Friday, December 31, 2010

That's a Wrap

The college kids are home for the Christmas break and they wrapped up our year and yard for us. LoL. I can't wait to hear their side of the story because we happened to walk out of the house while a car was parked at the end of our driveway! And then we stood in the driveway talking with our guests (who is an older one of the crew!) for quite awhile and there was far more traffic on our road than usual.

They did a great job, of course. They've had a lot of practice. Here's our internet dish. Since we were still up and online when they wrapped us, we would've known they were here if we were actually still using that dish for our internet, but lucky for them (and us because that service stunk!) it's simply a yard ornament at this time.

We have a large front yard, so they concentrated their work out there and wrapped the trunks of several trees and one of our light posts. Pretty cool, huh? Jim went out last night and said the mailbox was great, but it's been so windy that it was all gone before sunrise so I didn't get to see it.

I just think it's so fitting how they wrapped up the year for us: in a surprising way. This year has been very surprising for me.

Earlier this week I sat and did my yearly looking back and journaling and then setting some goals for next year and last year caught me totally by surprise. A year ago this time I had one thing in mind: writing. I did list as a goal to speak or teach if the opportunity presented itself, but I never-ever dreamed I'd do so much of it this year, let alone that it would take over my year.


In 2010...
**wrote my Clearing the Blog Fog class.
**taught Clearing the Blog Fog class several times online, and LOVED it!
**taught a session at the Faithwriters conference on blogging.
**spoke at A Woman Inspired's One Marriage online webinar in May.
**started teaching a small ladies Bible study.
**co-wrote and published a short marriage ebook.
**helped start and contribute to The Barn Door, a fun midwestern blog.
**moved the author spotlights to their own site: The Book Loft and now run 3 spotlights (and book giveaways a week!!).


That wraps up 2010 for me. Complete with a pretty bow on my mailbox and front door. Nothing like I expected, but so much more. That's God for you. He's so much more than our expectations and dreams.

I don't know about you, but I can't wait to see what 2011 brings! I'll tell you about one of things planned...in a day or two. =] Until then,

Happy New Year!
May God wrap you in abundant blessings--even if they're completely different than you expect. ;-)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Not by Might

Finding the Extraordinary God in our Ordinary Lives

Each fall we have hummingbirds galore as they stop to refuel on their way south. Those tiny creatures fascinate me and the only way I can understand all they do is to accept it's how God created them. It's not that they're so strong and powerful, it's that God enabled them to travel the miles He has for them.

God has enabled us to travel the miles He has for us--through and by His Spirit.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Savoring and Looking Forward

I love this week between Christmas and New Years! It's become one of my favorite times of the year—a time of lingering and savoring and then facing forward, something I'm blogging about today at the Cafe. But here at Patterings is more about the lingering and savoring. It's kinda like when the whole family is at a meal together and long after everyone is done eating we sit there chatting.

Usually sometime on Christmas afternoon I start thinking of pulling out my journal. See, I think best with my fingers, so if I'm not at my keyboard, I need to have a pen in hand with my journal open, and this week between Christmas and New Year's is a time I reserve for my journal.

Through the years I've settled into a pattern—I start with paging back through my journal to see what I've written about through the year. These days my journal captures only the important or confusing times, but before I started blogging, my journal was bursting at the seams. Now I also have to scroll back through my blog to see what went on in my year. This always has surprises for me because I have the memory of a goldfish so I rediscover things I've forgotten. (That makes it fun... in a scarey sort of way. LoL)

Flipping through the year always brings me back to the goals I set a year ago, and sometimes that's not a highlight for me because some years I don't accomplish much on the list. So one time, out of desperation, I listed the things I did accomplish. I was amazed! I hadn't even come close to my writing goals for the year, but I did so much more. It helped me see that just because I didn't accomplish things on that list didn't mean I had failed—I had been redirected.

That's not to say that's always the case! Some years I chicken out and find a hundred other things to keep me busy so I “can't” reach a goal. Lemme tell ya, that's not good! Not at all. But looking back through the year helps me see that. It also helps me savor the things that happened through the year.

But once the savoring is done it's time to look forward and press on! Lingering over the past year is good. Camping out there isn't.

Now it's time to face forward and dream. And dream big! Yes, be realistic, but don't be so realistic there's no dream there. The key here is to spend time talking with God about your upcoming year. You've got a week for this, not just a few hours.

Some years it takes me two sittings with my journal to look back and savor and then look forward, but often it takes working on this for several days. But it's a relaxing time for me and one that I've found makes a big difference in the upcoming year. See, even though I have the memory of a goldfish, I often have at least some of those goals before me throughout the year so they keep me working toward the big picture. Without that I'd be swimming like a goldfish too. Round and round in circles. Know what I mean?

Grab your journal, or some paper, and join me in this week of savoring and goal setting! The more the merrier! Don't forget to join me at the Cafe where I'm blogging about Facing Forward.

So tell me,
what's something you'd like to accomplish this coming year?

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Finding the Extraordinary God in our Ordinary Lives

Last night I tied up loose ends in my cyber world so I could officially go on Christmas break today. =]

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas...

