Friday, November 20, 2009

In God We Still Trust

Here in America I really believe there is a majority of people who absolutely can say – In God We Still Trust …


This little video and song have been around for a couple of years but because today, in counting my blessings, in lifting my thanks, in recognizing who I am as an American it’s the time to recognize, I do not take this for granted. I am so thankful I am a citizen of this country. I am so fortunate to be a part of a people who strive for the best in all mankind and to be a recipient of a legacy of honor. I am thankful to our forefathers who took it upon themselves to write an amazing Constitution … this was accomplished through great discussion and prayer and written painstakingly so that each of us would be able to enjoy life as we know it today.

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I am thankful to be a citizen of the United States.

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Preamble to the Constitution
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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Celebration of a Moment

Moments of celebration aren’t new to me. In fact, I normally attempt to practice celebration each and every day. This morning, however, I was noticeably not celebrating my life. This is due to several circumstances beyond my control but I do know I haven’t done my part in keeping the negativity ‘in check’. Lowell, realizing I was having a ‘rough’ morning, a little ‘low’ time if you will, suggested I re-read one of our favorite chapters from a best-loved book of ours.

It’s not that I was putting off reading this but I went ahead and got some other stuff out of the way … and here it is almost 3 pm … I haven’t read it yet. The book was finally found, and is laying beside me right now. Was I kind seeing if my good humor would return on its own? Was I enjoying the ‘wallowing’ time? I don’t know, really. But, and this is deliberate, I am going to do a before and after test. Kind of a test of myself as to how something as simple as reading a few pages will or will not make a difference as to how I see the world. Up front, let me tell you, I believe I will be better for it. You see, I’ve been here before – this little detour into the land of “Melancholy” and generally I spend as little time here as possible. My husband knows me well and he and I both know I am a sucker for a good read. I’ll be back …

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I am back – it’s been over an hour. My heart is lighter; my outlook is brighter and joy is reigning … maybe not as brilliant as sometimes in my life, but definitely reigning.

First of all, I knew what to anticipate before reading this chapter and so I chose to go to a solitary spot – the front porch. As expected I laughed out loud and then before another page I cried. The first few pages were read on the porch but then I moved further away from the house to the woods by the pond and sat in a chair there to finish the reading. That was a good decision because, oops, more tears.

Wait, I said I felt better for the read. What? Well, sometimes weeping for the right reason can be cleansing, you know? Once in a while, we need a gentle prompting to remember what really counts in our life story. In the whole scheme of who we are and what it is that we want in life … where is our celebration? It is in the day to day moments that make up our existence.

Just a couple of points and then I truly recommend you get this book for your own family library.

Sometimes we confuse waiting to live with living. Other times when we’re killing time we are really killing our self. Now and again we give up the responsibility of our own joy to the circumstances that surround us rather than exercising discipline to take ahold of joy and let her have her way with us. Instead of being a ‘joy-carrier’ we live a life of the ‘joy-impaired’. Many times we neglect this most wonderful of all Christian disciplines … The Discipline of Celebration. The Lord has commanded numerous times to celebrate – “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again, I say, Rejoice.”

The book I am talking about is The Life You’ve Always Wanted, by John Ortberg. He is by far one of our favorite authors and this is absolutely one of our favs of his. The chapter in the book is Chapter 4, A “Dee Dah Day”. My first exposure to A Dee Dah Day was probably close to 6 or 7 years ago and we’ve read the book together at least 2X and once on our own. Each time I let A Dee Dah Day ‘get to me’, I am better for it. Now, Lowell is teaching the book in Sunday morning class. If you have never read one of Mr. Ortberg’s books, you’d do yourself a service by doing so sooner than later.

True joy is something greater than the seeking of your own personal happiness – it is joy in spite of pain, joy irregardless of your conditions. If we insist on waiting until tomorrow to be joyful, we may still be waiting when we die.

And so I am once again living in the land of celebration. Celebrating one moment at a time just as they are so graciously given to me.

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46952: The Life You"ve Always Wanted, Expanded Edition The Life You’ve Always Wanted, Expanded Edition By John Ortberg
The heart of Christianity is transformation—a relationship with God that impacts not just our “spiritual lives,” but every aspect of living. John Ortberg calls you back to the dynamic heartbeat of Christianity—God’s power to bring change and growth—and reveals both the how and why of transformation.With a new chapter on prayer and added discussion questions, this expanded edition of The Life You’ve Always Wanted offers modern perspectives on the ancient path of the spiritual disciplines. But this is more than just a book about things to do to be a good Christian. It’s a road map toward true transformation that starts not with the individual but with the object of the journey—Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Singleness in All Its Glory!


