19 06, 2014

Anyone Can Live a Life of Purpose

By |2014-06-19T06:00:58-05:00June 19th, 2014|Company's Coming, Guest blogger|1 Comment

A Guest Post by Jennifer Slattery

He always arrived late, many times after most of the food had been served. He wore his curly hair and beard long, and though it was clear he did his best to tame it, his hair resisted his efforts. He spent his days at the public library, and though he had a place to stay, he spent a fair amount of time on the streets.

To passersby, he seemed odd, maladjusted, and maybe a little… off.

He was unemployed; and listening to his stories, considered by many to be unemployable.

Outside of the biweekly meals offered at Takin’ it to the Streets, a homeless ministry in the Omaha Metro, I’m not sure how he survived. I suspect he received disability or some sort of state assistance.

Although he had a sister, I’m not sure if he ever saw her, or if he had any other family to speak of. I’m not sure if he even had friends, at least, relationships you or I would deem as friendships.

To most, his situation probably seemed hopeless. I imagine, if I were in his shoes, I’d slip into a pit of despair. Or bitterness.

Likely both.

But I sat beside him, listening to him talk about his Savior, I was awed and humbled by the praise that poured fourth—a praise rooted in purpose.

For you see, this man, this child of God, knew he was here for a reason and that God had a crucial, eternal task assigned specifically to him.

He knew God was in control, even when the world seemed chaotic and hopeless. With his faith and identity so rooted in Christ, he was able to rise above his circumstances, using every moment and every encounter to share God’s goodness and truth.

He told the angry, homeless woman pushing a rusted cart that God loved her.

He shared candy others had given him with those less fortunate, and yes, though he had so very little, he did notice those who were less fortunate than he was. Because that’s what happens when we take our eyes off of ourselves and our problems and place them on our Savior—everything becomes just a little brighter, just a little more hopeful, and a great deal more eternal.

As I listened to him share about these people he had touched, witnessed to, prayed with and for, I realized just how beautiful this thing called grace is.

Because of God’s grace, we each have a purpose—a divinely-ordained and eternal task assigned to us. More than that, we are each lovingly crafted to perform that work which God assigned to us long before He even breathed life into our frail lungs.

But looking around at the hardened faces all around us, a second realization came just as quickly.

We can all lose sight of our purpose. We can become so focused on our problems and the chaos around us, we can be consumed with anger and bitterness.

The choice is ours, and it is ours to make each and every day. Which way of life will you choose?

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headshot2013Jennifer Slattery writes Missional Romance for New Hope Publishers, a publishing house passionate about bringing God’s healing grace and truth to the hopeless. She also writes for Christ to the World Ministries, Crosswalk.com, and Internet Café Devotions.

Jennifer blogs at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud and you can PRE order her new release by clicking on the cover:

BeyondIDocoverMarriage . . . it’s more than a happily ever after. Eternally more. Ainsley Meadow’s encounter with a woman, her child, and their abuser sparks a passion that threatens her engagement. Will seeing beyond the present unite her and her fiancé or tear them apart?

Raised by a hedonist mother, who cycles through jobs and relationships like wrapping paper on Christmas morning, Ainsley falls into a predictable and safe relationship with Richard, a self-absorbed socialite psychiatrist. But as her wedding nears, a battered woman and her child spark a long-forgotten dream and ignites a hidden passion. One that threatens to change everything, including her fiancé. To embrace God’s best and find true love, this security-seeking bride must follow God with reckless abandon and realize that marriage goes Beyond I Do.

 

16 06, 2014

Remembering Our Fathers

By |2014-06-16T06:00:04-05:00June 16th, 2014|Holidays|1 Comment

Yesterday was Father’s Day. I hope you honored whoever is your father figure.

For some of you that person might have been a birth father. For others, it’s a stepfather or a relative or friend that serves the father role for us.

Me, I’ve been blessed with three godly men who were great examples of a father’s love, offering faith and wisdom along my way.

dvtMy father.

Daddy taught me how to fish, how to hunt, and how to dress out my bounty. He taught me how to build things, grow things, and cook around a campfire. He taught me raunchy songs and words as though I was a son, not a daughter, then reminded me to always be a lady. 🙂

My second father was my beloved uncle.w.t.2

Uncle Dub told me often he was Ivo Jima when he received word of my birth. A Marine through and through, he taught me to shoot straight, with a firearm and with my words. He taught me the fun of antique auctions and old things. He showed unconditional love in the tough times and tough love when needed. He was a wise counselor.

