Thursday, December 31, 2009

My Favorite Book from 2009 & GIVEAWAY! :)

Happy New Year's Eve, dear friends!

I love this time of year! I've been reflecting on 2009 ~ the good, the bad, the lessons learned ~ and can't wait to see what God has planned in 2010!! As the saying goes..."even though I don't know what the future holds, I do know the One Who holds the future"...and He is Amazing!!

I am trusting God for 2010 ~ whatever it might hold. He is the Author of my story. I tried writing it for the first 26 years of my life, and made a huge mess. (For more of my story before Christ, click here). Now it is His turn, and I'm trying my best to stay out of His way!!

Although, I must confess, so far 2010 isn't going to look like what I had planned. In fact, I've shed quite a few tears about it over the past few weeks. I'll share more later...but for today, let's end on a happy note!!

So, speaking of happy, one thing in life that makes me HAPPY (besides God, family and friends) is....BOOKS! I just went to the bookstore yesterday and spent my Christmas money on 8 new books. Yippee!!

I was going to make a list of the Top 9 books I read in '09 (and of course, you know, the Bible is my favorite book, that hopefully goes without saying) ~ but there was no way I could narrow the list down to 9 books. Instead, I've decided to share my favorite book from 2009. And I picked up an extra copy to give away!! Woo Hoo!!

My favorite book from 2009 is....(drumroll please)....

Have you had a chance to experience Jesus Calling by Sarah Young?? It's awesome! I keep my copy right next to my bathroom sink. I read the daily devotion first thing every morning and again at the end of the day. I love it!

Here is an example of Sarah's writing... (allow these words to really wash over you today...)

From Jesus to you...

As this year draws to a close, receive My Peace. This is still your deepest need, and I, your Prince of Peace, long to pour Myself into your neediness. My abundance and your emptiness are a perfect match. I designed you to have no sufficiency of your own. I created you as a jar of clay, set apart of sacred use. I want you to be filled with My very being, permeated through and through with Peace.....

Isn't her writing beautiful?? It always points me right to Jesus!!


And now...for the Giveaway!!


To Win my Giveaway: Leave a comment in the comment section answering this question:

What was your favorite book of 2009??

RULES: Starts today, Thursday, Dec 31 and ends Monday, January 4th at 9 PM. Winner will be posted on my blog on Tuesday, January 5th.

If your email address is not connected to your ID, please leave your email address with your comment or email it to me at cindy.bultema@comcast.net with the subject "Giveaway".

I can't wait to hear from you!! (Even if you already own this book, feel free to enter the Giveaway and pass the book along to a friend!).

Well, I better start getting ready for our big New Year's Eve party tonight!! May the Lord bless you with His peace and His presence in ever-increasing measure in 2010!!

Happy New Year!!

Warmly,

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Last Random Dozen of 2009!

Happy Tuesday to you!! Here's my last Weekly Random Dozen of 2009!

In case you are new to my blog, Linda at 2nd Cup of Coffee prepares 12 random questions for us bloggers, and then I try to answer them (to the best of my ability). All are welcome to play along!! :)

Given that my days this week are filled with lots of kids, snow, and new board games to play ~ a little "randomness" is a welcomed treat! Hope you enjoy!! :)

1. Do you find it gross to share drinks with family? Friends?

I don't think I've shared a drink with friends in years. I'm usually fighting a cold, so who would want to drink after me??

2. What have you learned this year?

Wow...so much. Can I come back to this one?

3. When do you dismantle the Christmas decorations?

Usually as soon as Christmas is over! However, this year I am trying to leave everything up a little longer. I almost started tackling all the decorations today, but stopped myself! I'm trying to keep everything up until after New Years.

4. Something you wish to accomplish before the end of 2009 is:

I am hoping to have some extended quiet time and earnestly pray about 2010. (I know, quiet time and Christmas vacation with 4 kids doesn't quite go together. Thus the reason I hired a babysitter for Wednesday night!). I would love a chance to really reflect on 2009, and pray specifically for 2010.

5. How do you feel about winter (after Christmas)?

I'm not much of a "snow girl", but my kids love it! Their joy for winter rubs off on me.

6. Have you participated in after-Christmas sales?

Nope. We have more than enough stuff already.

7. Do you have plans for New Year's Eve?

Yes, and I can't wait! We get together with the same two families each year. And boy do we have a blast! It is a definite highlight for the kids too. Typically we go to our friends' house, but this year we are hosting. Woo Hoo!! I love party planning! And I love celebrating! And I love these friends! :)

8. Is there anything special awaiting you in January?

Good question. I hope so! :)

9. If your life this year was a movie, what category or genre would it be? (Romance, Comedy, Drama, Thriller, Suspense, Farcical, etc.)

I would say a Family~Friendly Adventure!

10. How much time per day do you spend blogging? Please do not lie. I will know.

It depends on the day. And the post. And what my kids are up to. I don't have an average time spent blogging. I definitely try to limit my screen time ~ but I also enjoy blogging and reading others blogs! :)

11. Who runs your household?

Easy answer ~ Jesus Christ.

12. Share one hope/dream for 2010.

I hope to get out of God's way, and watch Him do AMAZING things right before my very eyes. Our God is HUGE!! I want to know Him more and trust Him like never before! I want my life to be less about me, and more about Him!! I want to live REDHOT for Him in 2010!

And now back to Question #2, what have I learned this year??

SO MUCH!! But mostly I've been reminded in 2009 that our God is a God of miracles!!

I witnessed God breathe life back into a dear friend's husband that was close to death (literally). (You can read more here).

I've watched God infuse women with hope and strength and forgiveness and new confidence in Him. (One dear friend's story is (here)

I've experienced the miracle of deep, restorative healing to some childhood wounds. I watched God bring my husband John a new job opportunity "out of the blue". And I stood in a tank of water with one of my closest friends (who had wanted nothing to do with God), and I had the amazing opportunity to baptize her in the name of the Lord Jesus. (This was one of my favorite days!! Click here!)

Only God. Only God.

Our God is such a God of miracles...and in 2009 I learned (again) that there is nothing too hard for Him!! Nothing!!!

What about for you?? What did you learn in 2009??

I'd love to hear some of your responses to the Random Dozen! Share with us please!! :)

Well, I'm off to play more Uno Attack!! Have a Super Abundant day!

Warmly,

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Please Repeat ~ Real Jesus Love

Add Image Merry Christmas to you!! I hope you had a peace~filled, memorable, fun Christmas!!

While I recover from all of the Christmas festivities, I thought it would be fun to "repeat" the post that received the most comments/feedback in 2009. Enjoy!

Real Jesus Love
~ originally posted May 2009

Times are tough in Michigan. Four of my friends have husbands who are unemployed. Many families have suddenly received pay cuts. My brother (he's 34) showed up at his job last week to find his whole department was being eliminated, effective immediately. And my dad recently learned that the company he works for was relocating to Mexico. In just a few months, my dad will also be without a job. He will be 62 years old and unemployed. I'm quite sure this is not how he envisioned his career would end.

