New Blog Hop starting in 2015

At the beginning of this year I hosted a blog hop for writers. We posted every other week and the blog hop included six topics (Click on the links to see the posts):

1. My writing goals for 2014

2. Writing tools I use

3. Character Sketch

4. Advice to a new writer

5. My favourite genre

6. My current works in progress

 

Blog hop for writers

Everyone who participated in the blog hop learned from other writers and had fun. We also had increased traffic to our sites.

Blog Hop

I would like to put together a blog hop that will kick off early in 2015. I haven’t picked any topics yet. Writing? Parenting? Special Needs? Technology? Please let me know if you’d like to participate and give me your suggestions for general topics and post topics. Also let me know how often you’d be able to post (I’m thinking of running the blog hop all year long with posts once a month).

I look forward to hearing your ideas 🙂

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Fighting for the BEST in your Marriage and 5 Minute Friday

Best Marriage

Jeff and Lori Harmon shared a session about, “Fighting for the BEST in your Marriage,” at the NAME Conference in November. Here is some of the information they shared:

Scriptures: Genesis 2:24; Genesis 3:1; John 8:44; John 10:10

  • God is the one who processes us to make the two into one.
  • God is with us. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. We need to deal with our baggage and our thoughts.
  • “I do” and “I will” need to be true on your marriage day and throughout your marriage.
  • Our marriages are under attack. Satan slithers into our marriage – Hollywood, movies, books, etc. and works to separate us.
  • We don’t struggle against flesh and blood. Too often we fight inside our marriage instead of fighting outside our marriage. Satan wants to bring the worst. We need to fight for the best in our marriage. Satan is a liar. Lies seep their ways in. Maybe my spouse isn’t the one God wanted me to marry. Satan goes about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.
  • We are not just fighting for ourselves; we are also fighting for the next generation.
  • We will all fail. Jesus does not condemn us; He points out the ideal and gives us the grace, courage, and strength to get there. You’ll never be good enough; Jesus is good enough
  • We can’t compare! This brings condemnation, not conviction.

The word, “Marriage” comes from the  Greek word for “gem”. Just like time and pressure turn a chunk of coal into a diamond, so God uses time and pressure to turn our marriages into something precious.

God never meant for marriage to be learned alone.

The BEST Marriage

B – Bless your spouse

  • God wants us to be “blessers”.
  • The first 4 minutes of your day will set the tone for your day.
  • Life and death are in the power of the tongue. Proverbs 10:18.
  • Our world is very negative. We need each other to speak blessing and encouragement.
  • Speak words to your spouse and about them Hebrews 11:3 – our words frame our world
  • Use “Please” and “Thank you” – When was the last time you thanked your spouse?
  • Say “I love you.” even if you don’t feel it. Keep putting out the words and your spirit will follow
  • Pray for your spouse; NOT preach, preach, preach

E – Edify

  • You can say what you have or you can have what you say. Encourage, delight, fulfill – building with actions. Romans 10:19
  • God has put you in your marriage to build up your spouse.God wants you to serve. Your spouse is not your workmanship; they may be a piece of work, but they are not your piece of work.
  • Edify = to enlarge your spouse’s self-worth. Help them feel better about themselves. Your spouse is not there to make you complete – that’s Christ’s job. A spouse is a coach that runs along side you, cheering you on. You need to know your spouse so that you can edify and strengthen them. There is power in believing in your spouse.

S – Share

  • We become selfish with our time, needs, feelings. Communication is often a problem. We become disconnected. Couples who share their feelings are closer and can go through their difficulties much easier.
  • Your spouse should be your soulmate. If you’re closer to someone else, it’s because you’re talking to them more.
  • Cover/protect one another. Be your spouse’s BFF. You need to learn to have an expanded ability to share.
  • Silence can be a wedge between you and your spouse. Sharing is about not keeping secrets. I love what he loves because I love him. Share your dreams and visions.
  • Ask: How are we doing on a scale of 1-10? Why? What area needs improvement?

T – Touch

  • Kissing is beneficial for your health. A kiss is like a seal of approval.
  • Science of 7 – a woman needs 7 touches throughout the day – non-sexual.
  • Physical affirmation says, “I love you.”  Women need security. Touching and affirming. Touching kindles a flame.

