Wednesday, December 30, 2009

WW - Presents

We captured all the moments on camera of my 4 year old opening her Santa gifts on Christmas morning. Here is how it unfolded.

50 cent present. . .smiles

$100 present. . .frown

She thought she was getting the doll that she didn't want. She got over the frown quickly and decided she got a pretty cool gift.

All Smiles!

I am joining Angie today at Seven Clown Circus for Wordful Wednesday. Check out all of the other posts!

Squeezing Good Out of Bad

You turned my wailing into dancing;
you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,

that my heart may sing to you and not be silent.
O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever.
Psalm 30:11-12

As I reflect on 2009, there are many moments of laughter and tears. And many of the tears turned into laughter and praises later. All in all it was an amazing year. I don't know what 2010 has in store for us. I know there will be some moments of sadness and anger, but I also know I can choose how I want to handle those moments.

I just finished reading a book that helped me think hard about how I deal with my down moments in life. James N. Watkins is the author of the book, Squeezing Good Out Of Bad.

The cover has this quote, "A book that will make you laugh, think, and start looking at those sour places of life in a whole new way. I really enjoyed reading it." Martha Bolton, writer for Jeff Allen, Bob Hope, Phyllis Diller, Mark Lowry

Watkins takes the sour moments that we have and helps you think about how you can handle them in ten different ways.
When life gives you lemons . . .

10. Don't confuse them with hand grenades (Identify the problem)

9. Check the delivery slip (Determine if it's your problem)

8. Sell them on eBay (Profit from the problem)

7. Paint smiley faces on them (Laugh at the problem)

6. Join a citrus support group (Share your problem)

5. Use as an all-natural, organic astringent (Grow from the problem)

4. Don't shoot the delivery driver (Forgive the problem-maker)

3. Graft to a lime tree for a refreshing, low-calorie soft drink (Take the problem to a higher level)

2. Grow your own orchard (Live a fruitful life despite—or because of—the problem)

1. Give off a refreshing fragrance (Live a lemon-fresh life)

This refreshing book has me reflecting on my 2009 lemon moments in a very different way. It also is preparing me for the lemons that are sure to come in 2010. You can check out more about Squeezing Good Out of Bad here.

Here is a little more about the book.
Sour circumstances left you feeling down? Unemployment, foreclosures, divorce, bankruptcy and cancer don't even begin to peel the skin off all the bad news in our world today. At a time in history when the evening news contains more bad than good, people wonder if sweeter days will ever come. In steps James (Jim) Watkins. With a fresh perspective on life, love and the pursuit of happiness, Watkins serves readers a refreshing cup of encouragement and hope.

Written from his own experiences with cancer, unemployment and other life-puckering crises, Jim prompts readers to look at the cup of suffering with eyes focused on the true thirst quencher--Jesus Christ. Readers will be pleasantly surprised at the balance of readability and deep wisdom offered within the pages of Squeezing Good Out Of Bad. With scripture references, humor-filled lists, and a creative manuscript, Watkins brings the bitterness of hard times and blends it with the sweetness of God's presence. He's been there. His transparency is as refreshing as, you guessed it, a tall, cool glass of lemonade.

NOTE: I received a complimentary copy of Squeezing Good Out Of Bad via Kathy Carlton Willis Communications, gifted to all participants in this blog tour.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Old Blue Chair Uncovered

I was reading through some of my archives today. Reflecting on this past year before beginning the next. In 2009 I wrote about Spiritual Exhaustion, Pride, and Strength. I wrote about struggles and praises. I wrote about my life, the good, the bad and the ugly.

I came across one post that made me pause for a moment. What happened to spending time in my Old Blue Chair?

Through this year the Old Blue Chair has moved again. This time it was moved upstairs to be used when my brand new niece was out for a visit. Somehow it never made its way back downstairs to the corner of my room. My sanctuary at home was dismantled and I didn't ever take the time to put it back together.

But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Matthew 6:6

I am not sure why I always let the craziness of life overtake me. But once again it has. My to do list is a mile long, but that never changes. As a mom, there is always another dish to be washed, room to be cleaned, dinner to be cooked. However, I can prioritize my list.

I think that it is time for me to spend some time in the Old Blue Chair.

How are you reenergizing and recharging as you move into 2010?

Monday, December 28, 2009

This Mom Needs A Makeover

I think Santa's sleigh blew up in my living room. . .Oh wait, that is just the gifts that my very fortunate (aka spoiled) children received for Christmas. Between aunts and uncles, grandmas and grandpas and us, well, I am just not sure where they are all going to go.

Then last night I got on the scale and I wanted to crumble to the ground. It isn't like I didn't realize that all of the food I was eating this holiday season was going to make the scale tip a little, but yikes!

One of the gifts I gave my husband was a photo book of our trip to Hawaii last January. As we looked through it I realized that all of the work I had been doing to get fit had really paid off. I looked better in those photos than in any vacation pictures since we had been married.

After the trip something happened, I kind of gave up. I ate what I wanted, I didn't really exercise, and the weight came back on.

I know it is almost the beginning of a new year and many are setting New Year's Resolutions, but I am not. I am setting Life Change Goals. I am starting today. I wanted to share a few of my secret weapons to reach these goals.

My first secret weapon is my Bible. When I wake up in the morning to start my day I am arming myself with my most important tool.In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Ephesians 6:16-18

My second secret weapon is the Mamavation Sistahood. This group of amazing ladies has been reaching their fitness and weight loss goals while I have been still thinking about mine. :-)

Leah Segedie the creator of Bookieboo created this wonderful campaign that has women come together every Monday night on MomTV at 10pmEST/9pmCST.

My third secret weapon is my friend Misti! She is my workout partner. Together we meet with a trainer and get each other to the gym. Without her, I would not have made the progress that I already have. In the new year we can continue to motivate each other.

My newest secret weapon is my EA Sports Active Game for the Wii. Thanks to my hubby, I got this great game as a Christmas present. On the days that my hubby works late and I can't get to the gym, I have this awesome tool to help me workout at home.
We have a lot of work to do at home on our healthy eating. I love to cook and healthy cooking has never been on my priority list. I am looking for help from one of the wonderful Mamavation Team Memembers, Jennifer Leal. Jennifer has the blog Savor the Thyme which focuses on family-friendly healthy food and lifestyle.

I hope to start by adding in at least two new healthy meals to our household each week. Healthy snacks is easy when I have them around. My girls love fresh veggies.

And as for the mess in my house. . .that is a post for another day. That requires a secret weapon, too. Let's just say that I have never mastered the art of cleaning.

With my Martha Stewart Homekeeping Handbook I am planning to turn this house around one room at a time.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Snowed In

Christmas Day has come and gone. Normally we would be headed for home for the girls to discover what goodies Santa left in their stockings.

However, this South Dakota storm still is raging and we are enjoying more quality time with Grandma and Grandpa. The snow is still falling, the wind is still blowing and a lot of the roads are still closed to travel.

We have been unrushed and unstressed about the weather. We have been enjoying the holidays to the fullest. I started the holiday a little stressed while we were still at home waiting to get on the road to my in-laws. Once we arrived, I tried to relax and enjoy Christmas Eve, but I was watching the weather and praying that we could make the 45 minute drive to my hometown.

We left a little earlier than normal from our Christmas Eve celebration and arrived safely to our next destination. When we drove into the driveway I breathed a sigh of relief because I knew I was home.

I thanked my husband profusely for getting me to my mom and dad's for Christmas. He did cut his family time a little short with no complaints because he knew how important it was for me to get home.

