Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Overactive or underactive? Which are you?

As I have been battling my thyroid levels the thoughts in my mind have been churning for the past few days. Now, I do not have a thyroid. Had surgery to remove it about five years ago. For the most part it has been under control, but as I find out this week, my thyroid is overactive and wow can just the slightest difference throw your body off. Not just your body, but your mind.

Your thyroid is confusing to say the least. High means low and low means high. See, are you confused yet? Many are blessed to have a normal thyroid and when it's normal your body functions just as it is suppose to. It is amazing how just one little organ in our body can control so much. At least now I have answers as to why I have not been feeling well.

So, I began comparing overactive and under active in my walk with Christ. Can we really be overactive in our walk? I believe we can to a point if we lose our focus. I remember a time in my life where I didn't say no to anyone. I was so busy with my children, my husband and home life, plus all the activities I just kept jumping into. I ran myself ragged until I was so overactive in being involved with everything that I lost my focus on just why I was involved in the first place. We can be busy and be busy with everything we want to be busy with, that sometimes we can lose Christ in there in the midst of all the running. Isn't it funny how we make time fore everything we want? Oh, we can lose our appetite in our quest to serve everyone. We can begin to lose parts of ourselves when we are so concerned with others. We can be filled with anxiety trying to meet deadlines and fill every one's needs. We can become irritable also, just trying to run here and there, trying to catch up. Sometimes it can turn into trying to please others instead of following what Christ has for us. Ever pray before you accept an invite to an activity? When we are overactive in activities something has to give and usually it our personal relationship with Christ that suffers. For me, I believe to pray and take upon the gifts the Lord has given with great responsibility and not get so involved in every function that we miss out on the purpose of the one we began. Remember, it can soon become about us when in fact it is always about Christ.

Now, on the other hand, can we be under active? We sure can. We can sit in church every Sunday and expect the church to serve us, never moving in prayer to see if the Lord is calling us to service. In being under active we too make it about us. Like I said before, we are busy with what we want to be busy with. But, we are to be servants of the Lord. He has given each of us gifts. Gifts to bring glory and honor to Him. Do you ever quiet the Spirit when He is asking you to move in an area? Oh, I think we have all been there, afraid to move, afraid to fail, afraid to jump in. But when the Lord is asking us to be involved in an area and serve He will equip us with all the wisdom, knowledge and strength for the job. Yes, some of those jobs look mighty big, but we can do it with Christ leading the way. Too many times we sit on the sidelines expecting everyone else to do the job. Oh, we can become so hungry for we are not getting enough food.  We too can become fatigued in doing nothing. If we are not allowing the Lord to fill us, we lose interest. How easy is it to skip church after we have missed a few Sundays? That pew is not to be a permanent seat for our behinds, but a place for us to pray and listen for the Lord's call. To move when asked by Him and to serve in areas where He has blessed us. When we are under active we too are neglecting our relationship with Christ. I don't believe we can listen intently to Him and keep turning away from service. After all, Christ was a Servant, just as He is calling us to serve.

My point? Move when you hear from the Lord. Don't take a position just to be with your friends or to receive a pat on the back. As humans we do that, you know? We tend to make it about us. We like to say, "Look at all I am doing"? Then we tend to complain because there is so much work and no one is helping out. Sound like your church? The church is God's people. Each person in church has gifts to share. It's when we step out on our own that many times we take that away from another, another who is being called by God to fill a position of service. One who is not going to complain, but be filled with joy. God isn't impressed with all we are doing. He wants to impress upon us His heart to serve and share our gifts. He wants us to step back and allow Him to shine. He wants us to give Him all the glory.

I love how the Lord can speak to us through anything that touches our life. We must be accountable to Him daily, minute by minute at times. We must listen with willing hearts and be humble enough to step back to give another the service they were called to fill. After all, it is all about Him. May we check ourselves and see just where we are are on our walk. It is when we are in the center of Christ that we are healthy in our relationship with Him.

Matthew 6:24 "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon."

Matthew 6:33 "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."

Colossians 3:23-24 "And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.

Come and enjoy the top 20!!

My sweet friend, Jennifer Slattery, is hosting her top twenty blog posts through the month of December at her blog, Jennifer Slattery Lives Out Loud. I am inviting you to click on the link and travel over daily to receive a great blessing from some amazing writers. Her first is up today, Oh, to be magnetic by Gail Pallotta. Just by clicking on you can find Gail's blog and share in just how it blessed you. This is what a writing community is all about. This is what sharing is all about. I promise, you will leave daily with a nugget to carry away. Each day you will find a new post. You never know, you might just find me in there somewhere and at the end you get to vote on your favorites. Now, how fun is that? Come on and join in, I know Jen would love to have you!!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

WHAT WOMEN TELL ME (Finding Freedom From The Secrets We Keep) by Anita Lustrea

Here is a book written by a woman, who has heard from thousands of women, writing to women of every age. Anita shares a candid view of friendships, and all that women desire and need. She tackles loneliness and depression. She grabs hold of the subject of beauty and what it really means to look beyond the shell that carries our heart. She takes us through her childhood into divorce and even relationships with family. This is a book for every woman. We hide so much. We put on a mask and no one really knows how we feel. Anita shares how it is time to let others in and take a chance. She explores abuse and sexual brokenness in marriage. This would be a perfect book for a small study. A great way to encourage other women to share beyond what we want others to think about us. This book is challenging and thought provoking. Anita shares stories of biblical women who struggled just as we do and teaches us it's okay to reach out and be real. I enjoyed this book greatly. It would be a blessing for any woman to read.

This book was a gift from Zondervan for it's review.

Anita Lustrea is executive producer and host of Moody Radio’s Midday Connection. Garnering NRB’s 2008 Program of the Year Award, Midday Connection is geared toward women who want to talk about the important issues of life. Anita is also a much sought-after conference and retreat speaker and lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband, Mike, and son, John.

Author Website:


Just enjoy the ride

Sometimes we get so excited about the destination we forget to enjoy the ride. A few years back when our kids were small (okay, maybe for than a few) we traveled through the country to our favorite spot at Alley Springs. Now, it is about a four hour drive from our house, but being married to a truck driver, distance has no meaning. lol As we drove off from home that day we were headed to the river, and oh, what a glorious river it is. Some of our greatest memories are right there in that spot we loved to call our own.

We had a great day and now we're headed for home. We loaded the car and all five kids were in. Five tired and cranky kids that is. As my husband is getting on the road he says, "I think we will take a different way home." Now, my husband, the truck driver, can get you from point A to point B a thousand different ways and never get lost!!

Of course once on the road everyone has to go to the bathroom and get a drink, which in turn will cause another stop, but we were off and soon we started not feeling so good. See, I get car sick along with two of our other kids. Are you starting to get the picture? Yea, it was not a fun ride home. In fact, everyone was getting sick. This road we were on was like a roller coaster that never ended! It was like you were in one curve the whole ride home. I just kept thinking, "Lord, we gotta get out of this curve at some point!" Even my husband started wondering what in the world he had done.

All I wanted right then was a straight road in front of me. No curves. No hills. No pit stops. Just one straight road taking me home. Sound familiar? So many times we want the easy way home. We want to take the route that doesn't take long. The one we are familiar with.

