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Christy Catherine Marshall

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April 18, 2007

Like most of you, I can’t stop thinking about the tragedy that happened on Monday. Now we’re watching the victims’ families share about their personal loss. I was saddened to hear the English teacher’s story about what a disturbed young man the gunman was — as she discovered through his angry, violent writing.

What we write on paper is often a mirror of what is going on in our soul.

I’ve blogged more of my thoughts about this today over at Writer … Interrupted.

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

April 17, 2007

Our prayers go out today to the families of the 33 victims of the Virginia Tech massacre yesterday, the worst school shooting in U.S. history.

We had the news on last night and watched an interview with a girl who was sitting in her German class when the gunman came in and shot 25 of her classmates.

“I just pretended to be dead,” she said. Only four survived from the whole class. Even her professor was killed.

How do you explain this tragedy to your children? They asked; we had to tell them.

Moreover, how do people go on living without Christ? There is NO hope in the world without the message of peace that comes through Christ.

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart!
I have overcome the world.
John 16:33

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

April 16, 2007

This is one of the sweetest things ever.

I’ve been a reader of Amy’s Humble Musings blog ever since a google search on the word “humble” led me there — nearly two years ago.

Amy is sick — very, very sick — with a sixth pregnancy. Too sick to go anywhere near her computer. So her husband has taken over her blog!

This just makes me smile — if you want to know what it’s like for a rocket scientist (really!) father of five very young, homeschooled children to manage a home while his wife suffers through morning (all-day) sickness, you’ll have to visit.

I hope the Scotts will one day write a book together on marriage and family. They’re BOTH wonderful writers!

Please keep Amy in your prayers!

By: Heather Ivester in: Blogging,Friendship,Marriage,Motherhood | Permalink | Comments Off on Blogging Parents

April 14, 2007

I just wanted to remind you that today, April 14th, is the deadline for Christian Women Online’s Her Life Reflected writing contest.

The magazine is looking for “stories that illustrate how your mother, or a mother that you know, has reflected the heart of God in her life.” The essay should be an unpublished work, 1000 words or less. You can read the rest of the official guidelines here.

The winner’s prize package includes $200 cash, a CD, a professional website or blog design, and several autographed books, including a signed copy of my little book, From a Daughter’s Heart to Her Mom, among other gifts.

If you haven’t already submitted a story and you’d like to, you still have time — if you do it by midnight! 🙂

April 13, 2007

Do you drive around in a messy mini-van?

This video is making the mom circuit, and it is so funny!

April 12, 2007

You’re in for a treat today. I’m so excited to have Claudine Aievoli as our guest. Claudine is a precious mother of two who makes her home in Long Island, New York.

We actually met in person several months ago at the CLASS conference at the Sandy Cove retreat center.

Claudine became my buddy, my sister in Christ, and I think her testimony is one of the most powerful I’ve ever heard.

She’s a dynamic speaker and has also written a program that she’s teaching to women. She has such a heart for encouragement!

Hi Claudine. Welcome to Mom 2 Mom Connection.

Hi, Heather. Thank you for inviting me.

You’ve developed a program for women, called C.O.N.F.I.D.E.N.C.E. Can you tell us about your course?

Absolutely. When I read or listen to someone who speaks on a certain subject, I often think – what many might think — and that is, “What makes them able to speak about this topic…?”

I believe God has given me the grace and the ability to undertake talking to women about healthy, Godly confidence because I myself have experienced extremely high levels of pride and extremely low levels of inferiority, and neither path was a place for a confident woman of God.

I designed the ten-letter acronym C.O.N.F.I.D.E.N.C.E. into a class to instill a healthy, Godly esteem to women. Each letter represents tangible steps / ideas / prayers and courses of Biblical action that are practical and possible for women so they can see themselves as ‘more than conquerors’ with Christ.

The course is both instructional and interactive, making each class special and personal to its participants and to me — I am privileged for each opportunity to share God’s love with them.

How did you get started teaching your program?

I started this course after months of speaking with women and discussing the pressure we feel to be perfect. The teacher and social worker in me started to take notes of women’s stories and concerns, and I’d record them in my journal.

The pages spoke of the dichotomy between worldly inadequacies and what God says in the Amplified version of Hebrews 10:22 about “leaning our entire personalities on Him in absolute trust and confidence in:

*his goodness
*his wisdom and
*his power” (adapted from Hebrews 10:22 Amp).

