Monday, December 30, 2013

Man, Those Ears are Huge!

In three days I’m having surgery. The only other surgery I have had was a C-Section. I guess this is a bit different.

We were sitting at our Christmas table enjoying our Zuppa Tuscana when our conversation drifted toward my upcoming gall bladder surgery. I was calm and collected. I’d been put out before, I mean, sheesh, I did have my wisdom teeth out.

When I shared my couple of “being put to sleep” stories, my sister who works daily in the operating room says, “You weren’t put to sleep. You were given medicine to make you forget.”

“Huh? Of course I was put to sleep. I remember the dentist saying, “Lie back and relax” and I remember laughing at him because, well, those drugs they gave me just made me loopy and his ears reminded me of Dumbo. I know, it’s not nice. Talk to the drugs.

She went on to inform me that they will put me out and insert the tube down my throat.

My reaction was a bit stronger. “What? They’ll put the tube down my throat? But why?”

You see, I’ve only pictured serious conditions having tubes in their throats. You know, coma patients who are on life support, that kind of thing.

“Because, you’ll die without it. They paralyze you and you won’t get oxygen without the tube.”

This time I went a little ballistic. “WHAT????” I found it difficult to put my words together. Maybe the pain isn’t really all that bad!

She continued. “They really only put you out at hospitals because they need emergency lifesaving equipment if something should go wrong. They won’t do that at the dentist office. There they just give you Valium and a drug to make you forget.” (She actually named the drug and a quick cursory search on the internet is not finding the info)

My pulse quickens and I feel a trembling in my chest, stomach, groin, well, pretty much all of me. I’m not liking this. Really, I’m not. “But, but…”

My sister once again shares her wisdom. “You’ll be fine. They do these surgeries all the time.”

I just love my sister! I look heavenward. “Lord, I know you’ve got this.”

As I’m reading my operation paperwork, I notice that this may be a good time to discuss advance directives, living wills, and durable power of attorney. Reading the information leads to a discussion with my husband in regards to advance directives, living wills, and durable power of attorney. Do they pull my plug or don’t they????

My husband decided he’d make the doctor do it.

Also, if I’m left in a coma for any length of time, won’t I get a sore throat? I hate sore throats!

And the thing I am thinking about the most three days before the surgery?

Did I really laugh at my dentist the entire time I was being worked on? How embarrassing!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Musings of a 47 Year Old Woman!

I’ll admit it’s been a while since I’ve had a bit of discretionary cash in my pocket. Normally, we’re either paying bills, putting food on the table or investing back into our business. I’m not complaining mind you, it’s a choice and we believe it’s the right choice. By we, I am referring to my husband and I. Upon launching 40 Day Publishing we agreed that we will, as Dave Ramsey so eloquently puts it, live like no one else so we can live like no one else. We stand and live by that choice.

That being said, we agreed to a little spending money as our Christmas gift to one another. We haven’t given each other Christmas gifts in several years so the feeling in and of itself was quite exhilarating.

Oh what to spend my little pocket of change on???

We got ourselves a babysitter and off we went. First to lunch. Thankfully, I am feeling very well today. Still, I have the chicken. It’s easier on the gallbladder than the beef. A week from now I will be quite sore and doped up on narcotics. I’m glad I got an afternoon alone with my hubby before the surgery.

After looking around, I spot the restrooms and make a break for it. Whew.

Second stop, some odd electronics store. We’re in need of a camera. Nope, none there. I glance around but see no bathrooms. Darn.

Next stop, Best Buy. Ah…we purchased a camera, a tri pod, camera case, and an extra battery. We’re set. Everything was on sale. To top it all off, they give us a $15 gift card to thank us for our purchase. We put that aside to give our son for his birthday. Dog gone it…I was so excited I completely forgot about the bathroom! Ugh.

We need slippers. We found such a great deal at Payless Shoe store. I remember to look for bathrooms but alas, they have none. Next store!

I ran into a ladies clothing store while my hubby went into Mardel’s Christian Bookstore. I purchased a new robe and a pair of dress pants then caught up with Danny in the bookstore. Our son has been using the Action Bible and is getting to the point of needing a “more mature” Bible. We bought him an adventure Bible. Nice.

As we are getting into the car, I’m wiggling. I realized, once again, that I failed to find the bathroom in the bookstore. I know our next stop has no bathroom. Will I make it?

I hurried into Little Caesars and got a pepperoni pizza and some breadsticks. There is a line almost out the door. Somehow I manage. Somehow I make it back to the car and seriously think about doing the pee pee dance.

We pull into the driveway of our house and I’m making a run for it. Forget the coffee, the bags, the pizza…just give me a bathroom.

Our son says “Mom, aren’t you forgetting something.”

I reply “Just get out of my way!”

The moral of this story is…at the heart of the musings of a 47 year old woman you’re mostly looking at bathroom locations! Yep. Seriously.

Monday, December 9, 2013

"The Dog"

“Mom, please? I want a puppy so bad.”

We heard this again and again. Day after day, week after week, month after month. We were even getting close to the year after year mark.

So we caved. We found a beautiful little lab puppy we named Emma. She was adorable. As I watched her cock her head sideways, she reminded me of those adorable puppies who only do adorable things on those adorable puppy shows on Netflix.

Ah, what an adorable puppy.

