Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Mojo Myth

Even though the busyness this summer was good busyness, it still produced much chaos, missed schedules and a recurring sense of "What was I doing? Oh, yeah..." Time spent on projects diminished, if said projects were remembered at all.

After a while, I'd lost interest, not in one area but in many. Most, in fact. When it came time to start school with the kids, I didn't have the usual excitement at assembling the lesson plans and buying books. When it came to writing, the well wasn't just dry--I couldn't find the bucket. Surely, I thought, it was due to the fact moving and wedding planning and driving the kidlets to 234,732,984 summer camps had taken its toll and soon I'd be back to normal.

But I'd lost my mojo.

I tried the usual tricks that one does to inject freshness into their routine and jump start the creativity: read the right books, connect with others of the same interests, try new creative outlets. Nothing really worked--and I can't say for certain I put in 100% trying because it just. wasn't. happening.

Then I went to the ACFW Conference, and while it was fulfilling, even that didn't produce the usual burst of I-have-to-get-back-and-implement-xyz-right-away. (The amazing takeaway value of the conference, for me, was relationships.)

The realization has set in that it's not about mojo. Yes, it's great when our enthusiasm for a task aligns with timing and results to propel us into further action, and thus creating a cycle that feeds off itself. But I can't rely on that to move forward. Sometimes we're blessed with a season where our projects and passions are in perfect unity, but more often than not we (or at least I) am in a season of plowing.

What am I going to do? Exactly what I KNOW in my heart I'm supposed to. I'm determined to be content doing the next thing next. Which means it's time to print the math sheets, fold the laundry and get in some word count.

Are you in a plowing season or are you reaping?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

It's Not Over

I SOOO regret that I haven't had time to read this but it's at the top of the pile. Take a second to read the first chapter below and decide for yourself. It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

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



Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:

Passio (September 18, 2012)

***Special thanks to Althea Thompson for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Ricardo Sanchez is a Grammy-nominated, Dove–Award winning, Atlanta-based worship leader and Christian recording artist. He is known nationally and internationally as a singer, notable songwriter, conference speaker, and one of the nation’s most preeminent worship leaders. Ricardo served as the worship leader to Pastor Jentezen Franklin for more than four years prior to launching out fulltime with the mission to help churches around the world under the vision of Windows 2 Worship. As a frequent guest at his home church, Free Chapel, Ricardo stays connected and grounded to the local body. Ricardo has recently launched Ricardo Ministries as the practical outlet to meet the physical and spiritual needs of the lost, hurting, and those without hope. Ricardo and his wife, Jennette, are committed to raising their three sons while continuing to partner with the local church.

Visit the author's website.
Visit the author's facebook page.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Grammy-nominated, Dove Award–winning recording artist shares the story of his family’s personal tragedy to tell readers, “It’s not over.”

Have you ever noticed life has a way of beating you down? Whether it’s the day-to-day hustle or a tragic incident, it sometimes seems as if there’s a force that wants to take you out of the game. Worship leader Ricardo Sanchez has been there. After writing the song “It’s Not Over,” he came face-to-face with one of those moments when a tragic accident left his son’s life hanging in the balance.





Product Details:
List Price: $15.99
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Passio (September 18, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616388331
ISBN-13: 978-1616388331



AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


tHe Pressing oF LiFe

“I need Thee, O I need Thee. Every hour I need Thee . . . ”1


Please put all tray tables and seat backs in their full and upright position.” The flight attendants were preparing the cabin for landing. As a traveling
minister and musician, I’ve done the flying routine countless times. Making our final descent into Jacksonville, Florida, was the beginning stop on a several-weeks-long ministry trip. Florida was a short flight from Atlanta, and I had just kissed my boys good-bye and enjoyed a nice drive to the airport with my wife. Jennette enjoys occasionally driving me to the airport, and I enjoy having her drive with me. It often provides a few minutes together in the midst of our busy life.
As my plane touched down in Jacksonville, I began to


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gather my belongings and reach for my cell phone, as was my normal procedure upon approaching the runway. The pilot touched down, and I powered on my phone while the plane began to taxi toward the gate. What happened next was sur- real and hit me like a ton of bricks. Immediately when my phone powered up, texts began to flash on my screen: “911— CALL HOME,” “URGENT—CALL ME,” “Josiah has been hurt—call ASAP.” My head began to spin as I was bom- barded with desperate texts and phone messages. The voice mail from Jennette still rings in my head today: “Josiah is being life-flighted to Scottish Rite Children’s Hospital. The doctors are saying the worst. Please call.” Her message was calm but interrupted with weeping. I felt as though someone had punched me in the gut. “What? Why? How could this be happening to my son? This has to be a horrible nightmare. What possibly could have happened?”
Have you ever noticed life has a way of throwing you curve- balls when you least expect it? If you’ve lived long enough, I’m sure you’ve had a few experiences of your own where you weren’t sure how all the pieces were going to fit together and how the brokenness would all make sense. Paul refers to run- ning the “race of life” in 1 Corinthians 9:24. The Message Bible says the words “run to win.”
How do you run to win when you feel the very wind has been knocked out of you? How do you find the endurance to finish when the pain seems overbearing? Maybe you’ve watched a spouse walk out on you. Maybe you’ve lost your life savings in the faltering economy. Maybe you’ve received a tragic report from your doctor. Maybe you’re watching your children make decisions that are pushing them from the


