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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

What's in a Word for 2011

Every year about this time I start peering into the future and pondering what God sees in me that needs some adjusting. Often, as I pray, a word or group of words rises to the top and becomes the focus of my thoughts.

Then I look back over the past year and what God has already done.

2010, by all accounts, was a difficult year. We were sick a lot and so was our checkbook. But the word God kept bringing to mind helped me focus on what really matters. Every time God reminded me of our 2009 Christmas reminiscing, peace seeped in and He empowered me to live this word and make better choices than in years past. The word was LOVE.

When God first whispered that word, I thought He was going to teach me more about His love and how to love others better. What happened instead were many opportunities to see how frail and fallible human love is: both in giving and receiving.

What also unfolded last year was learning to appreciate evidences of God’s perfect love in the small imperfect expressions that are often overlooked: a silly card handwritten backwards by a beginning writer, a series of  “just one more” hugs as I’m running out the door, a quiet hour of dreaming about the future with my husband.

This year God whispered a word for 2011 early: CONTENTMENT. And He has already begun opening my eyes to how vital this word is.

We’ve been sick since October with one thing after another. We've been injured more this year than any other. And we've tightened the belt on spending, even during the holiday season. No vacations. No big expenses unless we had earned extra dollars.

It wasn't fun at all.

During one very sleepless, sick, and frustrating week, I was unleashing my inner two year old on God and begging Him for health and other various, self-centered requests. God simply said, "Contentment."

I can’t say I was thrilled. In fact, I got even more two year oldish for a while.

But then I started looking at the circumstances through His eyes…

Every bump and bruise in life is an opportunity to depend on God more...

To listen deeper...

To grow wiser...

To trust more...

To be thankful, even when life hurts.

Every time God and I did the two year old versus contentment dance, I came out with a bruised ego and a bigger heart.

I caught a glimpse of how much better life can be with my hand in God's instead of my foot stomping.

I have no doubt God is just getting started teaching me about contentment. But for the first time, I'm beginning a new year excited about what God is up to because I've already seen Him at work.


Two thousand eleven is already looking better and better.

What about you? What has God taught you in 2010? What might He be teaching you in 2011? There's so much focus and strength... even excitement summed up in a word that God whispers to your heart.

So what is God saying to you? What's your word for 2011?

Monday, December 20, 2010

More Festive Fun

For your yuletide pleasure, here's another Christmas game my whole family enjoys.

This time your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to become a holiday wordsmith and figure out the names of popular carols. I'll post the answers in the comments section, so check back and let me know how you did!

1. Bleached Yule

2. Castaneous-colored Seed Vesicated in a conflagration

3. Singular Yearning for the Twin Anterior Incisors

4. Righteous Darkness

5. Arrival Time was 2400 hrs~ Weather was Cloudless

6. Loyal Followers Advance

7. Far off in a Feeder

8. Array the Corridor

9. Bantam Male Percussionist

10. Monarchial Triad

11. Nocturnal Noiselessness

12. Jehovah Deactivate Blithe Chevaliers

13. Man in Red En Route to Borough

14. Frozen Precipitation Commence

15. Proceed and Enlighten on the Pinnacle

16. The Quadruped with the Vermilion Proboscis

17. Query Regarding Identity of Descendant

18. Delight for this Planet

19. Give Attention to the Melodious Celestial Beings

20. The Dozen Festive 24 Hour Intervals

Merry Christmas!!!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Festive Fun

The decorations are up, the baking is done, the Christmas cards are in the mail. Now it's time to relax and have some holiday fun.

I thought you all might join me.

First up is a short list of scrambled carols. I'll post the answers tomorrow. Don your holiday Santa hat and see how well you do...

1. Glijen Slebl

2. Linste Githn

3. Het Strif Leno

4. Leshig Erid

5. Racol fo eth eblsl

6. Tiwern Nowlardend

7. Ew Erhet Gksin

8. Yosfrt het Wosmnan

Along with the chuckles, I wanted to share a Christmas thought that has me contemplating this season in a new light...

1 Corinthians 13, Christmas Version

If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls but do not show love to my family, I'm just another decorator.

If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtimes but do not show love to my family, I'm just another cook.

If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home and give all that I have to charity but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing.

If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties and sing in the choir's cantata but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.

Love stops the cooking to hug the child.

Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband.

Love is kind, though harried and tired.

Love doesn't envy another's home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.

Love doesn't yell at the kids to get out of the way, but is thankful they are there to be in the way.

Love doesn't give only to those who are able to give in return, but rejoices in giving to those who can't.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails.

Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust.

But giving the gift of love will endure.

Merry Christmas!!!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thankful for What?

Have you ever been thankful for your shortcomings? The areas in which you struggle? Strange questions, I know, especially when tomorrow is Thanksgiving and we're focused on all the good things we have to be thankful for.

One of our church members asked the questions I'm asking you and it stopped me in my pre-holiday tracks. Be thankful for financial struggles, selfishness, immaturity? I battle every day not to give into what I know will destroy me.

I've never thought about being thankful for those things.

But I never struggled with anything, how would I know the goodness of the only One who seeks after a prodigal child and runs to him or her?

If I never struggled, how would I experience the grace and forgiveness of God? The compassion that I can do nothing to deserve, the forgiveness that can't be earned, the grace that is poured out when we've done nothing to merit it?

How do we intimately know God rescues us out of the darkest pits unless we've been in one?

I don't know about you, but I don't have to invent pits or problems. I can name my weaknesses, my sins, my failures.

I can't say I'm thankful for them either. I'd rather be mature, responsible, gentle and, well... better.

I am thankful those sins and weaknesses were all nailed to the cross and I don't have to atone for them.

I'm thankful those deep pits and black problems have forced me to my knees to experience God in ways I would have missed unless they were all I had.

I'm thankful these things I struggle with here on earth won't follow me to heaven.

I'm thankful that God has delivered me from sins that easily entangled me decades, months, days ago. And He promises to continue the good work in me and in you until the day we're face to face with Him forever.

I'm thankful I've had to struggle. It's made me human. It's made me face how desperately I need God. It's made me see how small I am and how infinitely big and powerful God is.

He is our reason for thanks giving. He knows we are but dust. He knows every sin, every thought, every dark pit we've faced....

And He loves us still.

"Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever." 1 Chronicles 16:34

Psalm 107

1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;

his love endures forever.

2 Let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story—

those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,

3 those he gathered from the lands,

from east and west, from north and south.

4 Some wandered in desert wastelands,

finding no way to a city where they could settle.

5 They were hungry and thirsty,

and their lives ebbed away.

6 Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble,

and he delivered them from their distress.

7 He led them by a straight way

to a city where they could settle.

8 Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love

and his wonderful deeds for mankind,

9 for he satisfies the thirsty

and fills the hungry with good things.

In all things, whoever you are and whatever you've done or not done...give thanks to the Lord. He is good. His love endures forever.

Giving thanks... for the good, the struggles, and everything in between,


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Early Christmas Coincidence

Ever wondered if the little decisions you make in a day's time matter?

I have some days. Other days I've known without a doubt one decision made all the difference.

Today was one of those days.

It started normally enough... the alarm went off. I groaned. Then I stayed in bed wondering what today would hold, praying some, organizing what I knew had to be done.

We'd planned to go shopping for our yearly Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes earlier this week. But lots of ordinary things prevented us. So we went today.

All pretty ordinary. Shopping commenced with candy, toys, toothbrushes, and conversation about the child who would receive the box we were packing.

We hurried home, wrapped and packed our shoebox, then hurried to make it to a processing center to drop off our gift.

This was the first time we haven't dropped our shoebox off at church with a prayer and a hope it would brighten a child's Christmas.

This time we stumbled into a moment in time that had God's handiwork written all over it.

We thought we were late, that we were skirting into the processing center right before it closed. Instead we landed smack dab in the middle of a family day event we hadn't signed up for, hadn't planned to attend, but were invited into anyway.

There we saw a shoebox's journey from a child's hands in the US to a child's hands in another country.

We saw what a difference little choices make. The toothbrushes we pack every year could be a first time gift of better health. A sewing kit prayed over by my child could help another child earn money to keep her family alive.

Little things to us, little toys or a bag of candy, might mean our child hears the Good News of Jesus for the first time in her life. The love we packed into that small box could open up a child's heart to hearing that someone who doesn't even know her cared enough to send a shoebox so that the One who knows every hair on her head could be shared with her forever.

Little "coincidences" got us to this moment in time today. A moment when my little girl who wants to be a doctor saw doctors with Samaritan's Purse helping children and adults in Haiti. Something flamed in her eyes as she looked up at me and said, "I'm going to do that someday."

Something flamed in all of us today. A desire to be part of something much bigger than any one of its human parts. A longing to do something to bring joy and the love of Christ to many.

An understanding that packing a shoebox was so much more than a holiday tradition. It was hope disguised as a simple cardboard box. A simple gift that could change a life.

I have no idea what God is up to with all He organized today. But I'm convinced today wasn't about coincidences. It was all about God- incidences.

I can't wait to see what He's up to next.

To learn more about Operation Christmas Child, check out the Samaritan's Purse website.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Do You Know Him?

During a recent devotion with my children, we watched this video and were reminded of the greatness of our God and why we should stand in awe of Him.


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Do we remember?

Today I woke up like normal~ slowly. Then I realized what today was. My family and I talked about 9-11-2001. We read poems, looked at my scrapbook from that day, and cried.

I remember that day.

I remember the world grieving as one.

I remember Congress singing God Bless America on the Capital steps.

I remember the heroes of that day too. The firefighters. The police. The military. The FBI. The men and women aboard the four planes that changed our world. The doctors and nurses and EMS personnel who cared for the injured. The priests and pastors who comforted the grieving. The family members of those who died.

I remember the candles lit around the world.

Our prayers. Our tears. Our unity.

I pray we don't forget. I won't. My children won't. I pray we're different because of it. More compassionate. More dependent on God. And more willing to fight on our knees for the things that matter.

Love. Family. Unity. Peace.

There are two poems I read this morning to my family. I pray they touch your soul as they did ours and that, along with us, you won't forget.

On Monday

On Monday there were people fighting against praying in schools
On Tuesday you would have been hard pressed to find a school where someone was not praying

On Monday there were people trying to separate each other by race, sex, color, and creed
On Tuesday they were all holding hands

On Monday we thought that we were secure
On Tuesday we learned better

On Monday we were talking about heroes as being athletes
On Tuesday we relearned what hero meant

On Monday people went to work at the world trade centers as usual
On Tuesday they died

On Monday people were fighting the 10 commandments on government property
On Tuesday the same people all said, "God help us all" while thinking, "Thou shalt not kill"

On Monday people argued with their kids about picking up their room
On Tuesday the same people could not get home fast enough to hug their kids

On Monday people picked up McDonalds for dinner
On Tuesday they stayed home

On Monday people were upset that their dry cleaning was not ready on time
On Tuesday they were lining up to give blood for the dying

On Monday politicians argued about budget surpluses
On Tuesday grief stricken they sang "God Bless America"

On Monday we worried about the traffic and getting to work late
On Tuesday we worried about a place crashing into your house or place of business

On Monday we were irritated that our rebate checks had not arrived
On Tuesday we saw people celebrating people dying in the USA

On Monday some children had solid families
On Tuesday they were orphans

On Monday the president was going to Florida to read to children
On Tuesday he returned to Washington to protect our children

On Monday we emailed jokes
On Tuesday we did not

It is sadly ironic how it takes horrific events to place things into perspective, but it has. The lessons learned this week, the things we have taken for granted, the things that have been forgotten or overlooked, hopefully will never be forgotten again.

~ Author Unknown

Is This Normal?

Four thousand gathered for a mid-day prayer in a downtown cathedral.

A New York City church, filled and emptied six times last Tuesday.

The owner of a Manhattan tennis shoe store threw open his doors and gave running shoes to those fleeing the towers.

People stood in lines to give blood, in hospitals to treat the sick, in sanctuaries to pray for the wounded.

America was different this week.

We wept for people we did not know.
We sent money to families we've never seen.
Talk-show hosts read Scriptures, journalists printed prayers.
Our focus shifted from fashion hemlines and box scores to orphans and widows and the future of the world.

We were different this week.

Republicans stood next to Democrats.
Catholics prayed with Jews.
Skin color was covered by the ash of burning towers.

