How Did You Get Here?

TIRED today! Yesterday Ashley had a tennis tournament and did quite well, but those things can kind of drag on... That puts dinner late, then bed even later. I LOVE the opportunity to sit outside in the sun -- even if it is on those horrific bleachers -- but it really takes it out of you. (Ashley to mom: "Why are YOU tired??? All you did was sit and suntan!!")

If you'll notice there's a number over on the right under my Coffee Group button that's around 78,000. That (obviously) tells me how many visitors I've had on my blog since I installed that (which I have NO idea when that was) and when I log into my account I can learn some general information about those visitors.

Most interesting to me is the 'referrals' page -- where people where when they clicked over to my blog. Sometimes that lets me know that someone has included me in their blog roll and I didn't know it. It also lets me know that leaving a comment on Mike Cope's blog increases blog traffic as much, if not more than, participating in an online 'party'. And it's way less trouble, 'cause sometimes Mike is talking guacamole.

Some of you click over from readers. Yes, I have heard from those of you that hate me for changing my feed to 200 characters. There is a reason OTHER THAN trying to irritate you. No, it's not to lose you as a blog reader, either. Hope you'll click over, hope you'll read.

I do get some interesting 'Google' searches, too. One is about a specific cult that I won't mention. No cults here, folks. Keep going. Some people are just too lazy to bookmark my blog so I get several 'Sarah Stirman blog' searches. As long as it works, we're good!

So, while I am DROWNING in writing deadlines, let me know how you get to my blog. How did you show up here? I'm just glad you're here!


Better Than I Deserve

If you've ever caught Dave Ramsey online or on the radio, when people ask him how he's doing, his standard answer is, "Better than I deserve." I don't know if he really means it or if it has just become his 'schtick' now, but I think it's a great attitude to have in life. One that I could stand to adopt, I recently realized.

A few days ago someone important to me was unkind to me. I don't think I was the underlying problem, just received the backlash. I am certainly guilty of dragging fears and stresses around with me so that I can be sure to unload the full force of my life irritation on someone that I think will still love me when it's over. I guess that's what this was. But it still hurt my feelings.

So I told the Lord about it and, honestly, I wasn't ready to pray to be kind in return to this person. I told God about it and caught myself saying, "I deserve to be treated nicer than that!"

I think I heard some holy laughter.

Didn't His son deserve to be treated MUCH nicer than he was here on earth? Hasn't the Lord PROMISED me I would have trouble in this world?

Keep in mind, I wasn't being 'persecuted for my faith' -- I was being 'persecuted' (yes, I am using that term very, very broadly) just for being where I was. I just happened to receive the fall off of an irritating, fallen world we live in. And 'deserving to be treated better' -- that is SO the world talking!

No doubt, Beth reminded us in August, and scripture tells us all over -- we are co-heirs with the King of Kings! We have an inheritance! But to think "I deserve better" than the way I'm being treated. Well, I do, but I certainly can't righteously demand it.

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:5-11


Good Things Out There

Gather the children 'round... They are REALLY going to want to hear this. Lysa always sums it up well.

I'm always proud of Roxanne, but this made me even prouder. While your children are gathered 'round, have them hug their teachers tomorrow.

Y'all, I am LOVING Picnik.com. It's free, free, FREE and has many of the same photo-editing features expensive softwares have. Of course, you can pay for premium and do more, but it's just so much FUN!!! I took this photo of Ashley and me:

and did this to it:
How fun is that?

And if this just don't beat all!!! "I would like to thank the Academy... or Theobloggers..." That's a pretty heavy-hitting line-up right there, and I'm honored and amazed to be included in the Chrisitan Blogger Award winners. Just another way the Lord continues to smile on me while closing a few doors on my foot.

This video isn't as funny as I generally do, but it's great info to have about running form to avoid injury such as knee, hip, and shin splints. It makes a LOT of sense to me -- but it will take me a LOT of work to break my horrible habits!

If you would like to add your 'Good Thing' button to your blog, copy the code into an 'HTML' box on your sidebar:


Observing Life

What do you suppose Debra wears to the Dollar Place that is less dressed up than Wal-Mart? I'm afraid, very afraid.


