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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

How do I love you...let's see...

For starters, dear hubby, I love you TO INFINITY AND BEYOND!!!

What began as a silly joke between David and me is now a family catch phrase that always brings smiles. And after fourteen years~ today!~ we have a lot of those family jokes and silly memories.

They are one of the many reasons I love you, David, even more today than on our wedding day.

Most of those memorable moments didn't come in the "big" celebrations or with expensive price tags.

They are the result of family dinners, shared dreams, and time together.

What stands out most in the midst of fourteen years of marriage are the little moments that have filled my heart to overflowing...

Laughing over goofy jokes till our sides hurt

Staring at a rainbow together

Evening walks

Board games (even Photo Trek because we love all our princesses even if we don't like their favorite games)

Silly notes and phone calls just to say hello and I love you

Praying together

Reading stories as a family like Junie B. Jones and Holding Heaven and laughing or crying, or sometimes both

Christmas mornings

Car trips with James Taylor and Alabama

Watching Zoom for the hundredth time

Dancing together

The priceless gift of forgiveness

All these and more are the snapshots lovingly stored in my heart and mind.

Thank you, David, for making them possible. You're a wonderful provider. A very present and involved daddy who is adored by his daughters. An incredibly good-looking and adventurous husband. A tender and trust-worthy best friend. A man after God's heart.

I love you, honey, and look forward to what's ahead because we'll face it together with God.

Happy Anniversary!

Happy Anniversary Honey!

Monday, December 29, 2008

What's in a Word?

For a few years now I’ve joined my dear friend and writing mentor, 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.

And like all exercises, I sometimes would rather do anything but the work. I like the results... but the work? Not so much.

But God keeps bringing me back to this tradition every December, and I start reflecting on the past year and looking ahead to the new one. Then I start talking to Him about what He wants to do in me during the next year.

Often, one word or a group of words stands out.

As has been par for the course, the word or words God brings to mind define an area He presses on during the year.

Instead of this word boxing God in to only one thing, each year the word He gives focuses my prayers and sharpens my spiritual sight to pay attention to where He's at work.

Before I share a word that surprised me for 2009, travel back with me a few years and trace the scarlet thread of God's grace...

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.

Years later, I can look back at that painful flip of calendar pages and what stands out is that God was there, holding me when I couldn't stand and strengthening me as I bowed to His will being done and not mine.

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.

2007 was another challenging year, one full of hard fought battles, tear filled circumstances and quiet times of refreshing. God was there in the midst of every moment.

And now I see that without the painful times of both 2006 and 2007, I wouldn't have had eyes to see His rescue or the work He did in my heart. Nor would I have been ready for what 2008 had in store.

Last year’s word was EXPECTANT HOPE, and a verse God brought to mind was in Psalm 52. Verse nine says, “I will praise you forever for what you have done; in your name I will hope, for your name is good. I will praise you in the presence of your saints.”

Beyond the other words God has given me, this phrase was the hardest. I’ve spent most of my life afraid to hope. Afraid to live in a state of expectancy because all too often my hopes were dashed on harsh reality.

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

This lesson is one in which I'm still a gangly teen, taking a few steps forward in confidence and a few more awkward stumbles backward. But as in all years past, God is there.

And now for 2009...

The word that stands out for 2009 is PEACE.

Given the times, I sort of hiccupped when I sensed this was the word for 2009. Really, God? Am I hearing You right?

But then when I recounted a few big reasons to be unsettled next year—situations where fear would be a natural response—this word fit.

Here’s the short list:

This is the first time since I started writing that I have no signed contract.

My husband plans to start grad school and we’re still trying to dig out from under some large medical debts incurred in 2008.

The economy is bad.

We’re praying about changes in our school situation.

But instead letting my mind walk the trail of fear, God whispered a word that echoes through time. PEACE.

In John 14:27, Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Again, in John 16:33 Jesus says, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

Because we know Who holds every breath we'll take in 2009 and every circumstance we'll live through, we can have peace in Him. His peace.

I pray as we head into 2009, that you’ll join me in looking back to see what God has done. And then look ahead to what 2009 holds.

May you step into the future wrapped in His love and resting in His peace. No matter what’s ahead, God is already there. And your heavenly Daddy is holding you every step of the way.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Celebrating Christmas

Christmas at the Wallace home was full of both old and new traditions, lots of fun, and a few tears.

The old...

Ice skating on Christmas Eve

The new...

Two Wallaces getting injured ice skating. But no ER run, so all is good.

The old...

Making a gingerbread house

The new...

David eating the icing

The old...

Celebrating with family and friends and exchanging gifts

The new...