My friend Lynda of On the Write Track has a Christmas Meme going on and I thought it'd be fun to jump in before I make one last mad dash to town for a couple of gifts that just came in...

1. What is your favorite Christmas song? Joy to the World

2. When do you start your Christmas shopping? I try to pick things up through out the year because it's not an easy job to do with kids always with me. LoL


3. Favorite holiday treat to indulge in? Pumpkin muffins! Yummm! And sweet rolls! Sigh.

4. Do you deck the halls or keep it simple? Keep it simple.

5. Real tree or fake? Fake. Scents get my hubs so we go with the scentless fake.

6. Most memorable Christmas present you've ever received: Dad gave me Jim one year for Christmas and we were married before the next Christmas! (Don'cha know it's not good manners to return a gift?! LoL) You can read about that Christmas here.

7. Favorite Christmas movie or television special: ummmm. I'm culturally deprived so I dunno.

8. A family holiday tradition: Reading Luke 2 before opening gifts. My dad starting doing this and when we're not together, Jim reads for us.

9. Do you open gifts on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day? Christmas morning. We start with opening stockings then do a nice breakfast. After breakfast we read Luke 2 and then open gifts. It's a carry over from my family.

10. A gift you'd like to offer to Jesus this year: Obedience. Without any more procrastination or running away.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Check the Guages

In the recent cold snap we had our furnace worked hard. It ran constantly but it only got colder in our house and the heat unit that sits outside became ice encrusted. My hubs called our repairman friend and a few days later he was able to stop by with his gauges. Once the ice was off (it took the torpedo heater for that!), he put the gauges on and checked the freon level in the heater. There was so little it didn't even register on the gauge. No wonder we were cold!

It's made me think of my life recently. I've been feeling down in the dumps and it's just no fun. I feel like the furnace of my life has been running constantly but it's not putting out. It's left me exhausted and cold. So I tried the repairman's trick and put some gauges on my life—yanno, those little check and balances that we think to look at when things get out of whack.

You know what I found? There's no freon in my pipes—the Scripture level is too low. In the midst of some changes I've been implementing, I've neglected my Bible reading and Bible study and it's left my pipes running low. There's not enough to regulate my internal temperature because I've not been constantly replenishing it like I need to. Sure, I've been in the Word, but it's been hit-or-miss with more misses as time passes. No wonder I've been dreary and cold!

Let the Word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. ~Colossians 3:16 NAS

It's time to put the freon of God's Word in my pipes so it can work through my heart and life and regulate me.

How about you? How's the Scripture level in your life right now?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Shining

When I looked out the window awhile ago, this is what I saw.


The trees where shining. The sun had peeked through the heavy clouds and was making all the ice encrusted trees glisten. It was beautiful, especially with all the dark, stormy weather we've been having.

But yanno, the sun often peeks out and shines on the trees like it did. What made it so noticeable and beautiful was the coating of ice on each and every branch and twig. The ice that was a big part of the storm. The ice that was weighing down the tree limbs and rattling with every hint of a breeze. Without the ice there would have been little beauty—just winter trees in a patch of sunshine.

So often when storms overtake our lives we cry out because of the ice that seems to coat us and weigh us down. When a breeze goes past we rattle, thinking only of uncomfortable and heavy the ice is. Yet when others look at us they may see the radiance of the Son shining off us and through us. Sometimes we need the ice to reflect the Son.

Heavenly Father, help us keep our eyes so fixed on You that when the ice comes into our lives we wait eagerly for the Sonshine so we can sparkle and dance for you. Help us to accept the ice and shine for You so that beauty can come from the storms. In Your Son's Name, amen.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Shattered

This last week, when we went out to warm the car before hitting the road, we discovered the back window of the car was shattered. Talk about surprised! We were instantly thankful for insurance to cover the bulk of the expense. We were also thankful for God's timing—if it had happened the week before we would have been in a pickle since we had been going in four different directions thanks to the kids' college classes—but the day the window shattered was the day of their last finals. Not only that, but it shattered here at home, not on campus, where it had been for a few hours the night before. Isn't God good? Yes, the window shattered and we had the hassle of rearranging things since we only had one car, and we had the expense at a “bad” time for us, but things could have been so much worse!

So why did it shatter? We checked for bullets. Honestly, that was my first thought. Living here in the country there are times when car windows get shot out accidentally. But there was no evidence of it—thank goodness! The car was parked in front of the living room bay window and it gave me shivers to think of what could have happened. Jim called the insurance agent and the window repair people and they weren't surprised. Thermal expansion from the cold snap we had go through our area. The sudden extreme shift in temperature was too much for the glass and it shattered under the change.

Have you ever felt like that? Like things were changing too fast and you were about to shatter? Maybe you did shatter.

Something I noticed when I got in my car and took off after the window had been replaced—I could see through it so much better. The rest of the car was had road dirt on it, but that back window was crystal clear and oh-so clean. After the repair men had put in the new window, they sprayed it with a special cleaner and made it sparkle.

