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Christy Catherine Marshall

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December 31, 2006


I’m so excited about my new Bible I can’t wait to tell you about it. When I read this post in The Writing Life, it was like God was speaking right to me. I’d stopped by Terry Whalin’s blog to read on my way to to finish up my Christmas shopping, and I read this:

Each day for at least the last ten years, I reach for one book to begin my day, the Bible. Before I read the local newspaper or anything else, the words have guided and inspired my life.

This year I’m toward the end of The Daily Bible where author LaGard Smith has organized the Bible into chronological order. I’m making my fourth or fifth trip through this Bible and appreciate his devotional insights scattered throughout this book.

Well, I bought two copies of The Daily Bible in Chronological Order, one for me and one for my husband. As soon as I opened mine on Christmas day, I couldn’t wait to start reading it. I’ve never read the Bible like this before — it’s amazing. The readings are organized so that you’ll understand the chronological order of the events that take place.

This Bible is so easy to read — the type is plenty big, and there is wonderful white space between paragraphs, as well as subheadings in all-caps. (This has become important to me as I get older — little-bitty type strains my aging eyes, and it distracts me.)

Each day’s reading includes a brief introduction by F. LaGard Smith — then he just steps out of the way and lets the Word speak to you directly. There are no footnotes or other commentary to distract you. While I’ve loved my NIV Life Application Bible, I sometimes get distracted by all the commentary — wondering if I should have gone to seminary so I could understand deeper meaning in scripture.

The Word of God is living and active, and it will speak to each of us differently. But it won’t speak to us at all if we’re too busy to sit down and read it. So this is what I’ve committed to do this year — before my eyes read ANYTHING else, I’m going to read my daily reading in this Bible.

Today, New Year’s Eve, I finished up the book of Revelation. Wow. No wonder C.S. Lewis felt compelled to create a Narnia for children.

I hope you have a safe and wonderful New Year’s Eve. If you have a Bible Reading Plan that you enjoy, can you share it with us here? Do you read the Bible online or in a book form?

By: Heather Ivester in: Books,Faith | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (5)

December 26, 2006

I’m still enjoying my Christmas holiday from blogging, but I read this story this morning and thought I must pass it along to you.

Christmas is not always a time of joy for everyone. In fact, it can be a stressful, lonely, and sad time for people struggling with depression.

Here’s a powerful story of a woman who was clinically depressed — and God brought her a Christmas miracle. I felt like I needed to quickly post this link to someone who might be blessed by her words.

Dear Father,
If there is anyone reading this right now who is struggling with loneliness or depression, please speak to their hearts through Virginia Thompson’s story in Christian Women Today. Amen.

That one faithful woman, Cheryl, made a difference because she was listening to God’s voice. OK, so that’s why I’m posting this link to My Christmas Miracle.

By: Heather Ivester in: Faith,Wellness | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (2)

December 22, 2006

I’ll be taking a break from blogging to enjoy spending time with my family. I want to take this minute to wish each of you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I can’t thank God enough for you. I read your blogs and am inspired to become a better mom, a better wife, and a more faithful follower of Christ.

If you’d like to participate in a Christmas Day meme, Iris is hosting something fabulous at Sting My Heart.

I hope you have a wonderful week, and I’ll look forward to joining you again here in 2007! May God bless you with a joyful celebration of His birth and love!

P.S. Click here for a wonderful nativity scene that your kids can color. Makes a great Christmas card for the grandparents!

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

A couple of days ago, one of my college roommates called after she received my Christmas card. The years melted away as we caught up. The day before that, I talked to another one of my best college friends, trying to track down her snail mail address. In both of these conversations, I admitted something I haven’t talked about here at all.

I want to teach English again … someday.

There. I’ve said it!

It seems to be a trend among my friends that as our kids get older and start school, we are either becoming homeschool moms or we’re heading back to the work force. Both are full-time jobs that require enormous amounts of creativity.

