Why I Hate "The Christmas Shoes"

>> Saturday, December 22

Why I Hate "The Christmas Shoes"

It's December, 2003. Christmas preparations are well underway and our shopping is going swimmingly. I'd picked out a luxurious, crimson, velvet jogging suit for my ailing mother. Perfect for lounging around in a cold, old farm house, not to mention the color will look great on her and it will bring pink to her wan cheeks. Mom is semi-bedridden, so the majority of her time is spent lounging. When she does get up and walk around (which she does faithfully as often as she can, or as often as my dad can talk her into it), she puts on her sturdy clodhoppers, takes firm hold of her walker, and makes a few laps around the house. I can just see her sporting that fabulous new suit (under her thick sweater), pushing on and persevering against the odds.

We aren't much of a phone-talking family, so when my sister Jeanette calls, we suspect troubles. (Jeanette seems to be the one who always calls with the bad news – and I love her for accepting this "calling" she's been gifted with.)

Jeanette tells me that mom's taken a bad turn, and if I can come home, I probably should.

Gasp.

I've been given this news once before after a scheduled surgery didn't have the expected results, so I convince myself it's another "false alarm." But I want to be there again, so I make immediate arrangements and arrive in Iowa in the middle of the night. My brother-in-law picks me up at the airport and at 3:30 am, I arrive at my mom's hospital bedside.

This is no false alarm.

I'd like to say I was holding her hand at the end, but, being the last to arrive, the only space left is a corner at her feet. My family has a chair waiting there for me. So I clutch a limp foot as I watch my mom's life ebb away and the monitors flatline. (Kudos to Iowa City Medical Center – they've muted the beep-beep-beep they know will inevitably whiiiiinnne when her body shuts down.)

The details of the arrangements are probably routine to anyone who has been through this ... except for one thing: choosing Mom's outfit for her burial. The dress isn't too hard to pick out (she didn't have many) and we find stockings without too many snags and some not-to-terribly-worn undergarments, but…. see… the thing is … she has no nice shoes. All we manage to round up are three pairs of those ugly clodhoppers that helped her to walk laps around the house. So we choose the "nicest" pair and add them to the bag for the funeral director. Yep, these are the shoes she'll be wearing when she meets Jesus.

But the thing is, after I accept it, I don't let that detail bother me. That was Mom after all. Those were her shoes. And she's not really wearing them. Those ugly shoes will shod only an empty tent. Mom is already dancing with Jesus while she sings (off key) with the angels. I'm good. I'm perfectly fine with it.

UNTIL….

I hear the most cruel and inhumane Christmas song ever recorded.

And I was broken.

"…Daddy says there's not much time, you see she's been sick for quite a while, and I know these shoes would make her smile. And I want her to look beautiful if Mama meets Jesus tonight."

" Mama made Christmas good at our house, Though most years she just did without. Tell me Sir, what am I going to do, somehow I've got to buy her these Christmas shoes."

Are you KIDDING me? Come on, just take a sledge hammer to my head. Better yet, why not a sharp knife to cut the heart right out of my chest?

And that's why I've gone so far as to get out of the shower, drip soapy water across my bathroom floor, and risk electrocution to change the radio station when this Christmas dirge comes on.

(endnote: I gifted my dear mother-in-law with the gorgeous velvet jogging suit, and a heartfelt explanation of its original recipient and why I wanted M-I-L to have it, even though I knew the arms and legs would need to be hemmed. (I inherited my mom's lanky legs and monkey arms.)

When I married her son, BJ became my "other mother", and I love her as her daughter. Since Mom #1 wouldn't need it, I hoped Mom #2 would accept the gift, along with all the love intended.)


Catrina Bradley
"God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes." Psalm 18:24 (Msg)

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I Wonder... If you...? Would you... ?

>> Sunday, December 2

I wonder…if the innkeeper had known that the pregnant woman desperately in need of a room for the night was about to deliver the Son of God…would he have given up his own quarters and made his bed with the livestock instead of apologizing that there was nowhere else for her to rest?

If you knew you were about to become the mother of God Come Down, Emmanuel, The Messiah, might you have spoken up and demanded better treatment?

I wonder…. did Joseph's face flush with anger at being turned away? Did doubt slither up and bite at his faith? Did he question God's angel-delivered promise ?

If you had been tasked the responsibility of raising God's only begotten son, trusted to be a father to a miracle, blessed with a prophetic message from God the Almighty, might you not declare your position and claim your rightly due?

The Bible gives no evidence of Joseph and Mary's reaction, nor their response, to being denied habitable lodging.


My guts tell me they didn't question God, nor did they didn't grumble or puff up. I think they humbly accepted what was kindly offered, and they praised God for the shelter of a stable, a makeshift cradle, and the warmth of hay and horse.

Oh, how they must have trusted Him!


Lord, that I would be as trusting as this young couple. That I would be as open to Your voice and as obedient to Your call. That I would so fully submit to Your will. This is my prayer. 
In Jesus' Name, Amen.


Catrina Bradley
"God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes." Psalm 18:24 (Msg)

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Guilt by Association

>> Tuesday, November 27


Many people (and I am a people too) tend to judge others by the company they keep. The Bible records some people referring to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as "a glutton and a winebibber".*

The Bible never gives evidence that He is one, though.

People knew the low-life crowd Jesus hung out with, who He ate, laughed, cried, and prayed with. They kept a close eye on Him. And, of course, some assumed He overindulged in the same vices as His friends.

Only those who took the time to actually listen to Him and get to know Him knew the difference.

Do you know Him?

Consider unwrapping the best Christmas gift ever this year, It is offered freely.



*Matthew 11:19; Luke 7:34

Many blessings,
Cat



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In the Throes of Nonsensical Hysteritude

>> Friday, November 9

IN THE THROES OF NONSENSICAL HYSTERITUDE

(A work of fiction by the mother of the bride-to-be)




May 19, 2013


My darling daughter,

You simply must forgive me.

Surely you of all people know I how treasured the anticipation that drove my adrenaline to levels dangerously high as the months, weeks and days leading to the moment you were to wed your life's love; your soul mate; your other half, crept along, snuck up, then suddenly, without warning, sprang upon me and caught me inexplicably unaware. Quite simply put: when the moment finally arrived, I was overcome.

That my inappropriate and unfortunately-timed breakdown betwixt the Pastor's pronouncement of holy matrimony and your blessed first kiss caused such disruption mortifies me to no end, but when the wailing ambulance sirens eclipsed the Pastor's oratory, and the flashing red lights strobed through the thrown open doors and illuminated your white bridal roses, I fainted dead away for your reputation's sake, thus causing even a greater stir.

I can never atone for preceding you down your own marriage aisle, albeit lying prone and unconscious upon a stretcher, but I pray you will allow me to proceed once again into your presence that I may enjoy the company of my beloved daughter and my new son.

Your ever loving and beseechingly humble,
Mother


Author's note to her darling daughter: No worries, my love. I don't truly foresee this happening. As long as I remember to take my medication.... mwahahahahahahaaha!!!

Catrina Bradley
"God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes." Psalm 18:24 (Msg)

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Temper, Temper!!

>> Sunday, November 4





Does your temper get the best of you sometimes? Yeah, me too. I'm talking about it today at Jewels of Encouragement. Come see what set me off this time, and what I did about it.

