for Spring. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

WW: Combat Ready

This kid thinks he's ready for anything. He's got his camo clothes and hat. He has got his rifle and ammo ready. He even has his face painted to conceal his identity from the enemy. He may look the part of a combat ready soldier, but can he stand in the face of a real battle?

Many Christians today look the part on the outside but lack the inner strength to do warfare with the devil. Though some have strength, many lack the courage to launch an attack on the dark forces that seemingly rule the world. Just like 'Uncle Sam', God is looking for a few good men and women. Folks who will not tuck tail and run at the first sound of gunfire. People who are strong, courageous, trained, equipped and ready to rumble. Soldiers that know when to get into the foxhole and when to open fire.

The Bible is our handbook. It explains how we are to dress for battle and gives instructions for the use of our weapons. In it we read of winning strategies and costly mistakes. God's Word gives a clear description of the enemy and his legions. And provides a no-fail procedure for putting them on the rout.

Look again at the boy in the picture. See that gap between the end of his pants and his feet? It is a place that is exposed to the elements. Nothing serious for a kid doing dress up, but could allow for a injury to someone working their way through a jungle or desert. One more thing; he's not wearing boots. He has on a pair of those rubber slides called crocs. They are camo alright enough, but provide very little protection from the environment.

It is just not enough to look the part!

But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. IThessalonians 5:8 strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God,... take unto you the whole armour of God...loins girt about with truth, the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; ....the shield of faith, ... the helmet of salvation....and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;...Then...Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; Ephesians 6:10-18

P.S. That tough guy in the picture is my nephew. If he can't wrestle you down, he'll just wrestle 'til he wears you out. (smile)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

WW: Short Term Trouble

As I prepared to write WW last week, it dawned on me that I had missed posting on the previous Wednesday. That was a tough time for me. I had two different health problems going on and had three appointments that week. The days just all ran together with me barely knowing when one ended and a new one began.

My family checked on me and did for me all that I would allow. Church folk called and prayed. My co-workers called, but their only concern was when I would be coming back to work. You would have thought that I would have had plenty of time to write a post of two. Time I had, energy I did not.

There were even times when I did not have a prayer or a praise upon my lips. Yet, God was still with me. He heard the silent cry of my heart. He saw the tears that filled my pillow. He helped me. He brought me through it all. Just as He always has and always will.

My faith in the Healer and His Word remained strong despite the onslaught of pain and sickness. Scriptures I had learned as a child encouraged me to be faithful in the midst of my trials. One passage that repeatedly came to mind is II Corinthians 4:7-10; quoted here from the KJV. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.

I really like how the New International Reader's version translates verses 16-18 of that same chapter.We don't give up. Our bodies are becoming weaker and weaker. But our spirits are being renewed day by day. Our troubles are small. They last only for a short time. But they are earning for us a glory that will last forever. It is greater than all our troubles.
So we don't spend all our time looking at what we can see. Instead, we look at what we can't see. What can be seen lasts only a short time. But what can't be seen will last forever.

II Corinthians 4:14-18

This Thanksgiving Day, look past the and look to the One who has given you life. The One who supplies every need. The Savior, Healer, Deliverer, and soon coming King. When you take time to look unto Him, everything else will be seen in proper perspective.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Review of A Shadow of Treason--Welcome Blog Tourists!

The 2nd in the trilogy chronicling the Spanish Civil War is out, and Tricia Goyer has done it again. If you enjoyed Valley of Betrayal, then you are sure to love A Shadow of Treason.

Sophie's saga continues in this second work, the story of an American painter with a big heart and big dreams. But Michael's behavior has left her with questions about his loyalties. The stakes are high as the conflict continues and the espionage and treason heightens their dangerous quest. Sophie's heart is challenged to stretch beyond its boundaries in forgiveness, compassion, and love. She is forced with the choice of saving herself or saving Spain.

"I need God more than ever, but have I sought to fulfill the need? Have I prayed about Spain's pain? About Michael? About the gold?"

We find ourselves hovering in a breathless suspense wondering if letters from her treasured Bible will help her decide. And what if Sophie fails her mission? Will an entire people be doomed?

