Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Monday, November 28, 2011
Real life is not a painting. Or an old black-and-white movie. (That's often why we love escaping into our novels.)
Nope. Real life finds too many dust bunnies when it's time to move furniture to make room for the tree. Real life has pouting kids who don't want to help lug in the decoration box or be pulled away from their video games in order to just sit by the fire with mom. Husbands who tolerate, but don't enjoy, watching White Christmas, and who grimace and sweat--and possibly even swear--while wrestling with the Christmas lights.
Add to that the fact that I never got around to shedding that extra five pounds--and now feel it's too late to try--the constant pain in my neck, the myriad bills we aren't sure how to pay, a toddler in the throes of the "terrible two's" (to be fair, he's the sweetest boy in the world, just extremely rambunctious), and homeschool pressures...and each day starts to feel overwhelming. Beyond my ability. Sucking me under. Life does not meet my expectations. I'm failing.
And sometimes "failing" at something as simple and earthly as creating the "right" home atmosphere can lead to a depression that slips into spiritual darkness. Lies. All lies. But too often, I believe them.
Maybe you can relate. Or maybe your set of challenges lies elsewhere. Regardless, we all have seasons, or areas of our life, where we don't feel up to the task. And we grieve that ineptitude.
A dear friend recently gave me a gift--a daily devotional--and the first day's reading hit its mark in my heart. In essence, it reminded me that the measure of God's strength given to me on a daily basis is determined by two things:
The difficulty of my circumstances, and my willingness to depend on Him for help.
This concept completely changed my thinking when it came to facing challenges. Demons. I don't need to assess the situation and measure it against my usual ability and strength. I need to depend on Him and believe that He can and will empower me that much more in order to handle the task. And tomorrow, when the challenge is not so great, He will give me just the strength I need for that day.
Today it might be preparing the house, encouraging generousity in my kids, and finding ways to trim the grocery budget so that we can get that tail light replaced. Tomorrow it could be the death of a loved one, a falling away of a brother or sister, or the loss of a job. But the degree of His power available to me will match whatever circumstance comes my way.
And the same goes for you, too. So if there's any chance that one of you share this struggle of mine at this time of year, I pray this truth shines like a beacon in your heart and gives you hope. It did for me.
If you're interested in the devotional I mentioned, it's called Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. The entry I referenced was November 11th. :-) And if you want some great Christian novels to dive into or pick up as gifts, you always know where to find some winners. (There's always a contest going on at COTT, so I hope you'll join us this week for a look at a couple great cover images.)
Have a blessed week!
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Guest post by Delia Latham
The Amish are known for their quiet, unassuming manner. Their love of all things peaceful…and shunning of competitive pastimes.
Well. I'm afraid that all flew out the window in the COTT Clash featuring Amish fiction. It was a fight to the finish.... a nose-to-nose race...a no-holds-barred dash to the finish line!
Both authors hit the ground running with sizzling teasers that presented a definite challenge to our readers. Both were super-fantastic! Both offered a tantalizing glimpse into an amazing read.
But only one of these fabulous excerpts could take the win.
When at last the dust died down…the crowd silenced in expectation…and the winner stood revealed…
The choice was not an easy one, as our readers made perfectly clear in their comments:
"Both of these excerpts are immediately engaging—I think I'd like to read both books!"
"Both excerpts are winners. Can't wait to read them."
"I enjoy the Clash of the Titles!! Each author is fantastic!! And such a great place to hear of new authors that perhaps you haven't read before. Good luck!"
"I love to read stories of the Amish. Thank you for your hard work."
"The authors who write Amish fiction are doing a great job keeping true to the Amish ways while holding the reader's interest with wonderful story lines over and over again."
Heartfelt thanks and deep appreciation to both Suzanne and Laura. I wish we could call it a tie and put both in the winner's slot, because both authors truly are winners.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Monday, November 14, 2011
Julie says: "I love my strong coffee, lilacs, NCIS, and Beth Moore Bible studies (not in that order!)"
Her site has been up since December 31, 2006 and was her first act of surrendering fear of what others would think about her. That fear had kept her from doing what she loved since childhood but her baby step into blogging quickly led to many other writing opportunities—a true testament to listening to the whisperings of the Lord.
Julie's warm, transparent personality is woven throughout her blog posts. "I’m not a scholar, just a wife and mom trying to help anyone willing to read know that Jesus is close and intimate with arms open to receive, not turn away." Her focus is to encourage readers, mostly adult women, to find "freedom through surrender."
An avid reader, Julie provides book ideas on her site based on what she's reading. On Sundays you can take a peek at her amateur nature pictures with a few thoughts about God’s love. She posts 5-7 days per week so there's always something new! If you're looking for a blog-hostess gift, I hear she really really loves chocolate!
Surrendering the good, the bad, and---maybe one day---the chocolate
Black 'n Gold Girl's Book Spot is a fun place to gather. Renee is always looking for a way to make you chuckle or at least inform you about some great books and movies. She also sometimes posts about her other interests like vintage jewelry, TV, antiques, sports, pets etc. She always makes you feel welcome!
Another great reason to add her to your blog roll: she loves doing giveaways and hosting authors.
Renee says she's an avid reader of just about anything from the back of the cereal box to the back of a book. ^-^
"I love to blog. I've met so many great people through the blogging world and have had the opportunity to read so many wonderful books that I might not have otherwise had the chance to. I love being a member of FIRST Wild Card and this Blog Alliance, two other great groups that I wouldn't have had the chance to join if it wasn't for blogging. I'm loyal to the local sports teams, especially my Pittsburgh Steelers (LOVE those Black 'n Gold guys ;-)) and I'm a crazy car girl LOL! Take me to a car show over the mall any day of the week!"
She tries to post everyday but sometimes 'real life' limits her blogging to 3 times per week. If you want to bring her a blog-hostess gift, make sure you get a big box with holes in it. Renee loves big, furry dogs! =) Of course, it might be easier to just bring a treat for Coco.