Have you ever watched a kid vacuum? If your kids are anything like mine, they tend to vacuum an octopus. No, there's no octopus in my house (that I know of) but I'm blogging today at At the Well about Vacuuming an Octopus. Are you curious?

In other news, I've had about all the drama I can handle for awhile. So, I'm spreading the word...
No more drama in my world.

hehe. Do you think it'll work?
How about you? Any drama in your life?

F is for...

Ordinary Lives. From a 2 z 4 u & me
Now, for this week's installment of our a 2 z 4 u & me meme,
the letter F...

Now, to understand the... um, importance (read that Funny aspect) of this post, you need to know that I've teased my mom for years for taking pictures of flowers. It seemed like every other picture she showed me was of flowers. It totally cracked me up. And I hafta admit that it cracks me up even more because now I'm doing the same thing!! Truly.

So, this week's letter F is for Flowers. Because I just can't resist.
There's stories for many of these pictures, especially these tiger lilies, but the stories will wait for another day. ;-)
Tiger Lilies
Some of my favorite flowers have always been pansies...
...maybe because I like purple. This one grows wild all around us.
Venus' Looking Glass
One of my favorite features of Spring is smelling the honeysuckle. Honeysuckle vines line much of the road along here and I love it.
Honeysuckle vines
...and the scent of honeysuckle after a rain? Heavenly!

I've begun posting a Weed Watcher's Monthly Report at The Barn Door just so I can post some of my flower pictures, and it's been so fun!! Since I missed my June Weed Watcher's Report, today's Flower post is helping me feel better. ;-) Thanks for being such good sports and humoring me. It'll get me through to July now. ;-)

If you're joining us for the a 2 z 4 u & me meme by posting on your blog this week about the letter F, be sure to add your name and the link to that particular post in the linky gadget here.

Look, Mom!

Normally I'm a very laid-back mom who doesn't get shook up over much. Normally.

Wanna see what turned me into a shrieking shrew? (Seriously. Ask my kids.)

Can you see what my son brought home?
Adorable? yes.
But it was enough to push me over the edge.

I mean, this isn't a critter that you can just release, pat on the head, and say "Run along, now" to. But that's about what this son of mine thought--without the pats of course.

I asked him if he was Superman.
Loud enough for the whole county to hear.

*eye roll*

So tell me, what's the best your kids have brought home?
Come on, please tell me. I'm still trying to see the funny side of this.

Eeks it's E

Ordinary Lives. From a 2 z 4 u & me

Now, for this week's installment of our a 2 z 4 u & me meme,
the letter E...

Last week was wonderful. I spent time with my mom and dad and almost no time online. It was just what I needed and I'm so thankful!

Before they left, I heard from the agent's assistant I've been working with and she asked to see my full manuscript and to submit a proposal. I was elated!

But it also really put the pressure on. After a week of being offline, I was swamped... and still am.

So, guess what I've been doing since Friday afternoon?


(see Joanne's post about those exclamation points! *wink*)

And since that's ALL I've been doing, that's all this week's letter E is for.

Well, and eeks. I've been saying that a lot since that email and as I've been editing and putting together a proposal. ;-)

But you know the comforting thing? God's got it all in control. He knows what's in store for this manuscript and I'm good with that. God's will, in God's way, in God's time. That's what I want, and I don't wanna settle for less.

If you're joining us for the a 2 z 4 u & me meme by posting on your blog this week about the letter E, be sure to add your name and the link to that particular post in the linky gadget here.

Letter D

As you can see, I've not blogged at all this last week, even though I wrote two devotionals, snapped many pictures and have several ideas for posts. The problem has been time.

See, my parents arrived yesterday to spend the week with us, which means that I'm 'on leave' from the computer so I can spend time with them. Dad's bone cancer constantly reminds us how fortunate we are to still have him with us and I intend to soak up every moment with him I can. Which means I was working like crazy last week, getting as much done ahead as I could. Time well spent, but it left no time for blogging. That's okay!!

Ordinary Lives. From a 2 z 4 u & me
Now, for this week's installment of our a 2 z 4 u & me meme,
the letter D...

I have a confession.

I could not come up with any ideas for the letter D!! I drew a blank, so I brainstormed as I taxied my daughter to and from work.
Here's what I came up with:

  • Dad. Hooray for a visit with my dad and mom!! But I don't have many good pictures of them.
  • Dogs. I love my dogs, but I've blogged about them many times and don't want you guys to think the only thing I can blog about is crazy animals...
  • Dad. Wish I had a more comfortable chair for him...
  • Day lilies! YES! My tiger lilies are blooming, I just need to run out and get some pictures of them. Ugh. Time...
  • Dad... Wish I could scan in some old snapshots for a post about Dad!
  • Dumb... that I can't come up with a decent post about D.
  • Dad... Not that I have time to hunt up pictures and learn how to scan them in.
  • Ditz! I almost went with this idea cuz I was a MAJOR ditz last week!! I even told the poor tire repair man the wrong tire!! So embarrassing, but that's letter E...
  • Dad and Mom. I'm tellin' ya, it doesn't get much better than when they're here!
  • Dance. Did I mention I went with my daughter to dance the other week? Fun! (the average age there is about 68, LoL)
  • Dad. Even just one picture of Dad will do and I'm out of time...
LoL. You get the picture. And there's a picture of my dad and daughter. Ha! Two Ds there!!