Last week at t-ball my dad mentioned that a number of workers from Mexico were in town for a few weeks. How uncomfortable, I thought! These workers will be taking my dad's job from him, and now he has the task of training and teaching them. I wouldn't want that responsibility! Fertile ground for bitterness and anger if you ask me!

But rather than going down a negative trail, my dad was sharing how he enjoyed getting to know these workers from Mexico. My dad shared conversations he had with them ~ both professional and personal. Instead of grumbling and complaining, my dad was forming friendships with these men while they were away from home.

Imagine my surprise when Saturday morning at Jake's hockey game, my dad announced that he had invited his co-workers from Mexico to come and watch his grandson's hockey game. And sure enough....just a few minutes into the first period, in walk nine of my dad's new friends.

The co-workers from Mexico had so much fun watching the game, cheering on Jake's team (Goalie - Goalie - Goalie - they would yell!). Taking pictures. Laughing and smiling and enjoying every minute of it.

After the game, my dad walked his friends over to touch the ice (they'd never seen ice before). He found a hockey puck for them to take home as a souveneir. And then he left to show them the fish ladder, the Ford Museum, and other parts of downtown Grand Rapids. After the tour, my dad invited his new friend's over for a cook-out. They spent the afternoon together grilling and talking and hanging out at my parent's home.

In the book of Luke, Jesus reminds us to love our enemies. Jesus says, If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? If you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? (Luke 6:32-33)....But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. (v 35)

Thank you, Dad, for modeling real Jesus love. :)

Can you spot my dad? (I'll give you a clue..he has a shirt with a red collar.) What a fun day! :)

Let's pray...Oh Lord, teach us to live and to love like Jesus! Thank You for Your love and for Your grace. Thank You that You have good and perfect plans for us...even when what we see doesn't seem to make sense. Help us to trust You more. Fill us with Your peace and Your power. For Your Glory Alone! In Jesus' Strong Name I pray. Amen!!


Have a BLESSED day!!
In Him~

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Celebrating A Christ-Centered Christmas


I'm not sure what your week has been like ~ but mine has been filled with baking and wrapping and delivering and mailing and tears (mine, not the kids) and sighs of exhaustion and daily trips to Target and more! Someone stop this treadmill and let me get off!!

So today, in the midst of the craziness, I made myself a latte and re-read one of my favorite Christmas books ~ "Celebrating A Christ-Centered Christmas ~ Ideas from A to Z" by Sharon Jaynes.
Here's one of my favorite poems that Sharon shares ~ May it bless you as it always does me! :)

Love, 1 Corinthians 13 Style

If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls, but do not show love to my family, I'm just another decorator.

If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime: but do not show love to my family, I'm just another cook.

If I work at a soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home, and give all that I have to charity; but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing.

If I trim the spruce with shimmering angelsand crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties and sing in the choir's cantata but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.

Love stops the cooking to hug the child.

Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the spouse.

Love is kind, though harried and tired.

Love does not envy another's home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.

Love does not yell at the kids to get out of the way, but is thankful they are there to be in the way.

Love does not give only to those who are able to give in return; but rejoices in giving to those who cannot.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.

Love never fails.

Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust; but giving the gift of love will endure.

~ Sharon Jaynes

Let's Pray...Oh Lord, we need You! Please remind us what really matters this week. Please guard our hearts and quiet our minds and open our eyes and ears to what You have for us. Lord, we release to You our plans, our agendas, our To-Do lists. And Lord, in return, we receive Your peace, Your joy, Your unconditional, perfect love.

THANK YOU Lord, that Your plans are for us, and that You desire for us to walk in Truth and Peace and Joy and Love. Help us live for You, and to celebrate JESUS this week ~ in all that we say and do!! For Your Glory Alone!! Amen.

Merry CHRISTmas!!!!

Please Repeat ~ Shovel

Happy Tuesday to you!! The kids and I started Christmas vacation off with a BANG yesterday ~ crafting and shopping and baking and decorating all day long! (The kids even wore little Santa hats while we were out shopping ~ it was adorable!) It's such a blessing to have the kids home from school for a few weeks!! I plan to enjoy every minute with them I can!!

I thought these last few days before Christmas would be a great opportunity to "repeat" some posts from this year. I hope you enjoy! Merry CHRISTmas to you, dear friends! :)


Shovel ~

Have you ever wondered, “God, where are You?”

I mean, we learn as a small child in Sunday School that God is everywhere – but have you ever tilted your head back and asked the God of the Universe, “Where are You?”

I know I have...specifically after my fiance David was killed. You may be familiar with that part of my journey ~ on December 10, 1998 (5 months before our wedding date and 2 weeks before Christmas), David Timmer, my fiance and best friend, was tragically killed in a freak workplace accident.

Two weeks later, on a cloudy, dark Thursday morning, there I was, outside trying to shovel my driveway. The snow was up to my waist or higher, or so it seemed, and my little blue car wasn't going anywhere until I shoveled out a path. Jake, who was in preschool at the time, was bitter cold. (You know how it is with kids, it’s fun for like three minutes and then they’re just frozen to the core and ready to be done). As I was shoveling, I found myself asking the question- “God, where are you?”

Although actually, I think it went more like this- “OK God, where are you?! You say You’ll never leave me, but where are You now?! This is a lot of snow, God. How in the world am I supposed to shovel this all by myself? I thought I wasn't going to have to be a single mom anymore. Why did you have to take David home??!! This isn’t fair, God! This just isn’t fair! I mean, look at Jake. He's freezing ~ he has icicles hanging off of his eyelashes for crying out loud. I’m all alone, I can’t even get my car out of the driveway - God, where are You??”

I even lifted my shovel in anger and shook it at the Lord that day...

Just then, a car stopped in front of my house, and a young college kid hopped out.

“Hey lady,” he called, “this looks like a pretty big driveway for you and your son. Go on in the house and let me take care of it for you.”

Tears just poured down my face as I tried to speak the words, “Thank you, thank you, thank you”.

In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses reminds the Israelites (and us) of God’s promise to never leave us nor forsake us. The next time life circumstances cause YOU to wonder “God, where are you?..., ” ~ Go ahead and ask Him, He might be closer than you think. :)



Friday, December 18, 2009

Random Dozen: Christmas Edition


Happy "Last Weekend before Christmas" to you!!

I thought it would be fun to participate in the Christmas Edition of the Random Dozen this week.
Also, I must confess, since in the past two weeks, we've experienced...lice, a flat tire, a dead engine on our truck, another van that quit at the ice rink, ... plus 4 speaking engagements in the past 10 days... I'm just plain tired.

Some randomness might be a welcome break in the midst of my crazy life!! Hope you enjoy!! :)

1. Gingerbread: For or against? Discuss.

Gingerbread cookies, not so much. Never tried a Gingerbread latte (although I've yet to meet a latte I didn't like). I sure enjoy building Gingerbread houses with the kids. :)



2. Is it important to you to always stay (live) close to family?

I really enjoy living close to my parents and my in-laws. Couldn't imagine not living in the same town with them. We are very blessed.