This is a different country than it was a week ago.
We're not as self-centered as we were.
We're not as self-reliant as we were.
Hands are out.
Knees are bent.

This is not normal.

And I have to ask the question, "Do we want to go back to normal?"
Are we being given a glimpse of a new way of life?
Are we, as a nation, being reminded that the enemy is not each other and the power is not in ourselves and the future is not in our bank accounts?

Could this unselfish prayerfulness be the way God intended for us to live all along?
Maybe this, in HIS eyes, is the way we are called to live.

And perhaps the best response to this tragedy is to refuse to go back to normal.

Perhaps the best response is to follow the example of Tom Burnet.
He was a passenger of flight 93. Minutes before the plane crashed in the fields of Pennsylvania he reached his wife by cell phone. "We're all going to die," he told her, "but there are three of us who are going to do something about it."

We can do something about it as well.
We can resolve to care more.
We can resolve to pray more.
And we can resolve that, God being our helper, we'll never go back to normal again.

~ Max Lucado

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

What Southern Women Know

I should preface what follows with the fact that I'm not a Southerner. I'm an Army brat who grew up all over the world. But I was born south of the Mason-Dixon and have lived most of my life in the dear old South. So I guess you could say, "I got here as fast as I could."

Read on an enjoy!

Southern women know their summer weather report:


Southern women know their vacation spots:

The beach
The rivuh
The crick

Southern women know everybody's first name:


Southern women know the movies that speak to their hearts:

Fried Green Tomatoes
Driving Miss Daisy
Steel Magnolias
Gone With The Wind

Southern women know their religions:


Southern women know their cities dripping with Southern charm:

S'vanah (This is REALLY how it's pronounced here!)
Foat Wuth
Addlanna (Same with this one!)

Southern women know their elegant gentlemen:

Men in uniform
Men in clean overalls
Rhett Butler

Southern girls know their prime real estate:

The Mall
The Spa
The Beauty Salon

Southern girls know the 3 deadly sins:

Havin' bad hair and nails
Havin' bad manners
Cookin' bad food

More Suthen-ism's:

Only a Southerner knows the difference between a hissie fit and a conniption fit, and that you don't "HAVE" them, you "PITCH" them.

(Okay this one is soooo true! I have never heard of anyone having a hissie fit. We pitch 'em down here. ;-) )
Only a Southerner knows how many fish, collard greens, poke sallet, white beans, etc., make up "a mess."

Only a Southerner can show or point out to you the general direction of "yonder."

Only a Southerner knows exactly how long "directly" is, as in: "Goin' to town, be back drekly ."

Even Southern babies know that "Gimme some sugar" is not a request for the white, granular, sweet substance that sits in a pretty little bowl in the middle of the table.

All Southerners know exactly when "by and by" is. They might not use the term, but they know the concept well.

Only a Southerner knows instinctively that the best gesture of solace for a neighbor who's got trouble is a plate of hot fried chicken and a big bowl of cold potato salad.

If the neighbor's trouble is a real crisis, they also know to add a large banana puddin'!

Only Southerners grow up knowing the difference between "right near" and "a right fur piece."

They also know that "juss down the road" can be 1 mile or 20.

No true Southerner would ever assume that the car with the flashing turn signal is actually going to make a turn.

(This is ABSOLUTELY true in Atlanta!)

A Southerner knows that "fixin" can be used as a noun, a verb, or an adverb.

(This one might actually qualify me as a Southerner. I've used "fixin" since I could talk~ mostly as a verb.)

Only Southerners make friends while standing in lines, ...and when we're "in line,"... we talk to everybody!

In the South, y'all is singular, all y'all is plural.

Southerners know grits come from corn and how to eat them.

Every Southerner knows tomatoes with eggs, bacon, grits, and coffee are perfectly wonderful; that red eye gravy is also a breakfast food; and that fried green tomatoes are not breakfast food.

When you hear someone say, "Well, I caught myself lookin'," you know you are in the presence of a genuine Southerner!

Only true Southerners say "sweet tea" and "sweet milk." Sweet tea indicates the need for sugar and lots of it -- we do not like our tea unsweetened. "Sweet milk" means you don't want buttermilk.

And a true Southerner knows you don't scream obscenities at little old ladies who drive 30 MPH on the freeway.

You just say, "Bless her heart"... and go your own way.

To those of you who are still a little embarrassed by your Southerness: Take two tent revivals and a dose of sausage gravy and call me in the morning. Bless your heart!

And to those of you who are still having a hard time understanding all this Southern stuff...bless your hearts, I hear they are fixin' to have classes on Southernness as a second language!

And for those that are not from the South but have lived here for a long time, all y'all need a sign to hang on y'alls front porch that reads "I'm not from the South, but I got here as fast as I could."

Hope you had a good laugh like I did reading through these!

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Secret of Scents

After posting on Facebook yesterday about how I had nothing to say, inspiration struck this morning. I finished reading an amazing book, Beauty Secrets of the Bible by Ginger Garrett, and the section on scent captured my attention. Here are a few reasons why...

"Smells are processed in the same area of the brain that we process and store emotions and memories."

Immediately, I connected to this. The smell of books transports me to my Grandma's basement where I spent many happy hours sitting at a huge red-benched picnic table with her reliving the past and reading her favorite stories.

The smells of Christmas send me back to Berlin, Germany where I can see Kurfurstendamm's twinkling Christmas market and feel the chilly air and remember one of the happiest times of my teen years.

Ginger goes on to talk about God's wisdom with scent...

"God gave His people directions on incorporating scent into their spiritual lives."

"When you walked into the ancient temple, you were immediately transported by the scent of the perfume to another place, a holy space. Perfume set the mood for worship and intimacy."

"The anointing oil was to be made from myrrh, cinnamon, cane, cassia, and olive oil. I imagine that the scent smelled very much like a scent we would associate with Christmas."

I LOVE that! And since scents affect my soul like music, a plan began to form in my brain. I packed up my kiddos and off we went to a favorite store: Yankee Candle.

We spent a fun hour smelling every scent there, and I put together three of my favorites for something extra special.

At home, I assembled my sweet-smelling treasures on a simple, dark candle plate and put it on my dresser, along with a hymn book.

I lit the candles and let their mingled scents transport me to a place of worship. As the heated air carried my prayers skyward, the candles' rich, beautiful scents carried me to a new experience with God, something I'd never thought to do before.

