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Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy 13th Anniversary!

Happy 13th anniversary to my hubby David and my best friend Jen and her husband David!!!

Yep, we were married one hour apart on December 31, 1994.

And in honor of this big day, here are thirteen reasons why I still do...

To David: Thirteen reasons why I’d say “I Do” all over again

1) Besides the fact that you are as good-looking as you were on our wedding day, you still believe I’m beautiful and you say so, even when I step off the scale scowling.

2) You do the work God gave you to do, and you’re awesome at it. You not only provide well for our family, but you also encourage me to pursue my dreams~ even when that lands a huge load of extra work on your shoulders.

3) You believe in me.

4) You tell silly stories that make our girls laugh. They’re right when they say they have a great daddy. You love them and it shows.

5) You pray for us each and every night.

6) You have never really given up. You keep trying. God sees that and I’m beginning to as well.

7) You're serious about being the man God made you to be. I see you growing more each day and it's awesome.

8) Only you know all the inside jokes. Ping pong games, body chocolate, what happens with Christmas tree lights, why there are four hand squeezes to a good hand-holding time, and why we love—to infinity and beyond!

9) We can talk about books and movies and learn more about the stories and each other in the process.

10) You give me chocolate. ;-)

11) I can beat you in marbles.

12) You team up with God to push, pray, and cheer me on this writing journey.

14) You put up with all my many quirks and still think I’m the only best one for you. ;-)

Happy Anniversary Honey! I love you to infinity and beyond~ no matter what.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

What's in a Word?

December is a contemplative month. Especially when the holiday hustle leaves us feeling like crumpled wrapping paper.

But instead of giving in to the post-holiday blahs, I spend the last week of the year thinking over the past twelve months and then looking ahead to the next.

One of the best ways I’ve found to do that in a hopeful light is to consider the power of a word and everything wrapped up in it.

For a few years now I’ve joined with a good friend and fellow blogger, Mary Griffith, seeking the Lord for a word that summarizes what He has in store for the coming year. It’s become an exercise of prayer and faith.

One that’s been very good for my heart.

Looking back...

In 2006 I looked forward to the word God whispered to my spirit~ ENJOY.

But I learned early in 2006, ENJOY didn't mean live it up and party. For twelve long months it meant learning to ENJOY God when there was little in life that would traditionally lead to experiencing joy.

Here's the link to read the vision God put before me and the rush of “have tos” and lies that nearly destroyed my joy : A Word for the heart

The word for 2007 was REST. And let me tell you, God had a lot to teach me about how wrong my ideas on rest really were.

It's been another challenging year, and yet God was there in the midst of every circumstance. A phrase from my post on a Word for the Year jumped out at me...

"A year wiser, I’m looking forward to the lessons of 2007 knowing there will be hard fought battles, tear filled circumstances, and quiet times of refreshing."

And so it was.

The battles were bloodier than I’d imagined, the tears more like heaving sobs, and the times of refreshing even more life-giving than I dreamed.

But instead of recounting the bad, I’d like to say some thank-yous for the amazing good that God brought out of the challenges and for the people who God used to show my heart how to rest.

Thank you to an amazing group of prayer warriors who held me up and spurred me on, even when I wanted nothing more than to lay down and let my dreams die. Your friendship, emails, cards, and phone calls were and are the best kind of heart chocolate!

Thank you to Sally and Heather and Laurie and Amy who came from afar to cheer my heart and celebrate April 17th. You made the launch party a much loved memory and high point of the year.

To my mom, sister, and in-laws: your presence at author events and prayers this year have strengthened and encouraged me so much!

To Elizabeth Medlin: thanks for late nights, lots of coffee, and a friendship that I treasure.

A huge thanks goes to my journey buddy, Sharon Hinck. My friend, you have cried with, laughed with, encouraged, and inspired me. Your writing is a gift from God and your friendship even more so. You walked a similar path and reminded me often to look to the Lord not the storm. I can’t wait to watch your face in heaven when you see all the amazing good you have done on this earth just by being you.

To my best friend, Jen Keithley, who never believed I would really quit: thanks for loving me well and letting me blow off steam on far too many occasions. And then reminding me to get back to work because God has called me and He will do even more than we can ask or imagine.

So much thanks goes to an awesome group of folks who have welcomed my family into their loving arms. To the Anchor family: you have given us a place to belong, grow, love and be loved. Thanks for being a glimpse of heaven for our weary souls.

