Saturday, December 30, 2006

Buying Oranges

(Me with my niece, Soozie.)

Standing in the Publix produce section today, I picked out a few naval oranges. I love oranges and actually prefer them over sweets most of the time.

Yet while doing this, I realized in two days, the diet starts. "Religiously recording your Weight Watchers points," Tony reminds me. Not that he's hassling me about losing the more-than-one-less-than-twenty-pounds I've gained in the last few years, but because we're paying $15 a month for an online subscription.

I toss the oranges into a cellophane bag, pick up a large package of baby carrots, some lettuce and tomatoes, and oh, bananas, then go find Tony. On the candy aisle.

Oh, but not to worry, he's dieting too January 1st. This is his last hurrah.
Speaking of New Year's resolutions, I have a few.

One - Continue to develop a contemplative life, finding truth and life in God. Throw in a little fasting. This item is always on my New Year's list and I suppose always will be.

Two - Write. Think bestseller. Hey, what can it hurt?

Three - Work on friendships. I've always had girlfriends. I was a sorority girl for crying out loud (Hey, Mo!) but a lot of my friendships have faded due to life changes, different interest. I have some cyberspace friends I love and adore, but it often leaves me feeling disconnected. Like, really, my computer is my best friend. There I am, staring at Mac waiting for an IM from someone. LOL. Pitiful.

Man, I've had some great laughs with friends. One of my college roommates, Maryann, was the wittiest of wits. We laughed all the time. One time, so hard, I fell down on the sidewalk walking down 15th Ave toward the Ohio State campus.

Tony makes me laugh a lot. But I feel so closed in, away from family, away from friends. I take most of the responsibility on myself. I've not been a good communicator. But I don't get my identity in people. Jesus loves me. All else is icing.

Four - Hit the gym four times a week.

Five - Get a tatoo. I think it's time. A small one. Don't freak.

Goals are important. Otherwise, we are ruled by the tyranny of "the moment." Controlling our thoughts and emotions are important, too. I realize more and more we can just choose! We can choose to be happy, choose to be loving, choose to forgive, choose to put "it" behind us and move on. We don't have to be locked into whatever we feel or experience. The more we choose rightly, the more our emotions line up and change.

I know, I mean KNOW my emotions have changed since pursuing Song of Solomon type of love and life in Jesus. I feel the change. It's quite marvelous.

(Little plug for studying Song of Solomon if you dare.)

2006 was a year of change. 2007 is a year of destiny and believing.

Grace and peace!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A Great Dad

I found this picture of my Dad and niece today while not-writing. I did get over 2,500 written today, and may write a few more before bed.

Tony and I took time out to watch our last Christmas movie rental, Firewall. Not so good. We were so aggrivated in the opening scenes when Harrison Ford's character and his family are hijack but the criminal never says why!

Anyway, the picture on the left is Dad feeding Gracie a strawberry while visiting Pete in Tennessee May 2005. He died a month later.

One of my favorite memories at Christmas time is the first year we lived in Lexington. On Christmas Eve, we were all excited waiting for Grandma and Grandpa to arrive. We were running around, playing, eating one of Dad's favorite treats, frozen mini Snicker bars, and I was teaching Dad how to play a 4th grade girl's hand game. It was funny. I have a picture of that night somewhere. A rosey cheeked me and my brother Danny with my mom and grandparents.

We had a lot of fun Christmases over the years. Do you have a favorite Christmas memory?

Another is the year my brother bought my mom her first microwave. It was huge! But so exciting. And we tried to cook the Christmas turkey in it. LOL. Ah, technology is not everything.

The fire is crackling in the fireplace. Pal's curled up next to me on a baby quilt, and the movie continues to play.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Walking the dog

We decided to start walking Pal, our Beagle-mutt, angel spotting dog. One, he'd love the exercise and two, his claws needed trimming.

Trying to clip them leaves us shredded, so it's out to grind them on the pavement.

Pal pulls on his leash the entire time, yerking on the arm of whoever's holding the leash. It's like he thinks we're not going to get "there" or that we aren't going where he wants to go.

But, we always get "there." He sniffs what he wants and trots on.

Sorta like that with us and God, don't ya think? We're always trying to run out, away from the leash, worried we're not going to get "there."

But we always do. He leads in paths of righteousness.

We've watched some great movies this weekend. Invinsible, and Glory Road. I LOVE sports movies. Also MI3, but it was so-so.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Eve

I love this lyric, "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!"

Even though it's 80 degrees. Tony and I are watching "It's A Wonderful Life" with Elizabeth White. And, I still have Tony's presents to wrap.

Merry Christmas everyone. And in the New Year.... just believe!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

My Dog Sees Angels

Call me weird, but I think my dog sees angels. Really. Like today. He comes into my office and immediately scoots around behind my chair like he's hiding from something.

He cowers in the corner, then tries to climb in my lap. The whole time, his eyes are darting back and forth. And if possible, he has a weird look on his Beagle face.