It was lovely. Refreshing. Rejuvenating. And I can't wait to make these scents part of my worship time every morning.

In case you're wondering, here are my worship scents: cinnamon, cedarwood, and almond.

What about you all? Do you have special scents for special occasions? Or special scents that bring back happy memories?

Whatever your scent story, I hope you'll consider allowing special scents to brighten your day, maybe even deepen your time with the Lord.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Summer Reading Enjoyment

My oldest daughter is an avid reader like her mom. This summer, she's already read and re-read a series she wanted to tell folks about.

I'd second her opinion about Kim Vogel Sawyer. If you have any teen or pre-teen readers (moms will like these books too), put the Katy Lambright Series on your to buy list.

Katy's New World (The Katy Lambright Series, Book 1)
By Kim Vogel Sawyer

Katy's New World Review
By EW, age 12

I really enjoyed reading this book. In it, Katy Lambright, a Mennonite teenager, gets to go to high school. She loves it-- especially English class. But soon she begins having trouble fitting in, at school and at home.

I recommend this book for its truths about staying true to yourself within a fascinating, well-told story.

Katy's Debate (The Katy Lambright Series, Book 2)
By Kim Vogel Sawyer

Katy's Debate Review
By EW, age 12

I was really drawn into the story. I laughed a lot, but nearly cried a few times too. It was really good! In the story, Katy finally feels stable in her new school and is on the debate team, which she enjoys. But at home, her dad is courting a woman Katy can't stand, her best friend has a boyfriend who annoys Katy, and she is trying to convince her dad she doesn't need a mom. Worse yet, she likes a boy her community would never accept. She is faced with many choices, but is having a hard time choosing wisely.

I recommend this book for its fascinating plot full of twists and turns and truths about acceptance.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Doctor, Doctor

I'm trying to write a new chapter today but got sidetracked by this very cool YouTube video about one of my hubby's and my favorite new shows~ Doctor Who.

All I did was Google a particular song, and this fun video is what I found. Enjoy.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Auf Deutsch

This week I got word from a German magazine that all three of my books have been translated into German. Since I grew up in Germany, this was thrilling news!

I thought you all might like to see the German covers and read a translated review of the books. Also, here's the link for my German publisher.

Ransomed Dreams review Auf Deutsch:

Pressestimmen (1)


"Der Tag, der alles veränderte" ist der erste Band der "Defenders of Hope" Serie, in der sich FBI-Agenten auf die Suche nach vermissten Kindern begeben. Die Hauptfiguren im Serienauftakt sind dabei so überzeugend, dass es leicht fällt, sich der Handlung hinzugeben. Gracies Trauma wird derart realistisch beschrieben, dass das Lesen fast körperlich wehtut. Auch Steven hadert mit dem Leid, mit dem er täglich konfrontiert wird. Amy Wallace gelingt es dabei meisterhaft ihre Protagonisten als Menschen aus Fleisch und Blut darzustellen. Obwohl der Roman christliche Werte vermittelt, sind sowohl Gracie, als auch Steven nicht perfekt. Gerade weil sie Wut und Trauer empfinden und Gott in Frage stellen, sind sie überzeugend. Stevens Fall und auch Gracies Vergangenheitsbewältigung sind zudem überaus spannend und packend inszeniert. Die zarte Liebesgeschichte rundet schließlich diesen wunderbaren Roman um Schuld und Vergebung ab."

In English:

"The day that changed everything" is the first volume of the "Defenders of Hope" series in which FBI agents go in search for missing children. The main characters in the series opener are so compelling that it is easy to add the action. Gracie's trauma is described in such realistic that almost physically hurts to read. Steven also quarrels with the suffering with which he is confronted daily. Amy Wallace succeeds masterfully while its protagonists as people of flesh and blood present. Although the novel gives Christian values, both Gracie, and Steven is not perfect. Just because they feel anger and grief and God into question, they are convincing. Stevens case, and also Gracie's dealing with the past are also very exciting and thrilling staged. The delicate love story finally rounds off this wonderful novel about guilt and forgiveness."

Healing Promises review Auf Deutsch:

Kundenstimmen (1)

12.05.2010B. Gregor

Gott sitzt immer noch auf dem Thron. Und er ist gut. Immer. (u. a. Seite 268) Wirklich immer?

Schon öfters habe ich geschrieben, daß ich nicht so recht weiß, wie ich eine angemessene Rezi schreiben soll. Hier bei diesem Buch ist es so, daß ich selbiges eher nicht will. Nicht, weil das Buch so schlecht (oder überhaupt schlecht) wäre, oh nein, ganz im Gegenteil. Das Problem ist, es hat mich persönlich „kalt erwischt“, fast noch mehr, als „Der Tag, der alles veränderte“. Nach Iris Kammerers „Varus“ ist dies in den letzten Jahren das zweite Buch, das mich emotional dermaßen stark berührte, daß mir schon alleine beim Gedanken an den Titel Tränen kommen. Vielleicht, weil Clint am gleichen Tag Geburtstag hat wie ich. Vielleicht, weil eben jenes Zitat aus dem Buch Hiob, das ich für das Totenbildchen meines Vaters ausgewählt habe, hier an entscheidender Stelle zitiert wird. Vielleicht, weil ein Standardspruch meiner Großmutter an zentraler Stelle im Buch fällt. So Gott will.

Aber manchmal will er eben nicht.

Das zweite Buch der Defender of Hope - Trilogie läßt mich etwas zwiegespalten zurück. Stilistisch schien mir das vorige Buch etwas „runder“ zu sein, flüssiger und weniger aus Einzelszenen bestehend, wie ich hier an einigen Stellen den Eindruck hatte. Auf der anderen Seite empfand ich dieses hier wesentlich dichter an den Protagonisten. Konnte ich im ersten Buch eine gewisse (durchaus angenehme) Distanz halten, so war mir das hier nicht mehr möglich. Unerbittlich wurde ich in die Handlung hineingezogen, habe den beruflichen Druck, der auf den FBI-Agenten lastet, verspürt. Habe mitgetrauert, wenn es wieder mal nicht gereicht hat; sei es beim FBI, sei es im Krebszentrum. Und konnte bisweilen mich auch mitfreuen an den viel zu wenigen schönen Ereignissen. Während sich im Hintergrund bereits die Gewitterwolken zusammenballen, die sich im dritten Teil entladen werden.