More thanks than I can ever say goes to my three princesses. Not only do they love me to infinity and beyond, but their being proud of me salves my wounded heart when life and sales figures batter.

To my beloved hubby: we survived! :-) And God is up to some big things. Thank you for your forgiveness, for never giving up completely, for believing in me when I didn’t, and for making a way for me to see God. Also for enjoying Christmas tree lights~ those were a highlight of my holiday season.

More than anything, thank you Daddy for still being on Your throne. Because You are in control and are so very good, I can rest. You have given and taken away, but never left me to face the fallout alone. Blessed be Your Name. Always.

Looking ahead...

Now for this year’s word(s): EXPECTANT HOPE.

Beyond the other words God has given me, this phrase both terrifies and excites me. I’ve spent a lot of years being afraid to HOPE. Afraid to live in a state of EXPECTANCY because all too often life has dashed my hopes on harsh reality.

But along with these two powerful words came a reminder: My HOPE is in God. My EXPECTANCY is toward Him.

People don’t tend to handle expectations well. We sometimes feel pressure, fear, and helplessness from work and relational demands. But God longs for us to live in the wonder of EXPECTANCY like Simeon (Luke 2:25-32).

An EXPECTANCY that both looks and reaches up to receive what has been promised.

EXPECTANCY that believes God with a childlike faith. That reaches for Him and receives not only the sunshine and gifts, but also the storms and losses as coming from His hand. For our good. For His glory.

I pray you’ll join me in looking back to see what God has done in 2007. And then look ahead to what 2008 holds.

Even more, I pray you’ll step into the future holding the Lord’s hand and know that no matter what’s ahead your heavenly Daddy is holding you.

Dream big. Pray hard. Love well.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 21, 2007

A Christmas onion

Never thought I'd be blogging about an onion at Christmastime, but here goes...

First I need to explain that God's been doing a lot of pushing on issues in my heart recently and I've been trying to avoid them.

But God is God and when He wants to be heard He has a universe of ways to get our attention.

Recently He's used my pastor, his wife, my Sunday school class, our home group, my children, snatches of conversations I've heard in passing, things I notice on TV (When I'm watching TV, it's a major clue that I'm running from something.) and just about everything short of writing His message in the sky.

A very cool thing about God is that even though we sometimes run, we can stop and turn back to look Him in the face and see His purpose in working so hard to get through to us is for our good.

I saw that so clearly about a month ago when I got still and listened to His heart about forgiveness. The freedom He offered and I received was one of the best Christmas presents ever.

But there was more.

God had an onion to give me.

I would have preferred a chocolate covered cherry to go on top of the sweet treat of peace that came after I obeyed the Lord through forgiveness.

But the onion makes more sense really. Here's why.

This past month I've been looking back over a very hard year. This is something I routinely do every December, but this year I had begun to see more and more of God's hand in every circumstance. More of His love covering each painful situation.

Then I started to look back over the last thirteen years of my life and got very frustrated. Because when it comes to real change and growth, it seems I've been in a hamster's wheel, trying to get ahead but never getting very far.

I keep having to learn the same lessons over and over and over again.

Here entered the Lord's visual of an onion's many layers.

My pastor said it best when he prayed for me by asking the Lord to keep peeling back the layers and working His healing within.

As I thought about that image, it began to spread past my mind and into my heart. Because sometimes it looks like we're dealing with the same issue, but we're not. It's God taking us deeper in that issue to continue His healing work.

It's a process of God peeling back layers and taking healing into deeper and deeper places.

There's so much freedom in that! Our lives are not two steps forward and three steps back. Or a hamster's wheel going nowhere. Or that we just didn't "get it" and are being taken back to school yet again.

It's God continuing His work, delving deeper and deeper into our lives and hearts to offer His amazing healing.

Like peeling the layers of an onion.

So if I was doing a rendition of the Twelve Days of Christmas between me and the Lord, I'd have two very special gifts already opened.

A huge box that's just the size to "box me in" with circumstance so that I'd see my need for God.

And a Christmas onion. A sweet one. One that gives a picture of hope.

We're not stuck in a no-win cycle where we keep going backward more than ahead. God is always at work, peeling back layers, drawing us deeper into Him as He works in deeper and deeper places within us.

Merry Christmas!

And many God gifts for your heart this special time of the year!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Christmas Memories

As my age grows steadily greater and Christmas draws closer, I start to think back over the images of Christmas past. Usually I stop the mental time travel with snapshot memories of ice skating on Christmas Eve or my children's faces on Christmas Day.