God has also allowed me to experience the spectrum of ‘esteem,’ which I break down into three categories in the first class in order for each participant to determine where they currently are and where we aim to be:

1 Pride
2 Low Self-Esteem
3 Healthy, Godly Confidence. The ultimate goal is to live a balanced, confident life in Christ based on the scriptures to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength; and to love your neighbor as you love yourself.

And then there are three categories we repeat out loud often. A confident woman knows:

1 …she is loved by God unconditionally.
2 …she has strengths and weaknesses; she deals with her weaknesses and focuses on her strengths.
3 …is born to win because she has God as her Source.

Do you teach this yourself? Where?

Yes, I do teach this course myself; and I also invite Christian friends to come and share their ‘stories’ at specific points in the course to inspire the participants. I have no specific location where I teach, per se, though it’s all in Long Island, NY currently.

I go where the Lord leads me through word-of-mouth and very interesting connections. I once facilitated the course as part of a church exercise group (where I participated in aerobics with the women and then got up and taught (sweat and all)!

Claudine, you sound like such a bundle of energy!

I am currently teaching the course to teen mothers at a residential home that cares for them and their babies while the young moms go to school and obtain their G.E.D. and vocational training. I am learning so much from these women who chose life for their babies.

Why did you decide to develop this program?

I decided to develop this program for many reasons; the main reason being because I wanted to help women see themselves as Christ sees them — “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14).

I wanted to effectively communicate to them how the world’s air-brushed definition of what a woman should be is full of failure, but God’s way of life is full of freedom!

That’s definitely a message today’s women need to hear! Did you ever go through a time in your life where you really needed God’s help in gaining confidence?

Oh, yes. I went from years of believing ‘I’m all that’…to living a desperate life with a motto of ‘I am worth nothing,’ after suffering a significant amount of losses that brought me to my knees.

It began with carpal tunnel surgery to my hand that was not successful (hence, I lost my prestigious career as a court reporter). I had two breast tumors removed. And then my polycystic ovarian disease led me down the path of infertility.

One day my aunt called during the midst of my childlessness to say she found a video of me when I was five. “What did I do in the video?” I asked. She said, “I asked you on video what you wanted to be when you grew up. You answered emphatically, ‘A mommy.’”

Oh, that is so sweet.

Everyone knew my deep desire to be a mommy — though I didn’t know this desire began at age five! I was supposed to be a mommy after a few years of marriage! It was supposed to happen for me when I wanted a baby, in my way, in my timing!

I was devastated being childless, and each month was another loss. I was so depressed; eventually I wouldn’t leave my house. My husband said he’d be happy still, just the two of us, but like Hannah in the Bible, the desire of my heart was not being fulfilled.

This depression went on for months, and I lost my desire to live. I wanted to die. I thought about ways to end my pain. So yes, yes, yes, I really needed God’s help in gaining the confidence He wanted me to have. But first I had to understand that God loved me unconditionally.

How did you get through this difficult time?

One dreary winter day, my husband had had it with me not getting out of bed. As he was leaving for work, he threw the T.V. remote at the bed saying, “If you’re not going to get out of the bed, at least watch the blankety-blank T.V.” He turned on the T.V. and left for work.

I watched him leave from our bedroom window. His head was hung down — (my depression was a disease and its effects were becoming contagious). Anyway, I looked at the T.V. and there was a woman I’d never heard of before, a preacher named Joyce Meyer, pointing her finger at the T.V. saying, “Jesus can heal you everywhere you hurt.”

I knew this but FORGOT it as I wallowed in my self-pity. I took a shower and removed all my makeup. I sat in front of the mirror as Joyce Meyer suggested and said one time for each year of my age, “God loves me.” I was in tears and on my knees by the time I got to 2. I made a promise to God to love Him no matter what happens.

And today, I know that I know that I know when I look at our two miracle children that Jesus does heal us everywhere we hurt. “We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair; persecuted but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed….” (Adapted from 2 Corinthians 4:8).

Your testimony is so powerful, Claudine. Didn’t you end up becoming a guest on Joyce Meyer’s TV show?

Yes! I was privileged to meet Joyce Meyer on her T.V. program “Enjoying Everyday Life” when I was a guest for her September 6th, 2007 show called “The Confident Woman.” I believe if you visit her website, you can view the episode online.

How did these experiences lead to your new level of confidence in Christ?

Allow me to answer your question with a little background, please. Though I accepted Jesus in my heart at the young age of eight, the revelation of living a confident, Godly life did not occur until I went through infertility because for so long I was able to do so much on my own and have it work out great — God being just an added bonus for mealtime prayers and infrequent Sunday church.

