Saturday, February 28, 2009

FEATURED TODAY: A LOVE INSPIRED CLASSIC BY LOIS RICHER


Stories of blossoming love and belonging from Lois Richer.

Mother's Day Miracle

When a handsome single dad and his four children move next door, is it God's answer to Clarissa Cartwright's prayers for a family? Proud, stubborn Wade Featherhawk is determined to manage…alone. Unless Clarissa's faith can open his eyes and his heart.

Blessed Baby

The moment she held her precious little niece, Briony Green stopped trying to convince herself she wasn't mommy material. But can this cool, rational scientist help Ty Demens, the toddler's widowed and hurting dad, trust in God's mysterious but loving ways?

Friday, February 27, 2009

Reality of Love - Carol Steward



This is my first year of 17 seasons to watch "The Bachelor." Since I'm a romance author, many people thought I'd be drawn to the show long before now. Oddly enough, I've always thought it sounded like a hokey idea – falling in love in 6 weeks. Granted, I have written several such books, where the hero and heroine meet and fall madly in love in a matter of weeks.

I know a lot of people who have met and married their spouse in a matter of weeks, and have been happily married for years. Don't get me wrong, I believe very much that God can bring two people together with such assurance of happily ever after.

This is television, I keep reminding myself. Still, I have a very difficult time watching the bachelor making out with one bachelorette after another, and trying to equate this with finding true love. This last week he sent the next hopeful woman away when the bachelorette said she wanted to marry her best friend. His reason was he wanted to be more than best friends, which got me thinking – a very dangerous situation!

Do you marry your best friend? Or do you fall in love first and THEN become best friends? Initially, I agreed with Jillian (the last bachelorette to be turned away) when she said that when they're 90, she'll want to be with her best friend. I'll admit, after nearly thirty-one years of marriage, it seems like my honey and I have been best friends forever. And that is just the way I want it. But was it friendship that brought us together, or "more"? And what exactly is "more" than best friends?

And who better to ask than my best friend, my husband. We're watching the show together, so he knew, even predicted who the bachelor would send packing. And he even agrees with Jason, the bachelor, on wanting "more" than being best friends for a happy marriage. His definition of "more" is the spark that will send one into a burning building to save the other. That warm feeling when your love walks into the room and smiles at you – even after thirty years of marriage.

So after a long discussion, I agree that yes, there was a lot more of "more" than best friends in my husband's and my courting days. And I will change my opinion to include both "best friends" and "more than best friends" when looking for one's perfect mate. I hope that he and his bachelorette will remember to keep each other as best friends as well, because they'll need a lot more than a spark to keep that love alive and growing through the good times and bad. And so far, on "reality T.V.", there hasn't been much focus on becoming "best friends." But whether a couple meets online, on a reality show, or in their daily walk of life, I think the most important thing is to remember to keep the love growing, through all types of love.

All-in-all, it's entertainment. I think the statistics of the show say it all, only 1 couple out of 17 seasons has found what it takes to turn reality T.V. into real love. I am a true fan of love and romance and lasting marriages, in romance novels, in television, and most of all, in real life.

God Bless,

Carol

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Quiet Love


I grew up with a family of huggers. Not tree huggers. People huggers. We hugged each other every day at least once. My parents always gave goodbye hugs when we left for school and goodnight hugs before sleep.

After we'd mow our dad's knees over with hugs when he'd come in from work, we'd plop down in the floor and help him tug his cowboy boots off. Fond memories. My family showed love by affection. Especially my mother who is the most loving person I know.

Enter dashing Rocker Dude twenty-something years later...

I fell flat on my heart in love with his contagious grin, kind brown eyes and hilarious sense of humor. He remodeled a 1200 square foot home and built onto it by the sweat of his brow until it became 4000 square feet...plenty of room for all the babies that came later. The teething rings did come after the wedding rings, but once we got married however, I began to doubt my husband's love. He never showed affection. Never hugged. Never held my hand. Of course he didn't really do that sort of thing before we got married either. But he served me. Sometimes without me knowing it. Him and a friend sneaked to another of my friend's house and, in the middle of the night, built a wheelchair ramp for her disabled son. We only found out about it because neighbors described his work truck and he fessed up.

I'd work midnights at the hospital and come out to find every nurse's vehicle in the parking lot COVERED with ice and snow...and my windshield scraped clear with one red rose and a hilarious greeting card from Rocker Dude stuck in the windshield wiper. My nurse friends scraped their windshields in frenzy while eyeing my car in envy and spouting, "You'd better hang on to that guy. You'd better not let that one get away. Any guy who gets up and four a.m. to scrape your windshield deserves a chance. You should give him one."

I'm SO glad I did.

I had a friend (Pammer James) and her family visit. After observing my husband and I interact for a couple days, Pammer said, "He loves you quietly, doesn't he?"

That hit me like a two-by-four. This man might have a hard time with hugs. But he knows what it means to serve. He wasn't raised with huggers. It dawned on me that we love how we are taught. His family serves one another and does tasks and projects to show their affection. That's how he grew up knowing love from his parents and how his parents displayed love for one another. Home-improvement projects. Landscaping. Etc. So that's how he learned to love.

My rocker dude might not hug, but I have a gorgeous window-fronted twenty-by-thirty foot sunroom that houses a library for my book addiction and a gym for all the equipment I don't use near enough and a beautiful desk for writing--a dream he supports and champions--that is an obvious testament to his love. A breathtaking corner gas log that he and his dad installed. A comfy sectional for family time that houses side-by side recliners where we spend time in each other's company and which is my favorite spot to write.

