Monday, February 22, 2010

Blood Done Signed My Name: Movie Trailer and a thought or 2

Hey gang!

I know I've been MIA this week, but I'll explain that in my next post later today. I got a request to share a new movie released in select theaters this past weekend that will move nationwide with a little help from you.

The movie is called Blood Done Signed My Name. The movie is directed by Jeb Stuart. You've heard that name before? Here's what he's done that you might know. He wrote and produced Die Hard, the Bruce Willis hit movie, and The Fugitive, starring Harrison Ford. It also stars Ricky Schroeder. Remember Silver Spoons? Yeah, that's him. Also, if you remember NYPD Blue more recently, he was part of that show.

Name quality alone shouldn't get you to want this movie. The movie does share racial tensions in the early seventies after the shooting of an African American Vietnam vet. Schroeder plays the lead role of North Carolina preacher Vernon Tyson. There is a book of the same name written by his son, Tim Tyson.

The cool part of this movie is that an important fact is often dismissed when talking about racial progress, the role of the church helping that along.

I encourage you to see the movie or ask your local theater to bring it to your town. After seeing the trailer and thinking about the name of the movie and how that name has a special meaning. One of the black characters of the movie said the line as he was talking about how this murder affected the racial tensions of the time, "Blood Done Signed Our Name."

Think about that for a moment Christians. As true as that comment was in the days of the setting of this movie, isn't it also true for us. The actor was sharing that this shooting of murder affected how the people reacted to life afterward, furthermore how they reacted to people afterward. When Jesus died on the cross, He died for our sins with His blood. Is it not true then that His Blood also done signed our names. Anyone who calls Jesus Lord of All is confessing that fact.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

It's not "Are We In Love?", But "Are We Love?"

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.-1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (NIV)

Hey gang!
My wife loves to remind me of our wedding. The other day she found one of our invitations and the words above, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, were on the front of them in pretty handwriting. Women tend to get all emotional over momentos like these, but the words are so important, that it even makes me go, “Aww! Isn’t that cute.”

I can remember back those 7 years, 4 months and 19 days now and I remember how in love we were. I think that’s how it is with all couples. We think back to the days of cuteness and spending all our time together doing nothing, but it seemed like the world to us. Those of you that have spent some time in marriage though realize what I have; I don’t always feel “in love”, but I do know that I love my wife.

How can I say something like that? There are times she makes me mad. There are times that she hurts my feelings. And there are many times that I do what she wants just because I don’t want to get yelled at, looked mean to or just to shut her up. I’m equally sure I’ve made her feel the same way many times.

That’s why it is important to stress that we don’t just play “in love”, but to “be love”. It’s not always easy to be loving. Why? Because sometimes we have to be loving when we don’t “feel” like it.

The love chapter verses begin with “Love is patient, love is kind.” I don’t always feel patient. I definitely don’t always feel kind. All of us have ways of doing things and they don’t always agree if you are dealing with another person. I’ll explain something totally trivial that proves my point. I love my Jif peanut butter. I do. When I get into a jar, I have a way of getting the peanut butter out. First, I go around the sides for an inch or so, then I knife out the middle. My wife will not share the same care for my peanut butter. It drives me crazy to open the jar and see the middle knifed out before the sides. But after seven years, I’ve learned most of the time to say nothing about it. Unless I’m in a bad mood. Then I do not show my patience or kindness with her. We end up not talking for a while and then we laugh about the crazy stuff we argue over. But that is how it begins. That’s how we end up not loving.

Next is, “It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” I am absolutely horrible about this at times. Confession time. When I don’t feel good, I can be a big baby, at least that’s what I’ve been told. My wife takes care of people all day long in her profession as a radiation therapist. She makes patients feel as at ease as possible. But there are times when I am sick, that she does not show me anywhere near the same sympathy. Then I go to church and I hear husbands talk about how their wives took care of them and nursed them to health. I get jealous. I get envious. “Why doesn’t my wife do that for me?” I ask. I also remind her what I do for her when she isn’t feeling good. I pat myself on the shoulder so hard that I almost break it. I joke about praying for her to be more caring and she jokingly prays for me to suck it up. At least, I think she’s joking.

“ It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” How many of you remember Jodie Sweeten, the girl that played Stephanie in Full House? I’ve even tried to get to a point of copying her saying, “How rude?” I drive my wife nuts when she is on the phone with her sister and I add comments. I learned this habit from my mother. My friend Kevin can attest to this. It is rude. Very, very rude. I can’t help it.