No gift he could give me would have topped the time I have been able to spend in my childhood home. Christmas just isn't Christmas without it to me. And I know how much my mom and dad appreciate him for getting us here, too.

The presents have long since been opened and played with, but the quality time that we are spending as a family is what our girls will never forget. Right now as I get caught up in the online world, the girls are watching Annie with Grammy and Grandpa. I love the holidays at home and I really don't mind all the snow now that I am home.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Unwrapping the Gift of Health

I have been struggling to find a moment to sit down and write. The last week and a half has been filled with ups and downs and I have not had a lot of room to breathe.

A week ago, at about this time, I was sitting in a room at the medical clinic. My oldest daughter had a fever that just wouldn't go away and she was on antibiotics. We decided that we needed to try to figure out what was causing the fever. After many tests and X-rays, the doctor told us that we wouldn't be going home that day. They were admitting her to the hospital because she had pneumonia.

We spent two nights in the hospital. We ended up celebrating our little one's birthday in the hospital. It was a crazy week. She is feeling so much better and her energy is finally returning. We are so thankful that we got it taken care of and she is well for Christmas.

After they had wheeled her down to her hospital room from the clinic and she was waiting for the nurses to come and get her settled she said, "You have to go home and get me a notebook and pen, I have to write all of this down." She thought of it as a little adventure.

The only part that was really hard for her was when they inserted her IV. She was so tough, but her tears just streamed down her face as they struggled to find a vein.

It was a very tiny glimpse for me into the lives of parent's with sick children. It opened my eyes to the struggle they must go through every time their child goes back to the hospital. I cannot imagine what they go through.

I am so very thankful that our stay was only for a couple of days and her illness was not serious.

I praise God for the friends and family that prayed for her speedy recovery. God is so Good!

We will celebrate our Christmas with the five of us tonight. We will take time to light our final advent candle and have a birthday party for Jesus. As we open our gifts I pray that we will remember that He is the most important gift we will ever receive.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

Merry Christmas!

Terror in the Night and Blind Sight Review

While I sat in the hospital last week with my daughter I had the opportunity to read the books Terror By Night written by Terry Caffey with James Pence and Blind Sight written by James Pence.

I read Blind Sight first, not realizing why this book had any significance to the book Terror By Night other than the author.

Blind Sight is a great mystery book that focuses on a religious cult. It was very interesting. The story kept me intrigued until the end. I don't want to give away any of the twists of the story, you will have to read it. It is an amazing story of a father getting through his own heartache to help an old friend's children. Through the struggle of his own emotions he learns that God had a purpose in sparing his life.

You can read more about the book and check out an interview with the author here.

When I started reading Terror By Night a true story of author Terry Caffey's life, I did not put down this book until I had finished it. One horrific night changed Terry's life. He lost his entire family and wondered why he didn't lose his own life as well.

His wife and two sons were murdered in their home. He was shot six times, but he survived. It was not until the next day that he realized that his daughter had survived. Later that day he was told that his daughter was arrested in connection to the murder. He just wanted to die.

This story is heartbreaking, but it is also a story of faith, trust and forgiveness. It is not easy to read the facts of the story, but it will leave you with hope in knowing that God can use everything for good.

In it you will also read how James Pence's book Blind Sight helped Terry Caffey overcome some of the struggles he had with his life.

Thank you Kathy Carlton Willis Communications for giving me copies of these books for review. I recommend both to you as books you should read in 2010!


I received the book Primal - A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group to review on my blog. With all the craziness of my daughter in the hospital I have not had a chance to read this one yet. I will do a review next week after I get a chance to read it, but I wanted to give you a little preview of the book today.

I went out and read some reviews on the book and I can't wait to start reading it, the reviews on the book all say that it is an amazing book that takes you back to the roots of Christianity.

Here is a little summary from Waterbrook Multnomah. You can also read more about it here.

Be Astonished Again

We have a tendency to complicate Christianity. Jesus simplified it: Love God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength. If we are to live out the essence of Christianity, we must commit to being great at this Great Commandment.

In Primal, Mark Batterson explores the four elements of Great Commandment Christianity: compassion, wonder, curiosity, and power. Along the way, he calls you to be a part of God’s reformation, starting in your own life.

As Mark writes, “Is there a place in your past where you met God and God met you? A place where your heart broke for the things that break the heart of God? Maybe it was a sermon that became more than a sermon. Maybe it was a mission trip or retreat. Maybe it was a vow you made at an altar. In that moment, God birthed something supernatural in your spirit. You knew you’d never be the same again. My prayer is that this book would take you back to that burning bush—and reignite a primal faith.”

Primal will help you live in light of what matters most and discover what it means to love God. It will help you become great at the Great Commandment.

Author Bio:
The author of Wild Goose Chase and In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, Mark Batterson serves as lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, D.C. One church with nine services in five locations, NCC is focused on reaching emerging generations and meets in movie theaters at metro stops throughout the D.C. area. Mark has two Masters degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Chicago. He and his wife, Lora, live on Capitol Hill with their three children.

Monday, December 21, 2009

40 Loaves Giveaway

Every year when it is nearing the end I am looking for new devotional books to start the new year. I was recently sent the book 40 Loaves by C.D. Baker from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group, I was excited to check it out.

This book of daily readings has 40 entries so you can break bread with the Father each day. At the end of each entry is a Food For Thought section. This section asks some questions that are hard to answer. Questions like "When have I used Jesus for my own purposes?" and "Can I honestly say I love Jesus".

In the first daily reading it says this, "Do I really want to take Jesus by the hand or just take from his hand?" I am really pondering this statement. I am excited to add this book to my daily quiet time. I would love to send you a copy as well. Leave a comment before Sunday, December 27th at midnight CST and you will be entered to win.

Below is a little more about the book and the author. You can also find more information about the book here.

Why don’t I have more faith?
Why am I so bored with Jesus?
Why don’t I feel connected at church?
These are the types of questions the religious establishment often makes it uncomfortable, if not impossible, to ask. And by asking them, C. David Baker, author of 40 Loaves: Breaking Bread with Our Father Each Day hopes to start a conversation in people’s hearts, then with others, and ultimately with God. Many circles of Christianity have led us to believe that certainty and confidence are the proof of true spirituality; questions are discouraged.
But Jesus offered his followers an ongoing conversation—a relationship built around a free, open-ended discussion. Questions were encouraged. They were often impertinent, sometimes alarming, and the religious establishment was distinctly uncomfortable with them … just as it is today.
“40 Loaves is something of a collection of the kinds of questions I felt finally free to ask of myself and of my relationship with Christ,” says Baker. “It’s my belief that these questions are shared by many others who long for the freedom to simply ask them out loud. I hope this book becomes a platform that frees others to search their hearts more deeply and be fed with the Bread of life.”
Each “loaf” here is a big question that stimulates discussion, investigation, and contemplation; it will take hours—or days—to digest. Conversational, inviting, disarming, and real, 40 Loaves nourishes self-examination and offers validation for those who feel discouraged, guilty, or even shamed when the realities of their lives don’t match up with the ideals of the Christian establishment.

Author Bio:
C. David Baker founded an award-winning business before redirecting his career to write full-time from his small farm in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. He is the author of eight books, including six novels, one of which was nominated for a Christy Award. He has contributed articles to the Christian History Institute’s international publication Glimpses, and to Christian Singles magazine. Baker has a Master’s degree in theological studies from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Sheriff's Surrender

I am in the process of reading this book by Susan Page Davis. This historical romance has me intrigued. I can't wait to get to the end of the story. Check out the first chapter below.

