Advent is a Latin word meaning "the coming." It begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas and ends on Christmas Eve.
The focus of the entire season is the celebration of the birth of Jesus the Christ in his First Advent, and the anticipation of the return of Christ the King in his Second Advent.
This first week of advent we focus on expectation. What are we expecting this Christmas season?
I must be honest. Until a couple of years ago I dreaded Christmas. All I could grasp in my mind was the shopping (I"m not a shopper) the business and craziness of it all. I wasn't even thinking of the special aspects of the season. Family, friends, the birth of Jesus.
The year before last I made a promise to myself that I wasn't going to get bogged down in all the details. And it worked....I continued the same promise last year and it was even better. This year I'm looking forward to a precious, special Christmas season.
I guess that's my expectation. Less hustle and bustle---more focusing on what's really important. How about you? What are you expecting?
But we can give in other ways. We can give of ourselves. Our time. Our worship.
Let's combine the thanks and the giving and thankfully give of what God is asking us to this Christmas season.
Here is one reason to be thankful. Family. This picture is of my husband, his daughters and mother. (and her guy!) Fabulous ladies---all whom I admire and am so blessed to know.
Here is a photo of my mother and her three children. Family is truly a blessing.
I'm going to try and think of ways to thankfully give this year. What about you?
Okay. I'll readily admit it. I'm a HUGE David Crowder fan.
I live in the Atlanta area and David Crowder came to town on their tour with Third Day. DC also stopped at a Borders bookstore to hang out with his fans (of which I was on the front row---you know cause I'm a HUGE fan) and talk about Bluegrass, Marty Stewart, Hank Williams Sr. and sign his new book Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven But Nobody Wants to Die. I bought the book and he and Mike Hogan (band member and co author) signed it.
Here I am with DC himself!!!! And Mike Hogan.
My friend asked me what I was going to say to DC. I'm glad she asked, because I had no idea. He certainly doesn't see himself as a celebrity and I don't view him as one. I view him as this. A man who loves God, who uses his gifts God blessed him with to share the message of Jesus Christ with the world. And when I did get my chance to talk to him I told him as much. I thanked him and his band for sharing their gifts. I told him they were an inspiration. He thanked me and told me he appreciated me saying so.
I had a short video I had hoped to put on this blog post, but I'm blogger challenged and I can't make it happen. So here's one more picture of DC.
If he ever comes to your city, check him out. It's well worth it.
I'm very excited for Deeanne. Click here to see the reason. She just received her cover for her 2007 release Courting Trouble.
How awesome is this cover? For all of us writers, a great cover is a vision, a dream, an important part of the publishing process that we basically have little control over.
You go, Dee!!! This is great.
And on her blog, Dee is sharing an interview with the young lady who is the cover model. Go to her blog and check it out.
Meanwhile, here's a picture of the 48 car of Jimmy Johnson. He's very much in the running to be the NASCAR champion this year. For those of you who aren't NASCAR fans this picture was taken during the race in Atlanta while pit stops were going on. Our seats are right in front of Pit Road. Very exciting place to be on race day. Right in the middle of the action.
And here's me and my hubby. Isn't he cute? ( I just love my man.)
At the end of the race the thrill of victory was there for Tony Stewart and all his fans. Tony even did his trademark climbing of the fence. Yes, excitement was in the air. All because of the victory.
Shouldn't excitement be in our air everyday? After all---don't we have claim on the most exciting victory in history? The victory over sin and death? All accomplished when Jesus took up the cross, walked up the Mount of Calvary and claimed victory for us all. I can't think of a better reason for celebration. Think about it. We can celebrate victory every day. All day.
Sometimes the magnitude of God is really so hard to grasp. But I"m trying bit by bit to understand what I'm meant to understand, do what I think I'm meant to do and live for Him. Trying is the key word here. I think I fail more than I succeed. But I"m going to keep on trying. Never give up.
Persistence is the key. Jimmy Johnson is persistent. Tony Stewart is persistent, still winning races even though he's not even in the Race for the Chase and can't possibly be the Cup Champion this year. He didn't let that stop him from doing the best he can possibly do.
So let us persist and run the race.
Isn't Cosmos beautiful? Cosmos is a Scarlet Macaw. He has a fabulous home with Scott(pictured here) and Veronica.
Cosmos also has someone else to keep an eye on him. Zeus (I hope I spelled that right, Scott!) the cat.
God is so incredible! Who else could have created the beauty that Cosmos is. The brilliant colors, the intelligence, all put together by the greatest creator of all. God created us for his pleasure, therefore he created other beautiful creatures for us to enjoy.