When I was growing up, I was very close with my cousins, grandparents, aunts & uncles, even though we didn't live in the same town. Now that we are 6 hours away (and I have 4 kids) ~ I don't get to see my extended family nearly enough. That is really sad for me. :(

3. Which holiday pretend character do you wish really existed?

Ummm...that's a tough one. Maybe Frosty...he was a jolly, happy soul !! :) I would change the ending though...I don't like sad endings.

4. Which holiday movie best represents how you feel about Christmas or life?

You know, I don't really watch many Christmas movies (except kids movies like Dora Christmas or Snoopy). I've never even seen It's A Wonderful Life (I'm so sorry, Aunt Debbie!).

Can you help me out...which holiday movie do you think might best represent how I feel about life??


5. Is there a particular Christmas song that you're enjoying now? Any that you're tired of?

You know, I LOVE all Christmas music now!! Since I didn't know Jesus until I was 26, it always blows my mind when I hear a song that I knew as a little girl...but "didn't get" what the song was really saying (i.e. O Come O Come Emmanuel). Today at my kids' Christmas program, we sang "Come on Ring those Bells". I always love singing that one!! :)


6. What is your favorite way to remember those less fortunate at Christmastime?

John and I try to remember the less fortunate not just at Christmas, but every day throughout the year.

Years ago I used to supervise a program for homeless teen moms and their kids for The Salvation Army. At Christmas time our phone would ring off the hook with people wanting to adopt the teens or bring in gifts, etc.. This was great and we always appreciated the support, generosity, and care of the community.

However, there was a teeny part of me that wondered why during the other 11 months of the year, we couldn't get the same support. When the teens didn't have backpacks in the fall. Or in November when they didn't have winter coats or boots, etc..

So John and I have tried to teach our kids that we give throughout the year. That we live with open ears and open eyes to see where God is working in our lives, and if there's a way He might want to use us, follow His lead. Now, of course, we don't always get this right...but we're trying. You can read about one fun story here.

7. Does it upset you to see "Xmas" instead of Christmas? How about "Happy Holidays" etc., instead of "Merry Christmas?"

It doesn't "upset" me, but it does grieve my heart.

8. How many Christmas programs are you attending this month?

I've had the chance to attend with dear friends two women's Christmas events. Both were fabulous!

For our family, my kids had a Christmas chapel this morning, and we'll probably go see a Live Nativity this weekend.

9. Are you dreaming of a white Christmas? Any chance of that dream becoming a reality?

I am not dreaming of a white Christmas. I live in West Michigan, so my guess is that we will have snow for Christmas (we still have quite a ton from last week's "snowpocalypse"!)


10. Tell me about a Christmas present you received as a child. Pics are always nice.

My all-time favorite gift was given to me in 1976. It was the Deluxe Edition Barbie Townhouse. Woo Hoo!! P.S. Guess what my girls are getting this Christmas?? The 2009 Edition! What fun! :)

11. How many Christmas parties are you attending this month?

John and I went to his work Christmas party last night. We'll also go to John's extended family's Christmas party on the 23rd. (I always enjoy seeing John's cousins and catching up with them!!) And then we'll just have Christmas dinners with our family. So not too terribly many...just right ;)

12. How do you keep yourself centered on the significance of Christmas?

Being intentional with everything I do. Not allowing myself to worry about what other people think. For example, due to our crazy circumstances, we weren't able to get a Christmas tree until late last weekend. A couple of friends teased me about it. When I sat and thought about it, I was ok even if we didn't get a tree. Christmas is about Jesus and what He offers us ~ peace and joy and life abundant. I wasn't going to let not having a tree rob me of my joy. Nor was I going to get crazy and stressed and make it happen (and stress my family out too).

(Please know I enjoy having a Christmas tree, my point is I wasn't going to let not having a tree take away my joy).

I have gone through Christmas seasons that were tough. Very tough. The year that David was killed, I was in so much pain I could barely function. I didn't know where I wanted to be on Christmas Eve (David was killed on Dec 10) ~ the world seemed so jolly and merry and I was broken in every possible way.

The homeless teens from The Salvation Army where I worked made my mom, Jake, our friend Lois and me a Christmas dinner of BBQ and greens and corn bread and pie. It was such selfless love on their part in the midst of so much pain. That is the beauty of Christmas. Giving of ourselves out of the purest parts of our heart, and extending the love of Christ to one another.

And I don't ever want to miss it because I'm too busy trying to make my house look like Pottery Barn. So this year, I've been very intentional about my time, my reading material, our family calendar, and our checkbook. Jesus is the reason for the Season!

Well, my wonderful brother and sister-in-law took my kids overnight (yippee!!), so John and I are headed out for coffee (he just doesn't know it yet :) ).

Wishing you a peace~filled, warm and wonderful weekend!!!

Merry CHRISTmas~

P.S. A note of thanks to Linda at 2nd cup of coffee for hosting the Random Dozen. She always has an interesting mix of questions and everyone is invited to play along. Thanks so much, Linda!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wonderful Wednesday!

I am so joy-filled today I think I could burst!!

After a painfully long, trying weekend ~ today was a ray of sunshine!! Here are the Top 5 reasons today was a Wonderful day!!!

1. My little girl is now "lice free"!!

Now, you might ask? Yes ~ now!! One of my little princesses picked up lice in her class. AHHH! It was horrible!! Have you ever gone through this with your family?? It's been our first experience ~ and boy, was it absolutely overwhelming. The laundry, and shampooing, and combing out and disinfecting, and then more laundry.... What an exhausting task!!

Today a doctor came in to school to re-check the kids. My daughter's teacher called me at home this morning, and I immediately thought, "Oh no, she failed the check. I'm going to have to go pick her up and start over."

Thankfully the teacher was calling to say my daughter was all clear. Praise the Lord!! WOO HOO!!

2. My Mom is AMAZING!!

Did I mention that my mom is the one who found the lice? While she was keeping all 4 kids over night!! Instead of shipping all the kids back home (which is what I would have done!), my mom washed and combed out my daughter's hair for over 2 hours that first night. The next night, she helped me soak my daughter's hair in Vaseline. Plus, she has come to our house every night for the past 5 nights to help comb and rinse it out more. What an absolute blessing!!

Here is my little girl giving my mom cookies that say, "I love you". It was my daughter's idea ~ she even recognizes that Grandma went above and beyond the call of duty this week!!!

Thanks, Mom!!


3. God is so faithful!!

Yesterday I had the opportunity to share at the Moms Group at my church. I love these ladies, and it's always such a blessing to spend time with them. My message was on "Cultivating Your Spiritual Garden".

I prayed specifically that God would use my time not just for "fun", but to encourage and inspire.