Book Review: Water for Elephants

This is an EXCELLENTLY written book... that I didn't enjoy very much. Sadly.
Story is flash-backs: starts with a 93-year-old guy in an assisted living facility (he can't ever remember if he's 90 or 93...) and the circus is coming to town. Many of the residents are excited to go, and the excitement takes him back to the summer of 1931 when he worked on a circus.
As I said, excellently written in such a manner that I loved the lovable characters and hated the not-so-lovable. I didn't realize until I read the prologue that many of the situations included in the book are from Sara Gruen's research on the history of circus' that traveled by train. I think what I didn't enjoy was how true-to-life much of it was. From Amazon.com:
"Sara Gruen spares no detail in chronicling the squalid, filthy, brutish circumstances in which he finds himself. The animals are mangy, underfed or fed rotten food, and abused."
And it descends from there. All in all, I wouldn't say that it was a waste of time, but it was definitely a dark look at what likely really happened with a traveling circus.


I was nowhere NEAR New Hampshire!!

For the record, I don't THINK I have ever been to New Hampshire -- Scott Cody or David Mathews would have to let me know if we ventured through there on any mission trips from OCS. (I do vividly remember seeing David Jones sleep with his eyes open on that trip-- a very disturbing sight looking as if he were dead -- so I doubt he would remember)

Dad sent me an article a while back questioning my where-abouts when a plane flew into a Wal-Mart in New Hampshire. The pilot appeared to be severely hurt, so I pray that he has or will recover from this accident. The article mentions that he flew into the "eastern corner" of the Wal-Mart store. See? If Wal-Mart had simply chosen between the optometrist, bank, OR McDonald's instead of having all 3, the pilot just may have cleared the mammoth building!


Another Plea for Help (and Voting)!

So here's what you need to do:

Go here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-NO8R4c_8KE

Watch my mucho-talented friends. (They actually live in L.A. and cruise through BH, and are both in "The Biz". Trust me, people, they are big doin's and you haven't heard the last of them!)

Then leave a comment on youtube telling them how awesome the video is. Then, later, post this on YOUR blog and send everyone from YOUR blog to do the same. And maybe watch the video one more time, thereby increasing the number of 'views'!

What's in it for you? Well, you're helping them become foster parents, like the video shows.

Foster parents... of a Ford Fiesta. For six months. And if you vote for them, they will totally give you a ride in it. If you are on their 'adventure route'!


I am SO over...

Age is hard on a body, no doubt. But great on a psyche, I've decided. Things I have realized I don't have to do anymore:

  • Cook a "special breakfast" on Sunday mornings. I know, you THINK I'm going to say that I do that every other day of the week so I gave it up on Sundays. Um, no. I do not cook breakfast unless I am making it for dinner. The "special breakfast" I'm referring to was usually something out of a box -- blueberry muffins, coffee cake, something we don't ordinarily have. I finally realized that if I throw a box of powdered sugar donuts on the table, I can still get dressed in a timely manner AND I am not tempted by those so I can walk away from them. And the kids are thrilled because it is the perfect combination of lard and sugar.
  • A month-long regimen of tanning my legs with self-tanner before "the spring reveal." Mainly, there is no spring reveal anymore. I spend all year working out in a gym in shorts so it's no great stretch for me to just take those legs right on outside once the weather is warm enough. They are approximately this color at that point, too. And I'm okay with that.
  • Invest time in friendships that are draining, shallow, or hurtful. I don't have enough time to invest in my quality friends as it is -- I'm sure not going to spend my valuable time deepening relationships that don't help me get through life.
  • Acting as if I never have an "off-day." Again, life is too short. And, when you do have an off-day, it requires entirely too much energy to pile feigning cheeriness on top of the restraint to not shout at everyone you see.
What are you over?


It's a Par-Tay!!

Ultimate Blog Party 2009

Hey! If you came over from 5 Minutes for Mom's Ultimate Blog Party... WELCOME!

Come on in and make yourself at home. We do not go about putting on 'airs' here at The Cleft of the Rock. We're a what-you-see-is-what-you-get blog!

First, let me introduce you to my readers, 'cause they are the awesomest of awesome readers EV-UH!! Do you know that last week they nominated me for an award?? (Yes, I know it SOUNDS like I'm only talking about myself when I'm supposed to be introducing my readers) Isn't that the nicest ever? If you happen to wander over here on Monday the 23rd, you can still go vote for me. Wouldn't that be fun?

