Thursday, April 30, 2015

Of Coffee Cakes and Orphan Trains | Writing Update

I am always a little hesitant to publicly update my "WIC" (works in progress) because I know my past of unfinished projects. But, trusting in the Lord's direction in guiding me, here's a glimpse of what has been going on in my writing journal.

Coffee Cake Days
The idea for this new short story came one morning when I had gotten up early, spent quiet time, and then was preparing breakfast. Out of all of the short stories that I have currently written, it is probably the most auto-biographical. Meg, a homeschool graduate, is learning many of the lessons that I learned (amidst many struggles!) in balancing time with God and time with her family. The main lesson that Jesus has seemed to bring to my life over and over is servanthood. It's easy to read the Bible and agree with its teachings -- but am I applying it to my daily life?

Here's an excerpt from "Coffee Cake Days":
"Read to me!" Crystal was back in the room, this time with a book in her hands.
"Okay, okay!" Meg flipped her legs over the edge of the bed and jumped to the ground. She let Crystal trail behind her as she hurried to the living room and sat on the couch.
"But I wan' 'nother un." Crystal held out the book she had selected with a small pout.
"Well choose one but be quick about it."
Crystal squatted by the bookshelf and flipped through the books. When she stood up and turned around, an impish grin lit her face. "Ac'ally, I wan' four." True to her word, she had selected four books.
"I said one, so it's going to be one," Meg said firmly.
The toddler looked down at her selection, her mind in debate before selecting her favorite and bounding back to Meg. Nestling beside her, Crystal put a chubby arm around Meg's back as Meg began to read.
That night in bed, Meg stared at the dark wall. Today had been hard to keep her goal of twenty chapters, but she had done it. She should feel satisfied, but instead, a frustrating bubble welled inside of her. Lord, what is it? What am I doing wrong? I'm trying to draw close to you but ever since graduation it seems like a failure. Please, Father, show me what You would have me to do.

Journey to Love
I am praying about doing a novella series called Orphan Journeys - what links together the orphans in all of the novellas is that they travelled the American orphan train at one point in history (historical tidbit: there was also an "orphan train" that brought children from London and Liverpool, England, to Canada). My first novella is Journey to Love (if the Lord allows, I also have plans for Journey of Choice and Journey of Redemption - plus a few others floating around). Main character Marie has become a part of the Bowles household in body, but she's not so sure about being the child they had always prayed for.

First two paragraphs:
Marie glanced down the row of children, and a shiver slipped up her spine. She took a slow, deep breath as she turned back to Mrs. Rawson. Look pleasant, Mrs. Rawson had said - was her pasted smile supposed to be their example? Marie pressed her lips into a small pucker as Mrs. Rawson attempted to give the final admonition before the crowd was admitted into the room.
The close eye of Mrs. Rawson urged Marie to answer the questions and examinations of the couples that crowded around her. According to Mrs. Rawson, who wouldn't want her? A sturdy thirteen-year-old with a back and mind to work. Or were they looking for a boy? Marie glanced sideways at the long line of boys - some bordering into manhood. The crowd was decidedly thicker there.

I would greatly appreciate your prayers as I work on these two projects. Recently, writing time has been very limited as my family and I continue working on our house (you can see updates at my family's blog: I'm not concerned about getting these projects done quickly, but I am concerned that in writing these, I am sensitive to the Lord's leading and what He would have me to write.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Word Wednesday #52

"And when He putteth forth His own sheep, He goeth before them, and the sheep follow Him: for they know His voice." John 10:4

What a beautiful reminder that as Jesus leads us, He is walking before us. He knows exctly what lies ahead our path - but He is there to help us. Our duty lies only in hearing His voice and following. If we try to run ahead, get side-tracked, or lag behind, we may encounter problems that could have easily been avoided.

We've been sharing Word Wednesdays for one year!! Praise the Lord for His amazing Word throughout the past 52 weeks. Thanks for everyone who has shared. I'm looking forward to all of the verses God will bring to our attention in the years following!