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"They Shall See God" - A Book Review

>> Tuesday, October 30

PhotobucketThey Shall See God

by Athol Dickson


Two best friends in the rosy-cheeked bloom of childhood skip through life sharing deep secrets, innocent dreams and little girl giggles until they are thrust head-long into a generations-old hatred they are too young to know exists. They are torn from each other's lives just when they need one another the most. When tragedy reunites them years later, the two women, now virtual strangers, discover the reason their parents tore them apart.

And now the opinions, beliefs, and biases that caused their parents' heart-wrenching decision have become their own.

Athol Dickson surprised me with They Shall See God. His previous novels, though set in the real world, have held a somehow “mystical” aura for me. However, in his newest novel, They Shall See God, what impacted me was reality of what I was reading. I had no idea that, in today's America – a nation founded on religious freedom -- some Christians have such intense prejudice against the Jewish nation, or that some Jews despise to the core the very thought of Christianity.

This novel is packed with action, suspense, and nail-biting angst. It's also full of truth--as viewed through a prism of tradition, religion, and culture. Despite the fact that I really didn't like either character, I kept rooting for both. I wanted them to see the truth the way I know it.

And that, I think, might be the point. All of us see God through prisms, or at the most, a dark glass.

They Shall See God is a must read in this day and age of our nation's rising fear of an “infidel” enemy attacking from without. The enemy we battle can strike from within our very hearts.

Available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Catrina Bradley
"God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes." Psalm 18:24 (The Message)


Diclaimer: I was provided with a free a Kindle download of They Shall See God in exchange for my honest review.

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Wait ... where was I going?

>> Wednesday, October 24

You may (or may not) have noticed by the barrenness of my blog that I've been in a long writing dry spell. For just as long, I've been asking God how I got here and how to get out of this desert. This week I had a revelation of sorts.

When God first revealed to me that He'd given me not only the gift of writing, but the desire to write, I eagerly followed where He led. And my writing flourished.

But a demon I thought had been vanquished snuck in the back door. His name? Mammon. And his his buddies Vanity and Jealousy were on his right and left.

At my fingertips were links to expert advice on all things faith, writing, and writing in faith. At first I read and studied the craft of writing, the nuts and bolts and how to's. And for a good time, I practiced and grew in knowledge and skill.

But at some point I was tempted away from the how-to-write links by the numerous and tantalizing how-to-publish articles. And, because of my newly realized potential, I saw a lot of shiny doors just begging me to push them open and walk through.

And I aimed at all of them.

See, I thought that's what I was supposed to do. Aren't writers are supposed to make a name for themselves? publish articles? find an agent? write a novel? That's what the world was telling me, and I listened.

What I lost track of was the original door God lead me to. The door He opened for me. He never told me to stop heading in that direction. He never told me to look at other doors and then force one open.

So I'm back at the beginning. I want to write only for God's glory, doing my best to step through the doors He opens for me instead of head-butting possibilities that that aren't meant for me.

"...let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be,
without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other,
or trying to be something we aren’t.
Romans 12:6 (The Message)

Following that instruction, my friends, is not going to be easy for me. But I'm going to try. I'm looking forward to seeing what's down this path. Prayers for focus and perseverance are appreciated.

Catrina Bradley
"God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes." Psalm 18:24 (Msg)

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How YOU can Win a New Kindle Fire HD

>> Wednesday, October 10



Confession:  I want one of the new Kindles.

I have the original Kindle. 
And a Kindle Fire. (It's my favorite luxury.)

But ever Kindle unveiled their new line of E-readers/tablets, 
I've been debating an upgrade. 

I don't need a new Kindle. 
I have two, and they're both fine.
It's totally unnecessary
.
But I want one.

And I've been trying to rationalize why getting a new one would be okay. 

Then I saw this contest. 
If I could win a Kindle Fire HD, 
my conundrum would be solved. 

And if I blog about the contest, I get five entries! 

And you get the same opportunity I do - 

WIN A KINDLE FIRE HD!

I love sharing the love. <3

Click below for full contest rules and details. 
Happy reading!

Love,
Cat








Catrina Bradley
"God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes." Psalm 18:24 (Msg)

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Dogs on an Elevator

>> Thursday, October 4



Confession: I love my dogs. I never know what to expect next.

They entertain me, make me laugh, and give me a new perspective on life. Come read what these crazy dogs did this time Jewels of Encouragement.

Blessings!
Cat






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Invitation (Fiction for Friday)

>> Friday, August 24

When tasked with writing a story for the topic "Banquet", I could think of no other feast than the Wedding Banquet of the Lamb. And I tried, believe me. It was my first thought, and it was accompanied by a favorite Bible School song from my childhood titled (what else?) The Wedding Banquet (aka I Cannot Come). Along with the persistent earworm, my Bible reading happened to take me through the Scriptures about the Wedding. The persistent earworm split, broke into beautiful harmony, and started broadcasting in stereo.

All this time, I was eking out a story. It was a pretty good idea, but then I came to a wall. I brainstormed with a buddy, and instead of no direction, I now had three. And I tried following each of them, but nothing seemed right. I'm tenacious, though, and was DETERMINED to finish SOMETHING and enter the "Banquet" writing challenge.


It was when I cried out to God the night before the 10am deadline, and told Him I only wanted to write what He wanted, but I was stuck and I couldn't go on unless He was in it. Then I sat, and was still before the Lord for a time (not easy for me). But my wandering mind took me to "What would a person wear to the Wedding Banquet, anyway?"


Why, "The Cloak of Righteousness" of course. And what does that look like? Then I saw the most beautiful thing unfold in my mind's eye. I hope I did justice to the vision God gave me, and that you are blessed.



INVITATION


Although she was very aware of his reputation, Lydia had never actually met him. That she would be asked to dine with him? The thought had never crossed her mind. But he issued the invitation himself--in person. And Lydia giddily accepted.

"I'll be hosting a banquet soon," he'd said, "and it would bring me great pleasure if you would be my guest. I have a place at my table reserved for you." His chocolaty eyes had melted her insides, and she was assured of his sincerity.

When she'd said yes, joy lit up his face, and he drew a folded garment from his coat. "My gift to you," he'd said, and let the small bundle unfurl to the ground in a shimmering cloud of pure white. "I pray you'll wear it to the banquet." He'd slipped the cloak over Lydia's shoulders, and she'd felt lighter, as if the weightless cloth was lifting her. She'd looked into his face and was ready to follow him anywhere.

"Soon," he said, "I'll be back to collect you. I can't say exactly when, but I hope you'll wait."

In the decades since his visit, Lydia had fallen about as far as a person could fall. Her descent from the suburbs to the streets was slow but steady, and now the only thing that remained of that giddy young lady with fanciful hopes and naive beliefs was her precious gift from him.

She ran her hand over the now dingy and stained cloak, its shimmer worn dull from years of serving as her backpack and grocery sack. It had kept her warm on many cold nights and cushioned her head on warm ones. She had misused it, but always appreciated its usefulness.

She didn't need a mirror to know her reflection would show the same ravages of time and trial, but Lydia had stopped worrying about the wrinkles, stains, and wear on both of them long ago; she was pretty sure homeless ex-prostitutes weren't welcome at his table.

