What Do You See?

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Hi! Thanks for stopping by and welcome!

Another day has dawned,…another chance to make a difference!

So,…notice the pix,…what do you see?

“Ah,…it’s a tree,” you say, or let’s get specific, “An evergreen with artificial lights on the branches. Gee, (yes, we all hear the sarcasm), could it possibly be a Christmas tree?”

Yes, and no.

Technical this is not really a tree,…it’s made of metal, fire-proof nylon, polymer-who-knows-what, and other do-dads, but it represents an evergreen tree. Just throw a little belief into it.

Actually this artificial Christmas tree has been up at our local hardware store for quite some time, and I’ve not especially noticed it, except the first time we walked in the door and saw the display and that was only to sigh, “Labor Day has jussssst barely passed,…and (groan) Christmas stuff is already up!” Talk about retail taking the cheer out of a holiday season, but that’s for another post!

Today we’re talking about perspective. Or rather the topic is ‘blessings.’ Noticed any in your life, lately?

Please understand, I realize if you are walking through a difficult season of life this can be a challenging question,…and even seem cruel.

“BLESSINGS? YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I AM GOING THROUGH! NONE!”

I know, I don’t have that insight, but the LORD does.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” – Deuteronomy 31:6

Never leave nor forsake, means NEVER, EVER, EVER,…like in never!

Hello, even before the world began,…the Spirit of God was there,…hovering over the waters.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” – Genesis 1:1-2

What was in the waters that was so precious?

YOU,…were in the waters,…and me,…and every other elemental element that makes up the universe.

Before time began,…there was God,…guarding us. So it’s not like the LORD is going to give up on us now in the 21st century.

Even now blessing abound in our lives,…and we are so unaware. Hello, the big blessings are obvious, but the small, every day blessings are beyond measure. Have you had a paper-cut lately, or scrape your knee (I’ve got a very active eight year old, so I know all about scraped knees). Aside from a bandaid, and little antibiotic ointment (other blessings of our modern age) what did YOU have to do to get that cut to heal?

Oh, yeah,…it did kinda heal on it’s own,…didn’t it!

Have you studied that water-cycle lately or at least considered it? Home schooling here, and we have a water filled plastic bag taped to our storm door so we can witness the miracle of the water cycle in miniature.

The blessing of rain,…so automatic,…down it falls without our input on a dry and thirsty land.

Of course, sometimes there is too much rain, and too much wind, like the recent hurricanes. And I don’t have the answers for the whys and wherefores of such natural disasters, but I know that blessings are being provided to the survivors: water, supplies, help,…our church has work crews in both hurricane locations, nor were we the only body of Christ moved to serve those in need. “Never will I leave nor forsake you!” 

Back to the Christmas tree,…an artificial tree at that. Why would a holiday sales display prod my heart to count my blessings? Well, it’s all about perspective. What I see, what I don’t see, what I can see,…if I have the right equipment.

Ta-dah!

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These are 3-D glasses, holiday themed. My little guy discovered them. Coolest things ever. Put them on and every small point of light turns into a snowman, or a snowflake, or a pile of gifts. Looking at big overhead lights don’t work, nor do the larger Christmas tree lights,…the ‘magic’ only works with the tiny lights.

Funny thing is that I tried to take a picture of special effect,…and nothing happened. Duh, it’s an optical illusion that needs both eyes to work, which means no one could look for you. One has to look for themselves.

The blessings application came to me when I looked at the Christmas tree. Green tree with lights, yawn, but then I put on the glasses, and it turned into a green tree surrounded with teeny little snowmen,…so cute.

The glasses made all the difference,…like faith.

Often we don’t see the blessings in our lives,…until we look. The ugly stuff in our lives is easy to see,…and it can really color our outlook. Whoever seeks good finds favor, but evil comes to one who searches for it.” – Proverbs 11:27

Life’s messy,…and no where in the Bible are we promised an ‘easy’ life, but no matter what challenges we face,…we are promised the LORD will never leave nor forsake us.

 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” – Deuteronomy 31:6

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In all fairness (and humbleness) I have to point out, at first, I didn’t see the potential of those 3D glasses. How kitschy can you get? I thought they were over the top hoopla, and didn’t even look the first time our little guy played with them. “Hello,…,” says, I, “What could 3D glasses add to my life”  I did mention humbleness, right, cause I got a swift taste the moment I put on those glasses.

Ah,…how cute,…teeny little snowman, with my little guy giggling at my side. He knew the entire time those glasses were cool, and that we were surrounded by snowmen, or snowflakes, or gifts galore! Yeah,…it was really humbling.

Big blessings like my little guy are easy to see, and thank the LORD daily for, but the smaller blessings that surround me,…and are there,…always there,…and yet I don’t see them unless I have the right perspective of faith.