I was homecoming queen in high school; I was popular, and I had a lot of friends. I went to business school and became a successful court reporter.

I had a new car, new clothes, expensive makeup and haircuts, spent a lot of time eating out, shopping, and thinking about myself. None of these areas in particular are wrong, but grouped together as a life-style without serving God or caring for others left me in a web of self-centeredness.

Then when I became depressed in a roller coaster of health crises and infertility, it was an eye-opener to me to read Jesus’ words, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace, but in the world YOU WILL have troubles, trials, tribulations…but be of good cheer; be certain, CONFIDENT, undaunted because I have overcome the world and deprived it of any means of harming you” (adapted from John 16:33 Amp.). Amen and Amen to the Glory of God.

God did NOT promise us easy, but He does promise to be there with us every step of the way … guiding us, directing us to live a purpose-full life.

This is where our confidence gets its roots and where teaching the program repeatedly helps my own confidence:

• We are not alone.
• Our Guide is all-powerful.
• And we are not here by accident. We did not come from webbed-foot ancestors to wander the earth defeated. We were born with a purpose, for a purpose and paid for with a great price.

When we understand that God loves us no matter what we look like, no matter when we mess up, and that He has a plan for our life, ‘a plan of good and not for evil, to give me a future and a hope…” (Jer. 29:11), our confidence IN HIM grows and then we’re able to step out in life with more assuredness.

Let me repeat: Step 1 is our confidence is based in Christ — and this gives us the assuredness to do Step 2, which is for us to actively do what it is God is leading us to do. It’s a two-fold process and the order must never change — keep God first!

With Jesus as our foundation, we are strong. We are putting our faith in Him … not in ourselves, or our clothes, or jobs, or looks, or cash, or the world or people.

God is not a crutch — He’s an anchor! Unlike clothes, jobs, looks, cash, or people which are all subject to change, God never changes … He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Wow. You said it, girl! What do you hope to accomplish through teaching this program to women?

My prayer is that God would make me a vessel He can use to bring about change in our country and in our world.

As for now, I am privileged to have some women from my classes seek me out, ask me to pray for them, call me, and keep in touch with me to tell me they have had the confidence to “take a new job” or “complete their G.E.D.”

Some women have asked to take the course again. They say repetition helps them ‘get it’ better. I can relate to this. Just because something passes through my brain once, it’s not enough to settle into that ‘grey’ matter and become a way of life unless I hear it and practice it again and again.

I am privileged to be a vessel God is using today — especially considering how insecure I was just a few years ago! Like a gardener, I continue planting seeds and making sure my life is right with God first — balancing humility with confidence! I confidently hope for more opportunities and harvests to be cultivated.

Do you have any spiritual mentors in your life? Who has influenced you most to grow in your walk with Christ?

Absolutely! I was Catholic until we moved from Brooklyn to Long Island at the age of eight when my born-again Aunt Doreen and Uncle Eddie introduced me to HOW to have a personal relationship with Jesus.

Through my latency years, our houses were connected by our backyards. I had immediate Christian support and guidance less than 100 footsteps away.

When they moved out of state in my teen years they stayed just as connected and prayed with and for me even more. How important it is for us to have such people in our lives!

Yes, you are so blessed to have an aunt and uncle who reached out to you and made such a difference in your life.

Years later, they still send me Christian books and encouraging letters and they are also there for accountability. To be told in Christian love when you’re being stubborn and how to work on your weaknesses is just as important as hearing, ‘we’re proud of you.’

I am type-A, and I’m Sicilian, and I’m a melancholy-choleric personality; hence, I need all the prayers and accountability a person can get!

You come across as a bubbly dynamo in person — but now I can see, underneath, you’ve got a contemplative, artistic side as well.

I’m so thankful for my awesome Christian friends and sister Michelle who pray with me and study the Bible with me. I have a Bible-based pastor and church. I have loving parents and though they haven’t gone to church since 1992 when a former church hurt them deeply, I learn respect and hospitality and receive support from them.

My greatest supporter is my husband, and his encouragement and help (from computer print-outs to sharing responsibilities) is a gift from God and a sure sign to continue.

I am being mentored by some knowledgeable and powerful leaders from Concerned Women for America where I’ve been approved as a prayer chapter leader. This organization, founded by Beverly LaHaye, is designed to protect the family through prayer and action.