We brought her home. The first day was bliss. She cuddled with us and when she pooped on our bed, we told her she was naughty, I washed all the bedding until four in the morning, then we finally settled in to sleep, exhausted but fulfilled in only the ways a puppy can fulfill.

Then reality set in.

Morning came and my adorable puppy became inquisitive. Then my inquisitive puppy became naughty.

I did what any good mommy does. I put my puppy in her crate for a much needed break.

Fifteen minutes later, she had pooped all over her crate, her blanket, her paws, and subsequently my pants. I bathed her in the front yard. I’m fairly certain my neighbors were caught off guard as they have never heard me raise my voice to my son, the dog, the neighbor’s dog, the prairie dog and any other dog I could think of. Notice how my cute puppy became “the dog.”

Once “the dog” was clean, I set upon cleaning the crate. Midway, “the dog” got into my kitchen trash. Once again, my neighbors were worried. After I cleaned up the trash, I went back to the crate. She then proceeded to make a figure eight track through my kitchen and living room, with the Christmas tree being in the center of the eight. After another bout with “the dog” and the trash, she finally got the message (or so I thought) and went to sleep curled in a ball afraid she was to be roasted for the evening meal. I’ve heard there are places in the east as well as in Mexico that regularly eat dog meat. I complete understand that now.

After five days of running after “the dog”, I had had enough. I seriously considered falling on a knife and ending it all. I was frazzled. I was in tears. I was mad. I was ugly. I seriously had not showered in three days so I stunk. By the time the dog was asleep, I was exhausted. Who has time to shower when there is a puppy who poops in her crate? Not me, that was for sure.

The guys thought I was being dramatic. Of course they would. They slept in, or were gone, or were simply absent from my days with “the dog.” How could they know?

On Friday I called a family meeting. This has to end, I declared. I cannot keep this up. I’m fairly certain if I walked outside, a bird would nest in my nasty hair. I am done. Finished. I haven’t written a word in days. I’m not sure this will ever end and I’m pretty sure I’ll never publish anything, ever again. So, I did what any self-respecting mother does. I handed the responsibility of “the dog” to the one who wanted “the dog.”

Huh? He said with childlike wonder. But, I’m only ten!

My response? From this day forward you shall get up with “the dog”, feed “the dog”, clean up after “the dog”, pay for anything “the dog” chews up, and watch “the dog” like a hawk.

Less than twenty four hours later, “the dog” once again became an adorable puppy…in someone else’s house.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Virtual Craft Fair with Giveaways!

Hi folks, come on in and get ready to shop.  It is kick-off time!

 I am so excited to be bringing you A Very Crafty Christmas - Virtual Craft Fair.   We have 10 shops represented to bring you their crafts, talents, and products.  Shop from the comfort of your home and eliminate the holiday shopping stress.

I don't know about you, but I love going to craft fairs and have even organized my fair share of them in years past.  I still have several Christmas items that I have purchased at craft fairs over the years. So, when I first saw this idea, it made perfect sense to me.

Let's see who our booth owners are:

1)  Store Name:  We Are Crafts
     Owner:  Regina Partain
     Event Special:  Participants will receive 20% off orders throughout the fair using the code
     VCF2013 at checkout.
     Giveaway Items:  3' Red and White Spirit Worm
                               Nativity Christmas Necklace and Earrings Set
     Value:  $25.00 Each

2)  Store Name:  A Welcoming House Blog
     Owner:  Heather Estey House
     Event Special:  Participants will receive 20% off on all orders by including Virtual Craft Fair in their      personal not to me when purchasing an item.
     Giveaway Items:  Three Crocheted Star Ornaments
     Value:  $6.00

3)  Store Name: Butterfly Angels Quilting
     Owner:  Amy Gay
     Giveaway:  Quilted Denim Table Runner
     Value $25.00

4)  Author:  Darlene Shortridge, Contemporary Christian Fiction
     Event Special:  Purchase two or more books and receive $1.00 off each book purchased.
     Giveaway Item:  Paperback copy of Until Forever - A Christian novel that tackles the tough subject      of alcoholism and its effects on the family unit.
     Value:  $15.00

5)  Product:  Thirty-One Gifts
     Consultant:  Lisa Barnett  (Click on "My Parties" tab, then "Craft Fair Christmas"
     Giveaway Item:  Large Utility Tote
     Value:  $35.00
6)  Store:  MaMade Creations
     Owner:  Michelle Williams
     Event Special:  Free Shipping with Promo Code:  CRAFTSHOW
     Three Giveaway Items:  3 Sets of 3 Tulle Dish Scrubbies
     Value:  $15.00 Total, $5.00 per winner

7)  Store Name:  Backyard Originals
     Owner:  Debbie Scott
     Giveaway Item:  Fleur De Lis Mertal Art Piece
     Value:  $24.00

8)  Store Owner:  Shirley Wood, Consultant 
     Giveaway Item:  Advent Christmas Countdown Tree
     Special Instructions:  Please enter the code APVCCHRISTMAS at checkout.

9) Author: Elaine Littau, Christian Fiction, Humor and Devotions
     Giveaway Item:  A copy of her book "Christmas in Nashville".  This is the second book in her              Nashville series.
     Value: $12.00

10) Store Name:  Brand It Boutique
      Owner:  Brenda Bradford
      Giveaway Items:  One Large Monogrammed Southern Sippers
                                One Small Monogrammed Southern Sippers
      Value:  $12.00  Large
                 $10.00  Small

WOW!  Aren't these some wonderful doorprize/giveaway items.  So, enter to win through the box below.  Then, visit all the stores and have fun shopping.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you for visiting! Merry Christmas!  Have fun shopping.