Share a verse that God has given you today or copy the button if you'd like to join in Word Wednesdays with your blog!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Psalm 119:9-12

Psalm 119:9-12
(9)  Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.
Cleanse - OT:2135 zakah (zaw-kaw'); a primitive root [compare OT:2141]; to be translucent; figuratively, to be innocent:
Way - OT:734 'orach (o'-rakh); from OT:732; a well-trodden road (literally or figuratively); also a caravan:
Taking heed - OT:8104 shamar (shaw-mar'); a primitive root; properly, to hedge about (as with thorns), i.e. guard; generally, to protect, attend to, etc.:

This verse begins with a question, then gives the answer. Every person has the opportunity to cleanse his way. I found it interesting that the Hebrew word for "way" means, "a well-trodden road." Is there any road that takes us too far from Christ's cleansing?

The whole reason that Christ came was to purchase for Himself the church. To wash and cleanse her: "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word," (Ephesians 5:25-26) God has made every way available for our cleansing - but it is our choice whether or not to accept this cleansing. We can be cleansed for salvation and then we can be cleansed after salvation: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9)

God's Word has proven to us that It is cleansing - that He cleanses. Will we take heed to it? Will we walk by It?

(10)  With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.

This verse reminds me of a previous verse: "Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart." (Psalm 119:2) By seeking God wholly, we will learn His commandments. But then we have a responsibility - will we keep the commandments that we have sought? It takes effort to seek, and it takes effort to keep.

(11)  Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

"Hid" means, "to hide (by covering over); by implication, to hoard or reserve; figuratively to deny; specifically (favorably) to protect, (unfavorably) to lurk:" (6845, tsaphan)

I like the idea to "hoard of reserve." This thought usually takes one's mind to treasure - which God's Word is ("More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward." Psalm 19:10-11). Do we hoard this revenue of treasure given to us? Or do we take it for granted - looking at it only when is convenient? Our heart is but a jewelry box waiting to be filled - are we going to the dollar store (the world) and buying all of these artificial pearls and glass jewelry to fill our jewelry box? That is the easy - and cheap - way to be filled. But what about the lasting way? To seek, search, and find treasures that are eternal and everlasting!

 (12)  Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes.

Am I asking God to teach me His statutes? He will, if I only ask Him.

It is interesting before the request, David said, "Blessed art Thou, O Lord." To me, this seems to indicate his adoration and thanksgiving to God. What is our attitude towards God? We will not be receptive to His teaching if our hearts do not acknowledge Who He is.

Friday, April 24, 2015

McM Family | Photoshoot

I had my first "professional" photoshoot a couple of weeks ago - and had an amazing time with my dear friends. They were so easy to work with and are such a cute family - don't you agree?

My favorite picture (I'm not sure what stands out to me - the sisterly love, or the serene expressions)...

And then, to give you all of the pictures, I decided to play with collages! Here they are!

"The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand." Psalm 121:5

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Shadows of the Past (3 of 3)

By Amanda Tero (Written in 2005, age fourteen)

This was my first short story, written as a school assignment (after I post all three parts, I'll share my original "Afterword" which explains a little more). It was fun to read again after all of these years. I can detect some immaturity of my thought-process at fourteen but the story was fun to read nonetheless.

Read Part One HERE and Part Two HERE

Part Three
My stomach seemed to flip as Carla and I wandered slowly out of the old mill. The door closed behind us and I felt a sudden urge to go back to where my family was.

Why did this have to happen? Why did I ever follow that girl? Who is she anyway? What is going to happen to us now?  I questioned myself, bewildered.

Suddenly, Carla grabbed my arm. “Look!” she exclaimed excitedly. “Aunt Lora!”

My eyes followed where she was pointing and I sighed with relief. Mom stood talking to a lady next to one of the cabins. I tried to hurry to Mom, but my ankle prevented it.

“Oh, there you are Salina. I was wondering what took you two away. You left before Dad could tell us about this old-fashioned town.”
“We-we found it though.” I stuttered, not believing my ears. An old-fashioned town! This must be where the girl came from…and went to. I wonder if I can find her yet.

“You two may walk around if you’d like.” Mom said, interrupting my trail of thought.

“That’s…fine. I mean--at least, I will, if Carla doesn’t mind.” I said, scoping out the area.

“I’ll go.” Carla added quickly.

I forced myself to breathe deeply. My ankle began to throb as I walked quickly down the main street. I was looking only for one person—the girl.

