Archives for October 2012

The Tradition Continues: Life Notes Subscriber Appreciation Giveaway

It’s kickoff time! That’s right, my Life Notes Subscriber Appreciation Giveaway  is back!

Each fall I like to kick off an appreciation giveaway for the subscribers to Life Notes, my free quarterly inspirational newsletter/ezine. One lucky subscriber will be awarded a $25 gift card to Barnes & Noblein mid-November—the perfect time for me to give a gift of thanks. I just wish I could give one to everybody. Life Notes subscribers, I appreciate you!

Here’s how it will work.All those who are currently subscribed to Life Notes will automatically be entered in the giveaway, and any new subscriber who signs up by noon (CST) Nov. 14 will be entered as well. Sign up is to the right on the blog sidebar—and yes, it’s free! You don’t even have to leave a comment on this post. Just make sure you’re signed up for the newsletter.

For those of you who would like to comment, though—and I always enjoy hearing from you—tell us about someone (or some group of people) you’re especially thankful for right now. Has someone helped you in a time of need or faithfully supported your endeavors? Has someone given you a precious gift or inspired you to greater heights?

Not only am I thankful for my Life Notes subscribers, but I am oh so thankful for my blog readers. In fact, I could answer “my blog readers” as one possible answer to every question I posed above.

You help me by your prayers during tough times, and most of you have shown support for my writing career by signing up for Life Notes since that helps me grow my email list. You give me the precious gift of your time as you drop in to read new posts, and knowing that you’ll be reading inspires me to do the best I can to give you refreshment and nourishment each time you visit. Yes indeed, I’m thankful for you!

It’s your turn now. Who are you especially thankful for today?

“How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you?” 1 Thessalonians 3:9

*Flickr photo by Lauren Manning


Ancestors. Genealogies. Roots. We all have them. Some of us can trace them back for centuries and others of us are lucky to have information on three or four generations preceding ours.

Whatever our time frame, we find our personal history interesting, don’t we? We look at photos of family members who were long gone by the time we entered the world, and we see resemblances to ourselves, our parents, or our grandparents. We hear stories about the generations gone before, and we take note of jobs or interests that are similar to those in our family today. We become aware of our roots and feel a bond.

Recently I discovered my writing roots. Thanks to Mom and Dad’s recent move and the packing that preceded it, reminders of other writers before me in our family came to light. Reminders in the form of diaries.

As far as I know, I’m the first in my family who has pursued writing for publication, but I’m not the first who has shown an interest in writing.  My Grandpa Hoy and my Grandma Barnes, both kept five-year diaries—the ones that were popular so many years ago. My dad kept one as well when I was growing up. I even started keeping one when I was young, but I didn’t stick with it. I do, however, have several journals in the works now :)

I’d say writing is in my blood. Seeds for my desire to write were planted years ago by grandparents on each side of my family. Not only did they plant the seeds with their faithful recording of the daily weather and happenings on their farms and in the lives of our family, but I like to think they passed down an aptitude for writing as well. I’m just the one who has finally let those seeds take root and grow.

My writing roots are just one aspect of the total root system of my life. I also have Irish and Scottish roots, farming roots, homemaking roots, musical roots, and spiritual roots—and the list goes on. I’m especially grateful for the blessing of the Christian heritage in our family that lives on now in our lives and the lives of our children.

Let’s all take a few minutes to consider our root systems and say a prayer of thanks for all those who have come before. And then let’s consider what seeds we are planting today. What kind of roots will future generations be able to lay claim to because of us?

“A good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children . . .” Proverbs 13:22a

What kind of inheritance do you hope to leave for your children and grandchildren?

*The photo above is of my great-great Grandpa Hoy and family, possibly taken in 1896. He is seated in the center (has a gray beard and wearing a white shirt). He came from Ireland around 1854, stowing away on a ship with his brother when he was sixteen years old. They got separated in New York City after arriving. They never saw one another again.

Any: A Little Word with Big Impact

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

If you ever feel little or insignificant, take heart. Little things have a way of being real game-changers at times. For example, some of the littlest and seemingly least important words in scripture can impact our lives in giant ways.