God does that for us too when we shatter. He doesn't always just repair the window, sometimes He replaces it and when God replaces what was broken or shattered, the change is so remarkable that it sparkles and shines. You can't miss it and things appear so much more clear than ever before.

Again I will build you and you will be rebuilt, o virgin of Israel! Again you will take up your tambourines, and go forth to the dances of the merrymakers. ~Jeremiah 31:4 NAS

If you're feeling shattered by changes in your life,  let God replace things for you.

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Highlight of the Season

So, how do you like this weather? brrrrrrr. I am sooo ready for summer but my kids aren't. Imagine that! *eye roll* This last weekend was our church Christmas program--the living Christmas tree. Jim built the original tree all those years ago, and although this is a different structure, it's still funny how many people remember that Jim built the old wood one. It's one of the joys of living in a small town. Well, okay. We don't live in a small town. We live in the middle of nowhere. LoL, but the church we attend is in a small town. ;-)

Today I'm posting at the Barn Door about the living Christmas tree and I'd love for you to stop by and visit me there.

The Book Loft is also opening today and there's a book giveaway going on. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment (over there at The Book Loft) to be entered.

See ya there! =]

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Book Giveaways & So Much More!

I've been a busy beaver this week! And I can't wait to tell you all about it...But I will. At least until next Monday.

Nooooo.

I can't wait.
*eye roll* I'm too excited about this to wait that long. hehe. SO, I'm gonna make YOU wait until Monday. hehe.

Here's the deal. I love doing the author spotlights. Love it. But it's a lot of work and it cramps my posting style and my focus here at my personal blog. So, we (my assistant daughter, Esther and I) decided to move them to the Barn Door which was a great idea, except for the fact that we had people interested in joining us there and the spotlights took up two days each week. So then we moved them to Reflections in Hindsight. As Lisa and I tossed ideas around, I had the brainstorm of a Book Loft as a sister site to The Barn Door. I was so excited I about did a happy dance here in my corner of the living room!

Starting this coming Monday, author spotlights and book giveaways, just like I used to have here, will be posted at The Barn Door Book Loft. That's www.BarnDoorBookLoft.net Each week there's at least 2, usually 3, authors and their books spotlighted and given away. LOL. A copy of their book will be given away, not the authors themselves cuz we want them to keep writing books! ;-)

Joanne, the other half of my brain and a bff, has set up a Facebook page for the Book Loft for us and if you don't want to forget and possibly miss a book, you can subscribe to the Book Loft by email, by clicking here!

There. I feel SO much better! =] This is like having my cake and eating it too. And not only that, but the author spotlights finally have a home of their own. =]

Now, since I'm soooooo nice (I heard you laughing!) here's some fun to hold you over until next Monday:
Book Giveaways! 

Faith's Reward by Tammy Barley
 Meet Tammy Barley
an interview with Tammy Barley

A Path Less Traveled by Cathy Bryant:

Sarah's Christmas Miracle by Mary Ellis:




Be sure to visit those links and leave comments to be entered in the book giveaways!


Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Twisted or Strong?

The other day, on our way to church, we passed a house with some wind damage. The play-set they have for their children was twisted and blown over. It was lying on the ground beside the slide and the four posts it had been on.

It made me think of what can happen to us at times. We'll be sitting there thinking all is good, but then a wind kicks up and twists us all around. It can sometimes twist us so much that we're blown off our legs. But it doesn't have to be that way. We can sink our foundation so deep in Christ that a storm can only shake us, not blow us off.

Remember the children's song about the wise man who built his house upon a rock? That's what we're talking about.

Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compare to a wise man who built house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house and it fell—and great was its fall. ~Matthew 7:24-27 NAS

Building on the Rock sounds like a smart thing to do!
Let's sink our foundation and footer deep so when the rains come down we'll stand strong.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Spotlights

This week as I've been helping decorate our church for the Christmas season and program, I found myself in the spotlights a couple of times. Honestly. I was in the limelight. (Amazing, huh?!) My moments of glory came as I stood on the platform and looked for the next thing to do or listened to directions about bows and lights in the wrong place. LoL. That's as close to the lime lights as I wish to come, too! Those spotlights hurt the eyes! ;-)

But as I stood there in the spotlights I remembered I hadn't told you where the spotlights were and what's going on with them. This month the author spotlights are being hosted at Reflections in Hindsight. Come New Year's a new site is opening: The Barn Door Book Loft and it will be for author spotlights, interviews and book giveaways. I'll keep you posted, but it's gonna be a hopping site. =]

For now, here are the spotlights and book giveaways still open. Be sure to leave comments to be entered in the book giveaways!

Book Giveaways!
Enter to win A Path Less Traveled by Cathy Bryant:
Enter to win Sarah's Christmas Miracle by Mary Ellis:


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ebenezer Season

hehe. It's not what you think.

As a little girl I remember going to the family camp and seeing all the rocks my grandmother had on the window sills there and I eventually started my own collection. Some of my rocks I've had since 1985 or 86 when my dad brought 6 jungle river pebbles home to me (they're in the dish in the picture here.) But there's a reason why I collect rocks as well as a few other little knickknacks--and it's not because I like to dust, because I don't! LoL. You can find out why here.