When I think about my kids, I can sing along with the Christmas music I love and concur that this is the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.

But sometimes my mind goes back to memories from my own childhood. I don't have a lot of happy ones, but one Christmas memory stands out from the rest. As an adult I now understand that my mom and Gram did their best to give what they could out of their own hurting hearts.

Even so, the Christmas of my tenth year will forever remain a sweet one.

When my family came back to the States from Germany, we'd stay with my Gram in Kentucky. My Gram did Christmas up big. Lots of decorations. Lots of lights. Maybe that's where my love of candles started...

On the Big Day, before my brother and sister and I could come into the living room where the tree and our gifts were, my Gram had all the lights off but the tree. She made a huge to-do about us coming in together.

When allowed to enter, we charged into the sparkling room full-speed and then stopped right in front of the tree, eyes wide eyes and smiles huge.

My younger siblings squealed over their beautiful, shiny, new bikes.

But my big gift was sitting in a chair with dark brown fuzzy arms outstretched in a welcoming hug. It was a life-size teddy bear with the kindest eyes and soft fur.

That special bear was a constant friend throughout my tumultuous teen years. She even waited patiently for me to move into my first home. Years of storage didn't dim her kind eyes or muss up her soft fur.

And now she continues to give the same welcoming hugs with her forever kind eyes.

Only now she resides in my oldest daughter's room.

Every once in awhile I stop in and gaze at her fondly. She still smiles and still welcomes even the grown up me with her wide open arms.

And for a second it’s Christmas and I'm ten again, smiling big.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Authors' Christmas Memories

Ever wondered what your favorite authors reminisce about as the holidays draw near?

Here's an awesome way to find out... Check out C.J. Darlington's story My Favorite Christmas Memory on Title Trakk.

Make sure you read the entire article! There's one in there about stuffed horses and my kiddos open mouth wonder. ;-)

Merry Christmas!!!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

A Shadow of Treason

I have another great book to share with you all today!

Tricia Goyer's A Shadow of Treason , book 2 in the Chronicles of the Spanish Civil War series.

I had the privilege of endorsing the first book in this awesome series, A Valley of Betrayal:

"A Valley of Betrayal is a haunting depiction of the autocracies of war and the triumph of faith. Through the power of story Tricia brings history alive so that we never forget the battles that have been fought and the brave men and women who have gone before us."

Tricia is an amazing author and each of these books packs an incredible story, vivid characters, and wisdom from ages past.

A Shadow of Treason

Sophie discovers that nothing is as she first imagined. When Walt, the reporter who helped her over the border, shows up again after Guernica is bombed, Sophie is given an impossible mission. She must leave behind the man she's fallen in love with and return to the person who betrayed her. Another layer of the war in Spain is revealed as Sophie is drawn into the international espionage schemes that could turn the tide of the war and help protect the soldiers from the International Brigade ... she must find a way to get a critical piece of information to Walt in time.

Q and A with Tricia!

Q: A Shadow of Treason follows A Valley of Betrayal. This is the first time you've written books as a series instead of stand alone. Which way do you like better?

A: I love writing in series. It was great to continue with the same characters. In my stand-alone books I fell in love with these people and then I had to say good-bye after one book. It was wonderful to be able to continue on.

Q: In A Shadow of Treason Sophie must return to the person who betrayed her in an effort to help the Spanish people. It makes the book hard to put down because the reader has to know how Sophie's heart will deal with it. Why did you decide to make this an element of the book?

A: There are very few of us who go through life without giving away a part of our hearts to someone who didn't deserve it. Even though Sophie had the best intentions, she gave away her heart and she was hurt-not only that she must revisit those emotions.

I wanted to include this element-to delve into the topic that emotions are sometimes as big of a trap as any physical cage. Emotions are real and they guide us -- even when we don't want to admit it. Poor Sophie, not only does she have to deal with a war around her -- she also has to deal with a war within herself. It's something I've battled, and mostly likely others have too.

Q: There is an interesting element that arises in this book and that is Spanish gold. I know you can't tell us what happens in this book, but can you give us a brief history of this gold?

A: Sure. When I was researching I came upon something interesting. The Spaniards, as we know, had taken much Aztec and Inca gold during the time of the conquistadors. Well, at the start of The Spanish Civil War much of this gold was still held in Madrid. In fact Spain had the fourth largest gold reserves in the world at that time. The Republican government was afraid Franco would take the city and the gold. They had to get it out of Madrid and this included transporting priceless artifacts. The element of gold does make its way into my story. It was great to include this little-known (and true!) element into my story.