Getting to see my best friend and her family

Another new was gluten, dairy, and egg-free holiday eating. Let's just say it was an adventure. But another one of my bestest friends made me a very cool gift basket with yummy cookies I could eat and some hot chocolate. Talk about a thoughtful gift!

We also received a very cool Australian gift from a dear friend Down Under. I'm forever in awe at the thoughtfulness of the people I hold dear.

The old...

Spending Christmas morning in PJs and taking all morning to enjoy the Advent wreath, a special breakfast casserole with whipped cream, and then exchanging gifts with each other. One of my favorite memories is the look on each of my daughters' faces as they open gifts and their eyes light and their mouths drop. Then they crash into David and me with hugs.

My middle princess summed it up in a prayer that day. She thanked God for the thoughtful gifts of her family that remind her of how much Jesus gave us when he came as a baby, died on a cross and rose again.

The new...

Baking a birthday cake for Jesus and singing to Him. This was a new addition to our Christmas day thanks to our middle daughter who at eight is still kid enough to enjoy this but wise enough to realize it's a fun way to remember it's not about the gifts we give, it's about Jesus and the gift He gave.

The old...

The day after Christmas has always been a down sort of day. It's as if we touched heaven with all the joys and celebration the singing and sharing of December but then we crash back to earth when it's all over.

The new...

Something clicked for me when David and I talked on Friday and looked back over the holidays. I realized that no matter how hard we try to make things "perfect" and no matter how close we get to it, this is not the end of the story.

One day there will be no more day after Christmases.

And until then, we're looking forward to a new tradition and praying about how to carry it out. We'd love your help in that.

We've talked a lot in years past about how to give to others who can't repay us. Operation Christmas Child, singing in nursing homes, Angel Tree and others are awesome ways to do that.

But we'd like to do something a little closer to home and something our children can participate in more directly.

The problem is, I honestly have no idea how or what to do. And I'd love to hear your experiences and thoughts about this. Maybe together we can come up with ways we can give love to others at Christmas and all throughout the new year.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Need a Christmas reminder?

As Christmas day draws closer, my tendency is to get caught up in two things:

Getting it "right" for Christmas morning

Thoughts about having to pack up all the Christmas decorations

Both of these things stress me out, make me sad, and don't aid my focus on the real meaning of Christmas.

So earlier today at church, I was praying during the music and asking God for a reminder. I had no idea what form that would take. But as God is so good and gracious, he answered.

We came home early after service and had some time to just hang out by the tree. My kiddos played games and my husband and I dove into books.

I picked up a new-to-me book entitled Holding Heaven. And cried through the entire first half of the story.

Not in a long time has a story so gripped my heart and made me feel.

It was the perfect reminder of Christmas as the story focused on Joseph and his retelling the Christmas story to an infant Jesus.

Tears streamed as I pictured the baby Jesus, not in a manger but in humanity. Crying. Hungry. Cared for by two inadequate humans who beheld and held the Holy One.

Words are inadequate to relate the wonder of that reality. Divinity wrapped in humanity. A baby held by human hands He created.

Immanuel. God with us.

There's something awe-some about that.

As Christmas rushes nearer, I pray you'll join me by a tree or under a star-lit sky and picture Christmas through heaven's eyes.

A baby.

Humanity holding heaven so we could see Him too.

Behold Him. And hold Him. He is near.

Monday, December 15, 2008

12 Days of Christmas Wallace style

December is traditionally a month I take off to exhale, but by the middle part I'm starting to get silly and slightly bored.

So to halt this progression, my hubby and I turned songwriter last night. Great way to flex the old creativity muscles. :-)

We started with a traditional carol we'd just seen in lights during the Magical Nights of Lights. I'm sharing it with you now for your laughing pleasure...

If you see fit to discourage me from further songwriting, please pray for more books to write. LOL

The Twelve Days of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me, an iPod under the tree (hint hint again honey)

On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me, two Wii games and an iPod under the tree

On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me, three obedient children, two Wii games, and an iPod under the tree

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a year of four-day weekends, three obedient children, two Wii games and an iPod under the tree

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, five gold earrings...

