image: header image: header image: header
Home | About Miralee | Blog | Books | Contact | Speaking icon: facebook icon: twitter

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Another Year Is Passing--By Miralee

A new year is rolling more year to tick off the calendar and another chance to make changes. How much stock do each of you put in making resolutions? Are you one who makes them, only to break them a few days, or weeks later?

I'm not big on New Year's resolutions, but I admit they have their place. What are some things we could do this year, to lessen the stress of lost opportunities from the past year, and heighten the possiblities for the new one?

* Don't beat yourself up for 'missing it' at times...Realize that we all fail and God's love still surrounds you

* Allow yourself to fail. Too often we expect more from ourselves than God does, or others do.

* Don't plan to fail. Expect the best out of life and keep a positive attitude. No, being positive doesn't cause good things to fall in your lap, but it certainly will keep down the stress levels and make you an easier person to live with.

* Take small bites. Now ladies, I could be talking about food here, but I'm not, LOL! Don't set such high standards for what you hope to change, that you don't ever come close to succeeding, and decide to quit. If you're trying to lose 50 lbs, shoot for 30 and give yourself a realistic time frame to do it in. Don't quit eating everything sweet, just cut back a bit. Don't feel you have to exercise 5 days per week, 30 minutes per time, just start with a walk around the block. Be realistic in your expectations.

* Above all else, pray over everything you do. Nothing is too big, or too small for God to handle. Invite Him into each decision and commitment and ask that He guide you and grant wisdom. That's one prayer He'll always answer!

* End each day with Thanksgiving...not only to your heavenly Father, but to members of your family. Remember to thank those who are a blessing in your life and encourage them in their daily walk. The rewards are abundant!

Have a blessed, wonderful New Year, Each and every one of you & Please let me hear from you occasionally!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Remember The Reason

Christmas is upon us, the most joyous time of the year.... Or is it?

For many, it's just a season filled with stress, financial trouble, or loneliness. For others it's a time to visit with friends and family, bake, buy gifts or hope for some new blessing in their life.

What does it mean to you?

In this age of commercialism, are you making the time to celebrate the birthday of our Lord? It's so easy to allow the days to fly by and be swamped with all the chores required by Christmas. Baking, cards, buying gifts, decorating the tree, helping children with programs...all these are good in themselves, but what will really bring the peace and joy to your heart and your family?

Let me make a small suggestion. When you wake up on Christmas morning, don't jump out of bed and hit the floor matter how many kids are begging for the gifts under the tree or in their stockings. Lay in bed another five minutes, and give time to the Lord. Let the awe of Christmas fill your heart and the joy of our Saviour minister to your spirit. Don't beat yourself up for not taking an hour with your Bible & prayer. Do what you're able to do, but make sure your priorities put Him first in your day.... After all....

Whose Birthday Is it, Anyway?

Merry Christmas to all, and Happy Birthday to you, Jesus!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

House & Book Update

A Christmas Picture~
Our daughter Marnee, with her big German Shepherd, Hunter, to your left, and our female Athena, to your right. They're half brother/sister, with the same father, but you'd never know it from their size.

Update on My Book~
My agent has presented the publishing house with some changes to the contract that we'd like to see. With Christmas coming, we're not expecting to get it signed this week, but hopefully next week for sure. Waiting is hard, as I'd love to be assigned to my editor and jump right into revisions & corrections, and move toward a completed manuscript. But getting this contract offer is one of the best Christmas gifts I could ask for, so I'm not complaining.

The other Huge gift I was given this year, is our new home that we're building. The drywall company started hanging the sheet rock on Monday morning, and finished up all 4,000' at about 2:00 today! That included the big two car garage with workshop that has 13' high ceilings, as the walls set on 2 1/2' of stem wall. They were amazing to watch and incredibly fast.

Taping & Texture starts next Tuesday, then comes the paint. It's starting to look like a house!

I'll post more pictures after Christmas, as we're hoping to get the rest of the siding on, in the next couple of wks. Maybe I'll get one with the snow on the trees!
Sorry for not posting as often this week, but if you're like me, you're on the go and busy with last minute preparations, too. I'm working on my second book tonight, when I really should be baking & wrapping gifts. I'll squeeze that in somewhere!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Money And Marriage Problems, By Miralee

Did you know that 43% of all married couples argue over money issues, making it the major reason couples fight? It's also one of the top reasons couples divorce.

This time of year can be incredibly stressful. Most of us feel the pressure to give, often beyond our means, at the Christmas season. It's birthed out of a desire to please and bless those we love. But unfortunately, giving can be a two-edged sword, if not handled properly.

Here are a few thoughts that might put our giving in perspective.
* Don't use credit cards to purchase your gifts. Stay within your cash budget, even if it means buying less than you'd planned.

