For the past couple years I’ve had a word for the year. It has been such a help to me! Each word has helped me grow in ways I didn’t anticipate.

In November, when I realized how fast New Year’s was coming, I started asking God for my word. My experience has been that settling on one word for the year was…not as easy as you’d think. LoL. So, I started early. Surprisingly, within days I knew my word for 2016. I was amazed. And terrified. I have to admit, I hoped the word would change into something easier, nicer, even inspiring, but no. The word didn’t budge. Didn’t even wiggle.

(See what I mean?!)
I’m consistently INconsistent, so the thought of this word does awful things to me. Truly.

As I look at 2016 and the things I want to do mixed in with the things I need to do, all overlaid with family and balance, I know the only way anything on my want-to-do list is going to be accomplished is through diligence.

Daily diligence in the little things.

Because the little things done diligently add up to bigger things.

My head knows this and I’ve experienced it, but putting this into practice when I have five other things pulling me different directions…well, let’s just say I’m very good at putting out fires and getting stuff done that needs to be done, and putting off things that I can put off. Like the things I want to do. The problem is that the things on my want-to-do list are things I believe God has called me to do. But those things aren’t standing beside me, pulling on my pant leg saying “Mom. Mom! MOM!!” (or some variation of that. You know what I’m saying.) Those things are part of that quiet voice in my heart. The voice that’s so easy to miss or set aside when the roar of life gets loud.

And there lies a good part of the issue.

The need to prioritize (shudder) and see that those things on my want-to-do list are so much more than that. They are actually my heart’s list of things I see that God has given me to do. Things that God has given me as a gift, just as He gifted the Levites with the service of the Tabernacle and Temple.

When I see those things for what they really are—gifts from God and things He has called me to do—I can prioritize my time and energy and resources to get them done. One small thing at a time.

Because little things done diligently add up.

How I Established My Devotional Time

For the past couple years I’ve had a word for the year. This last year it was Arise! Complete with the exclamation point, mind you. I have to tell you, I did not figure it meant literally, but it seems it did.

With all the changes going on in my life over the last couple years, my quiet time has bounced around a fair bit. Getting the time and the quiet was…tough. Some days it was impossible…because of how I ordered my days.

When God gave me Arise! I thought it referred to arising to the challenge or arising to a new season in my life, NOT arising early in the morning. I’m fond of my bed in the morning. It’s so warm and comfy and snuggly with my hubs. Being the first one out of bed in the morning is not my idea of fun.

At least, it wasn’t.

Then my awesome Sunday School teacher challenged us to ask God for help doing something we knew we should do but hadn’t been able to. Something like not eating too many Little Debbie cakes in one day or spending time in God’s Word. So, I did.

How I (almost) painlessly established my early morning devotions

  1. Ask God to wake me up in the morning.
  2. Commit to obeying and getting up when He wakes me.
  3. Obey and GET UP when God wakens me.
  4. Thank God for waking me.

Remember I said almost painlessly?
There were mornings I groaned when my eyes popped open before I was ready. Those times I would roll over and try to go back to sleep. It never worked for more than a few minutes because I was guaranteed to soon have a massive headache and I’d have to get out of bed simply to relieve it. (Headaches are part of my life.)

I learned to be thankful for not just the days God woke me, but also for the headaches. Often, thanks to them, I had extra time with God and those times were special.

It does, after all, mean get up.
Rise to the challenge by asking God for help.

A Personal Win In Spite of Losing

When Cheryl and I started the NaBloPoMo on November 5, our goal was daily posting for 30 days. Unfortunately, neither one of us made it but it wasn't a wasted effort. In the past, both of us have been avid bloggers but recently, with how our lives have changed, our blogs had fallen silent.

My goals were to get past the hurdle of a silent blog and to see how blogging would look for me at this stage in my life, and if I’m totally honest, to see if I could juggle it with everything else and if I even wanted to blog. Those goals were all met, even though I only posted 17 times in 30 days.

In one way I didn’t reach my goal. 17 out of 30 is a pretty pathetic percentage, BUT I’m counting it as a personal win. Here’s why…

  • I struggle with balance and I was determined to keep blogging in balance with the rest of my life and responsibilities. And I did. Thanksgiving week hit and my life slipped into high gear. I needed to focus on family and then work, and I did.
  • Jumping back into blogging like I did forced me over the hurdle I had been camped at for too long.
  • I found that I could add blogging back into my schedule, but it took determination and discipline. Lots of both, mixed with a generous portion of time—something I need to work on.
  • A major goal for those 30 days was to see what I posted when scrambling for posts (like I knew I would, LoL). I wanted to see if my focus had shifted while I was away from here. It was cool to see what came out. Because I didn’t make it the 30 days, I didn’t even get through my list of post ideas, and I didn’t touch the topics that I know are favorite soap-boxes of mine. But it was still enough to give me the answers I sought.