Hubby says he built this sunroom for me to have a place to come retreat to and write in peace. I actually think he subconsciously built it as a PMS Shelter for Men and plans to check himself into it when all our daughters turn teenagers at once. HA! But for now, I'll enjoy the view out of my gorgeous sunroom which lends a view of the deck he built, the fence he fashioned, and the massive swingset playhouse fort he and my dad and his dad constructed for our children. True love. His music may be loud but his love is quiet. I don't so much miss the hugs anymore. Besides, after eleven years together, he's finally starting to lift his hands and do this sort of bend-arms-at-the-elbow and pat-pat-pat my back. Not quite a hug...but we're getting there. :-)

In the meantime, I'll relish his servant's heart and his loud music and his quiet love and try my best to learn the best ways to love him back.

And now...time NOT to be quiet. I would LOVE to hear how you love best to be loved. Don't be shy! Chat away.

Cheryl Wyatt

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Love is in the air...

Love is in the air...




That's the song my heroine whistled while wiping down counters in her shop in my novel. The story is set right before Valentine's Day, when love truly is in the very air.

What is it about February that makes us so love-struck? Valentine's Day is fun to celebrate, of course, but why can't we make an effort to show our spouses, family or friends love every month of the year? Or, gasp - every day of the year?

Did it just get quiet in here? =)

I'm guilty of it too. I love going alllllllll out for holidays - planning big birthday surprises, or romantic Valentine's Day dates, and trying to outdo myself at Christmas each year - but I must confess, I don't always do a great job of being lovey dovey year-round. My husband deserves that, as I'm sure yours does too.

So for the remaining days of February, why not make an extra effort to show your spouse you love them? Why not slip a love note in their briefcase, or bake their favorite dessert for dinner just because, instead of only for a holiday or occasion? Rent their favorite movie, even if you hate action flicks, or take over your hubby's chore for a week as a surprise. If you have a Polaroid camera, snap a shot of your smiling face and hide it in their jeans or suit pocket. Or, gasp - buy a fun new nightgown in his favorite color.

Now its really quiet in here!

All kidding aside, let's make an effort this month AND next month to show love. Let's keep it in the air!

"Hmmm hmm hmmm hmm hmmmmmm....."

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Showing Love






Since our theme this month is love in all its many aspects, I want to share a book with you that changed my life several years ago.


The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman


http://www.fivelovelanguages.com/





Knowing my love language and my husband's love language has helped my marriage tremendously. Also, knowing the love languages of my children has helped me be a better parent.


On the link I've provided, you can take a 30 sec quick assessment test and learn more information about your love language and the love language of those you love.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Love is a Four-Letter Word spelled M I K E



The Love of a Child by Stacey Chillemi

The greatest love of all is be able to have a child’s love
To love your child and to have your child love you back
Waking each morning with your child’s eyes on you.
A child’s love keeps you believing in brighter days
Believing that dreams do come true
Giving you hope for a brighter future
Bringing happiness to your heart
Bringing rainbows to every gray sky

Having the love and comfort of a child is the greatest gift in life
A child’s love is forever lasting
No matter how far you travel
No matter how many miles away,
You will always have your child’s love in your heart
It will never go away
You can always feel your child’s presence in your heart
Your child’s home is in your heart
Their love is always here to comfort you.




Since this month our Craftie Theme is love, I went looking for this poem. I'd heard it many years ago but couldn't remember anything but the phrase Love of a Child. This past Saturday my son turned four. We had a family birthday party. I grew up an only child, and my son is now growing up an only child. I so want him to have family around him, so for me, this Saturday was a perfect day.


This is my four-year-old attempting to help his bear get potty trained.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Hero Interview from Bluegrass Courtship

Interview with the hero Drew Downing from Allie Pleiter’s Bluegrass Courtship:

1. Drew Downing, tell me the most interesting thing about you.
Probably that I’m not as interesting as everyone thinks. Sure, as host of Missionnovation, I’ve probably got one of the coolest jobs on television. But I’m just an ordinary guy who likes to build things--I just get to do it in front of the cameras. I carry a pocket watch of my Dad’s even though I wear a wristwatch. I love chocolate chip cookies and caffeine has long lost its effect on me. Is any of that interesting, or just weird?

2. What do you do for fun?
My job is the most fun I have, so I suppose I work for fun. Which is why it never feels like work. Okay, maybe at three in the morning before our target project is supposed to be completed and the power goes out in the driving rain, then it doesn’t feel much like fun. That’s usually when I start singing. Makes everybody laugh. I’d much rather they were awestruck…

3. What do you put off doing because you dread it?
I can’t remember the last time I had a physical. A couple of emergency room visits…you never want to get in an argument with an electric staple gun…but I’m too afraid some doc will tell me to stop pulling all nighters or to slow down and eat better. When your sponsor is Delicious Dave’s Chocolate Chip Cookies, you better not be counting calories.

4. What are you afraid of most in life?
If I slow down, I’ll find out I like slowing down. That’d be disastrous for a whole bunch of people.

5. What do you want out of life?
Every single bit of it.

6. What is the most important thing to you?
That people know I’m the real deal. Missionnovation is out to help churches by renovating them to reach their full potential. So that the strength of the building matches the strength of the congregation inside. There’s no gimmick or hitch. We don’t cut corners and we do quality work. It just so happens we do it with the cameras on.

7. Do you read books? If so, what is your favorite type of book?
My favorite books are the instruction manuals for this year’s coolest new power tools. I don’t have time for much else. Oh, and a Bible. That’s the best instruction manual of all, if you ask me.

8. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I’d give myself six fingers on each hand so I could play wicked guitar and hold more stuff while I nail. On second thought, that might be a bit creepy. I suppose I wish I could care less about the folks who are sure I’m not what I seem to be. I’m always trying to convince them I’m the real deal, and that’s gotten me a bit off track from time to time.

9. Do you have a pet? If so, what is it and why that pet?
We had a moth on the show bus for a week once. I named it Homer until it ate through one of my favorite sweaters. I’m thinking maybe that doesn’t really count. If I didn’t travel so much, I’d be a big yellow lab kind of guy.

