Thursday, December 31, 2015

Rolling in the new year

I always want to do something cool for New Year's Eve, but with only one exception ever, that never happens.

You can't go see Maroon 5 on NYE every year.

Angie and I are so boring with our plans that we couldn't even convince ourselves to go shopping after eating lunch. I wanted to go find some sweaters (because what I have are soooooo terribly old), but I didn't.

Then a dramatic, tear-filled afternoon happened. I'll spare you the details.

Thankfully, Kerri and Julie took pity on me and let me in on their plans for a low key evening over at Julie and Sam's. As in watching Hoarders and bringing the New Year in via a game of Farkle. Kerri had to go across the street and get Toby so that he wouldn't freak out from fireworks.

Though low-keyed, it most assuredly beat watching House Hunters International at home by myself all night with a crochet hook in hand like the old woman that I am.

I'm very thankful for my friends getting me out of the house. I need out of the house!


Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Are you supposed to fall asleep in the process?

For Christmas, Mom and I joined the bandwagon and bought each other coloring books.

She thought they were neat, and this kind of thing is right up my alley. Sometimes lettering crafts is actually a form of stress release for me -- when I'm not stressed out trying to get 20+ items in one week in between craft show.

It has seemed odd to take two days off work to have a four day weekend last week with Christmas. Other than Thanksgiving (when I actually had a three day craft show) I just haven't had a span of more than one day off since last Christmas.

After taking another 4 day weekend this week, I'm going to be so confused not know what day of the week it is.

Add to the day job, I have been working on crafty product for months and months. I've actually been able to take a break from that too. It's been so odd to not be working on the latest project. I've needed the break though. Even just on a mental level.

I know that coloring is supposed to relax you, but I have a question. Are you supposed to fall asleep while doing it? Maybe it's just the sleep deprivation too, but it's a wonder I don't have huge stray marks all over the place because I started nodding off while coloring.

One of my new year's resolutions really needs to be going to bed earlier. No staying up to color!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Terrible casting for simply one reason #thebachelor

So, last night I posted the briefest of posts about the upcoming season of The Bachelor. The video tease wasn't even accurate because it isn't 25 NEW women. There's a couple of old faces... Becca (Farmer Chris' runner-up) and Amber.

Surprisingly, there is NOT an Ashley this season, but there are FOUR women named LAUREN. Two Lauren Bs. Yeah, that's not going to be confusing AT ALL. I shall have to give them all nicknames from the get go.

Poor Ben Higgins. Of course, he was Ben H. on his season, and not even my favorite Ben.

I'm trying to psych myself up by watching previews, but that may have backfired.


Monday, December 28, 2015

The one week countdown to blogging greatness #thebachelor

That subject line is as big a tease as Chris Harrison saying that the latest episode of The Bachelor will be the most controversial episode ever.

In case you haven't figured it out yet (and if you haven't, what is wrong with you!?!?), The Bachelor starts next week, and I'm committing to blogging on another season.

Give me a week to regret it.

I need my blog readership to go back up. That's my excuse.

Here's the teaser!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Our God is an Awesome God



Awesome God

By Rich Mullins
Used by permission. CCLI # 1132191


Our God is an awesome God;
He reigns from Heaven above
With wisdom, pow’r, and love.
Our God is an awesome God!

Our God is an awesome God;
He reigns from Heaven above
With wisdom, pow’r, and love.
Our God is an awesome God!

Our God is an awesome God!

Our God is an awesome God!


Saturday, December 26, 2015

Better late than never

I FINALLY got all of my stockings made.

Five out of six were close enough to finished to use. Mine was not. I got my stuff in a plastic Target bag.

After all the festivities came to an end, I did finish mine, and got the final white trim at the top finished on Christmas Eve. I finished the last rounds of white on the rest on Christmas night so that Mom could pack them away for next year.

Not too bad for my first Christmas stockings. They have a little more angle at the heel than it looks like they do in the pictures. I think Paige was truly impressed.


In other crafty news, upon opening his cow sign, Brian tells us he has these great syrup barrels (from feeding his cows) that we should get and paint and stencil and sell. So, be on the lookout because we'll have something else to add to our list of items soon. We won't be able to ship these though.

Oh, and when you're bored on Christmas, and you aren't making stuff yet for the spring (I think Dad might give me a week's break), you get out books you've had for a year and cut out the letters you meant to make around last Christmas.