All told, blogging 17 days out of the hoped-for 30 days is a win for me. I remembered that I love blogging. I remembered the work it is yet how rewarding it can be. And I remembered how it kicks my creativity and thinking into gear and gets me rolling.

It was a very worthwhile endeavor.

Execute the Excuses

Like I mentioned earlier, I’m reading in the book of Judges right now, and the men there have really caught my attention, in unexpected ways. So, I’ve been thinking about them and poking around in their business. After being slapped by what Shamgar had to teach me,  I went back to read about Ehud again in Judges 3:12-30. He’s the left handed Benjamite who was mentioned just before Shamgar.

Let me tell ya, Ehud did not pull his left-handed punch as I read and reread his story.

Click to make bigger.
Warren Wiersbe says “the text of Judges 3:15 can be translated ‘a man handicapped in the right hand,’ which suggests that he was not ambidextrous at all but albe to use only his left hand.” If it’s true that Ehud was handicapped, then that might have helped him gain a private audience with the king of Moab. Instead of using his handicap as an exemption clause, he used it as part of his strategy and then followed it up with more action. He led Israel to victory over Moab and the nation had 80 years of peace.

Ehud did not let his handicap stop him from doing what God called him to do. He didn’t make excuses why he couldn’t. Instead, he relied on God and learned to work with and around his handicap.

If I want to succeed or even move forward in what God has called me to do, then I need to follow Ehud’s example and quit making excuses. I need to quit believing those excuses and basing my actions and my life on them.

There will always be excuses.
There will always be speed bumps.
There will always be obstacles.
My job is to follow Ehud. Adapt, learn what I need to, make the necessary adjustments and press on.

Only as I execute the excuses will I be able to move forward in obedience.

Reviewing Bible Memory Passages - Part 1

Bible memory. Scripture memorization.Patty Wysong at Patterings

I cannot tell you how much Scripture memorization has helped me this last year and the last few months in particular. It's made a big difference in my Bible study time, in what I take away from studying, in the satisfaction I find in my studying, and especially in my thought life.  Memorizing Bible verses has been a game changer for me.

Part of my Scripture memorization this time around has been relearning passages I had memorized years ago. I was encouraged to see how quickly I was able to relearn them! Yet even as I relearned them and added them to my "rolodex of Scripture" I wondered how I was going to keep them all in my head. My brain is like Swiss cheese...it's full of holes (so things seem to fall out as fast as I put them in my brain). So, I did some digging on ideas for reviewing the Bible verses you've memorized, and I found this gem with John Piper...

After watching this I found that I stressed less about remembering every verse. Knowing how I work, that itself will be a help.

I'm also putting together a list of verses that I want to have ready and available on the tip of my tongue, to pull out and use at any time. These passages are ones that I feel will help me where I am now and with what I see my ministry is.

So tell me, what is one Scripture passage that you want ready in your mind? 

Cutie-Patootie Monkey

As you probably know by now, Toby is a ham. When we're working a fair his job is to be cute, and he does a bang-up job of it.  Of course, while he's being cute, we're trying to get a good picture and often that can be challenging. Very challenging.
Monkey Monday at Patterings

Thankfully, we can usually get a picture that works. But in the meantime, we end up with some funny shots of him and of the people he's posing with.

Getting to see people as they meet a monkey lets me see a lot of smiles and hear some pretty cool stories, and it always makes me day.

4 Tips to Inspire Others

Inspiring others is a gift. It's something I think each of us can do. If we want to and are willing to do the work first.

The other day, my oldest son badgered me into watching a Piano Guys video. And yes, he badgered until I watched it simply because he wanted me to, and because he said it was piano and cello music (and I happen to love cello).

Confession: I fell in love.

I've loved classical music and cello for a long time (ask my kids, they've listened to countless days filled with it) but had fallen away from it because those same kids grumbled constantly about it. Lesson learned. My music is back. =)

That one video led to an hour's journey through a playlist that had me ready to tackle my heart-work again.

Here's The Piano Guys Charlie Brown Medley that brought a lesson into focus for me... Watch it! Please! You'll be glad you did.

4 Tips to Inspire Others

  1. Inspiring others takes Emotion! It has to start deep inside you, bubble up and then pour out. You have to feel the passion within yourself before you can share it and inspire others.
  2. Inspiring others requires Effort! The truth of reaping and sowing is true when it comes to inspiring others. When you put effort into your message or music or art, you reap the benefits in many ways. And so do others. If you want to inspire people you must invest the effort into whatever it is you are called to do.
  3. Inspiring others takes Enthusiasm! on your part. The same music or message could be shared without enthusiasm and it would fail to inspire. It'd face-plant and leave you wondering what happened. 
  4. Inspiring others requires personal Enjoyment of your craft. It's one of those silent, seemingly invisible things that transform the experience into one that's vibrant. The Piano Guys do not just perform what they're called to do, they enjoy it and their enjoyment is contagious!