What a blessing, and how’s that for irony,…the LORD can use anything to bring joy into our lives, to teach, to instruct,…to reproof, even a fakey Christmas tree, and cardboard glasses.

And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8

With or without 3D glasses may you noticed all the blessings surrounding you today!

 

God bless and keep you!

 

What Am I Sowing?

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It’s Fall, the harvest season with cooler temps, falling leaves, and harvests to reap. Most definitely a Pumpkin Patch field trip is in our future. Pumpkin Chocolate Chip cookies, by the way, are even more amazing when made with fresh pumpkin,…and yes,…you can actually cook and eat those orange pumpkins you purchase a the grocery store! Bonus: you get pumpkin seeds,…and yes,…you can eat those, too. Just soak in a little salt water, and then carefully roast in the oven,…very delicious!

With homeschool we’ve been discussing Autumn, and all the seasons: Spring is a time for sowing, Summer is a time for growing, Autumn is a time of harvest, and Winter is a time of rest,…preparing for the next Spring.

Also we just completed a unit on ‘seeds.’ Our little guy was fascinated to learn that seeds have all their “future’ potential within their framework. In fact split a ‘bean’ seed and you can see the little rootlet,…ready to take off, already pointed in the right direction to grow and produce roots in one direction, a stalk, leaves, blossoms in another, and ultimately the harvest of ‘fruit.’

Those roots are buried deep,…seeking nutrients, they spread out providing stability to the entire plant, and that plant can only grow upward in measure to the root structure below. Without healthy roots, it’s impossible for a plant to thrive, much less produce fruit.

Jesus taught the Parable of the Sower in three of the gospels, Matthew 13: 1-23, Mark 4: 1-20, Luke 8:4-15,…where some of the seeds fell along the path and were eaten by birds, some fell along rocky soil, no where to root, some fell along thorns and were swallowed up, and yet others fell on good soil and produced a harvest,…“a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown.” – Matt 13: 8

“What was sown?” – something to ponder.

Even more pertinent, “What am I sowing?”

Galatians 6:7 “…you reap what you sow.”

Hello,…that’s a big gulp.

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” – 2 Corinthians 9:6-7

Obviously one would want to harvest ‘good’ fruit, but then it does reason in light of ‘…reaping what you sow,’ that one should be mindful of what seeds are being sown in their life.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”  – Galatians 5:22-23

“Am I sowing: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control?” – a humbling question to consider, and no doubt the Lord equates us so often with sheep as we so easily get distracted with life.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” – Philippians 4: 8-9 

Practice? Such as being mindful when we slip up. Oops, I could have handled that situation a little more lovingly. Or perhaps extended more kindness, or forbearance to others,…and/or myself. Let’s be honest, quite often it is easier to love others than ourselves. But then we’re supposed to “…love others as yourself.” What a paradox that can be. How loving, patience, gentle, kind,…ect,..are we to ourselves,…and by extension to  others.

The best news here is that the Lord knows we’re not perfect,…and yet loves us.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

John 15: 16-17 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.” 

“What am I sowing?” Or rather “What should I be sowing?”

Love,…is the only answer. It’s the first Fruit of the Spirit mentioned. All the others sprout from its vine. “…so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,  may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17-19

 

 

 

 

 

Author’s Note: Sharing My Heart

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Writing a story is easy, but talking about it,…not so much. Or at least not for me.

When I wrote Becoming Portia – New Beginnings,…I didn’t have any Beta Readers, so I didn’t know how anyone would react to the story or characters. Let’s make no mistake, Anne’s story faces some hard realities, and she’s less than perfect herself, but real life is not perfect, either. I am grateful to those who have expressed such positive feedback, “Thank you.”

When I sat down to write Becoming Portia – New Beginnings I had hoped to write a story about the forgotten, and who in our society is more forgotten than foster children, and their struggles when they ‘age out’ of the system? And yes, Anne is a “Whoa! Did she really just say that,” – type character, who takes intense to the next level, but she learns, she grows, and despite tragic challenges in her life,…she finds the courage to love herself,…and others.

Modern marketing is never going to be me. Seriously, I just can’t consider every click onto my website as a ‘potential’ email I can gather and horde,…because emails are suppose to be marketing gold. No thanks, I wouldn’t know what to do with a horde of emails, nothing is exclusive here. I post a weekly devotional, some good, some okay, but always from the heart. I am now in the process of editing my next book,…Affinity For Food,…which is a collection of food fiction short stories,…much lighter than Anne’s tale,…and I’ll have it out as soon as our homeschooling/therapy schedule allows.

Sharing your writing is always a little harder than one expects. Only looking for eunoia,…which is ancient Greek, “…beautiful thinking,” or even more applicable, “…good will toward one’s audience, having their best interest at heart.”

