Monday, November 26, 2012

Mary, Did You Know?

Most of us have heard the beloved song, popularized by multiple music artists worldwide. This song is one of my favorites every Christmas for the thought provoking lyrics. It means more to me each passing year as I watch my three sons grow older.

The songwriter asked a great question: did she know? I believe she knew she was part of God's bigger plan, but I don't believe she fully grasped the opportunity she would have. That's the beauty of it. When Gabriel (the angel) appeared to deliver to Mary God's message, she accepted on faith saying, ". . . be it unto me according to thy word." She only knew God was asking her to serve him, and she willingly obeyed. To think: her submission led to our salvation. Though she had no way of knowing how much pain the task would cost her, how her peers would ridicule her, and how her son would be rejected and murdered, she was willing to be used by God.

Whenever I consider this, it raises a question in me: would I have been so obedient? I hope so. Gabriel called her blessed among women and said, ". . . thou hast found favour with God." What a testimony she had! I could never be called blessed among women on my best day. Though Jesus, alone, is the only human worthy of worship, Mary is a great example of how we women should live our lives.

I love reading Luke's account of Jesus' birth: Luke 2:1-20. Verse 19 states that ". . . Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart." I bet her mind was reeling over the events that had just unfolded!

The story of Jesus' birth resounds with music that has inspired composers for 2,000 years. That rings true for lyricist Mark Lowry (Christian comedian and former member of the Gaither Vocal Band), who wrote the song in 1984 when his pastor asked him to write a musical for their Nashville, Tennessee church to be performed that Christmas season. Lowry imagined what Mary might have been thinking while she held baby Jesus on that first Christmas, along with a series of questions he would ask Mary, given the chance. Actors recited Lowry's questions for Mary between scenes of the musical that year, but afterward he sensed they should become lyrics to a song. He and harmonica player Buddy Greene wrote the music for "Mary, Did You Know?" using Lowry's lyrics:

Mary did you know that your baby boy would some day walk on water?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you delivered, will soon deliver you.
Mary did you know that your baby boy would give sight to a blind man?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would calm a storm with his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
And when you kiss your little baby, you've kissed the face of God.
The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the dead will live again.
The lame will leap, the dumb will speak, the praises of the Lamb.
Mary did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven's perfect Lamb?
This sleeping child you're holding is the great I am.

This song sure puts things in a new perspective for me. Though it's easy to get wrapped up in the seasonal festivities, shopping sales, and overall materialism of Christmas-- let's not forget the true reason for the season!

I'd love to hear from you. What Christmas songs inspire you?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Angel Song by Sheila Walsh and Kathryn Cushman

Ann Fletcher returned to Charleston to see her younger sister, Sarah, receive her master's degree. But she soon finds herself riding in the back of an ambulance, watching helplessly as Sarah fights for her life. As they race to the hospital, Sarah talks to someone who is not there . . . and hums a melody Ann has never heard before.
That unfamiliar, unearthly beautiful melody keeps finding Ann-- first in the hospital chapel, then in her dreams, and finally in Sarah's house.
Two neighbors have a profound effect on Ann. Ethan McKinney lends her a shoulder to lean on. And as a carpenter, he volunteers to help Ann get the Fletcher family home into shape for selling. His strong presence is a pleasing distraction. Ann's 12-year-old neighbor, Keith, has Down Syndrome and the innocence to believe he can actually see and hear angels. In fact, he insists they are looking out for her in ways she's never imagined.
God begins to reveal Himself to Ann-- both in her newfound friends and through supernatural events. As she discovers the very real presence of angels around her, will she finally open her heart to receive God's healing love?
Authors: Sheila Walsh & Kathryn Cushman
Publisher: Thomas Nelson  2010
Genre: Christian/Women's Fiction
Angel Song was awarded Novel of the Year by Women of Faith.
About the authors
     Sheila Walsh is a Bible teacher and best-selling author with more than 4 million books sold. She is a Women of Faith featured speaker and touches millions of women artistically with God's word.
     Sheila co-hosted The 700 Club and her own show Heart to Heart with Sheila Walsh.
     Visit for more information on Sheila and her products.
Kathryn Cushman graduated from Samford University with a degree in pharmacy. She left her career to spend more time at home with her daughters and to pursue her dream of writing. She lives in Santa Barbara, California.
I enjoyed this book for a number of reasons: it held my attention from the first page, the characters are well developed and I could connect with them immediately, and 12-year-old Keith stole my heart. Though the story is mostly in Ann's point of view, the secondary characters play vital roles in moving the story and helping Ann in her journey. It presents a great question: in our journey to make our dreams true, will we do whatever it takes or is there a limit to what we will sacrifice? The story gives great insight into the lives of those who suffer with Down Syndrome and their family members, the everyday struggles they encounter, and their precious ability to love unconditionally. The subject of angels was tastefully written-- not cheesy or hokey, and it didn't feel like a bad episode of Touched by an Angel.  :)
I gave this book a 5-star rating on and
Have you read this book? What did you think of it?
What are your favorite "angel" books?

