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

Wednesday, July 30

Personally Speaking ~ 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 week I’d like to offer up thanks for things that pertain to me specifically. No, this is not intended to be an “all about me” post, but rather to recognize and appreciate the blessings I have personally received. These wonderful blessings are from my Father, but given through willing people, and for that I am grateful. I am thankful for:

~ A wonderful husband, who works a long, hard and often stressful day, then comes home and willingly attends to our little Sweet Pea, feeding her and getting her ready for bed, so I can have some “me” time to go work out and get in better shape.

~ The beautiful Art y Pico blog award that was given to me by another amazing and talented blogger, Darlene at her Everything to Me aka Puff’s Pocket blog. I was so honored that she would choose me and my blog for this great award. It really touched me.

~ The now loosely curled hair that I developed during my pregnancy with the above mentioned Sweet Pea. My hair has always been straight as a board, but now it has some body and bounce. It’s a lot of fun and I spend much less time on it.

~ The many new “friends” I’m making online at my blog and through FaithWriters and GodLinked, who encourage and support me regularly, and who bless me with their own words of wisdom and lessons learned.

Live, Laugh, Love ~ Scrapblog

Live well. Laugh often. Love much.
This is much more than just a nice saying.
~ Life is short, so we should always make the most of it and live it to the fullest.
~ Laughter really is the best of all medicines, healing to the heart and spirit, which filters through to the body.
~ Love that is given out, actually multiplies and returns back. Love forgives offense, endures separation, inspires selflessness and never dies.

Tuesday, July 29

FaithWriters and Cell Phones

My plan for today’s post was to talk about a particular organization that I support. But then I was reminded of another organization that is near and dear to my heart. So, I’ve decided to talk about both of them. The two organizations that I would like to draw attention to are FaithWriters and Cell Phones for Soldiers.

FaithWriters is a fantastic website, created by Scott Lindsay, that is a place for Christian writers of all levels and genre’s to come together and share their writing. There is a wonderful community of like-minded people that mentor, encourage and share information, from all over the world. There is a Weekly Writing Challenge, which is a lot of fun, but it also helps a writer to grow via the comments that are given. The online forum is truly like a family to many of the members. Besides the Writing Challenge, there is an area for regular article submission, with topics ranging from Christian Living to Politics, from Poetry to Devotionals, from Marriage to Fiction and anything in between.

There really are too many features and benefits to try and list them all here, but if you enjoy writing, regardless of where you may be on your writing journey, I encourage you to check out FaithWriters. There are two types of membership – free and an upgraded FaithWriters 500 membership which is a mere $10 per month (and I assure you, what you get out of it is worth far more than what you pay). Either type of membership will bless you though, and you’ll be accepted and encouraged wherever you may be as a writer. You may even find, like I did, a safe place to grow and call home. To visit FaithWriters, go to or simply click here.

Cell Phones for Soldiers is a wonderful, non-profit organization that provides pre-paid calling cards to our military men and women who are serving overseas, to be able to call home to the U.S. for free. So where do the cell phones come in? Most of us tend to change our cell phones somewhat often and we’re left wondering what to do with our previous, no longer any use to us, phone. In fact, it is estimated that Americans will replace roughly 130 million cell phones this year, with the majority of the phones that are being replaced either thrown away, or stuffed in a drawer. Cell Phones for Soldiers collect’s and recycles cell phones for cash to turn into pre-paid calling cards that are donated to our military personnel who are serving overseas. This allows them to be able to call home, without incurring the expense to do so. Each phone that is donated allows for about an hour of talk time. All six branches of the military are served (USAF, Army, National Guard, Navy, USMC, and Coast Guard).

This great charitable organization was created in 2004 by Brittney and Robbie Bergquist, a 13 year old girl and12 year old brother, who wanted to show their appreciation for the men and women who serve in the military overseas. They began with $21 of their own money and it has grown tremendously from there. To date, they have raised almost $1 million in donations and distributed over 400,000 pre-paid calling cards to troops overseas. If you would like to help out, but are not replacing your cell phone anytime soon, you may also make a cash donation. For more information, or to donate to Cell Phones for Soldiers, go to or simply click here.

*** Authors Note: If you too would like to spread the word about either of these organizations, whether on a blog, in a church, or any other type of medium, feel free to use any of the content contained here.

Monday, July 28

This Is The Day ~ Scrapblog

This is my first attempt at a Scrapblog, which is digital scrapping mixed in with blogging. It was a lot of fun to do! Be sure to look for more in the future!

Sunday, July 27

My First Blog Award

I am so excited and honored to have received my very first blog award! I received it from the very talented Darlene at her Everything to Me aka Puff’s Pocket blog. Please take a moment to check out her blog. It really is an honor to me, that she would have chosen me and my blog for this great award. I really am both humbled and honored. It is the Art Y Pico award and it is given to those who inspire others with their creative energy and talents in writing, artwork, design or contributions to the blogging community. It originated here. What does the expression mean? Well, apparently it doesn’t exactly translate to English, but it loosely translates to, “Wow. The Best Art. Over the top.” (This was taken from the Art Y Pico blog.)

As a recipient of these awards, I have been asked to share the award with five blogs that bless me. It was very difficult to choose only 5 blogs to honor, since there are so many that I love and visit regularly. There really are some incredibly talented people writing in the blogosphere. I hope that each of these ladies are as excited as I am! Congratulations friends!

I have chosen:

~ LauraLee @ LauraLee’s Lifesongs
~ Julie @ The Surrendered Scribe
~ Joanne @ An Open Book
~ Peculiar @ How Do We Get There From Here
~ Lori @ Persevere

Your “official instructions” follow:

To the recipients of the award...
1. Pick five blogs you consider deserving of this award, whether for creativity, design, interesting material, or contributions to the blogging community, no matter what language.
2. Name each nominee and link to his/her blog.
3. Show the award and include the name (and link to his/her blog) of whoever presented you with this award.
4. Be sure to link to the Arte y Pico blog, so everyone knows the origin of this award.
5. Post these rules.

Congratulations Ladies!!! Now go out and bless others, as you have been blessed!

Friday, July 25

An Opened Window ~ Friday Fiction

It is time once again for Friday Fiction, hosted by Patty at her Patterings blog. This was an early entry in the FaithWriters Weekly Challenge. It was lots of fun to write. It you would like to read more great fiction, or participate, please go to Friday Fiction. I hope you enjoy the story.

“Hello”, Laura answered her phone on the second ring.

“Laura, its Ginny. Do you have a minute?” asked Ginny, sounding very upset.

“Yes Ginny, of course. What’s wrong?”