My true passions are literature and writing. With a good book to read and a notebook to jot down one’s thoughts, life is more than bearable; it becomes joyful! I haven’t taught formally since the 1995-96 school year, when I taught sophomore and senior English in a public high school. It was exhausting, but richly rewarding.

Since our kids have entered the Christian school system, I’m now partial to the wonderful Christ-centered education they’re receiving. Yet I know tuition only increases as children get older. So I’m dreaming that one day, maybe my reading/writing/blogging decade can help land me a teaching job that would help pay private school tuition for my kids to go to a really great school. The grandparents have been so generous this year … but how in the world will we manage when we have all five kids in school?

With that said, I’m starting to collect books on teaching writing, and I’ve just found another wonderful book on the subject. The Train-of-Thought Writing Method by Kathi Macias offers the perfect analogy that demystifies the process of writing an article, short story, or longer work of fiction or non-fiction.

I can relate to trains. My two sons are both crazy about trains, and I’ve read them books about trains hundreds of times. Macias instructs writers to first begin “laying the track,” which means to write out one sentence that describes the heart of the work. Then you must have a “cow catcher,” something that will grab the reader’s attention and invite them along for the train ride.

Other aspects of the writing process include the locomotive (purpose, pulling the story along), the boxcars, the couplers, the observation car, and the caboose. Macias includes plenty of examples from her own writing, as well as other well-known authors, such as C.S. Lewis.

I’m really excited about owning this book, which can be used by a teacher like a workbook. Each chapter would make a nice weekly lesson, in which students can be instructed to work on a piece in process. Throughout the book, Kathi Macias’ can-do tone makes anyone feel like tackling a long writing project is not insurmountable.

I especially enjoyed the author’s example of being invited to speak at her old high school on the topic of writing. She was a nervous wreck about her first public speaking assignment! Yet it was a springboard for her lifetime career of helping others become better writers.

The author is an award-winning writer who has authored or coauthored fifteen books, including the popular Matthews and Matthews detective series from B&H (Obsession, The Price, and The Ransom) and the bestselling women’s devotional, A Moment a Day from Regal Books. She has also edited, rewritten, or ghostwritten more than 100 other books and published a wide variety of articles, short stories, and poems. She also serves as a staff member of a major manuscript critique service.

With these credentials, Kathi Macias has a great background for writing a book using the train-of-thought method to help new and established writers accomplish their goals of publishing.

I highly recommend this book and am glad to have it on my bookshelf. Not only will it help me to work on my personal writing projects, I also dream that someday … if God opens the door … I’ll be able to incorporate it in my classroom.

Wherever that may be.

December 21, 2006

Christian Blog DirectoryA few weeks ago, I joined the Christian mom bloggers who’ve been interviewed by the wonderful ladies at 5 Minutes for Mom. I love this site! Twin sisters Janice and Susan have so much going on over there.

I encourage you to take a peek and then stick around and do some Christmas shopping at all the fantastic Mom-Owned webstores they have listed. You’ll find everything from little rocking toys for toddlers, kids golf carts for preschoolers, to collectible coke machines for retro fans.

It’s a nice idea to shop with moms first and spread some extra Christmas cheer to work-at-home moms.

If you love photography, you’ll love the Wordless Wednesday gatherings at 5 Minutes for Mom. Bloggers may send a link to a photo they post on Wednesdays. Talk about inspiration — wow!

Tackle-it-Tuesday is another ongoing collection at 5 Minutes for Mom. I’ve been amazed at Janice’s basement and closet organizing projects — and I’m huffing and puffing along behind her, trying to tackle my own household hot spots. It’s nice to feel like we’re not alone when we’re plowing through STUFF that we hate to do. (It’s not so distasteful when we can blog about it. heh.)

Also, if you like to read positive, encouraging articles about growing in your faith, you’ll want to visit FaithLifts at 5 Minutes for Mom. You can be a guest contributing writer to Faithlifts by sending in an article for consideration here.