10. If you could travel back in time, where would you go and why?
I’d build stuff with Jesus. He was a carpenter, so we’d totally get along. Plus, I’m guessing I’d learn a lot more about a lot more than just how to fit wood together.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

FEATURED TODAY: BLUEGRASS COURTSHIP BY ALLIE PLEITER


The celebrity host of TV's Missionnovation, Drew Downing is comfortable with his fame. He's become accustomed to the cheering, star-struck townfolk that usually welcome him as he renovates churches countrywide. Usually. Then he and his crew set up in tiny Middleburg, Kentucky, to rebuild the church's storm-damaged preschool. The very lovely, very no-nonsense hardware store owner Janet Bishop is suspicious of Drew's true motives. It looks like Janet Bishop's faith—in God, in herself and in love—needs some serious rebuilding. And Drew Downing is just the man for the job.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Perseverance

As we've gone through the verses in 1 Corinthians 13, I am reminded each day of another facet of love. Love always perseveres. I like to think of persevering as staying the course. No matter what happens, love doesn't give up. This means if someone disappoints us, we love them anyway. That's the way God is. We can read about God's love in Psalm 103:8. "The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love."

We should have perseverance in our earthly relationships. We have to work through the good times and the bad times when we love someone just as God does with us when he forgives us. Here are two verses from James that tell us a lot about perseverance.

James 1:12 says, "Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him."

James 5:11 says, "As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy."

As I wrote this I was thinking mostly of our relationships with God and with the people we love, but I also want to give a little side note about perseverance. When I was assigned this topic, I thought about my writing career. I just want to say to anyone who has a dream that perseverance pays dividends. My dream was to be published. I wrote and sent in manuscripts for twenty years before I finally sold. I believe that God was teaching me perseverance and also teaching me to give my writing over to Him so that He could use it to glorify Him. I thank the Lord that I didn't give up that dream.

I want to close with two more verses from the Bible. They tell us about perseverance better than I ever could.

Hebrews 12:2-3 says, "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."

Galatians 6:9 says, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Love hopes all things.

Love hopes all things.

You know that’s right.

Think of the things that we hope will come true for those we love. We hope our children are healthy and smart. We hope they grow up to kind and brave. We hope our spouse gets the job he wants. We hope our parents have blessed golden years. We hope our friends can repair their troubled marriage. We eternally hope for the best even in the worst of times, because that is what love gives us. It gives us hope.

Love and hope can not be separated from each other. Not when they are bound together by faith.

Here is hoping you all have a blessed day.
Pat

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Love Always Trusts


I love those verses from Corinthians about love and how appropriate during the month we celebrate love. And one key ingredient in a love relationship is trust. Without it a marriage, a friendship or any kind of relationship will not thrive and often it will not survive. Trust starts with trusting in the Lord. If we can put our trust in Him, after that everything is gravy.

As a writer I've used the trust theme a lot in a story because it is such a big issue in a relationship. Some people give trust easily, others sparingly. Some people will forgive and trust the other again, some won't. Once a person breaks a trust, that's it. Trust is simple but also at the same time complex (like love is). The Webster dictionary says it is having confidence in a person's honesty and integrity. Wow! When you trust someone, that means a lot. So destroying that trust is a big thing. Notice how close trust and truth are--their first three letters are even the same.

So like the cat that trusted it's owner not to harm him ( and having three cats, being put in water feels like being harmed to them), you have my trust until you do something to lose it. But then there is always forgiveness and that is a whole another aspect of love for another day.

How hard is it to trust for you? How do you deal with it when someone breaks your trust?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Love ... always protects

When I found out my topic was "protection" I thought about how one of my
husband's friends always teases me about my pointy toed shoes. He says I
could easily protect myself if I use those shoes to kick a person. He calls
them my "roach-stomping" shoes. I do have a lot of pointy toed shoes but protection
is about more than just kicking bad people. In this beautiful passage from First
Corinthians, love is the protection that God offers us. And it is part of what
we offer when we extend our love to another person. When we have love in our lives, it acts as a shield against hurt and misery. Love lifts us up when we are broken, it
takes over when we are in shock. Love protects us from the every day stresses of
life. Love is truly our soft place to fall. Can you image living each day in a
loveless life? How could we possibly handle everthing that is just outside our
doors if we didn't have the protection of God's steady and everlasting love?

God's grace flows over us like a shield. And that shield goes to battle with us
during the worst of times. It is also there during the best of times. It guides us, keeps us standing, deflects all sorts of pain and harm and keeps us warm when we
are alone and scared in the middle of the night.

The protectin of God's love is like the light that is always burning, that beacon
that always shows us the way home. God promises protection. He promises to go into
battle with us. His unconditional love will cover us and we can hold fast to that
protections. Love ... always protects because love gives us the courage to protect
ourselves, love gives us the knowledge to stand firm in our beliefs and love gives us the power to overcome fear and rage and pain and despair. Love can protect us
if we open our hearts and allow love to come inside. Wearing pointy toes shoes is
one way I can protect myself. But in the end, it doesn't matter if my shoes can do
damage to any attacker and it doesn't matter what kind of shoes I'm wearing. It only
matters that I know God's love is surrounding me when I head out the door

Monday, February 16, 2009

Love Rejoiceth in the Truth

Love and truth--To me the two words go hand in hand. When you love someone and are loved isn't it a wonderful feeling to know that you have a safe place in that person...a place where you can go with your heart and trust it to that loved one.

