Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Not Just a Neighborhood

As the clock winds down upon another year, it is amazing how our self-preservation system really kicks in. What do I mean? Even though we might not like or agree with the things we face individually or collectively as a society, we subconsciously leave them in the past on New Year's Eve and welcome a new and refreshing time with the "Baby New Year". The demarcation line between 2008/2009 will be drawn. We believe that change will be a good thing.

Thinking back over the years, I remember going to Woolworth's or S. H. Kress Stores with my brother Richard. He loved to decorate for every holiday and New Years wouldn't be complete without loud noise makers and confetti. When he got older, he would wisely save some of his fireworks from the 4th of July to set off for New Years.

New Years Eve during the 50's meant we got to have special treats like Welch's Grape Juice, maybe even two glasses of the sweet nectar. Mom would most likely bake a ham, baked beans, potato salad, and in good years we had soda. Finally eating ourselves to overload, sleeping but arising early so we could watch the Rose Bowl Parade. Tradition that slowly faded into memories.

Life seemed so simple then. As a child life just didn't have a lot of drama to it, even for the adults. The Korean War was going on, but we didn't have social media that kept it in our faces then. War, socialism, communism, uprisings and the Russian/American Space Race was given to the public in small doses. For our part of the world, all was well. There wasn't a consideration for other countries or their people. They were not part of the "table conversations".

Society has changed drastically and social media has changed the way we see as well as interact with the world. We have all become part of the global community, not just a neighborhood any longer.

Change is the only thing that is constant and creates daily choice. I invite you to join me each day in January right here on MUD Splats to explore and be encouraged as we bein a new year, new steps into a world that we have the choice to make better by how we think and how we react/act.

MUD Splats January Blog is dedicated to the theme: Change A quote of the day with inspiration and encourgement. I look forward to sharing with you and hearing back through your comments.
YOU make a difference!

Until later,
Susan Storm Smith

Monday, December 29, 2008

Kid Proofed

When they were babies, we made sure that the house was "kid proofed". That means the electrical outlets are covered so little fingers can't poke something sharp inside and get hurt or start fires in the house. It means that we put dangerous products out of reach--we make the environment of our sweet babies safe. They are protected.

Than as they grow and mature, start to talk to us and talk back at us, sometimes our attitudes towards each other changes in ways that we might think to be non-fixable, totally broken with each going their separate ways. Rebellion on both sides, unwilling to give in. We have again made our homes "kid proofed".

If you are living in a house that is no longer a home, where rebellion has replaced love and acceptance, where guidance has been replaced by grudges--we need to make a change. That doesn't mean that all the rules are out the door, it means that love is unconditional. God loves us yet while we are/were in sin.

Let's not loose another child that we have loved and nurtured because of our rebellion to lead through love--unconditionally. Young people are not "proofed" they should be embraced.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Morphed Traditions

Hope everyone is having a great holiday season, no matter what your tradition may be. Like much of the nation here in America, we had lots of snow and freezing weather. Today it is raining and the snow is quickly melting. I kind of liked the snow, at least to look at. Wherever you are, be safe, be encouraged, and be purposeful.

Reading through some of my friend's blogs, I had to take a few moments and reflect how life has changed in our traditions over the past few years. With family spread over the nation, and one in the military the family traditions have made their way into a morphed rendition of old and new, families merging and becoming their own. After all, isn't that what life is about? Becoming transformed through challenges and sandpaper relationships?!

For me, the Christmas season is not a couple of weeks. Choosing rather to do the unexpected all year for friends and family, sending or giving of gifts for no special reason other than loving the person and wanting to do something special. I used to cook and make treats, putting them on don't return party trays and delivering them. Christmas has become what Jesus intended, a lifestyle.

Yes, there are special songs and special treats, church programs and remembrances but as Dickens says at the end of A Christmas Carol, Scrooge became a man of his word, and he celebrated all year long. [paraphrase]

So as we approach 2009 and we begin to think about this year that is quickly passing, expectations forming for the new year, let us think of a lifestyle that reflects the traditions of our heritage--YOU do make a difference to somebody!

Justify FullRemember: Everything starts with one word and/or one step, point yours in the direction of success!

Until next time,

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Announcement! New Blog Site Started

Olive Press Muse
Purposeful Pondering and Pressing
of Words and Thoughts

You are invited to join me on my newest adventure in writing
at Olive Press Muse

Daily inspiration from the Word of God
to encourage and inspire us as we
go through the crushing of self and
become like the lampstand oil

The Very Best to YOU

Dear gentle reader, I am taking the week off to celebrate the holidays, and catch up on my reading and projects. At this time of year, you are wished the very merriest of seasons, and if you celebrate the birth of our loving Savior, Jesus Christ, then let me add Merry CHRISTMAS to you and yours.