We're looking for more books if anyone is interested in one.



Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!


It's after 10 PM, but before the day passes me by, I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas Eve!


When exactly we have our family Christmas can vary from year to year. This year, it was Christmas Eve lunch. I hardly took any pictures at all, but this one means a lot this year.

A few of you know how much this particular picture means right now, a reason why I've been quiet in some ways here on the blog about certain things. I'll just leave that at that.

Often times on Christmas Eve, my parents and I go out to dinner and a movie. There was none of that this year since we aren't Star Wars fans, and I refused another Alvin and the Chipmunks movie.

Maybe there still is a little bit of kid in me, but opening up all your presents on Christmas Eve makes for a long and boring Christmas Day.

There's dad back around Paige.
Brian admiring his cow.
Mom must have found something good in her stocking!
Those are cream sodas and cherry limeade bottles, by the way.









Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Getting closer



Wednesday night.

Our family Christmas is set for Thursday noon.

I still have two stockings to finish.

It's not looking good.

I've done good to wrap Christmas presents tonight.

At least I finished this cow last night.




Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Rachel Hauck talks about The Wedding Chapel

An interview with Rachel Hauck,
Author of The Wedding Chapel

In a day when marriage seems disposable, USA Today best-selling author Rachel Hauck weaves a story that reminds us of loves timeless truths.

Haucks The Wedding Chapel (Zondervan/ November 17, 2015/ISBN: 9780310341529/ $15.99), a slip time story set in the late 1940s/early 1950s, captures the romance and hope of a post-war South while the contemporary timeline wrestles with the challenges and complications of commitment in the modern world.    

Q: What inspired the plotline of The Wedding Chapel?

This book came from the old saying, “Desperate times call for desperate measures.” I needed a new story idea, and while on vacation in Tennessee I drove past a wedding chapel called Chapel in the Glen. I pitched the title to my publisher a few minutes later. She and the team loved it. And I was off to find a story to go with it.

Q: Why did you choose to marry a classic love story from the 1940s with a modern tale of romance gone off-course?

I like to look at all aspects of life in a novel. Maybe it’s hindsight or the Golden Age of Hollywood, but romance seemed sweeter in the post-war 1940s. Coming out of a depression followed by war, men and women seemed devoted to getting back to basics, just living life, and loving each other and family. (I’m sure it was not as rosy as I imagine.)

In our day, people can walk away from a relationship so easily at the slightest sign of trouble. It’s easy to decide it’s not worth time and effort. However, the chapel itself stands for enduring love, even when love looks impossible.  

Q: What would you say is the major thread or theme that runs throughout The Wedding Chapel?

This book takes a long look at the complications of family yet champions the power of enduring love. Tragedy such as war destroys lives, destroys dreams, but the zeal of the human heart helps people to carry on. The book also looks at how selfishness and greed are just as devastating as war, destroying the family and tearing down dreams. But with a little prayer, guidance and Divine intervention, we can find a way.

The book also confronts lies and misconceptions and calls for forgiveness. The story furthers the enduring power of love to bring wrong things right.

Q: Has a communication breakdown ever caused issues in one of your important relationships?

I’m sure it has! I can’t think of any because I try not to let communications or misunderstandings hinder my relationships. I’d rather humble up, apologize and make it right.

Q: Taylor and Jack marry impetuously, eloping only a few months after reconnecting, and they almost immediately start having issues. Why is the first year of marriage so hard? What advice can you offer to young married couples?

I don’t think the first year of marriage has to be hard (though it is for a lot of people because it’s the merging of two lives, two wills and wants). Marriage, as a God-breathed institution, calls for selflessness. And that’s just hard for most of us — the whole dying-to-self thing.

For couples who find themselves in conflict, I say breathe out, calm down. Sometimes situations seem large and impossible, but trust in the Lord to help you through. Get on your knees and pray! Go to a Godly couple for help. Learn to listen.

Don’t take everything so seriously. Love well. Listen to each other, but even more, “see” each other. It took me a while to “see” what my husband did to show his love for me. If I’d waited for him to show love the way I did or the way I expected, we’d have had a lot of conflict. I prayed a lot too. There’s no wisdom like God’s wisdom!

Q: How can we defeat negative patterns such as bad relationships or substance abuse, which sometimes seem to run in families?