Listen to this verse I found today. Ecclesiastes 7:13 "Accept the way God does things, for who can straighten what he has made crooked?"

I had to ponder over this and it is meaning, God is sovereign. His ways are higher. We shouldn't avoid His purposes and ways. But trust Him. Believe that the route before us is for our benefit. Would God steer us in the wrong direction? I should be able to trust Him through the curve, in the valley of the hill, and along all those pit stops. Sometimes I simply forget to look out the window at before me.

Ever take a route somewhere and you find where all those curves had once been are now gone? Everything has changed. The road that you were used to has now changed.  They fixed the road and took out all the curves. Made it easier for travel. Now, we might get a whole new view from this perspective, but I find myself missing all that was there before.  

We need to just slow down and enjoy the scenery. Take a stop now and then. Pick some flowers. Ask another along for the ride. I always seem to concentrate on getting home, but there is much to do before we reach our destination. Like enjoy the ride!!

It really is a family

When I began this writing adventure I didn't know where the lord was taking it and you know, I still don't. But, one this is for certain. I am right where He is calling me. I am learning daily. Am I great at editing? Are you kidding me? I have much to learn. Do I have all my words in the perfect position? Nope, you can find them scattered just like my thoughts as I am pecking away. But, my heart is there in those words. Every word before you has been prayed over and pondered before I press publish.

There is something special the Lord has brought to me. A writing community. A family of inspiration. A gathering of people who have a gift and want to serve the Lord through words. Words that can touch a soul. Bring laughter. Add to growth. Making us take a closer look at ourselves and the Lord. Stories are shared, and scripture is pondered over. I have this group of writing friends who gives encouragement. They are cheering me on and guiding me through this journey of writing. A place that can be lonely at times as you are finding yourself through the words before you.

I am humbled to have people from all over the world reading my blog. I hear from people who share their stories of hope through struggle. It is an amazing blessing to see God work through the lives of those who just want to serve Him. I read blogs every morning and see the creativeness the Lord has gifted others with. I often find myself asking, "Are you sure, Lord? Is this what I am to do?" All it takes is a whisper from Him and I know I am right where I am suppose to be.

See, I believe in sharing. I also believe in simply listening. Through the lives of those around me I am seeing just how big God really is. For Him to use this simple girl to reach others for His kingdom is more than humbling. I stand before you with my hands outstretched at His mercies. I find myself in wonder of His greatness.

In writing you often wonder if you are reaching others. If you are making a difference. I am learning to simply write for my Lord. I am learning to seek Him more and He is teaching me  not to seek  the praise of others. Writing is a growing experience and sometimes what you see is not so pretty. Sometimes it is through writing that God shows you more of yourself. After you sit back and read what your fingers have typed in you now have that aha moment and praise goes to the Lord. A breakthrough has happened. The Lord opened your eyes to what He had for you on this very day.

I am so blessed to find myself surrounded by authors who have walked this journey for years and are able to teach me as I grow on this journey of writing. To you my friends, I say, thank you. I have been blessed with friendships that make my life sweeter each day. I am encouraged by you my friends. My cup is overflowing with gratitude for each and everyone of you who lift me up, pray for me, and share this journey with me.

How do we know?

If you are like me you often walk one way and then turn to another, wondering if you are traveling down the right road. It can be so confusing listening to the voices in our head and heart. We want to follow the Lord, but the advice of another often seems more comforting at the moment. Our heart is not wanting a challenge, and our mind is often too tired to keep focus. So what do we do? How do we know which way to go?

We make our plans without the leadership of the Lord, only to find out later what blessings we missed out on, trying to simply make it on our own. Since the Lord knows our life step by step, isn't it best to  affirm our goings and stopping's with Him? We seem to throw the dice and take a chance, but we must remember each choice we make will determine our next.

We seem to think money is the answer to all our problems. Many times seeking money is the root of our problems. We seem to place everything, every desire above what the Lord has before us. Sometimes what He asking is hard. But He will give us all we need for the road. He will make sure we are packed and loaded with everything possible for every possibility that will only bring glory and honor to Him.

When we go by our wants and plans instead of following the leadership of the Lord it will only lead to a dead end. But praise Jesus, He is the maker of u-turns. We often go by the advice of others. We listen to the worldly views as we turn on Dr. Phil or Oprah. We seem to ask everyone for their thoughts and opinions before we turn to the Lord. Oh, I am one who fits that example perfectly. Isn't it quicker to receive an answer by calling a friend instead of waiting upon the Lord? But, if we would only wait upon Him, quiet ourselves instead of doing all the talking we would gain so much more. I talk way too much. This morning as I was praying, it was almost as if the Lord said to me, "Hush, and just listen."

Just because things are not looking perfect doesn't mean the Lord isn't it in. He is working all around us. I often look at my circumstances and wonder just where God is in it all. He is right here with me. He hasn't left me. I just get tired of struggle and then lose focus. I begin to seek my own path. Even when I take a wrong turn, it is His voice that guides me right back to Him.

Proverbs 16:1 "We can make our own plans, but the Lord gives the right answer."

Proverbs 16:3 "Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed."

Proverbs 16:9 "We can make our own plans, but the Lord determines our steps."

Proverbs 16:16 "How much better to get wisdom than gold, and good judgment than silver!"

Proverbs 16:25 " There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death."

Proverbs 16:33 "We many throw the dice, but the Lord determines how they fall."

God determines who walks into your life....it's up to you to decide who you let walk away, who you let stay, and who you refuse to let go. I need to stop trying to guide myself through all the mine fields and just simply follow Him. Every moment in our lives has purpose. Our circumstance might be to bring teaching to another, blessings to all, and growth to ourselves. For us to become the people He is calling us to be we are going to have to listen to His every word and allow Him to guide our steps. Everything and everyone in our lives has precious meaning. May we stop trying to guide the ship alone and let the Lord guide us. I think the sunset will only be more beautiful when I turn from my own vision and begin to see through His.

Saturday, November 27, 2010


It all begins with a bank robbery. A beautiful woman looking back into the eyes of a cowboy trying to just get off one good shot. Josh Neville is more than a cowboy, he is respected and an admired man among his family. He has been widowed at a young age and has not been able to move forward, until now. Kate Wellington is the woman looking back and the woman that will forever have his heart.

As Josh is riding across Texas, Kate Wellington, is bruised and battered. She knows the Texas Rangers are looking for her. She is trying to give herself a new identity as Dinah, as she is moving for the border.  Did she help rob that bank or is there more to the story? Josh, seeing her in distress, knows he must reach out to her. As he takes her back to the Lazy N Ranch, his family falls in love with Kate, only known to them as Dinah.

Let me tell you my friends, this is  a story that will grab your heart, make you smile and never take for granite one day of your life. Josh grew up in a Christian home. He has been blessed, but knows loss. His faith carries him through each day. Kate? She has had her share of struggle and is not so sure she wants to praise a God she isn't so sure is there anymore. We see God move through these two people. Their journey is a long one, but the Lord has set their course.

We witness hope come alive. Faith restored. Forgiveness reaches all when we just accept the beautiful grace of God. I loved the characters in this story and found myself cheering them on. If you enjoy historical romance this is the book for you. We see a romance take place between a Savior and His daughter.