Der Focus dieses Buches liegt auf Clint und Sara. Bei den Folgeuntersuchungen einer Schußverletzung wird bei ihm Krebs diagnostiziert. Von heute auf morgen wird sein und das Leben seiner Familie, wie auch der Kollegen, aus der Bahn geworfen. Sara trifft es doppelt, macht sie sich Vorwürfe, daß sie als Onkologin das nicht selbst schon früher diagnostiziert hatte. Während Clint also den Kampf mit dem Krebs aufnimmt, jagen seine Kollegen Steven und Michael einen Serienmörder, der offenbar Katz und Maus mit dem FBI spielt.

Wie schon in „Der Tag, der alles veränderte“ gibt es auch hier immer wieder Kapitel aus der Sicht des Täters. Allerdings ist es hier nur anscheinend klar, wer das ist. Sehr geschickt legt die Autorin falsche Spuren, so daß zumindest ich völlig falsch mit meiner Einschätzung war. So offensichtlich der Täter im ersten Band war, so un-offensichtlich ist er es hier. Wie falsch ich lag, habe ich auch erst bemerkt, als das FBI die Identität entdeckt hat.

Das Buch hat mich mit auf eine emotionale Achterbahnfahrt genommen, die öfters nach unten denn nach oben ging. Die „Verlustraten“ sind hoch - beim FBI, Abteilung Verbrechen an Kindern, wie auch in der Krebsklinik. Waren im Vorgänger die Entführungen eben unpersönliche Fälle, kamen sie mir hier schon näher. Oder Frank, der nur (im Buch) lebte, um zu sterben. Das war wirklich (emotional) hart zu lesen, und ich mußte teilweise nach 30, 40 Seiten erst mal eine Pause einlegen.

Als Grundthema des Buches gibt die Autorin die Frage an, ob man Gott in wirklich jeder Situation vertrauen kann. Nicht ganz ohne Grund wird einige Male das Buch Hiob zitiert, um schließlich in der geflüsterten Frage: Wie lobe ich Gott, wenn das Leben so wehtut? (Seite 231) zu münden. Immer wieder gelangen die Protagonisten an diesen Punkt, sind kurz vor (oder nach) der Verzweiflung - und müssen doch weitermachen. Diese inneren Konflikte, in denen wohlgemeinte Sprüche nicht mehr weiterhelfen, fand ich persönlich gut und überzeugend dargestellt. Ich konnte mich mit den „Helden“ identifizieren und ihre Zweifel und Nöte verstehen. Sicher ist letztlich bis zu einem gewissen Punkt klar, wie das Buch ausgehen wird. Selbst die Perfekt- und Vollkommenheit Gracias wird (von Hanna) bemängelt. Dennoch erschien es mir persönlich eben nicht übertrieben, sondern die Personen haben (für mich) im gegebenen Rahmen glaubhaft und nachvollziehbar gehandelt. Gerade das hat noch mehr zu der schon erwähnten Nähe beigetragen.

Als ich das Buch zugeklappt habe und im Kopfkino der Schriftzug „The End“ auftauchte, war ich innerlich gleichzeitig aufgewühlt, aber auch ruhig und zufrieden. Im sicheren Bewußtsein, den mir ans Herz gewachsenen Protagonisten noch einmal wieder zu begegnen, in sicherer Vorahnung etlicher schlimmer Dinge, die da wohl ans Tageslicht kommen würden, in unsicherer Hoffnung, wie alles letztlich ausgehen wird. Und schließlich mit der Frage, wie ich es noch rund drei Monate aushalten soll, bis ich weiterlesen kann.

„Ihre Geschichte ist anders als unsere, aber Gott ist derselbe. Sie können ihm vertrauen. Er wird Sie nicht im Stich lassen.“ (Seite 102)

In English:

Testimonials (1)

12.05.2010B. Gregor

The hours that count~ title

God is still sitting on the throne. And he is good. Always. (Including page 268) Is it good?

Even more often I have written that I do not really know how to write proper Rezi. Here, in this book is such that I tend not The same will. Not because the book so bad (or even bad) would be, oh no, quite the opposite. The problem is, it took me personally "caught cold," almost more than "The day that changed everything." After Iris Kammerer "Varus" this is in recent years, the second book that touched me emotionally so much that I had come alone at the thought of the title of tears. Perhaps because Clint has the same birthday as me. Perhaps because of that very quote from the Book of Job, which I have selected for the little picture of my dead father, is quoted at the decisive point. Perhaps because a standard saying of my grandmother at a central point in the book falls. God willing.

But sometimes he will not.

The second book of the Defender of Hope - trilogy leaves me somewhat ambivalent. Stylistically, I thought the previous book something to be "round", and less liquid consisting of individual scenes, as I have here in some places had the impression. On the other hand, I felt here that much closer to the protagonists. I could in the first book to keep a certain (very pleasant) distance, so to me this was not possible. I was inexorably drawn into the action, have the professional pressures put on the FBI agents felt. Have mitgetrauert when it itself has not yet served, be it at the FBI, whether in the cancer center. And sometimes I was able to rejoice even in the far too few good events. While in the background agglomerate already the storm clouds, which are unloaded in the third part.

The focus of this book is on Clint and Sara. In the follow-up studies of a gunshot wound is diagnosed him with cancer. Of today will be tomorrow and on the lives of his family, as well as colleagues, thrown off course. Sara takes it twice, she reproached herself that she, as the oncologist had not even been diagnosed earlier. So while Clint takes the fight with cancer, his colleagues chase a serial killer, Steven and Michael, who seems to play cat and mouse with the FBI.

As in "The day that changed everything", there are always chapter from the perspective of the perpetrator. However, it is just seems obvious who that is. Very cleverly, the author lays false trails, so that at least I was completely wrong in my assessment. So obviously the offender in the first volume was so un-obvious he is here. How wrong I was, I have only discovered when the FBI has discovered the identity.

The book has taken me on an emotional roller coaster ride that often went down because the top. The loss rates are high - at the FBI, Department of crimes against children, as in the cancer clinic. Were in the previous abductions just impersonal cases, they came to me here closer. Or Frank, the only (living in the book), to die. That was really (read emotional) is hard, and I had some appeal at 30, 40 pages until a break.

