Monday, October 31, 2011

Fear's Role in Procrastination

Okay, so even by writing this post, I'm procrastinating.
I'm using this to put off doing what I really, really need to be doing, but I just can't pass up the opportunity. (Even that is pathetic because my past procrastination is making it so I'm missing out on a great opportunity today. And yet, here I am writing this.)


I'm a procrastinator at heart. Pathetically so.

I know all the reasons I need to push on. I know the importance of it. I know that procrastinating could easily kill all hope of what I'm hoping for and what I've been working for and I feel God has for me. But sometimes there's something even bigger than all those things I know.

Fear.

Fear of what? Fear of failure.
If it's not done, it can't fail.

Am I the only one who deals with this??

And I even know the verses to fight this fear—because I've searched them out so often!

So here's the verse that's pulling me out of this bog fueled by fear:

For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. ~2 Timothy 1:7 NAS

Timidity. Cowardice. Fear. It's NOT what God has given us!

God's given us power. His power. “Miraculous power,” might and strength.
And love.
And discipline. Now there's a word we love to hate. Discipline. Self-control.

THAT's what God has given us.
That means that any time I let fear have control, I'm turning my back on God and what He has given me and choosing the hog swill of fear instead.

How dumb is that?!?!

Sooooo, now that I've put that in perspective (for myself), guess what I'm off to do?
Work. In power, love and discipline—those awesomely cool gifts God gave me.

So tell me, why do you procrastinate?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Catption Contest Winner

Wow! This was fun!!

Tonight, while my crew had dessert, I read the captions to them (without giving them names!) and let the laughs be the first found judging. For the final round, each cast a vote, and the winner of our first caption contest is...



Di, contact me for your prize. ;-)

Stay tuned for next month's caption contest.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Burn Up

The other day I entered the dining room and saw a paring knife sitting beside the four wick candle I've been burning this month. My darling husband had decided that the candle was burning its wicks too fast, leaving a whole lot of wax unused, so he helped it. He trimmed the wax from the top of the candle and dropped it down into the melted wax. He did that many times and even trimmed off the side to feed the wicks and keep them burning longer. His objectives? To enable us to see the flames and to keep the wicks burning long enough to burn up all the wax.

Our Heavenly Father has similar goals for our lives. He wants the flame of our life to be visible to those around us and He wants us to burn up for Him, not burn out.
Your are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; ~Matthew 5:14, 16

Originally, the whole purpose of candles was to illuminate the darkness. We're to be doing that, too, but we can't be effective if our flame is obscured by walls of unused wax. That's when the paring knife needs to come out to trim down the wax. Sure it changes the candle's appearance, many times leaving it much less appealing, but if the end goal is to illuminate the darkness, that's what needs to happen.

Too many times we're so concerned with having a visually appealing candle that we don't worry about how long the wicks last. If they get a little too long and start to smoke, we just trim the wick, without thinking about the burn time we're losing. God goes about it differently. He trims the wax and drops the shavings into the melted wax pool to raise the wax level, not worrying about the outward appearance. He wants the wick to burn all the wax.

But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all. ~Philippians 2:17

I will most gladly spend and be expended for your souls...
~2 Corinthians 12:15

Have you ever noticed that the unburned wax of the candle ends up being an empty shell that hides the flame? What's the whole point of the candle? The wax or the flame? If it's the wax, then we're right to worry about the shell that's left unburned. If it's the flame, then we need to allow the work of the paring knife and feed the wax to the wick, making sure the wax burns so it doesn't obstruct the light of the flame.

For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. ~Philippians 2:13

 

Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. ~Matthew 5:16


Heavenly Father, help us to burn up for You, not burn out...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Weenie Roasting Season

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 W.

We started weenie roasting years ago, and haven't missed a year yet. We've been known to go out in all seasons...spring, summer, fall, and yes, even winter.


Aren't the adorable?  And sooooo little!! sigh. Where do the years go?!?!
2003
2011

Check out those years and how much they've grown in the 8 years. And if you scroll down a post or two, you can see them about half-way through those years. ;-)


Years ago my hubs built this weenie roast for us, and we've had so many years to enjoy it, and we have. He gleaned old telephone poles and made benches out of them and as we can get them, we have the jumbo wire spools as tables. We also set up saw horses and planks to use as a serving table for the dawgs, buns, beans, mac n cheese, and sodas, and... oh! and chips and marshmallows!!


^ Here's my older four... and below is my wonderful hubs, youngest, and Puppers. Of course. Can't have a weenie roast without our furry, four-footed family members, who, I might add, are pretty good about staying away from the food but we still have a little training to do.


And marshmallows to wrap-up a wonderful weenie roast. Stop by sometime and we'll throw one together. =)


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

Monday, October 24, 2011

How to Put Text on Pictures Using Picasa

Blogging Tips and Tricks at Ordinary Lives

How to put text on a picture (like I do for my memory verses and my Word Filled Wednesday posts) is a question that's come in. My favorite way is to use Paint.net--a free tool that's like Photoshop and you work in layers, giving you tremendous flexibility to move and rearrange and change things long after you've done them. But that's far more than a blog post. I DO have a tutorial on how to use Paint.net and you can order it here for $5. You'll have it in your hands fairly quickly. Email me for it.