I looked around at all the different cabins and all the people who seemed to have stepped out of the past. They began to spin around before my eyes and my head began to feel light. I grabbed Carla’s arm for support.

“You’re going too fast Sal.” Carla scolded gently. “You shouldn’t be so impatient to find her.”

“I know, but I want to find her.” I stated stubbornly.

Carla sighed and continued slowly, which forced me to slow down too. The cabins looked endless. Time seemed to stand still as we pressed on.

Carla stopped abruptly. She silently tipped her head towards a cabin several yards away. Children flocked in front of it. I stared at the cabin, trying to sort one child from another. Surely our mystery girl would be with all the others.

Carla stood up straighter. I could tell her patience was wearing thin.

“Let’s go.” I started off at a brisk pace but slowed to a regular walk within two seconds as my ankle protested.

Finally we were at the edge of the group of children. They were sitting in a circle, tossing a ball to and fro. I noticed a tall lady holding a baby. Her dress was similar to that of our mystery girl’s. She saw us and walked forward, wearing a bright smile.

“Hello young ladies. How may I help you?” Her voice was soft and friendly.

“W-e-l-l…” my confidence suddenly vanished and my voice sounded small and squeaky.

Carla came to my rescue. “We were just looking for a girl about Sal’s height.” She said, pointing to me. “Her dress is like yours.”

“Oh!” The lady’s face broke once again into a radiant smile. “That’s Alyssa. She’s in the cabin. If you wait a moment, I’ll get her for you.”

With a swish of the many layered skirts, she had gone into the cabin. As the cabin door opened again, the lady came out, followed by our mystery girl.

“Here she is.” The lady said cheerfully. “Alyssa, don’t worry about your applesauce, I’ll take care of it.”

Alyssa nodded as the lady went back into the cabin. She looked up at us then her gaze fell to the ground.

“Hello Alyssa.” My voice sounded calmer than my frazzled mind really was. “I suppose we should formerly introduce ourselves. I’m Sal and this is Carla, my cousin.

Alyssa’s eyes glanced at us shyly then dropped again.

I took a deep breath. “And—well, um…” Why do I want to talk to her? I looked helplessly at Carla trying to signal to her.

Carla took my hint, and asked, “What were you doing in the mill?”

Alyssa shrugged.

I felt my temper start to rise. “Can you speak or not?” As soon as the question left my mouth, I regretted it. Lord, forgive me. I breathed quietly.

“Yes.” Alyssa’s voice was barely audible as a soft pink flush spread over her cheeks.

Carla glared at me warningly, then gently asked. “Alyssa, what do you do here?”

Alyssa glanced up at Carla. “Feed cows and housework.” She replied, her voice gaining confidence.

“Where’s the barn?” Carla encouraged.

Alyssa pointed to her right—opposite of the mill.

“But—“ I began. Carla glared at me again and I bit my lip.

“Do you like the stream?” Carla asked.

Alyssa nodded, her face now flaming.

Lord, put the right words in my mouth. I prayed. “Well, it seems you’re familiar with this place. Could you show me your favorite place?”

Alyssa looked shyly at me. “I’d rather not.” She looked back at Carla, then, changing her mind, she nodded and started walking.

I skipped a little to catch up. My ankle gave way. A moan escaped my mouth as I landed on the ground, clutching at my ankle Alyssa spun around, her eyes wide. “Is it sprained?” She knelt down next to me.

“I’m fine.” I said.

“No, don’t walk.” Alyssa ordered as she gently examined my ankle. “It’s just a twist. Try to walk slowly, take your time, and—and…” her shyness suddenly returned.

I nodded and smiled. “Thanks!” With Carla’s and Alyssa’s help, I was back on my feet.

“How do you know about sprains?” I asked.

“Dad’s a doctor,” Alyssa answered.

I nodded.

We walked in silence. I looked ahead at the small forest then at Alyssa. Her shyness seemed to reach out to me suddenly. I took a deep breath. “Alyssa, I’m sorry about getting mad at you.”

Alyssa nodded. “That’s okay.”

Another uncomfortable silence passed. “I—um, have to apologize too…” Alyssa’s voice shook. I looked at her, puzzled. “Well, I was…spying on you.”

