Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Thorns & Roses

We had a great weekend in New York, and I promise, an update on the weekend (even if it is mostly pictures - which I have a lot of) is coming, but due to all that is going on this weekend (refer to my last post) I do not have the time yet to upload them all.

In the meantime, I came across this story on a blog that I am a frequent visitor of. It is well worth the read. Although there is still pain in my heart at times, from the moment my little one went to be with the Lord, I have been thankful for the thorns. And yes, although this story brought tears to my eyes at first, it also brought a smile at the end, because it's true.


Sandra felt as low as the heels of her shoes when she pulled open the florist shop door, against a November gust of wind. Her life had been as sweet as a spring breeze and then, in the fourth month of her second pregnancy, a "minor" automobile accident stole her joy. This was Thanksgiving week and the time she should have delivered their infant son. She grieved over their loss.

Troubles had multiplied. Her husband's company "threatened" to transfer his job to a new location. Her sister had called to say that she could not come for her long awaited holiday visit. What's worse, Sandra's friend suggested that Sandra's grief was a God-given path to maturity that would allow her to empathize with others who suffer. "She has no idea what I'm feeling," thought Sandra with a shudder. "Thanksgiving? Thankful for what?" she wondered. "For a careless driver whose truck was hardly scratched when he rear-ended her? For an airbag that saved her life, but took her child's?"

"Good afternoon, can I help you?"

Sandra was startled by the approach of the shop clerk. "I . . . I need an arrangement," stammered Sandra.

"For Thanksgiving? I'm convinced that flowers tell stories," the clerk told her. "Are you looking for something that conveys 'gratitude' this Thanksgiving?"

"Not exactly!" Sandra blurted out. "In the last five months, everything that could go wrong has gone wrong."

Sandra regretted her outburst, and was surprised when the clerk said, "I have the perfect arrangement for you."

Then the bell on the door rang, and the clerk greeted the new customer,

"Hi, Barbara, let me get your order." She excused herself and walked back to a small workroom, then quickly reappeared, carrying an arrangement of greenery, bows, and what appeared to be long-stemmed thorny roses. Except the ends of the rose stems were neatly snipped: there were no flowers.

"Do you want these in a box?" asked the clerk.

Sandra watched - was this a joke? Who would want rose stems with no flowers! She waited for laughter, but neither woman laughed.

"Yes, please," Barbara replied with an appreciative smile. "You'd think after three years of getting the special, I wouldn't be so moved by its significance, but I can feel it right here, all over again," she said, as she gently tapped her chest.

Sandra stammered, "Ah, that lady just left with . . . uh . . . she left with no flowers!"

"That's right," said the clerk. "I cut off the flowers. That's the 'Special'. I call it the Thanksgiving Thorns Bouquet. Barbara came into the shop three years ago, feeling much as you do today," explained the clerk. "She thought she had very little to be thankful for. She had just lost her father to cancer; the family business was failing; her son had gotten into drugs; and she was facing major surgery. That same year I had lost my husband," continued the clerk. "For the first time in my life, I had to spend the holidays alone. I had no children, no husband, no family nearby, and too much debt to allow any travel."

"So what did you do?" asked Sandra."I learned to be thankful for thorns," answered the clerk quietly. "I've always thanked God for the good things in my life and I never questioned Him why those good things happened to me, but when the bad stuff hit, I cried out, 'Why? Why me?!' It took time for me to learn that the dark times are important to our faith! I have always enjoyed the 'flowers' of my life, but it took the thorns to show me the beauty of God's comfort! You know, the Bible says that God comforts us when we're afflicted, and from His consolation we learn to comfort others."

Sandra sucked in her breath, as she thought about what her friend had tried to tell her. "I guess the truth is I don't want comfort. I've lost a baby and I'm angry with God."

Just then someone else walked in the shop.

"Hey, Phil!" the clerk greeted the balding, rotund man. "My wife sent me in to get our usual Thanksgiving arrangement . . twelve thorny, long-stemmed stems!" laughed Phil as the clerk handed him a tissue wrapped arrangement from the refrigerator.

"Those are for your wife?" asked Sandra incredulously. "Do you mind telling me why she wants a bouquet that looks like that?"

"Four years ago, my wife and I nearly divorced," Phil replied. "After forty years, we were in a real mess, but with the Lord's grace and guidance, we trudged through problem after problem, the Lord rescued our marriage. Jenny there (the clerk) told me she kept a vase of rose stems to remind her of what she had learned from "thorny" times. That was good enough for me. I took home some of those stems. My wife and I decided to label each one for a specific "problem" and give thanks for what that problem taught us."

As Phil paid the clerk, he said to Sandra, "I highly recommend the Special!"

"I don't know if I can be thankful for the thorns in my life" Sandra said to the clerk. "It's all too . . . fresh."

"Well," the clerk replied carefully, "my experience has shown me that the thorns make the roses more precious. We treasure God's providential care more during trouble than at any other time. Remember that it was a crown of thorns that Jesus wore so we might know His love. Don't resent the thorns."