There used to be a wrestler I would watch called Raven. He’s a great bad guy. But during the dying days of WCW, he came up with this saying and even 10 years later, I use all the time. He used to ask, “What about Raven?” I think all of us tend to ask this when we feel neglected or not getting what we want. When I say this to Mindy or my friends about Mindy, they laugh. They know Frank isn’t being served. At least not in the way he wishes. It’s terrible.

The last two of those four go together pretty well. I know people with incredibly long fuses. You can do them wrong for a while, even unintentionally, and it’s still cool, you think. However, there is a scorecard going on inside these peoples’ minds and when the scorecard gets too unbalanced, “BAM!” You not only get yelled at for the thing you just did, but for things that happened years ago that you totally forgot about. One of my friends recently told me a story about getting yelled at for not taking the trash out in November 2007. Yes, over two years ago. True story.

“Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.” You ever messed up. I have. One time, I happened to get the checkbook out of line. My friends will tell you that I was a math major until my junior year in college, but I missed subtracting a $100 out. I subtracted two sets of numbers and didn’t carry the one. I tried everything not to say anything to my wife, but she found out a week later. She comes to me with the overdraft statement and asked if I knew. Of course, I did. She tells me that IF I had said something, she would’ve called her mom to ask for the $100 as a loan. It would have been no biggie. But it was to my ego of being math smart. The point is don’t hide your mistakes and they won’t be as big.

“ It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” These are the big four dos that you want to get right. To always have the protection, the trust, the hope and the perseverance. I always stand in awe of couples that reach 25, 35, 40 and 50 years. Yes, they are milestones, but there are less and less people making it this far. These are the ones that make it through the tough times.

All of us that are Christian say that we have that hope in Jesus for love to last. But isn’t the world a better place when we have a partner or friends that help us believe for better things. It’s easy to say that we believe in the eternal, but all of us get caught up in trying to believe beyond this moment, this hour or this day.
Trusting is more than believing. My friend Eddie Riffle threw a large hook ball at the bowling alley. I was always amazed how the ball would go out to the first board next to the gutter and then break quickly back to the pocket. He’d look at me and tell me that I would throw a hook. “It’s simple. Trust is a must. You have to know that the ball is being thrown to do what I want it to. If I don’t know that the ball will hook back, I can’t trust it to throw it.” That is why I always stayed with the straight ball. I could never see my ball moving that much.

Finally, protection of love is major. My wife and I stayed in a gated community in the heart of downtown Atlanta for six months after we were married. We jokingly said we lived “in the hood” because right outside that gate was pimps and hookers and drug dealers everywhere on Ponde de Leon. One night, we came home from shopping and my wife went ahead of me toward the apartment while I was grabbing the bags. All of a sudden, I heard my wife scream. I thought she was being mugged. Bags in hand, I ran to the apartment. When I arrived, my neighbor was standing at his door and I know I shot him a look. My wife look relieved. Why? Because no mugger had grabbed her. She had tripped over a garbage bag left out by the neighbor. He had just apologized for scaring her and me. To this day, I ask her if the garbage got her.
Finally, “Love never fails.” We know that in our heart of hearts when we talk about Jesus. How great it is when we know that in our partner. As time passes, we go through more and more each day. I can’t say I’ve seen everything. Neither can my wife. However, we strive to say to each other that we will walk through it together because we know that final thought, LOVE NEVER FAILS. The caveat is, unless we let it fail. We have to be love even when we don’t feel it. We have to love above all else.

I’ll close with the chorus of a great song by my friend Grover Levy from back in 1995. The song is called “When We Fail Love”. I didn’t realize it was also done by Bruce Carroll. I still like Grover’s version better.

When we fail love, it’s hard to take,
The expectations are so great,
We raise our hopes, we dreams our dreams,
And then we do some foolish things,
The love that comes easy, will easily give up,
When we fail love, we’ve got to trust the love that won’t fail us!

Happy Valentine’s Day!
I love you guys!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Lisa Wingate Comes By to Give Us the Inside on Never Say Never

Hey gang!

A busy month so far and today we are greeted with a visit from author Lisa Wingate. She's coming by to talk with us about her book, Never Say Never. I'll let her give you the details.

