"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

Friday, December 20, 2013

Advent 2013, Week Three - Be Discerning

            Week Three of this busy Advent season brings us to the week before Christmas. Are you feeling harried, unprepared, behind schedule, or afraid you’ve forgotten something important? The scripture for this week (printed below) indicates a need to be discerning.

            A large group of children was asked the question, “Who are you looking for at Christmas?” All of them answered, “Santa!” John the Baptist heard about the deeds of Jesus while he was imprisoned. His mind was reeling with questions, the main one being, “Is this the one I came to prepare the way for?  Unable to go himself, John sent some of his trusted followers to discern the answer for him.

            The evidence spoken by Jesus offered the truth John was seeking – “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” John could finally stop looking. Jesus is the one who was spoken of by the prophets.

            Who are you looking for this Christmas – Santa or Jesus? Be as discerning as John the Baptist was. Meet with Jesus and seek His plan for this season in your life. Are you looking for a one-time-a-year visitor who comes at the end of the year or the One who is available to you every day of every year? Are you seeking the one who will fly over and drop a gift down your chimney or the One who comes to live in your heart and bring order out of chaos, counsel you, and love you forever?

            This Christmas examine the facts, discern the truth and spend your time and efforts accordingly. The important items on your list will get done and your focus will guide you into all truth.

Going out with joy today-



Matthew 11:2-11

English Standard Version (ESV)

Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in kings' houses. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is he of whom it is written,

“‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
    who will prepare your way before you.’

11 Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Advent, 2013 Week Two - Be Prepared

          In Week Two of the Advent season, we focus on being prepared for “the coming” as we look forward to celebrating Jesus’ birth and the celebration that will manifest itself at the Second Coming.

            In the scripture passage for this week, Matthew 3:1-12, we see that God sent Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist, to prepare the way for Jesus’ coming by informing the people in advance. Many folks followed John the Baptist in his ministry so there is a body of people who know about Jesus before He actually starts His earthly ministry. This body has been prepared by John’s preaching, by Isaiah’s long-ago prophecy, and the effects of repentance and baptism.

Biblical Oil Lamps
            This preparation reminds me of the story of the ten brides who were waiting for the bridegroom to come. They were to have plenty of oil on hand for their lamps in case he came at night. Half of them had the requisite oil, half ran out before the bridegroom arrived. I am a list maker so this “Be Prepared” which involved items they could physically attain and mark off a list speaks to me.

            Then as I further pondered how to be prepared to meet the
Esther is taken
before the King
King, I was reminded of the story of Esther. She was a candidate to become the new queen but she knew nothing about being a queen. For a year before her first appearance before the King, she was bathed, lotioned, perfumed, taught how to dress for the King and how to act when she met him. Our King is coming soon. During this waiting season, let us bathe in His Holy Presence, allow His essence to perfume us, and permit  the Holy Spirit to instruct us and guide us.

            This week as you look forward to His birthday, think about how you will “Be Prepared.” Are you more like one of the ten virgins or Queen Esther?

Going out with joy today-


John the Baptist Prepares the Way – Matthew 3:1-12 (ESV)
In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said,
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’”
Now John wore a garment of camel's hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.
But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 10 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

Learn more about Esther by reading the book of Esther in the Old Testament.

The story of the Ten Virgins can be found in Matthew 25 in the New Testament.

If you missed Advent 2013, Week One- Be Alert, read it here.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Advent 2013, Week One - Be Alert

         The four-week season of Advent is upon us. Advent means “the coming” and it is the time before Christmas when we focus our thoughts on the coming of Christ as a baby and the future coming of Christ, the victorious King, who will bring His children home to reign with Him.

          Each week has four scriptures (Old Testament, New Testament, Gospel and Psalm) aimed at bringing a message of love, joy, peace and hope. This year I have chosen to give my attention to the four scriptures from Matthew.

Week One - Matthew 24: 36-44 - Be Alert

For centuries people had been looking for the Messiah to come to their rescue. Finally, He came, but not in the form they expected. They were looking for a warrior King riding on a white stallion. He came as a baby in a manger. Wonders happened on and around His birth-angels appeared to His mother, earthly father, to shepherds tending their flocks, and a new star appeared in the heavens. Some people were alert and recognized the signs. Others weren’t. Many could have seen, but only a few did.

