Nehemiah In A Sweatshirt?

My Bible study today created a sense of déjà vu.  While reading in the book of Nehemiah this morning, it gave me pause, it was like reading or watching the news of today—only difference was the way in which the nation’s problems were handled then and how they’re handled today.

A quick overview of what Nehemiah, cup-bearer to king Artaxerxes, was faced with when he inquired of his brethren about the fate of the Jews of the captivity (the remnant that was left) and the city of Jerusalem.

Nehemiah learned that the Jews were in great affliction and that the wall around the city had been broken down and the doors in the wall were burned out. The city and the people were a laughing-stock to those passing by. (Hmm, USA today?)

You know what Nehemiah did when he got that news? Nehemiah 1: verse 4 says he sat down and wept. He mourned and fasted, and the scripture says he prayed before the God of heaven. ( Nehemiah knew how to tackle a problem )

Do you wonder what he prayed for? Verses 5 through 11 tells us the very words Nehemiah spoke to God in his prayer. Nehemiah poured out his heart to God whom he loved and looked to for help on behalf of the people, and the city of Jerusalem. ( I could hardly stop reading, but I had to—cause stuff had to be done—life always gets in the way of the good times! )

The wisdom found in the book of Nehemiah (old testament ) is astounding. In Chapter 1: verses 7, 8 and 9, Nehemiah confesses the people’s sins before God and is reminded that God promised the people if they turned away from following him, ( the cause of all the problems ) that he would allow them to be scattered and afflicted. But, the good news was if they would turn and come back, God would gather them to him again. ( the promise still stands )

The thing is, Nehemiah lived in the king’s palace, he had no need to put himself out for the people who had turned away from God. He had little to gain but stood to lose much. He did what he did for love of the people, and he wanted God’s best for them.

God heard Nehemiah’s prayer and was with him and the people who followed his lead in turning back to God. They rebuilt the wall in fifty-two days, with a weapon in one hand and a tool in the other hand ( the enemies tried to stop the progress—not knowing they fought against God ).

Read the book of Nehemiah and see how he rebuilt the wall of Jerusalem in the midst of great ridicule, rumors, and intimidation attempts. Reading the first six chapters made me determined to be stronger and spend more time in prayer. I’m looking forward to studying the rest of the book of Nehemiah.

Chapter 6: 16 is especially rewarding.

The photo above is of an old sweatshirt that one of my nephews gave me. I think it’s one Nehemiah might have worn. I can hear him quoting my sweatshirt, “Either lead, follow or get out of the way.”

Until next time, signing off with 🙂 🙂 🙂 Keep God in your plans—things go better!  MaryJ

 

As a reminder, one of my short stories, The Summer Boarder is FREE March 23-27. It’s a cute story—enjoy!

 

Almost there!

 

And I say, “Thank you for your patience.”

CoverA #1 - Avery 3269 Inkjet Half-Fold.jpegHoliday Hearts, the third book in the series, Valley Ridge Romance, will be available on Amazon in a few short days—happy dancing!

The story is written, the cover is done. The hold up now is the hundred and one loose ends waiting to be tied off—and that’s almost finished.
( We’re down to 99! )

The e-book happens first then the print book follows in five to eight days.

If you haven’t read the first two books in the series, check them out here …Mary’s books

And by the way, where did February go!!?? Looking for January?

Again, thanks to everyone! 🙂

Keep God in your plans and see the difference. 🙂

MaryJ 🙂 🙂 🙂

 

 

 

January, oh where have you gone?

The christmas decorations remain piled in the garage, tissue paper and gift bags were put away only this past week, and January is … over?  Already!

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My town is a bit blurry—it’s greatly enlarged!

And still my Christmas ‘pretend like’ village sets on the window sill above the kitchen sink … I’m struggling to give it up. Because, as I wash the dishes after meals, I enjoy looking at the collection of small buildings. And though my hands are washing up, I’m whisked away to a snowy, pine covered mountain far away from my brown lawn, and the Oklahoma wind … to my dream town. A place that offers everything I personally want and need in a town—except one major thing—church.