I’ll be blunt here. Jesus. The power of the Holy Spirit. There’s no program or pill that can do what He can do in our hearts.

In Him, we can break those family iniquities. We don’t have to carry forward the abuse or alcoholism or whatever our ancestors did.

But it takes leaning into Him, fighting the good fight. But it’s so worth it. “Old things have passed away,” Paul writes. “All things have become new.”

Romans 12:1-2 says it best. “Be transformed by renewing your mind.” We take those old thoughts and patterns captive and replace them with the truth of God’s word.

Here’s the definition of transform: to change in form, appearance or structure; metamorphose, to change in condition, nature or character; convert, to change into another substance; transmute.

We’re given the command because it’s possible. Dig in and don’t give up!

Q: How have you seen God at work even after you or someone in your life made a poor decision?

I usually come out the other side of a trial a bit more humbled. God loves humility, and the best response I’ve ever had to trial was to get on my knees and pray, to lean into Him. I’ve seen God redeem relationships, finances and hearts, even bring physical healing.

Q: Those who have a complicated relationship with their earthly fathers may struggle with a having healthy relationship with God as Father. How can they reconcile what they believe about God with what they’ve experienced with their earthly dads?

I’ve been mulling on this a lot lately. God is our Father. He’s holy, which means He’s “totally other than.” He’s like nothing or any one we’ve ever encountered or experienced. That’s exciting because God is also love (1 John 4).

For those hurt by their earthly fathers, my heart goes out to them. I think it’s probably the hardest thing to overcome. Abuse, neglect or rejection from fathers so molds a young heart. But God the Father is much greater. He extends His love to us even before we fully understand who He is. That’s the message of the Cross. Even Jesus, His begotten son, earned God’s pleasure and love without doing a thing!

Remember when Jesus went to John to be baptized? At that point, He’d not yet started His ministry. When He came up out of the Jordan, everyone heard a voice saying, “This is my son in whom I am well pleased.” Up to that point, Jesus had not entered His ministry. But He believed the Father — which pleased Him.

Same with Abraham — he was just living his life when God the Father called him out of Ur. Abraham’s only response was, “Yes.” Faith and belief.

God tells him, “I am your exceeding great reward.” Wow. The God of heaven and earth wants to be OUR great paycheck. There’s a powerful punch in that notion!

So for those who’ve had a troubled past with fathers or mothers, believe in the Father who says He loves you. He’ll move in and through your heart.

Q: Are there ever moments when we should give up on our dreams?

That’s a great question! I think we have to evaluate our dreams constantly to see if they are realistic and if we have the heart, the time, the talent and the drive to do them. Don’t ever give up dreaming, but do make sure your dreams match who you are.

Psalm 37 says God gives us the desires of our hearts; as we seek Him, He gives us dreams to dream! Joseph would’ve never imagined being a ruler in Egypt on his own. God put that dream in him then tested him until he was ready.

Q: You feature a villain in the book whose life has become rife with bitterness. Have you ever been tempted to give in to anger or jealousy? What do you hope your readers learn from this character?

I work in a competitive business. Jealousy is always knocking. I just try to never open the door to it. God’s love and blessings are great enough for all of us. His blessing of another author does not take away His blessing from me!

Never let your bitterness get the best of you. It only leads to pain and hurt, maybe even physical issues, and a distorted view of life. It’s not worth it.

I see so many public figures functioning out of their wounds and bitterness, and their life view is based on experience, not truth. And it creates a distorted view of others as well as themselves.

Get God’s perspective.


Q: In your book The Wedding Dress, you included some rich symbolism that showed how God impacts history and our lives in ways we don’t always see or understand. Did you incorporate any of that imagery in The Wedding Chapel?

Every book is different, but in the back of my mind I want to show, in a physical way, God touching the lives of the characters. I think He’s doing that for us every day. In the “real world,” we can’t always see God moving; that’s why our relationship with Him is a walk of faith, but He is working on our behalf daily. We just have to be willing to believe, to see with our heart.

With The Wedding Chapel, the heroine, Taylor, is aware that she once heard God, but after some choices she made, she no longer hears Him. She begins to long for those days again.

The chapel itself is a symbol of love, of one man’s devotion, which is a small reflection of Jesus’s love and devotion to us.

