“The reason one writes isn’t the fact he wants to say something. He writes because he has something to say.” ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald


"But how could you live and have no story to tell?" ~ Fyodor Dostoyevsky


"Beauty can be seen in all things, seeing and composing the beauty is what separates the snapshot from the photograph" ~Matt Hardy


“A mother keeps a garden of the heart, planting the seeds of faith and character that give her children hope and purpose for the years ahead.” ~Anonymous


“If your story is never told, it becomes something else...forgotten.” ~Anonymous

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Giveaways, Games & Glitches

Congratulations to our winner of Beautiful Battlefields by Bo Stern!  I have contacted our lucky  winner by email and will be sending the book off to her soon.  This whole idea of a giveaway has been something on my mind to do for some time and I was honored to be able to do so with Bo's book. My prayer is hearts will be encouraged, healed and comforted by not only Bo's book, but also her blog and the insight she shares.  If you haven't checked her out, please do.

In doing the giveaway, not only was I able to get the word out on the book, but naturally and hopefully, build up the readership of this blog.  I love to write and share our stories. Having more than a handful of readers is an incentive to do so more often.  However, in doing the giveaway, I discovered my "Follow by Email" sign in box has some glitches.  I am trying to get this fixed, so if you subscribed and haven't been getting the emails, I am sorry and am working on this.  I have a "professional and trained" consultant helping me.  The fact that I gave birth to her, she lives with me and I feed her, helps.  But we are both stymied as to why the feedburner for the blog is now putting the subscriptions through, but doesn't give me access to the names and addresses.  They are "unknown".  Any ideas?   Hopefully, with perseverance and patience, we will figure this out.

For my earlier subscribers...you may be getting an email asking you to "verify" once again your subscription.  Sorry to redo, but if you could do this, I would be so incredibly grateful.  I decided this book giveaway was so fun that I want to do more of them.  But, yes, I need the subscribers to be able to do so.

Exciting news on the home front....my husband is due home in 3 days (after being gone for 2-1/2 weeks in eastern Europe on a missions teaching trip); my youngest daughter is coming home in 9 days!!!!!!!  Yes, it is now down to NINE DAYS!!!  She has been gone for 6 months to Germany, Hong Kong, Asia and Belgium.  This ole' mom's heart is dancing :)  And...my youngest son placed 2nd in his division in snowboarding last weekend and his basketball team won 105-28 (that last bit was very sad and humiliating for the opposing team).  My heart ached for them as we have been in that position.  But it was so enjoyable to see the skill and teamwork that these boys have learned over years of playing together.  Please allow me to have my moment of pride for my son and his team :)

And I just heard another exciting thing.....guess what is just being released....Nikon's new D7100

This would be so FUN to play with....but I am still learning my D7000 and that may take the rest of my lifetime :)  No, I don't want this camera and I love my baby D7000 - it is still so very new to me.  I just love looking at cameras and am always awed at new ones coming out.

Gotta run...more to come in the days ahead...stories of ministry in Armenia, Asia and all things awesome!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Bo Stern's "Beautiful Battlefields" Book Giveaway :)

Sometimes we come across a Scripture that resonates so loudly within our being and we want to share it with the world.  This happened to me yesterday and I meditated on this tasty morsel throughout the day.  However, upon waking this lovely Saturday morning, settling in with my coffee and Bible, my heart urged me to share in another way by encouraging a friend I have met in the past.

Oh, but first, the Word...

"Test me and try me, examine my heart and mind; for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness."  Psalm 26:2, 3

My family and I are in a testing time.  Going through a transition.  We've had numerous injuries the past couple of weeks due to the fun of snowboarding season:)  We are transitioning back into full-time missions, which we served in for over 20 years in our earlier years.  We are nearly empty nesters.  My husband has always been a man "who can do anything, fix anything, build anything".  My daughter wrote recently that she was so glad "her daddy could fix anything...because she can break anything :) "   Well, our bodies are aging and we are realizing we can't do physically what we once did when we were in our 20's (and this has nothing to do with snowboarding...it has to do with physical 10-hour a day labor).  With medical costs, lack of employment and the transition we are in, it is a testing time of great proportions.  However, the  Word continually feeds me.