I find it odd that the world recognizes Christmas as a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus, and some people go to church for the first time since last Christmas, yet I haven’t been able to find a tiny church to complete my favorite Christmas village. Have I just not looked in the right places? ( I confess, Walmart and Dollar stores ) Maybe I should check at Hallmark?

My pretend town has a  bookstore, a general store, coffee shop, and all the places I like to hang out, but no church. I’ve looked and will continue to keep an eye out for a tiny church to complete my perfect imaginary town … ( mine even has an art school! ) but for now, I really must pack it away and face the reality of February and the wind it brings.

But … can you believe—January is gone for another year!  😐

Take care, keep God first in your plans, and have a wonderful year!  🙂 🙂  MaryJ

Be sure to check out the third book, HOLIDAY OF the HEART in my series, Valley Ridge Romance. The e-book will be available on Amazon in February—I’ll post the date! The paperback version follows a week later. Thanks everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s All In The Mind—Literally

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Hand-painted Christmas Carol music box; one of my favorite decorations.

Christmas-time still makes me happy. And I wonder about that—because I’m definitely old enough to have outgrown it. But I never have. I hum Christmas songs as I go about putting up the tree. I love the red, green and gold colors of the season and when the weather snaps and crackles with cold, uh-huh even better.

I write this because one afternoon as I handled an ornament that had seen better days, it struck me as absurd that a combination of colors, glass balls, song lyrics and winter in the air should excite my mind and cause me to hum happily.

Does that mean I believe in Santa Claus? I won’t answer on grounds that I may be committed. 🙂 Do I hope Santa will bring gifts on that magical morning?

I have more ‘gifts’ than I can keep dusted and give thanks over already—no gifts please, Santa. And it’s not like I grew up in a home where Christmas was a big gift-giving affair. My siblings and I were all happy and thought it was a good Christmas when we got our customary apple, orange, a hand-full of walnuts and several pieces of hard ribbon candy—all in one of Dad’s socks—wow, that was fun! I’ve always believed giving truly is as much fun as getting.

Three days before the big day I had better things to be doing, but I was suddenly very curious by my childlike enjoyment of Christmas. So, I made a cup of tea and settled into my comfy chair to give this phenomenon deeper thought.

A short doze, and a second cup of tea later, I reached a conclusion: Christmas is a state of mind—just like happiness is. I mean really, logically, colors of red, green and gold, song lyrics of home and hearth and frosty weather happen on days other than just December 25, and without the ‘Christmas’ reaction. It’s all in the mind.

Each year, come December, childhood memories that lie buried eleven months out of the year, rise to the surface bringing the same excitement and fun as when I was six, ten, twelve … and I’m carried back to childhood … back to Christmas.

This gave me an idea for an experiment. I’m leaving all my Christmas decorations up through tax time. Maybe it’ll help me keep a happy state of mind as I empty my bank account in ‘giving’. I’ll let you know. 🙂

I hope you had a great Christmas! And keep God uppermost in your thoughts and plans for the 2017!

Until next time, signing off with hugs. 🙂 🙂 🙂

IS HAPPINESS REALLY A CHOICE?

Who first said, “You’re only as happy as you decide to be?” Was it Abe Lincoln, Henry Ford or that ‘Will something’ person who did rope tricks and never met a man he didn’t like?  It sounds like something either of them would have said. And they most likely got the thought from even farther back—the world is round, and Mom used to say, ‘What goes around, comes around.’ She was right. It does. I wore an outfit to my book signing last night that was thirty years old—and it got compliments!

On to the subject of happiness; if it is a choice, how do we go about choosing? In spite of hearing all my life that things wouldn’t make me happy, and I feel guilty even  saying this—they do. Things do make me happy. I like things. It’s a different kind of happiness than I get from loving people and being loved by people. But my things do create a form of happiness. The pottery mug I drink coffee from and the dainty china cup for my tea, they feel good in my hands … the painting I brought home from Poland makes me smile …. I love it! But is that happiness?