Now, lo and behold, here he stood again. Even in the shadowy, dark space behind the dumpster she'd chosen as her shelter, she could see that his eyes hadn't changed. She started having that nice, melty feeling and looked away, embarrassed.

"Come, Lydia," he said, and held out his hand. "It's time for the banquet."

Lydia's tongue felt stuck in her throat. "But Sir, surely you don't still want me to...?"

"But surely I do! Your place at the table is ready and waiting. Come," he said, and he smiled.

"Your other guests, Sir. What will they say? I'm...?"

"Lydia, you are the guest I'm concerned about."

"Oh, but the cloak, Sir. I've ruined it. I'm so sorry. How can I...?"

"Ruined, is it? Rise, my good woman. Come out into the light. Let us see." He took Lydia's hand and pulled her to her feet, letting the cloak fall to makeshift cardboard pallet.

"Sir, I'm so ashamed. It's more than the cloak that I've ruined. I cannot come. I'm no longer worthy." Lydia could only look as high as his feet.

"Yes. You are." He picked up the cloak and led Lydia to the puddle of light from a street lamp. Shaking out the cloak, he said, "And look, your cloak isn't ruined either."

Lydia gasped to see the cloth radiating with diaphanous beauty once again. He wrapped the cloak around her shoulders and lifted her chin. She finally looked full in his face. No, he hadn't changed at all.

"Come," he said, "and take your rightful place at my table. The banquet can't begin without you."


**

© 2012

Catrina Bradley
"God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes." Psalm 18:24 (The Message)

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Friday Fiction: In a Pinch

>> Friday, August 3


Sara is our host for Friday Fiction today - you'll find links to some awesome (quick) reading on her Fiction Fusion blog.





After a long dry spell, I entered the FaithWriters writing challenge again! Yay!! My fun story for the "Potluck" topic didn't score well with the judges, but the readers loved it. I hope you enjoy it as well.


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In a Pinch

Candy's phone call threw Maggie into a tizzy, but she managed not to drive off the highway and to cover her consternation with aplomb. "Sure, Candy, of course I remember the potluck tonight." Maggie swallowed. "Yes, Josh and I will be there with bells on."

Maggie did remember. It was written in her datebook – for next week. A glance at the dashboard clock told her she'd better speed up a little.

Kicking off her heels as she bolted in the door, Maggie flung her keys in the general direction of the hall table. She flew to the kitchen, threw open a cabinet door and frantically shoved cans of carrots and corn out of the way. She spied her prize and plucked two cans of BeeBee's Baked Beans from the back of the shelf.

Thank you Mama K. for your side dish sermons.

The elder Kleinsdorf women, from generations before Maggie's mother-in-law, have preached the same lesson to the young women who marry their sons. “Always be prepared in a pinch.”

Maggie's signature “pinch dish” was her own Grandma's barbeque beans. ­Although I don't think canned beans was the type of thing Mama K had in mind when she admonished her daughters-in-law.

Maggie smiled, thinking of how folks back home had always crooned over Grandma's beans and clamored for the recipe. But this wasn't Foster's Hollow, and these weren't her folks. And beans didn't sound all that special anymore. What do church ladies bring to potlucks in the city?

Knowing she was fresh out of caviar and lobster, Maggie scanned her selection of canned goods and frozen foods, checked her watch, and, taking into consideration her limited options and the ticking clock, made the only logical choice.

Despite the recipe's name, Maggie had never made Company Carrots for anyone other than Josh. Her quick-dinner canned version cut the cooking time from 35 minutes to five. She prayed it would still be appropriate for company.

Maggie hoped she and Josh could saunter in nonchalantly and she could make a break for the kitchen. Her plan was foiled when a flurry flew at her as soon as they cleared the social hall doorway.

"Maggie!” Candy squealed. “And Josh, so glad you could come. Randy's over there talking football with the guys; he'd love a fellow Tech fan to back up his trash talk. Maggie, do you need the microwave? What did you bring? Please don't say beans. I love beans but we are overrun with them tonight. But if you did, it's ok.” Candy snagged the dish from Maggie's hands. “Come on, let's go to the kitchen.”

Maggie sent a pitiful look Josh's way, but he just smiled and gave her a thumbs-up as he made his way to the gaggle of men. She had no choice but to follow in Candy's weaving wake through the islands of people.

“I'm sorry,” Candy threw over her shoulder, “I didn't give you a chance to answer. I'm bad about that. Do you need to use the microwave?”

“Yes, please,” Maggie blurted out before she lost her nerve. They breezed past the buffet on the way to the kitchen, and she saw that Candy hadn't been exaggerating. Beans of all shapes, sizes, and flavors populated the long row of folding tables. In addition to five varieties of baked beans she saw three-bean salads, chickpea salads, Lima beans, butter beans, black beans, red beans and rice, succotash, and several obligatory green bean casseroles.

“So,” Candy said, bursting through the kitchen door ahead of her, “whatcha got?”

Maggie was stunned at the bustle of women, plus a few men, stirring tea, scooping ice, wrapping silverware, and otherwise making last minute preparations. They look kinda like me—harried and hurried. But they don't look panicked. They're...laughing.

“Maggie? The microwave's over here. What did you bring?”

“Oh, uh, carrots. It's not much really, but it's one of our favorite dishes.”

Candy was actually silent for a few seconds before she squealed and said, “Carrots? Oh bless you! Like I said, beans are good, but a person's digestive system can only take so much. Not to mention the ventilation system. Emma! Are those your famous baked beans you're about to nuke? Yum! But we've already got some on the table--can we save yours? Maggie brought carrots!”



(c) 2012

_______________

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Friday Fiction: To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

>> Saturday, July 14



Friday Fiction today is morphing into Saturday Stories this week. Hey, it's summer. You understand, right? Sara is our host - you'll find links to some awesome (quick) reading on her Fiction Fusion blog.




Hello friends! It's been a dreamy spring day in Georgia. Yes, it's hot, but not too hot to enjoy the great outdoors, a.k.a., my back yard. Yes, it's been a Happy Friday!



Have you ever wished you could record your dreams? So did Georgia, but unlike you and me, she could do something about it. Intrigued? Read on....


_______________

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

Georgia turned off the bedside light and curled onto left her side, snugging the rough blanket up under her chin. She doubled the thin pillow under her head and tucked her hands under her cheek. As sleep crept up on her, her right index finger curled around her ear and pressed the button under her skin. A green light glowed on the wireless monitor beside her bed, and Somniare started downloading.

Somniare was Georgia’s brainchild. She was its first test subject, and she allowed no one else access to the data dumps retrieved each morning. Her falling-asleep thoughts and her dreams were too private to share unedited. Her colleagues watched her through the two-way mirror and listened to her night noises on the audio, but they didn’t have clearance to access the Somniare files. Some of the videos were disturbing and confused Georgia herself; she couldn’t imagine how someone else might react were they to see the product of her subconscious.

At first glance, the pre-REM text files read like pages of stream-of-conscience run-on paragraphs of gibberish. But when Georgia ran a key-word indexing program on the text, patterns began to emerge. When she compared her findings to the dream videos and audio tracks from the REM sleep stages that followed, a direct correlation between the two became evident.