“On ME?” I gasped.

Alyssa nodded. “Your family—I was wondering—well, are you Christians?”

A smile broke out on my face. “Yes, we are.”

Alyssa sighed. “I was hoping so. You probably didn’t know I was.” Her face turned crimson. “I didn’t act like it.”

Carla smiled. “Alyssa, we all have times that we don’t act like Christians. The important thing is to be sure that our relationship with God is right.”

Alyssa nodded. “Yes, you’re right.”

“But we must try to follow God’s Word, and if we do that, then Christ will show through us.” Carla continued.

“I wasn’t exactly acting like one either.” I laughed a little. “I suppose God has a handful here if we aren’t trying our best.” I grew more serious. “Maybe we can help each other out.”

Both Carla and Alyssa nodded.

“I know! We can start writing to keep each other accountable.” Carla suggested.

I looked at Alyssa, with my face questioning her opinion. She beamed at me and I grinned back.
We were all deep in thought as Alyssa once again took lead, guiding us to her favorite spot.

She’s a nice girl after all.  I thought, Dear Lord, I’m sorry for jumping to conclusions, please forgive me. And help me to live more for You. In Jesus’ name, Amen. I followed Alyssa over the hilly land, with my spirits soaring.

The End

My original "afterword" at fourteen
“Shadows of the Past” is not actually an original idea, but an assignment for school. Mom had found a free course online full of assignments for writers. The first was “Why I Write”, a paper on…why I write! That was alright, but not really what I thought of when “fun” and “writing” were put together.

Then came this assignment! And it sure came! The edited version of the assignment basically said, “You and your family went for a picnic next to a stream. You see a strange girl in a long flowing dress and wonder why she is there.” It also had certain requirements. For example, one was the yellow checked blanket that was spread on the ground in Part One.

So, I sat down and wrote…and wrote. It turned out being my very first “short story” that I had ever written (my stories are always long!), being about five pages. I was excited. I thought up several different titles for my work that ran along the line of “past”. “Shadows of the Past” was the only hit. So, “Shadows of the Past” it became.

After I turned in my assignment to be graded, I found out one slight problem, the assignment was, “write a paragraph…!"

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Word Wednesday #51

"He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. And he brought him to Jesus..." (John 1:41-42a)

This is but our responsibility as believers. We have found the Messias and must bring our family and friends to Him.

Share a verse that God has given you today or copy the button if you'd like to join in Word Wednesdays with your blog!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Psalm 119:5-8

Psalm 119:5-8
(5)  O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!

Who else can direct our ways but God Himself? But God does not force His ways upon us. Instead, He extends to us the choice whether or not we will seek Him and His direction.
"In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." (Proverbs 3:6)
"A man's heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps." (Proverbs 16:6)

There seems to be a fine line between our hearts and our ways with the Lord's direction. If we never acknowledge Him and His ways, He will not direct us. So the question is: do I want God to direct me? If so, am I moldable to where He can direct me?

(5)  O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!
(6)  Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments.

What does it mean to "have respect" to God's commandments? The Hebrew word nabat (5027) means, "to scan, i.e. look intently at; by implication, to regard with pleasure, favor or care:" There is no shame for the believer who relies heavily on God's Word and finds It their source of pleasure.

Are we ashamed of God's Word? or are we ashamed because we've not been in God's Word?
"Let my heart be sound in thy statutes; that I be not ashamed." (Psalm 119:80)
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." (Romans 1:16)
"For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day." (2 Timothy 1:12)

(7)  I will praise thee with uprightness of heart, when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments.

The more we learn of God's righteous judgments, the more we will realize how we should praise Him. Take, for instance, the Psalms:
            - 132 verses mention "praise"
            - 19 verses "praises"
            - 6 verses "praised"
That is a total of 157 verses (188 individual times) that a form of "praise" is mentioned in the Psalms. If we poured over the Psalms alone, we would glean so many reasons to praise our Lord.

(8)  I will keep thy statutes: O forsake me not utterly.

We expect God to keep His promises ("O forsake me not utterly"), but do we intend to show effort on our part? If God's promises were based on how we performed, we would not be as richly blessed as we are daily. Are we willing to, in gratitude, keep God's statutes because He is faithful?