* Discuss the gifts with your husband/wife/parents, or someone else who can help hold you accountable, especially if this is an area of weakness for you.

* Make sure your bills are paid before you head out to splurge. There's nothing worse than getting all the gifts wrapped, then discovering there's not enough left to make the car payment, or mortgage.

* Talk to your kids, if necessary. Let them in on the household budget and help them understand what responsible buying means.

* Find a family project of giving to someone else & agree to drop at least one gift off everyone's list, to allow the family to do something special for someone in need.

* Start every day of this busy season off in prayer. Ask the Lord to give you wisdom in what you purchase and how to stretch your dollars.

If any of you have other ideas you'd like to share to help cut the financial stress during this holiday season, please feel free to post them and share. If we have enough comments, I'll put together a post next time summarizing what's been shared. Thank you for visiting & don't forget to drop me a note!

PS, I'm going to be asking for help in naming a town for one of my future novels. Please check tomorrows blog for details!!!

Monday, December 11, 2006

An Early Christmas Story

I'm hoping to hear from my agent on Tuesday about the offer on my book. Waiting is hard, but the Lord is in control! Until then, here's a wonderful Christmas story.

Pa never had much compassion for the lazy or those who squandered their means and then never had enough for the necessities. But forthose who were genuinely in need, his heart was as big as all outdoors. It was from him that I learned the greatest joy in life comes from giving, not from receiving. It was Christmas Eve 1881.

I was fifteen years old and feeling like the world had caved in on me because there just hadn't been enough money to buy me the rifle that I'd wanted for Christmas. We did the chores early that night for some reason. I just figured Pa wanted a little extra time so we could read in the Bible.

After supper was over I took my boots off and stretched out in front of the fireplace and waited for Pa to get down the old Bible. I was still feeling sorry for myself and, to be honest, I wasn't in much of a mood to read Scriptures. But Pa didn't get the Bible, instead he bundled up again and went outside. I couldn't figure it out because we had already done all the chores. I didn't worry about it long though, I was too busy wallowing in self-pity.

Soon Pa came back in. It was a cold clear night out and there was ice in his beard. "Come on, Matt," he said. "Bundle up good, it's cold out tonight. "I was really upset then. Not only wasn't I getting the rifle for Christmas, now Pa was dragging me out in the cold, and for no earthly reason that I could see. We'd already done all the chores, and I couldn't think of anything else that needed doing, especially not on a night like this.

But I knew Pa was not very patient at one dragging one's feet when he'd told them to do something, so I got up and put my boots back on and got my cap, coat, and mittens. Ma gave me a mysterious smile as I opened the door to leave the house. Something was up, but I didn't know what.

Outside, I became even more dismayed. There in front of the house was the work team, already hitched to the big sled. Whatever it was we were going to do wasn't going to be a short, quick, little job. I could tell. We never hitched up this sled unless we were going to haul a big load. Pa was already up on the seat, reins in hand. I reluctantly climbed up beside him. The cold was already biting at me.

I wasn't happy. When I was on, Pa pulled the sled around the house and stopped in front of the woodshed. He got off and I followed. "I think we'll put on the high sideboards," he said. "Here, help me."

The high sideboards! It had been a bigger job than I wanted to do with just the low sideboards on, but whatever it was we were going to do would be alot bigger with the high sideboards on. After we had exchanged the sideboards, Pa went into the woodshed and came out with an armload of wood -- the wood I'd spent all summer hauling down from the mountain, and then all Fall sawing into blocks and splitting.

What was he doing? Finally I said something. "Pa," I asked, "what are you doing?"

"You been by the Widow Jensen's lately?" he asked.

The Widow Jensen lived about two miles down the road. Her husband had died a year or so before and left her with three children, the oldest being eight.

Sure, I'd been by, but so what? "Yeah," I said, "Why?"

"I rode by just today," Pa said. "Little Jakey was out digging around in the wood pile trying to find a few chips. They're out of wood, Matt." That was all he said and then he turned and went back into the wood-shed for another armload of wood.

I followed him. We loaded the sled so high that I began to wonder if the horses would be able to pull it. Finally, Pa called a halt to our loading, then we went to the smokehouse and Pa took down a big ham and a side of bacon. He handed them to me and told me to put them in the sled and wait. When he returned he was carrying a sack of flour over his right shoulder and a smaller sack of something in his left hand.

"What's in the little sack?" I asked.

"Shoes. They're out of shoes. Little Jakey just had gunny sacks wrapped around his feet when he was out in the woodpile this morning. I got the children a little candy too. It just wouldn't be Christmas without a little candy."