I also know that when you love someone--husband, children, family, friends you believe the best of them, want the best for them and hope for the best from them. I used to own a hair salon...and I hated gossip. Hair salons and hair stylist have the reputation of being the first to know everything. Thankfully we worked really hard to be the salon where we were the last to know and many times didn't know anything at all. The best compliment anyone could ever give me was when they'd tell me that they came to my shop because (yes we were good stylist :0 ) but that they'd noticed we were different. There was a feeling of pleasant friendliness and caring and not the ugly feeling of hearing a bunch of women talking about people. I loved that. Clients noticed we were different. Where I'm going with this is that for me, the reason I hated gossip so much was the distructiveness of it but also I am a person who believes the best in people--and when I meet them I don't want my view of them tarnished by something ugly I've heard about them. I believe as a Christian, as a mother, as a wife, as a friend believing the best in people helps bring out the best in those we love. Yes, people are going to fail and falter but love will always help boost that person back to the truth and being the best that they can be. For me that is important. It works both ways--my family loves me enough to love me when I mess up and I love them enough to love them when they mess up--Love rejoiceth in truth and it is the foundation for all relationships to flourish and last.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Heroine Interview from A Cowboy's Heart

Interview with the heroine from A Cowboy's Heart by Brenda Minton:

1. Willow Michaels, tell me the most interesting thing about you. I don’t think it is the most interesting, but obviously what people notice, is that I’m severely hearing impaired. I contracted meningitis as a child and have since suffered progressive hearing loss. I, personally, think the most interesting thing about me is that I raise bucking bulls in a sport dominated by men. And I do it quite well, I think.

2. What do you do for fun? Taking my bulls to large events is fun for me. My aunt Janie goes with me. We have friends who participate, so it is a chance to catch up with them, or renew old acquaintances. Old acquaintances like Clint Cameron. I never expected my aunt to run into him at a smaller bull riding event. I really didn’t expect him to be better looking at 31 than he was at sixteen. My mistake.


3. What do you put off doing because you dread it? Going to the doctor. Doesn’t everyone. The art of avoidance. I’m a pro. But there are some things that you can’t avoid. Silence is one of them.

4. What are you afraid of most in life? Life in a world of complete silence. Sometimes I take off my hearing aids, to condition myself to that world, because I know that is what I’m facing in the future. I’m so glad that I have faith, and that I’m not alone in the silence. God is always with me.


5. What do you want out of life? To be strong. To be strong in my career. To be strong in my personal life. To be strong in my faith.

6. What is the most important thing to you? My faith. My family. My friends. I know that seems like a ‘right answer,’ but it is true. I know what it is like to be alone, to face situations without someone close to you, and to face them without God. And now I know what it is like to have faith, to have people.


7. Do you read? If so, what is your favorite type of book to read? Westerns with a touch of romance. I love cowboys, but don’t tell that to the cowboy living down the street from me. I love strong men, and strong women. I love reading stories with characters who conquer their fears and their problems. Yes, for me it is always a good western that hooks my attention. And magazines. I read Quarter Horse Monthly and The Bull Riding World.

8. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? Who wouldn’t change something if they could? I would change my hearing prognosis, my other physical problems, things that happened in my past, and my insecurity. But if I fixed those things, I would have nothing to work through, no mountains to climb, nothing to make me strong.


9. Do you have a pet? If so, what is it and why that pet? A dog. She works cattle and she’s very sweet. I also have a bull named Dolly. I have quite a few bulls, but he’s special. I started my program with him and he’s a little bit of a pet. Don’t tell the bull riders who get thrown from him on a regular basis.

10. If you could travel back in time, where would you go and why? I think you know the answer to that if you saw what I like to read. I’d go to the old west and watch cowboys at the beginning, when rodeo was a way to spend a little time off. Bull riding started on those ranches, in dusty corrals, a challenge between cowboys. It’s still that sport, a challenge between cowboys. They don’t really compete against one another, they compete against the animal. And all too often, the bull wins.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

FEATURED THIS WEEK: A COWBOY'S HEART BY BRENDA MINTON


Willow Michaels is through letting other people run her life. She's ready to stand on her own. Be independent. Run a business. Raise bucking bulls! And no matter what former rodeo star Clint Cameron thinks, Willow knows she's up for the job.

Clint is used to taking care of everyone. His family, friends and especially his twin four-year-old nephews depend on him. Yet his stubborn, beautiful neighbor keeps pushing him away. Willow's scared to trust another man, but now that Clint has given her his heart, he's not about to let her walk away.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday the 13th!


If I were superstitious, which I am definitely not, I would be worried about posting on a supposedly unlucky day. (by the way, the startled baby is my niece)


The topic I ended up with is "take no delight in evil" and I wondered how I was going to relate that to my work for Love Inspired. Then, I realized that the theme of forgiveness that I often use ties right in.


Think about it for a moment. More times than I care to recall, I have seen someone get his or her comeuppance and have been glad. That's not only not being forgiving, it's taking delight in evil, in a roundabout way. When we rejoice at retribution, I think that's the same thing. And I do it often. Which brings me to the subject of forgiveness again.


As you all know, we choose a verse or two of scripture to begin our books. Believe it or not, that can not only be difficult, it can change as we write. At least mine does. The way I begin, my way, is often not the way the story carries us and I firmly believe that that is God's guidance, not only in the creation of the book but in the perfecting of us as a Christian.


Okay, now you know. I've said it. I'm not a perfect Christian. I know that's a shock to y'all but hey, it's the truth. And form now on, thanks to having to write this post, I'll be more aware of what it means to take delight in evil. Forgiveness is still my personal theme and as far as I can see, it will be for some time to come.


To leave you on an uplifting note, I'll add another picture, this time of my grandson. Maybe it's a good thing I write suspense and mystery into so many of my books because it looks as if the members of my family are ready for it!


Blessings,

Val

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Uh, oh...Love Keeps No Record of Wrongs?

1 Corinthians 13:4-7: Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs...

Missy here. Talking about that last part, love keeps no record of wrongs...
Okay, I’ll admit I forgot to mail a check to a friend recently. I also forgot to make my son a haircut appointment (poor thing looked like he had a growth out the back of his head!). And I forgot to buy ice cream at the grocery. I forgot…I forgot…I forgot…

I forget a lot of things. But I bet I can tell you every single time my husband irritated me last week! :) And I can tell you exactly which days my youngest two kids fought on the way home from school. (Not hard to do. It was EVERY SINGLE DAY last week!) I can tell you the biggest mistakes my parents made while I was growing up. I can even tell you friends who have hurt my feelings over the last 20+ years.