I hold him in my lap for a few minutes, but when I try to put him down, he doesn't want to go and winds up crawling under my desk.

I'm telling you, he sees angels. Or devils. But the devils can't stay. Not on my watch.

Isn't that strange. I have a seeing eye dog.

Hey, if when I'm writing, angels can hang around all day long. I could use the help.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Beige Day

Ever have one of those days where you just feel beige? I do. Like today.

But it's Christmas! Right?

But I'm writing a first draft and always, always, always feel beige in the middle of writing a first draft.

I'm reminded of my favorite Apostle Paul verse. "If you compare yourself to others, you're stupid."

Ah, thanks for the straight-talk, Paul. Words that echo down the corridor of time!

Out of town friends came over for dinner last night. I grilled chicken to put over a green salad and made cinnamon rolls. As I was cooking, I thought, "Does Stuart eat salad?"

Turns out. No. But he enjoyed it anyway and filled up on cinnamon rolls.

Off to work.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Sunday, December 17, 2006 Interview


I'm on international web radio. Check it out: http://www.cvc. tv/go/fuseaction /audiolib. main/lang/ english

Click on Author Interview. You can download or just listen from the web.

This radio program broadcast around the world from Australia.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

If this is you, please, don't

Today Roxanne St. Claire, Martha Powers and I had had a book signing at Books-A-Million up in Melbourne.

Before hand, we enjoyed lunch, talking about the publishing business and "what's next" for all three of us.

We all write different genres - Rocki writes Romantic Suspense. Martha writes murdery myster and of course, me, chick lit.

The also write for the ABA market where I write for the CBA market.

Anyway, Martha's book title is Death Angle about a man accused of murdering his young daughter. We had a lot of foot traffic today and Martha would graciously speak to people trying to get them to stop and browse our table.

One woman looked at Martha's book title, made a face and said very arrogantly, "I'd never buy a book with that title."

Okay, I can understand not being attracted to at title, but the face? The tude? And I really hope she didn't claim to be a Christian. I'm quite certain it's not what Jesus would do.

The closer I draw to Jesus, the more I realize He's about love and compasion, graciousness. Not curling His nose and judging others.

Does He embrace sin? No. But does He curl His nose? No again. He was the opposite of judgemental and religious.

So please, don't.

After the booksigning, I went to a restaurant and hung out in the kitchen. Research. Very fun. The owners were very gracious to let me observe, and answer all my questions.

Got home around 8:30, very tired, but satisified with the day.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Are You Shrinking

Thoughts from Tony:

I've been pondering these words of John the Baptist; "He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom's voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease." (John 3:29-30)

As always, the challenge is figuring out how to apply them in my life. I don't pretend to have it all figured out, but I have some definite ideas, albeit primarily from a pastoral perspective.

I think it means that people I pastor should be more connected to Jesus than they are to me, and that it should be a source of joy for me when someone I've helped is so busy thanking Jesus they've forgotten me.

I think it means I should strive to be known more as a servant than a leader. These can be tough verses to live out, and I don't know how you apply them in your life, but I know I'd love to go to a church where everyone was trying to make it more about Jesus and less about themselves.

And I know from experience that the order is important. Unless I'm first very intentional about Jesus increasing in me, it's a lot harder for me to decrease. But here is what I'm currently finding challenging (feel free to take up this challenge with me if you feel up to it); how do I apply these verses to Christmas?

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Light

I love these words of the Man, Jesus.

"For everyone who does evil hates the light and does not come to the light lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the light, that his deeds maybe manifested as having been wrought in God."

In today's PC world, it seems we're "not allowed" to call anything or anyone evil. (Unless the views are Christian or conservative. Then, let the mud be flung.)

But Jesus is clear here. If you hate the light (Jesus/God/Truth) then you do evil. You don't want your deeds exposed.

Whether we like it or not, there is evil in the world. You can spray perfume on a skunk, but you still got stink. Evil is evil. It cannot be made good.

Look at Ted Haggart. His dark deeds were exposed in the Light. But the same Light that exposed him will also redeem and heal him.

Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. No man, none, come to the Father except through Him - a claim that has the world in an uproar and it will get worse before the End of the Age.

But just like the wedding of Cana. Jesus saved the best wine for last. I cannot wait to see what the Spirit pours out as we careen toward the end of time as we know it.

Miracles, healing, restoration, life, forgiveness, manna in the desert. I'm both excited and terrified.

Consider this. If you hate the Light, are your deeds evil? Flip your thought process. Hate your deeds and love the Light.

I had to do it. Anyone who really seeks truth has to do it. Seek the Light. Jesus.

Friday, December 08, 2006

I'm older

I'm a year older.

Today I woke up feeling tired. And it's not that I went to bed at 2 a.m. and woke up at 8 a.m. it's age, I'm telling you.