The Piano Guys pour emotion, effort and loads of enthusiasm, energy and enjoyment into their music, from the opening notes to the grand finale. From there it overflows onto their audience and inspires them. Smiles appear, hands start clapping and feet that shuffled down the corridor begin to dance.

Hearing and watching The Piano Guys inspired me. It infused me with energy even though it had been a long day, and motivated me to tackle my heart-work. The work God has called me to do.

So tell me, what inspires you?

Joyously Abandoned

In my post Face the If I mentioned how Wilda Mathews was caught in the trap of 'if onlys' on Easter Sunday 1952, deep in the heart of Communist China. A year later, as Easter rolled around again, she was determined that it wouldn't be another black day for her. She started studying the resurrection story and resurrection life, and when she came to Peter's part she felt condemned.

She had not said, 'I know Him not' but she had no joy. She was not bitter, but she was frustrated and restless. Her opportunity to witness to the Chinese eyes around them that she did know the Lord and that He was satisfying her drought—had she shown that? If not, wasn't that denying the Lord before man?

As I've read that many times now, I'm constantly convicted by it. Am I joyfully living? Like Wilda, I'm not bitter, but I've certainly been frustrated and restless at times. Can others see that Christ is not just meeting my needs, but fulfilling me, too? That His Life is flowing through me? Would others see my green leaves even though my life might be in the biggest drought yet to face me?

Two months later, Wilda's husband, Arthur, came to a similar conclusion. He had been reading Ephesians 5:10 and asked her what she thought was “well-pleasing to the Lord in these our experiences?” As they talked it over, Wilda was able to share with him her Easter lesson:

Not to receive it joyfully was to deny the Lord before men...A few nights later it came to Arthur like a flash: the Son had left Heaven, not submitting to the will of God, but delighting in it. Up to now they had been submitting; rather feverishly submitting...
The Son had left Heaven, not submitting to the will of God, but delighting in it.

In a letter home, Arthur wrote this about all they had learned:
Just to say submission to the will of God did not seem to go deep enough, for we had been trying for a long time to do just that. If you had a servant you would expect submission from him, just as you would from an old bullock with a yoke on its neck. But as sons surely there was something more than that.

...So as we uncovered the earth we could see that our prayers had selfishly centered around the shortening of the days...There was none of the recklessness of faith such as the three friends of Daniel showed. Nor was there the spirit of joyous abandonment which the widow displayed in giving her two mites.

So we came to see that God wanted us to
will with Him to stay put; not to desire to run away as quickly as we could persuade Him to let us...The great chords that sounded through our hearts as we touched the Joyously Abandoned keys were really thrilling...

So we are no longer stupid bullocks being driven or dragged unwillingly along a distasteful road; but sons, co-operating wholeheartedly with our Father...

The yoke is LIGHT only as it is TAKEN, and not as it is suffered.

Simple submission is not enough. Delighting in doing God's will, in living out the will of God for your life, is where the great joy is.

I haven't mentioned here all the things the Mathews lived with, and without during their years of waiting to be released from China, but their living conditions were such that the Chinese Christians pitied them. But was there a purpose for all that God asked of this missionary couple? Yes, there was a tremendous purpose! Here's how Isobel Kuhn wrote it:

The message above all others which the Chinese church needed was to see that truth lived out under circumstances equally harrowing as their own.

Arthur and Wilda had longed to serve Him; but humanlike they had put their own interpretation on what service is. They thought it meant preaching with their lips. Amy Carmichael once replied to a Tamil Christian who took this meaning of service: 'God didn't make you
all mouth.' The most potent way to preach is by life, by living it. This was the service which the Mathews family were to render to Him.

The message of this chapter has been running through my mind for two weeks, now, and the affect it's had on me is deep.

Being joyously abandoned to God's will is where I want to be.

Italicized parts of this post are direct quotations from Green Leaf in Drought by Isobel Kuhn, chapter 8.
This is a repost from October 2008.

Plant Your Own Garden

As I've mulled over this whole thing with validation I was reminded of this poem that I was introduced to in high school. It's one that's helped me remember that I cannot rely on others to affirm what I'm doing. Putting that burden on them is actually unfair to them. It makes me expect it of them, especially of those closest to me, and those expectations can lead to disappointment, disillusionment, and brokenness.

It's taking me years to learn this but I think I'm finally getting the hang of it a bit better. I have some ideas why too, but I'll share those another time...