My basic premise for Tuesdays are ‘Tuesdays are Terrific and So Are You’! I won’t generally just be addressing the single among us … but today I am.  If you’ve read much of my stuff you will know I have written several notes on marriage because well, duh, I am married and there you go. However, today I want to celebrate Singleness in All Its Glory. You see, even though I love being a wife and I believe it’s great, sometimes I think ‘the singles’ among us have some advantages … and also, on a negative note, they may get over-looked or when it comes to ‘get-togethers’ or parties … they’re disregarded. Being single can feel like a fun adventure, or it can feel like an impossible alone-ness. Therefore, for a little while, I am going to highlight some wonders of being single. Also, I might get in some ideas for future social activities.
First of all, let me say, I am blessed with numerous single friends. Some are single because of choice … maybe they didn’t actually plan on being single from the time that they were very little but it has just worked out over the years that they didn’t meet that special someone to end their single-hood. And you know what? They’re Okay. There happy; have found fulfillment in their lives and have learned to give to others and have consequently gotten much in return. Singleness because of ‘choice’ is A-Okay!
Other single friends of mine are single because of tragedy.
Losing a mate in death has to be one of the saddest things in this world. I can’t imagine. When my Mom lost Dad in death I didn’t understand her deep sorrow. I empathized but I truly didn’t comprehend. I have men friends whose wife has died and I have lady friends who have lost their husband. I don’t think one is easier than the other, I mean, a man can’t deal with it more easily than a woman or vice versa. It’s just hard and tragic either way you look at it. For a husband or a wife to lose their life’s mate is devastatingly hard.
Also, I have friends, guys and gals, who lost their mates to divorce … I am sure the Heavenly Father weeps with us over failed marriages – it wasn’t His plan that it would end like this. For whatever reason, the covenant was destroyed, the marriage is over and it’s a tragedy. Most of the time there is a whole lot more to the stories than ever gets dealt with. Many times, had the situation been handled properly or differently early on there wouldn’t have been the consequences that led to the final separation. Whatever the case, it is again, deep sadness. And once again whether it is husband or wife left to pick up the pieces of broken-ness it presents challenges that no one should have to go through.
Well, I am here to tell you that for what ever reason they’re single … these special friends of mine are some of the most incredible people ever! A state of singleness can not only be survived, it can be celebrated! Being single does not mean that a person is a ’second-rate’ citizen or less capable of living a rich, full, happy and productive life. Quite the contrary, these friends of mine are some of the most adventuresome, generous, gregarious, happy servant-minded people I know!
One of these friends is a pilot and a short-term missionary, another a university professor who works with the youth at her congregation, still another is a Mom of a teen-aged son, who just finished her 2nd Masters Degree and recently opened a private counseling practice, one more is now a single Mom of a toddler, but has gone back to school to pursue a degree in a field that will provide a good job for her and her son, still another is a farmer with two children who were pre-teens at the time of their Mother’s death and he is more than ‘holding it together’ – he and the kids are thriving even in sadness, still one more is an artist, has moved in with friends and is doing fine, one day at a time, in her new, unexpected singleness … Well, I have just touched the tip of the iceberg here in giving a ’shout-out’ to these friends but you get the significance of what I am saying. Their lives are better than okay and they don’t need us feeling sorry for them.
The holiday season is kind of tough on Singles, though. So many parties and activities are designed around couples. Many times a single person lives miles away from family and because of work obligations can’t travel to be with close friends or family. I hope in your own thoughts and plans you will consider the single people around you. Have an open door policy for your main holiday meal; maybe have an open house function in your home where it’s informal and everyone brings a dish or beverage. Even at random times invite your single friends over for a game night, or movie night with your own family. You don’t always have to have someone to ‘pair-up’ with them … odd numbers are perfectly acceptable. And, please, don’t think you have to continually play the ‘matchmaking game’ with your single friends. Sometimes, that more than anything, can make them feel they are somehow ‘lacking’. Just be a good, true friend … that’s all that’s needed.
If you are single and are reading this, you might want to leave some thoughts here … words of wisdom we could all learn from. And hey, Rejoice in Your Singleness … you have many opportunities and freedom ‘to-do’ that others of us regret not being able to participate in. You are your own boss, but be a good boss to yourself; still manage time and money well to be able to get the most out of life with no regrets. Whoever you are, whatever your situation … discover your talents, your uniqueness and make the world a better place. I believe in you!
Here are some excellent books to help you be your best self. Single or married you can’t love others fully and completely until you know and love yourself. If you’re single and hoping to meet and marry that special someone someday it will more than likely happen when you least expect it. Also, it is in forgetting yourself that you find yourself and then, you the are most attractive to someone else. Remember, no one wants a clingy, whiny, stick-in-the-mud moaner and groaner who lacks self-confidence or the gumption to make a life for themself. Realize you are a treasure and you will be one! Generally speaking, in life, you are rewarded in kind.
0-0-0-0-0-0-0 This book is marvelous for that little extra help one needs in meeting everyday challenges or for overcoming obstacles brought on by being single. It can be tough when you are in this ‘all by yourself’ … life can sometimes be a little daunting. Here’s some daily ’spiritual vitamins’. :o )

