My Books

Friday, October 30, 2015

Rest

It's Friday. Are you worn out after a hard week? Then this verse is for you. Sometime this weekend, make time for the One who can give you rest. Give Him your burdens and feel the relief. Open your Bible and read a while. Get out of bed and find a place of worship. Come to Him. Be still and know that He is God. Rest. Have a great weekend!

Linda 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Choice Reflections

It's Thoughtful Thursday here at Parenting With a Smile. This meme seems obvious, but really does require thought. What do your choices, both past and present, reflect? How do they color your life? When you look face down into your life's pond, do you see beautiful crystal clean water or more of a murky, muddy reflection? For most, it's a combination. But the water clears a little more with each improved choice you make. It seems easy, a no-brainer really, that a different choice will yield a different result. But often, choosing a different path than the one you've worn so smooth is anything but easy. If you aren't sure about what is right in a certain situation, seek the counsel of someone whose pond is already clear. Or better yet, go to the Owner's instruction manual, Our Creator gave us the Bible to help us figure out this crazy life. It will never fail you. Look again. What does your life reflect? Choose wisely until your life's pond is flowing with the purified water of your good choices. 




Tuesday, October 27, 2015

A Life Well Lived

It's Timeless Tuesday and nothing is more timeless than a life well lived. I love this meme that confirms that our imperfections may be the most significant indicators that we have lived fully. I treasure my crows feet, I refuse to color my gray (you can read about that here) and I have scars, both visible and invisible, that reveal my struggles. Scripture says it this way, "Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained by living a godly life" (Proverbs 16:31 NLT). I like that a lot! So maybe our imperfections aren't so bad. They show a godly, well-lived life. And that's the best life there is.

Linda

Monday, October 26, 2015

We're Do-It-Yourselfers

Honestly, I'm not that much of a do-it-yourselfer. But my husband, Rollin, is a huge DIYer. And so I am too, by default. And I've actually learned to enjoy it. Sort of.

We have two rental houses and much of our DIY efforts have gone into them. But recently I started whining about when are we going to do some projects at our own house? My joy wore thin at working on remodels and reflooring and painting our rental houses and then someone else enjoying the fruit of our labor. The only good thing about it was that I didn't have to live in the mess while we worked.

Carpet torn out awaiting new flooring.
So in the last few months, we started doing some of our own projects on our almost fifteen-year-old home. The main project, the one we're still working on, is pulling out all the carpet and replacing it with vinyl planking. If you're not familiar with what that is, it looks like a wood floor, but is really a vinyl product, making it a snap to take care of. We had put it in one of our rentals and loved it. It's also very pet friendly, which is nice.

Kobi and I "helping" Rollin lay
the flooring on our stairs.
Doesn't it look nice?
So far, we've finished the living room, our 19-year-old daughter's two-room living suite (otherwise known as an in-law suite but since our in-laws don't live there...), the stairs, and the upstairs hallway. We still need to install the trim around the edges on the stairs. Besides that, all that's left is the loft and four upstairs bedrooms.

Rollin and I have laid enough of this stuff that we've gotten it down to a science. We can lay a room fairly quickly. It's the prep work like removing the carpet, scraping off the glue that held the carpet padding down, taking off baseboards, repainting baseboards, and sweeping the concrete floor that take a lot of time. But when we get that done and start laying the flooring, it flies. Unless we decide to paint the walls while we're at it, which is what happened in the living room and our daughter's room. But I digress...

For not being much of a DIYer, I think I've done pretty good at adjusting to all these projects. And I've learned a lot of things from my dear husband. But more than that, we've enjoyed working together and seeing the beautiful changes our work produces, not only in our houses, but in our character. There's a certain bonding that happens as we work side-by-side, sharing frustrations, successes, and milk shake rewards for a good day's work. As a certain credit card commercial would say, "Priceless."

Finished floor in our living room.
Are you a DIY type or would you rather pay to have work done? Let me hear from you in the comments. 