In the past, we’ve looked at how the words us and let were used in two different verses. We discovered what a huge difference they made in expanding our understanding and application of those particular verses.

Today let’s focus on the word any in the scripture above.As the apostle Paul teaches how we can offer comfort to others because of the comfort God has given us, he opens wide our comfort-giving door.

We are not restricted to giving comfort to only those who are going through the same trials we ourselves have endured. No, God tells us through these words of Paul that “we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”(emphasis mine)

Who can we comfort? That’s right—those in anytrouble.

And there you have it. Our little word with big impact. Any. No barriers, no restrictions. Wide open ministry doors.

The next time we start to hold back from comforting someone because we feel inadequate, because we’ve never experienced her kind of trouble or grief, let’s remember that we have the very comfort of God to offer our hurting friend. Let’s remember the word anyand walk through the door before us. It’s wide open.

“For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.” 2 Corinthians 1:5

*What are some ways you like to comfort others?

*Flickr photo by Andreía

After Fire and Water: The Hope of Abundance

“For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver . . . we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance.” Psalm 66:10; 12b

I imagine that some of you reading these words today are going through fire and water. God is testing and refining you. And it hurts.

Maybe I don’t hang out with the right people, but I don’t know anyone who enjoys taking tests. Nor do I know anyone who lines up early to be first in line for the refining process.

And going through fire? Well that’s downright scary and packed with potential for pain.

As for water, at first we might think oh yes, I’ll take that one, but consider the resistance we face when we have to walk through knee-high, waist-high, or—heaven forbid—neck-high water even when it’s calm. Add huge waves or dangerous current, and going through water imparts its own brand of scary.

The experiences that refine us—the fire and water—many times are marathon trials. Endurance tests. When caring for Don’s mother during the last several years of her life, at times the demands of hospital duty threatened to engulf me. I’ve also shared in the ongoing pain of our daughter and son-in-law as they’ve waited for years to have a child. No, refining isn’t easy.

Thank goodness the word “but” comes after the mention of tests and refining and fire and water in the scripture above. Thank goodness God doesn’t leave us struggling through endurance tests forever. Instead, he brings us to “a place of abundance.” A place of great blessing.

So take heart, my friends. If you’re going through the refiner’s fire right now, your place of abundance may be just around the bend. Great blessing is surely on the way.

“I am the LORD your God . . . Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.” Psalm 81:10

*How has God blessed you with abundance after a time of trial?

*Flickr photo by Eddie van W.

Paying Attention

I’m hearing voices I didn’t use to hear. Okay, maybe I heard them, but I didn’t pay attention to them.

Now before you get all worried and start slipping me phone numbers of good shrinks in our area, let me fill you in a little more.

The voices I’m talking about belong to birds—yes, the songs and calls of our feathered friends. I used to hear them as the background and soundtrack to the great outdoors of my life, but they’ve become something more the past several months.

It’s dawned on me that these voices—these songs—belong to certain species of birds, and if I pay attention, I can learn to identify their calls.And if I can identify their calls and am alert to their voices, I have a better chance of capturing  photos—especially of the ones I’m most interested in, like cardinals.  (Kind of neat how my interest in birds has sprung from my interest in taking good pictures, huh?)

So now I listen more. When I hear a bird call, many times I stop momentarily and pay attention. I look for the bird, listen, and then try to remember its sound for future reference.

To be honest, I haven’t figured many out yet, but I have made some progress. I’ve discovered birds even have different calls for different purposes. For example, cardinals sing, but they also cheep-cheep-cheep while feeding and looking for food. I never would have realized that, though, if I hadn’t become alert to them, if I hadn’t started paying attention.

I wonder how many times God tries to communicate with us and we miss it. I wonder if  his voice gets lost in the soundtrack of our lives, especially  if we relegate him to the background and neglect to listen for him.

What blessings might we capture, what pearls of wisdom might we learn if we decide to be alert to God’s voice—to listen for him and then stop and pay attention when we hear him call?

Many voices compete for our attention today, don’t they? Let’s not miss the most important one. Let’s tune our ears to hear the song of our Savior and our God!

“Listen and hear my voice; pay attention and hear what I say.” Isaiah 28:23

*What voices are you paying attention to?

*Flickr photo by fauxto_digit