Isaiah 6:8

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Hodgepodge Thankfulness

Welcome to this pre-Thanksgiving Hodgepodge. I'm thankful for everyone who participates on Wednesdays, for all of you here today who keep this mid-week hop a fun and friendly corner of the Internet. If you've answered the questions today, add your link at the end of Joyce's post. Be sure to visit the person who linked before you, because that's part of what keeps this train chugging along. Happy Thanksgiving!

 1.What's something you wish you knew how to do, but feel like it's too late to learn?  I have a few:  Ballroom dancing, playing Last Date on the piano like Floyd Cramer, paint.
2. Your least favorite thing to shop for? Why?  I have to agree with Joyce on this one and say, Bathing suits. Will all women answer the same way? Why are they so weirdly sized? Why do all women know you need to buy a size larger than your normal size? Why are they so teeny tiny? Why didn't I exercise more in my 30's?  My bathing suit is probably 15 years old....that is how much I hate the humiliation of buying one.
3. How has the celebration of Thanksgiving today changed from when you were growing up?
One thing I like about Thanksgiving is the way it doesn't change a whole lot from year to year no matter who you celebrate with. The menu  changes a little, there are people who are no longer with us, but the day is still spent happily in the kitchen preparing a comfort food feast. As pastors we have celebrated in a number of homes and the traditions are pretty much the same.  We watch the Macy's Day Parade, eat, watch football with family and friends.  We do NOT shop on Thanksgiving Day, we settle in....and all is right with the world.

 4. What's something that when other people see it, reminds them of you? Explain.
Lighthouses, Beach and music themed things.  Everyone knows how much I love the beach, lighthouses, and music.  I have recently started photographing old barns and churches and my students have started finding them for me.  It is so funny, they will bring me in directions to a special barn or church and expect to see a photograph soon.
5. If you could guest star in a TV show, what would it be and why?
Any cooking show, I think it would be fun to fill in as a guest judge. 
6. Have you ever farmed or spent any time on a farm? Are there farm stands in your little corner of the world and do you make it a point to shop there? If so, what item do you particularly like to buy from a roadside stand or farm shop?
I worked for an orange grove when I was in high school one summer.  My dad grew up on a cotton farm in Alabama and was a share cropper. I grew up in South Florida and my dad had container gardens and fruit trees in our back yard.  I live in the middle of a pasture now.  The owner plants a community garden each summer and raises cattle.  I am not a farmer by nature. I love to buy squash, strawberries, blueberries, cantaloupe, tomatoes, and beans from the Farmer's Market here in Randolph County.

7. What's something you've experienced recently that made you feel a sense of awe or wonder?  Sunset at the beach always fills me with awe.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.  What is your favorite Thanksgiving song?  I love the song, "Thank you Lord for your blessings on me."

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Thanksgiving Thoughts

It is that time of year again.  That time when hurts, losses, bitterness seem to swallow up our ability to be thankful.  Holidays are tough.  That is especially true if your loved ones won't be with you on that day, if you have no loved ones, or if you have lost a loved one. My father has been gone since 2009, my aunt since 2010, and my mother since 2012.  They made our Thanksgiving celebration special.  Thanksgiving was "their" holiday.  They would do this meal and then we would do Christmas.  They made the holiday.  I looked so forward to being at my Aunt Shirley's on that special day and celebrating with both my moms and my sisters.  After their deaths we tried to establish new traditions....but it is hard.  We all have children, they have children,  they have other families and so the annual Thanksgiving gathering has temporarily fallen by the wayside.  This year, instead of being sad about not being with my family, I decided that family does not have to be is just people you enjoy spending special times with and my Thanksgiving has been amazing thus far.  We had an awesome time at the Anglin farm last Saturday for a delicious lunch with my sister-in-heart and her family.  Then we had a Porch People(my family-in-heart) celebration at the farm house and there was so much food and love just filling the whole place.  It was so fun to sit and listen to stories about the family, love on babies, eat too much, and just be at peace.  Thanksgiving is a heart thing and Saturday was definitely heart full.  Thanksgiving Day I plan to be watching the Macy's Day parade....a tradition I always did with my daughter, and then we will be sitting down with Beth and her family for lunch.  There will be a bit of sadness there because Beth's husband Ron, won't be with us....but love will be present.  At 4 we will be celebrating with our Porch People family at Sherry's.  Steaks and the fixings will be the meal of choice here.  No, Frank and I don't have blood family nearby....but we are blessed with a large adopted family-in-heart.  For that.....we are extremely thankful.  God certainly knew what he was doing when he planted us in Rock Mills.  I am encouraging you to do something out of your comfort zone.  If you know of someone who will be alone on Thursday invite them in....make their day a glorious one.  Thanksgiving Day is vital to our well-being. It focuses us.  It reminds us that despite outward appearances sometimes to the contrary, each one of us is blessed   It strengthens and sometimes mends relationships.  It lightens our heart just a bit.  It distracts us with the comfort of food and fellowship.  But, the most important thing that I look forward to at Thanksgiving is that it prepares our heart posture for Advent/Christmas season and that makes me smile.  I wish you all a glorious Thanksgiving holiday.  God Bless You All.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A Thankful Hodge Podge

