Wednesday, October 31, 2018


31 days of five minute free writes, encouragement, living

Each of us has a voice. Our calling is to use it for good. While some people sing songs, others give speeches. Some people use their voices to teach children how to read. Maybe you use your voice to write words. However you use your voice, use it wisely. Words matter.

I want to use my voice to draw attention to God, and not to myself. That can be a tricky road to walk, because the world around us calls for us to promote ourselves, but God calls us to serve. 
May my words serve to encourage and challenge others.

While I was ruminating on what to write for this prompt, I was reminded that a long time ago (1995) my dad and his oldest brother put together a book of their father's poetry. My grandpa died before I was born, so I never heard his voice, yet, I can know it when I read his poetry. 
Today I share a small piece with you.

Fragment 7
by Harold Gale Emrick 
Courtesy of the publisher Emrick Press Limited

For a song in the soul
When the storm clouds roll
And the waves break high
         On the strand
Just turn to the Lord
Believe on His word
And reach for His 
         Outstretched hand.


31 days of five minute free writes, encouragement, living

Together. This word started out as a chain of green and blue links, and ended up as a multi-colored kaleidoscope. I like it!

Together. How we should be. We are stronger when we work together. But more than just that, God calls us to bear one another's burdens, to live another, and to serve one another. How can we do any of that if we are not together? Simply put - we can't.

Together we can show the world the love, grace and mercy of God. Separately, we often struggle to do this. Together our church did 22 service projects in one day last month. Together we loved on and served our community. Together we ate and laughed and fellowshipped afterwards.

Together is unity. Unity in the body of Christ is God's design. Let us each choose to find the things that hold us together, and let them be stronger than the things that divide us apart. Together, may the church shine forth the love of Jesus, many little lights, changing the world.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018


31 days of five minute free writes, encouragement, living

One of my favorite things to do outdoors is sit and listen to the birds singing in the trees. Tweet, chirp, chip, cluck, tweet, trill... and on and on it goes. Since my husband really likes to go birdwatching, I get a lot of opportunities to listen to the birds sing.

But what about afterwards. What song should I sing, or at least listen to? That depends on my mood.

There is one set of songs that I've gone back to listen to over and over again. These are the songs from the movie Godspell. Something about the stories they tell draws me in. They draw from the Gospel story (mostly based upon the Gospel written by Matthew) and bring them into modern day ... or at least up to the early 1970's when they were written.

If you've never listened to the songs from Godspell, I encourage you to give it a listen. They just might get you singing again. It's not birdsong, but it's good!


31 days of five minute free writes, encouragement, living

When I saw that Kate had picked the word whole for one of our prompts, the song "He's got the whole world" started playing in my brain. This was a song we sang a lot in Vacation Bible School when I was a child.

Do you remember singing this song?
He's got the whole world, in His hands,
He's got the whole world, in His hands,
He's got the whole world, in His hands, He's got the whole world in His hands

I think it was changed a bit from the original lyrics when we sang it. Verses like "He's got you and me brother, in His hands" and "He's got the Mamas and the Papas in His hands" were common for us.

What did singing songs in Vacation Bible School do for us anyway? They cemented some foundational truths through the use of music. The understanding that God covers and protects us all, and the truth that He loves us deeply. There were a lot of songs that we sang back in the 1970's that I can still sing today. Those truths have stayed with me for a long time. Childlike faith. 

Now, as an adult, I sometimes need to make a conscious effort to get back to that childlike faith. Do you need that too? May one or two of those songs you used to sing in VBS come to mind and encourage you today. Maybe it will be this one:

Jesus loves me this I know
for the Bible tells me so
little ones to Him belong
they are weak but He is strong

Yes, Jesus loves me
Yes, Jesus loves me
Yes, Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so.

Monday, October 29, 2018


31 days of five minute free writes, encouragement, living

Just a moment.

Something simple or profound can happen in that moment.
A baby could be born, a leaf could fall from a tree, or a life could be changed when a heart is surrendered to Jesus.

Our lives of many years are made up of moments. None of them ordinary, none of them common, but each moment is extraordinary - because it is a gift.

People used to while away their free time watching birds or searching for pictures in the clouds. Maybe you did one of these when you were younger. When was the last time you had a free moment? If it has been too long to remember, let me encourage you to turn to God, and ask for forgiveness. If you are too busy to watch the birds fly across the sky, or pause and look up in the clouds, then you are too busy. 