Ginny knew that if anyone could help her to feel better it was her best friend Laura. They’d been best friends since high school, and now here they were almost 30. Nothing really had changed between them, even though Laura had gotten married two years ago and was expecting her first child.

“It’s the job in Denver. I didn’t get it. I know it would have been hard leaving, but it was so perfect for me. The money and benefits were great and it wouldn’t have been so far from home that I couldn’t come back often. I wanted this so badly and I prayed so hard for this to work out and now it hasn’t. What am I going to do?” Ginny sounded as if she was on the verge of tears.

“Oh Ginny, I’m so sorry! I know how much you wanted that job. It would have been perfect for you. I really wish I could help you. But you know, when God closes a door…”

“He opens a window”, finished Ginny. “I know that. And I know that He has plans for me, to give me a hope and a future, blah, blah blah. I just wish He would include me in those plans.”

“Alright Ginny Beth, you know that God is NOT in the consulting business”, Laura laughed. “Trust Him. He’s never let you down before has He?”

Ginny knew Laura was right. But why was He keeping her here?


“Hello”, Laura answered her phone on the second ring.

“Laura, hi, its Ginny. Do you have a minute?” asked Ginny, sounding excited.

“Yeah, the baby’s napping. What’s up?” Laura responded.

“I met someone special. He’s really great and fits almost every requirement I have on my list that I’ve been praying for.” Ginny was practically giggling with excitement.

“Almost?” asked Laura

“He’s tall, and of course very handsome. He has a good job, a great personality, is really smart and he makes me laugh a lot. He has blonde hair instead of brown, but I guess I can live with that. He enjoys hiking like I do – in fact I met him in my hiking club. But the best part is he’s a Christian! His name is Alex, he just moved here and he’s looking for a good church” Ginny gushed.

“Wow, he does sound like a good catch”, said Laura, hoping that this time he was as good as he sounded. “When do we get to meet him?”

“Well, I was hoping that we could all get together on Sunday after church for a barbeque. How does that sound?”

“Sounds great. Be at our house at 2:00 and we’ll grill him, uh no, we’ll grill the steaks and talk to him”, Laura replied.

Ginny laughed, “I know you meant it the first way. You and John always grill my dates, but I just know you’ll like him. I’ll bring the pasta salad and dessert. We’ll see you on Sunday!”


Ginny and Laura were alone together getting ready. Even the air seemed to be filled with excitement. Laura looked at Ginny and was truly delighted for her.

“Ginny, you look beautiful”, Laura said, with tears in her eyes. “I’m so happy for you. Alex is a great guy and I just know that you two are going to have a strong and loving Kingdom marriage.”

“Thank you, Laura. Can you believe it’s finally here? I’m getting married! To an amazing guy! It took me an awful long time, and I’ve had more than my share of frogs, but I finally got my prince! Isn’t God good?”

“God IS good!” said Laura. “He always knows what He is doing, doesn’t He? You know what I was thinking the other day? I was thinking about the job in Denver and how if you’d gotten it…”

“Yeah,” interrupted Ginny, “I was thinking about that too. If I had gone to Denver, I never would have met Alex. I remember being so disappointed, but I guess God closed that door so he could open this amazing, wonderful, too-good-to-be-true window. He really did have plans to give me a hope and a future, didn’t He?”

“He sure did. Come on Ginny Beth, let’s go. You’re getting married, and your prince is waiting for you!”

Thursday, July 24

Kudos to Lt. Col. in USAF

I grew up in the Phoenix area and live there still. To the far west of Phoenix is Luke AFB. It has been there for more than 65 years. It is the primary training base for F-16 pilots.It used to be out in the middle of nowhere, but within the last 10 years suburbia has invaded. Now there are those who brilliantly believe the base should move to accomodate them. The following is a recorded incident that recently took place. Sometimes I wish I could just smack the stupid off of people. (I know not very Christian of me.)


Noise Complaint at Luke AFB, AZ Luke AFB is west of Phoenix and is rapidly being surrounded by civilization that complains about the noise from the base and its planes, forgetting that it was there long before they were. A certain lieutenant colonel at Luke AFB deserves a big pat on the back.

Thursday, June 12, 2008 ~

Apparently, an individual who lives somewhere near Luke AFB wrote the local paper complaining about a group of F-16s that disturbed his/her day at the mall. When that individual read the response from a Luke AFB officer, it must have stung quite a bit. The complaint: Question of the day for Luke Air Force Base: Whom do we thank for the morning air show? Last Wednesday, at 9:11 a.m, a tight formation of four F-16 jets made a low pass over Arrowhead Mall, continuing west over Bell Road at approximately 500 feet. Imagine our good fortune! Do the Tom Cruise-wannabes feel we need this wake-up call, or were they trying to impress the cashiers at Mervyns early bird special? Any response would be appreciated.

The response:

Regarding 'A wake-up call from Luke's jets' (Letters, Thursday On June 15), at precisely 9:12 a.m., a perfectly timed four-ship fly by of F-16s from the 63rd Fighter Squadron at Luke Air Force Base flew over the grave of Capt. Jeremy Fresques. Capt. Fresques was an Air Force officer who was previously stationed at Luke Air Force Base and was killed in Iraq on May 30, Memorial Day. At 9 a.m.on June 15, his family and friends gathered at Sunland Memorial Park in Sun City to mourn the loss of a husband, son and friend. Based on the letter writer's recount of the fly by, and because of the jet noise, I'm sure you didn't hear the 21-gun salute, the playing of taps, or my words to the widow and parents of Capt. Fresques as I gave them their son's flag on behalf of the President of the United States and all those veterans and servicemen and women who understand the sacrifices they have endured. A four-ship fly by is a display of respect the Air Force given to those who give their lives in defense of freedom. We are professional aviators and take our jobs seriously, and on June 15 what the letter writer witnessed was four officers lining up to pay their ultimate respects. The letter writer asks, 'Whom do we thank for the morning air show?' The 56th Fighter Wing will make the call for you, and forward your thanks to the widow and parents of Capt.Fresques, and thank them for you, for it was in their honor that my pilots flew the most honorable formation of their lives. Only 2 defining forces have ever offered to die for you.....Jesus Christ and the American Soldier. One died for your soul, the other for your freedom.

Lt. Col. Scott Pleus, USAF

***It has been brought to my attention that the response was written by Lt. Col. Pleus, not Lt. Col. Rosensteel and I have made the appropriate change. It also appears that the last two lines were added by an unknown person and is not in the original newspaper account.