Why this so-called discovery should excite her, she didn’t know. Anyone with half a brain could have deduced those results without years of research and sleepless nights and praying for the grant to be renewed – again. Maybe knowing something was one thing, but PROVING it was another thing entirely. Maybe it was the first step toward her ultimate, but unspoken, dream.

If her colleagues knew what really motivated her to make this dive into uncharted waters and surface with the prize, they probably wouldn’t be such loyal mates. In all likelihood, they’d petition the university for her transfer to the psych department—as a patient.

Everyone is curious about their dreams. Everyone forgets most of their dreams. Who wouldn’t want to be able to watch a video of what happened in their head for the eight hours they were unconscious? And that brilliant idea that floated underneath the fog of almost-asleep? The one that jolted you awake and you swore to remember the next day? Who wouldn’t want to be able to click on an icon and retrieve a transcript of your pre-sleep revelations the next morning?

Grants for her project didn’t fall into her lap, but perseverance paid off. Up until now, Georgia was able to keep Somniare funded long enough to complete the research and develop a prototype. The university agreed to let her use one the sleep labs, and tonight was her fifth (and final, if her grant wasn’t renewed) date with Somniare.

Georgia was sure sleep would be long coming, but she hadn’t wanted to skew the data by introducing drugs into her system tonight. Dwelling on Somniare was probably influencing her dreams, too, and the knowledge that these very thoughts were being recorded never fully faded.

She rolled onto her right side, plumped her pillow, and did her best to empty her mind and paint a dark, blank canvas over her mind’s eye.

What Georgia truly feared was scaring him away. The man who came to her while she slept and left her with just a vague idea of what he looked like. He’d been a reoccurring character in her dreams since she was in a babe in bloomers, but while Georgia grew into a doctor’s lab coat, her Dream Man neither aged nor changed.

She’d failed to dream of him the four previous downloads. Tonight might be her last chance.

On the wavery black screen behind her eyes, she projected her blurry image of her Dream Man. The last thing she remembered before sleep overtook her was his face coming into focus as reached for her.



(c) 2012

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Truly Free!

>> Wednesday, July 4





Happy 4th of July to my American friends!

What does "FREEDOM" mean to you?
I'm at Jewels of Encouragement today
sharing about true freedom -
come have a read!

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Red Rockets and Bursting Bombs

>> Monday, May 28

Happy Memorial Day!!

I am an unabashed patriot - I have been since I was a child. I love my country, and am SO grateful that God chose America to be my birthplace. I'm also grateful for the men and women - some barely adults - who choose to serve in the military to protect freedom where it exists, and to bring freedom to those in bondage - who choose others over self. May we never forget about them or take their sacrifices for granted.

I wrote the following essay after a Fourth of July celebration, but I wanted to share it on this Memorial Day, a day set aside to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country - they laid down their lives.

Blessings,
Cat


_______________



Red Rockets and Bursting Bombs


Blankets and chairs line the grass, and my fanny is firmly perched on my chosen roost. I anticipate the first phsssstttt…..BAAAANNNGG, knowing it will be followed by an explosion of blinding white, red and green lighting up the night sky.

For the next 30 minutes, I’m glued to the show of dancing, falling, and fading showers of glory accompanied by booms that can stop my heart and make it pound at the same time.

Ah, fireworks!

Here on the safe soil of the the Land of the Free, the glare of red rockets and the bursting of bombs in air are cause for joy and cheers, not to mention the requisite oooh’s and aahhh’s. But amidst the excitement, I sometimes take my freedom for granted, forgetting that, while we have a party, a war rages on the other side of the ocean. Explosions and light shows carry an entirely different meaning for my brothers and sisters in uniform “over there”.

This week, my hometown commemorated its 146th annual Fourth of July extravaganza. A parade, cookouts and carnival rides were topped off with the yearly fireworks display. I traversed many miles and many years to spend a week with family and friends and to celebrate the holiday the old fashioned, small town way.

I watched the closing fireworks show this year with my best friend Cheryl and our growing families. We missed our children who couldn’t make it, and we loved on our children present. We doted on grandchildren and nieces and nephews, remembering what it was like to be a kid on the Fourth and feeling like kids again ourselves. The celebration took a sobering turn for me when Cheryl asked her son if he was doing okay with the explosions.

The following is an actual (edited) transcript of a conversation during the fireworks this Fourth of July, courtesy of my smart phone (which not only recorded stunning video, but also captured the audio in stupendous detail):

Child: “I know what these are. They’re artillery shells! There’s these, um, big ones you can buy? They’re really cool.”

Cheryl: “Artillery shells….”

Child: “Yeah. They’re great!”

Cheryl: “Blake, how ya doin over there? Does it make you a little jumpy, or are you over that now? Since you’ve been back?”

Blake: “You never hear the boom. If you hear the boom you know you’re okay.”

Child: “What did he mean by that?”

Cheryl: “He was in Iraq. He was blown up 11 times by the time he was 25.

Child: “Blown up?! What does that mean?

Cheryl: “He was in a car…or a vehicle… and was blown up by … a bomb. When he was at war .. at war in Iraq.”

Child: “Wouldn’t he have died?”

Cheryl: “No, cuz you’re in armored cars. But it doesn’t tickle. There’s no doubt he’s got some BRAIN issues. Heh heh heh.”

Blake: “They only put me on a bird for one of them anyway, and that was the concussion.”

Cheryl: “Blake, just because you wouldn’t tell them your brain hurts and it rattles doesn’t.. that means nothing. I know you can talk your way out of anything. You always have; you always will”

Blake: “Mom, I’m fine. There’s nothing wrong with me.”

Cheryl: “Yeah, nothing you’d fess up to.”


In America, when we celebrate the Fourth of July we are celebrating our freedom.

When the Color Guard leads the parade, marching proudly down the paved streets of hometown America, and the citizens lining the lawns and sidewalks rise to their feet, the men remove their farmer caps, and tears form in the eyes of veterans, widows, and waiting mothers, we are praying for a loyal band of soldiers across a wide ocean marching in sand to defend the downtrodden and defenseless.

O beautiful for glory-tale
Of liberating strife
When once and twice,
for man’s avail
Men lavished precious life!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till selfish gain no longer stain
The banner of the free!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till nobler men keep once again
Thy whiter jubilee!
*

From “America the Beautiful”, Words by Katharine Lee Bates, Melody by Samuel Ward


God, bless the USA. Amen.




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All that Pertains to Life

>> Thursday, May 10

Today, I'll be digging my toes into the sand and listening to the surf, But I hope you'll join me in welcoming Cynthia Simmons as my guest seed-scatterer while I refresh and refill at the beach. 

One of the best parts of planting is watching in fascination as God causes those seeds to grow into something fragrant and graceful. My own yard is in full bloom right now - I don't have any orchids, but the gardenias are HEAVENLY!
Cat


ORCHIDS

I love the springtime. Outdoor shrubs splash color everywhere, but best of all, my orchids bloom. Many people roll their eyes when I mention my orchids, but I chose the easy kinds. I started growing them when I launched into homeschooling. My curriculum suggested sprouting seeds or growing various plants for teaching. So, I researched what would survive indoors. Several varieties could live in the sunlight in my home, and I fell in love with them.

