Thursday, July 31, 2008

Forgotten Cinnamon

My younger daughter made cookies yesterday—oatmeal raisin cookies specifically for her Daddy. She did a very fine job and they taste good. The problem is the recipe.

You see, 15 years ago when I first copied that recipe, I forgot to include the ½ tsp. cinnamon in the line up of ingredients. The cookies are fine without the cinnamon, but are much better with it. So, I took a green pen and, in the margin, I added cinnamon and I even put big arrows pointing to it. Do you think it's helped? Only a little. Many times we forget and end up adding it at the last possible minute—as an after thought.

What I need to do is take 5 minutes and recopy the recipe, putting the cinnamon in it's proper place so it won't be overlooked and forgotten. It's only taken me 15 years to realize this.

My Bible reading is sometimes like that forgotten cinnamon. Because I haven't taken the time to write it into the recipe of my day, in its proper place and in the order that works best, it's overlooked or forgotten until the last possible moment, and sometimes it's left out all together. Sure, my day is okay like that, but it would be so much better with it. Maybe it's time for me to recopy the recipe of my day and get the recipe right, so important ingredients aren't left out or left till last.
In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there. Mark 1:35

I tend to be one that saves the best and the important for last. That might work with gifts and food (oh yeah!) but it doesn't work for my spiritual walk. I need to go for the gold, for GOD, first thing in my day, before I get distracted and before I get pulled seven different directions. I really need to rewrite the order of my day so the important thing is at the beginning of my day, not just tacked onto the end. I can always do some Bible reading as I settle in bed, and get some extra time in God's Word that way, and have those words running through my head as I sleep.

When You said, "Seek My face," my heart said to You,
"Your face, O LORD, I shall seek." Psalm 27:8


Lord, help me to rewrite my day so spending time with You, in Your Word, is not just written in the margin.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Oh My!

Procrastination is such a nasty critter! It's one I wrestle with on a daily basis and you'd think that after all these years I'd be the reigning champ, but I'm not.

So, what am I procrastinating over? It's so silly I'm rather embarrassed! I received an award and I didn't know what to do with it!

It's a truly wonderful event that blew my socks off! Kristen, over at Exemplify, gifted me with The Brilliant Weblog Award, and it has astounded me. Thank you so much, Kristen! I love your blog(s!) because I can learn while I laugh and cry—sometimes even at the same time. You're a cup of Sonshine in my days!

The rules for this particular award allow me to pass this award on to other brilliant bloggers--I only chose three:


Joanne at An Open Book has been a well spring of encouragement and inspiration for a year-and-a-half now. She shines brilliantly for her Lord. There are so many days when she not only encourages me, but spurs me on. Much of what I accomplish can be traced back to her. She amazes me with her productivity!

Bonnie Winters at Ink it --I met Bonnie at Shoutlife over a year ago and she's better than wonderful! She's brilliant. Her love for her Saviour and for women is precious and heartwarming. When I was brand-spanking new to blogging her friendship gave me courage to try it and stick with it. Bonnie's Biblical fiction is some of the best I've read and I look forward to each piece I get to read.

Journey Across the Sky has blessed me many times. His post last Wednesday (July 22 '08) was simply brilliant. I left there with a whole new understanding of 'the devil made me do it' and it's a graphic picture and post that I will not soon forget! Thank you! (I think procrastination qualifies as 'delay' don't you?)

I hope these blogs bless you as much as they've blessed me! Thank you, Kristen! You're a cup of Sonshine!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Stressing or Resting?

Kristen, of A Heart Stirred, created my new layout and I just adore it. She is so good at what she does! Thank you, Kristen! The timing of this new look is just perfect, too...I needed a pick-me-up this weekend. My two oldest children are gone for ten days (LoL—TEN WHOLE DAYS!!!) and we're all rather lost without them here. They've gone a missions trip with our church youth group, and it will be life changing for them. I'm excited for them, even as I miss them.

My daughter cracked me up this week. She made list after list of what she needed to pack for this trip and she totally stressed out over it. By Thursday, she was frazzled and moaning about how stressful packing is. I thought, “You're only packing for one person, girl! Welcome to life!”

It's made me wonder what I stress over that there's really no reason for stressing. My Heavenly Father sees the big picture of life—my life—and He's just waiting for me to ask Him for help sometimes. But do I? No, not always. Sometimes I run around here frazzled, when if I would simply stop and hit my knees God would help me see things clearly.

When I focus on my situation, I tend to stress.
When I focus on Christ, I can rest.


Have you ever watched stressed people try to function? I have. They don't operate too well because so much of their energy and concentration is spent on being stressed. But, those that are not stressed are able to fully focus on the task at hand and slowly plow through all that needs doing. That's what I need to do--slowly and steadily tunnel through the mountain. Sometimes the mountain is doubt, sometimes it's fear, sometimes it's being overwhelmed, and sometimes it's a mountain range of many things. I need to turn my eyes from the mountain towering over me and look steadily at Christ.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

Friday, July 25, 2008

Fiction Friday: Safety Harness



“You want me to do what?!” Suze could hardly believe what she’d heard.

