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Remember, I have moved my book reviews to their own blog. Tracy's Book Nook is now active.


Wednesday, December 31

The Curtain is Closing on 2008

The curtain is drawing closed on 2008, and what a year it has been for America and for most of us personally too! Ups and downs, wicked weather and even more wicked economic storms, history has been made with our Presidential election and scandal has been made with corporate and personal greed (Madoff) as well as miscellaneous public servants (i.e. politicians) living duplicitous lives.


But through it all Jesus remains and God is still on His throne! We may not be living the ‘good times’ right now, but we are not without hope. We may not know what the future holds, but we do know Who holds the future! And if we just keep our eyes on Him, the storm will not overtake us.


My last blog post was a book review of For these Tough Times, by Max Lucado. For my final blog post of 2008, I’d like to share a prayer Max included at the conclusion of the book. I hope you enjoy.


~~~


Dear Lord,

We’re still hoping we’ll wake up. We’re still hoping we’ll open a sleepy eye and think, “What a horrible dream. How could this have happened?”

We are sad, Father. And so we come to you. We don’t ask you for help; we beg you for it. We don’t request; we implore. We know what you can do. We’ve read the accounts. We’ve pondered the stories and now we plead, “Do it again, Lord. Do it again.”

Remember Joseph? You rescued him from the pit. You can do the same for us. Do it again, Lord. Remember the Hebrews in Egypt? You protected their children from the angel of death. We have children too, Lord. Do it again.

And Sarah? Remember her prayers? You heard them. Joshua? Remember his fears? You inspired him. The women at the tomb? You resurrected their hope. The doubts of Thomas? You took them away. Do it again, Lord. Do it again.

You changed Daniel from a captive into a king’s counselor. You took Peter the fisherman and made him Peter an apostle. Because of you, David went from leading sheep to leading armies. Do it again, Lord, for we need counselors today, Lord. We need apostles. We need leaders. Do it again, dear Lord.

Most of all, do again what you did at Calvary. What we saw in this tragedy, you saw there that Friday. Innocence slaughtered. Goodness murdered. Mothers weeping. Evil dancing. Just as the shadows fell on our children, the darkness fell on your Son. Just as our world has been shattered, the very child of Eternity was pierced.

And by dusk, heaven’s sweetest song was silent, buried behind a rock.

But you did not waver, O Lord. You did not waver. After your Son lay three days in a dark hole, you rolled the rock and rumbled the earth and turned the darkest Friday into the brightest Sunday. Do it again, Lord. Turn this Calvary into an Easter.

Thank you for these hours of prayer.

Let your mercy be upon all who suffer. Grant to those who lead us wisdom beyond their years and experience. Have mercy upon the souls who have departed and the wounded who remain. Give us grace that we might forgive and faith that we might believe.

And look kindly upon your church. For two thousand years you’ve used her to heal a hurting world.

Do it again, Lord. Do it again.

Through Christ, Amen.



HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Tuesday, December 30

Ta-Da! My New Blog Look

Ok, here is the new look that I've chosen to get me through for the next few months. I will be working on my "permanent" look and hope to unveil it for my blogiversary, which is coming up in April. This is a lot of work! But in the end it's worth it, I think.


In this look, I've tried to make it easier to read by lightening the background and de-cluttering somewhat (which was accomplished by adding the tabs at the top). Also, I now have the date back, which I had lost in the last template. I do have some more work to do on this, but for the most part it's ready.


I'd love to know what you think! If I typically display your blog on my blogroll and you find that it's not there, I think I've missed some. Simply notify me, by clicking the Contact tab at the top, and I will re-add your blog to my list. As always, thank you for reading and for your encouraging words! I love my bloggy friends! Blessings and Happy New Year!

Monday, December 29

A New Look for the New Year

Hi Everyone!

As much as I've enjoyed my pretty pink blog, it is time for a change. I really don't enjoy doing all the work that is required in changing my blog and hope this is the second to last time for quite awhile. With the New Year beginning, I want to start out fresh with a new look. This is not the look I want permanently (I'm still really working on that), but am happy to have found a template I can live with for a bit. It is pretty and wintery (ok, Christmasy, but we can pretend it's all about winter), isn't as busy or as dark and is much easier to read.

I will be taking my blog offline for a brief time, beginning tomorrow, so that I can make the changes I need to make and customize it. Obviously this is a process that takes a lot of time and effort, but I hope to unveil the new look on New Years Day.

In the meantime, I wish you all have a very Happy New Year and a Blessed and Prosperous 2009!

Tuesday, December 23

Glory to God in the Highest ~ Word-Filled Wednesday


This is my contribution to the meme Word-Filled Wednesday. For more beautiful pictures with inspiring Scripture, please visit The 160 Acre Woods, home of WFW.

Thank you, God, for the gift of Your Son, sent for us over 2000 years ago. May we never forget the cost.

Thank you, Jesus, for the gift of Your life, spent and spilled for us nearly 2000 years ago. May we never forget the sacrifice.

Thank you, wonderful readers, for the gift of your time, words and encouragement to me. I pray that the Lord will bless you abundantly for your giving. May I never take you for granted.

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

Choosing Life at Christmas ~ 'Tis the Season Indeed!

This is my latest Choosing Life column at Take Root and Write, which posted yesterday. I hope you enjoy. Ladies, if you'd like to read other fabulous columns in a great variety of topics, please check out Take Root and Write. Blessings and Merry Christmas!

~~~

‘Tis the season, indeed! By now, I’m sure we’ve all been inundated with everything Holiday, a lot of which is probably without the Christ aspect. Now more than ever, it is imperative that we as Christians are in the world, not of the world. For us, Christ is (or should be) the reason for Christmas! So how do we choose life at Christmas time? By choosing to be mindful of and embracing the true spirit of Christmas.

I love to give and get gifts, for Christmas or any other time, for that matter. In fact, that is one of my primary love languages. I love unwrapping gifts, I love looking at all the pretty packages under the tree, I love the anticipation of unwrapping gifts, and I love seeing how someone I care about reacts to receiving a well thought out gift. All of that is to say this: I think that gift giving and receiving at Christmas is a lovely expression of our affection for the people we love. HOWEVER, we must never forget the true spirit of Christmas.

I’ve mentioned that twice now, the true spirit of Christmas. So what do I mean by that? I’m sure if you ask that to 100 different people you’ll get 100 different answers! But, to me, the true spirit of Christmas is first of course, the birth of Jesus, and second, being an extravagant giver. The birth of Jesus was a miracle and it paved the way for the redemption of mankind. The birth of Jesus was as great as it was humble – the birth announcement was given by angels, the gifts were brought by kings and first visitors were lowly shepherds. And the birth of Jesus was the perfect example of extravagant giving – from God the Father, to us, His children.

Being an extravagant giver is not about spoiling our children with all of their wants, or giving meaningless gifts to everyone regardless of the relationship we have with them, and it’s certainly not about going into debt to have Christmas. On the contrary, that is choosing death, not choosing life. Being an extravagant giver is giving with your heart and it doesn’t matter who the recipient is – you may not even know them. But it is giving without thinking of receiving and it is giving cheerfully and it may even be giving sacrificially. Again, I’m talking about much more than money or gifts that money can buy, though obviously that is included.

Christmas is called the most wonderful time of the year – there’s even a song about it. But to many people, it’s not. To them, it’s a long, drawn out period of time which is painful and they dread it coming every year. Sorrow, pain, poverty and loneliness seem much bigger during the holiday season. If you’ve lost a loved one, are in a bad marriage or have no family, there is a loneliness that exists that is both oppressive and destructive, especially during the holiday season. This can also be a particularly difficult time for our military who may be all alone and thousands of miles away from home, often times in hostile and dangerous areas (please I implore you, don’t forget about them). Whatever the cause, it’s hard to see beyond the pain of your own situation.

Consequently, it’s no surprise that self-destructive and emotion-numbing behavior tends to increase this time of year. It’s a sad reality for those in the world, but what about those in the church? Isn’t God enough? While the easy, and patronizing, answer is yes, the reality is much different. When someone feels all alone in the world, they may know that God is with them and loves them even, but it does not negate the fact that deep down they know they were created for relationships. God said it Himself in Genesis 2:18, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” The sad fact is that there are many even within the walls of the church who are feeling loneliness to the point of despair, especially this time of year.