(faithful COTR readers -- voting ends today!!)

Because of that, it's a great time to come over here and meet me, since we've been doing a little reminiscing. If you go to the previous few posts, you'll see links to some of my readers' favorite posts. So come on in and browse around. While you do that, I'll tell you a little about myself:

I'm a mom of two -- over the top proud of both of them! One is my 7th grade sporty-girl, Ashley, and one is my 5th grade comedian/ random fact provider (stick around... we get one a week and they are definitely worth the price of admission). I'm also a wife to my best friend, Troy, a deer-hunting, motorcycle-riding, coat and tie-wearing (to work) kind of guy. Yes, he's full of contradictions.

I have a chocolate lab and a hedgehog, which also provide plenty of blog fodder, as well!

I am also a member of a ministry group, The Coffee Group. We travel and speak at ladies events, Judy gets us upgrades, Tammy takes the pictures, Donna keeps us organized, Denise makes us laugh, and I... just talk a lot, I think! It's a fun gig. Give us a buzz -- we'll come talk to you!

I do a little writing every now and then, too. A few weeks ago I shared my God-dream -- writing a book. My awesome readers were so great about it, that they are now sharing THEIR God-dream here. We would love to here from you about that, too!

Thanks for stopping by! I would love for you to leave a comment and let me know what you think... about anything!


Good Things Out There

I will let you know that this time last week I was in a BLACK mood. And while my life situation has changed... not one iota, and many of the 'irritants' of a week ago are still here, God has given me little droplets of blessing that I just needed. One is Coffee Group being featured on author Nicole Johnson's Fresh Brewed website!! That is a really happy thing for Coffee Group! We are really praying that God opens doors with this feature. Coffee Group is ready to continue our task of telling His story to women! Since we were sprucing up for company, we made some changes to our website. If you haven't checked it out lately, you need to!!

Another happy in my week was being nominated as one of the Best Blogs by a Female Blogger by the group at Theobloggers. If you still need to vote, go here. Voting ends tomorrow!

And, if you would still like to see a favorite post, here is:

Baked Potato? and

Memories of Poppa Max
Okay, the whole 'voting' theme means I CANNOT pass up an opportunity to repeat a video here. Sometimes I watch him just because... Absolute doodle bug. Enjoy my good friend, Truett.

Theobloggers voting ends tomorrow, though, so don't wait until November! :-)

If you would like to add your 'Good Thing' button to your blog, copy the code into an 'HTML' box on your sidebar:


Observing Life

Does anyone else out there suspect that their gifted children purposefully do all the things you ask them to -- yet do it incorrectly -- with the underlying idea that we will eventually quit asking them to do things and just do it ourselves?


Voting ends Monday for Theobloggers Christian Blog Awards. Vote here.

To check out some favorite posts:

How Great the Father's Love and

Y'all, Stickers Has Issues


Book Review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society

After Bob's adamant review/ admonition that I MUST read this book ... well, I had to read it. It did NOT disappoint. Set just after World War II, it is a poignant look at how much war affects EVERYONE, even the landscape, yet still a precious story of hope, spunk, and re-building. Bob mentioned this, but I had forgotten -- it is letters back and forth, and such a precious look human spirit. Thumbs up. Go read.


Drumroll Please...!

First, thank you for suggesting some favorite blog posts! So fun!

If you would like to read two favorites here are links to:
Considering Valentine's Day and
The Beast vs. M.D. Anderson

If you still haven't voted in the Theobloggers Christian Blogger Awards, vote here. You can vote once per computer! :-)
I am delayed in getting around to doing this because I WANTED to have a fun button to use for my guest bloggers, but it's not working. So, I shan't be all perfectionist-y, we shall trudge forward without a logo or button for my guest blogger for today.

A few weeks ago (that's already been two weeks, can you believe it?) I went out on a limb here and shared my God-dream with you, you awesome COTR readers, you. And you, you awesome COTR readers, you were your awesome selves. So sweet and encouraging and supportive. And I want us to share the love! So the next day I suggested that we share some other God-dreams out there -- no dream too big or too small. Let's hear 'em!

