Monday, December 31, 2012

The Last Word for 2012

It's time for the last words of the year to be written on fresh flowers.  It's been an interesting year and I thought I'd share some highlights with you...

Best trip: going to Allume in Harrisburg PA all by myself.  Stretched me and blessed me far beyond any reasonable expectations I had.  You can read that story here: One Thing

Mission trips:  I went with our church and my three oldest to Mexico on a building mission.  We also took our youth group to the inner city for a week.  Both of these experiences were very positive and we saw God working

Best book:  Grace for the Good Girl by Emily P. Freeman.  This one has me pondering, praying and understanding myself more than any other book I've read to date!  Would you believe I bought it by 'accident'.

Other books worth mentioning:  7 by Jen Hatmaker and So Long Insecurity by Beth Moore

Favourite New Songs (for me anyway):  
10 000 Reasons by Matt Redmond
I Will Lift My Eyes by Bebo Norman
Keening for the Dawn (the whole CD) - by Steve Bell

Proud of me for:   Reading through the entire Bible this year!!!  Yes I did!
                            Completing the 31 day Challenge.  I wrote on Uncommon Creativity - check out those
                            posts under the tab with that title!

Life Changing Decision:  I went gluten-free.  My body seems to be liking that decision and has starting shedding weight that has been accumulating without me having to try really hard.  I am beginning to feel better, which is pretty amazing considering the last three years of bone-weary fatigue. (I am hoping to begin the new year in a new 'decade' which for me would be the lowest weight I've been in 10+ years...we'll find out if I made it tomorrow).

Biggest Milestone:  We celebrated our 20th anniversary this year!  WooHoo!!

Big Blessings:

Growing friendships on and off line!

I am grateful this year to have found some on-line buddies that bless my socks off.  Thankful to have met some of them in real life.  It is so life-giving to have peeps that have a heart that beats like yours...kindred spirits would be the Anne-ism!  Love you girls!!

And here at home I have been given the opportunity to begin a women's ministry and so far it's been great...but better than that is the group of women I get to hang out with to plan these things and bring it all together, what a great group of girls!!

In this next year:  I am part of a God-Sized Dream Team...kinda scary and exciting and yeah....HUGE!!!  I can't begin to imagine what I might be writing here at this time next year...guess we'll wait and see.

From our family to yours,

May the God of all comfort bless you with all you need,
 so that at all times and in all things 
you may be able to do all He has asked of you!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

It's All About Giving

It's been a different sort of morning around out kitchen table.  We are reading through Katharine Barrett's advent reader entitled, Walking to Bethlehem.  This morning we read a very touching tradition in one family of giving to others rather than buying into the rush of commercialism.  The White Envelope project was started in 1982 with one woman's desire to bless her husband.

After reading this it was very quiet at our table.  Our rambunctious eight year old asked about that Compassion Giving Catalogue that I was going to show him.  I had been looking through it again just recently so I could get it for him in seconds.  He quickly went through it and showed me the page that captured his heart.  "Mom, we should help moms and babies be healthy don't you think?" (He's been on a kick lately about me having another baby - that would be a miracle!)

Yes, I think we should.

I shared with my children that the Compassion project "It's All About Giving" has only reached just over $500 in their goal of $20000 to bless children in poverty this Christmas.

We commented on how so many calls have come to ask us to give.

We talked about families we've run across that have to take a break in their gift opening time because the kids are too tired to continue opening their multitude of gifts.  We had a little chuckle because that has never been our problem...

Our hearts were seared...

So that Compassion book went around the table and each of us marked the thing that was dearest to our heart.
* Our computer man wants to help other kids learn how to use one.
* The leather-crafter wants to help young men like him learn to make shoes.
* The girl who's bed just broke would like to see some built for other kids.
* The farmer wants solar lighting on our farm and would like to see someone else get some, too.
* Our little girl who just lost a tooth would like to see other kids brush their teeth!
* I would love to help women train to have their own income through tailoring and sewing.
* We have one more that needs to choose but he wasn't here this morning.

We are praying together that God would supply enough for us to give towards these things...

Would you consider helping today to make a child's Christmas a little brighter?  It doesn't take that much...
There are 2000 Compassion Bloggers, if even one of each of our reader's gave $100 they will have reached their goal.  Every amount counts and helps them reach their goal.

Go over here and see what you can do to help...please!

 http://www.compassion.com/catalog.htm?referer=128060

I love to see a child's eyes light up! Don't you?
Join the Compassion Blogger Network

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Contest...sort of...

I have a problem I need a little help with...

I can't seem to find even a small spark of creativity to craft a gift experience for my amazing husband.  He is an amazing gift giver and comes up with all kinds of wonderful gifts, ideas, experiences, thoughtful words and much more!

I can be very creative...for everyone else, but I seem to have a roadblock where he's concerned.  He manages to outgive me EVERY time!  I did bring forth five beautiful kids out of this bod so I think that counts for something!

Anyways, have you got some fabulous ideas for me?  The catch is, it has to cost next to nothing...I've got a grand total of $20 to spend on this.  We decided that we would be creative and imaginative instead since our budget is so tight.  He has spent a grand total of $6!!!

Soooo....spin out your ideas, if I use yours I will give you a prize!!!

Come on creative friends...direct me to a marvelous idea for my deserving husband!!.  I will be forever in your debt...

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Perfect Gift

The flurry of giving is creating havoc with all varieties of systems at the moment.  Sites crash as they're overwhelmed with traffic. Nerves tangle and explode. Credit card machines spit back that your card is unaccepted and tempers flare.

Is this really what giving looks like?

Under my tree there is a duct-taped package with a card I made that is also duct-taped to the package.  It has my name on it and I can't wait to open it.

As I've pondered giving this year the Lord has been showing me a different angle on the whole thing.  This year my giving hasn't been without stress...I'll relate the punching bag story a little later *smile*.  However, we have determined to stay within a very limited budget.  We have determined that we will stay small this year and thoughtful of the spirit of the one to whom the gift is intended.

What do I mean by that?

We have a child who loves to dance, she dreams of being a dancer, she practices and has been given the gift of a lithe and flexible body built for dancing.  Our gifts to her this year will help her on her path toward that dream.  The same is true of our adventurous architect in the making, simple reminders that they can hold in their hands to remind them of where they are headed.

This is what God did for us.  He didn't need the internet to help him find the perfect gift.  He looked at our hearts, saw where we were going and knew what the perfect gift looked like.  A child born in a manger that would save us from ourselves and our greed and selfishness.  There is nothing like a baby to reveal the depth of our selfishness and to help us overcome it at 3:00 AM!

My parents never asked us for gift lists.  There is nothing wrong with asking what a person wants, however, there is something very right about praying into a person's life and asking the Creator of that person what the best gift could be for them.

This Christmas can I encourage you to give from your heart to the heart of another...not just stuff but something that will speak to their spirit, encouraging them in their dreams helping them along the way.

