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Monthly Archives: December 2013

Is It Done Yet?

Pegg16I’m writing this blog post more than a month in advance of it being published.  Yes.  That’s the dirty little secret of bloggers.  We hammer these things out when we have time and schedule them to magically appear whenever we want, thereby fooling people into believing that we’re slaving way during the holidays.  Sorry if I just popped anyone’s illusion bubble.

As I type, my goal is to have my WIP (there’s that writer term again, meaning Work In Progress) finished by this date, December 30, 2013.  There.  I put it in print.  *gleep!*  Now I’m committed.  Feel free to comment and ask me, “Is it done yet?”

I’m embarrassed to say how long I’ve been working on this one.  And hopefully my critters won’t rat me out.  They each deserve a marathon metal, at the very least, for poking and prodding me along all these months.  I’m the tortoise in our group.  Perhaps a 3-legged tortoise at that.

~ Pegg Thomas

image from morguefile.com

 
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Posted by on December 30, 2013 in Pegg Thomas

 

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Merry Christmas!

Marge16Christmas is my favorite time of the year. It’s also the busiest, and often I find myself getting so wrapped up in preparing menus, buying gifts, decorating, etc, that it’s easy to lose sight of the real reason for the season. So every year I strive to make it my goal that whenever someone mentions the word “Christmas” around my children, or if someone asks why we celebrate the holiday, the first thing they’ll say is, “It’s Jesus’ Birthday!” Of course, this is usually followed by a sentence with the word “gifts” somewhere in it. As a parent, I confess my absolute favorite part about the holiday is seeing the joy on my children’s faces as they open their gifts on Christmas morning.

I wonder if this is how our Heavenly Father feels when He sees our joy as we celebrate His Gift to us. Does He look forward to our excitement? This year, as my family cuts the cake that reads “Happy Birthday, Jesus” I pray our hearts will overflow with praise and gratitude for the greatest gift ever given.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

~ Marge Wiebe

PHOTO CREDIT: stock.xchng

 
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Posted by on December 24, 2013 in Marge Wiebe

 

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What’s Causing the Oklahoma Earthquakes?

OKMy last blog on QPQ was about personal earthquakes—a subject brought to you by the recent outbreak of earthquakes near my home in Edmond, Oklahoma. A few days after that blog post went live, we experienced our biggest earthquake of the year, which measured 4.5 on the Richter scale. It knocked my son’s collection of shot glasses off his shelf and sounded like a Mack truck had slammed into our house.

Everybody wants to know—why the earthquakes? Since my husband and I moved to Oklahoma in 1996, we’ve watched as our state has endured devastating tornados, hail storms, and blizzards. Was that not enough?

Geologists are asking the question, too, as are environmentalists. Much has been written about the possible connection between the earthquakes and the oil and gas drilling in Oklahoma, especially the controversial use of fracking. The USGS suggested these earthquakes are not naturally occurring. At the same time, however, the Oklahoma Geological Survey states on its site that:  “Without further study it is not possible to determine what is causing the earthquakes.”

Clear as mud, huh?

What is clear is the human desire to believe we are in control. See, if humans are the cause of the earthquakes, then humans can make them stop. And when we don’t make them stop, then we have someone to blame, in this case, the oil and gas industry. It does beg the question, though: What caused the thousands and thousands of earthquakes that rumbled around the globe before the invention of fracking?

It’s sort of like the Global Warming thing. What caused the first Ice Age? What caused the Little Ice Age in Europe, which peaked in the mid-1600s? What caused all the weather fluctuations around the globe before the burning of fossil fuels?

For that matter, what human activities cause volcanos and hurricanes and tornados? Is it possible that we humans aren’t the cause at all? Is it possible that…dare I say it…we’re not in control?

I know this offends the control freak in us. I would much rather believe I’m in control of my life, my family, my future. And the realization that I’m not is disconcerting until I remember, that though I am not in control, God is.

Isaiah 45:6-7 says: “That people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the Lord, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things.”

God is in control. Good thing He loves us. Lamentations 3:22-23 says, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

Whether the Oklahoma earthquakes are caused by human fracking or the natural movement of tectonic plates, God is in control, and He loves us. I rest in that, even when the ground rumbles beneath my feet.