Mothers of Preschoolers, or MOPS, has been instrumental in my growth as a mom. I have been a coordinator for MOPS for the past few semesters and have been blessed by fellow leaders and moms of all ages in this group.

Thank you for visiting here, Claudine, and for sharing your testimony of faith with us! I hope you’ll write all this up in a book someday!

Claudine Aievoli would love to help anyone interested in learning how to have more confidence in Christ. She may be reached by email at cc1212 at

April 11, 2007

I’m blogging over at Writer … Interrupted today about faith, writing, and tater tots. Yes, they’re all part of motherhood! I’ll be over there every Wednesday this month writing the midweek motivation, and I’d love some company.

Carol Kuykendall wrote the most FABULOUS essay in this month’s MomSense. Oh, you’ll have to go read it. If you worry your children are growing up too fast and losing their sense of wonder, Carol will restore your hope. I seriously have not read anything this beautiful in a long time. Here’s a sneak peek:

We are born with this precious, passionate childlikeness. It’s real. It makes a little boy dream of being Superman or some other superhero. It sends a little girl to the dress-up box to pull out anything that makes her feel like a princess, because something tells her she is beloved and beautiful, and that she can be whatever she dreams she can be.

You can read the rest of “Growing Down” here.

I’d also like to thank the nice folks at Mother’s Day Central who included me in their list of Top 100 Mom Blogs (#80!). I don’t know how scientific these little awards were, but hey, it’s great that someone took the time to look up all the links!

A big congrats to three of my favorite mom bloggers: Kelsey, Donna Shepherd, and Barbara
who took the honors in the “Spiritual and Religious” category. These are all Christian writers, sharing their light, and it’s nice to see them get some recognition for spreading the Good News!

April 10, 2007

I’ve been writing a little magazine column in my hometown for almost three years. It’s truly one of my favorite ongoing assignments because I can write about anything I want to, and I love feeling a part of the community.

A couple of years ago, I wrote a column encouraging people to get outdoors and take pictures of their children — especially while all the spring flowers were bursting with blooms. I wrote a few paragraphs about how one of my favorite memories as a mom was of taking some pictures of my two oldest children in a patch of jonquils.

I revised that column into an essay and submitted it to an editor who was looking for stories for a Christian book publisher. She emailed back to thank me, and asked if she could hold it for a future project. I was of course a little disappointed, figuring that she was rejecting my story in a very nice way!

So what a surprise it was for me to hear from this editor a couple of months ago — nearly two years since I submitted. She wanted to send me a contract and said my story had made it through final revisions to be included in this beautiful new gift book, Blessed Among Women: God’s Gift to Mothers.

My story, “Spring Portraits,” is among several other essays written by moms and grandmoms celebrating the joys of motherhood, and I’m simply amazed to be included. It’s a hardback book, with artfully decorated pages — and there are poems, Bible verses, and famous quotations that make any mother feel that her job is the best, most significant job in the world.

If you’re in charge of planning a Mother’s Day tea or banquet, this book is full of inspiration (especially if you need some quotes for a speech!) It also makes a nice Mother’s Day gift for making someone you love feel special.

Blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the child you will bear!
Luke 1:42

April 9, 2007

Our guest this week is Christine Lynxwiler, a mom and writer who lives with her husband and two daughters in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains.

She’s author of several novels, including her most recent, Promise Me Always, which I reviewed for this month’s CWO Book Buzz.

Welcome, Christine! Your book has inspired me to get outside and do some gardening!

Can you tell us a little about your main character, Allie Richards, and what she’s gotten herself into in this novel?

Ever since she worked for a lawn service/landscaping company in high school, Allie has dreamed of having her own. When she marries, she puts her dreams on hold to support her husband through med school, but he gets hit by a car and killed when he’s still an intern.

Left with a mountain of debt and two young daughters, Allie forgets her dream. But when she’s fired from her secretarial job, her Pinky Promise friends convince her to go out on a limb and enter a landscaping contest.

As a young widow, raising two daughters on her own, what kind of struggles does Allie encounter?

Allie has to deal with the same problems most moms do — children who love each other, but don’t always like each other. She definitely wishes that she could turn them over to the other parent sometimes, but that’s not an option for her. She’s on call 24/7 and has to worry about being solely responsible for putting food on the table.

Can you give us some details about the Pinky Promise Sisterhood? What role do these friends play in Allie’s life?

The Pinky Promise Sisterhood formed out of necessity. Sometimes you have to have someone who will keep your secrets.

