Showing posts from 2008

A journey of love is worth the risk

As my youngest son turned 24 and sat beside his beautiful girlfriend last night at our celebratory dinner out, it brought back memories. At his age, David was that handsome older man who talked me into the biggest leap of my life -- the leap into a commitment of marriage.

He was 24, I was 21. It was hard to answer his marriage proposal. My mother had two painful marriages that ended with her weeping and struggling to raise children. Alone. It helped to break her.

When you see such pain, marriage doesn't mean "happily ever after" ever again. Not for some people. Maybe not for you.

I was terrified of getting married. How could I make it work? How could I make it last? How did people do it?

I didn't have all the answers. I had a few promises, a few ideas, some faith and a veneer of hope. I took the leap, holding tight to David's hand and clinging to a God who also promised to always love me. That was then, 1975. This is now. We've taken the last 33 years of married …

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What does a day's wages have to do with it?

The kingdom of heaven, Jesus said, is like workers hired by a gracious God to work in a field. Some are hired in the morning, confident they will eat that night. Some are hired hours later or late in the day and they hope for something, anything to help their family endure the challendges they face. All are paid a day's wages to survive and prosper.
Is God unfair to give blessings to each, irregardless of efforts they expend during work hours? To the capable, God seems unfair. To those who aren't anyone's first pick, God seems gracious.

The kingdom of God isn't blessings according to our efforts, it is blessings according to God's goodness. There is nothing fair about it. Think about it. God needn't hire any workers to do his work. The God who created light from darkness and paradise from ruin doesn't need us. He doesn't owe us. We are not entitled.
If God choses us and uses us, it isn't because of our merit.

God's kindness sends him in search of…

Sermon: How Are We Going to Get By?

As we watch the erratic gyrations on Wall Street, there is a lot to think about and more to worry about.

I gleaned an unexpected dividend last week while I was hunting for stewardship ideas on the Internet for our church's website. I found an outstanding and timely sermon by Jon M. Walton, entitled, How Are We Going to Get By? The pastor from the First Presbyterian Church in the City of New York discusses a timely topic with great entertainment value and even better wisdom. I hope you get a chance to read How Are We Going to Get By?
Sermon Preached by Jon M. Walton
September 21, 2008
Scripture: Exodus 16:2-15; Matthew 20:1-16

A Community of Prayer

Today's Upper Room devotional is powerful.

I hope you get a chance to read it.

"A Community of Prayer"

What would Jesus do if a neighbor cut down his tree without permission?

What would you do if your neighbor cut down your tree without permission?

Would you wake up at 2 AM with that question on your mind? Yeah, I wouldn't either except I did.

Would you wander forlornly to the patio window while at home the next day and mutter that question while gazing at the empty corner of the yard?

One nice thing about being a writer is I sometimes (okay, sometimes can sometimes be more than sometimes) answer my own questions -- out loud. When other people are around.

I was doing that yesterday. At least we shared a laugh or two.

I'd say to myself: Would it do any good to ring my neighbor's doorbell and ask her, "What would you do if a neighbor cut down your tree without permission?" I'd be interested in her answer. I like her, I don't want to make her mad, inquiring minds just want to know. So, I still don't know the final answer.

At dinner last night, I asked my husband and my college-aged son, "What would you do...?" Those two h…

Speaking the truth in love when a neighbor cuts down your tree, part 1

What would you do if your neighbor cut down your tree without permission?

I've been meditating on different Scripture that I think may be applicable to this situation all day and maybe part of the night.

One day the tree is stretching 12-15 feet into the clear sky. The next morning, the tree is severed from its roots and lying on the ground outside our fence.

The neighbor said she made an executive decision because she couldn't reach us. We went to church. We usually do that time every Sunday morning.

Some words are best left within the silent recesses of our home, or echoing prayerfully in the meditations of our hearts, or whispered half-explained to Internet friends.

What would you do? What would you say? Just curious. Are you?