What about those who live in poverty? As a child, when I believed in Santa, I didn’t understand why, as good as I tried to be, I was never good enough to get what I wanted for Christmas. When I was old enough, I realized why – it was because we were poor. I know what it is like to experience Christmas mornings, knowing it’s only because of the church, Salvation Army, or another charity, that we kids had anything to open at all. Now, as a mother, I can’t even imagine how difficult that must have been for my own single-mom. But as bad as we had it, I realize now that it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. For far too many others, receiving a gift of clean water for drinking, a goat for milking, immunizations to be combat disease, a coat to stay warm, a blanket to ward off the cold of sleeping outside, or even having a place to escape to so they can leave the horror of forced prostitution, is a life, and hope, giving blessing that cannot be underestimated in worth.

How do we choose life, during the busy, hectic and far-too commercial Christmas season? By looking beyond ourselves. It’s easy to see, if we will just look. Things are tough right now in the U.S., there’s no doubt about that. But for most of us, if we were to be honest, it wouldn’t hurt us in the least to go without the latest gadget, or cut down on the latte’s. If we choose to see the need that is all around us, we can also see that there is probably something we can do to help – even if it doesn’t seem like much to us. That is choosing life. No one can do everything, but everyone can do something. This year, my husband and I have decided to give to World Vision, in lieu of exchanging gifts with each other. Please understand, I’m not trying to make you do the same, or even something similar, this is just something we feel compelled by the Lord to do.

Most of us can give something of financial value, even if it seems to be of low value to us. That is the miracle of multiplication – God can take our little amount and multiply it with others, to do something really significant. Of course, if we have more to give, that is even better.

But can we go beyond giving something of financial value? Of course! Caring for and showing kindness and concern to someone who is hurting and alone can make all the difference in the world. Phone calls, cards, letters, prayers and gifts are all things that can be done to help someone who is hurting to get through the season. That is choosing life. Most importantly though, bringing them into your home and family for dinner, or to simply spend time together, is not only choosing life, but it can truly be life-giving.

Beyond that, there are so many organizations that you can donate your time, talent and/or treasures to all the time, but again especially this time of year. With all the options out there to be actually be an extravagant giver, surely there’s something that suits you.

Some of you, who are reading this, may be experiencing any of the situations I’ve talked about or many more that I have not. How do you choose life? It is still by taking your eyes off yourself. In the pain you may be feeling, that is probably not easy, and I truly do understand that because I’ve been there. But if you reach out to others and reach out to God, and do something that is beyond yourself, I have no doubt that God will meet you where you are and touch your life in a powerful way. He is faithful, He does love you and He did choose you.

So this year, please join me in choosing life during Christmas. This season more than ever we should look and see to find a need and fill it, find a hurt and heal it. That is Choosing Life!

“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.’” ~ Luke 2:8-11

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” ~ John 3:16

Monday, December 22

More From 'He Said, She Said'

Hi Everyone! Just in case you're interested, Jeff and I have each published a new blog post on our team blog He Said, She Said. It's the latest in our giving at Christmas series. We'd love to know what you think! Blessings and have a very Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 20

Wishing You...


Tuesday, December 16

For God So Loved ~ WFW



This is my contribution to the meme Word-Filled Wednesday. For more beautiful pictures with inspiring Scripture, please visit The 160 Acre Woods, home of WFW.

The Christmas Season is about giving. It exists because God gave. We celebrate it because we celebrate Him and we follow His example by giving to others. It doesn’t have to be a pretty package, but it can be. It can also be a smile, a compliment, a kindness, a dinner invitation, a phone call or a little extra grace and mercy as we go about our day. God gave because He loved. What a better way to express our love for God, than by showing and sharing His love to others. Merry Christmas!

Conscientious Consumer ~ Levi's

It has become abundantly clear to me, that America is in such moral decline, because we Christians have allowed it to happen. Because most of us have not wanted to get involved in politics, media, entertainment and consumerism, we have simply turned our nation over to the enemy. Did we really think it wouldn’t affect us? Did we really think we would accomplish anything by sticking our heads in the sand (which, by the way, leaves a very big target out in the open)?

It really doesn’t take a scholar to see that our history is being revised, our Constitution is being twisted, our entertainment (all forms) have been perverted and our political and financial systems are fraught with greed, deception and dishonor. It can be pretty depressing, come to think of it! But there is hope! There are people, Christians, out there who are trying to make a difference. If we would only get involved personally, or support those who are, I believe we could really make a difference.

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” ~ 2 Chron. 7:14

The reason I bring this up, is because I’ve just seen two highly disturbing, well, disgusting really, Levi’s commercials. I’m a jeans type of girl and have worn Levi’s for literally decades, so I was shocked and offended at both of these scandalous commercials. And I decided that it was time for me to do more than just complain about it. I decided it was time for me to put on my Superhero cape and become A Conscientious Consumer! My first order of business in this new role was to email the advertising department of Levi Strauss & Co. about my… concerns.

In case you haven’t seen both, or either, of the ads, and want to, I’ll include the Youtube videos and links to the videos. If you would like to read my complaint, it is included below. If you would like to join me, in being silent no more, I’m including the link (select advertising) to Levi's and encourage you to post this on your blog (if you have one) as well. Together, we can bring back decency and good moral fiber to America!


Levi’s Commercial, Secrets and Lies ~ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S83u8eQ6acA&NR=1

video

Levi’s Commercial, First Time ~ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lk5sBagFzB4

video

My Email to Levi Strauss and Co:

I am a woman who just turned 40, so I have literally been wearing your product for decades. It really saddens me to see the new low your advertising department has sunk to, with your most recent commercial. Frankly, I find it to be disgusting and am highly offended by it. Typically, I purchase Levi's for my husband for Christmas, but I can assure you that will not be happening this year. Nor will I purchase them for either of us, or any children we may have in the future, if this disgusting advertising trend continues. Your company has been around for more than a century and is a mainstay in America and around the world. I don't honestly believe you need to sink to this level to get sales, do you? It might serve you well to remember that you are selling a well-made item, that is both useful and fashionable, not pornography.

I'm sure that my humble opinion probably doesn't matter much to you, but I assure you there are many more that feel the same way, but won't be bothered to share their concerns, rather they'll simply stop buying from you. It's a shame, really.

Sincerely,

A Conscientious Consumer

Monday, December 15

Wasilla Bible Church

I’m sure most of you have heard that Sarah Palin’s home church in Wasilla, AK was seriously damaged by arson recently and has suffered $1 million in damage. The event itself is very sad, but for me, what’s even worse is the fact that I’m not at all surprised by this cowardly act. In case anyone is interested in supporting this church during their time of need, you can make donations to:

1. Please make your check payable to: Wasilla Bible Church

2. Mail your check to:
Wasilla Bible Church1651 W. Nicola AvenueWasilla, Alaska 99654

Saturday, December 13

Wishing You...