Linda

Friday, October 23, 2015

Fall Decorations

Last week I pulled out the fall decorations even though our weather was still in the 90s here in Arizona. One day was even 100. Not exactly fall-like. But the forecast showed the temps dropping into the 80s by the end of the week and maybe even a chance of rain. The weatherman promised that we'd seen our last triple-digit temps.

So I pulled out the fall leaf garlands and wound them around my stairway banister.


I lovingly placed a large basket with orange, gold, and red leaves and flowers, mini pumpkins, and pine cones on my coffee table.


Both were acts of faith, trusting that the temps were indeed going down and fall was just around the corner. Faith in the weatherman? No. Faith in the God of the universe, who orders the seasons and majestically turns the leaves to brilliant fiery hues. That's faith well placed.

Happy Autumn!

Linda

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Using Your Imagination

As children, we're encouraged to use our imaginations. It comes naturally. As adults we don't use our imaginations nearly as well. We're too busy just trying to manage our real lives, I guess. But when we do put our imaginations to use, often it's in a negative way, imagining what would happen in different situations, otherwise known as worrying. Let's make a deal today. Let's use our imaginations the way they were intended--to have fun. Imagine yourself in positive situations, or handling yourself in the best way possible in a negative situation. Or imagine yourself in a perfect setting, relaxing, stress-free. Imagine yourself as you wish to be, a better parent, a successful employee, a caring friend. Imagine what could happen if we used our imaginations for good instead of worry.  Happy Thoughtful Thursday.


Linda

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Bragging Rights

I've always hated how parents compare their kids to their friends' kids. Or even how parents compare one child to another of their children. So this meme made me laugh. What kid doesn't deserve your bragging rights, really. They're all extraordinary masterpieces of God's best workmanship. Keep looking for the good in your kids. Even if it's only slamming doors. 


Linda

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Kindness and Confetti

Happy Timeless Tuesday, where we celebrate all things that never go out of style. Like kindness. Especially when it's tossed freely, joyfully, and generously like confetti. And speaking of confetti, does it ever get outdated? I think not. So here's to kindness and confetti. Spread them as far as you can today.


Linda



Monday, October 19, 2015

I'm a Sunday School Teacher

Happy Me Monday! Today's tidbit about me is that I'm a Sunday school teacher and have been for years.


For as long as I can remember, I've loved Sunday school and church. I think much of it has to do with the sense of belonging I felt there from my earliest memory. It grew my mustard seed faith into something big enough to form a solid foundation for my life.

As I grew into adulthood, I wanted others to experience what I did and to come to know Jesus, so I started teaching Sunday school classes. I began by teaching young children. But after several years of that, I learned that, though I loved kids and I loved teaching, I didn't love them together. I took a more administrative role for a while as my church's Sunday school superintendent, which involved lining up teachers, purchasing supplies, and planning events. But I missed teaching.

Later, I started teaching a young adult class and loved it. Or more accurately, I loved them, my students. But eventually, our numbers dwindled and our class began taking in older adults. Today I teach a class of women who are roughly my age or older. It's a great group and our faith is deepening. I'm still Sunday school superintendent as well, organizing and leading the teaching arm of our church.

So what's the point? Only that teaching, in one way or another, is a big part of my life. I love teaching because I learn more that way than by sitting in a class. My faith is strengthened by the things I study and share with my class. But I can't teach on just any topic. I have to teach on something that I'm passionate about. I'm more passionate about my love for Jesus than about anything else. Why? Because He's made such a difference in my life. And when I'm passionate about something I want to share it with others.

What are you passionate about? Do you like teaching about it? Sound off in the comments.

Linda

Friday, October 16, 2015

The Bibles I Lost

Bibles given in childhood cultivate a love of God's Word from an early age. They help foster a softness of heart that causes a child to cherish their Bibles into adulthood. When a child has their very own Bible, it helps them own their faith, rather than thinking of it as an extension of their parents'.

I remember my first Bible. I was only a preschooler when my parents gave it to me and I couldn't read a word of it. But I knew how important this book was to my mommy and daddy, so I treated it with great care and love. Back then, there weren't cute kids' Bibles with colorful covers and easy words. No, mine had a sensible black cover with gold letters that said Holy Bible. Its small size fit nicely in my small hands. The King James Version was about all there was then, and I couldn't have loved it more. It was basically a mini-version of my parents' Bibles and I felt very grown up carrying it to and from church.