Come the Dawn
After a while you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul,
And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning
And company doesn’t mean security,
And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts
And presents aren’t promises,
And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes open
With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child,
And you learn to build all your roads on today,
Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans,
And futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.
After a while you learn
That even sunshine burns if you get too much.
So you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul,
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure...
That you really are strong,
And you really do have worth.
And you learn and learn...
With every goodbye you learn.


Tips and Tricks for Bible Memorization

Bible memory. Scripture memorization.Patty Wysong at Patterings

Memorizing Bible verses isn't easy but it's one of those things that is very worthwhile.

Here's a few tricks to memorizing that I've learned along the way...
  1. Ask God to help you!
  2. Be accountable to a small group—your Bible study or prayer group, a friend who will ask you about it and prod you when necessary…
  3. Write the verse on a card and post it somewhere you’ll see it or carry it in your pocket for quick and easy access.
  4. Read the verse 5 times every day.
  5. Draw a box around the verbs.
  6. Use a site like BibleGateWay or BlueLetterBible to look up a keyword in the verse.
  7. Use symbols to draw the verse then use it as a memory tool to help you visualize the verse. It really helps!! No artistic ability is needed. This is for you, not a gift for Rembrandt.
  8. Sing the verse. Remember Silly Songs with Larry? Anything goes.

My personal favorite tricks are... 

  • Write the verses using brightly colored pens (I write the verse 5-10 times, depending on my time and how well it's sticking in my head). The brighter the pens, the better it works.
  • Look up every cross reference listed for the verses I'm working on. 
  • Read about the verses in a commentary or two, to help me understand it more.
  • Put motions to the verse. 

I have to admit though that if people were to actually see me doing the motions they'd probably laugh. When I was walking early in the mornings, I'd memorize. I was always very thankful we live on back-country roads so only the deer and dogs would see me waving my arms around. But it helped!! Now, as I drive to work I'll say my verses and my motions have to be limited to what I can do while driving. But, they still help!!

Try different things until you find what works for you.
But the biggest key: Just do it!

Monkey Raspberries?

You never know what you're going to get when a monkey is posing for pictures.

Monkey Monday at Patterings

He's really not blowing raspberries but sometimes I wonder.

When Toby sits with someone for a picture, we give him a small treat. He'll sit beside them munching, and often that creates a few funny shots.

#NaBloPoMo Day 12

What’s in your hand?

In my Bible reading I’m in Judges and it’s capturing my attention. Othniel, Ehud, Shamgar, Gideon… men that God used. Men that, as I’ve dug into them a little, don’t look exactly like I pictured them other times I’ve read Judges.

For instance, take Shamgar. The one verse devoted to Shamgar tells us all we know about him.

After him came Shamgar the son of Anath, who struck down six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad; and he also saved Israel. ~Judges 3:31

What’s an oxgoad?
It’s a long stick with a point on one end and a shovel like blade of sorts on the other. One end is for prodding the oxen to keep them moving and the other end’s to scrape off the plow. It’s a farmer’s tool, not a warrior’s weapon.

In those days Israel had been deweaponized by their enemies. So, Shamgar used what he had. And with God’s help, he was successful and he saved Israel.

With an oxgoad.
No, that’s not true. He had more than an oxgoad. He had the Spirit of the Living God empowering him. And that’s what puts me and Shamgar on the same playing field. The Holy Spirit.

When God calls you, He empowers you to do what He’s called you to do and gives you the tools necessary. I wonder if Shamgar thought he had what he needed to save Israel? I doubt it. His enemies had real weapons and he had a farmer’s tool. But God didn’t give Shamgar weapons he probably thought he needed, weapons that would’ve come in handy. God used what Shamgar already had in his hands. An oxgoad. If Shamgar had gone on a quest to find the weapons he thought he needed before obeying God, he would’ve lost his opportunity.

This has had me thinking for days.

Am I obeying or delaying? Like Shamgar, I have the Holy Spirit empowering me. I’m sure I have my own version of an oxgoad—something that God has put in my hands, so I don’t need to go on a quest to find anything.

It boils down to simple obedience. I need to quit waiting for what I think are things I need in order to obey and just get on with obeying.


As someone who writes, a question I’ve been mulling over is “Why do you want to be published?” (referring to traditional publishing) But really, this same question could be posed to anyone… “Why do you want to accomplish ______ in your chosen area?”

I get hung up on this question every time.
I don’t like my answer, even though it’s painfully honest.

I want to be published traditionally because I want the validation of it. I want someone to say that my work is good enough to warrant a contract and even payment. I want that seal of approval on my work. That proof. Something I can hold up and say, “See?!”