As I played taxi this morning I got caught in a skunk parade! And I came out smelling like a rose. *grin* Okay, maybe not quite like a rose, but I sure didn't stink of skunk. I'll tell you about sometime, along with what I learned.

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Traffic in the Cornfields

Yesterday at church our youth pastor preached and asked a very good question...

Are you too busy living life to see God?

Be still, and know that I am God. 
~Psalm 46:10 NIV

That's a question we need to stop and ask ourselves every so often. And if you think "But I don't have time to stop!" then you ARE too busy.

Be still so you can see God.
~*~*~*~


I'm posting today at The Barn Door about a cornfield traffic jam. ;-) Drop by and see what I'm talking about.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Time for the Edges

One of the joys of living I the country is dealing with the dust, dirt and mud, depending on the season. With 7 of us in and out the door, our floors get dirty fast so it's not uncommon for one of us to run around with the broom and do a quick sweep of the walkways. It works as a quick fix, but we still need to take the time and do a thorough job of sweeping everyday.

Recently I've been just sweeping the walkways of my life. Sweeping the clumps of mud, chunks of dirt and all the grit of life out of the way so I can keep rushing on. But it's not working well. In fact, it's caught up to me.

All around the edges of my life there's a mess and it's time for me to take care of it.

The other day I was finally able to do the cleaning that's been on my to-do list for 2-3 Saturdays and it was such a relief to get it done. I even enjoyed doing it! I'm looking forward to doing the same thing in my life now. I NEED to do the same thing in my life. For me, my marriage and my family.

Just wanted to let you know why I won't be around as much as I was planning. This is a good thing and although the path here was not nice, I'm glad to be here.

How about the edges of your life? Have you been doing quick sweeps of the walkways but neglecting the edges?


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Author Spotlights and Winners

Are you looking for the Author Spotlight? It's posted over at Reflections and this week is Cathy Bryant and her book, A Path Less Traveled.

Last week's spotlight was on Linore Burkard and her giveaway is still open. You can find Linore's spotlight and her interview at Reflections.

WINNERS!
Holly Heisey is the winner of Paul Baines' book, Alpha Redemption and
Rita has won A.K. Arenz's book, Mirrored Image.
Congratulations!

How do you deal with stress? Do you deal with it like Jesus did? Yesterday I posted at the Internet Cafe on Dealing with Stress Like Jesus. I'd love for you to stop by!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Resisting or Resting?

Nursery duty is not one of my favorite things. In fact, it's enough to make me groan, but I remember quite clearly how much I appreciated being able to sit through a church service without little ones. Nursery is something I can certainly do once every six weeks, so when the need was announced, and my daughter asked, we volunteered. Each time our turn comes up, I remind myself it's a good opportunity to serve with a smile so a young mother can sit in service. It's been good for me! And the time I'm with the kids is okay.

I was in the nursery recently and found myself with a little one that was tired and fighting sleep. Which made two of us! By 11:30 the child did not want to play, but to be held while I stood. I'm enough out of practice that I can't stand with a little one on my hip for long, so I sat in the rocker and tried to placate the temper tantrum throwing child on my lap. After several toys were batted away, I reached for a book, and quiet finally settled in. After chatting through several pages, the little one's head nodded and I would've cheered if I hadn't been afraid of ruining it. Two more nods and the little head tucked under my chin with a sigh from both of us.

As I sat and snuggled the little one I wondered why they resist sleep so much sometimes. That's when I realized that I'm often like that little one. I throw a fit because I don't want to rest in God. I resist relaxing in my Savior's hands and do everything I can to handle things on my own. Until I can't anymore and I drop off and finally rest in God—the very thing I needed all along.

Why does a little one fight sleep so much? Why do I fight resting in God so much? Maybe I need to simply let go, snuggle in and rest in my Father's arms.

How about you? Do resist resting at times too?


Friday, November 19, 2010

Boys, boys, boys

We knew going in we would not only enjoy ourselves, but that we'd be blessed. And we were--above and beyond what we thought. Far above. Recently we were a host home for some of the Watoto children from Uganda and although we only got to spend a few hours with them, we fell in love fast! Here's our boys and their caretaker, Uncle Nicholas.


In the morning the boys were anxious to go outside and play. They loved being able to run around for awhile and they didn't mind substituting a volleyball for a soccer ball. They ran circles around my boys! =]


The little time we spent inside was full of legos, blocks, airplanes and kittens.


The youngest of the boys and and Alex teamed up. I don't know who had more fun, but they sure made a towering giant.


Although Bruce wasn't at our house, he connected with my middle son. I have a feeling the impact of that friendship will be felt for quite awhile. He was missed immediately.



These boys immediately became our boys and it was hard to let them go and wave goodbye. If you ever have a chance to hear a Watoto Childrens' Choir, GO! And if you can, host a few of them in your home. It will be a breath of fresh air and it just might change your life.