The overall theme of the book is the author of the question whether one can really trust God in every situation. Not without reason, some times the book of Job is quoted, and finally whispered in the question: How do I praise God when life hurts so? (Page 231) lead. Again and again the protagonists get to this point, are just before (or after) of despair - and must continue that. These internal conflicts, in which help is no longer well-intentioned spells, I was personally well presented and convincing. I could identify myself with the "heroes" and understand their doubts and worries. Sure, ultimately, to a certain point, it is clear how the book will end. Even the most perfect and perfection is Gracias (criticized by Hanna). However, it appeared to me personally just not an exaggeration, but the people have (traded for me) in the given context believable and understandable. Just that has contributed more to the already mentioned nearby.

When I closed the book and movie in my head the words "The End" appeared, I was deeply disturbed at the same time, but also calm and satisfied. In the safe consciousness, the protagonists meet me to the heart grown once more again, worse in a safe premonition of several things that would come to light as well, hope in uncertain how everything will turn out eventually. And finally, the question of how should I hold out about three months, until I can read.

"Their history is different than ours, but God is the same. You can trust him. He will not let them down. "(Page 102)

Last but not least... Enduring Justice Auf Deutsch:

Ende Juli 2010Nervenkitzel pur

Amy Wallace

Im Hauch eines Augenblicks

Über zwei Jahrzehnte lang hat Hanna Kessler ihr Kindheitsgeheimnis tief in ihrem Innersten vergraben. Aber als die dunklen Schatten der Vergangenheit diejenigen zu zerstören drohen, die sie liebt, muss Hanna sich zu einem schwierigen Schritt durchringen. Sie muss sich den Erinnerungen an jenen Sommer stellen, der ihr Leben für immer veränderte. Und dem Mann, der bis heute ihre Gedanken beherrscht.

Als FBI-Agent weiß Michael Parker, was es bedeutet, einen Rückschlag zu erleiden. Schwierige Fälle und zerbrochene Beziehungen pflastern seinen Lebensweg. Aber als das System versagt und ein Rechtsextremist auf freien Fuß gesetzt wird, wächst sein Wunsch nach Vergeltung ins Unermessliche.

Der gut geplante Anschlag eines Rassisten zwingt Hanna und Michael, sich zu entscheiden. Wollen sie Rache üben oder der Gerechtigkeit zum Sieg verhelfen? Letzteres wäre ihre Chance auf Heilung. Aber ist Gerechtigkeit wirklich genug, wenn der Angriff sich gegen sie persönlich richtet?

In English:


Amy Wallace

In the breath of a moment~ title

For over two decades, Hanna Kessler her childhood secret buried deep in her core. But threaten to destroy the dark shadows of the past than those who loves them, durchringen Hanna has become a difficult step. You must make the memories of that summer that changed her life forever. And the man who still dominates their thoughts.

As FBI Agent Michael Parker knows suffering, what does it mean a setback. Difficult cases and broken relationships pave his life. But when the system fails and a right-wing extremist is set free, his desire for revenge grows immeasurably.

The well-planned attack by a racist forces Hanna and Michael to choose to stay. Do you want revenge or justice to help the victory? The latter would be their chance of cure. But justice is real enough, if the attack is directed against them personally?

Enduring Justice, or should I say In the Breath of a Moment will be available in July 2010! ;-)

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sacred Parenting

I'm embarking on a new journey in parenting ~ very soon my oldest will be a teen. Instead of fearing this transition, I'm taking steps to make it the best it can possibly be. And I'm preparing my heart too.

As part of this process, my oldest and I started having an Esther Year and working through an amazing book: Queen Esther's Secrets of Womanhood by Ginger Garrett.

An Esther Year is a blueprint for activities to pamper mom and daughter and for discussions to go deep into stories of the past and wisdom for the future. We've enjoyed a number of diners or coffees out, fun beauty treatments, and lots of good talks.

It's been a great preparation for this transition.

But my heart needed more. So I hinted (okay, a lot) to my hubby and kids that for Mother's Day I wanted a specific book.

They were so wonderful to get it for me.

They had no idea just how much it would change all of our lives.

This book is Sacred Parenting by Gary Thomas. His book Sacred Marriage, which I read last year, changed my heart and my marriage in many profound ways.

I know God will show up through the pages and prose to transform me again in my parenting.

Today, I'm mulling over some fantastic and thought provoking quotes that I wanted to share with you.

"Christian parenting is truly a sacred journey. It invites us parents to purify ourselves, to use the process of raising kids to perfect holiness, and to do this consistently, every day, out of reverence for God."

This section, from chapter one, delves into 2 Corinthians 7:1 and the question: Why Parent?

I love this next quote. It beautifully articulates words that have lived in my heart ever since my oldest was born.

"In the good and the bad they (our children) mold our hearts, shape our souls, and invite us to experience God in newer and deeper ways."

I've long known that my children are amazing teachers, even before their first words. They've taught me about God's love, His infinite forgiveness, and the joy of sacrifice. I pray daily I might teach them something too.

Here are some other phenomenal quotes. I hope you'll savor them along with me.

"It is in families we are broken and it is in families that we are healed." Carl Whittaker

"Sunshine without rain is the recipe for a desert." Arab Proverb

"Repentance, contrary to popular misconception, is not a heroic first step I make toward Christ, nor is it a feeling-sorry-for my sins. It is the divine gift of being turned toward truth." William Willimon

"There is in repentance this great mystery~ that we may fly fastest home on broken wings." William Sullivan

I'm looking forward to this journey, knowing I'll be stretched farther than I've yet been and broken in places I wasn't aware needing breaking. But I'll also be taking a step closer to my heavenly Daddy and savoring His presence as He teaches me to parent more like Him.

I plan to enjoy the journey.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Influence and power

A very close friend called me up on Wednesday to wish me an early birthday and said she’d be praying for me on my birthday (today) and thanking God all day that He made me.

I nearly cried.

What a sweet thing to say and mean.

My daughters and I have been talking about power and influence this week, and today that thought converged with the idea of thanking God for someone’s life.

I wonder if the people I’m in authority over: my children, mentorees, students, lower belts in my martial arts, thank God for me.