About the Book:

Kai Miller floats through life like driftwood tossed by waves. She's never put down roots in any one place--and she doesn't plan to. But when a chaotic hurricane evacuation lands her in Daily, Texas, she begins to think twice about her wayfaring existence. And when she meets hometown-boy Kemp Eldridge, she can almost picture settling down in Daily--until she discovers he may be promised to someone else. Daily has always been a place of refuge for those the wind blows in, but for Kai, it looks like it will be just another place to leave behind. Then again, Daily always has a few surprises in store--especially when Aunt Donetta has cooked up a scheme.

Interview Questions:

1. How did you develop the initial story idea/plot line for this book?

Some book ideas you search for, and some just blow in on the wind. For the past several years, dating back to Hurricane Katrina, we in Central Texas have been the recipients of massive hurricane evacuations. These massive exoduses of people, pets, and belongings are frightening, frustrating, challenging, and at times oddly wonderful. When so many are on the road seeking shelter, the worst, but also the best qualities of humanity come to the surface. Hurricane evacuations truly provide times when we ask the question, "Am I my brother’s keeper?" In answering that question, we’ve enjoyed amazing moments of friendship and fellowship, family reunions, and chances to share a food and space with strangers from other parts of the country. We’ve traded stories and recipies, laughter and tears.

One thing we’ve learned about hurricanes, living here, is that the paths are never predictable. Storms waver, hesitate, speed up, slow down, and sometimes change course unexpectedly. Evacuations needs can change and develop quickly. What better way for the beauty shop girls to find their inner strength and to show Daily hospitality, than for their cruise plans to land them smack in the middle of a sudden and chaotic hurricane evacuation?

2. Almost every author puts a little of themselves into their stories—what did you put of yourself into this one? (personality traits, life events/jobs, settings, characters based on people you know, likes/dislikes, etc.)

There’s a bit of me in the setting, of course. I love Texas, in all its variety of cultures and landscapes, but, living in a small town, I have a particular affection for little bergs like Daily, where the coffee’s always hot, and a good slide of pecan pie can cure most ills. Having watched our little town mobilize to take in hurricane evacuees several times now, I’ve been reminded that sometimes the worst things that can happen bring out the best in people. Given the opportunity and faced with the need, regular people can rise to the occasion in amazing ways, as do the citizens of Daily in the book.

Some members of the Wingate family might also claim to recognize themselves among the citizens of Daily, Texas. I would offer the disclaimer that any resemblances are completely unintentional, but that would be a bald-faced lie. When you come from a family of great storytellers and colorful characters, there’s nothing to do but make use of what you’ve got.

3. Did you encounter any interesting challenges while writing/researching for this book? Please explain if so.

The most difficult part of working on Never Say Never was researching and reliving the devastation left behind on the Texas gulf coast last year after Hurricane Ike. While interviewing family members about their experiences during the evacuation and return, we shared laughter and quite a few tears. For those who have lived in southeast Texas all their lives, talking about familiar landmarks, heirlooms, and old family places that were washed away forever, knowing some things will never be the same, is both difficult and devastating. For those of us who have so many memories of family gatherings and vacations there, it’s hard to believe we’ll never visit the old places again.

4. Why is this book/story relevant today?

Despite our best-laid plans, we all experience storms in life—whether those storms be of a weather-related nature, or due to an illness, death, or in recent months, job loss and financial misfortune. When the parameters of life and our ability to control fate suddenly change, we’re confronted with our own helplessness and need to rely on other people and God. In a culture that values independence and self-sufficiency, it’s important to remember that we all have a common need and a common responsibility for each other and that without faith we really are alone in the storm.

About the Author:
Lisa Wingate is a popular inspirational speaker, magazine columnist, and national bestselling author of several books, including Tending Roses, Talk of the Town, Drenched in Light, A Thousand Voices, and A Month of Summer. Her work was recently honored by the Americans for More Civility for promoting greater kindness and civility in American life. Lisa and her family live in central Texas.

How to Talk Texan
Road Trip Tutorial

A couple dozen phrases that'll keep you from lookin' like you don't know gee from haw. You can hang your hat on it!

Hey, y’all!

If you’re planning a road trip across Texas, well, my friend, you’d better get your trottin’ harness on, I’ll tell you that right now.

This state’s wider than a woodcutter’s pile. You’ll be so busy here, you’ll think you’re twins. You might even meet yourself comin’ and goin’ or travel so fast you’ll catch up to yesterday.