Jesus grew up and started His ministry at age thirty. People began believing He was indeed the Messiah they had expected. But, the faith of the believers was shaken as they watched Jesus dying on a cross. After the resurrection, their faith was restored and the looking for His coming began again.

How will you look for Jesus in your celebrations this Christmas? Will you be alert to the ways He shows Himself to you? Or will you miss Him altogether?

Be alert, He’s coming again, and even He doesn’t know the day or the hour.

Going out with joy today, looking for Jesus-


No One Knows That Day and Hour

36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. 37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. 42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Write2Ignite! Conference Registration Open!

Write2Ignite! Logo
For writers of literature with a Christian world view for children and youth, I am devoting my blog to Write2Ignite! this week. I am the new kid on the leadership team and I’m excited and want to share a little about the ministry and the writer’s conference coming in March, 2014.

            From their website comes the vision of the organization: We envision Write2Ignite! as an organization that provides conferences, workshops, support groups and other services to Christians who create, publish, represent or sell literature for children and youth.  We see the role of the Write2Ignite! Team as that of teachers, encouragers, facilitators and inspirers.

We want Write2Ignite! participants to leave our conferences with three things:

  • The knowledge that they heard from God about something specific in their writing and/or personal lives
  • New or improved skills to use in writing and/or publishing
  • New or strengthened connections with other writers, illustrators, teachers, librarians, agents, editors, reviewers, and/or book sellers

This past March was my first time attending a Write2Ignite! Conference. I was extremely pleased with the investment in my writing future. Using the three goals for participants listed above, I will share a bit of my experience:

Knowledge from God – Thanks to our worship leaders, Donna Earnhardt and Rachel Welch, we were able to enter God’s presence and listen for His desire for us as writers, illustrators, publishers and agents. This conference, more than any I have attended, focuses on God first by sprinkling the day with opportunities for deep worship.

Improved Skills – Classes are taught by authors who are seasoned in the skills they are presenting. They projected a selfless attitude, giving us much more than the syllabus promised. The teacher of one of the classes I took had been sick for weeks before the conference. She probably should have cancelled but instead came and honored her commitment. She apologized to the class for needing to sit while she presented her subject matter. The skills I learned in her session are serving me well this year, and I refer to the notes from her class often. What I learned is transferrable to all genres, not just limited to children/young adult writing.

Connections –In the hallway, between classes, I made contact with some friends I hadn’t seen in years and I made new contacts over cookies and coffee at the hotel. We’ve shared ideas, blog and website addresses, critiques, calls for submissions, and even some quilting tips.

The conference this year will be March 28-29, 2014. Registration is now open on the website and, at $100 for adults and $50 for teens (yes, there is a special teen track available!), I consider it a bargain. Come join us at North Greenville University, Tigerville, SC. Look for me. I’d love to talk to you.

Going out with joy today-

Hop on over to these other blogs to get their take on the conference!
Samantha Bell at www.samanthabellbooks.com


Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Stranger at the Table


We almost always had a stranger at our

Thanksgiving table. Like folks who take

in stray animals, my mother took in stray

people. With Daddy being in the Army,

we had celebrations in California, Japan,

Germany, and Georgia. Momma always

found at least one person who would be

alone on the holiday and invited them to join us. We didn’t have

many resources during those years, but what we had, we shared.

            Our visitors had a story to tell and Momma encouraged them to talk as we ate. They told about life where they were from, how he/she ended up in the Army, their aspirations for the future, their family traditions and what they would be doing if they were home. We children didn’t realize until much later in life that not everyone invites people they don’t know to Thanksgiving.

            That experience is probably the one that fostered my interest in people. My children think I am cursed with a magnetism which pulls at strangers who then seem compelled to talk to me. I see it as a blessing, maybe even a calling. I’ve learned over the years that there are lonely people everywhere who don’t have anyone who will listen to them.