Whatever you are doing during this festive time of year, be safe, love each other, do something kind, and remember YOU do make a difference to somebody.

Everything we do in life begins with one word and/or one step--point yours in the direction of success.

Susan Storm Smith

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Book Review: Think and Make It Happen

I'm sure that Dr. Cury is well respected for his psychiatric background and insights. However, "Think and Make It Happen" does not leave the reader with an uplifting or positive outlook on life. What one would imagine being an uplifting and creative book is weighed down with psychobabblish terms and over-the-top explanations.

The front of each chapter gives an overview, and the end of each chapter makes suggestions for group or personal thought. Dr. Cury suggests that the book be read and experienced over a 12-week period. He takes the reader on a journey through his own depression, while giving the reader lists of diagnostic terms and definitions. I doubt that unless the reader is a pre-med student or psychiatric intern the book will not be finished or digested as a tool to overcoming anything.

Quoting Dr. Cury in the Introduction he states, "Lest anyone consider me a pessimist, let me clarify: I seek to be a realist—I'm a psychiatrist who loves live and continuously writes about what I observe and analyze. But I am also a therapist and researcher who wants to contribute to the quality of life of my patients and society at large." And therein is part of the problem, this is a book better suited for a psychiatric journal review than a book for the person looking to be uplifted and a positive direction in overcoming for a biblical perspective of life.

Using Jesus Christ as the role model but overshadowing Jesus with Dr. Cury's own experiences in clinical terms was just too much.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Have You Earned The Pickle?

I have been speaking about "giving a pickle" on various sites. This came about from a friend who brought a video we watched regarding good customer service. "Give Them A Pickle" is a famous story of Bob Ferrell and his awesome ice cream parlours.

The story is told of a family who took their child to one of the Ferrell Parlours and wanted pickles for their hamburger. The guest had several people in attendance for a special birthday, and felt that the waiter should have just brought a small dish of pickles to the table. Instead, the waiter gave a hard time and told the guest that it would cost him extra; Ferrell's doesn't give them for free. Well, Mr. Ferrell had a mad customer and a good response.

"Give them a pickle, they're our guest." Why this story today?

When we think of customer service, most often it is the waiter/waitress, counter clerks at various offices and payment tellers. Right? Using the above example of Ferrell's and the giving of the pickle, it got me thinking about other kinds of "customer" service. What about our day-to-day encounters with others?

Moms and dads give service to the family, especially younger kids; employee/employer relationships, and what about the bus drivers whom we see every day and take for granted. For all of you who have served each other with kindness and sensitivity--you're earned the pickle.

If you want to have a great leadership meeting with church, organizational or whatever staff, get the video--it's really good!

Thanks Ferrell's my kids still talk about the fun birthday parties we had at your ice cream parlours! Good service to each other makes for a lifetime of wonderful memories. Challenge each person in your circle of influence today--earn a pickle!

For more information:

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sounds of the Season Part 2

In this second part Sounds of the Season, join with me in the warmth and sensation of the season we call CHRISTmas! May you and your family have contact with each other, in some form. For me, my family is mostly 3,000 miles away and I thank God for the Internet and phones. There are so many that are alone, may I encourage you to take some time and visit a nursing home, a neighbor who lives alone, or someone you work with, do something for a single mom/dad, make a difference in someone's life. Merry CHRISTmas!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Its A Winter Wonderland Across the Nation ....

Hello everybody! Today is one of those "watch it snow" kind of days, thinking about being someplace where it is sunny and warm. Like some of you, it is difficult to get into the holiday spirit fore real. A friend brought a Christmas Bread to share with fresh coffee. Oh, it is yummy with fruit in the center and a wonderful baked dough.

As the snow gets deeper and deeper, makes me thankful for a warm house and pray for those who are out in it across the nation. In keeping with the day, Happy Winter Wonderland ...

Thursday, December 18, 2008


I would like to introduce you to a really incredible woman. The term "nice" just isn't adequate. Lynn is one of those people you meed in social media sites that is--there--you can feel her presence. Do you know people that just emit a love you as you are hormone? Well, that's Lynn. Her love of people and genuine caring about what is going on with her virtual friends is incredible.