By my title, you might be able to guess some of what I think. But this is an interactive story. Without at least one comment, part two might take a very long time to hit bright sunshine.

New patterns entwine with memory's shadows

Today's activities feel like a pleasant echo of long ago patterns. As a grandmother, my body is slower, but I have learned to savor today's journey especially when a day contains shadows of yesterday's memories.

I'm visiting Christy and Jeremiah in Indianapolis this week. While they are working today, finishing tasks up before Xavier arrives, soon-to-be big sister Alea and I watered the lawn and played with her slide.

The at-home activities with Alea this morning are echoes of long ago patterns when Christy and her siblings would run and giggle during our let's-sprinkle-the-lawn times.

Alea wasn't too keen on being near the fine mist spewing from the Elmo lawn attachment. She preferred staying dry. She rode her red plastic tracker on the sidewalk and on the back porch while sprinkled droplets slid down blades of grass into the dark Indiana soil. When Alea toddled toward the slide, I let Elmo slump over to spritz another area of the lawn. Alea didn't hide her e…

Time away -- priceless

David and I took a break and went out of town for a few days. While David attended business meetings, I dived deeper into disconnection and did not check email for days. Delicious freedom.

Of course, when we returned a few things didn't run as smoothly here and there because I had been harder to reach.... I still don't regret taking the time away to rest, think, pray and play.

I'm back in the business of bookstore work, volunteer work and family. I feel ready to deal with issues that need attention. It is time to reconnect with renewed energy and enthusiasm.

We all need to get away now and then.

Jesus set us an example. Jesus would get away from the crowds from time to time. He may have needed that time for renewal, certainly his retreats from public ministry allowed him emotional and social space to think and pray. I find that periodic time apart from day-to-day activities and responsibilities is worth whatever piles up on desk or doorstep and waits for my return.

There is ble…

Be Still

It helps to be still from time to time. We can become so busy trying to get things done that we forget why we are doing things or how we want to feel or how we want others to feel in the process of accomplishing goals.

The sermon this morning addressed this topic. Interesting.

I've been thinking about the whys and hows of what we do -- what I do -- this last week. I've been praying for God to give me wisdom and His Spirit as I do things. Some tasks have gone more smoothly this last week as a result.

It's great to get things done, but it is wonderful to be in harmony with others as we get things done ... or not.

We aren't on this planet to get a long list of action items done, necessarily. We ARE on this planet, I believe, to be like Jesus in the way we get things done or make others feel while we work together.

I forget sometimes. It is good to be still and remember. That's what a Sabbath time of being still can give us -- breathing room in the busyness of life to see w…

Hurry up ... and wait

Some days I feel like I'm a jet engine humming on a tarmack, waiting for someone to flash the green light so I can take off ... but they aren't ready.

I'm ready. I want to get moving and get things done. What's taking so long?

But someone else isn't ready, and it isn't my turn to race down the course to do what I have been designed to do. Yet.

Do you ever wonder what's the point of waiting? Do you ever feel, like I do, that it is a waste of your life blood's jet fuel to stand idle, waiting for someone else to make a move?


Lord, give me patience and wisdom to wait for others so that we can work together for your purposes and in your time.

Change: When lofty plans meet everyday realities

We sold our loft bed set yesterday. David and Matt dismantled it and carried it in pieces out of the boys' old bedroom to a stranger's car. I didn't want to watch them cannibalize it.

That loft bed set has been in our home since 1984, when newborn Matt slept in a crib. The girls used it as a bunk bed until Matt was old enough to sleep in the bottom bunk while big brother Jeff climbed the ladder to the loft. The boys claimed the set as their own for the bulk of their childhood and into college years. The solid wood set was heavy and sturdy and made by Cargo to last. It has lasted for decades in our home.

"We can't hold onto the things or people of what once was. When we try, we clutter our rooms and our lives with memories and relics that make it hard, if not impossible, to fully embrace and welcome the gifts and people of today."
I have memories of that bunk bed/loft.