Just a few promises of God's faithfulness:
"And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee." (Psalm 9:10)
"I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread." (Psalm 37:25)
"For the Lord loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved for ever: but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off." (Psalm 37:28)

"For the Lord will not cast off his people, neither will he forsake his inheritance." (Psalm 94:14)

Saturday, April 18, 2015

When God Moves Through Prayer - guest post by Yaasha Moriah

By Yaasha Moriah

I work at a pregnancy center that reaches out to women who face unexpected pregnancies, and one of the first lessons I learned there was the power of prayer.

The center started with prayer. In 2005, supporters in northern Vermont recognized the need for a branch in my home area, and began to pray for a new center. Five years later, in 2010, the new center came into being. When the center received a phone number, we recognized it as a reminder that the Lord had heard our prayers, for the number included the number 2005—the exact year that our prayers began.

Many people worked hard to let the community know about the new center, but, as we all know, it takes time for the word to get around. There were many days, then weeks, then months, when no clients came. But it wasn’t wasted time. Why? Because we prayed.

There were only two of us in the beginning, and we prayed every time we came to the center, before the day’s work began. We began with short prayers—five or ten minutes—but soon we found ourselves praying for hours. We prayed for spiritual fruit and a lively ministry, we prayed for each other and our families, we prayed for our community and our nation. It seemed that we never ran out of things to pray for, or for reasons to praise God.

And we saw change. First of all, God changed us, through our persistent prayer. This was important, because when He began to bring the clients, we had been refined and strengthened to be the support that our clients needed.

I remember that I began to pray specifically for two kinds of clients: the woman who was considering abortion, and the woman who wanted to live purely, but didn’t think it was possible. Months later, the first kind of client walked in the door. We spent two hours talking over her pregnancy options and, by the time she left, she knew the risks of abortion and her child’s stage of development. I praised God that I had been there for that moment of her need.

But the moment my new friend walked out the door, another young woman arrived. In the next hour, she and I discussed the reality that she was worth waiting for, and that the right man was also worth waiting for. By the time that crazy day was over, I was in awe of my amazing Father and the way He answers prayer!

Today, the life of the center is very different and active, especially since we now offer ultrasound services! Even though it is quite busy, we still pray. We pray for our clients, for their children, for their spouses or boyfriends, for the deep spiritual need of our community, for our own need for God’s grace and sufficiency in our lives, and for God to be glorified above all. We also have much to be thankful for, which we pour out in praise to Him. We’ve seen prayers answered in BIG and marvelous ways!

Sometimes the specific requests we have go unanswered for a long time. That doesn’t stop us from praying again. We have learned over and over that God truly cares for our needs and desires, and He answers when the timing is right.

Sometimes we think of prayer as Plan B. “Well, if that doesn’t work, I’ll try prayer,” or, “Well, if we can’t think of anything else to do, we should pray.” But prayer should be our priority. God moves through prayer, and responds to His people.

I am so thankful that we did not stop praying because of discouragement or the seeming delay in God’s response. We would have missed so much if we had given up! We did not grow weary in well doing, and God answered—and is still answering—in amazing and mighty ways!

A Little about Yaasha
Yaasha Moriah considers herself an apprentice to the Master Writer, whose amazing story, woven through all of history, inspires the stories that she writes today. She is the author of READY FOR HIM TODAY, a book for single Christian women about faith, purity, relationships, and readiness; and of two speculative fiction titles (REFLECTIONS and IMMERSION). When she is not chained to her laptop, she is loving her life as a sister to her five best friends, a daughter to her two wise parents, and an aunt to an adorable little girl. She intends to continue writing until her own story has reached its last page.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Turkey Creek

Last week, a couple of my sisters and I went out to a local park, Turkey Creek, to scout it out for some Spring family photoshoots. I was very delighted with what I found. I, of course, was immediately attracted to the water (after all, the camp surrounds a lake). The bridges, water, docks, water, sand, water, nature walks, water, and amazingly open field gives plenty of space for a fun photoshoot! (oh, and not to forget the water!! Did I mention that I love water?!)

