Friday, December 30, 2011

What's my legacy? What's yours?

The weekend before Christmas our church lost a young man in a car accident. His death sent my thoughts in a couple different directions. The one that captured me first came as I considered his legacy.

This young man was on fire for God. And he had a servant's heart. When we were working on the Joplin project in May, he was one of the two young men who came and gave hours helping us sort and box clothes and other items for the tornado victims. He worked with the youth group. He was someone that those in pastoral leadership counted on to always be willing to serve.

The grief ran deep through our church because he impacted so many.

And it got me thinking...what will my legacy be? Someday my life will end. I'll be in heaven celebrating, but I'll leave people behind. Will they even notice? Will it cause them to stop and think? To wonder why God allowed it? What larger purpose He must have? One that is a mystery to those left behind?

I want to live my life in a way that it leaves an impact...not for me, but for God. That it points those left to the One who matters most. What about you? What do you want your legacy to be?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Birthday Party for Two

Me, my sister Janna, and Joanna
For Christmas I went home to Nebraska. My family spent a week with my parents, siblings, spouses, nieces and nephews. When you put us all together there are 26 soon to be 27. It makes for a chaotic, but fun time as the adults play games and chat while the kids run around and play.

While we were together, we started talking about earliest memories. Apropos as I considered this post. I often wonder if my earliest memory is really mine. Or if it springs from the host of photos that accompany the event. I’ll let you decide.

Growing up in Georgia, I had a best friend Joanna. She and I shared a lot. Loving families. Parents that brought us up to love and serve God. And birth month. In fact, only one day separate our birthdays, so often we shared parties. The earliest one I remember is when we were two.

We were barely able to sit at the table, in our frilly dresses surrounded by other little girls, party hats, and balloons. We played games, blew out candles, and ate cake. Most important, we started a tradition…sharing our birthdays. Often throughout the years, we would do that. Not every year, but often enough that it always felt right.

We’ve shared many things. A love of learning. A love of writing. The ability to tell a good story – though Joanna outshines me in that category…if I could only talk her into writing a book! A love of adventure and reading. A strong interest in politics and current affairs. A heart for God and serving others.  Maybe, just maybe, it all started with that shared birthday party.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Thank you, Jesus

Thank you, Jesus, for looking across space and time and seeing me. Thank you for agreeing to come and die. Thank you for trusting your Father's heart so that you could be the plan. Thank you for always standing there waiting for us to turn back to you. Thank you for always encouraging us to change but for loving us even in our frailty.

May we never lose the reality that Christmas is all about you. Your birth. Your life. Your coming death, coming resurrection, and still-to-come return.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Saying "Thank you" to Colleen

So this is an old picture! Rebecca is only a few months old, but we're standing with Robin Jones Gunn and Colleen Coble at a booksigning.

If you've been around my blog long at all, you know that Colleen is a huge reason I'm writing. She took my spark of a dream and instead of blowing it out in a huff, she breathed life into it. She never doubted I could write, but instead invested in me. She connected me with ACFW. She read early chapters -- she still reads proposals when I need another perspective to make sure I've done as good a job as possible.

So thank you, Colleen, for always believing in me. For telling me I could do this and being one of my biggest cheerleaders. You have been a huge gift from God in my life. Can't wait to see you next month at board meetings!

Do you have a mentor in your life? Someone who has stepped in and breathed life into your heart?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Saying "Thank you" to the Sues in my life

God has placed two Sues in my life who are like the older sisters I've never had.

Sue Lyzenga lives a couple doors from us. Her husband pastors a church in town, and together they are dear friends of ours. Sometimes it's nice to have someone who challenges you in your faith who isn't attending your church. I love the spontaneous calls to have dinner. The times we make applesauce or jam together. I now know I can make those, too. But I am so grateful that God planted us side-by-side in this wonderful town.

Sue Brust is the pastor's wife at our church. From very early in our attendance, she encouraged me to step into leadership with the women's ministry at our church. I love our rare lunches and the opportunity to better see her heart and hopefully carry some of the burdens. I loved the church we came from, but never got to know the pastor's wife. This has been a gift to have not one -- but two -- wise sisters come alongside me during this season.

Has God placed sisters (or brothers) like this in your life?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Cherry Blossom Capers is HERE!