She has been chosen for a 365 Love Award because of the qualities over the year that she has demonstrated when people have asked for prayer and/or encouragement. Her beautiful comments come at just the right time. I laughed when I found out she had been a nurse--she is truly a caretaker of the human soul. Here is a bit about her life, and for me, it made the choice very easy to give her the award. So any others that I know have disabilities, in pain and suffer greatly, but they sort of give up on life. Lynn has chosen to live beyond the expectations.

"My life has been very blessed even in the hard times. And there have been plenty of those. God saw a way out of an abusive marriage for me and helped me to raise two sons with no support. My sons are now 33 and 35 and I've remained single for 32 years. They are both Christians now. God helped me get through nursing school 23 years ago.

I found through nursing God had much work for me to do for Him. You meet many with many needs in that field of work. Some are Christians needing support and some have no faith at all and there you can introduce God to them. I have survived uterine cancer at the age of 26 and presently have lived with 6 tumors from a diagnosis called firbromatosis that ended the nursing 8 years ago.

God still uses us even if we're sick or crippled. Doctors said I should be in a wheelchair but God knew better. The doctors were shocked that over the last 8 years I keep going do9wn on the pain meds instead of going up. I can't physically handle the meds so I tell them I'll keep trusting my Lord to help me manage the pain. I have wo granddaughters that I take care of while their dad, my son is in Iraq for his second tour. I go this next Tuesday to see a new doctor at MD Anderson in Houston. So far all I've heard from the medical community is I'm inoperable with no options but to plan on being more crippled. Regardless of what he says, I believe God will heal me in good time and continue to manage me until then. Anyways this is only a shell we live in on earth, its our soul that matters."

"Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience, and longsuffering with joyfullness." Colossians 1:11

As an update since Lynn sent me her story, she has been to Houston and is now back home awaiting the doctors opinions. If favorable it would mean 5 weeks in Houston having Proton radiation treatments. If not, she will be going to the doctors in her area for mri and CT scans to follow the diagnosis and offer whatever can be done. When you think of this story and Lynn, send up a prayer on her behalf. The prayer of agreement is strong! (Matthew 18:19)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Warrior Servant

I would like to introduce you to a woman by the name of Susan Pixley, who has become like a flesh and blood sister to me, but in the beginning, in her words, she tried very hard not to like me [whew]. So that just shows you that the flesh may have an idea, but the spirit is a much better guide. The reason she is another 365 Love Award recipient is her awesome dedication to service.

"The Lord has given me many gifts but I feel the most awesome is my ability to care about others. Before I had to retire, I was an administrator in a long-term nursing home. I loved my job and the biggest gift the Lord gave me was my ability to care for our residents.

I can remember one day talking with one of our pastors about what was my best moment that the Lord had given to me with our little people. I thought for only a short time and gave this answer.

I have been honored with the most wonderful gift of giving comfort and holding their hands and letting them talk as they pass from this life to our Lord. Sometimes it was only me with them because family couldn't do it or were not able to be there. I always felt no one should die alone.

One of my favorite residents was a sweet lady that at times had a horrible temper but was now dying. I sat with her for hours and she told the Lord she was sorry and asked Him to forgive her. Then she told me she was sorry and that the first thing she would tell Him was how good we were to her. I sat there and visited with her till she went to be with the Lord. I will never forget that day and how special it was and a beautiful gift from my Heavenly Father.

I've had many times like this one and for that I will always be grateful to my Lord. I have a heart for people and with God's gift my prayer will always be that with this gift I may always use it for my Lord's glory."

What an inspiration I receive, and hopefully you too, from Susan's story. I have watched her on various social media sites and always she has a kind word and patience. If you would like to join Susan on her site I know you will be welcomed with open arms, in love, peace, and always with respect. You can join her at Watchmen On the Wall

Watchmen On the Wall is a Christian social media site where you can share your testimony, learn about various subjects of religion, share recipes, blog, and chit-chat.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

39 and Holding

Stephanie is one of the children who has always been inquisitive. A bright student, and like her mother willing to take risks and challenges. Growing up, she was the most challenging to me as a mother. Maybe we have always just been too much alike [any other parent know what I mean?!]

Well, today is her 39th birthday, and remember the day so well way back then. My water had broken two days before, went to the doctor the 16th of December and he told me that I had two more months. I was to go home and just take it easy. My words to him were, "don't plan anything tonight, don't think two months is in the baby's schedule."

After picking up her sister from my mom's house, we started home which normally was about 20 minutes to my house. For some reason I didn't take the regular route, but wanted to take a shortcut and beat some of the traffic. You guessed it--went into hard labor on a back road with nobody around, and before cell phones.