December 20, 2006

I dashed out of the house a few minutes this morning to shop before my husband left for work — but otherwise, I’ve been at home … with five kids.

We’re in the twilight zone of two days before the HUGE Christmas festivities begin, and I’m trying to think of simple, LOW-COST things to do to keep our kids occupied.

Rescued by Homemade Playdough.

I haven’t made any in years, but it’s much more fun for the kids to play with than the store-bought kind. Plus they really enjoyed being able to add the ingredients themselves and pick out their own color.

We made four batches, and it took about 20 minutes altogether. A science lesson was even tossed in when one batch was too squishy and we realized we’d forgotten the SALT.

You probably already have all these ingredients on hand — except for the Cream of Tartar. You can find it in the grocery store spice section under the C’s. I paid about $3.50 for a small container, and it will make at least a dozen batches of playdough.

Here’s what you need:

1 cup flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 cup water
Few drops of food coloring
1/2 cup salt
1 tablespoon oil

Mix in a pot on the stove. Cook on medium heat, stirring until thickened (takes only a few minutes and looks gooey. Don’t let it boil or you’ll need to add more water). While still warm, knead a little. Keep in a covered container when not in use.

Give kids some cookie cutters, a spare rolling pin, and some little plastic animals and people — then go prop up your feet and read Christmas cards. They’ll be entertained — quite cheaply — for hours.

This recipe compliments of A Taste of Georgia II cookbook, p. 279.

[Note to self: Add salt to grocery list.]

By: Heather Ivester in: Family,Parenting | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (6)

I took our children to see Charlotte’s Web yesterday, and I have to tell you I was thoroughly entertained the entire time; all of us were. I debated about taking my older three (6, 9, 10) to see The Nativity Story, but I’d read a couple of reviews by mothers who said it had earned its PG rating and had a few scenes they had to cover their child’s eyes through. One mom said she regretted taking her 7-year-old to see it and wished she’d waited for the DVD. (But I’m still hoping to see this movie on the Big Screen.)

So I opted for Charlotte’s Web instead, wondering if I’d be able to keep my eyes open through a kid’s movie. Boy, was I wrong! I was captivated, mesmerized. I couldn’t stop laughing. The animals were hilarious! Then I discovered the star-studded cast of voices. Check these out:

Julia Roberts …. Charlotte the Spider (voice)

Steve Buscemi …. Templeton the Rat (voice)

John Cleese …. Samuel the Sheep (voice)

Oprah Winfrey …. Gussy the Goose (voice)

Cedric the Entertainer …. Golly the Goose (voice)

Kathy Bates …. Bitsy the Cow (voice)

Reba McEntire …. Betsy the Cow (voice)

Robert Redford …. Ike the Horse (voice)

Thomas Haden Church …. Brooks the Crow (voice)

André Benjamin …. Elwyn the Crow (voice)

Dominic Scott Kay …. Wilbur (voice)

Sam Shepard …. Narrator

Abraham Benrubi …. Uncle the Pig (voice)

Dakota Fanning …. Fern

Kevin Anderson …. Mr. Arable

Julia Roberts’ voice for Charlotte lends the spider an air of mystery and wisdom. And I love how the plot unfolds. Templeton the rat (ooh, that TAIL made me sqeamish!) helps Charlotte find the right word to spin in her web to endear Wilbur the pig so he won’t become Christmas dinner.

Isn’t this a wonderful theme for writers? We’re constantly searching for the right word to create our characters and stories. Templeton had to go out into the world to search and make his discoveries, just like we writers can’t sit behind a computer screen all day if we hope to write something that will connect to people’s hearts.

I didn’t realize Oprah Winfrey played Gussy the Goose! I bet that recording studio was a riot — because the acting was truly funny. You fall in love with each and every one of them, and the 97-minute movie flies by.

