Sunday, July 29, 2012

My church is...

Last week I tried to describe my lovely friend Keli Gwyn, and the conclusion I came to is that she defies description. :)

This past weekend I was trying to think of how I would describe my church to someone who had never been there, and again, I was at a loss for words.

After a couple of hours in the nursery yesterday morning and a congregational meeting and coffee and dessert (okay, I had Diet Pepsi) with Pastor Kevin and his lovely wife Ann, I'm still at a loss to describe exactly what it is that makes me love my church so much, and yet, I do love it.

We are the most diverse, whackadoo group of people, with various gifts and personalities and histories. We are professionals and stay at home moms, we are young and we are old, we are outgoing and we are reserved. We come from conservative backgrounds and un-churched backgrounds. And in all our differences and diversities lies our strength.

Because we all love Jesus and desire to glorify Him in everything we do. We try to be students of God's Word, and as a body and as individuals, we give grace. The people of this church extend grace to me when I am in need (which is all the time) and I try to extend that same grace to them. Because we all know how much Grace has been poured out on us.

Does this mean we live and let live? No. Where Scripture is clear about our responsibility as believers to obey God, we stand firm. Our pastor pulls no punches when it comes to preaching the Word, and the church will not compromise on the Truth.

What's not to love??? Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church is...a blessing to me.

So, where do you worship, and how would you describe your church to someone who had never been there?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Friday Five

My beautiful daughter, Heather. :)

Happy Friday!!! Happy start to the 2012 Summer Olympics!

Today's Friday Five is:

My five favorite Summer Olympic Sports.

1. Swimming. It will be hard to top the men's 4x100 freestyle relay of 2008, but I'll be watching to see if they can get it done!

2. Gymnastics.

3. Equestrian. I love the 3 day eventing. It's the only sport where men and women compete on equal terms.

4. Indoor Volleyball.

5. The shooting sports. Archery, pistol, skeet, 3 position rifle...

What's your favorite Olympic sport?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

World War One Wednesday

Today's post is a little late due to the fact that Blogger wouldn't let me load pictures last night! Argh! 

I thought I'd share with you a little more of the progress we've made on the Red Cross signature quilt. :) Here are some pictures of the basting and trimming process.

We took the parts and pieces to my church, because there are lots of tables and space to work. Heather (Dear Daughter) and I set up 6 tables in the center of the fellowship hall and spread the quilt backing out nice and smooth. The backing is made from the same white fabric as used in the quilt blocks, and when I bought all that white fabric, I thought I might have a bunch left over. But when Linda and I finished assembling the quilt top and I laid out the fabric I had left for the back, it turns out I only had about half a yard left over! EEK! The quilt back is made from two strips of white fabric sewed down the middle.

Here's Heather opening the package of quilt batting. I opted for a low-loft queen-sized batting. The original quilt is rather thin, both due to age, and I suspect to the fact that the batting they used was probably a piece of felt or flannel. I want my quilt to match the original at the museum as much as possible, and I felt a high-lofted batting and puffy quilting would look too different.

Centering the quilt top on the backing and batting and getting it as smooth as possible was a job for two people, and Heather's long arms sure came in handy. :) We wanted the seam on the back to be in the center, and when we were all done, it was! Whew! :)

Getting everything smooth and even. 

Beginning the basting process to hold everything together during the quilting. I baste with large safety pins, one in the center of each red cross.

The trick is making sure the pin goes through all three layers and making sure all the layers stay nice and smooth.

Once the entire quilt is basted, it's time to trim off the extra backing and batting. I brought my rotary cutter, mat, and straight edge. The trick here is not cutting beyond the cutting mat.

Heather helped with the turning, holding, and re-positioning of the quilt while I trimmed. 

The final result of the day's work: A quilt all basted and trimmed, ready for the quilting process!!!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Hard to put into words...Keli Gwyn!

It's not often an author is at a loss for words, but as I've contemplated how to articulate what I want to say here, I know I will never do the topic justice.

And what topic is that?

It's my friend, Keli Gwyn.

In the end, I've decided to just list all the words that come to mind when I think of Keli, knowing that individually and put all together, they don't do this lady justice.