Another free tool I use--the one I started with, is Picasa. My sister, the photographer behind SeaLevel 320,Picasa is the one who got me started with Picasa and now I use it as my photo management program. It's wonderful.

To use Picasa:
  • Download Picasa and let it catalog/import your pictures.
  • To view your pictures, look on the left side of the screen. You’ll see your picture files listed there. Click on a file to have it displayed in the central area.
  • You can scroll through those photos using the slide bars/arrow on the right side, just like your Word program.
  • Want to rearrange or organize? Just click, drag and drop the picture into different folders.
To put text on a picture using Picasa:
  • Double click the picture you’d like to put text on.
  • On the left side of the screen, you’ll see a menu. Click Text, it’s in the 3rd row, middle.
  • Select the font you want to try along with font size. All of these things can be tweaked as you’re working on that line of text.
  • To select font color, Click the circle to the right of the T, just below the font size and alignment.
  • Click on the picture and begin typing the line you want added.
  • To move the text, click and drag it to where you’d like it.
  • To set the text on an angle, mouse over the text so the circle with the pointer appears on the right side of the circle. Click and drag that pointer to the angle you want it.
  • Clicking and dragging that pointer on the circle will also allow you to enlarge or shrink the text.
  • Want the text outlined? Go to the menu area on the left and click the circle between the T and the slide bar to select your outlining color.
  • As long as you are working on that particular line of text you can tweak it and change it. Once you start a new line (by clicking outside the text box area on the picture) the only way to go back and change what you’ve done is to use the Clear All button, which is where it can become very frustrating because it clears everything you’ve done since your last save. That’s what pushed me to learn Paint.net. I was tired of losing all the work because something wasn’t lining up right.
Be sure to save your work!!
Here’s how:
  • In the menu area on the left, click Apply. It will apply (stick) your text to the photo.
  • Then click File (upper left hand corner of screen) and select Save As so you can keep an original of your unaltered picture.
  • Name your new file and select the folder you want it stored in.
  • Click Save.
  • Save different variations or save in stages so if you have to clear your work you’ve got something saved with the part you liked.
To lighten the text, like you would for a copyright stamp on a photo:
  • Put the text on the picture.
  • In the menu area, under the color selection circles, there’s a slide bar for Transparency. Click and drag that to the left to fade the text.

There you have it... How to add text to your pictures, using free tools. =) If you're interested in a tutorial on how to use Paint.net, email me.

So tell me, why do you put text on pictures?

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Right Name

2008
Getting the right name attached to the right person isn't always an easy thing to do. Many times I've found myself stuttering over my kid's names which makes me sound real smart (not) because their names all start with a vowel. My favorite, though, is when my dad called me 'Salchi', who was our dog--and had died ten years before! I still get a good laugh out of that! (Sorry, Dad...kinda.)

As parents, many of us stumble over names. But we always know who we're meaning, even if the kids don't, or they roll their eyes at us, or pretend they don't know who we're talking about. I think it's just part of human nature to stumble over names and to even forget them.

But you know, it's not part of God's nature. He gets the right name with the right person every single time.


I have called you by name; you are Mine!
~Isaiah 43:1

How often has your brain had a power flicker and you haven't been able to remember someone's name? That never happens to God! Of all the many millions of people throughout history, He knows your name. He knows my name. Wow!

Not only does He know our names, (and get the correct name the first time around), but He knows all the minute details about us that we don't know ourselves.

But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Therefore do not fear; you are of more value than many sparrows.

~Matthew 10:30-31

That number is always fluctuating, yet God knows it. He cares about knowing it, and we don't have to worry about Him forgetting.

How many times have you written a note to yourself on your hand? Maybe not recently, but I see teens do it all the time. When I roll my eyes at them, they just shrug and remind me that it'll wash off. When Jesus rose from the dead, He kept His nail scars. Those scars won't wash off.


Behold, I have inscribed you
on the palms of My hands; ~Isaiah 46:16

In our humanness, we constantly forget things, even important things that we've written down and made note of. God's given us a physical reminder that He won't ever forget us: He's inscribed us on the palm of His hand. He won't grow old and forget what He's told us or where He's placed us. He won't develop Alzheimer's. He won't forget us. Ever.

Heavenly Father, thank You so much for inscribing us on Your hands. For knowing every little detail about us and yet still loving us. Thank You for knowing our names! What an awesome God You are!


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Spirit of Power

Each week at Living by Grace, a devotional discussion Facebook group, we post a memory verse and this week's is 2 Timothy 1:7, building on verse 6, which we memorized a couple weeks ago.


For God has not given us a spirit of timidity,
but of power
and love
and discipline.
2 Timothy 1:7 NAS

Far too often I settle for fear, not stopping to remember that God has given me so much more. It's time to remember!