Friday, December 12

A Small White Envelope

This came to me just today, in the form of an email (thank you, Denise). I have no idea if it is true or not, but either way it is a beautiful story for the Christmas Season. Since it made me get all teary-eyed, I thought I'd share it with you. I hope you enjoy it, and pray that you have a happy, healthy and blessed Christmas!

~~~

It's just a small white envelope stuck among the branches of our Christmas tree. No name, no identification, no inscription. It has peeked through the branches of our tree for the past 10 years or so.

It all began because my husband Mike hated Christmas --oh, not the true meaning of Christmas, but the commercial aspects of it – the overspending, the frantic running around at the last minute to get a tie for Uncle Harry and the dusting powder for Grandma -- the gifts given in desperation because you couldn't think of anything else.

Knowing he felt this way, I decided one year to bypass the usual shirts, sweaters, ties, and so forth. I reached for something special just for Mike. The inspiration came in an unusual way. Our son Kevin, who was 12 that year, was wrestling at the junior level at the school he attended.

Shortly before Christmas, there was a non-league match against a team sponsored by an inner-city church. These youngsters, dressed in sneakers so ragged that shoestrings seemed to be the only thing holding them together, presented a sharp contrast to our boys in their spiffy blue and gold uniforms and sparkling new wrestling shoes.

As the match began, I was alarmed to see t hat the other team was wrestling without headgear, a kind of light helmet designed to protect a wrestler's ears. It was a luxury the ragtag team obviously could not afford.

Well, we ended up walloping them. We took every weight class. And as each of their boys got up from the mat, he swaggered around in his tatters with false bravado, a kind of street pride that couldn't acknowledge defeat.

Mike, seated beside me, shook his head sadly, 'I wish just one of them could have won,' he said. 'They have a lot of potential, but losing like this could take the heart right out of them.' Mike loved kids, all kids, and he knew them, having coached little league football, baseball, and lacrosse.

That's when the idea for his present came. That afternoon, I went to a local sporting goods store and bought an assortment of wrestling headgear and shoes and sent them anonymously to the inner-city church. On Christmas Eve, I placed the envelope on the tree, the note inside telling Mike what I had done and that this was his gift from me. His smile was the brightest thing about Christmas that year and in succeeding years...

For each Christmas, I followed the tradition --one year sending a group of mentally handicapped youngsters to a hockey game, another year a check to a pair of elderly brothers whose home had burned to the ground the week before Christmas, and on and on. The envelope became the highlight of our Christmas.

It was always the last thing opened on Christmas morning, and our children, ignoring their new toys, would stand with wide-eyed anticipation as their dad lifted the envelope from the tree to reveal its contents. As the children grew, the toys gave way to more practical presents, but the envelope never lost its allure. The story doesn't end there.

You see, we lost Mike last year due to cancer. When Christmas rolled around, I was still so wrapped in grief that I barely got the tree up. But Christmas Eve found me placing an envelope on the tree, and in the morning it was joined by three more. Each of our children, unbeknownst to the others, had placed an envelope on the tree for their dad.

The tradition has grown and someday will expand even further with our grandchildren standing around the tree with wide-eyed anticipation watching as their fathers take down the envelope. Mike's spirit, like the Christmas spirit, will always be with us. May we all remember Christ, who is the reason for the season, and the true Christmas spirit this year and always.

God Bless! Please pass this along to those friends and loved ones who you know are the givers who understand the true meaning of Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Tuesday, December 9

Takin' the Time

This is the time of year, in which a lot of us typically think about… well, time. The current year is drawing to a close and the New Year is about to begin. We reflect on what we’ve experienced throughout this current year and dream about what we’ll experience next year. Sometimes we’re happy to see a particular year end, because it’s been filled with difficulty and trials, other times we ponder the abundant blessings the year has brought us.

During the Holiday Season, there never seems to be enough time and we are frequently far busier than we should be. We rush around in frantic fashion, going from this event to that, constantly cooking and cleaning, and doing shopping for and wrapping of gifts. How can we enjoy the season if we’re too busy to experience the joy of the season?

Time is a precious commodity, and we all have just a certain amount of it. The Bible tells us to ‘redeem the time,’ to make the most of it. Once it’s gone, it’s gone, there’s no getting it back or making more of it. At the end of our days, we don’t want to look back and think about all of the busy times, but rather we want to think about the special, meaningful times, and have our memories filled with warmth and love, instead of emptiness and regret.

The activities I mentioned previously are all good things, as long as the business doesn’t overtake the joy and meaning of the Christmas Season. If you’re stressed and overloaded this time of year, try to make a conscious effort to slow down, take a break and enjoy. It’ll do you good to relax a bit. Take some time to think about the reason for celebrating – the birth of Jesus and the love of family and friends. I guarantee you it will be time well spent!

Ordinary days and activities do have a place in our lives, and we should be productive, but we must be mindful to seize the moments that come our way that are filled with joy, beauty, laughter, love and life. This is to build memories and to not just get through our time here, but to enjoy the journey. At the end of my days, I want to remember that through it all, I loved, and lived, life. Don’t you?

"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the number of moments that take our breath away." ~ Unknown

Friday, December 5

Wishing you...


Wednesday, December 3

More From 'He Said, She Said'

Hi Everyone! Just in case you're interested, Jeff and I have each published a new blog post on our team blog He Said, She Said. We'd love to know what you think! Blessings!

More Blessed to Give ~ Word-Filled Wednesday


This is my contribution to the meme Word-Filled Wednesday. For more beautiful pictures with inspiring Scripture, please visit The 160 Acre Woods, home of WFW.

The Season of Giving is upon us. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year – but not for everyone. Now, I think more than ever, we must be mindful to give – a smile, a compliment, a kindness, a dinner invitation, a phone call, whatever is necessary to fulfill a need. So many people are hurting right now and this time especially, we should find a need and fill it, find a hurt and heal it. That’s what God did for us…

Monday, December 1

An Update On... Me!

It’s official. I can no longer pretend that I have not reached middle-age! Today is the 11th anniversary of my 29th Birthday – or if you don’t want to do the math that means it’s my 40th Birthday. So, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!!! Ok, now that I have the shameless, and obnoxious, plug out of the way…

I have to admit, that turning 40 hasn’t bothered me that much, other than the fact that it just sounds weird when I apply it to myself. And we really do want to have another baby, and being older tends to complicate things in that area. But, I have learned to appreciate, uh, maturing, because I have found that I really do get better with age. And from what I’ve experienced, each decade has been better than the last. I feel none of the angst or depression that often seems to accompany this milestone birthday, I really am good with it.

One thing I am really excited about is that I did complete NaNoWriMo 2008, which means that I wrote a novel in 30 days. My final word count is 52,518! Yes, it still has a lot of work that’s needed as for editing and such, but I did it! This is a great accomplishment regardless, but it was a goal of mine to write a novel before my 40th birthday, and I did it! I’ll do a blog post soon with the extended synopsis of my novel and periodically, I’m sure I’ll update you on the status too. Like all writers, I hope this first novel is not my last, and that one day I’ll be published. We’ll see if that’s what God has for me.

With the Holidays upon us, things get crazy and hectic and I’m sure we will all be around a bit less in this blogging world. I’m taking some time to really think and pray about what my blog will look like next year. This includes content as well as aesthetically. I have a couple of ideas, but will turn them over to the Lord to see what He thinks about it all. I am confident that I will continue to post a “Love Letter” each Monday from the book His Princess. In addition, I’ll be getting back on track for continuing my series on Choosing Life.

I’d like to offer thanks, one more time, to all of you who have encouraged me, supported me and helped me to grow through this first year of blogging. I’ve made some wonderful friends, read some amazing blogs and have grown not only in my writing and blogging journey, but in my spiritual journey as well. Thank you all for the part you’ve played in this.

I’m really excited to be able to begin reading and commenting more on all of the wonderful blogs I’ve missed, while I took time away for NaNo. God bless you all! ~ Tracy


P.S. By the way, I am the featured guest writer this week in the Writer’s Lounge. If you’d like to read my article, all you have to do is click here.

Saturday, November 29

Love and Marriage

Sometimes you’ve just got to laugh. I hope you enjoy!

~~~

A very old man lay dying in his bed. In death's doorway, he suddenly smelled the aroma of his favorite chocolate chip cookie wafting up the stairs. He gathered his remaining strength and lifted himself from the bed.

Leaning against the wall, he slowly made his way out of the bedroom, and with even greater effort forced himself down the stairs, gripping the railing with both hands. With labored breath, he leaned against the door frame, gazing into the kitchen. Were it not for death's agony, he would have thought himself already in heaven.

There, spread out upon newspapers on the kitchen table were literally hundreds of his favorite chocolate chip cookies. Was it heaven? Or was it one final act of heroic love from his devoted wife, seeing to it that he left this world a happy man?

Mustering one great final effort, he threw himself toward the table. The aged and withered hand, shaking, made it's way to a cookie at the edge of the table, when he was suddenly smacked with a spatula by his wife. “Stay out of those,” she said, “they're for the funeral.”

Wednesday, November 26

Take a Stand

I just received this in an email.

Here's your chance to let the media know where the people stand on our faith in God, as a nation. NBC is taking a poll on "In God We Trust" to stay on our American currency. Please send this to every Christian you know so they can vote on this important subject. Please do it right away, before NBC takes this off the web page. Poll is still open so you can vote.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10103521/

I'll bet this was a surprise to NBC. Let's all take a stand and show our belief. I for one am tired of the loud few, trying to take away everything we believe and stand for.