Wednesday, July 23

Comfort and Support ~ Thankful Thursday

Well, here it is again - Thankful Thursday! Isn’t it nice to know that even during the storms of life, there is still plenty to be thankful about? 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.

As many of you know, this has been a particularly difficult week. Last week my topic for Thankful Thursday was our furry family, and specifically our beloved 15 year old dog, Ashley. At the time, I knew she had taken a turn for the worse and we would have to say goodbye soon. What I didn’t know, was that it would be a mere hours later. In the midst of such heartbreak, I still have much to be thankful for. This week my focus is on comfort and support. I am thankful for:

~ Those who’ve offered me words of comfort for my broken heart.

~ The wonderful memories of many years with an amazing, one of a kind furbaby.

~ The Lord, who has given me comfort and peace, just like He always does.

~ The joy that the relationship brought every day.

~ The time we had, even though it’s never enough.

~ The prayers that were said for us by others who really understood what we were going through.

~ Those who’ve willingly shared our sorrow.

~ The kindness shown by the vet office, who truly tried to make the process easier for all of us, and who hugged us and even cried with us.

~ And even the pain, because the depth of the pain that was felt is in direct proportion to the love, friendship and companionship that was shared between Ashley and us.

And Life Goes On

As you’ve probably noticed, I’ve been a bit silent lately – which is to say I haven’t been writing much. Certainly those of you who know me personally realize that silent is not my style, whether grieving or not. :) But I’m back now and wanted to touch base and give a bit of an update.

Saying goodbye to our beloved dog, Ashley, was very difficult. She really was a GREAT dog, friend, companion and (as a friend would say) furbaby. As to be expected, the first few days were difficult. There were things like washing and putting away her food bowl and looking for her first thing in the morning to let her out, that were especially difficult. It would be a moment of absent-mindedness and then it would all come back like a wave crashing down. Now we don’t look for her as much, but we will never stop missing her. The tears seem to have stopped, but the love remains.

While it may seem silly to some, I went to PetSmart and bought a Memorial Stone to place in the back yard. It is intended not only for Ashley, but will serve as a memorial for our other lost furbabies in the future. It’s a simple stone, like a cement stepping stone, with the verse “If tears could build a stairway and memories a lane, I’d walk right up to heaven and bring you back again”. That describes perfectly how we feel and while we know it isn’t possible to do, the very thought of it does bring us comfort.

I know many people don’t understand this kind of love and grief for an animal, and that’s ok. God made us all different, so the things that matter the most to us are different too. But the pain is real, just like the love is real. And I know this love too, is from God. We are really looking forward to the day that we are reunited in heaven, believing completely that she is there, waiting for us. Even the great Billy Graham alluded to that once, when he said, “I believe God will provide whatever it takes to make us happy in heaven, and I believe our pets will be there for our pleasure.”

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who understood what we were going through and took the time to offer us comfort. Jeff and I both received many wonderful, beautiful words of support and we took great comfort in them. It warmed our hearts to realize how many people have had, loved and lost their own furbabies. Thank you all for the amazing comments, poems and images that you left us, and for the many prayers that were said for us. We really, truly appreciate them and they helped more than I can say. God bless you all!

Friday, July 18

A Heavy Heart

It is with a very heavy heart that I write this latest blog post. Jeff and I had to have our beloved dog Ashley put down yesterday. For those who know me (us), you know this has caused us excruciating pain. We've always loved our pets like they were 4-legged, furry children. Our hearts are truly broken right now. In my Thankful Thursday post yesterday, I mentioned Ashley, knowing her time was coming soon. What I did not know was that it would be only a few hours later.

I'm so grateful for the time I had with her. She was an amazing dog, full of love and playfulness and life. The vet was amazed she made it 15 years and was as healthy as she was. We miss her deeply and I just can't keep the tears from falling. I know time will ease the pain, but right now the pain is searing. That said, I wouldn't change it, because I know the depth of the pain that I feel right now is in direct relation to the love that was shared. And I wouldn't give that up for anything. I believe she is in heaven now, waiting for us, ball in mouth and tail waving.

Jeff wrote a beautiful tribute to Ashley on his GodLinked blog. If you would like to read what he wrote, just click on A Tribute to Ashley. I know the grieving has just begun and we have a way to go. If you've ever had a pet you've loved this much, you'll undestand. If you haven't, and you don't understand, there's no way to explain it. Thank you for reading this, and if you have a beloved pet (or more than one) be sure to give them lots of hugs and don't forget the treats too!

Young Love ~ Friday Fiction

It is time once again for Friday Fiction, hosted by Patty at her "Patterings" blog. This was an early entry in the FaithWriters Weekly Challenge. It was lots of fun to write. It you would like to read more great fiction, or participate, please go to Friday Fiction. I hope you enjoy the story.


“Mommy!” cried Robbie, running in the house looking for his mother.

“Robbie, what’s wrong?” replied his mother.

“Jenny doesn’t love me, and I love her and I want her to be my girlfriend, but she doesn’t want to and that makes me sad” said Robbie in a very dramatic way.

Michelle looked at her young son and smiled. He was her sweet, little brown-haired, brown-eyed boy, so anxious to be a big boy. His eyes were wide and filled with tears as if both shocked and pained by the idea that little 5 year old Jenny wouldn’t want him to be her boyfriend.

“Why don’t you tell Mommy what happened” said Michelle in a very somber way, knowing that teasing him would only make things worse.

“We were playing catch and we were having fun, but then Jacob came over and said he wanted to play, but I said he couldn’t cause it was our game and he said he could if he wanted to and Jenny said he could too, but I didn’t want him to, cause I love Jenny, so I told her that I loved her and that she was my girlfriend, but she said she didn’t want to be and kept playing with Jacob, so I came home!” said Robbie finally taking a breath.

“Hmm, Robbie do you know what a girlfriend is?” asked Michelle.

“A girlfriend is someone you play with, and talk to, and hold hands with and you love her lots,” said Robbie.

Michelle smiled again, thinking of the innocence and pureness of young love. At this tender age he could never understand that love can be so much more complicated than that. Nor would he believe that in another year or two he’d probably believe more along the lines of ‘girls are icky and have cooties’. Oh, how to navigate these waters, she thought before responding.

“Robbie, maybe you should try showing her that you love her instead of just telling her”, said Michelle.

“Like how, Mommy.”

“Well, you could push her on the swing, or give her a gift”, said Michelle.

“Like a snake or a bug?” Robbie asked with excitement starting to show on his face.

Michelle laughed. “Mmm, no not anything like that. Remember, she’s a girl, so you want to give her a gift that a girl would like.”