The moments you have are gifts. May you choose to live them well so that your years will be filled with memories of both small and large moments that show God's faithfulness.

Sunday, October 28, 2018


31 days of five minute free writes, encouragement, living

To me, words are like photographs, they capture a moment in time, or a memory that you don't want to forget. Words tell a story. The old saying is: a picture is worth a thousand words. Sometimes that is true, but other times it isn't.

Words capture the emotions and feeling behind an event. While pictures often do that, pictures do not give you the benefit of self-reflection later on. While I'm not a huge fan of journaling, I do write down my thoughts, often, here on my blog. Yes, they are edited (somewhat), but they try to convey the feelings, the emotions, and the living that is happening. 

I almost always use my own photos on here (the rest of them are Arlene's) because I want to record, to capture, the picture - the visual reminder- as well as the words that flesh out the story. The words that capture my memories and turn them into something I can share, something that I hope will both encourage and challenge my readers to think about their own lives, their own stories, and how they are living them.

You can live your story wildly, loudly, extravagantly, quietly, meekly, timidly, here or abroad. You can live your story alone or with friends. However you live out your own story, I hope you will both write words, and take photographs. Then, in those moments of self-reflection, you can remember so much more about how your life was lived, for Whom it was lived, and who you had along on your journey.

For me, that journey is lived for Jesus, it is lived with my family and friends, and it is lived joyfully.

Go, capture your memories and share your story!

Saturday, October 27, 2018


31 days of five minute free writes, encouragement, living

- of short duration
- concise in expression, using few words

Do either of these definitions come to mind when you hear the phrase, "Let me be brief" ???

Too often we stick in words that do not need to be said, and are not brief, but it seems almost as often that we are too brief and forget the words that really should be said.

What are those words we should be saying, and how might they change someone's day, someone's year, someone's life?

I love you

You are valued

I am so thankful for you

You are doing a really good job

Thank you for your help today 

Jesus died for you because He loves you

Your life matters

You are important to me

Your hard work makes my job easier - thanks!

I will listen for as long as you need to talk

I am here if you need me, and I want to be needed

Life is more fun with you around

I am a sinner saved by grace

God has been so good to me

It is not me, it is Jesus

Congratulations, I am so happy for you!

I love you!


31 days of five minute free writes, encouragement, living

There is nothing common about our ordinary lives. While we might call the things that happen common, life itself is not common. Life itself is a gift to be cherished.

Too often I see people running towards the highlight reel of their lives and missing the miracles in the everyday occurrences. I have been one of those people too often. The work that it takes to keep moving forward, especially when you have small children, can fool us into thinking that unless a goal is met the day is wasted. 

The only day that is wasted in our lives is the one where we forgot to stop, see God at work, and thank Him for His blessing. Those are the days that you and I have wasted. Let us not waste any more of them!

When we choose to see the extraordinary way that God works in our ordinary, common, lives, then we see miracles - from a person's first breath until their very last breath. Do you see a toddler learning how to walk? A miracle. Can you stop and feel your heart beating? A miracle. Can you see that young adult drive a car? Definitely a miracle there folks! Do you see those laugh lines come out around the corners of your Grandma's eyes? That is a miracle - because she has lived a life with a deep story, whether you know it or not, it is a story that knows joy and heartache, but in this moment, with you - she choses joy, and the laugh lines appear.

Do not call the moments that God provides common - call them an extraordinary blessing!

Wednesday, October 24, 2018


31 days of 5 minute free writes, family care, difficult times

How appropriate for me that Kate chose Help to be the word for Monday. You see, there is a lot going on with our extended family right now, and I am in a position where I can help. Isn't that just the way that God works? He give us real opportunities to put His love into action everyday.

I am going to take a few days away from the 31 days of October writing to focus on helping, but I will eventually come back and pick up where I left off. Thanks for your patience. 

Perhaps God is calling you to help someone today. In fact, I'm pretty sure He is. Take a look around you each day this week and ask God to show you where and how to help others. Don't try to serve in your own strength, because it will fail, but serve with the daily strength that God provides. Go love on those around you with the love and mercy that Jesus has shown to you.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Books With Bean ~ Book Scavenger

book reviews by teens, book reviews, children' book reviews

Title: Book Scavenger 

Author: Jennifer Chambliss Bertman 

Published: June 2015

Genre: Middle Grade, adventure, 

Summary: Emily’s family has just moved again and this time they relocated to San Francisco home of the legendary Garrison Griswold the man who created the amazing online program known as Book Scavenger a place where people can share books with others by hiding them and leaving clues for others to follow to find them. Emily wants to meet her idol but she soon learns that Mr. Griswold has been attacked and is now in a coma just days before he was set to announce an amazing new game as part of Book Scavenger. With her new friend James, Emily finds a book she believes is part of the new game but it turns out they aren’t the only ones looking for it. 