Somehow I got her sister upstairs and into her crib, changed my clothes and laid on the floor waiting for daddy to come home and take me to the hospital. I will add at this point that the doctor was flying down the hallway throwing his tuxedo off to the nurse as he ran to change into scrubs as I was taken into a delivery room. He got there just in time to basically catch the baby. Why don't doctors ever listen [smile] Christmas came early, the cute little bundle of no hair and so tiny. She was indeed a bit early.

Must admit during our years while she was growing up, it was hell on wheels, going somewhere and nowhere. Today, we can call each other friend--and that is a very good thing!

A bright and energetic child, grew into the same type of woman. Loves to read, still inquisitive, and a great mom to her two children. Before I left to live in Africa she asked me for something special that was just me to her. Stephanie has the only copy of a book that I wrote for the NaNoWriMo a couple of years ago. Hopefully one day it will be worth something besides sentiment.

When I moved from Utah to New York and was distributing things to the kids, Stephanie had the presence of mind to take one of my most valued dolls from the collection. Today it is worth thousands of dollars, perhaps to be given to her daughter.

So Ms. Stephanie in keeping with my promise, here is your blog for your birthday, may you share the joy of life with others, become even more of what you have dreamed. Do not let people tell you who you are, discover life and what it holds for you. Never give up and remember the edge is a step away to an adventure most will never try.

Lova lova you! Miss you! Happy Birthday, I was excited the day you arrived and even more excited to share your dreams and future and watch you grow and become ...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Fullfillment In the Whirlwind

Good morning/afternoon/evening! Whatever time you are reading this I am glad you stopped by. I am so honored to be asked to write a little something for you. I hope to encourage you today to be flexible enough to allow God to interrupt your plans by telling you my story of how I ended up on this site in the first place.

My name is Venus. (really) I am a single mom to two very strong willed children. While they are my daily challenges, they are also my daily blessings. 2008 has been a whirlwind year for me. For the last year and a half I feel God has really been inspiring me with ideas of things I want to do for his kingdom. Well, for a year of this year and a half I felt just plain stuck. I had this vision of what I wanted to do and I wanted to do it right then. With no finances and no idea how or where to begin this wonderful venture, I began to feel frustrated and lost. I began to think maybe this "crazy" idea was just that, a crazy idea.

June 2008: I attended my monthly Faith At Work luncheon. Once a month Christian women get together to hear speakers teach us how to bring our faith to the workplace. That month our guest speaker was Diane Cunningham, life purpose coach. Exactly what I needed at just the right time! But of course, does God do it any other way? That day I won a door prize directly related to the ideas I had been having and I just had to share with her. I told her how stuck I was and she suggested we talk. Before we had our phone session I had started a blog. I was just craving to connect with other Christian women to grow in my faith since so many of my friends are not believers. YET. I had sent her a link and asked her to check it out.

She did, and she liked it! When we got to speak one on one she told me I was a writer and suggested I check out a site she was involved with Take Root and Write. She said it was fairly new and they were looking for writers. Well, this had nothing to do with my vision, in fact it was not even in the same category and I have never considered myself to be a writer, or at least a good one, but since I had just stumbled on the site the day before and now here she was mentioning it, I felt God's hand in it.

I contacted the site's creator and had her look at my new blog. Granted I was doing all this not really knowing what I would do if she actually asked me to write for her. Guess what. She did! She asked me to write a column about being a single Christian mom. The introduction to my bi-weekly column was published on 8/8/08. I had heard somewhere that 8 was the number of new beginnings and I thought, " how appropriate".

I have to say this has been the most challenging thing I have done in a long time. At first I thought I really had nothing to contribute or anything encouraging to say to other women who are in my situation, have been at one time, or are about to be. I was really nervous about the whole thing until I started getting emails from women telling me they understood exactly where I was coming from!

I am now part of this wonderful on-line ministry I do not think I would have found had God not guided me to it. Each and every one of the women involved has been such a blessing to me words just cannot express. While writing was not the original tool I had planned to use to reach women and bring them closer to Christ, it has still been just as effective. And it has been an even bigger blessing to me and I feel it is just the first step in God's purpose for my life. I am so glad he has a plan for me because if He didn't I might still be just sitting on my own plans. He has a plan for you too if you will allow him to guide you.