I also liked the movie’s message about families. Fern is very close to her father — who is kissing the pig in the photo above. In today’s culture, with the role of fathers being downplayed as not important, here’s a movie that shows how Fern finds much of her self-confidence from the love of her dad. I could see how Fern’s views of her heavenly father could be favorably shaped by the love of her earthly dad.

For all of you homemakers who take your kids to see the movie, you’ll love the vintage kitchen, where many of the scenes take place! I felt like running home and painting my kitchen bright yellow and adding some vintage crocks to my countertop. Details like this kept me completely entranced.

And the theme of finding miracles in the ordinary makes this movie something you’ll bring home with you. You’ll never be able to look at a plain ol’ spider web again — without thinking of “Some Pig.”

By: Heather Ivester in: Family,Movies | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (3)

December 19, 2006

Wow. Thank you so much for your compliments on my home. I should have invited you in a year ago, and I would have felt a lot better about myself.

It’s amazing what a few cleverly angled shots can do for a gal’s self-confidence. (Notice: you did NOT see my basement or laundry room. Those areas are messy projects in process. Um, for about three years now.)

I have to thank Alyice Edrich of The Dabbling Mum Magazine for inspiring me to try using our digital camera. If you’ve not visited her DM Writes blog lately, she is starting a new journey in photography, and I’m tagging along for the ride. Her husband bought her a snazzy new (incredible) camera, and she’s learning how to use it and sharing what she learns. Her post, Develop, Print, and Share Photographs, explained all the basics for me!

I still don’t understand the mysterious process of how the pictures go from our camera to the computer. My husband does this — and I’ve learned not to ask stupid questions, like “How’d you do that?” because then my loss of brain cells from full-time mothering the last decade becomes all-too apparent. I just don’t get it. If I touch it, it will crash.

I had never even HEARD of digital scrapbook pages until I read in Scribblings by Blair that she was selling her old scrapbook stuff so she could convert her scrapbooks to digital. Huh? Then I read more about this in DM Writes. So, now I’m … thankful that I’m several YEARS behind in my scrapbooking because I’m sure I’ll jump on this digital bandwagon with glee once I figure it out. I never did like putting tape on the back of pictures to stick them in archive-safe pages. (It bends the pictures if you ever decide to pull one out of your scrapbook to put in a frame.)

But I digress.

This is a post about last-minute Christmas shopping! Which officially begins today, with six days before Christmas — and most of us with our kids home from school! I just discovered that Hobby Lobby has permanent 40% off coupons if you go here and print them off. So you never have to go in that store without a coupon. Hobby Lobby has GREAT craft kits for kids — giving us moms hours of quiet!

This morning I finished up my BOOK shopping! Don’t you know I would have a ton of books to buy? I love supporting our local independent bookstore in town, but this year I just can’t do it. I can’t take the kids into a store full of breakable knick-knacks so I can browse. And the nearest Borders is an hour away. Not good. So I’ve done my book shopping on-line this year.

I ordered several books from Amazon for each of my elementary-age children — the classics I loved as a child, as well as some of the newer ones that have won awards. One thing I’ve missed at the kids’ Christian school this year is a school library — the school is too small to have one. So we go to the public library, which is always stressful when you bring toddlers who SPEAK IN ALL CAPS. And then I have to keep up with the books and make sure they’re returned on time.

Last year in public school, my son went to the library every day on his own. As soon as he finished a book and took his AR test, he’d go back and get another. (Two hours of reading for a Hardy Boys novel, four hours for a Narnia book, he said.)

All that to say, if you want to order books this year for Christmas presents, now’s the time. To see my Christmas recommendations, check out my December Book Buzz column at Christian Women Online — or read some thoughtful reviews at Christian Book Previews. I always get a little spooked at Amazon — I pick out a book, and then the site recommends a few other books that are PERFECT. Eery.

Definitely beats last-minute browsing in a store full of breakables with toddlers.