Years ago, in Maryland, when we lived at the back of the Village, small eyes would peek out fro…

Article: The Power of Generation

In a recent blog post, Dr. James L. Knapp, of "Christianity Today," discussed the needs for members of the Boomer generation to find meaningful service. The members of this generation don't necessarily want to join in on activities that were designed to appeal to older generations. Members of this generation have a lot to give, but often want to find a meaningful match of their talents and interests with an expressed need. If they don't, they may be reluctant to be involved.

Pastors and leaders face a challenge to involve members of the Boomer generation in volunteer work unless it can satisfy the need of a Boomer to be meaningfully active.

This has a lot of truth in it. It strikes a chord.

What do you think? Why?

Related Links
"The Power of a Generation," by Dr. James L. Knapp.

update on the Extreme Makeover Benefit Concert.

The benefit concert last month at GPC raised more than $16,000 for the Jackson family.

Area groups sang and talented artists performed, including a choir from GPC. The gospel concert was filled with praise, clapping and song. It was a memorial evening for participants of all ages. All praised and celebrated God's goodness.

Money raised that night will help the Jackson family pay expenses associated with an Extreme Makeover Home Edition upgrade to their property in nearby Poolesville, Md.

The episode will be the season premier in the Fall.

Loads we share

A local family will receive an "Extreme Makeover" home this week. Today work on the home and filming began in Poolesville, MD, not far from here.

Thursday, from 7:30 - 10:30 pm, Gaithersburg Presbyterian Church, in Maryland, will host a benefit gospel concert for Felicia Jackson and her family of 15, this week's recipients of an "Extreme Makeover" home.

GPC's Praise Team will open the evening that will feature area gospel groups. An ABC film crew will capture the event. Organizers hope to raise $50,000 to help defray expenses associated with an "Extreme Makeover" home.

The Jackson family' episode of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" will air in September as the two-part season premiere.

Sunday morning, Ty Pennington and his television crew surprised the Jackson family with the news.

Once ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" made the announcement on Sunday, news spread among local leaders and to the community. Now plans are …

A local family will receive an Extreme Makeover home this week

Today, in a press release, ABC announced a local family will receive an Extreme Makeover Home:

ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition Says “Good Morning” to a Montgomery County Family

Classic Homes of Maryland Joins ABC to Build Family Dream Home in Poolesville.

Rockville, Md. – June 22, 2008 – The lives of Felicia Jackson and her fourteen children will be forever changed as they awoke this morning to Ty Pennington’s “Good Morning” wake-up call. The unsuspecting family was surprised by Ty Pennington and the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition team this morning when they learned they had been selected to receive the home makeover. Classic Homes of Maryland will join Ty’s team in making a family’s dream into a reality.

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition is a race against the clock. The EMHE team, Classic Homes of Maryland and all of their designers, contractors and several hundred volunteers will work together to design a new home for the Jackson family, demolish their existing home, and build the…

Article: Rejecting Rejection by James Scott Bell

Rejecting Rejection

By James Scott Bell

The writer Barnaby Conrad tells the story of a matador, all decked out in his "suit of lights," talking to a group of reporters outside the arena. One reporter asks, "How did you happen to become a bullfighter?"The matador replied, "I took up bullfighting because of the uncertainty of being a writer."

Truth be told, many of us would rather face the horns of an angry bull than another rejection letter. At least we can run away from the bull!

But for a writer, rejection goes with the territory. There is no way we can avoid it. There are ways, however, to keep it from becoming a poison, something that makes us want to curl up and quit. Here are a few things to keep in mind about rejection:

1. Rejection is not personal

Rejection of your manuscript is not a rejection of you as a person, or as a writer. It is only a rejection of a piece of writing you have turned out.

That makes a difference. You can always grow as a writer. Alw…

Life is fragile

Life is fragile. I'm reminded again how easily life as we know it can be snatched away or dramatically changed.