            I usually encounter them while waiting in line somewhere. They are in front of me or behind me in line. We talk while we wait. Occasionally, someone will approach me in a store, out of the blue, like one woman did in the fabric department in Wal-Mart. She asked me to pray for her. I asked if there was a specific need and her story spilled out as though it had been bottled up for so long it had fermented and the container couldn’t hold it any longer. We did pray, right there in the fabrics and crafts, as two humans connected for a few brief moments.

            This poem, by Emily Dickenson, has been a favorite of mine for many years. I cross-stitched it and have it framed and hanging in my bedroom to remind me that it’s the little things we do along life’s pathway that hold the most meaning.           

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain.
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
         I shall not live in vain.             

            What Thanksgiving tradition has shaped you into the person you are today? I’d love to hear your story.

Going out with joy and open ears today-


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Are You in a Thanksgiving Rut?

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!

I Chronicles 16:34

            The children sat cross-legged on the floor in a lopsided circle, all eyes on me, waiting for the words of wisdom I would impart during the Children’s Moment at Church. It was the first Sunday in November so I felt obligated to talk about this being the month we focus our thoughts on what we are thankful for. If I asked around the circle, I knew I’d get the tried and true answers - Mommy, Daddy, toys, pets, friends - all good things to be thankful for. My intention was to expand their awareness.

            My first question to them was, “What is your favorite color?” I talked about Thanksgiving and being thankful. I told them that sometimes when we do something over and over every year, we can get stuck in a rut. My solution to that for this year is to use my favorite color as a starting place for being thankful. “Your assignment for the week,” I told those shining eyes and smiling faces, “is to look for things that are your favorite color, and then thank God for it.”

I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.

Psalm 9:1

            What about you? Are you stuck in a rut when it comes to being thankful for the many blessings God has poured out for you from His great bounty? Do you need a rut-buster to help you with true thankfulness this year? Here are some suggestions in addition to the favorite color lookout:

            Go back to basics using the alphabet. Line the letters down the side of a piece of paper. Each day think of a least one item you are thankful for that begins with the letter of the day. On day eight, for instance, ponder on things beginning with the letter H. Since there are thirty days in November and only twenty-six letters, you can go freeform on the last four days.

            For those who are up for the extreme challenge beginning on November 1st next year, gather your paper and pens. For each day of the month, match the date with a list of things you are thankful for. On November 15th, your list will include fifteen thoughts. By the end of the month, you will have thanked God for four hundred, sixty-five blessings with no duplications. Woo hoooo! Doesn’t that get your engines revved up with anticipation? If you are overwhelmed with God’s goodness to you and can’t wait until next year, go ahead and start today. I’d love to know when you complete this activity and what it meant to you.           

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

I Thessalonians 5:18

Going out today with a heart full of joy and thanks-


Friday, November 1, 2013

Ideas, Brains and Trains

Today, November 1, 2013, I begin a new adventure. This month, for the first time, I will be participating in PiBoIdMo, Picture Book Idea Month. Since I am an aspiring picture book author with a passion for Christian world view literature for children, it seems only natural I would be drawn to this exercise.

 From Tara Lazar, the founder of PiBoIdMo, and the official website, here’s what it’s all about:

“Tired of novelists having all the fun in November with NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writers Month), I created PiBoIdMo as a 30-day challenge for picture book writers.

The challenge is to create 30 picture book ideas in 30 days. You don’t have to write a manuscript (but you can if the mood strikes). You don’t need potential best-seller ideas.

You might think of a clever title. Or a name for a character. Or just a silly thing like “purple polka-dot pony.” The object is to heighten your picture-book-idea-generating senses. Ideas may build upon other ideas and your list of potential stories will grow stronger as the days pass.

Daily blog posts by picture book authors, illustrators, editors and other kidlit professionals will help inspire you. By the end of the month, you’ll have a fat file of ideas to spark new stories.

PiBoIdMo was first held in 2008 by a party of one—me! Then I hosted it on my blog for the first time in 2009. Each year the number of participants has doubled. In 2012 we had over 750 writers following PiBoIdMo.”