In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.
Proverbs 16:9 NIV

Sounds of the Season Part 1

Today, as we prepare for the celebration of the honor of the Lord Jesus' birth into this world we offer some beautiful video and sounds of the season. Jesus is not the reason for just a season, but a lifestyle. I hope you will enjoy these few sounds of the season as we share the thoughts and hopes of peace and good will towards all mankind. The last video is for all those who are serving in the military, on missions, or otherwise not home with family and friends, our prayers and wishes are for you as well. Merry CHRISTmas!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Ribs Worth the Adventure

Have you ever bought a city guide, especially in large cities this is almost a must, but found that the descriptions weren't always what you exptected? Early in my New York City experience as an Executive Assistant on Wall Street, I needed to find someplace for my boss to hold a lunch meeting. She wanted someplace new. So armed with my city restaurant guide, I began to look for the perfect place. I went back to her with a couple of suggestions and she laughed, knowing that I didn't know the city yet. Her suggestion--take a couple of hours and go check out those places. I knew they were going to be "dogs" she never let you out of the office even for lunch.

Nevertheless I did take those couple of hours and got to know the streets and what was there. Well, last night the Impromptu Party Planner described to me what she found on Google about Lee's Barbeque. We both knew it was in the hood for real. But not necessarily by Google reviewers standards. We laughed till we hurt reading the reviews.

In the Buffalo City Guide, Lee's Barbeque Restaurant has a 4 1/2 star review. Not bad right? If you were visiting you might just want to visit, even though one review clearly states it is a take-out only. But what the heck--we can take them home, take them back to the hotel--whatever. The true of the tale is this:

As one reviewer stated "the neighborhood is a bit rough...but you get a lot of food for your money." The neighborhood is in one of the most notorious parts of the east side. Daily shootings aren't like they were a few years ago, and Lee's still sits on the same corner, amid closed stores, boarded up windows that were broken or shot out. Drug dealers and prostitutes all over, but Lee's has never moved. ER-BOD-EE in Buffalo knows Lee's Ribs!

I remember the first time a group of us went to Lee's to pick up ribs, they told me to stay in the car [I was the only Caucasian in the group]. I realized it wasn't necessarily for my safety, but theirs. I have learned so much since then. I had just moved to Buffalo, [that was about 25 years ago].

But today--Wooeeee, I can't wait until 6pm tonight. My plate filled with ribs dripping with Lee's special sauce, three-cheese macaroni and cheese, collard greens cooked with smoked turkey wing, coleslaw, cornbread, and cheese cake will be in my hands. Yummy

But my point today is this--Don't trust the maps to tell you about a restaurant, call them, check it out! And when in Buffalo, New York go to Lee's Barbeque and get a slab of ribs, slaw and fries--Happy Eating its worth the adventure!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Love Acts of the Impromptu Party Planner

One of the ways that we seldom look at as "Love Acts" is the impromptu party planner. Yes, those dear souls who work with us in offices, on various church staffs, or family instigators. So today, the 365 Love Award goes to a person who I know personally, and have had the extreme good pleasure of tasting the outpouring of love from the perpetual spaghetti pot.

Many is the time when people were at her home, she would excuse herself and go to the kitchen. Out came the big pot and before long hot garlic bread, spaghetti that would make an Italian mama cry, paper plates and plastic forks--Let's eat!

This year, with the cutbacks at corporations, her company decided that there would not be the annual Christmas/Holiday Party. But you know, there are just times when you see your fellow workers cleaning out their desks, putting family photos in briefcases or purses, and you are grateful that you are still a survivor in the rate race of business. It is during those times that there is an unspoken need to have something to keep the momentum. Right on cue, the impromptu party planner.

Without hesitation, a December BBQ is planned. In her city is a place called Lee's BBQ, the best ribs in the country. Everybody volunteers to bring something for the table. Macaroni and cheese, broccoli coleslaw, shredded pork, cakes, pies, you name it--its coming. People from other departments ask if they can join. Nobody doesn't like a party for lunch!

When life gets depressing and there is no way around situations--the impromptu party planner has a way of making us feel good, to bring out the joy of friendship and good food. Our impromptu party planner--I affectionaly call Mother Worthey--always being a mother to somebody, better known as Ms. Candice.

Poetess Sheila Kline ~May I Love ~

~May I Love~

When I open up my heart and allow its love to flow,

May it always flow with a love that others may know!

When I stretch out my hand towards another in need;

May it hold that which allows sincere love to take seed!

When I open my eyes to see far corners of our earth;

May I see sad souls as they pray for new love to birth!

When I see a heart that is crying as a result from pain;

May my compassion help heal it to feel love yet again!