One of the things I love about Compassion is that my gifts go right to my sponsored child.  When I send extra money for Jordy's birthday or for Christmas, I know he gets it.  Our family was so excited to see the pictures sent back from Ecuador of Jordy sporting his new clothes that his mom bought him for his birthday!  One day I hope to get there and give him something in person.

This Christmas you can make a difference in a child's life and in their community by sponsoring through Compassion.  Click on this LINK to go to their giving catalogue and give a gift that keeps on giving!  Compassion has a goal of raising $20 000 for gifts for children in poverty.  Why not be part of something bigger this year...

What does the perfect gift look like to you?  I love seeing the look of delight on someone's face when they open a gift that I've given that I know is just right for them, you can't get that through PayPal!! :)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A God-Sized Dream

Several weeks ago I got an e-mail inviting me to apply to a 'God-Sized Dream Team' with Holley Gerth.  I like Holley Gerth and a dream has been brewing and taking shape in my head so I applied.  However, because the dream was kind of vague all I put on my application was that I wanted to write a book.
Holley Gerth and the Dream Team

I didn't really think much more of it and life went on.  Then I got accepted to the team and I started reading what other people were thinking and saying and the dream in my head started to get a little less vague and a lot more crazy sounding.  I'm going to lay the whole thing out here for you so that I have something to look back on and if you are directed to, pray into it with us won't you?

My God-Sized Dream
(which is really, REALLY huge)

Note:  alot of this involves my husband and his dreams, cause we kinda go together and have been dreaming for 20 years now

1.  We want to be debt-free.  And we're farmers!!!  That in itself should be big enough.  Most of the farmers we know (including us) live mostly in our credit lines.  The cheques coming in look big, but the cheques going out are even bigger most of the time.  A repair on those machines has the potential to cost more than a small car.  Add to that the reality of living well below the poverty line while we were students.  Yup, we are waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay down the hole.  BUT we believe that God is bigger than that.

2.  Our heart's desire is to be able to travel around encouraging people with the gifts God has given us.  We have written songs, we are both musicians and our kids are coming along nicely on that front, too.  We believe there is a message that God has given us to speak, even though we're not exactly sure what it is yet and we're obviously not ready for it, #1 being a big factor.  And my husband...well, the man can sing...his voice is a gift from God and needs to shared with the rest of the world. (like CDs and stuff)

3.  We would love to adopt internationally (Asia, India and South America are on our hearts).  Yes, we do have six kids already.  However, we have dreamed of having an international family within our walls for 20 years now.  We see that doing so has the potential to be a prophetic statement of how God sees us, no matter the color of our skin or where we come from.  We have one adopted son who is partly First Nations and 2 delightful German girls that we call our own even though they no longer live with us.  Again, #1 puts a bit of a damper on this.

4.  We would like to see our adopted son freed from the things that hold him back and have a whole, trust-filled relationship with him.  He has a long list of issues that I will not get into at this time, I could write a book about that and I probably will, but we're not quite there yet.  When he's free and willing, maybe we'll do it together.

5.  We would love to home-school all of our children so that we can do #2.  This would take a huge amount of healing in our family before it could happen.

6.  We would love to be able to encourage other parents in situations like ours.  There is very little support for families in situations where they are trying to love/manage very damaged emotions/hearts.  There is very little understanding in the public sphere for what we go through every day.  I would like to get a lot more education on this particular topic and be able to advise, counsel and comfort others who need to know that there is a way out...we haven't found it yet but we believe there is one!

7.  I love to teach and write.  I have no fear of speaking in public.  I love women's ministry and would like to combine those things.

8.  I want to write books and have them published.  I write this blog and the odd book review right now.  I have written plays, songs, poems, short stories, curriculum, articles and have about five book ideas swimming in my head, most of them started in some form.  I dearly, dearly want to see my name on the cover of a book!!

9.  I am a very creative person and would love to create something that people would like to purchase.  I've made lots of things and some of them have sold, but most of the time I feel like what I make isn't good enough for anyone to want it.  I am a pathetic marketer!!  Recently God has given me designs for two different items and I would like to see if I could make a pattern for other people to make them!

10. I'd love to own my own little store where we could sell our honey, organic products and my crafted items.  I'd love it to be a little tea shop where we serve soup and bread and people can come and enjoy a welcome spot.  I'd like it to have a crafty area where people can do something creative while they enjoy a cup of tea.  (I love a good cup of tea!!)

11.  I dream of getting my WordPress site up and running.  I bought the basics, but I am technology stupid!! I dream of having a beautiful site for all of you to come to that would fill up your spirit and encourage you on your way...

12. And then there's our house.  We dream of turning our garage into a family room with a corner for crazy gymnastics kid, a place for my dancers to practice, an area for learning to happen and an expanded entry (if you've ever been to our house you know that the entry is a necessity)!  THEN, we want to add a new garage that fits our over-sized van with living space over top of that (to accommodate our expanded family).  This would also include taking out a wall in our kitchen and opening up the existing living space so that when we have lots of people over (which is mostly the youth group...which happens fairly often since we're the youth pastors) the flow of conversation and living works better.  Again, #1 makes this difficult to even dream about, but at least we'd like to get all the holes in the walls repaired.

13. We want our farm to be self-sustaining.  Meaning that we would like to get our power and heat sources off grid, be able to feed ourselves and others off what we produce and make a smaller impact on our natural resources.

and last on my list (for now)

14.  My husband and I would love to take a trip together, maybe a cruise, where we could just relax and not worry about a thing...

So there you have it...kinda crazy isn't it?  It's kinda of overwhelming to actually spell it all out like that...that's what my God-sized dream looks like.  Phew, feels good to get it all out there...hold it gently please.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

I Believe Some Encouragement is a Good Thing

This hasn't been the most encouraging week for me.  Things have been hard in our tribe and I am trying hard to move from feelings of failure to receiving the grace that is mine.

Last night my farmer/shepherd planned a lovely 'in-home' date and played the following song for us to dance to.  What an amazing encouragement to my weary, deflated soul...
take a listen, I think you will be encouraged, too.

And then this one:
Blessings, have a beautiful day!

Thursday, December 06, 2012

The Jesse Tree Tradition (with links)

I wanted to post about the Jesse Tree long before now but it has eluded me!  It may be a little late in the season already to start at the very beginning but it's never too late for this story to be told and perhaps to prepare for next year.

I learned of this way of celebrating Advent through my pastor's wife at our former church (before I WAS the pastor's wife) many years ago.  I had never heard of it before and was fascinated.  She hauled a dead tree branch into the sanctuary and every Sunday the children read a series of scriptures that told the story of God throughout history. The prophecies of Christ's coming.  They are all there, woven throughout history so that there was no way that we could miss Him.  And yet we did, didn't we?  We miss Him looking at us through the eyes of the orphan, the incarcerated, the homeless.  Oh how we miss Him, but we don't have, too.

Especially at this time of year, we can look and find Him again and remind ourselves that He is coming, has come and will continue to come.  Because He said, "Whatever you have done for the least of these you have done it unto me."  So teach your children how to look for Him and remind them of the story of His coming, through the pages of scripture, so they don't miss Him.