Love keeps no record of wrongs. Oh, my.

I guess I’m in big trouble.

So I’m asking for help from you (and from God). How can I let these little things go and truly love my husband? I mean, come on, how bad is it, truly, that he’s so fastidiously organized while my piles are exploding everywhere? Shouldn’t I be thankful?? :) And so what if he moves my piles out of his way on occasion? (No, he doesn’t understand that I know where everything is in those piles!) And so what if he hogs the covers? And hogs the remote control?

Maybe I can focus more on the sweet things he does, like helping with the laundry, taking the dogs out each morning, emptying the dishwasher, taking care of the kids while I’m at conferences, offering to make me a sandwich when I’m writing toward a deadline (and missing meals)…

Love keeps no record of wrongs.

Okay, how do you do this with the man you love? How do you do this with your parents or your children? How do you love them with a First Corinthians 13 kind of love?
P.S. Don't forget Valentine's Day is Saturday!!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Love is not easily angered (provoked): 1 Cor. 13:5




Anger bothers me. Maybe it ever frightens me a little because one thing I noticed about anger is that the angry person sometimes(often) gets out of control and does something he or she regrets, sometimes forever.

Take road rage for instance. A scary, scary situation. One driver cuts another off in traffic and road rage explodes in a stream of curses, manic driving and sometimes even murder. The angry person probably would never have done anything so heinous had he been in control of himself.

So many people today have a ‘chip on their shoulder’. Nobody is going to ‘dis’ them and get away with it. They go around looking for a reason to be upset. Instead of letting their love show, they let their selfishness show. (Because I think, in the end, anger is a form of selfishness.) Churches split because someone was provoked by some petty thing—(usually an argument over how money is spent—again, so selfish.)

Have you ever been in the grocery store and heard a mother cursing and yelling at her children? Sadly, I’ve heard it a lot! It breaks my heart. Anger is like a seed. It reproduces its own kind. Angry parents raise angry children. Maybe that’s why the Word tells us never to provoke our children to anger!

Someone once said, ‘Either control your anger or it will control you.” I’ve heard people say they ‘inherited’ their temper and can’t help it. Do you think that’s true? Do you think people can overcome tendencies they’ve gotten from their families? Do you know someone who’s overcome a bad temper?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Love is Not Self-Seeking

I was presented with the phrase: "Love is not self-seeking" for my blog entry today.

Self-seeking is not a word most of us use frequently. I consulted Webster's and this is what was there:
"Self-seeking

Self"-seek`ing\, n. The act or habit of seeking one's own interest or happiness; selfishness.

Related Words for : self-seeking adjective
expedience, opportunism, self-interest, self-serving

1. interested only in yourself [syn: self-serving]
noun
1. taking advantage of opportunities without regard for the consequences for others [syn: opportunism] " *

I like the pharse "interested only in yourself." Whoa! If that's not the complete OPPOSITE of love, I don't know what is.

I met my husband at a church single's New Year's Eve Party. It was not love at first sight but at second sight. He had come with a friend to the party and then about 3 weeks later accompanied the same friend to a special program at my church.

That was the night I noticed him. In fact, it was as if he was being backlit with movie lights. Wherever I looked, light shown around him.

No, I wasn't experiencing problems with my optic nerve. I think this was just one of those unexplainable manifestations of attraction. All of us who have fallen in love have experienced the fact that when attraction begins, it makes us super-sensitive with our senses to the other person.

Well, that night was in January and we married October 5 of that year. And one of the things that made our dating, courtship and marriage last for years is that my dh is never "self-seeking." He just doesn't have a selfish bone in his body. This fact has continued to delight me over our years together. He just wants me to be happy. If I'm happy, so is he.

This alone makes him easy to love. He never demands anything. He never says, "Woman, you must be submissive. I'm the boss. I get my way."

Once a young woman was worried that her fiance was very concerned about whether or not she would submit to him when they were married. My advice to her was to "run, not walk to the nearest exit." If a man is already brow-beating his future bride with his desire for control (read that as seek for himself, that is a man who does not know what love is.

Many of us are mothers. I often thought when my children were small, that I would rather have suffered the ear infection, the cold, or the flu than have to watch them suffer. That I think is the essence of love.

And I'm grateful that I'm married to a man who didn't have to learn that. It was just there in him as a child of God. True love is not self-seeking.


*Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, © 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Love Is Not Rude


Love is not rude. When I thought of people being rude, I had a flashback to an old ‘I Love Raymond’ episode where Raymond’s father is determined to gain serenity. He keeps chanting ‘Serenity Now, Serenity Now.’ Of course, so many irritating things happen that he ends up being rude to his wife. Meanwhile, he looks like this man on the face of the Arc De Triomphe, facing the Champs Elysees, in Paris.

(Don’t you just love the sculpture by the way? I can feel the man’s frustration and was happy to find a place to post the photo).
Some day’s are like that – our rudeness just comes out of us. It’s not that we start the day deciding to be rude to anyone we meet. But we had a dozen things happen and we’re late for something and – before we know it we’ve looked at a store clerk and snapped at them. It’s not something we planned, but it’s there all the same.

I wish I was better at handling the annoyances in my life. How about you? Sometimes I am able to put on the mind of Christ and be patient with people – sometimes I don’t make it. Prayer helps. Meditation helps. But, the reality is, there are lots of minor annoyances in each of our lives and, all too often, the end result is rudeness, sometimes to strangers and sometimes to those close to us.

Give me your thoughts on rudeness (I should mention it is not only annoyances that bring forth rudeness, we are often responding to bad treatment from others, too).

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Hero Interview from Their Small-Town Love

Interview with the hero from Their Small-Town Love by Arlene James:

1. Ryan, tell me the most interesting thing about you.

I’m not a very interesting guy, really, just a teacher and a coach and a vice principal. I suppose you could say that I managed to overcome the shock and tragedy of my parents dying on the same day, my dad from an oil-field accident, my mom in a grief-stricken suicide, but you’d have to say that about my older brother Holt and younger sister Charlotte, too. Then again, we were blessed with godly grandparents, who made sure we had the spiritual strength to find joy in this life.