Of course, faithful Dad was one of the first to jump on the bandwagon. And since, if not for Dad, I wouldn't be around to have a God-dream, I find it only fitting for him to be my first guest-blogger to share his God-dream.

So, welcome Dad to COTR Guest-Blogger for the day:

So, tell The Cleft of the Rock readers a little about yourself: I'm a 64-year old Realtor, husband, father, grandfather, motorcycle enthusiast, sinner saved by Grace. I have been through some incredible health problems, my delivery from which assures me that God has big plans for me, and I pray every day for a glimpse of those plans.

How often do you stop by The Cleft of the Rock and what brings you by? At LEAST twice a day. I go there because of the content and quality of the writing, and of course because the blogger is my one and only daughter and I'm her biggest fan. But way beyond that, the frequent spiritual "lifts" I find there are truly valuable for a pilgrim like me that needs a thoughtful, and thought-provoking, "pick me up". Additionally, there are frequent links there for other writers I'm not aware of, and when Sarah finds them valuable, so do I.

Do you have a God-dream? Do you have more than one? Tell us about it(them): My main God-dream is to get a copy of "Hope in the Face of Cancer" into the hands of every newly-diagnosed patient I possibly can. God made entirely too many things come together for me to not know that's what I'm supposed to be doing - to use my cancer journey to assist others. Another God-dream is to be able to retire and devote myself to ministering full time to the members of my church. Due to the sour economy, that of course isn't coming together the way I expected it to, but God knows what he's doing so that it will come in its own time.

Are you currently doing anything toward this particular God-dream? I'm actively involved in getting the book out wherever and whenever I learn of someone who needs it. God has allowed me to be friends with the author, and she sells me the books at her cost.

What are some obstacles you see (or tell yourself) about your God-dream? I don't have any kind of network to be able to learn about who is newly diagnosed and therefore needs the book, so I have to rely on casual conversations. That naturally limits the amount of the blessing I can pass along.

What can other people do to encourage you in your God-dream? Just call me when a friend or relative is diagnosed with cancer. Or pass a copy along yourself. Pray for a cure, so that the author can cease selling the book!

Thanks, Dad, for sharing your God-dream with us. Your giving spirit is a blessing to us all.
If you would like to share your God-dream with us (Lisa Laree, you're up!) I'll email you an 'interview' for you to fill out!


Get Outta Town!

Y'all are just too sweet. My readers evidently nominated me for Best Blog by a Female Blogger over at the first annual Theobloggers Christian Blog Awards. How nice is that?

I was GOING to come over here and say "vote now! vote often!" (I THINK you can actually only vote once, though) but then I went and saw that two of the sweetest people EVER share the ballot with me!

Dee, who is blog buddies with Denise and Tammy, and our own
Red Hot Momma, Amanda are also nominated for the award. (Amanda leaves no stone unturned about a godly marriage on her blog. Love it -- she's also been a 'Good Thing..' over here!)

So, vote your conscience over there. Winners will be announced at Tulsa Workshop on March 28.
Hey, I have an idea...! In the comments, tell me about one (only choose one -- Roxanne!) of your favorite blog posts of mine. Okay, I'll make it easier on Roxanne -- I'll go ahead and put the recent Valentine's one, the baked potato one, and maybe my 'What I've learned' (birthday) one on the list. I'll include links to some of those from your list over the next few days if any newcomers are 'scoping me out' trying to decide before voting. If nothing else, it will be FUN! :-)

Poor Riley -- his random fact of the week got upstaged by that news, but it is definitely worth sharing still.

So at lunch on Sunday, family is discussing a PRECIOUS friend we have that I recently learned was a stewardess for her pre-children career.

Riley: "Stewardesses is the longest word you can type on a keyboard using only your left hand."

"May I PLEASE use that for a random fact for the week?"

"Absolutely. It's TRUE!"

And so it is. I shall type it one more time just to prove it: stewardesses. See? You try it!


Do Not Fear

I am looking these up, largely with the help of this site.

