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Christy Catherine Marshall

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January 31, 2006

It’s time for the Carnival again, and I’ve been going over a million ideas in my mind for “The Beauty of Gentleness.” Iris is hosting this week, and she already has an awesome post up. What can I say that’s different?

I keep going back to my one of my favorite Old Testament heroes — Elijah. I love Elijah! I can relate to his emotions so well. He had a hard time with the things I struggle with. When his body was run down physically, his spirit got weighed down with heaviness too — and he just wanted to give up.

Yet God met his every need and spoke to him in a gentle whisper.

Oh, how I love that whole story. You can read it in 1 Kings 17-19. The heartless queen Jezebel reminds me of the evil queens and stepmoms who show up in fairy tales I read with my kids. She and her rotten husband Ahab were out to get Elijah. Do you remember the big showdown on Mount Carmel? The phony god Baal versus the one true God.

After a whole day of watching hundreds of Baal priests beg their false god for fire (to no avail), it was Elijah’s turn to show everyone the truth. He built an altar and surrounded it with water — and when he prayed, our real God sent fire from heaven and completely burned up everything! It was a MIRACLE.

The very power that sent fire from heaven is the God who is available to YOU. He still works miracles today — no matter what you’re going through. If you’re a mom, you know what miracle took place when God formed your baby within you. All you did was crave pickles and ice cream! (or Arby’s roast beef sandwiches, in my case). And according to Psalm 139, He knit the baby in your womb.

Yet in this story, Elijah got scared of Ahab and Jezebel — and he ran away as far as he could! He was so tormented by his fears, he didn’t eat or drink anything until he was completely famished. Then he stopped running, worn out, and wanted to die. An angel brought him food and water. Later the story continues in 1 Kings 19:11-14:

Then the Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord … [But the Lord wasn’t in the wind, earthquake or fire.] … And after the fire came a gentle whisper.

This is how God spoke to Elijah — in a whisper. And that’s the way He speaks to you and me. Yet we get so busy, the noise of our hectic lives blocks out the gentle sound of God’s voice. But He’s there, always waiting for us.

When we meet Him through reading the Bible, He speaks to us loudly — in a roar sometimes, like Aslan’s. But throughout the day, I can hear Him whisper, as my conscience reminds me to do what’s right. Don’t look at that. Tell him you’re sorry. Stay on track. Give her a call. Go beyond yourself.

That’s the gentle voice I seek — and I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to listen and discern what He’s saying to me. But isn’t that what our faith is? It’s an adventure in getting to know God, to trust His voice. The Christian walk is a continual journey, one not unlike Elijah’s. We’re always moving toward finding that place in our hearts where God’s whisper can best be heard.

By: Heather Ivester in: Faith,Writing | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (9)

January 30, 2006

Everywhere I turn, this movie is coming at me. I’d never heard of it until Sally wrote a great review of it on her site, Children’s Publishing News. She actually wrote four different posts about it, and they’re all mega-full of links, so if you’re interested in this movie, go read about it on her site:

End of the Spear

End of the Spear: Does Casting Matter?

End of the Spear Review

Those Wacky Christian Wars

I was so intrigued after I read her reviews — especially after she explained all the controversies and her views on them. Then yesterday, my brother-in-law and sister-in-law both told me I needed to go see End of the Spear. A few weeks ago, they rented the documentary Through Gates of Splendor and told me I’d like that one too.

THEN my mom gave me the book yesterday for my birthday — and I said, “OKAY! This is more than coincidence! I think I’m supposed to go see this movie!”

All of you know how much I love Elisabeth Elliot — she’s even in my Blogroll over there! (Which I hope is not disrespectful — those are the main sites I enjoy visiting on a regular basis.) I read her book, Through Gates of Splendor when I was in college, along with Passion and Purity, Let Me Be a Woman, and several others. I also got to meet her in person when I was 22 and tell her how much her books changed my life. Jim Elliot is one of my heroes, and I often think of his famous quote: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

I’ve always loved Twila Paris’ song, Hold On, which is about Jim Elliot. If you haven’t heard this song, it’s really beautiful. Here are the words:

There once was a man born of high circumstance
Heir to advantage, He had every chance to succeed
But light from the cross made his dreams appear small
And to their surprise he went far–from it all
For the love of his Savior, for one priceless jewel
They could not understand so they called him a fool
He is no fool
If he would choose
To give the thing he cannot keep
To buy what he can never lose
To see a treasure in one soul
That far outshines the brightest gold
He is no fool, He is no fool
He is no fool, He is no fool
There once was a boy who could run like the wind
Given to lead, every man was his friend at the line
But light from the cross made his race appear small
And to their amazement, he followed the call
For the love of his Savior, for one priceless jewel
They could not understand so they called him a fool
Repeat Chorus
Show me the fool who abandons his life
To walk in the steps of our Lord Jesus Christ
Repeat Chorus

So, I’m going to see this movie! Let me get a ticket — and I’m going!