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

The Sheriff’s Surrender

Barbour Books (December 1, 2009)

***Special thanks to Angie Brillhart of Barbour Publishing for sending me a review copy.***


Award-winning author Susan Page Davis is a mother of six who lives in Maine with her husband, Jim. She worked as a newspaper correspondent for more than twenty-five years in addition to home-schooling her children. She writes historical romances and cozy mysteries and is a member of ACFW. Visit her Web site at

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $10.97
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Barbour Books (December 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1602605629
ISBN-13: 978-1602605626


Fergus, Idaho

May 1885

Gert Dooley aimed at the scrap of red calico and squeezed the trigger. The Spencer rifle she held cracked, and the red cloth fifty yards away shivered.

“I’d say your shooting piece is in fine order.” She lowered the rifle and passed it to the owner, Cyrus Fennel. She didn’t particularly like Fennel, but he always paid her brother, the only gunsmith in Fergus, with hard money.

He nodded. “Thank you, Miss Dooley.” He shoved his hand into his pocket.

Gert knew he was fishing out a coin. This was the part her brother hated most—taking payment for his work. She turned away. Hiram would be embarrassed enough without her watching. She picked up the shawl she had let fall to the grass a few minutes earlier.

“That’s mighty fine shooting, Gert,” said Hiram’s friend, rancher Ethan Chapman. He’d come by earlier to see if Hiram would help him string a fence the next day. When Cyrus Fennel had arrived to pick up his repaired rifle, Ethan had sat down on the chopping block to watch Gert demonstrate the gun.

“Thank you kindly.” Gert accepted praise for shooting as a matter of course. Now, if Ethan had remarked that she looked fine today or some such pretty thing, she’d have been flustered. But he would never say anything like that. And shooting was just work.

Fennel levered the rifle’s action open and peered at the firing pin. “Looks good as new. I should be able to pick off those rats that are getting in my grain bins.”

“That’s quite a cannon for shooting rats,” Gert said.

Ethan stood and rested one foot on the chopping block, leaning forward with one arm on his knee. “You ought to hire Gert to shoot them for you.”

Gert scowled. “Why’d I want to do that? He can shoot his own rats.”

Hiram, who had pocketed his pay as quickly as possible, moved the straw he chewed from one side of his mouth to the other. He never talked much. Men brought him their firearms to fix. Hiram listened to them tell him what the trouble was while eyeing the piece keenly. Then he’d look at Gert. She would tell them, “Come back next week.” Hiram would nod, and that was the extent of the conversation. Since his wife, Violet, had died eight years ago, the only person Hiram seemed to talk to much was Ethan.

Fennel turned toward her with a condescending smile. “Folks say you’re the best shot in Fergus, Miss Dooley.”

Gert shrugged. It wasn’t worth debating. She had sharp eyes, and she’d fired so many guns for Hiram to make sure they were in working order that she’d gotten good at it, that was all.

Ethan’s features, however, sprang to life. “Ain’t it the truth? Why, Gert can shoot the tail feathers off a jay at a hundred yards with a gun like that. Mighty fine rifle.” He nodded at Fennel’s Spencer, wincing as though he regretted not having a gun as fine.

“Well, now, I’m a fair shot myself,” Fennel said. “I could maybe hit that rag, too.”

“Let’s see you do it,” Ethan said.

Fennel jacked a cartridge into the Spencer, smiling as he did. The rag still hung limp from a notched stick and was silhouetted against the distant dirt bank across the field. He put his left foot forward and swung the butt of the stock up to his shoulder, paused motionless for a second, and pulled the trigger.

Gert watched the cloth, not the shooter. The stick shattered just at the bottom of the rag. She frowned. She’d have to find another stick next time. At least when she tested a gun, she clipped the edge of the cloth so her stand could be used again.

Hiram took the straw out of his mouth and threw it on the ground. Without a word, he strode to where the tattered red cloth lay a couple of yards from the splintered stick and brought the scrap back. He stooped for a piece of firewood from the pile he’d made before Fennel showed up. The stick he chose had split raggedly, and Hiram slid the bit of cloth into a crack.

Ethan stood beside Gert as they watched Hiram walk across the field, all the way to the dirt bank, and set the piece of firewood on end.

“Hmm.” Fennel cleared his throat and loaded several cartridges into the magazine. When Hiram was back beside them, he raised the gun again, held for a second, and fired. The stick with the bit of red stood unwavering.

“Let Gert try,” Ethan said.

“No need,” she said, looking down at her worn shoe tips peeping out beneath the hem of her skirt.

“Oh, come on.” Ethan’s coaxing smile tempted her.

Fennel held the rifle out. “Be my guest.”

Gert looked to her brother. Hiram gave the slightest nod then looked up at the sky, tracking the late afternoon sun as it slipped behind a cloud. She could do it, of course. She’d been firing guns for Hiram for ten years—since she came to Fergus and found him grieving the loss of his wife and baby. Folks had brought him more work than he could handle. They felt sorry for him, she supposed, and wanted to give him a distraction. Gert had begun test firing the guns as fast as he could fix them. She found it satisfying, and she’d kept doing it ever since. Thousands upon thousands of rounds she’d fired, from every type of small firearm, unintentionally building herself a reputation of sorts.

She didn’t usually make a show of her shooting prowess, but Fennel rubbed her the wrong way. She knew he wasn’t Hiram’s favorite patron either. He ran the Wells Fargo office now, but back when he ran the assay office, he’d bought up a lot of failed mines and grassland cheap. He owned a great deal of land around Fergus, including the spread Hiram had hoped to buy when he first came to Idaho. Distracted by his wife’s illness, Hiram hadn’t moved quickly enough to file claim on the land and had missed out. Instead of the ranch he’d wanted, he lived on his small lot in town and got by on his sporadic pay as a gunsmith.

Gert let her shawl slip from her fingers to the grass once more and took the rifle. As she focused on the distant stick of firewood, she thought, That junk of wood is you, Mr. Rich Land Stealer. And that little piece of cloth is one of your rats.

She squeezed gently. The rifle recoiled against her shoulder, and the far stick of firewood jumped into the air then fell to earth, minus the red cloth.

“Well, I’ll be.” Fennel stared at her. “Are you always this accurate?”

“You ain’t seen nothing,” Ethan assured him.

Hiram actually cracked a smile, and Gert felt the blood rush to her cheeks even though Ethan hadn’t directly complimented her. She loved to see Hiram smile, something he seldom did.

“Mind sharing your secret, Miss Dooley?” Fennel asked.

Ethan chuckled. “I’ll tell you what it is. Every time she shoots, she pretends she’s aiming at something she really hates.”

“Aha.” Fennel smiled, too. “Might I ask what you were thinking of that time, ma’am?”

Gert’s mouth went dry. Never had she been so sorely tempted to tell a lie.

“Likely it was that coyote that kilt her rooster last month,” Hiram said.

Gert stared at him. He’d actually spoken. She knew when their eyes met that her brother had known exactly what she’d been thinking.

Ethan and Fennel both chuckled.

Of course, I wouldn’t really think of killing him, Gert thought, even though he stole the land right out from under my grieving brother. The Good Book says don’t kill and don’t hate. Determined to heap coals of fire on her adversary’s head, she handed the Spencer back to him. “You’re not too bad a shot yourself, Mr. Fennel.”

His posture relaxed, and he opened his mouth all smiley, like he might say something pleasant back, but suddenly he stiffened. His eyes focused beyond Gert, toward the dirt street. “Who is that?”

Gert swung around to look as Ethan answered. “That’s Millicent Peart.”

“Don’t think I’ve seen her since last fall.” Fennel shook his head. “She sure is showing her age.”

“I don’t think Milzie came into town much over the winter,” Gert said.