So tell me, what's been the highlight of your week?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Choosing to Celebrate

Have you ever felt like you fell short? Miserably short?
That's how I'm feeling.

I set out to celebrate the 40 days before my birthday, and life was so dog-gone busy that I didn't do near as much celebrating and seeking as I wanted to. I was hoping to make it through the book of 1 Samuel in my studying, but I'm only in chapter 11 of 31 chapters. I planned on staying up-to-date in my Esther study posts, but I missed several weeks and barely kept my nose above water in the Tuesday night study, never mind writing a weekly post.

But the fact is that I'm still standing and not down and out and that, in itself, is cause for celebration. So I'm choosing to celebrate in spite of falling short of my goals.

One night at Bible study a prayer was answered in a way that I had no doubt it was the direction from God that I'd been seeking. I don't remember ever receiving an answer like I did that night, and if another lady hadn't been sharing a neat answer to prayer I might've done a happy dance right there in someone else's living room.

One of the things I was seeking direction on was concerning a domain name I purchased a couple months ago. I've been thinking of moving my blog to a different domain, but I didn't want to jump first and think later, as I'm prone to do, so I had been talking with God about it. That night at Bible study God directed me to move to the new domain.
Finding the Extraordinary God in our Ordinary Lives
I was really hoping that I'd be able to move on my birthday, but other things have been going on and I wasn't able to get the site up and going, let along move. But that's okay, it will come in time. There are still lots of details to work out, but just experiencing God's direction like that was fantastic!

Other things have happened in ways that points to God's hand working and it's been so cool to see and realize that God is working behind the scenes even when I don't see any obvious evidence. The timing of the Esther study is a perfect example. I learned so much in this study—things that I've been able to apply immediately to where I'm at right now. Things that have made a difference in my life and changed how I see my current events and how I approach those events. Only God, who loves me enough to be intimately involved in the details of my life, would work things as He has. What a great an awesome God!!

Life has been in a pattern of change recently, and you've seen a little of it here at Patterings with the author spotlights, but things here will be settling down now. I'll be returning to what I love blogging about most: Finding the extraordinary God in our ordinary lives.

I hope you'll continue to join me. =]
Oh! I almost forgot! Today is my first post at The Barn Door. I'd LOVE it if you stopped by and said hi! Check out why I have No LadyBug Love.






Sunday, November 14, 2010

Light!


Jesus is our Light in the midst of a dark world,
and in our personal dark times.
Look to Jesus!!


Friday, November 12, 2010

Esther 6: The Set Up

Bible study: The Book of Esther

Sleepless in Susa. What's a king to do? Listen to stories of his own greatness, of course! And that's exactly what we find King Xerxes doing after that first dinner with Esther and Haman.

Esther 6 is when God pivots the whole story line of Esther, and the pivotal point is not the point of highest tension.
We expect the peripety (the sudden reversal, the hinge) to fall in the spot of highest tension but it doesn't always happen that way. In Esther, the pivot point is not the climax of the narrative. It's the seemingly insignificant event of Xerxes sleepless night, an ordinary event that begins to turn the tables. By making the peripety, the pivot point, an insignificant event, rather than the point of highest dramatic tension, the author is taking the focus away from human action. Had the pivot point been during the tension, Esther or Xerxes would have been seen as the cause for the change or reversal. By separating the peripety from the tension this makes the message that no one in the story is in control what is about to happen! An unseen power, God, is controlling the reversal of destiny. ~Karen Jobes.
God used Xerxes' sleepless night to turn the tide in Esther. The scrolls that were read to him recounted the story of how Mordecai had saved the king's life, 5 years previously. Typically, those kinds of deeds were great rewarded, but that time hadn't been. When Xerxes looks around for someone to help him figure out what to do, Haman is there with a fast answer.

Just look at this! Haman doesn't have to stop and think. The answer is fast because he's thought about it so often, and besides, who would the king want to honor more then the great Haman who attends private dinners with the king and queen of Persia? Haman pours out his wish list. He's so deep into self-promotion that he doesn't even stop to think the king may have someone else in mind.

Check out Haman's wish list:
*dressed in a royal robe—Persians superstitiously thought the king's robes brought him magical powers so very, very few ever touched them.
*riding the king's horse—coronations included riding the king's horse.
*paraded around by the king's most noble prince—clearly placing him much higher than the most noble prince.

It's enough to wonder if Haman wasn't planning on usurping the king's throne. Haman's tremendous thirst for honor made him so fixated on it that it eventually ended up destroying him. Look at the pronouns in verse 10...

The the king said to Haman, “Take quickly the robes and the horse as YOU have said, and do so for Mordecai the Jew, who is sitting at the king's gate; do not fall short in anything of all the YOU have said.” ~Esther 6:10 NAS

Of course, Haman obeyed. *snicker* I so wish I could see an instant replay of that scene! What was said between the two men as Haman robed Mordecai? Did Haman bellow his pronouncement of “Thus it shall be done to the man whom the king desires to honor!” or did he say it only loud enough that he could still mumble some? And what did the onlookers think and see? Did they see and understand the irony of it all? How many Jews got to see Mordecai on the king's horse? Did they cheer wildly? Do you think they had any idea of what was about to happen?