Here we go, this week's Wednesday Hodgepodge. Answer on your own blog, then hop back over to Joyce's blog to share answers with your friends and neighbors. See you there! Be sure to read and respond to someone else's comments.  You can really learn a lot that way.
1. What's surprised you most about your life, or about life in general?  When after 25 years of teaching in one place....instead of retiring....I moved to a different system and started over.  This was one of the best career decision I have ever made.
2. Among others, these ten words were added to the Oxford English Dictionary this year...awesomesauce, beer o'clock, brain fart, buttdial, cat cafe (apparently this is a real thing), fatberg (gross-read the definition here), fat shame, hangry, Mx (gender neutral), and skippable. 
Your thoughts? In looking over the list, which word do you find most ridiculous? Which word would you never in a million years say out loud? Which word would you be most likely to use in conversation? Personally I would use very few of them in a conversation.  I do like awesomesauce and have used it several times in conversations.  I think they are all pretty ridiculous.3. Do you like gravy? Is there a food you'd rather not eat unless it comes with gravy? Do you make your own or buy the canned or store-made variety? Turkey and gravy, sausage gravy, mashed potatoes and gravy, country ham and red eye gravy, biscuits and chocolate gravy, pot roast and gravy...which one on the list is your favorite?  I can take or leave gravy.  I do like it sometimes.  I like sausage gravy once in a while.  My mom used to make tomato gravy with biscuits and I loved that.  Creamed chipped beef I love.  I have never had chocolate gravy but have heard a lot about it lately and think I will have to check it out.  I mean....who doesn't like chocolate.  I love pot roast but prefer au jus.4. Do you have a plan? Do you need a plan? Have you ever had a plan fall into a trillion pieces? Explain.  I always have a plan.  I am not a fly by the seat of my pants kind of person.  I need a plan...especially as a teacher,  I have had numerous plans fall into a trillion pieces.  It never fails.  I remember my greatest lesson plan ever fell to the wayside on 9/11.  I spent all day teaching history in a Spanish class because the kids needed to talk about it....and so did I.
5. November 19 is National Play Monopoly Day. Do you own the original or some version of the game? Do you enjoy playing Monopoly? How likely is it you'll play a game of Monopoly on November 19th? Ever been to Atlantic City? Ever taken a ride on a railroad? Is parking in your town free? Last thing you took a chance on?  I own Monopoly.  It is one of Frank's favorite board games.  I do not like playing it.  I always lose.  I have been to Atlantic City and walked on the Boardwalk and saw all the roads named after Monopoly places.  I have taken many rides on railroads.  I have even been on a train that was about exciting.  Parking in my town is free.  There used to be parking meters, but no more.  I took a chance on a rifle and quilt for one of the local schools....oh and two Talladega tickets.  I did not win any of them.6. A song you like that has the word (or some form of the word) thanks in the title, lyrics, or meaning?  Thank You by Ray Boltz
I sang it at the funeral of a friends young son and have never sung it again. 
Thank You - Ray Boltz
I dreamed I went to heaven
And you were there with me;
We walked upon the streets of gold
Beside the crystal sea.
We heard the angels singing
Then someone called your name.
We turned and saw a young man running
And he was smiling as he came.
And he said, "Friend you may not know me now."
And then he said, "But wait,
You used to teach my Sunday School
When I was only eight.
And every week you would say a prayer
Before the class would start.
And one day when you said that prayer,
I asked Jesus in my heart."
Thank you for giving to the Lord.
I am a life that was changed.
Thank you for giving to the Lord.
I am so glad you gave.
Then another man stood before you
And said, "Remember the time
A missionary came to your church
And his pictures made you cry.
You didn't have much money,
But you gave it anyway.
Jesus took the gift you gave
And that's why I'm here today."
Thank you for giving to the Lord.
I am a life that was changed.
Thank you for giving to the Lord.
I am so glad you gave.
One by one they came
Far as the eye could see.
Each life somehow touched
By your generosity.
Little things that you had done,
Sacrifices made,
Unnoticed on the earth
In heaven, now proclaimed.
And I know up in heaven
You're not supposed to cry
But I am almost sure
There were tears in your eyes.
As Jesus took your hand
And you stood before the Lord.
He said, "My child, look around you.
Great is your reward."
Thank you for giving to the Lord.
I am a life that was changed.
Thank you for giving to the Lord.
I am so glad you gave.
Thank you for giving to the Lord.
I am a life that was changed.
Thank you for giving to the Lord.
I am so glad you gave.