For a moment, they watched the stooped figure hobble along the dirt street toward the emporium. Engulfed in a shapeless old coat, Milzie Peart leaned on a stick with each step. Her mouth worked as though she were talking to someone, but no one accompanied her.

“How long since her man passed on?” Ethan asked.

“Long time,” Gert said. “Ten years, maybe. She still lives at their cabin out Mountain Road.”

Fennel grimaced as the next house hid the retreating figure from view. “Pitiful.”

Ethan shrugged. “She’s kinda crazy, but I reckon she likes living on their homestead.”

Gert wondered how Milzie got by. It must be lonesome to have no one, not even a nearly silent brother, to talk to out there in the foothills.

“Supper in half an hour.” She turned away from the men and headed for the back porch of the little house she shared with Hiram. She hoped Fennel would take the hint and leave. And she hoped Ethan would stay for supper, but of course she would never say so.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

More Than A Match Review

Marriage ministry is dear to my heart. My husband and I feel very strongly about being involved in sharing our story with other couples and working on growing our own marriage through Christ.

I was excited to receive the book More Than A Match from WaterBrook Multnomah for review. We recently began a Marriage Sunday School Class and we had a hard time finding curriculum for the class. Although this book does seem to be geared more toward singles and soon to be marrieds, there is still pieces to be pulled for all couples. It focuses on 5 keys to Compatibility for Life. I have always felt that my husband and I will continue to help other couples in their marriage journey so this book was a great one to add to our library.

Here is a summary of the book from Waterbrook Multnomah. You can check out more on the book and purchase it here.

Prepare Yourself for Lasting Love

You’ve searched a lifetime for that special person, but how can you be absolutely certain that you’ve found “The One”? And more important, how can you hold on to that love for the rest of your life?

More Than a Match explores the “compatibility factor,” demystifying the science behind matchmaking and giving you the tools you need to find the love you want. You’ll learn how to apply the specifics of good compatibility to a prospective date or mate, as well as how to break things off when you find yourself in the wrong relationship.

But since great relationships aren’t built on compatibility alone, marriage experts Michael and Amy Smalley also delve into the “forever factor,” giving you the skills you need to turn your romance into a lifelong love affair. You’ll learn how to deal with conflict, how to develop a healthy sex life, and how to recover when you inevitably hurt one another.

Fantastic marriages begin long before the exchange of the rings; they start when two people in search of love commit themselves to learning to how to love well…and forever. Because finding and keeping the love of your life is about much More Than a Match.

Another book that was sent to me from Waterbrook Multnomah is 99 Bible Promises for Tough Times. If you are like me, when you are really looking for a scripture on a specific topic, you can't find it. This book is a great reference book for topics such as Financial Difficulties, Poor Health, and Challenges at Work to name a few. This pocket size book will be easy to fit right into my bible case.

Here is more information on the book. If you would like to purchase the book, you can do that here.

When life throws a curve, for centuries no source of insight and encouragement has brought more comfort than the Bible. 99 Bible Promises for Tough Times is a collection of the deepest wisdom found in Scripture.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

All I want for Christmas is One Front Tooth

I am joining Angie over at Seven Clown Circus for Wordful Wednesday. Last night we were watching The Polar Express. We were all snuggled in eating a little ice cream.

Suddenly our middle daughter shouted, "I lost my tooth."

This was followed by celebrating and then tears. She didn't like the blood that was in her mouth. Then we celebrated again. This is her first lost tooth. She thought she was the only first grader that had not lost a tooth yet.

This morning when she was telling her little sister that the tooth fairy took her tooth because she lost it. Her little sister said, "He didn't take it, you said you lost it."

Just in time for Christmas pictures. :-)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Unwrapping Joy

Today was a crazy day. If you read my earlier post you will read the strained words of an overwhelmed mom. I had my pre-holiday meltdown. I shook it off, took a deep breath and I prayed.

Later today I sat down to write our advent devotion for this week. Yesterday was so busy that we didn't fit it in like we try to do on the Sunday nights leading up to Christmas.

As I sat down to write I stared at the word - JOY. Up to that point, I had not been experiencing a lot of joy in my day. I was a frazzled mess.

I turned to the scripture that I knew I wanted to focus on with the girls for this candle. The story of the shepherds being visited by the angels. "But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." Luke 2:10-12

After pondering this verse in my heart, this is what I wrote.
"One of the greatest stories of Joy in the Bible is when the angels shared the news of great joy to the shepherds in the fields. The birth of the Savior was a huge reason to celebrate. God had sent His Son to save us.

The birth of Jesus happened many years ago, yet our hearts are still filled with great joy when we celebrate His birth.

Jesus came to earth as a baby to live just like you and me. He had to live through the same temptations and trials that we all face in our lives. The only difference was that He did not fail. He did not give in or give up. Instead He gave His life for you and for me. And that is a reason for us to celebrate everyday and have great joy at all times knowing that we are alive through Jesus."

After we lit the second candle on our wreath we held hands and sang "Joy to the World". Christmas is filled with overcommitments and stressful days, but it is also filled with joy.

As my girls sang their little hearts out tonight I was overcome with the joy of a mother that knows that our family is celebrating Jesus. Not just at Christmastime, but everyday.

I am Unwrapping the wonderful gift that was given to me that blessed Christmas morn. A Savior wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger.

Join Emily at Chatting at the Sky and unwrap your blessings today.

A Heart Problem

My cousin that is my same age recently had her fourth open heart surgery. She is recovering so well from a major surgery. She went in and the surgeon fixed her heart that day. I think this surgery should keep her heart healthy for another 10 years.

As I was driving home from my second trip to the school this morning (both girls forgot stuff at home) in our single digit temperature all I could think about was my own heart.

The holiday season is quickly approaching and I want more than anything to make it wonderful for my kids. I have a To-Do list that is longer than I want to admit and I am trying so hard not to be overwhelmed by it all.

I told a friend last week that I am not willing to let my kids suffer through the holiday season because I have overcommitted myself to other people. However, then I start to feel guilty because we are supposed to be servants and I feel like I am being selfish with my time.

I walked back into my house and I wanted to burst into tears, my heart felt like it was breaking. There is stuff everywhere that is not where it belongs. The laundry baskets are overflowing, some with clean clothes and some with dirty clothes. I am turning in circles trying to decide where I should start.

It would be really easy right now to call my girlfriend and ask her to go have coffee and run away from my responsibilities. But when I walked back into my house, the mess would still be here and my to-do list would be just as long.

The amazing thing is that I don't have to go through a major surgery to heal my heart. All I have to do is stop long enough to pray. I believe in the One Mighty Surgeon that will heal my heart if I just stop long enough to let Him. I can receive instant healing if I want it.

I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

I am taking a deep breath right now. I am putting the computer away. I am going to spend a little time with my Healer. Then, I am going to dig in and try to mark a few things off of my list.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Jesse Tree Day #6


Abraham and Isaac went on a journey,
To make a sacrifice to God, they saddled up the donkey.

They packed the fire, knife and wood,
But no animal before them stood.

Abraham told Isaac that God would provide,
So they left early one morning for their long ride.

Abraham built an altar to the Lord and there he laid his son,
An angel of the Lord said, “Abraham” and he said “I am the one.”

Abraham looked up and there he saw a ram,
Abraham had no doubt that God was the Great I Am.

Abraham’s descendants would be as great as the sand on the shore,
God had blessed Abraham once more.

Read: Genesis 22:1-19

Essie In Progress

I can relate to being a working mother with three little ones at home. That is exactly what Essie in Progress is about. Although I am now a stay-at-home mom, I did work when my third was born.