That is, until I lost it.

I got home and realized I didn't have my Bible. My parents, seeing my distress, were kind enough to retrace the route we'd taken to church in our small town. We saw something on the side of the road and my dad pulled over and parked a short distance away. I ran to the place we'd seen it and there it was, lying in a puddle. I picked it up as tenderly as one would a wounded animal. I tried to smooth its wet pages. Then came the tears. It was the first time I'd cried over a book. But this wasn't just a book. It was God's Word, and I'd wrecked it.

I don't remember if I continued to use that Bible the next few years or if I used another that my parents had on the bookshelf. But I remember the next Bible I was given.

It was my tenth birthday and we were in the car moving from Illinois to Arizona. I opened my presents in the backseat. I don't remember any of them except my new Bible. It was a grown-up version complete with thumb-tabs to help me find the various books. I loved that black, leather-bound Bible. I used it almost a decade and had it even longer than that. But somewhere along the way it got lost. I'm guessing it was probably during a move. I wish I still had it.

My grandparents had a tradition of giving their grandchildren a new Bible when they graduated from high school and I was no exception. Mine had a brown leather cover with my name engraved in gold on the lower right corner. I'd seen my older brother and sister get theirs and I eagerly anticipated receiving mine. That Bible was well used, as I'm sure Grandpa and Grandma hoped it would be. It saw me through marriage, the birth of my first two children, divorce, and several years of single parenting. It encouraged me and guided my days as I learned to live as a Christian adult.

One Sunday, I went to a different church with a friend. It was a huge church, much larger than I usually attended. I got up to leave at the end of the service and forgot my Bible on the pew. I remembered it before I even reached the parking lot, and turned back to get it, but it was gone. I sought help in finding it and was directed to the office lost and found. It hadn't been turned in. I was heartsick. I went back a week later and it still hadn't been returned. To this day I don't know what happened to it.

For the first time ever, I had to buy a Bible. I looked in the bookstore and found the version I wanted with just the right size print. I still think about all those old Bibles and how they got me started on the path of my spiritual journey and an intimate relationship with Jesus. When you give someone a Bible, you never know how it will impact their life. But with prayer, it just might make the difference between eternal life and death.

What is the most special Bible you've had? Tell us about it in the comments.

Linda

Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Power of Words

Spoken words are invisible, but carry the power to speak life or death to their listeners. They can heal or wound, encourage or discourage, help or destroy. So this Thoughtful Thursday, think before you speak. You have the grand opportunity to speak life and encouragement into the lives of those around you. Be a life-giver today with your words. And generously speak words that you may have held on to for too long. Say I love you, I'm proud of you, I appreciate your hard work, you make my life better just by being in it. There is power in your words. Use it wisely.


Linda

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Raising Children Who Love God

This Timeless Tuesday let's focus on the timelessness of raising kids who love God. It's easy to get sidetracked when our kids misbehave or even make life-changing bad decisions. Believe me, I get it. I didn't have perfect kids, nor did they have perfect parents. But we need to remember the goal. Not perfect kids, but godly ones. Imperfect kids who cling to a perfect God. For that matter, imperfect parents who do the same.


Eye on the prize, parents. The prize is God and the eternal life He offers through Jesus. The prize is not perfect kids who make us look good. Keep pointing your children to Him. If you do that, you've done your job, regardless of the mistakes they make. God gave them free will just as sure as He gave it to us. Maybe they'll grow up to love God. Maybe they won't. I pray with everything in me that they do.

But here's the thing. You can trust God with the outcome. God is good all the time, without exception, every single day. You can rest in that today. And just keep loving those kiddos with the great big love of God.

Linda

Monday, October 12, 2015

My Sister, My Friend

Happy Me Monday! Last week I wrote about my older brother and told you I am the youngest of three children. So this week I thought I'd give equal time to my sister, Marsha.

