"Welcome to my blog space. I believe that God has carefully placed gems in our paths to fill our days with joy. The challenge for us is to take the time to notice them. My desire is to share the gems in my life so that, hopefully, you will see the ones He's placed in yours. I hope what you read here will be worth your time and you'll want to return often." - Cathy

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Nightmare is Real

Startled, I sat up in bed, tears in my eyes. I sat there frozen in that state between sleep and wakefulness when you try to figure out what is real and what is a dream. It felt very real to me at that moment. What seemed like an eternity later, I decided I had been dreaming.
I started going to my hairdresser in 1973 when we first moved to North Carolina. At this point, I had been seeing her for twenty-plus years. In that time period, she had taken care of my hair, the needs of both of my daughter’s and my first granddaughter had just started seeing her. We knew her well and trusted her explicitly with our hair care needs. Over the years we followed Sallie* from shop to shop. When she moved, we moved with her.
And then came the dream. I was frantically looking for Sallie. No one would tell me where she was or what had happened to her. I ran from shop to shop, all the places she had worked before, only to find my questions met with weird looks and snooty attitudes. It was like she had fallen off the face of the earth and no one but me cared.
Now, nineteen years later, the nightmare is real. Sallie has disappeared. Four months ago, I received a card inviting me to her Bridal Shower. She had been dating a man from Michigan for a few years so I wasn’t all that surprised by the announcement. When she married before, she stayed in the area running her business. There was a strange phrase on the invitation saying something about giving Sallie money and gift cards because she was traveling light to Hawaii. I assumed she was honeymooning there.
A few weeks later I called to make an appointment for a haircut and her shop phone had been disconnected. A week or so later, I decided I’d call her private number. Again, it was no longer in service. Maybe she’s still in Hawaii, or maybe she moved to Michigan. Oh boy, I am living the nightmare?
I know it seems like a silly thing to get all bent out of shape over. Change is hard. I finally made an appointment with a new hairdresser. She gave me a great cut and all was well until she charged me thirty dollars. It was partly my fault for not asking what she charged. Mark number one off the list. I’ve tried one more lady since then and may give her a second shot. I’m way overdue for a cut but I have been putting it off. It just doesn’t feel right sitting in someone else’s chair.
Have you had a drastic change in your life? How did you handle it? I draw great comfort in the fact that in a world of change, God never changes. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. And that brings me joy and peace.
May your journey be joyful-

Update 08/08/12 - I have heard through a third party that Sallie is alive and well, happily married and living in Hawaii.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Book Club Network

Welcome to this week's Thursday Thoughts. This week I am introducing you to The Book Club Network started by Nora and Fred St. Laurent. Enjoy!

Do you like to win books, interact with authors and other readers? Looking for a book club in your area to join or want to start a book club and need some helpful tips to get started? The Book Club Network is your kind of place. 
In honor of the anniversary of The Book Club Network, ten books a day will be given away during the month of August. Join the network at: www.bookfun.org   to take part in the Birthday Bash giveaways. Currently a Kindle Fire is being given away on the site as well.
This site was started by Fred and Nora St. Laurent in answer to Nora’s desire to share good books with others. Her work at a Christian book store allowed her to do that for a limited time. She also directed two face-to-face book clubs in the Atlanta, GA, area, but, again, she could only share a book for a brief time.

In Nora’s words, “I was whining to my husband Fred about my problem. How can I get the word out about great books for a very long period of time??? Being a man who likes to face challenges head on, we began to talk about how we could do this. My dyslexia keeps me from reading books fast enough to keep up with its shelf life at the store.
I also told him, as a book club leader, I wanted to promote great books and share them with other groups. Not everyone has the advantage of working at a book store and seeing what new books hit the shelves each week. Another struggle I had was if I had an author speaking at my book club I wanted to share them with other book clubs in the area. How could I do that? Where are book clubs meeting?
Our answer to many of these questions and more was the birth of The Book Club Network - TBCN. Connecting authors to book clubs and readers to their books; it’s also a network of book clubs as they post what they’ve read and how the meeting turned out.
It’s a place to find where a book club is located. We have a member map where you can find a book club near you. Message them and see if they are accepting new members. I envision it to be similar to the Weight Watchers program (don’t laugh, {Grin}). You can go to a meeting anywhere in the country, right? All you have to do is look online and get connected. This is my hope for the future of TBCN.”
I have personally enjoyed my membership at TBCN. It’s fun to see what other readers are reading and recommending. Authors graciously interact with their readers and are readers themselves. The site provides a place to blog, chat and take part in discussions with members. Contests are held each month from the 19th to the 21st with winners being announced by the end of the month.  
The Birthday Bash, celebrating the second anniversary of TBCN, will include a giveaway of ten books per day during the month of August. Enter a new drawing every day. Winners will be picked once a week so you have all week to enter that week's contests! 
Join me at The Book Club Network before August 1st so you will be eligible for the Birthday Bash freebies. 