This book has combines humor, faith and the struggles that a working mom faces daily. A lot of mom's deal with guilt as a mother trying to balance life. If you fit into that category, this is a book for you. Check out the first chapter below.

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Essie in Progress

Kregel Publications (April 1, 2009)

***Special thanks to Marjorie Presten for sending me a review copy.***


Marjorie Presten is a native Georgian who has her own fair share of experience juggling career and motherhood. She lives outside of Atlanta with her husband, Tom, and their three children.

Listen to a radio interview about the book HERE.

Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Kregel Publications (April 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 082543565X
ISBN-13: 978-0825435652




In a thirty-second phone call, Hamilton Wells would make a decision that would earn him more money than he could spend in his lifetime. Everything was on the line, but he was not nervous, euphoric, or eager with anticipation. In Hamilton’s mind, the matter was not speculative, debatable, or anything less than a sure thing. Hamilton had the gift, and it had never let him down. Yet even before he made the call, he knew money wouldn’t cure the unrelenting pain of his grief. He sat at his desk with only a single orange banker’s lamp for illumination and cried silently.

Her death had been inevitable, but feelings of helplessness still overwhelmed him. His young son’s dependency on him only multiplied his grief and anger. Six-year-old Jack Wells had insisted his father do something to help Mama, but the only thing Hamilton could do was sit at her bedside and try not to cry. Now it was six weeks after her death, and Hamilton knew his son needed him to be strong, to return life to normal. A neighbor had enrolled Jack in the local church baseball league. They played a game every Wednesday afternoon. It will be good for him, they’d said. Life has to go on.

Hamilton cradled his head in his hands and groaned. The enormity of the risk he was about to take didn’t concern him. It was purely mechanical. He would surrender all he owned for just one more blissful afternoon at the lake he and his wife both loved, but now that was impossible. His wife was dead. Nothing he could do would change that.

He remembered the book of Job. Would a loving and caring God do this to the love of my life? Well, he did, Hamilton thought bitterly. Earline had lingered for months. The doctors said it was miraculous that she had endured as long as she had. Be grateful for these last days to say goodbye, they’d said. But for Hamilton, the prolonged end only added anger to his bottomless sorrow. Standing alongside his son as a helpless witness to her slow deterioration and suffering in the final weeks was more than he could bear. It was the worst time of Hamilton’s life. Nothing really mattered anymore, and it seemed he had nothing left to lose.

Under different circumstances, he might have played it safe and put the proceeds away for his son’s education, bought a new house, or perhaps invested in a bit of lake property. He could have become like the rest of the players and worn monograms on his starched cuffs so everyone could remember whose hand they were shaking. Instead, he had gone it alone. His brokerage business had few clients. He was the only big player left. Now he planned to risk everything on something happening on the other side of the world.

Ham couldn’t remember exactly when he had recognized his innate ability to pick the winner out of a crowd. It had always been there, ever since he was conscious of being alive. The talent had blossomed in the military when the card games occasionally got serious. Now, with every dollar he had to his name, Hamilton approached wheat futures with that same instinct. The Russian harvest had been a disaster, and the United States was coming to the rescue. The price of wheat was going to go through the roof, and then through the floor. He was going to make a fortune on both ends.

He picked up the phone and dialed a number on the Chicago Mercantile exchange. He listened for a few moments as the connection was made. Young Jack tugged at his father’s shirtsleeve. “Pop? Can we go now?” Jack held a baseball in his hand and a glove under his arm. Hamilton swiveled his chair, turning his back to his son.

A familiar voice announced his name. “How can I help you?”

“It’s Ham,” he said. “Short the entire position.”

“What? Everything?” the voice asked.

“Everything.” No emotion colored his voice.

Young Jack crept gingerly around the chair to face his father. “Pop,” he whispered, “come on, the game is about to start.” Hamilton shook his head and looked away.

The voice on the phone was still talking. “Most folks are still enjoying the ride, Ham. You could get hurt.”

“It’s not going a penny higher. Short it all.”

“Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

“Warn me? My wife is dead. What else matters?”

The voice mumbled something about her passing.

“She didn’t pass. She’s dead. Just do what I ask.”

“OK, Ham.” The phone disconnected.

Jack was standing there in front of him, shoulders slumped. The ball hung loose at the end of his fingers, and the glove had fallen on the carpet. “Pop, can we go now?”

“Sorry, Son. Not today.”

“It’s not fair!” Jack erupted. Hot tears sprang up in his eyes. “What am I supposed to do now?”

Ham looked down, silent.

Jack hurled the ball to the floor, wiped his tears angrily, and stormed out of the house.

Ten minutes later on the futures board, wheat ticked down.

It ticked down again.

And so it would continue. Ham would be richer than he’d ever imagined. He’d never experience another financial challenge for the rest of his life. It was not really important, though. Scripture came back to him: “what good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?”

He would trade it all to have his love, his life, back again.

But that was not an option.

Out his window, Ham could see young Jack riding his bicycle furiously down the street. He watched with a passive surrender as his son’s small frame shrank into the distance.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Christmas Kitchen

I just read the book The Christmas Kitchen. What a fun little book for Christmas time. It is filled with Christmas recipes, family fun and new traditions. Tammy Maltby creates memories with her family that any family can introduce to make memories of their own. I am so happy to add some of the fun from this book to our Christmas celebration this year.

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

The Christmas Kitchen

Howard Books (October 6, 2009)

***Special thanks to Jennifer Willingham of Simon and Schuster for sending me a review copy.***


Tammy Maltby is a writer, speaker, and media personality. For eight years, she was the co-host of the Emmy Award-winning television talk show, Aspiring Women. She serves on the board of the National Women’s Ministry Association, Christian Women in Media and Arts, and Women of Courage International. She and her family live in Colorado Springs, CO.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Hardcover: 132 pages
Publisher: Howard Books (October 6, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1416587659
ISBN-13: 978-1416587651


Press this picture to browse inside the entire book:

Jesse Tree Day #5

Field Of Stars

God sent Abram to a land far away,
God told him, “I will make you into a great nation someday.”

I will bless you and great will be your name,
“All the people will be blessed through you,” God proclaimed.

Abram and Lot left to pursue a new land,
They were guided and protected by God’s hand.

All the stars in heavens, your family will be,
God said, “You must trust in Me.”

Read: Genesis 12:1-7, 15:1-6

God Gave Us. . .

One of our favorite children's author is Lisa Tawn Bergren. She has a series of God Gave Us books that we love. Thanks to WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group we added two more books to our series.

Just in time for Christmas is God Gave Us Christmas.

This book is about a little bear cub that is searching for the meaning of Christmas. Mama bear takes him on a journey to find God. This is a wonderful book for any child on your Christmas List. The illustrations are beautiful. This book focuses on the true meaning of Christmas. To purchase God Gave Us Christmas click here.

The newest God Gave Us book is, God Gave Us Love.

In this heartwarming story bear cub is getting a lesson on love from his grandpa. Grandpa teaches bear cub that there are many different kinds of love, and we should love everyone. He also teaches him that loving others is not always easy. This is another great addition to the God Gave Us series. You can purchase God Gave Us Love here.