2. What do you do for fun?

This is going to sound corny, but I work for fun. I love what I do. It’s my calling. Every teenager who passes through my high school is important to me, and I’m not one of those who disparages the younger generation. I think they’re great fun. Other than that, I prefer to hang out with my family. When I have the time. Truth is, I don’t spend as much time with them as I’d like to, especially Grandpa Hap. He says he was born with a hospitality gene, which is why he’s owned and operated the local motel all these years, but I really think it’s a party gene, especially if you consider a domino game a party!

3. What do you put off doing because you dread it?

Paperwork. It’s all that administrative minutiae that drives me bonkers. Education is about people learning and growing, not about filling out forms.

4. What are you afraid of most in life?

Letting my personal passions get in the way of God’s will. It’s so easy to think that God is as enthusiastic as you are about something that pumps your own ego or seems to fill a selfish need. I consider my passion for education a gift from God, but passion can become a detriment to your calling and ministry. I worry that I won’t know when I’ve crossed that line.

5. What do you want out of life?

To fulfill my calling and make a difference in the lives of others, to impact as many lives as possible with knowledge and truth, and in the end to hear someone say, “Great job!” I guess that would have to be God.

6. What is the most important thing to you?

Boy, I had to think about this one. I guess I’d have to say relationships. My work is my passion, but it’s the people I manage to teach something important to who really make it matter. That ability to teach and hopefully to touch others comes from my foundation, though, which is my family. But what makes all that really work for me is my personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Without that, I don’t know that I’d value any other relationship as I ought to.

7. Do you read books? If so, what is your favorite type of book?

You’re joking, right? I mean, I am a teacher. You might say that books are my stock-in-trade, and since I am a history teacher…well, you do the math, as they say. I’ve read all of the classics, of course, but if you’re talking about personal pleasure here, I guess I’m pretty square and traditional but also pretty much of a guy. In other words, give me a good old rollicking western, a civil war novel with all the gritty battle details or a fast-paced suspense.

8. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

The truth is that I really don’t have much of a private life. Don’t get me wrong, my life is full of things and people I love, but they’re mostly tied to my work, so much so that I don’t even really know how to separate myself from it in order to get a private life. Good grief, that sounds pathetic.

9. Do you have a pet? If so, what is it and why that pet?

Right after I bought my house, I got a dog, an adorable beagle pup that chewed up everything it came across because I just didn’t have the time to spend with the poor thing. After that I tried a mutt, an older dog used to being outside most of the day, but I swear that animal could escape from Alcatraz. Someone said I needed a housecat, but the first disappeared like smoke. There one day gone the next. I went for the whole house menagerie next. Unfortunately, the second cat was an assassin, and really it was just a kitten. I didn’t figure out what happened to the bird until the goldfish disappeared. There’s a turtle living under my front porch. Does that count?

10. If you could travel back in time, where would you go and why?

Two words: HISTORY TEACHER. The question isn’t where would I go but where wouldn’t I go. I mean, just how right are we getting it? Think of all the questions I could answer, like how did the dinosaurs die out? Where was the Garden of Eden? How was Alexander the Great viewed by the common man of his era? Did Constantine really convert or was it just a political ploy? Was Abraham Lincoln as odd as they say, as complex as his legacy or more like our modern politicians than anyone wants to believe? If I must choose one destination, then walk me, literally, through the Bible, and if that’s too broad for you, put me on that hillside when Christ blessed those loaves and fishes. Or, better yet, send me to that upper room when the Risen Lord appeared to His followers after the crucifixion. Just imagine that, a taste of the future, when all believers will stand in the presence of the Risen Savior, from the past! Can’t get better than that.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

FEATURED THIS WEEK: THEIR SMALL-TOWN LOVE BY ARLENE JAMES


Her school reunion was just an excuse. New Christian Ivy Villard really returned to Eden, Oklahoma, to reconcile with her father, her sister…and Ryan Jeffords, the high school boy she left behind. Ivy chased adventure in the big city, but she's learned her lesson. Of all her mistakes, there's nothing she regrets more than throwing Ryan's love away. Now they have a second chance, if they're brave enough to take it.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Love is Not Arrogant

Arrogance, or pride, is another of those hard to pin down topics when it comes to His word. Simply put, we are not to be arrogant, or proud as stated in I Corinthians 13:5·

But wait, aren't we to take pride in all that we do?
· Shouldn't we be proud of our love for our spouse and others?
· Shouldn't we be proud of our child for standing up for what is right, even when it isn't easy?
· Shouldn't we be proud to stand up for our writing, our country, our faith?


The more I researched this, the more challenging this became. Proverbs 11:2 say, "When pride comes, then comes disgrace; but with the humble is wisdom." Hmmm. That's not quite what I wanted to find. Encouraging, but still… And I went on to find Proverbs "Everyone who is arrogant is an abomination to the Lord, be assured, he will not go unpunished." Nope, that's pretty clear. No room for pride. Not to be discouraged, I kept looking (see my blog on perseverance at Crafty Ladies of Suspense if you wonder why I didn't stop with these two verses.) I went on to look for more support for the above points that surely God didn't mean we shouldn't be proud of our work and our efforts. The main point I found over and again is simply worded in Romans 12:3, "For by the grace given to me I bid every one among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think…." I would encourage each of us to read the rest of Romans 12. Sure, go ahead, read the full chapter, it won't take long. After reading further, "For as in one body we have many members, and all the members do not have the same function." It's starting to sink in now. Pride is an earthly emotion which brings focus on ourselves. God has given each of us gifts which we are to use to bring Him glory. Short of that, pride and arrogance has no place in our lives. We're no better, no worse than the person standing next to us at any given moment. Our plan is not always HIS plan. We are simply doing God's work, and in that, we should be pleased. 2 Corinthians 10:13 says "But we will not boast beyond limit, but will keep to the limits God has apportioned us, to reach even to you." God DOES want us to do our best, and be proud of the work we do… in His name. God's love cannot focus on one's self, but must be open to the others. God's glory IS the limit.