            On today’s daily blog, Tammi Sauer shares one of her secrets to success: Start with the Title. She reasons the title is the first chance you have to grab the editor's and reader’s interest. I can’t wait to read all the author hints that will post this month.

            I love my brain and I can’t wait to see what it will conjure
up and dump out on my list. Just in case the train leaves the station with a carload of ideas and doesn’t make it back before the end of the month, I may need your help. If you’ve ever said, “I wish I could find a good children’s book about . . .,” leave a comment. If you’re brushing your teeth one morning, and a brilliant thought passes through your mind and you say, “That would be a great title for a book,” leave a comment (unless, of course, you are going to pursue it yourself!)

            Gotta run! I’ve got a train to catch, a list to get started and some brainstorming to do.

Going out with joy today-


P.S. It's not too late to be a part of this movement. Registration is open for a few more days by clicking the website ink above.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Wanted: One Good Listener

How do you feel when someone listens intently to what you say?

            Numerous years ago, a friend and I taught a class of children for Wednesday night Bible study. We were continually being interrupted as first one and then another had to tell us something important that couldn’t possibly wait another minute. At the end of the session, Dorothy and I looked at each other and said, “Did they get anything at all out of this teaching with the million rabbit trails we went down?”

            We did some brainstorming about the cause of the disturbances and decided that these children wanted to be heard. A majority of them came from less than perfect home situations and we wondered if anyone ever listened to them. We came up with a plan for the next Wednesday.

            When they arrived for the next class, we had them sit in a big circle on the floor. Once everyone was there we explained the plan. First, each person would get a chance to share one thing with the class. Second, we would not ask any questions while in the circle. If more information was wanted, they could get together and talk after class. Third, we would each show respect for the person talking by giving them our full attention by sitting still, not talking, and looking at the speaker.

            It took several weeks to really get the showing respect part, but the transformation was amazing. After the sharing circle, the children were ready to engage in the study. They went home happy because someone had taken the time to listen to them and the teachers went home happy because we felt successful.

            What about you? Are you a good listener? For some people it takes intentional practice to learn to be a good listener. Here are some tips to improving listening skills:

            Eye Contact: It’s very important to look into the eyes of the speaker. When you look everywhere but at them, they think you are distracted and don’t care about their thoughts.

            Body Language: Standing or sitting with your arms crossed in front of you at chest level, gives the speaker the impression you are blocked off and not taking in his ideas. Leaning toward the speaker, even slightly, and watching her shows you are interested in what is being said. Throw in a smile and a nod or two at appropriate times and she’ll know she is doing a good job.

            It’s Not About You: Hearing another person does not require your input, except to keep the conversation going. Keep your mouth closed and don’t interrupt. Limit distractions, resist multi-tasking, and let them do the talking.

            Good listening skills will enhance your quiet time with God each day. The hints here apply to that relationship as well. God will speak to us if we settle ourselves in His presence and listen for His voice. Jesus tells us, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." John 10:27

            There are millions of people out there who don’t have a soul who will listen to them. Who will you listen to today?

Going out with joy today looking for people who need a listening ear-


Friday, October 18, 2013

Who Knew?

Cathy and Mary Jane
at Barnes and Noble
Chattanooga, TN
              Who knew what kind of adventures we were in for as we entered the Chattanooga location into “Rosie the Road Warrior,” as my friend affectionately calls her GPS? Mary Jane and I had been invited to participate in a book signing for Pearls of Promise, a devotional which includes some of our work. It was our first ever book signing and we were elated. Never having done a book signing we weren’t sure what to expect in Chattanooga.

            We knew we would be meeting the editors/authors who compiled the book for use in their ministry to women, another lady or two who authored some of the included devotions, and some friends of the ministry. A supper meeting at The Boathouse Rotisserie near the Tennessee River would be our first face-to-face. Rosie did a fabulous job of getting us to our hotel. Sandra, another author, was staying at the same hotel, so we met her in the lobby and got acquainted as we rode to supper. It took Rosie and navigation help from two smart phones to get us there but we didn’t let that spoil our evening of good food and lively conversation.