 Historically the Jesse Tree depicts the stories of the ancestors of Jesus. The tradition would be that every day you would read that portion of the story and then hang an ornament on the tree branch.  That part, the branch, is used to represent the prophecy that out of the stump of Jesse, father of King David, a branch would come - Jesus. (Isaiah 11:1)  Most of the Jesse Tree readers I've seen share the prophecies, showing the sweeping saga of God's finger through history pointing straight to His coming.

Here's a resource for a Jesse Tree using the genealogy of Jesus:  CLICK FOR LINK

This is another resource that has a fuller explanation of the tree including the scriptures and symbols that follow the prophetic story of Christ throughout the Bible:  CLICK FOR LINK

Here's another one with instructions on making your own tree:  CLICK FOR LINK

While I have not read this book, so cannot personally recommend it, it looks interesting and I may want to pick it up for future reference:  The Jesse Tree by Geraldine Mccaughrean

And here is a link to Ann Voskamp's free devotional and ornaments:  CLICK FOR LINK

We have done this as a family using Ann Voskamp's resource.  This is a beautifully done devotional reader, the ornaments are in full color and you can use them in a variety of ways.  While we are not using the Jesse Tree this year (we are using Katharine Barrett's Walking to Bethlehem reader which has been wonderful thus far), I made a Jesse Tree hanging for a friend who is using Ann's reader.  I printed the ornaments onto fabric and sewed them into ornaments.  I quite loved the result and so did my friend! (Since we both have the book I don't think we were breaking any copyright laws)

My friend said I should team up with Ann and provide the hangings with her devotional...I don't think I could provide these for free, because they take too much work.  I am, however, thinking of creating the pattern so people could make them themselves and perhaps writing my own Jesse Tree devotionals and crafting the ornaments so that I could present a complete package...what do you think?

How are you celebrating advent this year?  I'd love to hear from you here in the comments!!

Some pictures of the Jesse Tree wall hanging I designed.  You can see my materials list and get 'closer' over at Craftsy where I store my projects online CLICK HERE FOR LINK
The whole tree, including 'storage' for the ornaments.


Before anything goes on the tree.

A close-up of the button storage system.

With all the ornaments on!






Wednesday, December 05, 2012

He Comes Anyway

My kitchen table is littered with the remains of breakfast, half decorated little Christmas trees, used tea bags and papers from backpacks that I needed to see before they rushed out the door.  My floor is decorated with cheerios and kitchen towels and the odd sock.
can you see him there, coming on the donkey?

 But He comes anyway, right into the middle of my mess. Just like He came into the mess of the stable.

He comes, bringing the promise of a little more mess.  Just like when He broke forth from the womb of that young woman...because birthing a promise is messy business.

Jesus didn't come to tidy up my life and make it look perfect.  He came to expose my mess so that I might turn to Him.

Jesus came to eradicate my mess and bring me all shiny and new and clean into His kingdom.

Jesus came so He could usher me into His Father's presence in the most beautiful sparkly gown you can imagine.

right in

right into my fears and worries He came

right into my failures as a mom and money-manager, He came

and He keeps coming, like a relentless tide, He comes and tumbles me under His waves of love and security and acceptance and polishes off the barnacles of greed and selfishness and pride...

He just keeps coming.

This season of His coming is for us to pause and celebrate that coming...when Love came down and walked among us and pursued us...

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

The Perfect Gift

There must have been such anticipation in heaven that night so long ago. God himself peering over heaven's edge waiting for that package to be opened. How He must have grinned at the shepherds trembling knees, maybe even laughed out loud at the look on their faces when those angels showed up!

I love watching someone open a gift I've given them. Especially if it's one that I made myself or put alot of thought into. I want to see the joy and delight etched across their features knowing that I hit the mark.

And I am crushed when that doesn't happen....when the intended recipient tosses the gift aside declaring it unworthy of their attention as they scorn the gift.

Or even worse, indifference. The receiver hasn't really received the gift, they've just looked at it, handled it and set it aside like a box of tissue or the magazine at the doctor's office, never giving it another thought.

I've been thinking about this even in terms of those packages I send far away. I don't get to see the expression of delight, dismay or indifference, I have no idea how the gift was truly received.

I wonder how I am receiving the Gift this Christmas. I know myself to have been indifferent before, neither acknowledging nor expressing gratitude for the exceptional planning and preparation that went into the presentation of the Gift.

I want to be filled with wonder and awe this year, reveling in the package details, the incredible care that was taken to get the setting perfect and most of all, delighting in the Gift Himself. I pray that I might bring a smile to the Father's face as I receive His gift to me.

How will you receive Him?

Friday, November 30, 2012

Five Minute Friday - {Wonder}

It's that day again and I almost missed it...I missed last week and there won't be anymore until next year...so I decided I better take my five minutes to write today, because I love these mad writing parties where I just let 'er rip!!

You are welcome to join, too.  Just write for 5 minutes on the topic of the day and then link up at Lisa Jo's house which you can get to by clicking on that 5 minute Friday button in the sidebar....then go and encourage a couple of great writers by reading their posts!

I'm a little late to the party but I'm pretty sure I have something to say about this one:

Wonder

Go...

Not hard to think about this because my brain is whirling, wondering how I will get that mountain of laundry finished and what I will feed our guests this weekend and I wonder if I'll ever get used to these new progressive lenses that I promised myself I'd wear faithfully but seem to have slipped off my face in the last few minutes.

I wonder how I'll ever figure out budgeting and time management and keeping home and family all on track at the same time.

I wonder.

This morning I made a horrendous mess pulling out all the decorations looking for one thing...and pulling out all the pantry items so that the installer guy could put the new drawers in...and there they were.

The ugliest and sweetest nativity ever...my little Tupperware figurines, the only thing that I thought would survive children...and they have for over sixteen years now...and I wonder how we will invite the Christ child in the season.  I want to observe Advent with more wonder than I have before, letting it sink in, this season of keening for the dawn, observing the oracles, repenting and welcoming in the One.

We've been practicing Christmas songs all of November and so the wonder has been building in my spirit and I don't want it to get squelched with all the mess I've created...my prayer this season is to be like my little girl who is singing at the top of her lungs as she cleans her room, "O Come Let Us Adore Him!"

Yes...lets!

Stop...

Your turn.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

On Real Life, a Coupon offer and Steve Bell...again

It's been a little quiet in the internet world this week as a lot of real life living has been taking place...

- real life birthday parties
- real fun crafty weekend
- real cleaning and cooking to get ready for the above
- real lessons (read driving, driving, driving)
- real appointments (read more driving)
- real vomit
- real (the other stuff)
- real fevers
- real aches and pains
- real road trips to celebrate my mama's birthday

Our house has been hit hard with the flu this week.  There is only one that still hasn't been affected in any way so we're just waiting!  Some great quotes for this sick week:

     * If you feel like you might burp, just go to the bathroom right away...you're probably gonna barf (8 year old giving 16 year old advice on being sick)
     * Could you just give me some grace!? (hollered by 6 year old to 10 year old after she 'cut' the bread badly - the only one not sick, trying to be helpful)

So, I haven't gotten any Christmas decorations up this week, which was my plan.  Nor have I written anything profound or even had a particularly profound thought, except late at night in a fevered state which I can't remember in the morning.