I am always mindful of YOUR UNFAILING LOVE and have lived in RELIANCE on YOUR FAITHFULNESS!  

We are in a battle...we knew we would be the moment God spoke to our hearts....I am taking you back into missions to continue the calling I placed on you years ago.  The work slowed down (my husband is self-employed construction); the invitations came to go back to Russia and surrounding nations.  My husband teaches and speaks fluent Russian. The fields are ripe with harvest....and the enemy is prowling to see whom he can devour.  We began to draw our swords.....

About 4 years ago I attended our church's annual retreat. Bo Stern an incredible woman from Bend was our guest speaker.  I was waiting on God for a word to proceed with something I felt He had laid on my heart.  God spoke to me through His servant.  She was back the next year and again, He spoke volumes to my heart.  I was privileged to be able to learn, glean and be encouraged from her life. She was smack dab in the middle of her own battlefield.  And because of her battle, she gave life to others in the midst of her own wielding of the sword.  I left with my sword polished, my armor fitted and a joy in this soldier's heart to keep marching.

Her book, Beautiful Battlefields, was released yesterday.  I already ordered it on Kindle at Amazon.  If I could recommend only one book this year...it would be this one.  Ladies, we are in a battle.  We need encouragement from each other.  We need our swords sharpened, our hearts reawakened, and our resolve deepened.  Our families and loved ones depend on us being able to wield that sword and fight that battle.  And you know what?  When He is in our battle,  in the end....WE WIN!!  There is no doubt on that!

“We march in step behind a brilliant Commander, He is not just a good God or a loving God; He is a winning God. When He fights, He wins, and if He is in our fight, then we will win too.”   an excerpt at the conclusion of her book

I've never done this before...and because this whole blog thing is still a challenge for me, I decided to do a new thing.  I am giving away a copy of her book.  I want so much to get it into your hands :)

Here's how you can win:

Follow my blog and enter to win a FREE copy of Bo Stern's "Beautiful Battlefields"

               Subscribe by email 
              (box at top right of this page)
               Join this Site with Google Connect 
                  (button at bottom right of this page)

And don't forget to check out Bo Stern's Blog and Facebook page.

1)   “Like” Bo's Facebook Page.

2)  Visit and subscribe to Bo Stern's Blog  - you won't be disappointed!!

Lastly, IF you have subscribed by email to my blog earlier (entitled Woman2Woman), could you subscribe AGAIN...that blog title is no longer in use, so you won't get the email updates.  This way, by subscribing again.....you are also entered to win the book :)

The contest to win this book will run from today until midnight Monday, February 18th.  I will notify winner on Tuesday, February 19th.

If you feel comfortable, leave a comment in the "comments section" at bottom of this blog...what is your battle you are facing...and how can I pray for you?  You don't need to be too specific, just so I can uphold you in your battle!  From my heart to yours...be mindful of His unfailing love and live in reliance on His faithfulness!

Wielding our swords together in our battles,


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine Days Gone By...

Ask my family...I love holidays and rarely does one go by without celebrating or at least decorating a room or two.  Growing up as a young girl, my mom would give my brother, sister and I each one of those 99 cent boxes of chocolate and had them waiting for us at breakfast.  This “tradition” carried over into my own family when I had children, although as they grew older, we graduated from small boxes to Toblerone or Lindt’s, and I added a candle burning with love by their breakfast plate.  In my mind, you can never express love too much to those you hold dear to your heart.

I know memories of this day are not always pleasant for a lot of people...the pain of childhood when you didn't get a Valentine and everyone else did. Or you longed for a boyfriend when your friends all had one. Or there was pain surrounding the season you were in.  But, as with any holiday, there are good memories to be remembered as well. And that is what I want to do today...remember good things.   My first Valentine’s Day with my husband-to-be, an evening out with a box of chocolates and flowers.  When our four children came along, red vinyl hearts were plastered on windows and the day was filled with baking heart-shaped cookies.  I would cook a special dinner by candlelight which all 6 of us would enjoy around a large table filled with love. Red cardboard hearts dangled from the lights. Once or twice, we ended the meal with a heart-shaped cake covered in pink frosting and red sprinkles.