Like The Wedding Dress, there is a family thread, connecting generations. Two of the characters hear a sound whenever they are in the chapel. It creates quite a mystery for them. For me, that sound is God’s eye and attention on us. He wants good for us. He wants us to believe He is with us. It’s symbolic of God’s desire for us in the quiet, intimate place.

Q: When you sat down to write The Wedding Chapel, what impact did you hope it would have on its readers?

I always hope my stories leave readers uplifted, hopeful and aware of God’s love for them. In this book, I tried to show how His heart beats for us, even when we are running the opposite direction.

Just stop and listen!


Learn more about Rachel Hauck and her books at www.rachelhauck.com or on Facebook (RachelHauck) and Twitter (@RachelHauck). 

Monday, December 21, 2015

360 days later


Last Christmas, I promised my family I would make Christmas stockings. We've had a mismatched assortment as the family has grown, and shrunk over the years. Some were the cheapest felt stockings you could buy. Sad looking stockings.

So, since I made the promise, I've had all year to work ahead. We're having our family Christmas on Christmas Eve Thursday, and I only have two of six almost finished.

They have ended up being huge, and if I hadn't taken out and downsized one already, and taken out half of another one to fix missed stitches, I'd be a lot farther along. In fact, if I hadn't been trying to catch up three days of blogging...

I'll post pictures later in the week as I get closer to finished.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

I'm Happy Today


I’m Happy Today

I’m happy today
Oh yes, I’m happy today
In Jesus Christ, I’m happy today
Because He’s taken all my sins away
And that’s why I’m happy today.

I’m singing today
Oh yes, I’m singing today
In Jesus Christ, I’m singing today
Because He’s taken all my sins away
And that’s why I’m singing today.

I’m praying today
Oh yes, I’m praying today
In Jesus Christ, I’m praying today
Because He’s taken all my sins away
And that’s why I’m praying today.

I’m sharing my faith
Oh yes, sharing my faith
In Jesus Christ, sharing my faith
Because He’s taken all my sins away
And that’s why sharing my faith.

I’m happy today
Oh yes, I’m singing today
In Jesus Christ, I’m praying today
Because He’s taken all my sins away


And that’s why I’m sharing my faith.


Saturday, December 19, 2015

The annual dip it in chocolate day

No one was available to come to my house for a party and eat it, but I did have my annual dip it in chocolate day. I've been bribing the kids at church with goodie bags, including peanut butter balls.

I melted white chocolate bark and did a whole bag of pretzel nuggets by the time it was all said in done (a little with left over milk chocolate), two bags of milk chocolate to cover peanut butter balls, and a bag each of semi-sweet and butterscotch chips to cover peanuts. By the time I was finished, I'm surprised I wasn't covered in chocolate.

I guess it's officially Christmas now.

I do have a bag of chocolate and mint chips left I can use with cashews.

Friday, December 18, 2015

I'm just not that into you

Dear Christmas,

I'm sure if you read my blog, I have a post about you kind of like this every year.

I hate to break the news to you, but I'm just not that into you.

My tree is all up and decorated and pretty, but I've decided I don't even care. I said after all the time it takes to put together it was going to be a full month, meaning until the day after New Year's this year, but I know it's coming down the day after with serious thoughts of just skipping the whole process next year.

Maybe the fact that I've been sick and am still trying to get over a cough has something to do with it.

Maybe it's because until this weekend, I've been getting up early and going to events every weekend that I just have other things on my mind.

I know the fact that there's been some family drama has played it's part.

I don't think it's the fact that I have been making Christmas decorations since May or June and was anxious for Hobby Lobby to actually get their Christmas supplies out.

The fact that it's supposed to be 70 degrees on Christmas day doesn't help.

There's like one present I'm actually excited to give this year. I even told my brother we could skip the annual gift card exchange.

This all actually makes me quite sad. Christmas should be a happy and magical time. From the reaction I've had on Facebook, I'm not the only one in this boat.

All that I ask is that you be kind to me this week. Please be kind.

Audra

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Do you have a healthy relationship with money?

 


The key to money issues isn’t how much you have, but your mindset about it

Many people live their lives thinking, “If I just had a bigger salary, I would be happier.” They live life with ongoing and often unexamined tension related to money, finding themselves unable to escape the credit-card trap or free themselves from the fear of not having enough for the future. CEO of Thrivent Financial Brad Hewitt and psychologist Dr. Jim Moline write in their book, Your New Money Mindset: Create a Healthy Relationship with Money (Tyndale House Publishers/October 20, 2015/ISBN: 9781496407801/$15.99), the belief that simply having more will solve all money problems is completely false.