Looking to build community on this website.
Katherine Johnston Books,…doesn’t just mean ‘my’ books. Writers are readers, too, and I love to read, and I do write book reviews on Goodreads in my mythological spare-time. If book reviews on this website would be of interest, I’d gladly slip a few into the blogging schedule, Or if articles about the writing process are of interest, I’d be glad to share what it’s like to write and edit with such a busy schedule. Special needs? I am thinking about starting another blog about homeschooling a special needs child, as if I didn’t have enough on my plate, but it’s our life, and I am only too grateful for those blogs who are have been so encouraging to our journey. One thing for sure, the weekly devotionals are definitely a fixed feature,…it’s a joy and a blessing,…to be able to share what is on my heart with the hopes that it will help others with whatever challenges they are facing as we are all in this thing called ‘life’ together.

Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things”

God bless and keep you!

What Are You Waiting For?

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“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” – Proverbs 13:12

What are you hoping for in life?

Or a better question would be, “By what measure do you gauge the fulfillment of your hopes and dreams?”

Even as I write early this Monday morning I can hear a chorus of birds singing outside my office window – beautiful and lulling – perfectly in tune. Only there is no choir master, each bird is singing their own song with all of their heart. I can only assume there is no comparison, “Oh no! That bird in the elm sings so much better than me,…perhaps I should stop singing.”

Have you ever used comparison to stop exercising a gift? I have, years ago when I was attempting to formate a lucid sentence and failed,…again, and again,…and again. My hope was to be a writer, and I was looking for instant success, quite unaware I had already achieved my goal. Writers, write. That’s why I couldn’t stay away from the pen and paper,…as this was even before I had a keyboard.

If you write, you are a writer.
If you run, you are a runner.
If you play basketball, you are a basketball player.
If you sing, you are a singer.
If you dance, you are a dancer,….I think you get my drift.

There is joy in discovering and developing your passion, your talents, your purpose. The Lord is not arbitrary. There is a reason why you are wired the way you are wired be it for art, music, sports, carpentry, finances, medicine, teaching,…ect.

However comparison kills motivation.
Success measured by worldly standards is not attainable or sustainable. So many who are successful by the world’s standards are utterly miserable.
Why are the successful so heart sick?
Success doesn’t fulfill their longings,…their hopes,…their dreams.

Tree of life,…i.e. salvation, won on calvary means that your worth has already been decided. YOU are priceless. Your gifts have worth, because you have worth. It’s all a matter of perspective for what you are hoping for, longing for, dreaming for,…is already yours.

What are you waiting for?
If you are a writer, write.
If you are a singer, sing.
If you are a runner, run for the glory of God.

Remember that classic scene in Chariots of Fire?

Eric Liddell, “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast, and when I run I feel his pleasure.” 

“You can glorify God if  you peel a potato if you peel it to perfection.” – Rev J.D. Liddell. 

Have you peeled any potatoes lately?

“Whatever you do, work at it all all your heart, as for for the Lord, not human masters.” Colossians 3:23

Oh I Didn’t Get A Chance To Post,…

Monday came and went and no post posted as we’ve been busy establishing a homeschool routine,…gotta get our work done!

We’ve got to cement all those sight words,…which with Apraxia are a miracle every time our little guy utters them. Has he really only been talking for two years? Miracle!

How gracious would you be if you were constantly dragged to therapy waiting rooms and expected to wait “nicely”?

Our little guy is a such a champ!

Logged a little park swing time while my little guy played,…although our weather has been brutally hot and humid! Fall for us is arriving in the middle of a heat wave!

What have I been writing these days? Lesson plans,…organizational schedules, and not much else. And that’s okay! I have faith in the Lord’s plan for my life! All those organizational and multitask skills I honed while publishing my book have been exceedingly useful for homeschool. Amazing how the Lord always trains you for the task set before you!

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart

and lean not on your own understanding;

in all your ways submit to him,

and he will make your paths straight.

Back to Learning Land for us!

God bless and keep you!

When You Love Someone A Lot

Oh yes,…our little guy loves his big brother Teddy! No mistake about that,…but then we do, too!

Please note the lab coat! If you follow on Instagram or Twitter,…you’ve seen this lab coat,…garnered last week from a thrift store. Frankly it never occurred to me to purchase my eight year old a lab coat, but when Isaac was inspecting all the materials gathered for his home school science curriculum, he asked out of the blue, “Where’s my lab coat?” So utterly adorable for he was so utterly serious,…and yes that little phrase made it onto Twitter.

Lab coat? Where do you find a lab coat for a child? Or rather when do you find an authentic lab coat for a child that won’t cost $$$$. Trust me, a fakey costume lab coat from Party City wouldn’t cut it. Our little guy would know the difference. He wanted the real deal,…’cause he knew it would last! Thankfully when the Lord promised to meet all of our needs,…that includes lab coats for scientific-minded eight year olds. Mama searched high and low,…and eventually  scored a lab coat for her little guy. Best $3.00 ever spent!