Waterbrrok Multnomah also sent me a book by Leigh McLeroy titled Treasured. I am still reading this book. The treasures I have come across so far in the book have me really thinking about the treasures in my life. The treasures that God has given me are all a part of my story. Here is a little more about the book.
In Treasured, Leigh McLeroy considers tangible reminders of God’s active presence and guides readers in discovering evidence in their own lives of his attentive love.
“The idea for the book came from a cigar box filled with odds and ends of my grandfather’s life that arrived a few months after his death. Sifting through the objects in the box, I experienced him in a fresh new way. This made me wonder what treasures might be tucked away in Scripture that could frame God for me in an equally intimate, tangible way. This process also helped me uncover my own “treasures” of my walk with the Lord: objects that remind me of my history with him and his faithfulness to me,” says McLeroy.
Drawn from the pages of Scripture, the author considers twelve such treasures and personalizes their meaning for readers, such as a green olive branch that offers proof of God’s “new every morning” mercy and a scarlet cord that demonstrates his willingness to adopt “strays” of every sort.
Weaving these treasures together with scenes from her personal history, Leigh McLeroy invites readers to discover God’s heart for them and embrace their unique role in his redemptive story. Treasured offers readers a guided experience of God’s love and character and invites them to consider their own treasures that point to their part in God’s ongoing story.

You can purchase Treasured here.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Jesse Tree Day #4

Today we will add a rainbow to our Jesse Tree. The story of Noah's ark is one that almost every child knows and loves. This is one of our favorite Jesse Tree days.

The Flood

God told Noah to build an ark,
made of Cypress wood.

God wanted to wipe the people from the earth,
because none of them were good.

Noah did as God had said,
The ark was built by hand,

It stood so great when it was done,
upon the dry, dry land.

Upon the ark the animals
filed in two-by-two.

Noah’s family had followed God,
they knew just what to do.

The rain started to fall,
for 40 days and covered all the earth.

Everything was destroyed,
the Earth was ready for new birth.

God sent a great wind to dry all the land,
But Noah still could not see any where that they could stand.

He first sent out a raven,
That flew back and forth ‘til all was dry,

Soon he sent out a dove,
but all it did was fly.

Seven days later the dove left the ark,
This time the dove had found bark.

In the mouth the dove carried a leaf from an olive tree,
Noah praised God for the land they could see.

Read: Genesis 6:11-22, 7:17-8:12

Here is a coloring page for your little ones. Click Here.

Jesus Loves

Every year I am looking for new and unique gifts to give at Christmastime. This year thanks t Shelly at Charitable Creations I have found a perfect gift for one of my girls and I have added a gift to my wish list for my hubby.

A few weeks ago I posted about my daughter asking Jesus into her heart. A few days later I received a lovely package in the mail from Shelly. This necklace is the perfect gift for my little girl, don't you think? She is going to love this beautiful necklace.

This is the necklace on my Christmas List.

Each necklace is hand stamped individually, so each necklace is unique and one of a kind. The best part of Charitable Creations is that 10% of your total order goes to a charity you choose! Isn't that amazing! You can give the gift of jewelry and a donation at the same time.

Check out Shelly's website and shop to do your Christmas Shopping this year. As a gift to one of my readers, Shelly is offering a $25.00 gift card to her store. Leave a comment here before Friday, December 4th at midnight CST for a chance to win.

One Simple Act

We all know and love Debbie Macomber for her fiction and now she is sending us another great book going in a completely different direction. The heart-warming stories of sharing generosity with others will tear at your heart-strings. It only takes One Simple Act to show others the love of God through our actions. It has me thinking about all of the little things in life and how I can make a difference everyday. Check out an excerpt from the book below.

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

One Simple Act

Howard Books (November 3, 2009)

***Special thanks to Jennifer Willingham of Simon & Schuster sending me a review copy.***


Debbie Macomber is one of today’s leading voices in women’s fiction. With more than 100 million copies of her books in print and translated into twenty-three languages, her popularity is worldwide. Debbie and her husband live in Washington and Florida and are the proud parents of four children and grandparents of nine grandchildren.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $22.99
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Howard Books (November 3, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1439108935
ISBN-13: 978-1439108932


Chapter One

Fleas, Footsteps, and Check-out Lanes

Giving from a Grateful Heart

Kate stepped out of her bookstore at the end of a long, tiring day, locked the door behind her, pulled her scarf up over her nose and mouth to shield her lungs from the bitter cold air, and rushed across the lot to her car. Just one quick stop at the grocery store and she’d be on the way home to cuddle up with her new book in front of a warm fire.

As she waited at the traffic light to turn into the grocery store lot she took off one glove to feel if the air blasting out of the heat vents was starting to warm. Ah, yes. What a relief. In the few minutes it had taken her to get from her bookstore to the grocery store her fingers had started to ache from the cold. “I think I was born with cold fingers,” she muttered. The light changed to green and as she turned into the lot she came alongside a narrow median strip and noticed a man holding a crudely made hand-lettered cardboard sign. HOMELESS. NEED FOOD. PLEASE HELP. At his feet was a small white plastic bucket. His collar was pulled high against the cold, but her eyes went to his hands holding the sign. Bare hands.

My fingers ache from five minutes in this cold car, with gloves on. How cold must his be? she wondered. Her eyes went to his face. Late twenties, probably six or seven years older than Mark. The sudden thought of her son instantly made her shoulders sag. She hadn’t seen Mark since summer. Addicted to drugs, Mark had left home several months ago after a two year struggle—maybe war was a better word—with his parents over his drug abuse. He still called sometimes, but he’d been bunking in with friends, house hopping, and he’d even slept on the streets rather than come back home. Never had she felt so helpless as she’d felt watching her son self-destruct these past two years. Never so powerless to meet the deep needs of the son she loved. But he wasn’t ready to give up his drugs or his illusion of freedom. He remained elusive about his whereabouts and declined every offer Kate made to meet him someplace to talk. Where is he tonight? Cold and hungry like this guy? Begging on some street corner? And if a kind stranger gives him a ten dollar bill, he’ll buy his next hit of pills before buying a warm meal. Kate’s heart sank. Are Mark’s hands cold tonight?

And then it came to her. A quiet nudge. She parked, hurried into the store to pick up bread, eggs, and some yogurt for the weekend, then hit one more aisle. Through the checkout, a dash back to her car, and back along the other side of the median strip, where she pulled alongside the young man, rolled down her window and stopped. Her heart picked up its pace. He walked over to her car, bucket held out, but she didn’t hand any money out the window. Instead she held out a warm pair of gloves she’d just bought. He looked startled.

“Your hands must be terribly cold,” she said. “I hope these help.” The young man looked confused for a moment. Then accepted the gloves. “Thanks,” he said.

The car behind her honked and she pulled away and moved toward the intersection. She glanced in the rearview mirror and saw him pulling on the gloves. She blinked to clear a few tears away. They were warm on her cold checks, but another warmth from somewhere in her core was spreading upward, and she found herself smiling.

For the first time in a long time she didn’t feel powerless at the thought of Mark. Take care of my son tonight, Lord, she prayed. Show him Your love through the kindness of a stranger. And Lord, comfort the mother of that young man tonight.

In that one simple act Kate had discovered the power of generosity. She’d not only warmed a troubled young man; she’d kindled a spark of hope for Mark. And she realized that God had just used her to care for the son of another worried mother. And who knows, maybe the young man on the median strip called is mother that night.

Just one simple act.

A Discovery Worth Sharing

You’ve read the subtitle of this book, Discovering the Power of Generosity. If you recognized my name on the cover of the book you may be asking yourself why a writer known for fiction is writing a nonfiction book on generosity The answer is . . . well . . . if you don’t mind me quoting the title . . . simple. Have you ever discovered something so great that you just had to tell your friends? You know, like a great little vacation spot you stumbled across while on a trip, or a new clothing store with affordable prices, great selection and really stellar service? Maybe you’ve heard a speaker that had a huge impact on you, or saw a movie that made you laugh ‘til you cried and you knew just the friend who needed it. When we find something we love, we want to share it with it others and spread the joy. Right? That is how I feel about simple acts of generosity. I have had some encounters with generosity—as the recipient, the giver, the witness—that have had a profoundly life-changing impact on me. I’ve just got to share the news.