To shop for discounted books, visit my website.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Transformation Takes Time

My son guzzled his breakfast replacement shake then asked “Mom, aren’t we supposed to take ‘after’ pictures?"

I started laughing. Just like a ten year old to think that transformation takes place after drinking his very first shake. You see, our family has committed to transforming our health. We have changed our eating habits as well as our exercise routines. We are watching what we eat and when we eat it and we are exercising every day. Already we feel better. And yes, we have lost some of those extra pounds we have been carrying for years.

The thing is, we didn’t get this way overnight and it’s going to take longer than a day to correct the problem. We’ve been abusing our bodies for years. Transformation will take time.

Anything worth doing takes time. Whether you want to lose weight, build a business, write a book, or attain financial security, you will do well if you remember, transformation takes time.

Why is it then, we always want what we want when we want it and we expect God to get it, or do it, or fix it, or answer it the very minute we ask?

Maybe God has something else in mind. Maybe God is working on us as a fine artist works on his painting, or a woodworker on his wood. God isn’t in to quick fixes. He isn’t in to masking problems without dealing with the root issues.

Often times I get discouraged with something I have or haven’t done and while I know God covers me with His grace and mercy, I become restless in my quest to become more like Him. Therefore I become discouraged with myself. I expect more. I expect change to happen faster. I expect Him to snap His fingers and like a puff of smoke, I expect my character flaw to disappear.

Yet God is working through my flaws to make the real me shine. He is using my insecurities to show Himself faithful and true. He is using my imperfection to show the world His perfection. He is using my weakness to illustrate His strength.

Transformation takes time. He’s still working on me. He’s still bending and molding, shaping and plying me and when I am finished, what a sight that will be. Not because of anything I am or capable of, but because of Him and His ability to create and perfect will I shine like never before.

I am but clay in the Potter’s hands.

Transforation. Takes. Time.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Target Practice

Do you have a target on your back?

If you are a Christian, I should hope so!

I was at an event this past weekend and as I was sharing about my latest book release, Forever Loved, the children’s pastor of this particular church told me I have a target on my back. She went on to talk about the message her pastor shared on Sunday about as Christians, we should have a target on our back.

Kind of like…Here’s your sign! An open door policy to the stuff I believe. Or perhaps putting it all out there for the world to see? Being courageous enough to stand up for what you believe in? Speaking the truth especially when the truth is unpopular?

Whatever you call it, or however you describe it, are you doing it? Are you placing that target on your back? Are you being bold for Christ?

I told her about my books in order. “You see, my first one, Until Forever, deals with a dad who drives drunk with his four year old son in the backseat. No one will argue with how absurd that is. As for Forever Blessed, not too many people would openly admit they think domestic violence is a good thing. Know what I mean?” She heartily agreed. “And The Letter deals with healing broken relationships. That is a good thing no matter what your political or religious beliefs are.” I made a face. “But, Forever Loved deals with homosexuality. And that will stir lots of emotions. Trust me on that. And I’ll get lots of grief for writing it.”

She pointed to my new book. “This is your target.” She smiled, congratulating me on being bold for Christ.

Why do so many Christians today want to hide amongst the “regular” folk and not make waves?

We’re not regular. We’ll always be a peculiar people.

Are the darts the problem? Are we afraid we might get nicked with a poison tip? We very well may be, but are we that weak that we can’t take one for Christ? I mean, how many did He take for us? Let’s see…nails in both hands and feet, a sword in his side, a crown of thorns on his head, lashes across his back, and let’s not forget hanging on the cross. The pain had to be unbearable. Even for God. But He did it anyway.

He took every arrow that had any power behind it at all, that was aimed straight at our backs, all upon Him. How is that for a target?

Still apprehensive about putting that target on your back? I didn’t think so.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Fall, Cool Weather, and Forever Loved

Fall just began and life is way crazy at our house. I wanted to take a few minutes and check in with you.

We are in full swing. We’re anticipating cooler weather, open windows, cool breezes and something aromatic baking in the oven. I’m thinking German Apple Cake with cream cheese frosting. Yum. I decorated my front porch with gourds, pumpkins, apple baskets, fall leaves, and a couple of scare crows. I'm ready for fall! Now, it just needs to cool down!

In the meantime, I just released my fourth novel, Forever Loved. My husband and I have been working hard co-authoring a book on self-publishing that should be out this next week. We are super excited about it. I’m also trying to finish up my novella, The Perfect Gift, which will be available later this month or early November. And as if that weren’t enough, my son wants a book about his dog, Leia. I’m hoping that one can be done as a Christmas gift for him. I’m not sure if I’ll market that one…or keep it in the family. We’ll see how it turns out.

Last week I had the opportunity to speak for a ladies’ group at the Wesley United Methodist Church in Shawnee, OK. I’m not sure who was blessed more the ladies or myself. I love it when hearts and lives are touched for Christ.

On Saturday I’ll be participating in a craft fair at St. James Catholic Church in Oklahoma City. I love participating in these fairs. I meet so many wonderful people.