Q: Another historical fact I learned about was the Nazi involvement during this time. Not only were the Germans active in Spain, but they had spy networks busy around the world. How did you find out about this?

A: I love reading tons of research books. Usually I find one little element that I dig out and turn into a plot line. This is what happened with my plot-line for the Nazi pilot, Ritter. I dug up this bit of research of Nazi involvement in Spain -- and the United States -- because a lot of people aren't aware of the Nazi involvement prior to WWII. The truth is they were busy at work getting the land, information, and resources they needed far before they threatened the nations around them. The Germans knew what they wanted and how to get it. And most of the time they succeeded!

Q: A Shadow of Treason is Book Two. When will Book Three be out? Can you give us a hint of how the story continues?

A: Book Three is A Whisper of Freedom. It will be out February 2008. The characters that we love are all still in the midst of danger at the end of Book Two. Book Three continues their stories as we follow their journeys in -- and (for a few) out -- of Spain. It's an exciting conclusion to the series!

Q: Wow, so we have a least one more fiction book to look forward to in the near future. Are you working on any non-fiction?

A: Yes, I have two non-fiction books that will be out the early part of 2008. Generation NeXt Marriage is a marriage book for today's couples. It talks about our marriage role models, our struggles, and what we're doing right as a generation. It also gives advice for holding it together.

I've also been privileged to work on the teen edition of Max Lucado's book 3:16. It was a great project to work on. What an honor!

Tricia's Bio:

Tricia Goyer has published over 300 articles for national publications such as Today's Christian Woman, Guideposts for Kids, and Focus on the Family, and is the co-author of Meal Time Moments (Focus on the Family). She has led numerous Bible Studies, and her study notes appear in the Women of Faith Study Bible (Zondervan).

She has written seven novels for Moody Publishing:
From Dust and Ashes (2003)
Night Song (2004)
Dawn of a Thousand Nights (2005);
Arms of Deliverance (2006)
A Valley of Betrayal (2007)
A Shadow of Treason (Fall 2007)
A Whisper of Freedom (February 2008)

Night Song was awarded American Christian Fiction Writer's 2005 Book of the Year for Best Long Historical. Dawn of a Thousand Nights won the same award in 2006.

Tricia has also written Life Interrupted: The Scoop on Being a Young Mom (Zondervan, 2004), 10 Minutes to Showtime (Thomas Nelson, 2004), and Generation NeXt Parenting (Multnomah, 2006). Life Interrupted was a 2005 Gold Medallion finalist in the Youth Category.

Also, coming out in the next year are: My Life, Unscripted (Thomas Nelson, 2007), Generation NeXt Marriage (Multnomah, Spring 2008), and 3:16-the teen version of the a book by Max Lucado (Thomas Nelson, Spring 2008).

Tricia and her husband John live with their three children in Kalispell, Montana. Tricia's grandmother also lives with them, and Tricia volunteers mentoring teen moms and leading children's church. Although Tricia doesn't live on a farm, she can hit one with a rock by standing on her back porch and giving it a good throw.

Also, be sure to check out this great giveaway...

I'm having a weekly drawing during the blog tour! Anyone who signs up for my newsletter, will be eligible to win both A Valley of Betrayal and A Shadow of Treason! easy is that? Go here, sign up for my newsletter and wait by your mailbox! Easy...(well actually I'll notify you via email -- so don't really wait at your mailbox!)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

What Lies Within

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing

What Lies Within
Multnomah Fiction (November 20, 2007)
Karen Ball

Nothing’s going to stop Kyla…

until the ground crumbles beneath her feet.

Kyla Justice has arrived. Her company, Justice Construction, is one of the most critically acclaimed, commercially successful companies in the Pacific Northwest. And yet, something is missing. Not until she’s called on to build a center for inner-city kids does she realize what it is: her sense of purpose. Now nothing can stop her, not the low budget, not supply problems, not gang opposition, not her boyfriend’s suggestion that she sell her business and marry him–and most especially not that disagreeable Rafael Murphy.

Rafe Murphy understands battle. Wounded in action, this Force Recon Marine carries the scars–and the nightmares–to prove it. Though he can’t fight overseas any longer, he’s found his place as a warrior in the civilian world. So he soldiers on, trusting that one of these days, God will reveal to him why Rafe survived the ambush in Iraq. That day has arrived.