Yesterday I began reading 90 Minutes in Heaven, by Don Piper with Cecil Murphey. We arrived an hour early for a concert by the Montgomery Philharmonic Orchestra at our church, Gaithersburg Presbyterian Church. I saw the book in the library. I'd been meaning to read it and there it was.

By the time the concert started, I was hooked and speeding through the story of Don Piper's collision with a semi and his brief experience of heaven. One moment Don was dead and 90 minutes later, Don was alive again singing with a pastor who was praying, crying and singing over Don's dead mangled body in the wreckage of his car.

Spirit-led prayer, God's mysterious purposes brought Don back to life. But it wasn't an easy journey to recovery. Don began the grueling recovery process and felt unbelievable pain. He wanted to die. He wanted to return to a pain-free joyous place …

Parenting has no end dates

The children are adults now but I still worry and pray for them.

When they pocketed driver's licenses and drove away to other homes, a part of me went also.

Where ever they go, a part of me goes also. And even when they bunk in a dusty tent in Iraq or work on a tan on a sunny beach in Belize or clean a window in a humid subdivision in Indianapolis or commute through busy Philadelphia streets or look for career opportunities close to Lancaster fields and businesses, my children are close to my heart. They are often in my thoughts. They are often in my prayers.

Parenting has no end dates.

Love crosses boundaries of time and space, keeping connections and memories alive and strong.

Love spans the chasms of time and territory to build connections with electronic messages, digital photos, phone chats, video streaming and visits -- whatever is possible. Separations are temporary. In God, love is eternal.

There is always a bit of a let down after a visit with family. It is exciting to see them…

Love and respect are important foundations for a lasting marriage

Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needsby Emerson Eggerichs (Thomas Nelson, 2004) remains on the top 10 Publishers Weekly Religion Bestseller's list for May.

Several people left glowing reviews of the book on

After reading the description of the contents of this book, I would recommend it to those who are married or thinking of getting married someday.

David and I have been married since 1975. The solid foundations of our marriage include these two pillars: love and respect.

I'm fortunate that as a young Biola student in 1971, I had the opportunity to study women's topics under a woman who taught the importance of respecting a husband. I took these teachings to heart. This may sound like an easy concept to put into practice but it wasn't. I didn't come from a family environment that respected men and the cultural wisdom didn't teach liberated women to respect men, especially in a marriage relationship.

After practi…

Will you cheer in heaven?

It will be a roll call of the ages for the young and the aged ...

I was thinking about heaven as we watched our beloved Lauren graduate. We sat in the bleachers with other parents, family members and friends. We watched as hundreds of college graduates walked across the stage one by one, shook hands with school administrators, and headed off into their futures.

Yesterday, at Towson University, when each name was called, a pocket of cheers erupted from various areas of the audience. We waited for our turn to cheer.

Towson administrators sped up the process. Graduates formed into two lines on either side of the platform. As a name was called, a graduate walked onto the stage. While that graduate was shaking hands with an administrator, the next graduate's name was called and that graduate stepped onto the stage from the other side. The graduates would then stride toward the center and descend stairs to return to their seats. In this way, administrators called out a graduate's name…

Twitter: 12 reasons why a CEO at Thomas Nelson thinks it has merit

Michael Hyatt, CEO of Thomas Nelson recently blogged 12 Reasons to Start Tweetering .

He writes well and makes a convincing case to at least try the new technology that is faster than text messaging. Among his reasons for twittering for 30 days is it's free, it forces concise writing, allows him to make new friends, and forces him to think about what he is doing and is that how he wants to spend his life.

How about you? If you twitter, what do you like about it? Or, what don't you like about twittering?

An unexpected gift

I don't often think of mistakes being a good thing. I'm trying to change that attitude. There is a lot we can learn from mistakes. Although I know that in my head, I try hard not to make mistakes.

Even with my best efforts, mistakes happen.

I made one a few days ago. When I was sending out emails about ideas to update our church website, I included a wrong email address in the distribution list. Not everyone in our group received the email and someone in Wisconsin I'd never met did.