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things of God. Whatever it is, if you’ve lived life, you’ve expe- rienced pain. You’ve experienced what I call “the pressing”— those moments when you proclaim in faith, “It’s not over,” though everything in the natural may look and feel exactly the opposite. This was most certainly one of those moments for my family and me.
Though oftentimes could be confused as “de-pressing,” I believe this season I refer to as “the pressing” can be a strength and step of victory if you extract the life principles my wife and I recently had to walk through with our nine-year-old son, Josiah. You are called to be an overcomer and walk a vic- torious life, but sometimes the practicality of walking victori- ously in the midst of pressure can feel overbearing.
My hope is, as you read this book, you will learn to harvest strength, build faith and confidence, and complete your jour- neys with joy, trust, and a strong testimony to share with the world around you. I believe the prophetic voice for this gen- eration is the message of “it’s not over,” the message that even though things might look dismal, God is still on the throne and wants to be involved in your situation. The Bible says in Isaiah 59:19, “When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him” (kjv). Whatever your season may look like right now, remember it’s just a season and God can turn it around.

Allow the Press to emPower

As a young boy growing up, my father was a command ser- geant major in the United States Army. It was imperative that his uniform looked immaculate at all times. I’ll never forget watching my mother prepare his clothes for him. She would


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take a pass over his shirt with her hot iron. Again and again the hot iron would roll over and over the shirt until all the wrinkles were “pressed” out. I think life has a way of “pressing” on us. The Bible says, “We are pressed on every side by trou- bles, but we are not crushed” (2 Cor. 4:8, nlt). Oftentimes in the midst of the pressing, the heat and the pressures of life sometimes feel overbearing as if you can no longer take the weight of the burdens. But if you surrender to the process of being pressed, I believe you will come out at the end just like my father’s shirts—wrinkle-free! There’s a perfecting and an empowering that can occur during “the pressing.”
Walking off the plane that horrible day, I remember feeling as if something had just sucked all the life from me. I quickly returned the 911-calls I had received, and I came to learn that Josiah was at a friend’s house swimming in their pool with his older brother, Ricardo II, and several other children. The boys were playing, as boys do, and doing tricks into the shallow end of the friend’s pool.
Josiah is a lover of life. He enjoys laughing, but he really enjoys getting people to laugh. All the kids were doing stunts, each attempting to outdo the previous boy’s effort. In an attempt to get the biggest laugh, Josiah decided to dive, hands at his side, through an inflatable pool ring in the shallow end of a swimming pool. Underestimating the pool depth, Josiah dove and took direct impact to his head, causing a complete loss of feeling in his body. Josiah was pulled to the pool deck, crying out in pain and in fear. He knew something was seri- ously wrong.
Here I was sitting in an airport hundreds of miles away from my family . . . hundreds of miles away from Josiah, feeling


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completely inadequate and unable to help. Honestly I felt like
I wanted to punch something. I was upset and angry and con- fused all at once. As a man I wanted to cover and protect my family. It brings a sense of honor. But there was nothing I could do at that present time while sitting in the airport. I couldn’t be with my wife as she had to watch the helicopter fly off with our son. I couldn’t be with Josiah as he was alone with the paramedics hearing words such as, “He’ll never walk again.” I couldn’t touch and hug my baby or my other sons through the phone line. So many thoughts went through my head: “God, I’m here serving You, and this is what hap- pens? Where are You, God? Why weren’t You there to protect Josiah?”
I’d like to tell you how heroic I was in my faith and how as a man of God I immediately took control of the situation, but it simply wasn’t the case. I had taken a blow right where it hurt the most. Something had happened to one of my babies. All of the natural signs and reports coming in were shouting that my son’s life was over. I’ve experienced some pressing in my life, but nothing compares to dealing with an injury or loss to one of your children. I was somehow wishing I could take the place of my son and bear the pain he was going through.

Don’t Allow the Pressing to Be PAr Alyzing

My family shared an experience several months prior to this event with Josiah that triggered a similar physical reaction for me as I was trying to process the reports I was receiving about my son. The past summer our family had spent some time off the central coast of California. We intentionally were trying to harvest every opportunity to make memories with our sons