“Do that ride with me.” Sean, her husband, was grinning from ear to ear.

“That’s a roller coaster! Were you hoping I wouldn’t notice?”

Sean laughed. “You loved Space Mountain and that’s a roller coaster, too.”

“Yeah, but there’s no loop-de-loops on Space Mountain and this one not only has a loop, but look at that drop! I can’t do that!” Suze gripped the handrail in front of her as she watched a car of screaming people fly past on their sides.

“Sure you can! You can do more than you think. You’ve tried so many other things these last few years and ended up liking them, you need to try this one, too.” Sean said.

She looked back at the roller coaster and thought, indecision churning in her stomach, fear yapping around her ankles like a tiny attack dog. She didn’t budge as she watched another car top out of the initial climb and begin its descent. Her stomach churned as she thought about that drop and what Sean had said.

She took a deep breath and said, “Ok. Let’s do it.”

Twenty minutes later she climbed into a car and pulled the safety harness down over her shoulders. ‘What am I doing here, Lord?’ she silently cried, panic creeping close.

As she clutched the hand-grips she felt God’s reply. “You’re in My safety harness, Suze, the palm of My hand. Hold onto Me and you’ll be just fine. A roller coaster is like life: it’ll scare the bejeebers out of you one minute and give you thrills the next, then send you through loops and rolls and leave you wondering if you’re upside down or right side up. As long as you focus on Me, and hold onto Me, you’ll stay on My track. Yes, you’ll loose your stomach and be scared at times, but I’ll be right there with you, holding you tight.”

The car lurched forward and Suze drew a deep breath. “I can do this! God is with me, He’s holding me close. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

As they ground their way up to the summit the panic clawed at her. She knew what was coming next: the big plummet to the bottom and she had to choose between the panicking voice inside her that was screaming, ‘get me outta here!’ and the soothing voice saying, ‘you can do this, it’s all right.’

Just as they topped out and hung there for a split second she made her choice. “I can do this!” Then the bottom dropped out from beneath her and she went flying down, screaming as she went. The fear was there, but so was the confidence that she was safe within her safety harness. God’s safety harness.

They whizzed around sharp corners, were tossed on their sides and before she knew it the loop was coming at her. ‘Ok, here it comes…” she thought as they hurtled toward it. Up. Around. Down.

“Wahooooo!” Suze screamed as they were thrown into the next turn and rolled onto their sides.

After a few more heart-stopping moments they rolled back into the loading area. “You did it, Suze!” Sean hauled her out of the car and steadied her as she stood there on rubbery legs. “I knew you could do it!” He laughed as he hugged her close. “Did you like you it?”

Suze looked back at the roller coaster. “A roller coaster is a lot like life. With God as my safety harness I’ll be ok. Scared, shaken, tossed around, out of my comfort zone, but safe within the palm of His hand.”
*******************************************
“You want me to what?!” Suze could hardly believe what she’d heard.

Mike, the youth pastor was serious. “Teach the sophomore girl’s Sunday School class.”

“I’ve never taught Sunday School before and I don’t know anything about high school girls.”

Sean snickered. “Remember the roller coaster.”

Suze looked at him, flabbergasted. “What does a roller coaster have to do with teaching sophomore girls?”

“You can do more than you think, you just have to get out of your comfort zone and try. Besides, you were looking for a place to serve here in the church.”

She took a deep breath and muttered, “Safety harness,” then looked at Mike and said, “Ok, I’ll teach them.”


I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
~Philippians 4:13


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This is a piece I wrote for Faithwriters shortly after going on my very first roller coaster, well, other than Space Mountain. (LoL)

Thank you for joining us for Fiction Friday, whether you're posting fiction or reading--or both. If you're posting, put a link to us here at Patterings, and add your name and url address to the Mr. Liknky gadget. If you're reading, enjoy the stories!

And don't forget to tell your friends! Anyone and everyone is welcome!
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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Christian Cowboys

“...where seldom is heard
a discouraging word
and the skies are not cloudy all day.”


Have you ever wondered about those lines? I have, and Sunday night I learned that I'm not the only one. Toby, our deacon that drums and fills the pulpit when Pastor Mike is gone, preached about the tongue.

The ministry of encouragement is a huge ministry and it's one that can be done by anyone and everyone. You don't have to have the gift of encouragement to exercise it, and if you use that excuse, then you're missing out on great blessings.

To be a heart-felt encourager, the encouraging needs to come from an overflow of joy that comes from Jesus. And ALL of us can have that overflow of joy! It takes time spent at the feet of Jesus.

Maybe we ought to become like the cowboys in that old song! Just think of the changes that would make in our homes, our work places, our churches and our towns! Learning to reign in our tongue so we speaking encouragingly to each other would spread peace and love instead of contention and discord.

Often we combat our evil thoughts most effectively if we absolutely refuse to allow them to be expressed in words.
~Dietrich Bonhoeffer


Does that mean we don't speak truth? Of course not! It means we speak the truth in love, gently, not just letting loose our tongue and blurbing out whatever we think without thinking about the person on the receiving end and how it will make them feel.