“Like what? Girls don’t like cool things”, said Robbie, wrinkling his nose at the thought.

“Well, like a flower, or candy, for starters. Or you could draw her a picture or share a snack with her, or …” Michelle started.

“Oh, I know what to give her”, said Robbie as he started running out the door.

This I’ve got to see, thought Michelle, smiling and watching from the kitchen window. Robbie stopped by Mrs. Brown’s rosebush and picked a pretty pink rose. “Oh, no!” Michelle groaned, realizing that there would now have to be a conversation about stealing. Michelle laughed at that and thought, I didn’t think that one through, did I?

She continued watching as Robbie approached Jenny and handed her the flower, saying something as he did. Jenny took it and smiled, and then Robbie took her hand and led her to the swings.

Later when Robbie came in to get ready for dinner, Michelle asked him how it went. “Oh, Mommy you were right,” said Robbie. “When I showed her how much I loved her she said she loved me too and would be my girlfriend! I did like you said, I gave her a flower and pushed her on the swing.”

“Umm, yeah about the flower. Robbie we need to talk” said Michelle preparing to give another life lesson. Oh, the joys of parenthood, she thought smiling as she sat him down.

Thursday, July 17

Our Furry Family ~ Thankful Thursday

I’m so excited that Thankful Thursday is here again! I have so much to be thankful for, and I am pleased to be able to record and share it. I hope you enjoy it. If you would like to participate or just read from more thankful hearts, pop on over to Thankful Thursday and join us.

This week I’d like to focus my thankfulness on the other members of our family. There are people who exist, who believe that pets are just animals that you take care of. We are not those people. We have a total of 5 pets, 4 cats and 1 dog, and we think of them as family. We love our furry family members very much and are grateful for their presence in our lives. I am thankful for:

~ The love and joy we get daily from them daily.

~ The way they make us laugh.

~ The companionship they offer.

~The way they warm the bed in the winter.

~ Their hunting prowess – most bugs don’t last long w/ the cats.

~ The protection – until recently because she’s now old, Ashley, the dog, has been very protective of us and our home.

~ The groomer who keeps Prissy shaved down (because she’s too fat to clean herself and gets matted).

~ The compassion they show when we are sick or sad.

~ The different and distinct personalities they all have.

~ The blessing of each one in our lives.

In addition to all of the above, I’d like to offer a very special thank you to our 15 year old Ashley. She has been a wonderful friend and companion. The last 2 years have been hard on her, and though her body is giving way to age, it’s easy to see the young and vibrant dog within. Her days are numbered and for that we are very sad. But we are so, so grateful for the time we’ve had with her. Some people don’t believe pets go to heaven. I don’t believe that, and never will. So we are preparing to mourn her passing and believe she’ll soon be playing ball again, and will be running and jumping and having a great time, without the pain and stiffness she feels now.

Thank you God, for all of our wonderful pets, that we love so much. And today, thank you especially for Ashley.

Wednesday, July 16

Olive Oil... Did You Know?

I have always been someone who loves random facts. I guess that’s why I’m usually pretty good with Trivia. One thing I find particularly enjoyable is discovering alternative uses of common household items. Seriously, I really do like learning about other ways to use things I generally have around the house already. Now, here is my disclaimer. I don’t always take advantage of all the alternative uses for something, because frankly, I often forget. Regardless of the frequency in which I use, or don’t use, the alternatives, I’d like to bring attention to some of the more useful items, on a per item basis. This post offers a simple (and incomplete) list of the different uses for Extra Virgin Olive Oil. I hope you find them interesting and useful around your house!

~ It can be used as a make-up remover.
~ It can be mixed with salt or sugar to exfoliate hands and face.
~ It can be used in place of shaving cream or oil.
~ It can be used for cuticles and manicures
~ It can be used on chapped lips, to soften and moisturize.

~ It can be used to de-squeak hinges.
~ It can be used to clean and shine stainless steel, but you’ll want to use sparingly.
~ It can slow tarnishing of copper or brass by applying after a good cleaning.
~ It can un-jam zippers (use a cotton swab to apply)
~ It can be used for treating garden tools to prevent dirt buildup and rusting.

~ It can be used to sooth a tickled throat and might prevent some snoring.
~ It can help to ease earaches and remove earwax by application with a cotton swab.
~ It can cure diaper rash – just apply to baby’s bottom.
~ It can treat dry, cracked heels, leaving them soft and smooth.

~ It can be used to treat lice – apply to hair, leave on at least 40 minutes, wash hair twice and apply a preventative.

Tuesday, July 15

Full with Fresh Fruit

Well, I made it. I’ve completed my journey through the Fruit of the Spirit. It was a great trip and I’m glad I took it. I am now full of fresh fruit and sincerely hope the journey was a good and uplifting for others as well.

One thing I’ve really enjoyed about this series, is going back and re-reading some of the previous posts. While a lot of it was familiar (as it should be, since I wrote it), there were some passages I read that made me thing, I wrote that? Whenever I came to a passage that prompted that thought, I paid particularly close attention because I knew that those words were not really my own, but God’s. It is both amazing and humbling to know that He has chosen to work through me.

I’d like to thank everyone who has read the words that I’ve written and particularly those who’ve taken the time to comment and encourage me on my blog. In finishing, the verse that came to mind is Isaiah 55:10-11, “For as the rain and snow come down from the heavens, and return not there again, but water the earth and make it bring forth and sprout, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, So shall My word be that goes forth out of My mouth: it shall not return to Me void [without producing any effect, useless], but it shall accomplish that which I please and purpose, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” This is such a comforting promise. He has a purpose for the words I wrote, and He will accomplish that purpose.

In case you’ve missed any of the articles about the Fruit of the Spirit that I’ve posted here, simply click here on Fruit of the Spirit and that will take you to all articles posted here. Then just find the fruit you may have missed. Thanks again for reading and for all the support and may God bless you richly.

“And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.” Colossians 1:10-12

“Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.” 2 Peter 1:4-7

Friday, July 11

Deceived ~ Fiction Friday

I'm excited to participate in Fiction Friday again this week. It is hosted by Patty Wysong at her "Patterings" blog. To participate, or to read other great fiction stories, click Fiction Friday, or simply click on the icon, down on the right.


“You’re too fat and too ugly to be a cheerleader, and you’ll never get a boyfriend!” said Becky Tate, the head cheerleader and most popular girl in school. With that Missy’s dreams were dashed. She went home, crying, and told her mother what had happened.

Her mom held her and comforted her saying, “Missy, you are not fat and you are not ugly! I’m so sorry that you have to go through this, but sometimes kids can be cruel today and nice tomorrow. You can try out for cheerleading next year. And as for a boyfriend, when the time is right, you’ll have one.”