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and find new adventures on every trip. With that spirit in mind we decided to take a canoeing trip off the coastline, hoping to find a much-talked-about infamous local’s spot with underwater caves that were known to have incredible sea life and beauty.
The only day we had to take the trip was a bit windy and a little choppy on the sea. Additionally, the water temperature was only in the low fifties. The ideal conditions would have been completely still, no waves and no wind. But we were determined to be adventurous and conquer our quest to find these caves. In order to get out into the ocean, we first had to vigorously row beyond the breaking waves, which appeared to grow in fierceness and height as we watched. I was partnered with my oldest son, Ricardo. Neither of us had ever canoed before, much less out in the ocean. We had to time our entry into the water perfectly in between each breaking wave. We had to be synchronized, focused, and quick. The canoe had to be pointed straight into the face of the oncoming ocean. Any angle would flip our boat.
The first wave came, and we successfully made it through. Victory! Wave after wave was crashing against our canoe. Now about fifty yards out into the ocean, we had tackled most of the boat-flipping waves. As my son began to notice how far offshore we had come and how close we were to sea otters and sea life swimming around us, the fear that we could easily be in the water began to overpower his strength to stay focused. The next wave that came took our boat over with it.
The fifty-three-degree water immediately hit my chest, sucking every breath out as a vapor. The icy chill made every movement more intense and more painful. A thousand things


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were going through my head. At six feet, five inches, I still couldn’t touch the bottom of the ocean. I was way beyond the kelp bed that served as the barrier for sharks. My son was stuck under the canoe. Waves were hitting us, and I liter- ally couldn’t breath because the water was so cold. I felt like Leonardo DiCaprio in the closing scenes of the Titanic when he was stuck in the iceberg-laden water, struggling for every breath to communicate. The fact was, we had lost our bal- ance. A wave flipped our world upside down, and my ability to recover was limited by my conditions. That’s the exact pic- ture the enemy wants to put in your head when you encounter
a “pressing” in life. But you can’t allow the pressing to be paralyzing.
Now here I am sitting in terminal A in the Jacksonville airport just waiting for a way to get to my son, feeling like I did when I tipped into the icy ocean, but this time I’m not in the water. Literally, I felt as if something were hindering my breathing, almost as if something heavy was sitting on
my chest. So heavy, in fact, even speaking was laborious. Something had flipped my boat, but this time it wasn’t literal. This time I had no control. This time I couldn’t see the wave coming. This time there was no instruction course on how to get back into the canoe safely.
Medical science actually documents a physical reaction to sorrow. The body actually experiences a decrease in the pro- duction of white blood cells, which act as the body’s defenders, fighting off colds and infections.2 Ironically, isn’t that exactly what our enemy would like to see happen with us? When the pressure and struggles of life press against us, wouldn’t the enemy like us to quit on our purpose? Quit on our dreams?


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Quit on our determination to finish life strong? Spiritually, sorrow weakens our defenses and attempts to take the hope out of our faith. Sorrow will try and steal your fight!
Here I was sitting in the airport trying to find the quickest way back to Josiah, feeling as though I couldn’t breath, hearing the words “They’re saying the worst” ring in my head and not knowing what the outcome was going to be. I didn’t have a choir with me to help me begin to worship. There wasn’t a pastor or a prayer line I could walk up to for support. All of the normal support systems were not available. All I had was the red carpet in terminal A of the airport, and I fell to my knees and began to cry out to God. I didn’t care who could hear me. I didn’t care who was watching. I didn’t care what I looked like or what other people thought of me. I was crying out for the life of my son. I was experiencing a pressing, and I knew I needed to press back! Though it felt like forty-five years, there were about forty-five minutes where I was sitting
in the airport, not knowing if my son would ever walk again, trying to find a chartered flight to the hospital and believing and praying for a miracle for my son.
I can only imagine how God felt as He watched Jesus suffer on the cross for you and me. No matter how many altar calls I have given, the words “His only begotten Son” had new meaning for me that day in the airport.

Allow the Press to refine your PurPose

I love stories of fighters, people who overcome great odds and finish strong. That’s what life is all about—fighting through the seasons of pressing and coming out stronger on the other side. My desire is that you take this book and read it to build


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your faith through your season of pressing and that you find the courage to push through the pain and reach the victory on the other side. I think, as people, sometimes the biggest lie we can buy into is the one that says, “It’s over. This is it! My time is done. I’m too old. I don’t have the resources. Nobody’s looking for someone like me. I’ve lost someone I loved. How can I continue?” Just because you’re experiencing a pressing doesn’t mean your purpose has passed. Oftentimes your pressing is refining your purpose, and you must fight through the pressing to reach the prize. Philippians 3:14 says, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (kjv). The process is oftentimes painful, but God can take what seems to be a mess and make it beautiful. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.” We can’t always see the full picture or how God is going to work it out.
Although “the press” can be painful at times, sometimes the sweetest and best things are produced only after being pressed. Take, for a small example, the process of harvesting Mediterranean olive oil, one of the best and most flavorful oils around. The Mediterranean olive tree must first mature for several years before even producing olives worthy of this oil. Careful attention is paid to proper pruning in order to produce quality oil and the most abundant olives per branch. It requires ten pounds of olives to produce only four cups of oil! Once the olives are ripe, the harvesters must vigor- ously shake the trees to drop the fruit and begin the pressing quickly, so as to not lose any flavor or damage the quality in