It means that when we hear gossip, we make sure it dies with us, we break the chain of gossip by not talking about (or even 'sharing') what we heard.

It means we bite our tongue until the urge to speak our 'evil thoughts' is gone. And if we draw (our own) blood, then we draw blood.

“What a tragedy it is, when praise hits our brain and fails to pass our lips.” ~Toby Brooks


We can replace the gossip and cutting words with words of genuine praise. Does that color look good on a person? Tell them!

When we feel encouraged we naturally turn around and encourage those around us

Let's be the Christian cowboys! Let's make sure that 'seldom is heard a discouraging word' and it will bring about 'skies that are not cloudy all day.'

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Purpose of Patterings

Yesterday I visited Exemplify and loved seeing Kristen's Statement of Purpose. It got me thinking. I ended up going back, and I found it was a meme from Becoming Me, and even though I'm now two days late, I'm playing along because I really wanted to have that sharp focus that comes with having a mission statement as well as a purpose statement. If you want to see other bloggers and their statements, run over to Becoming Me—it's ranks as 'way cool' with me!

The mission of Patterings is to write and share the lesons God teaches me as I run through my day. These are simply lessons from every day living that shower my life, teaching me, refreshing me, and blessing me.

The purpose of Patterings is:
*To obey God's call to pick up my pen and write.
*To keep me writing down, and so learning better, the lessons God has for me. It's through writing that I think and learn best.
*To encourage others in their daily walk with God.
*To glorify God and serve Him with the tool He placed in my hand.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Fiction Friday: Berries for Stars


Callie snatched off the towel that was wrapped around her waist like an apron and tossed it onto the plank that served as a table. As far as she was concerned, the cabin could burn to the ground and it would be no great loss. Lem had been so full of dreams of land and a mansion that she’d been caught up in his dreaming when she’d agreed to move West. So far, the only part of his dream to come true was the land; his mansion was barely a tiny cabin.

“Hey, Callie, where ya’ headin'?” Lem called from the lean-to where he dreamed a barn would someday be.

“East!” she hollered as she marched toward the creek.

“Darlin’, I hate to tell ya’ this, but that direction is west.” She could hear the smile in his voice and it made her grind her teeth. She’d had it with his ‘Ain’t this grand’ attitude. All she wanted was to go home. Home was where there were neighbors and friends, towns and stores.

Reaching the creek, she crossed it and quickly continued on, paying little attention to where she was going or how long she’d been walking. As her feet followed the creek she silently ranted at her husband, slapping branches and brush out of her way.

“Lan’ sakes, girl, ya’ better be careful. Ya’ jest ‘bout ripped yer hand on these here brambles.” The voice came from the depths of a berry patch.

“Goodness, you scared me!” Callie peered into the brambles and saw an older lady in a stained dress, berry bucket in hand. “Where did you come from?”

The other lady laughed. “Originally from Maryland, but thet was so long ago I cain’t hardly ‘member it. You must be Lem’s wife. He said you was mighty purdy, with red hair an’ all.”

“Yes, I’m Callie Stanhope, Lem’s wife.”

“Waal, Callie, it’s a pleasure to meet ya’. I’m Ida Mae Hiller an’ I was gatherin’ these here berries fer a pie. Elmer an’ me was gonna stop by fer a visit tomorra’.” Ida Mae carefully picked her way out of the berry patch and sat down on a log. “Why don’t ya’ sit down an’ tell me what’s botherin’ ya.”

Callie didn’t even stop to think, she just opened her mouth and let all the bottled up frustration pour out. She told Ida Mae about Lem’s dreams and the tiny cabin, about having to haul water from the creek and not having a proper privy.

Callie stopped pacing and propped her fists on her hips. “But you know what’s getting me the most?”

Ida Mae, being a wise woman, merely raised an eyebrow.

“Lem thinks everything out here is just grand. ‘Heaven on earth.’ That’s what he calls it. Can you believe it?”

Ida Mae smiled. “Yep, I surely can. My Elmer’s jest like yer Lem.”

“How can you stand it? Doesn’t it drive you crazy?” Callie sat down, her energy spent.

“Waal, it used ta, but it don’t no more.” Ida Mae watched carefully, gauging Callie’s response.

“Once we lived near an old lady named Myra. I remember tellin’ her how bad things were an’ she tol’ me I had mud in my eyes while Elmer had stars in his.” Ida Mae laughed.

Callie surprised herself by snorting. “Lem’s got stars in his eyes, all right.”

“Mmm hmm. Sounds like he does. Myra tol’ me a lil’ story, explainin’ how I got muddy eyes.” Ida Mae looked closely at Callie. “Ya’ wanna hear it?”

Callie smiled weakly, too polite to say ‘no’ since Ida Mae had so patiently listened to her.

“Two men looked out from prison bars, one saw mud, the other saw stars.”

Callie just sat and stared at her, dumbfounded. “That’s it? That’s all there is to the story?”

“Yep. Thet’s it. Two men looked out from prison bars, one saw mud, the other saw stars.”

Callie looked at the creek and her shoulders slumped. Ida Mae could see the battle raging inside her, but turned and sat quietly watching the creek, letting Callie work it out on her own.