The beginning of advent is coming and I so want to do something more meaningful this year with my family.  I would like our hearts to be centered on Jesus this year...not endless lists of what we want.  I haven't done much in the way of shopping, planning or even thinking about all that yet.

This year we will be using Walking to Bethlehem by Katharine Barrett (get your copy HERE) as an advent reader and walk our Mary around our advent wreath that Caleb Voskamp made (so beautiful).  Maybe we'll get our tree up next week...maybe. Or perhaps you're Jesse Tree users, we'll probably do that again next year.  I made a really beautiful wall hanging for a friend for their advent and think I will make us one, too...and perhaps write a devotional to go with it...but in the meantime if you go over to www.aholyexperience.com you can download a reader for free.

I have felt immersed in the Christmas spirit as I've played duets with my kids as they practice.  It's been a sweet slice of life.

Some really excellent reading that I enjoyed this morning....an interview with Steve Bell.  I am more impressed with this fellow the more I get to 'know' him.  He is a deep thinker, a critical thinker and a man of great conviction, not to mention an excellent musician, singer, songwriter, entertainer and speaker.  May I encourage you over to his site, pick up a copy of his newest CD and get a few of the others...I even have a coupon code you can use to get a discount!  Then read the interview with Lancia E. Smith, it's in four parts but so worth the read.

Go get his new CD Keening for the Dawn here!
product code:  BELLCDOFFER5

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

God's Love Never Fails...a paraphrase!

I have to admit to being just a little bit pathetic today.  I'm feeling slightly overwhelmed with things at the moment...

- one of our vans needs new tires (they are being put on today) - no wonder I couldn't drive on the ice!!
- the other van sounds horrible probably because the brakes are most likely shot
- the washing machine began to leak yesterday
- instead of moving ahead on a project I ended up taking an extra trip to the city to get my daughter checked out...it was all fine, just worrisome, tiring and such
- I am only 8 months behind in doing our farm books
- I have no planning done for the next month our two
- we have a house full of company coming this weekend and my kitchen is still not put back in the cupboards nor is my sewing room ready for the crafty day we have planned with said company (the shelves did get put back in the cupboards this morning so I can at least organize those again!)

...and my eye has been twitching for the last three days

That's my pathetic little story and you don't have to feel sorry for me...I'm not asking you to.  The above is why Psalm 136 was of particular loveliness to me this morning...so I wrote it my own way...

Though the vans collapse and leave us stranded
God's love never fails.
Though the dishwasher doesn't wash dishes and the washing machine leaks
God's love never fails.
Though the company is coming whether I'm ready of not
God's love never fails.
Though the debts are piled high and so are the dishes
God's love never fails.
Though the projects aren't done and no money is going in my pocket
God's love never fails.
Though the bank account is red and I'm a little blue
God's love never fails.
He sends us lentil cheques in due season
God's love never fails.
He puts new tires on our van and will help us get the brakes fixed
God's love never fails.
One day my kids will graduate even though they're behind right now
God's love never fails.
I can smile and rejoice that they've learned something today
God's love never fails.
The smell of fresh bread is heavy in the air
God's love never fails.
The company coming is family and they don't care if my house is clean
God's love never fails.
I have excellent sewing skills and a creative brain
God's love never fails.

God's love never fails, doesn't leak, doesn't squeak and will not demand more of me than what I have.  God's love never loses sleep, not does it get angry, impatient or overwhelmed.

Today I give thanks for God's love that never fails!

Linked up:













 


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Testing and James Bond

My brilliant daughter downloaded this app to my ipad because I was extremely frustrated with my inability to post from here without a lot of issues! It would appear that she has given me a gift...at least until my WordPress site is operational...but even then, I might just keep this one, who knows, I'm a little sentimental!

Now that her brain is functioning almost normally again I can get her to work on the WordPress site, too!

Hope you have a great day, I'm a little tired after our trip to the city. Just so you know she is fine. The chest pain was caused by inflamation in her chest wall due to the bronchitis, her heart is just fine! Yay!

We went to see the new James Bond movie...I was so disappointed with the actor they chose to play Bond...he was so NOT tall, dark, handsome and debonair. What were they thinking?

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Heart-Washer and an Announcement!!

I'm a little excited this morning!  Guess what popped up?  A FLOWER!!!  Yes indeed, one came gently into my spirit the other day and I've been waiting for the right moment to share it with you.  If you're new here, I'll fill ya in and yes,  way at the bottom of this post will be the winners to the Riverstone give-away!

A 'flower' in my world is a little pulling away of the veil as God hands me a bit of understanding through something ordinary that I am in the midst of.  A little gift of insight, a revelation...a fresh flower!

The Heart-Washer
a fresh flower original 
by lani renee wiens

We have a dishwasher issue.  We're not sure if it's us, our plumbing, our a bad run of dishwashers.  We've had a couple of second-hand dishwashers for which we are really thankful.  They all start out working well and then within a month or two they are throwing yucky stuff all over our dishes and often there are things that come out dirtier than they went in.

They other day I was unloading and noticed that there was a cup that had some bits on it and rather than putting it by the sink to re-wash I just stuck it in the back of the cupboard, knowing that whenever that cup would get set on the table it would get to the sink to be re-washed.  I just didn't feel like dealing with it just then. (cue the violins....here comes the flower)

I do this quite often and you probably do, too.  Something is stirred up in your heart, something not pretty that really should be cleaned up.  But rather than dealing with that unsightly bit, we slide it to the back of the cupboard thinking we'll take care of that particular sin....later.

And 'later' will come, won't it?  That cup/sin will most likely get set down in front of a guest, embarrassing me and leaving me to explain how a cup that dirty could have possibly been in my cupboard.  It will leave me back-pedaling and red-faced, possibly even lying to cover my tracks.  How much easier would it have been if I had simply washed the cup immediately and set it in the cupboard clean and ready for the next use?

We humans like to turn away from the reality of our situation.  We like to defend our dirt.  This is NOT what our Father has in mind for us.  His desire is that we approach him with clean hands and a clean heart, and he knows that we don't scrub behind our ears every day...so in his mercy and grace, he cleans us up.  His heart-washer is much better than the machine I use to try and clean my dishes.

We can be company ready as we humble ourselves under His mighty hand and submit ourselves to a little heart-washing!  Because we don't want to be like the Pharisees in Luke 11 that were clean on the outside because of their rituals and laws and were filthy and wicked on the inside.

"Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up." (1 Peter 5:6)
"Create in me a clean heart."  (Psalm 51)

Announcement of Winners

Naked Lotion Bar - Stephanie
Silk Moisturizer - Marie

Riverstone Studios will be sending those directly to you, so I will need your mailing addresses to pass on to them!!  Stephanie that e-mail that you left didn't work!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Have Compassion, with a Focus on Angels!! (pun intended)

Good Morning! This is the last in my series of making your dollars count this Christmas.  Next week we are going to talk about preparing for Advent, getting your house ready (Lord willing) and decorating with a difference.

Make sure you enter the GIVE AWAY.  Since that Rafflecopter thing doesn't seem to be working...how about you enter a comment here today and I'll use my regular scientific methods. For those who did put your name in there, don't worry, I'll get you in, too! (all 2 of you! :)

There are 2 wonderful products from Riverstone Studios available.  Click HERE to see more of their products.  All their products are made with great care and contain no fillers, just pure, natural ingredients!  I use the Silk moisturizer and I love it, my skin likes it, too!!

Today my focus is to remind you of some different kinds of giving that will expand your heart!

November is Angel Tree Month

Imagine what Christmas morning might be like if your mom or dad was in jail.  You may have very little access to that parent and as a child may think that it's your fault or that you parent doesn't love you.  While at Allume we listened to a young woman's testimony who told us what it was like to have an incarcerated parent, and how getting a gift that came from that parent (through the Angel Tree) program made a huge difference in her life.  That young lady is now sharing that testimony with others to encourage them to participate in the program.  It all started with a simple gift.  You purchase a gift for a child on behalf of their incarcerated parent, it's that simple.  ANGEL TREE is a division of Prison Fellowship that id the heart ministry of the late Chuck Colson.

In Canada, go to Prison Fellowship Canada (click to go). You can contact them to find out if there is a program in your area.

In the States, click HERE to participate.  If you don't have a program in your area you can click on the Donate button.

Let's go overseas and think about what Christmas might look like in a developing country.  Giving gifts to our children is important no matter what our location or economic status is.  However, feeding our kids ranks much higher.  The team at Compassion works to do both.  If you haven't done so yet, would you consider giving a gift to your sponsored child this year.  For those you have on your list that already have all they need, consider giving on their behalf to help a family get started in a business, supply much needed medicines, books and other supplies that are hard to come by.  One of our favorite things is supplying the needs of a school classroom instead of giving gifts to individual teachers.

In Canada, you can go to Compassion HERE.

In the States, you can click HERE, to do some giving with a difference.

One more ministry that is close to our hearts is Focus on the Family.  We love the ministry that they have to support families in so many different situations.  You have probably heard their broadcasts or been supported by them in some way whether you are aware of it or not!  Kids of Integrity, Adventures in Odyssey, Parenting Forums, Retreats, Classes, Books and other resources are available through their ministry.  Please consider buying gifts through their catalogue or donate to their ministry so that they can keep doing the amazing work that they do.

In Canada, Focus is HERE.

In the States, click through HERE.

Sidebar:  We visited the Focus on the Family and Compassion International headquarters on a family holiday several years ago!  Such a treat for all of us.  Both are located in Colorado Springs, Colorado...one of our best family vacations ever! Focus on the Family is where I learned about Angel Tree when watching an Adventures in Odyssey episode...it's all connected.

Friday, November 16, 2012

5 Minute Friday - {STAY}

We suspend all things on Fridays for five minutes of unedited writing in the community of writers at Lisa Jo's house.  Want to join in?  Hit that 5 minute Friday button and join the party.

Today's prompt:
STAY

If I want my dog to 'stay' I tell him, too.  But how do I get my heart to stay?  I want to stay focused on things above, not things down here like the scripture in Colossians 3 tells me to.  I know that if my affections are stayed on Him, then there is joy in the journey....but how to get it to stay put?

- when barbed venom is coming out of that boys' mouth spewing all over
- when the finances look red, red and more red
- when the girl is sick and the medication she was given makes her more sick
- when I don't have answers to his questions
- when the dishes are piled up and two cupboards worth of stuff are in containers on my kitchen floor because the cupboard project is STILL not done

I need to hear His gentle voice telling me to stay, just be, don't work so hard to make things happen because you'll just wear yourself out with worry.

Just stay, here by my heart, resting in me, focused on my eyes.

Just. Stay. Still.

Just know that I AM GOD, and I've got this.

You can stay at peace, don't let that tail wag that dog.  Just stay.

still

stay

STOP

PLEASE, PLEASE, go HERE and enter the give-away...I would so like you to meet my friends Kelly and Audrey who are making these fabulous organic, eco-friendly, everything-free products!  You will like it, I promise!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Directory for Some Great Gift Ideas!!

Today I'd like to direct you to some other small business ventures that do more than just sell a product, they change lives.

If you are in the Saskatoon area this weekend there is a Work for Widows sale at Hope Fellowship Church, (corner of Ave I and 32nd Street) from 10 - 3.  This ministry is helping widowed women in Sri Lanka countries break out of that poverty cycle.  In some cultures being a widow means you become less than human with no means of support.  If you're not in the area you can view their website at www.workforwidows.com, purchase beautiful gift items or become and advocate yourself!

Ten Thousand Villages is a beautiful store run by MCC (Mennonite Central Committee) that takes handmade products from countries in which they're working and sells them in a retail setting.  They have seasonal stores set up in various areas www.tenthousandvillages.ca will help you find a store near you OR you can shop online!!

Women At Risk, International (WAR, Int’l) is a U.S.-based, non-profit organization. We currently work in over 31 countries creating havens of safety and healing for at-risk women and children. Our purpose and passion is to give voice to the silenced cries of the oppressed, wrap arms of love around them, and whisper messages of purpose and dignity into their brokenness. Through culturally sensitive, value-added intervention projects and programs, WAR, Int’l offers these women and children an opportunity to live life with dignity. Although specifically known for our fight against human trafficking and rehabilitating work with trafficking victims, WAR, Int’l addresses 14 different risk issues facing women and children today.Their website is www.warinternational.com

Tomorrow we will talk about some other ministries that are doing amazing things to support families in various situations, so check back then for more ideas!!

Then there are online friends and neighbors who have taken their creativity and turned it into a business, sometimes just to support their families and sometimes to fund projects such as international adoption.  Why don't you go check some of these out!

My sweet friend Julie makes stunning handmade cards..check them out at http://whimsicalwords.us/

Hearts Undaunted Etsy Store - http://www.etsy.com/shop/HeartsUndaunted, these are handmade multi-media art pieces made by Mandy!

Be Small Studios - http://www.etsy.com/shop/BeSmallStudios  Annie is an amazing artist and gave everyone at
Allume a beautiful print!

Amyma - http://www.etsy.com/shop/Amyma - sweet art prints and mixed media

Amy Reasoner - My Redesign - http://www.etsy.com/shop/MyReDesign, pretty jewelry and vintage goods

My friend Jesse is raising funds for an international adoption by selling her book through her blog... go check it out at 
http://jessiegunderson.com/?page_id=3638

For your fabric junkie friends, go visit my friend Randi at http://www.etsy.com/shop/freshsqueezedfabrics

Here's another one...something a little different:  http://www.facebook.com/throughthewoods.epp?fref=ts

Please feel free to leave more links in the comment box and go to THIS POST to enter the awesome give-away!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Introducing Riverstone Studios' Give-Aways!!