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any way. The olives are then crushed, matted, pressed, and heated to squeeze any and all oil from the olive, and only then is it ready to be consumed. You know oil is symbolic of the Holy Spirit. If you’ve allowed yourself to mature, the pressing could be squeezing a sweet, flavorful anointing from your life!
I played some basketball growing up and continue to love the sport. I enjoy watching my sons play as well as following the NBA. You know your team is really determined to win when the coach calls for a full-court press. That means every guy is assigned to a player on the other team, and the ultimate goal is to defensively stick to your guy like glue. Wherever the player goes, the defense is right there with their hands in their face. Normally defense is played from half-court and back, but during a press, the defense extends the length of the entire court. Interestingly a full-court press is implemented only when the opposing team is behind or the game is seri- ously close. The other team knows you have a chance of win- ning and the goal of the press is to stop you from winning. The goal is to wear out the opposing team. The goal is to get in the other team’s head mentally. When life applies a full- court press, the goal is to wear you out! Don’t get confused and think the game is over. It’s just a press!

the Press requires the Anointing

I’m reminded of two stories in 2 Kings 4 with the prophet Elisha and two different women who experienced two different types of pressing. The first woman found herself newly widowed with no life insurance money and a pile of bills to pay, and her husband’s creditor pursuing her sons to be his slaves to cover her debts. Listen to what the Bible says:


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One day the wife of a man from the guild of prophets called out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead. You well know what a good man he was, devoted to God. And now the man to whom he was in debt is on his way to collect by taking my two children as slaves.”
—2 Kings 4:1, The Message

This lady was literally broke and, I’m sure, emotionally broken. She just lost her husband, which represented her present, and was about to lose her sons, which represented her future. Everything she knew to be her security was removed in a single day. She was pressed on all sides. I’m sure she thought life was over for her. As she approached Elisha, this is what he said to her:

“I wonder how I can be of help. Tell me, what do you have in your house?” “Nothing,” she said. “Well, I do have a little oil.”
—2 Kings 4:2, The Message

Here we are back to the oil! This lady has no real social status to speak of and is now in jeopardy of losing the only thing she has left, her sons. She is pressed on all sides only to find out when she was squeezed she has a little oil. She’s got a little anointing. She was squeezed and life was pressing her in every direction, but in the midst of the squeeze she discovered all she needed was the Holy Spirit!
Now fast-forward in 2 Kings to the story immediately fol- lowing the widow’s story, and you come to 2 Kings 4:8 with a woman referred to as the Shunammite woman. Interestingly enough, the Shunammite is referred to as a rich and influ- ential woman. She was obviously the opposite of the widow


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woman, and yet they both encountered a “pressing” in life that required the anointing.
The Bible says the Shunammite took notice that the prophet Elisha was a man of God. She and her husband designated a special “guest room” in their house for Elisha to stay as he
would often pass through town to minister. Obviously proac- tive, this lady was quite the community organizer, I’m sure. She was the type of individual who had answers before prob- lems even appeared. She was the lady who had dinner on the table every night, was involved in her community, volunteered at her church, always returned her Blockbuster movies on time, and never had a hair out of place! She probably had her life figured out, a solid IRA for retirement, and donated blood at the Red Cross at least two times a year. You get the picture. The Shunammite had her act together. Because of her kind- ness and generosity Elisha asks her one day what he can do in exchange for her hospitality. Listen to their conversation:

Then he said to his servant Gehazi, “Tell the Shunammite woman I want to see her.” He called her and she came to him. Through Gehazi Elisha said, “You’ve gone far beyond the call of duty in taking care of us; what can we do for you? Do you have a request we can bring to the king or to the commander of the army?” She replied, “Nothing. I’m secure and satisfied in my family.” Elisha conferred with Gehazi: “There’s got to be something we can do for her. But what?” Gehazi said, “Well, she has no son, and her husband
is an old man.”
—2 Kings 4:13–14, The Message




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Elisha prophesies that the woman would have a son within a year’s time, and, sure enough, she gives birth to a son. Now you must imagine what this boy meant to the Shunammite. She was never supposed to have children and thought it was impossible because her husband was too old to have babies, and yet miraculously she receives a son, who became her entire world. Her son was the manifestation of her promise—a visible sign of God’s favor and faithfulness in her life.
Several years later her son was working in the field with his father, and he gets a headache. The father sends his son back to his mother, and the Bible says the Shunammite’s son died in her arms at noon. Her promise, her gift, her legacy died in her arms. I find it interesting that the Bible mentions the time as being noon. Noon is the middle of the day—the break between morning and evening, a shift from the sun rising to the sun setting. Noon is symbolic of the change of time. The pressing always signifies a change in the time or season.
The Bible says the Shunammite took her son, went and laid him on the bed of the prophet, and asked her husband to get the car ready, metaphorically speaking. Listen:

She took him up and laid him on the bed of the man of God, shut him in alone, and left. She then called her husband, “Get me a servant and a donkey so I can go to the Holy Man; I’ll be back as soon as I can.”
—2 Kings 4:21, The Message