But every time I even think those words I hear a still, quiet voice in my heart saying, “Isn’t My approval enough?”
God did not use a cookie cutter when He created us. What’s right for my friend isn’t necessarily right for me. God may have called one of us to walk to the beat of a different drum. The key is to be obedient to what God’s called me to do. My calling, not someone else’s calling.

That means risking being different and maybe even appearing wrong. Sometimes that may mean the appearance of taking the easy way or a short cut. But the truth of the matter is that if it’s what God told me to do, then for me it’s right (and the other way may be the wrong way for me).

I need to obey what God's called me to do and look to Him for validation. Only Him.

So tell me, is validation something you struggle with? 
How do you deal with it?


It’s a contemplative kind of day. One that comes once a year—every November 12th to be exact. A day that I usually set aside for looking at my life, for self-analysis and sometimes for goal setting.

Some questions I’m mulling over today…

  • What’s been good about this last year that I want to continue with?
  • What needs to go?
  • What needs tweaking? Major tweaks or minor?
  • What do I want to accomplish in this next year?
  • What do I want to be?

To be honest, I’ve been happy with where I am. It’s been a year for sinking my roots deeper in Christ. Not because things are going so bad that I run to Him desperate for rescue, but because I’m going to Him just to be with Him, to soak in Him.

I have a feeling that another round of change is coming for me. Things that were removed for a time might be back in my life, but in a different way than they were before.

Interestingly enough, the question that has me most curious about and interested in is the last one. What do I want to be? Not do, be.

Sure, birthdays are for celebrating, but they’re also a good time to stop and inventory life. A time to contemplate some of the deeper things that I tend to shy away from.

So tell me, do you know what you want to be?

Face the If

One of the books I love is Green Leaf in Drought by Isobel Kuhn since it's one of those books that greatly impacted my life. I first read it in college, 25+ years ago, after Cheryl sent me a copy. (She also gave me several other books by Isobel Kuhn, and they are on my favorite books shelf.)

Green Leaf in Drought is about Arthur and Wilda Matthews, who were missionaries to China. They were the last of the China Inland Mission members to leave Communist China in 1953, after spending 2-3 years caught in the grip of the Red Regime—but this is NOT a book about the regime nor even of China. This little gem is about how Arthur and Wilda's faith flourished while under great pressure. Not just moments of pressure, but 2 ½ years of constant pressure.

Late in 1950, while others were leaving the country, the Matthews went deeper into China so they could reach out to the Mongols. Expecting a welcome and a home to live in, they were hit with immediate disappointment and discomfort. Every time they turned around their circle was downsized until they were confined to the compound and not allowed to minister to even the Chinese church that met at the compound. I'll tell more about them in future posts, but something that is standing out to me is Wilda's struggle with doubt. Was this God's doing, or were they the victims of a mistake?

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She was caught up in the “If only...” game and it was eating at her. That's something many of us can relate to! On Easter Sunday of 1951, Wilda found herself thinking, “If He really lives today, as the song says, why had He allowed this?” As she worked she remembered two tracts she had, “The 'If' in Your Life” by A.B. Simpson and 'Second Causes' by Hudson Taylor.

The glory of God is to come out of the 'if' in your life...Do not be thinking of your 'if.' Make a power out of your 'if' for God...Do you know that a light is to fall on your 'if' some day? Then take in the possibilities and say, 'Nothing has ever come to me, nothing has ever gone from me, that I shall not be better for God by it...' Face the 'if' in your life and say, For this I have Jesus. ~The 'If' In Your Life

The second tract said, “The secret of Hudson Taylor's rest of heart amid such tempests of hate was his refusal to look at second causes...He believed it was with God, and God alone, he to do.”

Wilda accepted that her circumstances were not a mistake, they were directly from God. She held on to this scripture:

You need not fight in this battle;
station yourselves, stand and see
the salvation of the Lord on your behalf.
~2 Chronicles 20:17 (NAS)

In a letter home, Arthur wrote, “These trials of faith are to give us patience, for patience can only be worked as faith goes into the Pressure Chamber. To pull out because the pressure is laid on, and to start fretting would be to lose all the good He has in this for us.”

There have been times in my life that 'if only' had the center stage, and I was miserable. We can not focus on those if's. We need to see that all that comes into our lives is for God's glory to shine through us, and that it comes from His hand—it's not a mistake.

The meaning of all that God does with us—joys and sorrows, light and darkness...is that our wills may be made plastic and flexible. ~Alexander MacLaren

There's more from this little gem of a book, but I'll save it for another day.

This is a repost from October 12, 2008. 

Road Blocks to Bible Memorization

Bible memory. Scripture memorization.Patty Wysong at Patterings

Memorizing Bible verses can be hard enough, but when we don't see the things that prevent us from memorizing, it can be that much harder, if not impossible.