Nora St. Laurent’s Bio: Nora is the CEO of The Book Club Network Incorporated. Nora and her husband, Fred, can be found hanging out at  www.bookfun.org She runs two face-to-face book clubs near Atlanta, Ga.  Nora currently writes a Book Club column for Christian Fiction Online Magazine and is a Book Club Talk Columnist for Novel Rocket. You can read author interviews on her Finding Hope through Fiction blog,  http://www.psalm516.blogspot.com, and reviews around the web at The Christian Pulse Mag, Title Trakk, Novel Reviews, and Suspense Zone.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Blessed and Highly Favored

            I consider myself to be blessed and highly favored by God. From as far back as I can remember I have known Him. He was real to me in early childhood, and I always knew He had a plan for me. We had a relationship even before I made it official when I was sixteen.
I thought everyone experienced God the same way I did until a coworker, also a Christian, remarked to me one day, “You are so lucky. You just believe. It isn’t a struggle for you. It is real to you and you readily accept it.” I was thirty-eight at the time.
She shared a manuscript she had written and asked me to critique it. I knew before the end of the first page it was her personal story. The main character lived in an ordinary world with her parents. In her early teens she discovered there were limits to her world when she got to the edge of it one day. She could see there was more outside the bounds, but the view was hazy. She did notice there were no vibrant colors there, just shades of gray.
She felt strangely drawn beyond the limits. She was scared to step into the unknown region, but at the same time, she was excited because she sensed there was something for her out there somewhere.
She searched the area, seeing many strange sights she couldn’t logically explain. Still, she knew she hadn’t found the elusive “thing” that was wooing her so she continued. She looked frantically day and night for months. The more she searched, the more panicked she became, afraid she may never find what she was looking for.
She was overcome with tiredness and thirst when she noticed a well a few yards ahead, a bench sitting beside it. She sat and rested awhile before she had the strength to lower the bucket into the well. As she struggled to pull the bucket full of water to the surface, a man with a gentle spirit approached her.
As she sipped the cool water, they talked. Suddenly she felt totally rested, completely fed and amazingly refreshed. She felt light. She wanted to dance. The struggle she had experienced in the gray darkness turned into rainbows of color sparkling around her.
So what about you? Do you know the Christ I know? How did you come to know Him? Was your journey to Christ as easy as mine was or did you struggle to find Him like my friend?
God blessed me with an easy path to His Son and salvation. My heart sings with joy and gratitude.
Go and serve the Lord with gladness today-

P.S. If you don’t know Christ but have been struggling to find Him, contact me (hiskid410@gmail.com) and I’ll be glad to introduce you.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Time and Money

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 2 Peter 3:8 

What time is it?
I don’t have time to wait.
Take time to smell the roses.
Is it time to go?
Where has the time gone?
               I watched a very thought provoking movie called, “In Time” last week. The premise of the movie, released in 2011 by New Regency Studios and set in the year 2161, is that all currency has been replaced by time. At birth everyone has a visible time strip on their left arm. The first twenty-four years of life are free. At age twenty-five each person is given a year’s worth of time on their personal clock and it starts ticking down.
No one ages after their twenty-fifth birthday and each year they live past that is celebrated as the first, tenth, or eightieth anniversary of their twenty-fifth year. And yes, you are immortal unless you are killed in an accident, or killed by someone who wants to steal your time, or your time runs out.
People were paid in time as they left work each day. Grocery store purchases were paid for in time. Travel tolls between time zones cost you time. If a friend or loved one’s time was running out, you could share some of your time with them. Bank vaults contained time devises which could be obtained through loans with high interest/time rates. The person with the most time was the richest. In the movie it was a banker who had a million years stored in his personal vault, obtained by dishonest transactions.
At first, I thought, “Interesting concept” and then I progressed to “one world order” spoken of in the Bible. Then it stuck me that we are basically following that system now, though maybe not quite so dramatically.  We work, receive a paycheck, and then spend it. When we run out of money in our accounts all activity stops, except ones that will get us more money. And the cycle starts over. Even folks on Social Security or pensions have paid for it with time invested in earlier years. Folks on government assistance are borrowing from someone else’s earnings.
Think about this: If you make $12.00 per hour, each minute at work earns you twenty cents. With gas at $3.25 per gallon, a twenty-gallon fill up costs you five hours and forty-five minutes. Your favorite dollar candy bar costs you five minutes of your life. Pretty sobering thought, isn’t it?
I had a boss whose favorite saying was, “With enough time and money, any problem can be solved.” I didn’t agree with him because I think there are some things that can’t be solved with time or money. As it turns out, time is money and money is time.
How will you invest your time/money today? We will be held accountable for how we used our resources but I am so thankful I don’t have to worry about when my time will run out. I don’t have to frantically search for ways to earn more time. I know the Master Time Keeper and I know that He has given me just enough heartbeats to complete His plan for me. After this life is over, I will go to a place He has prepared for me, where time won’t matter anymore. And that brings me great joy! What about you?
I am praying He will fill your day with joy-