They are really for a project for later, but I really needed them right now. I think I'm going to see how many of these I can recite from memory by next Sunday. I would love for you to join me.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." Deuteronomy 31:6

The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1

For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. Isaiah 41:13

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." Romans 8:15

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7


Good Things Out There

The most I'm going to do for St. Patrick's day this year is a) wear something green (too many years of working in an elementary school) and b)post a funny video (that I scheduled to post weeks ago and will be as surprised as you when I see it!) But if you would like to go all out, by all means... check out this post.

This is why I don't know Good Things Out There -- I've been re-doing this thing all week long... Still not quite finished, my apologies to Denise and Judy...

I can't believe my hubsters didn't write this song. My apologies now, but it will make you hungry for something you can't GET on Sunday! :-)
If you would like to add your 'Good Thing' button to your blog, copy the code into an 'HTML' box on your sidebar:


Get. A. Life.

A quote from someone who was speaking directly to me (yes, she was serious), in conspiratorial tones:

"There just may have to be a coup."

What would require such drastic change of power?

PTA officers, of course.

Just don't get blood on your Gucci purse, sweety.


Book Review: No One You Know

Another FABULOSO book by Michelle Richmond, author of Year of Fog. Not quite as difficult to read -- but it still starts out with the most horrific event of the whole book: the murder of the main character's sister 20 prior to the setting of the book. But all in all, fabulous!!
I LOVE Michelle Richmond's writing -- I can completely get lost in it. And I think I would really love Michelle Richmond, too. There is a HILARIOUS part that is something of an inside joke to her faithful readers where the character happens across a book collection where the theme is 'fog'. Without naming her previous novel, she mentions a 'book about fog that had a kidnapping in it' and something about it being too drawn out or something. Can't really remember the entirety of it, but I loved the wink/ nod to me, a faithful reader!
I really think you would enjoy this book. Other than some PG-type discussion of the finding her sister's body, the rest of the book is clean as a whistle. Thumbs up.
I'm currently reading a recommendation from Bob. I am SO loving it. (No wait at our library! Woo-hoo) I'll tell you about it next week!


Encourage One Another

I really wanted to actually write my 'acknowledgement' page of my yet-to-be-published (or completely written, or entirely thought-through) book, but for now you will simply have to bear with me as I make a few thanks.

You never know what simple little word(s) will carry someone through for the day, perhaps even for a lifetime. There is one precious young mom (young -- she's about my age, but we met when we were young) in Temple where we used to live who, to this day, talks about how much she remembers one sentence of kindness uttered to her ... about 8 or 9 years ago. I have ZERO recollection of those words, but they must have carried her through when needed.

Too often, I recall others' words of hurt and devaluing. Sadly, too often I also remember my own words that sling hurt and belittle others.

This last week I have not been thinking of hurtful words. I have been thinking of building words.

I think of my friend Robin, tiny and soft-spoken, patting the table for emphasis (other people would slap the table, but Robin is genteel and therefore will pat the table as patting a precious baby) while her blue eyes bore a hole in my heart, "You are a writer. You are. You are a writer." (part of why this matters is Robin's background -- she knows writers). This was last summer at a wedding reception, but those 10 words have helped me put one foot in front of the other MANY times in the last 9 months.

I have thought of the precious souls --- all of you people!! --- wrote encouraging words as I tossed out my God-dream. You have NO idea how much each of those meant to me. Some I keep coming back to re-read. Lisa Laree, to remind me that my writing caused her to keep coming back -- well, that was an "apple of gold in a setting of silver".

I think of sweet Lynn B., who I (along with my husband) look WAY up to, and not just because he's real tall. He has consistently blessed me with kind words about my talents, and continues to do so and be a quiet but consistent cheerleader.

Then there's Angela, who not only offered encouraging words, but is helping me refine my skill. There's Christy, who offered to get me in touch with published-author-friend so I can hear the ins and outs. There are SO many of you, Craig, Aralee, Brooke, Kim, and others that pop in from facebook and write very encouraging words.

And there's the 'old-standby's-- those close to me that are sometimes overlooked because, in my heart, they HAVE to be nice to me! :-) My parents, my husband, my coffee group, my church family -- all consistent cheerleaders.

I can't name every name, I can't think of every time, but this I do know: I would never have tried this writing thing without those words. I would have quit long ago, and never looked back. Satan's words of doubt would have won if not for the constant chatter of those around me in sprinklings throughout my week: "You have a gift." "You did it again -- great work." "I love what you said."