3120480: A Season for Singles: Selected Meditations By Rebecca England / Smyth & Helwys Publishing, Inc “From the Publisher:” A Season for Singles is a collection of one page meditations for today’s growing group of single persons who want to meet life from a thoughtful Christian perspective. Scripture selections and meditations on topics such as initiative, freedom, commitment, solitude, overcoming barriers, and facing challenges are especially relevant for college and career singles as well as divorced and widowed people learning a new way of life. Paperback, 114 pages.
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Wow! did you know this: nearly half of adults today are unmarried????  That may be so, but Singles still may feel left out or second-rate … if you’re feeling like this then, this book is for you!
0813535: Singles at the Crossroads: A Fresh Perspective on  Christian Singleness By Albert Y. Hsu / Inter-varsity Press Nearly half of adults today are unmarried yet most churches emphasize marriage and family, leaving many Christian singles feeling marginalized or alienated. Though they look to Jesus and Paul as role models, many suspect they would be more acceptable to the church if they settled down and got married. Hsu challenges this view. Moving beyond pat answers, Hsu proposes that singleness and marriage are both opportunities in which to follow Jesus. Singles at the Crossroads points the way to a Christian community where all members are valued, Jew and Gentile, slave and free, male and female, married and single.
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Are your a Single Dad? It can be tough. But, you don’t have to go it alone. Here is an Excellent book with great thoughts, good ideas and lots of support!
692082: The Complete Single Father By Elaine Fantle-Shimberg & Michael Shimberg / Adams Media Being a single parent is a tough job no matter who you are, but if you’re a single dad, you likely feel you’ve entered a strange, new world. Whether your kids are 12 months old or 12 years old, the tips and advice in this comprehensive guide will make the little tricks of parenting feel like second nature to you. Authors Elaine Fantle Shimberg and her son, single father Michael Shimberg, show you how to:
  • Make your house (or apartment) a home

  • Juggle your work and personal schedule with that of your kids

  • Co-parent with your ex for the kids’ sake

  • Handle special circumstances if you’re a widower

  • Celebrate holidays and deal with in-laws

  • Raise daughters, both youngsters and teens

  • Cook foods your kids will eat

  • Field common childhood maladies

  • Date againThroughout, Fantle Shimberg and Shimberg include “Tips from the Trenches”–anecdotes from more than 50 single dads just like you on what works and what doesn’t–as well as recommendations from lawyers, marriage counselors, psychologists, social workers, teachers, and clergy members.With The Complete Single Father, you’ll have everything you need to enjoy your kids while maintaining a stable environment and reducing stress for all involved–without losing your sense of humor!

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    Monday, November 9, 2009

    Marriage on Mondays

    Marriage on Mondays …

    yes, it can be a good thing. I believe if one is married then by gum, by golly, it ought to be marvelous. However, I know of and am acquainted with so many who are just surviving their marriage.