Be sure to check the Cafe for more links to WFW



Won't you join me memorizing Psalm 34:18 this week at Living by Grace?



*Photo by courtesy of sxc.hu

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

No Vacancy

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 V.

In case you're wondering, there is NO Vacancy at the Funny Farm. That's because I'm there, in residence. Very much so. Hopefully it's a temporary residence--and if it is, there will be a vacancy after awhile... but no guarantees. ;-)

V is also for Vroom Vroom. I'm gearing up for NaNo and making tracks--tell ya more about that later this week.

And because I can't resist...
V is for VANISHING. hehe.
Vanishing text that is...  Now you see it... Now you don't!

This last weekend was the French and Indian War re-enactment at Ft. Masaac--a family favorite we do each year. I had so much fun wandering around with my camera, blissfully snapping pictures.

Sometimes don't you feel like you're always out of sand in your hour glass? I do. So then I think if I had a bigger hour glass, if I had more time... but you know what, even if I had a gigantic hour glass, I'd still run out of sand. Lord, help me to use what I have wisely!




Don't forget this month's caption contest! It's along the Funny Farm lines...

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

Monday, October 17, 2011

Using Pictures - 1000 Words, Free

Blogging Tips and Tricks at Ordinary Lives

Using pictures in my blog posts is something I loooove doing, and something I've requested insisted on for other sites I own or manage.

Why?
  • Because pictures draw people into the post
  • Add interest to the post
  • Everyone loves pictures
  • And pictures are often worth about 1000 words
Besides, even grown ups like picture books! ;-)

Often I'm asked if I take all the pictures I post, and the answer is no,  I don't. Many of the pictures I use for devotionals are from sxc.hu, a great, free photo service for people like us who blog and want pictures to go with our posts. The pictures on the rest of my posts usually are mine--simply because I love taking pictures and using them here is a great way to use them. Before I started snapping so much, though, I used even more pictures from the free photo services.

SXC is a great site that I use a lot. You need to set up a free account and once you do that, then you can download and use. (Click any of the pictures to see them larger.)

Here's how to go about finding and downloading:
  • In the search box, type in a key word you want to search for.
  • Notice in the pink box--those pictures are NOT free. They're advertising for premium pictures on their sister site, iStockphotos. Unless you want to pay for pictures, ignore those.
  • Below the premium pix are the free ones.
  • To see an individual picture, click on it to go to that page. TIP: right click and open that page in it's own tab so you can still have your search page open.

When you find a picture you want to use or download:
  • Click the orange download button. A page will come up with a jumbo picture on it. 
  • Let it come up all the way then right click and Save As.
  • To give credit where credit is due and to make it so the photographers can easily find their pictures with a Google Alert, I save the files on my computer by using the photographer's file name for the picture and the photographer's sxc user name. So, on this example, the file name I use would be "Dahlia beauty by Gronvik".
Some pictures require photographer notification...

When an image says “Standard restrictions apply and ___ (photographer) must be notified when using the photo for any public work.” it means that you may use the photo on your blog, but that you need to use the sxc in-house email/pm system and let the photographer know you’re using it. Be sure to include your url. Usually it’s so they can visit and possibly add it to their portfolio but also to monitor that it’s not being claimed or abused.

Tip: Many times when there’s a photo I see that I want, even if I don’t know what
I’ll use it for, I’ll download the picture right then and tuck it into a folder just
for pictures I’m saving to use later. If I need to notify the photographer when
I use it, I’ll include “Notify” in the file name, followed by the picture name the
photographer gave it and the photographer’s sxc user name which will allow me to
find the picture and photographer easily in sxc when I use the photo.

You do NOT want to upload a picture that size to your blog.
  • It will take f.o.r.e.v.e.r to load on your page
  • It will gobble up the storage room on your site
Before using the picture on your blog, you need to resize it, which will be another post. BUT, if you want that info now, subscribers to my blog can email me at patterly {at}gmail{dot}com and I'll send you a pdf tutorial on how to resize pictures for your blog. I'll send it today so you don't have to wait a few weeks for the rest of this post. ;-)

So, that's where I find pictures to use on my blogs, when I don't use my own, and how I download them. This is only part 1 of this post with a couple more posts on pictures still to come.  

Have a How To post request? Leave a comment or email me!

So tell me, why do you like using (or seeing) pictures on blog posts?

Have you left a caption for this month's caption contest?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Burning Bones

My life is lived on Easy Street and yet, there was a time I ignored God's call to me because I wasn't comfortable with what I felt He wanted me to do. Even now, I feel overwhelmed and under qualified, and wish I could crawl under a rock and whistle a ditty to tune out God calling to me. If I were to do that (and I'm speaking from personal experience here, unfortunately), I'd be thoroughly miserable.