            After lunch at Sticky Fingers the next day, the entourage moved to Barnes and Noble to take part in Celebration of Faith Day. We were greeted by Kelly, the store manager, who introduced us to the other authors being featured. He explained that Ginger Sanders had to cancel because her husband was in a serious accident. As one, our group and Kelly joined hands to pray for her husband and their family. Who knew you could pray right there in front of God and everybody at the main entrance to Barnes and Noble in Chattanooga, TN?

            It didn’t stop there. The first person to come to our table was Robert, a young man who decided he would buy our book for his wife, Rebecca, who was at home with their seventeen week old son. He told us his son’s story: Ethan was born nine weeks early with his intestines on the outside of his body. He has spent all but the last three weeks of his life in the hospital. Mary Jane asked if we could pray for Ethan and Robert eagerly agreed. Mary Jane, Sandra and I surrounded Robert and prayed for this precious child and his family.

            Again, it didn’t stop there. I looked up from signing a book and witnessed author Rita Carr and Karen Hauser of Pearls of Promise praying together for each other’s ministries with women. I couldn’t hear what they were saying, but I could sense the depth and sincerity of their prayers. This scene repeated itself over and over as we alternated signing books, mingling with the shoppers, and praying with hurting people.

            Who knew when we left North Carolina we would spend more time in ministry than signing books? God’s ways are not our ways. I am filled to the brim with thankfulness that everyone on the Pearls of Promise team proved to be flexible and open to God’s plan over their own.

Going out with joy today opting for God’s plan over my own-



Thursday, October 3, 2013

A Gem in my Path

Ruth Brown
Still Driving at 96 years old
I spent some time yesterday with a dear friend who is ninety-eight years old. Within the last six months she voluntarily moved to a nursing home, mainly motivated by fear. She doesn’t walk anywhere without her walker anymore, afraid of falling and breaking a hip. The home she’s occupied since she was two years old sits empty. Even before she moved, she wouldn’t stay there at night anymore because she was mortally afraid (her words) to stay by herself. She spent many a night in my guest room over the last four years.

I met Ruth Thompson Brown in the early ‘80s when she was the director for the combined choirs from Gilboa, Gilkey and Thermal City Methodist churches. She was spunky and knew what she wanted and wouldn’t settle for any less. She would have us take a piece of music, study the words for about two minutes and then she’d say, “Okay, put the words down by your side and sing.” And she meant it. She expected the best from us and didn’t want anything to impede the best performance we could produce. Pep talks included the fact that God had given us good minds and there was no reason not to use them. She stretched our thinking and our doing.

She taught seventh and eighth grades for 40+ years, using unconventional methods to  her students along. She’s told me success stories of nonreaders or slow readers she worked with, tailoring a program for each one based on their particular learning style. Most of those children went on to college or to jobs where they became productive citizens who supported their families. I think knowing she cared about them played a big part in their improvement.

Miss Ruth called me Tuesday afternoon and said, “I’m lonely, lonely, lonely. Will you come by when you can?” I had planned to stop by after Bible Study on Wednesday so I told her I’d see her about 2:30 the next day.  When I drove up she was sitting in a rocking chair on the porch of the facility.  I got out and asked if she’d like to go for a ride and get some ice cream. She was as thrilled as a small child would be when presented with that question. I signed her out and off we went like two teenagers on a lark, talking and laughing. It was a beautiful day for a ride.

When we returned and I signed her back in, she asked me if I wanted to know what advice she’d give young people. Of course, I did. “First,” she said, “always be right with the Lord. Always.” She continued with, “Do what you want to do while you’re young. You may get sick or not live to be old and you’ll miss out on a lot of life.” Sage advice, I’d say, from someone who has experienced a huge chunk of life.

Jesus came to give His children life and that more abundantly. Mrs. Ruth Thompson Brown may not have worldly wealth but she has stored up an abundance of riches in the people she has loved along the way. I count myself blessed to be one of those. Who are the gems God has placed in your path? I hope you’ll share them with my readers

Going out with joy today-

Jesus said. . .”I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”   John 10:10 ESV

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.     Matthew 6:19-20 ESV