And then what happened?
Mordecai went back to work at the king's gate and Haman scurried home with his head covered. Once he got there, he wasn't encouraged, either. His friends saw what had happened and they took off. They didn't want to be anywhere close the lightening bolt struck, and it's a good thing because it struck fast.
We might glean several things from Mordecai's example. If we get overlooked for affirmation or promotion, so be it. Let's just do our jobs. If we get elevated and celebrated, so be it. Let's just do our jobs. Let's pursue a walk with God so close that the spolights of this world—be they for us or against us—are eclipsed by His enourmougs shadow dcast on our path.

There in the shelter of the Most High we find our significance and the only saticsfactin of our insatiable need to be noticed. There and theree alone we are free to be neither depressed nor impressed with the capticious reactions of this carnal world. ~Beth Moore
Haman's pride set him up for the fall he took. God's hand worked out the details for his free fall from fame.

By making a sleepless night the pivot point of the book, God took the focus off all human involvement and placed it squarely on Himself. He is the unseen powerful hand controlling destiny—then and now.

What about me and you?

*Do you think Xerxes' sleepless night had anything to do with Esther including Haman in their private dinner?

*When was the last time you've been sleepless? Try listening to what God may be trying to say to you but you're always too busy to listen to.

*Is there something you've become so fixated on that it's cheating you out of the goodness God is offering? Is that fixation setting you up destruction?

*After you've been praised or rewarded, do you go right back to work or do you strut around preening?

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

meet Margaret Daley

...at the Barn Door today and tomorrow. She's an incredible lady who wows me with all she does. Her books are favorites here at my house. Be sure to go to the Barn Door to meet her and enter the book giveaway.

ALSO, don't forget, there's two book giveaways still current here at Patterings...
Spotlight with Paul Baines
Interview with Paul Baines
Spotlight with Alice Arenz
Interview with Alice Arenz

It's hard to believe it's November already. After a week or two of cold, we're in a warm week and let me tell ya, it's WONderful! It's warm enough that we're going to wash the van today, one last time, so we can get some pictures and list it in the paper. A bittersweet thing since it closes a chapter in our lives. It's good but sobering at the same time. I'm on the verge of buying a huge wall calendar for the family simply to keep track of who and where.

Since Esther is the one who posts the author spotlights for me (both here and at the the Barn Door now) here's a picture of her with one of her birthday presents last week: a NaNo t-shirt. She has her first book: last year's NaNo project and she's writing furiously this month, too, working on book 2. =] Esther is my younger daughter, number 3 in my line-up of kids. She'll also be getting her permit next month, but until then, I'm enjoying the driving and think time I've been getting. Trust me, I no longer take that time for granted. LoL

Happy Tuesday! Friday's coming! ;-)



Monday, November 08, 2010

The Barn Door

The Barn Door is now open!
Come visit us and see what we're all about.

Tomorrow's author spotlights will be posted at The Barn Door and I'll be using those days here for other things. =] =] This is one of the fine details that I've been seeking God over--and how He directed and arranged all this amazes me. God's timing is incredible! I'm so thankful for His sovereignty.

This week is the last of my 40 day birthday celebration and I'm curious to see how things come together. (I've already been surprised several times.) It's so cool to see and experience God working in my life.


Thursday, November 04, 2010

Book Giveaway Winners!

Now that October is over, I'm finally getting caught up and we have some winners!
Some of these are review, but I'm posting ALL of them for the fun of it! =]

Merry = A Memory Between us by Sarah Sundin
Anne Payne = Making Waves by Lorna Seilstad
Carole = The Perfect Blend by Trish Perry
Sunny = Letters in the Attic by DeAnna Dodson
Joanne = Love Finds You in Golden, NM by Lena Nelson Dooley
karen k = Facelift by Leanna Ellis
CarolNWong = Just for the Moment by Deanna Klingel
Apple Blossom = First Love by Michelle Sutton



From now on, the author spotlights and interviews will be posted at The Barn Door, a midwest group blog that I'm excited to be a part of. We're opening the doors at the Barn Door on Monday and I hope you join us there.

There are still two book giveaways going on here at Patterings:
spotlight with Alice Arenz
interview with Alice Arenz
spotlight with Paul Baines
interview with Paul Baines


Wednesday, November 03, 2010

with P. A. Baines

Patterings
Welcome to Patterings, Paul!
Tell us about your epiphany moment when you decided you were going to seriously pursue writing and eventually publication.

For me that moment happened about thirteen years ago. I was looking for something I could do for God and I spent a lot of time in prayer. Not long after that, an idea for a Christian speculative novel started rattling around in my head and wouldn't go away. I decided to write it down and was surprised that it wasn't as dreadful as I thought it might be. It wasn't polished but I sent it out anyway. It was accepted by a well-known agency in New York but, although it "came close" (their words) they could not sell it. By then I was hooked and have been writing ever since.