An excellent point was raised in yesterday's comments.  Real people work at the big stores and those big stores need to make money in order for those real people to keep their real jobs and feed their real families! However, you can still make your dollars do more by shopping through portals like PureCharity which has partnered with some of those big stores to put cash into a personal giving fund that goes towards great projects.  I encourage you to check them out!!

Introducing

Today, I want to highlight some dear personal friends who have been on quite a journey of health and healing.  In the process of building their straw bale home, going off grid and figuring out how to get healthy and whole they have started a business called Riverstone Studios.  You can learn a lot more about them by going to their website.  Click on their name up there and it will take you to their site.

All of their products are made with pure ingredients and are eco-friendly...no plastics or fillers here!  They are seeking to promote health on all fronts and have generously donated two products for give-aways today!

Give-Away #1 - Naked Lotion Bar
CLICK to learn more about this amazing product.

Give-Away #2 - Silk
CLICK to learn more about this amazing product.

*I use Silk and it is fabulous!

To help you with your gift giving Riverstone Studios has a whole section in their store with gift packs that will be shipped already wrapped and beautiful!!  CLICK here to go directly to that section of their on-line store - perfect idea for those who have sensitivities or are eco-minded!!
You can use the coupon code below!!

Discount Code Offer

Not only are they giving these two products away they have a coupon code (promo code "noel") for you , too, that will get you 10% off your purchase.  Shipping in Canada is $5 (international rates apply).  If you go pick it up, there is no shipping and they'll probably even give you a cup of tea to sip while you get to know them! Because they are pretty cool like that!


Kelly and Audrey, the owners of Riverstone Studios have an amazing journey and are one example of local business.  Take a look around you where you live, there are probably people who are doing some amazing things that you might not even be aware of.  You don't have to be living in a big city to be an amazing business.  Riverstone Studios are an excellent example of that!

Keep looking back for more giving ideas that give back throughout this week...you are welcome to continue putting links up in the comments to direct us to your faves!!

ENTER THE GIVE AWAY!!  Gonna try this Raffle-Copter thingy...

Question to Answer:  What's your favorite place to use your giving dollars?


Linked up at:  

 


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Join the Quiet Revolution!

Today I am back to helping you have a more meaningful Advent and Christmas season.  For the rest of this week I am going to be featuring some different ways you can make your dollars do more than just go flushing down the big box toilet.  Trust me, they don't need your money!!

My husband and I committed ourselves to not spending a single Christmas dollar that wasn't going to do more than just buy stuff.  No plastic goodies or meaningless drivel this year.  We want to take the few dollars we have and support local businesses, ministries and individuals rather than the big guys.

In our very 'connected' world, local has taken on a whole new meaning.  Some of my best buddies are people that I have met virtually and I have to admit I haven't met all of them in real life, but they are still very 'local' to me!  In keeping with that so are some of my favorite places to shop, while they may not be within walking distance, they are real people doing real services and have real products that they believe in!

This week I want to feature 'local' businesses and ministries that take your dollars and do more with them than just line their pockets!  Enough of that already!  I am also not so impressed with companies who are using child labour, maintain poor work conditions or don't pay fairly.  Obviously I am not going to be able to feature every amazing business that is doing something good, so if you know of people who are, please share the love and the links!!

We want to hear about Etsy shops that are using their proceeds to fund international adoptions.  Local businesses that are ambassadors for ministries by selling handmade goods that help break the poverty cycle. And how about you, do you have a small business that is helping your family make ends meet because you believe in what you do?  Let's hear about it!!

It's a quiet revolution that makes a huge difference in the lives of so many.  Make sure you are checking back over the next few days for featured shops and ministries and we're going to give away a thing or two!!

DON'T BE SHY!!

Blow the trumpet, toot your horn!!  The comment box should work better now!  The robot thingy is gone so if you have had issues posting comments in the past, fear not...the comment box is with you!  So, please, give me your links and recommendations and join the quiet revolution!!  You can email, too, if you're too shy to say it out loud!





Monday, November 12, 2012

My Confession to Ann Voskamp (and the rest of the world)


First let me say that I love Ann.  You are a shining light in this dark world and I love how you wield words and speak right into the spirit of a person.  I'm thankful that I got to meet you as a real live person with skin on and tears on your cheeks.  You pour out your whole self into a person and it was beautiful to watch you do it with such grace.

I have followed you since the beginning, when the comment box was open and Shalom was still tucked inside you.  I remember because my Elizabeth was still tucked inside me.  And there's a pretty good chance you'll never read this but that's okay, because someone else needs to hear this.

I think I found you and 'sparrow' because of A Child's Geography, you gave me a copy but we didn't do so well at it, I think my kids were too young at the time to attempt it, or maybe it was me, but that's beside the point.  I identified with you because you were on a farm, had six kids, homeschooled, loved Jesus and loved words AND you were Canadian. And 'sparrow' and I, well we had some pain in common and we have formed an alliance that I treasure.

I started counting when you did, right along with you and it was a lovely thing back then.  But something changed in me and that's why I'm writing this because I'm guessing someone else out there may be in the same struggle and I want that person to know what the struggle is.  That there is a reason that there isn't any joy in the counting, even if they've filled up pages and pages trying.  It's taken me awhile to figure it out.

My heart has been in turmoil since Allume, trying to make sense of all that I heard and took in and understand it all.  When you said, "Who wants to be standing before the throne with the applause of men ringing in their ears and all of heaven silent."  My flesh stood right up and said, "I do!"  I was appalled at my flesh and that realization sent me spinning.  And I've been spinning until a day or two ago when the revelation came.

I've been reading Grace for the Good Girl and it is like reading my life on the pages.  I have so long struggled with affirmation, perfectionism and trying so hard to get this life right.  I have been a mess.  Then I read a post about how a lovely woman was changed so radically by counting the gifts and I was MAD.  I was angry as I stood at my sink washing the endless parade of dishes and I didn't quite get why I was so mad.  Why wasn't I changed?  Why couldn't I see any difference, I've been doing it so long?

I vented to my farmer/pastor giving him all my frustration and demanding answers to my questions.  Why had all my counting not resulted in any lasting change?  I've counted for years, there are well over 2000 gifts on my lists, I did it right, so why wasn't it making a difference?  I have given away so many of those books with a counting journal and pen to encourage others on the road.  I've spoken on the importance of giving thanks, I had done it all right, hadn't I? Why does my flesh work so hard to be noticed?

and he said, "because maybe you're just counting."

And I wept more and I wrestled with God because I needed to know what that meant.  And I kept reading and working through the book on grace and pleading with God for revelation for my broken heart and finally light broke through.

I was counting like I might count silverware or books or signs along the highway.  I was counting to fill in lines on a page not the spaces in my heart.  There was no joy because there was no eucharisteo (yes I have the word hanging in my hallway and I love it), grace, thanksgiving, joy.  Three in one, just as the trinity is three in one, you can't have one without the others.  I tried to memorize Colossians and I only did one chapter.  I kept trying and kept failing.