It isn't an easy concept to wrap one's head around early on a Friday morning. (I started this search Thursday night, and hoped it might have a better slant after a good night of sleep.) It isn't easy to go out into the workplace and say "I only did my job for God." I wonder what my days, my decisions will be like if I can indeed keep my focus on the idea that THIS is what God wants me doing at this moment, on this day, in this blip of Eternity? Just imagine how eliminating pride and arrogance could change our world. I think refocusing on that important distinction between our earthly pride (focused on our human achievements) and Godly satisfaction (following through on God's plan for each of us), my purpose and attitude will change. What do you think?

God Bless,

Carol Steward

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Love does not boast...


...Love does not boast....

(I Cor 13:4)

When I found out I was blogging on boasting today, it occurred to me that I'd never really done a Bible study on this word alone. Yes, I'd studied about pride. And yes, I've strived to practice thinking of others more than myself, but I realized something interesting when I did a Biblical word search on boasting.

Know what I found out?

Well, I'll tell ya anyway. LOL!

Not all boasting is bad. What kind of boasting is okay?
--the kind that brings attention to God rather than us. (1 Sam 2:1-3)
--the kind that serves to make God famous rather than us. (Ps 44:8)
--the kind that gives God credit for things done in our lives. (Ps 34:2)
--the kind that honors others above ourselves. (2 Cor 9:2-3)
--the kind that encourages believers that they are on the right track(2 Cor 7:14)
--the kind that builds others up (2 Cor 10:13-15)

The kind of boasting that is not okay:
--the kind that takes credit away from God for things accomplished (1 John 2:16)
--the kind that robs attention from God (James 4:16)
--the kind that steals glory and fame that belongs to God (Judges 7:2)
--the kind that tears others down (1 Cor 5:6)
--the kind that discourages and disheartens those who feel they can't measure up when we elevate ourselves rather than let God do it. (Ps 94:4)


When is it okay to boast?
In the Lord(in his abilities, accomplishments, deeds, character, etc)
In others (for the purpose of encouraging and admonishing them to obedience and toward a closer relationship with God)

When is it not okay?
To boast in ourselves (over our abilities, accomplishments, gifts, deeds, character, etc. Anything that takes credit away from the One who really deserves it)

-----

When I first sold my books, I SO struggled with promoting them, because I felt like I was braggin, boasting or otherwise trying to push myself off on people. It's a fine line to honor our publishers by helping to get the word out about our books, without making it seem like we are tooting our horn.

Another thing I struggle with is when to share writing accomplishments. When both of my debut novels received Top Picks, I HAD to let my writing colleagues know. Especially since some of them had mentored me. Though I sent that e-mail with a pure heart in that I really was trying to encourage them because they'd spent time helping me, another part of me just CRINGED as soon as the e-mail sent. I automatically worried that people would think I was bragging on myself.

So now I opt to let others share any good news I have. Not saying it's wrong to toot our own horns when we have an accomplishment, I'm just being real here in saying that I really struggle with knowing when I've crossed a line. Generally people love to hear about our good news and accomplishments. But it goes down easier I think when it's not the person themselves sharing the news. Reconciling that sort of thing and knowing how to share the good news about myself in such a way that it brings honor and attention to God and others rather than myself and doing it without being cringeworthy is key for me.

As authors, we definitely rely on readers to help us get the word out about our books. Word of mouth is one of the most effective ways to market books. The problem is, many authors struggle with marketing themselves because we've been conditioned that bringing attention to ourselves is somehow wrong. If you like an author and their books, one of the best things you can do for them is tell others about their books so they don't have to. LOL!

Thank you for dropping by our blog today!

Now, I'd like to hear from you all. Has there been a time in your life when someone else's bragging/boasting has driven you up a wall? Without mentioning names, I'd love to hear how you coped with that, as well as any struggles you've had with boasting.

Hopefully boastless,

Cheryl

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Love does not envy...




1 Corinthians 13 - "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy..."


Ahh, 1 Corinthians chapter 13! The infamous "Love" chapter. The chapter in the Bible that every woman fears most, with the possible exception of Proverbs 31 (::wink::)


We read these requirements of love and think "What?! I have to be patient all the time? And KIND? And I can't be jealous of my co-worker's size 2 waist or my neighbors brand new Prada bag? This is impossible!"


Thankfully, nothing is impossible with God. =)


But I digress.


Envy is a potential problem in every person's life, man or woman, young or old. When my husband and I were dating in high school, I was jealous a lot. He was the fun, life-of-the-party guy who innocently talked to everyone, and usually remained pretty oblivious to when he accidentally crossed over into flirting-territory. I was the quiet, observant, one-on-one conversation girl who preferred staying in the background with the Diet Coke. and noticing when her man crossed that line. We had many an argument over that subject until one day, after his being "nice" and "encouraging" to a girl at youth camp ended up with her sending border-line stalking emails, he figured it out.


Again with the digressing...Oops!


Everyone gets jealous. Over love, over jobs, careers, money, material items, etc. As authors, its especially hard. We're always comparing ourselves to other authors. Who landed the most coveted agent, who received the most contracts, who had the most sales, who had the best booksigning party, etc. If we're not careful, the comparison game can consume us and we'll lose sight of why we're doing this in the first place--for God.


The green-eyed monster can pop up for anyone, anytime, anywhere. You are not immune to his slimy stickiness. Don't be fooled by his picture. The patchwork is cute and the googly eye seems harmless enough, but he's out to get you, and he has well-practiced tricks!