Missy didn’t really hear any of it except, “try out next year”. She made up her mind. She’d show them. She would lose all the weight she needed to become accepted. Then they’d have to take her. She’d be a cheerleader and get a boyfriend. She’d be popular.

And so it began. The dieting and exercising had worked initially, but then it became an obsession. She still heard a voice in her head, taunting her, but it was no longer the voice of Becky Tate. Now it was a dark, evil voice. You’re still too fat, no one likes you, you’re not worthy to be a cheerleader, and how can you expect to get a boyfriend when you’re so repulsive?

It was no use. No matter how disciplined she was, she couldn’t achieve her goal. She couldn’t make the voice go away. In fact, it just got louder. Her parents said she was too thin. The scale showed that she lost weight. But when she looked in the mirror, all she saw was fat. Just a little more weight, she thought. Just a little more weight and I’ll be ok. I’ll be thin enough. I’ll be accepted.

Her parents didn’t know what to do. They tried forcing her to eat. They took her to a doctor who had her hospitalized. They cried and pleaded with her to no avail. No matter what they did, they couldn’t get her to see what they did. They couldn’t get her to see how dangerously thin she was. “Lord,” they prayed, “please help our daughter. Open her eyes Lord, and expose the deception she believes. We can’t help her Lord, but You can. We love her, but know that You love her more. Please Jesus help our Missy.”

One day, as she was looking in the mirror, the voice shouting at her, she heard a whisper. It was faint, but it was there. What was it saying? She closed her eyes and tried to shut out the loud voice and focus on the whisper. There it was again – a small, still voice speaking to her. Beloved, do you not know that I created you in my image? Why do you destroy my creation? You are my workmanship, beautiful and unique, just the way I want you. I have a specific purpose just for you. I love you the way you are. Beloved, you are the apple of my eye.

Her eyes flew open and she looked again at the image in the mirror. With clarity she saw what really was. She saw the emaciated body, the lifeless hair and eyes. Oh Lord, she thought, what have I done? She realized in her determination to ‘show them’, she was killing herself. And for what, to be a cheerleader? To fit in with people who didn’t like her for who she was?

In that instance she knew she had a problem that was too big for her to fix on her own. She realized that what she sought to control was now controlling her. And she understood the stakes were very high. It was no longer about being a cheerleader and being popular, or having a boyfriend. It was about living or dying. And she knew that it was now time for her to choose.

She looked in the mirror again and made her choice. She turned and went to find her parents. Finding them, she said with tears in her eyes, “Mom, Dad, I know that I’m sick. I don’t want to die. Will you help me?”

With relief and gratefulness they hugged her and assured her they’d get her the help she needed, and together they all cried. Her parents looked at each other, then up toward heaven and silently thanked the Lord for showing her that she’d been deceived.


Author's Note: This was my 2nd entry in the FaithWriters Weekly Challenge. It received a 3rd place win, moving me up from the beginner level to the intermediate level.

© 2008 Tracy Keck

Thursday, July 10

The Basics ~ Thankful Thursday

I’m so excited that Thankful Thursday is here again! I have so much to be thankful for, and I am pleased to be able to record and share it. I hope you enjoy it. If you would like to participate or just read from more thankful hearts, pop on over to Thankful Thursday and join us.

This week I’m focusing on the basics. I’m thankful for:

~ Air Conditioning – living in the Phoenix area during the summer would be downright awful without this wonderful, God-given invention.

~ Clean Water – As Americans, I think this is something we take for granted, but it is vitally important to life itself, and sadly there are far too many that don’t have this luxury.

~ Abundant Food – There is enough of it (maybe too much) and there are plenty of choices.

~ Transportation – We have two good, sound vehicles (with great air conditioning) to make our lives easier.

~ The Internet – It’s great for communication, makes finding information easier and I couldn’t blog without it!

~ A Wonderful Home – They say that love and family are what makes a house a home and I agree. We do have a nice house, but the love found within makes it a wonderful home.

~ Veggie Tales – Reagan loves them, so I really love them.

~ June 22nd – I love this day, because the days start to get shorter, and evening is welcome when the sun is so hot!

~ Ample Clothing – Ditto food above.

~ A Loving Heavenly Father – Lord, thank you so much for all of the blessings you have given me. Thank you for your Word, love, forgiveness, provision and protection. Amen!

Wednesday, July 9

A Fruity Kind of Self-Control

As my travels through the Fruit of the Spirit draw near to the finish line, I find myself trekking to my final destination – the Fruit of Self-Control. I believe this Fruit is in the final position for a reason. Looking back at the previous Fruits, I see that though there may be a measure of growth without it, to truly grow and expand in each of these characteristics, requires that we use self-control.

Self-control is about choices. Throughout this quest of attaining fresh Fruit of the Spirit, we’ve seen that in order to develop and grow healthy fruit, we have to choose to do so. Regularly. Self-control enables us to walk in love, joy and peace when things are tough and all we want to do is slink off to a corner somewhere to lick our wounds. It assists us to be patient and kind when we what we we’d like to do is snap at, or even smack someone upside the head for their behavior toward us. And it is what helps us to behave in a way that shows others that goodness, faithfulness and gentleness are not extinct in our society.

Many of us, me included, tend to see self-control as something that takes away from us. But that’s not true. If we exercise self-control in our eating habits, there is no question that we are healthier, weigh less and are more physically fit. If we exercise self-control in our financial habits, we are more fiscally sound, and in reality can do more of what we really want to do (vacation, purchase our dream home, be a stay-at-home-mom, retire, etc), instead of always striving to make more so we can spend more. And if we exercise self-control in our relationships, chances are they’ll be stronger, healthier and happier.

Another benefit of self-control is that it cuts down or eliminates impulsive actions, which is a good thing. Instant gratification is almost an obsession in our society. Sure, a little can be harmless, but I think overall it can be like a drug. It satisfies us for a moment, but then that moment passes and we start looking for our next fix, and then our next. Most of us never even realize that instant gratification becomes insatiable in our lives, and it’s always just one more time. Practicing, developing or exercising self-control is the only way we overcome the vice of instant gratification.

Oftentimes a lack of self-control is really about attempting to fill a hole that is deep within us. But it never works, because we are trying to fill that hole with anything but the one thing that will work – God. We make excuses, justify and feel entitled to have whatever our weakness or desire is, and we wear blinders so we don’t see that in fact it’s actually harmful to us. Again, not everything is detrimental to us, because in moderation, most things are not really bad for us. But when we lack self-control, all around or in a specific area, we tend to not do things in moderation.

