Monday, November 19, 2012

Thanksgiving 16, 17, 18, 19

I'm doing four thanksgivings today, because I got behind on Friday. My reason for for that will be first.

Thanksgiving # 16: School

In 2010, I went back to school after a 28 year hiatus. I knew it would be hard, and it is. For the most part, I'm enjoying all of it, and last spring, I managed to get on the Dean's List - by a tiny fraction of a point. Whew. But it adds an extra layer of pressure trying to stay on it. Last week, I had my first "debate" - there were 13 of us on our team, and when no one volunteered, I became the leader, which meant I had to coordinate the written posts and research of all 13 team members. Last week, I also had to respond, twice, to the other team's debate - which also required research. Last week, I had a Greek word study paper, and a Greek final exam. So I'm thankful today that I lived through all of that to share it with you.

Thanksgiving # 17: Books You would think that, of course, a publisher would be thankful for books, but it goes so much deeper than that. With all my school work and all my publishing duties, I had books stacked all around me last week - Bibles, commentaries, textbooks, dictionaries, lexicons, and more. And I realized how much my personal library had grown since school started, and I'm grateful. I actually told one of my classmates I looked forward to a time of being out of school so I could read some of my textbooks for fun. I wasn't kidding!

And I'm thankful for our newest book that just released this weekend! Prophecies Fulfilled in the Birth of Jesus by Dianne E. Butts is  now available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and still on sale in our GOGO promotion!

Thanksgiving # 18: God, Who Provides

This morning, I learned that someone I know - a relative of a loved one, so I consider her family, too - became homeless TODAY. She is a young single mom of two little ones, and although life has been hard on her, she has worked steadily and just recently passed a nursing exam and taken on a new job. She made a mistake by trusting someone who promised her and her children a safe place to live - only to learn she'd been lied to. She didn't know how bad until she tried to fix things, only to learn they were beyond her means to fix. Thankfully, our mutual loved one is able to take them into their home for a few weeks, but what an uphill climb this young lady has. I'm thankful God knows her needs, He sees the situation. And I'm praying some special blessings her way in the coming weeks. Will you please join me?

Thanksgiving # 19: Dreams

I'm thankful for dreams today. Not necessarily dreams that I have in the middle of the night (which happened to be a nightmare that caused me to wake up crying!) but the dreams that fuel us toward goals. I posted this on Facebook this morning:

"Have you ever dreamed a dream so BIG that you knew only God could make it come to pass? A dream so far-fetched and yet so practical you wished you'd thought of it yourself, but knew your faith wasn't big enough to dream that big? A dream that would help others in such a mighty and beautiful way? Tim and I discussed a dream like that this weekend, and tossed about all the "what ifs." We discovered we were on the same page, even though neither of us had verbalized these ideas before. So now the praying begins. Would you please join us - praying that God will make this dream a reality? To God be the Glory, great things He has done!!"

I'm thankful for these kinds of dreams!

Do you have any God-sized dreams you can share with us? 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thanksgiving # 15: Food

As I write this post, my wonderful husband is cooking breakfast for us. The smell of bacon cooking is one of my most favorite food smells!

Thanksgiving # 15: Food

I admit it. I'm a foodie. I love eating and I love cooking. I love trying new recipes and new flavors. I've even loved to tolerate rosemary, although my mother will find that hard to believe. (I can identify it in almost any concoction, and I really hate the smell of it, but I've learned to live with the taste.)

A dear friend asked me last night what my favorite food was, and I quickly answered spaghetti and hamburgers. Homemade spaghetti is my comfort food like meatloaf is for others, and in case you haven't heard, I make THE BEST! I think it's the versatility of hamburgers that makes them one of my favorite - I can dress them up or down, can get them almost anywhere, and the flavor is almost always different from one location to another.

We cook regularly in our house - daily, actually. We don't eat out much. A few years ago, we were eating out quite a bit, and realized that the food we ate out wasn't as good as what we cooked at home. So now, rather than going out expecting a great meal, when we go, we look for service and for atmosphere. (I could move into Bahama Breeze any time!)