What I liked about it: I love books so the idea of hiding and sharing them with puzzles to solve to find them definitely drew me in! I liked the idea of the story and it was a lot of fun to read. Emily and James are fun to read about and their friends they make along the way are all interesting in their own ways. 

Language: None 

Romance: None

Violence: Garrison Griswold is attacked a beat up at the beginning but it’s the only big violence in the book. 

Magic: None 

Recommended Age: This book is fun even for older kids but not so complicated that ones as young as 9-10 wouldn’t understand it. 

book reviews by teens, book reviews, children' book reviews

Sunday, October 21, 2018


Write 31 days, 31 days of 5 minute free writes, writing

"Ladies and Gentlemen, start your engines..."

That might be the most famous line from my home state of Indiana. It begins the Indianapolis 500 every year.

Or maybe it is "Elnora Comstock, have you lost your senses?" from Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton Porter


Little Orphant Annie's come to our house to stay,
from the poem by James Whitcomb Riley.

What is your state known for? Does that thing in some way define or shape your story?

I grew up in the middle of no-where on a mostly-dirt road in middle Indiana. There is nothing particularly striking about my childhood home, except that it was HOME. All of my life has in one way or another been built upon this beginning of being safe and loved. So many of my friends did not have that same feeling of home from which to grow. I have come to realize that the depth of love within our immediate and extended family gave me confidence to be and do things.

Home life was not perfect, but it was pretty close for the time. Yes, there were days when my older brother and I probably drove our mom crazy, and a few times where Dad came home to find one or both of us in trouble...but there was a deep sense of peace that surrounded the land and the house of my home.

I hope and pray that somehow I have given my own children a safe place to call home. A refuge from the craziness of the world, and a place, that while not perfect, can start them well into adult life.

Before the house on the dirt road, we lived in another house, but I was so little, and have so few memories, that it is not what my heart thinks of when I think of my childhood home.

Today, this house where we live is not where our girls began their childhoods, but it is attached to most of their memories of home. For all of us, home should be where the heart is, where peace and love cover a multitude of sins, and where everyone is cherished. If your house is not a home, start again, dig deep, and work to tie those heart-strings with your own children that will give then a peaceful sense of home.

Saturday, October 20, 2018


Write 31 days, 31 days of 5 minute free writes, writing

Who is in the audience where you live your life? Do you perform on a big stage, or is it a smaller group of people watching you? Do you head up a big company, where hundreds of people are waiting to follow your lead, or are you a mom or dad that stays home and raises the children...then your audience might only be a person or two.

While we always have at least an audience of one, because God sees everything, we do need to be cognizant of the fact that our actions, and our reactions to life, are seen by others. While sometimes this thought can be daunting, because we are afraid of messing up while others are watching us, what it should do is encourage us. You can live a life that matters, and your life can influence others, even when you are not good at public speaking, even when you are shy, because our actions tell a story.

Are you the first one in line at every event, or the last one? How does your punctuality show others that you value them?

Do you put others first? Carry their physical burdens, or carry their Spiritual ones to God in prayer? These actions and the way they allow us to extend grace and mercy to others show the fingerprints of God upon our own lives. 

When we live in a way that is different than the norm, people notice. And when they notice, a remarkable thing happens, they become curious. They want to know what makes you different from everyone else? And that, my friends, opens doors for you to share the Gospel message of love and redemption.

Whether your audience is big or small, show them love!

Friday, October 19, 2018

Five Minute Friday ~ Who

Write 31 days, 31 days of 5 minute free writes, writing, five minute friday

Kate's word for today is: Who

I'm going to go a little off theme from my 31 days of encouragement/ Christian Living posts and tell you a little story...


Who is in this Five Minute Friday group and where do they come from? I can only tell you a part of our story, because I only know a few of the many, many people in this awesome bunch, but let me start you off with what I do know, and then you can read some of the other posts from today to learn more...