L.O.-2My third father I inherited when I married.

The father of four girls the last thing my preacher father-in-love needed was another daughter…especially one who asked hard questions. He shared his Bible wisdom and whetted my appetite for studying the Scripture. And, best of all he raised his only son to be the best husband ever and a godly father.

All three of my daddies are gone now so Father’s Day is a bit a sad for me. I miss them, but remembering them on their special day brings back special memories and makes me smile.

These three men were such a blessing in my life. As Holley Gerth says:

“One of the greatest blessings God can give us is a father whose faith passes on the heritage of the past, provides blessings in the present, and guides us with wisdom for the future.”

How about you? Do you have a father figure you count as a blessing? Someone who shared their heritage and offered guidance for the present and the future.

I’d love to hear about your daddy.

13 06, 2014

One Good Turn – Miller Farm Friday

By |2014-06-13T06:00:17-05:00June 13th, 2014|Miller Farm Friday|0 Comments

By Guest Blogger Chicken Wrangler Sara

Our neighbors are dog sitting this summer.  This is the neighbors with the chain link fence, not the privacy fence.  The dog is a large breed and our dachshunds love to run up and down the fence line with him.  His name is Zander.

One morning Matt looked out the front window and asked, “Isn’t that the dog the neighbors are watching?”

I looked and sure enough it looked just like Zander. We went outside, Matt took him by the collar, and we started walking next door.  The gate to the back yard was closed and I considered just putting Zander back in the yard but decided we probably needed to let the neighbors know there was an escape route somewhere in the fence.

We knocked on the door and heard barking – from inside.  Unless the dog we were holding was a ventriloquist, there was another dog inside.

We checked the tag. It did not say “Zander.” It did, however, have a phone number which Matt called.

Since it was an out of town number, he was hoping it was a college student who was unable to keep the dog. (Matt really wants a big dog to run with him.) The owner answered the phone and quickly came to retrieve the dog, much to Matt’s dismay.

Meanwhile, the neighbors had ignored the barking (something we did well until the fire episode) and never even came to the door. I was very glad we had not deposited the dog in the back yard.  It would have been a shock for humans and dogs.

The following week we found ourselves in the opposite role of the story.  Some boys in the neighborhood who like to check eggs accidentally left the gate open and two of our dogs escaped.

tuckerTucker just went next-door and quickly returned to our house. I guess he knows a good thing.

Bella, on the other hand, took off running as fast as she could. Think of the ginger bread boy – “Run, run as fast as you can. You can’t catch me I’m Bella.”

Rachel took off after her with Matt right behind. Matt, being much taller and faster, was able to catch up and corral Bella toward the house. He only thought he needed a big dog to run with him.

As she crossed the street, a car stopped and two people got out joining in the chase. I guess they were dog lovers also.

bella2I really believe Bella would have come on home if she had remembered which house was hers.  We finally chased her through the front door where she collapsed for the rest of the evening.

So our willingness to help a total stranger when his dog escaped was returned by total strangers who helped us get Bella home.

All of us dog lovers have to stick together.

 

12 06, 2014

CLEAR EYES, FULL HEART, CAN’T LOSE

By |2014-06-12T06:00:01-05:00June 12th, 2014|Guest blogger|1 Comment

A guest blog by Jody Payne

Sh-h-h, please don’t let on about this.

I was never a big fan of football before moving to Texas. And I admit I still don’t completely understand the game itself.

Okay, that was a lie. I have no idea what is going on out there.

A friend of mine, David Patton, way up in New Jersey, that’s someplace north of the Mason/Dixon Line, told me to watch Friday Night Lights.

We went to high school together and sat through many football games on Friday nights. He watched the games, and I hid my eyes and held my breath every time I heard that horrible crack sound of bodies crashing into each other.

But I’m older, and hopefully, made of sterner stuff now. I can take it without sobbing out loud as long as I see the player get up and walk again.

CLEAR EYESThe thing is this: Friday Night Lights is dead on. Who wrote the script anyway?

Everywhere I go in Willow Flats, people are talking about the chances that the high school team might win the game next Friday night.

Coaches get free haircuts if they will just make a few quotable comments.

Women with blue hair are delayed trying to get their grocery shopping done at the grocery store because they’re interrogated about their grandson’s chances of being able to start on Friday night.