Sure enough...this morning, while I was at Toys R Us of all places, I run into a woman who was there yesterday. She told me how much she enjoyed the message, and shared some very real takeaways that she left with. Specifically, she thought my point of "Pull a weed, plant a seed (of Truth)" was very helpful and applicable to her. Hooray!!

What a blessing for God to allow our paths to cross in the Barbie aisle!! And for her to share such postive feedback, and specific answers to my prayers!! God is so faithful, isn't He? :)

4. The kids and I baked 6 dozen cookies today!!


And the cookies don't have to be at school until Friday!! (Praise the Lord for pre-cut frozen sugar cookies!) Woo Hoo!!!

5. I had lunch with my dear friend Julie!

Chips and salsa for lunch, Starbucks for dessert, and my dear friend Julie for company. Wonderful!!!

And, I know I said Top 5, but there's one more I must share....

6. My husband is a gift!!

John, being the amazing husband that he is, ran all over town looking for hay for me tonight at 9 PM. I have a speaking engagement in the morning, but didn't have hay for my manger prop. But now I do...thanks to my dear hubby!! (He finally scraped some off the front walkway of Pet Supplies Plus ~ of course, he asked permission first!). What a guy!!


After a long weekend filled with lice and laundry and cancelled plans and smelly disinfectant....today was a welcomed gift!!! It was a Wonderful Wednesday!!

Let's pray...Oh Lord, remind us on the challenging days that we won't be stuck there forever. Thank you for Your grace and care, even in the midst of disappointing circumstances. Thank You for family members and friends that minister to us in special and unique ways. Thank You for Jesus ~ the True Gift of Christmas!!

And Lord, I pray that if anyone reading this right now is carrying burdens or anxiety or fear or just feeling empty...Lord, would You please meet them in their time of need? Would You please tend to their heart, provide a safe place for them, and fill them back upwith Your love and Your peace. You are faithful, God and we put all of our hope and trust in You alone.
We love you!! In the Strong Name of Jesus I pray...Amen!!

Many Blessings to you~


P.S. My manger full of hay :) and I will be heading to Ridgepoint Church in Holland, Michigan in the morning. Can't wait to see what God has planned!!! :)

Someone's Praying....

I received the following note from a dear bloggy friend today....

Hey Cindy,
How did your speaking engagement go last Tuesday? I was praying off the snow like crazy!
Love, Your Friend R.E.


You may remember what she is referring to...I had asked for prayer for a speaking opportunity at Rush Creek Church last week called "Dreams and Detours". We were expected to receive 10-30 inches (yes, 10-30 inches!) ~ so it was questionable whether the Christmas Event would even take place.

I must share a HUGE note of thanks for praying us through! The snow started to come that evening, but, thankfully, not as quickly as expected. The Christmas event did take place...and it was AMAZING!

(Isn't it gorgeous?? I thought of you all and wanted to show you how beautiful it was! I wish you could have been there with me!!) :)

I cannot describe the peace and God-confidence that I experienced as I was at the platform. It was awesome! After my time of sharing, a woman in her late 50’s came forward covered in tears. She said that "my story" was "her story". Through her tears, she shared with me her journey of addiction and how a few years ago she came back to the church, and most importantly, to Jesus. Her husband just accepted Jesus in March. She also shared with me the guilt she was still carrying, and I was able to remind her afresh that she didn’t need to carry that backpack of guilt and shame any more. She is forgiven!

God handpicked her to be there that evening, of this I am sure!

God is so faithful and good, isn’t He??

Thank you so very much for your prayers and encouragement! I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that prayer is the work! I love the quote by Watchman Nee ~

"Our prayers lay the track down on which God's power can come.
Like a mighty locomotive, His power is irresistible,
but it cannot reach us without rails."


Isn't that an awesome visual?! I love thinking of a huge, mighty locomotive filled to overflowing with God's power and blessing...and how my part is to pray and "lay down the tracks".

I'll often picture this mighty locomotive in my mind as I pray for my husband..."laying down the tracks" as God's power is unleashed in John's life as he heads off to work.

Or "laying down the tracks" for my children...asking God to come "roaring through" with His protection and goodness and grace in their lives.

You get the drift.... :)

And it breaks my heart to think of a Powerful Steam Engine, filled with divine blessings and miracles, waiting patiently in the station, desiring to have rails on which to run.

Let's pray down some tracks and watch God's irresistible power and might blow us away!!! Woo Hoo!! :)

And Thank You, dear bloggy friends, for "laying down the tracks" for me. Over the past few weeks, you have blessed me beyond words with your prayers, notes of care and concern, and encouragement. I am humbled and grateful.

What about for you....is there a way that I can pray for you this holiday season??

Can I help lay down some tracks on your behalf??

Friday, December 11, 2009

Snow Day Shuffle!!

Thank you for your very encouraging words and prayers after my December 10th post. I am overwhelmed by your love and grace. I intend to share more about that later, but after yesterday's heavy post, I decided to lighten up the mood a bit! :)

It's a Snow Day today!! The kids have been hoping for a day off of school all week...and today their wish came true!!

Rather than dealing with bored, fighting kids that whine about wanting to watch TV all day ~ I tried to be a bit more proactive. The result...Snow Day Shuffle!! And we are having a BLAST!!

First, I created a Snow Day Shuffle Board on the computer (while they were outside building a snow fort). The board looks similar to a BINGO board. I filled the squares with fun things to do, inside and out (but not involving TV). Activities like....

* Color a snow day picture
* Read a book
* Make your bed
* Drink hot chocolate
* Get some indoor exercise
* Play Snow Day Bingo
* Make a Snow Day craft
* Play checkers with your brother/sister

I pulled out a Snowman rubber stamp, and printed off a Snow Day Shuffle Board for each kid. When the kids came inside, I told them all about the Snow Day Shuffle idea. And, of course, the best part (to them!) ~ if they fill their board, they win a prize!!

Then I went to town printing off downloadables off of the computer.
I made a Snow Day Bingo (click here),
Snow Day color sheets (click here),
Snow Day Crossword puzzles (click here) and more!
The kids are busy coloring igloos and penguins right now. Our Snow Day Shuffle is working!! Yippee!
What about for you...do you have any tips for Snow Day success?? Share your tips with me please!!!
Gotta run...it's almost time for our Snow Day BINGO to start!! I better get out the red and green M & M's (our markers for the BINGO board).

Have an AMAZING weekend filled with much joy and peace!!

P.S. My two little girls just headed upstairs to help each other make their beds. I'm not making this up!! Woo Hoo!! Can every day be a Snow Day?? :)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Dec. 10 ~ My hardest, saddest day ever...

It happened already this morning.

I came downstairs early while the house was still dark, quietly clicked on the TV, and began watching the news to plan my day. Would they cancel school because of the snow? Would I have hot lunch duty? Could I keep my coffee date with a friend? And then, suddenly on the screen of my TV, they displayed the date, "December 10th".

My stomach formed a deep, painful knot and the tears began to flow.