 7. In keeping with this month's theme of gratitude....what is something you're taking for granted that when you stop and think about it, you're grateful for?  Life
8. Insert your own random thought here.  Bad decisions make good stories.   Have you ever made a bad decision and had a good story to go with it?  Trying to save my first marriage I did something my ex loved....we went to Biloxi.  I was on crutches with a fractured ankle.  I am not a gambler by I spent my 20.00 on slots and then found a couch near the front door and was reading a book I was doing a review on.  I looked up as the doors parted and four of my parent's deacon's entered.  There was a deer in the headlights look on both parts.  Then I found it rather amusing.  My parents knew where I was.  They were staunch Baptists and did not believe in gambling....but had approved this attempt to save my marriage.  This was their deacons.....four of them.  They were as nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs.   The head deacon asked me to please not say anything to my dad about this. I never said a word about it to my dad.....but I still laugh about it when I think back on that day. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Golden Braid

About The Book: The Golden Braid (Thomas Nelson, November 2015)
The one who needs rescuing isn't always the one in the tower...Rapunzel can throw a knife better than any man. She paints beautiful flowering vines on the walls of her plaster houses. She sings so sweetly she can coax even a beast to sleep. But there are two things she is afraid her mother might never allow her to do: learn to read and marry.Fiercely devoted to Rapunzel, her mother is suspicious of every man who so much as looks at her daughter and warns her that no man can be trusted. After a young village farmer asks for Rapunzel's hand in marriage, Mother decides to move them once again---this time, to the large city of Hagenheim. The journey proves treacherous, and after being rescued by a knight---Sir Gerek---Rapunzel, in turn, rescues him farther down the road. As a result, Sir Gerek agrees to repay his debt to Rapunzel by teaching her to read. Could there be more to him than his arrogance and desire to marry for riches and position? As Rapunzel acclimates to life in a new city, she uncovers a mystery that will forever change her life. In this Rapunzel story unlike any other, a world of secrets and treachery are about to be revealed after seventeen years. How will Rapunzel finally take control of her own destiny? And who will prove faithful to a lowly peasant girl with no one to turn to?  Purchase a copy:
About The Author:

Melanie Dickerson is the author of The Healer's Apprentice, a Christy Award finalist and winner of the National Reader's Choice Award for Best First Book. Melanie earned a bachelor's degree in special education from the University of Alabama and has been a teacher and a missionary. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Huntsville, Alabama.

Connect with Melanie:
website, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube

My Thoughts On The Book:  The Golden Braid by Melanie Dickerson was AWESOME! Once I began reading it I could not put it down.  Rapunzel was my favorite story as a child.  This book was a new look on an old tale and a must read.   Dickerson's character,  Rapunzel, is not left alone in a tower but is moved from place to place by her mother.  The mother does not have a healthy outlook on men, relationships, or love which colors Rapunzel's view.....that is until the day Sir Gerek comes on the scene.   I loved the way God was woven into the story.  If you enjoy Fairy Tales with a Christian twist than this is the book for you.  I cannot wait to read Dickerson's next book.  Loved it!
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this e-book free from Litfuse and Thomas Nelson as part of their Blogging Review program.   I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!  

Christmas At The Vicarage


About The Book:  It’s been fifteen years since Rosamunde last lived at the vicarage in Potter’s Cove, the pretty coastal village where she grew up, experienced her first true love—and a heartbreak that changed her life forever. But now Potter’s Cove is calling her back: it’s time to make peace with the past and go home.  Rosamunde’s return to the vicarage in the days before Christmas is a whirlwind of festive cheer and heartwarming reunions with friends, family and her loving father, the vicar. And while seeing the old place after all this time stirs painful memories of long-ago grief, it also reminds her of all the love she left behind. Fifteen years ago she vowed never to let herself be vulnerable again—but now that she’s back she’s not so sure. Is it possible that real happiness could strike more than once?  Spanning three decades of family life, Christmas at the Vicarage is a warm, feel-good tale that examines what it means to love and to lose—and to be brave enough to try again.
About The Author:  Rebecca Boxall was born in 1977 in East Sussex, where she grew up in a bustling vicarage always filled with family, friends and parishioners. She now lives by the sea in Jersey with her husband and two children. She read English at the University of Warwick before training as a lawyer, and also studied Creative Writing with The Writer’s Bureau. Christmas at the Vicarage is her first novel.
My Thoughts On The Book:  Having been to England, Ireland, and Wales I discovered many great authors while plundering around in local book stores.  I find that I absolutely adore any book set in the U.K. and I am also a sucker for Christmas novellas, stories, and novels.  Between the cover of the book, the setting, and the fact that the word Christmas was in the title I was hooked.  I knew I had to read and review this one.  At first I thought the book was a slow starter.  I could not get into the storyline at all.  But, I kept pushing on and eventually I was caught up in the action.  The images were very clear and the characters were fun and humanistic. I will definitely read this author again.   
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this e-book free from Netgalley as part of their Blogging Review program.   I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!  