But if I say, “I will not remember Him or speak anymore in His name,” then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire shut up in my bones; and I am weary of holding it in, and I cannot endure it. ~Jeremiah 20:9

The task God called Jeremiah to do was not an easy one. It completely changed his life and made him 'stick out' from the general population—something that makes so many of us cringe. Not only that, but the job God called him to do put his life in danger and caused him great physical pain. Is it any wonder that Jeremiah says he would walk away if he could?

How many times have we thought about walking away? How many times have we tried to walk away, even though our lives are lived on Easy Street? Was it a happy time full of peace and contentment? Not even close! It was miserable.

That's what Jeremiah is talking about. When God calls us to a task, He puts a fire within us, one that will burn us if we try to keep it within ourselves and not act on God's call. We become miserable. I love how Jeremiah put it, 'I am weary of holding it in'.

Are you growing weary of holding something in? If God has called you to a task, He will enable you to do it. Does that mean it will be easy? No. Will you have to work at it—study, practice, conquer fear, and countless other things so you can obey that call? Yes. Very likely, you'll have to step far outside your comfort zone to obey. But just because you're outside that comfy, cozy little box you had all padded and decorated, doesn't mean that you'll be alone.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord you God is with you wherever you go. ~Joshua 1:9

Go in this your strength...Have I not sent you? ~Judges 6:14

Where is the better place to be—in your comfy, cozy, decorated box, or outside the box, free and with God? The quick and easy answer is a no-brainer: free and with God. But when it comes to action, it's much easier said than done. It's hard leaving our comfort zones! But all too often those comfort zones are actually jail cells, padded and decorated to give us the illusion of comfort. There's not much freedom in them to move around, and sometimes no freedom to do things God asks us to.

If your bones are burning, and you're weary of holding things in, cling to God and step outside your comfort zone. That's where you'll encounter true freedom and peace.



Won't you come by Living by Grace so we can chat?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Caption Contest: October

One of the things I do to relax is go out with my lil point-n-shoot camera and snap pictures. This week, when my hubs invited me on a walk, it took all of 2.3 seconds to grab my camera and join him at the door.

Over time, I've gotten some cool pictures so I decided it's time to do something with them. *grin* Every now and then I'll host a caption contest for fun. The fam will help me choose a winner and I'll send the winner a little something.

So, here's our first caption contest:


Leave your captions in the comments and I'll post the winner on Saturday, October 29th.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

God's Word on Evolution

Each week at Living by Grace, a devotional discussion Facebook group, we post a memory verse and this week's is Hebrews 11:3.


By faith we understand that the worlds 
were prepared by the word of God, 
so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.
~Hebrews 11:3 NAS


We don't have to debate, dither, or duck when it comes to evolution.
We have God's Word on it.

God's Word brought something from nothing.
End of story.

Be sure to check the Cafe for more links to WFW



Won't you join me memorizing Psalm 34:18 this week at Living by Grace?


*Photo courtesy of Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA/NASA/ESA) and Amy Simon (Cornell U.)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Umm

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 U.

Ummm. I don't know what to say..

I can't remember what I had planned for the letter U!! There are times when having the memory of a goldfish is a pain.

This is one of those times! I've been wrapped up working on my NaNo project (yay!!) and Joanne's site (go see!!) that I totally missed today's post until the last minute. Now the clock is ticking too fast and I'm left without a word and without a post and I'm out of time.

I hate that! So embarrassing.
So, there's today's Ugh. Okay. So that's just one of them, but I won't bore you with the others. LoL.

I had such great plans for U too.
Oh well.

Here's another "Ummm, I am?" that I discovered this morning as I worked through my email. I'm posting today at Jewels of Encouragement on what my favorite scene from Shrek reminds me of. And yes, it's a devotional. Pick Me! I'd love to have you stop by and visit there.

I'm so glad I'm not always this ditzie! LoL.

So tell me, what do you do on Ummmm and Ugh days?

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

Monday, October 10, 2011

Said No More

Reading to Write Right at Ordinary Lives


Not too long ago I read somewhere that attribution tags (he said, she said) were going out. Then I heard that a few authors had quit using them almost altogether. I was amazed. Could a book really be written without using so-and-so said? The answer is yes. Is it taboo to use he said or she said in books? Certainly not. Majoring on action beats and minoring on attributions is the best way to go and it gives a nice blend. (What's an action beat? Using an action to identify who's talking. Here's an example: Seth stroked his bearded chin, never taking his eyes from her. “Well then, kissing a reptile isn’t enough of a forfeit for you. The day you need my help is the day you’ll kiss me.” No need to say he said since we just saw him stroking his beard, which was an action beat.)

In her article on Intimate Storytelling, Gail Gaymer Martin says

Dialogue tags remove intimacy from the story because their purpose is so the reader knows who’s speaking. The only two words that readers will skim over and not be jerked from the story are said and asked.

...The tag distances the character from the reader so anything you can do to avoid them creates a more intimate novel. How can you do that? By including an action, description or emotion.

Tamela Hancock Murray posted about using action beats vs. tags in her post He said. She said.