Are you fighting for the BEST in your marriage? Ladies, I invite you to join me in The Red Hot Wives Challenge put together by Bill & Pam Farrel.

 

Give

Give

“It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

“Give, and it will be given to you, shaken down … running over.”

“Come unto me, all who are burdened and heavy laden and I will GIVE you rest.”

Christmas is just around the corner. In our home we consciously work at helping our children learn to GIVE:

  • We encourage them to give gifts to each other
  • We encourage them to give gifts to other people
  • We encourage them to give their time to help others by baking cookies, caroling around the neighborhood, volunteering at a soup kitchen

Jesus Christ is our example of giving.

At Christmas we celebrate that He gave up everything He had in Heaven, coming to earth as a helpless baby.

At Easter we celebrate that He gave His life in exchange for ours.

What will we give today?

Five minute Friday provides an opportunity to write for 5 minutes using a prompt, and then link in with other people who’ve done the same. If you’d like to participate, check out the details on Kate’s blog.


Thanksgiving Thank You from Helping Hands Press

Thank You

This is a guest post from Helping Hands Press

Thank You!

We can’t say it any more plainly.

As each day grows closer to those times of the year that makes one pause and reflect on what they are thankful for and what their year was like, we cannot help but come back to the one place any Author or Publisher needs to think of and consider with each and every word-YOUour readers and supporters.

We count on you each and every “Thirsty Thursday” Facebook Party for your feedback, every review you give, every email and direct message you send the Authors in our Community. Without your guidance and support we know that we would cease to exist. “THANK YOU!”

As a small token of our appreciation we are going to try to do a few fun things for you over the next 4 weeks.

We are going to offer all of the paperbacks, audio books and ebooks in the Helping Hands Press Store at 30% off from Nov. 20 to Dec.18th. All you need to do is use the code word “THANKYOU” when you check out to receive the discount.

We are also starting a contest that will run the same length of time. There will be a Rafflecopter located on the Helping Hands Press blog that will have all the details. There are a lot of prizes:

Grand Prize -Kindle Fire HD6

Second Prize– 12 paperbacks-Full list is below

Third Prize-6 paperbacks-Full List below

Fourth prize-6 audio books-Full List below

Fifth Prize-audio book of choice

We hope that you have fun, enjoy the contest, and most of all know that all of us here at Helping Hands Press are very thankful for your support each and every day!

THANK YOU!

01 A a AKindle Fire Promo

Second Prize-12 paperbacks: Declaration of Independence Series I, Colony Zero Complete Series I, The San Francisco Wedding Planner Series I, ’Tis The Season in Sweetland Complete, No Revolution Is Too Big Complete Series, Marsha Hubler’s Heart-Warming Christmas Stories Complete Series, No Matter What, Uplifting Devotionals Book I, 12Days of Christmas Complete Series, The Ambassadors, Preacher Man Volume I, Legacy of Grandpa’s Grapevine

Third Prize-6 paperbacks:Dark Enough To See The Stars, The Blizzard, The Christmas Wish, Mother Can You Hear Me?, Homeschool Co-ops 101, God,Me and a Cup of Tea

 


Name Conference: Marriages that Last

Lasting Marriage

Yesterday at church we celebrated two marriages which have stood the test of time. One couple has been married for 53 years. The other couple celebrated 63 years of marriage.

Have you ever wondered why some marriages fail while others thrive?

Here’s some more information that Bill and Pam Farrel shared about lasting marriages at the NAME Marriage Conference in November.

Seven stages most couples go through

  1. Newlywed
  2. Couple begins family
  3. Children enter school
  4. Children enter teen years
  5. Children enter adulthood
  6. Retirement Years
  7. Aging/Loss of spouse

“A hormone called PEA is released when you decide to marry someone – you’re actually addicted to this person. This lasts 18-24 months. When it’s gone, it’s gone. However, Oxytocin can be produced over and over by laughing together, by sharing mutually satisfying experiences, and sex.”