So, if you have ever spoken one word of encouragement to ANYONE -- thank you. You never know, but you may have been the ONE voice to keep that person going for that one day.

"A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver." Proverbs 25:11


Interesting Fact for the Week

I've been VERY busy working on a project I will show you later in the week. I will give you a hint, though:

I have not painted, re-carpted, re-tiled, or installed anything. Nor have I mopped, dusted, washed, or de-cluttered anything. So, my house is a WRECK!

And I almost didn't get a blog in today. So, I have decided that Riley is going to help me blog one random fact a week.

For today, you get one that Riley delivered to us when I instructed him to go get a broom last week.

Riley returns and says:

"Did you know that the world's largest broom was broken down into 1,440 regular size brooms?"

I did not know that. Now I do, and so do you.


Marriage Monday

I really didn't intend to write about marriage quite so soon, but I went to a lovely wedding this weekend, and really appreciated something the minister performing the ceremony said.

Referring to an oft quoted scripture for weddings, Mark 10:7-9, he reminded us that God has joined that couple together. Just camp out and think on that for a moment. There may be times that you may think it was a mistake. There may be times you think YOU could have done better, and there are times you may KNOW s/he could have done better, but God joined the two of you together.

That wasn't his main point, though (to me). He said, "Therefore, if anyone is doing anything to threaten, or work against, this marriage, they are going against God."


Think on that for a moment. What if it's YOU that's doing something to work against your marriage -- like belittling your spouse, or constantly being dissatisfied with him/her, or being vocal to one and all about his/her shortcomings, or disrespecting him/ her to your children, or even longing for another that seems like a better pick.

Sometimes my marriage is fun and comforting, but sometimes my marriage is about learning a spiritual discipline by loving one of God's children.

May it never be me that is working against God in my marriage.

"Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God." Acts 5:38,39


Good Things Out There

This week one of Riley's teachers used the phrase, "I'm sick as a dog, but having the time of my life." Riley had to point out to him, "That's from Andy Griffith!" A pop quiz ensued, Riley passed with flying colors, and I had to go look it up. That quote has made me laugh all week.


Sarah's Words to Live By

Don't break your arm patting yourself on the back for cleaning the kitchen until the crock pot has been washed...


Book Review: The Day After He Left for Iraq

I said in my post about what I've learned in life that a kid waving an American flag just makes me cry. Put that same kid at an airport to tell his/her daddy hello or good-bye as the soldier deals with war -- I can't even look. I'm so thankful for the soldiers that do a job I don't ever desire to do, and I'm especially thankful to the spouses left behind that try to maintain some sense of normalcy for their family.
The Day After He Left For Iraq is written by an army wife. At the time she writes about, her husband is deployed when her youngest is 4 weeks old, and her daughter is not quite two.
I'll be honest -- I didn't enjoy the book. I think simply because it was a raw look at how hard spouses work to make their lives seem normal. It was hard to hear about the difficulties of adjusting to life together again when he returned. It was just tough to read.


So Here's What I'm Thinkin' Now...

You people rock out loud. I don't go back and comment on the comments left on my blog -- the temptation would be to sit here all day and comment back and forth. If I don't live my life, what in heaven's name will I blog about? But I have been amazingly blessed by the encouragement and reaction to my public announcement of my God-dream. (To me, a God-dream is something that you believe God puts on your heart, and can only be accomplished with His might, power, skills, and energy -- not your own). I wished that each of you could know how it is to throw that out there and have folks cheer you on and ultimately say, "I believe in YOU -- keep it up!"

So here's what I'm thinkin'...

I have really been wanting to incorporate some guest bloggers into my yada yada line-up. Surely you weary of stories about hedgehogs and Sonic dashes. So I would love to have some of you 'guest blog' here and share your God-dreams with us. They could be crazy beyond crazy (they kind of have to be to know they actually are from God, you know?) or just a little nagging of "I really should..." Whatever it is, I would LOVE to hear from each of you if you would like to share your God-dream right on this very piece of blog-estate (as opposed to real-estate) and I would love for you to share it with my readers.