My Thanksgiving Thankful



This is my official Thanksgiving Thankful post. It was first published at Julie Arduini’s blog, The Surrendered Scribe this last Monday. In case you missed it there, I’m publishing it here in its entirety, with a little extra ‘thankful’ added at the end. What are you thankful for this year?

~~~

It is the time of year to start thinking of what I’m thankful for. Actually, I’ve been thinking about it for quite awhile, as you may know if you ever read my “Thankful Thursday” posts. This is a special post I’m doing to really give thanks for the amazingly blessed life I have, as well as to participate as a guest writer for the amazing Julie Arduini, at her blog The Surrendered Scribe. Julie is participating in “NaBloPoMo Challenge” (see http://www.nablopomo.com/) to do 30 posts in 30 days, using guest writers.

I realize that I have a great life, full of many things to be grateful for. There is one thing in particular that I’d like to focus my thankfulness on. God has blessed me with a wonderful family of my own.

See I didn’t grow up in a healthy, functional home and for the first 30+ years of my life, I felt that I was all alone. I wasn’t an orphan, but it sure seemed that way. I had good relationships with friends, but it wasn’t the same. I always felt I was lacking something very significant in my life (other than the obvious – God). Holiday’s, birthday’s, vacation’s – they all seemed empty and I was always lonely.

When I was 30, I finally got saved. That helped a lot. I had a new, amazing relationship with my Father God. For this I was, and remain, thankful. But still, I was alone. I think it was good to be alone for a time with my Father – it gave me time to really know Him intimately. But after a time, the longing for a family of my own returned with a vengeance. And God heard my prayers and gave me the desires of my heart. Now I’ve been married nearly 7 years and have a 13-month old daughter, and I see that I truly do have an Eph. 3:20 family (Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us).

I am thankful for my husband Jeff, who is my partner, my best friend and the love of my life. I hold him in the highest esteem. He is a wonderful husband, father, and man of God. He inspires me to be a better person and the best me I can be. His love for Sweet Pea and I, is surpassed only by His love for God. He is a hard worker, honor and integrity go to the very core of his being. He makes me laugh, helps me cry and leads me in our life. All of the years of loneliness were worth it to finally get the man God had for me.

I am thankful for my little Sweet Pea. She is the joy of my life. I waited a very long time for her, but again, the wait was worth it. I know understand how powerful, how fierce, love can be. As I watch her learn and grow, I am getting glimpses of the person she is to be. There is nothing I wouldn’t do for her, there is no sacrifice I wouldn’t make for her. I pray constantly that I would be a good mother and raise her in the ways of God. I understand the importance of me being a good leader to her, so that one day she’ll be a great leader in the Kingdom of God.

And I am thankful for my Father, who has given me so many good and perfect gifts. I remember what it was to be without Him and can honestly say that I am nothing without Him. His love and forgiveness are more to me than life itself. I hope to never stop growing in His ways and to always become more like Jesus. While I’m not as far as I’d like to be, I thank God that I’m no longer where, or who, I was! All praise to Him!

~~~

In addition to the above things that I am so grateful for, I’d like to offer thanks for one more thing. Living in the Phoenix area, we don’t experience Holiday weather the way many people around the country do. But this year is different! For the first time since I can remember, we will be celebrating Thanksgiving with unseasonably cool temperatures and rain. It is forecasted to be only in the low to mid 60’s on Thanksgiving Day, which to many of you I’m sure is actually quite warm, but for us, when the temps are usually in the 80’s (or even 90’s!) this time of year, this is a treat! So I’m Thankful for cooler temps and rain for Thanksgiving! Hallelujah!!!

Tuesday, November 25

Sick Little Sweet Pea

Hi Everyone! For the last few days, my little Sweet Pea has been fighting a fever. She seems to be on the road to getting better. We had pictures done on Saturday, and this one will show how she's been for the last three days. She's still awfully cute though! Blessings!

Monday, November 24

Today's the Day

Whohooo! My big day has arrived! As I mentioned last Thursday, my writing is being featured in two separate places, besides here at Seed Thoughts. Unfortunately, a have a sick little one, so this will be a brief post, but I would be thrilled if you were to check out my other two posts and let me know what you think.

The first is a Thankful post that is being featured on Julie Arduini’s The Surrendered Scribe blog. She is participating in NaBloPoMo, which is National Blog Posting Month, which challenges participants to post 30 blog posts in 30 days. She has chosen the topic of ‘Thankful’ and is featuring a different guest writer each day of the month. I am so thankful that she has allowed me to participate and bring my biggest ‘Thankful’ of the year to her blog. The title of the post is Thankful For the Wait. If you haven’t been over to read some truly amazing ‘Thankful’ blog post, I highly recommend you do. I’m sure it’ll bless your socks off!

The second is at Take Root and Write, an online collaboration of Christian women writers, who compose words of encouragement, insight and thought for the journey we are all on. I am honored and blessed to be regular monthly contributor there. My monthly column will be an extension of the series I’m doing here on my blog and will be called ‘Choosing Life’. The title of my first post is called Why Choose Life.

Thank you so much, to all of you who are so wonderful about reading and commenting on my posts and for all of the encouragement you’ve given me along the way. NaNoWriMo is nearly over and I’ll be back visiting you soon. Blessings!

Friday, November 21

My Little Sweet Pea

I don’t do a lot of “Mommy” post, but please, indulge me in this one. My baby is growing up. Sweet Pea is now 14-months old. She can walk, but doesn’t do it much. She no longer looks like a baby at all – she’s now a toddler in looks as well as age. She finally gave up the bottle a couple of weeks ago and is now solely on the sippy-cup.

Of course, all of this is to be expected. As time passes, babies grow, and that’s a good thing. Crawling, then walking, developing as a toddler, I’m so happy to see this all happening as it should be. Still, I miss some of the truly baby stuff, though that doesn’t include middle of the night feedings.

I’m so enjoying her right now. I’m blessed to be able to stay at home with her and I treasure that. She delights me! When I hear her singing her own little songs it warms my heart. I feel an explosion of joy when I hear her laugh. And lately, she’s begun dancing. To see her little tushie shaking and moving to the music just makes me melt!

So this post is for my little Sweet Pea, my precious little baby who is now growing into a very special little girl. I pray that I will always enjoy her, whatever stage she’s in and that God would give me the wisdom to train her up the way He wants me to, to help shape her into wonderful person He has created her to be.

Thank you for indulging me in this “Mommy” post. This morning as I watched her wiggling and jiggling to “The Bunny Song” from Veggie Tales, I was overwhelmed with love and pride and awareness of her growth, so I just had to record it. She is my greatest gift! Blessings to you, and all of your little ones too (even if they’re not so little anymore)!

Thursday, November 20

Writing For the Lord ~ Thankful Thursday


Well, here it is again - Thankful Thursday! I’m so happy to be able to offer up “Thanks” regularly for the many wonderful blessings I have, whether large or small, significant or mundane. I’d like to offer a special thank you to Iris at her blog, Sting My Heart for hosting this wonderful Meme. If you would like to participate or just read from more thankful hearts, pop on over to Thankful Thursday and join us.

This is going to be a slightly different ‘Thankful’ post for me today. The year is nearing the end, with a new, fresh year full of potential and new beginnings right around the corner. I was thinking about where have I changed or grown the most in this last year. Of course, it would have to be in being a mommy! But that’s a different post, for a different day. The other area that I have experienced great growth and change has been in my writing.

At the start of this year, I felt the Lord impress me to begin writing again and to be public about it. I had no idea what that looked like, but because He is faithful, he took over and has led me to where he wants me to be and He has guided my writing. I am so thankful for this and it is my desire to point others to Him and to give Him all the glory.

He led me to a wonderful site called FaithWriters, an online Christian Writing Group, which allowed me to first get my feet wet and do some writing, which would be commented on and critiqued. I am so grateful for FaithWriters because I did learn and grow in my writing very quickly, and it was there, that I discovered the wonderful world of blogging and was inspired to start my own blog – Seed Thoughts. And the best bonus of all, was the amazing group of writers that encouraged and inspired me, who have become wonderful friends. I am so thankful for each and every one of them. (You know who you are – go ahead, take a bow!)

In April of this year, I discovered blogging, and must say I was immediately hooked. I love this fantastic bloggy world. It is easy to look back and see how God has grown me in my writing, and more importantly, to see how He has used me to spread His word and offer encouragement to others. This blog, Seed Thoughts, has led to starting another one called He Said, She Said which is a team blog with my amazing husband. It gives us the opportunity to offer two perspectives of the same thing, from a man/husband view, to a woman/wife view. I am so thankful for the opportunity to blog on my own and with my husband, and I am so, so thankful for the faithful readers who honor me with their time and comments. Once again, the icing on the cake in the whole blog experience, has been the amazing group of fellow bloggers who continue to bless, challenge and inspire me regularly. The quality of the content of their writing and knowledge of the Word is superb, and I have grown from reading their insights.