  • Women don’t divide their love, it multiplies!
  • Treat your spouse like company.
  • Sometimes it’s not just a spiritual problem, maybe we need a nap!

Midlife transitions: Wife’s search for significance; Husband’s search for companionship

We experience:

  • Overstated emotions
  • Question: Who am I and why am I on the face of this globe?
  • Most vulnerable to an affair

Work through Crisis

Wise women will take the question to God

“I love you too much to let life pull us apart, so let’s set some date nights.”

Men: Superman syndrome

  • Men become aware of the expenses of life
  • Men can become so focused on providing for the family that they forget to build relationship with the family
  • Testosterone drops in mid-life
  • Health crisis that gets your attention
  • Mid-life is a transition like puberty; transition from productivity to wisdom. People need your wisdom!

 Questions couples should ask themselves:

  1. Who would be a great mentor couple for us?
  2. When’s a great time for a date night? (Hint for couples with young children: Thursday night toy box. Put together a special box of toys children can only have on Thursday night (or whatever night you have your date night). Children have to stay on their beds to play with their special toy box.)

Seasoned Sisters – a supportive group of women Pam gets together with regularly.

  • In construction “sistering” = putting 2×4’s together so they can bear more weight; we should be doing this for each other as women.
  • “Choosing Joy!” – a phrase Pam uses to remind herself that she can’t change the circumstances, but she can change her attitude.

Pray Scriptures over your family

Isaiah 30:8 The Lord longs to be good to you

REMEMBER!

  • “If couples can hang through this transition (midlife), life will right itself.”
  • God is good all the time! Hang on to that. Goodness is ahead. Stick together.
  • Write out a dream list of what you want to do in the second half of your life.
  • Number one trait of couple who last a lifetime – want a love that lasts a lifetime (Pure grit and determination)

“Remind each other: It’s not you, it’s not me, it’s just life!”

 


Five Minute Friday: Notice

Five Minute Friday: Notice

Five Minute Friday: Notice

What do you notice when  you go somewhere you’ve never been before?

  • People?
  • Natural beauty?
  • Houses?
  • Flowers?
  • Something else?

What about when you meet someone you’ve never met before? What do you notice?

  • Hair?
  • Eyes?
  • Shape?
  • Smile?
  • Personality?
  • Gestures?

We all notice different things. Ask five eye-witnesses what they saw at an accident site and they’ll give you five different descriptions. For better or worse, we tend to see people and things through our own unique filters. We notice things that other people gloss over, but we also overlook things that other people think are obvious. We need to ask God to help us see people and events the way He sees them:

  • He sees the sparrow
  • He knows how many hairs are on your head
  • He understands what it’s like to be deserted and alone
  • He feels your sorrow

Nothing is ever a surprise to God. He notices everything.

Especially you!

 

Five-Minute-Friday-4-300x300

Those who’d like to participate in Five Minute Friday will write for five minutes on the topic of the week, post it on their own blog and link up the post on Kate’s blog (via the InLinkz button at the bottom of the post).

This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation.

Just write.


Parenting: Motivating with Rewards

In August at my Music for Young Children professional development session, one of the presenters shared that she doesn’t offer practice incentives to her students. Instead she challenges parents to talk to their children and figure out what will motivate them. I remembered this piece of advice a few weeks later when I sat down to help my own six-year-old daughter practice piano. It seemed like she resisted practicing. There was always something more interesting to do; practicing was hard work.

A week or so later I bought a ceramic tea set for my daughter to take to a friend’s birthday party. My daughter told me she wanted one just like it. I knew that my daughter could save her allowance and purchase her own tea set. However, I decided to offer the tea set to her as a practice incentive. At first I thought we would track her practice for a month or so and then give her the tea set when she practiced five or more days for at least four weeks. However, I ended up with a different plan.

I purchased the tea set at Toys-R-Us. My daughter was with me when I purchased it, so I explained my plan. Every week she practiced five or more days, I would give her one piece of her tea set. She happily agreed, and it has made a huge difference in her practicing. Since we started this arrangement five weeks ago, she only had one week where she didn’t earn a piece from the tea set. (Sometimes children want to know if we will stick to our guns!) We still have at least seven more pieces of the tea set waiting to be earned.