My husband and I are looking forward to the day he can stay home full time. This past weekend he was off three days. We worked on our joint publishing venture. I only had to threaten to send him back to work four or five times. I didn’t think that was too bad. ;) All kidding aside, I am so blessed because we work so well together. Even so I’m trying to cure him of his habit to write long, drawn out, run on sentences. He insists these sentences are his trademark. I beg to differ with him.

Well, I know we had a short visit this week, but I’m thankful we had time to visit at all. I’m thinking I might need to get used to being busy. If you have a chance, check out my new novel. I’d love to know what you think.

Darlene Shortridge

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Some Things I've Learned

Yesterday I turned forty-seven years old. Or as my husband put it, three years away from the big five Oh. (For which he was promptly smacked.)

As I grow older these are some of the things I have learned.

As much as I love presents, it has become very easy for me to put off the instant gratification of tearing into a gift. In fact, I asked that gifts be delayed. I now know what it means to be patient and wait for the really good stuff that is coming soon.

I have learned that no matter where I am, or what my circumstances are, after God my family is the single most important thing to me. We could be living in a mansion or in a hut and as long as they are with me, I will find occasions to smile. Material things may be convenient, and may even bring a certain amount of pleasure, but nothing compares to hearing my loved ones’ voices and seeing their faces.

I have learned that mistakes are inevitable. It’s what you do afterward that really matters. I used to be a perfectionist. The key phrase in that sentence is “used to be”, as in past tense. My husband picked up a post card tonight that I use for handing out at events. He commented on how professional they look. My thought was, would I have it any other way? Yet, even in my quest for excellence, I have learned that perfection is too lofty a goal; it is unrealistic and impossible for mere mortals to experience. Excellence on the other hand is quite nice…and quite attainable. Learning from mistakes is what carries us onward to excellence.

I have learned that our dream is our own, no one else’s. We have to own it, develop it, work toward it and achieve it. No one will do it for us. No one will believe in us if we do not believe in ourselves. And even then, they may not believe in us. I have learned it doesn’t matter if anyone else believes because as long as we are walking in God’s will for our lives…and we believe it…with work and persistence, we can achieve it.

I have learned that others may have to make their own mistakes. I cannot remove the obstacles for them. I cannot save them from themselves. They must experience pain and roadblocks to grow. It is the way of life. As much as I want to reach out and pull them from the muck, I cannot. I must let them live, through the good and bad.

I have learned I don’t have all the answers. When I was eighteen and I knew everything, I wished for a platform so I could enlighten the world. Now, at forty-seven, I have a platform. Now, instead of shouting my opinions, I write and speak from the heart of God. My opinions no longer matter. Everything I do now is to further His kingdom, not my own.

I also know that in the next forty-seven years, should the Lord allow me to remain on this earth, I will learn many, many more lessons.

Darlene Shortridge

Thursday, August 1, 2013

He's Not An Either/Or God!

I really don’t think clearly when I’m sick. My brain is scattered. Sometimes I talk in circles. Sometimes I think in circles. I apologize for this ahead of time when I speak with anyone about anything I should be aware of, educated about or well versed enough to discuss. It’s like my brain is hanging out the sign “Out to Lunch.”

On Tuesday I went on a hot date with my husband. First we ate some dinner, which was delicious. We were celebrating Danny’s release of his Tips on Tips program. Then we went pricing food for kid’s jam. Yeah, we’re cool like that. After getting kicked out of Sam’s (who knew they closed at 8:30?) we headed to Walmart. Almost to the end of our little pricing expedition, my throat went crazy. I had a hard time breathing and I couldn’t speak. My nose started running and I could feel the drainage in the back of my throat.

Danny grabbed me a quick drink and after downing several swallows, I could at least talk. I chalked the whole episode up to sinuses. By that evening my mouth was in intense pain. We have no dental insurance so as I was mentally adding up all the available money I could get my hands on, I was making a deal with God. At that point my throat was scratchy as well. Still thinking allergies/sinuses.

My deal, Lord, You know we can’t afford a dentist right now. I’ll handle the sore throat, allergies, all the yuck etc. but please heal my mouth.

I gargled with salt water. Checked out my stash of essential oils. Numbed my mouth with Orajel and went to bed.

The next morning, Wednesday, I woke up with zero mouth pain. But my throat was in full throttle forward. It was hard to swallow. I winced with saliva let alone food. And I thought, now this I can handle.

On day three I woke up in even more pain. And this thought crossed my mind. Why does God have to be an either/or God? Is He not capable of being an “everything” God? And why do I feel I need to make deals with Him anyway? When my own children are sick do I make deals with them to take away the greater illness and instead make them suffer with a bout of the flu? No. I wouldn’t want that for my children now why do I think God would want that for me?

Matthew 7:9-11 says this: “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!"

He is more capable than we give Him credit for. I’m done making deals with God and I’m going to approach His throne with confidence that He wants the best for me. Not seconds, not leftovers, not rummage sale quality, but the best!

Lord, I come boldly before your throne. I ask that you heal me in the name of Jesus. I pray that the enemy would be held at bay and that all my energy would be restored so I might glorify you in all that I must do. In the precious name of Jesus. Amen.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Happy Fourth of July!

Happy Fourth of July!

Yeah, I know I’m a day early, but I have 37 people coming to celebrate what’s left of our freedom and time has slipped away from me. So, this is going to be short and sweet and to the point.