But my Thanksgiving post isn't just about the good food - but also, and especially, gratitude for the food we do have to eat. Having food is not something we take for granted. We've had bare pantries and empty refrigerators at times, and so have loved ones. Unfortunately, a time or two, when my kids were growing up, we weren't sure where our next meal was coming from. But each and every time, God provided.

As we plan our holiday meals this year, think of those who may not have much or any food. Think of those who live from meal to meal, not knowing when they'll next have food available. Pick up a gift card at your local grocery store and give it to someone who might use a little extra help. If you can, help out your local food bank or homeless shelter. This time of year, there's more need than there are resources and every little bit helps.

We also want to offer a huge Thanksgiving prayer for the people who grow our food, prepare our food, package, ship, and sell food. The eating is the easy part!

What's your favorite food this time of year? Or anytime? 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Thanksgiving # 14: God's Touch

I could write on this particular Thanksgiving every single day. Condensing it to one post, I pray each of you will pause a moment and reflect upon these times in your own life.

Thanksgiving # 14: God's Touch

Heavy machinery has been used for the past two weeks to tear down trees, clear brush, and otherwise make the lot across from ours ugly and bare. The noise and vibrations have been horrendous but not really something I identified as a stressful source until yesterday afternoon. Suddenly, at 3:30 p.m., there was total silence. No machinery, no furnace running, no phones ringing, no horns honking, no kids screaming, no dogs barking, no TVs blaring - not even the hum of the refrigerator. Total silence. I sat at my desk, rather dumbfounded for a second, and realized the silence was a gift from God. Seriously. I opened my Bible, and my eyes fell upon Psalm 146. Here is part of it:

Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord, O my soul!
I will praise the Lord while I live;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
How blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
Whose hope is in the Lord his God,
Who made heaven and earth,
The sea and all that is in them;
Who keeps faith forever;
Who executes justice for the oppressed;
Who gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets the prisoners free.
The Lord will reign forever,
Your God, O Zion, to all generations.
Praise the Lord!

The silence lasted long enough for me to meditate on those words a few minutes, praising the Lord. It was like a touch of God's hand in the midst of ordinary life.

Then, last night, at midnight, I finally took my second breath of the day. I'd been covered up with work and school assignments, e-mails, family stuff, and I hadn't slowed down all day, except for those brief moments with Psalm 146. As I took a third breath, I remembered I had missed a live class earlier that evening. These particular live classes are always optional, but I never miss them - the professor is one of the most Godly men I've ever known, and his love of the Lord, his love of Scripture just makes me want to sit in his class 24/7 to hear him teach. Thankfully, he records all of his classes, so Tim and I were able to tune in at midnight for a wonderful end to our day.

In the midst of the class, Dr. N mentioned a Bible verse and a particular word. That word is the topic of my paper for his class, so my ears perked up. He then began to talk about the Greek translation of that word, and in my other class - Biblical Languages - I have a paper due this week - a Greek word study. I have to choose one word and delve into its meaning. I had been undecided about a word, but as soon as Dr. N mentioned this word, I knew that was it. I could research both papers at the same time, possibly using some of the same sources.

Once again, I felt God's touch on my life.

Some may shrug their shoulders at that, but I'll tell you why I don't. God created this whole big universe we live in. He made "heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them" - and yet - and YET - He cares enough, loves ME enough - to care about my day, care about my school work. He loves ALL OF US so much, that He even knows the number of hairs on each and every head (or how many hairs you DON'T have, if you're bald.)

Just imagine that. He loves YOU that much. He loves YOU AND ME enough to send His Son to die on a cross, so that YOU AND I might spend forever with Him in Heaven. He didn't have to. But He did. Because He loves us that much.

Where have you seen His touch in your life TODAY? 

Praise the Lord, o my soul! Praise the Lord!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Thanksgiving 13

Thanksgiving # 13: Music

I developed a love of music at an early age, despite my parents' attempts to make me hate it with twangy old-fashioned country music! I eventually grew to love some country music, along with most other kinds, but I still don't like that twangy stuffy (or rap music either.) Here's a list, with a few links, to some of my favorite songs over the years, if you'd care to give a listen.

PreTeen and TeenYears:

In the Garden - of course, Elvis' version isn't quite the same as Nanny's version on our upright piano, but the song is a favorite whoever sings it. Yes, even in my teens.