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Part of the Plan

Welcome to Thursday Thoughts. This week, I'd like for you to meet my friend, Jamie Britt. Jamie is a young woman of God. Enjoy her account of one way God has brought her joy.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.  (Jeremiah 29:11, NKJV)
It happened without reasonable explanation. It was a God-thing, no question! Let me take you back.
Picture the day before Thanksgiving of 2011, accepting a seemingly ordinary friend request on Facebook. But, it was anything but ordinary...it was extraordinary! From that point, that friendship has turned into something I will treasure for the rest of my life.
When we finally got to meet in person for the first time just over 2 months ago, that sealed it for us both.
My point to this story?  My point is that God knew before either of us that we were going to be introduced on Facebook by a mutual friend, who in turn has changed both of our lives. He knew that over the months after Thanksgiving, we'd need one another's love and support like never before.
Do you have someone in your life that you know without a shadow of a doubt that God placed them there? You can't explain it, but they're there each time you need a friend? Readers, let me encourage you that if you don't have someone like that in your life; ask God to send you that special friend you can call on at any time of the day or night.
“Lord, thank you so much for the friends you've placed in my life. Thank you that it was by divine appointment that they're placed there. I ask for each of my readers that you send a special person that they can call friend and know they can call on her at any time. Thank You Lord! Amen.”

Jamie Britt is a women;s devotional writer who resides in North Carolina. She has been writing for the last three years and is the of the the blog, Encouraging Women. Her main goal is to someday have a devotional book for women. She is a graduate of the 2011 NCompass Writers Retreat. She's also on the women's ministry team at her church. Contact her at jamiebritt2006@gmail.com and visit her blog at: www.encouragingwomen-strength.blogspot.com

Monday, July 9, 2012

Is that Stop Sign Moving? – Part 2

Before I wrote the blog, Is That Stop Sign Moving, I ran the boundaries idea by a friend. Her response was, “Are you writing about how very bad stepping over the line can be, or about how great it can be if you don’t set boundaries on what the Lord is allowed to do in your life?” Since you’ve read the post, you know I wrote about the negative side – what happens when you ignore the boundaries God has set for you.
Today I will focus on the positive – what happens when you remove the barriers that keep God from working in your life?
Several years ago I participated in a Stations of the Cross devotional series on Wednesday nights from Ash Wednesday through Easter Sunday. Members of the church were allowed to volunteer, pick a scripture from a list, and then, using our creative gifts, visually present the parts of the Easter story and lead the discussion. My scripture was:
Matthew 27:1-2 ESV  When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death. 2 And they bound him and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate the governor.
Two phrases jumped off the page at me: “When morning came” and “they bound him.”
First light is such a wondrous time of day. One hymn calls morning, “God’s recreation of the new day.” Can you picture God, a twinkle in His eye, thinking, “How shall I bless my children this morning?  He makes the decision and sends the details to the day’s sky painters. A friend who is a painter can’t wait to get to Heaven so she can paint a “real” sunrise.
In the two weeks I had to complete my part of the presentation I took pictures of the morning sky everyday. I was amazed at how different every sky presented – some vibrant colors, some dull grays and one snowy day in March, the sky, the yard, and the trees were all pink. I used poster paper to make a super-sized photo album using scrapbooking techniques.
Playing against the beauty of morning, we see religious, learned men creating ugliness. And then “they bound Him.” I know the binding of Jesus was physical, but it also strikes me that they bound him in ways that kept him from doing what He came to do. To illustrate this, I had the attendees pair off. I gave each of them a length of rough cording and had them work as a pair to tie it on each other’s wrist.
I asked them to wear the rope bracelet for the remainder of the Lenten season to remind them to think about binding and loosing. I’ll give you the same questions I gave them.
Are there things in your life that you are holding onto that should be loosed? Attitudes, habits, behaviors, speech patterns, actions and more?  Are there ways you have bound or hindered God? His plan is to pour out the riches of Glory for you. Have you set boundaries that have tied His hands? What He has for us is so much better than anything we can accumulate for ourselves.
“Father, my heart sings praise to You today for the gift of this beautiful day. My heart aches that I might hinder Your work today. My heart rejoices in knowing You love me, just the way I am, but You won’t leave me this way because You want more for me than that. Amen” 