On the other hand, you may have seen the word generosity and thought to yourself, “Oh great. One more appeal to go digging deep into my pocket.” Don’t worry! You are not in for a brand new load of guilt. I promise! That’s precisely what this book is not about. In our age of overwork and exhaustion, tossing a few dollars here and there may be the easiest way to practice generosity. But I am talking about it in larger terms—life-changing terms.

Like my friend Kate. She made a five minute investment of time, and on a whim probably spent about eight or nine dollars on that pair of gloves. But her decision had nothing to do with her wallet. It had to do with her heart. When she handed those gloves out the window she brought unexpected goodness into a bleak situation. And that goodness spilled over and gave back. It multiplied. For my friend Kate, that was just the beginning. But that is a story for another time.

When you pick up a book, it’s fair to ask, “What’s in it for me?” My goal in writing this is to surprise you with the multiple benefits that come from small and large acts of generosity. I’m convinced that we cannot become all we could be until we are willing to unclench our hands and release what we’ve been clinging to, what we’ve been determined to keep for ourselves. The intriguing part is that once we release such gifts we are free to take hold of something more, something better; something that God has wanted to give us for a very long time.

Simply put, intentional acts of generosity can open our lives to the very best God has to offer. In fact, the very best that God has to offer is exactly where we need to start.

A Tradition Worth Keeping

Several years ago I read of the old Quaker tradition of keeping a gratitude journal. I was inspired by the idea so I purchased a book with blank pages and titled it My Ode to Joy. Each morning I wrote a little thank you note to God. I found it to be a way to start my day on a positive note. Little did I understand then how the discipline of writing down five things for which I am thankful every day would forever change my life.

When I first started I found it easy to hit the big things—good parents, a wonderful husband, my children (and later my grandchildren) and, of course, a writing career I love. These precious gifts still make their way onto my list over and over. Today, when I re-read journals from past years I see that as the months, then years, trickled by, I began to dig deeper for things to add to my list. As I matured in my understanding of how God works, it wasn’t only the good things, the pleasant, “happy” gifts for which I expressed appreciation. I began to see more clearly how God was using life’s trials in unexpected ways for my good so I began to write down my gratitude for the seemingly negative things in my life—my troubles, pains and losses. With that knowledge I became more confident that God would see me through everything, and my gratitude grew deeper. In fact, expressing thanks for negative things is a practice I adopted from Corrie ten Boom as I read her book The Hiding Place.1

Fleas, God’s Secret Weapon

During World War II, Corrie and her sister, Betsie had been arrested in Holland for trying to help Jews escape the Holocaust. They ended up in Ravensbruck, one of the most infamous Nazi concentration camps. Their barracks had been built to hold 400 prisoners but by the time the sisters arrived at the camp, the room held more than 1400 women.

Living conditions were insufferable. The women were housed like stacked cordwood on dirty, flea-infested straw, strewn on wooden platforms. The fleas feasted night and day until everyone was covered in itchy, raised welts.

If it hadn’t been for their Bible and the comfort the sisters were able to take from Betsie’s readings, Corrie didn’t know how they could have survived from day to day. If the guards had ventured into the room they would have discovered the forbidden Bible. Not only would it have been confiscated but the consequences would have been brutal. Over and over, the two sisters wondered over the mystery of why the guards never inspected their barracks.

One morning Betsie read the Bible verse in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 that said, Give thanks in all circumstances. She insisted that they put this into practice, feeling certain that ‘giving thanks’ was the answer to their suffering. As Corrie tells the story, her sister named a litany of things they needed to thank God for—from the amazing circumstance that enabled the sisters to stay together, to the Bible she held in her hands, to the other women in the camp. But when Betsie began to thank God for the suffocating room and finally for the fleas, Corrie balked. It seemed impossible to Corrie to find anything for which to thank God in the deprivation of a concentration camp.

But Betsie insisted, reminding Corrie that God said, “in all circumstances.” Corrie recalled standing in that room with all the other women, thanking God for the fleas and being certain that, for once, Betsie was wrong. Yet, that prayer proved to be a turning point for the women. Their circumstances hadn’t changed but their attitude did. Betsie and Corrie began to connect with the women in a way that changed those barracks and the women imprisoned there. It wasn’t until much later that Corrie discovered the reason the dreaded inspection never happened and their beloved Bible remained undiscovered. It was the very same reason she and Betsie were never stopped from having their much-anticipated Bible studies.

The fleas!

The guards refused to set foot into those barracks because of the out-of-control flea infestation. When Betsie took God at His word and thanked Him in all circumstances, she had no idea those fleas were actually a gift from God.

It’s easy to be grateful for the sunshine, the good things, plenty of food, meeting the budget and compliant children. But God tells us to express gratitude in all circumstances.

Think about it. That means we are called to offer thanks when the wind blows into our lives at hurricane force. We are asked to thank Him when the money runs out long before the end of the month, and when the kids are pushing the boundaries and challenging us at every turn. It doesn’t make any logical sense, does it?

Corrie ten Boom discovered the “sense” of giving thanks in all circumstances. She discovered the vital link between gratitude and trust. Through reading The Hiding Place and through the practice of keeping my own gratitude journal, I, too, have discovered this link. Though we may not understand the whys of our circumstances, by thanking God we grow to acknowledge that He is in control—that He can be trusted. We learn to release our iron-tight grip on our circumstances, and we experience a much-welcome reprieve from worry.

The importance of giving thanks is clear in Philippians 4:6: Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Interesting, isn’t it? The antidote for anxiety is to pray with thanksgiving.


The act of gratitude reminds us that God is worthy of our trust.

Footsteps Worth Following

I admit learning to praise God in all circumstances takes practice. I find I need to be intentional and deliberate in doing so, and make it a day-by-day, even minute-by-minute exercise. My grandparents were immigrants of German-Russian extraction who settled in the Dakotas. They were dirt farmers during the Great Depression of the 1930’s. My grandparents, Anna and Anton Adler, rose long before dawn, greeting each day with anticipation. My grandfather labored in his fields only to see his crops fail year after year. When all seemed lost, he didn’t give up. He looked toward the future. He heard of work picking fruit in the Yakima Valley in Washington State. Selling everything they had, my grandparents headed west with six children, leaving their two adult children behind with and all their earthly possessions strapped to the back of their Model T Ford. They headed west, and without a backward glance, he left the farm behind. By all outward appearances my grandfather had failed just as the land had failed and yet, as told in our family stories, my grandparents chose to thank God for the work ahead of them, rather than complain over what they had lost.

In the footsteps of my grandparents I, too, want to look at life with a sense of gratitude. I see my journal writing as starting my morning out on the positive note of practicing gratitude. Instead of grumbling over the drizzle outside my kitchen window, I can smile and remember that it’s the rain that makes everything so green and lush in the Pacific Northwest.

I once read that there are more verses in the Bible that praise God than anything else. I’m not a Bible scholar so I can’t say for sure if that’s true or not but I do know that when we have a thankful heart, despite our circumstances, we lighten our load. Nothing jumpstarts our gratitude like practicing the habit of praise. King David, who poured out his gratitude in verse after verse of the book of Psalms, was called a man after God’s own heart. Isn’t that what we’d like to be? Simply reading his psalms of praise is an ideal way to build gratitude into our lives.

Check-Out Lane Surprise

A few months ago I was in line at the supermarket. My cart was piled high and I was anxious to be on my way. I was grateful that the young woman in front of me only had a partially filled cart. As I watched her carefully unload her groceries, I could see that she seemed anxious. As the checker finished ringing up the groceries, the young woman leaned across the check stand, whispered something to the checker and left—without her groceries. The checker piled the bags onto the cart and set it off to the side.