This book was given to me by Loree Lough for it's review. Stop on by and see my Chat with Loree where she shares her heart. Blessings to you Loree. I loved each and every page!!!

Loree Lough: A prolific writer, Loree Lough has more than seventy books, sixty short stories, and 2,500 articles in print. Her stories have earned dozens of industry and Reader's Choice awards. A frequent guest speaker for writers' organizations, book clubs, private and government institutions, corporations, college and high school writing programs, and more, Loree has encouraged thousands with her comedic approach to learned-the-hard-way lessons about the craft and industry.

For decades, Loree has been an avid wolf enthusiast, and she dedicates a portion of her income each year to efforts that benefit the magnificent animals. She splits her time between a home in the Baltimore suburbs and a cabin in the Allegheny Mountains, and she shares her life with a spoiled pointer named Cash and her patient, dedicated husband, who has supported her writing and teaching endeavors throughout the years.

This book is published by Whitaker House.

The winners of Beautiful Bandit!!!

During my chat with author Loree Lough she wanted to have a give a way of her newest book Beautiful Bandit. There is not just one winner of this amazing book, but two!! Melissa Keller Hollis and  Jill White!!!!  I am so excited for you both. Loree is gracious to give out two books and that speaks volumes about this sweet lady.This is an awesome book! If you have not read a book from Loree Lough you are missing out my friends!! Grab one up today for a gift or just something special for yourself. This is a treat indeed!! Congradulations Jill and Melissa !!! Enjoy and happy reading!!

Finding the real deal

Oh, the season of shopping is upon us. It seems to come so early. Some are prepared and have their shopping finished before the season has begun. Others, well, they leave everything to the last minute in hopes of finding that amazing deal.

We search high and low for those deals. We try to beat the crowds and get ahead in every way. We read the store ads, and look on line. Some push others aside so they can be first. We have our hand out in hopes of scoring that perfect gift at the perfect price. But can we really find that perfect gift in a store? On line? At the mall? In all our searching we are missing the greatest gift of all.

He is wrapped in love, not a brown paper bag. He is packaged with grace, not a big red bow. He lets those at the end of the line go first. His gift is free to us, although it was costly to Him. He had to give all so we could accept. We say this season is all about Him, but is it really? What do we make it?

Don't be like one of those shoppers waiting until the last minute. Be like the one prepared ahead of time. As we are waiting in line, don't begrudge those ahead of you. Reach out to all around you. Show the love of Christ, the real meaning, the real gift. He is the real deal.

There is nothing on a rack that can wrap us as warm as His love. There is nothing out there on a shelf that can erase our sins. There is not one thing on the tree that can out shine His light. No, there is not even a gift under the tree that can keep on giving such as He can.

When all the gifts are opened and all the wrapping paper trashed, the tree comes down and all those gifts are stashed. Some are kept around our necks, but His remains in the heart. We then stand in line to exchange those very presents that cost. We don't think about the giver much, but what we want instead. We can exchange all we have and keep on searching for more, or we can grab hold of the greatest gift and have it forever more.

John 12:25-26 "He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor."

John 3: 16-17 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved."

Friday, November 26, 2010

You ready to see what's on the other side of the door?

She grabbed hold of the handle, not yet ready to open the door. What would be there? Would she be taken back to her past or maybe realize the present? She fights the urge to just walk past. She lets go and just stands as though time is not moving.

We all have a door to our past. We have a choice. We can open the door and unlock ourselves from the past and move into the future. Or we just continue to walk by as if that door is just part of the wall. The wall we have now built up around ourselves. Oh, if we could just open the door, and walk  through into tomorrow.

If you are like me, we can get stuck in our past. Wanting to let go, but not really ready. Why do we hold on so badly to what was? Might we want to see what it to come? We define ourselves by our past. We hide it from others as we carry a shame that isn't ours to carry. The longer we stay in our past the more time we waste today.

I can look back at the girl of my past and I can hardly recognize her. She seems so different from who I am today. But I know I would not be the woman I am today if I had not lived the days of my past that only led  me to the present with Jesus. It is through Him that I can find forgiveness not only of today, but of yesterday. Those days behind the door that we fear so much. He is the One who gave me strength to finally open that door and be set free from the old.

There is so much on the other side of the door. It is the key to unlocking who we are to be now in Christ Jesus.

John 10:7-10 "Then Jesus said to them again, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.'"

Jesus is the Sheperd of His flock. He has the key to unlock the door to your future. If you will lay down your past at His feet He will give you a welcome mat to the future. He is keeping watch and is standing guard over His sheep while Satan is there trying to hold that door shut. Don't fear opening that door. Open it and see all the possibilities that lie in wait for you.

LETS CHAT FRIDAY with Andrea Bowling Perdue

As I sit before the Lord asking, "Lord, who should I ask to be a guest?" He always leads me to the person who is perfect for that chosen Friday. I love how He does that. Don't you? His timing is perfect and complete in every way. His grace and mercy are there for us all if we will only accept His love. His perfect love. Life can throw us for a loop at times and we are simply lost in what to do. A few days ago while shopping with my mom  I found myself standing in line thinking of how much everything was going to cost. I said, "Oh, Lord help me." My mom replies, "You better call on someone closer than that to help." I looked up at my mom and simply shared, "Mom, there is no one closer than Christ." He is with us always and in every situation of our lives, just as you will see with my chat with Andrea. The Lord has touched her life in many ways and has brought her though some difficult paths along her journey, but oh, what a plan He has set before her. Each day of her life has meaning and value and as she faces each obstacle in her way she knows just who to call upon. I am honored to have Andrea visit the Nest today. Andrea also writes a few blogs and wow, what blessings they are. Arise To Write and All God's Creatures are her current blogs. I encourage you to travel over and take a peek. She is a talented writer who simply shares from her heart. It is my prayer that you too will be blessed by all Andrea has to share. Sit back, get cozy and enjoy all God has for your heart this morning.

(Robin) Tell a little about yourself:

(Andrea) I am a wife, mom, nana, writer, dog trainer, therapy dog mom, friend, and much more. I live life a little outside the box. I look for GOD in every detail of my life, no matter how small. His presence in every part of my life has enabled me to remain focused on HIM. I love inductive Bible study. My husband lovingly teases me saying, "Your Bibles look like coloring books." The more I study, I realize how little I know and how desperately I need to increase my study of HIS word!

(Robin)  Since you have walked with the Lord has there been a time you have struggled in your faith? If so, please share:
(Andrea) My walk with the Lord began as a young child. I lived with my maternal grandparents, Nana and Papa Coates. My faith grew strong early through their gentle love and guidance. When I was a young teen, both Nana and Papa stepped from this world into the arms of their Heavenly Father within a two year period. At that time, I was forced to return to my biological parents. I felt as if all I knew of safety, real love, and security had been ripped from this earth with my grandparents. With a broken heart and a shaky faith I clung to the thread of faith between me and heaven. Most days it was all I had to hold onto. It has been 32 years since Nana died and in March 2011 it will be 30 years since Papa died. I still miss each of them more than words could describe. Last Friday, I was privileged to walk through and spend some time in the home I shared with my grandparents for the first time in 30 years. Indeed, my GOD cares about every detail of my life. Thirty years later, HE continues to heal my heart and meet my deepest needs.