The fourth of July used to illicit a puffed up pride in me, one that said, I’m an American and I live in the best country in the world. Our country has started a downward spiral and I’m not sure she’ll ever recover. It makes me sad to see our values and morals being flushed. Yep, I’m a bit pessimistic these days.

Then again, the Lord would have spared Sodom and Gomorrah if only there were ten righteous. Maybe there is hope. Maybe.

Then again, maybe God is as sick of it as I am and is coming back soon.

We’re going to celebrate tomorrow. Not so much for pride in what our country has become, but in remembrance of what she once was.

Had dinner with our pastors last night…and we pretty much came to the conclusion that Christ’s return is imminent. It has to be.

Enjoy your family, your friends and remember what once was. That should be enough to put a smile on your face.

Darlene Shortridge, Author of fiction that makes a difference

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Scapegoat

This week has been an interesting week to say the least. At least in the life of a certain celebrity chef. I have been following the news releases and trying to make sense of it all. One thing that stands out above all else is once upon a time Paula Deen used a derogatory word, a very long once upon a time ago. And now she is being crucified for it.

In our “love is key” world, this woman is not feeling the love. In fact, this type of behavior is what I would expect of the world. No grace, no mercy, no forgiveness and a long notebook that keeps track of all wrongs committed. In fact, I believe we are seeing the world’s true colors.

In a world that preaches tolerance and getting along we must question the motives behind the preaching. In other words, tolerance is expected for some circles, but others are left out in the cold. Paula Deen is near frozen.

I immediately saw the injustice of it. Because Paula is white and she used the “N” word over twenty years ago, she is presently a racist and intolerant. Because of course we are all exactly what we were twenty years ago. Yeah, and if you believe that I’m pretty certain I have an ocean front property to sell you in Arizona and by all rights I should be wearing a size 10. Okay, so that’s a farce.

Fired from the Food Network, no longer the spokesperson for Smithfield products, the future looks dim for the celebrity foodie. Or do they? Her fans are crawling out of the woodwork and screaming foul play. Boycotts of Food Network are in progress and subscribers are leaving the network in droves. I’m sure there will be plenty of repercussions for Smithfield as well.

Both the Food Network and Smishfield are looking for accolades for standing up for the oppressed. When in fact they are hypocritical goons that look like fools in the eyes of the masses. Sure, there are a few clapping their hands at such stupidity. But most see such behavior for what it is and do not condone hanging someone out to dry for something that happened years ago. So, is the Food Network going to ask their African American chefs if they have ever used derogatory descriptions of white people and fire them too? That’s a big no. Like I said, a bunch of hypocrites.

Sorry, I was rambling there. BTW…having a blog is kind of fun. Ranting is completely allowable. But, back to my point.

It is never okay to speak ill of anyone. I don’t care what color you are, the rules should be the same for everyone. We should all be held to the same measuring stick. All of us. We have become such a politically correct world that many are asking Paula to pay for the sins of generations past. Is that really fair? No, it’s not.

Hasn’t that already been done for us? Oh yeah, it has. Christ took care of it all on the cross. Now get over it.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Don't Judge Me! (Even Though I'm Secretly a Wolf!)

Who are you afraid of offending more? God or man?

Most of us would automatically answer God. But, would that be the right answer according to how we live our lives? How would someone close to us answer for us? Would they testify to the fact that we live our lives to please God rather than man?

I believe if most of us examined ourselves carefully, and if we were truthful with ourselves, we would have to admit that we struggle in this area. More often than not, it’s man’s approval we are yearning for.

Maybe it’s being on social media that makes this more obvious. We see many things that we shouldn’t see, read many things we shouldn’t read. For some reason, people don’t think when they post on these sites. They allow their tempers to flare and being on the other side of a computer screen gives them courage they’d never have otherwise. Then again, when a nation who calls itself “Christian” elects a man that blatantly supports the murder of millions of babies and publicly congratulates a famous basketball player on his “coming out” I’d say it is a whole lot worse than seeing our “bad” sides. We look more like the world each and every day.

As a matter of fact, if you compared some “Christians” with non-believers it would be difficult to tell them apart. What happened to “knowing them by their fruit” as told to us by Jesus in Matthew 7:16? I mean, this is Jesus saying “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruit. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.”

Most Christians and non-Christians alike can quote Matthew 7:1. “Judge not, that you be not judged.” What I’d like to know is why we don’t hear more about the verses farther down the page, the ones I quoted above? Well, that question is rhetorical, of course. The answer is, who wants to be held accountable? Who wants to answer for their sin? It’s not fun, but taking responsibility will make you a better person and more like Christ.

What troubles me most? The churches’ tendency to succumb to this trend. Today’s church no longer calls sin, sin. They no longer preach truth. They don’t want to offend, even if that means sacrificing the church. I have found whole portions of scripture, warnings to believers and sinners alike that are wholly forgotten passages. I can’t remember the last time I heard holiness preached. Has God changed his mind? Are we no longer called to holiness? Is everything about the love? Or is there something sinister and destructive going on?

Does this frighten you too? Does it make you sad? I’d love to know your thoughts.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Submission, It's Not for the Weak!

Perhaps one of the most feared, hated words in society today is the word submit.