By: Heather Ivester in: Movies | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (4)

January 28, 2006

This is a quick post for moms who are taking care of babies under age 2. (Beyond hang in there.)

The other day, I did something that I wouldn’t have done if I hadn’t been taught. It went against my natural (lazy) instinct of doing what is the least difficult.

I was washing the breakfast dishes before we all dashed off to a basketball game. My 9-month-old has reached this new stage where she’s extremely sociable and wants someone to play with her constantly. This past month, she’s been demanding wanting more of my attention.

So, as I washed dishes, she began to fuss. I stopped what I was doing, interacted with her a few seconds, and gave her something new to play with. Still fussy. I next tried putting her in her high chair with a few cheerios — which she didn’t want. I tried something novel to her — a stainless steel pot and wooden spoon — which she didn’t want. It was too early for a nap. And everyone else was busy running around getting on their uniforms for the game.

This gave me four choices:
1. Keep working and ignore her cry — not an option as her crying was very loud!
2. Hold her while I did my chores — I can’t do that these days because I know it’s bad for my back to carry weight while I’m bending. Plus, I can’t work fast!
3. Put her somewhere safe where she can cry without me hearing.
4. Ignore my chores and play with her. This is the area I’m dealing with as I work on keeping my home organized. I really didn’t want to leave the house with dishes piled up in the sink. I knew I’d have plenty of time to play with her once we got to the game.

I opted for number 3, which goes against the grain of what modern parents are told to do. I took her to the playpen we’ve set up in our bedroom, next to a sunny window. She has several interesting toys to play with and a musical string toy that she can pull to listen to Winnie the Pooh. I put her in the playpen, said a few pleasant words to her, then set my timer for 15 minutes and went back to my kitchen work.

Was she happy? No. She cried…very loud. I knew she was safe, and I knew I wanted to leave the house with a clean kitchen. So I let her cry. After four very long minutes, she stopped. While I loaded the dishwasher, wiped down counters, swept the floor, and returned lost items to their rooms, she played and cooed on her own.

I went to check on her when my timer went off and she was still playing happily. So I even had time to get dressed and ready. After several more minutes, we left. Happy baby. Happy mom. Clean kitchen.

I’m not saying this to make myself look like I have it all together. I’m writing this to say this doesn’t come naturally to me — and I’ve read hundreds of magazine articles that would say I should forget the dishes and go play with Baby. But I did play with her — a lot — when I didn’t have things I needed to do. It felt great to come home to my shiny sink.

I feel compelled to write this to someone out there — a new mom perhaps — who might be feeling stressed out because you never have a chance to be alone. Even when you’re only caring for one baby, the demands of this role can be exhausting! You can’t leave a child alone for even five seconds once they reach the mobile stage.

I know not everyone will agree with me. I’ve read in so many places about moms who think playpens are horrible contraptions. But we’ve used a playpen with our four older children — and now our baby is learning to use one too.

What are the advantages? Besides a mom or other caregiver having a few minutes alone, the baby will be learning to entertain herself and play creatively — without anyone else around. Can you see where this leads? A baby who can play alone in peaceful contentment will later become a child who can handle “quiet time” alone.

How many adults do you know who can’t handle a few minutes of quiet time alone? It all starts with a little bit of training.

If you use a playpen, be sure it meets safety standards. Old playpens can collapse or have slats that are too wide. You should also check to make sure your playpen hasn’t been recalled. Sadly, many accidents have happened from playpen use. Kids in Danger is a website I discovered that offers many details about safety.

By: Heather Ivester in: Parenting | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (5)

January 27, 2006

Mind & Media

Mind & Media is looking for some new book reviewers — so if you have a blog and you love Christian books, music, and movies, you may be interested in becoming a reviewer. In exchange for posting product reviews in your blog, you get to keep the items — free of charge.

Stacy just celebrated her one-year anniversary of starting her company, and her business is doing so well — she really needs more people to work on her team!

In the past week, I’ve been able to pick and choose from several newly released books. I chose two that specifically interest me. So, in a couple of weeks, I’ll open my mailbox (my real metal one), and these books will be waiting for me. All I have to do is read them and write a review.