At the feed store, farmers discuss the value of certain plays.

Plays? There are formal plays? It always looked to me like the whole idea was just to get the ball through that H shaped thingy at the end of the field. Apparently there’s more to it than that. It’s not that easy. Who knew?

I spend every Friday night sitting on a cold, hard bleacher. I watch my breath in the wind of a blue northern that has made it all the way from Canada with the sole intention of to drying up my lips and making sure I will have a sore throat when I wake up Saturday morning.

Maybe that’s the takeaway life lesson. Life isn’t always easy, but it can be a lot of fun.

What I like about the game down here is what it does for communities. Does football teach our boys that if you want something bad enough you have to endure a few bruises? That some things are worth the effort?

I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I read somewhere that Texas contributes more than its share of soldiers to our military. I wouldn’t doubt it. These people are descendants of hardy pioneers, and they strive to teach their children to do their best.

Here in Texas, living on the welfare of the government for generations is something to be gotten over with as fast as possible. Of course, sometimes it’s necessary to get a boast up, but then a Texan is expected to become self-sustaining as fast as he can and give the next person a hand up. It’s passing on the good stuff kind of society in the Lone Star state.

I’m proud of the people in my new hometown, and as much as I love to travel, I know I will always come home to Willow Flats, TX.

I can’t miss the big game on Friday night.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 Jody Payne is a writer (fiction and non-fiction), a horse woman (dressage, no less), an animal lover (just ask her two rescue dogs Annie and Janie or my two four-legged boys, Toby and Buster), and most of all she’s southern through and through.jody

Visit her on FB: https://www.facebook.com/jodypaynesays

Her website: www.jodypayne.net

9 06, 2014

A Polite Question

By |2014-06-09T06:00:31-05:00June 9th, 2014|Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

??????????????????????????????I’m sure you know what question I mean.

You’ve probably heard it many times yourself…

“What do you do?”

I wear so many hats – wife, mother, sister, daughter, cousin. It’s hard to zero in on only one to answer the question.

Then I enjoy so many things – playing Pickleball, reading, walking with my dogs, gardening. How do I zero in on a single answer about what I do?

I could answer with one of the many professions I’ve held over the years – teacher, administrator, DAC, antiques shop owner, volunteer. I enjoyed every job I’ve had. It’s crazy to relay all those in answer to a polite, rhetorical question.

I’ve thought about how to answer and discovered that in everything I am or do, there is one common thread. That thread is storytelling.

Like all of us, I share personal stories in social conversations, but I also make up characters and write their stories. Stories, which, in turn, become published, adding the category of author to my numerous professions.

Stop and think about it. We are all storytellers.

As a teacher, I told stories to help my students learn. As an antiques dealer, I told stories about the antiques I sold, and as a volunteer, I tell stories to make others feel comfortable.

Mostly the stories we share are anecdotal. But, it’s important to note that I also make up characters and their stories and I love what I do.

So when someone asks me the question, my answer is “I’m a storyteller,” which, in most instances, provides an opportunity to mention my published books.

I would love it if everyone I told I was a storyteller or those reading this blog went to FB and liked my author page, or bought a copy of my book, but the truth is, doing those things wouldn’t change my answer or what I do.

I’ll always tell stories, no matter what the format.

I am a

storyteller

I’m grateful my stories take written form in bookstores and in libraries. At the same time, I recognize when I’m old and in a rest home, I might not be up to writing.

I am hopeful, however, that I will be entertaining my fat, happy great-grandkids with verbal tales about my scandalous past.

The medium may change, but my storytelling will always be the same. For you see, there’s always a story to tell. And, remember, I have Irish genes so the stories don’t have to be totally truthful.

So what about you, how do you answer when someone asks what you do?

6 06, 2014

Gift for a Mother Hen – Miller Farm Friday

By |2014-06-06T06:00:52-05:00June 6th, 2014|Miller Farm Friday|0 Comments

by Guest Blogger Chicken Wrangler Sara

Our Rachel, Miller Farm Daughter #2, has taken up crochet.

She’s made the standard scarves and blankets. Lately, she has also gotten creative. She has made baby hats with ears to look like panda bears and hats out of her school colors with pompoms on top for college friends.

For Mother’s Day she made me pot holders:

chicken pot holders

These will replace the worn-out ones she and her sister made for me out of the loops and loom many years ago.