You will love to read Tricia's new book to findout. It is well written, well researched, and well done, my friend. Well done, Tricia Goyer!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

My Gift

Eight years ago on Nov. 18th, I lay in a hospital bed with a fetal monitor strapped to my belly, an IV in my arm pushing Pitocin, a blood pressure cuff strapped to my other arm, and a nurse's hand up my vagina saying, "Poop a watermelon." I know, I know that part sounds hilarious now. But all I could think of at that moment was if giving birth was like pooping, I was severely constipated.

After 14 hours of labor, 6 hours of that pushing and straining to get my "watermelon" out, the kind doctor suggested forceps. I was adamently opposed. I did not want my poor baby's face to be all smashed and bruised. But the doctor won out. And still, my "watermelon" refused to budge. He tried the suction thingie with no better results.

Finally, in desperation I screamed. "Get him out, now!" which seemed to garner much better results. Within twenty minutes I was prepped and in surgery. Within 15 more minutes, my bundle of joy had arrived. He was no watermelon. He was my gorgeous 8 lb. 2 oz. baby boy. I got to kiss his little forehead before they put me out to staple me up. My husband got to carry him to the nursery and give him his first bottle. To this day when my husband and I argue, guess who is on his side? That's right. My baby bonded first with his Daddy. The one with the formula always wins.

Later on after arriving home I finally got to review the video. I got to see the parts I missed while I was in the Twilight Zone. There never was a Papa more proud. And that child sucked down 2 oz. before you could blink an eye. Yep, no doubt about who is father and mother are.

I got to see everyone's reaction on the tape. I'm still a little jealous that everyone was gone by the time I got to my room at 10:30 that night. But I'm so glad someone had the forethought to tape it. My grandmother held my tiny son in her arms. She looked at him so sweetly. And she prayed over this blessed new life.
My husbands' family took turns burping and cradling. My sister sucked the mucous out of his mouth with a bulb like a pro. And finally, my mom got to hold him. She had been ever so patient, knowing she would be at the hospital when everyone else had left. I never will forget how proud she was. She had waited a long time to become a grandma. Both my sisters had been married 9 years and produced no offspring. I felt justified that this was payback for both of them marrying the same year, leaving me at home and single. There is a God. Laugh.

When I got back to my room, they let me hold him. I never knew what joy a baby could bring. True, I felt like I had been through combat. My body was bruised and sore and exhausted. All I wanted to do was sleep for hours on end--and watch this little bundle of joy. I would keep waking up and saying, "Ain't he pretty, Mama."

He had the most beautiful head of hair. That was the biggest surprise. Was it worth all that laboring and pain and nine months of throwing up, losing 40 lbs, having 27 staples, and breaking out from the anesthesia? You bet it was.

You know what? Even though 8 years have passed and my beautiful boy is now in 2nd Grade, I feel as if I were back in that room, marvelling at God's blessed creation all over again. It's his birthday today. But I got the best gift. Happy Birthday, Son. May God Bless your life in countless ways. I love you with all my heart.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Unraveling the Issue

The year is fastly drawing to a close, and reflection over the past 11 months is leaving me a bit depressed, for I have not accomplished my writing goals. Sometimes there are more important things to tend to, even though we somehow find time for the things we want. I can't seem to fit it all in, and it's bugging me. It's bugging me bad! Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Two outlets I have depended upon throughout the years have kept me going...writing and prayer. I find my very survival dependent upon them. Of course, the obvious priority is my relationship with God. I have always managed to hear His voice the best when alone in prayer with Him. And then the words He whispers to me come flowing out in the things I write. And then, I have to ask myself, is this why the writing has come to a screeching halt? Because my prayer life is suffering? The correlation is obvious to me.

It's not that I don't talk to Him regularly. I think it's because I don't listen. You know how it is when you are afraid of what you are going to hear, don't you? I know. Sometimes I lose sight of the fact that whatever He tells me is for my own good and because He loves me. He is not trying to harm me or lead me into heartache. It is just the opposite. He wants me to have a full and abundant life, a life of joy. True, in this world we have trouble. We have crosses to bear. The joy is in the ultimate victory we know we have.