1. Generous
2. Kind
3. Spunky
4. Brave
5. Unselfish
6. Genuine
7. Enthusiastic
8. Persistent
9. Joyful
10. Thoughtful
11. Exuberant
12. Creative
13. Intelligent
14. Forgiving
15. Resilient
16. Giving
17. Tiny
18. Mighty
19. Emotional (In a good way!)
20. Transparent
21. Friendly
22. Beautiful
23. Skilled
24. Resourceful
25. Strong

The list could go on and on...

Recently Keli blogged on Seekerville about "The Seekerville Effect" about how encountering the Seekers on line and in real life was such a positive and memorable experience to so many. In the comments, someone mentioned how there could also be a "Keli Effect" and I wholeheartedly agree. Anyone who knows Keli, whether online or in real life, is forever changed and charmed by her friendly, generous, beautiful nature.

Whether it is promoting other authors' work, celebrating their awards, milestones, and successes, helping newbies navigate the world of publishing or blogging with Wordpress, (wink!) or battling health issues with courage and determination, Keli brings a grace and friendliness that I wish I could aspire to.

She is a true friend.

And this month, a long-time dream of hers came true. Her debut novel hit bookstore shelves across the nation. I had the privilege of reading A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, and it was my honor to endorse it. I've rarely read a book with snappier dialogue.

Here's a little bit about the book:

An ever-resourceful widow, Elenora Watkins arrives in El Dorado ready to go into partnership with Miles Rutledge. When he refuses, Elenora becomes the competition across the street. Is this town big enough for the two of them? Miles can't help but stick his well-polished boot in his mouth whenever he comes face-to-face with Elenora. Can he find a way to win her heart while destroying her business? Miles's mother, Maude, is bent on Elenora becoming her new daughter-in-law while Elenora's daughter, Tildy, thinks Miles would make a perfect papa. How far will these meddlers go to unite this enterprising pair?

A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California is a Christian historical romance novel.

In an effort to show Keli the tremendous impact she has had on the Christian Fiction blogging community of writers and readers I'd love for you to add in the comment section to my list of words that describe Keli...If Keli has touched your life in some way, let her know!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

World War One Wednesday

The assistant quilter, my cat, Pookie! :)
This post is going to be heavy on the pictures, because yesterday was PIECING day for the Red Cross Signature Quilt!!!! My lovely and sweet sister-in-law, Linda, came over and helped me put together all 56 (okay, due to a snafu, there were 58 squares and I had to do some readjusting and quick-fix embroidering) squares into a BIG quilt top! Here are some pictures of the progress:

We laid all the squares out on the living room floor to make sure everything was where it was supposed to be. That's when I found out I had two EXTRA squares! EEEK!

Me, embroidering the 10 names from the two extra squares into spaces on some of the other squares so every veteran's name got on the quilt. I had thought I was done with embroidering, but I guess not.

Linda, pinning the first row of squares together. She sewed the squares together into long strips.

Gotcha! :)

Got us both! :)

These are the strips laid out on the couch so we could keep them in order. At the end of each strip of squares is a half-square in white, embroidered with the names of Dodge County Veterans killed in action, Dodge County Red Cross Nurses, and presentation squares that tell what the quilt is for and whose names are on it.

The first four strips sewn together! Over halfway there!

Linda's pinning ground for strips. She's an excellent pinner!
Self portrait of the photographer! :) Hi, James!

We got the entire quilt pieced, and it proudly bears the names of 363 fine men and women from Dodge County, Minnesota who sacrificed for freedom during The Great War.

Here's us with the completed quilt top!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Dodge County History

Last week it was my pleasure to visit Mantorville, MN and the Dodge County Historical Society Museum. I visited with one of the board members about the Red Cross Signature Quilt my sister-in-law and I are making to honor Dodge County World War One Veterans and commemorate the release of my next novel, A Bride Sews With Love in Needles, CA. The idea for the book came on my first visit to the DCHS museum where I saw a World War One era Red Cross signature fundraiser quilt.

