December 17, 2012

Christmas Plans and Blogging Break

I can't believe Christmas is so near!

I still feel like I've got lots to do, including finishing my Christmas shopping and wrapping presents. Oh, and baking some yummy banana bread. This year I might even throw some chocolate chips into the mix.

I'm taking the week of Christmas off of work and I cannot wait to lay around watching movies and reading. It's going to be glorious! We've also got some plans to hang out with friends and family.

I think it's so good for us to take off time to relax at the end of the year. There's something rejuvenating about taking a break between the end of one year and the beginning of the next. It's like it helps me to gear up for the next year.

And I think 2013 is gonna rock!

So, with that being said, I'll be taking a blogging break until Wednesday, January 2. I hope you have an amazing Christmas and New Year with your family and friends.

Your Turn: Any fun plans this holiday season? Do you like banana bread? If so, what's your take: chocolate chips or not?

December 14, 2012

Be Your Own Secret Santa: Guest Post by Jill Kemerer

I'm thrilled to welcome my good writing buddy, Jill Kemerer, to post here today. I got to meet Jill back in September at the ACFW conference and she is one of the sweetest--and funniest!--people ever. Her generosity knows no bounds and I can't wait to someday hold one of her books in my hands. So, take it away, Jill...

---

I'm so excited to be here today, Lindsay, and I'm also full of glee that it's mid-December. I love Christmas!

Sure, the month gets hectic. We all want to deck the halls, bake the cookies, and wrap the gifts, but the frantic pace rarely throws me into a panic. I’m convinced I’m able to handle all of the hoopla because of the things I buy for myself every Christmas season.

As a stay-at-home mom slash full-time writer, I don’t participate in work festivities, so I decided to be my own Secret Santa. Why not?

Things I gladly purchase for myself in December:
  1. Bags of holiday M&Ms in different varieties. Plain and peanut are essentials, but sometimes I’ll buy a bag of pretzel, mint, or for giggles, all four!
  2. Scented candles. The smell of cinnamon wraps me up in a warm hug. I also like coffee or cupcake scented candles. Mmm…
  3. A new day planner for my purse. I like the slim two-dollar jobbies you can find in a supermarket. They don’t weigh my purse down, but they do keep me on track.
  4. A new pair of slippers. I wear my slippers every day, and they get ratty really quick. With all of the holiday sales, I don’t mind popping a new pair into my cart.
  5. Hershey’s Pot O’ Gold. Minimum of one box. Preferably two or three, depending on how good the sale is. A buy one get one deal? Yes. Oh, yes.
  6. Any magazine with one of the following headlines: “Stars Without Makeup,” “Celebrity Nannies Tell All,” or “Best and Worst Beach Bodies.” I’m shameless.
Sometimes the things that bring me the most peace aren’t purchased. They’re the simple things, the ones that take time—a cup of tea and a good book or working through another lesson in a devotional. Watching a Christmas movie on the Hallmark channel is another sure-fire way to de-stress. A walk on the treadmill for twenty minutes also keeps me from having a holiday-induced meltdown.

Do you treat yourself special in December? If yes, what is your go-to treat? If not, would you like to try it? Write down one simple thing you’re craving—and satisfy it!

Thanks again, Lindsay, for letting me take over your blog today.
 
Have a very, merry Christmas!!

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Jill Kemerer writes inspirational romance novels. Coffee fuels her mornings; chocolate, her afternoons. A former electrical engineer, she now enjoys a healthy addiction to magazines, fluffy animals, and her hilarious family. She is a member of ACFW, RWA, and MVRWA. Jill is represented by Rachel Kent of Books & Such Literary Agency.

To learn more about Jill, check out her website, stop by her blog, find her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

*PS - Lindsay here. I'm guest posting today over at the MBT Ponderers blog, chatting about one of the best gifts God gave me this year. Stop by and say hi!

December 12, 2012

One Word 2013: Rejoice!

A lot of people make New Year's resolutions. I've done it. They're cool.

But...they usually don't last.

Why?

Well, usually they're very high and lofty goals, and life gets busy, and it's too hard to fit that goal in. So it goes buh-bye.

But last year, I heard about a concept (thank you, Beth Vogt) whereby you pick ONE word to focus on during the year. I thought I'd try it this year, and started to think...and pray...about what word I'd choose.

My instant first thought was TRUST. I have a hard time trusting and waiting on God. Not all the time, but let's just say that in general, me and patience don't get along very well. Ha. Plus, this year at the big writers conference I attended, God gave me my life verse: Philippians 1:6 (thus the header on my blog!).

But I kind of feel like trust is a life theme, not just one for 2013.

Then one word popped into my head: rejoice. It didn't make all that much sense at first, since I don't know if I'll have anything to rejoice about in 2013 (I hope so, but you never know!).

I'd mulled it over for a few days but hadn't committed quite yet.

Not until I got a birthday/Christmas present from my awesome critique partner, Melissa Tagg. She sent me a journal (see pic) with this written on it: "Rejoice in the Lord" (Philippians 4:4).

Um, yeah.

Okay, God, I hear you!!

So in 2013, I've got plans. Plans to rejoice.

No matter what happens--what I want, or what I don't want.

What I expect or what I don't expect.

It doesn't matter. God's calling me to REJOICE in whatever it is, because He is good, all the time. No matter my circumstances.

I get chills just thinking about how much He loves me, and am rejoicing already about what's to come in 2013!

Your Turn: Do you have a word you're planning to focus on for 2013? I'd love to hear it!

December 10, 2012

Bless the Lord Reason #11: He Gives Me Perseverance

You know those Staples buttons that say "That was easy" when you click them?

Yeah. Maybe on some things, it'd be true.

But anyone who has ever drafted a novel knows...it AIN'T easy.