When she read the email, she also clicked on the eMinistry blog link. Sequoias caught her attention. In her email to me later, where she graciously let me know of my mistake, she said the mistake must have been of God. We are kindred spirits in our faith and our love of trees.

She's a gifted artist and an art teacher. She sent me a .jpg of a pastel drawing of a sequoia towering above other trees that she completed last month. Stunning.

Some mistakes can yield a gift of beauty. This one did…

You're invited to visit our new eMinistry blog

The eMinistry blog is now up and running. If you are a Christian writer, blogger or member of a website team, you may be interested in e-Salt and Light.

On e-Salt and Light we discuss articles, resources, observations and topics that may be interest to communicators who use the new media to share God's love and truth.

If you aren't a communicator, come on over anyway. We have no sign-up sheets or writing tests. You don't even have to like technology all that much. We try to cut through the technical jargon and use English so any interested person can follow the conversation and add their thoughts.

We would love to hear your suggestions and comments.

Why do we make time to communicate across four generations?

Communication is simple and complicated.

Communication is simple because we care about one another. Communication is complicated because communicating across generations is work and potmarked with potential misunderstandings. We don't always speak one another's language. We don't always agree on what is important. We don't always understand why someone said or did certain things, or why they didn't. We want to be understood and aren't always. We try to understand but sometimes can't unless we can talk some things out. Love, listening and forgiveness bridge the gaps that could make communication across the generations difficult if not impossible.

Love seeks what is best for another.

Love lets the other be the unique person that God intended.
Love allows others to do what they believe is right
Even if love is silent, love isn't silent.
Listening lays the groudwork for glimmers of understanding to grow.
When a baby cries in excitement or pain, older generations l…

How do you communicate across four generations?

Four generations of our family celebrated a college graduation and a baby shower last week in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. These were reasons enough for four generations of family members to carve out time and travel to be together for a few days.

Some families stay in touch by talking on the phone weekly, daily or even several times a day. Our family uses the phone less frequently most weeks, but we make an effort to gather for some special events.

These years the events that attract the oldest generation to travel across country are graduations and baby showers. As health permits, Pat attends the major celebrations that mark this time in her grandchildren's lives.

The youngest generation is too young to complain. Alea and the babies-yet-to-come go where they are carried.

The sandwich generations do what they can to attend special events when time and budgets allow.

The baby boomers have more time to visit when work schedules allow. We value keeping in touch with adult children, growing g…

Banish the technical

After posting several items about Web sites, Web marketing and eMinistry, I've decided those topics were beginning to sidetrack me from the main purpose of this blog, so I have banished them to their own blog.

I'll share more information on this when it is available.

Internet Evangelism Resources are Available

Sunday was Internet Evangelism Day. While researching more about this day, I found a website that is committed to helping churches and Christians increase their awareness of the Internet as a place to share God's messages.

Of course we all know that there is a great deal of information on the Internet, including God's words of comfort and salvation, but the issue is how effectively are we using technology and specifically a church's website to reach out to members and the wider community?

This is a question that I will be studying, so you'll see some of what I'm learning on this blog.

Join the conversation
If you have comments, advice, thought-provoking questions, or ideas on this subject, please join the discussion.

Review resources
If you are looking for ways to present this topic for your group or church, you may be interested in the Internet Evangelism Resources that are available.

Web site ministry

One way to build community is by developing and maintaining a good church Web site.

Church Web site ministry is a new area of interest for me. I'll be posting some information on this blog on the topic as I learn.

The PCUSA Web site has a good article on resources for building a Web site:
How to create a Web site for your congregation

Time to extend the family boundary lines

Family gets special attention from me and a nearly unconditional pledge of support of one sort or another. (No, sorry. I'm not talking about blank checks here. I'm talking about support in the healthy sense.)

I love them and most of the time I like them, even if they're smarter, more talented, prettier or win Tripoli and all the cash.