“Ok. I get it. If I want to see more than mud I’ve got to look at the stars, too.” Callie pushed to her feet once again. “Those sure are beautiful berries. Back home was so crowded there were no berries. Some berry preserves would be wonderful on biscuits.”

Ida Mae chuckled. “Berries for stars; thet’s good. Keep thet up and you’ll have stars in yer eyes, too.”

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This is the first historical piece I wrote for Faithwriters and I found I loved writing it as much as I love reading it.

Thank you for joining us for Fiction Friday, whether you're posting fiction or reading--or both. If you're posting, put a link to us here at Patterings, and add your name and url address to the Mr. Liknky gadget. If you're reading, enjoy the stories!

And don't forget to tell your friends! Anyone and everyone is welcome!
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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Reeling in the Realm

Lord, my plate is overflowing. Is this truly what You want me to do or did I leap before I looked? ...yes, I know everything lines up perfectly and I know that I sought You first, but Lord, I don't know that I can do this. The task is bigger than me, there's no way I can...

A couple weeks ago I taught a lesson to my Wednesday night church kids that started with some challenges for them. Challenges that had them saying, “Whaaaat? There's no way!” I just smiled and assured them there was. (Doesn't everyone know how to stick a balloon with a pin and not pop it? How about slicing a banana without peeling it?)

From there we set up for a tug-of-war game. I put all the big kids on one side and all the little kids on the other. For some reason they didn't think the odds were too even, so I adjusted things. I left the smallest boy to pull against all the big kids. I wish you could've seen their faces! They truly thought I was crazy that night. First those challenges, then a lopsided tug-of-war, but I was painting a picture for them. I'm not sure how much of the picture they brought home with them, but I know that the lesson I learned that night is still lingering with me. Really lingering with me--in fact, the lesson keeps leaping in front of me.

God gave Gideon a special job to do, and it left him reeling in the Realm of Overwhelmed. And while he was still reeling, God adjusted the odds even more. He sent home all of Gideon's warriors except for 300 of them. In the face of all those Midianites, 300 Israelites were hardly worth mentioning—which is probably exactly what God wanted. God was making a statement and He was using big, bold letters, leaving no doubt as to who the praise for the victory would belong to. Him, and Him alone.

Today, ok, to be honest with you, this whole week, I've been reeling in the Realm of Overwhelmed. Thing after thing has come up that has needed my attention and time. Doubt has lunged in and body slammed me, leaving me breathless and whining. (Ask my friends, they've witnessed my whining—not a pretty sight!) And through it all I kept hearing one question whispered in my heart. 'Remember Gideon?'

Yes, Lord, I remember Gideon. I remember the victory You claimed. This task You've given me is beyond me, Father. If there's any victory to be had, it will be Yours, because without You I'll never make it out of my tent, let alone out of my camp. Give me the courage to pick up this sword You've given me, the courage to shatter the jar hiding my torch and the will to shout with all my might 'A sword for the LORD!'

The Lord turned to him and said, 'Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian's hand. Am I not sending you?'
~Judges 6:14


This part of Gideon's story is found in Judges 6-7:22.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Cuttings

I love my house plants. What can I say? I water them, talk to them and play Mozart for them and they love me for it—sure, they like the nice sunny house Jim built, but it's the Mozart they thrive on—much to my kids' dismay.

When my parents visited this spring, my bamboo got a hair cut and I salvaged the cuttings by sticking them in a pretty little vase, figuring I had nothing to lose. Every so often I'd peer in, checking for signs of growth and finally I saw root nubbins. I was elated. I eyed the narrow neck of my vase and knew their life in there was limited...then life got busy. Guess who forgot about finding a new home for my bamboo cuttings? Yup. Me.

Last week I peered into my pretty little vase again. My elation was mixed with dread because there was a mass of roots—roots that wouldn't easily slip through that narrow neck. Rather than take care of it right away, like I should have, I put it off. Again. Today I noticed a start of a big main root and knew I'd waited too long.

I tried to be gentle. Truly I did. But I could hear the roots groaning as I wiggled the shoots, jockeying them into position to slide them out one at a time. The roots flexed and as I eased one shoot out, the second one fell into place and slid right out, almost painlessly. I heaved a sigh of relief as I set them in a water glass and checked out my vase. Only a few root hairs were in there, so maybe, just maybe, I didn't tear out too many roots and set the bamboo back too much.

There have been times God's given me a hair cut and gotten rid of things that were out of balance for where I was at that time in my life. Just like that bamboo was top heavy and needed trimming. When God trims me, us, back, He sometimes picks out choice cuttings to put in a vase so they can develop roots of their own in order to eventually be transplanted into their own pots where they grow and flourish.

Nurture those cuttings as God sets them in vases—don't just cry over the trimming He gave you. Rejoice in it because those trim jobs allow you to become fuller and more beautiful—well rooted and not top heavy. He's the Master Gardner and He knows what's best. Allow Him full access and He'll grow you and shape you into a plant that flourishes for His glory. And that's the key: for His glory!