    Sometimes it has become a life of boredom, weariness … for whatever reason, it is just checked off – marital status – yes or no? … uh, yes. It has become something where they are merely existing day to day in a state of mediocrity, the doldrums. No, it’s not what they wanted but they don’t know what to do with “it” or themselves. They’re just too tired to make it work, make a difference. I don’t know but, sometimes we drift into this mediocrity … it’s upon us before we even realize it. We end up drowning in the same ol’, same ol’ and it’s killing us.

    Other times we come upon financial or emotional crisis and rather than talk things through rationally, we shout our way through our days. Our homes become war zones where we go from one battle to the next and our energy is spent in ‘one-up-man-ship’. I have even witnessed friends who laugh as they ‘get one over’ on their spouse. Their conversation has become a continual sparring battle … words with just the right thrust, at just the right angle to inflict the most pain and damage. And again, we end up killing ourselves … sadness in it’s saddest form.

    Boredom, conflict, contention, frustration, dissatisfaction, ambivalence … whew! These words NEVER should be what describes the marriage of two people. But they do.

    If you are there … if you have arrived at this place I want you to know it can be better. Your marriage can shine. Your marriage can one day be a Masterpiece of utmost Beauty. The first step, though, is sometimes the hardest to take because before you take that first step you have to realize where you are and WANT to make it different. You have to DECIDE it CAN be better. You can move on down that road that will take you from this awful here to that beautiful land of fulfillment, love and passion that you only dare to dream of.

    I also want you to know you don’t have to do it by yourself. There are so many people ‘out there’ that can help you on your journey to a better marriage.

    ‘Church’ is one of the best places to go for marital help. Usually most churches have classes you can be a part of. Quite a few churches offer free counseling with skilled staff. Many times there are even workshops to attend. The best thing ‘churches’ can do is to offer friendship of others who are striving to make their marriages work. Believe it or not, there are loads of people who really, truly want to create a masterpiece of a marriage and are more than willing to offer advice and encouragement and really don’t ‘judge’ in the process. And believe it or not, contrary to popular belief, most people are not hypocrites who attend ‘church’. Most of the time we are quickest to judge hypocrisy when we do not know someone or the facts. In my humble opinion, a ‘bench warmer’ usually passes judgment based on very few true facts.

    If you don’t want to get involved with others right now you can still do plenty on your own – books are the most marvelous source on ‘how-to’ make marriage work. Also, there are video series and workbooks to go through to help you. You can tackle this battle as privately as you want and I still know you can improve.

    Another problem to be noted here is that many times there’s this marriage and only one of the partners is willing to make changes. One is desperate for a better life but the other is either unwilling to change, doesn’t admit there is a problem or is just too lazy … is content to exist in the ‘mundane’. Well, I am here to let you know I have witnessed radical differences made even in these situations. Yep, there are some excellent books that take you from exactly where you are, husband or wife, and simply deal with your role. Your attitude. Your actions. Your reactions. It is when you learn what you are to do, when to do it, and how … well, great and amazing things end up happening. Sometimes, the biggest problem is … we just don’t know what to do next. That is what these books are all about.

    I have a number of books here that I have seen utilized and the response has been life-changing. I list them through CBD which is a discount wholesaler of Christian books so, the prices are way low … however, I don’t want you to let $$ ever be used as an excuse not to read these … use a church library or public library to borrow them from. If you don’t see what you want many times a library will order a book if they know the public is interested.

    No one will ever tell you Marriage is EASY – it’s not! (and if they do say it’s easy, they are lying or living on a different planet) In fact marriage just might be the most difficult J-O-B you ever have but I believe, wholeheartedly, that your marriage can be a … J-O-Y!

    I believe in Marriage – I believe it was intended to be the most fantastic partnership ever. I believe each of us is capable of creating a covenant that is amazing and wonderful.

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    Here’s a book for Him … it’s a great one. Did you know God actually designed Marriage so that a Husband was actually, could truly be … a  Prophet, Priest and King of his own family? … like royalty in its holiest form … pure beauty.

    11665: A Husband After God"s Own Heart: 12 Things That Really Matter in Your Marriage
    By Jim George
    The closer a husband is to God, the closer he will grow to his wife. That’s why it’s so vital for husbands to pursue God’s heart and get to know His perfect design for the man’s role in the marriage relationship. In A Husband After God’s Own Heart, husbands will find their marriages growing richer and deeper as they discover how to win a wife’s heart through loving leadership, enjoy better communication through careful listening, build a happier home through wise guidance, encourage the family’s spiritual growth by example, and excel at a career without sacrificing family priorities. George addresses 12 areas of a husband’s life, providing men with powerful and practical applications for becoming a husband after God’s own heart. Includes study guide.