Through personal anecdotes, scripture and timely research, Hewitt and Moline reveal that financial peace has much more to do with one’s relationship with money rather than money itself. They invite readers to spend more time examining their fundamental attitudes toward the financial resources they have and aligning those views with their core values — and it all starts in the heart.

Hewitt explains that Your New Money Mindset is different from other books on the topic of finances because it encourages readers first to examine their motivations toward money. “Before you can remake your habits, you need to remake your heart. Financial guidance usually begins with advice about the mechanics of money management, such as debt repayment, retirement planning and college funding, without talking about the heart motivations. From virtually all the new behavior economics research, we know financial motivations have profound physiological and behavioral implications. Based upon how much money is talked about in scripture, we believe it has spiritual implications, too.”

Breaking away from the regular mold of financial books, Your New Money Mindset:
  • Defies the consumerism that infects our culture and sickens people’s hearts.
  • Shows readers how to approach the tension they feel about money so they can experience greater contentment and peace.
  • Guides readers to live generously with their time, energy and paychecks.
  • Provides an online assessment tool to help determine attitudes toward finances.

The ultimate goal for readers of Your New Money Mindset is to cultivate what Hewitt calls a surplus mindset, where they truly believe they have enough for themselves and enough to share. He adds, “We believe if people — especially Christians — could have a healthier relationship with money, it would change the world. People can be free from the slavery of a consumer culture, enabling them to live openheartedly with their time, energy and finances.”

Regardless of their current financial situation, all readers are invited to journey with Hewitt and Moline toward transforming their relationship with money by remaking their heart.


Advance praise

“These gentlemen turn our thinking about contentment, giving and financial stability on end and ask us to make a radical change, one that begins not with the budget, but with the heart.”            
            ~ Sherry Surratt, President and CEO of MOPS International

“Encouraging rather than preachy, Brad and Jim make a compelling, biblically grounded case that being wise and generous with your money and time will lead to greater joy, less worry and a world more as God intended, and the authors provide actionable steps to get there.”
            ~ Jonathan T.M. Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity International

“In a culture in which financial plans and money tips abound, Your New Money Mindset takes us deeper: to the heart. Brad and Jim invite families into a soul-healthy approach toward finances, casting a vision extending well beyond bills and 401(k)s into the gospel-calling of generosity.”
            ~ Kelli B. Trujillo, Editor of Today's Christian Woman


About the authors

Brad Hewitt is the CEO of Thrivent Financial, a not-for-profit Fortune 500 organization dedicated to helping Christians be wise with money and live generously. Before joining Thrivent, Hewitt served a variety of organizations in various financial roles. In 1993, he was named CFO of Diversified Pharmaceutical Services and later became its president and CEO. He went on to serve for five years as chief administrative officer of the Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod.

Hewitt also serves on the board of regents of Concordia University in St. Paul, Minnesota, as well as on the boards of Habitat for Humanity International and the American Council of Life Insurers. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in mathematics from the University of Wisconsin — River Falls — and has completed the Harvard Business School’s program for management development. Hewitt and his wife, Sue, have two adult children and live in Minnesota.

Learn more about Brad Hewitt and Thrivent at www.thrivent.com, Facebook (Thrivent Financial) and Twitter (Thrivent).

James Moline, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist who has built a 30-year career providing leadership and management consulting to global companies.  Moline earned his Ph.D. from the Fuller Graduate School of Psychology, and he also holds a Master of Arts in theology from Fuller Theological Seminary. He and his family live in Minnesota.


Learn more about more about Your New Money Mindset at www.newmoneymindset.com.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Regina Jennings’ ‘At Love’s Bidding’ Cozy Winter Night Giveaway

After a cross-country trip to track down a sold painting that could ruin her family's business forever, Miranda Wimplegate forms an unlikely but charged partnership with livestock auctioneer Wyatt Ballentine in Regina Jennings' At Love's Bidding. Miranda and her grandfather discover their new auction house doesn’t deal in fine antiques, but in livestock. And its frustratingly handsome manager, Wyatt, is annoyed to discover his fussy new bosses don’t know a thing about the business he’s single-handedly kept afloat. Faced with more heads of cattle than they can count–but no mysterious painting–Miranda and Wyatt must try and prevent a bad situation from getting worse.