As many of you know, I am also participating in NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writers Month, which challenges participants to write a whole novel, of at least 50,000 words, in 30 days. It has been a wild ride, an exciting challenge and a fun experience. It was a deep desire of mine to write a novel before my 40th birthday, and guess what? I will! The challenge runs from Nov. 1st – Nov. 30th and I turn 40 on December 1st. After a rough start, with losing a beloved pet, I am now doing very well and am ahead of schedule! I’m so thankful for this experience and for the motivation that it is giving me to go even further with my fiction writing.

Now, I have big writing day coming up, on Monday, Nov. 24th, 2008. In addition to my regularly scheduled Love Letter of the week, from the His Princess book by Sheri Rose Shepherd, I have two other places where my writing will be featured. I am amazed that God continues to allow me to do this and am so thankful for the continued opportunities.

The first is going to be featured on Julie Arduini’s The Surrendered Scribe blog. She is participating in NaBloPoMo, which is National Blog Posting Month, which challenges participants to post 30 blog posts in 30 days. Julie, who is a wonderful and Godly woman, has chosen a very distinctive way to achieve this. She has chosen the topic of ‘Thankful’ and is featuring a different guest writer each day of the month. As you can probably surmise, I am featured there on the 24th. I am so thankful that she has allowed me to participate and bring my biggest ‘Thankful’ of the year to her blog. If you haven’t been over to read some truly amazing ‘Thankful’ blog post, I highly recommend you do. I’m sure it’ll bless your socks off!

The second other place you’ll find me, is at Take Root and Write, an online collaboration of Christian women writers, who compose words of encouragement, insight and thought for the journey we are all on. I am honored and blessed to be regular monthly contributor there. My monthly column will be an extension of the series I’m doing here on my blog and will be called ‘Choosing Life’. There are many different topics and columns, with dozens of amazing Christian women writers. This is a place that I’m sure you’ll want to spend lots of time. It is a wonderful online ministry. I’m so thankful that Noelle has chosen me to be a regular monthly contributor and share in her vision of reaching and encouraging women as we all go through life together.

Thank you, Lord, for all of these amazing opportunities you’ve given me. You have given me a gift to write and words to say, and have caused me to grow greatly in this. Your faithfulness has never let me down and I know it never will. I know that I am merely your tool, and apart from you, I can do nothing. I am so thankful, blessed and humbled that You have chosen me. In Jesus’ precious Name, I pray. Amen

Wednesday, November 19

More From "He Said, She Said"

Hi Everyone! I just wanted to let you know that if you are interested, that both Jeff and I have recently posted on our team He Said, She Said blog. Jeff did a post called "Choices, Changes and Challenges", while I did a post called "The Times They Are A Changin'". We are really enjoying doing this together though we don't get to do it as often as we'd like at this point. This is the busiest time of year for Jeff at his job and of course, I'm still sluggin' through NaNoWriMo. Thanks for reading! Blessings to you!

The Joy of the Lord ~ Word-Filled Wednesday



This is my contribution to the meme Word-Filled Wednesday. For more beautiful pictures with inspiring Scripture, please visit The 160 Acre Woods, home of WFW.


I really love this Scripture and it has proven to be true in my own life many times. People sometimes believe that happiness and joy are the same thing, but they are not. Happiness is a feeling that develops through external circumstances, but circumstances change frequently because life happens, and the happiness that we experience is fleeting. Joy on the other hand, is more of an internal thing that is deep within you and it does not ebb and flow based on the circumstances we face. And it does strengthen us and helps us to get through the times that are difficult, trying or stressful. Like what I'm going through with NaNoWriMo! :-) How’s your joy today?

Tuesday, November 18

Journey Through the Land of NaNo

Hi Everyone! It is time once again to share my NaNoWriMo progress. Last week was actually quite productive (just don’t ask about the status of my house…) I’m pleased to announce that I am past the two-thirds mark and even ahead of schedule. Morgan (my MC) and I are having quite a journey together. I find myself amazed at the situations she has gotten herself into – despite my best of intentions. I’m really having a lot of fun doing this and am thrilled to be doing so well – my word count is now at 33,383, with twelve days left to finish.

However, I do miss reading and commenting on all the other amazing blogs I regularly check out. I will be back soon – I promise!

Friday, November 14

Some Much Needed Comic Relief

Needing a break from my own writing (I am now thoroughly consumed with my NaNoWriMo novel), and a good chuckle too, I decided to pull this one out. It always makes me laugh. I hope you enjoy it too! I did not write this, I just like to share it. Oh, and by the way, I’m now at nearly 28,000 NaNo words!

~~~

Excerpts From A Cat’s Diary


DAY 752 ~ My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while I am forced to eat dry cereal. The only thing that keeps me going is the hope of escape, and the mild satisfaction I get from ruining the occasional piece of furniture. Tomorrow I may eat another houseplant.


DAY 761 ~ Today my attempt to kill my captors by weaving around their feet while they were walking almost succeeded, must try this at the top of the stairs. In an attempt to disgust and repulse these vile oppressors, I once again induced myself to vomit on their favorite chair...must try this on their bed.


DAY 762 ~ Slept all day so that I could annoy my captors with sleep depriving, incessant pleas for food at ungodly hours of the night.


DAY 765 ~ Decapitated a mouse and brought them the headless body, in attempt to make them aware of what I am capable of, and to try to strike fear into their hearts. They only cooed and condescended about what a good little kitty I was...Hmmm. Not working according to plan......


DAY 768 ~ I am finally aware of how sadistic they are. For no good reason I was chosen for the water torture. This time however it included a burning foamy chemical called "shampoo." What sick minds could invent such a liquid? My only consolation is the piece of thumb still stuck between my teeth.


DAY 771 ~ There was some sort of gathering of their accomplices. I was placed in solitary throughout the event. However, I could hear the noise and smell the foul odor of the glass tubes they call "beer." More importantly I overheard that my confinement was due to MY power of "allergies." Must learn what this is and how to use it to my advantage.


DAY 774 ~ I am convinced the other captives of this household are flunkies and maybe snitches. The dog is routinely released and seems more than happy to return. He is obviously a half-wit. The Bird on the other hand has got to be an informant. He has mastered their frightful tongue (something akin to mole speak) and speaks with them regularly. I am certain he reports my every move. Due to his current placement in the metal room his safety is assured. But I can wait, it is only a matter of time.

~ Author Unknown

Tuesday, November 11

In Honor of Veteran's Day


Anyone who knows me at all, understands that am an ardent Patriot and proud Veteran of the United States Air Force. I love America with all my heart and believe that though we do have our problems, we are still the greatest nation on earth. As said so eloquently by one of my own personal heroes, President Ronald Reagan, “A troubled and afflicted mankind looks to us, pleading for us to keep our rendezvous with destiny; that we will uphold the principles of self-reliance, self-discipline, morality, and, above all, responsible liberty for every individual that we will become that shining city on a hill.”

My time is service was during peace time, so I have not personally seen the horrors of war. However, I do understand deeply that without a strong and ready military, during times of peace, there would be far more times of war. We must remember (to quote Barry Goldwater) that we only attain peace only through strength. In this post, I would like to thank and honor those I’m proud to share the title of Veteran with. Do to my NaNoWriMo commitment, I was unable to write my own post. The information below was borrowed from About.com: US Military. I hope you enjoy it and remember, if you like your freedom, thank a vet (I don’t mean myself)!

~~~

Many Americans mistakenly believe that Veterans Day is the day America sets aside to honor American military personnel who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained from combat. That's not quite true. Memorial Day is the day set aside to honor America's war dead.

Veterans Day, on the other hand, honors ALL American veterans, both living and dead. In fact, Veterans Day is largely intended to thank LIVING veterans for dedicated and loyal service to their country. November 11 of each year is the day that we ensure veterans know that we deeply appreciate the sacrifices they have made in the lives to keep our country free.

Armistice Day:
To commemorate the ending of the "Great War" (World War I), an "unknown soldier" was buried in highest place of honor in both England and France ( (in England, Westminster Abbey; in France, the Arc de Triomphe). These ceremonies took place on November 11th, celebrating the ending of World War I hostilities at 11 a.m., November 11, 1918 (the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month). This day became known internationally as "Armistice Day".