The only requirements are that you need to post the above beautiful logo in your blog, and you post an Amazon ad of the books you review for two months. Also, your blog needs to have at least 1,000 unique visitors a month, and you must be approved based on the content in your blog. Stacy will check out every blog that requests to become a reviewer to make sure it’s a blog that edifies. She has a few more rules, which you can read about in the Become a Reviewer section of the Mind & Media site.

I hope you’ll give this some consideration because writing reviews of products is a great way to share the Good News of Christianity — whether your reviews are positive or negative. Good reviews can help promote books and spur sales, and critical reviews can give much-needed reader feedback to the author and publisher.

At any rate, I feel like I’m using my platform as a blogger to make a difference — all from the comfort of my home. At this season of life, I’m home raising young children, and I can’t get out and travel the world sharing the messages that I believe in (though I’d like to someday, when my kids are older and can travel with me!).

Here’s a verse I read recently that reminds me of my role as a writer/book reviewer:

“Like the coolness of snow at harvest time is a trustworthy messenger to those who send him; he refreshes the spirit of his masters” Proverbs 25:13.

Note: FlyLady Friday will return next week — keep those timers ticking and sinks shining, fellow FlyBabies!

January 26, 2006

I don’t know how the weather is for you these days, but here in Georgia we’ve had lots of rain. A rainy January — it’s been too muddy and cold to get outside much.

A reader from Alaska commented here last week about how she’s walking her treadmill inside while it’s 37 degrees below zero outside — and she’s rigged up a way to read her Bible while she walks. Now that’s amazing!

If you’re stuck indoors with kids, what can you do with them? Of course, the temptation is always there to let them watch TV — but I discovered having them around the kitchen can be handy.

Here’s something that’s very easy for kids to make — Jello N0-Bake boxed pudding desserts. We tried the Cherry Cheesecake, and it turned out light and smooth-tasting. The best part — I gave the box to my 9-year-old, and he made the whole thing himself. I plugged in the beaters; that was all. I think it tasted especially good to him because he was in charge — and we made a big deal of that when it was time to eat it.

The graham cracker crust is crispy and fun for even finicky eaters. I’m sure those of you who are talented in the kitchen could dress this up with white chocolate shavings, real cherries, or some other kind of topping. The Jello website has some pretty cute ideas for recipes you can make with jello. Hey, I’m always looking for something easy and fun that keeps kids busy. Check out these Snacktivities. I like the Chill Chaser that looks like Hot Chocolate (but it’s really pudding.) This might be a fun idea for a winter dessert — and your kids could definitely make it themselves.

January 25, 2006

I’m going to try what I’ve seen some bloggers do — and give you a quick tour of several good things I’ve read lately:

First of all, check out the Carnival of Beauty at Amanda’s following an unknown path site. Topic: The Beauty of Service.

Here’s a great idea I found for celebrating a teen’s birthday. You’ve got to click through this link to Lisa Whelchel’s online journal. Read what she did to help celebrate her oldest son Tucker’s 16th birthday. If you can’t click through, here’s a brief. She asked 40 wise, Godly men to write Tucker a letter, offering him words of encouragement for his future. Then her husband typed the letters out (for readability) and, along with the original letter and a picture of each writer, she compiled an album for her son’s birthday gift.

Tucker said it was the best present he’d ever received, and he stayed up well past midnight reading all of the letters. She’s posted a letter from their long-time pastor (before they moved) and also from her husband to his son (tissues required).

I hope her idea may inspire you moms out there. A child of any age would appreciate an album of special letters! This link also includes pictures — some of you may know Lisa is the scrapbooking queen.

(If you’re not familiar with Lisa Whelchel, don’t despair. I’ll be reviewing her new book soon, A Busy Mom’s Guide to Wisdom.)

More Blogging Boldness:

Stacy at Mind & Media has a great post about how watching immoral soap operas does nothing to strengthen your impact on the culture. From sea to shining sea, I’m saying “Amen.” Why in the world do people watch these kinds of TV shows? Or for that matter — daytime TV? I can see how watching the news and a cultural show like Oprah might keep your mind stimulated — but soap operas?

News Items:

If you love great chidren’s books, you’ll want to go see this article in the Baltimore Sun about the Newbery Award winner, which was announced on Monday. We used to homeschool with the Sonlight Curriculum and read lots of Newbery winners — so this book must be pretty good. It will definitely go down in history.