Join Regina in celebrating the release of At Love's Bidding by entering to win her Cozy Winter Night giveaway and RSVPing to her January 5th author chat party!

at love's bidding - 400 

One grand prize winner will receive everything you need for a cozy winter night:
at love's bidding - collage 

Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on 1/5. The winner will be announced at the At Love's Bidding Facebook party. RSVP for a chance to connect with Regina and other readers, as well as for a chance to win some great prizes!

at love's bidding-enterbanner

RSVP today and spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway via FACEBOOK, TWITTER, or PINTEREST and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 5th!


At Love's Bidding

{MORE ABOUT AT LOVE’S BIDDING}


(Bethany House, December 2015)
She sells priceless antiques. He sells livestock by the pound. Is he really the man to make a bid for her heart?
After helping her grandfather at their Boston auction house, Miranda Wimplegate discovers she’s accidentally sold a powerful family’s prized portrait to an anonymous bidder. Desperate to appease the people who could ruin them forever, they track it to the Missouri Ozarks and make an outlandish offer to buy the local auction house and all its holdings before the painting can move again.
Upon crossing the country, however, Miranda and her grandfather discover their new auction house doesn’t deal in fine antiques, but in livestock. And its frustratingly handsome manager, Wyatt Ballentine, is annoyed to discover his fussy new bosses don’t know a thing about the business he’s single-handedly kept afloat. Faced with more heads of cattle than they can count–but no mysterious painting–Miranda and Wyatt form an unlikely but charged partnership to try and prevent a bad situation from getting worse.

{MORE ABOUT REGINA JENNINGS}


Regina Jennings
Regina Jennings is a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University with a degree in English and a history minor. She is the author of A Most Inconvenient Marriage, Sixty Acres and a Bride, and Caught in the Middle, and contributed a novella to A Match Made in Texas. Regina has worked at the Mustang News and First Baptist Church of Mustang, along with time at the Oklahoma National Stockyards and various livestock shows. She now lives outside Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, with her husband and four children.
Find out more about Regina at http://www.reginajennings.com/.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

What advice would you give your younger self?

An interview with James L. Rubart,
 Author of The Five Times I Met Myself
  
What if you met your 23-year-old self in a dream? What would you say? No matter how young or how old, there’s a part of us all that wishes we could go back and tell ourselves what we should have done differently. It’s a desire award-winning author James L. Rubart explores in his new novel, The Five Times I Met Myself (Thomas Nelson/November 10, 2015/ISBN: 978-1401686116/$15.99).

Q: The Five Times I Met Myself explores the main character’s desire to go back in time and change certain decisions. Was the idea behind the book driven by any of your own regrets?

Actually, no. While my novel Memory’s Door was definitely driven by my own regrets — and having to figure out how to deal with them — The Five Times I Met Myself was more driven by hope for the future. I don’t think it’s ever too late to start living with freedom. I don’t think there’s any brokenness God can’t breathe healing and life into. So while my main character, Brock, does deal with regret, in the end this is a story about restoration and great hope going forward.

Q: What would you say to your younger self if you had the opportunity?

Wow, you’re not trying to make me get vulnerable, are you? Such a great question. There are many things I’d say, but I’ll mention just three for the moment. I’d tell myself to take more risks — that you’re never ready to take them, so just “jump off the cliff and build your wings on the way down” (Ray Bradbury). I’d also tell myself to stop worrying about what anyone else thinks: about you, your dreams, your life, who you should be or shouldn’t be. Worrying can be such a deterrent from living a life of freedom. Finally, I’d tell myself this life is shorter than you can imagine when you’re young, so live like it.

Q: Why did you choose to make dreams such a big part of this story? What is lucid dreaming?

Dreams are powerful. Sometimes we know exactly what they mean, and they speak to us deeply. Other times we never figure them out. But haven’t we all told a friend, “Wow, you’re not going to believe the dream I just had”? I think most of us are fascinated with dreams. Plus I wanted a way to have my main character talk to himself in a way that didn’t involve time travel. This isn’t science fiction, so I wanted to discover a way for the older and younger Brock to connect that could actually happen in real life.

Lucid dreaming is simply being conscious or aware you’re dreaming. Most of the people I’ve talked to about lucid dreaming have had this experience. After researching lucid dreaming, I discovered it can be a powerful tool, among other things, to help people overcome their fears, bring emotional healing and find a new level of creativity in their lives.