(Robin) Has there been an "Aha" moment that has changed your perspective?
(Andrea) My "AHA" moment began on the day I realized I could not fix my family, nor was it my job! I can not express the relief I experienced when GOD finally broke through my pride and stubbornness and I received HIS word to me:

"Not your job, baby! I've got it!"

I had always prided myself in being the strong one. Time and time again, I tried to pick up the pieces and carefully glue them back together. The big problem with this is:

1) I am not strong enough to handle the load alone. Only GOD can handle it.

2)My glue was not lasting. GOD's glue is "everlasting!"

(Robin) Do you have a favorite Bible story, verse, song, or hymn that gives encouragement when struggles come?
(Andrea) Isaiah 43:1b-3a

(Robin) What is the one thing you look for in a close friend and what's one quality you hope others see in you?
(Andrea) All of my close friends exhibit the "unconditional love of Christ!" This is a necessary quality as one chooses to be my friend. I pray, I too am able to meet people (my friends) where they are in their lives and love them in and through each situation they face.

(Robin) What are a few books you have in your collection you would share with a friend?
(Andrea) "So Long Insecurity" Beth Moore

"In The Grip Of Grace" Max Lucado

"Streams In The Desert" Devotional

"Daily Light Devotional" Ann Graham Lotz

"In Every Pew Sits a Broken Heart" Ruth Graham

(Robin) When life seems to go crazy, what is one thing you do to bring comfort and peace?
(Andrea) I grab my Bible, journal, pen, and camera and head out for a local, state, or national park, or anywhere I can walk and sit amidst God's creation. God speaks loudest to me when I am surrounded by HIS wonderful creation. Whether my toes are wiggling in the sand or feeling the waters of a stream trickle through them, I feel HIS comfort and peace. I grew up with a heavenly view of the Blue Ridge mountains. I now live in Richmond, Virginia, 2 hours from the beach and 2 hours from the mountains. Over the last few years, I have been known to tell my husband, "I need to go to the mountains." Recently, my husband, Doug bought me a t-shirt that says, "The mountains are calling and I must go!" (a John Muir quote) If you are traveling through the mountains and see a weary woman with a very large furry dog, her Bible, journal, and camera, propped up against a tree it just may be me! I will be soaking in HIS presence gaining both peace and comfort for the next part of my journey.

(Robin) What is the one thing about yourself you admire?
(Andrea) The sensitiveness God has given me for my surroundings, especially in difficult situations.

(Robin) What are a few of the things you love surrounding you?
~my Bible

~pen and journal

~my furry babies

~pictures of those I love and God's creation

~a jar of sea glass I've picked up over the last few years

(Robin) What are your deepest passions?
(Andrea) Writing and watching God use the words He has given me to help someone else. I am continually amazed when God chooses to use the heart of this broken child for His good will and purpose.

(Robin) What's the best advice ever given you?
(Andrea) When I was a little child, probably around seven years old, I asked Papa Coates, "Why do I have to love everybody? Some people are mean and I don't want to love them?"

Papa said, "Andee, we must love everyone because Jesus loves everyone. We don't have to like them, but we do have to love them."

Clearly the best advice I have ever been given and still the most challenging!

(Robin) In the legacy you leave what's the one thing you hope outshines before all others?
(Andrea) I pray others will have seen and felt the love of Jesus through all I say and do and on those many days when I fail, I pray they too will have been used for HIS glory! If I leave my children, grandchildren and friends with one thing it would be to:

"Love the Lord their GOD with all their heart, body, and soul and their neighbor as themselves."

(Robin)  What are you currently working on?
(Andrea) God has recently been tugging at my heart about writing a memoir or several memoirs about my life. Today, I publicly admit this call. Please pray I will fulfill His call and be found faithful through the process no matter how long it takes.

(Robin) How do you define success?
(Andrea) For me, success is being all God created me to be! I am clearly a work in progress. At the end of my race, I hope I will hear, "Well done, my child!"

What sweet memories you have of your Nana and Papa. Thank you for sharing the love you have for them and the gifts they have added to your life. I could just sit with a cup of coffee and chat all day, couldn't you? I love your answer My "AHA" moment began on the day I realized I could not fix my family, nor was it my job! I can not express the relief I experienced when GOD finally broke through my pride and stubbornness and I received HIS word to me: "Not your job, baby! I've got it!" I had always prided myself in being the strong one. Time and time again, I tried to pick up the pieces and carefully glue them back together. The big problem with this is:
1) I am not strong enough to handle the load alone. Only GOD can handle it.
2)My glue was not lasting. GOD's glue is "everlasting!" I am the fixer. I should say, I was the fixer until I let go and let God. I think He just kind of nudged me out of the way and said, "Trust me." It took me a while to get to that point. But there are no other hands I would rather see my family in than His.  I see something broken I want to do all I can to put it back together again, the trouble is, when I place myself in that position I seem to make things worse. But we have a God in the construction business and what a carpenter of love He is. Wise words my friend. We must leave the fixing to Him and trust in in the process. Thank you so much for taking time to share with us. I hope to have you back in the future. Blessings to you sweet friend. I know Andrea would love to hear from you. Please, leave her your comments and share with her what a blessing she has been for you today. Again, it has been another awesome Friday spent chatting with friends!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Just gotta be real, right?

I come to my computer everyday to write. I write about the love of Christ. I share my blessings and my struggles. I try to encourage others with each post. I just try to be real. Isn't that what we are suppose to do? Too many times we put on face and try to show everyone we are doing just fine. Well, I am not. I always want to be honest and as real as I can be. If we are not real, then just who are we? I feel accountable to my readers to be honest in every way. That is why I share my ups and downs. It is in truth that others see the strength, forgiveness and grace of Christ through us. So today I am sharing the pain my family has been enduring. I know we are not the only family struggling. Oh, there are many, just as we are, trying to make each day and focus on the positive, but some days the stress just overcomes you and you throw your hands up in the air and say, "Enough!"

Yesterday was one of those days. It was as though all the weight just came crashing down like an avalanche. You find yourself under all the weight of the stress and you feel as though you can't breathe. Your trying your best to dig yourself out, but the more you move, the deeper you go under. Been there?

As bills keep coming in you look at them and wonder, "Okay, Lord, You are gonna have to do something big!" You sit in the silence of your worry and you wait. Nothing seems to happen. My husband and I had words yesterday. Not just words, but those words that once they are out there in the open, it's like air to fire. They just burst out and burn everything in sight. You are left there in the destruction looking around in wonder at how it all began. I said words yesterday I have not said in years. I shouted. I screamed. It was like a monster being unleashed. The tears just seemed to fall and then all is quiet in the night. You are left wondering what morning will bring.

As morning came, my husband looks at me with love in his eyes and says, "Good morning." It was as though the storm had passed. Oh, the clouds are still over head and you know the thunder is just one heartbeat away, but all is quiet and peaceful for now. As I was cooking our Thanksgiving dinner our wood furnace goes out. I hear my husband stirring and say, "I don't know how much more I can take." I think the storm is coming. The rain is falling and all I want is to see the sunshine. Even a rainbow would be nice. As he begins to tackle our furnace inside we are in wonder if it is going to take off. Within an hour our home was warm, our dinner was on the table and my son was praying.