When I walk on a day's passage of a moment in time;

May my footsteps direct me to deliver gifts thus kind!

When I see a child that needs to feel love of a mother;

May my motherly desires present this love to another!

When I see one that has stumbled, and is now so lost;

May my sense of direction anchor a spirit being tossed!

When I hear one calling out for someone to please hear;

May I realize that every call is uttered from ones dear!

When I feel music in my spirit that dances about so free;

May I share these special moments of joyful discovery!

When I gather flowers that with beauty of love do grow;

May I give them to others, as my love for them I show!

When my heart is full to the tiptop and then spills out;

May others accept it as a love sincere, without a doubt!

When I experience great love that must be given away;

May it allow another needy spirit to enjoy a blessed day!

Sheila C. Kline

A Poetess of Multiplicity

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Ya Gotta Love The Streets

Words like what’s up, good time’s, and Wodaa fills the air, young man chasings car’s yelling “Hey, Hey” as they whistle to make a drug sell. I see young ladies being pull to the side of the road by men twice their age some with a young child on their side already. Yup, that’s when I know I’m on the streets in the heart of the projects in my Lil town where the lost gather and broken heart s corral.

I smile as I walk sometimes nodding my head to greet a stranger even speaking the language at times (what’s up) I would say. You see, these streets are a different world those who are in them cannot see past the scales on their eyes. The people who roam these streets view the world in an different light. In fact, there is no light for them to view. When I hear a church mention the phase "street ministry" it makes me feel uncomfortable not knowing whom they will choose to be the leader of the pack. You can’t just send out anyone to the streets it must come natural you have to have a feeling for the task

Example when Christ wanted the disciples to catch a fish and gatherer money out of its mouth to pay taxes, he didn’t send the disciple who was a tax collector he sent the fishmen. Christ used the skills inside one to perform a task, I believe it’s no different than street ministry; you have know your roll.

When I move through the hood sometimes it’s just to show my face letting them see me around; other times I’m stopping to ask questions to the youngster about life. I don’t judge because the saved is just a sinner who was down and was bless enough to get up. I put myself in their shoes. I embark on conversations that they can related to, like how the police treat them, school, something they might be involved in. I allow these lost souls to talk their heart out with no perceived or hidden agenda; I listen and listen and listen.

I know someone might say isn’t the purpose of being out there is to save souls and you would be correct, but I cannot take away what God has given them and that’s a choice. So I have no agenda but I do have faith that after they are done venting and sharing that they would allow me to pray or share testimonies of what Christ has done for me. Street ministry is about showing where God could bring a person from.

For me personally, I share how I slept on the floor in the jail house and how I faced three felonies. I share how I was unfaithful to the woman I loved. I share how I used to drink and smoke weed until the cows came home. I give them a sample of who I used to be, and how God changed me into the man of purpose and integrity of today.

The streets, you got to love them. It is the one place where you could find soul’s who truly want the truth. Ask yourself when was the last time you passed thorough a rough neighbor and locked your doors as you rolled by? What do you say when you see someone's pants hanging of their (back side)? When I view that rough neighbor I see challenges but also opportunity.

When I see someone with their pants hanging down I view them as prospects of hope. How could one view this in that manner, easy it’s the same feeling you get when you see a blind man walking across the street, you want to be his eyes because they cannot see. This is the same way we should feel about the street let’s not fault them for being blind let’s try and be their eyes. But just like the blind man walking across the street he has a choice whether he will allow you to help him or not, street ministry is all about giving them a choice.


Be sure to check out Donald Bogen's "Bathroom Minister" videos on and

Donald is a minister with Church of God In Christ in Louisiana. I met this example of Christ's love on Living In Black and White--Real Life In Christ social media site. Donald isn't afraid to keep things real in talking with people. All it takes is a few minutes either in person, blogging, or chat to know he doesn't play and has a heart for help other people.

Monday, December 8, 2008

When The Soul Mends Blog Tour and Give Away

Welcome to Blog Tour for New York Times Bestseller Cindy Woodsmall's newest book and "When The Soul Mends". This is one book that really surprised me both in the twists and turns, as well as the ending! You can usually tell by the two-thirds mark of a fiction book how it will end, not with When the Soul Mends.

I was wondering if I would be able to keep up with the list of characters that are listed in the front of the book. So many from the two previous books and any new ones that might show up. Well, Woodsmall is a great story teller and allows you to catch up in no time. I only had to glance at the list a couple of times in the beginning. I found the setting delightful, moving back and forth between the Amish world and the modern.