I'm $^ now. Yesterday we went out for dinner with our friends Chelle, Matt, Jodi, then Dave and Tricia joined us. It was very lovely. Dave and I solved the minimum wage problem.

Do we purposefully elect dumb people to Washington, or do they get dumb once they're elected?

Never mind, don't answer.

I'm really more concerned about global warming than ever. It hasn't snowed in Florida since '89. Proof global warming is in full bloom.

Now, what I'm really concerned about is the spiritual climate we are leaving for our children. They are going to find the truth, and turn the world upside down. Just like 12 men did 2000 years ago.

Okay, off to write. Wonder what my sweet Caroline is up to?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Folgers Gourmet Coffee

Several months ago, Folgers emailed me about taste testing their new coffees and posting a blog. the fall was so busy, I'm just now getting around to the taste test results.

But first, a disclaimer:

I am not a coffee drinker and thus informed Folgers. But, I thought it would be fun to see if their new blends would capture my non-coffee palate.

Now, if Diet Coke needs a taste tester, they should look me up. I'm their girl! I could do a whole series on my switch from Diet Pepsi to Diet Coke.

So, when my brother Peter-John was here, who is a coffee drinker, along my husband Tony, we brewed up one of the coffee's every morning: Morning Cafe, Vanilla Biscotti, and Lively Columbian.

I love the names of the blends. Love the packaging. A nice aroma filled the kitchen. I looked forward to my taste test. So, Pete and I poured a cup.

Hum, taste like black coffee. Plain. Well it was the Lively Columbian blend, the others will have more flavor.

But, they all tasted the same to me. Regular, good to the last drop Folgers coffee. I'm always disappointed with flavored our gourmet coffees. They never taste remotely like their name - any coffee brand, not just these Folgers blends.

I want the Vanilla Biscotti flavor to compete with the flavor of the coffee bean. Or Chocolate Truffle to taste like chocolate.

The concensus from Pete and Tony, as coffee drinkers, was, "Eh," shrug, "it's okay."

If you love coffee, and love coffee with a hint of something flavorful or aromatic, try these Folgers blends.

If you're not a coffee lover and you want to try something fancy, Folgers won't cut it. It's not going to be a General Food International Coffee moment.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Getting Poorer

Tony says to me while driving him to the mechanic to pick up his truck, "I feel like we just keep getting poorer."

I burst out laughing. He's right. Not that we are going into debt, or in danger of losing our house or cars, but the cost of living keeps going up and the money is not coming in.

I love my job, passionately, but I get paid two, maybe three times a year. Hopefully, we'll see some royalty checks this year, but it's hard to say.

Tony's job is rare to give raises. Sadly, being on staff at a church is not the way to earthly wealthy - unless you're Rick Warren, TD Jakes or Joel Osteen.

But, we're happy, doing fine. Not in lack of food, clothing or shelter. Well, perhaps in lack of new clothing, but that's another story.

So, the next day, we get a letter in the mail. Our gym membership is going up $7. More laughter from me.

How come all the businesses charge more but employees earn the same or less?

Please, I am not advocating big government or intervention. Please, stay away government. The market will correct itself.

Then, I heard a guy on talk radio. Arnold Brooks, a professor at Syracuse University. He was on 20/20 Wednesday talking about "who gives in this country."

It's the working poor, which technically, we might be grouped with since I quit the corp job. And even more than the working poor, the religious community is the most generous. Not just church tithe, but in overall giving. Red Cross, the Salvation Army bucket at Christmas.

And, Brooks claims, those who give are more prosperous and healthy as individuals and as communities. He claims generosity is the overall reason why American is prosperous over our European counterpart. We give more.

I loved that the secular media came to this conclusion. Because it's true.

God's Word works whether you believe in Him or not. He rewards generosity. He rewards those who give. He sees and He repays. You cannot out give God.

Does that mean you have eternal life? Nope. Still have to know the Man. But it does mean you time in this life is a little more blessed, a little more prosperous - maybe a lot more.

This principle is played out big time in the movie, "Facing The Giants." The protagonist doesn't give money directly, but surrenders all his burdens to the Lord. Lives out his convictions.

And God meets him.

I know bad things happen in this life. It rains on the just and unjust alike, but don't get trapped in the idealology that God is not going to protect and reward very much in this life. That we just have to wait for the next.

No! He is interacting with us every day in this life. He wants to heal the sick. Break poverty. Restore families. Set destiny and fulfill dreams. Come on. He's a loving Father!

In Malachi 3:8 - 12 amazes us with this challenge from God:

"Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, 'How have we robbed You?' In tithes and offerings.

"You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the whole nation of you!

"Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this," says the LORD of hosts, "if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.

"Then I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of the ground; nor will your vine in the field cast its grapes," says the LORD of hosts.

"All the nations will call you blessed, for you shall be a delightful land," says the LORD of hosts.

Give. Don't be afraid. He can do more with your remaining 80 or 90 percent than you can do by clinging to the 10 or 20 percent.

Grace and peace,