Action tags are used as descriptors, to further character development, and to enhance the story. But “said” can be an effective way to keep your story moving.

When in doubt, read your words aloud and listen to the rhythm. Hearing your story will help you learn when “said” is your best friend.

I have to tell you, once I received Trish Perry's book, Unforgettable, it went straight to the top of my to be read pile, and it didn't stay there long because I couldn't keep my hands off it. I loved this book.**

Unforgettable has a great blend of action beats and regular ol' saids. In the first chapter (you can read it below--and I hope you do! It's yummy!) Perry used said only twice. All the other attributions were action beats. Other chapters I checked often had less.

As you read the excerpt, notice how the action beats show us the character's feelings without telling us how they felt. We also learn things about how the characters look and their mannerisms. Also check out how her two uses of said blend in and keep the action moving. Sometimes too many action beats slows the pace. That's when you want to use said. Use them where you need them and use action beats every place you can.


Here's chapter one of Unforgettable:
June 18, 1951

Rachel Stanhope talked to herself as if that were perfectly normal. Like a cat in a cage, she paced back and forth in front of her Arlington, Virginia dance studio. When she was stressed, she tended to focus squarely on the cause of her stress. All else—people, traffic, dignity—faded far away. She only appeared imbalanced as she muttered. In point of fact, her public monologues kept her sane.

“Should have known better than to count on Betty to get here in time this morning. This is the last time I’ll let her lock up the studio at night. The last!”

She checked her watch for the tenth time since she had arrived and found herself locked out. The first session of her summer ballroom dance class for junior high school students was due to begin in fifteen minutes. Her budget couldn’t handle the loss of these new students, and she had already used up all of her favors with the bank. She stopped pacing, made note of the cars driving past, and huffed out her frustration that Betty’s DeSoto wasn’t among them.

“Where is she? What an impression this is going to make!” She pulled her long, strawberry-blonde hair back from her face and fanned the back of her neck. It was going to be a warm day, even if she managed to cool her temper.

“Is there a problem, Rachel?”

Rachel swung around at the kind voice behind her. She mustered up a self-deprecating smile.

“Good morning, Mr. Chambers. No, I’m just working myself into a lather here. Don’t mind me.”

Sweet, hunched Mr. Chambers smiled at her, his crooked teeth vying for space behind his wrinkled lips. He and his wife lived in the garden apartments around the corner. Rachel had crossed paths with him so often during his frequent, shuffling strolls over the past three years, he had become a substitute grandfather to her. At times he even acted as her conscience.

“I don’t mind you, darling,” he said. “But what are you lathered up about?”

She waved off her behavior. Just talking with him about it helped calm her some. It was even better than talking to herself. Because of Mr. Chambers Rachel now associated the scent of mothballs with comfort and assurance. “Betty wanted to stay late last night to work on some choreography. So I left my keys with her so she could lock up. She was supposed to open the studio this morning.”

“And she’s let you down.”

Rachel sighed. “Yes.”

He looked away, toward the traffic rushing by. He nodded, and then threw a few extra nods in there for good measure. Finally he turned a serious expression on Rachel and spoke melodramatically. “Will you ever be able to forgive her?”

That made Rachel laugh out loud. This man could talk a loon off a ledge, of that she was certain. “Yes, I suppose so. Have I told you I love you, Mr. Chambers?”

“Never often enough, dear.” He started on his way and gave her arm a brief pat. “You stop on by the apartment if you need to telephone Betty. Nina and I will be home.”

No sooner had he taken off than a wood-paneled station wagon pulled up to the curb. The front passenger door opened, and a young boy jumped out, his face fresh and eager. His mother leaned over to watch him as he ran for the studio door. He shot a polite smile at Rachel and grabbed the door handle before she called out to his mother.

“I’m sorry. We’re locked out. My assistant is running late.”

“It’s locked, Mom.” The boy called out without acknowledging Rachel’s comment.

“Hang on, Jerry.” His mother addressed Rachel while checking her rear view mirror for traffic. “I wondered why no one was answering the phone. Are you the owner?”

“Yes. I’m Rachel.” She approached the car. “I can assure you this is unusual. And I think we’ll still manage to start the class on time. I loaned my keys to my assistant last night—”

“Yes, that’s fine. You and I spoke last week. But I’m late for my hairdresser’s appointment right now.”

“Oh. All right. Do you want to—”

“Can Jerry just wait there with you, you think? Would that be all right?”

Rachel looked at the boy, a well-fed adolescent with a crew cut and obvious confidence. “Is that all right with you, Jerry?”

“Sure.” He turned to peer through the studio’s glass door. “That would be swell.” He gave his mother a quick wave, cupped his hands against the door, and examined the studio as if he were using a periscope.

Rachel shut the car door and Jerry’s mother drove off.

At least this student would stick around for the duration. “How old are you, Jerry?” She sat on the bench outside the studio.

“Twelve. I start junior high in September.”