Here’s a good article from Lifeway if you’re feeling like you’ve got too many plates spinning, and you need to drop a few: 10 Steps to Overcoming Overcommittment.

If you live anywhere near the Chicago area, Beth Moore is coming to speak! Details are at this site.

Don’t miss this opportunity for all women 18–25 as Beth Moore delivers a very special edition of Living Proof Live just for you, March 10-11 at The Pavilion in Chicago! Plus this “special edition” features worship music by Christy Nockels of Rocketown Records recording artists Watermark. This event is only for college-age women, ages 18-25. If you’re over the age of 25 and would like to bring at least three young women to this event, you may register as a sponsor.

I’m not going to be there of course, but I can’t help but get a chill just thinking about all the teen girls who are going and will hear Beth speak — to their hearts! I know some will hear the Gospel and accept Christ — and others will turn wholeheartedly to following God — at such a crucial age. That’s very exciting for me to pray about. Beth Moore is awesome!

This completes my Wednesday round-up. Hope you find something you connect with.

By: Heather Ivester in: Blogging,Faith | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (3)

January 24, 2006

It rained all day yesterday, and it was just one of those “regular” Mondays. Yet I chose to dwell on happy, positive thoughts. I didn’t let anything get me down. I chose to be joyful!

So this made me think about this essay topic: “The Beauty of Service.” What if I kept this attitude every day? My attitude is a way to serve Christ — when I choose to dwell on my blessings instead of negative things, this brings God glory.

A recent column in HomeLife Magazine quoted author Sidlow Baxter, who says, “What’s the difference between an obstacle and an opportunity? Our attitude toward it. Every opportunity has a difficulty and every difficulty has an opportunity.” (Feb. 2006, p. 16).

A few years ago, I was in a women’s Bible study, and I was having a hard time dealing with something going on in my life. I talked to the leader privately one night afterward, expecting her to have pity on (poor ol’ self-righteous) me and say, “Well, I’ll pray for you. God will work things out.”

Instead she said, “Heather, I can see that you’re holding on to this instead of giving it to God. You need to let it go or you’re going to become a very bitter person.”

Bitter? Who, me? I think of bitter people as being older people who have a permanent sour look on their faces, like they’ve just tasted a lemon. Bitter, indeed!

But that was an epiphany for me — and it’s now years later that I’m finally able to realize how right she was and to say that God is teaching me how to let things go that used to bother me. This leader also taught us the whole point of Christian living is to know Christ and to make Him more fully known by being radiant with joy — no lemony looks allowed.

So, in this coming year, I want to serve Christ by deliberately replacing my negative thoughts with positive. As Paul writes in Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brothers, 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.”

Max Lucado says it this way:

I will invite my God to be the God of circumstance. I will refuse the temptation to be cynical… the tool of the lazy thinker. I will refuse to see people as anything less than human beings, created by God. I will refuse to see any problem as anything less than an opportunity to see God.

How about you? Is there an area in your life where you could serve Christ by choosing joy over bitterness? Let’s pray for one another — and give Him the glory.

By: Heather Ivester in: Faith,Writing | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (4)

January 23, 2006

Here’s a book I read last summer that I’d love to share with you. If you’re looking for something to curl up with by the fire this winter, then Carol Kent and Ellie Kay have a real treat for you. Some of these stories were so hilarious, I was laughing out loud — and others had me in tears. Most of all, they pointed me to Christ, the true Storyteller.

Each of the 50 stories begins with a funny or inspiring quote and ends with a scripture that draws upon the theme of the story. It doesn’t matter what stage of mothering you’re in, you’ll connect with these women. If you’re expecting your first child, you’ll love the labor and delivery stories (Whew, Ellie!). Reading about fellow diaper-changing mavens, homeschooling with a mouse on the loose, and reflections in the garden are just a few of my favorites.

You’ll crack up reading Jill Gregory’s story, “This Isn’t the Life I Signed Up For!” when you see what she discovers while bathing her son. In pure exhaustion, she does what many of us do: she called her mom with a cry for Help!! And she comes to this wonderful conclusion:

I can honestly smile now, realizing that my life has taken a more difficult turn than I expected, but I am learning firsthand that I have a God of refuge who is my Comforter and my Teacher. He has given me the important job of loving a special-needs child and of sharing my story with other mothers who have had unexpected “job descriptions” in their own roles as parents … This is not the life I signed up for, but it’s the assignment God has for me today.