That's why I'm so grateful to be able to say that on Friday, I reached THE END on my second novel.

I'm pausing right now for a Snoopy dance...

Okay, I'm back.

My original goal had been to finish drafting this book by sometime in October.

Things came up (as I talked about last week). Important things. But I still wanted to finish this draft.

I know, I know, I didn't have a set deadline from anyone but myself, but I still want to move forward in my writing career. And sometimes I just get so impatient and wish I could sit down and bust out my scenes like *that* and be done super quick.

But it doesn't work that way.

It's like that saying about eating an elephant (which is just a horrid mental picture, so I'll spare you...although now you're probably thinking it anyway!)...

Anyway, I know that without the prayers of a lot of people and God's grace, I wouldn't have completed this book draft. So today, I'm blessing Him for that.

I'm also blessing His name for perseverance in this whole writing path, not just this one task. It takes a lot of stick-to-it-ness to keep going. There have been several times I've come to a ledge, wanted to just pack the whole thing up--but I didn't, not because I'm super amazing, but because God is.

He gave me this gift and He wants me to use it.

And I'm confident that He'll finish the work He started in me. I love, love, love that it isn't all up to me!

Your Turn: When has God given you perseverance?

*Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

December 7, 2012

Fun Friday Christmas Tradition Style: Breakfast Casserole (Recipe Included!)


Every Christmas morning since I can remember, I've eaten my mom's breakfast casserole.

There's something about it that screams CHRISTMAS MORNING to me. We usually eat it with blueberry muffins...yum yum.

Today I thought I'd share the recipe with you. It works great for brunches too because you make it the night before and just stick it in the oven in the morning. It's sooooo easy!

My mom would always preheat the oven and pop it in when we started opening presents in the morning, so it was hot and ready to eat when we were finished unwrapping.

Breakfast Casserole

Ingredients
- 1 lb Jimmy Dean Mild Sausage (or similar product)
- 8 pieces toast (I usually use white bread)
- 8 eggs
- 8 oz grated cheddar cheese
- 2 cups milk (I use skim and it works just fine)
- 1 tsp dry mustard
- Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions
Brown sausage. Drain off excess grease. Dump into bowl. Cut toast up into little squares and mix into bowl. Mix in eggs, cheese, milk, dry mustard, and salt and pepper. Grease bottom of 9x13 pan and dump mixture in. Cover and set in refrigerator overnight. Place in oven uncovered at 350 degrees for 1 hour or a little longer.

Hope you enjoy. ;)

Your Turn: What do you normally eat on Christmas morning?

December 5, 2012

Worship Wednesday: One Thing Remains


Ever had the radio play a song your heart just needed to hear?

Over and over?

Like, every time you got into the car?

It's as if God is speaking directly to you. It's awesome. A little scary. So comforting, thinking that the God of the universe knows what I need and how exactly to communicate that to me.

The song, "One Thing Remains" by Kristian Stanfill, was that for me earlier this month.

When I was really tired, and everything wasn't going according to plan, and I thought my puppy might die, and a friend was going through a really hard time and I didn't understand why...

God reminded me of the ONE THING that remains, regardless of "the mountains that I face."

Because His love never gives up on me.

He won't desert me.

Even when I'm angry, or a pain in the butt because I'm tired, or questioning.

Never.

Take a listen. I hope it speaks to you like it did to me.

Your Turn: What song is God using to speak to you recently?

December 3, 2012

Bless the Lord Reason #10: He Changes My Plans

I had high hopes for the month of November.

I was supposed to finish the first draft of my book.

Didn't happen.

I was supposed to make ahead meals for the whole month of December to alleviate some of the holiday craziness.

Didn't happen.

I was supposed to get more done for the course I'm teaching online.

Wanna guess what happened? Yeah. It didn't. That's what.

I'm a planner. It's like, ingrained in my DNA to plan and organize. Can't be helped.

Disorganization? Does. Not. Compute.

But instead of doing all the things I'd planned, the month of November found me
  • Dealing with two very sick puppies and nursing them through parvovirus.
  • Taking on not one, but two freelance editing jobs that fell into my lap.
  • Singing not one, but two duets that I had to learn pretty much from scratch.
  • Throwing a Christmas party for 40 people when I was supposed to have an extra week to plan it.
  • Teaching the same online class I've taught several times--but oh yeah, they revised it and that required a bunch of extra work.
I've gotta say: there were times I wanted to beat myself up because I didn't get done what I'd set out to accomplish. I started to feel like a failure, a slacker. Why was I so tired? Why couldn't I get up at 4 am to write those scenes I desperately needed to write?*

Why couldn't I just buck up and do it all?

But you know what? Slowly God started changing my attitude, giving me a peace about the unfinished goals, reminding me that I'm not a failure, and that sometimes, He has different plans for us and our time.

I realized...I was essentially like a little kid, flailing and stomping because things hadn't gone MY way. When, if I looked at the bigger picture, the change in my plans provided me different opportunities than those I'd set out for myself:
  • Getting a glimpse, however small, of what real motherhood might be like someday, and how, when my babies are sick, nothing else really seems to matter.
  • Earning extra money for a writing retreat that fell into my lap.
  • Blessing others with music.
  • Blessing others with a night of food, relaxation, and fun, at a time when more people could attend before the craziness of December kicks in.
  • Improving the quality of my students' learning experience.
In the end, God's ways are better.

It doesn't always seem that way when I'm going through the change, but I do bless His name today for making me more flexible.

I was never a gymnast, so I need lots of help. ;)

Your Turn: How do you react when God changes your plans?

*I've gotta say a BIG THANK YOU to my husband and to my critique partner, Melissa Tagg, for putting up with a lot of whining on my part regarding this feeling of failure. Their encouragement and support meant the world!