Sometimes as much as we try we fall. Sometimes the stess just builds up and it has to escape. I am so sorry for the words I said yesterday. I hate the fact that this job loss is taking a toll on my family. But if anything good can come from this, it is the simple fact I am thankful for what we do have. So much of my life I spent thinking about my wants when all I needed was right in front of me.

See, it's not about black Friday and all the holiday parties. It is simply being loved. Finding peace. Knowing what real contentment is. And finding yourself under the grace of God. I know Thanksgiving is a holiday for America, but it should celebrated around the world each day. We forget to give thanks. We simply take what we have for granite and no matter what we have we always want more. All I want now is to simply have my family taken care of. I want my husband to have a job. God is doing a work in me and my family. It is not easy going through change. I think of the stages of a butterfly. Only God could wrap something so beautiful and give it wings to fly. But, it is a process. I am not giving up, just having a hard time. Trying to see with my eyes instead of allowing the Lord to show me all I am to see. It's hard to stay focused. Oh, sure, it's easy when all is going great. But, when things get hard we can become too focused on our circumstances and totally miss out on all He is trying to show us and teach us.

Hebrews 13:5-6 "Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For His Himself said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.' So we may boldly say: The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?"

James 1:2-8 "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. but let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double minded man, unstable in all his ways."
Philippians 4:19 "And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus."

Lord, I need your strength. I need your wisdom to light the way. I need Your forgiveness to wash over me. I know I have many needs, but I too know that You will meet each one according your purpose for my life. May I not be tempted by doubt, but be filled with encouragement in Your word. Remove all anger and doubt in my mind and fill my heart with a new faith. Create in me a woman who can stand before You one day and hear the words, "Well done, My good and faithful daughter."

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

There is One who can calm the winds

As I was driving slowly through a parking lot I stopped to allow a woman to walk by. The wind was gusty and as she walked by with a smile her hat blew off with a stir. As she turned to grab her lost hat, she lost her cart she was holding onto. It began moving too fast and she couldn't catch up until another shopper stepped up to help her. He grabbed her cart and with a smile, she said, "Thank you." Ever feel like you are just running against the wind? Everything is blowing and as you turn you lose something else you thought you had hold of. Just when we think we have everything under our belt, it seems to fly in the wind. We run to catch it, but we never seem to run fast enough. The further we go, the farther it seems to be out of reach. Sometimes it is just at our fingertips, almost in our reach. But as we stretch out our hand it is gone with another breeze.

Just as this woman was trying to grab hold, another stepped forward to bring needed help. Isn't that just what the Lord does for us? When something feels like it's out of reach, He steps in and stops the wind, takes our hand and says, "Hold on. Be still. I got it." Oh, how the wind is blowing today. It almost cuts like a knife, but in the midst of all the blowing and scattered thoughts He is there keeping me still. It is His protection, His covering that keeps the wind from knocking me over. Ever stand in the cold wind until tears come to the surface? Even as those tears fall, there is a current of life. A newness you feel coming. We never know what will blow in with the wind, but one thing is for sure. The Lord will keep us from being swept up in the coldness that surrounds us. It is His warmth that stills my heart. It is His loving hands that bring comfort.

As the wind is howling today in my life and stirring all around me, it is the Lord that brings a peace and calm. It is His sweet words that echo through my heart. "Be still my daughter." I don't have to fear the storms attacking. I can see Him standing tall through the storms and taking all that blows for me. I know my Savior will bring me through the storms of today and carry me above all that comes tomorrow. With each wind that comes our compass still points north. He is Forever North. If I just stay focused on Him and not all that is around me He will lead me through the storm. With each wind that comes there is sweet music that can be heard. I just have to tune my heart to be able to hear His sweet melody.

Jeremiah 51:16 "He utters His voice-There is a multitude of waters in the heavens: He causes the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth; He makes lightnings for the rain; He brings the wind out of His treasuries."

Luke 8:24-25 "And they came to Him and awoke Him, saying, 'Master, Master, we are perishing!' Then He arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water. And they ceased, and there was a calm. But He said to them, 'Where is your faith?' And they were afraid, and marveled, saying to one another, 'Who can this be? For He commands even the winds and water, and they obey Him!'"

Psalm 46:10 "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!"

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My first moment with Him

Oh, He was calling. He was protecting. I didn't meet Him until I was twenty-four years old, but oh, did He know me right from the start. I was that girl searching everywhere for freedom. For reason and rhyme. I was trying to find myself and free myself at the same time. I first walked into a church with my husband. It was the man of my dreams that led me to the God of my life, Jesus Christ. I was sitting in church with my family. My husband and three children. As my daughters stood still beside me, I was holding my young son of year old. It was two weeks before Thanksgiving. As I sat in the pew I could feel this calling. This pulling. A tug if you will on my heart that I had never felt before. The Lord was whispering to my heart. He was speaking to me. Of all people, He chose me. He chose to love me and I chose to answer His call at this moment. I handed my son to my husband as my shaky feet moved forward. Inch my inch I made to the preacher. The preacher I still sit under today. I simply told him, "I want to be saved." He led to the Lord right there before everyone and under God. I imagine angels singing and harps playing. This girl that had lived for herself for twenty-four years was finally home, right where the Lord wanted me to be. Not only did I find my Savior on this day, but I found my church home. I would be baptized the next week, a week before Thanksgiving. My life has never been the same since I answered the Lord's call. Accepting Him has been my greatest gift. His life became my treasure. I no longer searched for something to fill me. I no longer searched for something to make me whole. He did all that the moment He entered my heart.

What's your carriage made of?

This post originally posted at Reflections in Hindsight. What an honor for another writer to give you an invite to share your work. I am forever humbled by God's mercies and gifts. Jennifer Slattery invited me to share a story on marriage. You can find my original post Is It Midnight Already? at Reflections In Hindsight. I encourage you to take a peek at Reflections.Spend a bit of time there. I promise you will leave blessed. It is a blog filled with amazing writers ready to share blessings, struggles and so much more with you!! You will find a little bit of everything there and much to bless your heart. I wanted to repost here just in case you missed it!!

As little girls we find ourselves dreaming as though we are Cinderella waiting for our prince to come. We dream of that white gown we will fit in perfectly. We see the aisle we are walking down and it seems just a short walk to our prince. We envision our home as a little white house, a picket fence, surrounded by two children and a dog. Many times we dream of what our parents shared or sometimes, what they did not.

The carriage picks you up, your dress is white and your prince is standing ready to take your hand, but we never really dream past midnight do we? I know I didn't. We never ponder over the struggle. We never envision a trial coming. If we are not prepared, what do we do? Sometimes we lose sight of the carriage that picked us up. We no longer see a carriage, but a pumpkin escorting us down a bumpy road into the darkness. We want to scream at the driver and say, "Excuse me, what happened to my carriage? What happened to my perfect night? I think your going the wrong way!!" We didn't sign up for a pumpkin, but a carriage to carry us through life.