I had become a Pharisee somewhere along the line, my heart hardened to grace, living a form of faith but lacking any power or life.  I had become legalistic and my counting of things was doing nothing...there was no grace....therefore no thanksgiving...therefore no joy.  I had begun living a 'try hard' life somewhere between the first thousand and the second.  There was no joy, only conviction and condemnation for not doing it right ringing in my ears.  I stopped picking or even looking for the 'flowers' that had got me started writing this blog in the first place.  There was no fresh revelation and I wasn't looking for it.

Somewhere I decided to just do things 'for' God instead of 'with' God.  I would be the perfect pastor's wife, I would be the perfect mother, I would gain the applause my flesh longed for by doing it all right.  And I was empty.  In a desert with no oasis in sight.

Then I went to Allume and my spirit realized the dryness that it was in and I soaked up every piece of heaven that I could and my eyes kept flowing and wouldn't stop after I got home, because there was so much water needed to make that dry place fertile again.

I pounded on the gates of heaven for answers.  Then I read this post from a beautiful young woman that reminded me that my mind needed to be renewed continually.  That I needed to set my affections on Him alone.  I read that my flesh will always be at war with my Spirit no matter how good that flesh looked because that's what flesh does, it sets itself up against the Spirit.

and I had to repent

Then the song of redemption started singing in my ears, softly at first, and then louder and louder.  I didn't have to try so hard to get it right, grace was mine and had been all along, I didn't HAVE to fill in lines on a page to get it right. I don't have to try to be strong, because I'm not.  He isn't going to GIVE me strength, He IS my strength.  He isn't going to give me love, He IS the love and He loves me whether or not I get it right.

All is grace and grace is all I need.

So I get to give thanks in the congregation and in my home and in my heart, because I can.  I can give thanks, not to gain anything but a joyful heart.  My legalism did not bring any joy to me or anyone else.  It drained the very life from me and sapped my energy right out and strained relationships.

So that's it, I refuse to walk in a kingdom of legalism any longer, my heart can dance in the fields of forgiveness, free in His grace  and I can count on!

So dear one, if you're the one this is speaking to, know that His grace is yours, too.  You don't have to try so hard to get it right, because you can't and the harder you try the more miserable you'll become because all you'll see is failure.  There is a wide open place in His kingdom that allows you just to be...I'm kinda new here and would love some company...wanna join me?

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Remembering...{and the winners}

Winners will be announced for the two give-aways at the end of this post!! Yes, you should read all the way to the end!!

Yesterday I had the privilege of attending our school's Remembrance Day service.  Two of my kids were involved so I made the effort to go, which, to my shame, I have not done before.  I was surprised by the emotion that it stirred up in me.


My family heritage is Mennonite, therefore, we did not participate in combat, therefore we have no veterans in our family and the whole thing didn't have a heap of significance to me.  The men in our family were conscientious objectors/pacifists.  It's only in recent years that I have begun to learn the contributions our family made and the problems they endured. Many pacifists assisted in the medical core or farmed land for those who had gone off to fight.

My paternal grandparents came here from Russia in 1925, German Mennonite immigrants with no family, a tiny baby and hope for something better.  During the war my grandfather had to head north to logging camps for his own safety, his German accent and pacifist position did not go over well with the Allies.  My grandmother never learned to speak English and took the weight of raising her eight children and tending the farm mostly on her own.

As I listened to the names on the Honour Roll I recognized the surnames of families in our community, young men who had gone off to help in the battle for freedom.  The names of my family members won't be on those rolls.  Am I ashamed of that?  No, I am not! My ancestors stood for what they believed in, that fighting does not bring peace, that the way of Jesus did not involve bearing arms.  I am proud to be of their line.

What caused me more discomfort was the many references to having 'won our freedom'.  That we walk in freedom because of these soldiers that gave their lives.  While this is true on the physical plain and I am thankful for that sacrifice, I was overcome with the realization that there was a much bigger battle for freedom that was won on our behalf and only one person died.  As a society we barely give that sacrifice a nod.

I am thankful that we haven't commercialized Remembrance Day, that there aren't all kinds of comics and decorations and what-have-you associated with it, it keeps us focused on the reality of what was given.  Not so with the sacrifice of our God.  We've mocked it and cheapened it and sold it for profit.

The battle that was won for us that day was a far greater freedom than the one we are enjoying now.  I do not for a moment make light of the veterans and their service to our country, however, I am much more grateful for the One who sacrificed EVERYTHING to gain my freedom, not just for now, but for eternity.

Eden is where the war began and Christmas is where the gauntlet was tossed down and the Resurrection is where the victory was firmly established forever and ever.  My kids will get a few days off school for that but do they really understand that victory any better than the one that we are remembering this weekend?  I guess that's my job, to make sure they do.

Jesus broke the bread and said, "Do this in REMEMBRANCE  of me."  Perhaps, tomorrow, on November 11, we will break bread together as a family and remember both wars that were fought and won on our behalf.

What's your story?  Are your family veterans or COs?

and the winners are {drum roll please}

Steve Bell CD (Keening for the Dawn) - Donna O, congratulations I hope it blesses you as it has me!  Going to need your address so I can send that to you when they get here!

Walking to Bethlehem by Katharine Barrett - Amy T. congratulations, Enjoy!!  I will need your e-mail address, which I will give to Katharine and she will send you the e-book version!

You can purchase these amazing resources here:

Steve Bell CD - Keening for the Dawn

Walking to Bethlehem by Katharine Barrett

Click here to get your print copy or Kindle version at Amazon.

This is the Smashwords link for Apple, Nook, Kobo, etc.

Psst:  If you have an Etsy shop that you would like featured here, I will be doing a link directory in the next couple of weeks!! Leave a comment to let me know!



Friday, November 09, 2012

5 Minute Friday {QUIET}

5 Minute Friday is a mad writing party that is just so much fun....you never know what might come out!!

Join in with us by clicking that button on the side bar with the same name.

Rules are simple.

1. Write for 5 minutes on the topic (no over thinking or editing)
2.  Link up over at Lisa Jo's site (click on that button)
3.  Go encourage the person who linked up before you.

It's that easy...

Today's prompt:

QUIET

GO...

Quiet doesn't happen very often in my house.  Not with 8 mouths going and 16 feet and 16 hands and often more if someone has someone over.  It's busy here...

The inside of me is where I need quiet and right now there seems to be no such thing.  At the moment the house is quiet with 4 at school, 2 working on home school assignments, 1 in North Dakota and me here...not too much noise other than the hum of the fridge. But my insides are screaming and yelling and stomping around.

I'm trying to make sense of all that I've taken in in my 44 years on this planet and sort it out.  Because I'm being taken apart by this book I'm reading that is pulling away my defenses and masks and getting me to really see the noise inside.

Because my outside is strong and capable and not needy.