First, my personal pick (sorry, sisters, the ol' rusty boat got dibs over y'all -- I should feel guilty)...

And my second pick (I should feel really guilty...)

Had fun experimenting with the crop! :)

And yes, both favorite picks have...water!!!

I found it! :) Being the day before Easter, I guess someone had a little egg-hunt and this one got left (no, I don't do "Easter egg hunts" but couldn't resist the picture)

"The voice of the Lord is upon the waters: the God of glory thundereth: the Lord is upon many waters." Psalm 29:3

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Shadows of the Past (2 of 3)

By Amanda Tero (Written in 2005, age fourteen)

This was my first short story, written as a school assignment (after I post all three parts, I'll share my original "Afterword" which explains a little more). It was fun to read again after all of these years. I can detect some immaturity of my thought-process at fourteen but the story was fun to read nonetheless.

Read Part One HERE

Part Two
Our footsteps echoed and re-echoed on the aged mill floor. The dusty mill seemed dejected. It made me shudder slightly.

“Look in here.” Carla whispered softly, pointing to a large door that was slightly ajar.

I passed her up slowly and swung the door open, wondering what we might find. Suddenly, I was looking straight into the face of the strange girl. We stood still, staring at each other. Her brown eyes didn’t move, but her blonde curls quivered a little. I studied her tall figure, not speaking a word. It seemed as if I had just come face to face with a girl my age from one hundred years ago. Her white dress was simple, yet considerably pretty. It flowed delicately down to her high-buttoned white boots.

Then, before I could think, the girl turned and sprinted out of the window. I climbed after her quickly without any consideration. My foot jerked to the side and twisted as I landed on a narrow board. Gasping at the sharp pain, I looked up. The girl was just ahead of me, using a thick rope to climb up the mildewed wall.

I clenched my jaw and hobbled down the soaked board. Suddenly, I felt it slipping into the water.

“No!” I groaned, thrashing my arms wildly. Someone grabbed my wrist and I looked up to see Carla. She was hanging halfway out the window, trying to keep me from slipping into the water that now seemed dark and deadly.

“What to do? Please.” She begged; her large brown eyes looked frightened.

I glanced helplessly at where the girl was climbing. She had just reached the top window.

“Help me in, Carla.” I gasped, trying to grab the brick windowsill with my free arm. My fingers finally found a brick to hold onto. “Hurry.” I begged, my voice fading.

Time seemed to drag as I worked to get back to the window. My fingers felt cold and clammy and my head ached from the tension.

“Lord, help me to get out of this mess.” I prayed silently, holding my breath. Then, with one last try, I was climbing on the windowsill.

“Oh, Sal.” Carla whispered, giving me a hug. “Why did you follow that girl?”

“The girl! Carla, we’ve got to catch her! She went through the upstairs window. Lead the way.” I begged.

Carla looked at me as if she didn’t know whether to listen or not.

“Well then,” I took a deep breath and carefully stepped off the windowsill. “I’ll take lead.” I limped a little as I went out of the small room.

“Why Sal? Why do you want to know who she is?” Carla asked quietly as she followed me up the creaky wooden steps.

“Because I do. She’s strange and I won’t be able to rest until I find out.” I stated, turning a little to look at Carla. “You may stay here if you’d like.” I added as we neared the end of the steps.
Carla shook her head slowly then quickened her pace. Together we pushed the door open. The upstairs seemed empty enough, with only a few old boxes here and there. To our left was a door that was closed securely.

“In there?” Carla asked, pointing to the door.

“Maybe.” I stated, though I doubted it.

Carla shrugged and opened the door. By the look on her face, I knew something was there. I hurried to where she was and peered over her shoulder then gasped. In front of me stood rows of cabins and other buildings that were from the past.

I-is this like a time machine? I thought wildly, but I surely didn’t believe in time machines either. What is going on? I wondered.

. . . Come back next week for the final part!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Word Wednesday #50

"Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the Lord are right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall fall therein." Hosea 14:9

Share a verse that God has given you today or copy the button if you'd like to join in Word Wednesdays with your blog!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Psalm 119:1-4

Last year, the Lord allowed me to study through Psalm 119. I love the longest chapter in God's Word and learned so much through it! One of my friends encouraged me to share it on my blog, so in the next few months, I'll be posting some of the gleanings that God gave me in this chapter!