In 1921, the United States of America followed France and England by laying to rest the remains of a World War I American soldier -- his name "known but to God" -- on a Virginia hillside overlooking the city of Washington DC and the Potomac River. This site became known as the "Tomb of the Unknown Soldier," and today is called the "Tomb of the Unknowns." Located in Arlington National Cemetery, the tomb symbolizes dignity and reverence for the American veteran.

In America, November 11th officially became known as Armistice Day through an act of Congress in 1926. It wasn't until 12 years later, through a similar act that Armistice Day became a national holiday.

The entire World thought that World War I was the "War to end all wars." Had this been true, the holiday might still be called Armistice Day today. That dream was shattered in 1939 when World War II broke out in Europe. More than 400,000 American service members died during that horrific war.

Veterans Day:
In 1947, Raymond Weeks, of Birmingham Ala., organized a "Veterans Day" parade on November 11th to honor all of America's veterans for their loyal and dedicated service. Shortly thereafter, Congressman Edward H. Rees (Kansas) introduced legislation to change the name of Armistice Day to Veterans Day in order to honor all veterans who have served the United States in all wars.

In 1954, President Eisenhower signed a bill proclaiming November 11 as Veterans Day, and called upon Americans everywhere to rededicate themselves to the cause of peace. He issued a Presidential Order directing the head of the Veterans Administration (now called the Department of Veterans Affairs), to form a Veterans Day National Committee to organize and oversee the national observance of Veterans Day.

Congress passed legislation in 1968 to move Veterans Day to the fourth Monday in October. However as it became apparent that November 11th was historically significant to many Americans, in 1978, Congress reversed itself and returned the holiday to its traditional date.

Veterans Day National Ceremony:
At exactly 11 a.m., each November 11th, a color guard, made up of members from each of the military branches, renders honors to America's war dead during a heart-moving ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery.

The President or his representative places a wreath at the Tomb and a bugler sounds Taps. The balance of the ceremony, including a "Parade of Flags" by numerous veterans service organizations, takes place inside the Memorial Amphitheater, adjacent to the Tomb.

In addition to planning and coordinating the National Veterans Day Ceremony, the Veterans Day National Committee supports a number of Veterans Day Regional Sites. These sites conduct Veterans Day celebrations that provide excellent examples for other communities to follow.

Veterans Day Observance:
Veterans Day is always observed on November 11, regardless of the day of the week on which it falls. The Veterans Day National Ceremony is always held on Veterans Day itself, even if the holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday. However, like all other federal holidays, when it falls on a non-workday -- Saturday or Sunday -- the federal government employees take the day off on Monday (if the holiday falls on Sunday) or Friday (if the holiday falls on Saturday).

Federal government holiday observance (for federal employees, including military) is established by federal law. 5 U.S.C. 6103 establishes the following public holidays for Federal employees: New Year's Day, Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., Washington's Birthday (President's Day), Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day.

This federal law does not apply to state and local governments. They are free to determine local government closings (including school closings) locally. As such, there is no legal requirement that schools close of Veterans Day, and many do not. However, most schools hold Veterans Day activities on Veterans Day and throughout the week of the holiday to honor American veterans.

Veterans Day Around the World:
Many other countries honor their veterans on November 11th of each year. However, the name of the holiday and the types of ceremonies differ from the Veterans Day activities in the United States.

Canada, Australia, and Great Britain refer to their holidays as "Remembrance Day." Canada and Australia observe the day on November 11, and Great Britain conducts their ceremonies on the Sunday nearest to November 11th.

In Canada, the observance of "Remembrance Day" is actually quite similar to the United States, in that the day is set aside to honor all of Canada's veterans, both living and dead. One notable difference is that many Canadians wear a red poppy flower on November 11 to honor their war dead, while the "red poppy" tradition is observed in the United States on Memorial Day.
In Australia, "Remembrance Day" is very much like America's Memorial Day, in that its considered a day to honor Australian veterans who died in war.

In Great Britain, the day is commemorated by church services and parades of ex-service members in Whitehall, a wide ceremonial avenue leading from London's Parliament Square to Trafalgar Square. Wreaths of poppies are left at the Cenotaph, a war memorial in Whitehall, which was built after the First World War. At the Cenotaph and elsewhere in the country, a two-minute silence is observed at 11 a.m., to honor those who lost their lives in wars.

Have You Hugged Your Veteran Today?
One of the most personal and meaningful Veterans Day activities for people is to send notes or cards to hospitalized veterans or those living in veterans homes. Or, better yet, visit a veteran in a local veterans hospital or veterans home. The best way to have a "happy Veterans Day" is to do something special to make a veteran happy.

NaNoWriMo Update

Hi Everyone! After a rather rocky beginning, I’m to a point that I’m doing fairly well in the NaNoWriMo competition. It has been a lot of fun and a huge challenge too! Never having attempted writing something at this magnitude, I find myself discovering questions I never had to ask before. Like why won’t my MC behave, nor do what I want her too? Or, where on earth did that plot twist come from. Or which yet to be discovered character does this mysterious name that keeps stalking me, belong to? And where is the chocolate when I need it? Questions. Lots of questions. And there’ve been plenty of answers too (except the one about chocolate), but I can’t divulge those just yet. *Wink* It has been quite an adventure. That I’m sure of. At this moment, I am just beyond where I need to be on average. And I surpassed the “third of the way through” mark 2222 words ago, so I’m well on my way to the half-way point. Yeah!

One of the drawbacks to this though, is that I’ve had to drop some other “extra-curricular” activities. With a 13-month old running around, my time for doing these things is limited. Two of the things which I’ve had to give up (for now) is doing much writing for my blog, and reading, and commenting on, other blogs. So if you have a blog that I generally frequent and comment on, please forgive me for my absence. I still love you and your writing, and quite honestly I do miss it. Rest assured that I will return in December. Thank you so much, to all of you who have offered me support and encouragement along this journey. Blessings to you!