One thing’s for sure--there won’t be any grass growin’ under your feet, especially if it’s summer, because it’ll be hot as a nanny goat in a pepper patch. Don’t let that trouble your mind, though.

Seeing the whole state might seem about as easy as tryin’ to saddle up house flies or put socks on the rooster, but here’re a few phrases that’ll make your trip just as smooth as a calf’s ear. You’ll find this little bit of Texan talk just as handy as a pocket on a shirt. With these phrases, you’ll be right at home in jig time, and happy as a pig in sunshine, I promise.

Folks’ll think you’re just as fine as frog hair split four ways. Why, you might even find yourself a Texas gal who’s cute as a bug’s ear or a fella who catches your eye like a tin roof at noonday. Even if you don’t find love here, you’ll run across lots of folks who’re so friendly, they’ll add a cup of water to the soup and tell you to get your sittin’ britches on.

Some of them might be full of wind as a corn-eatin’ horse, but you’ll be welcome ‘till whenever you figure it’s time to put the chairs in the wagon and turkey-tail it toward home.

When you do, we’ll keep a light on and a hitch out for ya, just in case you miss us like a west Texas farmer misses rain. You’re welcome to darken our door any old time. Long as we got a biscuit, my friend, you got half, and if that ain’t a fact, well, then I’m hip high to a horned toad.

Y’all come back now, y’hear!

--Lisa Wingate (and the REST of the folks in Daily, Texas, too!)

For stories with Texas flavor
and fun, come see us at

And you can also win with your comments today. I'll select the best one and pass it along to the KCWC team for their drawing of a winner.

Grandprize Drawing

Donetta and Imagene's Texas Road Trip Basket (approximate total value over $150)

Take a Texas road trip, without ever leaving home!


The Daily Texas Series by Lisa Wingate:

Talk Of the Town

Word Gets Around

Never Say Never

The Blue Sky Hills Series by Lisa Wingate:

A Month of Summer

The Summer

Beyond Summer (a special advance copy not available in stores until July 2010)

Road Trip Snacks (Straight from Texas, of course!)

Wrap it all up with a fuzzy, fleecy Texas throw blanket for those cold nights on the road (or curled up with your books!)

I love you guys!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Ginny Smith Talks With Us About Sisterhood

Hey gang!

I know a lot of you like more information on the guest authors I have or just to hear other exciting stuff from them. Well today, I have a bonus treat from yesterday's author Ginny Smith. She's here to share a story of sisters and then give eight great ways to stay in touch with them.

The Awesome Bond of Sisters
By Virginia Smith

Having a sister is like having a best friend you can't get rid of. You know whatever you do, they'll still be there. --Amy Li

My middle sister and I fought like wildcats when we were growing up. One of my most vivid childhood memories is of being forcibly separated during an argument and banished to sit together on the living room couch with orders not to get up until we could get along. I huddled against one arm and resigned myself to living on that two-foot square cushion for the next eleven years, when I would turn eighteen and could get my own apartment. After an eternity, Mom entered the room to mediate. “Girls,” she said, “you are sisters. There will never be another person in the world more closely related to you than your sister. So you’d better learn to get along, because someday one of you might need a kidney.” Not, perhaps, the most convincing argument for reconciliation ever presented, but it worked. For the moment, anyway.

A woman has many relationships in her life, but the bond between sisters is unique. There is the biological link, but the connection goes beyond that. Sisters enjoy a shared past. They experienced many of the same events that molded their personalities, and therefore they understand one another in a way no one else can. They speak the same shorthand. If one of my sisters says, “I know! Let’s put on a show!” we all laugh, because we remember the first time one of us said that, and the resulting spectacle that has become family legend.

Sisters “get” each other without having to go into all the background. When I’ve had an argument with my husband, I can call my sisters and say, “He doesn’t want a puppy. I think I may divorce him.” My sisters understand my reaction immediately, because they remember witnessing our parents’ argument over the same subject. They can talk me down from the ledge, and away from the divorce attorneys. And they will do this even if I call them at three o’clock in the morning, with only a minimum amount of grumbling about the loss of sleep.

Psychologist Marcia Millman, author of The Perfect Sister, said during an interview, “I think sisters can help repair the injuries of childhood.” That’s certainly been true in my family. Whenever we get together, our husbands cover yawns and eventually slip away to the other room to watch a ballgame while we rehash events of our childhood, and discuss how they have impacted us as adults. Often I come away with a new perspective and a better attitude, so gatherings with my sisters are sort of like group therapy sessions. Only less expensive.