Marsha is two-and-a-half years older than me and has been my best friend, playmate, and fellow dreamer since my birth. When we were young, my mom made all our clothes and we often had matching dresses, which we loved. Some people thought we were twins, and some still do to this day. We look a lot alike. So alike, in fact, that sometimes when I look through family pictures I have to look closely to see if the person pictured is me or her. Weird.

Linda and Marsha
Anyway, the thing Marsha and I have always been best at is laughing. Sure, we have other talents like writing and falling down, but the thing we've consistently been good at throughout our lives is laughing, usually at nothing. As children, my dad would get exasperated with us at supper as we giggled non-stop. He used his fork to tap our plates to try to get us to straighten up. Nothing doing. We simply couldn't stop. Or we'd stop long enough to put a bite of food in our mouths and explode into laughter again, spitting food across the table. I can't even imagine how the rest of the family stood us.

To this day, our mother gets nervous when we sit together in church. Who knows what could happen? We're especially dangerous during quiet moments of meditation or communion services. Why is everything so blasted funny in serious moments? But I don't think God minds. I thing he has a great sense of humor and loves to see His kids laughing, even at the communion table.

Marsha and I have a special propensity for falling down. I remember one of the times I fell as an older child, maybe twelve or thirteen. I had just put on my PJs and ran down the hallway of our home. Somehow, my feet got entangled in my nightgown and down I went. I laughed so hard I couldn't get up for a few minutes. Thus began our career of falling, which we've excelled at more and more as we've hit middle age. I'd post pictures, but they're a bit too graphic.

The other thing Marsha and I have in common (besides our entire introverted personalities), is that we're both published writers. Just search Amazon under Marsha Crockett and you'll see her awesome books. She writes grown-up, thought-provoking, Christian nonfiction books. I write frivolous, funny, light-hearted kids books. But we both do it for the glory of God, which is one of the things I love most about God. He lets us be ourselves as we serve Him.

So that's a glimpse of my sister and me. She is one of my life's greatest, sweetest, funnest (is that a word?) blessings and I'm forever thankful to God that He put us together.

Do you have a sister? Tell me about her in the comments. 

Linda



Friday, October 9, 2015

What's Your Pet Personality?

I've never been a pet person. I didn't have many pets growing up. But I'm the mother of Ashley, the pet princess, who would have loved a pet of every kind if we'd only let her. So who was I to deny the way God made her? He put that love of animals deep in her heart. So we have had pets. Lots of them, but not too many at one time, thank you.

We've had three dogs over her lifetime. One was a stray that no one claimed, so we kept her. Oreo was a black and white English setter who came to live with us before Ashley did. She used that as ammunition when asking for a pet a few years later. "But Mom, Oreo isn't my dog. You had her before I was born!" 

After Oreo died at the ripe old age of fourteen, we started looking for another dog. Oreo had been an "outside" dog. We only let her in when the temps got too cold at night, and then she slunk around with a guilt complex for being indoors. 

This time, we decided to get a small dog that could be an "inside" dog. My husband surprised me one afternoon while he and Ashley were out running errands by calling to say they found a cute black chihuahua puppy for sale. We went back to get her the next day and Ashley named her Kisses. She really would have preferred a big dog, but I said only a small dog in the house as long as she lives with us.

Sadly, Kisses died only five years later due to a liver disease. Saddest day ever. We decided to wait a little while before getting another dog. Maybe we could even get by without one. But it wasn't long until we realized how lonely the house was without a tail-wagger to greet us. There was no jingle of dog tags following us around. We started looking for our next dog. 

Kobi
We found a family on Craig's List whose chihuahua had just had a litter of pups. We went to see them and fell in love with the white and tan spotted puppies. We visited a couple more times before they were old enough to leave their mom. Soon, Kobi became part of our family. He was the cutest dog ever, and still is, even at five years old. Everyone says so. He even has his own Facebook page. Just type in Kobi and you'll see a handsome picture of him in his sweater. 

We have a few rules regarding dogs around here. Only small dogs in the house. We don't feed them people food, (though my husband always wants to break this rule). They sleep in their crate at night (usually). They aren't allowed in our laps at the table. 