We rode the two miles to the Widow Jensen's pretty much in silence. I tried to think through what Pa was doing. We didn't have much by worldly standards. Of course, we did have a big woodpile, though most of what was left now was still in the form of logs that I would have to saw into blocks and split before we could use it. We also had meat and flour, so we could spare that, but I knew we didn't have any money, so why was Pa buying them shoes and candy? Really, why was he doing any of this? The Widow Jensen had closer neighbors than us; it shouldn't have been our concern.

We came in from the blind side of the Jensen house and unloaded the wood as quietly as possible. Then we took the meat and flour and shoes to the door. We knocked.

The door opened a crack and a timid voice said, "Who is it?"

"Lucas Miles, Ma'am, and my son, Matt. Could wecome in for a bit?"

The Widow Jensen opened the door to let us in. She had a blanket wrapped around her shoulders. The children were wrapped in another and were sitting in front of the fireplace by a very small fire that hardly gave off any heat at all. The Widow Jensen fumbled with a match and finally lit the lamp.

"We brought you a few things, Ma'am," Pa said and set down the sack of flour. I put the meat on the table. Then Pa handed her the sack that had the shoes in it.
She opened it hesitantly and took the shoes out one pair at a time. There was a pair for her and one for each of the children -- sturdy shoes, the best, shoes that would last.

I watched her carefully. She bit her lower lip to keep it from trembling and then tears filled her eyes and started running down her cheeks. She looked up at Pa like she wanted to say something, but it wouldn't come out.

"We brought a load of wood too, Ma'am," Pa said. Heturned to me and said, "Matt, go bring in enough to last awhile. Let's get that fire up to size and heat this place up."

I wasn't the same person when I went back out to bring in the wood. I had a big lump in my throat, and as much as I hate to admit it, there were tears in my eyes too. In my mind I kept seeing those three kids huddled around the fireplace and their mother standing there with tears running down her cheeks with so much gratitude in her heart that she couldn't speak.

My heart swelled within me and a joy that I'd never known before filled my soul. I had given at Christmas many times before, but never when it had made so much difference. I could see we were literally saving the lives of these people.

I soon had the fire blazing and everyone's spirits soared. The kids started giggling when Pa handed them each a piece of candy and the Widow Jensen looked on with a smile that probably hadn't crossed her face for a long time. She finally turned to us. "God bless you," she said. "I know the Lord has sent you. The children and I have been praying that he would send one of his angels to spare us."

In spite of myself, the lump returned to my throat and the tears welled up in my eyes again. I'd never thought of Pa in those exact terms before, but after the Widow Jensen mentioned it I could see that it was probably true. I was sure that a better man than Pa had never walked the earth. I started remembering all the times he had gone out of his way for Ma and me, and many others. The list seemed endless as I thought on it.

Pa insisted that everyone try on the shoes before we left. I was amazed when they all fit and I wondered how he had known what sizes to get. Then I guessed that if he was on an errand for the Lord that the Lord would make sure he got the right sizes.

Tears were running down the Widow Jensen's face again when we stood up to leave. Pa took each of the kids in his big arms and gave them a hug. They clung to him and didn't want us to go. I could see that they missed their Pa, and I was glad that I still had mine.

At the door Pa turned to Widow Jensen and said, "The Mrs. wanted me to invite you and the children over for Christmas dinner tomorrow. The turkey will be more than the three of us can eat, and a man can get cantankerous if he has to eat turkey for too many meals. We'll be by to get you about eleven. It'll be nice to have some little ones aroundagain. Matt, here, hasn't been little for quite a spell."

I was the youngest. My two brothers and two sisters had all married and had moved away.

Widow Jensen nodded and said, "Thank you, Brother Miles. I don't have to say, 'May the Lord bless you,' I know for certain that He will."

Out on the sled I felt a warmth that came from deep within and I didn't even notice the cold. When we had gone a ways, Pa turned to me and said, "Matt, I want you to know something. Your ma and me have been tucking a little money away here and there all year so we could buy that rifle for you, but we didn't have quite enough. Then yesterday a man who owed me a little money from years back came by to make things square. Your ma and me were real excited, thinking that now we could get you that rifle, and I started into town this morning to do just that. But on the way I saw little Jakey out scratching in the woodpile with his feet wrapped in those gunny sacks and I knew what I had to do. Son, I spent the money for shoes and a little candy for those children. I hope you understand."

I understood, and my eyes became wet with tears again. I understood very well, and I was so glad Pa had done it. Now the rifle seemed very low on my list of priorities. Pa had given me a lot more. He had given me the look on the Widow Jensen's face and the radiant smiles of her three children. For the rest of my life, whenever I saw any of the Jensens, or split a block of wood, I remembered. And remembering brought back that same joy I felt riding home beside Pa that night. Pa had given me much more than a rifle that night, he had given me the best Christmas of my life.