Kyla and Rafe both discover that determination alone won’t carry them through danger and challenges. When gang violence threatens their very foundations, there’s only one way to survive: rely on each other, be real–and surrender to God.

In other words, risk everything…


Karen Ball is a bestselling novelist and also the editor behind several of today's bestselling Christian novels. Her love for words was passed down through her father and grandfather - both pastors who shared God's truth through sermons and storytelling.

Blending humor, poignancy, and honesty, Karen's writing style is a powerful force for revealing God's truth. She lives in Oregon with her husband, Don, and their "kids," Bodhan, a mischief-making Siberian husky, and Dakota, an Aussie-terrier mix who should have been named "Destructo."

Amy here: I LOVED the entire Family Honor Series, starting with one of my favorite books~ Shattered Justice. Powerful writing, full and intriguing characters, and stories that makes readers think are just a few ways to describe all three books in this series.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Christmas Traditions

Christmas is a favorite family holiday, right above birthdays. We decorate big, plan lots of fun things, and more than any other holiday we spend lots of time just being together.

My oldest asked us last night what was our favorite Christmas tradition. We all had more than one.

Here are some that made everyone's list...

Baking Christmas cookies. Funny thing was that not only do my kids remember the family time and fun, but they also talk about why we do this massive baking project every year. We bake most of the 15- 20 dozen cookies for neighbors, teachers, co-workers, and friends.

The Advent calendar and wreath. Long ago, when my oldest was little the Advent calendar was her absolute favorite tradition. She'd rush downstairs to the living room just so she could put the Baby Jesus in the manger bed Christmas morning. We still do this first thing. But now three sets of little hands lovingly put the Baby Jesus up on the calendar.

Singing or performing a skit on Christmas Eve. Ever since my middle daughter was about two, we've done something related to the Christmas story for family that gathers at our house the day before Christmas.

My girls have written and enacted the entire story from Mary and Joseph's journey to Bethlehem to the birth of Jesus. That year all the adults were in tears as our oldest "delivered" the baby with sound effects and an explanation of what happened.

The girls have also recited my favorite Christmas book~ This is the Star~ and other poems, performed Silent Night in sign language, and We Three (Queens) of Orient Are.

This is one of my favorite traditions because my daughters get so excited about ways to tell the story of Jesus and make their family laugh in the process.

Another tradition is new family and individual ornaments for each year. This is a tradition passed down from my family and one that's very special to me. Each year we choose a family ornament and then each of our girls pick out something that signifies an important event for the past year. We have Elmo with a drum for the year our youngest loved the furry red Sesame Street character. And we have ballet dresses, ballet shoes, horses, and crayon box ornaments.

My favorite ornaments are the ones that signify the years my girls each asked Jesus into their hearts. There's a princess ornament this year to show my youngest is now a child of the King.

Just thinking about our family traditions leaves me a little misty eyed. And in awe of how much I have to be thankful for.

At the top of that thankful list aren't the Christmas decorations, cookies, or traditions. But all of those are reminders to me and to my family of the real reason for the season...

The baby who was born to die and rise again.


The Light of the world more powerful and beautiful than any holiday decoration.

The Bread of life more nourishing and sweet than any holiday treat~ even chocolate.

What about you all? What are your favorite traditions and how to they point you back to the heart of Christmas?

Thursday, December 06, 2007

A little Christmas fun

Our tree is up, the house is decorated, our Christmas cards are sent, and the presents are (almost) all under the tree. There are Christmas tart warmers burning and holiday cookies ready to send to neighbors, Sunday school teachers and co-workers.

And while all those activities were fun, I most enjoy having it all DONE. ;-)

Now I can just sit by tree light and read or sing with my kids. Maybe I'm weird (no comments about that please) but just looking at Christmas decorations makes me smile.

I remember where every candle and decoration was purchased, the story behind every Christmas ornament we've given the kids, every Christmas show my children put on for family on Christmas Eve, and how my kiddos look on Christmas morning. And how my hubby's smile looks by tree light.

I think I could even recite most of our beloved Christmas books.

Maybe that's why I can't remember how to spell. LOL

Anyway, another fun thing we do during the holidays is make snowflakes.

Yes, it's a frivolous devourer of time, but it's fun and my kids enjoy it as much as I do. ;-)

If you'd like to join us in this tradition, here's the info...

Need a Snow Day?

What are some of the fun things you do during the holidays?
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