Just like the widow woman referenced earlier, the Shunammite knew she needed the anointing during her time of pressing. She may not have had it in her house, but she knew where to find it, and she knew she couldn’t waste time


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getting to it. You may have strayed from God. Maybe you’re not as close as you once were. Maybe you grew up in the church but you really haven’t pursued a relationship with Jesus. Maybe the business of life has gotten in the way and a pressing in your life has you looking for the anointing. Just like the Shunamite, you can always find the anointing. The pressing requires the anointing!
Once the Shunammite reached Elisha, I think her response is similar to our natural inclination as human beings. Listen to what the woman says as she reaches the prophet:

Then she spoke up: “Did I ask you for a son, master? Didn’t I tell you, ‘Don’t tease me with false hopes’?”
—2 Kings 4:28, The Message

I believe what she was saying was, “God, how could You let my dreams die? How could this make sense? A promise You made to me has ended in disaster.” Everything in front of the Shunammite indicated it was over. Finality. No hope. Gone. But here is what we have to understand about the pressing. The pressing, though we can’t determine the outcome, requires that we press back!
Look at how the Shunammite presses back when Elisha wants to send his servant Gehazi to pray for her son:

He ordered Gehazi, “Don’t lose a minute—grab my staff and run as fast as you can. If you meet anyone, don’t even take time to greet him, and if anyone greets you, don’t even answer. Lay my staff across the boy’s face.” The boy’s mother said, “As sure as God lives




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and you live, you’re not leaving me behind.” And so
Gehazi let her take the lead, and followed behind.
—2 Kings 4:29–30, The Message

The Shunammite was basically saying, “Listen, I’m not letting go of my promise. I’m not letting go of my legacy and my dream. God spoke this to me, and I’m clinging onto it with every bit of fiber in my body.”
There are some people who get confused and quit on their purpose when life presses against them. You must under- stand that the pressing will purify the product! Those who quit in the midst of the process and misunderstand the season in which they stand have a tendency to allow bitterness to take root in their lives and hearts. Hold fast in the season of pressing and understand that God is faithful, despite what things look like in the natural!

Posture yourself towArD the Press

Have you ever started a new workout routine? If you haven’t worked out in a while, it is a bit intimidating to walk into a facility such as Gold’s Gym or Family Fitness, especially if you are working out in the weight-lifting area. The bulging pectorals and oversized biceps could immediately discourage you, if you’re just beginning to work out and your muscles are less than developed. But I’ve learned it is much easier if you posture yourself toward the press.
As I mentioned earlier in the canoeing story with my son and me, in order to get out into the ocean past the breaking waves, we had to point our canoe straight into the oncoming waves. Any angle would have flipped our boat. So it is with



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life. It might be difficult and a bit intimidating, like starting a new workout, but you have to face the pressing head-on. You have to walk into the press with confidence knowing your goal is the other side.
I’ve been told life can be equated to a series of steps ranging from one to ten. Consider the fundamentals of life as steps you ascend as you learn and grow with each new step taking you higher. Oftentimes step ten is the pinnacle of your achieve- ments. But as you go through life, climbing the ladder looking to achieve number ten, something inevitable happens. Once you conquer the number ten, you start at one again. It might be twenty-one or thirty-one or eighty-one, but it’s the same principles of your original number one.
How frustrating, you might say. It’s still the same funda- mentals of your very first one. Naturally you want growth and development and new levels. The principles for each step remain the same and the fundamentals remain the same, but on each new level you have a little more depth and a little more influence. As you grow, learn, and develop, you might reach a new level, but you are always cycling one through ten with the same fundamentals.
When you recognize and understand the cycle and seasons of your life, the press becomes nothing more than a workout and a time of training and conditioning. Press on with confi- dence. You have a race to finish!
Here my wife, Jennette, gives her account of when she walked into the hospital the day of the accident:

I came rushing into the hospital to find Josiah. The children’s hospital was about a forty-minute drive



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from my house, but I made it that day in about thirty minutes by the grace of God. A friend was driving me, and I remember just sitting in the passenger seat, crying and praying, “God, please don’t let my baby die. God, please let my baby walk and lead a normal life.” I had received a few phone calls from some dear pastor friends who prayed with me over the phone and spoke life over Josiah and his body. The feeling was surreal to run into the hospital and hear Josiah was checked in under the name “Trauma Juneau.” Whenever a severe patient is admitted or transported via life flight, the hospital assigns a trauma name to the patient for quick and easy admission. I was looking for Josiah, my baby, but the hospital staff knew him as “Trauma Juneau.”
I was quickly escorted into the emergency room and saw Josiah lying on the cold hospital table. His shirt had been cut from him, and several medical staff members were all around running tests and evaluating his condition. He was stabilized on a medical board and was supported with a neck brace. The first thing I wanted to do was touch him and look into his eyes and let him see I was there with him. It was heart wrenching to put him into the helicopter and hear him say, “Mommy, please don’t leave me,” but there were restrictions on the helicopter and there wasn’t enough room for another adult, so I had to release
him to the flight crew. Time was of the essence. Josiah’s eyes were still. He wasn’t crying, but looking into them you could tell he understood the severity of the situation. Despite Josiah’s concern, there seemed to be a peace in his eyes.