My husband and I have been married for nineteen years now. Sometimes it seems like yesterday we married and others it seems like forever. There are days the road seems smooth and others I think my carriage must have a flat, because the road is way too bumpy. Between us we have five children. My husband came with two and I too brought my two beautiful daughters into our marriage. Together we had our son, Jacob. He was the child that seemed to tie our family together. I must say when we were raising our children, we didn't use words as, step, half or mine. We were simply a family. Was it always easy? No, not on your life, but we found ways to make it work. We put our children first. Now, some might think that is how you should begin your marriage, but my friends, you must put the Lord first, then your marriage. The Lord is the foundation in which everything else builds. Next, your marriage must stand strong. It is this very relationship that your children will witness and learn from. A happy and healthy marriage makes happy children and a healthy family.

We worked very hard giving everything we had in raising our children. I believe raising children is the hardest job in the world next to building a successful marriage. They both take 100%. You can't just give a little and expect a lot. Somewhere in the midst of raising our children our marriage suffered. In placing our children first we were often placed on the back burner and left there. I would focus on teaching our children and our home as my husband focused on working. He was out of town much as he drove across the country. Over time this takes a toll on your marriage and even yourself. Not only do we need to take time for our spouse, but for ourselves.

It's doing those special things with each other. It's sharing a quiet dinner or a walk in the park. It's taking even just a few minutes a day to hold each other's hand and just dream together. It's knocking yourself out for your husband and he too, knocking himself out for you. It's making time for one another. Too often we make time for what we want and forget making time for what is important. When we don't make time for one another our marriage can only suffer and ours did.

In looking back I know I was a wonderful mother. I had a close bond with my children, but somehow I was pushing my husband out of view. I wasn't even meaning to, but it was happening. Have you too been there? I know when my husband and I would try to plan a night away, one of our children would need us. We would put our bags back in the closets and place our child first. There is nothing wrong with that, but over time we stopped planning. We stopped dreaming and became more so of room mates than husband and wife. It is a trap that is easy to fall into and one that is even harder to grow out of.

We are now almost empty nesters. That is kind of scary, but kind of exciting all the same. We have raised our children and now it is our turn to renew, rebuild, and catch hold of a new wind to set our sails upon. A home filled with sounds is now almost quiet. What a change in just nineteen years. But through these years in our ups and downs, the Lord has been molding us. We have been through some trials I never thought we would escape, but the Lord was good to see us through each one, only making us stronger and wiser. Humbling our hearts and allowing us to see what is really important.

In the last two years my husband has been laid off. He lost a job he thought he would retire from. It set us on another course of trial, only this one would strain our marriage even more so. Stress and unknown are deadly combinations that can wreck havoc on a marriage already unsteady. But this trial brought me to my knees like no other before it. I was afraid this trial would break us. Satan loves to entice us with fear. He loves to separate us to where we feel alone. I couldn't see past my own pain as my husband was suffering from depression. We forgot how to reach out to one another. We forgot to put one another first. We lost sight of that carriage. Somehow midnight seemed to last forever, but for the grace of God He has brought us back together. See, He was doing a work in both of us. We were not communicating so we did not know what the other's heart was feeling, until someone just had to take that first step and reach out.

I pray for my husband every day as he too prays for me. We have learned not to hold in our feelings, but to share everything. We have learned to let other things go and take time for one another. Marriage is a gift from the Lord. May we not forget and lose heart, but go to the Lord in prayer asking Him to strengthen our marriage. To build our home on His foundation and give us a heart for Him. I learned I cannot look to my husband to complete me. I cannot look to my husband for each need to fill my soul. Only the Lord can meet those needs. When I can find who I am through the Lord I am free to be the woman God has called me to be for my husband.

If you are going through a difficult passage don't give up. It is through those trials that we learn so very much about ourselves and each other. Struggles have a way of bringing us together when we take our eyes off ourselves and simply place them upon the Lord. He will meet our needs and bring healing when we reach out to Him, making Him the Lord of our home. I believe it is the Lord who will help us find that very slipper we lost along the way.

"Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband." Ephesians 5:22-33

"Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails." 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

"Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done in selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others." Philippians 2:1-4

Sometimes we feel midnight as already come and gone. The Lord Jesus Christ can change that pumpkin into a beautiful coach just by letting Him in the drivers seat. During this season of hope may we renew, refocus and refresh our relationships that once started with just a spark. The Lord can fireworks just when you think midnight has arrived!! With faith, hope and love we cannot go wrong. 1 Corinthians 13

Today my husband and I still face adversity with his job loss. We are choosing not to focus on this, but to see the blessings before us. I am so thankful for my husband. As we face each day we never know what tomorrow will bring. He could have that perfect job tomorrow or we could still be struggling to make it. We must remember those vows of richer or poorer in health and sickness. It is a journey my friends. Whatever tomorrow brings I know the Lord will be leading the way.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

What are we waiting for? Lets give some thanks!!

We teach our children please and thank you, but somewhere down the road we forget to do so ourselves. Especially today we can look around and its easy to see pain and suffering, but I would like to think there are blessings there too. Within all the bad I would like to think there is just as much good. With pen in hand, the Lord is writing my story. He wrote the beginning with love and added in forgiveness and will finish up with grace. Praise His name, my story is not finished yet, but isn't it exciting to see where we are going? At some point we must let the fear go and take hold of our faith and just follow Him. 

Some find it hard to find thanks in all things. I am a believer that everything happens for a reason. We don't always know the reason and I think that is where our pain and fear come in. Just maybe if we knew what was ahead, on up the road we wouldn't be so afraid to move forward. But I am not so sure I want to know what tomorrow will bring. I don't want to know what will happen in ten years. I want the Lord to take me by the hand everyday through this journey and teach me something new. I want to see His glory in many forms and I want to take part in His kingdom work. This my friends is where faith comes in. In faith we believe and trust the Savior who has given us life.

I am thankful each day when I walk through the door and I see my husband and son. Their faces bring me joy. The laughter that fills my home brings a smile to my face. We could drown in our circumstances right now, but in our circumstances Satan is there trying to steal every ounce of joy away from us. I am not allowing him to steal anymore joy from me. I think he has had his fair share of my time. I am thankful for my mom. I praise God for bringing her through a sickness that almost took her life. I praise Him for giving her four months until her next eye check up. I am thankful for my relationship with my daughters. A renewed relationship. I have a new granddaughter. Now, she is something to give praise for! Such a beautiful baby girl. I watched my youngest daughter walk the aisle just a few short months ago to the man of her dreams. I have the richest blessing of watching my children grow and to take flight in their own journey. I am thankful for little Daisy. The cutest little Dachshund ever!! So many things to give thanks for, big and small.

My life is blessed with rich friendships. Some have been by my side for years and others are new. I have a church family that never ceases to surprise me with their love. I too am blessed with a writing dream that I know has come directly from the Lord. I have been blessed to meet so many through writing. The Lord has brought new sisters and brothers of Christ into my life that I cherish. I would have never had the opportunity to meet them if it had not been through this writing journey.  We have a mighty God. A powerful God. A God who wants to see His children soar!

It's those little texts each day. Those special calls. The cards that pop in the mail. Those boxes filled with books that light up my day. For the last two years my family has learned to do without those very thing we once thought we never could do without. But there has yet to be a day where the Lord has not supplied a need. Through each day I see blessing beyond blessing. I get to teach junior high students. Do you know what a gift and honor that is? To take part in their lives and teach them about Jesus is a gift beyond words.