Can you picture Christ in the Garden of Gesthemane? Submitting Himself to His Father's will required giving it all to Him. It required His unfaltering trust in His Father--even though his friends had given up and gone to sleep. They were sleeping! Sometimes you just can't rely on your friends, family, or spouse to see you through. You have to have divine intervention. You have to divine direction. You have to have that peace that comes from Him alone. And that requires shutting everything and everyone else out and shutting yourself IN with Him.

If you do this, then the things you have all bottled up inside that are obscuring the light will come out. You can deal with the issues. You can get a handle on them. There is no shame in asking for help. He knows your heart. He made it. And if you can't trust Him, I ask you, who can you trust?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

365 Days a Year

One would have to be blind to miss all the Christmas decorations that fill the aisles. One would have to be deaf to miss the caroles that fill the air. One would have to be in the deepest rain forest to have no sensation of the season that is upon us. Yet, this world is filled with folks that are in the dark about the reason for this season.

There is hope for all who are blind, deaf, and hardened by sin. The Good News is recorded in the Bible. Originally delivered over 2000 years ago to heal, save, and set free. His birth is the real reason for the season. His name is Jesus and He came to live, love, die, rise, ascend, and return to take believers to live with Him forever. Isaiah 61:1-3 records His purpose as foretold by the prophet. Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of that prophecy is found in Luke 4:16-21.

He is not the Scrooge and he's not Santa Clause. He is the giver of life. And He gives gifts to all who serve Him. His miracle working power is not confined to 34th Street. And with Him, you can have a wonderful life; 365 days a year.

Wishing more than the world's Happy Holidays. Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas.

Narrow is the way, and few there be that find it. Instead of Google Maps, try John 3:16.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Tricia Goyer On Veteran's Day

Hello fellow bloggers! Tricia thought that you might be able to use this on your blog today! Permission granted! :) Thanks.

Veteran's Day is a time to remember:

In 2000, I got my idea for what came to be my first historical novel, From Dust and Ashes. Wanting to know more about the 23 men who liberated Mauthausen concentration camp, I contacted the 11th Armored Division who put me in touch with six of the veterans. These men then invited me to attend the 59th reunion of their division. I wasn't expecting that at all. I thought they'd point me to a good research book or allow me to interview them over the phone.

I felt SO unworthy to meet with these men. I knew very little about WWII, and I didn't want my inexperience to show. Not to mention the $1000+ for airfare, hotels, rental car for a book I didn't have a contract to write.

I urged a friend to go with me, and I've been so thankful we went. The men were caring and opened their hearts to me. They shared stories with me that they hadn't shared with anyone before. They laughed. They cried. They took my hands and thanked me for caring about their story. They hugged me and kissed my cheeks.

When it came to writing my novel, I wasn't writing about fictional characters. I was writing pieces of Charlie's story, bits of Arthur's experiences. The memories that made LeRoy cry made it into my book. The snapshots that Tarmo carried around in his mind for 60 years transformed into scenes in my novel (and the novels to follow!).

I get many letters from readers who say that my novels come to life on the pages--that's because the men's experiences came to life to me as I looked into their eyes and saw glimpses of young heroes. Also, the following year I went to Europe and walked the streets of the SS housing with a man who'd been nine-years-old when the camp opened near his home. Again, I "saw" the story in his eyes as he shared--this time from someone on the outside.

There was an added benefit to this diligent research that I didn't expect. After my second novel Night Song came out I received a letter from a veteran. He made a list of twenty minor research points that I'd gotten right, and then he asked, "One thing I didn't understand was the faith element of this story. Can you tell me more about your faith in God?"


Because I had done the research, I'd was able to share about my Jesus with a veteran who has since passed away.

One more fun thing I didn't expect. One of the men I met at the reunion was Pete. Pete was a medic--the one medic I met. Years later I received a letter from a reader who had read From Dust and Ashes. She was a survivor of Mauthausen--actually, she was born there. When she was 3-weeks-old she was close to death. When the gates were open a medic spent a full day lancing and cleaning infected boils on her skin, saving her life. She asked me if I knew any medics. I knew one, and I passed on his phone number. It turns out Pete was the one who saved her life! They have since met on numerous occasions.