God loves us and He wants to fill the emptiness inside of us. He desires that we practice self-control because He understands how much better it makes us. Exercising self-control is about loving and respecting ourselves and those around us. It helps us to adapt good habits and forego bad habits. It helps us to live productive and fulfilling lives. This is what God wants for us, and if we allow Him to, He will help us to achieve that.

“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” ~ Titus 2:11:14

© 2008 Tracy Keck

Tuesday, July 8

GodLinked ~ A Tuesday Top 10

Recently, a friend of mine posted an entry on her blog that included information about GodLinked, a social-networking site that is a Christian alternative to MySpace. I thought it was a great way to get the word out about it. So I'm kind of borrowing her idea (I hope you don't mind, Julie). But I'm putting a different spin on it, in that I'm going to make it today's Tuesday Top 10. So here are my top 10 reasons that I love being a part of GodLinked.

10) Its new ~ and both fresh and growing.

9) Great place to hang out ~ lots of great groups and discussions, and if there's not one that suits you, start your own!

8) Its fun ~ humorous, silly and an all-around good time!

7) The atmosphere ~ no profanity, obscenity or vulgarity. Very family-friendly.

6) The people ~ nice, kind, wacky, Godly, fun, encouraging and a bit nutty.

5) The blog ~ another place I can write and share my thoughts. I do have a lot to say! :)

4) Its Christian ~ with many discussions about the faith - in love of course!

3) The album ~ this is where I show off pictures of my beautiful baby girl. Yes I know that as a mom I'm biased, but that doesn't mean it's not true!

2) The reading material ~ lots of blogs and so many talented writers there.

1) It's a form of ministry ~ it is a great place to minister to others and be ministered to. There are lots of prayer warriors, so bring your prayer requests. Encouragement abounds.

I hope you'll take time to check out and even join GodLinked. And don't forget to tell your friends about it too. It really is a great place to hang out. To visit, you can click on the button to the right, or simply click GodLinked. If you do, be sure to stop by My Page, introduce yourself and say "HI", 'cause I'd love to welcome you there!

A Fruity Kind of Gentleness

While it was very pleasing to me, to stay at the Fruit of Faithfulness for a brief moment, it is now time that I continue on my trip through the Fruit of the Spirit. I find that I am nearing the end of my journey, as I take time to delve into the Fruit of Gentleness. This is one stop that it does me good to linger at.

Even as I say the word, this characteristic is almost foreign to me, and there is a good reason for that. I have been called many things in my life, but I’m almost certain I have never been called gentle. Gentleness is not a characteristic I come by naturally. In fact, more times than I care to admit, I’ve been compared to a bull in a china shop. Yikes! I have to work hard at softening my speech, movements and actions. It’s not that I mean to be bullish, it just sort of happens.

When communicating with others I tend to be direct, and sometimes that's not taken well. I don’t mean to seem short or harsh, but I do realize that sometimes that’s how it sounds. I’ve learned to get better at thinking about what I’m saying and softening it bit, rather than just blurting it out, but I still have to consciously work at this. I know I can be rather abrupt at times and I certainly don't intend to be.

What is gentleness really? Looking it up, I see that it is soft, calm, amiable, soothing and polite. These are all good things. These are all traits I would like to display naturally and regularly, but know that I do not. However, the Lord is usually pretty faithful in showing me when I’ve lacked gentleness. And as they say, knowledge is power. So with that in mind, I have the power to take the opportunity to cultivate the traits that make up gentleness and grow in that area. As I’ve said many times before, it’s all about choice. I get to choose to grow in this, or stay the same.

Choosing to grow in gentleness is one more great way to develop my character from that of being self and worldly-oriented to that of others and spiritually-oriented. The Bible admonishes us to portray gentleness. Philippians 4:5 says, “Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near”. This tells me that a gentle spirit within me should be obvious to those who meet me. As I emulate the character of my Father, it should be apparent to others, and they should see Him through me.

Many times, we find ourselves in situations in which someone is short with us or angry about something, that we may or may not have had anything to do with. While it is natural to get defensive and respond in kind, that does nothing to solve or ease the situation, but rather it tends to escalate it. We’re told in Proverbs 15:1, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” I’ve found this is true in my own life. When I respond from my gut, chances are I’m making things worse instead of better. But when I refuse to take offense, tame my tongue, and offer up a softer response, I usually find that starts to open the door to resolution of the problem. Or if doesn’t really help to solve the problem, at least it doesn’t make things worse.

I’d like to say I’m there, that I’ve made my way to being a gentle person, but that’s not true. I am however, further along in my quest for gentleness of spirit. And I know if I keep going, I’ll keep getting that much further along. It’s the process allowing the Lord to change me from the inside out and going from glory to glory. I haven’t yet arrived, but praise God, I’ve left the gate!

“Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” ~ Colossians 3:12

© 2008 Tracy Keck

Monday, July 7

Book Tag

Okay, I got tagged again. This time it is for The Book Game. Here is my list for books, reading and authors. I hope you enjoy!

1. Do you remember how you developed a love for reading?

I have loved reading for as long as I remember, and never went without reading as a child.

2. What are some books you read as a child?

All the Little House books, Little Women, Where the Red Fern Grows, The Outsiders, Christy, the Trixie Belden series, Anne of Green Gables – I could go on, but won’t.

3. What is your favorite genre?

Drama/suspense, Chick-Lit, historical, and some romance for fiction. Biographies, Christian Living and conservative political for non-fiction.

4. Do you have a favorite novel?

Only one?I have many “favorites” and it would be impossible to choose just one. Some would be Little Women, Where the Red Fern Grows, Message From ‘Nam, Redeeming Love, Zoya, Danger in the Shadows, Little House Series, Left Behind Series – again, I could go on…

5. Where do you usually read?

Easy chair or bedroom

6. When do you usually read?

At night, sometimes on the weekend

7. Do you usually have more than one book you are reading at a time?

Sometimes, though if I do, it’s different types of books, like fiction and non-fiction, Christian Living and political, etc.

8. Do you read nonfiction in a different way or place than you read fiction?

Not really, though occasionally I’ll start a non-fiction that doesn’t really hold my interest, so I have to force myself to finish it. Typically though, I really enjoy non-fiction.

9. Do you buy most of the books you read, or borrow them, or check them out of the library?


10. Do you keep most of the books you buy? If not, what do you do with them?

Yes, I’m a collector. It is rare that I part with a book, and I never loan them out. If I really want someone to read something I have, I’ll just buy them their own copy.