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, six new table settings,
five gold earrings,
a year of four-day weekends, three obedient children, two Wii games and an iPod under the tree

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me, seven days at the beach, six new table settings,
five gold earrings,
a year of four-day weekends, three obedient children, two Wii games and an iPod under the tree

On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, eight boxes of Godiva chocolate, seven days at the beach, six new table settings,
five gold earrings,
a year of four-day weekends, three obedient children, two Wii games and an iPod under the tree

On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, nine full hours of sleep, eight boxes of Godiva chocolate, seven days at the beach, six new table settings,
five gold earrings,
a year of four-day weekends, three obedient children, two Wii games and an iPod under the tree

On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, ten months of stress-free schooling, nine full hours of sleep, eight boxes of Godiva chocolate, seven days at the beach, six new table settings,
five gold earrings,
a year of four-day weekends, three obedient children, two Wii games and an iPod under the tree

On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me, eleven new novels, ten months of stress-free schooling, nine full hours of sleep, eight boxes of Godiva chocolate, seven days at the beach, six new table settings,
five gold earrings,
a year of four-day weekends, three obedient children, two Wii games and an iPod under the tree

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love was beyond broke so he ended with a cool sparkly candle and prayed for world peace

And, honey, just so you know.... an iPod and obedient children will be just fine! :-)

I know there are plenty of creative types out there in blog land... so share your 12 days of Christmas for your home!
Merry Christmas y'all!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A blue Christmas

On the heels of my last post about Robin Jones Gunn's wonderful Christmas book, Engaging Father Christmas, I have a question for you all.

Does this Christmas seem sadder to anyone?

I've heard a few different variations on this theme. I have this sense too. There have been many deaths in our church this past year and many people we know who have lost their jobs this holiday season.

Would you pray with me for these people? That the Spirit of Christmas~ God's Holy Spirit~ would be their joy, even in the tears?

Something else we can do is give a laugh or precious holiday encouragement through simple things like a silly card, a coffee date, or even a great Christmas book like Engaging Father Christmas

Cards and books especially touch the heart, fill it up, and make life hurt a little less because we're reminded we're not alone. We can feel a tangible object in our hands and read and reread the kindnesses given by a friend.

Even if this holiday season seems sadder, let's look for people to encourage. And let's remember we're not helpless or alone now or any other time of the year. Christmas is an incredible time to remind ourselves and others that Truth and Hope and Life are here~ Immanuel, God with us.

Merry Christmas!

Engaging Father Christmas

Engaging Father Christmas is a book to treasure and savor over the Christmas season! I love Robin's writing and these stories (Finding Father Christmas and Engaging Father Christmas) are beautiful and poignant, with a whimsical and engaging setting and characters to care about.
Give yourself a treat this holiday season~ read Engaging Father Christmas!
Merry Christmas everyone!

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Engaging Father Christmas

FaithWords (October 30, 2008)


Robin Jones Gunn

Robin grew up in Orange County, California and has lived in all kinds of interesting places, including Reno and Hawai’i.

She and her husband currently live near Portland, Oregon and have been married for 30 years. They spent their first 22 years of marriage working together in youth ministry, and enjoying life with their son and daughter who are now both grown.

As a frequent speaker at local and international events, one of Robin’s favorite topics is how God is the Relentless Lover and we are His first love. She delights in telling stories of how God uses fiction to change lives.

Robin is the recipient of the Christy Award, the Mt. Hermon Pacesetter Award, the Sherwood E. Wirt Award and is a Gold Medallion Finalist. She also serves on the Board of Directors for Media Associates International and the Board of Directors for Jerry Jenkins’ Christian Writers’ Guild.


Miranda Carson can't wait to return to England for Christmas and to be with her boyfriend, Ian. She has spent a lifetime yearning for a place to call home, and she's sure Carlton Heath will be it, especially when a hinted-at engagement ring slips into the conversation.

But Miranda's high hopes for a jolly Christmas with the small circle of people she has come to love are toppled when Ian's father is hospitalized and the matriarch of the Whitcombe family withholds her blessing from Miranda. Questions run rampant in Miranda's mind about whether she really belongs in this cheery corner of the world. Then, when her true identity threatens all her relationships in unanticipated ways, Miranda is certain all is lost.

And yet...maybe Father Christmas has special gifts in store for her after all.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Engaging Father Christmas, go HERE

Friday, December 05, 2008

Avid reader seeks Christmas tale

I have a Christmas confession. Here goes...

Hi, I'm Amy and I have all my Christmas shopping done. Most of the presents are already under the tree too.

If you haven't thrown anything at your computer screen yet, then maybe you can help me.

Yes, even us over-organized Christmas people need help. ;-)

You see, I'm a few days away from finishing galleys for Enduring Justice and I'm in need (or very serious want) of a great Christmas story.

One of my favorite things to do during the holidays is to sit and read by tree light. With some candles, the smell of pine and holly, twinkling tree lights and a great book, I'm in total Christmas bliss.

I have the candles, tree lights and even the smells of pine and holly. But I lack the great Christmas book.

So if you'd be so kind, please fill me in on some great Christmas tales.

I do have two suggestions if you're like me and looking for some good holiday reading: Finding Father Christmas and Engaging Father Christmas by Robin Jones Gunn. Beautiful stories that will add some sparkle to your holidays.

Now if you have others to share...please do! Thanks!
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