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The doctors hadn’t given us any indication as to Josiah’s evaluation yet. He was responding well and moving his extremities, but nothing was determined and no results had been released to us concerning his long-term condition. Family, friends, and pastors we knew from all across the country were praying for Josiah and believing for total restoration. We believed he was going to be OK, but we just wanted to hear something from the doctors. We just wanted to hear Josiah would lead a normal life.

Jennette and I were standing on the only thing we had, which was our faith, but waiting to hear a report from the doctor was one of the hardest things we’ve had to do.

Monday, September 24, 2012

POST-CONFERENCE DETACHMENT SYNDROME

A condition resulting in acute pain and a sense of loss when you say goodbye to your friends, good times, and room service.


While I'm thrilled to get back to my family and a something that resembles a routine, I can't help feeling sad that it's a whole 'nother year until the ACFW conference. It's like intensive learning and a pajama party all rolled into one.

Today is official "Conference Recovery Day" when attendees are not supposed to resume their regular work but instead must relish the past few days and fully absorb all that happened. Of course, there are a few necessities to attend to. For example, no one in my family has clothes to wear and I came home to a full freezer.....in my living room.

Here's to good times, new friends, deepened relationships and eating like it's Thanksgiving for five days! Now it's back to real life and I can only be thankful that God has given me a good one :D

How do you ease back into reality?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Girl in the Glass

The first word that comes to mind is AMAZING. Every Susan Meissner book I read, I seem to love even more than the last, and that goes for this one as well. The Girl in the Glass weaves the story lines of three women together, and takes us all the way to Florence, Italy where everything was so real that each time I set the book down I had to pause to come back to the here and now. Writing, art and history are all combined to make this one AMAZING story with an ending that made me sit, think and question. HIGHLY recommend.

Book Description:

Since she was a child, Meg has dreamed of taking a promised trip to Florence, Italy, and being able to finally step into the place captured in a picture at her grandmother’s house. But after her grandmother passes away and it falls to her less-than-reliable father to take her instead, Meg’s long-anticipated travel plans seem permanently on hold.

When her dad finally tells Meg to book the trip, she prays that the experience will heal the fissures left on her life by her parents’ divorce. But when Meg arrives in Florence, her father is nowhere to be found, leaving aspiring memoir-writer Sophia Borelli to introduce Meg to the rich beauty of the ancient city. Sofia claims to be one of the last surviving members of the Medici family and that a long-ago Medici princess, Nora Orsini, communicates with her from within the great masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance.

When Sophia, Meg, and Nora’s stories intersect, their lives will be indelibly changed as they each answer the question: What if renaissance isn’t just a word? What if that’s what happens when you dare to believe that what is isn’t what has to be?

Bio:

Susan Meissner is an award-winning author whose books include The Shape of Mercy, Lady in Waiting, and A Sound Among the Trees. She is the wife of an Air Force chaplain and a mother of four young adults. When she's not writing, Susan directs the Small Groups and Connection Ministries program at her San Diego church.

GET YOUR COPY HERE!


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

No Fiery Flames for this Chick!

Today I'm flying out to Dallas to attend the American Christian Fiction Writers annual conference. The problem is....I don't like to fly! As if I wasn't Nervous Nellie enough, my sister told me that when people go down in a plane crash, they lose their clothes.

***Disclaimer*** don't ask me the science behind it or if it's even true. It sounded awful enough that I know it would happen to me.

Bad enough to crash, but to go down nekked?

Here's hoping for a fully clothed and safe landing! If you're so inclined to pray......


Monday, September 17, 2012

A TRUE CHAMPION

The first gymnastics competition was Saturday and rather than just enjoying the meet or cheering (rather loudly) for my daughter, I actually learned something.

My daughter did well--1st on floor, 2nd on bars, 4th all around. But floor, bars and all around wasn't what impressed me. Anyone can be cheerful and poised when they're doing well. What impressed me was my baby's beam routine:




If you watched to the end, you saw her fall....twice.

But here's what brought joy to my heart--she finished. She didn't get rattled, lose her composure or stop trying. Instead she climbed back up and did the rest of the moves with precision and grace.

Later, I asked what she thought and she said, "I figured I wasn't getting any medals this time."

"Really? How did you feel about that?"

"I was happy either way."

One flawed performance didn't shake her confidence. She knows who she is and what she's capable of. She knew she'd trained, prepared and done her very best, and that the results were ultimately out of her hands. She was joyful because she was doing what she loves.

Wow.

When I grow up, I want to be just like Chloe.

Friday, September 14, 2012

You Tired of IT Yet?

What is the IT of which I speak?

Politics, of course!

Everywhere you turn there's someone approving a message, or talking about said message and how said message is right/wrong/insane. Unless you're mute and you don't have internet, it's unavoidable.