My favorite is the Cattleya, the classical orchid with a huge lip. The plant itself doesn’t excite me. It has a slender bulb with several leaves. The blooms, however, make me euphoric.

As I work around the house, I get to watch them unfurl. I’m always amazed how God packages all those frills into a bud. Several types fill the room with a delicate fragrance once they open. Other strains have a shimmery texture. Fascinating!

When I gaze at a flowering orchid, I ponder my creator. How lovely he must be. It reminds me of John 1:16 “From his (Jesus’s) fullness we have received grace upon grace.”

Fullness means profusion or riches. He came to earth to die for us so he could pour out that abundance and lavish his grace on us.

Grace means granting favor, or giving something that delights us.

And he didn’t parcel out a tiny bit. Instead, that verse said he piled delight on top of delight. He offers us forgiveness and calls us his children. Here on earth he “…has given us all that pertains to life and godliness…” (2 Peter 1: 4) Believers have an inheritance that won’t ever fade. Wow!

When I look at an orchid, I know heaven’s going to be incredible. I love God who created orchids. He is truly beautiful to give so much.


Cynthia L Simmons and her husband, Ray, have five children and reside in Atlanta. She has taught for over twenty years as a homeschool mother and Bible teacher. Active in Christian Authors Guild (CAG), she conducts writing workshops and has served as president, vice president, and conference director. In December 2009 the membership granted her Life Time Membership for her numerous contributions to writers. “Cindy” is fond of history and writes both historical fiction and nonfiction. Her writing appeared in CAG publications, NATHHAN NEWS, Chattanooga Regional Historical Magazine, Georgia Right to Life Newsletter, Chattanooga Times Free Press, Catholic Exchange, and Christian Devotions.us. Her first book, Struggles and Triumphs, came out in 2008. While promoting her book, she had interviews on radio and TV across the nation and was nominated for 2008 Georgia Author of the year. She also conducts monthly podcasts called CAG Spotlight in which she interviews authors and VIPs in the writing industry. At present she is completing a twelve week Bible study using the stories in Struggles and Triumphs.


Thank you Cynthia!!!!
 Friends and followers, you can purchase Struggles and Triumphs
at Hulu.com







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Book Review: No Escape from Berlin

>> Friday, April 27



No Escape from Berlin is an extraordinary work of fiction. Although the “main event” is World War II, it isn't a war story, and while love is definitely in the air, it's not a romance either. So what it it? Well, it's “Based on a true story, if you're asking A.”

'A' is Alex, the hero of Rudi London's original and engaging novel. We are plunged into Alex's life at 7 years of age, as he races through the woods, searching frantically for a person yelling, “Help!” The strange man he rescues from a raging river teaches him the true measure of 100%, and he becomes either the catalyst or foreseer of Alex's future life.

Mr. London swept me off my feet and into the story, and by the end of chapter one, I knew this would be another unique combination of wry humor and understated but evident passion that reflects the heart and soul of it's author.

I was right.
Two thumbs up.


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Word Filled Wednesday: Hannah's Prayer

>> Thursday, April 26




Hannah's prayer for a child makes me weep.

Tears of empathy. Of sorrow. Of humility. Of weakness.

Tears of joy.




So many babies are conceived but not wanted.So many children are discarded, neglected, unloved. Abandoned.

Hannah would have taken them all, so great was her desire for a child.

Some find returning a portion of their gifts to the Lord to be a hardship; Hannah knew it to be a blessing, so she pledged it all.

"Give me a son, and I'll give him back to you," Hannah prayed.

The Lord answered her prayer, and in turn she fulfilled her vow to Him.

I can't even imagine having Hannah's faith, but I can pray for it.

Once when they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh, Hannah stood up. Now Eli the priest was sitting on a chair by the doorpost of the Lord’s temple. In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the Lord. And she made a vow, saying, “O Lord Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.”
1 Samuel 1:9-12



You'll find more visually-inspired Scripture at The Internet Cafe. Come on over! Sit down, kick back, and take a break with us.


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Friday Fiction: Play Me that Tiger Rag

>> Friday, April 20





In recognition of National Poetry Month, I'm back with another poem!! I wrote this for the "Orange" challenge at FaithWriters.com, and while it is fiction, it's based on my husbands very real passions for his favorite color and his favorite team. Enjoy!




PLAY ME THAT TIGER RAG

"The game you're attending
Depends on one hue;
Wear it; proclaim it,
At all costs to you.

"Do not don a t-shirt
Of red or of black!
You must wear the Orange
Or risk an attack.

"The Tigers of Clemson
Are king of this day;
The orange and purple -
They WILL have their way!"

I scoured my closet;
A tiger I sought;
The closest to orange --
A pale apricot.

(I did this because it's
My husband's one passion.
I rarely buy orange, see
It's not quite my fashion.)

I put on the t-shirt
And strode to the kitchen;
Where hubby awaited
Just itchin' to pitch in.

Although I'd been told,
and my brain is not lame,
I listened with poise
As he said it again:

"The snacks and the drinks,
Hon, they cannot be scorned;
Be clever; inventive!
Pumpkin pie! Candy corn!

"Is it orange? Then yes,
It will be most accepted.
Bring Cheetoes, Doritos.
Faux pas? Soon detected."

Do I need reminding
Of consequence grim,
If I make a fool of
Big tiger fan him?

On this, my first trip
To his old college haunts,
He can't be subjected
To his buddy's taunts.

We can't take my car,
See, it's bright cherry-red,
So we pack up his pick-up,
It's full steam ahead.

Stuck to his truck with
Mechanical claws
Are flags of bright orange
Decked out with white paws.

We pull in the lot
To a welcome of cheers;
His friends are all jumping
And waving their beers

Hubby hops out and
Heads straight for our ice chest
While I contemplate
If I failed my first test.

I open my door and
Step out on the dirt,
Straighten my shoulders
And smooth out my shirt.

One look at his face
When he pulls from the ice
A bright can of soda
Says this won't be nice.

"Um, honey, is this
What you brought us to drink?
What were you thinking?
Did you even think?

"This is football, a tailgate!
Have you lost your mind?
I knew that I should have
Just left you behind."

I take a deep breath
And I say, "But my dear,
You gave me instructions;
You made them quite clear.

"I see that you're mad,
But I know you're no lush.
You said just one hue
So I brought Orange Crush."


(c) 2010


Be sure to visit Sara at Fiction Fusion for more Friday Fiction!

Catrina Bradley
"God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes." Psalm 18:24 (Msg)

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Friday Fiction: "Scurvy Sue and the Quest for Abundant Treasure"

>> Friday, March 23



Ahoy, Mateys! It's a glorious day in Georgia. Creation is springing to life in full technicolor, and the pollen count is down. Yes, it's a Happy Friday!

Rick is hosting Friday Fiction today at Pod Tales and Ponderings.
He's got the linky-thingy on his blog. Come on over!


This family-friendly, pirate adventure bubbled out of my imagination while brainstorming and outlining possible creative directions and Biblical lessons for my church's upcoming, original VBS (Vacation Bible School.) We're stepping out of the box this summer - the box of curriculum and the box of expectation, and creating something new. Thanks, Blake, for the inspiration.


