"God moves in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform..." William Cowper

Sunday, October 31, 2010

You've Got A Friend In Me

My kids are big fans of Woody and Buzz, and their adventures of courage and unique friendship. They especially love the theme song, You've Got a Friend in Me. As I watch these movies with them, I find myself thinking about what real friendship means. I hope and pray that my two boys choose their friends wisely, and that they will grow up to be best friends with one another. Yet even more than all that, I pray that they will realize what a powerful friend they have in God--what a perfect friend we all have in Him.

The following excerpt is taken from Max Lucado's book, Fearless. As Lucado tackles the "Fear of What's Next" subject, he tells this story.

God treats you the way one mother treated her young son, Timmy. She didn't like the thought of Timmy walking to his first-grade class unaccompanied. But he was too grown-up to be seen with his mother. "Besides," he explained, "I can walk with a friend." So she did her best to stay calm, quoting the Twenty-third Psalm to him every morning: "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life..."

One day she came up with an idea. She asked a neighbor to follow Timmy to school in the mornings, staying at a distance, lest he notice her. The neighbor was happy to oblige. She took her toddler on morning walks anyway.

After several days Timmy's little friend noticed the lady and the child.

"Do you know who that woman is who follows us to school?"

"Sure," Timmy answered. "That's Shirley Goddnest and her daughter Marcy."

"Who?"

"My mom reads about them every day in the Twenty-third Psalm. She says, "Shirley Goodnest and Marcy shall follow me all the days of my life.' Guess I'll have to get used to them."

You will too. God never sends you out alone. Are you on the eve of change? Do you find yourself looking into a new chapter? Is the foliage of your world showing signs of a new season? Heaven's message for you is clear: when everything else changes, God's presence never does. You journey in the company of the Holy Spirit, who "will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you" (John 14:26 NLT).

So make friends with whatever's next.

Embrace it. Accept it. Don't resist it. Change is not only a part of life; change is a necessary part of God's strategy. To use us to change the world, he alters our assignments.

As life pulls me along on its surprising path of not-always-welcome changes and challenges, it helps to know that God is with me, standing by me and for me every step of the way. Even in tough times, His love and steadfastness can keep me strong.

So while many of our friends may disappoint us as Buzz and Woody often find themselves doing, God's friendship won't. Rest in the fact that you have the most loving, dependable friend there is--and you don't even have to flip open your cell phone to give Him a call.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Review--Rooms

It was just a letter. Cryptic, yes. Absurd? Absolutely. But Seattle software tycoon Micah Taylor can’t get it out of his mind—this claim that a home was built for him, by a great uncle he never knew, on the Oregon coast. In Cannon Beach. The one place he loves. The one place he never wants to see again.

Micah goes to Cannon Beach intending to sell the house and keep his past buried, but the nine thousand square-foot home instantly feels like it’s part of him. Then he meets Sarah Sabin at the local ice cream shop… Maybe Cannon Beach can be a perfect weekend getaway.

But strange things happen in the house. Things Micah can’t explain. Things he can barely believe. All the locals will say is that the house is “spiritual.” Unsettling, since Micah’s faith slipped away like the tide years ago. And then he discovers the shocking truth: the home isn’t just spiritual, it’s a physical manifestation. Of his soul. Will Micah run—or will he risk everything to see what waits for him deep within the house’s ROOMS?

My Review: I came to this book already rooting for James Rubart because I met him briefly at the ACFW Conference and was struck by his completely genuine personality. His story didn't disappoint.
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Micah Taylor’s life is complete. He’s got everything: fame, a million-dollar business, a nice car, a beautiful girlfriend, and a penthouse overlooking Seattle’s skyline. His life is perfect—or so it seems. His inheritance from an uncle he’s never met in the form of a mansion by the beach sends Micah on a quest to understand his long-dead relative, but soon his search broadens to something far more important—and troubling.

Each time a new room appears in his nine thousand square-foot home, Micah discovers something about himself…and it’s not always good. As his life in Cannon Beach evolves, his life in Seattle begins to disintegrate. Micah longs for the success of Seattle, the calm of Cannon Beach. He can't have both.

Hurtling toward an ultimate choice, Micah is forced to face his worst enemy, one he previously thought a friend.

Although this is not a book I'd typically pick up to read—contemporary, somewhat spooky cover—Rubart’s thoroughly unique story had me enthralled and searching the rooms of my own soul.

I’d highly recommend this book to anyone on a journey to follow Christ. But don’t expect to sit back and relax, for Micah’s journey will surely become your own.

Looking forward to more from James Rubart!

Monday, October 18, 2010

My Marathon Experience

This picture is not of me, but of Alevtina Biktimirova finishing second in the 2008 Boston Marathon. While I didn't come close to placing in the Amica Marathon yesterday in Newport, RI, Alevtina and I have one thing in common: our tortured--relieved?--expression when crossing the finish line. :)

Yay--I did it! Certainly not as fast as Alevtina, but I did it. I ran a marathon!

I woke yesterday morning with a feeling akin to a jitterbugging frog in my stomach. I couldn't calm my nerves. Fear of failure haunted me. I picked up the book I sometimes use for devotionals, and it pointed me to a small bit of scripture in 1Corinthians. One part jumped out at me.

He will keep you strong to the end.

Ohhhh yeah, God. You got me covered. How could I forget?

Now I'm completely aware I'm taking this assurance from the Almighty somewhat out of context, but I do believe He placed it in my path just when I needed to hear it. So I latched onto this promise for the full 26.2 miles, repeating it to myself often, especially when failure seemed imminent.

I completed the race in 4 hours, 10 minutes. I couldn't have gone faster. I did my best. And for that, I'm pleased.