Which of your books (published or upcoming) has been the most fun for you to write and which character is your favorite? Why?
I am busy writing a humorous space opera called "Hanzet, the Universe, and Everything" which I am enjoying way too much. I enjoy writing humor because you get to have fun while you work. My favorite character in Hanzet has to be Malcolm, an ordinary Earth human six million years from now. His life revolves around television and food, until one day he gets caught up in an adventure that takes him to the farthest reaches of the universe. He is flawed but has a good heart and ultimately ends up saving the day in spite of his best efforts to avoid trouble.

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
I struggle to get started. I'm fine once the first few words hit the page, but I really have a problem with that first sentence. I get around this by reading a few lines from one of my favorite authors at which point the urge to write usually grabs me.

Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote? Why?
Alpha Redemption has two main characters. Brett is an astronaut taking part in a prototype mission to Alpha Centauri. Jay is the computer program that controls the ship. Although the story centers around Brett's physical and emotional journey, Jay stole the show for me. He is like an innocent child with an insatiable appetite for knowledge. Brett treats him badly at first and I really found myself feeling sorry for Jay. One aspect of the story I enjoyed the most was exploring life and the human experience through the eyes of a computer.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Singing "Climb Every Mountain" from the Sound of Music on stage during a school play is probably the quirkiest thing I have ever done. This is for two reasons. Firstly, I am normally a shy person. Secondly, I cannot sing.

Are there things you put off doing because you dread them?
I tend to like peace and quiet, so a trip into a busy town center is something I will try to avoid if at all possible. Filling in my annual tax return is something I dread and always end up leaving until the last minute. I find any kind of formal occasion a chore and will drag my feet when going to one of those (not so much dread as discomfort).

What would a perfect day for you look like?
Realistically or in my dreams? Well, maybe I'll settle for a mix of the two. Waking to the sound of birds singing on the first day of a long summer holiday. A blue sky on a warm day spent at the beach with my family followed by a barbeque under the stars. Later, on our return home, an envelope is waiting on the doormat containing a publishing contract for my latest novel. Add cheesecake in there somewhere and you have my perfect day.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I write Christian speculative fiction but don't read very much in the genre. I tend to look for any story that is well-written with a strong voice. The story is paramount to me, no matter what the genre. As an example of the kinds of books I like, I recently finished A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. Both of these stories pulled me in and made me think about life and my place in the world. I think a good story becomes part of you and changes you a little bit.

Are there certain foods or snacks keeps the words flowing for you?
I used to nibble a lot of biscuits when I first started writing. These days I don't nibble much when I write, but I do like to keep some mixed nuts and raisins handy.

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?
I think redemption is a big theme for me. I am drawn to imperfect characters who believe but who have doubts about their faith. Life has pulled them away from God but He still has a plan for their lives. I like to show the unfolding of that plan as God reveals His perfect love. I don't identify with flawless characters because people like that do not exist in the real world. We have all fallen short of the glory of God, yet He is always faithful. This, to me, is an amazing thing.

What lesson is the Lord teaching you right now or recently taught you?
Something He has been teaching me for a long time now is to trust Him, even when things seem to be going wrong. I used to think that, as a Christian, I should never have problems and that my life would go smoothly if only I prayed. Now I understand that what I think should happen and what God wants to happen do not necessarily agree. Through this I am learning to align my will with God's. I used to get irritated if something happened to break my daily routine. Now, instead of getting annoyed, I thank God for whatever the reason is for the delay. Simply put, I am learning to let God take the reins of my life and not fretting when we take a route I did not expect. I have a lot more peace now.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
I have a finished novel that I hope to show to my publisher soon. It is called Hour and involves the discovery of another planet just like the Earth on the other side of the Sun. A team is sent to explore the planet where they discover a civilization caught up in a terrible ecological disaster and harboring a secret that has spiritual consequences for everyone on Earth. For this story I spent a lot of time and effort researching space travel to make it as authentic as possible, including reading through an actual Shuttle accident report. I like this story because it has an ending that I think many Christians will enjoy.

You can purchase Alpha Redemtion from Amazon:




P. A. Baines is giving away a copy of Alpha Redemtion. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment by Monday, November 15th and check back on Tuesday, November 16th to see if you've won. You can enter twice--once on this post and once on yesterday's spotlight with P. A. Baines. If you want to guarantee that you're notified if you win, then leave your email address in the comment, otherwise, you can just check back and email me through the button in my sidebar.
**Annoying little disclaimer: This giveaway is open only to U.S. addresses. By clicking on the Amazon link above or in the sidebar, and purchasing, I will receive a very small percentage of the sale.


Tuesday, November 02, 2010

meet P. A. Baines

Patterings
P.A. Baines is the author of Alpha Redemption, a Christian speculative fiction novel that asks the question: “If a man-made artificial intelligence became self-aware and developed a belief in God, would God recognize it as having a soul?”.

Educated in Africa, he works as an analyst/programmer and is studying towards a degree in Creative Writing through the Open College of the Arts in England.

He currently lives in a small corner of the Netherlands with his wife and two children and various wildlife.