Pork Beef Chicken Ribs - Chewing On Religious Truths

Pork, Beef, Chicken and Ribs: Chewing on Religious Truths

About The Book:  (from the back cover) - After failing to be baptized as an adolescent because of bad theology, Harold Gregg was visited by God in mid-life and became an avid religious scholar.  Through forty-five years of studies, Gregg traces the roots of how Islam came to be and then drops a bomb claiming that the God of Islam, or the God of the Koran, is Satan himself.  Satan is the Anti-Christ prophesied in the Bible by Apostle Paul and other prophets like Amos, Isaiah, and Jeremiah.  This book provides you with God's plan for the salvation of mankind and will benefit anyone that will read it - both Christmas and Muslims.  Muslims have been taught that the god of the Koran is the same god worshipped by the Christians and the Jews, but this book provides scriptural proof that refutes that premise.  Pork, Beef, Chicken, and Ribs refers to an abandoned Bar-B-Que pit alongside the road that inspired the writing of this book.  Much like the promise of that non-existent food, there are many religions today that claim to offer spiritual nourishment but leave their followers hungering for more.  Gregg cooks up a scriptural comparison that the soul can chew on.
About The Author:  Harold Owen Gregg is the second son of Forest and Allene (Sandlin) Gregg, and the second grandson to Harrison T. and Nora (Cagle) Gregg of rural Marion county, Alabama.
My Thoughts On The Book:  I review a number of Christian books throughout the year.  When I was approached about reviewing this one I have to admit the title caught my attention.  I was expecting a lighter read, yet found myself quite intrigued by Gregg's book.  It is very interesting and his theories are very well supported.  If you are looking for a light, feel good read then it is not for you.  It is a very concise and deep study.  It is obvious that Mr. Gregg has done an extensive amount of research.  If you are a pastor or scholar of biblical history this is a great book to have in your library. 
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this e-book free from Harold Gregg and Tate Publishing.   I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!  

Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Faith Of A Soldier

My scripture text today is from Matthew 8:5-13

This past week our nation honored men and women who have served our country. Even today, veterans are coming home from war with scars, injuries, and some of them are having a very hard time. Did you know there are veterans from the Iraq war that are homeless today?  We also should take time to honor families who have stood by husbands, wives, sons and daughters, and others who make a great sacrifice when their loved ones serve our country.  What is it like to sign your name to a paper that could possibly mean the end of your life? What is it like to walk down the cold hallways of a processing station? What is it like to sleep in a squeaky bunk bed where men have laid down their lives to never come home again? It takes the faith of a soldier – great faith!  What is it like to step on a plane not knowing if you will come back? What is it like to hug your little girl not knowing if you will ever hug her again? It takes great faith – the faith of a soldier.

THE FAITH OF THE CENTURION: What enabled this military officer to have such faith in Jesus?
1. Humility – he did not allow his position to keep him from asking for help. Many people think they are above needing help.
Some people have more faith in themselves than they do in God. They try to control and fix everything. But no matter what your status or rank is, we all need help. Why do we say, “All that is left it to pray?” Faith asks for help for anything. This man was not going to let anything keep him from Jesus! Will you?
2. Care – He cared for his servant. In his position, he could have easily found another servant. But he cared about people. Something incredible happens to our faith when we begin to care about other people. If you want great faith, you have to care about other people.   When you are in war, you are not concerned about personal affairs  “The church has had its hands up and eyes closed for  years while Satan has come in the back door and picked off families and pastors because we are more focused on what we can get out of God.”  Who do you cry for? Yourself? Do you weep for other people?
3. Belief – He believed in Jesus and the Word of God. He did not doubt the power of Jesus to speak and heal. If you want great faith, you need to believe His Word. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God (another good reason to go to church). If you want great faith, speak His Word! Even Jesus was impressed! His servant was healed that hour!
We should all want the faith of a soldier. What does it take to have that kind of faith? If I was standing there that day, I would say, “I WANT A FAITH LIKE THAT!”  The Centurion came to Jesus. Jesus is the Source of Faith – Faith is not something we conjure up. Faith comes from knowing Jesus and being close to Him. If you want great faith, you have to be with the Great Lord. That relationship is going to cost you something – time, energy, passion, your life.
You must know….THE COST IS GREAT. 
John 15:13 tells us:

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Sometimes when we think of our struggles and begin to feel sorry for ourselves, we need to remember the soldier driving down a littered road in Baghdad not knowing when the next bomb will go off.

Have you ever laid your life down? The greatest thing we can do is not serve ourselves, but to serve others. If you want God’s blessing in your life, start laying your life down for others.

Jesus said to count the cost. We often mislead people by telling them to pray the sinner’s prayer, but don’t inform them what following Christ really means. It means salvation yes, but it also means sacrifice.

But it is a good sacrifice. There is no greater feeling than to realize that your sacrifice made a difference. When we follow Christ and His will, we are fulfilled. It is not hard to tell which people are fulfilled in Christ – they have a look and attitude of joy even in the hardest times.

I have this shirt from the Army. I paid $20 for it. It means a lot to me because it cost me something. Not the $20. But the commitment I made when I raised my hand to give my life to my country.