11. If you have children, what are some of the favorite books you have shared with them?

Reagan is really too young right now, but I’m really looking forward to it!

12. What are you reading now?

Flabbergasted and Me, My Country and My God

13. Do you keep a TBR (to be read) list?

Sort of mentally. Also, I tend to buy several books at once and read them one after another.

14. What’s next?

Not sure – it depends on what I grab.

15. What books would you like to reread?


16. Who are your favorite authors?Some of them, in no particular order:

Dee Henderson, Ann Coulter, Max Lucado, Denise Hildreth, C.S. Lewis, T.D. Jakes, John Maxwell, Nicholas Sparks, Karen Kingsbury

Whew, that was hard! Okay, now I’m tagging Alison (Truthoughts) and Patty Wysong – tag Ladies, your it! :-)

Friday, July 4

Little One ~ Fiction Friday

Fiction Friday is hosted by Patty Wysong, at her blog Patterings. For more great fictional stories, by Patty and other awesome writers, or to submit your own Fiction Friday post, please click here on Patterings or click on the Fiction Friday button in the sidebar on the right.

My Dearest Little One,

If you’re getting this letter, it means I’m not coming home. I’ve asked your mommy to hold it for you until you are old enough to understand. We met once, though you don’t remember. That was the best day of my life. It’s one of the memories that helps me get through this awful time. To think that I won’t be there for you and watch you grow up breaks my heart, because I love you very much.

I know it will be difficult for you to understand why I had to leave you and your mommy. I didn’t want to, but I had to. It was my duty and my honor. You see, when you were born, our country was at war. And war is a terrible thing. But sometimes we have to go through something terrible for a greater good. It’s hard to explain what could seem to be more important than my family, but I’ll try.

Our country was built on the belief that all people should have the right to freedom in life. Many places in the world don’t have freedom. I had to go help another country try to gain their freedom, from awful men who ruled over them harshly. You see, it was important not only to them, but to us too. Those who hate freedom, hate America and everything it represents. They try to hurt our country and kill our citizens whenever they can. We couldn’t allow that to happen.

To give my life for the cause of freedom is a choice I’m honored to make. The end result is kind of like me giving my life so you can continue to live. There are worse things than dying for a good cause. Like living without honor and principles and courage.

It’s impossible to say everything I want to in a letter. How do I help you to grow up into an amazing young woman who will change the world? Unfortunately, most of that responsibility will rest on your mommy’s shoulders. But knowing her, I have no doubt that she will do a fantastic job.

In this life there are many kinds of people. There are givers and takers. Always be a giver. Give extravagantly of your time, love, friendship. Guard your heart from the takers. Stay close to Jesus, for He will always be near to you. Show kindness to others and always be courteous. Work hard and do well in school. Have goals for your life. Obey your mommy, she really does know what’s best for you and loves you very much. Walk in integrity and strength of character. Stand up for what is right. Love your country.

Have fun! Enjoy your life. Laugh a lot. It really does you good. Take time to watch the sun set and admire the beauty of God’s handiwork. Walk barefoot in the grass. Dance in the rain, as well as the sun. Admire the rainbow and remember God’s promise. Be aware of the wonder of nature. Listen to the sound of the ocean. Practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty.

Don’t fear the storms in life. They come and they go. Adversity helps us grow stronger, and the brightest of days often follow the darkest of nights. Dream big and pursue your passions. Don’t be afraid to fail, it is the only way to succeed. Be a leader of your peers, not a follower. Live your life on purpose.

One day you will meet someone very special and get married. Wait for him and keep yourself pure for your wedding night. It really will be worth it. Don’t give in to peer pressure. You are stronger than you know. Don’t settle for the frogs because you have a prince out there, who has been hand picked for you by God Himself.

Little One, knowing you has made me a better person and soldier, even if we only met once. I wish I could have come home to you. I wish I could have held you and your mommy in my arms one more time. You have every bit of my heart. Though I’m not with you in this life, I’ll be with you in eternity. One day we’ll meet face to face and we’ll never have to be apart again. I look forward to that day.

With all my love,
Your Daddy

***Author’s Note: This was a FaithWriters Challenge entry and it received a 3rd place ranking, moving me up from the intermediate level to the advanced level. It is submitted here today, to honor those who continue to fight and pay the ultimate price for the freedom we are celebrating today, the 4th of July. I hope you enjoy it and please take a moment to remember and say a prayer for all of our troops, especially those in harms way.

Wednesday, July 2

My First Thankful Thursday

The other night, I was lying awake in bed and thinking of all the different issues going on in my life. Normally, I take things pretty well, I emote, I deal and I move on. Right now though, it seems as if I’m getting hit from several directions, and so I found myself lying there stewing. It was during this time of stewing, that I had an epiphany of sorts. Yep, God spoke to my heart, right then and there. I understood that yes, things aren’t the easiest right now and Jeff and I are going through some stuff, but in actuality I am blessed in so many ways.

At that point, I started thinking about how I’m blessed. I looked over at my sleeping husband and realized what a huge blessing and gift he, and our marriage, is to me. And I decided it was time to start giving some thanks. So I found a new blog meme that I will be participating in. It is called Thankful Thursday. The purpose of this meme, is to remember to give thanks beyond Thanksgiving Day. I don’t know if I’ll participate every week, but I’m gonna try. I hope you enjoy my thankfulness and encourage you to pop over to the home of Thankful Thursday to read some more great thankful blogs.

So what am I thankful for? Well, I guess since it started with my wonderful hubby, I’ll give thanks for him and the fantastic marriage we have. He is my prince, my best friend and the love of my life. I know that I am a better person because he is in my life. He’s a great guy, a fantastic father and I admire him immensely.

We’ve been married for six years, and in all that time we’ve never had a serious fight. We’re keenly aware that the enemy likes nothing more than destroying families. We do disagree at times, but are committed to working it out. We respect each other, support each other and truly enjoy each other. I am so thankful, that during the times of our greatest adversities, we’ve drawn closer together (and to God), rather than drifting apart. Though we have faced some difficulties during our six years of marriage, it has been a great six years! And I am confident, that with love, respect and commitment (and maybe some help from God), this is just the beginning of a long, strong marriage. Lord, this is what I’m thankful for!

A Fruity Kind of Faithfulness

Having completed my brief visit with the Fruit of Goodness, I find that I am two-thirds of the way through my Fruit of the Spirit journey. The trip thus far has been delightful and I’m so glad I decided to take it. I’m not through yet though, and am pleased to move on to my next stop, which is at the Fruit of Faithfulness.