Monday, November 12, 2012


Webster's Dictionary defines bookworm as: n. One who spends a lot of time reading or studying.

This would be me. Any spare moment I'm granted (between a husband, three sons, the animals, and a mountain of never-ending laundry-- it isn't much), I've got my nose in a book. I love all genres: romance, mystery, historical, etc. What I'm trying to say is: I love books! I've had an obsession with books since before I could read. Between my parents and much older siblings, someone in the household was always kind enough to take a few minutes to read to me. But I remember being a small child thinking, I can't wait until I can read so I don't have to depend on other people to do it for me. Then I can read whenever I want!

Reading is a passion I've tried to pass on to my children (my oldest loves to read, my middle son wants nothing to do with it, and baby is still to little to decide). Books open doors, entertain, show the reader new perspective and insight, teach us . . . I could go on and on, but I'll stop since I'm sounding like a bookworm.

Along with reading, my other passion is writing. From the time I learned to read and write, I began creating stories of my own. In fact, I ran across some of these stories not too long ago while cleaning a closet-- stories I didn't even know I'd kept. I don't know why I kept them, they were terribly written but fun to find all the same.

At age sixteen, a friend was telling me about a dream she had and I thought Hey, that would make a great book! What did I do? I started writing one. A few chapters into it, I saw a commercial on TV advertising The Institute of Children's Literature. I thought I'd give it a shot and sent away for their aptitude test. After answering questions and writing a short-story, they welcomed me to the Institute, though they rarely made exceptions for individuals under age 18. For two years my instructor (Kevin McColley, a multi-published author) helped me solidify the craft of writing.

I temporarily lost my passion for writing after completing the course, getting married, and starting a family and career. I didn't read much during these 10 years either. By the end of the day, I was too tired! After the birth of my third son (and excessing of my job), I became a stay-at-home mother and wife and started reading ferociously again while I would rock my newborn to sleep and in place of TV in the evenings. When I read, I read every page of a book from the dedication page to the author's note at the end. While reading Denise Hunter's Sweetwater Gap, her author note stated she began writing during her children's nap times, and over a couple of years it blossomed into publication. That shook something inside of me, and I realized that God not only blessed me by giving me the opportunity to be at home and better care for my family, but he was also giving me a chance to pursue writing.

Denise referred me to ACFW-- American Christian Fiction Writers-- an organization where authors (published and unpublished), editors and agents, come together. Within ACFW, I had the opportunity to send my manuscripts through an online critique group where I quickly learned how much I'd forgotten over the years. Though sometimes discouraged, I used the honest criticism to learn and grow and keep pursuing.

Exactly one year, a novel that I've revised a million times, and a short-story later, Oak Tara Publishers accepted my short-story manuscript as a winner in their Best-of-the-Best Romance Contest. My story, The Value of a Penny, will be published with the other winners in an anthology entitled I Choose You in time for the holidays 2012.

More details to follow . . .