From the time in second grade when Lark and Allie found out they had matching Dukes of Hazzard lunchboxes, they knew they’d each found a friend. But when Lark told Allie that she’d never had a daddy and showed her how to pinky promise not to tell, the sisterhood was born.

A few years later, rich but unhappy Victoria was allowed in, and then when the trio were young adults, they befriended Rachel, seventeen, unwed and pregnant. Secrets bound them together to start with, but now love keeps them from ever forsaking each other.

You introduce a romantic hero in this novel, Daniel Montgomery. What do you think holds Allie back in trusting him?

When you’re writing first person, from the heroine’s point of view, I think your hero has to be larger than life. Daniel Montgomery fits this bill. He’s a risk-taker on a Harley.

But at the same time, he’s compassionate, solid, and safe. Allie can’t see past the first part. And she’s afraid. Afraid to trust anyone who can’t promise her always. And we know there’s only One who can do that.

As a writer, do you see yourself in Daniel?

Maybe, but to be honest, I saw myself in Allie too. Even though their dreams were very different, hers — to start her own landscaping company, and his — to write the Great American Novel, they both took a chance on achieving their goals. Following any dream is a scary, albeit rewarding, journey.

Yes, that’s true. There’s a strong theme of gardening throughout Promise Me Always. Are you also a gardener?

I’m not a gardener anymore. But I still think about it a lot. My deadlines have been so back-to-back for a while now that I don’t get my hands off the keyboard long enough to get them dirty.

For three years when we lived in Powder Springs, Georgia, I worked for a landscaping company. When I first started, it was a lawn service, but even then I liked the satisfaction that came from mowing a lawn, weedeating, edging it, and standing back to admire my work.

Then my boss expanded into landscaping and I LOVED it. I worked until I was seven months pregnant with my first daughter, then quit. But I’d always rather be outside.

I’ve been on a pressing deadline lately and Saturday, I took my laptop outside and wrote while my husband planted in the garden.

Sounds like fun! How does Allie grow spiritually as a Christian woman during this novel?

When the story starts, Allie has fallen into the trap of thinking she’s in control of her life. She doesn’t like things that mess with her perfect plan.

By the end of the book, she has to admit that God is the only One in control. I can’t speak for all Christian women, but I know that as I wrote the parts where Allie was literally forced to put things in God’s hands, I squirmed. I am a bit of a control freak, so this book was cheap therapy for me.

What’s next in the Pinky Promise Sisterhood series?

Right now I’m working on Rachel’s story. She’s a chiropractor who is happy living alone with her two dogs. But when she ends up taking care of a rebellious teenage girl for the summer whose only love is horses, it’s hard to handle it without some help. Along Came A Cowboy will hit the shelves in the spring of 2008.

Wow — you’re definitely staying busy with deadlines! In your Novel Journey interview, you detailed your journey to publication. What has surprised you most about being a published novelist?

I thought my life would change considerably when I got published. But it hasn’t. I still have fears and insecurities, bills and dirty dishes, good days and bad days.

Before I was published it seemed like publication was the goal, the end of the journey. Now each story is just a signpost along the way toward growing as a writer and as a person.

Do you have any advice for moms who try to squeeze in a little writing time while they’re also busy raising a family?

My only advice for moms is kids grow up fast. My little one was tiny when I started writing. Now she’s ten. I’ve missed too many chances to read a story to her because I was writing one. That’s my new goal. Be more responsible about my word count so that my house doesn’t have to become a one-parent household around deadline time.

On the other hand, don’t use your kids as a cop-out, a reason not to write. Carve out some time each day. A fulfilled mom is a great mom!

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I have to put in a plug for the book I just turned in titled Forever Christmas. This is written in a voice similar to the Pinky Promise books.

Forever Christmas is set in Jingle Bells, Arkansas, a little town where, according to the welcome sign, “The Spirit of Christmas Lives In Our Hearts All Year Long.” Former runaway bride, Kristianna Harrington, has to fight to save the town she loves without losing her heart in the process.

I’ll be posting the cover or at least a link to the amazon page for the book on my website in a few days.

We’ll have to check that out — thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Christine!

Thanks for having me, Heather. It’s been fun!

You can keep up with Christine Lynxwiler’s writing and family life via her website, which she updates regularly with an awesome blog!

April 7, 2007

I hope you enjoy a wonderful Easter celebration with your family!

He’s not here!
He’s risen!

By: Heather Ivester in: Faith,Family | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (1)