Still a Kid at Heart

There she is — our classical pianist daughter, now in her late twenties, not embarrassed to hula hoop in public. (Shawn, I’ll be awaiting your profuse thanks for not posting the picture of your hula hoop antics!) One of our stops on our summer getaway was Silver Dollar City, an 1880s craft village and theme park smack-dab in the hills of Missouri (gotta talk like a hillbilly when mentioning SDC!), and this is where Kristin got her groove on and proved that she’s still got the moves. Waist, knees, ankles, arms — I think she hula-hooped every part of her body except her neck :)

I’m happy to say that our grown-up Kristin is still a kid at heart. She’s not afraid to let loose and have some fun when the opportunity presents itself. Whether attempting to be the family winner on the shoot-out ride at Silver Dollar City, getting in on some sparkler action on the 4th of July, or battling with her sister when they’re home for Christmas over who will move the mouse on our count-down calendar, Kristin still loves to indulge in some of the simple pleasures of being a kid.

We could all take a lesson from Kristin, in fact, and just have fun being kids every once in awhile. I have to admit I didn’t even think of trying to hula hoop the other day or wave a sparkler on the 4th. I guess I just had fun watching my twenty-something kids be kids again. I do rise to the occasion every now and then, though. On the 4th, I joined in and played catch in the yard and even showed off a batting prowess that surprised my whole family :) Come to think of it, during our family reunion in May, the girls and I rode the teacups in the kids’ area at Silver Dollar City for old times’ sake. And you know what? It was fun being a kid again. Makes me wonder why I don’t do it more often…

In our spiritual lives, I bet God would love to see us be like kids with Him more often, too. Coming to Him for everything, being at rest in Him, trusting Him completely, enjoying being with Him — just like little ones have always done with their parents. Scripture tells us that Jesus welcomed children. He said, “‘Let the little children come to me…’ And he took the children in his arms…and blessed them.” (Mark 10:14, 16 NIV). What better place to be than in the arms of God?

Are you still a kid at heart? When was the last time you ate the center first out of an oreo cookie — or crawled up into the lap of your Heavenly Father and let Him soothe your fears? Let’s let loose and give it a try. Let’s be kids again.

**Thought I would run this FYI again to make sure everyone has a chance to see it. I have changed the comment options for the blog. You don’t have to be “registered” with a password now (unless you want to) in order to leave a comment. Under the “choose an identity” section, you can simply click “Name/Url” and just leave your name. This should make it easier for those of you who don’t want to set up an account. Give it a try. I’d love to know who’s out there!

Going Prepared

Last week on our little getaway, we found ourselves attending a ballgame. No little league or T-ball this time. No sirree. We made it to the big-time. Well, at least the minor league big time. Kristin and Shawn took us to see the Northwest Arkansas Naturals play the Tulsa Drillers. Talk about summer fun!

We had great seats. Third row behind the dugout on the third base side. And Shawn went prepared. If a foul ball came our way, he had his new ball glove ready to make the catch. That’s our son-in-law for you. Prepared, organized, ready to tackle the situation at hand. And more importantly, ready to have fun :)

Sorry to say, Shawn didn’t get to make his catch that night, but he did have fun. We all did. It’s hard to beat the atmosphere — traditional ballpark music and food, vocal die hard fans, the mascot’s silly antics, between inning contests and events, and of course, the game. The plays that happened, or as in Shawn’s case, the plays that didn’t happen. But I don’t think that dampened his enthusiasm. He’ll go prepared next time, too. (By the way, Kristin tells me he may have been a boy scout — isn’t their motto “Be prepared”??)

We should all be so prepared in our spiritual lives as well. The apostle Paul exhorted Timothy to “…be prepared in season and out of season…” (2 Timothy 4:2). In other words, be ready all the time. Ready to share God’s Word, ready to encourage or correct, ready to do what God calls us to do. The apostle Peter encouraged believers to “…Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have…” (1 Peter 3:15). Again, be ready. Ready to witness for the Lord.

Look once more at Shawn’s example. He went to the place where he might catch a foul ball, he took his glove, and he stayed alert. What do we need to do to be spiritually prepared? Are we going to the right places, arming ourselves with the necessary tools, and being alert to opportunities? Will we be ready for the foul balls that come our way? May the Father be able to say, “That’s my son (or daughter) for you.”

**FYI – I have changed the comment options for the blog. You don’t have to be “registered” with a password now (unless you want to) in order to leave a comment. Under the “choose an identity” section, you can simply click “Name/Url” and just leave your name. This should make it easier for those of you who don’t want to set up an account. So go ahead — comment away! :)

Summer Reading

So what are you reading this summer? That question was posed last week in my online writers group, The Christian Writers View 2. Not only was it fun to see everyone’s lists, but it also provided some great ideas for future reads. The “what are you reading” idea has actually been on my list of possible posts for several weeks now so let’s jump in and see what we come up with, okay?