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    Let’s face it Women, if a woman doesn’t love her self then it’s hard for her to love anyone else. No one loves you and who you are like the Father who knitted you in your Mother’s womb  – talk it all over with Him. Fall in love with yourself so you can love your husband like he deserves.

    919261: The Power of a Praying Woman By Stormie Omartian
    It may seem easier to pray for your spouse, your children, your friends, and your extended family, but God wants to hear your requests for your life too. He loves it when you come to Him for the things you need and ask Him to help you become the woman you have always longed to be. The Power of a Praying Woman has led countless women into deeper, more fulfilling prayer lives. Now, with a new cover, Omartian, through her knowledge of Scripture and candid examples of her own epiphanies in prayer, shows you how to:
    • draw closer to God
    • know His plans and purpose for your life
    • receive comfort, help, and strength for every day
    Trust Him moment by moment with the concerns of your heart and discover the awesome power that prayer will release in your life.

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    This one is for both of you – you speak different languages and you have to study this to get it right. Once you realize this and learn the language of your lover then it’s a place like no other!

    73156: The Five Love Languages By Gary Chapman
    Dr. Gary Chapman, Christian marriage counselor and author of The Five Love Languages, helps married couples deal with their unmet needs for love. Because a husband and wife often have different communication styles, it is common for a spouse to not feel or recognize the love given to them. In his bestselling book, The Five Love Languages, Dr. Chapman identifies and explains five unique communication methods – Quality Time, Words of Affirmation, Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch. Then he encourages couples to learn how to speak love in their spouse’s primary love language, not their own. Love is something you do for someone else, not yourself. Begin today. Includes a study guide; paperback.

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    This isn’t all by any means — I have more resources listed at YOUR NINTH HOUR … Today just could be your new beginning! Let the journey begin!

    Friday, November 6, 2009

    November = Thanksgiving!

    Here we are at the beginning of one of my favorite months of the year … I LOVE November! From the cool, crisp air to the lovely colors on the trees, until the closing of the month with Thanksgiving and then the anticipation of Christmas … it is just a extraordinary month! My theme for this month will be “Giving Thanks”. It’s going to fun so, stay connected!!
    Yes indeed, part of what makes November so exceptional is of course, Thanksgiving and I guess it just might be my best-loved holiday! I enjoy the planning, the cooking, the clean-up – all of it!
    Some of my most treasured memories ever are from Thanksgiving Gatherings! The whole family takes part in the preparation and then the visiting is always wonderful. When I was a child my Mom was known for opening her door to those who were far away from family and needed a ‘home’ for the day. Throughout the years my sister and I have done the same.
    The planning – to make any holiday a wonderful one you have to plan for it … planning reduces the stress that could happen around any holiday. We start really early in the month storing up what we’ll need for the meal. The anticipation is part of the joy!
    Here are some excellent books on Thanksgiving and some marvelous ways to make this T-day the best ever!
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    23671: The Book of Thanksgiving: Stories, Poems, and Recipes For Sharing One of America"s Greatest Holidays The Book of Thanksgiving: Stories, Poems, and Recipes For Sharing One of America’s Greatest Holidays
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    619226: Hallelujah Holiday Recipes from God"s Garden: A Collection of 300 Recipes Hallelujah Holiday Recipes from God’s Garden: A Collection of 300 Recipes By Rhonda J. Malkmus & Friends
    Holiday entertaining is a breeze when you treat your friends and family to the delicious holiday dishes created by Rhonda Malkmus and friends. In this sure to be classic book, Rhonda shares over 300 recipes – from Curried Butternut Squash Soup to Sweet Potato Casserole to Raw Apple Pie among other savory favorites. Even those not on the diet will enjoy this festive fare.Also includes “Helpful Kitchen Tips,” and a handy “Guide to Planning a Holiday Party,” and a section on creative gifts you can make. So start a new healthy holiday tradition for your family! Or inspire someone else to begin The Hallelujah Diet by giving this book as a gift!
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    Make sure to visit YOUR NINTH HOUR for fabulous products for the season! There’s nothing like decorating our Hearth and Home in cozy, wonderful ways!