Philip. 2:25 (NLT) Meanwhile, I thought I should send Epaphroditus back to you. He is a true brother, a faithful worker, and a courageous soldier. And he was your messenger to help me in my need.  But we can honestly say that anyone who chooses to follow Christ is a soldier of the Cross, because to follow Christ means to lay your life down, it is great faith.

2 Tim. 2:3-4 (NLT) Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. [4] And as Christ’s soldier, do not let yourself become tied up in the affairs of this life, for then you cannot satisfy the one who has enlisted you in his army.

You cannot lay your life down without some scars. You might not get a purple heart, but ever soldier endures pain and struggle. We will not get through this life without hurt and pain. We will be attacked, and hopefully, if we are truly faithful, we will be persecuted. We might not be set on fire like the Roman Christians as torches, but we can light up our world with the faith of a soldier. Reports often tell us that injured soldiers want nothing more than to get back to their buddies. If you want the faith of a soldier, you will have to let those scars be healed and get back into the battle. You may be facing some great battles. But take heart. Many have gone before you and made it through by faith.  The Army has a system called “Battle Buddies.” No one is ever to be alone in battle. You can’t even go to the bathroom alone. We need each other. I need your faith and you need mine.

I have a dear friend named Jim.  He is a Vietnam Veteran. He grew up in a Christian home and married a Christian girl. But when he came back from Vietnam, he was a different man – he had scars. His marriage fell apart. Later, he was injured at work and spent many days in the hospital in traction. His estranged wife was attending church and drove one hour every day to see him. A business acquaintance compelled him to attend a small local church called the “Church on the Way.” Soon God was working on his heart. While his wife was living with her parents, he slept on their couch for several weeks until their marriage was restored. Later he became a missionary. One day he was called to pastor a small Hispanic church of fifty people. In a short time, the church grew to 5,000. After the sudden death of the senior pastor, Jim was asked to become the Senior Pastor of The Church on the Way which now has 10,000 in weekly attendance.

You see, the faith of a soldier is great faith. And great faith will do great things.
• Great faith will heal marriages
• Great faith can save families
• Great faith can change communities
• Great faith can start revival


We will never know how critical one soldier’s actions were to save a nation. We may never know how critical our faith is to save our nation.  The military has a trauma system for mass casualties.
The lightly injured are called “minimal” because they don’t need immediate treatment.  The next level is “Delayed” – they need treatment but they can wait.  Then there is “Immediate” that have serious injuries but should survive if they get immediate treatment.  The final category is “Expectant” because the injuries are so severe that there is little hope.  There are many “Immediate” and “Expectants” in our world today. People who need Jesus right now! There is no other remedy. There is no other solution.

What hope is there for the murderer, the rapist, the child molester? Can therapy forgive them? Can prison take away their sins? NOT AT ALL? Can Mohammad or Buddha give them forgiveness? No. Can Congress help them? No. Only Jesus can.

All the programs in the world cannot take away the wounds of sin.
He was wounded for our wounds. He took our scars in His Hands.

WHO WILL BE IN HEAVEN? - There was great pride and prejudice against the Romans. Jesus said many people will take a seat at the feast with Abraham and others will be cast out – but people like this Centurion, people with great faith, will be there with Jesus. It doesn’t matter what color you are, what you have done, what church you go to, all that matters is that you have put all your faith in Jesus Christ by giving your WHOLE LIFE to Him.
“Having a Christian family is a wonderful blessing, but it won’t guarantee you eternal life. You must believe in and follow Christ.” Life Application Bible.  GREAT FAITH means “Here I am Lord. You have all of me because I trust You more than myself.”  Today is not about saying our country is perfect or even that our veterans are perfect people. But we do have a heritage of faith that is still seen in soldiers today. But the most important faith is not in America or even in our military, but in our Father in heaven.


Jesus said it was done has he believed. Sometimes our expectations are low. Don’t get me wrong – Jesus did not heal everyone, but he always healed to prove a point. And the point here is that FAITH MATTERS!   Let’s HAVE GREAT FAITH IN GOD FOR ANYTHING. The final outcome is up to Him, not us. But faith is the key to the ignition of miraculous power. Just like a soldier, stand up, raise your hand, and give your faith to Jesus Christ! Sign your life away – you won’t regret it!


Saturday, November 14, 2015

Veteran's Day For Children

This week we celebrated a very special holiday.

- It isn't Thanksgiving, even though it is a day to give thanks.

- It isn't Independence Day, even though it is a day to celebrate freedom.

- It isn't Valentine Day, even though it is a day to think about love.

The holiday we celebrate this week is called Veterans Day. This holiday is celebrated in many countries around the world. In some countries it is called Armistice Day. In others it may be called Remembrance Day. No matter what you call it, it is a day on which we honor the men and women who have served in the military. We also honor those who have died for the cause of freedom. It is a time for us to say "Thank you" for the sacrifices they have made. It is a time to think about the freedoms we enjoy because they were willing to serve. It is a time to think about love -- the love they showed for their country and for their fellow man.