~ Robin Patchen

 
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Posted by on December 18, 2013 in devotion, Robin Patchen

 

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Quakers and Christmas

Pegg17Writing a historical novel means research.  A lot of research.  It’s imperative to get the details as accurate as possible because someone, somewhere, will know if you don’t.  For a history buff, finding a historically impossible, or even improbable, detail in a story is like finding a slice of onion on your peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

My currant WIP (that’s writer speak for Work In Progress) involves the Quaker migration from the slaveholding southern states to the Northwest Territory – then Ohio and Indiana – in the early 1800s.  The Quakers, who referred to themselves as The Society of Friends, did not celebrate Christmas.  Not at all.  They didn’t rank any day of the year more important than any other day.  They believed that Christ’s birth, crucifixion, and resurrection should be commemorated every day of the year.

So as much as I wanted to deck the halls and have my characters smooching under the mistletoe… it couldn’t happen.  They had to settle for a frosty sleigh ride instead.

~ Pegg Thomas

PHOTO CREDIT Historical Stock Photos

 
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Posted by on December 16, 2013 in Pegg Thomas

 

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The Chase

Marge17I was scared silly. And it had nothing to do with my over-active writer’s imagination. It happened while I was on my way home after a busy day of shopping. As I waited at a stop sign, a truck pulled onto the street. Instead of driving past, it lurched to a halt directly beside me and the driver, an angry-looking man, proceeded to gesture wildly at me with his hands. I suppose any reasonable person in my place might have simply rolled down their window and asked what was wrong, but no, I put the petal to the metal and made my left-hand turn as fast as possible. As I glanced back, I saw the crazed driver turn around and come after me. I remember thinking, “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

Traffic in front of me crawled to a halt. With this angry guy only cars behind me, my only prayer was for God to please, please get me away from this man as quickly as possible. After all, if God could part the Red Sea, surely He could create a little wiggle room for my car to get through traffic. But when I looked in my side mirror, I realized my prayer wasn’t going to be answered. Striding toward me past the row of cars between us was the crazy driver. I was sure he was either drunk or on drugs. Or furious because I’d made some atrocious driving error I wasn’t aware of. I’d heard those stories about road rage. I gripped the steering wheel with clammy hands and prepared to die as graciously as possible. The man stopped next to my car. I thought he was going to slam a fist through my window, but he only motioned for me to roll it down. I did—about an inch. Then, he reached onto the roof of my car and took something down. My purse.

Sometimes in life we’re faced with scary, uncomfortable situations we want desperately to escape. And the answer isn’t always what we want. We don’t understand because all we see is our fear and uncertainty in that moment. How wonderful to know that God sees the bigger picture. His love will carry us through—and He may bless us in ways we never expected!

~ Marge Wiebe

PHOTO CREDIT morguefile

 
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Posted by on December 11, 2013 in Humor, Marge Wiebe

 

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Broken Bones

Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness, Let the bones which You have broken rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquities.…Psalms 51:7-9

Have you ever broken a bone?

I have. Mama never knew what I’d break next. Thankfully (since I’m right-handed) my breaks all happened on my left side. My left pinky, my left big toe, my left elbow, and my left knee. The latter occurred as a willful act of disobedience.

My mom was a single mother with three daughters to raise. She worked evenings, so when we got home from school, she had to leave for work. We were commanded to keep all the doors locked and not go outside. I’d always obeyed—until the day I made the volleyball team. I was so happy! I went home after school, but our two-bedroom house couldn’t contain my excitement. I heard the neighborhood kids playing football in my backyard. How tempting was that? I snuck outside, started playing, and within minutes, I’d broken my leg.

Well. Blaine broke my leg.

But I digress.

I spent four days in the hospital and have two pins holding my leg together. A two-inch scar and a temperamental knee reminds me of the price I paid for my disobedience.

Did you know that God can break our bones? Psalms 51:7-9 refers to the physical and mental anguish we bring upon ourselves when we willfully sin. It’s a punishment for our wrongdoing, and it’s just. But the psalmist prays that those broken bones would rejoice. Why? Because he trusts that God will cleanse him from his willful sin. Like Jacob, the psalmist wrestled with the Lord in prayer for a blessing—the blessing of God’s forgiveness and removal of sin.

