Monday, December 28, 2009

Numbering Days Aright

I just got off the beach after a morning run. Well, more of a morning jog. OK, sometimes I walked. And sometimes I stopped to pick up a shell. You get the gist.

With just a few days left in 2009, us and a family we've been friends with for a dozen years have come to Myrtle Beach for a few days of togetherness and relaxation. The winter rates were so good, we're staying in two penthouse suites at a hotel with an indoor water park. It's been such a treat so far.

So while on the beach this morning, my heart kept echoing a prayer for 2010 from Psalm 90:12:

Teach me to number my days aright, that I may gain a heart of wisdom. (NIV)
Teach me to number my days, that I may present to you a heart of wisdom. (NASB)
Teach me to realize the brevity of life, so I may grow in wisdom. (NLT)

I've been mulling this concept for about a month now. I'd love to hear what you think it means or looks like to number our days aright. And what do you think the connection is between doing this and growing in wisdom?

So that's where I'm at both physically and mentally right now as this year draws to a close. I hope that wherever you you are, you are warm, well and looking forward to 2010.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Blessings

This little plaque is hanging in my home. It was a gift from a sweet gal at one of the Christmas events I spoke at earlier this month. Several weeks ago - both in a devotion and at that event - I issued a challenge: to count our blessings regularly between the weeks of Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Doing this transforms my vision, my attitude and my heart. And that prepares me for the truth that is Christmas. It enables me to feel the merry part as well as the Christmas part.

So I invite you to join us today. In the comments, list 5 things you are thankful for this Christmas season. It can be anything, big or small. Here's my list for today:

  1. Connecting afresh emotionally and spiritually with my daughter yesterday.
  2. My husband, and his servant's heart.
  3. Clementines in winter.
  4. Good neighbors.
  5. The unfailing promises of God - which I'm praying for several of my friends today.

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good and His mercy endures forever!

Merry Christmas from my home to yours!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Hot Tea or Chocolate anyone?

If I could, I'd plug in the tree, heat up some water, and have you over for some hot tea or chocolate this morning. We'd sit and chat about what the Lord has done in our lives in 2009. Wouldn't that be great?

Here, choose your mug:

I'd ask you about your major trials, your major blessings, and the major life lessons you've learned this year. We could even linger over a second cup and pray together. Oh, if only that were possible! Instead, I'll be finishing my wrapping today and then taking my daughter out for a little mommy and me time.

But since I can't teleport you over here, I figure I'll post a few pics this week of what Christmas looks like around my house (this year anyway). You can cyber visit. Feel free to tell me in the comments what you'd want to talk about.

While we're in my kitchen today, I'll show you the little Christmas touches in here. That wreath above hangs on one of the windows in my bay where the table sits. I love the colors in it.

It's rather crowded in here - there's 3 families at the moment! See, last year my daughter had a part in a university production of A Christmas Carol - she's really quite the actress ... her grandfather was a professional actor - so I bought lots of carolers last year and they wound up on the counters in my kitchen. Here's a shot of some:

This family sits just to the left of my cook top, so they sing to me while I cook. How fun is that? You reckon they're singing for their supper? Hey you forgot to tell me if you want tea or hot chocolate ... let me know, and stop by tomorrow to see what I did this year on the tree.

(PS. there is a hint about the tree in that last paragraph)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Idoleyes (a giveaway)

UPDATE: Deanna, you won! Email me to send your address and I'll send the book. :)
Here are your random numbers:6
Timestamp: 2009-12-18 22:08:04 UTC

A couple years ago I met American Idol finalist Mandisa at a Christian convention. She was simply radiant, inside and out. She gave me a copy of her book, Idoleyes.

In the book Mandisa speaks openly about how her faith was challenged and deepened as a result of her experiences on the hit television show. (She was in the group with Chris Daughtry, Taylor Hicks, Kellie Pickler, Katherine McPhee). She also talks about her lifelong battle with food addiction. And how the now-famous remarks by Idol judge Simon Cowell about her weight spurred her to become a positive role model for millions of women struggling to live up to popular culture's image of the "ideal woman."

If you are an American Idol fan, you'll definitely enjoy this book. If you struggle with your weight at times, you'll appreciate it too. However, even if you're slim, svelte and have never set your eyes on the American Idol show, I'm pretty confident you'll get something out of this book too. Here's a quote I like from page 231: "When I get to heaven, I don't want to stand before the judgement seat of Christ and hear, 'You did a decent job, but you should have trusted Me more and praised Me more often.' I want to hear Jesus say, 'You believed Me, you trusted Me, and you didn't hold anything back.'" Me too, Mandisa, me too.

I'm giving away a new copy of Mandisa's book on Friday 12/18. If you'd like to enter, here's what you need to do. Click on the Compassionate Christmas banner in the upper left corner of this post. It will take you to a website where you'll find profile pictures of children trapped by poverty and hunger - children who don't even have the option of overeating. Choose one child from the site to give the gift of prayer. Pray for the child over the next day or two, and leave their name/country in a comment here so I can pray for the child you choose as well.

Then I'll announce the book winner on Friday afternoon. Best of all, the children will be winners this Christmas by receiving your prayers.