How do we celebrate Veterans' Day? I guess many people will celebrate it just like they celebrate any other holiday. They will go to the mall and go shopping! I would like to suggest some other ways we might celebrate this important holiday.

- Fly a flag in your yard to remind others that this is a day to honor those who have served.

- Spend some time in prayer. Give thanks to God for those who served to defend the cause of freedom.

- Observe two minutes of silence. Concentrate on remembering those who have died defending the cause of freedom.

- Wear a Poppy. A Poppy is a red flower which is worn in remembrance of those who died for their country. The poppy was chosen because of a poem “In Flanders Fields” written by John McRae honoring the soldiers who died in the fields of Flanders, France during the First World War.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

Veterans Day is a holiday that we take very seriously, but that doesn't mean that it is a time to mope around and be sad. It is a happy occasion indeed. We can be happy that because of the sacrifice of these brave men and women, you and I enjoy great freedom. We can also be happy that even though many of these brave soldiers died in battle, that is not the end of their story. Here is the rest of the story -- those who had put their trust in God will be raised and will go to be with the him. That is a promise from God's Word. Listen to these words from the book of Job, "My flesh may be destroyed, yet from this body I will see God. I will see him for myself."

You know, that promise is not for soldiers alone. It is for you and me as well. It is for all who put their faith and trust in God. Jesus said, "Those who are considered worthy of taking part in the resurrection are like the angels. They can no longer die. They are God's children." We are God's children and one day we will see him. Won't that be a wonderful day!

Dear Father, we remember and honor those who have served to preserve and protect our freedom. We also celebrate the resurrection, because all of us who have placed our faith and trust in you -- even though we die -- will live again. Amen.


Friday, November 13, 2015

A Cup Of Dust


About The Book:  Where you come from isn't who you are
Ten-year-old Pearl Spence is a daydreamer, playing make-believe to escape life in Oklahoma's Dust Bowl in 1935. The Spences have their share of misfortune, but as the sheriff's family, they've got more than most in this dry, desolate place. They're who the town turns to when there's a crisis or a need―and during these desperate times, there are plenty of both, even if half the town stands empty as people have packed up and moved on.
Pearl is proud of her loving, strong family, though she often wearies of tracking down her mentally impaired older sister or wrestling with her grandmother's unshakable belief in a God who Pearl just isn't sure she likes.  Then a mysterious man bent on revenge tramps into her town of Red River. Eddie is dangerous and he seems fixated on Pearl. When he reveals why he's really there and shares a shocking secret involving the whole town, dust won't be the only thing darkening Pearl's world.  While the tone is suspenseful and often poignant, the subtle humor of Pearl's voice keeps A Cup of Dust from becoming heavy-handed. Finkbeiner deftly paints a story of a family unit coming together despite fractures of distress threatening to pull them apart.
About The Author:  Susie Finkbeiner is a stay-at-home mom, speaker, and author from West Michigan. Her previous books include Paint Chips (2013) and My Mother’s Chamomile (2014). She has served as fiction editor and regular contributor to the Burnside Writers Guild and Unbound magazine. Finkbeiner is an avid blogger (see, is on the planning committee of the Breathe Christian Writers Conference, and has presented or led groups of other writers at several conferences.
My Thoughts On The Book:  I have always been a big fan of history and the Dust Bowl has been a subject I have read about in great detail.  This was not the easiest book I have ever read and I would have to put it down from time to time just to absorb what I had just read.  It is a tough read, but once you are captured by the spirit of Pearl you find yourself needing to pick it up again and finishing.  It is a very emotional read and even though you know it is fiction you know this could have been reality. Finkbeiner is a master word smith and weaves a tale of sadness, reality, terror, and the hardness of life in the life of 10 year old Pearl.  This is a must read for anyone who is a fan of historical fiction, especially the Oklahoma Dust Bowl.  I must tell future readers that there is some violence, yet without the violence the story would not have been as powerful as it was.  This book was comparable to The Grapes of Wrath in depth and subject. 
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Kregel Publiations as part of their Book Review Blogger Programs. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Veteran's Day

Military has always been an important word in my family.  My great grandfathers on have all fought in some form of military service.  My dad was Navy, Frank's father was Air Force, Frank was son-in-law (Steven), my nephew (Edwin), Niece Kelli's husband (Ronnie), grandson-in-law (Henry) along with countless cousins, uncles,  aunts,  good friends, congregations members, neighbors, and to the ones I have never met have all put their lives on the line so that I can enjoy the freedoms I have.  Right now, today with a heart full of pride I want to say...."Thank You for all you have done!"  There are no words strong enough, no hug tight enough, no smile big enough to let you know you are my heroes.

A Veteran's Day Hodge Podge

Welcome to this week's edition of The Wednesday Hodgepodge. A very special and heart felt shout out to anyone joining us today who is a veteran. Thank you for your service to our country.  If you've answered the questions today, please add a link to your answers at the end of Joyce's blog  post. And do say hi to the blogger who linked before you because comments make the world go round. Here we go-

 1. In two or three sentences tell us what Veteran's Day means to you?  Freedom.  It means there were people who gave their lives so I could have it.  I have watched my father (U.S. Navy) stand and cry during the singing of the national anthem.  I am proud of all my military family....and those I have never even met. Tis day makes me feel very humbled by the bravery they display.