With titles such as “Did I really Say Drug Free?,” “Keeping the Groom — Dumping the Dress,” “Girls’ Day Jammin” and “A Tale of Two Manicures,” there’s something for every woman to enjoy. If you’re looking for a gift for an expectant or new mom — or for a friend who could use some encouragement, I highly recommend Kisses of Sunshine for Moms. Plus — it’s just downright pretty and would look fun in a gift basket!

One thing I really enjoy about this book is that it makes me feel a whisper of creativity, urging me to write. When I read someone else’s mothering experiences, it makes me reflect on my own. Do you write things down somewhere? If you can at least jot down a line or two of a special memory, one day you can go back and write about it. Reflect on what God taught you — or what you’d like to share with your children someday.

I think it brings joy to God’s heart when we remember the good things in life and record our memories with words. Here’s one of the quotes I love: “Shared stories build a relational bridge that Jesus can walk across from your heart to others” (Rick Warren).

January 22, 2006

This week’s Carnival of Beauty will be hosted by Amanda of following an unknown path, who is currently living in Taiwan. How interesting! I decided to look up Taiwan on a map because I’m a little rusty on my geography. I’ve never been there before, and so I’m sure I’ll enjoy exploring Amanda’s blog to learn more about why she’s there and where exactly she makes her home.

Seeing that map of Taiwan brought back memories of something I haven’t thought of in over a decade. When I was living in Japan, I rode my bike every Saturday morning to a little community center to study Japanese. My class was only three people: me, a businessman from Malaysia, and a college student from Taiwan. We had a wonderful volunteer teacher who truly loved teaching us her language and enjoyed taking us on “field trips” all over Osaka and Kobe. She also cooked us dinner in her home — where we all had to practice the language lessons she’d been teaching us!

My Taiwanese friend was named Ryu — I’m not sure if that’s spelled correctly in English! He was really proud of his tea ceremony technique. I remember my friends gave me a little birthday party when I turned 25, and Ryu had an elaborate tea ceremony for me — showing us how his family has made tea for centuries.

I’ve lost touch with those friends, and I hope they’re all doing well. Amanda’s blog looks so refreshing! I can’t imagine how different my life might have been in Japan if I’d kept a blog. Instead, I spent every night in my room writing letters — by hand. I searched the stationery shops for interesting Japanese writing paper, and I made several trips to the post office every week. I always looked forward to checking my mail!

The topic for this week’s Carnival is “The Beauty of Serving.” Amanda says to send our post link by 3 pm on Tuesday, which will be 6 am on Wednesday in Taiwan. I can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with. Would you like to submit something?

Don’t forget to stop by Sallie’s site at Two Talent Living — she’s the official sponsor of the Carnival, but she’s taking a break. I certainly enjoyed her recent post about why she’s pulling back from “gadding about” in the blogosphere — since I’ve only been blogging four months, she gave me plenty of food for thought!

P.S. I just discovered Amanda is also a FlyLady fan — she’ll have to come visit me on Fridays here in my blog so we can encourage each other. I liked her post on how FlyLady helped her change the way she sees time.

By: Heather Ivester in: Japan,Writing | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (6)

January 21, 2006

This morning, I drove home from a basketball game in misty gray rain and stopped at a railroad crossing. The red lights flashed, and the two crossbars came down in front of me. And I waited.

And waited.

I didn’t see a train coming, nor did I hear one. I waited for a full minute, watching the cars across from the tracks to see what they would do. Should I keep waiting? Could there be some malfunction? We were out on a little country road on a peaceful Saturday, all waiting.

I was afraid to disobey the cross signal, so I waited quietly…while another minute passed.

And then I heard the train. A whistle, then a chugging sound. Within a few more seconds, a long train passed right in front of me, freight car after heavy freight car.

I was glad I’d waited. Then of course, the light stopped flashing, and the crossbars went back up. And I crossed safely to the other side of the tracks.

This reminded me of how I feel in life somtimes. I get so impatient! I don’t want to wait. I want to hurry across the tracks, get to where God wants me to go, start something new. But I can’t see around the bend. Only God can. His timing is perfect, and He wants to keep me safe. Only when I wait will I understand His timing.

Do you feel like you’re stuck waiting on something? Hang in there. You can’t see around the bend, but God can. And He’s got something wonderful in store for you — if you’ll trust Him while you wait.

My kids and I used to watch Mr. Rogers when they were younger, and he liked to sing, “Let’s think of something to do while we’re waiting.” What can we do? The author of Psalm 130:5 wrote, “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.”

Let us then be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.

Henry W. Longfellow

By: Heather Ivester in: Faith | Permalink | Comments Off on Waiting at the Crossroad