What about you? Who do you influence? And how can you use that influence for good, like Jesus did?

By serving. It’s an easy Sunday school answer, but I wonder if you’re like me and that isn’t an everyday thought.

Who can you influence for good by serving?

It might be a smile, a kind word, a firm but loving round of discipline, a cheer when they’re trying hard but not quite getting it.

They may never say thank you, but they will someday be thankful for you. They may even spend your birthday thanking God that He made you because you made a difference in their life.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Always learning?

When I mentor or teach writers—elementary school kids with big dreams, teens, or adult writers—one of the first things I tell them is never stop learning. I also tell them that even if you think you know something so well you could do it in your sleep, keep practicing and improving it.

I got a nice object lesson of this truth the other day.

We were in a martial arts class, practicing blocking moves. In this particular class, we’d gone over these techniques for weeks. I was pretty confident I knew what I was doing.

But then all four advanced belt leaders had something else to show me.

At first, I was discouraged, thinking I’d never get it.

Then I realized they weren’t telling me the same stuff they’d told me last time or the time before. They were teaching me more advanced techniques and pushing me to learn more, to keep improving.

It clicked that evening that even if I know a million and one things about any given subject (I don’t), there are always a million and two things to learn.

Always learning has a ton of benefits—sharper mind, growing base of knowledge and wisdom, winning Trivial Pursuit. That last one matters, truly. Ask my friend Carrie.

It has benefits for the people around you too. Your learning can be a source of inspiration and it can give you opportunities to mentor and help someone else take one more step toward their dreams.

What can you learn today, this week, this year?

Then look around and find someone a few steps behind you in learning that same thing. Teach them, encourage them, and share what you’ve learned.

You’ll touch a life. You might even inspire a God-sized dream.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Happy Easter!

A beautiful look at the richness of Easter through the art of one of my favorite painters, Ron DiCianni.

Enjoy... and worship Him today. He is risen, indeed!

Thursday, April 01, 2010

The Final Week of Jesus

This week, my daughters and I are reading through one of my favorite non-fiction books about Easter: And the Angels were Silent by Max Lucado. This book recounts in beautiful words and heart-healing stories the final week of Jesus.

Here's a snippet from the beginning of And the Angels were Silent ... "Commonly clad. Uncommonly focused. Leaving Jericho and walking toward Jerusalem. He doesn't chatter. He doesn't pause. He is on a journey. His final journey.

"Even the angels are silent. They know this is no ordinary walk. They now this is no ordinary week. For hinged on this week is the door of eternity. Let's walk with him. Let's see how Jesus spent his final days. Let's see what mattered to God."

As we've read, we've talked about what mattered most to Jesus. What He talked about this last week. What He taught about. What He did during these seven days...Jesus clearing the temple- His passion for God and His anger at those who would keep us from truly worshipping. We've talked about truth and lukewarm faith and the courage to dream again. Of sandcastles and tides and the fact life is fleeting. And that Jesus is coming back.

No matter how many times I've read this story- I've owned it since before I was married- I cry as I read each chapter. The words are that evocative and the truths that soul-watering.

It's one of the ways I keep this week in my heart.

I hope, no matter how you do it, that you keep this week in your hearts too. Remember who Jesus is and what He's done.

Remember the scourging and the cross.

Remember the blackness of Friday and the glory of Sunday.

An empty tomb. A risen Saviour.

And celebrate!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Fiction Mirror

Fiction mirrors real life.

I learned that hard truth while writing three suspense novels that delved into deep subjects, themes that poured out of my own struggles and triumphs, my own questions and wrestling with God. A lot of me and many people I know filled those pages.

You can't hide writing a novel. And you shouldn't. Because when fiction reflects real life, real people read and not only enjoy a great story that touches them on a deep level, but they also find hope and a mirror into their own soul.

Fiction reading and writing have forced me to face big issues in my heart. That's one of the reasons I'm a lifetime fiction reader and talk passionately about how fiction is a place where wounded people can find hope, healing, and encouragement.

But I've never found that to be true with fiction how-to books or DVDs.

Until last night.

My fantastic local writing group, WORD, met last night and watched part 2 of an amazing DVD ~ The Hero’s Journey.

In it, one of the presenters, Michael Hauge, taught about the hero's inner journey. I scribbled notes furiously and hoped at some point I'd understand concepts that weren't new but weren't quite fitting into my brain very well either.

When I got home, I brainstormed with my husband about my current characters' inner journeys until his eyes glassed over. I still didn't understand, and that bugged me. A lot.

So this morning as I was praying, I started thinking about the concept of identity and essence and how all of the other terms Mr. Hauge used to describe the inner journey fit together.

It hit me that I could plug myself into the concepts and maybe understand them better.

God is so sneaky in getting me to do this. He knew I couldn't pass up the chance to understand the benign subject of writing deeper. Little did I know, I'd be totally exposed in working through a technique just like I am in the actual writing.

As I've done in my books, author letters, and on this blog, I'm going to put my real life examples out there.

Mr. Hauge talked about the concept of longing, a wound, fear, identity, and essence. I'll explain them using me.

A longing~ I long to be a kind, gentle, emotional person.

What's funny to me about that longing is in many arenas I am that person, especially in my writing and with other writers. But it's taken me a long time to get healthy enough to honestly be who I am around other people, especially my family.

A wound~ Growing up I was made fun of for any emotional display, sometimes physically punished. These were not temper tantrum displays, but everyday ones like sadness, excitement, fear, ect. So I learned never to cry in front of anyone. Anger was the only acceptable emotion.

Fear~ Emotion equaled weakness in my family of origin, so my fear as I grew up was that if I showed emotion, besides anger, I'd be rejected and unwanted again.

Here is where I'd attach my understanding of "the lie," a truth and technique I learned from counseling to apply to my own life, to my fiction, and to teach to other writers. My lie that I've lived out of a majority of the time is I'm unwanted.

Identity~ I’ve defined myself as a strong woman and used anger like a sword. This was my protection against rejection in any situation where I might have to risk exposing my wound. Anger happens anytime my lie is pushed on or in some way shown to be true. As in anytime I've felt put down, disrespected, or not liked.