Today's date, "December 10th" represents to me...
pain...
loss...
unbearable grief...

I've tried to reframe the day, sleep it away, pretend it doesn't exist. Stuffing doesn't work, nor does numbing. My heart and mind are triggered back to that painful night instantly when I see the date.

December 10th wasn't always such a hard day. In fact, for many weeks, we were looking forward to December 10th.

My fiance David and I were in the midst of planning our upcoming May 1st wedding. I had my dress and bridesmaids and maid of honor. We had the church and reception hall and DJ. David had my ring.

We had so many other wedding details yet to plan. However, I also had a huge licensing review at work...to be completed on December 10th. Although I was eagerly anticipating planning my wedding, I needed to focus on my work project first. Once that was finished, I could give the wedding planning my all.

And then everything changed.

I arrived at my parents home after my licensing review on December 10, 1998 to pick up my 4 year old son Jake. Whew! I can start planning my wedding now. Yippee!!

David called to see how it went at work. "Fabulous", I shared! He wanted to hear all about it, but instead I insisted he wrap things up at work so I could tell him in person. It was 5:15 PM. "Great", David replied. "I need to check on one more thing at work, see if your brother Bryan is here, and then I'll be by to pick up you and Jake as quick as I can. Let's go out and celebrate! I should be there in 30 minutes."

I stretched out on the couch, exhausted, waiting for David to come.

He never came.

Even though I had slightly dozed off on the couch, I heard the phone ring. And then I heard the whispering. My mom and dad came in the family room and stood over me. "Cindy", my mom shared, "there's been an accident. Your brother Bryan just called from work. David's been in an accident."

An accident?? Shoot! We were supposed to go to the Michael W. Smith concert tomorrow. Did he break his arm? Would we need to give away our tickets? No big deal. I'd spend the weekend in a hospital chair near his bed if needed. Wherever David was is where I wanted to be.

"Where is he?" I asked. Did I need to meet him at the hospital? Could I drive him there myself??
"Cindy, we just need to pray", my mom responded.

Suddenly I realized David just didn't break his arm. I ran upstairs and began calling my friends to pray. I had only been a Christian for 2 years, but I could tell in my mom's voice that we needed prayer. And quickly.

And then, while I was on the other line with a friend, my brother Bryan called.
"How is he, Bry??" I asked.
"Cindy, let me talk to mom."
"No, Bry, first tell me how David is. Do I need to come to work?? Is he already at the hospital?"
"Cindy, let me talk to mom."
"Bry, just tell me..."

And then my brother shared the painful, life changing words...."I'm sorry Cindy, he's gone...."

I ran down the stairs weeping and wailing. My parents, unaware that Bryan had called, watched as I threw myself down on the hard wood floor and began pounding my fists in the ground. "No! No! No!" was all I could say....

Before long, their house was filled with people.

My best friend Michele...who just knew to come, even before she heard what happened.
My boss.
My pastor and his wife.
So many others.

At one point, I cleared everyone out of the room, except my pastor friend Rob. We sat on my parents steps while I wept. Through my tears I asked him over and over again, "Why? Why? Why would God allow this?"

David often said he would give his life for just one person to know Jesus. WHY would God take him home??.......



And this painful, long night is what I remember everytime I see or hear "December 10th".

In an instant, I am back to my parents home. I hear the sounds. I remember the loss. I feel the pain.

Thank you, dear bloggy friends, for allowing me to share this part of my journey with you. Today was the first time I've ever typed out the details of the night. God does not waste our pain ~ of this, I am sure.

And thank you to my husband John for his extra sensitivity and grace on this day. John is God's special gift to me.

May we experience all that He has for us today.

Although we don't know what the future holds, we do know the One who holds the future...and He is faithful and loving and true. It's gonna be ok.



P.S. Remember how I shared that David said he would give his life for just one person to know Jesus. Two days later, at David’s funeral, my Dad (who had been an atheist/agnostic) accepted Jesus as His Savior!

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Greatest Gift you can give someone....

The Greatest Gift you can give someone is to tell them the story of Jesus and how He has the power to change lives!!!

Saturday morning I had the chance to share "The Gift of Christmas" with a delightful group of women at Brookside Church here in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

I began my time by sharing a "little Cindy" story. I thought it’d be fun to share a “Little Cindy” story with you, my dear bloggy friends, as well!

When little Cindy was a little girl she LOVED Christmas. Of all of the holidays throughout the year, Christmas was her absolute favorite!!

And do you know why little Cindy loved Christmas so much?? Because she loved GIFTS!!

To little Cindy, Christmas was all about receiving GIFTS ~ the bigger, the better!

One Christmas, when Little Cindy was 6 years old, there was a gift that Little Cindy thought she absolutely, positively must have ~ the 3 story, Barbie Town House, Deluxe edition, complete with it’s own elevator!! (Anyone else remember this??)

Little Cindy wrote her letter to Santa, hand delivered it to the big jolly guy himself, and felt confident that she would get the gift she wanted!

But imagine Little Cindy’s surprise, and disappointment, when Santa came to her house, and there was no Barbie Town House left under her family’s tree. Only a watch.

A Ha! Little Cindy thought…Santa must have told my grandma & grandpa about the Barbie Town House! Yes! That must be it!!

But imagine Little Cindy’s disbelief when she arrived at her grandma and grandpa’s house, looked under the tree…and found there was no box big enough for a 3 story Barbie Town House with Little Cindy’s name on it.

She did notice a wrapped gift in the room that had the possibility of being a Barbie Town House, but it was labeled FOR: BRUCE ~ little Cindy’s grandpa. Shucks!

At the end of the night, after opening all the presents, the only gift left was the big one for Bruce.

Little Cindy’s Grandpa said, “You know Cindy, I’m pretty comfy right here in my chair. Would you mind opening that big gift for me??”

Sad little Cindy said, “OK”

As she began to rip back the paper…all of a sudden, she saw bright patches of hot pink and orange and sky blue…could it be?? Yes!

The Barbie Town house….just for her!! The gift Little Cindy had always wanted!!!

What about for you?? If you were take a stroll down “Christmas memory lane”, is there a favorite gift you have received?? A special gift left under the Christmas tree just for you?? I'd love to hear a special story from you! :)

And for tomorrow, I'll continue my thoughts on gifts, but this time I'll share with you how I found Jesus ~ the True Gift of Christmas ~ the real Gift that I absolutely, positively needed!

Let's pray, shall we?? Oh Lord, thank You for the Christmas season and the fun memories that it brings to mind. And THANK YOU for Jesus, the True Gift of the Season. Oh Lord, how we ask that You would help us to keep Jesus in the center of our lives during the hustle and bustle that this month brings. Would You remove the distractions, the clutter, the voices...and quiet us with Your love and Your peace and Your gift of rest. How we desire to be ALL that You have for us to be. May we be lights that SHINE BRIGHT for You everywhere that we go! For Your Glory Alone. Amen :)

Blessings to you!!