I guessed the scenario. The young women didn’t have enough money to pay for her purchase.

The clerk looked up at me and smiled, “Thanks for waiting. She had to go to the bank for more money.”

I looked at the mountain of groceries in my cart, remembering my own scary days back in the early 1980’s when I first decided I wanted to be a writer. My husband Wayne and I had four young children and, as a construction electrician, Wayne was often between jobs. I remembered well when were feeding our young family of six on Wayne’s unemployment check of one hundred fifty dollars a week.

I felt that inner discomfort that I sometimes get when God nudges me to do something. I call these moments ‘divine appointments’. It wasn’t by accident that I turned up behind this young wife and mother.

“How much were her groceries?” I asked.

The clerk looked up as if she hadn’t understood my question.

“How much was the bill?” I repeated. She pulled the tape from the bag and told me. Then she shrugged her shoulders as if she didn’t know why I’d be asking.

“Kindly add that amount to my bill,” I told her

The clerk stopped checking my groceries. I was glad my piled-high cart had kept others from lining up behind me.

“She may not even come back,” the woman cautioned. “Sometimes if a person doesn’t have enough money they say they’ll come back because they’re embarrassed. In every likelihood she won’t return, so save your money.”

“No,” I insisted, “I want to pay for her groceries.”

“She probably won’t be back,” she said in a flippant tone. “What do you want me to do with them then?”

“Give the food to someone in need,” I suggested.

I could see the clerk had never had someone offer to pay for someone else’s groceries. She appeared shocked and continued to stare at me. “Why are you doing this?” she asked.

I explained that at one time I’d been in that young woman’s situation. I remembered wondering how I’d feed my family. I told her how grateful I was for all that God had given me. I tried to explain that with gratitude comes the urge to share.

She didn’t say a word and I was left wondering if I was babbling on far too long. What I was doing didn’t make a lot of sense. The clerk was right—the woman who’d left might very well not return. Yet I couldn’t shake the feeling that God wanted me to do this. I’ve come to recognize those promptings from God and learned not to resist them.

Slowly the clerk returned to ringing up my groceries. “I want to know more about God,” she said simply.

That’s when it hit me. This nudge from God wasn’t about the young woman who left her groceries behind. God hadn’t nudged me for her sake, but for the clerk’s sake! For whatever reason, she needed to witness an act of generosity done in the Lord’s name.

I thought of Corrie ten Boom’s fleas. In this case, my own gift of generosity was having a benefit I had never imagined, just as the fleas had a benefit Corrie had never imagined. I thought I was helping the young woman needing groceries, but the Lord had set his sights on the clerk. Something my Florida pastor, James Biles, once said in a sermon came to mind. I remembered being struck so by his words that I wrote them down on the margin of my bulletin: “We aren’t called to share the Gospel. We are called to show the Gospel.”

Look at it this way: had God not been tutoring me in the habit of gratitude, I might have been stewing about the delay caused by the young woman’s inability to pay. Instead I was able to listen to that still, small voice that sometimes gently urges me to act. Had I rationalized that the young woman might never come back for her groceries, I might have missed blessing the person God intended. Although I frequently shopped at that store I never saw her again and yet I feel God planted her in my path that day for His purposes.

Keep the eyes of your heart open for those God may want to help through you today.


Practicing an attitude of gratitude spills over to acts of generosity.

The Science of Gratitude

My own discovery about the importance of gratitude was largely developed as I read the Bible. But did you know that science confirms the importance of gratitude as well?

Two researchers, R. A. Emmons of University of California at Davis and M. E. McCullough of the University of Miami, have been researching the Dimensions and Perspectives of Gratitude. Their findings fascinate me and have been the basis of dozens of articles in scientific journals and bulletins. Take a look with me at what they learned.

Their experiments demonstrated that those who kept gratitude journals on a weekly basis exercised more regularly, reported fewer illness symptoms, felt better about their lives as a whole, and were more optimistic about the upcoming week compared to those who recorded troubles or neutral life events. As they continued to experiment, they found that participants who kept gratitude lists were more likely to have made progress over a two-month period toward their most important personal goals—academic, interpersonal and health-based—compared to the subjects in their control group.2 So gratitude not only contributed to better overall health but helped reach important goals. Think about it. Our creator designed us to benefit when we give thanks.

And that’s not all. Here’s something else they discovered: a daily gratitude exercise where young adults regularly focused on specific things for which they were thankful resulted in higher reported levels of the positive states of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness and energy.

And remember that I said that generosity grows out of gratitude? The study also showed that participants in the daily gratitude experiment were more likely to report having helped someone with a personal problem or having offered emotional support to another. You see, when gratitude becomes a habit, then generosity seems to follow naturally.

In a sample of adults with neuromuscular disease, a twenty-one-day gratitude intervention resulted in greater amounts of high energy, positive moods, a greater sense of feeling connected to others, more optimistic ratings of one’s life, and better sleep duration and sleep quality, relative to a control group.


But there’s more. Stephen Post, PhD, professor of bioethics at Case Western Reserve University’s School of Medicine, is the author of Why Good Things Happen to Good People.3 In an article in Guideposts, “The Power of Gratitude” he shares five things he discovered about gratitude:

Gratitude Defends. Just fifteen minutes a day focusing on the things you’re grateful for will significantly increase your body’s natural antibodies.
Gratitude Sharpens. Naturally grateful people are more focused mentally and measurably less vulnerable to clinical depression.
Gratitude Calms. A grateful state of mind induces a physiological state called resonance that’s associated with healthier blood pressure and heart rate.
Gratitude Strengthens. Caring for others is draining. But grateful caregivers are healthier and more capable than less grateful ones.
Gratitude Heals. Recipients of donated organs who have the most grateful attitudes heal faster.

Gratitude gives back. When we practice gratitude, not only do we grow in our trust of God, but we benefit physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Gratitude as a Prerequisite to Giving

As we acknowledge all we have, as we learn to praise God for all He has done for us. Then God helps us pry our fingers off our possessions, our Day Timers® and our bank statements. This brings us full circle. Can you see why we explored gratitude before we set off on our journey to discover the power of generosity? Gratitude is the basis for giving. Grumpy, stingy people cannot live in the spirit of generosity. In order to be able to open our hands to give, we first have to give thanks for all we’ve been given. It’s just that simple!

[Design note: Bordered feature—or maybe decorative corner treatments and different font—at the end of each of each chapter: Simple Acts of XXX. Also, find an attractive alternative to plain bullet points.]

Simple Acts of Gratitude

Begin a Gratitude Journal. Each day write five things for which you are grateful.
Practice praise. Nothing opens our eyes to the gifts we have been given than focusing on the Giver. Find at least one new thing to praise God for each day.
Stay alert for those “God Nudges” and be grateful when you sense them. When you feel like you should be doing something for someone, act on it. Keep track of those nudges. Write them down, noting how you responded and the outcome. When we practice listening for that still small voice we become better at hearing it.
Thank God in all circumstances. This means that sometimes you’ll thank Him for the “fleas” in your life.


One Simple Act

Debbie Macomber

Howard Books

Nashville, Tennessee

Our purpose at Howard Books is to:

Increase faith in the hearts of growing Christians
Inspire holiness in the lives of believers
Instill hope in the hearts of struggling people everywhere
Because He’s coming again!

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One Simple Act © 2009 Debbie Macomber

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Scripture quotations not otherwise marked are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. Scripture quotations marked The Message are taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.