_______________


Scurvy Sue and the Quest for Abundant Treasure

Scurvy Sue scurried up the gangplank clutching her leather satchel to her bosom. "Pete! Joe-Joe!" Her boot-falls echoed through the Merry Marauder as she ran pell-mell across the scarred wooden deck.

A burly man crashed through the door from the hold, sword drawn and eyes on fire. "What scallywags be on yer tail, me girl? I'll take their sorry heads off."

"Ye like t'take me own head off, ye oaf. Watch where ye be swingin' that saber. Ye surely be dubbed correctly, Perilous Pete."

Sue started at a barking laugh. She peered around Pete's massive bulk to see Joe-Joe hitching up his britches.

"There ye be Jolly Joe. Not everythin's a laughin' matter."

"We all be carryin' monikers t'fit us, Scurvy Sue." Joe-Joe sniffed the air and chuckled. "Now, what be causin' this ruckus if yer not bein' hounded by no-good landlubbers?"

"Treasure," Sue whispered, eyes darting left and right. She leaned closer, patting her worn satchel. "I found a map."

"Shiver me timbers!" Pete roared. "Up anchor, hoist the sails. Let's be heavin' ho!"

"Quiet yer trap," Sue hissed. "We got some decodin' t'do first."

Safely behind closed doors, Sue laid her satchel on the wobbling table. "I might o'been misleadin' ye a wee bit. 'Tis not a picture map. More like a word map. But I snatched the decodin' book, too."

Pete's eyes flared, but Joe-Joe stopped him with a smirk.

Sue pulled a yellowed page from her bag. "This be the map. See that at the top? The Road to Abundant Treasure."

Pete scowled. "Don't be lookin' like no road t'me. It' be lookin' like a lot o'words. An' we don't travel by road, we sail the seas. What be the meanin' o'these letters an' numbers?"

"Secret code. But look here." Sue drew a thick, leather-bound book from her satchel.

Joe-Joe's eyes widened. "Holy Bible. That missionary ship we looted had some o'em. Where'd ye pilfer this?"

"Big fancy church. Thought t'find some doubloons lyin' 'round."

"Looky here, twas written by the late King himself. Thar's his moniker on the cover." A giggle burbled from Joe-Joe's throat. "Kings surely know where treasure's hidden, arrr?"

"Arrr, Joe-Joe. Me thoughts ezactly. That be why I took it. The map was inside." Sue crossed her arms and stood her full 5'2". "So let's be crackin' the code."

The three sat and put their dirty heads together over the documents.

"Gadzooks, Sue. Can ye back off a bit? Yer stench be stingin' me nostrils." Pete rubbed his nose. "Here, ye take the book, an' Joe-Joe the map. I'll do the thinkin'."

Sue snorted, but chose not to mention he never learned to read. "Right then. Joe-Joe, what be the first clue?"

"Romans 3 23. They all be startin' with Romans."

Sue gasped. "Blimey! This frontish page holds a list o'names an' suches. One o'em be Romans. There be a number aside o'it, but it don't match that'n. I think it be a page number." She flipped through the thick book and found the right place. "Arrrr, there be numbers all through this writin'. I think I cracked the code! What be the rest o'that clue?"

"3 an' 23."

Sue bent closer, scanning the lines with her finger. "Aha! 'For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.'"

Pete smacked the table. "Arrrr. We be pirates. 'Course we be sinnin'."

"But it said "ALL have sinned." Joe-Joe's puzzled face didn't erase his steady smile. "That'd include priests an' the good king hisself. Let's gander at the next one. Romans 5 an' 8"

Sue searched the pages, and found the right place.

"But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.' Well, that don't be makin' much sense."

Pete scowled. "I be thinkin' we ain't close t'no treasure yet."

On and on they deciphered clues. With each code, Sue's eyes grew softer, her face brighter, and her smile wider.

"Scurvy Sue, ye be grinnin' like Jolly Joe. If ye've figured where 'bouts t'set our compass, attest an' let's heave off. Thar be treasure awaitin'!"

"Me thinks I was mistaken."

Pete sprang up, sending his chair crashing over. "Arrrr! Ya mean t'say thar's no treasure?"

"Oh, thar be treasure alrighty. But it's not out thar. The treasure's in here." She thumped her fist against her chest.

Joe-Joe nodded. "Ye might be right, me curvy wench. Back t'the church?"

"Aye. Back t'the church. T'find someone t'explain this abundant treasure we've discovered."
(c) 2012

ba1969

_______________




Catrina Bradley

"God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes." Psalm 18:24 (Msg)

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Friday Fiction: The Video

>> Friday, March 16



Hello friends, and happy Friday! The adorable and talented Sara Harricharan is hosting Friday Fiction today at her blog Fiction Fusion. Pop on over and see what she's got up her sleeve today!




_______________

THE VIDEO

The young soldier was ready. Just one more thing to do.

He tilted his laptop so the webcam centered his face on the screen. The worry lines and sad eyes had to go, so he took a breath and composed a smile. One more quick adjustment to his uniform, and he started recording.

***

“Hi Dylan. I hope that’s what your mom ended up naming you, cuz that’s the name we had picked out when I had to tell you goodbye, and that’s who you’ll always be to me.

I wish I could’ve stayed around to find out if you ended up bein’ a girl Dylan or a boy Dylan, but that don’t really matter.

What matters is that you know who I am.

I’m your dad, Dylan, and you’re my kid.

I hate that I’m gonna miss your birthday, an’ that’s why I’m makin’ this. Since I can’t be there in person, I figured this was the next best thing.

So happy birthday, kiddo.


If you’re a girl I'd have thrown you the best party and danced you around the room, laughin at the ribbons bouncin in your hair. I’d plant a kiss on your forehead and wish you happy birthday under a spotlight.

If you’re a boy, I’d have taken you to the ballgame and we’d pig out on hotdogs and peanuts and drink too much Coke. An’ I’d have them spell out “Happy Birthday, Dylan” on the big screen.

Since I can’t do those things, I want you to at least be able to see me an' hear me tell you. I promise I’m thinkin’ ‘bout you right now, whether I'm still fightin' this war somewhere, or I'm in Heaven with Jesus.

I wanna tell you why I had to go, an’ I hope you understand.

See, Dylan, sometimes a person’s got to make a choice. You gotta choose what’s most important for everyone, and you gotta trust that God’ll see you through.

To me, fightin’ to keep our country free is really important.

Fightin’ to keep other people free is just as important.

We got it good here, kiddo. At least we do now. I joined the service to help make sure it stays that way for you. An’ I know that over there there’s a daddy who loves his kids too.

If it means layin’ down my life to save someone else’s...well, I wouldn’t be the first one to do it. I figure yer mom’s raisin’ you to know the Lord, so that’s all I’ll say about that.

Dylan, I love you so much it hurts, even though I've never met you. It’s a good hurt, though. A love hurt.

If you’re a girl, I know you’ll feel that kind of hurt someday. And if you are a boy, I hope you do. I really hope you do, son.

I love you, Dylan. Happy birthday.”

***

The Soldier pressed STOP and wiped the back of his hand across his eyes. After logging onto his web mail, he composed a last love letter to his wife.

***

“My Sweet Dumplin,

You know I hope with all my heart that I’ll be back home with you for good in two years. I’ll be praying for that as long as I’m gone, and I know you will too.

But you also know there’s a chance I won’t come back.