The thing of it is, we've all been taught it's simply not polite to discuss politics in public, but when people are online all bets are off. Why is it we feel free to say things on the Web that we wouldn't say to someone's face? How does a few strokes of the keys make people less inhibited?

Whether you're online or face-to-face, and whether you lean left/right/or sleep standing up, the rules of civility still apply. Let's face it, there are well-intentioned good people and scoundrels on both sides. And if we're talking actual politicians, there's no one in Washington I fully believe can solve the complex problems of our time. Those kind of people rarely run for office. (Great thinkers seem to run FROM office and all the knock-down drag-out fights that we call campaigns. I know I wouldn't run for office. Not that I'm calling myself a great thinker....)

Do you discuss politics in real life, or is it something you confine to cyberspace? Or do you suck it up and keep it to yourself, like me?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Bridesmaid

There's something about a Beverly Lewis book that makes me want to slow down, clean the house and quilt. Or bake something. This book is classic Lewis, but the unusual thing about the romance element is that the hero and heroine aren't together on every page--in fact, they spend most of their time in separate states. For this reason, I wanted to bonk the hero on the head a few times, but when I looked deeper his motive was love for his family. There's a lot to be said for family loyalty that so many in the world don't understand. If you're a fan of Amish, make sure to pick up The Bridesmaid because as far as I'm concerned Beverly Lewis started the trend, and she's still the master of this genre.


This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Bridesmaid
Bethany House Publishers (September 11, 2012)
by
Beverly Lewis


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Beverly's first venture into adult fiction is the best-selling trilogy, The Heritage of Lancaster County, including The Shunning, a suspenseful saga of Katie Lapp, a young Amish woman drawn to the modern world by secrets from her past. The book is loosely based on the author's maternal grandmother, Ada Ranck Buchwalter, who left her Old Order Mennonite upbringing to marry a Bible College student. One Amish-country newspaper claimed Beverly's work to be "a primer on Lancaster County folklore" and offers "an insider's view of Amish life."

Booksellers across the country, and around the world, have spread the word of Beverly's tender tales of Plain country life. A clerk in a Virginia bookstore wrote, "Beverly's books have a compelling freshness and spark. You just don't run across writing like that every day. I hope she'll keep writing stories about the Plain people for a long, long time."

A member of the National League of American Pen Women, as well as a Distinguished Alumnus of Evangel University, Lewis has written over 80 books for children, youth, and adults, many of them award-winning. She and her husband, David, make their home in Colorado, where they enjoy hiking, biking, and spending time with their family. They are also avid musicians and fiction "book worms."

ABOUT THE BOOK

The Latest in Chart-Topping Amish Fiction from Beverly Lewis

Twenty-seven-year-old Joanna Kurtz has made several trips to the altar, but never as a bride. The single young Amishwoman is a closet writer with a longing to be published something practically unheard of in her Lancaster County community. Yet Joanna's stories aren't her only secret. She also has a beau who is courting her from afar, unbeknownst even to her sister, Cora, who, though younger, seems to have suitors to spare.

Eben Troyer is a responsible young Amishman who hopes to make Joanna Kurtz his bride--if he can ever leave his parents' farm in Shipshewana, Indiana. Yet with his only brother off in the English world, intent on a military career, Eben's hopes for building a life with his dear Joanna are dimming, and patience is wearing thin. Will Joanna ever be more than a bridesmaid?

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Bridesmaid, go HERE.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Fat Cells and More

Quick--I need to lose 15 more pounds!!!

Why, you ask? Because soon I will be seeing someone who, the last time we were together, referenced my weight multiple times. Never mind that I'd just had two babies in a row, in my 30's. Back then I was about 20 pounds heavier than I am now, but the crushing weight of worry is causing me to....

......want to snack.

Obviously worrying isn't helping, and the low-carb crash diet I implemented this week isn't doing much either.

This leads me to wonder why on earth I care what this person thinks? Really. We aren't close friends and I don't see them often. I also know they discuss other people's weight behind their backs, so it's not as if I'm in a lonely group.

And yet....

I care. Beyond health concerns (which I don't appear to have at the moment), why do I care what this particular person thinks of the way I look? Am I so fragile that I can't take their barbs? Beyond my husband's opinion, none should matter, and my hot hubby loves me just the way I am. Actually, the way he feeds me he probably wouldn't mind if I gained another pound or ten. Is it vanity? I don't consider myself exceedingly vain--haha, but what vain person does? ((snicker))

How about you? When did you stop caring what other people think? Or do you, like me, have that one person that still gets to you?

Now that I've obsessed about it online for the world to see, I'm signing off. The salted cashews in the cupboard have my name all over them.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Not Quite Home

As I've mentioned many times--and frankly I never tire of it--we moved this summer. It was two and a half years of exhaustion, heartbreak and disappointment. But OH the joy when the last of the paperwork finally went through!

Because we didn't realize exactly how long the process would take, we never put down money on a house, thus avoiding a financial pickle. Instead, we decided to rent a little apartment in the ghetto on a month-to-month basis until we can find a home we all love.