All these boundaries have much to do with our personalities. What about you? Do you have pets? What kinds? What boundaries do you draw with your pets? Can they get on the furniture? Can they eat people food? Drink from the toilet? Are they outside pets? How much do the kids take care of them? Let's talk pets!

Linda


Thursday, October 8, 2015

Simply Being There

There is power in the presence of just sitting with someone in their time of need. I know this first-hand. 

It was sixteen years ago and my family was in crisis. Our teenage daughter had run away hours before and we didn't know where to find her. We'd looked everywhere we knew. Finally, we went back home to wait. We were numb with grief.

I called my sister, who offered to come right over. I told her she didn't need to. There was nothing she could do. We were just sitting, waiting. About a half hour later, our doorbell rang. We opened the door and there stood my sister and her husband. "We had to come."

I wept at the very sight of her. I had no idea how much I needed her or the comfort I'd feel just having her close. We sat in the living room, more silent than talking. They didn't come to fix anything, but to support us in one of our darkest parental moments. They helped us get through it just by being present.

We found our daughter and went to family counseling. Now, we couldn't ask for a better relationship with her. All the credit goes to God. But some of the comfort and support also goes to my sister, and others like her, who prayed, supported, and rallied round us as we moved through a difficult time.

Have you ever had someone "simple be there" for you? Tell us about it in the comments. Or simply list their name. Then let's all lift a song of praise to God for people like them.

Linda




Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Clean Speech

Please don't take this as a personal judgment. But as a writer, I know there are many ways to make your point without using profanity. Clean speech can pack just as much punch as profanity is supposed to articulate. Stretch yourself. Dig deep to find the right word. Everyone knows what you're trying to say, even if you don't drop that f-bomb. It's still clear, but less offensive. Challenge yourself to use timeless, clean speech for a specific amount of time. See what words you can replace with others. Be creative. Maybe you'll start a new speech trend or catch-phrase. But one thing's for sure. You'll stand out from the crowd. And you're too special to just blend in. Happy Timeless Tuesday.

Linda

Monday, October 5, 2015

I Have an Older Brother

It's Me Monday, where I share a little about myself and I hope you do, too. I like to think of it as a "getting acquainted" day. I'll go first. Then you share about yourself in the comments.

I'm the youngest, the baby, of three children in my family of origin. These days, that makes me a fifty-six-year-old baby. And those cute rolls on my arms and legs are starting to come back.

Steve and me
My oldest sibling is my brother, Steve, who lives in Florida with his wife. He also has a step-daughter there in Florida and a daughter who lives not too far from me in Arizona. Emotionally, Steve and I are close now that we're adults. But growing up, that was not the case. With him being five years older, I always thought he was way cooler than I was. I'm pretty sure he thought the same. We didn't have much in common other than our family and church. Our interests may as well have been from different planets. I liked dolls, stuffed animals, roller skates, and books. He liked sports and building model cars and airplanes. Beyond that I have no idea what else he liked because, like I said, we weren't terribly close.

I remember once when I was probably in first grade I cried to my mom about, "Why doesn't Steve like me?" I have no idea what prompted the emotional scene. My mom hugged me and assured me Steve loved me. She went on to say that if someone ever picked on me, Steve would be right there to stick up for me. I have no idea if that was true since the situation never presented itself, but it changed my perspective. Steve wasn't my playmate. He was my protector.

That made all the difference for me. From that day on, in the back of my mind was always the thought that Steve cared for me. He'd be there for me. He even loved me in his own stoic way, or at least that's what I liked to think. And it seems I was right.

Now, living in different states, we call each other every year on our birthdays. Our interests are more alike. We love our families and want to hear updates about each member. We both like to travel a bit and talk about our vacations. We both own homes and enjoy discussing our latest home improvement or maintenance projects. I fill him in on our mom, who lives near me, and how she's doing. And at the close of every phone call, we end with an exchange of heartfelt "I love yous." The same is true when one of us visits. We greet each other with hugs and kisses and then say good-bye the same way, only with tears in our eyes. Isn't it funny how life changes things?