Serve the Lord with gladness today-

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Freedom to Worship

Meet my friend, Sally Matheny, today on Thursday Thoughts. She has a wonderful blog which encourages children of all ages. This e-zine article was posted on her blog, Zipline of Sunshine, July 1, 2012. I thought it was so good, I asked for permission to re-post it here. Enjoy!
Freedom will be the theme everywhere this week as we approach July fourth. After returning home from a mission trip to Vermont, I have a whole new way of looking at our freedom of worship.

I met children who have never heard anything about Jesus Christ.
There were some who did not know what a Bible is or what a cross represents.
There were those who had never heard the Christmas story about the birth of Jesus.

“Jesus Loves Me” was not singing from their lips because they had never heard the song before.

Prayers were not whispered to God because they did not know how to talk to Him.
Freedom to worship means you can choose whoever and however you wish to worship.

Nineteen children in Vermont willingly chose to follow and worship Jesus Christ. Their new freedom, found in Christ, gave them joy and hope.
Please pray for them as they learn and grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ. Thank God they have found their freedom to worship Him.

My PhotoSally Matheny: Encourager, Writer, Speaker. Sally's mission in life is to encourage others through her written and spoken words. She has been published by "Keys for Kids," "DevoKids," "Christian Devotions" as well as other publications. A former kindergarten teacher, Sally is now in her 13th year of homeschooling. She is happily married and has three children.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Cost of My Freedom

               We were living at Fort Lewis, Washington when the call came. We had lived there for seven months and my husband, Larry, and I were expecting our first child in three months.
SFC William T. John
               My Daddy was career Army so our family had moved every three years since I was born. One unusual occurrence happened over and over to our family and one other family. We met this family in Okinawa, Japan.  The Beery’s then received orders to go to Schw√§bisch Hall, Germany. The next year, we got orders for the same place. When we left Germany with orders for Fort Gordon, Georgia, we left Bob and Angie and their kids behind. Daddy remained assigned to Fort Gordon over the next ten years, only away for one-year assignments every couple of years. In September, 1970, Daddy went to Vietnam.
                Larry returned from Vietnam in March, 1970, with orders for Fort Lewis, Washington. I happily discovered Bob and Angie were stationed at Fort Lewis. It was so nice to know we had friends waiting when we arrived at our destination – 3,000 miles away from home.
               On December 17, 1970, Angie called to tell me that something had happened to Daddy and I needed to call home. Momma had called her so I wouldn’t have to learn the bad news over the phone, but Angie couldn’t bring herself to be the messenger of such devastating news.
Compiled by
Steven John
               I called home and asked, “What’s happened to Daddy? Is he alright?” Momma’s reply was, “Cathy, your Daddy’s dead. Didn’t Angie tell you?” I can still hear her saying those words every time I think about that day.
               The rest of the day was spent on the phone with the airlines.  It was so near Christmas all the flights were at near capacity. Once the agent knew our situation, she bent over backwards to try to get us home. We finally settled on a route from Seattle to San Francisco to Atlanta to Augusta, every leg leading us closer to home.
               On flight day we landed in San Francisco a little late and missed our connecting flight to Atlanta. Again, the airline showed compassion and drove us to a hotel for the night and picked us up the next morning in time for the new flight they had booked us on, all at their expense. We finally made it to Atlanta. The departure gate we needed was on the other side of the airport and we had limited time to get there. We must have looked like cartoon characters as a pregnant woman carrying her blue Samsonite train case was pulled along by a man trying to get both of them to the gate on time. By the grace of God we made it and landed at Bush Field in Augusta after traveling for two days and hop scotching our way across the United States.
               Daddy’s body arrived at Bush Field a week after his death. Larry met the flight and escorted Daddy to the funeral home. He viewed Daddy first and gave the okay for the rest of the family to see him. The Army had done a great job of preparing Daddy’s body, dressing him in full dress uniform with all of his medals pinned to his uniform.
As we celebrate Independence Day this week, I am painfully aware that freedom isn’t free. My Daddy bought my freedom to live in a country where I can speak, write, and worship as I please.
Is there someone you know who made the ultimate sacrifice for your freedom?  Leave a comment about them here and add something to your celebration this year in remembrance of them.
Living joyfully in a free country-