Although I would rather have my daughter intrinsically motivated, she seems to need some extrinsic motivation right now. She does enjoy music, but piano lessons are my choice not hers. I’m hopeful that once I help her develop consistent practice habits, she’ll enjoy the thrill of music making and the pleasure it brings to herself and others enough to be self-motivated.

 

Tea Set


NAME Conference: Men and Women Relieve Stress Differently

What kind of lover are you

“The right amount of stress allows you to be everything God created you to be. We need to keep stress at a level to be productive.” Bill & Pam Farrel

The following information was shared by Bill & Pam Farrel at the 2014 NAME Marriage Conference.

Women de-stress by talking things out (Stress = like having a meatball land on her pile of spaghetti; she needs to get all the noodles back in place and figure out how to fit the meatball in as well.)

Men create a new box (an easy box), figure it out, put a lid on it and don’t go back there.

Women need to find some REALLY good girlfriends 🙂

  1. Give some type of warning that our stress level is rising to dangerous levels (Pasta Princess)
  2. When one thing is wrong in a woman’s life, everything is wrong. Take your thoughts captive. (Stop. What’s the truth? Something I love about my husband is something that’s irritating me.)
  3. When we look at our husbands and it seems like they’re doing nothing, we have to remember they are recharging by going to their “easy” box.

Galatians 5:13 Serve one another in love. When you bring down the stress in your partner, your needs aren’t necessarily met. Take turns helping each other de-stress.

Bill plays basketball while Pam prays and journals through her feelings.

One way to lower stress is to raise the energy level – motivate one another. Everyone is motivated differently. We need to figure out how each person is motivated:

Extrovert: Act and then wonder if they should have done it based on what happens. Tip: Carry an iPad or smartphone around and write it down so you can read it before you say it. Ask – are we doing what we agreed to do?

Introvert: Constantly holding onto thoughts, get their feelings hurt. Introverts need to remember: Sometimes conversation is just conversation. When we spend time together, do we connect?

Task oriented people: would rather spend time with people AFTER the work is done

People oriented people: Get things done, but are constantly sidetracked by people.

Finding your uniqueness:

  1. Lover #1 Knight in shining armor; queen of hearts
  2. Lover #2 The hopeless romantic
  3. Lover #3 Wind beneath my wings
  4. Lover #4 True Blue Lover

Lover #1 – Knight in Shining Armor/Queen of Hearts

  • -Power
  • -Dominant
  • -Task oriented
  • -Love control
  • -Love cooperative environment they create
  • -Get on with a decision

Romance: love adventure, no guided tours, hiking, anything they decide, make a list and check it off.

Motivated by control of decisions

Give kids like this options and give them responsibility

 

Lover #2 – The Hopeless Romantic

  • -People
  • -Party
  • -Popuplar
  • -extroverted
  • -new adventures
  • -center of attention
  • -like lots of people
  • -fun, not boring
  • -Like new experiences

e.g. Peter

Preferences in Romance: anything new, entertainment that is personal and touches the heart, human drama, adventurous outings, exotic getaways

Motivated by public attention

 

Lover #3 – Wind Beneath My Wings

  • -introverted
  • -Like to help others succeed
  • -Take it as it comes
  • -Stress free
  • -Time to talk
  • -No problem solving
  • -Not over-scheduled
  • -No high expectations
  • -People time

Preferences in Romance: Light schedule, simple activities, time to relax, best event is good company, atmosphere of acceptance, entertainment where there is plenty of time to enjoy it

Motivated by acceptance/respect

 

Lover #4 – True Blue Lover

  • -Routines
  • -Task-oriented
  • -Predictable
  • -Significant
  • -Learning
  • -Talented artists and musicians, but also have a dark side

Preferences in Romance: Do what you said you’d do, events that are discussed ahead of time, guided tours, meaningful entertainment, education outings, museums, historical tours, constant encouragement with flowers, notes, and sincere feedback, honest and complete discussions, long conversations, exploration of the emotional complexity of life, remember significant dates and details.