Hannah, one of the main characters, grew up in the Amish community, yet ran away for good reason but the question always reamained of whether she had made the right decision. Would she ever get over the feelings of her family and their opinions of life and her in particular? I found myself drawn into this character because of her situation, as I think many of the readers will.

And what is a good story without the love interests? Well, this is an area that will not only keep you guessing but rooting for one or the other--or at times all of them. You want Hannah to make the right and wise decision--but what is the right answer for her? Has she become so modern in the world of nursing school, Englisher boyfriend and modern clothes that she couldn't make the switch back? Pondering life then, now, and forever--so much for a young woman to consider. And what about the reasons she left in the first place?

This is a great story about choices; the ones made in haste out of frustration and hurt, then the more rational ones afterward. It works out for everyone in the end, but just as real life, it is the journey through the muddy spots that make for a good story.

GIVE AWAY: I have two copies of When The Soul Mends to give away. Simply post a comment on this blog, and your name will be entered to win. Contests is for US residents only, Dec 8-9th, 2008.

Author Bio: Cindy Woodsmall is a best-selling author, who has garnered strong praise for the first two novels in the Sisters of the Quilt series. When the Heart Cries was a finalist for the ECPA Novel of the Year in 2007 and received the Reviewer’s Choice Award from the Road to Romance website. When the Morning Comes was named among the Best Books of 2007 for Crossings Book Club. Cindy lives in Georgia with her husband of thirty years.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Book Review - The Unseen by T. L. Hines

Power suspense writer, T. L. Hines pushes the adrenaline pump at just the right intervals to create a gasp but not cardiac arrest with well-crafted words in his latest book, The Unseen. A must read if you like a thriller that is closer to life than the fiction it purports to be.

The Unseen is a web of deceit and exploitation; exposing plots within plots of possible espionage, intrigue, government cover-up, or could it simply be a matter of greed? Hines takes the reader on a ride through the underground tunnels of Washington DC, visiting the old parts of the city, into buildings that have no registered tenants yet security at the doors. Then, of course, there are the walls behind walls revealing even more mystery as the watcher suddenly becomes the watched.

When one of the watchers, Lucas, hears something unusual in his underground home, he comes face to face with someone obviously out of place with a strange request. Lucas only wanted to be helpful and quickly get this stranger out of his domain. The red flag that went off in Lucas' mind initially but was over ridden by the desire to be helpful and most of all to prove that he was the real creeper, not this come lately stranger.

The next day, however, Lucas finds he had experienced a home invasion, and it was not the rats that also occupied the underground hamlet. Lucas begins looking for the stranger from the night before. Dishwasher by profession, with a mind that understands security, electronics, and a deep thinker prefers the shadows where he feels safe. We don't get the whole story until the very end of the book. What an ending! Electrifying from the first word to the last. Closing the book, one sits and ponders—was that really fiction?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Beyond Cards and Letters

Inspired by an uncle who wrote a book "Today Is All You Have" was dying of cancer as he penned simple yet encouraging words. My uncle was a physician, dying, and yet wanted to continue to share what was important on his heart. Another book I had read some years earlier, The Right To Write truly liberated me with a new found freedom to express myself. Now the challenge was what to write and how to go about it.

My "project" started out writing a legacy for my grandkids. It is important to let them know the family and background that they might not ever know, to let them share in the stories, the ups and downs of what life was really like. I believe that is an inborn instinct in all of us. I was sixty before I got my first computer. Like Moses, it was never too late to start with something new. My hubby and family had decided that since I was always clunking away on an old typewriter and having to always be changing the messy ribbons that I deserved something a bit more modern. Imagine my delight when they bought me a computer!

Like anything new, it took a while to figure some of it out, but eventually I got the hang of it, and was so glad that others would give me the time and help to learn. Well, one thing led to another and I got on the Internet. I met a woman by the name of Pastor Gail who received prayer requests and people who just needed encouragement. At the time I was sending out cards that I made. We joined in the work for the Lord. I started answering emails for her, became a prayer warrior, and making some of the best friends you could meet in such a strange way.

One woman asked if I would write a letter to her sister. She had suffered a severe stroke, and was now dying of cancer. Most of her friends and previous co-workers ignored her. The sister asked that I send her sister a letter, so I did. I found through the glimpses of what she would share that she loved her cat. One of my hobbies is that of photography and then I make cards. Then of all things, God guided my hands to watercolor. These specialized cards were sent out to many people. For this dear woman, I started to clip out of magazines or ads every cat I could find and send them to her along with a note. I received a letter one day thanking me for sending her sister encouragement during those years of her dying. It had made a difference for both of them.