This group is a family made up of writers from across the North American continent, and across the globe. Some live in the midwest, near Kate - our mostly fearless moderator, some live in Canada or other northern places, but most live far away. The American coasts, Texas, Iceland, South Africa, and so many places I would love to visit and learn more about.

How did I end up here in this family? My friend Annette invited me. I've met people online through this group - writers of poetry, writers of fiction and non-fiction, those who specialize in devotionals and those who write essays. We are definitely a diverse group. I think we are a small part of the body of Christ, all cultures and places, gathered together for the purpose of encouraging one another. Is everyone here a Christian? I have no idea. What I do know is that the other writers in this family encourage and challenge me to be a better writer. They lift one another up through prayer and encouraging words. Every once in a while, we get to see some other members of our Five Minute Friday family in real life at events, like last week's Breathe Christian Writers Conference. These people have become my friends.

So like my friend Annette did for me, I now invite you to join us. Come to our table and join the family. Write, learn, listen, grow. You will be so welcomed here, and you'll want to encourage others to join the feast!

Thursday, October 18, 2018


Write 31 days, 31 days of 5 minute free writes, writing

What are you searching for? A new job, a new car, your lost keys? Maybe you're searching for that funny YouTube video your friend showed you yesterday. 

We spend a lot of time searching for things. Does it make you wonder if we have too many things? Sometimes I think we do, and other times I am sure that I do!

What kind of searching should we be doing? Searching for lost socks, rogue mittens or last night's leftovers in the back of the fridge?

What if we spent time searching for God? He is not far off. David turned the tables and asked God to search him, specifically his heart. David wanted God to search out the hidden places and show him if there was something that needed changing. 

When we search for God, we find Him, and then He searches our heart and gently, but firmly, shows us where we need to be changed. I am so thankful that God does not expect me to be able to change myself, but rather, that He assures me He will change me. Sometimes that pruning He does hurts for a minute, but the fruit in my life that bears His image is always worth it!

Start searching, or keep searching, for God. 
He is the one thing we cannot life without!

Wednesday, October 17, 2018


Write 31 days, 31 days of 5 minute free writes, writing

Have you ever felt the need to push a pause button on your life? Yeah, me too! I know that often the rush of life can be my own fault for planning too many things in a row without some downtime, but sometimes, life just comes at us full force and we cannot get away.

Some days it seems like this full life hits us in the face like a firehose. How can we be expected to handle all the things that want our attention? Where do we find the strength to keep to going when times are really, REALLY hard?

The answer I have found is to pause, right where you are, and pray. Whether that is while going up the elevator at the hospital to visit a sick friend or waiting in line at the store, do it. 

Pause, it need not be long, and breathe deeply, then exhale a prayer. God hears, He sees, He knows. He is waiting for us to come to Him. He already knows your needs, and He knows when you need comforted. Breathe in being thankful for God's gift of life, and breathe out your prayer.

Here are some short prayers to consider if you're feeling stuck:

Jesus, help me!

God, I need your wisdom.

Please grant me peace in this chaotic situation.

Show me the best thing to focus on right now.

Daddy, I need some comfort.

Holy Spirit, walk before me into this room.

Father God, I want to be your vessel, show me how to help.

Find just a few seconds to pause, reconnect with God through prayer, and then move forward knowing that He will be the one whispering in your ear... 

"This is the way; walk in it." 
    (Isaiah 30:21)

1 Corinthians 13:7

Scripture Writing, hand lettering, Bible verses

Tuesday, October 16, 2018


How often do you pray?

For me, it is several times a day, but it did not used to be that way. I used to be a distress pray-er. You know, when something goes wrong, then you go to God and ask Him to fix it. I finally realized that was not a good way to have a relationship with anyone, and especially with God.

So now I pray a lot more regularly. Every morning before I get out of bed, during the day, and usually again before bedtime. What have I seen as a result of this prayer life? A lot more peace and a lot less of me getting stressed out. 

When you stay in a relationship, and the other person knows you are always there, it makes the talking much easier. I am finally coming to understand what it means to call God 'Abba' - that Father who loves us and wants what is best for us all the time. I am learning that it does not matter what tomorrow holds, it matters Who holds my tomorrow. I am trusting Him to hold me as well - through whatever comes!

God wants to spend time with you. 
Start it off with a prayer.