I’ll go first :) A few years ago, I finally started reading the Left Behind series of books by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. I know — I guess you could say I’ve been “left behind” everyone else on this front :) Right now I’m on book 10, The Remnant. I’ve taken a break from it, though, to read The Shack by William P. Young. This book has generated a lot of buzz so thought I’d better check it out before I’m way behind the times on it as well. I’m about halfway finished and am not sure what I think yet… Of course, I always read the newspaper (such as it is in our small town) and always have my stack of magazines next to my spot on the couch as well :)

This past year I’ve also begun reading some classic books on the craft of writing. The one I’m reading right now is On Writing – A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King. Crazy, huh? Little Cheryl reading Stephen King :) Since I’m not exactly into terror (hey, there’s a big difference between disaster and terror flicks!), I’ve never read his books or watched the subsequent movies, but this book comes highly recommended by those in the writing industry. Granted, I’ve had to skim over some “colorful” language at times, but his insight about writing has proven to be invaluable.

Now to devotional reading — I realize that’s quite a jump from Stephen King, but jump with me, if you will :) As you might have already guessed, I’m currently reading the devotional books in which my devotions have recently appeared. The One-Year Life Verse Devotional is my early morning one, and Daily Devotions for Writers has become my nighttime one. I also manage to fit in a women’s daily devotional magazine called Journey.

The best devotional reading I do, though, comes straight from the Bible. Nothing can replace the wisdom, power, and hope found in the Word of God. Moses told the Israelites that God’s words “are not just idle words for you–they are your life.” (Deuteronomy 32:47) How true. God’s Word is, in fact, my lifeline.

Now it’s your turn. Don’t worry — you don’t have to go into as much detail as I have. That’s just the writer in me. Everyone jump in and leave a comment. C’mon and join the fun! What are you currently reading?

*P.S. Don’t forget to sign up for the Stay Cool Summer Giveaway (deadline June 24). See June 1st post.

*Flickr photo by katerha

Win-Win Situations

I got to spend part of the day yesterday with my long-time friend Jeneal. Since she just recently moved, we both travel quite a distance now to attend our monthly writers group. It’s a win-win situation. We get inspired and trained in our craft in the evening but squeeze in some girlfriend time during the day. Since we both missed the December meeting and Jeneal missed the January meeting, yesterday really hit the spot. I actually had to restrain myself from squealing when I met up with her at the local Barnes & Noble :)

Not only is Jeneal my dear friend, but she is my critique partner as well. Pretty amazing really. God blessed me with her friendship many years before we started sharing an interest in writing. Now our friendship is sweeter because of our bond as writers, and our writing relationship is sweeter because of our friendship. Another win-win situation!

This past year I’ve been learning that a critique partner or group is absolutely essential for writers. A set of fresh and objective eyes can catch all kinds of mistakes (punctuation errors, wrong words, repeated words or phrases, awkward sounding sentences, etc.) as well as make suggestions on how to make a piece stronger and better. Yes, writers need a thick skin. Having problems pointed out is not always a fun process, but it definitely produces a better end result as we weigh the input and refine the work.

Jeneal and I have helped each other with critiques time and again — and I’m not just talking about our writing. Our solid friendship allows us to speak freely with each other about other areas of our lives, too. We can say things like “Do you really think that’s a good idea?” or “Maybe you could try this instead…” If one of us points something out to the other, we know it’s coming from a spirit of love, and we treasure the advice. I’m lucky to have a few friendships like that.

What about some of you? Comment and tell me how critique is valuable in your work and if you have someone who is serving you in that capacity (yes, it’s a service!). Or possibly you are the one providing critique. I’d like to hear about how someone’s advice has helped or is helping you.

Think for a moment, too, about your friendships. Do you enjoy a close friendship where you can freely give and receive advice? If not, why not make it a goal to develop one. Everyone needs this kind of win-win situation in their lives. Be prepared, though — you may have to restrain yourself from squealing sometime at your favorite meeting spot :)

“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17

*My photo

November Giveaway!

Welcome to the first-ever giveaway on Cheryl’s R & R! I thought it would be nice to occasionally offer a little refreshment in the form of giveaways just to say “thanks for reading” and to keep you coming back for more :) November is the perfect time to let you, my readers, know I am thankful for you and to help get you in the holiday giving spirit. (Hey, Christmas will be here before you know it!)

This month I will be giving away one of the books on my Books That Will Bless list — Thomas Kinkade’s The Art of Creative Living – Making Every Day A Radiant Masterpiece. (Sorry no picture — I’ve been trying to figure out how to post photos but am having problems. No big surprise there!) This is a hardback book with artwork and is set up in a way that makes it easy to use as a devotional. I highly recommend it for artists, writers, and all who want to approach their lives in creative ways. If you don’t want the book for yourself, try the giveaway anyway and bless someone with it as a gift!

To be included in the drawing, all you need to do is leave a comment on this post by Nov. 30th and follow these guidelines: Be sure to include both your first and last names (or at least the initial of your last name) and include an email address if I don’t know you personally. If you have time, get in the Thanksgiving spirit and tell me something you are thankful for.

Let me kick it off. I am thankful for the Greatest Giveaway in history – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16 KJV) This gift is for all — for “whosoever believeth”! Wow!