December 17, 2006

I know I’m late to the party, but I love BooMama’s idea of a Christmas Tour of Homes. There are over 160 bloggers joining in, and I’ve enjoyed peeking into their homes and seeing their beautiful Christmas decorations. I hope BooMama won’t mind that I’m straggling behind the pack. I’m sure the casseroles have cooled, but I don’t mind leftovers.

Friday the 15th was total craziness around here. No time to blog, with four class parties! And guess who waited until the last minute to wrap all the gifts … grrr. Why does it take the rush of party-day adrenaline to get me slapping on scotch tape and tying bows? (And where IS that scotch tape?) At least this year, my mother-in-law helped out with the preschool party so I could attend my elementary kids’ parties — and since they were in a small school, I party-hopped to all three, baby in tow.

But I did want to share some of our favorite Christmas decorations, especially since I don’t know how many of these will make it through the years. A few days ago, I caught my three-year-old smashing glass balls with the can of cinnamon air freshener. When I told him to stop, he just said, “I’m sorry, Mama. I didn’t mean to.” (irresistible).

So, come on in and see what decorations survived the first week.

Here’s our front door. This is the table where I sit every day to read our mail and watch the kids play in the driveway.

Here’s our little Christmas cat who will greet you from her favorite perch on the stairway. She doesn’t know what the fuss is all about. As long as she can snooze, everything is fine.

This is our dining room. I put a spray of greenery over the mirror that will probably fall once it’s hit by a stray football. The little plate to the right is one of my favorite decorations. I got it from Southern Living, and you can change out the ribbons and write on the plate with Dry Erase markers. We use it for birthdays too.

Here’s one of my favorite decorations that is so breakable I don’t know how much longer we’ll have it. This Snow White globe belongs to my daughter who’s six. We bought it for her when she was so enamored with Snow White her second Christmas. My sister-in-law went crazy hearing her sing, “Some day my pwince will tum” at my mom’s house that year. This little snow globe plays, “We wish you a Merry Christmas.” I thought I’d set it up in a safe place, but my three-year-old got up on a step stool and was carrying it around a couple of days ago. So we may need an e-bay replacement in a few years.

This is the Advent Calendar we’ve put up every year since my oldest was born. I love it, and I never have to answer the question, “How many days ’til Christmas?” because I just tell them to go check the Advent Calendar. And they love taking a piece of the Nativity out of the pocket every day. Baby Jesus went missing one year, and I found him nestled in a pile of stuffed animals a few months later.

I display our cards differently every year. I bought this wreath several years ago and have it hanging on the back of our coat closet. I like to use something that makes it easy to transport my cards when I go to my parents’ house. My mom and dad get such a kick out of seeing my childhood and college friends grown up with their own families. And I love plowing through their cards too, reading the newsletters. Some years I’ve used a crystal bowl and let the cards pile up, but I love looking at our friends’ pictures all through December. Some will end up on our refrigerator.

Here’s our tree, humble and eclectic in all its glory. We only have one tree, though a friend of mine decorates her home in 14 full-sized trees, each with a fabulous different theme. Ours is full of glittery handmade ornaments the kids make, and I try to pick up ornaments when we travel. One of my favorites is a little Kiwi bird we bought when we were in New Zealand in 1994. We always use white lights — I’m just a white lights girl. They remind me of stars.

And this is the newest addition to our Christmas collection. I bought this quilt a couple of weeks ago at Cracker Barrel. They were having a Christmas sale, and I thought it would be something fun for us to have out for years. I wish I could say I made it, but it was made in China.

That’s it! Thanks for stopping in. If you’re looking for more Christmas inspiration, check out some more homes — decorated by REAL people — at BooMama’s Christmas Tour of Homes.

[Edit: I wasn’t the last one after all! The tour is still going strong as more bloggers join in — there are now nearly 200 Christmas-decked homes welcoming you to visit.]

December 14, 2006

You can contact me at:

heather ivester at gmail dot com

By: Heather Ivester in: Blogging,Motherhood | Permalink | Comments Off on Contact Information