We told her if she didn’t find a summer nanny job, she could open an Etsy shop and sell her crochet.

Fortunately, she started a full time nanny job on Tuesday. She’s realized (very quickly) that crafting is not the easiest way to make money.

Meanwhile, I’m happily benefiting from her creativity.

5 06, 2014

Migrant Mother and Her Story

By |2014-06-05T06:00:35-05:00June 5th, 2014|Company's Coming, Guest blogger|2 Comments

By Guest Blogger Jane Carver

If I said the migrant mother in the picture made during the depression, you’d know exactly what photo I’m talking about…

migrant mother photo depression era for 06-05

Though photographer Dorothea Lange couldn’t ask the woman her name, the woman told the photographer anyway. Because she did, that photo will forever immortalize Florence Owens Thompson and her two children.

Like the Mona Lisa, a person looking at the photo can imagine all kinds of thoughts going through the woman’s mind.

Over the years, I’ve imagined her story so many different ways.

Now, more than eighty years after that particular photo was taken perhaps the woman’s story—of sorts—can be told.

Author Marisa Silver has written a story she thinks might have led that woman to be sitting in a migrant camp the day photographer Dorothea Lange came by taking pictures as part of a government project.

Mary Coin by Marisa Silver  for 06-05Ms. Silver named the woman Mary Coin and that’s the title of her latest book published by Blue Rider Press.

It’s a fascinating story of what might have happened that day in 1936.

I believe author Marisa Silver wrote the book just for me, to answer the question I’ve always wondered about.

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 Jane Carver Judythe BlogJane Carver is a former schoolteacher

a new grandmother, a quilter, an artist, an editor, a dual personality author, writing adult fiction and young adult fiction, and a blogger extraordinaire

Learn more at Ms. Carver’s websites: Adult Fiction or Young Adult Fiction.

Or visit one of her many blogs:

http://janiecarver2011.wordpress.com

http://RomancesByJanie.wordpress.com

http://JaneGracePresents.wordpress.com

http://WritingImagination2013.wordpress.com

Her latest release as Jane Grace:

Janie IntenseIntense (Young Adult Fiction) Sensitive subject but more about the compassion and help received afterward that makes up the story. Nova Dean dreams of going to Nationals in Debate but to do that she must beat Adam Parks and his team. Their rival is intense but not as much as the help Adam gives Nova after she’s raped. Only with his help can she take one step at a time back to a life she can endure. Only with his help are the rapists caught.

Her latest adult fiction as Jane Carver:

ReturnWithHonorReturn with Honor

The death of Jud Longtree’s best friend gives the local police chief reason enough to suspect him of murder. With the help of Lottie Amberville, they use both logic and creativity to find someone who may have murdered more than once.

4 06, 2014

HOPE – One Word Wednesday

By |2014-06-04T06:00:34-05:00June 4th, 2014|one word Wednesday|0 Comments

On Monday, I blogged about my hope of summer’s arrival and how encouraged I was when the only daffodil of the fifty bulbs I planted last fall came up.

Today I offer this wonderful quote from Anne Lamott to encourage you to continue to hope for whatever you’re seeking.

hope

2 06, 2014

Expecting an Exciting Summer

By |2014-06-02T06:00:54-05:00June 2nd, 2014|Make Me Think Monday|4 Comments

daffodilThis little guy popped out of the ground last week, bringing hope that spring and summer will arrive.

It’s about time.

Snowstorms in May were a major shock though our visiting grandchildren thought it was wonderful!

???????????????????????????????

My sister and her daughter from Texas decided to pack their long johns when they came to see us over Memorial weekend after the grandkids left.

Unfortunately, they needed the extra layer. It was cold and rainy the whole weekend.

That didn’t stop my hiking niece and husband from climbing up to 10,000 feet on Sentinel Peak.

hike

Summer folk are returning to town. It’s amazing to watch the RV parks filling and summer homes coming to life.

Last week the exterior painting of our house was finally been completed. ???????????????????????????????Soon, the mountains of dirt from the excavating for the garage addition will become tiered landscaping. Now that will be a much-welcomed sight.

The summer will bring family and friends escaping the heat where they live. Another thing I can wait to have happen. Nothing’s more fun than sitting on the porch visiting.

And, most exciting, I have a book releasing in June.

JM_WLB1_small

Details on official release date coming soon…

We’re off to a tremendous start for the season. So how’s your summer shaping up?

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