I have been blessed to watch my son graduate after teaching him myself since kindergarten. As my family learns to spread their wings the Lord has been teaching me through them. The very children I took part in raising have taught me more about life than any other.

I now have my cousin, Melissa, in my life and wow, what a blessing. We are so much alike and filled with many of the same dreams and passions. We now get to share this journey together. I feel like the Lord has gifted us with time we have lost apart now to live and enjoy each day together with Him.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

Philippians 4:6 "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God."

Just think, each page of our story is different. Each day is new. Yesterday has meaning, but we must not allow it to steal away today. Our story is unique. God is the narrator and the author of our story. He knows just how it is going to end just as He knew the beginning before anyone else. My life changed forever the moment He came into the picture. The scenery changed before my eyes and I began to change with it. With each page written I am being molded for the next. We must make a conscious effort to think upon His greatness and glory. If we are so focused on Him can we really be focused on anything else?

With each passing trial I am learning to be thankful. For each one has had a purpose in bringing me closer to the woman God has created me to be. I am so thankful. Is thank you even enough? Are there words to really express gratitude towards the Lord? He gave His life for us. Each and everyone of us. Some will accept Him and His gift and some will not. They will pass it by only later to wish they would have grasped His love when they still had time. His love changes everything. His love makes everything possible.

Take today by the hand and praise Him for all He has done. Give thanks to Him and to those around you who have changed your life. May we share with those who have done something special just to make us smile. Life is sweeter with love and friendship. You will find none greater than the love and friendship you will find in Jesus. He is forever life changing. Find all you are thankful for in Him today and celebrate life.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Are you looking in the right window?

It's time for sleigh bells, winter wonderland and garland. It's time to get out the turkey and dressing. Doesn't this time of year just make you all warm and toasty inside? We make those Christmas cards and send those invites to Thanksgiving dinner. We clean our homes and put up our decorations. We wait for the snow to fall and watch our children with tender awe. But what does it really all mean to you?

We get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of it all don't we? The stores are packed as people are gathering all they need and a little extra they don't. We count down time and become restless. We become stressed over each day as it draws near. Where will we go? Who will come? What will I serve? Oh, what will I get? How much does that cost? Do I really care? We rack up charge cards to make sure everyone has a gift. Not just one, but we cover the skirt under the tree with gifts. Our stockings are running over, but with all the gift giving are we missing something? I must be honest and say, I don't see many people smiling while they are out and about. I think that is my very point. Why do we allow such joyous days to bring such tremendous stress? Shouldn't we be smiling? Where is the peace we sing about? Where is the joy?

We reach deep into our pockets. We watch commercials that make us feel blue and guilty. Do we wonder why the suicide rate goes up during the holidays? All we must do is look at the commercials. I don't even think it's about giving anymore, but impressing. It's about outdoing another. It's just about giving that perfect gift. But don't we already have the perfect gift? Isn't Jesus enough? When did we move from celebrating His birth to buying out the store for our kids?

As I was driving through our small town a few days ago I passed a church where people were gathered in a long line that wrapped around the whole church. The parking lot was filled with cars. I had never seen this before so it grabbed my attention. The faces of the people seemed as though they were lost in it all. They were shivering from the chill in the air. As I drove past I finally seen the sign. Food Pantry on Thursdays. These people were hungry. These families were standing in a line when I am sure they wished they could be elsewhere. This sight broke my heart. I hurt for them. I understand their pain of wondering what are we going to put on the table for dinner.

As I went into my local drug store to get my prescription a woman was there with excitement. She shouts out, "I received my medicaid! Now I can get my medication!!" I could have cried at that moment. How long had she gone without it? I was standing there able to get my medications only because of my loving mother. I too understood her pain. I wondered, "Is that what the Lord is teaching me? To be humble before all men?"

A few days ago my mom and I spent the day together. First, we went to the eye doctor. Praise Jesus, my mom's eye pressure was normal. No appointment for four months. We left there so very thankful. We went to lunch and shared conversation about my first Christmas. My mom shared with me that during our first Christmas my dad went out and bought the biggest tree he could find. Mom decorated it and was so excited to have her little girl for Christmas, which my birthday is right after Christmas too. But the celebration was not to be. I was in the hospital in ICU. I was very sick. My parents were broken hearted. They no longer cared about a tree or presents. They were afraid of losing their daughter. That was the first time my mom had shared that story with me. She blessed me beyond words. I felt her love within each word. To think my dad went out and bought a tree that filled the whole living room just for his little girl made my day, my week, my whole holiday season. See, he is no longer here to celebrate these holidays. I miss his smile and cheerful laugh.

We take so much for granite. We make it all about gifts and wrapping them just right. Maybe my lessons come from trials. For the past few years we have not had money for gifts. But that has not stopped us from celebrating. You learn what is important and what is simply not of value. It's not about us or what is under our tree, but what is above it.  If we think about it, it all has to do with Christ and Him alone. Without Him there would be no Christmas. Without Him there would be nothing to be thankful for. Don't allow the commercials and ads get you down. Don't think you have to keep up with your neighbor who can purchase the mall itself. Celebrate from your heart. Share a story with someone. We cannot fully open our home to another unless we first open our heart.

What if someone was to look into your window? What would they see? Would they see thankfulness? Would your home be filled with love? Many times we spend too much time looking into others windows wishing we had what others do. In doing so, we miss out on the very blessings we have right in front of us. Enjoy each day for what it is. A life, given to you as a gift from the Lord. May we be thankful in Him. May we celebrate His birth through our life and how we live each and every day.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 "Rejoice always, pray witout ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

Friday, November 19, 2010

I'm a guest at Reflections today!! I'm inviting you along too!!

When Jennifer Slattery asked me to be a guest at Reflections in Hindsight I was so honored. This is a blog that has a little bit of everything. It is listed as one of my favorites. Before you check out my quest post I would like you to read the post that Jen first wrote Waiting for Robin to save the day. Don't you love it when the Lord knows exactly what we need and when we need it? Even though Jen had misplaced my post the Lord filled her with just the right words to share. That's why she is so special. She is not only an awesome writer, but a willing vessel for the Lord, always and forever giving Him the spotlight in her life. So today I am sending you over to another blog where you will find my guest post. It is my prayer that you will be blessed.

Today my post is about marriage. Marriage is not always easy in fact there have been more hard days than easy ones for us lately. Check out my post where I share our struggles and just how the Lord continues to teach, mold, and bless our marriage every day. Is it Midnight Already? is the title of my guest post. We would love to have you join us and share your thoughts today.

May the Lord bless our marriages. Teach us to love through Him and to love without fear!! Thank you Jen!!

LETS CHAT FRIDAY with Loree Lough

A few days ago I received a book entitled, "Beautiful Bandit". The author? Loree Lough. I have never read a book of Loree's before and wow, was I missing out. This girl can write my friends! If you have not picked up a book of Loree's as of yet, do so soon. I must share with you, Loree, reminds me of a friend of mine. Her name is Denise. They even look alike! Personality? A perfect match!  Loree is really funny. She seems as though she is just one of those girlfriends you call first with any news. When I asked Loree to be a guest I was so tickled when she accepted my invitation. I have taken away many nuggets from our chat as I pray you too grasp a gem that will give you a new perspective or just add a new blessing to your life. It is an honor to get to know Loree a little better. Who knows, one day we might just get to meet!