When I finished, I was completely drained of energy, and could barely stand. And at the same time I felt more fully alive than I had in a long time. Wierd, really. But I think accomplishing something outside of our comfort zone--taking risks--has that effect on us.

Now as for when I'll be able to wear shoes again...that is yet to be seen. My feet are just plain ugly and sore, and at the moment, I can barely walk. But it was all worth it.

So what about you? What are you trying to accomplish that may be a little bit out of your comfort zone? I'd love to hear about it! And whatever it is, I encourage you to keep pursuing...the reward will surely be great.

P.S. Have to thank my supportive hubby and my two boys, who dragged themselves out of bed before dawn and braved the biting beach wind from 7 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. to cheer me on. Thank you my sweet family!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Amica Marathon

My last run is complete. I've purchased two packs of energizing jelly beans. I'm registered and ready--only two more days until the Amica Marathon in Newport, Rhode Island.

With more than 350 miles of running behind me, I'm happy to say I've done my best. Still not thinking my best is going to earn me a Boston marathon qualifying time, but hey, my feet could still grow wings...couldn't they?

So what will I be thinking about (besides praying) for four hours of self-inflicted torture? I'll be outlining my next book in my head, of course! :)

I'll check in on Monday to let you know how it goes!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Review--A Memory Between Us

Major Jack Novak has never failed to meet a challenge—until he meets army nurse Lieutenant Ruth Doherty. When Jack lands in the army hospital after a plane crash, he makes winning Ruth’s heart a top-priority mission. But he has his work cut out for him. Not only is Ruth focused on her work in order to support her orphaned siblings back home, she also is determined not to give her heart to any man.

As the danger and tension of World War II rise to fever pitch, Jack and Ruth will need each other more than ever. Can Jack break down her defenses? Or are they destined to go their separate ways?

From the English countryside to the perilous skies over France, A Memory Between Us takes you on a journey through love, forgiveness, and sacrifice.

My Review: It’s been a long time since a book has stayed with me days after I closed its last page, but that’s just what happened after I read A Memory Between Us. Whether on a B-17 Flying Fortress or in a Chicago slum, Sundin’s effortless weaving of historical detail into her story whisked me back to the days of World War II.

Lieutenant Ruth Doherty is a spunky, accomplished nurse struggling to feed her orphaned siblings. When the chance to become a flight nurse presents itself, Ruth jumps at the opportunity for increased pay. But the journey to her goals is fraught with difficulties that force her to face her past, and a certain major that she can’t completely block from her heart.

Jack Novak is a pastor turned pilot, whose confident manner not only becomes a problem in obtaining Ruth’s heart, but also on the airfield. After a tragic accident occurs that involves a close friend, Jack is forced to search himself for true motives and God’s plan for his life.

A Memory Between Us is an honorable commemoration of those who served during this time period. Sundin doesn’t just spin an engaging story, she intertwines history with clever writing that had me flipping pages when I should have been starting dinner.

To see a diagram of a B-17, or to read more about this book or the first book in the “Wings of Glory” Series, A Distant Melody, visit Sarah’s website at http://www.sarahsundin.com/.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Running the Race--Firm in the Faith

When my church asked me to compare running a race to my faith for our Sunday School opening this year, I didn't find it too difficult since I'd already done tons of thinking on this very topic during some of my longer runs. To be completely honest, I thought about posting it on my blog but abstained, for fear it would be too preachy. Last Sunday, however, one of the truths of my comparison really hit home when I finally completed a twenty-mile run...only thanks to a fellow running buddy. That night, I decided to post what I had written for my church.

Running the Race--Firm in the Faith

Hebrews 12:1 says, “Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish.”

I think there’s a reason Paul chose to compare our faith to a race. A race is hard. It’s challenging. It’s not for wimps, and certainly not for the faint of heart. Neither is the Christian faith. It requires perseverance and overcoming obstacles that hinder our relationship with Jesus.

I ran cross-country in high school and continue to run long distances. Running an actual race is similar in many ways to running our race of faith. For instance, there’s nothing more encouraging in a race than having a fellow runner beside you. A running buddy knows how hard it is to endure. A running buddy can hold you up, share your burden, encourage, and challenge you. Each one of you is my running buddy in this race of faith—this pursuit of becoming more and more like Jesus one day at a time.

Another comparison. Each time I attempt a long run, one small part of my body refuses to cooperate. Along about my fourth or fifth mile, one of my small toes—the-little-piggy-that-had-roast-beef—cramps up. It hurts—more than you’d think a small, insignificant toe is capable of. And it severely hampers my running efforts. Who would have thought one small little piggy could cause such disastrous pain? Although that little toe doesn’t stop me from running, it sure makes the race more difficult. A single complacent Christian can have the same effect on the body of Christ. The church can move forward, it can continue on its journey, but certainly not as easily, and certainly not without pain. When every part of my body is healthy and in working order, the race is indeed a wonderful thing to run.

The most satisfying part of the race? The finish. The end. When the discomfort is over, when I know I’ve endured and done my best. I’m confident the finish to our race of faith will be much more rewarding. And so let’s continue running this race for Jesus, hoping that at the finish we’ll hear him say, “Well, done, good and faithful servant! You ran the race I marked out for you, and you ran it well. You endured. You were firm in your faith. Let’s celebrate together!”

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Special Conference Edition Afictionado Now Live!

If you're a writer who didn't make it to the ACFW Conference this year, or if you did, but couldn't manage to find your superhuman powers and attend every fantastic workshop, be sure to check out the latest edition of Afictionado at


I had a wonderful time reporting this year. Hope you enjoy!