The other night as our ladies Bible study was wrapping up, I wrestled with the bag I use for hauling my study books in. They were getting hung up on a bag of special mints I keep in there as a reward for the ladies who have worked on their Bible memory verse. That night I hadn’t even asked if anyone had reviewed their verse. In all honesty, I was discouraged in that area of study but didn’t want to share my discouragement with the ladies. They’ve been so faithful in attending and participating and even writing out the passage we’re studying that I didn’t want to be a debby-downer nor a nag, so I simply left the bag of mints inside my bag.

But to get my books in the bag I pulled the mints out, and one of the ladies commented on them. So, I asked the dreaded question...

Has anyone worked on their memory verse?

And again, no one had. Their faces said it all.
That’s when I heard Dad’s voice in my head…

Why aren’t they trying to memorize anymore?

I didn’t know, so I asked them.
They had great answers! From silly to painfully honest...

  • “I have the memory of a goldfish.” (She doesn’t but it was definitely worth the giggle.) And if you want to think about this one seriously, if you have a bad memory that's the very reason you need to memorize --to exercise your brain and keep it learning new things. Use it or lose it.
  • “I didn’t know what to memorize. I just want you to tell me which verse.” (So I did. Right away. I’d had one in mind for her, right from the very beginning of this round of study.)
  • “You told me I couldn’t memorize the verse I wanted to.” (And she was right. I DID tell her no. Good grief! What kind of a teacher am I?! In my defense, I said no because I was sure she had memorized Ephesians 2:8-9 as a kid since she’d grown up in the church. But I also told her that if she began remembering the verses to add verse 10. Hehe.)
  • “I just haven’t done it.” (And I was thrilled to hear muttering coming from her corner even while shenanigans were going on as we worked through why I didn’t let MissM pick the verse she wanted.)

I could relate to each of their reasons.
Well, except for being told I couldn’t memorize the verse I wanted to. I had good teachers who encouraged me and told me I could, not one who told me I couldn’t. (Such a Duh moment for me! Sheesh!)

Part of succeeding is knowing what your handicap is and finding a work-around…finding what is preventing you from succeeding and then learning how to move past those things.

So tell me, what keeps you from memorizing?

Monkey Selfies

Selfies with Toby...you never know what you're gonna get because he's such a ham.

Toby loves cameras and phones.
He's like a kid who knows when a camera is pointed his way. But you have to be careful because he's not always gentle with them if he gets hold of them. He'll start off gentle but after awhile he'll start making noise with it...by slamming it onto whatever surface he's on. It can be instant death for the device although I've found that the LifeProof cell phone cases are also monkey proof. =)

Monkey Monday at Patterings

(Click the graphic to the right for more monkey pictures.)
#NaBloPoMo Day 5


A stillness that permeates every fiber of your being.
A time to simply sit, to set aside all the work and worry of life and just be.
Not planning.
Not thinking.
Just being.
Being in the presence of God Almighty.
Bowing before His awesomeness.
Soaking in His glory.
Letting His peace fill you.
Renew you.
Overwhelm you.
Strengthen you.

Sometimes, often, this is what we need most.
#NaBloPoMo Day 4

No Limits

Off and on throughout the day I've been thinking about limiting God--something I do far too often. I should know better. I have the sea urchins to remind me...

Even though I grew up on the coast of Maine, I had never found a sea urchin that I could bring home. The shells captivated me but the few I found were either broken or still smelly and awful so they stayed where they were found.

But a couple years ago when I went to visit Cheryl in Puerto Rico we found oodles of sea urchins. More urchins than I ever would have imagined possible. The funny thing? I had asked God for one. Just one to put on my shelf and I would be thrilled and content. I think God snickered. We didn't find just one. We found a gazillion of them. They were everywhere. Little, adorable sea urchins.

Thankfully, whenI found myself limiting God this morning the Bible verses I'm memorizing came to mind.

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power the works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:30 NAS

God can, and will do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think. So let's quit being naysayers and let Him to do it! Let me tell you, if we do, the biggest shell collecting bucket we can find won't hold what He has for us.

Let's open our minds and hearts and start watching for what God will do when we let Him. 

#NaBloPoMo Day 3

Let Your Light Shine

You are the salt of the earth;
but if the salt has become tasteless,
how can it be made salty again?
It is no longer good for anything,
except to be thrown out
and trampled under foot by men.

You are the light of the world.
A city set on a hill cannot be hidden;
nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket,
but on the lamp stand,
and it gives light to all who are in the house.

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 5:13-16 NAS

#NaBloPoMo Day 2

The Time Has Come

Often I've sat here at my computer and wondered... is it time? Each time life has showed me it wasn't. But this time...