You can find P. A. Baines at his website www.pabaines.com and on the blog newauthors.wordpress.com

 
Alpha Redemtion

From despair he fled, through tragedy he lived on, and journeyed to innocence.

His trajectory: the stars. His companion: a computer poised at the brink of sentience.

An unlikely friendship on a prototype spaceship at lightspeed towards Alpha Centauri, and redemption.







Here's an excerpt of Alpha Redemtion:

The ship loomed overhead, its shadow engulfing them. Its smooth white skin filled the window, slowly obscuring their view of the Earth as the elevator rose. It stopped, and pneumatic seals hissed and whirred into place. Brett followed the technician through the airlock, pausing only to get a final glimpse of the planet he would not see again for almost a decade. He craned his neck to get a look but the ship's hull now blocked his view. All he could see was a sliver of atmosphere and a handful of stars.

It was his first time inside The Comet, but he knew it intimately from months of training. They were in the cockpit but there were no instruments: no joystick or control console, or even a windscreen--at least not in the usual sense of the word. There was nothing for him to do other than get into the hyper-sleep chamber that crouched in the middle of the floor like a grotesque, mutated iron-lung. He climbed the steps, turning to look towards the open airlock while the technician helped him connect the hoses, checking and double-checking the seal around his mouth. His initial discomfort at having something attached to his face faded as he relaxed the way they had taught him in the swimming pool, focusing on breathing slowly and deeply.

He slid into the chamber and his legs, hips, torso and chest became weightless in the clinging embrace of the syrupy goo. It covered his head and he opened his eyes, blinking uncomfortably into the yellow haze. He knew it was vital to immerse the eyes; they had stressed that many times. Remember to open them wide and have a good look around.

He could see the airlock from here, and the technician, now an amorphous blob, moving around the front of the bath, back and forth, back and forth. Brett felt a shudder as the lid closed and sealed over his head. A vague fear surfaced in the deepest recesses of his mind—what if. . .? then vanished again like a puff of breath on a chilly autumn morning.

The technician disappeared through the airlock, leaving Brett alone in his bath, breathing filtered air through a hose, listening to the muted sounds of the ship as it prepared to launch him towards an impossibly distant point of light.

In his dream-like cocoon, Brett could sense very little. Everything seemed muted and far away. He heard distant hisses, cavernous booms, and the ghostly shriek of metal on metal. Vibrations passed through the liquid and nudged at his body as if to alert him to some impending danger.

He could see the hoses drifting. His legs floated like odd-shaped creatures in a yellow sea. Then the vibrations stopped and there was no sound other than his heart beating softly in his ears. The taste of the air being fed to him through his mouthpiece changed. It reminded him of something. Was it watermelon? He could not remember the last time he had eaten a watermelon. He could not remember the last time he had seen a watermelon. Maybe they were extinct. Like dinosaurs. Hit by an asteroid; drowning in the mud; arms too short to take out the seeds. . .

Brett became aware that he was no longer thinking clearly, but that was fine. He watched his thoughts tumbling along like pretty little shards of plastic in a kaleidoscope, tumbling, tumbling, ever changing, never the same picture twice.

And at some point--he did not know exactly when--his thoughts faded as darkness washed over him and he slipped into hyper-sleep.



You can purchase Alpha Redemtion from Amazon:




P. A. Baines is giving away a copy of Alpha Redemtion. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment by Monday, November 15th and check back on Tuesday, November 16th to see if you've won. You can enter twice--once on this post and once on tomorrow's interview with P. A. Baines. If you want to guarantee that you're notified if you win, then leave your email address in the comment, otherwise, you can just check back and email me through the button in my sidebar.
**Annoying little disclaimer: This giveaway is open only to U.S. addresses. By clicking on the Amazon link above or in the sidebar, and purchasing, I will receive a very small percentage of the sale.



Sunday, October 31, 2010

Unbelievable how...

...this month has flown by! But then again, October is usually my busiest month, and this year has been no exception. Last week my parents were visiting with us--a very special treat! Here's my dad helping my oldest with math homework one morning...


A couple of weeks ago, I looked out the window and saw my youngest skiing down a "hill" on one of our "sleds." I couldn't pass up the picture! The land around here is pretty flat, so the kids make use of any incline they can, especially the slope going up to the fence row behind the barn.


They also use anything as a sled since we don't get enough snow to warrant buying real sleds. The favorite is an old aluminum baking tray that they curled the front edge so it glides better. This one works great on ice, and surprisingly well on this fall's brown grass.




I've had a couple of projects in the works recently that have kept me hopping. One of them is a formatting a book for Diane Reed Loew, 101 Ways to Celebrate the Ordinary, which will be available shortly.





The other project is a new group blog I'm a part of: The Barn Door. I was able to set this new site up and I'm really excited about it. We'll be opening the doors real soon!

This month, as part of my 40 days of celebrating and preparing, I've been seeking God for direction next year, and He's answering and confirming things as only He can. I'm really looking forward to seeing how things play out--and I'll be sharing more about this in the next 10-12 days.



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