Saturday, December 9, 2006

Conflict In Marriage, Part Two

As I mentioned last night, the early years of our marriage were filled with stress and conflict. Some self imposed, some from ignorance, while much was poor communication and immaturity. Oh that I could go back and do it over, knowing what I do now, how different our marriage would be.

Unfortunately, we don't get to live life over, but God does give us the present and hopefully, the future, in which to make good choices. Our marriage is on a solid foundation now and we've learned much about communicating. We haven't arrived, and yes....we still have times of stress normal to any Christian marriage, but the Lord broke us out of the downward spiral we were in those many years ago.

How, you might ask? What did it take to turn things around? It wasn't any one thing that did it, although there were a couple of events that helped get my attention.

I'd spoken to our pastor about our situation and my unhappiness with where Allen was (or wasn't) spiritually. He listened patiently. I remember little about the conversation, although I'm sure he must have been supportive and kind. But one thing he said stuck with me till this day. "Miralee, you've got to quit trying to play the Holy Spirit in Allen's life. It's not your job. As long as you continue to do so, God will step back and keep His hands off. He won't be able to do much for Allen until you release him, and allow God to be in control."

Control....that was a tough one for me. I didn't have a clue at the time what an issue it had become in my life. I don't remember ever having a problem with needing to be in control growing up and my mom says I was a very easy child to raise (other than loving to talk!). But the more our marriage drifted into trouble, and the more my husband pulled away, the stronger my need to be in control.

The other instance happened while in prayer. I'd spent considerable time detailing to God all the reasons He needed to change my husband and what I felt He needed to do, to bring about that change. It was the first time (but certainly not the last) that I heard nearly an audible voice that emanated from my spirit. "Allen isn't the problem here, you are. He's about 20% of the problem, you're the rest. You need to let go and let me work."

If a mule had kicked me in the stomach, the shock would've been less. I truly felt flattened by the words. Me? Most of the problem? But I was the Christian! I was praying, reading the word, going to church, taking the major role in raising our children. I wasn't drinking, staying out late, breaking my promises, neglecting my family or any of the other grievances I had against my husband. How could I be the problem?

I fell on my face before the Lord, and began to weep and repent, as He drove home His point, then wrapped His arms of love around me. I got up determined to learn all I could about Christian marraige and how to do it right. No, nothing changed immediately, but over the course of the next few months, then years, as I learned to let go, Allen began to change.

Did I get it right every time? Of course not. I slipped and fell time after time. It took more than one pastors help and counsel in the future to break through to the place we are now. But I'm firmly convinced it was those two by a Godly man and one by God Himself, that started me on the road to letting go. Had that not happened, I truly believe Allen wouldn't be where he is today. He'd still be running from a weepy, fearful wife, who showed her love for him in all the wrong ways.

Friday, December 8, 2006

Conflict In Marriage

When I was a young wife, I really struggled with letting go of my husband. I didn't have much training or support from other older women, and made a lot of mistakes.

One of the biggest lay in the area of needing to know where he was and what he was doing, if he wasn't with me.

I think the troubles we had in our early years made me insecure about his love and desire to spend time with me. That insecurity drove me, quite literally. And the more driven I became the more he ran the other direction. He felt smothered, controlled and that I was constantly checking up on him. He thought I didn't trust him, and consequently, began to do things to evade me, even to the point of having other tell me he wasn't somewhere, when we was. My calling & trying to track him down was a source of embarrassment to him around the guys and I'm sure he took a lot of ribbing about his wife.

In my defense, he was staying out late, often times drinking with buddies, and rarely, if ever, calling to let me know he was ok. I'm talking not hearing from him, from the time I knew he was off work, till he walked in the door in the wee hours of the morning.

It seemed we were in an ever increasing circle that didn't appear to have a way out. It wasn't pretty and the only thing that kept us together was truly being in love with one another when we married and a stubborness on my part where the subject of divorce was concerned. It wasn't an option in my mind and I was determined to hang on and someday see Allen serving the Lord. Unfortunately, I didn't realize my actions were driving him farther away, rather than drawing him closer.

I'll share more tomorrow on something the Lord showed me, that helped me start to slowly turn this behavior around. Join me then!

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Two Wolves, A Lesson In Life

Nothing new on my book yet, I'll keep you posted when I hear more. Until then, here's a very short story that we can all learn from.


One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.

He said, "My son, the battle is between two "wolves" inside of us all.

One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego.

The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather:

"Which wolf wins?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "the one you feed."
Content Copyright Miralee Ferrell | Site by Eagle Designs