Here's how this will work. You are currently raising your hand and jumping in your computer chair as if you need Depends and shouting, "Ooooh! Pick me! Pick me! Let me share my God-dream!!" Oh, yes you are ... admit it. You may let me know you would like to share on here by commenting OR emailing me at: sstirman [at] gmail [dot] com (evidently writing out your email address like so prevents the crazies from finding you...)

Either way, be sure I have your email address. I will then email you a brief set of questions for you to answer as briefly or detailed as you choose. We'll agree on a 'guest blog' date for you to be posted here -- if you have a blog, you can send your readers here for the day! But having your own blog isn't necessary. Just a God-dream. There will, of course, be buttons and banners and logos -- my church is rubbing off on me! And I will share all of that with you, my guest blogger, to tell your friends you are here that day!

Then comes the good part -- your guest blog will be posted, and we will all clap and cheer you mightily, if for no other reason than because you stepped out on that limb to share your God-dream. And then we will all watch in wonder to see how God fulfills that dream through you.

So... who's with me? Who is ready to share their God-dream with Cleft of the Rock readers?


Livin' The Dream


My name is Sarah.

I am a writer.

I'm writing a book.

That's hard for me to say all together. But I am throwing it out there, at the encouragement of a couple of wonderful, godly men.

This week I had the honor of having a lunch meeting (with about 20 other people -- all ACU students) with Michael Blanton, agent for Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith, and Steve Green, agent for Max Lucado and Phil Gulley. They both spoke a little about their respective industries, the paths they took to get where they currently are, then opened up the room to questions.

Let me say, above all, as they spoke, their faith was tangible and unmistakable. They know, through years of trying and succeeding, and plenty of years of trying and failing, that they and their business are wholly God's and He will fulfill His plans in their business.

I'll be honest -- I walked away from there initially discouraged. Mainly because what I heard (especially in response to my specific question) was what I've heard a million times before -- it's hard to break in, writers are a dime a dozen, yada, yada. But I also knew that I heard some golden wisdom from those two gentlemen.

One that was my favorite was from Michael Blanton: "God doesn't give us dreams to tease us. He will either fulfill that dream in us, or change the dream." Michael told the story of leaving ACU in 1973, determined that he was going to work just long enough to raise the capital to open a Christian ski resort in Colorado. When he was offered a job in Nashville, he initially refused since it was in the wrong direction from Colorado, and wasn't a job he really wanted. But Michael came to love what he was doing, how one thing led to another, and now, he says, his family is able to vacation in Colorado as much as he wants, but Michael is able to know that he has affected people's lives by his work.

They also talked a LOT about the fear of failure holding us back. Evidently Max Lucado has a book coming out the end of this year entitled, "Fearless". (Jana -- he totally stole your idea!) They mentioned that the fear of failure -- which is really just the fear of embarassment of not doing what you want/ hope to do -- keeps so many people from fulfilling their dreams.

My dream is to write a book. Maybe lots of books. And speak to groups. I LOVE to speak to groups. And I HATE telling you all of that. Because Satan whispers to me, "Writers are a dime a dozen. You'll never make it. Do you have any idea how many writers are out there? What do YOU have to say that makes a hill of beans of difference?"

And, truthfully, I can talk myself out of trying to do any of my dreams before I ever write the first word. But those men encouraged me to grab my dream, submit it to God, and work to make it happen. I was a LITTLE encouraged to hear that I am doing some things right: "You may want to think about starting a blog." (ya think?) "See if anybody shows up!" "Find out if people respond to your writing." "Sign up at Twitter." (check...)

So, I'm doing all I know to do. And it is all in His hands. And that's the absolute best place for my dreams to be.

"The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O LORD, endures forever— do not abandon the works of your hands." Psalm 138:8


I'm A Little Bit Country...

I'm not what anyone would consider a music connoisseur, by any stretch of the imagination. I like some stuff, I don't like other stuff, and I can't really tell you what I do and don't like in generalities. You're always welcome to look at my iTunes, but that does contain several songs that are detestable to me that my children seem to enjoy (and it also contains some songs I am so glad my children have introduced me to).