If you chose a child for last week's giveway and want to pray for the same child, that's fine, just let me know. And if by some small chance this book doesn't interest you, you can pass it along to another reader in your life. But I should warn you, Mandisa signed this book to me on the inside cover so don't give it as a gift to anyone unless she is named Rachel. :-)

Here's to having a compassionate Christmas this year!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sacred (winner announced)

After working on some devotions, getting my hair cut, running some errands and helping my son with his homework, I'm chilling in my recliner with a DVD my sister-in-law got me. It turns your TV into an aquarium. It intrigues me how relaxing it is to watch and listen to ... it slows down my blood pressure and calms my mind even though it's just images and not the real thing. To my senses it is the real thing.

So I'm all calm but I'm about to make someone excited because it's time to announce the winner of the novel Scared. Commenter #3 according to with timestamp 2009-12-15-09 20:22:44 UTC. That would be Tammy! Congrats, Tammy.

If you didn't win, I'll be back tomorrow with another giveaway. Meanwhile I'm going to close my eyes and probably drift off into sleep. A nap before the Christmas party tonight sounds perfect. Aloha y'all.

Monday, December 14, 2009

My day - much different than Tom's

Turned in final grades to the university today - that concludes all my responsibilites for the semester. Big Smiles. Then volunteered at my daughter's school for an hour or two. Bought a dutch oven pot at Walmart and all the fixings for pot roast. Got that started before heading out to get the H1N1 vaccine (the mist). Now I'm settling in by the tree to watch a movie with Rick.

Listen, there's still time to enter tomorrow's drawing for Tom Davis' latest novel Scared. Instructions are in my last post. I've been praying for each of the kids you've mentioned there!

Before you jump below, you might want to "meet" Tom and see what inspired him to write this novel. He made this video just for the P31 gals reading his novel over at our She Reads site. Take a look.

She Reads - Hello Again from Ethiopia from Children's HopeChest on Vimeo.

Here's to having a compassionate Christmas!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Scared (a book giveaway)

Have you read the winter She Reads pick Scared by Tom Davis? Oooh, it's good. It's a compelling, gut-wrenching tale of a photojournalist covering the AIDS crisis in an African country. While there, he meets an orphan girl, Adanna, who opens his eyes and leads him to revamp his values and life. This is not a book you will soon forget - it reaches in your chest and grabs hold of your heart.

I'm giving away a copy of this book next Tuesday 12/15. If you'd like to enter, here's what you need to do. Click on the Compassionate Christmas banner to the left. It will take you to a website where you'll find profile pictures of children trapped by poverty. Choose one child from the site to give the gift of prayer. Pray for the child over the next day or two, and leave their name/country in a comment here so I can pray for the child you choose as well.

Then I'll announce the book winner by noon on Tuesday. It's that easy ... kinda like paying it forward. And if this book doesn't interest you, you can pass it along as a Christmas present to another reader in your life.
Here's to having a compassionate Christmas this year!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Purchasing Happiness

So let's talk holiday shopping today. That's what I wrote about in my published devotion today. How's your Christmas shopping going? Have you started your list? Finished your list? Finished & wrapped your list?

When you go holiday shopping, do you go alone or with someone?

Do you go whether you feel like it or not, or do you only head to the stores when you're feeling in the Christmas Spirit?

Do you think you spend more or less when feeling good vs. when feeling down?

I almost always shop alone. I shopped a little the day after Thanksgiving, but there have been several times this season when I didn't feel like going shopping, so I didn't go.

In years past I would've pushed past that feeling in order to get this week's advertised deals. But this year I decided there would be plenty of deals to be had in the coming weeks. I told myself to relax - that spending a few extra dollars wouldn't be the worse thing in the world if I didn't see that item on deep discount again. I've also cut my list down significantly this year.

Is your shopping/gift list going to be smaller this year? Does it worry you to whittle it down? Afraid to disappoint people? I had to get over that feeling too.

I like to shop and to give, but I'm slowing down my over all pace of life. Including my holiday pace. Plus, I'm reminding myself that I cannot purchase happiness - for myself or anyone else.

Recent research shows depressed shoppers typically spend 30% more than happy shoppers. I think that's because we have a tendency to try to purchase our way to feeling happy. We call it Retail Therapy.

But if I rely on attaining new things as a main source of joy, I'll be constantly buying stuff to keep my joy up ... and forever disappointed at my purchases’ inability to live up to my unrealistic expectations of them.

Not to mention, stress will arrive with the credit card bill - sending me out shopping for another pick-me-up. Nope, there are better places to find happiness. Like in serving God and serving others. Or in loving your family. Or in hearing the Savior say, "Well done, my good and faithful servant."

This year I'm really focusing on the fact that lasting happiness has only been purchased once: at the cross of Christ some 2000 years ago. Thinking about all that implies, brings hope, happiness and joy that a new sweater or bottle of perfume simply cannot.

However, if I'm honest with you, I'm still hoping there's a shiny present under the tree for me come Christmas Eve.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009 (meal #3, post #2)

So how do you cook Thanksgiving for a crowd of 100+ people? With a massive grill of course. And a large cast iron pot over hot coals. And about 70 feet of tables for potluck dishes.

This is Michael - a restaurant chef by trade.
I'm guessing this outbuilding isn't exactly his ideal working conditions, but he looks happy.

Confession time, I'm not that hip on turkey. But if I smear it with enough cranberry sauce, and chase it with mashed potatoes, green beans, deviled eggs or sweet potato casserole, I can manage. I managed 3 different Thanksgiving meals quite happlily this year!