May this Friday's chat make your day a little sweeter and brighter as Loree shares her heart.

(Robin)  Loree, tell me a little about yourself.
(Loree) Whew. Is that a loaded question, or what! Let me get the “shameless self-promotional” stuff out of the way first:

There are more than 2,000,000 copies of my books in circulation

There are 78 “Loree Lough” books on the shelves

Most titles have won industry and “readers’ choice” awards

Some have been nominated for the Rita

Some have made the CBA bestseller lists

One was optioned for a TV movie

Whew. I’m glad THAT’s out of the way. Why is it the thing I do worst is the thing I’m asked to do most: Promote myself! But you know what? It’s actually a tossup between PR and PATIENCE. hehehe

Personal stuff: I used to sing for my supper (literally)! I’ve been married forEVER, have 2 daughters and 7 grandkids. Just lost my beloved dog . Love to bake, garden, paint and sketch, read … and of course … WRITE!

(Robin) Since you have walked with the Lord has there been a time you struggled in your faith? If so, would you please share?
(Loree) Several years ago, I survived what I call “The Summer from Hell.” Illness, deaths in the family, the kitty I’d had for 19 years died … I won’t bore you with the whole list. Suffice it to say, that 4 month time span was aptly named.

At one particularly low point, when my energy was next to nothing and my mood was lower still, I wondered why—since I was a devout follower—I couldn’t seem to get a handle on all the “stuff.” My husband was out of town on business and it was just me, all alone in the house.

One afternoon, I’d been resting on the family room sofa and got up to use the bathroom … and passed out cold! I banged my head on the hall doorway hard enough to split the skin at my temple and raise a lump the size of a REAL goose egg. When I came to a good ten minutes later, I realized how things MIGHT have turned out … if I didn’t have a loving Father looking out for me!

From that point on, I quit feeling sorry for myself. The aches and pains (physical and emotional) were just as real, and yet they didn’t seem nearly as severe. It took another 3 months before I was “all the way” better, but the time went way faster in my new “What’s the point in feeling sorry for yourself!” mood.

(Robin)  Has there been an "aha" moment in your life that has changed your perspective?
(Loree) When you’ve lived as long as I have, it’s only natural, I think, for there to be a whole bunch of “Ah-ha!” moments! But if I had to choose just one, I’d have to say it was that moment in time when I realized how well and how completely the Lord knew me! He understood I wasn’t cut out to be a missionary, carrying His word into the deserts and jungles. So He called me to use the talents he HAD blessed me with, then opened the doors necessary to allow me to reach fallen-away Christians (and many who didn’t know Him at all) through the characters who people my novels.

(Robin) Do you have a favorite bible story, verse, song or hymn that gives encouragement when struggles come?
(Loree) One of my all-time favorite hymns is “The Old Rugged Cross,” and I find myself singing it when times are a little tough … and when there are joys to celebrate.

(Robin)  What is one thing you look for in a close friend and what is one quality you hope others see in you?
(Loree) Trustworthiness is imperative. I want to know, without a doubt, that if I share something with a friend—whether good or bad—it will remain between us. Period. If I feel compelled to preface things with “Now, please keep this to yourself, okay?”, then I know this isn’t someone I can trust, wholly and completely, no matter what. I make a point of keeping the secrets shared by friends, and I think that’s why they so often share them!

(Robin)  What are a few of your favorite books you have in your collection you would share with a friend?
(Loree) I have shared my tattered copy of “East of Eden.” But it isn’t easy! hehehe

(Robin)  When life seems to go crazy, what is one thing you do to bring comfort and peace?
(Loree) I like to go for a walk. There’s a park about a mile from my house, and the walking path circles a big man-made lake. The wooded areas are home to deer, fox, coyote and a dozen other mammals. At any given time, I might see swans, herons, egrets, geese and a wide variety of ducks. Bluebirds, Orioles, owls, and the usual “yard birds” nest in the trees. When life gets crazy, a leisurely walk through the park always reminds me that HE is the maker—and the ruler—of every living being.

(Robin) What is one thing about yourself you admire?
(Loree) I don’t make promises I can’t keep. When I give someone my word to do something, it gets done.

(Robin) What are a few of the things you love surrounding you?
(Loree) I love the photos of my husband, kids and grandkids. I love knowing they’re all the type of people who, if I needed them, would drop whatever they were doing and come to my aid. I guess that’s why I so rarely ask for their help! hehehe

(Robin)  What are your deepest passions?
(Loree) Living a life that shows others that I am a servant of the Lord. That is the reason I keep a spotless house and tidy gardens, why I prepare meals that look pretty while being wholesome, why I put everything I have into my artwork and my novels.

(Robin)  What is the best advice ever given to you?
(Loree) It’s either “You are not responsible for what others say or do to you; you are only responsible for your reactions to these things” or “Do or do not; there IS no ‘try’.”

(Robin)  In the legacy you leave, what is one thing you hope out shines before all others?
(Loree) “She loved her family and friends more than she loved herself.”

(Robin)  What are you currently working on?
(Loree) Several novels will be released soon, and I’m working on various stages of each:

Accidental Family (#3 in my Love Inspired “Accidental Blessings” series)

Maverick Heart (#2 in my “Lone Star Legends” series from Whitaker)

From Ashes to Honor (#1 in my “First Responders” series from Abingdon)

Love Finds You in Folly Beach, South Carolina (my 3rd LFY title)

Thy Grace is Sufficient (but Decaf is NOT) (my 2nd contribution to a Summerside devotional)

(Robin) How do you define success?
(Loree) I guess for that I’ll cite Deuteronomy 5:33, which says You shall walk in all the ways which the Lord your God has commanded you, that you may live and that it may be well with you. My humble translation: God’s requirements for success are pretty straightforward … stay the course HE has chosen for you!

You can connect more with Loree at these sites:


My two favorite questions are, "What is the legacy you wish to leave behind" and "How do you define success"? I think you can tell a lot from a person just by these two questions. This is where we see where one's focus lies. Is it toward ourselves or others? Do we find success in a worldly view or do we hold our success in our walk of faith? Those are tough questions to answer. I love how Loree shares her actions of being a good steward of her gifts and giving her all in everything she does. Through these chats I learn more and more how much we all struggle. Although our struggles may all be different, we can relate in one way or another. I think we all have those seasons of hell. We can grasp blessings through others that were once blind to us. It is through the journey where we find ourselves in Christ.
Loree, thank you for stopping in and sharing your heart. Thank you for your kind spirit and laughter through your words. I think you could turn any frown upside down;) Blessings to you sweet friend and may the Lord gain glory through your continued success as a woman of God.

Wait, there's more!! Loree is giving away a copy of "Beautiful Bandit" to a lucky visitor!! All you must do is leave a comment on why you love stopping by the Nest!! It's that easy!! Loree will choose the winner out of her big floppy hat!!. Be sure to include your email address so she knows just where to contact you!! Loree will choose the winner next Friday, November 26. Happy Reading!!


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