P.S. Tuesday evening at 7:00 PM (Michigan Time), I'll be sharing a message called, "Dreams and Detours" at Rush Creek Church in Byron Center, MI. If the Lord brings it to mind, would you please pray for this night? My desire is to share a powerful message of encouragement to these dear women. Would you join me in prayer?? Please! :) (And that the huge snow storm they are predicting would not interfere with this event!)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Snow Day, Giveaway Winners, & More! :)

This morning I woke up to a beautiful Winter Wonderland! (this pic is my view from my dining room table!). We had no snow at 6:00 last night and now this! Amazing! :)

Of course, I had my day planned out to the minute today ~ haircut, Starbucks with a friend, prayer/prep for tomorrow's speaking engagement, hot lunch & recess duty, etc...~ but that plan just went out the window!! Instead I will look for and enjoy Plan B...whatever that may be!

So while the kids are out building snow forts, here is a Weekly Recap and Giveaway Announcements! :)

Monday I had the chance to re-connect with my friend and author, Shauna Niequist (The picture was taken by Sarah, my 5 year old, thus the weird angle :) )

The winners of Shauna's book Cold Tangerines are:

1. Diane Walker

2. Courtney @ Women Living Well

3. Jenny C.

4. Elisa @ Extravagant Grace


Also, the winner of my Kids Book Giveaway from Zonderkidz is Jennifer Knapp! Jen and her family are in the process of adopting a beautiful little girl from Ethiopia. (You can read more about their journey here.) I get goose bumps thinking about Jen and big sister Sahara reading to Ayantu "You are safe! You are loved!" Enjoy the new books, Knapp Family! :)

A huge thank you to all who entered! :) If you are a winner, please send me your mailing information and I will get the books out to you soon! :)

And lastly, just to prove I am in the Christmas spirit (even though I still have pilgrims on my snow covered porch)...here are some pics from a beautiful Christmas Candlelight I attended last night at Sunshine Church!

A huge thank you to Camy for creating such a beautiful table for us and baking such wonderful treats!!


Our table was hosted by my dear friend Mary Lucas (center) and my "date" was my mom (in red). What fun! :)


It was so fun to see so many Bible Study friends! Here I am with my dear sister in the Lord Diane!


And lastly, tomorrow morning (Saturday, December 5th) I have the opportunity to share at Brookside Church's Tour of Tables. If the Lord brings me to mind, would you please pray for this event. They are expecting 500-550 women ~ and I would love to lift the morning up in prayer from start to finish! (I'll be sharing from 10:45 AM - 11:30 AM Michigan time). May the Lord give me everything I need to serve these precious women well!!! I'll keep you posted!
Well, the kids are in and asking for hot chocolate!! The snow day continues!! What do you have planned for this weekend?? I'd love to hear from you!!!
May the Lord bless you with a fresh measure of His peace and His presence!! Enjoy your day!!
In Him,

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Wonderful Wednesday ~ Random Dozen

If you haven't had a chance to sign up for my Cold Tangerines Book GIVEAWAY, please join the fun! (Click here for more information). You have until Friday, December 4th to enter. I'd love to hear from you! :)

Happy Wednesday to you!! I'm participating in the Weekly Random Dozen again this week. I am in the midst of preparing for 4 speaking engagements over the next 2 weeks (I'm so excited ~ Woo Hoo!!) ~ but thought some randomness might be a welcome break in the midst of my preparations!! Hope you enjoy!! :)


1. Which Wizard of Oz character are you most like?
Oh my goodness, I haven't seen that movie in so long. Didn't the lion need courage?? If so, I think that's me. Truth be told, I get so nervous when I think about getting in front of people. Crazy that the Lord would call me for this season to a speaking and teaching ministry. (Isn't the Lord fun?!) I pray very specifically for an infusion of courage every day. So if I'm remembering right...I would say I'm most like the lion.

2. When you're deciding what you're going to wear each morning, which item do you select first? Why?
Shoes. I decide if it's a tennis shoes day (helping at kids school), bookstore day (I wear heals so I study better ~ crazy I know), slippers day (writing at home) or boots day (at the ice rink with my boys). I pick pants from there...

3. What kind of animal do you think the world could live without?
None. If God created it, we must need it.

4. How many Christmas trees are in your home?
None. I still have pilgrims and pumpkins on my porch.

5. Would you prefer to be emotionless if it mean you didn't have to feel a heartbreak?
Never. The times my heart has been broken the most, God has taught me and shaped me more than I could ever imagine. He does not waste our pain.

6. Do you ever experience holiday let-down or depression?
Thankfully, no. I do know others who do experience this, so God is teaching me a lot about how to journey with others who do, and love them well in the midst of their let down. I'm still learning.

7. Do you like Michael Jackson's music?
I used to love Michael Jackson and his music. I listened to it all the time. My dad even took me to the Victory Tour Concert in Detroit in 1984. That was probably about the last time I listened to his music too. :)

8. Why is it that we never judge people who have their teeth fixed for cosmetic reasons, but every other cosmetic procedure has a stigma?
Let's all commit to just worrying about ourselves (don't I sound like a mom?!)

9. Enjoy horseback riding?
No. Wish I did. I'm too scared, I think, or it's a control issue. I haven't decided.

10. Shoes--practical or stylish?
Depends on the day. See # 2.

11. What was the name of your first pet? Feel free to post a pic.
I think it was a guinea pig named Benji. (Am I missing one Mom??) I'll see if I can figure out how to scan the picture. It's a beauty. I am in the 4th grade with a broken arm and wearing mom jeans.

12. What percentage of your Christmas shopping is done?
None. I do have half of my Christmas cards finished though, so I feel good about that :)

What about for you?? Will you pick a question or two and share your answers with us?
Or answer the questions on your blog and link here so we can all read your answers. Please join the fun ~ I'd love to hear from you!

Thanks so much for stopping by!! Have a BLESSED rest of your week!!


P.S. A note of thanks to Linda at 2nd cup of coffee for hosting the Random Dozen. She always has an interesting mix of questions and everyone is invited to play along. Thanks so much, Linda!!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Meet Author Shauna Niequist and GIVEAWAY! :) ~ Part 2

In yesterday's post, I introduced you to Shauna Niequist, author of Cold Tangerines, and a dear friend. I love her first book, Cold Tangerines, and know that you will too! I am excited to have the opportunity to give away an autographed copy to 4 special readers! (More giveaway details at the bottom of this post)

Today I'd like to share a "Q & A" session Shauna and I recently shared together. Enjoy! :)

============

Shauna, how do you describe Cold Tangerines to someone who hasn't read it?

It's a collection of essays about celebrating everyday life. Each chapter is a snapshot from my life--my family, my street, my high school memories, my confessions-- not because my story is special but because all of our stories are special. I hope when people read it, they find bits of themselves and their own stories in it.

Were you writing to a specific audience? Were you writing to/for yourself? Or for both?