That’s a lot of love,…to search the city for a non-necessity. Isaac doesn’t ‘need’ a lab coat to study science, or math, or reading for that matter. The coat is certainly helpful, it’s turned our entire house into a laboratory with a reading lab, math lab, science lab, of course, writing lab, spelling lab, and even breakfast lab, lunch lab, and supper lab. Is our little guy taking the lab theme,…a little too far? Yes, no, yes,….NO,…no,…and another no,…’cause it’s important to him,…thus it’s important to us.

Besides it’s the perfect lesson in getting into the right frame of mind. Isaac puts on that lab coat, and he’s ready to learn, to work, to give his best effort,…and our little guy always gives 100%. I mean, check out that birthday decor! If he’s going to tell his Teddy, “Happy Birthday!” — he’s going all out.

And so should we.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” – Colossians 3:23

This especially applies to love!

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”
– 1 Peter 4:8

Only the Lord is perfect,…the rest of us are finite beings,…prone to err,…and thus it is most wise to learn to love,…really love,…the love is patient, love is kind, love keeps no records of wrongs type love, which actually is a picture of the God’s love for us!

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends,…” – 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8

The world, of course, distorts the image of love until it is so filled with selfish, self-satisfied, self-indulgence and decadence you can’t recognize it. Or in other words the world’s version of love,…doesn’t last. Kinda like a fakey-lab coat that would disintegrate in the washing machine,…it’s not the real deal. When you’ve experienced what’s real,…you can immediately tell the difference!

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3: 12-14

The right clothing can help us have the right attitude to complete our work assigned to us. When we put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, we’re getting ready to work,…to give our best effort. Add the lab coat of love,…to bind everything together in perfect unity. It really makes sense.

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.  If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.  

This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

We love because he first loved us.” – 1 John 4: 7-19

When you love someone a lot,…it’s worth going the extra mile,…to find a lab coat,…put up birthday balloons,…or reach out to others, who perhaps have never experienced ‘real’ love. Love that never ends!

God bless and keep you!

 

 

 

 

New Beginnings

 

Home school starts for us this week,…new beginnings.
Our little guy is admiring big brother’s basketball trophy at our affiliate private school,…’cause here’s the big secret about home schoolers,…they ain’t home, much. There are classes to take, clubs to participate in, sports, and just plain ol’ social gatherings where everyone is included and valued. With so many extracurricular activities it takes discipline to get the academic work completed.

Blessed serendipity for us,…academics is our little guy’s ‘thing’! Maps are his delight, and right now he’s happily memorizing all his math facts, just for fun!
Seriously?
Yeah, I know it amazes us, too.
Of course, communication, thanks to apraxia, is our real challenge, but our little guy has made sooooo much progress. When Isaac began Kindergarten,…he couldn’t speak!!!! And now,…oh my goodness our little guy has made so much progress. Our chatterbox always has something to say about everything!

So where is Mama’s writing in this?
Good question, and one that deserves answering.
To date, Becoming Portia – New Beginnings is available on Amazon – paperback and ebook.

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Affinity For Food, a short story collection (food fiction) is slated for the next publication, but there has been a hiccup with Createspace and Kindle Publishing as they have surprise, surprise, unexpectedly merged, and I understand from other indie-authors the website is log-jammed as the switch isn’t going as smoothly as hoped.
The merger doesn’t affect Becoming Portia – New Beginnings, but for new productions, it’s going to either take longer or perhaps, and let’s be hopeful, be quicker. Becoming Portia – New Beginnings took so long to publish because it clocks in at 340 pages,…making it a honking big book, and a great value if you like a long lasting story with plenty of plot twists and turns. Affinity For Food, and Maxim’s Mermaid,…next up, are not nearly as long, so production should be quicker. One hopes. The gist, is that Affinity For Food will be out as quickly as I can edit, format and upload,…between science projects, 4H club meetings, math discovery, and literary adventures. Oh, and spelling, too. Not to mention,…therapy stuff.

With so much to do,…why bother writing?
I am a writer. Writers, write. And then self-publish,…it’s the wave of the future. Almost as important as the Gutenberg Bible,…which was a huge a new beginning in the literary world,…making the Bible available to the masses. Now in the 21st century new authors have a means of letting their voices be heard. Perhaps not every book is meant to be a best seller, but every book has value.
Just like every person has value. 

Thankfully that’s a lesson our little guy already knows. For the rest we’re trusting in the LORD for the direction of our youngest son’s academic school year,…and Mama’s writing career.

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” Psalm 32:8

Any new beginnings in your life or career?

God bless and keep you!