Included in the DCHS properties are several sites in the town of Wasioja, and I couldn't resist driving over to take some pictures. The above photograph is of the ruins of the Wasioja Free Baptist Seminary. During the Civil War, the students at the seminary along with their teachers, volunteered for service in the Union Army. The majority of the enlistees were killed or wounded at the battle of Chickamauga.

The DCHS erected a Civil War Memorial on the grounds of the seminary, and have provided engraved pavers to remember Dodge County Civil War Veterans. I found the above stone near the memorial. It is of William Bircher, Drummer Boy for the 2nd MN Infantry.

This is a photo of the Wasioja Recruiting Station. This is the only recruiting stations till standing in the state of MN.

History is all around us, waiting to be discovered. Every town, every building, every road, every railroad has a history, not just dates and names, but the men and women, boys and girls who lived and loved and laughed, toiled and travailed, fought and died. Everybody has a story, and I love uncovering those stories.

Do you have any history you've recently discovered? Anything that surprised you?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Bringing back the Friday Five

I've missed the Friday Five, so I'm bringing it back! :D

This week's Friday Five is:

Five things I did this week.

1. Embroidered the final quilt squares for the Red Cross Signature Quilt.

2. Visited some Civil War sites (more on that Monday.)

3. Gave a devotional at a baby shower.

4. Went to see Mr. Popper's Penguins at the movie theater.

5. Took delivery of some new research books and new textbooks for the coming school year.

How about you? What'd you do this week?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

World War One Wednesday

This week's World War One Wednesday comes to you courtesy of Ella Parsons Barnes, a lady who attends my church.

The above picture (I apologize for the small size, it's a scan of a photocopy.) is of her father  PFC Herbert Newton Parsons, Company E, 14th Engineers.

Herbert enlisted in the Army in New Haven, Connecticut when the call for volunteers went out. For years, Ella was told her father lied about his age to get into the Army. And this was true. But while she had always thought he'd lied and made himself older to get in, in reality, he lied to make himself younger. He was over the age limit for early volunteers, so he lied. His family thought his birth year was 1898, when he was actually born in 1895.

Herbert Parsons was sent to France where he was a train engineer for the Allied forces. When he returned to the States after an honorable discharge in 1919, he went on to engineer trains for the Santa Fe Railroad. He died in 1965.

Monday, July 09, 2012

New Favorite

I've come across a new-to-me show that I'm really enjoying. It's called Leverage. A five-member crew--one former insurance investigator and four criminal types--now take on corrupt businessmen and bad guys to help underdogs who have been preyed upon by the unscrupulous and greedy.

A hitter, a grifter, a thief, and a hacker join forces with a modern-day Robin Hood to right wrongs and get revenge for the little guy.

It's quite entertaining, highly improbable, and the banter between the characters is fun.

I spent quite a bit of time yesterday watching Leverage and embroidering quilt blocks. Only 2.5 quilt blocks to go before I can start piecing! Woohoo!

What shows are you currently watching?

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Fill in The Blank Friday

This week my new edition of Writer's Digest arrived. I always feel so writerly when Writer's Digest, Romance Writer's Report, or the ACFW Journal arrives. These are the only magazines I currently subscribe to. It would be hard to pick a favorite from this group, but I think at this time, I'd have to say Writer's Digest is my favorite.

When I go to the hair salon, I sit under the hair dryer and flip through the gossip, fashion, and Hollywood magazines, even though I don't know who most of the people in the pictures are.

If I have a dentist appointment, I read National Geographic, Reader's Digest, and Sport's Illustrated.

So, today's Fill in the Blank Friday is:

My favorite magazine is _____________________.

Sunday, July 01, 2012


It's America's Birthday Week! :)

Time for fireworks and picnics and boating and family.

I can hardly believe it's July already. This summer seems to be blazing by so fast. I was checking on when we had to have my daughter back at school, when I need to order new curriculum by to have it ready for the start of the school for my son, and how soon the ACFW Conference was sneaking up on me.

Yep, summer was blazing by. Until I ordered research books from amazon. The estimated shipping date isn't until AUGUST! That's FOREVER!

This summer is crawling by....

How's summer going for you?