“Then you’re perfect for the class. Are you excited about learning ballroom dance?”

“Yeah, kind of. I mean, yes. My uncle’s a really good dancer. He says the girls love it when boys can do all the fancy dances.”

She smiled. Already interested in what the girls liked. “I’m glad you signed up. We never get enough boys, in my opinion.”

“Well, here comes another now.” Jerry pointed down the street. “Looks like they’re both coming for class, too.”

Rachel turned to see two kids coming her way. A boy and a girl, most definitely coming for her class. She could tell, because the girl looked thrilled and the boy looked ready to bolt, a far more typical reaction than Jerry’s.

Jerry ran up to them. Apparently the boy never met a stranger. He immediately chatted with the boy and girl as if they were his best friends.

And the man escorting them? Well, he was, in a word, breathtaking. Dressed in a sharp suit and crisp white shirt, dark blond hair cut similar to Cary Grant’s, and the kind of keen eyes so blue you could spot their color, even from this far away. Rachel quickly looked away from him, since he was probably their father. She took care with the fathers. Sometimes they had the wrong impression about dancers.

By the time the small group reached Rachel, the three kids had bonded. They ran to the other end of the storefront, where they stood on two benches and stared through the studio windows, chatting like gossips at a beauty parlor.

The attractive man was still attractive, despite the scowl he wore. “Locked out, huh?”

“Yes, I’m afraid so. You see—”

“Exactly what I expected with this type of operation.” He nodded at the empty seat beside her. “Do you mind if I sit?”

Rachel struggled to hide her reaction. She swallowed down the gasp brought on by his insult. “Be my guest. Uh, ‘this type of operation’?”

He cocked his head toward the building. “The whole artsy thing. Dancing, painting, singing. Usually draws your irresponsible types.”

Well he wasn’t good looking at all! As a matter of fact, he needed a shave.

“I can’t say I agree with you there,” she said. “Do you honestly mean to say you don’t enjoy any of the arts? Is that what you’re saying, Mr. . . ?”

“Reegan. Josh Reegan.” He put out his hand and gave her a dazzling, genuine smile, and his dark-lashed eyes bordered on pretty.

How could such a stunning man be so stunningly boorish? She shook his hand. “Rachel Stanhope. But—”

“No, I don’t mean to degrade all of that art stuff. But to devote one’s whole life to it? That requires a kind of personality I can’t say I appreciate. Kind of frivolous work, don’t you think?”

He had absolutely no idea who she was. And no idea what he was talking about.

“Not at all. I happen to believe life would be dull if it weren’t for people like . . . like dancers and other artists, both professional and amateur. Imagine what the world would look like without the beauty and depth of the arts.”

He granted her a nod. “I understand what you’re saying. I’ve seen parts of the world devoid of beauty. Berlin and London just a few years ago. Still, there are—”

“You served in the war?”

“Yep. Army Air Corps.”

Yes. She could see that. She could imagine him in uniform. The crisp pinks and greens. The broad shoulders. The jaw as strong as his opinions.

“And you’re still in the service?”

“No. Newspaper journalist.” He patted the chest pocket of his starched white shirt, from the top of which a notepad peeked. “But I’m still after the bad guys.” He broke into a modest grin.

Rachel sat back on the bench and crossed her arms. “So are you a cynic because of your war experience or because of your newspaper experience?”

His smile dropped. “Cynic? I’m not a cynic. I’m a realist.”

“Uh huh.” She raised an eyebrow at him. “That’s what the cynics always say.”

“I just think—no, I know—there are too many dark places and events in the world, too many greedy, heartless people, to warrant some of the more flippant ways people use time they could devote to hunting down evil.”

“Wow, I’ll bet you get invited to a lot of parties, huh?”

She wasn’t sure how to read the look he gave her then. Part amused, part hurt, part annoyed. But she didn’t feel right to study his face while she waited for him to respond, so she spoke again.

“I’m glad you’re not allowing your disdain for dance to keep you from giving your kids a chance to experience it for themselves. They’re just kids after all. They probably haven’t figured out yet how horrible the world really is.”

“Those aren’t my kids.”

“Oh?”

“They’re my sister’s. I’m not married.” He gestured toward the kids with his chin. “They seem to get along well with your boy, anyway.”

Rachel frowned and glanced at the trio, who now squatted around a caterpillar as it ambled across the sidewalk.

“He’s not my boy. His mother dropped him off.”

Josh raised his eyebrows and nodded. “Ah. So why are you here? Not that I haven’t enjoyed being insulted by you.”

She gave him a prim smile. “Mr. Reegan—”

“Josh.”

“Josh. Yes, well, excuse me, but you don’t know the first thing about being insulted. Apparently you don’t even realize when you’re insulting others.”

A squeal of panic made them both turn their attention across the street. Rachel’s errant employee Betty stood there, waiting for a break in traffic and waving her hands like a jazz performer.