Barry Manilow - yes, I am a huge Manilow fan. His songs resonated with my heart like no other. I went to YouTube to pick out a song, typed in Barry Manilow, and the first four songs are all my favorite. :-) Mandy, I Write the Songs, Even Now, Weekend in New England, and then a little further down, Looks Like We Made It. I sing all those songs still today.

Beach Boys and John Denver - deeply ingrained into who I am. Love their music.

Young Adult Years

Vivaldi - moving out on my own, I decided my music needed to grow up too. I discovered many classical musicians that I love, Vivaldi is my favorite.

Adult Years

Country Music - too many mid-80s to mid-90s country music choices to list, but I spent a lot of time on the country stations during those years. The beginning of Garth Brooks career, met John Michael Montgomery when he was still touring small towns, Vince Gill. Still not into the twang, but I came to appreciate more of the older country music too.

The last few years, it's been rather difficult for me to listen to any music at all. Oh, I still enjoy it immensely, but I'm so busy with other things that I don't have time to listen like I used too. And with so much other stuff going on, I've become extremely sensitive to noise, so even music has to be eliminated at times.

Christian music

Huge fan of many kinds of Christian music and that's what I mostly listen to now, although I still like some country (Josh Turner, especially. :-) ) and classical music is still played often.

As with all the other music, my tastes in Christian music vary, from the old hymns - love those - to a lot of the contemporary to some of the Southern Gospel (again, not the twangy stuff.) Matt Redman, Laura Storey, Ron Kenoly, Larnelle Harris, Sandi Patty, Babbie Mason, Andy Griffith, The Dixie Echoes, and so many others.

So thankful for music - the individual sounds of each instrument and the incredible talents of all the musicians. Thank you for making beautiful music for the world to enjoy!

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations. Psalm 100: 1-5 ESV

Monday, November 12, 2012

Thanksgiving 10, 11, 12

I love to travel, although I haven't done so much in the past few years. Here are a few of my favorite places. I'm thankful for the opportunity to have visited each one, and hope to one day return. 

Thanksgiving # 10: Venice, Italy

Thanksgiving # 11: Paris, France

Thanksgiving # 12: Philadelphia, PA

Yes, I know it seems weird to list Philly in with the other two, but this city captured my heart. I love the history of it, and the ability to just hang out on the streets. And, a Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich just isn't the same anywhere else in the world. 

Do you like to travel? What are some of your favorite places?

Friday, November 9, 2012

Thanksgiving # 9

This year has been especially sweet for me, because of the subject of this post.

Thanksgiving # 9: FRIENDS

I won't point out who's who in our group photo above, but yes, friends this year have stuck by me through thick and thin. We've laughed together, cried together, pulled out our hair together, and most importantly, prayed together and for one another.

Facebook has allowed me the opportunity to meet new people who have become near and dear to my heart. It has also allowed me to connect with friends from my childhood, and be part of their lives now. I love that. (It's also fascinating to watch my old life connect with my new life through comments and prayers too - when it first started happening, it sort of stripped my mental gears, but now, it just makes me happy to see friends from different lives connect.)

Facebook has also given me a connection to a group called The Treasured Woman Network. This group of prayer warriors has been a huge support to me this year, and I appreciate each and every one.

School has given me the opportunity to meet people all over the world with similar educational goals. And a couple of classmates have become near and dear friends ~ ladies who enrich my life on a daily basis with their humor, intelligence, and determination. (And a shared cup of virtual coffee most mornings!)

Work has given me a special connection with our authors. Getting to know each one, learning personalities, dreams, work ethic, goals is awesome, but it's getting to know their hearts that is so special to me. Our authors are loving, kind, generous, fun, passionate, and each one has a vision that expands my own. I'm honored to know each one of them not only as one of our authors, but also as my friend.

I've already shared Thanksgiving posts about my best friend - my husband - and about my kids - but there's one immediate family member I haven't mentioned yet. And she fits into this Friend post very nicely.