Often times this word is misconstrued or used improperly. Because of this, both Christian and secular women avoid it like the plague.

We women want to be known for our independence, our intelligence and our ability to do anything a man can do, only better. Submission throws a well-aimed road block in our well thought out road map which wasn’t part of the travel plan.

I say it’s time to take another look at submission. Not in the negative light this word so often gets, but in the light in which it was meant. A light that reveals a woman’s strength, not her weakness, a light that exposes her for her intelligence, her independence and her abilities.

First off, let me tell you that every woman struggles with submission. It is not only the baby Christians, or the young Christians. Regardless of your age in Christ, at times you struggle with submission. Therefore it is with a grinning heart that I admit every time I would think about writing this post, my husband would do something to make me question my sanity. (Or at least my ability to acquiesce to the idea of submitting to that man.)

I remember well the first time this word was brought up in my marriage, well it was actually a word that is sometimes substituted for submit. It was the day of our wedding. We were standing at the altar, hand in hand, facing one another. Excited and encouraged, we willingly repeated the words that our pastor asked us to repeat. We were vowing our love and allegiance to one another. That is until our pastor threw the word obey in without telling me. You should have seen my head jerk. Pastor Rod was grinning ear to ear. I gave him a dirty look, crossed my toes and repeated the horrible word.

To this day when my husband reminds me of my vow, I tell him that part didn’t count cause it was sneaky and low down. I also remind him I had my toes crossed and I will not obey him. Submit, yes, but obey, no.

And that brings us to the heart of the submission.

A mature woman of God will submit to her husband.

What does that mean?

Let me tell you what it does not mean. It does not make you a doormat, or a punching bag. It does not mean you are of less value than your husband. It does not mean that all men are better than you, or that you need to submit to every man who walks the earth. It does not mean you are less intelligent or lacking in ability.

In our home this is what submission means. My husband and I have a partnership. We work together. We play together. We respect one another. He loves me. I love him. I respect his opinion and know that his ways of looking at things often vary greatly from my own. I respect him enough, and value his opinion enough that I willing ask him his thoughts. I want to know what he is thinking.

When I write a book, I will not publish until he has had a chance to read it and tell me what he thinks. Is this because he is a better writer than I? No. It’s because I value him so much, I want him to be a part of everything I do. He completes me.

Submission is not a bad thing. In fact, it’s a good thing and mature women of God know that submitting does not diminish their relevance. In fact, submitting elevates a woman and shows her strength and self control.

Are you a mature woman of God?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Glasses, who needs glasses?

I remember going to the eye doctor at age 42. Then 43. Then 44. Each year I got the same message. “Once again, you have cheated reading glasses.”

I was smug. Oh yeah. Look at me. I don’t need reading glasses. Somehow I decided that still made me young. If my eyes are still young, the rest of me must be as well.

Then I turned 46. The first few months were good. Then it happened. I was reading and the letters no longer formed words, at least not from my vantage point. What happened? How had it happened? I believe the why was evident. I was getting old.

What was interesting is it wasn’t every day that my reading eyes failed me. As a matter of fact, I have my Bible opened next to me and I can see every word of Isaiah chapter 51 from a foot away, and no, it’s not large text. It’s itty-bitty tiny Bible print. But these days are now far and few between. It’s more often than not that my reading eyes refuse to cooperate.

When I first noticed my issue, I balked. I kicked. (Well, inwardly at least). I started wearing my glasses on a daily basis instead of my contacts, at least when I was home, as I could easily pull them off so I could read. For some reason, I can read just fine when my eyes are naked.

Vanity was at a full-scale war with necessity. Necessity won. I made my first trip to the dollar store to purchase my first pair of reading glasses. Now I’d done it. I’d gone and got old. I tried them on, peering into the mirror in the car while my husband’s cheeky grin almost got him a busted lip. “Don’t even start,” I warned him.

I deposited the glasses, case and all in the glove compartment of the car and conveniently forgot about them.

Fast forward a few months and I’m speaking for a group of ladies, attempting to read my Bible. Uh oh! Darn, why aren’t those glasses in my purse? Good thing I basically have the verses memorized. Whew!

One month later, it is now the exception (like today) that I can see to read without the glasses. On Sunday morning, I pulled them out of my purse, reluctantly, to see to read along with our Pastor. True, I could have read along on the big screen, but there is something about reading those verses straight from the book in your hands. I put them on and my husband leaned over and whispered. “Hey sexy.”

I grinned. I sat a little straighter as I perfected the technique of looking down through the glasses to read and looking above the rim to see what is happening around me. Something had changed. Instead of feeling old, I felt wise, like I had arrived. Yeah, I’m all that. The only thing that hadn’t changed was the fact I’m still dealing with my vanity! Ugh!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Only God

One year ago this month, as in May of 2012, we moved to Oklahoma City. It wasn’t long before we called this place home.

After living in Wisconsin for most of my adult life, I couldn’t imagine red dirt, hot summers and bugs becoming commonplace in my life. I am acclimated to the red dirt, not so much the heat and bugs but I’m managing.

The warmth that radiates from those you meet, those who are quick to call you family and lend a hand in hard times, more than compensates for the creepy crawly things and the intense sweltering heat that makes me consider shaving all my hair off.

Oklahoma is a place that makes you want to hang your winter hat and store your heavy coat in cedar and replace them with cowboy hats and boots. At least in theory.

