Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Count Your Blessings

This song played through my mind last week when I'd not yet watched White Christmas, or heard the song on the radio or Pandora. If only...

Count Your Blessings was as popular as Santa Baby this year! Can I call a moratorium on that song? Just me...

I closed worship Sunday with this song. "When I'm worried, and I can't sleep, I count my blessings instead of sheep..."

It was a lovely way to end a morning of fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ than to "count our blessings."

Tony and I have been extremely blessed this year. Last Thanksgiving while riding my bike before joining friends for dinner, I had a JOY attack. As I pedaled, waves of joy swelled in my heart. I'd laugh. I'd cry. I'd laugh again.

I had no idea the blessings coming to us this year. A new house with an amazing office for Tony and me. I have the "tower," he has the "dungeon." ;)

We cleared our debt and a friend's.

In the fall I was offered a new 3-book contract from Zondervan that miraculously matched my writing goals. I'm so humbled and honored.

I finally purchased an iMac.

Family and friends flooded in for visits. Friends from New York, our girl Carrie Campbell, Tony's brother and his family, our girl Cassie Campbell visited with a friend. Then my brother came with his wife and kids. And last but not least, my mom came for a very fun week.

I had a fun few days brainstorming with fab writers in Vero Beach.

Through it all, Tony and I have a general feeling of grace and well-being. Despite the economy, despite missed paychecks and other reductions in pay along with our living expenses going up a tad with the new home, we've lacked for nothing.

The Lord blessed in other ways. My writing income is increasing, and while a writers paycheck can be very unstable, this year birthed in my heart a greater reality that God can and will meet our needs.

I'm grateful, blessed, and so honored to be walking this journey with my husband and family, called and loved by Jesus. Honored to walk this with you.

I know, I've turned into a horrible blogger, so thank you for those of you who hang in there with me. I count YOU in my blessings.

So, what blessings are you counting this year? Let's purpose to be grateful and full of JOY.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Count Your Blessings

"When I'm worried and I can't sleep
I count my blessings instead of sheep
And I fall asleep counting my blessings
When my bankroll is getting smallI think of when I had none at all
And I fall asleep counting my blessings."

Cole Porter had it right. We can't worry, we have to count our blessings. In a way -- though I'm not sure of Mr. Porter's spiritual beliefs -- he wrote a song out of Philippians 4.

Paul, the apostle, wrote, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving in your heart, let your request be made know to God.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you."

Isn't that amazing? God, the Father, guards our hearts and minds with peace. It surpasses all "comprehension." Meaning, we can't understand it but boy howdy, we can go for it!

Porter to put music, "think on these things..."

There is no except to the rule. We can all live out what Paul is admonishing us to do. We just have to take our thoughts, and our emotions, captive.

This has been an amazing year for Tony and me. We started off the year just asking God to make His will for us known. We talked a lot about what was, what is, and what is to come in regards to our lives and ministry. His career. My career.

Then in March, God began to move. And speak. Things we'd said to each other were repeated back to us by a man of God. I knew then, "God listens," and I'll tell you, it put a holy fear in my bones.

A prayer I whispered at my dining room table was answered within four days when friends of our came to us with an amazing offer to by their house. We've been so blessed by this place it is starting to be a part of my DNA how good and great God is.

The house was really an answer to our prayer about finances. A crazy, wild, totally God answer. I would have never imagined a new home with a cool office as His answer to our financial prayer.

Toward the summer, I began to seek God about my writing. Go on, stop, hold the line? He began to open doors and present opportunities.

It's not all perfect. Church offerings fell off during the fall and all the pastors missed a few paychecks. Our washer broke. Had to get a new one. Tony ended up teaching one less class this year, so his salary was reduced.

With the new place, some of our living expenses went up a bit. Yet we've lacked for nothing! We have more than we need. And shoot, a good bit of what we want. How amazing is God?

I count my blessings. This Christmas, I want to be about gratitude, thankfulness, reflecting on my mighty, mighty God who loves me. And He loves you.

That's what Christmas is at the core: God becoming man because He loves us.

His Holiday Family by Margaret Daley

Please welcome my friend and ACFW President, Margaret Daley. Looks like she's at it again with another entertaining, and delightful release!

MD: When I decided to write a series about a town that goes through a hurricane, I wanted to give tribute to all the people who have gone through a disaster and rebuilt their lives. This series was written for the heroes and heroines who help others in a time of disaster.

Blurb for His Holiday Family by Margaret Daley:

When Hurricane Naomi tears through a small Mississippi town, a daring rescue unites two heroes. Nurse Kathleen Hart is a single mom racked by guilt over her husband's death. Firefighter Gideon O'Brien—orphaned as a young boy—has lost too many people he cared for. To rise above the storm's devastation, Gideon helps Kathleen and her sons rebuild their home. As Christmas approaches, they discover that even the strongest of storms can't destroy a romance built on the foundation of faith.

Excerpt from His Holiday Family:

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Gideon O'Brien hopped down from Engine Two and assessed the chaos in front of him. Strapping on his air pack, he started toward his captain. A hand gripped his arm and stopped his forward progress. He turned toward the blonde woman who held him, her large blue eyes glistening with tears. She looked familiar, but he couldn't place where he knew her from. His neighbor's daughter, perhaps?

"My two sons and my cousin—their babysitter—must still be inside. I don't see them outside with the other tenants." Her voice quivered. She tightened her hand on his arm and scanned the crowd. "I'm Kathleen Hart. My sons are Jared and Kip. I tried Sally's cell but she didn't answer. Please get them out." A tear slipped down her cheek.

"Where are they?" Gideon moved toward his captain, his palm at the small of her back, guiding her in the direction he wanted her to go. Yes, he realized, she was his neighbor Ruth Coleman's daughter.

"Sally's second-floor apartment is on the east side, the fourth one down on your right. Number 212. Hurry." Her round eyes fastened on the fire consuming the three-story apartment building on Magnolia Street.

Gideon paused in front of Captain Fox. "Mrs. Hart says her sons and babysitter are still inside. Pete and I can go in and get them." He looked toward the west end of the large structure where the men of Engine One were fighting the flames eating their way through the top level. "There's still time."

"Okay." His captain surveyed the east end. "But hurry. It won't be long before this whole building goes up."

The scent of smoke hung heavy in the air. The hissing sound of water hitting Magnolia Street Apartments vied with the roar of the blaze.

Gideon turned toward the mother of the two boys. "We'll find them." He gave her a smile then searched the firefighters for Pete.

When Gideon found him a few feet away, he covered the distance quickly. "Let's go. There are three people trapped on the second floor. East end."

At the main entrance into the building Gideon fixed his mask in place, glancing back at the blonde woman standing near his captain. He had seen that same look of fear and worry many times over his career as a firefighter. He wouldn't let anything happen to her sons and Sally.

Gideon switched on his voice amplifier and headed into the furnace with Pete following close behind him. Through the thick cloud suspended from the ceiling in the foyer, the stairs to the second floor loomed. Crouching, he scrambled up the steps. The higher he went, the hotter it became.