While it’s true that we share a common past, even sisters experience different events while growing up in the same household. I like to remind both of my sisters that, being the oldest, I blazed the trail for them. They both got their ears pierced sooner than I did, and wore lipstick, and shaved their legs. They were both allowed to date at an earlier age than I was, and stay out later. There are ten years between my youngest sister and me, so by the time she became a teenager, I had successfully driven our parents into a state of exhausted stupor, and she got to do pretty much whatever she wanted. (Which I still think is totally unfair, but that’s the way it is in most families, I’ve learned.) I think she owes me big-time.

My sisters and I do still have the occasional conflict. Author Linda Sunshine said, “If you don’t understand how a woman could both love her sister dearly and want to wring her neck at the same time, then you were probably an only child.” Our arguments don’t become physical anymore (we all understand the importance of good hair now, so we are no longer tempted to grab a handful), but these days, being at odds with one of my sisters is far more painful than our childhood brawls.
Several years ago, my middle sister and I had a disagreement and didn’t speak to each other for a few days. I was miserable without her, but we both stubbornly refused to back down. While cooking dinner one evening, I dropped a glass measuring cup she had given me, and it shattered. When it did, my stubbornness broke into a million pieces. My husband brought the phone to me where I sat sobbing on the floor, surrounded by shards of glass, and said sternly, “Call your sister.” Never has a reunion been so sweet.

Someone once said that relationships between siblings are the most long-lasting and influential of all. My sisters have been a part of my life longer than my husband or my children, and they will be part of my life even after our parents are gone. They know me, and understand me, and they like me anyway. They’re one of the best blessings God has given me. And as Mom said, if I ever do need a kidney, I know who to call.


8 Tips for Maintaining a Relationship with your Sister
In today’s busy world, it’s easy to let a relationship slide. That’s true regardless of whether you live nearby or far apart. Here are some tips for maintaining a strong relationship with your sister.

Scheduled Phone Calls – Communication is the key to any relationship, so don’t leave it to chance. Select a specific day each week for an uninterrupted phone call. Put your sister on your cell phone “Favorites” so you can talk free.

Text Messages – Texting is the preferred method of communication for one of my sisters. Be sure you have unlimited texts on your cell phone plan.

Utilize the Internet – Email and social networking sites like Facebook are wonderful ways to stay connected. On Goodreads and LibraryThing you can keep track of what your sister is reading, too.

Skype – If you both have a computer with a camera, this software allows you see each other while you talk – and it’s free.

Letters – Email is wonderful, but there’s nothing like reading your sister’s words in her own handwriting.

Cards – Next time you browse the card shelves, pick up several funny ones and tuck them away in a drawer. Send one every so often to surprise your sister with a laugh.

Sister Sleepovers – Even if you live near one another, there’s nothing like getting away from it all with your sister. Schedule an annual sleepover at a lodge, or hotel, or even at someone’s house. Leave the kids at home, and focus on having fun with each other.

Start a Tradition – Create a tradition you share only with your sister. For instance, my sister and I exchange ugly ornaments at Christmas every year. We spend months shopping for the ugliest ornament we can find, and love the competition of seeing who “wins” that year.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Ginny Smith Joins Us to Talk About Third Time's A Charm

Hey gang!

If you read over the Christmas holiday, you already have met today's guest interview Virginia "Ginny" Smith. Today, she's back with us to talk about her NEW book, Third Time's A Charm. I'll let the interview and information give you all the details.

About the Book:

(Dual Residency: UT & KY) – There’s not too much in this world that a little retail therapy can’t fix—except maybe the empty hole in your heart from lost and undiscovered love. Tori Sanderson is no exception. Facing abandonment issues with her father, Tori sets out to find the real reason he left her. Along the way she discovers even deeper truths. Add in two matchmaking sisters plus a couple of attractive men vying for Tori’s attention, as well as a tempting job promotion possibility, and you’ve got one confused sister. Through it all, Tori searches for the love she’s been missing all these years.

Author Virginia Smith, presents Third Time’s a Charm, the third installment of the Sister-to-Sister Series. Page-turning humor surrounding the lives of three sisters will once again engage readers, while somber self-discovery will unveil Tori’s struggles, and perhaps a few of your own. In a world with more than a few dysfunctional families, this story will ring true for many.

Interview Questions:

1. This book is the third and final book in your Sister-to-Sister Series. How did you feel when you completed this last book?