Happy growing!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A God of Details

God is such a God of detail! Even minuscule details that could easily be overlooked.

Just this last week, on Thursday, I found a new opportunity that lines up perfectly with my long terms goals—which are entirely contingent on God's leading my life. These are the goals I tried to run away from and nearly brought my family to ruin because of it. So, although they are part of my long term goals, if God leads me another direction, I'll be making changes and following God.

After I found the opportunity, I called in prayer support (that God would lead me through my husband) and later that night I talked to Jim about it. His response was instant and emphatic, and it has launched me down a new path. His response, and the responses of my jewelly sisters, gave me courage to go after this goal years before I planned. The affirmations God has given me and the details He arranged and took care of before this came about, has made me committed to facing this challenge and accomplishing this goal—for whatever purpose God has for it, even if that purpose is 'merely' a learning opportunity. I'm committed to following through and learning all I can.

My goal: 55,000-60,000 polished words by January 1st. And that's in addition to family and home, homeschooling five kids, church responsibilities and other writing commitments. But I believe! I believe that since God impressed on me the need to accomplish several things (for seemingly no reason) and I obeyed that leading, then He will be easily able to give me the words necessary to follow this path He's brought me to. (There's many other reasons why I firmly believe that, but those are the ones I'm claiming for this particular goal. *grin*)

For me, this goal is about obedience. Me obeying the leading of my Father.
What about you? Is there a step you need to take? Are there things you feel you should do, but because you don't understand or they don't make sense, you're putting them off? Don't put them off any longer! Get to it and get those things done because they just may very well be the details that will enable you to move on to other things God has for you to do!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Fiction Friday: Quiet, Please!



Melissa’s head was pounding as she made the circuit around the church building gathering children. In addition to her own 2, she was playing taxi driver for 5 others, giving her a total of 7 between the ages of 5 and 12. The hallways were noisy with the sound of the ‘musical instruments’ the kids had made in crafts that morning. There were oatmeal canister drums, soda bottle maracas, paper plate tambourines, and rubber band harps all being played exuberantly, emphatically reminding her why she worked in the kitchen during Vacation Bible School and not with the kids themselves. Children were not her cup of tea. In fact, she didn’t even really like children.

Finally having all seven children they headed for the van, at least until they left the church building, at which point the kids scattered in seven different directions.

“Stop!” Melissa shouted. “Walk this way.” She made a wide sweeping arc that pointed toward her van and watched in amazement as the kids laughed and fell in line behind her with their arms out, pointing. Shrugging her shoulders and shaking her head, she started off for the van. Behind her the kids shrugged their shoulders and shook their heads, but followed.

Melissa suspiciously looked over her shoulder and almost tripped when she saw the kids look over their shoulders and giggle at each other. Stopping, she turned, propped a fist on her hip and asked, “What on earth are you doing?”

More giggles as the kids propped their hands on hips and innocently batted their eyes at her. Finally Meggie, the five-year-old couldn’t contain herself, “Mommy, you said to walk this way, so we were walking just like you said!” The older kids dissolved in laughter.

“Oh, I see!” Melissa said. “So, if I walk like this,” she turned around and walked like Frankenstein, “you’ll walk that way, too?” Looking over here shoulder she saw they were following her, so she flapped her arms like she was flying and, sure enough, they flapped too, amid much giggling and jiggling from their instruments. Well, Melissa thought, I DID say it!

At the van she counted the kids and checked their faces, making sure she had the correct ones; it would be awful to get home and find she had the wrong ones. By the time they pulled out of the parking lot there was a cacophony of musical instruments as they all tried to out-do the other. This is why I only have two, Lord, Melissa prayed. Kids really do drive me crazy. Even working in the kitchen is too much, so please show me where I can serve You, without having to deal with children.

Britney twisted around in the front passenger seat and called out, “Ok, guys, I’m Miss Sherry. Let’s sing ‘If You’re Happy and You Know It!’” Melissa hadn’t thought the noise could be any louder than it had been, but she was wrong. The volume increased when they began singing.

“Sing it out, Gang!” Melissa smiled at Britney’s imitation of Miss Sherry, the song leader. “I can’t hear you!” Britney called out just as Miss Sherry did during the morning singing. The kids all belted out the song while getting more noise from their instruments than Melissa had thought possible, her head beating in time with the canister drums.

Maybe they’ll quit after this song, she thought desperately, wishing she’d taken the time to take some aspirin before getting the kids.

Rather than quitting Britney called out, “Again!” at the end of the song and they kept rolling.

In desperation Melissa held up her hand, trying to signal for quiet. “That’s not music! That’s noise!”

“That’s part of our verse today, Miss Melissa.” Jason, the seven-year-old called out. “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord.” The kids all happily went into a jam session leaving Melissa to her thoughts.

Ok, Lord. It may be a joyful noise, but it’s driving me crazy! Melissa gripped the steering wheel and prayed for patience. Lord, I need help here. You know I’m not one who loves children…

“Quiet! I can’t handle any more!” Melissa commanded. All the children fell silent and looked at her in amazement, all but the five-year-old who was lost in her own little world.