Friday, November 7

Desperately Seeking Jasmine ~ Fiction Friday

It is time once again for Friday Fiction, this week hosted by Julie at her The Surrendered Scribe blog. This was another entry in the FaithWriters Weekly Challenge. It was inspired by my beloved Prissy, who died last Sunday morning. The story is fiction, but the spirit of the series of events is true. The topic had to do with Hide and Seek. If you would like to read more great fiction, or participate, please go to Fiction Friday. I hope you enjoy the story.

~~~

“When are you going out to get it?” asked Dave quietly, looking toward the garage door.

“In a minute. I just want to get everything prepared,” replied Sara. “I’ve got to make sure she doesn’t think something is up.”

“Huh, good luck with that!”

Sara looked around, got her things together and started toward the garage.

“Be quiet,” he reminded her as she walked out the door. A moment later, he heard the door start to open, then a thud with the sound of metal clanking together. He turned his head just in time to see a quick flash. The spot Jasmine had been sleeping was now vacant.

Sara came through the door. By the look on her face, he could tell she knew she was too loud.

“She ran?”

“Yep, I’m telling you, she’s got ESP!”

“Oh no, I’ve got to find her. They’ll kill me if I cancel again.” She groaned knowing this was not going to be easy.

They both walked slowly through the house, calling for Jasmine. When she didn’t appear, they tried bribery. This too failed. After 10 minutes they knew she had defeated them again. Sara walked to the phone, picked it up and dialed.

“Thanks for calling Callie’s Clippers, how can I help you?”

“Uh, hi Callie, this is Sara, and I was supposed to be bringing Jasmine in, but uh…”

“She got away from you again, didn’t she?” Callie was laughing as she said it.

“Yeah, I really thought I could get her this time, but she’s hiding and won’t come out. We even tried bribery with the goodies she loves, but it didn’t work. I’m really sorry.” Sara knew Callie would understand, but still she felt bad for once again taking time out of her schedule.

“Sara, I get it. Trust me, this happens all the time. It’s why I overbook. Sure sometimes everyone makes it when they’re supposed to, but not often. Do you want to set up another appointment? I have time on Friday.”

“I’ll take it. I just have to get her in.”

“Ok, we’re set. I’ve got you down for Friday morning at 8:30AM. And Sara, why don’t you try restraining her first, like putting her in the bathroom until you’re ready to go? That’s what some of my other clients do.”

“Oh, that’s a great idea! Why didn’t I think of that? Thanks again and we’ll see you on Friday.”

“What’s a great idea?” asked Dave

“Callie suggested we put her restrain her first, like put her in the bathroom, then get my stuff together.”

“Mmm, yeah, I think that might work. Where are you going?” Dave asked as she was heading back toward the garage.

“I have to put the carrier back” she said, then stopped abruptly. “Dave, come here, please.”

“What’s up?” he asked, while walking to where she stood.

Sitting there in front of the door to the garage was a very large, very furry, somewhat matted calico cat, with a twitching tail and a mischievous gleam in its eye.

“Do you ever feel like we’re being mocked?” Sara asked, as the laughter began to roll out.


© 2008 Tracy Keck

Wednesday, November 5

Ishmael on "He Said, She Said"

Just in case any of you were wondering about the team blog I'm doing with Jeff, He Said, She Said, we both added our first posts this week. The topic we chose to write on is "Ishmael." So if you'd like to see what we had to say about that loaded topic, just go on over to He Said, She Said and check it out! Blessings

His Ways Are NOT Our Ways ~ Word-Filled Wednesday



This is my contribution to the meme Word-Filled Wednesday. For more beautiful pictures with inspiring Scripture, please visit The 160 Acre Woods, home of WFW.

I, along with many of you I'm sure, was disappointed at the outcome of the election. But as I sat there watching, stunned, with tears falling, God brought this Scripture to my mind. And He reminded me that He is still God, He is still in control, He still has a plan, and He is still on the throne! I knew I did what was required of me, by casting my vote according to my convictions, so in that regard, I did my job well. At this point, my new job is simply to trust God and pray for President-Elect Obama. And that is what I intend to do. Won't you join me?

Tuesday, November 4

NaNoWriMo and Heartbreak Update

For those of you who are interested in my NaNoWriMo progress, I have an update for you. I “re-discovered” NaNoWriMo and signed up on October 29th. It began on November 1st, so that didn’t leave me a lot of time to create, much less outline a plot. I did what I could do though. First, I thought up the title, then I created my book cover, and finally a brief synopsis. I had all of this accomplished by October 31st. I still have no outline, but I’m sort of winging it and filling that in as I go.

The basic plan was to do some writing on the weekend, but not a ton, because for me that is family time. But I knew Jeff goes to bed early, so I could do some fast writing between when he goes to bed and when I do. Ahh, best laid plans… They sound so good theoretically, but in reality, they don’t always work out the way intended.

Saturday night I got some writing done – about 700 words. It took awhile to get going and really find my storyline. That was ok for me though, because you only have to average 1667 words per day to make it to the goal of 50,000 in 30 days. I knew I could make up the deficit easily enough.

Then Sunday came. Many of you probably already know that while we were all getting ready for church, I discovered my beloved cat Prissy had died during the night. I was, and still am, devastated by this awful discovery. Sunday wasn’t a day for writing, or for church going either, but a day for crying and talking and remembering. I felt a sorrow that was overwhelming.

Since I’ve always had pets, I’ve also always had losses. And it hurts. I’ve never taken the death of a pet well. They have always been like children to me. It was just three months ago that we lost our beloved Ashley (our dog) and I still wasn’t completely healed from that. But there was a big difference between the two losses.

Ashley was really old, and had been in failing health for two years. We made sure she wasn’t suffering, but kept her with us and comfortable for as long as possible. We always made sure to love on her and we had time to prepare. The hurt was enormous, but we got to say goodbye in a better way. We knew the day was coming and expected it. We spent her last hours with her, and took her to the vet when it was time and stayed with her until she was gone. We loved on her, petted her, hugged her and she wasn’t alone when she died.

For Prissy it was different. I was preparing to take her to the vet for a senior screen – just to see how she was doing as she started aging. She appeared to be doing well. I was concerned about her weight, but not overly. I had no idea I would lose her so soon. Now I live with regret. Our last moments together were not spent in love. I was working on the computer, trying to get my story going. Prissy came up to my chair, like she would do periodically, and began meowing – loudly, because she wanted some attention. She wanted to be petted and loved on. But I was trying to focus on my story, so my response was not to simply drop my one hand and pet her as I worked. No, unfortunately, my response was a harsh, “Prissy stop! Go away!” And she did. I went to bed soon after and didn’t see her again until I found her, dead, in the morning.

Oh, how I wish I could take that back. I loved her so much, but in the final moments of her life I didn’t give her the loving she wanted. Now, I believe she knew that I loved her regardless, but it’s not the same. I wish I could have said goodbye to her in a much better way. I wish she hadn’t been alone when she died. I think she just died in her sleep, but still I wish I could have known. No, it wouldn’t have changed the final result, but it would have definitely changed my tone and attitude with her. She was never a bother, but that was the way I treated her the last time I saw her alive. And I’m so, so sorry for that.

Needless to say, the loss of my Prissy really took the wind out of my sails for writing for NaNoWriMo. With much effort, I began again yesterday. It was hard to focus because I miss her so much. And it certainly doesn’t help that she died in the office, laying just to the right of where I sit at the desk and type. I’m trying to get it together though, because I realize life does go on. I still cry, my heart still hurts and the grief is still very real, however, I do believe I will see her again in heaven.

In the meantime, my MC (main character) now has a cat. It’s just one way I can honor my Prissy as I work through this time of grief. I’ll be giving you more NaNoWriMo updates periodically. Thank you to everyone who has expressed interest in my progress, and to everyone who has offered kind words of comfort for my loss. Blessings!

NaNoWriMo Info:
~ Title: A Little Rain Must Fall
~ Book Cover: See Right Sidebar toward the top.
~ Word Count: 4202
~ Synopsis: Morgan Reynolds feels all alone in the world. Young, pregnant and unmarried, she finds herself in an impossible situation. With little hope for the future of the baby she’s carrying, there’s only one solution she can think of. When one mistake leads to an even bigger mistake she wonders, will she ever find the love she wants and the redemption she needs?

Sunday, November 2

A Heavy Heart, Again



Once again I come to my computer with a heavy heart. Today I said goodbye to another precious friend and fur-baby. My beloved cat Prissy died sometime while we were sleeping. (Needless to say, we did not go to church.) She was thirteen years old, and I’d had her for eleven years.

I’ve written of Prissy before. How she adopted me at PetSmart. If you’d like to read about that experience you can click here. She’d been abused before and was a very skittish cat. But we were a good fit. She needed to get acquainted in her way and in her time and I understood that. In my opinion, her beauty was beyond compare. She was a long-haired calico and the colors on her coat were stunning. She was a large kitty – about as round as she was tall.

She was a birthday gift to myself when I was a single gal living alone. Shadow followed within weeks after and it was the three of us for a few years. When Jeff and I got married, we became a blended family with us, my two cats and his dog Ashley. (Some of you may remember Ashley died just three months ago – if you’d like to read about that, you can click here.) And for two years it was just the five of us. Then along came two more cats – Salem and Mazzie. All of the family basically got along with a few tiff’s here and there. There was never any doubt though, that I was Prissy’s and she was mine.

Prissy remained rather aloof throughout the years. She kept her distance from the other animals, with the rare exception of Shadow, who had always attempted to get close to her. Once in awhile she’d get playful with him or they would sleep close together, but that was the exception rather than the rule. It has only been in recent years that she has even willingly come close to Jeff, allowing him to pet her. Prissy was never much of a cuddler, but once in awhile, on her terms, she would be a lap cat to me.

A fond memory I have of her, is her desire to groom me. Periodically while I slept, she’d get up by my head and start trying to clean me – till she got too much hair, that is. I know a lot of people would think, eew gross, but not me. I understood she was showing me love in the way that she could. Her own hair was a problem for her too. It was really long and thick, but because she was so fat, she wasn’t able to properly clean herself and if let go too long, it would become matted. So, I did what any loving cat-mom would do – I got her shaved down every eight months or so. She hated, hated, hated that process, but when it was done she was sooo happy, because then she could actually feel me petting her. When it was long and thick, she just didn’t get much out of petting because it didn’t feel like much to her. So after a shave-down (and a few hours of pouting would pass), she would practically stalk me to have me pet her!