Even better than warm feelings, I'm committed to my family -- to doing supportive and kind things, as much as I am prayerfully able.

I'm not unique. Many people have strong feelings of affection and commitment toward family members.

Over the years, I've been surprised how my definition of family has changed.
For me, family was mostly my husband and children. We didn't live close to other family members, so our tight nuclear family group was it for many years. Extended family members in the West were penciled into a busy calendar, as travel and schedules allowed.

Although some of our children's friends felt like family -- I loved…

For faith and courage to move forward

Graduates are knocking on doors and looking for opportunities. Graduates are ready to try their talents in the marketplaces in new ways. Summer jobs, internships, entry-level positions -- whatever is open to them.

It takes courage and faith for graduates to knock on doors and ask about needs and opportunities that may be a good fit for their talents and ambitions.

It takes courage to walk away from one poor fitting need and faith to keep looking for a better fitting place to serve with a whole heart.

It takes courage for employers to take a chance on an unproven prospect and faith to believe that an investment in an employee will prove wise in the long view.

Lord, in these media-hyped economic times, give each graduate and employer courage to do what is right.

Let faith, not fear, guide choices.

Let hope, not pessimistic imaginings, fill spirits.

Let sound thoughts and integrity, guide actions.

In all that is said or decided, let kindness prevail.

Congratulations! Twenty-five years of dazzle and flare

It's hard to believe that it was twenty-five years ago when our young family moved from Kentucky to Maryland when David accepted a job with IBM. So much has changed since then.

Even the name of David's employer changed when IBM sold an entire group -- employee roster, computers, chairs, desks, pens and trash cans. And then, a few years later, it happened again.

Those were turbulent years. But David handled them well. He demonstrated a knack for negotiating changes within the company as well as for riding the crests of a constantly changing technology scene.

Today, David's co-workers celebrated his twenty-fifth anniversary with Lockheed.

Congratulations, David.

You're amazing!

(Photo credit: Fireworks over San Diego Bay,

Inspirational Times writing opportunities

The Inspirational Times online newspaper is looking for volunteer writers, church reporters and guest columnists.

If you're interested in a new Christian market for your messages or have church news you want to share, you may want to look at Inspirational Times.

Relevant Links

Inspirational Times

Write! Write! Write!

". . . find a niche of time to write anyway, away from despairing drafts or busy whirlwinds, and preserve that flickering flame of desire to write."
What's one of the best things you can do if you're a writer?
Write! Just do it.
Drag out a journal, jot down ideas: snatches of conversation, odd facts, descriptions of people or places you see, struggles and feelings you're going through.

The best way to develop writing skills or keep them honed is to write.

Write! Write out what is on your mind and heart, ignore errors.
Do you have an internal editor that annoys you with criticisms of what you just wrote? I do.

Don't let your desire to write well keep you from writing. Don't worry about the exact words or spelling or grammar too much in a first draft. Just get the ideas out.

Make yourself tell that annoying editor in your head to wait. The editor can come back later and make corrections. That's when an internal editor's opinions are most helpful.

Keep the cr…

We build community when we share our lives

When I attended the Generation Change: Calling Your Students to Change Their World seminar, yesterday, I expected to learn about working with youth at our church. I did. I also came away with a challenge of what I needed to change in my own life.

Duffy Robbins, a professor of youth ministry at Eastern College and popular speaker, led the Generation Change seminar in Baltimore. The youth director and a handful of youth advisors and youth from our church attended. I teach Sunday School to Middle School students, so I wanted to go.

Although the message of change your world is a familiar one to this baby boomer Christian, the packaging and presentation of the message was distinctly today. Robbins used multimedia segments from popular movies, commercials, and other relevant film clips to punctuate and emphasize his talking points. Humor was liberally spread on each major and minor point.