I got Abby from the pound when she was 11 months old, and she's now 11.5 years old. Some days, she still acts and plays like a puppy - other days are a bit harder and she's finding it more difficult to get around. But she remains loyal and sweet and stubborn - when she wants me to quit work and sit with her on the sofa, just for a rest, she won't take no for an answer.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Thanksgiving # 8

In 2007, I developed this unquenchable desire to know the Bible. I began daily in-depth Bible studies, and by 2009, I wanted to know even more. In 2010, I entered college after a 28-year hiatus. I'm now a junior, and graduation is only 18 months away - or after this semester, only 4 semesters away! (Yes, I'll be doing summer school.) I'm majoring in Biblical and Theological Studies, and I'm loving my classes, for the most part anyway. Some sessions the workload is pretty heavy, and with all my publishing duties, I can get overwhelmed. But it's definitely worth it!

Thanksgiving # 8: The Bible

Do you realize just how rich Scripture really is? I'm currently taking Biblical Languages - an introductory course for Greek and Hebrew. Each week, we do a comprehensive word study, delving into the meanings of the original Greek words used in the New Testament and original Hebrew words used in the Old Testament.  These word studies cause us to slow down - read the text and absorb the context about what each writer was saying.

At the same time, we're prepping Prophecies Fulfilled in the Birth of Jesus by Dianne E. Butts to be released next week. This book explores all of the prophecies surrounding Jesus' birth. Dianne writes in a conversational tone that brings Scripture to life, and makes it easy to understand even for new readers of the Bible. As I edited the book, I found myself in awe once more about God's beautiful plan for His creation. I'm so thankful He's in control, and I'm so grateful for the Word He has given us, to help us know Him better.

I am also extremely grateful that we live in a country where I am free to own and read my Bible any time, anywhere, and that I can own however many translations of the Bible I care to own. I'm thankful I can write about my faith openly, and share the Bible with you.

The verses we're focusing on in my Biblical Languages class this week are:

"Therefore, I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith." Romans 12:1-3 NASB

Do you have a favorite Bible verse? Share it with us in the comments.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Thanksgiving # 7

The more things I think of to give thanks for, the more I want to make a list of 30 things each day for the rest of the month, and yet I realize that even that wouldn't encompass all of my gratitude.

A developer is clearing two acres in front of the three acres where we live. This area had been heavily wooded, and now, it's very bare. Distressing and depressing.

So today's post is written with that in mind.

Thanksgiving # 7: I'm thankful for my love of nature and the camera to capture what soon changes. 

Before the Developer 

After the Developer, but even before he finishes.
Chainsaws are buzzing as I type.

Thankful the developer can't get this one.
The leaves are bright red today, but they'll soon blow off.

Thankful for this critter and for the opportunity
several years ago to take his cute picture!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Wives of Porn Addicts: Healing Your Wounded Heart

Several years ago, I met writer Vicki Tiede and we soon became BFFs. As best friends do, we shared our stories, and one of Vicki's stories was that pornography had destroyed her first marriage. At the time we met, she knew God was calling her to write that story, but she wasn't quite sure what the story would look like. Would the story be best told in novel format? Would fiction allow her to share the story and perhaps touch readers through that avenue? Or would nonfiction be a better route?

Vicki struggled. This isn't an easy story to tell. But God called her to it, and she was obedient. Vicki knows, more than most, that God can and will use the pain she and her family endured to help others who are struggling with the same thing. She formed a focus group of 25 women who've dealt with pornography in their own marriages, and over a period of two years, she interviewed, researched, and wrote not only her story, but their stories as well. This year, the fruit of her labor was finally published: When Your Husband is Addicted to Pornography: Healing Your Wounded Heart hit bookshelves in October.

Last week, Vicki was on the radio, taking calls from listeners. I tuned in, and soon found myself crying over each one. Women are hurting, and this problem - pornography in marriage - is more common than any of us realize or want to admit. Women need to know they're not alone in this struggle, and they need to know there are people who care, other women who have walked this road before. The next day, Vicki was on Faith Radio, talking to Susie Larson, and taking more calls. Today (Tuesday), Vicki is on the Christian Television Network, with Herman and Sharron Bailey in Clearwater/Tampa, FL.

This story - this book - is resonating with wives who've not had anyone to share their stories with before now. Today, I'll share one of Vicki's videos that provides a snippet of her story. In the next couple of weeks, we'll share another video, and more of her story. She'll also be sharing with us WHY this issue must be talked about - we've all been a little surprised at some of the reaction from well-meaning Christians who think this isn't a topic for Christians to even discuss. So Vicki is going to address that in a future blog post.