I'm thankful for my big brother. He's still my protector in many ways. When our dad died ten years ago, Steve was in town and delivered the sad news to me. I went immediately to meet them at the hospice where Dad still laid. Steve urged me not to go in to see him because he didn't look good. I didn't listen, saying I didn't care. I just needed to see him once more. Steve silently nodded, understanding my heart. As I stood by Dad's bed, it was Steve who came to me a few minutes later to put his arm around me and gently lead me back out of the room, my final good-bye complete.

He was there for me, caring for and protecting me, just like our mom said he would be.

Do you have a brother? What role does he play in your life? Are you closer now or when you were kids?

Linda




Friday, October 2, 2015

Children's Book Review: Understanding My Mormon Friends' Faith and Mine

Several years ago, my daughter had a Mormon friend who invited her to go to church with her. We said she couldn't go, but it wasn't easy explaining why, except that we didn't believe they taught what the Bible taught. We needed a resource that would help us explain to her why we wouldn't allow it.

Fortunately, there is such a resource. It helped us tremendously and it can help you, too. Understanding My Mormon Friends' Faith and Mine by Judy Robertson is a quick lesson in what Mormons (Latter-day Saints) believe versus what the Bible teaches. This short, 24-page book is written for kids, but it is expected that parents will read it with them and explain their own views on the covered topics.


The back cover lists seven areas that are covered in the book, illustrating the differences between the Mormon faith and Christianity.


Inside, the book gives a clear explanation of Mormon teachings and shows what the Bible says on these topics. It is easy to use and understand.



Though Understanding My Mormon Friends' Faith and Mine is written for children, it is also a good quick reference for teens and adults.

To learn more about Mormonism or how you can witness to your Mormon friends, go to www.concernedchristians.org.

This book is a clear, concise resource that helps your children understand that not all faiths are equal. It does matter what you believe. I found it very helpful in my family and I think you will, too.

Linda



Thursday, October 1, 2015

Never Fear Aging

I love this New Living Translation of Isaiah 46:4. So many people fear getting old. There are so many questions that can accompany aging. Will I have enough money? Will I be lonely? Will I be able to care for myself? Will anyone visit me? Will I have pain and bad health?

This verse puts all those fears to rest. We don't have to worry about our old age because God is going there with us. He'll take care of us and even carry us along and save us. Has God been faithful to you in your younger years? Do you have stories of Him providing for you in ways you didn't expect?


I remember when I was pregnant with my second child and going through a divorce. I had many worries and concerns. Where would I live? How would I manage two children all by myself? Should I call my estranged husband when I went into labor? Wait until the baby was born? What was the right thing to do? How would I manage financially?

I didn't need to worry about a thing. But I didn't know that then. God had His eye on me and was looking out for me. I lived with my parents to finish out my pregnancy. I went into labor one night and my mom drove me to the hospital. My son was born so fast, we didn't have time to call anyone, including my husband. So I didn't have to wonder what the right thing to do was.

As to where I'd live, a couple from my church "just happened" to have their two-bedroom rental townhouse come available when I needed it. I had prayed for a place that would have a washer and dryer in the unit, which was hard to come by in my price range. But I knew it would be difficult to haul a laundry basket, a 3-year-old, and a newborn to a laundry facility. The townhouse, which was right across the street from my church, had a stacked washer and dryer. They went down on the price a bit so I could afford it. Another blessing from God.

I feared I couldn't manage two children on my own because my first baby had been so fussy as an infant that I couldn't even put her down. She wouldn't sit in an infant seat or play on the floor. I prayed for an easy baby this time and that's exactly what I got. My new baby boy was content to lie on the floor and watch the ceiling fan, laughing and cooing as if I'd bought him a terrific toy. He was a joy.

I share these things so you'll see how faithful God is. He knows our needs and has more resources at His disposal than we can even imagine. He's always working things out for our good. Oh, and by the way, that baby boy? He turns 29 today and he's still a joy to me.

Tyler and me on Mother's Day, 2014

So aging? No sweat. God's got this. Isaiah knew what he was talking about.

What fears do you have? Have you found God to be faithful in the past?

Linda