Q: What does the Bible teach us about dreams?

The Bible teaches that sometimes dreams are much more than our subconscious minds working out the events that happened during the day. Sometimes God uses them to speak to us and to shape significant events in our lives and the lives of others. In the Old Testament Joseph had dreams that changed all of Egypt. In the New Testament, God told Joseph not to divorce Mary in a dream.  Acts 2:17 says, “In the last days, God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.’” I believe God is still using dreams to change the lives of his children.

Q: How seriously do you take your own dreams? Have you ever had a dream that changed your life?

I take them very seriously. I don’t think it happens all the time, but there are times where God will speak to us through a dream.

In fact, I’ve had a number of dreams that changed my life. I’ve gotten story ideas from dreams as well.

Q: Much of Brock’s validation in life has come from his work. Do you think that’s common in this day and age?

I think it’s common in every age. We are tempted to look outside ourselves for validation: money, friends, accomplishments, success, awards, children, spouses. We search for validation in many things other than God that will never fill us in the end. When Jesus told the rich young ruler to sell all he had, it wasn’t to crash the guy’s party. Jesus simply knew if the guy hung onto to any of his things (in his heart), it would ultimately drain him of all true life.

Q: How will readers be able to relate to Brock’s efforts to reconnect with his wife in midlife, after years of drifting apart?  

I think for readers who might have drifted apart from their own spouses there will be one of two reactions: Either they won’t want to face the light the book shines on their relationship, or they’ll get a massive dose of hope and encouragement for healing — life will be infused back into their union.

Q: Has sibling rivalry ever been an issue in your family like in Brock’s?

A great many of my own experiences find their way into my novels, but not in this case. I was watching the reality TV show Survivor a few seasons back where two brothers were on the show together. I saw massive amounts of pain between them and, at the same time, huge amounts of love for each other. All that pain and love were mixed together and painted an intriguing portrait of brothers who loved and hated each other in equal measure. Fascinating, and I think quite common between siblings. So that dynamic made it into the novel.

Q: Is the kind of hope and restoration many are looking for possible without actually being able to go back and change something from the past?

Without question. As I mentioned earlier, this life is short. If you believe this is all there is, then I understand why people would despair. However, I’m one of those who believe in an afterlife, where Jesus says all things will become new. He doesn’t say all new things. This is important. He says all things new. All things. All those moments of pain and longing and regret will be made NEW. A good new. A tremendous new. Restored. Redeemed. Made right. Jesus came to restore that which was lost. I think there’s going to be a lot of celebrating of the things that will be restored in the coming kingdom. As for the present? There’s no point in looking back. It’s gone. But we can start living each day, this day, this moment, with hope and a determination to change our actions, to make choices that bring life to ourselves and those around us and to step into freedom in a way we never have before.

Q: Your desire to become a writer was inspired by one of the greatest Christian thinkers in modern history. Tell us about that.

I’m 11, and my mom buys my sister and me The Chronicles of Narnia for Christmas. I’m tearing through the books, falling massively in love with Aslan, and there’s this moment when I get to the final pages of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader that blows my mind.

Remember the scene where Aslan tells Edmund and Lucy they can’t come back, but that He’s also in their world even though he goes by a different name? My little 11-year-old pea brain explodes when I realize Aslan is Jesus, Jesus is Aslan. Even at that tender age, I realized that telling a story about Jesus was much more powerful than learning facts about him. In that moment I started to dream that someday I might have the chance to immerse people in stories the way Lewis had done with me and show them Jesus and God in a whole new way.

Q: Describe for us your secret writing room, where you wrote The Five Times I Met Myself.

This will be painful since my wife and I recently moved, and I had to give up my writing room! We lived in a house built in the late 80s when the style was to have a 20-foot ceiling in the entryway with a chandelier hanging down.

Picture an elevator shaft going up to the second floor of our house when you first walk in. I always thought all you’d have to do is build a floor to get a secret room. The walls, ceiling, and even a window were already in. So I did it. The room was accessed through the back of my youngest son’s closet. You stepped through a little door into our attic, and about ten feet into the attic, you stepped through another small door that led into the writing room. I have a photo of it on my website: http://jameslrubart.com/about/.