Vicki is on blog tour all month long. I've included some of the links below, but also keep an eye on my Facebook page where we'll link other blogs as they post.

Win a Copy of the Book!

Leave a relevant comment or a question for Vicki in the comments for a chance to win a copy of When Your Husband is Addicted to Pornography: Healing Your Wounded Heart. We'll announce the winner on Friday.

Links to Buy When Your Husband is Addicted to Pornography: Healing Your Wounded Heart:

NGP (Paperback version guaranteed in stock)

Days of Thanksgiving 6

Thanksgiving # 6: The Right to Vote

I'm so grateful to have grown up in the United States of America. When I was in grade school - City School - we gathered every day in the auditorium, where we sang songs, prayed, and said the Pledge of Allegiance. I was sad when my kids started school and they no longer did these things.

I remember opening a geography book for the very first time in Mrs. Weaver's 4th grade class and learning how big this country was - I wanted to see every inch of it (and I'm still trying to meet that goal!) That geography book brought New England to life in such a way that I remember the words and pictures still today. I also developed a love of maps in that class!

In middle school, our social studies class, under the direction of Mrs. Davis, divided into two groups where we debated Ford or Carter, and then, for the very first time, we had an "election" and our school obtained REAL voting machines to show us how the process worked.

On the very day I turned 18, I located the election board in my new town, and I registered to vote. Ronald Reagan had been sworn into office just 8 months earlier, so it was a while before I could vote for the Presidency, but I couldn't wait to get registered! And every election since, I've been thankful we have the freedom to vote, and consider it one of our biggest responsibilities as American citizens, and as Christians.

I'm thankful for every man and woman who puts their life on the line to protect this country. Military, law enforcement, volunteers - we're grateful to you and your families for the sacrifices you make for all of us.

If you haven't voted yet, GO VOTE. If you've voted already, THANK YOU. If you've voted more than once, TURN YOURSELF IN - it's illegal.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Days of Thanksgiving 3, 4, 5

Continuing my days of Thanksgiving. Since I don't blog on the weekends, Mondays will have three days.

Thanksgiving # 3: Zach and Jessica.

Thanksgiving # 4: Jonathan.

Thanksgiving #5: Tulips.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Thanksgiving 1 & 2

I just realized today is the 2nd day of November, and I had planned to do something this year, starting on the first.

Then I forgot.

Then, today, my head just suddenly feels like it's going to explode from information overload. As I was praying about dealing with everything, a particular song floated into my head, and I began to relax as I listened to the words:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the Light of His Glory and Grace.


So I pondered ways to keep my eyes turned upon Him, and I remembered what I'd planned to do. During the next month or so, I'm going to post things I'm thankful for on my blog. They won't be in any certain order, just random. But as I write, I'm thanking God for each and every one, keeping my eyes focused on Him during this busy season.

Since I forgot yesterday, I'm going to post two today.

Thanksgiving # 1:

Tim. I'm so thankful for my husband. We love each other unconditionally, and we have such fun together. Every night before we close our eyes, one of us says something funny, and we fall asleep in each others arms, laughing.

I'm thankful for him for many, many reasons, but one in particular in this season of our lives. Going to school full-time and running two publishing companies leaves me little time for anything else. When I started back to school, Tim took over the household duties. He makes me breakfast every morning, does the dishes and laundry, and even bakes me a pie or homemade bread or biscuits on occasion. He does it out of love, and with a cheerful heart - I hear him right this very moment whistling and singing as he loads the dishwasher. (Of course, later, he'll deny making any noise - that's a running joke around here. He likes making sounds.)

I'm so thankful for him - he makes me smile.

Thanksgiving # 2:

Second chances. Or rather Hundred chances. I'm so thankful God gives us all more opportunities to get life right. Or at least better than we made it previously. Even with our mistakes and failures, God LOVES us and wants His best for us - even when we can't see it for ourselves.

We serve an amazing, wonderful, beautiful, creative, miraculous God - and I'm so thankful He knows me and loves me and saves me.

I'll post again on Monday.

What are YOU thankful for this year?

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