“Jesus wuvs da wittle chill-dwen, all da chill-dwen of da wohrld.”

“Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.”
~Psalm 100:1 (KJV)


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This is one of my early stories that I wrote for Faithwriters Weekly Writing Challenge--one that I really enjoyed. Since so many of us are involved with Vacation Bible School during this time of year, I thought it'd be a good time for this particular story.

Thank you for joining us for Fiction Friday, whether you're posting fiction or reading--or both. If you're posting, put a link to us here at Patterings, and add your name and url address to the Mr. Liknky gadget. If you're reading, enjoy the stories!

And don't forget to tell your friends! Anyone and everyone is welcome!

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Time At The Pump

Having a large vehicle means we spend a lot of time and money at the pump. Not only do we cover many miles because we live in the middle of nowhere, but we haul a lot of 'stuff.' Whether it's kids, tools, or building materials for a job, we really use our vans, which leads us directly to the gas pumps.

One of the habits that we've developed through the years is to make frequent stops there, without waiting until we're near empty. Rather than let our tanks run low, we hit the pump when we're at half-a-tank, and many times this has helped us avoid problems--like when we're running tight on time. Another problem we avoid is condensation in our tank, which would cause our vans to chug, cough, and sputter, and even stall out.

Life is similar to the cars we drive. No matter the make or model, we all need to spend time at the pump. The more you go and serve, the more time you need to spend there pumping in the fuel, otherwise you'll run out and be stuck somewhere with an empty gas tank.

God's Word, and time spent in prayer and meditating on HIM is our fuel—it's what keeps us going. Without it we run dry, stall, and burn out.

Sure, we can economize in our life the way we do with our cars and running errands, but that's certainly not the best and it's not what God has for us. We are created to bring glory to God, to serve Him.

“And do not neglect doing good and sharing; for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”
~Hebrews 13:16


Christ has paid the price for us!

“For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.”
~1 Corinthians 6:19


We just need to show up at the pump and fill our tanks so we can do the running and work He has for us to do.

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” ~Romans 12:2

“I am the the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing.”
~John 15:5


Don't wait until your tank is almost empty to hit the pump! Make frequent stops there to keep your tank topped off. You just never know when you'll be called on, and you'll want a full tank so you can go distance!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Tagged by Books

My WONderful friends, Laury and Tracy BOTH tagged me (at different places) for this book meme, so I'm finally getting around to doing it. What can I say, life has been busy. I still don't have all my lesson assignments done for the kids, but I'm hoping to do the last of them right after posting this...

1. Do you remember how you developed a love for reading? Er, no. I just know there was always a book close to me!

2. What are some books you read as a child? Little house on the Prairie set!!

3. What is your favorite genre? Romance. *sigh* followed closely by chick lit.

4. Do you have a favorite novel? Only one? Not that I can pull off the top of my head.

5. Where do you usually read? Anywhere I can!

6. When do you usually read? Anytime I can, which hasn't been often enough recently!!

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

8. Do you read nonfiction in a different way or place than you read fiction? I don't do nonfiction unless I have to, or it's a missionary story, or it's a book on writing. *eye roll* There for awhile I was reading nonfiction while on the glider and that worked GREAT. Now I need to rig a reading stand on my glider here at home and GET ON the glider!! *groan*

9. Do you buy most of the books you read, or borrow them, or check them out of the library? Yes! I'm a bargain hunter and I collect books. I am also a big supporter of our local library! (because keeping a family of 7—ALL of which are AVID readers, would require a boat-load of money, and I can think of other things to do with that boat load. LoL)

10. Do you keep most of the books you buy? If not, what do you do with them? Yes, we keep them because there's so many of us that will be reading it, and many of the books we buy qualify as 'school'. It's the best way for the kids to learn—when they're having fun reading and they don't realize they're doing school!! hehe.

11. If you have children, what are some of the favorite books you have shared with them? Were they some of the same ones you read as a child? Little House on the Prairie!

12. What are you reading now? Character and Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card. I'm between fiction books now. Grrrrr.

13. Do you keep a TBR (to be read) list? Nope. I just have a shelf for them, at least for the important ones. LoL

14. What’s next? Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell. For fiction? Sisterchicks—whichever one I can get my hands on!

15. What books would you like to reread? Isobel Kuhn's (missionary) books and Sisterchicks!

16. Who are your favorite authors? Lori Wick, Robin Jones Gunn, Francine Rivers, Stephen Bly..lots of others, but my mind is not in high gear and my books are currently packed because my oldest son moved into our library.

Ok, so now I get to tag two people. Eeny, meeny, meiny, mo...(did I spell those right? oh well...) Let's go with Bonnie, and my friend from Quito, Heather, who is a missionary in Madrid. Have fun, girls!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Number 19 is Prime

Nineteen years ago today Jim and I were married. It's hard to believe that it's been 19 years!! So I thought I'd tell you about how wonderful my man is.

1. Jim makes me happy!

2. He's a balm to soul. There have been days when I was in the ballistic zone—my hormones were zinging everywhere and the kids were...well, they were being kids. *Eye roll* Jim would call home and just the sound of his voice soothed my frayed nerves. Then there's the times when I've heard his truck/van pull in the driveway and I would instantly feel better. There's just something about him that is a balm to my soul.