Bear with me—I’ve given this thought.

When I finished my first novel and held it in my hands, it made me happy. The second novel did the same, and as I near the end of my third novel, I’m happy and having fun in the hours I spend at my keyboard creating lives for my characters … why wouldn’t it be fun? They ( my characters ) have a great love for each other,  enormous wealth, and beauty along with the perfect small town to live in—hey, this is fiction, and a short break from reality is what fiction is all about, isn’t it? My characters are good people, but sometimes they experience selfishness and other undesirable traits. I suppose most writers pull from their own life experiences in small ways without thinking about it. I never do! Uh-huh.

Deep into my third book, I often have to remind the main characters ( Lauren, Jackson and Brooke ) in the Valley Ridge series, that thankfulness and gratitude are their basic character beliefs. I know, I gave them those beliefs. When they forget and jump the track, problems arise, unhappiness enters. My thought is when we choose thankfulness and gratitude, the opposite from problems and unhappiness happens and happiness has a chance.

So, when the people I love and appreciate sacrifice a Friday evening at the end of a long week, going out into the cold to support me and my efforts, and buying a book that may be the farthest thing from what they’d ever read, I’m thankful, grateful—and happy. I’m filled With a happiness I could never get from the best of things. Possessions may bring joy and comfort, but never touch the heart  the way love and friendship does.  Can we  really choose happiness? Uh-huh, I think so. Oh, and the Will I mentioned earlier was Rogers, Will Rogers—a seemingly happy man. Give thought to what makes you happy. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

A great big humble thank you to everyone who came to the book signing! It was hosted by The Friends of the Library ( Nicki Powell and Alice Cochran ). The three authors were, Melrose Ayres, Denise Balog and myself—thank you again, you fill us with thanksgiving and gratitude! 🙂 To Ruth Allen and Bonnie King for helping with setting up and sales—many thanks, girl friends!  🙂

Keep God in your plans and in your heart! Until next time, MaryJ with  🙂 and hugs!

P.S.  I had to share:  As I looked back over this post, I caught a typo. Where I said my thirty-year old outfit had received compliments—I had spelled complaints! I had a good laugh and was instantly grateful I caught that. ( complaints could have easily been the correct word!  🙂

For clean, light, entertainment reading, check out my Books

Photo Gallery:

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Signing…
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Me and my sister – Ruth Allen
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Authors: Mary, Melrose Ayres, and Denise Balog
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Bonnie King and me
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Shara, Ruthy, Vickie and me – a fun time!

LIKE A PAINTING?

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Getting the drawing

As I worked from this image on my iPad, a small still life I had set up and photographed awhile back, my mind wandered as always when I paint. I put down strokes, I wiped off strokes, working in my push/pull method of getting the drawing to the degree I wanted.

How easily I wiped away the strokes that didn’t work out. 

Would that it was as easy in life to wipe away the marks when I mess up. Yes, if once I realized my error, just swipe—and I could start over. How wonderful that would be.

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Coming along…

I continued working on the painting and the thought stayed with me most of the morning. I was glad it did, because as I made progress on the canvas, I began to realize, I do wipe away my mistakes and poor choices. I do start over. It may not be as easy as wiping paint off of a canvas, but when I  pause, take a step backward, re-evaluate choices and decisions, I have the choice of starting  over.

And I have a great instruction book and the greatest instructor to help me when I need to backup and start again.  And He’s always at my side.fullsizerender_3

Painting is fun, but it can be a slow, tedious process—as it is for me. I can’t for the life of me figure out why I enjoy it so much.:-)  When this little canvas is finished, I hope to have a nice, balanced still life I can be happy with. img_1110

 

Hmm, kinda the same wish I have for my life. The painting needs more work and when it’s finished, I’ll post it and see what you think.

I’ve learned that in painting as well as living, things can get messy and off track along the way. 🙂img_1113 But, it can all be cleaned up!