So, for a transplanted northern girl who has learned to call this state home, my heart broke in two on Monday, May 20 when I watched a two mile wide twister destroy the homes and hearts of those I have come to love. It is true that I have never had the privilege of chatting with or drinking coffee with those who lost their homes, personal belongings, pets and loved ones, nonetheless, because I have come to intimately know the heart of this state, and her people, I feel like part of my own heart was ripped from my chest and hung out to dry.

My son clung to me, knowing that the tornado was terrorizing our part of town. Fear traced its way down his cheeks as he watched in horror as the television screen implanted images into his mind that stole his innocence. I cried as I prayed for every mother that sent her baby off to school that morning. I could only sympathize, as I could not imagine that kind of pain. Knowing the possibility that there would be many childless mothers by sun set, I clutched my stomach and sobbed for them, for the complete sense of loss that they would come to realize.

We prayed. We prayed hard. We watched as God answered many of our prayers. One school dismantled, piles of bricks and mortar, no longer recognizable, and yet every child accounted for and alive. Only God. Praise God. Toddlers huddled together with their teacher as the roof was ripped from overhead, and by evening every child was back safely in their parents arms. Only God. The death toll rang 37 then 51 then 90. By morning, it was revised to 24. Again, only God.

We watched as hope lined the streets, bringing water, blankets, supplies and cash. We watched volunteers dig all night through their exhaustion extending hands to over one hundred survivors. Only God.

The following morning we prayed once again. Lord, please hold off the coming storm. It changed course and headed farther east before releasing its fury. Only God. My son grinned from ear to ear when he heard that God has answered his prayer. His faith is a bit stronger this day, knowing that God is listening.

Only God can take horrible and turn it into hope. Only God can make a way when there is none. Only God can bring healing when the pain threatens to rob you of your very breath. Only God sees your devastation and weeps with you.

Every day we watch, praying for miracles, praying for another life to be spared. Then, when all is said and done, when our tears have dried and our minds and hearts are numb, only God can save us. As it should be. Only God.

Please pray for healing for this land. If you wish to donate, there are many places, including the church where I attend, that are taking donations. Please contact The Gathering at for more information on how you can take part in bringing relief to a devastated people.
Darlene Shortridge

Friday, March 8, 2013

Emotions 101

Are you a mature woman of God? How do you know?

We all have room for improvement. But, you should not be the same woman you were ten years ago, five years ago even one year ago. In fact, you should grow each and every day. We should continually be beseeching the Holy Spirit to mold us, to change us into the women He has called us to be.

Last time we took a look at gossip. This week, I want to look at something every one of us must deal with, and that is our emotions.

First of all, there are all kinds of emotions. There is fear, anger, happiness, sadness, anticipation, disgust, surprise and trust. They can be used in the manner in which God created them, or they can be used in the manner the enemy has distorted them. Not only do we have to contend with the enemy’s manipulation of our emotions, but we must also deal with our flesh. And most often, our flesh is our own worst enemy.

Our emotions are strong and I’m not saying our emotions are bad. God created us as emotional beings. Our emotions enable us to feel compassion and unconditional love. Because of our emotions we can show empathy. Our emotions allow us to cry with a friend when she’s down or be brokenhearted when someone we know is hurt.

Check your negative emotions at the door. I mean, the bathroom door right after you’ve gotten up. A mature woman of God has learned to control, or recognizes her need to control her emotions.

She won’t use tears to get what she wants. She won’t blow up at her friend. She won’t yell and scream at her children. She won’t take out her anger on her husband just because he’s “safe.” She will respond appropriately when wronged. She will give the benefit of the doubt. She will try and find out what is wrong. She will not connive or construe to get her way.

True, there is no perfect woman, but a woman who is seeking after the heart of God will continually be working on being more like Christ. She will not set out to do those things mentioned above. Yes, she will make mistakes, but more often than not, lashing out at those she loves will hurt her more than the person on the receiving end.

So many times we women allow our emotions to govern us. As my daughter reached a certain age, I began to explain to her the importance of controlling our emotions and not letting our emotions control us.

When my emotions are controlling me, I am easily offended. When I am in control of my emotions, more often than not I see things for what they are. I am walking in discernement rather than allaboutmement.

The first step in becoming who God is calling us to be is realizing we are not there yet, that we still have changes that need to be made. I challenge you to look at yourself. Scrutinize yourself. And be honest with yourself.

Every now and again I have to beat some emotion that is threatening to show its ugly head with a stick. Yes, we all do. The key is…being honest enough to admit it and then do something about it.

Do you control your emotions? Or do you allow them to control you?

Together, we will become mature women of God!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Are You a Mature Woman of God?

What is the role of a mature woman of God? How is she to act? What is her disposition?

Specifically I want to deal with these questions as they pertain to the church and how we as mature Christian women should act as role models. As women who have been in Christ for many years, we should be easily recognized as mature women of God. There should be no behavior that is indicative of us being babes in Christ.

Today, I want to address the issue of gossip. This is not new. I have written about this before. But some subjects need periodical reviewing. It is easy to fall in to this habit and not find our way out of it. If you call yourself a mature woman of God, gossip should never be on your lips.

What is gossip? Here it is by definition: Rumor or talk of a personal, sensational, or intimate nature.
A person who habitually spreads intimate or private rumors or facts.
(notice, this doesn't say whether or not the details have to be true or false, it matters not!)