I felt a little sad, because I have lived with the characters for three years, and they’re very real to me. I’ll miss them. Plus, I wanted to leave readers with a good impression, so I was anxious for the last scene to be strong. I prayed over that last line for a long time, and when the words finally came, I got chills. They were absolutely the perfect wrap-up for the whole series. I still get tears whenever I read them.

2. Which of the sisters in this trilogy do you relate to the most? Why?

That’s a hard question to answer, because there is a piece of me in each of the Sanderson sisters. But I’d have to say I relate most closely with Tori, because she is professionally ambitious, and she struggles to balance her career and her personal life. I did that for over twenty years, so much of her conflict comes from my experiences.

3. You've been contracted to write 12 times in the last 4 years. To what do you attribute this success and how would you encourage others who are doing everything possible to get published?

Perseverance. I wrote for over twenty years before my first book, Just As I Am, was published. But I believed that the Lord gave me the desire to write, and even when my pile of rejections was growing (to an astounding 143 before my first publication!), I knew if He wanted me to write, I was going to keep writing. Even now – or maybe especially now – I trust Him for every story, every contract. Sometimes I still receive rejections, but I keep writing because He keeps giving me stories.

4. How is your relationship with your own sisters similar to Tori and her sisters? Did you pull from these sibling experiences when writing Third Time's a Charm? How?

I sure did! Actually, my sisters were the inspiration behind the whole Sister-to-Sister Series. They are the most incredible women in the world, and I wanted readers to glimpse the relationship we have. And they were excited to have starring roles in my stories. It was funny watching them try to identify themselves in the books, because I took characteristics from each of us and mixed them up to create each of the Sanderson sisters. Tori, for instance, is a career-minded person, like me. She’s creative, like one of my sisters. And she’s a big flirt, like the other sister. Uh… I’d better not identify who that is, or I’ll start a family feud!

5. What's next for Virginia Smith?

In May of this year I have a new book coming out from Steeple Hill. Researching A Daughter’s Legacy was a lot of fun, because it is set in a zoo! It’s my first straight romance, and was something of an experiment for me to see if I liked writing the genre. I loved it, and have a few ideas germinating in my mind for future romance novels.
Then later in the year, Into the Deep will hit bookstores. That’s a romantic suspense novel with a scuba diving theme. It takes place partly in Key West, and partly in Cozumel, Mexico. Can you tell I have a lot of fun researching my books?

About Ginny and your chance to win:
Virginia Smith recently contracted her twelfth book in four years. Previous books in the Sister-to-Sister series include: Stuck in the Middle and Age before Beauty. In 2008 she was named Writer-of-the-Year at Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. Stuck in the Middle was a finalist for American Christian Fiction Writers’ 2009 Book of the Year Award. A Taste of Murder was a finalist for the 2009 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense. Ginny and husband, Ted, divide their time between Lexington, Kentucky, and Salt Lake City, Utah, escaping as often as possible for diving trips to the Caribbean. Admittedly, her adventurous outings are often as much fun as they are “book research.”

The Grand Prize will be awarded to one fortunate person who leaves a comment at one of the blog tours participating in the KCWC Third Time's a Charm blog tour. It includes:

The complete collection of Virginia Smith books, TEN in all (listed below), with a personal behind-the-scenes commentary written by the author - especially for this tour!

Sister-to-Sister Series, including: Stuck in the Middle, Age Before Beauty, and Third Time's A Charm.

Unforgettable Mayla Strong Books: Just As I Am and Sincerely Mayla.

Classical Trio Series from Love Inspired Suspense: A Taste of Murder, Murder at Eagle Summit, and Scent of Murder.

Murder By Mushroom

Bluegrass Peril

So leave a comment and if I think yours is the best, I'll pass it along to the KCWC team and you'll be in the running for this grand prize.

I love you guys!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Prayer disciplines part 2-Centering Prayers

Hey gang!

If you didn’t watch the video of Steven Curtis Chapman’s Busy Man above, I’ll ask you the question. Have you found yourself just “too busy”? If you’re a teen, having too much homework, too many social activities and or games to go to? Adults, shuttling kids to school, grabbing groceries, picking up kids, just to shuttle them to activities, trying to fit dinner and then housecleaning in? All that makes you want to just…fall in bed.