As the children grew and went out with friends, my husband and I would sneak away for a quiet romantic dinner.  Once we actually remembered to make reservations well ahead of time!  A new restaurant opened ON Valentine’s Day.  It was packed, but we had reservations!  Years ago when we were first married, visiting my husband’s family in Australia, we were walking through a mall on Valentine’s Day and saw red hearts in the window.  We gasped, looked at each other and burst out laughing.  We had both forgotten!  And we’ve enjoyed Valentine’s Day dinner at church with other couples choosing to spend it with friends, laughing and sharing funny romance stories!  

The last couple of years my husband has been involved in missions trips, teaching in Bible schools and I’ve found myself without my husband on Valentine’s Day.   No pouting for me!  I have enjoyed a candlelit fancy home-cooked meal which my youngest daughter and I prepared together.  Just the two of us as we talked about relationships, romance and the right way to do this thing called marriage.  Trust me, that Valentine’s dinner was priceless!

Fifty-seven years encompassing my childhood, 27 years of marriage and 26 years of children all celebrating a day where I get to pour love on those who are so important to me.  Memories I wouldn’t trade for anything...not even chocolate :)

btw...for those who read the blog yesterday...yes, I am by myself for this Valentine's Day, BUT I did get taken out for a lovely breakfast and roses before he left!  He is the best!

Happy Valentine's Day....today, show "someone" that you care about them!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

To Love or Not To Love on Valentine's Day

I remember the first box of chocolates I ever received from a boy.  It was second grade.  It was a big heart shaped box.  It said "I love you" scrawled over the top of the cellophane.  It made my little 7-year old heart go pitter patter.  Fast forward 50 plus years...and it makes this mother's heart go "WHAT??!! Are you kidding?  What does a 7-year old boy know about love?  Rather what does a 7-year old girl do with that "love"?  And...now that we are on it, what mother let her 7-year old son do that?"  Okay, we live in a different world now.  Back then, it was "innocent".  And it was the first really big box of chocolates all to myself.   But it is a Valentine's memory big-time.

I'm always amazed at the myriad of emotions this day brings to people.  Some love it.  Some could care less.  And some vehemently hate it.  I know it is especially hard on the single unmarried.  But it always grieves me to see someone so adamantly opposed to a day of showing love.  I have read facebook posts which would have been better left unwritten; words spoken to others better left unsaid.  Out of the abundance of our hearts, our mouths speak.  I have an acquaintance that a couple of years ago, angrily voiced her feelings about this holiday.  I mean really angry words.   Interestingly today, she is married and loves the holiday.

I grew up enjoying the holiday.  Tomorrow I will post my memories :)  But for me, it was a day of sharing love (and chocolates) and cards with those you cared about.  Even those you didn't especially care about...remember all the little paper cards you made or bought and gave to everyone in your class?  Of course, there was the "pain" of not receiving one from that one guy you really wanted a mushy card from.  Or just getting a plain old one from him.  I understand the pain that comes from rejection, even in the simplest non-intended form.

But...if for a moment we could put aside the romantic relationship side of Valentine's Day and just express love to those you care about.  Family.  Friends. Even a kind caring word to a stranger.  For some, this day holds painful memories.  In our family, we have a close knit group of family friends whom we have a history with.  Years of sharing vacations, missions trips, our kids growing up together.  One year, the parents of one of the boys were away on a trip.  He was alone.  He took a rose to the other moms of the families in our group.  I was incredibly blessed...over the top!  This young man was showing Valentine's Day went beyond romance.  It extended to showing those important in your life, they were worth the love of the day.  It was one rose and it wasn't romantic, but it spoke volumes!