"All creatures of our God and King....Lift up your voice and let us sing....Oh praise him, Halleluiah!!!"
Abide-Daily in Christ Jesus
One of the ladies who spoke mentioned a man by the name of Andrew Murray. His name may be familiar to some of you, but it wasn't to me. Now, I'm like a kid in a candy store. I've bought two books by him. The one I'm reading now is titled Abide in Christ. We've heard the term remove the scales off my eyes....well I feel like another layer of scales has fallen. I can't explain it really, but here is an entry from my journal I've started while doing this devotional.
Trusting Him to keep you. The concept is so simple. Trusting our weakness to the Mighty One-casting self on One who is altogether trustworthy and true.
I am captured of Christ Jesus.
Give up yourself to abide in Him. He Himself will work it in you. You can trust Him to keep you trusting and abiding.
Now some of those sentences are straight from the book. But this man makes so much sense. Here's a link to Andrew Murray's works. Check them out. Just put his name in the search box. He's written a whole lot and I'm looking forward to reading a whole lot.
And congratulations go out to Missy T. She's a finalist in the Golden Network's Golden Opportunity contest. Yeah Missy!!!!!!!!Oh, and how could I almost forget. Missy also got a revision letter from Steeple Hill. I know's she's busy working on those revisions and we are praying this is the ONE.!!!!!!!!
And speaking of Missy, here she is with Liz Curtis Higgs.
I"ll be cheering for you, Missy!!!!!!!!!
Here's Cindy, Amy, Lindi, and Missy.....Yes, the eeeee's have it! We are all from the Atlanta area and meet in a local ACFW group. We had a great time visiting in Dallas.
For all the good times we have at conferences it's always good to be back home. Reminds me of Dorothy, clicking her heels repeating "There's no place like home. There's no place like home."
Dorothy knew what she was talking about. My husband and I moved into a new house two years ago, and I can honestly say I look forward to spending time there. Seems like the weekends get filled up quicker every year. Not only am I a writer, I have a full time job, wife, mother to Brenna and Alex, stepmother to Melanie and Lisa. I'm a grandma to a beautiful little girl, Ally. I love to bowl and my friend Joanne and I go on tournaments with her mother and sister. We have a blast. My husband is a HUGE NASCAR fan and got me hooked. (Go Jeffy, Dale, and Elliott!!!!) We like to go to races. There are so many things to do and experience. I"m excited to be able to do half the stuff I do and consider myself blessed to be able to do what I can do.
I'll be starting a lay missionary program in November. It's purpose is to guide you where you feel led to serve. And to help you determine it if you don't know. I'm extremely excited to start finding out just where God's wants me to be and what he wants me to be doing.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
Second, I seem to be on a roll of winning books. I won two books from Amy Wallace's website and one from Michelle Rodger's blog. I have received two of the three books I've won. Shirlee McCoy's Even in the Darkness-a Love Inspired Suspense novel, and Jill Elizabeth Nelson's Reluctant Burglar-a Multnomah novel. I'm looking forward to reading both of them.
Currently I'm reading Virginia Kantra's Home Before Midnight. If anyone who is reading this blog has never read a novel by Virginia Kantra do so immediately. It is a matter of life and death. Literally. She writes suspense novels. Close Up is another single title novel by Virginia, which was nominated for a Rita Award. I think over half the books Virginia has written have received that incredible nomination. She's an awesome writer and a sweeheart of a person. Check out Virginia Kantra.
Lots of names in this post. That's because there are a lot of great writers out there. Check them out and let me know what you think.
And who knows. Maybe the next post will be titled- Third Time's the Charm!
My good news is my manuscript Girl in Waiting is a finalist in the Maggie Award of Excellence contest sponsored by the Georgia Romance Writers and it's also a finalist in the Ticket to Write contest sponsored by the Red River Romance Writers. The final judge for the Maggie is Melissa Endlich who previously gave the manuscript first place in the Romance Writers Ink! contest. But then she rejected the manuscript. The final judge for the Ticket to Write contest is Julie Schwarzburg who I've never been in front of before. This is my first final where she is the final round judge. I can't wait to get feedback.
Part of the reason for being so long between posts is I've been travelling a bit. I went to Oglebay Resort in West Virginia for my family reunion. Here is a picture of the whole clan.
Then after having a fabulous time there with my wonderful family (I'm serious, I have been blessed with an extremely loving, warm, caring family) I headed to Destin Florida where I spent time with some friends from work at my bosses beach house. They have a couple of new additions to their family. Here they are: Hank and Harley.