Psalm 119:1-4 
 (1)  Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD.

We are all walking in a way, but which way it is?
Does God's law guide my every step? Many people think that it is only bondage to walk in God's Word - but according to Psalm 119:1, we will be blessed (happy) when we uprightly walk in God's law.

(2)  Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.

To find true happiness, we must keep God's testimonies and seek Him - not partially or some of the time, but with all of our being, all of the time.

(3)  They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways.

There is a close connection between walking in God's ways and not doing iniquity. It is impossible to walk in God's ways and do evil. Either we are walking in God's ways and doing good or we are not walking in God's ways and doing evil. Proverbs 2:13 reminds us, "Who leave the paths of uprightness, to walk in the ways of darkness;" We must leave the path of uprightness to walk in darkness.

(4)  Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently.

This is not just a suggestion - it is a direct command from God: if we are His, then we are to keep His precepts. We are not to loosely hold them, but to keep them diligently (gives the idea of immediately, completely).

(1)  Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD.
(2)  Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.
(3)  They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways.
(4)  Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently.

What is my walk like? Does my walk line up with God's law and His ways? The only way I know is if I am seeking Him and keeping His testimonies and precepts. I cannot do this by "happenstance" - I must be actively searching God's Word so that I know what His ways are. If I don't know His ways, how can I walk in them?

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Our Father's Heartbeat - guest post by Nicole Shepherd

By Nicole Shepherd

Through the life of Jesus we see the breathing, bodily image of His Father's heart. When the Word became flesh, man was given a stethoscope to know what moves, rejoices and grieves the spirit of God. So if we want to discover the crown of the Father's affections, we must become students of the Son. What did He do? What rhythm pattern did He leave us to hear, feel and walk in step to Jehovah's heartbeat?

Of the many things Jesus did, none are more vivid than His love for people – especially His disciples. For three years He knit these men to Him through the ties of daily life until He knew them not only as Creator, but as Friend. He ate, walked and spent nights listening to Galilee's waves drum the shore rocks with them. Whether He was laughing with them or patiently forbearing their peevish moments He loved them enough to be inconvenienced by them every day.

Why did Jesus do this? Why would God Almighty put up with rough fishermen and zealous tempers until they were so familiar with His holy Presence to lean against His chest like brothers? Because He was molding men. Jesus was shaping the Son of Thunder into a tender teacher whose fatherly pleas to his “little children” would be imprinted on Scripture's pages forever. He was converting the tax collector's deceitful fingers into the hand that would pen the first Gospel. As God seeing into the future, Jesus knew His men needed a teacher they could see, hear and handle, if they were to teach others. And His model is not just for them – it's for us! Just as Jesus discipled through involving the disciples in everything He did, so we are to disciple others in everything we do. And, like Jesus, we must start with those closest to us. It takes more Christ-like sacrifice and humility to stop during a hectic day to read a story to our five year old sister than to feed the 5,000 at the soup kitchen. Yes, those in the outer circle must be ministered to as well, but Jesus put priority on ministering to those close before the crowds. In fact, the crowds became the training ground where Jesus coached His followers. So it must be for us. Our influence is most powerful on the impressionable sister who is learning from us for better or worse. Each interrupted moment, each hour spent together and each opportunity we seize to disciple her will be recorded on the pages of her soul forever. Let's not miss it! Our field of ministry must start with hearts burning to recruit our siblings, nieces, nephews and younger Christian sisters as laborers-in-training for God. Take their hand and together walk in time to the rhythm of our Father's heart.      

About Nicole:
There is no more beautiful way to live than as a disciple of Jesus on a small homestead nestled in the gorgeous Missouri Ozarks and Nicole Shepherd is very grateful to call such a life hers! A daughter, oldest sister to six and homeschool graduate, Nicole enjoys studying God's Word, writing, British and American history, being an entrepreneur and long Sunday afternoon car rides with her family.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Just sharing my family...

Picture taken on Resurrection Sunday, by Daniel Tero Photography

A | Photoshoot

Little girls in nature. With flowers. There is just something beautiful about the simplicity and innocence there.

"But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 19:14
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