“I’ll be right there, Rachel! Sorry! Traffic!” She shrugged with exaggeration, as if she were on stage and needed to communicate befuddlement to the cheap seats. Then she held up a set of keys and shook them. “Don’t fire me!”

Rachel squinted at Betty’s perfectly upswept Lana Turner hairdo and knew her tardiness probably had less to do with traffic and more to do with a mirror and a well-used curling iron.

No matter. She was here now, and if Rachel lost any of her young students today, it wouldn’t be Betty’s fault.

Two more parents and their children approached the studio from opposite ends of the sidewalk. Rachel stood from the bench and called to the three kids gathered around the caterpillar.

“Okay, kids, come on in.” She smiled at the parents who had just arrived. “We had a bit of a delay getting open. Betty will check your registrations while I get started with the kids.”

Finally she glanced back at Josh. He too had stood, all six foot something of him. He stared at the ground and rubbed at that stubble on his cheek as if he could wipe it away. When he shot a look up at her, she refused to hold a gaze with those contrite eyes of blue.

True, he was a single man. Possibly he was a war hero. Certainly he was easy on the eyes. But Rachel looked away for all of those reasons. In thirty-two years she had learned to trust her instincts. And instinct told her that Josh Reegan would cause her nothing but trouble.
~*~*~*~

I thoroughly enjoyed Unforgettable. Not only was it something a little different--ballroom dance--but it was a time era that intrigues me and one that seems to have been missing from books until recently since it's not quite been classified as historical. A time long enough ago that I don't know much about it, but recent enough that my parents do, and recent enough that I remember my grandfather listening to Nat King Cole's music. Yes, after reading the book, I bought the mp3 of the song. Magical. I'm watching to get my hands on more of Summerside's other books in the "When I fall in Love" series.

As a reader, I loved this book. The ballroom dance setting, the era, the humor Perry wove in, and the romance. The characters are rich and full, not just the main characters, but the secondaries too. It's a smooth read that flows from beginning to end.

As a writer,  I noticed Perry's dialog. It sparkles, and there's a lot of it--no long passages of internal. In fact, everything is interlaced with dialog, something I LOVE. It keeps the story active and keeps me 100% involved.  And she did it mainly with action beats.


Unforgettable by Trish Perry
Rachel Stanhope tries to see the good in everyone. But even her good graces are challenged when she meets Josh Reegan outside her Arlington, Virginia dance studio on a brisk fall morning in 1951. Admittedly, he’s attractive, but she finds his cynicism and cockiness hard to tolerate.

A hard-news journalist and former World War II Air Force pilot, Josh considers distractions like ballroom dancing frivolous wastes of time. He has yet to shed his wartime drive to defend good against evil whenever he can. Yes, Rachel’s confident nature is a refreshing challenge, but he wouldn’t tangle with her if his newspaper hadn’t roped him into covering one of her studio’s competitions in New York City.

Between Arlington and New York—between the melodrama of ballroom antics and the real drama of political corruption—between family involvement and romantic entanglement—Rachel and Josh have their hands full. The last thing either of them expects is mutual need and support. But once they stop dancing around the truth, the results are unforgettable.

So tell me, have you noticed the authors using said and asked less? What do you think of it?

What's your favorite element of a book? Dialog? Action? Romance? Setting or internal thought?


**For the record, if I don't like a book, you won't find me talking about it on here--it's that whole 'if don't have anything nice to say' principle. And there are books I'm reading that will collect dust and even some that I haven't finished reading. *shiver*

Friday, October 07, 2011

The Missing Ingredient

When I copy a recipe, I'm very careful to write 'B. Powder' and 'B. Soda' to make sure I focus on the powder and soda and not only on the 'baking' part. If I see 'baking' and focus simply on that, it's easier to end up with the wrong ingredient, which will ruin the finished product and make it inedible.

The other day my friend talked about motivation and attitude, and it was like being hit with a one-two punch. The more she talked the more convicted I became. Truth does that to you.

Let all that you do be done in love. 
~I Corinthians 16:14

Too many times I focus on the doing and not on the love. My motivation is all wrong because I'm doing things out of necessity and not out of love. Even in my home.

Our motivation should be our love for Jesus.
Not obligation, not duty or self-recognition.
An act of love for Jesus and nothing else.

That love is like the difference between baking powder and baking soda in a cookie recipe. If I do something out of duty or obligation, the final product will be of no lasting value. Sure, there will be a finished product that might look just right, and everyone around us may be convinced and the need may be filled—but will it be edible in God's sight? Will it have lasting value? No.

Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men's hearts; and then each man's praise will come to him from God.
~I Corinthians 4:5

God sees our hearts. He knows the real reason we're doing things even when people around us don't. Love is the missing ingredient far too often in my life, and look at what Paul has to say about that missing love in 1 Corinthians 13:
...but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. (Nothing pretty sounding about that! That's just being a loud, obnoxious noise-maker in God's ear.)
...but do not have love, I am nothing. (Sound good, huh? Nothing. No one wants to be a nothing!)
...but do not have love, it profits me nothing. (Not only is it obnoxious and being a nothing, but the profit, the bottom line, is nothing, too. In business, if there's no profit, it gets eliminated.)