Phew. I made it. See?!?! THIS is why I need this meme!! LoL
*whispering* I DID say at the out-set of this meme that even a LIST would do, and I'm so thankful cuz that's about all I could eek out this week!

If you're joining us for the a 2 z 4 u & me meme by posting on your blog this week about the letter D, be sure to add your name and the link to that particular post in the linky gadget here.

Letter C - When Storms Come Calling

Ordinary Lives. From a 2 z 4 u & me
This week I'm at Joy's Joyfully Journaling blog, talking about blogging and giving away a premade layout or 2 blog lessons, the winner's choice. Be sure to come join me there!! =)

Welcome to this week's letter for the a 2 z 4 u & me meme.
The letter C.

Clouds are fascinating.

I didn't think it was any coincidence that when I was contemplating what to post for C we had a storm roll through and we got to enjoy a family time of watching the clouds and the storm roll in. It was a peaceful and relaxing time for us. But not all storms have that effect.

One evening I looked out my front window and saw what could be the closest to the Pillar of Fire I'll ever see. It was stunning.

It makes me think of how our lives can be when God shines on us... When He lights us up.

My kids love watching for what they can see in the clouds. When did I stop looking to see what could be found in clouds? There's surprises and blessings and beauty galore in the clouds that pass through my life--if I'll just stop and look for it.

If all our days were clear, with no clouds in the sky, just think how much we would miss out on.

Storms are part of life. Some are big and some rock our world.
Just as Jesus calmed the storm, 
He brings peace to us as we keep our eyes fixed on Him.

When the light of God shines into the midst of our storm, everything changes. Great beauty comes from the storm--beauty that others notice. Beauty that makes them wonder at the peace we have. Beauty that can point them to the creator of the clouds. God Most High.


Thanks for joining me for this week's edition of from a 2 z 4u & me!

Don't forget to add you name and link to Linky if you're posting about the letter C today! Join the fun! The more the merrier! (Learn more about the a2z meme here.)

You Gotta Be There

I've been trying to get back into walking this spring. It's been tough with all the topsy-turvy rush of everyone's work schedules, but I need to walk—for my body, mind and soul. There is just something about being outside first thing in the morning, walking that tunes my heart to God's channel. Since I've been posting a lot of pictures for the a2z meme as well as at The Barn Door, I left Puppers at home and brought my camera, never dreaming all I'd see.

I was crouching in weeds, getting a picture of a cluster of wild roses—I had actually taken one shot when I realized there was honeybee on the far rose. As I watched, it moved to the other roses, flew away and came back.

Then, just a little further down the road, I stopped to get a picture of the milkweed. Once I got one of the whole plant, I waded into the weeds to see if I couldn't get some of the flowers. I stayed there a long time snapping shots, thrilled with God's detail of each individual flower that made up the whole.

I was amazed at what I was seeing. Things that I only usually saw as a whole, from a distance, were much more intricate and beautiful up close.

Yanno, it's a lot like my spiritual life. Just like I had to purposefully go out and walk to put myself in a position to see and experience the beauty of the morning and the flowers, I need to put myself in a position where I can see the things God has for me to see.
I love those who love me; and those who diligently seek me will find me. ~Proverbs 8:17 NAS
You can't see it if you aren't there. And you can see it in greater detail if you're there yourself and not seeing it second hand.

As beautiful and wonderful as some pictures are, it's not the same as experiencing it yourself. When you are in God's Word, digging for yourself, you learn things in greater detail than you do when you're listening to a recap or a lesson after someone else has done the digging. Those times are very good, like seeing a picture, but it's not quite the same as being there yourself.

I don't know about you, but I want to put myself in the position where I can see the things of God. That means being in God's Word, looking and listening. 

You gotta be there to yourself. It's better than any picture could ever be.

Samuel: Desiring God's own Heart

Finding the Extraordinary God in our Ordinary Lives. Desiring God's own Heart Bible Study

This week my Tuesday night Bible study started studying the books of 1 & 2 Samuel, and I'm not only loving the study, but I'm learning a lot, and we've only just begun. Thirteen months ago I had NO idea what I was in for when we started studying together on Tuesday nights. I just knew I was desperate for a Bible study—enough that I was willing to lead/facilitate one if that's what it took to be part of a group. I didn't know about the tremendous blessings in store for those that teach, because yanno, when you teach, you need to study more than the others in your group, and this group has really kept me on my toes with my nose to the grindstone of God's Word. It's been fabulous and I'm so very thankful!