This time life is saying something different.

It's time.

For the past week I've been feeling nudges.
Today, when my sister Cheryl nudged me I almost fell off my chair. NaBloPoMo? No way. But even as I laughed that tiny flame I thought was out flared to life. Without stopping to think, afraid panic or sense would set in, I shot a text back to her. So, we've joined the NaBloPoMo over at BlogHer and we're going for it. Daily posts during November 5 to December 5.

Crazy? Possibly. But I know all too well that sometimes it takes a drastic step to get out of the rut you're in. This is me taking that necessary step. It's time to move forward again.

The time has come and I'm excited!
Anyone else doing this?

NaBloPoMo Day 1

Done Nothing Wrong

My poor little car.

It was sitting in its parking place, minding its own business but ready and waiting for the next time we needed it when BAM!

A family truck rolled downhill from the barn, sideswiped a tractor, took out a porch post and took a bite out of my car.

My poor car.
It had done nothing wrong.
It wasn’t even in the wrong place at the wrong time.
It was exactly where it was supposed to be, doing what it was supposed to be doing. But it didn’t matter. It was still knocked out.

While still down for the count, still right where it was supposed to be, waiting to be back in service, insult was added to injury. The back window shattered. We don’t know how or why. It’s happened before here. Once when a rock was thrown from the mower and once from thermal shifts in the winter. But this time there was no way a rock shattered the window—the is shielded from rocks by they deck. There wasn’t any huge thermal shift in the temperature. Sure, it cooled down a LOT after being hot, but it doesn’t seem like it’d be enough to cause it to shatter. Still, the window is shattered.

I’ve seen this happen to people. They’re exactly where they’re supposed to be, doing what they’re supposed to be doing and BAM! They’re knocked down and put out of service. Then, while they’re waiting and mending, they’re kicked from behind. Broken even more.

My heart cries for them. Why Lord? They were in Your will, doing exactly what You gave them to do. Why did all this happen? Wasn’t it enough they were hit the first time? Did they have to have that final blow?

As people we see the damage of the here and now. We see the seemingly unnecessary and unfair events and injuries and we want to shake our fist and rant. But God’s ways aren’t ours. He sees the big picture and knows.

'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

I’ve learned as I’ve watched this happen time and time again. Months, maybe years later, I’ll see the fruit of their time spent waiting and healing. Their roots will be deeper and the fruit of their lives will be sweeter and more plentiful.

When you see someone slammed by life, broken and knocked out of service for a time, stand by and lift them up in prayer. Pray that they don’t become discouraged but that their faith will become stronger through this time, that their roots will grow deeper and their fruit sweeter.

God knows what He’s doing. Trust Him and pray for them.

Waiting on Blueberries and Prayers

A few days ago my son told me that the blueberries were ripe so I ran out to pick them, except they weren’t ripe. Each time he came in from being near the blueberry bushes he made sure to tell me they were ready but those times I wasn’t able to run out and check them, but I wondered if I was missing them. Again this morning he told me, stressing that the birds were getting them, so I dropped what I was doing and ran out with a container, ready to pick.

Guess what.

They weren’t ripe. Oh, they looked ripe at first and second glance, but they didn’t drop into my hand like I expected. I pulled it with my thumb a little harder. When it rolled into my palm I saw it wasn’t as ripe as I thought. Shrugging, I popped it into my mouth, eager for the soft sweetness. It had a bit of a crunch and wasn’t sweet. Unripe and not near as good as it would’ve been if I’d waited a day or two.

Unworried I moved on to another dark blueberry. When it didn’t roll into my hand with the gentle pressure I know ripe berries require I stopped and really looked. Its top, near the stem, had the reddish tinge of an unripe berry. With the tang of the last berry still in my mouth I left it hanging on the stem. A dozen unripe berries later I heard the quiet whisper in my soul.

Unripe blueberries are like unripe prayers.

If you press the issue and take a prayer before it’s time, you may find it to be hard and on the bitter side. It wasn’t God’s timing.

So how do you know when a prayer is ripe? Maybe the same way you know when a blueberry is ripe. If it rolls into your hand easily, without tugging, it’s ready. If you have to tug maybe it’s not ready. God will release it from its stem when its time.

Don’t tug on blueberries or prayers. Check them, expect them, but wait until they’re ripe. God’s timing is best.

Feeling the Fog

Fog is an amazing thing. It captures my attention and quiets my mind and soul.

Yesterday, on Facebook, I posted a picture like this and asked my friends how fog affects them. Some said it quieted them and a couple commented on driving in it and how difficult it is. As I thought about that it made me think about my Christian walk…

Often when the outside world is fuzzed out and not in sharp focus my heart and mind are quieter, more at peace than when everything in my world is easily seen. That fog tends to insulate me from all the goings-on around me. I know it’s still all there and happening but it’s not right in my face. I like that. It’s soothing.