I know that having a 4, 3 and almost 2 year old that my busy schedule is about to pick up. I’m already doing pre-school with the older two, then figuring out what to make for lunch. Before long, my daughters will be dancing and my son will be playing basketball or baseball. Trying to catch it all and have time to write my columns, hang out with my wife occasionally and watch TV. And then on top of all that, trying to find time to pray, read God’s Word and spend time learning what God wants me to share with you. Wow! Just typing all this makes me want to take a nap.

I remember my classmate, Mark Taylor, sharing a poem with us at our graduation. I couldn’t remember the poem exactly, but I found what I believe is a shorter version of the one he shared.

No Time To Pray
By Grace Naessens

I got up early one morning and rushed right into the day;
I had so much to accomplish, I didn’t have time to pray.

Problems just tumbled about me and grew heavier with each task;
Why doesn’t God just help me, I wondered; He answered, “You didn’t ask.”

I wanted to see joy and beauty, but the day toiled on, gray and bleak;
I wondered why God didn’t show me- He said, “But you didn’t seek.”

I tried to come into God’s presence; I used all my keys at the lock;
God gently and lovingly chided, “My child, you didn’t knock.”

I woke up early this morning and paused before entering the day;
I had so much to accomplish that I had to take time to pray.

Today, I want to share the next prayer discipline, centering prayer. This prayer isn’t about asking for all our wants and needs. It is about taking the time to slow down and spend time with God for who He is.

I think back to when my wife Mindy and I started dating. We spent so much time together. We didn’t care what we talked about. It was just being with each other that made the time special. That’s what God wants from us sometimes. For us to come to Him and think, I don’t want to come to the Genie God, I just want to spend time with a Savior that loves me and that I can love back.

If you’ve been a Christian for a long time? Let me ask you, do you remember when you first came to Christ? When you are first saved, you try to convert everyone. Why? You want everyone else to have what you do. Why is it that somewhere along the way, we lose that feeling of wanting to be with God? I think we begin to take for granted that He’s always there whether we acknowledge it or not.

That is the other reason why practicing the centering prayer is so important. A centering prayer is defined as a form of contemplative prayer where the person praying seeks to quiet scattered thoughts and desires in the still center of Christ’s presence. Let’s look at a method of centering prayer as presented in the Spiritual Disciplines Handbook by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun.

First, we need to set aside a time (Calhoun suggests 15 minutes to begin). Next, we need to settle into a comfortable position. Intentionally place yourself in the presence of God.

Then, Calhoun tells us to select a simple word or phrase from Scripture that expresses your desire for God. She gives examples of love, peace, grace, Jesus, great Shepherd. Let this word guard your attention. Let me mention here that this is not a practice of New Age. Centering prayer has been around from the beginning, not just something developed by the Benedictine Monks of the 60’s and 70’s. There are skeptics that will argue that this practice of repeating and focusing on a phrase doesn’t produce anything but the repetition. Keep in mind, this phrase is only a beginning point and a tool to use to refocus if you begin to drift during the time in God’s presence.

During this time, become quiet. You will probably have many thoughts rushing through your head at first simply because you are thinking about a time limit and getting back to your day. However, you must remain quiet and let these thoughts go. Keep repeating the phrase from above until they do. Calhoun says, “Be with Jesus. Listen. Be Still.”

Rest in the center of God’s love. Remember this isn’t a time of prayer for requests or laundry lists. Trust the Holy Spirit who abides in you to connect you to God to listen. Finally, don’t rush out of this prayer time. Breathe in the presence of Christ. Calhoun even suggest closing this prayer time offering yourself to Christ for the rest of your day with phrases such as “I am yours” or “Remain with me.”

These are parts of the practice of centering prayer. Rest in and gaze on Christ. Wait before the Lord in open attentiveness. Attend to the presence of the Holy Spirit within you and release distractions into the hands of God and returning consistently to his presence.

Finally, here are some of the God-given fruits that you can expect to enjoy in this practice.

1. “Keeping company with Jesus, trusting that he is working in you while you pray.” Remember this is time to listen to Jesus, not give requests.
2. “Living in more awareness of your union with Christ.”
3. “Bringing stillness into the busyness of life.”
4. “Learning to listen to God.”
5. “Seeking God’s presence and assistance in all things.”
6. “Learning to hold Scripture in your heart.”
7. “Resting in God’s will rather than your own agenda.”
8. “Developing a quiet center within that is not attached to outcomes.”

Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at contemplative prayer.

I love you guys!