My insides are quaking and jelly-like and screaming for attention and as my flesh is getting seared and that old self is dying and it is writhing in agony and yelling at me to not let it die because it is so very comfortable up here on my skin.

but i want to be real and quiet in my spirit.
the real me that no one sees
because of the loud walls that i've erected to keep you out there

i need the quiet of dead flesh and a spirit that is ready to hear and walk 'with' instead of 'for'
my affections need to be His not yours...

shhh, there's something dying over here
and it's a good thing

STOP

BEFORE you run away make sure to enter the 2 give-aways, you won't be sorry you did!!


1. Steve Bell CD - Keening For the Dawn (super amazing right to your heart music) Click HERE and comment!

2.  Katharine Barrett's advent reader - Walking to Bethlehem (you'll love it, I promise) Click HERE and comment!

Both give-aways close Friday night (November 9).

And just for fun, go over here and to get great savings on What's In the Bible DVDs for Christmas gifts!  (I LOVE online shopping - especially way out here in the boonies!)

Linked here:

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Introducing - Walking To Bethlehem

It is my privilege to introduce a brand new book that is coming on the market TODAY!!  My IRL friend and fellow writer Katharine Barrett has put together a beautiful family advent devotional that will add richness and blessing to your advent season.



Written with rich word pictures, Katharine walks you down the road to Bethlehem.  Weaving in personal stories, recipes, traditions and scripture this delightful journey will bring you to the side of the manger.  You will also enjoy familiar Christmas carols, highlighting the lesson for the day.

Hope ~ Peace ~ Joy ~ Love

These are the four pillars of advent.  Each week you will light a candle, read scripture and enjoy some fresh insight into the mystery of the season.  In between you will continue on the journey, leaving footprints of those four pillars.  Our family has read many advent readers and this Christmas we will be using this one.  In the appendix is an alternative oral reading that allows children to fully engage as part of the reading together.

Katharine has a warm and inviting style and I know you will enjoy Walking to Bethlehem!

Click on this link to go to Grace and Fresh Ink to read more about it.

Click here to get your print copy or Kindle version at Amazon.

This is the Smashwords link for Apple, Nook, Kobo, etc.

And you can continue to follow Katharine at her blog, Just A Thought where she's always got a great thought for you!

Give-Away

I would like to give away 1 copy of the ebook to one of my readers because I know you will thoroughly enjoy it!  I started reading and I didn't stop until three cups of tea later.

In order to enter the give-away please leave a comment and we will pick a winner. (open until midnight on Friday) I would like to hear about your advent traditions.  I will be sharing some of ours later on this month.

Feel free to tweet or re-post this on Facebook.  Walking to Bethlehem deserves all the exposure it can get!

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Why Do They Call it Christmas? - savings!!

My older kids grew up on Veggie Tales and I loved them just about as much.  We still sing the songs!!  Phil Vischer has come up with a brand new series called, "What's In the Bible."  Jellyfish Labs gave us a couple of videos to take home and my younger kids have been loving them!!

Clive and Ian's Wonderblimp of knowledge is a fun place to learn about things like, "Is God like a super hero?"  "Will God let us down like our parents do?"  There are fun characters and lots of music.

My personal favorite at the moment is "Why Do They Call it Christmas?"  This video is a little longer than the short clips on What's in the Bible but it involves the majority of the characters that you see there.  They explore the questions of origin of the names 'Christmas' and 'Santa', too.

May I encourage you to check these out!!  Also, Jellyfish Labs has a great site for kids to hang out on called JellyTelly.

So today's good news: Use this link to go check it out 20% off your purchase!!!


Monday, November 05, 2012

It's Beginning to Look a little Like Christmas...

Christmas stuff is beginning to take over store aisles and advertising.  It seems to come earlier every year and I can't say that I like it.

I have to admit that over the last few years Christmas hasn't been one of my favourite holidays.  It used to be, but the more commercialized it has become the less I like it.  My kids would make lists and lists and lists and  the 'gimmes' were getting to me.  But I think this about to change...

Earlier this year I felt impressed to make this Christmas different, to teach my kids and myself what it is that is so important about Christmas.  And to go beyond that right through to the celebration of Christ's resurrection.  I wanted to make it very memorable and hopefully meaningful.  Unfortunately, I didn't have a clue where to start.  Then we went to the annual pastor's retreat.

Steve Bell had struggled with the same things I did, dreading Christmas, not sure why.  He dug deep and found his sources and started to deal with the issues that were in his heart.  In so doing, he unwrapped for himself the gift of the advent season.  He shared some of his findings with us at the retreat all wrapped up in beautiful songs that make up his newest album that will be releasing in just a few weeks.  Trust me, you will want to go and purchase Keening for the Dawn as soon as you can.  We received a pre-release copy and it is so beautiful.  Definitely not your regular Christmas album.

My plan over the next few weeks is to share some things that I hope will help you get into the real spirit of Christmas, the Spirit of God!  In two days, I will be helping to launch a beautiful new book that is written by a friend of mine, Katharine Barrett, it is a fabulous family advent reader that I'm sure you will enjoy.  (psst...probably another give-away going to happen there, too!!!)

I will share some of our Christmas traditions.  Probably a give-away or two and some ideas about how you can make your dollars count for more than just stuff under the tree.

I hope you will come along with me as we start to prepare our hearts for the Saviour.

Read the story behind Keening for the Dawn by clicking here.  You can also listen to the title track and order your own copy now!! disclaimer:  he doesn't share the personal bits that he shared with us at the retreat, but really, it's so beautiful...

And to kick off the season of giving...I am going to give away one copy of Keening for the Dawn to one lucky reader!  So of course you will have to leave a comment and I will use my usual highly scientific methods for determining the lucky winner.  Give-away closes on Friday, November 9.

Tell me your favourite holiday smell!  Mine has to do with cinnamon!

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Pieces

I would like someone to order me around and tell what to do today.  Because I do not know.  I can see it all staring at me but today doubts assail and fear is trying to prevail and I am just barely keeping my nose above the water.

My farmer and I haven't been nose to nose in a few days and I wish he would come back sooner rather than later..

I knew this morning that at some point I'd be picking up pieces again and I was right.  I wish I had been wrong.  She stands confused wondering what she's done.  He's already moved on and it's her fault because she 'hates' him and he says, "I don't care!" in that hot gritty voice that says he does.

And me, I want to shake some caring in somewhere but I stand there helpless wondering if I should continue to rebuke him or go and comfort her and I do neither.  I pick up the pieces instead wishing it was as easy to suck back hurtful words as it is to suck up these broken bits of glass.

So I end up sitting and staring at the screen reading other's words instead of writing my own.  Thankful for the older brother who is following through on plans made.  Thankful for his protective presence.  Thankful for the girls, comforting each other and that the little boys are having fun at a birthday party today.

I wander through the chaos and wish again, could someone please just tell me what to do next?  My heart is full from Allume, my head is bursting and my house is screaming for attention.  Little one stands wanting someone to play with her...

Someone please tell me what to do, before I go to pieces.