All Ears

I’m all ears today. You’ve listened to me tell you all kinds of things about my life, and now it’s your turn to talk to me. Like the pup above, I’m all primed and ready to hear what you have to say. It’s about time, huh? :)

For the next few days, let’s enjoy a little fun and fellowship. Everyone chime in and answer any or all of the following questions. Some are serious and some are light-hearted, but all will give me — and fellow readers — a chance to know you a little better. Can’t wait to hear from you! :)

1. Who is your all-time favorite movie star?
2. What’s one of your most embarrassing moments ever?
3. What’s the best thing that’s happened to you so far in 2010?
4. What Bible character (besides Jesus!) do you admire the most? Why?
5. Where do you hope to travel next?
6. What’s one of the biggest challenges you’ve faced so far this year?
7. What was the last book that really wowed you? What do you hope to read soon?
8. Tell me one thing that drives you crazy — even if it’s about me! :)
9. What are you passionate about?
10. Last, but certainly not least, what’s your favorite sweet treat? :)

Okay, like I said, I’m all ears so let me hear from you. Yes, even you lurkers :) Join the fun and fellowship and let me know you’re out there! Blessings to you all this week!

“We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us…” 1 John 1:3a

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, will come out the first part of May. Sign-up is free and to the right!

*Flickr photo by tanakawho

Blogging Blessings

I missed my anniversary! Not my wedding anniversary (thank goodness), but my blog-iversary. I meant to mark it here in some way, but the day blew by without me giving it even a momentary thought. I guess I was too caught up in telling you about the writers conference. Today I will rectify my oversight and celebrate the blog :)

One year ago on September 17th, I plunged into the world of blogging. What began as a way to grow as a writer and become more visible to readers blossomed into so much more. With the first post, I caught a glimpse of the incredible ministry potential the blog afforded, and that immediately expanded my purpose and vision for it. Now God has blessed by allowing those first goals to become a natural outgrowth of my desire and efforts to refresh spirits and nourish souls. Isn’t He good?!

Blogging, as with any of my writing, allows me the amazing privilege of touching hearts and lives. My statcounter gives me a peek into how far-reaching that can be at times. During this past year, I have had hits from 28 foreign countries, from Canada to Peru to Bangladesh. Here at home, 43 of 50 states have been represented, along with Washington, D.C.. If you know anyone in Hawaii, Alaska, Idaho, North Dakota, Vermont, New Hampshire, or Rhode Island, send them my link. By my second anniversary, it would be fun to claim all 50 :)

I have met new people as they have breezed through my blog and left comments, and I’ve also made some new friends who stop by again and again. The blog helps me stay more connected to those of you I already know as well. It makes me day when readers leave comments — we writers thrive on feedback, you know :)

And speaking of comments, one change I think I should make in this second year of blogging is how often I comment back to comments :) Since writers spend a lot of time at the computer as it is, I need to streamline my computer time where I can. I love your comments so keep them coming, please. They bless me and also add to the blog. Just know that I’ll be trying to resist the urge to reply to every single person :) I will still be commenting from time to time but want to allow myself the freedom to do it as I have time or see a need.

And now to celebrate my first blog-iversary, let me say “woo-hoo!” and “thank you” for being a part of my blogging family. I echo the words of Paul, Silas, and Timothy as they said to the Thessalonians, “We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well…” (1 Thes. 2:8).

Here’s to another year of sharing our lives — be blessed!

*Flickr photo by pebblechen

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