The only problem is, we don't really feel at home. We're in that odd in-between stage where something feels....off. It might be that we understand we're not at our final destination, and simply knowing we're here on a temporary basis keeps us from growing emotional roots. Or it could be that we have an entire room dedicated to boxes of stuff I refuse to unpack, like books and pictures and personal nicknacks. (knick-knacks? Spell check hates me!)

So I started to think about what makes a home, and whether or not we have it:

*love--check
*laughter--check
*family--check
*old furniture we've sat on lo these many years--double-check

Then what's missing? Honestly, I'm clueless, and if you have an idea, let me know!

How do you handle a move, or simply that odd, unsettled feeling?


Friday, September 07, 2012

Permission to Pamper???

A few weeks ago I got a wild hair and decided to get a full set of nails before our daughter's wedding. After all, people would surely notice such a detail (cough, cough).

What luxury!

To be honest, it felt a wee bit self-indulgent, but that didn't prevent me from spending $30 to get them filled this week when they were starting to look scruffy. You know, the ACFW conference is around the corner and I want to look polished and professional--never mind that I'm a stay-home/homeschooling mom who does dishes by hand (hello rubber gloves.)

That got me to thinking, why shouldn't stay-home moms get a little pampering every now and then? Moms--whether we work at home or outside the home--spend the majority of our lives devoted to other people, making sure everyone around us feels treasured. Surely there's nothing wrong with indulgence every once in a while, which includes spending actual money, to make ourselves feel a little extra special. Right?

Then I did the math. At $30 every 3 weeks (and believe me, that's stretching it to the bitter and ugly chipped end) that amounts to about $520 a year. FIVE-HUNDRED AND TWENTY DOLLARS A YEAR, for hands that spend a good deal of time sweating under yellow rubber gloves!

So yes to a little pampering, but I have the sinking feeling I have to find a new indulgence.

What's your indulgence? Do you ever experience the guilt like me?



Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Tidewater Inn

Apologies to all for the late review, but I only received the book last week (a hazard of moving--I don't even want to think of the other mail that hasn't been forwarded.)

In any case, I'm SO glad I got a chance to review Tidewater Inn, the latest romantic suspense by Colleen Coble! While I enjoyed her historical suspense books, I'm glad to return to here and now, and there was even an appearance by one of my favorite characters from Coble's Rock Harbor series!

Tidewater Inn is a fast-paced story that involves interesting family dynamics, old architecture (love!), danger and of course my favorite part--romance. It also must be said that the faith element of the book is strong (not preachy) and I enjoyed the way it was woven through the story. I'm already looking forward to the next book, Rosemary Cottage, due out in July 2013!

Here's the official blurb:

Welcome to Hope Beach. A place of intoxicating beauty . . . where trouble hits with the force of a hurricane.

Inheriting a beautiful old hotel on the Outer Banks could be a dream come true for Libby. The inn cries out for her restorer's talent and love of history. She's delighted to learn of the family she never knew she had. And the handsome Coast Guard lieutenant she's met there on the island could definitely be the man of her dreams.

But Libby soon realizes that the only way she can afford the upkeep on the inn is to sell it to developers who are stalking the island. The father who willed her the inn has died before she could meet him, and her newfound brother and sister are convinced she's there to steal their birthright. Worst of all, her best friend and business partner has been kidnapped before her eyes, and Libby's under suspicion for the crime.

Libby's dream come true is becoming a nightmare. Her only option is to find her friend and prove her innocence, or lose everything on the shores of Hope Island.

Author Bio:

Best-selling author Colleen Coble's novels have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Best Books of Indiana, ACFW Book of the Year, RWA's RITA, the Holt Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers' Choice, and the Booksellers Best. She has nearly 2 million books in print and writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail. Colleen is CEO of American Christian Fiction Writers and is a member of Romance Writers of America. She lives with her husband Dave in Indiana.  

Visit her website at www.colleencoble.com. Twitter @colleencoble.

GET YOUR COPY OF TIDEWATER INN HERE!!!


Tuesday, September 04, 2012

A Year to Remember

Though we're only 2/3 of the way through the year, there's been no shortage of life-changing events for our family. Prayers and plowing went on for years--literally years--before we got our breakthrough. I'd love to say I learned something in God's silence, but alas, I'm not that spiritual. I do trust that one day He'll reveal the purpose for the waiting (other than developing more patience in me--but that's another post.)

This year:

*Love Inspired contracted my book, A Daughter's Redemption, due out Jan 2013


*We FINALLY sold our place, after over 2 1/2 years on the market!!!

*Our oldest daughter got married. (While we've always prayed for a godly spouse, who knew that one would happen so soon???)

Now I can look forward to the conference and upcoming trip to Disney, and most of all knowing that God really did hear me, even when He chose to remain silent. All I can say is when He's ready to answer, you'd better be ready to hang onto your hat because it's going to be a wild ride!!!

Have you endured a season of silence? How did you weather it?
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