I was writing for people who love language and image and story. I love those things, so it was really a goal for me (whether or not I accomplished it) to write satisfying, high quality prose. And I was writing as a friend. There have been books that have affected me and when I was finished, I felt like I had met a friend. That’s what I wanted. I wanted people to feel less alone, to feel like they’re not crazy for having questions or for being jealous, and that they’re not crazy for wanting to believe that life, and particularly life with God, is extraordinary and rich and worth loving and devoting yourself to.


Describe the turning point for you, when you decided to start appreciating the "cold tangerine" moments in life? How has this perspective changed you?

I feel like I hit this same turning point about three times a week. I catch myself waiting so often-- waiting for things to settle down, waiting to feel more capable, waiting for things to get easy. I know better, but I still do it. So on a very regular basis, I return to the cold tangerines and the pennies and the red tree, literally and figuratively, and I decide once again that today is enough, that God is enough. I decide that what life is offering to me in this exact moment is enough, and is worth celebrating and investing in. I wish there was a before-and-after, but it seems to be more like again-and-once-again, like most of life.


What inspires you when you're writing?

When I’m living well, everything inspires me. What I mean is that if I’m taking care of myself-- reading great books, sleeping enough, spending time with people who restore me and challenge me and make me laugh, then all the world is inspiring….and if I’m running too fast, not connecting well to the people I love, or living for the to-do list, then it all looks flat and gray, and I can stare at the blank screen for what seems like days. It’s a good motivator for me to live well, as if living well was not reward enough in itself.


What do you most enjoy about writing? What do you least enjoy?

What I love about writing is that it forces me to see what’s happening around me, and what’s happening in me, and it forces me to think and feel and notice the world on a deeper level. I’m a multi-tasker: I want to read a magazine while something’s on the stove and something else is in the oven and I’m watching the news and returning a call and folding a little bit of laundry and buying a gift online. That’s my nature.

But I miss a lot that way, and writing ushers me into a much slower, much simpler way of living, and it’s better for me. It’s one of the only spaces in my life that’s very quiet, and very focused, and requires every single speck of attention that I can give it. It feels like very hard work, and is very rewarding to me. I also just love playing with words. There are moments when it feels like play, and I love that. I’ve always always loved playing around with words.



The hardest part is that it requires me to be alone more than I would like, so I have to work intentionally not to get too isolated, and to make sure that I’m getting good time with friends and family, as a balance for all the aloneness. I think good writing comes out of a full life, not from an isolated mind.




Your writing is so honest and transparent. Have you ever struggled with being real with your shortcomings and feelings? What would you say to other women who struggle with this?

On one hand, I always struggle with that—-I would love for people to believe that I’m sailing through life without neuroses and missteps. But on the other hand, what draws me to people is their honesty, the cracks in their armor, the tiny vulnerabilities that we reveal when we tell each other the truth about our lives. I’ve watched my friendships deepen in the moments of ugliness and truth in ways that never happen when we’re all dressed up and on our best behavior.

From a writing standpoint, I have worked hard to dance on the line between helpful, sometimes surprising honesty and, say, totally inappropriate over-sharing. I’m not a particularly private person, both by upbringing and by nature, so my housechurch and a few other close friends and family members read through an early version of Cold Tangerines, keeping an eye out for things that might be ‘honest’ among friends but ‘creepy’ in print—-and I did change a few things because of their advice.

I'm really committed to honesty as a writer. When I began, I said that I wanted anything I wrote to be honest, brave, funny, and well-written. I'm attracted to honesty in other writers and other people, and I think humor surprises people, especially when the topic is faith. As I was writing, I wrote the most naked, bold, entirely truthful things I knew how to write, and then my editor and close friends helped me decide what things needed to be taken out or changed a little. That's a really important step, and I did make changes based on their recommendations.


You are a wife, a mom and a writer. How do you juggle all of the demands of life and how did you find time to write a book?

Juggling is a good word for it, I think. It feels like juggling: mostly out of balance, verging on disaster, and occasionally quite fantastic, just for a moment. My friend Denise, a woman, mother, and leader I respect very much, once told me that it’s easy to decide the things you want to do in your life, but the real challenge comes when you have to decide what you’re willing to let go undone. I think there are layers and layers in that statement, especially for women.

There are a lot of things I don’t do, in order to have the time and space to do the things I care most about. My house is not a showpiece. Frankly, it’s as dirty as I can get away with having a three year old, knowing that he’ll eat whatever he finds on the floor. As much as I know it would help me physically and mentally, I don’t spend much time at the gym these days. Let’s be honest: I haven’t been to the gym since 2007. I blow dry my hair only when I have to speak or go somewhere really fancy, and I wear my pajamas in public fairly often.

I actually made a Things I Don’t Do List, and that really helped me get clear on the Things I Do List. Things I Do: I read, write, cook, and spend time with a few close friends and family members, most important among them my husband and my boy. Those are the things that matter most to me these days, so a lot of the other things go undone.

I also think that especially for mothers, it’s important to think about life in terms of seasons. There is a way of living that works for this season, and we’ll figure it out anew when Henry goes to preschool, or if I have another baby. We’re on like a three month plan these days, constantly re-evaluating.


A big theme in Cold Tangerines is celebration. How do you celebrate?

For me, the first part of celebrating is noticing. I find that it's easy for me to get stuck in what's broken or wrong with a situation, instead of seeing the beautiful parts of it, too, or that I move so fast I don't see anything at all. These days I'm trying to notice everything, to live slowly enough to see what's unfolding around me, and especially to look for the tiny, beautiful surprises even in the midst of wreckage and ugliness.


What are you working on now?



I just signed with Zondervan for two more books. The first is a collection of essays called Bittersweet, about change, grace, and learning the hard way. It’s a similar format as Cold Tangerines—short essays—and it centers around seasons of change and glimpses of God’s grace in the midst of them. It will be out in September 2010, along with a Cold Tangerines paperback.

The second book is called Bread and Wine about faith, family, friendship, and food—the spiritual and relational significance of sharing meals together, of gathering at the table together. Bread and wine are two of the most central, common items on out tables, and they’re also the traditional communion elements. I want to explore both those things: what happens around our own tables, and how communion and community unfold in all different ways.

It's about the sacred and strange and wonderful things that happen when we gather together to eat-- celebrations, traditions, memories of life around the table. When I look back at the last two years, so many of the best moments of family or friendships have happened around the table, so I'm thinking and writing about the significance of what, how, and with whom we eat.

How does it feel to be back in Chicago?? What was the hardest part of leaving GR?

It feels fantastic to be back in Chicago. We love our church and are so thankful for old friends and new friends, and the gift of living near family. We love the energy of the city, and try to get downtown as often as we can. And the hardest part of leaving Grand Rapids was leaving people that we had really grown to love. Also the Cuban Eggs and the cookies at Gaia, the grilled ham and cheese sandwich at the Green Well, and Marie Catrib's curried rice and chocolate pudding.