2. What's your favorite film with a patriotic theme woven into the storyline?  Not an easy task for me.  Saving Private Ryan.  When We Were Soldiers, Green Beret, Pearl Harbor, Top Gun, and the list goes on. 

3. Flu shot-yes or no? If you answered no, do you plan to get a flu shot? If not, why not? Have you ever had the flu?  I did get a flu shot. I had the flu once, it was several years ago but it's not something I care to ever have again, so since then I've had a flu shot every year. 

4. I've seen lots of people posting pictures of their Christmas trees up and decorated. Many stores have had Christmas on display since well before Halloween. Red cups are back at Starbucks, sans the holiday decor, and that has some people up in arms. What are you thoughts on all the holiday ruckus this second week of November?  I am a firm believer in each holiday gets its own day.  This year I put my Christmas tree up the day before Halloween because my daughter and SIL were home from Moldova and we had Christmas on Halloween.  Once the party was over.  I turned the lights off and have not had them on since. I will NOT turn them on until the Saturday AFTER Thanksgiving.  I think all the ruckus is ridiculous....and what does it matter what color the Starbucks cup is.....griefus!

5. What 'critter' are you most afraid of encountering unexpectedly? Why that one?
I don't like spiders, snakes, or cockroaches.....rats are pretty high on my life too.  I don't things that rattle, slither, scurry.....just not a fan of critters.

6. Do you like building things? What's the last thing you 'built'?  Not really.  I designed the inside of two of the houses I lived in....and it almost cost me my marriage.

7. In keeping with this month's theme of gratitude...what are you most grateful for that brings beauty to your daily life?  Colored leaves and crisp temperatures, my church, my family, and my friends.

8.  Random Thought - Big family Thanksgiving or small quiet one?  Which would you prefer?  Which one will you be having?  I have a huge family and we have always done things up as big and loud as it will come.  This year we gathered for Christmas at Halloween with Kat and Brian.  So we will be having Thanksgiving on the Saturday before Thanksgiving with the Porch People and it will be loud and favorite kind.  Thanksgiving Day itself....will be quiet and intimate.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

An Endless Christmas

About The Book: Too many people, too much snow, and too little room should be a recipe for disaster.  Christmas takes a very different turn when the guests of honor break up instead of announcing their engagement. Trapped with his family, they learn that love looks different than either imagined. Both in their eighties, Dodie and Wilson Binder celebrate every Christmas as if it were their last. This year, their grandson Micah is planning to ask his girlfriend, Katie, to marry him so they can celebrate with the whole family. But things go very wrong when she says, "no." Now they are stuck. Too many people, too much snow, and too little room should be a recipe for disaster. But sometimes too much is just enough. Especially when it's Christmas.
About The Author: Drawing from 33 years of on-air radio ministry, Cynthia Ruchti tells stories of hope-that-glows-in-the-dark through her novels and novellas, nonfiction books and devotionals, and speaking for women's and writers' events. Her books have been recognized by Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Awards, Selah Awards, the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, Christian Retailing's BEST Awards, and Carol Award nominations, among other honors, including a Family Fiction Readers' Choice Award. She and her plot-tweaking husband live in Pittsville, Wisconsin, not far from their three children and five grandchildren.  Connect with Cynthia: website, Twitter, Facebook 
My Thoughts On The Book:  This book would have been about my family.  We had huge Christmas's like this every year until my mother's generation all passed away.  This was a tender story and made me wish for that kind of Christmas memory once again.  Ruchti did a wonderful job of building her characters and making them real, flaws and all.  I loved being part of this family, even if was just for a little while.  Once I began reading I did not want anyone disturbing me.  My only problem with this book was that I was not ready for it to end.  It was my first Christmas read of the season and I am so ready to celebrate like the Binder's now.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this e-book free from Worthy Inspired, and Litfuse  as part of their Book Review Blogger Programs. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!  

Monday, November 9, 2015

Monday's Madness

For Today... Monday, November 9th

Outside my window... I find cool temps and rainy.  It has been raining here for at least two weeks and I am tired of the mush.  Kat is leaving tomorrow and I feel as gray as the skies.

I am thinking... about Kat and Brian leaving tomorrow and how I am going to put on some sweats and bundle up with I get home.  I am cold to the bone.

I am thankful... for a wonderful family, an awesome church, a terrific husband....and some pretty amazing friends.

I am new bohemian shirt I bought Saturday and a pair of black pants.  Frank likes it and so do I.  I feel very 60's today.

I am reading... I just finished Coal River and The Wedding Chapel and started Advent in Narnia last night.  It is getting close to that time of the year.

I am learning... sometimes you have to let people go(death or distance) ... but it's hard.