St. Bartholomew's Eve from Heirloom Audio ~ a Crew review

heirloom audio, audio adventure, history, G A Henty

If you lived in a country where you and those who worshipped God like you did were a small minority, and religious persecution broke out, what would you do? This is the tough topic that Heirloom Audio has chosen to tackle in their tenth audio adventure: St. Bartholomew's Eve, a story that spans the thirty years of the Huguenot wars in France from the 1560's to the 1590's. Heirloom Audio deserves another A for this excellent production that treads firmly but gently through the struggles of the Protestant Huguenots during a time when the Catholic church ruled in France almost as strongly as the Monarchy itself.

We appreciated the tact with which Heirloom Audio handled this difficult subject matter, while still producing an entertaining audio drama. Since we already owned and regularly listen to the first nine Heirloom Audio dramas, Arlene and I were more than ready to listen to St. Bartholomew's Eve and learn more about this part of history. I will confess that before we began listening I knew very little about the French Huguenots. After listening to this adaptation of G. A. Henty's historical fiction book, also titled St. Bartholomew's Eve, I was feeling challenged to do some more research into the history of the Huguenots.

In St. Bartholomew's Eve, listeners are transported back to France in the late 1560's. There is turmoil in the air for the Huguenots, who desire to worship God as their hearts dictate, but who make up a scant 10% of the population of France. They are constantly on guard because of attacks from the Catholic church and its ruling family in France, the Guise. Our main character, Philip Fletcher, has crossed the English channel to live with and fight alongside his French cousin Francois. As with other Henty tales, there is friendship, fighting to protect the weak or injured, and a damsel that needs rescued from distress. 

St. Bartholomew's Eve handles the stickiness of the Protestant/ Catholic debate well. When Philip first lands in France he is spoiling for a fight with the Catholics. His wise aunt explains that there are good Catholic men and women left in France, not all of them have been persecuting Protestants, and that fighting is reserved for those treacherous situations where there is no other way. As Arlene and I listened to the story unfold, it made me think about those areas around the world today where Christians are under great persecution. I wondered how I would react if my way of life, and my ability to openly worship God, were under attack.

During the story of St. Bartholomew's Eve, Philip and Francois join with other Huguenots to fight for the freedom to openly worship God as He directs their hearts. There are multiple battles, with advances and loses for the Huguenots, and then what appears to be a time of peace approaches as Protestant ruler Henri of Navarre plans to marry the sister of Catholic King Charles IX, Margaret of Valois. The Huguenot leaders flock to Paris to witness the marriage of their leader, but end up being sheep led to slaughter as the Queen Mother, Catherine de Medici, and the Duke of Guise hatch their nefarious plot that turns into the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre.

While this period of French history has a lot of bloodshed and great loss, it can be used as a teaching tool to remind us of how others have lived and died for their faith. The tactful way this tough topic is handled gives parents many opportunities to talk with their children about love, tolerance, intolerance, and freedom of worship. It also allows us to chose to model for our children a better way of interacting with those whose religious views differ from our own than the French Guise family and their followers did in the 1570's. While these audio adventures are designed for ages 6-16, for this one, I'm going to recommend it for ages 12 and up. That is also the age I recommend for Heirloom Audio's In the Reign of Terror.

To read our reviews of previous Heirloom Audio titles, click here for our review of Wulf the Saxon. The links to the other titles we have reviewed are at the bottom of that post. Or, you can click on the little orange Heirloom Audio Productions tag at the end of this post.

Connect with Heirloom Audio 

St. Bartholomew's Eve {Heirloom Audio Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer


Monday, October 15, 2018

When ?

31 days of 5 minute free writes, encouragement, Christian living, write 31 days, writing


When will we be at Grandma's house?

When will you be home?

When will we get the test results?

When will Jesus come back for His people?

We are not patient people. 
We want to know the answers to our questions, and we want to know them now. As we mature in our walk with Christ, hopefully we will come to understand that God's ways and His timing are not like ours.

Yes, I know it can be trying to wait for big answers. God knows that too. He also knows that in the waiting, we can learn a deeper level of trust. We can learn that when we walk the path with Him that there is a deeper level of peace. We can also learn how to be others-focused during the waiting.

So whatever you are waiting for, stop asking when? and start asking God what He wants you to be doing while you wait. There is an amazing journey to be had with Jesus, but we will only realize the depth and breadth of that journey when we learn that the When? is not the important question. The important question is with whom? 

The Who to journey with is always Jesus!