Gossip within the church brings about animosity, hard feelings and divisiveness. The word tells us in Titus chapter 3 verse 10 “Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him.” Anyone being divisive in the church body should be addressed immediately. This behavior is uncalled for and needs to be stopped before it divides the church.

I have had the occasion of seeing mature Christian women in the church teaching the younger newly saved women of the church the wicked art of gossip. In my opinion, this is the absolute worst offense of the gossiper. What we teach those who come after us we will be held accountable for. Not only will our gossip spread like wildfire and destroy many lives, but the gossip that continues on through our line of gossip descendants will also be upon our heads.

Here is what the word of God says that we mature believers should be teaching the newly saved women in our church, notice this list does not include gossip or being divisive:

Titus 2:3-5 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4 Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

Here are some more verses about the wicked art of gossip.

Proverbs 16:28 “a dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends.”

Proverbs 11:13 “whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered.”

Proverbs 6:16-19 “there are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.”

Did you hear that last verse? If you are gossiping you are sowing discord among the brothers and that is something that God hates. Hate is a strong word. Do you really want to be associated with something that God hates?

James 1:26 says this “if anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.”

One hurtful word, one line of gossip can undo all the good that has been done. If you volunteer in church, if you feed the poor, if you love the helpless and the hopeless, and yet you spread gossip all of the former will be forgotten. Gossip is what you will be known by. Divisiveness will be the clothes you wear.

Don’t allow gossip to destroy who you are in Christ. If you find yourself prone to talk about other people do yourself a favor and clamp your lips shut.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Life Coaching...Life Changing

Recently I have had the opportunity to develop a friendship with a wonderful life coach, Terri Babers.

She reigns from the great state of Alaska and has had me journaling about life. My Terri. Terri, meet my world.

This past week I was prompted to look at the relationships in my life and how they relate to my dreams. I posted the following as a reply. My husband encouraged me to share this post with you all!

"Friendships are extremely important to me. I thrive on interaction and find I get pretty down if I do not have that "certain" friend to chat with.

For the first 6 months or so, after moving to Oklahoma, I felt isolated. I had not yet developed close friendships and while I still maintain my relationships from back home, it just isn't the same from a distance.

My husband and I are careful about who we surround ourselves with. We distanced ourselves from what we call toxic family and friends long ago. Not that we don't love them, we just don't love the impact they have upon us.

My husband is my best friend, my cheerleader and my realist. Although I must say, realist is a stretch as we are both dreamers. We encourage one another in accomplishing our goals and in some ways we are opposites. This keeps us balanced. He is my thinker-through-er and I am his spontaneity. Even with his realist tendencies, he is a dreamer through and through.

When you dream big, when you dream in living 3-D color, not many people understand. Finding people to actually relate to your dream is next to impossible. For a people person like myself, I have found myself associating with people who support me dreaming although they may not understanding the dream itself. They are still encouraging to the point they are a positive influence and not a drain of my energy and my focus."

If you are interested in ten weeks of free journaling with Terri, head to her website.

Here you go:

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Mission Possible

Mark 1: 1-5 In the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, As it is written in the Prophets.

“Behold, I send My messenger before Your face. Who will prepare Your way before You.” The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord, Make His paths straight’.”

John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. Then all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and were baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.”

I want to share today a little something that has been on my heart. I’d like to write about John the Baptist and how the five verses above fit into our lives today.

First, John the Baptist was not a mistake. He was born with purpose. He was born to proclaim the truth. The wilderness he baptized in and preached in was a place of loneliness. There weren’t many hanging out with him. It wasn’t the popular place. It wasn’t the comfortable place.

He was regarded as a freak, as an anomaly. He did not fear man, for he would not have preached repentance. He knew his job and he didn’t let circumstances, lack of money, lack of talent or any other excuse keep him from accomplishing his purpose.

He knew his place. He was in the limelight but a short while and didn’t let the attention go to his head. He never thought of himself more than he ought. His sole purpose was to glorify the Son.

He did not have to chase people down; they went out to him. They knew him and they heard his message.

What do we have in common with John the Baptist?

Well, we are supposed to be preparing the way for the second coming of Christ. The question is, are we?

Each one of us has purpose. We are all supposed to be proclaiming the truth. If we choose to accept our mission, it will be a lonely place, for it is not popular to preach repentance. We will have those that tolerate us, those who disassociate and those who out and out attack us for taking a stand for Christ.

We will be freaks, anomalies. If we choose to fear God instead of man, we will preach the forgiveness of sins, which leads to salvation. Love will have its part in our messages, but it will not be the entire message. We will not know the definition of, nor care about, being politically correct. If we choose to accept our mission, we will do so through every circumstance the enemy is allowed to throw our way. We will face forward, not looking to the left or the right. We especially will not look behind. We will put one foot in front of the other, walking in the direction of our purpose and not let anything sway us or distract us.

We will know our place. We are here to bring Glory to the Father. Period. We only have worth through the blood of Jesus Christ.

The Holy Spirit will direct those with ears to hear to stand in the path of our message.

So, I’ll ask the question again. What do we have in common with John the Baptist?

Everything. Or nothing. It’s up to you.

In this New Year of new beginnings, will you accept the challenge? Will you go out and prepare the way of the Lord?