How cute are they!!!!
I also finished up a Beth Moore Bible study at my church. Jesus the One and Only was an awesome study. We had a great class and everyone is looking foward to doing another one next summer.
Jesus is indeed our One and Only. Our One and Only Savior. King of Kings. Lord of Lords. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
Here I am with Mindy and Missy. We kicked off our RWA National conference with a Faith, Hope and Love mini conference. Yes, the Missy you see here organized an awesome God-inspired day filled with workshops, lunch, awards ceremony and a worship service. Our own Camy Tang led us with her guitar and beautiful voice. This was a great way to start out the conference. It showed me what God empowered women we have as sisters in Christ and in the writing world.
God is ever faithful and good.
It will be a great time to meet new people, see people you haven't seen in a long time and fellowship with others who enjoy the same passion of writing. Not only do we share the same passion for writing, we also share the same ultimate goal in our writing. The glory of our one and only Jesus. There is a special kinship in those who gather with the same focus. It's hard to explain, and not everyone would understand. Throughout the week there will be all sorts of workshops, networking, meeting all kinds of people. If we turn our eyes toward Jesus, we won't ever lose our focus. Glory to God.
Underneath all these plans and commitments there is an underlying peace. It is the peace of Jesus. If I didn't know Him, the ultimate planner and master of the universe, I might try and attempt this schedule on my own. I'm sure the results would be disastrous. But the peace of our Lord is what keeps me in line, keeps me from panicking, keeps me from losing sight of what our true mission is.
We are disciples, called to minister. Anywhere, everywhere. I have a lot of ground to cover, a lot of people to meet. I pray the peace stays with me, and also with you.
"It's God-a-be in God's time."
This is my focus because the editor who really liked my manuscript, Girl in Waiting, sent me a rejection letter this week with seemingly no reason except for it didn't quite fit the line at this time.
"Didn't quite fit the line at this time."
If we dissect that sentence we could read so much into it. What's the "quite" word really mean? She typed it. Does that mean the manuscript is not "quite" there? As in ready? The phrase "at this time" raises more questions. Do I resend when the time is right? (All of my writing pals, don't cringe. I would never resend without invite). Anyway, that's the business of writing. It's not always clear cut and if we spend too much time reading between the lines, we'll never get any writing done.
So I'm not dwelling on the rejection. I'm working on the it's God-a-be God's time theory. I do my best to do my part, and leave the timing and the things that aren't in my control in His.
"Don't fix it if it ain't broke."
"You done good, kid."
I've also been blessed with a wonderful husband who is also a fabulous father. His two daughters, Melanie and Lisa are proof of what great insights he has. They are beautiful young women, with huge hearts.
So, to all the men who are awesome influences----kudos to you!! Keep up the good work!
Last week I was at the point of telling my husband and even a couple of friends, "We're not making any more plans for the summer. Not one. Our weekends are filled already and I can't commit to one more event."
My next thought was "how sad is this?" But it's true.
I'm truly thankful for my friends and family. I enjoy spending time with people. So what's all this fuss about?
It's about me. About my ability (or inability in this case) to put the important things first. I can't discount any and all events or invites that may come my way in the next three months. I can't close my mind to opportunities that God may be providing. What I need to do is pray for the ability to prioritize, pray for the ability to use my time wisely. And above all I must keep in mind to do all things for the glory of God.
I think somehow, He'll work all this out. (As long as I'm doing my part!)
"Oh, no. I hit another darn deer. I'll call you back." (I have hands free talking-I promise I was being safe!) Lenny was behind me because we were on our way home from bowling. He saw it all unfold. He saw the deer in the field, saw it take off toward the road, saw me not do a thing to miss it (I honestly didn't see it). Then our friends who we bowl with saw us and stopped also. We had quite a crowd. When the police woman came she said, "Did all of you hit the deer?" (Okay, actually she said, "Did all y'all hit the deer?")
Anyway, there's not near as much damage as last time. Everyone is well. Even the deer, I guess. He left. Didn't wait around for the nice police woman.
But I have evidence. His fur is still stuck to my crumpled hood.
I never imagined living in Ball Ground, Georgia could be so endeering!!!
I immediately told Missy--No! Send her the full. Don't give her a chance to change her mind. Now I'm not a huge Apprentice fan, but I do watch occasionally and this week a guy was fired by Trump because he was willing to give up an asset.
"Never give up an asset!" said Trump. "You're fired!"
Okay, well Missy's not fired, but I think she's going to send the full. Soon. In this world of waiting, and waiting and waiting, we have to jump on every chance we get.