Essence~ This is something that took me a while to understand through Mr. Hauge's teaching. This is basically who the character, or real person, is when all their definitions of who they are get taken away. Instead of defining myself by my family, my work, my abilities, or my characteristics like strong and angry, essence is who I really am.

As a believer, who I am is God's child. A child He made to be very emotional, passionate, and (when I'm listening to Him and believing Him) a kind, gentle, caring person.

The journey of life and of a fiction novel is for the character to be stripped of identity and have their essence revealed and accepted as they live in a new reality being who they really are.

Writers, unlike our characters, are still in process. The last page of our story~ my story~ has yet to be written.

But this insight matters. It forced me to look in Jesus' face and bow before Him, confessing my lie, my self-protections, and my fears. And taking from Him the freedom to be who He created me to be.

I'm sure God has plenty more ways to teach me truths like this. And I’m sure I’ll need them.

But for today, I'm grateful a how-to book/ DVD on writing taught me truth about myself.

Now I must go make my fictional characters suffer as I have so they can rejoice like I am today. ;-)

Fiction is a beautiful mirror. So is anything that helps us look deeply inside and see what God would have us see.

How has a fictional novel or even a fiction how-to book mirrored you and revealed something that helped you grow?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Do What You Love

Life and writing both share some basic “rules.” Do your best. Don’t give up. Treat others the way you’d like to be treated—except you can’t do this to your characters until the last chapter.

An often overlooked “rule” is one thing I try to incorporate into everything I teach because it’s a bedrock good idea if you want to enjoy life… and writing.

Do what you love and do it with passion.

Love and passion are the intangible ingredients that change something good to something filled with wow, something which draws you back for more—everything from beautiful art to beautiful food to engaging drama, warm and wonderful knit clothing, and books worthy of a second or third read.

The big question here is not why—we all know why we love wow experiences and things—it’s how. How do we figure out what we love and do it with passion.

The first step is to think about what you loved as a child. Cooking? A breathtaking sunset? Taking pictures? Making things with your hands? Telling stories that made people laugh?

Often we find something we love as children and let life and busyness steal it away.

I never dreamed about becoming an author. But I started down that path when my husband pushed me to do something he knew I loved but I’d forgotten.

I’d won a writing contest in elementary school, a story telling contest in middle school. And I spent most of my days floating from one movie-like daydream to another. But it wasn’t until someone else saw that spark and nudged me to go for it that I remembered.

So I’m nudging you. What did you love to do as a child? Rediscover it.

The next step is to enjoy it again. Love painting but feel a bit rusty on techniques? Take a beginners class at a craft store or local church. Love photography but don’t know where to start? Barnes and Noble is full of inexpensive books to get you going.

Did you love arts and crafts as a kid? What about scrapbooking, sculpture, building ships or birdhouses or sewing or knitting? Again, ask about classes at a craft store, fabric store, community college or talk to people at church. Chances are someone there loves an activity you love and can help you get started and stay motivated with it.

Then pray about how you can use that thing you love, that activity or cause you’re passionate about, to serve others.

Of course, it’s wise to be praying every step of the way. But don’t let yourself get bogged down with fear about showing your art or creations to others. Not until you’re ready.

And when you are, keep praying. There are people out there who will help you get better. Ask God to connect you to those folks. It may not be easy to hear areas for improvement, but it will help you stick with it and grow.

Another possible step in this process is taking what you love and making a career out of it. Baking, knitting, photography, writing, and art are all areas that can move from hobby to career.

Just remember to do what you love and keep that passion alive. Enjoy it. Your work will shine because of it and your heart will be even more alive. And others will be drawn to that.

It’s a beautiful cycle of joy.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Welcoming 2010

It's January 11th and 2010 has already worn me out. We started the year with sickness and surgery, middle of the night laundry and pain meds around the clock.

But even in the sleep-deprived chaos, God has shown up and set a course for 2010 that scares me senseless at the same time it puts a smile on my face.

To begin with, I'm turning 40. Two of my children are passing through major growing up milestones. I'm training toward a black belt in martial arts. Did I mention I'm turning 40?

Feeling old aside, one of the interesting byproducts of how we entered 2010 (besides lack of sleep) was seeing my oldest shine as she endured her first major surgery.

Her doctor was so impressed he exhausted a thesaurus full of synonyms for amazing. Then, as she was coming out of twilight sleep, I caught of glimpse of the doctor's reasons.

My kiddo, still very asleep and out of it with anesthesia, began to finger spell words with the ASL alphabet. She spelled fine. Then signed that she'd had surgery. Not that I didn't already know that. ;-)

Then she finger spelled d-r-i-f-t. I couldn't figure that one out. So she pointed to the ceiling. Then I got it. She wanted to be sure I heard one of my favorite songs playing though the speakers: Drift Away by Dobie Gray.

I have an amazing little girl.

And this year we're doing something special together to celebrate who she is as we prepare her for the future.

We're having an Esther Year. Yes, this beautiful idea is straight out of another book I'd highly recommend: Queen Esther's Secrets of Womanhood by Ginger Garrett.

An Esther Year is a blueprint for activities to pamper mom and daughter and for discussions to go deep into stories of the past and wisdom for the future.

The first month we'll be talking about beauty. Ginger says, "Beauty is a reflection of God's character and His artistic nature, but the more we focus on defining human beauty in human measurements, the more we're distracted from God."

So we'll be talking about how we've defined beauty and what makes a person beautiful. And what God has to say about beauty.

The part about this Esther Year's journey that makes me smile is how much my daughter is looking forward to our time together.

The part that scares me senseless is that my daughter is looking forward to this time together... and I wonder if I'm up for the task of sharing stories from my past and imparting wisdom as my daughter races into womanhood.

Can I ask a favor? Would you do two things?

One is pray.

The other is help this tom-boy mom with the topic of beauty. Honestly, I had to go to a Clinique counter as an adult to figure out how to apply makeup the right way. (As in not the too blue eye shadow of the 80s I tried when I was 13 with miserable results.)

One of the story starters is a question about who were the most beautiful women when I was growing up. And what made them beautiful. I'm drawing a complete blank. Any suggestions?

Also, I'm curious... how do you define beauty? Inside or outside, or a combination of both? How do your actions back up your definition?

Let's talk!

I'm sure all of us will come away better prepared to encourage and inspire the women around us to see themselves as beautiful.
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