3. Jim believed in me when I didn't even believe in myself.

4. He's supported and encouraged me through all my hobbies/insanities. I think he breathed a huge sigh of relief when I started writing because all the other things were my attempts at escaping that call I felt.

5. My man is my greatest cheerleader. He's cheered for me over my smallest accomplishments.

6. Jim is the most UNselfish man I know. (The other man like him is my wonderful dad.) Jim gives and gives and gives. He blows me away with how much he does for his family.

7. He's the perfect man for me. When I'm weak, he's strong. In my wishy-washyness he's decisive (and he makes very good decisions—I've learned to trust his gut instincts.) He's strong enough to stand firm when I'm being mulish.

8. My man is a man of great vision. He dreams big dreams and goes for them. He's taken houses that should've been torn down and made them into some of the nicest in town. He does the same thing in life matters. He sees potential in houses, people and dreams. He doesn't settle for second best, he pursues the best.

9. Jim has taught me the value of steering clear of instant gratification. That character trait in him has blessed us time and time again. He's taught me so much over these 19 years—including how to cook. LoL

10. He let me hold on to his coat-tails and tag along on his dreams when I didn't have any of my own. The result gave me courage and hope to acknowledge my own dreams and to reach for them.

These are only ten things—there's sooooo much more. We've been through thick-and-thin together. When we married I still had a lot of growing up to do and Jim and I are often extreme opposites, which made for some very rocky years. Then there were a few years when I tried my best to outrun what I felt God was calling me to do which created a lot of problems for our family—Jim was tough enough to stand up to me and gentle enough not to squash me, but to encourage me. He's the perfect man for me and I love him tremendously.



Thank you, Jim, for 19 years. I love you for all that you are and for WHO you are. I love you because you're YOU. You're the bestest of the best. God blessed me tremendously when He gave me you, and I thank God for you every day. I'm looking forward to the rest of our years together. I love you!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

A Lesson in Obedience

During the past few days I've put in a lot of hours working on lesson plans. As I was working, I noticed that one of my boys had skipped a couple assignments that I had written in the margin of the lesson assignment sheet we had just finished.

“Did you do the review and take the test for chapter 7?” I asked him as I sat at the table, papers and books all around me. I knew the answer, but I wanted him to see the error of his way.

“Um, no.” he muttered as he tried edging into the kitchen.

“But you're almost done with chapter 8 and I even reminded you of the test.”

The birdie on my shoulder whispered something about being distracted this week, but I went back to talking so I wouldn't have to listen to her.

“Why do you think I spend hours making up lesson assignment sheets? To make paper airplanes out of them? It does no good whatsoever for me to make them and you not follow them. By not following the assignments everything gets messed up!”

That's when God's neon 'Duh' sign flashed right in front of me. I felt the impact of it from my head down to my toes.

The birdie on my shoulder had to get in her two cents, too. “And just what do you think it does when you ignore God's plans and assignments and do your own thing? Sister, let me tell you, it doesn't come out smelling like roses. Shoot, it doesn't even come out smelling sweet! It makes things stink around here!”

God's message to me got through loud and clear.

“Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry.”
I Samuel 15:22-3

Friday, July 04, 2008

Fiction Friday: Two For One Special



Ashley was lying on the ground gasping for breath when a taunting face came into focus right above her. She blinked her eyes, desperately hoping that he would leave her alone, but knowing she was in for it.

“And that’s what you call a ‘Two for One Special.’” Joe glared down at her before hauling her to her feet. “How many times have I told you to do it like you mean it?”

“How can I do it like I mean it when I don’t even know how to do it the right way?” Ashley demanded. “Sir,” she added as an afterthought, so as not to appear disrespectful.

“Ashley, you know how to do this throw. I taught you myself and I’ve seen you do it, so just toss that thought right outta your head,” Joe said. “If that’s how you’re going to defend yourself against some punk boy then that’s where you’re gonna end up. On your back.”

Ashley’s eyes opened wide; he’d never talked to her like that. Joe opened his mouth to say more but snapped it closed as he looked around at the younger children in the karate class who were watching and listening.

Pulling Ashley over to the side he snagged Daniel, another black belt. “Watch closely,” Joe told them.

Joe moved off several paces, bowed and executed a black belt kata.* When he finished he planted himself in front of her.

“Well, what did you think of it?” he asked her.

“It looked great to me,” Ashley hedged.

“Why?”

“Sharp, crisp movements.”

“Huh.” Joe grunted. “Daniel, what did you think of it?”

Daniel laughed. “What in the world was that?”

“That was Nai Hanchi.** Didn’t you recognize it?”

“You mean parts of it were Nai Hanchi,** the rest was Pinan Go Dan.” **

“So, I screwed it up?”

“Majorly,” Daniel replied.

“Why couldn’t Ashley tell?”

“You bluffed so convincingly that she believed you.”

“That’s right. I acted confident and I was able to convince her.” Joe looked meaningfully at Ashley. “That’s what you need to do.”