Broken bones are painful. The Shepherd will maim His erring sheep, but He will also set the injured limb. The Great Physician heals our wounds with His touch. He removes our lameness and causes us to leap for joy. Praise Him for not leaving us in our brokenness.

~ Jericha Kingston

PHOTO CREDIT: stock.xchng

 
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Posted by on December 6, 2013 in devotion, Jericha Kingston

 

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Earthquakes

earthquakesThey came on suddenly. Sometimes, they were accompanied by a bang. Always, it felt like somebody picked up my life and shook it like a snow globe. Unfortunately, I’m not talking about the recent outbreak of earthquakes near my hometown of Edmond, Oklahoma. Over one hundred earthquakes have rumbled through central Oklahoma this fall, the largest hitting 3.9 on the Richter scale. The shaking and the bangs are unsettling, but they’re nothing compared to the tremors in my personal life.

I wish I could tell you about it, but the details don’t really matter. I’m sure you’re thinking of the rattling and shaking you’ve endured in your own lives, those shocking phone calls in the middle of the night, unexpected illnesses, sudden deaths. They come whether we’re prepared for them or not.

Sort of like earthquakes. Californians’ homes and buildings are built to withstand the sudden shifting of the earth’s crust. Even if geologists can’t predict an earthquake as well as an intuitive canine, their structures can stand up to much of the trembling. Makes me wonder—how is such a foundation built in the life of a believer?

We all know the stock answers. Read your bible. Pray. Go to church. And many of us do these things regularly, and yet our lives still feel more like a house of cards than an earthquake-resistant building. So what is that magic bullet that will prepare us for life’s earthquakes?

I wish I had a definitive answer. Living through these recent trials, I can only point to one thing that’s kept me going. Of course I read my bible daily, I have prayer time every morning, and I attend church every week. But those things alone will not keep the walls standing on the structure that is my life. I know—I’ve crumbled before.

After one such season of life-crumbing earthquakes, I participated in a bible study on faith. I don’t think it was the study so much as the way God spoke to me through it. I realized that the biggest problem in my Christian walk—and therefore, in my life—was my lack of faith. Oh sure, I had trusted God for my salvation years earlier. And I prayed for my kids, my husband, my marriage, and everything else I knew I was supposed to pray for. But I still felt like I was in control.

There’s nothing like an earthquake to remind us we’re not in control.

During that study, I decided to take God at his word. To trust his promises, to even remind him of his promises, and to believe he would do what he’d said he would do. Seems simple enough, right?

Wrong.

But after three-and-a-half years, I’ve developed a few habits. I’d like to share the most important one.

When the world trembles, and my heartbeat quickens in response, sometimes my stomach clenches in fear about some possible danger, I immediately lift it up in prayer. I don’t resolve to pray about it tomorrow morning or ask my friends to pray about it when I get the chance. I pray right then. Knowing that the One who formed me knows exactly what I’m thinking, I don’t explain my worries. Instead, I whisper a quick prayer, sometimes just the name, “Jesus.” If I hear about a fatal car accident, I pray, “Jesus, protect my loved ones from that.” When I learn someone has cancer, I say, “Lord, protect us from diseases.” If I hear of a friend’s child going astray, I whisper a quiet, “Keep my kids close, Lord. Make them love you.”

I do this ten, fifty, even a hundred times a day. Does God protect us from everything? Of course not—it’s through trials we learn to trust in him. But knowing I’ve laid it at his feet gives me peace. When the bad things happen, I know they have been sifted through his hands.

This habit has become so ingrained in my life, I found myself doing it during the 2013 World Series. “Lord, let Papi hit one out of the park.” I smiled when I realized what I was doing, and I smiled more broadly when David Ortiz hit a homerun.

So if you see me whispering under my breath in the oddest moments, don’t call the men with the straitjackets just yet. Instead, realize a little earthquake has just rumbled through my life, bringing so many possible aftershocks with it. And I’m simply whispering the name of the one who holds the earth—and my life—in his hands. Jesus.

~Robin Patchen

PHOTO CREDIT: iSTOCKPHOTO.COM

 
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Posted by on December 4, 2013 in devotion, Robin Patchen

 

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