Faithfulness is simply the act of being faithful. But what is faithful? It is a characteristic that is to be admired. If we are known by our faithfulness, we are known to be loyal, constant, reliable, trustworthy, honest and true. And no, we are not to be considered Golden Retrievers because we carry these traits. (Though you gotta love them Golden’s!) Anyway, to be known as trustworthy, is something that all Christian’s should strive to be. Of course, Christians don’t have exclusive rights to this or any other characteristic, but as a Christian we should exemplify it because we whether we like it or not, we are modeling God to the world.

The thing that I love so much about faithfulness is that it is so closely tied to God. He is always faithful to us. His love is not conditional. He never leaves us or forsakes us. He always forgives us when we ask. When we feeling tossed about by the storms of life, he is always our life preserver. When we have God, we have peace. When we have God, we have hope. When we have God, we have someone on our side, always.

God is absolutely faithful. We are assured of this over and over in the Bible. In Psalm 86:15 it says, “But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” In Psalm 100:5 it says, “For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” And in Lamentations 3:22-23 it says, “The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.” These are such great and comforting promises that we can hold onto. And there’s many more too!

So if we are to be like God, and to grow in the characteristics of God, what then does faithfulness look like to us? It’s walking in integrity, giving our word and keeping it. It’s being loyal even when things get tough, or it’s not the easy thing to do. It’s being trustworthy, and giving no doubts to anyone about the kind of person we are. Being faithful is seeing a project of job through to completion. It’s holding on to our faith, even when times get tough.

The one person I think of most in regards to faithfulness, is my husband, Jeff. He is full of integrity, reliable as the rising and setting of the sun, unwavering in his beliefs and persistent in completing his tasks. And I admire him greatly. Because of him and the example he sets, I know I am a better person. There is a verse that I think fits him perfectly. It’s Proverbs 3:3-4, “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.”

God assures us, that if we are faithful with a little, we will be given a lot, and that is when we will hear “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” And because of His faithfulness, God also helps us resist the temptations of sin. I’ve heard it said that ‘cleanliness is next to Godliness.’ I believe though, that a more accurate statement would be, ‘faithfulness is next to Godliness!’ Wouldn’t you agree?

“This is a trustworthy saying: If we die with him, we will also live with him. If we endure hardship, we will reign with him. If we deny him, he will deny us. If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is.” ~ 2 Timothy 2:11-13

© 2008 Tracy Keck

Tuesday, July 1

The 4th of July ~ A Tuesday Top 10

Here it is Tuesday afternoon, and I wanted to take a little break from all I’m doing. So just for fun, I’ve decided to do my very own Tuesday Top Ten. In honor of the upcoming 4th of July holiday, here are my top 10 reasons to love this holiday. I hope you enjoy my list. Feel free to make your own list of 4th of July Top Ten and share them with your friends.

10) It’s the perfect day for hot dogs, hamburgers, pasta salad, watermelon and root beer floats.

9) I know the days are getting shorter, so it gets cooler quicker in the evenings.

8) I enjoy our annual tradition of watching “The Patriot” on DVD.

7) It’s the day we celebrate our nation’s birthday ~ 232 years old this year.

6) I love the patriotic music I hear.

5) Throughout the world, our military is celebrating, wherever they may be.

4) I love watching fireworks (though here in AZ, we watch them on TV, staying in the cool comfort of air conditioning).

3) It is another opportunity to honor our military, veterans and heroes.

2) It’s a time to reflect on and be thankful for the freedom we have in this country.

1) It is reminder that the freedom we have here in America, is merely a model of the freedom we have in the Kingdom of God.

A Fruity Kind of Goodness

Once again, I find it’s time to move on in my journey of discovering some fresh Fruit of the Spirit. Having enjoyed my time at the Fruit of Kindness, I know that the Fruit of Goodness awaits. Goodness, Mmm, it even sounds good!

When I think of the exhibition of the characteristic of goodness, one person in particular comes to mind. This person is one of my oldest and dearest friends, and is truly the embodiment of goodness. In all that she does, she tries to do good. When faced with choices in any given situation, there are a couple of acronyms that are sometimes used. For Christians, the acronym is WWJD, for What Would Jesus Do? For Republicans, the acronym is WWRD, for What Would Reagan Do? And for me, before I became a Christian it was WWLD, for What Would LaNae Do?

LaNae is one of those rare individuals who honestly walks what she talks, and she is who she is, whether she’s around others or alone. She doesn’t just quote the golden rule, she lives it. On the rare occasion she interacts with someone who isn’t very nice, or perhaps is just rude in general, she typically uses the “kill ‘em with kindness” approach. Now, before you think I’m idealizing her, I know she’s not perfect, and she’d be the first one to admit that. As with all good friends, boy could I tell stories! (Wink, wink, LaNae) But the point is, she always tries to do the right thing, shows kindness to everyone and walks in integrity. She is a genuinely good person and has always been both a true friend and a great influence to me.

Part of the reason that she is such a good person, is because though she’s not perfect, she looks to, and follows, someone who is perfect – God. He is our ultimate example of goodness. He loves us, even when we’re unlovable. He comforts us, when nothing else can. He forgives us, though we don’t deserve it. He is faithful to us, even when we aren’t faithful to Him.

God’s goodness is abounding for those who love and follow Him. Because of His goodness He blesses us, He provides for us, He heals us, He protects us and He leads us to the kind of life He has for us. There are many scriptures in the Bible that refer to the goodness of God. Psalm 31:19 says it this way, “How great is the goodness you have stored up for those who fear you. You lavish it on those who come to you for protection, blessing them before the watching world.”

Even with the goodness of God, unfortunately, we still live in a fallen and broken world, and though we are His children, we still have stresses and storms in our lives that come upon us. Fortunately for us, we also still have His word to cling to. In Psalms 27:13 it says, “Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living.” Isn’t it wonderful that we have the assurance of God’s goodness, while we are still here in the land of the living?

Doing the right thing is not always the easy thing, but that is what leads us to goodness. When we come to God, through Jesus, He gives us clothes of salvation and a robe of righteousness (Isaiah 61:10), not because of anything we’ve done, but because of what Jesus did for us. Since we have a robe of righteousness, we are able to walk and grow in goodness by having integrity, virtue and sound morals. It is through the development of goodness, that we are able to choose to do what is right, or what is good. When we choose to walk in goodness, the goodness that God has shown and given us, we are then able to say no to gossip, slander, lying, stealing, cheating and all other types of sin. Saying no to sin may not give us an easy life, but it does help us to have a good life. So I guess you could say that goodness is very good!

“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” ~ 2 Peter 1:3-4

© 2008 Tracy Keck