In all, there were three sessions, lunch, breaks and time to chat with others or browse the book table. I …

"Last Lecture" becomes book

His message is wonderfully sad, funny, wise and memorable -- sometimes all at once.
Randy Pausch, the 47-year-old professor dying of cancer, inspired millions on the Internet who watched his "last lecture." In September 2007, Pausch talked about achieving childhood dreams and living life with integrity and joy. He spoke to a roomful of colleagues and students at Carnegie Mellon University. At the end, he revealed the messages were really intended for his three children, aged 7 and under, who he would not be able to help his wife raise.
Pausch has inspired millions with his message. His "last lecture" is now a book.
Shortly after Pausch gave his "last lecture," I watched a video of it on the Washington Post Web site. His message is wonderfully sad, funny, wise and memorable -- sometimes all at once.
Pausch's example inspires me to write messages -- important messages, loving messages, things-I-want-to-say-before-I-die messages to my children. Some of what…

On "Pearls Before Breakfast"

What would Washington commuters and visitors do when they heard a world-famous musician playing anonymously in a Metro station?In a recent article for the Washington Post, Gene Weingarten describes what happens when Joshua Bell, a renowned and gifted violinist, gives a concert in a Washington, D.C., metro station during a weekday morning rush hour.

Street musicians are not uncommon in a Metro station. But it isn't everyday that commuters hear the strains of some of the world's most beautiful music played on a Stradivarius by a famous musician.

Most of the more than 1000 commuters ignored the musician. Only a few commuters stopped to listen for a few minutes. Only one recognized Joshua Bell.
The author made several important points. Here is a sampling:Context matters. People don't always recognize people when they are encountered out of context. Priorities affect experiences. People are too busy and preoccupied to really see and hear brilliance and beauty around them. Gene Wei…

Grandparents need quality time together

I have another blog. You may enjoy reading a recent post to it.

Grandparents need quality time together

Freebies at a writer's conference

Apart from the great food, the great speakers and the stimulating company, one reason why I enjoy going to a writer's conference is to take home sample magazines and writer's guidelines. Occassionaly I've received a free book also.

Last October, organizers gave away free books at the Sandy Cove Writer's Conference I attended. In 25 words or less, we had to explain why we thought we should get a free book. I submitted my entry: "I live with more than 10,000 books and always have room for one more."

They didn't give me a free book.

I'd recommend the conference anyway. Just don't plan on taking home a complimentary book if you go.

Focus on obedience, not results

Yesterday's devotional in the Upper Room was a topic that hits close to home for me: focusing on obedience -- not results.

I sometimes forget what I thought I learned before on this subject. Yesterday was a good opportunity to remember anew.

The message was timely because the day before another politely worded rejection slip found its way into my mailbox. After getting a rejection slip, I sometimes need a reminder that God wants obedience, not results.

It can get discouraging when we work hard and do what's right and good and we don't see the results we expected. In the world, we are often measured on results. It's easy to fall into that way of thinking and take rejections personally. God doesn't measure us or our efforts in this way, the devotional writer reminds us. God desires our obedience.

This is true in writing and in other areas of life.

So what am I going to do about the rejected submission? I'm going to prayerfully research the market again and either resu…

On "Three Kids. You Showoffs"

In today’s Washington Post, Pamela Paul, author of Parents, Inc., writes about practical and economic challenges of having a third child in today’s economy. People are shocked at their "financial audactiy," Paul writes and continues: "Raising kids today costs a fortune. Last month, the Department of Agriculture estimated that each American child costs an average of $204,060 to house, clothe, educate and entertain until the age of 18."

Paul warns parents to be wary of marketing hype and suggests why.

As a parent of a large family by today's standard, Paul's article rings true.

I'm planning of taking a closer look at Paul's newly released book, Parenting, Inc. How We Are Sold on $800 Strollers, Fetal Education, Baby Sign Language, Sleeping Coaches, Toddler Couture, and Diaper Wipe Warmers -- and What It Means for Our Children.

You might want to check this out also.