If I hadn't gone to that reunion I wouldn't have met Pete, and I wouldn't have been able to connect him with Hana--what a God thing!

Of course, I do have regrets concerning research, too. In my most recent series on the Spanish Civil War I received a letter from a SCW veteran who said he was willing to help me with research. The letter got put into my "very important" pile on my desk and weeks and months passed. I pulled it out again, and I planned on calling him when I heard from someone else that this man had passed away. That has happened more than once with men who offered to be interviewed, and I'm always regretful of the "one more story" I missed. After all, once gone they are gone for good.

If you have a veteran in your life ... today is the perfect day to reach out--to listen to his or her story. Don't let the stories die, when you have a chance to make a difference.

Above are photos of a few of the men I've interviewed.

To read some of their stories, go to:

To see more photos (including real photos from the liberation of Mauthausen) go to:

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

A Red Sweater Day

Today I wore my new red sweater. Today I hit a snag. Not wanting to break the threads and cause a hole, I stopped immediately. If I went forward, the threads tightened against the nail. If I went backward, the thread tightened against the nail. So I stood still and began to loosen the thread by hand until I had freed it from its snare. Now I am left with an ugly ball of thread—unbroken, but flawed. The thought occurred to me at this moment that, yes, this is exactly where I am. Sometimes when we encounter a snag in life, the best thing we can do is just stop and reevaluate the situation.

Clothes are meant to be worn. And no matter how we try, they are affected by the environment we place them in. Do we throw out the garment at once because of this? No, we attempt to mend it, patch it, or clean it or find a new purpose for it. Only after every attempt has failed do we give up and leave it for the trash heap.

Fortunately for us, we have a Savior who says, “Old things are passed away; behold all things are become new.” Does this mean we purposely choose to wallow in the mud in our new garment or expose it to heat or thorns that could burn it or rip it to shreds? No. We go out of our way to protect it. We strive to keep it clean and beautiful. The nail could have ripped the flesh and scarred. Things could have been much worse.

It is not the nail’s fault. It merely existed. An innocuous tiny finishing nail. Nothing evil in and of itself. Its purpose to make complete, to finish, to help make beautiful. And yet, I am the one who wandered into its path. I am the one who did not see it, note it for what it was, and hammer it back into its rightful place.

You see everything has a place and purpose. I love my red sweater. It is still beautiful. It still keeps me warm. It still serves a purpose. Today it served more than one. It served as a lesson. I am not broken today. I have my flaws. I have some stains that need laundering. I have some work that needs to be done. But I have a purpose, perhaps more than one. And so do you. Let’s not get blindsided by the snags and forget what it is that we were created and meant to do.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Birthdays, Who needs them?

Remember Lucy Ricardo, she could never tell the truth about 2 things. One was her true hair color and the other was her age. Then there is that expression, "thirty nine and holding": holding back the tears/laughter, trying to hold up all that's sagging, and holding out on telling one's true age. But none of that really matters here, for I'm about to give you the scoop.

My sister & author of this blog will celebrate her 42nd birthday on Sunday 11/5/2007. I wanted all of you to know so you could stop by and wish her well. If you are over 40, you know all about those sagging parts and nagging aches/pains. You know the relentless hormonal changes and endless needs of spouse and kids. You know what you don't need but are uncertain of what you do. Don't send presents, a few comments will do.

So, join me in wishing her a Happy Birthday. Pray too that she receive a birthday blessing from the Lord. He knows exactly what she needs. Thanks.

Happy Birthday, Sis

Friday, November 02, 2007

In Awe of a Phenomenal Woman

Today on Martha Stewart I happened to notice the guest was the phenomenal Dr. Maya Angelou, the "People's Poet." She not only shared her caramel cake recipe but the story behind it. She also spoke of her writing work habits. This I found most interesting. She rises at 5:30 and goes to a local hotel room which has been stripped of all decor. There is a bed, a desk, and a chair, her Roget's Thesaurus, and a dictionary. There she works until around noon writing in long hand upon yellow legal pads, being careful not to dispose of any writings in the wastebasket. (Imagine where they might turn up.)