In my kitchen... this week I'm planning to make cookies.  The kitchen really isn't mine.  I work all day and Frank is a SAHH...he does the cooking during the week.  He has been trying out some of the new recipes from Too Blessed to be Stressed Cookbook I reviewed.  Last night was a delightful chicken and rice dish.

A peek into one of my days... Teaching.....well not really....we are in Football play-offs at both schools.  It has been crazy and we are only in the second round.  We teach around the pep-rally's, college fairs, you name it...we can teach around it.

A few of my favorite things... snuggling under a blanket when it is cold, singing with Rebecca and Amanda, spending time with the kids and Frank, being with Chuck and al. 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Some Gave All

My scripture today is Mark 12:38-44 - As he taught, Jesus said, "Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted in the marketplaces, and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely." Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything--all she had to live on."  On one of my European trips to Italy I was fortunate enough to go to the town of Assisi.  I also got to attend a storytelling session at the main church there.  My most favorite story was this one.  One day while St. Francis of Assisi was working intently in his father’s cloth shop arranging the fabric, a beggar came to the door and asked for alms in God’s name. Francis rudely kicked the man out, but at once he regretted his actions and followed the man to offer his apologies. This event replayed in his mind over and over again.  Later on in his life, during a brief stay in Rome, Francis took out his money, took off his garments, and gave them all to the poor. On another occasion he encountered a leper in Assisi and, instead of fleeing as most villagers did, he went up to him and embraced him. He did all this despite the scorn of his friends and his father’s great disappointment. His steps before him were ordered; that leper represented Christ Himself! So Francis renounced his father’s possessions and went on to work among the poor and leprous people of his time. For Francis, that was life.  But the meaning of life for someone with a secular mentality consists of such things as wealth, prominence and power. The Teachers of the law in today’s gospel story found such meaning in going around with long robes, enjoying the greetings in the market places and the best places in the Synagogues. The teachers in those days received no pay and so they were reputed for devouring widow’s houses and cheating the poor. They learned the art of making long prayers, because longer the prayer, the more they got. We can understand if a guy off the street tried to make a quick buck but it is an abomination for someone who represents God to live a life of double standards.   I am not sure if it is any different today. Among others, we see many TV evangelists today who love to wear long robes, who enjoy status and popularity and who devour and cheat innocent and God fearing people of their money. Except for Billy Graham, it is rare to see any of these people who do not conclude their message by asking for your money. A two dollar book or cassette is priced at 25 or more dollars and they seem to make the point that in spending that money, you are pleasing God! A lot of these men and women are very talented preachers but true followers of Jesus are not distinguished by showy spirituality.  Midway is not a wealthy Church. We manage to pay our bills and do good things with our money.  The one thing I love so much about this church is that we live by faith that the Lord will provide. We do not ask for your money and leave it as a matter between you and God. I have no idea whatsoever who puts what in the plate but from today’s reading, it seems to me that someone is watching. One day, back in the time of Herod’s temple, people lined up to put their offerings in the thirteen large brazen receptacles that resembled trumpets because of their wide mouths. Nine of these vessels were for the temple tax and four were for contributions to purchase things like incense and burnt offerings. Only copper coins were used and so when the wealthy threw in their money it made a lot of noise.  I remember when I was newly married.  I was a stay at home mom and my husband made a whopping 1.90 an hour.  We were barely making ends meet.  To me one of the most embarrassing times sitting in Church was when the offering plate came to us. We tried to give as much as we could but often times it was only a small amount. Sometimes it was just coins and we had to place the coins in the plate so softly so that no one could hear the jingle of the coins. But in Herod’s day, there were no bills. The more the coins, the more the noise and the more people raised their brows!  While all of this was going on, a widow approached the vessels under the observant eye of the Lord. She had lost the support of a husband and her problem was compounded because of her loneliness and poverty. She did not have to be on that line because in a true sense, she had nothing to spare. Her entire earthly possessions were just two pennies. She had no guarantee of the next meal but she took all that she had and cast them into the vessels. The woman found meaning to life when she placed all that she had in the hands of God.  I wonder if we would have the faith and courage to do that? Do we trust God enough that we can place all the things that mean the most to us into his loving hands? God is not impressed with large amounts but by a sacrificial heart. 20 dollars is probably better than 5, but in God’s eyes it might not mean a thing if your giving is not sacrificial.  I remember once visiting a Church in central Florida as a teenager and while the ushers were in the process of taking up the offering, a woman who was seated in the front row  held her arm up with a ten dollar bill and kept waving it to the view of everyone behind her until it was collected! When we do our alms, we are not supposed to do a trumpet sound like the hypocrites did in the synagogues and in the streets so that they would have glory of men....But when we give alms, let not our left hands know what our right hand is doing..Our father which sees in secret will reward us openly"  No one saw what the widow did except the eye of Jesus, so today I want to encourage each of us to serve the Lord with simplicity of our hearts, give him our all and he will take us places we’ve never been before. Amen?