To read the article, select: “Three Kids: You Showoffs"

On "The Changing Bookstore Battle"

Powell's bookstore in Portland; Photo Credits:; Public Domain.
The times they are 'a changing . . . Borders is for sale. Smaller independent bookstore owners are watching the trend. For years independent bookstores have faced fierce competition from large bookstore chains such as Borders that could offer larger selections and discounted pricing. As a result, many small independent bookstores have been forced to close their doors. Now, it seems, the big bookstores are finding it hard to stay afloat with competitors such as Costco and online marketplaces open 24/7 like, AbeBooks, and

Barbara Meade, a co-owner of Politics and Prose, an independent bookstore, commented on Border's dilemma in her store's newsletter. Meade is quoted in today's Washington Post, "Borders has announced a shift in business from selling books to selling the whole business."

This isn't surprising news. Change and economic competition are…

According to who's plan? Children are a gift of God

Our youngest son was conceived during a busy time in our lives. We had three children, aged 5 and under, who filled our house and our hearts, and we were mortgage poor. We had planned on having a fourth child sometime to round out our family, but we were so financially strapped, we didn't know when that might be. But God did.

After a pregnancy test confirmed the news, I visited a doctor's office. The nurse asked, "Was this a planned pregnancy?"

"Not exactly," I said.

"Would you like to schedule an abortion?" she asked.

"W- W- why?" I stammered out.

"You already have three children," she said matter-of-factly.

We switched to another obstetrician, and months later, Matthew, our gift from God, was born.

Raising four children has meant a busy household and juggling finances. But we've cherished our children. Each one is a gift from God, planned or not.

That doesn't mean it has been easy. It hasn't. But the challenges have stretc…

Just for the record

I'm in the camp that believes "Abortion is not a family value."

On "Democrats, Republicans and Abortion"

In the Washington Post, Mark Stricherz and Amy Sullivan have an interesting dialogue on the abortion positions of Senators BarackObama, Hillary Clinton, and John McCain.

For many Republicans and Democrats abortion is a defining issue when it comes to pressing an election touch screen for a presidential candidate. This discussion examines why some Democratic voters are conflicted, or not, on the faith-based implications of the Democratic Party's pro-choice position.

In summary of the perspectives:

Mark Stricherz* writes that abortion positions held by Democratic party leaders, particularly the presidential candidate groups, are contradictory to stated goals of protecting and supporting the common man and children when they ignore the rights of the weakest citizens. Amy Sullivan** defends why some pro-life voters support pro-choice presidential candidates because of their positions on other issues. * Mark Stricherz is a contributor to and author of Why the Democrats…

On negotiating a Generation NeXt marriage

Based on reviews and recommendations, Generation NeXt Marriage: The Couple's Guide to Keeping It Together by Tricia Goyer, published in January 2008, sounds like a relevant resource for today's busy young parents. Check it out.
According to write-ups, "Tricia offers practical advice for negotiating kids, work, sex, money and dirty laundry ... [sometimes all] in a single day."
For more information, see

Finding reasons to eat only a few cookies

Photo Credits: www.pdphoto.comCopyright: Public Domain

Staying motivated was always the most difficult part of dieting whenever I’ve joined Weight Watchers. Eventually, my well-intentioned efforts would slow down and whatever motivated me to start the program wasn’t able to keep me motivated to persist.

After years of yo-yo dieting, I’ve realize I need to work at identifying what motivates me to eat sensibly.

At least, I’ve learned what doesn’t motivate me.

Friends try to encourage dieting by saying, “You’ll live longer.” Sorry. That image never motivated me. Why would I want to be a freckle-faced, crooked and creaky, grey-haired octogenarian who races around in a track suit and sneakers some day? I’m not that brave, not yet.

Other friends say, “You’ll feel better.” Hmm. Yes, that might motivate me except, ya’ know, for years I wanted something yummy after a long commute and a busy day. Sipping on a chocolate frosty from Wendy’s or munching cookies was so what I wanted.

Then there are those…