Turns out the folks who bought our house are James L. Rubart readers, so they could truly appreciate the secret room. On top of that, they’re aspiring writers themselves. It’s fun to know the legacy of writing in that secret room will continue.

Q: What are some of the strongest influences on your writing?

My wife isn’t a big fiction reader, but she’s brilliant at nuance and relationship. She shapes my novels to a greater degree than she realizes. I ask her if something rings true or not, and she’s always spot-on with her counsel. Extremely grateful for her.

Q: It sounds like you and your wife have a great relationship. Other than her, tell me about two or three of the other most important relationships in your life?

Without question I have to mention our two sons, Taylor and Micah. I dedicated The Five Times I Met Myself to them by saying, “What dad could be prouder?” So true. I’m crazily blessed because Taylor and Micah are not only seriously outstanding young men, they are two of my best friends.

Q: What message do you hope readers to walk away with from The Five Times I Met Myself?

I believe there’s a part of us all that wishes we could go back and tell our younger selves what we should have done differently, whether we’re 20 or 40 or 60 or 80 years old. We wonder how our lives would have turned out if we’d made different choices. And we want hope and restoration and freedom in the midst of examining those choices we did or did not make.

I wanted to explore those questions and give readers the chance to search through those questions in their own lives. By the end of the novel I want to offer hope and restoration for the choices they would or wouldn’t have made if they had the opportunity to do things over.  

Andy Andrews describes the book as being life-changing. That’s exactly my hope: that people’s lives would be changed after reading The Five Times I Met Myself. I’ve had people say my books are not fluffy reading, that they stick with people months and years afterward. I hope that’s true. I want my stories to seep into people’s minds and, more importantly, their hearts and help them step into greater freedom for a long, long time.
                            
To keep up with James L. Rubart, visit www.jameslrubart.com. You can also follow him on Facebook (JamesLRubart) or on Twitter (@jameslrubart).

Monday, December 14, 2015

All the ingredients you need for a cozy night in with your family and Adventures in Odyssey

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Tired of the Christmas shopping, the baking and sugar overload, the Christmas festivities that keep you away from your family during the season? Take time special time to spend with your loved ones and invest in your community—with Focus on the Family's help!

You can download a fun gift to give to your friends, family, and community! Each Christmas stocking stuffer card directs you to a special place to hear an Adventures in Odyssey Christmas episode. Plus, you’ll be able to read a special excerpt from Imagination Station #12, “Danger on a Silent Night.” Sign up here to download the free cards.

Plus stop by this page for a slew of crafts, recipes, and stories to share with your family during this special time of year!

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If you're still looking for one last gift to give your kids this year, give the gift of the Odyssey Adventure Club (OAC). It offers safe and free content for everyone in your family, including an Advent calendar, a broadcast download with tips to create a memorable Christmas, AIO cutouts, and Christmas stocking stuffer cards. Membership to the OAC costs just $9.99 a month — or even less if parents make a six-month or one-year commitment. Enrollment provides more than enough content to keep kids engaged throughout the year:
  • Access to exclusive content and first looks at books and select Radio Theatre dramas.
  • On-the-go access to the OAC app for both iOS and Android users.
  • 24/7 streaming access to nearly 800 AIO episodes.
  • A new, members-only AIO episode every month.
  • A subscription to Adventures in Odyssey Clubhouse Magazine, and more.
To learn more about the Odyssey Adventure Club, visit www.oaclub.org, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Deep and Wide


Deep and Wide

Deep and wide. Deep and wide.
There’s a fountain flowing deep and wide.
Deep and wide. Deep and wide.
There’s a fountain flowing deep and wide.

Hmmm and wide. Hmmm and wide.
There’s a fountain flowing hmmm and wide.
Hmmm and wide. Hmmm and wide.
There’s a fountain flowing hmmm and wide.

Deep and hmmm. Deep and hmmm.
There’s a fountain flowing deep and hmmm.
Deep and hmmm. Deep and hmmm.
There’s a fountain flowing deep and hmmm.

Hmmm and hmmm. Hmmm and hmmm.
There’s a fountain flowing hmmm and hmmm.
Hmmm and hmmm.
Hmmm and hmmm.
There’s a fountain flowing hmmm and hmmm.

Deep and wide. Deep and wide.
There’s a fountain flowing deep and wide.
Deep and wide. Deep and wide.
There’s a fountain flowing deep and wide.