I found myself longing for that kind of "work." I say "work," but I'm sure to Dr. Angelou it is a joy and privilege to do something you love so much and be able to do it so well. It is a dream we should all have and aspire to achieve.

I learned other things about Dr. Angelou that I did not know, including the fact that she was a volunteer mute from the ages of 7 to 13. She had been molested and her molester later killed. She felt as if the person died because of her words, and therefore she refused to speak. I am glad that she conquered that fear and began using her words for beauty. She shared a poem she wrote and delivered for Pres. Clinton's inauguration January 19, 1993. I want to share it with you. It's called :

On the Pulse of Morning

A Rock, A River, A Tree
Hosts to species long since departed,
Marked the mastodon.
The dinosaur, who left dry tokens
Of their sojourn here
On our planet floor,
Any broad alarm of their hastening doom
Is lost in the gloom of dust and ages.

But today, the Rock cries out to us, clearly, forcefully,
Come, you may stand upon my
Back and face your distant destiny,
But seek no haven in my shadow.

I will give you no more hiding place down here.

You, created only a little lower than
The angels, have crouched too long in
The bruising darkness,
Have lain too long
Face down in ignorance.

Your mouths spilling words
Armed for slaughter.

The Rock cries out today, you may stand on me,
But do not hide your face.

Across the wall of the world,
A River sings a beautiful song,
Come rest here by my side.

Each of you a bordered country,
Delicate and strangely made proud,
Yet thrusting perpetually under siege.

Your armed struggles for profit
Have left collars of waste upon
My shore, currents of debris upon my breast.

Yet, today I call you to my riverside,
If you will study war no more. Come,

Clad in peace and I will sing the songs
The Creator gave to me when I and the
Tree and the stone were one.

Before cynicism was a bloody sear across your
Brow and when you yet knew you still
Knew nothing.

The River sings and sings on.

There is a true yearning to respond to
The singing River and the wise Rock.

So say the Asian, the Hispanic, the Jew
The African and Native American, the Sioux,
The Catholic, the Muslim, the French, the Greek
The Irish, the Rabbi, the Priest, the Sheikh,
The Gay, the Straight, the Preacher,
The privileged, the homeless, the Teacher.
They hear. They all hear
The speaking of the Tree.

Today, the first and last of every Tree
Speaks to humankind. Come to me, here beside the River.

Plant yourself beside me, here beside the River.

Each of you, descendant of some passed
On traveller, has been paid for.

You, who gave me my first name, you
Pawnee, Apache and Seneca, you
Cherokee Nation, who rested with me, then
Forced on bloody feet, left me to the employment of
Other seekers--desperate for gain,
Starving for gold.

You, the Turk, the Swede, the German, the Scot ...
You the Ashanti, the Yoruba, the Kru, bought
Sold, stolen, arriving on a nightmare
Praying for a dream.

Here, root yourselves beside me.

I am the Tree planted by the River,
Which will not be moved.

I, the Rock, I the River, I the Tree
I am yours--your Passages have been paid.

Lift up your faces, you have a piercing need
For this bright morning dawning for you.

History, despite its wrenching pain,
Cannot be unlived, and if faced
With courage, need not be lived again.

Lift up your eyes upon
The day breaking for you.

Give birth again
To the dream.

Women, children, men,
Take it into the palms of your hands.

Mold it into the shape of your most
Private need. Sculpt it into
The image of your most public self.
Lift up your hearts
Each new hour holds new chances
For new beginnings.

Do not be wedded forever
To fear, yoked eternally
To brutishness.

The horizon leans forward,
Offering you space to place new steps of change.
Here, on the pulse of this fine day
You may have the courage
To look up and out upon me, the
Rock, the River, the Tree, your country.

No less to Midas than the mendicant.

No less to you now than the mastodon then.

Here on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister's eyes, into
Your brother's face, your country
And say simply
Very simply
With hope
Good morning.

--Maya Angelou