Tears rolled down Sandra's cheeks. For the first time since the accident, she loosened her grip on her resentment."I'll take those twelve long-stemmed thorns, please," she managed to choke out."

I hoped you would," said the clerk gently. "I'll have them ready in a minute."

"Thank you. What do I owe you?"

"Nothing. Nothing but a promise to allow God to heal your heart. The first year's arrangement is always on me."

The clerk smiled and handed a card to Sandra. "I'll attach this card to your arrangement, but maybe you would like to read it first."

It read:

"My God, I have never thanked You for my thorns.I have thanked You a thousand times for my roses, but never once for my thorns. Teach me the glory of the cross I bear; teach me the value of my thorns. Show me that I have climbed closer to You along the path of pain. Show me that, through my tears, the colors of Your rainbow look much more brilliant."

Praise Him for the roses; thank Him for the thorns.

"Live simply, love generously, care deeply, speak kindly, and leave the rest to God."

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Things and Recent Happenings

Well, I don't know exactly just yet, what it is I'm going to write about, but since it has been a whole week since my last post, I figured I shouldn't put it off any longer. So, I guess I'll just write about "things and recent happenings."

Last Friday evening, one of my dear friends and I went to the "mini" Iron Sharpens Iron conference which featured speakers: Shaunti Feldhahn, Elisa Morgan, Rick Johnson, and Elizabeth George. The main conference was on Saturday, but because of the overwhelming response to it, they decided to have a "mini" conference the night before for those unable to attend the full conference. We were so blessed that night and wished that it had lasted longer than 2 1/2 hours. But they certainly packed some GREAT things in those 2 1/2 hours! All 4 speakers were excellent! My friend and I both, took lots of notes!

I ended up purchasing Shaunti Feldhahn's book For Women Only and Elizabeth George's book Putting on a Gentle and Quiet Spirit, a study of 1st Peter. I also wanted to buy Rick Johnson's book The Man Whisperer, but I am not made of money and I restrained myself. However, my Mom went to his session during the full conference on Saturday and bought the book, so I will be reading it and taking lots of notes while Scott and I are staying there for 2 weeks. I can't wait to read it!

On Saturday we drove up to New Hampshire for a book signing in North Conway. The weather was beautiful and the Mountains were gorgeous! The picture above is no where close to some of what we saw, but we couldn't seem to capture the beauty on my point and shoot camera, and we forgot to bring Scott's nice one.

After the booksigning on Saturday, we drove back down to Rochester where our booksigning on Sunday was. We spent the night at a nice Holiday Inn Express. They had an indoor pool and hot tub, and we remembered our bathing suits!!!!

It was overcast and raining Sunday morning, but we had a good booksigning. I found a couple more great deals to finish off some gifts! (YAY!!!! :)) I was going to take a turn driving on our way home, but because it was raining and we knew it was supposed to turn to snow (which it did!) I didn't feel comfortable driving (I haven't had a whole lot of experience driving on the highway in such conditions), so Scott drove (and did an expertise job, as always! :)).

As for this week..... it has been full of packing, and working. Oh, and we found a 4 x 6 trailer for our book tour! It is the perfect size and will give us the extra room we need for books, promo. material, and luggage! :)

With all that said, I hope you all have a great rest of the week, and a great weekend! On Friday we'll be heading up toward Buffalo, NY for booksignings in NY over the weekend. So expect another update next week!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Roasted Butternut Squash

Okay, so my friend Shayna posted a recipe for Roasted Butternut Squash on her blog last week. It looked really yummy, and since the recipe looked so easy and I had just bought some Butternut Squash, I decided that when I was ready to cook it, I'd try the recipe.

So last night, after spending a productive afternoon with my Mom, packing up everything in my Kitchen that I'm not using and packing up more books, I started dinner. I had told Scott that I'd make the Roasted Butternut Squash for dinner, earlier, so I started preparing it and took out some thin "sandwich steaks" to have with the squash.

The squash recipe was very easy and since I didn't have all the ingredients, I just added a couple extras, and it was really yummy!

I cooked the steaks on the stove in a covered pan with White Balsamic Vinaigrette and a couple

tablespoons of water. When the steaks were cooked through (flipped them half-way), I took them out of the pan and put in some sliced Baby Bella Mushrooms for 5 minutes on low. I then put the steak back on top of the mushrooms for a couple more minutes and served it!

Here's another picture of the plate because I think it's really cool how you can see the steam rising up from the food.

So there's my "tidbit" for today. Hopefully I can get some Laundry done tonight and do more organizing/packing tomorrow morning before I babysit. We will see...... :)

Monday, October 12, 2009


I know, I know. I haven't posted in 6 days, "where have I been?" Well, if you follow my Husband's blog then you know that we have had book signings and are very pleased to announce that Flaming Pen Press will be publishing another author Jacob Parker.