For whatever reason, I have decided the last few years that my music has seasons. I didn't really do it consciously, and I think there are some external factors at work, but summertime has become country music time. I think it's because for several years, the pool where we are members would be the only place I would hear country music. So last year, as the weather warmed up, I started getting in the mood to hear some country music.

Obviously, Christmas has its own music (that shall ONLY be played between Thanksgiving and Christmas and no other). So starting with New Years, I've been listening to some of Ashley's music -- pop-ish, I guess. I like most of it. Fun and groovy.

But yesterday, preacher Phil said something about 'meeting in the middle' and it made me think of this song. And I started thinking that maybe it's almost time to switch to country music stations. Is spring break too soon?

What about you? Does your music have seasons? Do certain times call for certain songs? Are you enjoying a current favorite?

Here's one of our favorites:


Marriage Monday

I recently ran into a friend that I have been missing at a different spot I usually encounter her. She mentioned that the other place wasn't really going well for her and she was going to take a break from it for several weeks. I didn't press, but eventually she confided in me that there was a man that she encountered the other place that was raising a red flag for herself.

She realized that one day she talked to that guy more than she did her own husband -- and much more animatedly and excitedly. She began to look forward to visiting with him, and knew something must be done. So she made a change -- that will also have her missing out on some wholesome friendship fun -- because she knew that relationship was heading a not-great direction.

I was and still am SO proud of my friend for the way she handled that situation. I would love to point out the things she did right to honor her marriage, her husband, and her God in that situation.

1. She recognized her heart. She recognized the intention of seeing this guy -- to get to know him, to feel like he was interested in her. My friend didn't elaborate on how things are in her marriage, and I have no reason to suspect there is any trouble. However, I do know her life looks like mine: husband involved in work and church, she's involved at church, kids in many different activities. None of that leaves a lot of time for gooey staring into each other's eyes and discussing hopes, dreams, and fears. To feel like someone is listening and really hears is attractive, exciting ... and dangerous.

2. She was willing to make radical change to get back on track where her brain should be. She's giving up some fun, she's changing the way she does some things in her day-to-day, and she's convicted of how unwise a relationship like that can be.

3. She was open with another Christian sister (that's me!) about the struggle it was for her. And, I certainly didn't judge-- haven't we all enjoyed a relationship that for at least 3 seconds seemed like it would be way more fun than our marriage was at the moment? Been there -- and proud of her so much! -- and can openly talk to her about it as well as pray with and for her about it.

Friends, no one sets out to have an affair. But you probably know as well as I do that affairs happen way too often... because Satan keeps them looking very attractive and reasonable. And like WE DESERVE to be happy/ feel better/ have someone treat us better. Whatever it is, I would encourage you to follow my friend's example and have all of your relationships to be completely above reproach. Denise says, "If I can't tell my husband who I've been talking to or what the conversation was about, I shouldn't be talking to that person." Amen and amen.

Again, just SO proud of my friend, who's still encouraging me to be a godly wife!
(For more on this topic: I wrote this post on Saturday, and came across this post on Sunday. Maybe God is trying to tell ME to guard my heart! hmmmm!)


Good Things Out There

I want to be Jana. She is tall and beautiful, with a gentle spirit, and a love for smart literature. She shared a beautiful poem here (and I'm not generally a poetry lover).

Won't the hubs be SO excited to get one of these for Father's Day (since it would have too many implications at my house, it would need a bottle of Prozac with it, as well).

I know I send you to Jana AND Kelly all the time, but here's another good reason to! Kelly was probably in 2nd grade when I moved to Temple ready to get married to Troy. In the 10 years we lived there I watched her turn into a physically beautiful young woman. After I had moved away and she had graduated from college, she came with her (amazing) mom to a retreat where Coffee Group spoke and we reconnected that way. I have come to learn what a spiritually beautiful woman she is, as well. Go be challenged by her beautiful spirit.

A sad thing for the rest of us, but as Katherine pointed out, now Paul Harvey knows the rest of the story. He had a MAJOR influence on me and my love of words and stories of life. Rest in peace.

If you need a graduation announcement this year, Tammy is lending her creative talents to producing those, too. I'm so glad I have friends that see the world in a totally different way than me! Let Tammy help you create a personal graduation announcement like this one.

Sometimes I feel this way about life in general: I just don't get it, and I seem to be getting run into all the time...

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