This war won’t be over anytime soon, no matter what the media says. There’s real fighting still going on, and people are still dying.

I made a video, just in case I don’t make it home. It’s for Dylan. I want you to play it for him or her on the day he or she gets here, so my voice will be one of the first ones the kiddo hears. I probably won't be there for birthday number two, so play it for the kiddo then. And on every birthday after that if I’m not there for whatever reason.

I don’t want Dylan to grow up not knowing me.

I love you my Sweet Apple Dumplin. And I’ll never stop. I hope to see you real soon.”

***

He attached the video and scheduled delivery for six months from today. After another swipe at his eyes, the young soldier shut down his computer, and stood to go.

The transport was waiting.

(c) 2011

_______________

Catrina Bradley

"God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes." Psalm 18:24 (Msg)

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Cleaning up in a Blood Bath - Word Filled Wednesday

>> Wednesday, March 14



I might be making an assumption, but when you think of blood, you probably don't think of clean. It's illogical, right? Blood, especially in the age of AIDS and other raging blood-borne diseases, is something to be handled with care, or avoided at risk to your health and life. But since when are God or His ways logical to mankind? Since never.

When Jesus told His followers in John 6:54 "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day", they grumbled that this teaching was too hard, they were offended, and many turned back and followed Him no more. (It does sound creepy, doesn't it?)

And in addition to eating his flesh and drinking His blood, we are to bathe in his blood. And THAT will make us clean. Yep. Sounds pretty illogical. But God says, "My ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:9)

That's where faith comes in. Faith that, even when I don't understand, I can trust God.

Be blessed,
Cat


Visit the Internet Cafe,
home of Word Filled Wednesday,
for more visual scripture,
and a daily dose of inspiration!




Catrina Bradley
"God rewrote the text of my life when I open the book of my heart to his eyes." Psalm 18:24 (Msg)

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Taking the High Road

>> Monday, March 12

I'm honored and blessed to welcome a special guest to Scattered Seeds today! Fay Lamb, author of the romantic suspense novel Because of Me, invites us to go on a very interesting walk with her. So lace up your hiking boots and grab your water bottle, and let's set out!




The High-Ways of God


"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways
My ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are My ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."
Isaiah 55:8-9

I love my walks around North Carolina's Lake Junaluska. As I stroll alongside the rose garden or hike the secluded trail, I spend time with the Lord, contemplating his path for me.

The prophet Isaiah wrote about the "high ways" of God, and I've wondered what those ways mean to me as I trod the paths God has for me. If God named his "high ways" what would they be?

Satisfaction Boulevard: Worldly satisfaction is often found in things we buy or produce, but God calls us to satisfaction in Him. "Ho, everyone one that thirsteth come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy and eat; yea come buy wine without food and price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? And your labor for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness." (Isaiah 55:1-2) When I am dissatisfied, I'm telling God what He has provided isn't enough. When walking Satisfaction Boulevard, I see that everything He has given me is more than enough.

Security Circle: While my trek around the lake is a short one, I have to watch carefully for individuals who may intend me harm. So it is with my life. I must watch for everyone and everything that will pull me away from my journey with God. Isaiah 55:3 says, "Incline your ear, and come unto me, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David." When we walk with God, we are safe—-He is an everlasting harbor.

The intersection of Surrender Trail and Salvation Lane: God's mercies are immeasurable. He met me where I was so I could continue a journey free from the burdening sin I once carried. God handed that burden to His son. "Behold I have given Him [Jesus] for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people. Seek ye the LORD while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near." (Isaiah 55:4, 6) Because Jesus sacrificed for me, I can approach God's throne and ask Him to walk with me in the cool of the day.

Sanctity Court: In the North Carolina mountains, the picturesque setting changes from moment to moment, making it easy to understand that with God, each day is a new beginning. No matter what I've done, God is faithful to forgive me if I ask. Isaiah 55:7 declares, "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto the LORD, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon." God calls me to bring my sins before him. Each confession draws me closer to Him, the walk a more enjoyable one, as I move toward the future in God's abundant forgiveness.

Sharing Way: When I walk, I carry a camera to record the beauty of the lake, the plants, and the wildlife. I marvel that God spoke it all into existence. Isaiah 55:10-11 says, "For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall My word be that goeth forth out of My mouth: it shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it." God's Word is powerful, a gift for the ages—a gift that God says will accomplish its purpose of announcing salvation to mankind—the Creator's message to His creation.

Singing Street: Following God's paths leads to joy. "For we shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you in singing and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the Lord for a name for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off." (Isaiah 55:12-13) I've never broken into song during my walks, but I've enjoyed the song of nature in the honking geese, the lapping waters, the rustling leaves, and my heart has been lifted in praise to the Maker of that chorus and for the "high ways" He has made for me.





______________



Fay Lamb works as an acquisition/copy editor for Pelican Book Group (White Rose Publishing and Harbourlight Books), offers her services as a freelance editor, and is an author of Christian romance and romantic suspense. Her emotionally charged stories remind the reader that God is always in the details. Because of Me, her debut romantic suspense novel is soon to be released by Treble Heart Books/Mountainview Publishing.

Fay has a passion for working with and encouraging fellow writers. As a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), she co-moderates the large Scribes’ Critique Group and manages the smaller Scribes’ critique groups. For her efforts, she was the recipient of the ACFW Members Service Award in 2010.In 2012, Fay was also elected to serve as secretary on ACFW’s Operating Board.
 
Fay and her husband, Marc, reside in Titusville, Florida, where multi-generations of their families have lived. The legacy continues with their two married sons and five grandchildren.





______________




Because of Me:

Not your typical Christian fiction.

Michael’s fiancĂ©e, Issie Putnam, was brutally attacked and Michael was imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit. Now he’s home to set things right.

Two people stand in his way: Issie’s son, Cole, and a madman.


Can Michael learn to love the child Issie holds so close to her heart and protect him from the man who took everything from Michael so long ago?

Available through all fine book retailers, Amazon.com, and Mountainview Publishing, a division of Treble Heart Books.

Purchase the book at Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/Because-of-Me-ebook/dp/B00722KIME/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1327670357&sr=8-1
Or at Treble Heart Books at: www.trebleheartbooks.com/MVLamb.html





Thanks for joining us!
Be Blessed!
Cat

Catrina Bradley
"God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes." Psalm 18:24 (Msg)

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Friday Fiction: Taste and See

>> Friday, March 9


Welcome to Friday Fiction!! I may have shared this story before; I don't remember. I saw the title on my Challenge entries list, and couldn't remember what it was about. I read it again, and brought myself to tears. I hope you enjoy!

_______________

TASTE AND SEE

It weren't but about 10 feet from the door to the pretty lady's desk, but it seemed to take forever to cross it. My little brother 'n me toted' that big wood box between us and set it down. Starin' at my grimy toes, I said, "Our daddy says thank you, but we don't need no handouts. We're getting' along fine, thank you kindly."

Daddy'd tole us at least five times, "Be sure'n tell them church folk thank you. We don't want them thinkin' we ain't got no manners."

He sure was mad when he'd come home and saw that box sittin' on the table, bustin' with fancy food stuffs. He commenced to turnin' red, and he grabbed the back of the rickety chair so tight, I was waitin' for the wood to splinter.