And I'm so excited I want to give one away. Here's more about the book:

Lovers and Law-Breakers Collide under the Cherry Trees

Encounter mystery, mayhem, and murder near Washington, DC, alongside four professional females. White House assistant chef Tara Whitley works with an old flame, FBI agent Jack Courtland, to stop a plot to sabotage a state-dinner. Attorney Ciara Turner and her nemesis Daniel Evans have trials tracking down a judge’s murderer. Archeologist intern Samantha Steele and security guard Nick Porter are on the heels of a dangerous forger. Shop owner Susan Holland and renovator Vince Martini turn upside down her late uncle’s mansion while investigating a string of mysterious accidents. Will these sleuthing couples’ machinations move them into matrimony?

 I wrote Ciara's was such fun to recreate the neighborhood we lived in inside the Beltway. So leave a comment...have you ever lived in a place where your neighbors became family? What made that place so special.

Spread the word, and let me know how you spread the word, and you'll get extra entries. Follow my blog or enter your info in the box to the right to get the blog fed to you, and you'll get more entries. For each thirty entries, I'll throw in another book. It's Christmastime and I want to celebrate!

You can order it here:
Barnes & Noble

Saying "Thank you" to my mother-in-love

My mother-in-love also deserves a crown. I'm sure there were times she wanted to shake her head when Eric informed his family that we were going to marry. I'm not exactly traditional...really. Yet she never voiced any reservations. Instead, she made me feel welcome.

Over almost 16 years of marriage, that initial acceptance has developed into a deep friendship. Virgene is one of the small group of women I turn to when I need advice, prayer, help. It's very hard for me to ask for help, but I have come to rely on my mother-in-love. She frees me to do things like serve on the ACFW board because she is always willing to help with the kids while I'm gone.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Saying "Thank you" to my Mom

My mom doesn't get a bouquet of flowers. She gets a crown. So much of who I am is because of what she poured into me.

I'm sure I continue to exasperate her with my questions though now they've changed to "how exactly did you get me ready for college," etc. But as an early homeschooling family in Nebraska, she didn't have the abundance of resources that exist today. Maybe that was a blessing because you couldn't worry about having the wrong curriculum.

Thank you, Mom, for hammering my handwriting. I didn't imagine someday I'd autograph books.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Saying "Thank you" at George Mason

This woman has a very special place in my heart. She saw way more of me than she probably wanted that first year of law school. As the on-sight person overseeing the legal writing program, she got all of my questions. You see, the only feedback you get in law school until about spring break is the grades on those pesky legal writing assignments. Fortunately for me, Victoria Huber is one of the most gracious and knowledgeable women I've met.

Now the associate dean of career services, Victoria coached me through that first year, then through the clerkship process, through applying at the Department of Justice, and so much more. Most important, she became my friend. She's one of those people I want to see on the rare occasions we get back to D.C.

Victoria allowed me into her life. In that I received a gift that I will always cherish.

Have you had Victoria's in your life?

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Saying "Thank you" at UNL

When I transferred to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, I knew it would be a different world than I'd found at Mid-Plains. Much bigger pond making me a much smaller fish. Still, I quickly decided it was time to spend some moments with my undergraduate advisor. I'm not sure Dr. Phil Dyer quite knew what to do with me. Homeschoolers were still pretty new on universities.

I showed up as a junior who needed to reapply for the Truman scholarship. I also needed to figure out which classes to take. Then there was planning my future. College was only the next step after all.

Dr. Dyer was always available. He spent hours with me and gave me great advice. Some of the best was to take a couple years after I graduated to figure out what I wanted to get my graduate degree in. That advice was priceless. We kept up for many years after I graduated, but I just wanted to say again...thank you for all the ways you guided me through some formative years and decisions.

Who would you like to think if you could?

Monday, December 05, 2011

Saying "Thank you" at Mid-Plains

Friday night, I attended a Purdue event where one of the alums at our table talked about the importance of saying "thank you." It doesn't matter how much time has passed. A thank you is always appreciated. He got me thinking about people who have played a key role in my education.

One woman was Marilyn McGahan. When I was a student at Mid-Plains Community College, she was an instructor. Most important, she was an advisor for the student senate. When I walked on campus as a 16 year old who wasn't quite sure how to get involved, she took me under her wing and opened all kinds of opportunities to me. I started as a student senator. The next year I was student body president. During that year I was also selected to serve on a long term strategic planning committee for the community colleges in Nebraska. Then I lead the committee I'd served on when similar strategic planning meetings were held at Mid-Plains.

I would have never had those opportunities if Mrs. McGahan hadn't spent a lot of time in her office investing me. These opportunities helped open future doors to me.

So in case I didn't say it enough back then, thanks for everything, Mrs. McGahan. And I'm looking forward to having coffee in a few weeks!

Who's someone who impacted you at a key juncture?


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