When Susan asked me to send her a story, all I could think about is how much I love people in general, not looking at who, what, or anything about them; they are human just as I am, created by the same God and with a purpose. I have illness and depressions just like everybody, but when I reach out to somebody else, it lessens the thoughts about what I am experiencing. I usually wear my heart on my shirtsleeve; I can cry and smile with whatever you're going through. My greatest desire is to see the Lord face-to-face, and to encourage those on the earth while we are all still here. How I demonstrate my love of Christ is remembering where I came from, those who inspired me to reach higher, to encourage others through the skills and gifts that God has given me.

I pray that you are encouraged today to try something new, and speak a word of kindness to others, especially those who are suffering and may have become part of the forgotten living.

Carol Ann

Friday, December 5, 2008

Living The Love

Today's social media is a fun place to meet people, as well as experience them in different ways depending upon the venue that you meet. Today's spotlight blogger, Karla Meachem, I have known through several sites, but didn't get to see the love and charm she has until we were both on
Karla tweeters, "Good Morning" to everyone, and then over the next several hours tweet these really wonderful links. They would be anything from a great site to find puzzles for children, or pages of activities, movies that are family oriented, or wonderful outreaches in her area. So I thought, of course, that she was a home school mom. Wow, so not the case! She tells me that she just loves her kids and wants to keep them busy with fun and inventive things--and--shares the goods with everybody. How cool is that!My friend is recovering from recent surgery so we did this 365 Love Award through an interview. Below are Karla's statements about life, family, and her incredible gift to the world. Don't forget to leave a comment so she can read them.
"I am a firm believer that everyone has their own mission field (children included) - in our homes, our workplace and our community. Every person that we come into contact with is an opportunity to share the love of Christ. Our life should be a testimony to the One we love.

First and foremost, I enjoy being a mom; my kids are my top priority; and I am privileged to be a sahm (stay at home mom). Now that both kids are in school, I am enjoying a much more active role within our community.I am also our church secretary, as well as part of a church planting team. I especially love the outreach events that we hold in our community and surrounding areas.This summer we planned an outdoor concert and bbq. We had games for the kids, as well as treats (bubbles, tattoos, and chalk to take home with them).

We just recently started an event entitled "breakTHROUGH!". We will hold these events every 2 weeks! We are encouraging those who are struggling with life to come out to find encouragement, support and direction.

And we are also encouraging those who know Jesus already, to come out to be equipped to go to the next level with God! Praise & worship, a message and prayer...drawing closer to the heart of Jesus.

Just tonight, our church team went out to a community about 30 minutes away. The community has a yearly Christmas Light Tour. Their entire town participates; they have even won awards. Our church team went out tonight and offered free hot chocolate to those touring the community.

Later on in December, we are going caroling and handing out scotch tape to each home. We desire to touch people's lives in a unique, but special way. These events also help us to get the word out about our new church and give us a chance to meet people and wish them Merry CHRISTmas! (encouraging them to 'stick with Jesus!')

And yes, the children are included in these events; and are encouraged to participate...right from setting up for service, cleaning up after service and in between. :) (We meet in a school)

Yes, I do encourage my kids to help others. My daughter, who is almost 10, has a servant's heart. She is very aware of those that need a hand, both at school and around our community. My son is only 5, but is encouraged to help as much as he can and is eager to help when asked.

Both my kids have needed to grow up to be more independent than other kids their age, because they have grown up living with a mom that deals with daily chronic pain. They are amazing kids! A real BIG blessing in my life! I'm excited to see what God has planned for their lives!

My heart's desire is for people, both young and old to live a victorious life in Christ - to be all that God has called them to be!"Living the Love,



Empowering Christian Women was started as a place to organize my businesses to include my Christian faith, but it quickly blossomed into a new vision and passion to encourage Christian women to reach their complete potential in Christ. ECW is a work in progress, but it has stolen my heart.

Now, Empowering Christian Women is an online ministry, a place to share resources that have impacted my daily walk with Christ. ECW is a daily part of my life, an extension of who I am...or rather, who God is transforming me to be!She is also a contributing author of the recently released e-book entitled Mirror, Mirror...on the Wall, which is available for purchase at

Karla has a heart and a passion for Christ. She is a firm believer in keeping God first; as she knows the empowerment (freedom and liberty) available to everyone through Christ.

Karla lives in Saskatchewan, Canada with her husband and two children; she can be reached at