Then there are the times I feel like I’m living in a fog bank and can’t see anything at all. Sound and light are muted and I feel isolated from everyone and everything, even though I know they’re very close by. Like a foggy day, I find I reflect more and think about deeper life things that I’m often too busy to bother with.

While I like the reflection and peace the fog often brings, I tend to get disoriented and lost easily when I’m feeling like I’m living in a fog bank. And when I try to move forward it’s hard. I want to go my usual speed and hurry along but have to slow down. Sometimes the fog feels so thick I have to feel my way along. That makes me hold on to my Father’s hand tighter, relying on His vision and guidance. And that’s a good thing! It’s uncomfortable, often scary, and can make me chomp at the bit because I like to move fast and get there—but holding onto God and needing HIS guidance is good!

Maybe that’s one reason why He sends the fog our way sometimes.

So tell me, what comforts you when the fog descends on your life?

Not my Facebook friend? I'd love to be friends there!

Cookie for Your Thoughts

One of my favorites...

Sometimes, a cookie makes everything better.
At least a little.

So tell me, what do you do when your moment gets unpleasant?

Blogging Workshop

Coming to a location near you...
if you live in Southern Illinois or thereabouts.  ;-)

Date: Saturday, March 14, 2015. 
Time: 10-2ish 

Part One:
Blogging Basics--the who, what, where, when, why, and how.

  • What exactly is a blog? (It's not just a blog!)
  • Do you need a blog? 
  • Why do you need one anyway?
  • Who's your audience?
  • What do you write about?
  • Where do you blog?
  • How do you do it?

Part two: 
Build a Blog! Hands on building, not just theory. 
(Bring your computer! Internet provided.)
Time: 12-2ish

Cost: FREE! (lunch details coming)

Where: 1522 North Main, Benton, IL. (The old True Value building on Rt. 37, on the north side of town.)

Feeling called to write? Want to learn some basics that will help your writing and lay a foundation you can build on? Blogging is more than it first seems but it doesn't have to a dizzying, scary ride. 

I've taught blogging and platform classes several times, online and at small conferences. If you're interested in joining us at the workshop or have questions, let me know. I'd LOVE to see you there!! 

Everyone is welcome, and feel free to share this with friends!! :)

I've Missed You

Have you returned somewhere after being gone a real long time? You know that feeling of hesitancy? Nervousness? Even a touch of fear mixed in with the anticipation… Will they remember me? Will they still like me? Have our lives moved on so much that I won’t fit in or that we won’t connect like we used to?

That’s how I’m feeling.
I’ve been gone a long time. I never dreamed I would be gone…silent…for so long. During that time a lot of water has gone under the bridge (yes, a cliché. Forgive me?). We’ve both changed, grown. But friendships can survive time and distance. I hope ours can too.

I’ve missed you.

I’ve come to visit with you often, but like Zacharias, nothing came out when I opened my mouth, set my fingers to keyboard. There was so much I wanted to say. So much to tell you, but it was all too fresh. Too raw in my heart and mind. I didn’t know where to start. I didn’t know how to start. So I’d leave the keyboard, the blank page disappearing into the fog I was walking through. But I never forgot you. I often thought of you, prayed for you, my friends.

But now it’s time.
The burning in me is greater than the hesitancy, the nervousness, and the fear. I’ve remembered why I came here... Why I write.

And obedience leads to joy.
I can feel it returning even now. Joy welling up, clogging my throat and filling my eyes…

And now that I’ve started, the words are coming fast. Crowding, anxious to catch up with you.

I know I’ve changed over the time. My thoughts, my actions, my voice. Age and experience do that to us. But inside I’m still me. And I bet you’re still you, changed but still you.

Cookie, one of our newest additions to the family.
Remember the old nursery rhyme… Pussy cat, pussy cat, where have you been? Like the cat, I feel like I’ve been to London to visit the queen…only I’ve seen so much more than the queen. LoL. Family, fairs, fun. Mom-stuff, monkey-stuff, mail-stuff. More change than I ever, EVER would’ve guessed. But through it all: God’s presence and faithfulness. Always. In all circumstances and all situations.

And now? Now I manage a shipping warehouse. I have a wonderful, God-given job that I love. My boys go to the warehouse with me everyday and are able to finish their homeschooling even though I work full-time. The family is constantly in-and-out of the warehouse, visiting, working, eating lunch, hanging out. It’s wonderful. It’s like having my cake and eating it too. Something I’ve always enjoyed. ::grin::

So tell me, what have you been up to? What’s new in your world?
I’ve missed you.
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