Ashley looked confused so Joe softened his voice. “Sweetheart, when you act confidently others believe you, even if you don’t feel confident.”

Daniel looked at her seriously. “If you’re on a date and the guy starts to do stuff you don’t want to do and you hesitantly tell him to stop, he won’t listen to you. He might stop for a minute or two, but it won’t be long before he’s back at it. He’ll hear your hesitancy and go off that. But if you confidently tell him to stop he’s more likely to listen to you. If he doesn’t, you have the knowledge and the skill to put a stop to it and to get away from him. You have to act confidently. That’s what Joe’s trying to get through to you.”

“You saw how fast you went down when you were supposed to be throwing me. You weren’t confident in your actions. Even if you didn’t know what you were doing, but had been acting confidently, I wouldn’t have been able to throw you as easily,” Joe explained.

“People are far less likely to attack a person who looks, and acts, confident,” Daniel added.

Act confident, even when you’re not, and eventually you’ll feel confident, too.” Joe smiled at Ashley’s look of surprise. “And others will see you as a confident person, and treat you as one, too.”

“It’s that way in most areas of life.” Daniel chuckled. “You ought to try it. It works.”

***
A week later Ashley strutted into karate and Daniel nudged Joe. “She’s strutting this week.”

“How’d the date go, Ashley?” Joe asked.

Ashley’s mouth dropped open. “How’d you know about my date?”

“I knew about it last week, before you went on it. How’d it go?” Joe crossed his arms over his chest.

“Well, let’s just say that acting confident sure did help.” She grinned ruefully.

“Are you going out with him again?”

“No way.” She was emphatic.

Daniel chuckled. “So, why are you strutting?” he asked as Joe relaxed and smiled.

Ashley took a playful swipe at him. “Because there’s a huge difference between confidence and arrogance. I can be confident without being arrogant so I’m practicing my confidence by walking confidently.”

“Is it working?”

“Of course it is. That was quite a ‘Two for One Special,’” she smiled. “Thanks.”
~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~

*kata—routines martial artists use as practice
**Names of black belt katas
~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~

Happy Fourth of July!
I hope you have a wonderful (and safe) day and week end!

Thank you for joining us for Fiction Friday, whether you're posting fiction or reading--or both. If you're posting, put a link to us here at Patterings, and add your name and url address to the Mr. Liknky gadget. If you're reading, enjoy the stories!

And don't forget to tell your friends! Anyone and everyone is welcome!


Thursday, July 03, 2008

Announcing Patterings for Kids

A couple months ago I discovered that I love writing devotional thoughts and Bible studies for kids—grade school kids. I'm one of the Wednesday night kid's teachers at our (very wonderful) church, and over the past year I've felt the growing 'need' to write some of these lessons down in a fun way for the kids. Patterings for Kids is a collection of those lessons and devotional thoughts. The feedback I've received from ones I've posted at Faithwriters is that it's not just the kids that enjoy them, even though the wording and style is definitely geared toward kids—which thoroughly surprised me.

At Patterings for Kids you'll find lessons and nuggets as well as links to kid's sites such as Whit's End and Christianity Today for Kids and also links to games (like Veggie Tale games!) that come highly recommended by my own five kids. There's also a Silly Songs with Larry video clip that I will change a few times a month.

If you write for kids, I'm very open and eager to post guest bloggers/articles, simply submit it to me through the 'email me' button on the site. Also, if anyone is interested, there is a button that is available, just email me and request the button code.

So, if you have kids, or if you have a fun, silly side, visit Patterings for Kids.


And now, back to our regular programming...

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The Trouble With Supposing

When my kids were younger it was not uncommon for me to trail behind my family as we left church, much as a cow herder would, prodding along the dawdlers. There was a whole passel of kids around the same age and if you weren't careful you'd end up with the right number, but the wrong children. After doing that several times, and seeing their panic when I tried herding them into our van, I learned to check faces and not just count heads. When my sisters and I were together it was a different story, though—we would tend to our own kids, as well as each other's not worrying whose was whose.

A few weeks ago I got to teach my Wednesday kids about the time Mary and Joseph accidentally left Jesus behind in Jerusalem. I can understand how easily that can happen! (Which is why we count kids before leaving anyplace!) The fear that rushes through you when you find one of your children is missing is not a pleasant feeling, and it took Mary and Joseph three days to find Jesus. Those must have been very long days!

As a side note to his message the other day, Pastor Mike drew our attention to Luke 2:43-44 “...and as they were returning, after spending the full number of days, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. And His parents were unaware of it, but supposed Him to be in the caravan...” How many times have we embarked on something thinking it was what we were do, only to realize once we got into it and looked around that God wasn't where we supposed Him to be? Sure, He never leaves us, but there are definitely times we do things that are not what God wants for us and we frantically look around, wondering where He is.

It was a good reminder for me that just because God will never leave me does not mean that He will follow me. I need to seek Him out and stay tucked close to His side so that I can follow Him without being separated from Him. Just like when I grab the hand of my smaller children so that I don't lose track of them, I want to hold on to God.

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