The books of Samuel are the illustrated version of spiritual truths spelled out elsewhere in the Bible. They show us three portraits of repentance, rather than simply tell us about it.

Because I write fiction, I love this feature of the books of Samuel. But it's not just me! If you were given a choice between reading a text book on repentance—what's involved in genuine repentance followed by examples of insincere and genuine repentance—and reading a story book with the same information, which would you choose? And look at the stories in the books of Samuel—some call them Sunday School stories because children's Sunday School lessons are based on these accounts.

The books of Samuel are loaded with graphic illustrations of God's truths. It's theology lived out in a way we can understand—in the triumphs and the failures, in the peaceful times as well as in the huge storms of life, in the frantic rush of life and when you're becalmed and going nowhere fast. Samuel paints pictures for us, showing us what God requires and the rewards and benefits of our obedience.

If we read the books of Samuel, or any other of the historical books of the Bible, and try to piece together exactly what happened, we could be in for some hair pulling. Why? Because the writers weren't concerned with the exact detail of the events they were writing about. Their prime concern and focus was on conveying lessons about God—theology. So one of the ways they did that was through contrasting people and situations.

In 1 Samuel, we first see the proper way to repent—genuine repentance. Samuel led the nation in repentance which led to victory, but Saul's version of repentance is all wrong. He shows us the consequences of excuses and empty words. Then there's David who understood how to genuinely repent. And which man is considered the man after God's own heart? David. The man who sinned time and time again, big and small, but repented and sought God. It's David's example we're to follow in desiring God's own heart.

As we read historical accounts in the Bible, like the books of Samuel, we need to ask ourselves, “So what's the moral of the story?” We need to find the truth of each narrative and apply it to our lives. These are so much more than Sunday School stories! These are truths to live by. Truths that guide us from consequences to victory.

My goal is to blog my way through these books. My near-and-dear, Joanne, is joining us long-distance through this study, and I hope you can join us for parts of it too!

So tell me, what's your favorite story from 1 Samuel?

Orange Velour and Me

My house. Sigh. I love my house. It's big and loaded with windows. Since there's 7 of us living here, big is extra good. Of course, the fact that the living room and dining room run together adds to it's spacious feeling, and having the kitchen divided from the dining room with just a bar and glass fronted cabinets extends that feeling. I truly love my house. The dimensions are a bit... odd, but that's okay. We've made it work for us. I mean, how many of you have a 44 foot hallway? When we originally started this building, it was going to be a shop (barn) but we were going to live in it temporarily until we built the house of our dreams. Instead we made this work and put a playground for the kids where the house was supposed to be. Maybe someday we'll actually build a house there, but I like things how they are. I like my pole barn house.

Sometimes when friends visit for the first time, they're shocked when they step inside. Yes, it's a pole barn house but the space inside and the windows wow them. They see the sky lights and ceiling vaults (which add to the spacious feel), they see the custom cabinets in my kitchen, but they forget Jim was not only a contractor for 25 years, but that his first love is crafting furniture, so the cabinets and old style door trim are just par for the course. They oh and ah and then sometimes they'll start comparing it to what they have. I hate that.

See, I've been in their homes. Sure, the house is usually smaller than ours, but their hallway, if they have one, might be 10 feet long. But do you know what I notice? The furniture and how neat and clean and coordinated everything is.

My furniture is old. Some of it is ancient. It's also ugly. Very ugly. I mean, orange and gold velour couches went out how many years ago? And those flowers? Gag. And the only thing that might qualify as matching is the origins of each piece: hand-me-downs. But I don't even see the color any more. After 10+ years of my family piling on it, the couch is done for. Totally. I think even the plywood we inserted under the cushions is done for.

Recently a friend visited and was wowed by the house. I sat there and tried not to stare at the ancient, ugly, worn out couch she was sitting on and tried not to remember the over-stuffed, gorgeous, ultra-comfy couch I sat on at her house. I'm telling you, it was tough.

But how many times have we done the same things in our lives? How many times have we thought, “Oh, if only I had ____ like you!” Whether it's a character trait or talent or anything like that. We've all done it!

Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker, to him who is but a potsherd among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, 'What are you making?' … this is what the Lord says—the Holy One of Israel, and its Maker: Concerning things to come, do you question me about my children, or give me orders about the work of my hands? ~Isaiah 45:9, 11 NIV

“For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” ~Jeremiah 29:11 NAS

It made me stop and think and be grateful for what I have. No, I don't have a living room people want to photograph for magazines—unless it's for the worst d├ęcor and oldest, ugliest furniture. But I do have a spacious house, there's room for all of us. I have a laundry room with a door on it so I can close the door when it's especially bad or when company comes. I have a house that serves its purpose, and serves it well.

Can the same be said of me? Am I so caught up in the fact that I'm an orange velour couch in a leather couch world that I miss out on serving the purpose God has for me?
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