But the good news is that we can choose love and we can choose to do things as an expression of love to Jesus. Now that's something I can wrap my mind around. Because I love my husband, I choose to do things for him and with him that I would never do on my own. But I'll do it gladly for my husband. And as believers, the body of Christ, who's our husband? Jesus. We can do things simply out of love FOR HIM that we would never choose to do on our own. That attitude of love falls in the category of gold, silver and precious stones. The love will last while the rest burns.

Now if any man builds upon the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay straw, each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it, because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work.
~I Corinthians 3:12-13

What's our motivation? It should be love for Jesus.
What's the attitude we do things in? It should be an expression of our love for Jesus.

Lord, there are many things in this life that I'd rather not do for one reason or another. I'm a sinful, selfish girl, but Father, I don't want to stay this way. I want to live for You. Help me do things as an expression of love for You. Teach me to love. To love others, to love You. Thank You for the ultimate expression of love when You gave Your life for me—help me to remember that when I'm digging in my heals. I want to love You more, Father. Please, help me. In Your most precious and Holy name, amen.


Won't you come by Living by Grace so we can chat?

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Something New!

Well, the Bible study girls will be pleased to hear that I finally got my new glasses. No more double stacking readers on the tip of my nose, in addition to my normal glasses. It really looks... stupid hilarious when I do that, but when my choice was see to read or not, I opted for looking ridiculous and seeing. Even though some people couldn't look at me without spewing. Seriously. No exaggeration. Sooo, here are my new glasses.

After almost 20 years in the same shape/style glasses I went for something different. Unfortunately, the combination of the smaller lenses AND the bifocals is giving me fits. I'll adjust. Just ignore the muttering in the meantime. ;-)

I see these ones are crooked on me too. sigh. I think the problem is the crooked face, not the new glasses. LoL.


My middle son also has glasses now and he's noticing there's more to the world than he knew. Like the deer that graze in the orchard across the road every evening. He can actually see them. =)

He's still going through Wal-Mart reading the signs--signs he didn't know were there. LoL. Poor kid. He didn't know he was missing out on stuff so we didn't know he needed glasses!

hmmmm. Sounds a bit like our spiritual lives sometimes!

And then there's my clone. She got the cool metal purplish frames. I love them!! But they looked better on her than on me and this way I get to see them. ;-)

Our family does things together, even eye exams and glasses. *eye roll*

There ya go, Mom. Pictures of our new glasses. Just for you. Okay, for you and a few others. ;-)

So tell me, when was the last time you got new glasses? And if you have bifocals, how long did it take you to get used to them? I think I'm going crazy! And my poor eyes... ay yi yi. Is there hope??

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Hope for the Brokenhearted

Each week at Living by Grace, a devotional discussion Facebook group, we post a memory verse and this week's is Psalm 34:18.


The LORD is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Psalm 34:18
NIV


Be sure to check the Cafe for more links to WFW



Won't you join me memorizing Psalm 34:18 this week at Living by Grace?



*Photo by torli, courtesy of sxc.hu

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Not My Usual T

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 T.

One of the first things we saw at the fair this year was the agricultural display (AKA: the tractors), simply because we walked past it to get to where we were going. Of course, they boys couldn't just walk past, they had to walk through. After getting this picture I started noticing tires. Talk about interesting!

The boys are lounging inside a combine tire. We're seeing and hearing loads of combines these days as the farmers are pulling the crops out of the fields. These things are BIG!


I think what captured my (weird) interest in the tires is the colors, the size, and the variety of them. Too often, when we think of tires we think of only the ones on our cars. But there are soooo many different kinds!

We might not stop to really think about and notice tires until we're faced with some really different ones.

What do we do when we see 'different'? Do we turn up our noses because they're on a vehicle we don't think is... worth noticing? Or maybe we step away or laugh because they're so far outside of "normal"?





Yanno, people can be a lot like tires.

Some are flashy.
Some are flat.
Some you don't even notice.

Some are heavy duty for big job.
Some are made for light loads.

Some we don't notice until they don't do what they're made to do.




Bonus question for a prize:
Name the vehicle this tire goes on and I'll send you a copy of this year's theme verse/graphic.
(Pictured below.)

Email your answer to me: patterly *at* gmail*com


Just to assure you that my site hasn't been hijacked by my tractor crazy son, here's something more in line with what I usually post...


My tye dye collection is growing. This year I went with pink and purple and I love how it turned out!! Four of the five kids made shirts too. For some reason my 18 y/o son didn't want one. Huh. Go figure. He was too busy drooling over the tractors. *eye roll*



<--Here's the picture I'll send you if you correctly guess what that tire goes to. Don't forget to email your guesses.



If you're joining us for the a 2 z 4 u & me meme by posting on your blog this week about the letter T, be sure to add your name and the link to that particular post in the linky gadget here.

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