Thanks so much, Shauna!! We miss you in Grand Rapids, but are thrilled to watch God turn your dreams into reality!! Keep up the GREAT work!! :)

============


And now, a chance for you to win an autographed copy of Cold Tangerines...

To Win my Giveaway: Leave a comment in the comment section answering this question:

Why would you like to win a copy of Cold Tangerines??

RULES: Starts Saturday, Nov 28th and ends Friday, December 4th at 9 PM. Winner will be posted on my blog on Saturday, December 5th.

If your email address is not connected to your ID please leave your email address with your comment or email it to me at cindy.bultema@comcast.net with the subject "Giveaway". (If you have a hard time leaving a comment, e-mail me and I'll walk you through it.)

BONUS ENTRIES: Become a follower of my blog and leave a second comment for a bonus entry!

For fellow bloggers -blog about this giveaway and include a link back to this post or grab my button and then let me know in the comment section for another bonus entry!

Many Blessings to you!



P.S. Click Here to check out Shauna’s website. You will love her blog! Zondervan is also running a special on her books ~ perfect for Christmas ~ and she has all of the details listed on her website.

Also, if you live in the Grand Rapids area, come by the Woodland Mall Barnes & Noble to meet Shauna on Monday, November 30th at 5:30 PM. I'd be blessed if you told Shauna you saw this on She Sparkles! And who knows...maybe we will even bump into each other! :)

Friday, November 27, 2009

My Friend & Author Shauna Niequist & GIVEAWAY :)

If you haven't had a chance to sign up for my Kids Book GIVEAWAY, please join the fun! (Click here for more information). You have until Tuesday, November 30th to enter. :)

Today I am thrilled to introduce you to my friend and author of Cold Tangerines, Shauna Niequist. :)

When I first met Shauna in 2003, my life was "full" to say the least! I was 9 months pregnant with Amanda, wife to John and mom to Jake and Benj, as well as overseeing a children's ministry of 2700+ kids and 1000 volunteers. Whew! I'm tired just thinking about life back then!

Shauna's husband joined the church staff where I was serving, and Shauna and I became fast friends. She was going through an emotional season of change (moving from Chicago to Grand Rapids, MI), at the same time I was adjusting to another new baby, while working full time. Shauna and I spent many hours sharing, hoping, crying, and adjusting to our "new normal". Her friendship was a very special gift during an extremely challenging season.

As friends do, Shauna and I would talk out our hopes and plans for the future. We both shared a similar dream of writing a book. For me, I desired sharing my story and God's transformational work in my life with others. And for Shauna, she dreamed of writing a book of essays on life and celebration and so much more.

I can still remember when Shauna e-mailed me her first essay to read. (I still have it!). It was obvious that God had given Shauna a special gift with words and writing. It was no surprise (to us anyway!) when Shauna signed her first book deal. And I cried tears of joy when I held her first book, Cold Tangerines in my hands!! Her dream had become a reality!

Although our paths don't connect like they used to (I stopped working at the church, and Shauna and her family have since moved back to Chicago), I love watching God use Shauna and Cold Tangerines! Shauna is inspiring others all across the nation to celebrate their everyday life. And when I heard she was coming to town for a book signing this month, I couldn't resist...I had to share Cold Tangerines with you, my dear readers and friends!! You will love it!!

Here's how Zondervan describes Cold Tangerines:

Cold Tangerines is a collection of stories that celebrate the extraordinary moments hidden in our everyday lives. It is about God, and about life, and about the thousands of daily ways in which an awareness of God changes and infuses everything. It is about spiritual life, and about all the things that we have called nonspiritual life that might be spiritual after all. It is the snapshots of a young woman making peace with herself and her life, and trying to craft a life that captures the energy and exuberance we long for in the midst of the fear and regret and envy we all carry with us. It is both a voice of challenge and song of comfort, calling us upward to the best possible life, and giving us room To breathe, to rest, to break down and break through. Cold Tangerines offers bright and varied glimpses of hope and redemption, in and among the heartbreak And boredom and broken glass.

Sounds like an awesome book, doesn't it?? Trust me ~ it is!!

And guess what?! The amazing group at Zondervan are giving me 4 copies to give away! Woo Hoo!! I'll have Shauna sign them on Monday night while she is in town, and send them out to 4 different winners next week!! What fun!!!

Before we get to the GIVEAWAY, a couple more GREAT things for you:

Click Here to check out Shauna’s website. You will love her blog! Zondervan is also running a special on her books ~ perfect for Christmas ~ and she has all of the details listed on her website.


Also, if you live in the Grand Rapids area, come by the Woodland Mall Barnes & Noble to meet Shauna on Monday, November 30th at 5:30 PM. You will instantly love her!!


And now, for the GIVEAWAY of a copy of Cold Tangerines...

To Win my Giveaway: Leave a comment in the comment section answering this question:

Why would you like to win a copy of Cold Tangerines??

RULES: Starts today, Saturday, Nov 28th and ends Friday, December 4th at 9 PM. Winner will be posted on my blog on Saturday, December 5th.

If your email address is not connected to your ID please leave your email address with your comment or email it to me at cindy.bultema@comcast.net with the subject "Giveaway". (If you have a hard time leaving a comment, e-mail me and I'll walk you through it.)

BONUS ENTRIES: Become a follower of my blog and leave a second comment for a bonus entry!

For fellow bloggers -blog about this giveaway and include a link back to this post or grab my button and then let me know in the comment section for another bonus entry!

And for tomorrow....check back...Shauna and I did a "Q & A" and I can't wait to share her responses and thoughts with you!!

Many Blessings!


Quick Thanksgiving Recap

If you haven't had a chance to sign up for my Kids Book GIVEAWAY, please join the fun! (Click here for more information). You have until Tuesday, November 30th to enter. I'd love to hear from you! :)

Happy Day-After Thanksgiving everyone!! Hope you had a wonderful day full of much joy, family fun, and celebration!! We all have much to be thankful for, don't we?!

We had a wonderful, traditional meal at my in-laws at noon. Later in the day, we invited my parents over for Thanksgiving games and dessert. Here are some photo highlights:


We shared Leafs of Gratitude with one another. Manda is thankful for God and the Bible. :)

(Don't you love all of my clean sheets in a heap in my laundry room waiting to be folded!)


Next we played some Thanksgiving Checkers. I think my mom is now the reigning Champion. :)



We also played Thanksgiving BINGO. It was so much fun! We make our own Thanksgiving boards for every holiday...the kids just love it. (Click here for more info) Winners get to pick from the candy dish (leftover Halloween candy they don't know about). Fun, fun, fun!! :)


The night wouldn't have been complete without Thanksgiving Day sundaes!
And yes, don't worry...Rocky enjoyed turkey and other treats throughout the day...
Enjoy your Holiday Weekend! Be sure to stop back tomorrow for an exciting new GIVEAWAY!! Thankful for YOU and the joy of journeying together!! Have a Fantastic Friday!! :)

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