Motivated by structure/order

Hint: Turn the energy from negative to positive with an exercise routine or friend you call

Suggested resource: Wired That Way

“I’m proud of you.” – need to say this to men.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 – For everything there is a season. God planned them in so that we can grow.

Every 7 years we have a change in our lives. These changes can be opportunities to grow. Marriages are made and broken in the transitions of life.

HAD I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
W.B. Yeats (1865–1939)
“He Wishes For the Cloths of Heaven”
from the Collected Works of W.B. Yeats

 

This is my third post of sharing information from the NAME Marriage Conference. You may want to check out the first and second posts as well.


A Blue Day

Foggy winter day

This picture was taken last year, but this morning the view out my window is similar. I need to leave for work in 30 minutes and have many things I could be doing right now, but God has impressed on my heart that I need to write this post. Maybe it’s for you.

As a general rule, I try to keep my posts positive and uplifting. I acknowledge my feelings, but I don’t let them rule me. Today’s post will be a bit different.

Not only is the weather outside dull and (in my mind) depressing, but in my heart and soul I identify with the blue day today:

  • One of my acquaintances phoned me the other day and let me know that a very close friend was killed in a vehicle accident. She’s grieving, but I’m not sure how to help her. She doesn’t share my belief system. I carefully picked a sympathy card and wrote that I am thinking of her and praying for her. I hope she’s not offended, but takes comfort in my thoughts and prayers.
  • Two of my friends are working through some differences. I love both of them dearly and understand both of their perspectives. I pray that they will both allow God to work through their differences to make the body of Christ stronger. I pray that they will not see each other as enemies, but will band together to do battle with the true enemy of our souls – Satan.
  • The stack of papers on my desk is growing, not shrinking. I wanted to have the stack sorted by now. I hope I’m not missing something important.
  • I think we have some kind of invisible shoe monster living in our house. I put my son’s running shoes in his backpack after breakfast. It took him 10 minutes to get socks on his feet. Then he dawdled making his lunch. While he was getting his jacket on, I checked his backpack to make sure everything was there. No shoes. I looked in his bed room. I searched the shoe rack. I made sure there were no shoes lurking in our coat closet. No shoes. Poof, they’re gone! I put another pair of shoes in his backpack and put it on his back. Just when I think everything is good, his boots are missing. Sometimes they fall down the stairs, so I run down to check. No boots. I search the boot rack upstairs. I peek under his bed. No boots. I tell you, that shoe monster has been busy this morning! Thankfully his older sister is willing to let him wear a pair of boots she rarely wears.
  • Getting my kids ready for school is often a challenge. This morning I barely had time to say goodbye after we walked down the driveway before the bus came to take them away to school. Two of my children have coughs and sniffles. They probably would be happy to spend the day at home, but I’m not going to be home. I send them off, reminding them that this is the last day of school for this week and they will be able to rest and relax this weekend.
  • My sister’s update from Facebook this morning: Our pregnant cat just came in (after only an hour or so outside) with a severely broken leg (bone protruding at the shoulder). No vet here…. Sigh. And then an additional comment: The vet in Kumba (nearest large town) doesn’t deal with this type of thing, so the next closest might be at least a 3 hr. drive. The cat has cleaned herself up well, there is no ongoing bleeding, and she is hiding herself. BUT… the man who helps us in our house (cooking/cleaning) just said he knows about a man (who knows what training, but still knowledgeable) who has come to the village to help people with their dogs (including stitching wounds), so that is probably the best way to go right now – even just to get his opinion. Oh, and did I mention we’re in the middle of a busy translation week (with 8 men working in our house)?!! BTW, the cat damage might have been done by a machete – sigh…
  • Lately my schedule has been very full. I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather. I long to be still for half an hour with no expectations. No schedule to keep. Maybe tomorrow, but not today.

I don’t know what you’re going through today, but God knows. The God who created us and knows us intimately. The God who sees everything. The God who knows when you lose even one hair off your head. The God who created the universe.

Yes, I feel “blue” today, but I enter my day confidently because God goes before me. He’s the one who arranges and rearranges my schedule. I fall back on a verse that has been special to me since the early 1970’s:

So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)