He leaned over the box and stared me down. "What'd you boy's go an' do now?"

"Nothin' Daddy! Swear.'

"Don't you swear." Daddy stuck his face in mine, and his eyes got real dark. "You know the Good Book says just let yer yes's and no's be true."

"Sorry, Daddy. No, we didn't. Me 'n Micky were doin' our homework here at the table when the doorbell rang."

"How many times I tole you not to open that door for no one." One of his hands let loose of the chair and I ducked under my arm.

"We didn't, Daddy, I sw.. PROMISE. We just peeked out the window--they didn't even see us. This man, he was holdin' this here box of food. And this lady, she rang the doorbell again. Then the man set that box down in front of the door, then they got in a car and drove off. When I was sure they was gone, me and Micky drug it inside so's no one would steal it. It's ours now, right? They gave it to us?"

The box was overflowin' with cans and boxes and bags, but I was starin' at one big bag stuffed with cookies. My tummy was rumblin' and my mouth was waterin'. I jumped when Daddy spoke up.

"Did you boys eat anything?" He'd let loose of the chair, and his fists were balled up at his side.

"No! An' I didn't let Mickey, either, even though he cried." I was glad my tummy growled real loud right then. "But can we, maybe, have a cookie?"

"Tarnation, boy!" Daddy yanked off his sweaty cap and slammed it on the table. "If'n the Lorda meant for you to have cookies, He wouldn't of taken yer mamma. An' if'n he'd meant for us to have this kinda food, HE'D of provided it." He gave the box a shove, never minding the scratch it made on Mamma's table. He spied the card, and snatched it off'n the corner of the box, snappin' the pretty red ribbon it was fastened on with.

"'A gift to you from McClerran Community Church'. Figures. You boys, go wash up. You gonna take this here "gift" right back to those meddlin' church folk. They got no right assumin' we in need of charity. 'Gift' Huh. Handout's what they mean, and the Anderson's don't need no handouts. Be sure 'n tell them thank you, now. We don't want them thinkin we ain't got no manners, ya hear me boy?"


"Did you hear me, little boy? It's a gift--it's yours." I looked up at her then, that same church lady from earlier at the house. Her smile was so nice and her eyes were so soft, I wanted to tell her everything, I wanted to take the gift, but then I thought about Daddy.

"Yes, ma'am. And Daddy says to tell you thank you, but we're fine." My tummy rumbled again and I hoped she didn't hear it and know I was lyin'. I grabbed Mickey and we scooted out the door. I wanted to get home quick. I didn't lie to Daddy. We didn't eat nothin' out of the box. What I took wasn't somethin' to eat.


Evelyn watched from the window as the two waifs ran across the parking lot and down the sidewalk. She wiped away a tear and turned back to the giftbox she'd prepared for the Anderson's. Not even her freshly-baked cookies had been touched. But then she noticed what WAS missing; her son's old Christian comic books she'd tucked under the cookies were gone.

"A child shall lead them, and Your word will not return void. Thank you, Lord."



--

Author's note: Scriptures referenced in closing prayer: Isaiah 11:6, 55:11


© 2011

_______________


This week, Friday Fiction is at Rick (Hoomi) Higginson's blog, Pod Tales and Ponderings. Be sure to pay him a visit and follow the links to more Friday Fiction.


Catrina Bradley
"God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes." Psalm 18:24 (Msg)

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Returning to My First Love

>> Thursday, March 8

I’ve been told that pulling a Bible verse out of context for interpretation is a no-no, and I wholeheartedly agree. But for application? I say “yes-yes”… especially when the Holy Spirit whispers it in my ear.

Today, I was meditating (daydreaming) about the weekly writing challenge at FaithWriters.com and my desire to start entering regularly again.

The Home for Christian writers!!FaithWriters is the sole reason “Catrina Bradley, Writer” exists today. When I joined the FW community in September 2006, I hadn’t written anything creative since high school. Today, I am a published author. I owe my comeback, or more accurately my rebirth, to FaithWriters and the FW family.

But somewhere along the road from 2006 to 2012, I drifted away from my FW family and into the Facebook vortex.

“Return to your first love,” whispered my subconscious.

I miss FW, and I miss the communal excitement encompassing writing for the challenge


It occurred to me that when my participation at FaithWriters started faltering, my writing as a whole stopped growing. At times, it has threatened to retreat altogether. Crafting, editing, and completing a story has become a chore.

Return to your first love.

Yes, return to the source of my passion for writing: the fountain of encouragement and love that springs from FaithWriters.

Return to your first love.

When I joined the site, the weekly writing challenge was on break, and spent that time delving into the website, reading past contest entries and winners, studying the FAQ’s, and getting to know the other members. I entered my first FaithWriters challenge the day the new topic was announced.

Over the next few years, hardly a week went by that I didn’t enter the challenge, and not a day passed that I didn’t spend a few hours (at least) chatting with my new family on the message boards. I learned the ins and outs and do's and don't's of writing. My skill was honed in the iron-on-iron give and take of God’s family.

Early successes in the writing challenge, followed by long spells of failure, interrupted occasionally by a brief spike or two, cultivated discouragement. Discouragement bred anger, and apathy followed on closely its heels.

Return to your first love.

Yes--I want to go back there! When writing was fun and not a burden. When I rose up to meet the challenge instead of shrinking in fear of failure and rejection. When I didn’t need to schedule time for writing--I scheduled everything else around it. Return to the FaithWriters message boards where love runs deep and relationships follow suit, instead of the shallow, two minute life updates that Facebook conveniently offers.

I want to get excited again.

I couldn’t keep following this train of thought without finding and reading the Word that kept whispering to me. Return to your first love.


In His Revelation to the Church, Jesus, through the apostle John, counseled the Church at Ephesus: “Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.” Revelation 2:4-5a

For sure, the Ephesians were faithful followers of Christ. Their boundless labor and perseverance for the Lord showed their belief. But Jesus said they had ‘forsaken their first love’ – the passion that kindled, sparked and was blown into flame with their first anointing of the Holy Spirit. The love and desire and pure faith that had driven their works.

I don’t mean to literally equate my relationship with Jesus to that with FaithWriters, but I can use the same application for both. And as I studied the letter to the Ephesians in Revelation, the spiritual side of that parallel became as evident in my life as the writing side.

Return to your first love.

It was clear that, in addition to my writing, I’ve also forsaken the passion of my fresh love for Jesus. Both relationships have lost their luster.

Talk about a double-edged sword!

With this fresh anointing, I’m going to take a long-overdue drink from the Well to refresh my love for Jesus. Then I’m taking a step on the return trip to my (second) first love.

Peace and love, and prayers for many blessings,
Cat


Catrina Bradley
"God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes." Psalm 18:24 (Msg)


Image Credits:
Pencil Pusher: Zsuzsanna Kilian
Empty Page: Iker

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Whitewashed Walls - Jewels of Encouragement

>> Sunday, March 4

God has me doing some housekeeping on His Temple - searching behind the whitewashed walls and cleaning out some garbage. It's a little scary in there, and I might need some encouragement in the days, weeks, months to come. Curious? Come have a read at Jewels of Encouragement!


Catrina Bradley
"God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes." Psalm 18:24 (Msg)

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