From my heart to yours....single, widowed, married, hurting, alone, happy but alone, ....wherever life has you for the moment (and it is a moment)....perhaps put a new perspective on this holiday...show love, a small gesture or big, appreciation to those you care about and care about you.  I am not putting light on your circumstances, just saying instead of lamenting, let's love.

In closing, here is a link that applies to couples, but when I read it, I felt it could also be applied to roommates who desire to share the love of God through their friendships and home.  A team, whether it be a couple or not, can display the love of God in creative ways to those around them. I had to share the link....


btw.....I am alone this holiday.  My husband is away sharing in a Discipleship Training School (similar to a mini Bible school).  Last year, I was alone; shared the day with my daughter :)  She is away this year.  My eldest daughter has a boyfriend.  My youngest son will be working.  My oldest son probably will not spend Valentine's Day with his mom :)  That's okay.  I am happy I have a family that has a life :)  And I will spend the evening with a small group of incredible young women I have the privilege of investing into.  God is good.  Even without the romance.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

February, Facts, Fog & Faithfulness

Here we are 5 days into February and I thought my blog deserved some attention.  I read awhile back something from a well-known author and blogger.  He said that the successful bloggers only blog about 3-4 times a month.  Once a week.  If you do every day or even every other day, people get tired of hearing from you.  So....I am being successful without even trying :)  No, seriously, where did January go?  I read another blog the other day (well at least I am reading blogs if not writing them :)....this blogger said that January shouldn't even be labeled a "month" because it goes by so quickly and we are just trying to catch up after the holidays - we don't even notice January.  Poor January...I feel a bit sorry for him (or her?).  But really, where did it go?  I got my tree taken down, house cleaned, organized papers for taxes, cleaned up some files on my computer and finally got to look at some photography stuff I got for Christmas.  Well, good-bye January and....hello, February...

We'll give this month the attention we forgot to give January...

Did you know this about February....

** the shortest month of the year, only 28 days and every four years a day is added for leap year.. and is the only month that can pass without a full moon during it's 28 days (leap year is different)
** January and February were the last two months to be added to the Roman calendar; the Romans figured winter was a "monthless" period.  Okay, but what if you were born then....."Hi, I was born in a monthless period, I don't have a birth month."
**February is National Bird Feeding month - glad I put seeds in the bird feeder, wouldn't have wanted to miss that!
** Ground Hog's day - we get to depend on a rodent to find out when winter is over :) btw, spring is just around the corner :)
** Super Bowl Sunday is the first Sunday of February (is there life after this?)
** World Marriage Day is the 2nd Sunday of February (if your marriage survived Super Bowl)
** Valentine's Day where you get to show your love to those you care about...or care about you or it could be a reason to indulge in chocolate....do we need a reason?
** 3rd Monday of February we celebrate President's Day in US (Washington and Lincoln)
** International Mother's Language Day is February 21st....who knew?
And there are lots of national days, liberation days, independence days...depending on what country you are from.
** there is even National Wear Red Day, the first Friday of February - created to bring awareness of heart disease
** and lastly, February starts on the same day of the week as March and November in common years, and on the same day of the week as August in leap years. February ends on the same day of the week as October every year and on the same day of the week as January in common years only. In leap years, it is the only month that ends on the same weekday it begins.   (whew...aren't you glad I didn't start with that one?!)

February...where you either still see winter all around you, or perhaps spring begins to peek around the corner as crocuses and daffodil sprouts emerge. Somehow, as we launch into these weeks our hearts begin to hunger (and our bodies yearn) for the warmth of the sun once again.  As we make that journey through this month, look back on these winter months where things were dormant and see what you learned.  What did God teach you?  In your times alone with Him?  In a Bible study?  In the difficult and lonely times?  In the victories and in the defeats?  Write it down....remember it....cherish the growth.  January and February need not be "monthless" or barren; they can be weeks where seeds, though unseen, are about to sprout.  Growth took place, you and I just need to stop and take a moment to remember and look back, as we go forward.  If we can see beyond the fog and through our hearts, I think we will be surprised at what God has done.

Enjoy February and may it bring blessings beyond what you can imagine or see :)

photo: mudd up!