Eleven years is a long time to love someone so much. She’s been with me in good times and bad. She brought me much comfort at times when I really needed it. She has given me much laughter and smiles, and now tears.

As I mentioned when we lost Ashley, I’m one of those Christians who believe that our beloved pets will be waiting for us in Heaven. I just don’t think a loving God would give us the capacity to love this much if death was just the end. I believe God loves the animals too and that Heaven will be full of them. My heart hurts so very badly right now, but I believe I will see my Prissy again in Heaven. When we lost Ashley, we bought a memorial stone to put in our yard. It says, “If tears could build a stairway and memories a lane, I’d walk right up to Heaven and bring you home again.” That is truly how I feel.

The pain of hurt is acute right now, but the joy of love is even stronger, because I know that in time the pain will lesson, but the love never will. I have many wonderful memories of my Prissy and they bring me comfort and make me smile. She was a wonderful pet, fur-baby, friend and companion for eleven years and I will always hold her in my heart. I know the grieving has just begun and it will lessen in time. For now though, I’ll cling to the memories, look at the pictures and know she is in a better place right now, waiting for me. Thank you for reading this and taking the time to get to know my Prissy just a little bit.

Saturday, November 1

Mexico Mission-Trip Memories

A wonderful writer, blogger and just plain ol’ good gal, is soon to be celebrating her 40th birthday. In honor of hitting that major milestone, Patty is doing a 40-day spotlight on Missions, called Missions Matter, on her Patterings blog. Throughout this 40-day journey, she is having guests write and share their own mission experiences or tell how a mission/missionary has impacted their life in some way. This is my contribution to Missions Matter. To read many more wonderful stories that relate to missions, and/or share your own story, please visit Missions Matter.



Many years ago, when I was first saved, the church I was attending had a mission trip to Mexico. In my own na├»ve way, I sort of understood there was a need, but to me it was, well, Mexico… I grew up in Arizona, I’d been to Mexico multiple times, and it just didn’t seem really exotic. But I was a new Christian and it was a mission trip, and I was excited! I just knew that I had something to offer. While that was true and in itself a good thing, I’ve since realized how prideful I was. It never occurred to me that I would bring back more than I could give.

Our church had a sister-church in Mexico that we were partnering with. We did a clothing drive before we left, with the intention of giving it all to our sister church to have on hand and distribute as they saw fit. I was a part of the team that went through the clothes, sorted into groups and sizes, etc. We had a ton of clothing dropped off, which should have been a good thing. Unfortunately, I was shocked and horrified at the amount of clothing that was given that was torn, completely stained, vulgar and offensive, or otherwise completely inappropriate! We salvaged what we could and though we threw away about half of it, we still managed to take down a decent sized load.

The specific plan for our mission trip was to help re-build a church that had burned down. Now, I’m not exactly a construction whiz, but even I understood how much more difficult it would be without basic construction equipment – like a bobcat for moving dirt, or an abundance of fantastic power tools to make it easier, faster or more fun! Everything was pretty much done by hand, including digging out, and moving, huge boulders. It was hot, and dirty, and very laborious. It was also fun, lively and extremely rewarding.

One day, we stopped construction early to go spend some time at “Cardboard City.” Of course, that term can sort of give you an idea of what is coming, but “sort of having an idea” and confronting the reality of the situation, are vastly different things. There was an area of land, outside of town and next to the local dump, which had become home to hundreds of the poorest of families. The dwellings were literally made from cardboard, which conveniently came from the dump next door. The sights and the smells were overwhelming.

To say that I never realized how rich I really was would be a GINORMOUS understatement! It was shocking and heartbreaking. But it was also enlightening. These families were just doing what they could to survive. They had next to nothing. The basic necessities were absent. But they made do. The families stuck together. Children were running around and playing, like American children would. But unlike American children, sticks and cans were their toys, and they were happy to have them.

One incident in particular is crystal clear in my mind. One of the gals on the trip was a truly delightful teenager. Kelly was passionate for God, and a very hard worker. She had also taken three years of Spanish, so she was a great translator too! When we were at “Cardboard City,” all the children were drawn to her – especially the girls. Kelly was young and very pretty, with blonde hair, blue eyes and braces. She hugged and loved on every child that approached her. They all wanted to touch her blonde hair and were totally fascinated by her “teeth jewelry.” In my own ignorance, it hadn’t even occurred to me that they wouldn’t know what braces where! Kelly was great about it all – she talked to them, explained what braces were and let them look closely at them, she let them play with her hair and just loved them! I realized even then that I was actually witnessing the love of God in action and what Jesus would do. That teenage girl taught me more about the heart and love of God than any preacher I’ve ever heard, to this day.

Before we left, we had church in a small metal building set on concrete. The service was in Spanish, there was no air conditioning or even seats, and worship was sung with an old tape player and tape – also in Spanish. But boy, did God meet us there in a huge way! I think most of us were completely broken at that moment. When it was time to leave we received hugs and smiles that would melt an iceberg. It was a far more somber group that went back that night. The experience was too great and precious for frivolity, and I think there was a lot of introspection being done, and I’m certain we all left a changed person.

When we left for home, I brought a souvenir. Of all the boulders that were found when we were doing construction, I personally found the three biggest, that had to be dug out and removed. I brought home the smallest of these three boulders. I cleaned it up and was delighted to see how pretty it really was. I then selected a Bible verse to paint on it, to remember this very special trip. Returning home, I knew I received far more than I had given. I had given my time, tons of sweat, and even some tears and blood. Among the many things I received was a compassionate heart, an awareness of just how blessed I really am, and memories that will last a lifetime!


Oh, and about the boulder. I still have it and it remains one of my most prized possessions. The Scripture that was painted on it is this:


“And on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven.” ~ Matt. 16:18-19

Friday, October 31

Super-Sarah Saturday #7










Well, here we are, at the last Super-Sarah Saturday before the election. It’s almost hard to believe that it’s finally here – the election, I mean. I believe this is the most crucial election our Nation has seen in a very long time. Since Sarah Palin was announced as John McCain’s running mate, she and her family have overcome an onslaught of hateful and vicious attacks, not by the candidates on the other side, but by the supporters of the candidates on the other side. She, and her family, have held it together, and have exhibited class the whole way through. As this journey has progressed, she has impressed me more and more. No matter what happens next week, I believe we will see much more of this lady in the future. So, without further adieu, I give you these final illustrations. (BTW, I probably should have posted these first because they relate to the Republican National Convention – oops!)









Wednesday, October 29

I'm Committed! Or... Maybe I Should Be?

I did it! I committed to participating in NaNoWriMo 2008! What is that, you ask? It is the National Novel Writing Month. Some of you know that writing, and reading, fiction is a passion of mine. And I have always dreamed of writing novels. So with that in mind, I have chosen to commit to writing a novel. GULP! In 30 days. DOUBLE GULP!! Yep, I’m committed, or maybe I should be. I guess that remains to be seen.



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National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.

Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.

Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It's all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that's a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.

As you spend November writing, you can draw comfort from the fact that, all around the world, other National Novel Writing Month participants are going through the same joys and sorrows of producing the Great Frantic Novel. Wrimos meet throughout the month to offer encouragement, commiseration, and—when the thing is done—the kind of raucous celebrations that tend to frighten animals and small children.

In 2007, we had over 100,000 participants. More than 15,000 of them crossed the 50k finish line by the midnight deadline, entering into the annals of NaNoWriMo superstardom forever. They started the month as auto mechanics, out-of-work actors, and middle school English teachers. They walked away novelists.

So, to recap:

What: Writing one 50,000-word novel from scratch in a month's time.

Who: You! We can't do this unless we have some other people trying it as well. Let's write laughably awful yet lengthy prose together.

Why: The reasons are endless! To actively participate in one of our era's most enchanting art forms! To write without having to obsess over quality. To be able to make obscure references to passages from our novels at parties. To be able to mock real novelists who dawdle on and on, taking far longer than 30 days to produce their work.

When: You can sign up anytime to add your name to the roster and browse the forums. Writing begins November 1. To be added to the official list of winners, you must reach the 50,000-word mark by November 30 at midnight. Once your novel has been verified by our web-based team of robotic word counters, the partying begins.

Still confused? Just visit the
How NaNoWriMo Works page!

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Needless to say, I will not be blogging, or reading, as much in November. Oh, I’ll still check in a bit, and I’ll definitely post the Monday “Love Letter from Your King”, but I won’t be doing a blog post every day. Am I excited? Yes. Am I scared? Heck yeah! But the point is, I’m doing it! Now, I’m being realistic here. I don’t believe this will be the next Great American Novel, but I’m sure the experience will be invaluable. Be sure to stop by and check out how I'm doing. I'll be adding a word-count widget soon. Thank you for your support and if you think of me, maybe send up a prayer, or two, or ten? :)

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” ~ Prov. 16:3

“And the Lord answered me and said, Write the vision and engrave it so plainly upon tablets that everyone who passes may [be able to] read [it easily and quickly] as he hastens by.” Hab. 2:2