Next time you find that envious little monster pointing his finger in your direction, don't panic. Who ya gonna call? (no, not ghostbusters!) I'll give you a hint...His name is two paragraphs up. =)


That's right - God. The best way to beat jealousy is by praying. One sincere, heartfelt prayer and that green-eyed monster goes scooting back to where he came from. You can beat him, if you stay close to the Lord and realize your worth comes from Him, and Him alone - not from a new car, designer clothing...or even the hot new guy at church =P

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Love Is Kind



KIND adj 1.Of a friendly, generous or warmhearted nature. 2. Showing sympathy or understanding: charitable 3. Humane: considerate 4. Forbearing: tolerant 5. Generous: liberal 6. Agreeable: beneficial
Synonyms: kindly, gracious, compassionate, considerate, thoughtful, understanding, loving, merciful, fair, giving, tender-hearted
When we love someone we put their needs and their desires above our own. We give all that we have to the relationship. The act of being kind sometimes doesn’t come easy but keeping in mind how we would like to be treated can remind us to act with kindness. When you look at the definition and the synonyms for kind, how could we want to be anything else? How could we want to be treated with anything less than kindness?February is a month where love is celebrated with red hearts, candy and flowers. But every day is a day to celebrate a love that is kind.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Love is Patient


1 Corinthians 13:4 “Love is patient…”

True story: Rewind the clock back about 15 years. I’m sitting in a Sunday school class. The lesson is about patience. I’m wiggling in my seat. See, I’d been looking in the figurative mirror at this thirty-something woman and asking myself the age-old Bridget Jones question. “Why am I still single?” I mean, come on, I’m thirty-two! Thirty-two! I finally raised my hand. No, I wasn’t about to ask the gray-haired gentleman who’d been married for more than thirty-two years to tell me why I was single. I asked the question, “I’ve been praying to God for patience. How will God help me be patient?”

To my surprise, he answered easily, “In order to teach you patience, God will test your patience.”

Yikes! Yup, I kept going. “You mean,” I said slowly, “He’s going to make me wait on things to teach me patient.”

That teacher nodded.

Me, I stopped praying for patience.

God kept on making me wait.

I was forty-one when I finally donned a white wedding dress. My maid of honor was three years older than me (Please, don’t do the math. Cathy McDavid will kill me). The youngest bridesmaid was Stacy Connelly, who at thirty-two was probably wiggling during the wedding and thinking, “Why am I single?” (Stacy is beautiful – think Katie Holmes. Me? Looking at my picture on the sidebar – think, um, think chubby…)

I do thank the Lord every day for the patience he gave me. See, I’d dated a lot of frogs (I didn’t always look like chubby woman on the side of the hot chocolate can). I shudder to think what marriage would have been like with them. When my prince finally came, I was so stupid, that I didn’t recognize him.

My friends did. Every single one of them said, “Pam, wow, I like that Don. He’s a great guy. I looked again, and again, and again. They were right.

Seven years ago, a forty-year wait ended. Today, I fold big white socks and little white socks. Today in my back yard I have big tools and toy tools. On my television is a choice of DIY or Caillou. And sometimes I look at the sky and my heart whispers the words: Thank you, Lord.

I Corinthians 13:4 “Love is patient.

I’ve learned, somewhat, to pray for patience. Someday, I’ll tell you about my bout with patience and the little guy who owns the little white socks, the toy tools, and loves Caillou.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Hero Interview from Apprentice Father

Interview with the hero: (Clay Adams, APPRENTICE FATHER by Irene Hannon)

1. Clay, tell me the most interesting thing about you.
That’s a tough one, because I’ve never considered myself to be that interesting. I don’t have any special talents, I’ve never climbed Mt. Everest, I’ve never written a best-selling book. I just get up in the morning, do my job and handle the responsibilities that come my way. Not exactly the kinds of things that make you stand out in a crowd. So I’ll never understand why Cate fell for me. But I thank God every day that she saw into my heart and found something worth loving.
2. What do you do for fun?
Until I met Cate, there wasn’t much fun in my life. As on onsite construction engineer, I work long hours. And I was pretty much a loner, so I didn’t socialize much. If I wanted to relax, I caught a little late-night TV. But all that changed after I met Cate. Now, my free time is spent with her and my little niece and nephew, Emily and Josh. They’ve brought joy and sunshine into my life for the first time in years.
3. What do you put off doing because you dread it?
Before Cate, I would have said getting involved in a committed relationship. I always thought of roots as chains. But thanks to her and the kids and everyone in the Shepard clan, I now look upon them as anchors instead…as a positive force that protects and nurtures and strengthens.
4. What are you afraid of most in life?
Losing Cate and the kids. They’ve become so much a part of me that without them…I can’t even imagine it. Thankfully, I’ve reconnected with the God I rejected as a youth. I’ve learned to trust in His abiding goodness and grace, and to believe that no matter what life might hold down the road, He’ll always be there to support and sustain me.
5. What do you want out of life?
Exactly what I’ve finally found—a loving family and secure foundation of faith.
6. What is the most important thing to you?
The relationships in my life—with Cate and the kids and with God.
7. Do you read books? If so, what is your favorite type of book?
BC—Before Cate—I mostly read engineering manuals. Pretty boring, huh? These days, with a wife and young children, I don’t have a whole lot of free time. But on the rare occasion when I do have a few hours to indulge in a book, I’m likely to turn to a suspense novel. And maybe I shouldn’t admit this, but once in a while I pick up one of the romance novels Cate is reading and scan through it. To be honest, they’ve taught me a thing or two about relationships.
8. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
All the wasted years when I hated my father, despised religion and lived the life of a nomad. The only good thing I can say about those years is that they taught me to appreciate—and treasure—the life I have now.
9. Do you have a pet? If so, what is it and why that pet?
No pets. My years in the service weren’t conducive to pets, and after that I moved around too much with my engineering job to have a dog—which is the only kind of pet I’d consider.
10. If you could travel back in time, where would you go and why?
I would love to go back for a visit with Jesus. I’m still learning about Christianity, and it would be an amazing experience to talk with the person who started it all. But I figure I’ll have that chance one day anyway, when we meet face to face.