Have a great day, thanks for spending time with me!  Keep God in your plans. 

If you enjoy reading clean fiction, check out my books HERE

AUTUMN… what’s in a season?

The middle of September brings the first  whisper of change in the air, and days later a hint of gold begins spreading across the valley. The smell carried on the breeze voluntarily lifts my face ( like a hound dog on a moonlit night ). I know that scent; it’s one I can’t identify with words.

But my soul needs no words—it’s just Fall. Fall arrives softly, easing out the hot days of summer and staying just long enough to usher in the wonders of winter.

I wait all year for the brief flash of color, the smell of nature changing, and the raucous caws of the black crows celebrating gathering time of the peanuts and pecans. Fall is my time of the year. The change in the air renews me. It makes me want to drag on my boots and walk in the woods and explore  old barns like the one in the photo.

dsc_8045-version-2 I wonder at the stories these tumble-down structures could tell, and I try to picture when it was brand new.  I imagine the pride of the new owner…

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In the photo below, the old bent tree used to have a rope swing that my children idled away happy hours on. The barn-shed, in the far back of the photo, heard its share of laughter and play during those summer visits to Me-Maw’s house. If old buildings could talk, this one could probably tell of serious conversations about crops and whispered secrets…

Do you have a favorite season of the year that speaks to you more than the others? Do you wonder why? I wonder about it every fall, but I can never put into words the way it makes me feel. I simply take pleasure in autumn’s short visit, and I give thanks that I was here to  greet her.

Till next time, Keep God in your plans, and enjoy the season! It’s Mary signing off in 🙂 🙂

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Uh-huh . . . I say

Country life is good, and so’s finding the perfect Oklahoma watermelon!

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I drove twelve miles to church this morning. I was almost there before a big white, ‘good ol’ boy’ pickup roared past me. The driver nodded and flicked  his thumb in the air. On friendly country roads, that’s saying, “Have a good’un ma-am.”

I moved to my current home from one of the fastest growing counties in Texas. That’s Weatherford, Tex., just outside  the  bustling city of Fort Worth, where the traffic is horrendous. But Fort Worth and Weatherford remain two of my favorite places. I have many friends in the area and it’s always fun to go back and spend time with them. I like to shop the Fort Worth stores and visit the city when it’s all decked out for Christmas, and everything that’s not moving gets a Christmas light on it.

That’s good, but… 

Here in the country I may see as many as six or seven cars/trucks on my way to and from church. But any more than that and I start talking to myself,  “What’s with all this traffic? “What’s going on? Where’s all these people coming from…?”

That’s when I smile and remember the city. In my neighborhood, a dozen cars constitutes a traffic jam… I  may exaggerate a little, but everything is relative…

Uh-huh, good is easy to get used to. 🙂

Keep God in your schedule, it’s a good thing to do! 🙂   MaryJ signing off with a 🙂

Enjoy light, clean, entertainment reading? Check out My Books Free Book- LTH 5-21-16

Welcome July, happy 4th!

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And good ole’ July gives us an extra couple of days of sunshine and heat to celebrate. 🙂

I took pictures of the front patio and yard this morning while the grass is still green and the flowers still bloom—for they won’t last much longer as we head into the dead-dog-days of summer.

Have I said before how swiftly time seems to pass? That’s because I’m constantly reminded of the fact. So I bite my tongue and hold back the words—I’m ready for fall. I know better than, you know, wish my time away.

But I love fall and look forward to it—especially in 100 + weather! So I do yard work in the cool of the morning, then I’m free the rest of the day to settle into my comfy chair in the blessing of air-conditioned comfort to work on book three of the Valley Ridge series—and wait out the fleeting days of summer.

Book 1, Trespassing On His Heart and Book 2, Love’s Tender Heart are available. (Amazon )Free Book- LTH 5-21-16

How do you deal with the long hot days of summer? 🙂

Blessings on you, keep cool and keep God in your plans!

Until next time—Mary signing off with 🙂 🙂 🙂