Most of the above I don't have much part in, but I have been very busy too. Along with babysitting and working, I have been getting serious about going through things in our apartment and starting to pack. In exactly 2 weeks we will no loner be at our apartment. I'll still have a few more days left to clean (2 weeks from now) but we will no longer be sleeping there and most everything should be packed up and moved out of there.

Over the last several months I have been collecting Christmas gifts here and there, mostly as we've been at different malls doing book signings. While Scott has been signing books, I've been walking the malls for exercise (anything is better than nothing :) ) and going through clearance racks/shelves at different stores. Some stores don't have much of anything nice, but I have found some really good "steals" in my shopping. I didn't intentionally set out to do that. In June I had done some shopping and got a bunch of nice stuff that I decided to save for Christmas gifts. But then I didn't think a whole lot more about Christmas until July or the beginning of August when I was just strolling through a store and found 2 gifts that were perfect for 2 of my sisters. The best part was that they were on clearance. I bought them and then later that week I was thinking about it, and I thought..... "hmm, I should keep my eyes open for anything else I might come across." Since we're at bookstores every weekend and at least one or all of those bookstores are in malls, I have doing lots of browsing. I am so thankful how the Lord has worked everything out. Getting ready to head out on national book tour means that I don't have a whole lot of money to spare. But by being strategic and setting myself a goal of NOT paying full-price for ANYTHING I have just about finished up my Christmas shopping and although I haven't (and probably won't) tallied everything up, I know I've spent a fraction of what I spent last year (I did sort of go over the top last year, but it was fun! :) I love giving gifts!).

When it comes to Christmas some people get stuck on making sure they spend the same amount of money on everyone in their family, or all of their friends, or co-workers, and the majority of people end up with LOTS of extra credit debt on their hands once Christmas is over. But that is NOT what Christmas is about. It wasn't until the last 2 years that I have had more than $20-$50 to spend on Christmas gifts (and that $20-$50 I had saved up over the course of SEVERAL months!). But even that was only the couple years before that. When giving or receiving a gift, it doesn't matter how much it cost or how much trouble you had to go through to get it. All that matters is what's in the heart. Sometimes the best gifts are the "messy" colored pictures from your kids or little brothers and sisters. Yes, they may have even "drawn" you this picture on a piece of scrap paper that they found in the garbage, but when they come up to you and say "I made this for you," your heart just melts, and you can't help but feel special.

In giving gifts, whether it's a birthday, Christmas, or some other special occasion (or maybe "just because"), it doesn't matter how much we spend, or if we even spend anything at all. What matters, is that it comes from our hearts.

On another note, if you're wondering what to do about stocking "stuffers" this year, check out what this mom had to say about it here.

So I have been working on going through my Christmas gifts, wrapping, labeling, organizing them, along with trying to go through things to ELIMINATE!!!!!! Just about every time that I see my Mom, I'm giving her a bag or two of items that I don't need/don't want anymore, or that I just don't know why I still have it since I haven't touched it in at least 3 years (I know, can you believe that I found stuff even after moving when I got married? :)). I hope she doesn't mind me passing things on to her. :) Of course there are some things that my other siblings could use, so she probably doesn't mind those things. :)

May you all have a blessed day!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Love Your Husband... Titus 2:4

My time this morning is limited, as I have a full day ahead of me (when don't I?), but I could not let the day go by without sharing this with you.

Titus 2:4 says, "That they may teach the young woman to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children..."

The love in this verse is phileo, meaning friendship love - a love that cherishes, enjoys, and likes our husband. We are to value him and build a friendship with him. We should see our husband as our best friend and want to be with him more than any other person.

I am not saying that I have a problem with making my husband my best friend. He is my best friend. The above is from part of my devotions this morning. (Yes, I've finished the chapter on Submission and am now on to "A Heart That Loves".) The thing I wanted to share with you today was the following, by Elizabeth George.

"How can a wife nurture a heart of love, a heart prepared to support her husband in practical ways, "until death do us part"?
Decide to make your husband your number one relationship! Our relationship with our husband is meeant to be more important that the relationships we enjoy with our parents, friends, a good neighbor, a brother or sister, a best friend, and even our children - and the way we use our time should reflect that rank ordering!"

May you all have a blessed day, and to any wives reading this, I encourage you to ask yourself throughout the day if you're making your husband your number one relationship. Who are you eargerly sharing things with? That's what I'll be asking myself today.

Friday, October 2, 2009


Today, I would just like to share with you a paragraph from 'A Woman After God's Own Heart' as food for thought. And yes, I'm still studying Submission.

"Remember to respect--- Submission flows from the basic heart attitude of respect. God states, "Let the wife see that she respects her husband" (Ephesians 5:33). God isn't tellin us to feel respect, but to show respect, to act with respect. A good way to measure our respect for our husband is to answer the question, Am I treating my husband as I would treat Christ Himself?
"You reveal your respect for your husband in little daily instances. Do you, for instance, ask your husband to do something--or do you tell him? Do you stop, look, and listen to him when he's talking? Do you speak about him with respect?"